Month: August 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: Zombie Cats from Mars (2015)

Zombie Cats from Mars:

A Brief Look at a Labor of Love

By Woofer McWooferson

Zombie Cats
Director: Montetré; Writer: Ryan Cloutier; Stars: Ernest Adams, Bobby Bridges, Josh Edward; Rating: NR; Run Time: 97 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2015

Zombie Cats from Mars feels like it was made for fun and with no regard for marketability. The plot is stereotypical: a young person sees something unusual and tries to warn adults but ends up having to take care of the situation because the adults do not believe him.

As a film, Zombie Cats from Mars falls short in every category, but as riff fodder it is overripe for the picking. Most of the acting is flat and uninspired, the effects are so far below par as not to register, and the plot is thinner than fruit fly wings. However, this doesn't mean the movie sucks. Far from it. Zombie Cats from Mars is a highly riffable movie with many laugh-inducing scenes. It seems to be an in joke of a film, a labor of love and whimsy that was never intended as a serious “art” film. With this in mind, Zombie Cats from Mars becomes as much of an iconic piece of B-movie mania as any medium-budgeted SyFy movie does.

If you like Mars or cats or zombies or movies or any combination of these, then Zombie Cats from Mars is for you. Make sure you have friends over because it's a movie best viewed with others.

Still unsure? Check them out on Facebook or the official website.

5/10 claws – because it's a labor of love and an imminently riffable romp

Posted by Alan Smithee in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
COMING SOON: I Spit on Your Grave 3 (2015)

COMING SOON: I Spit on Your Grave 3 (2015)

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 3:
VENGEANCE IS MINE

By Amy Lynes

Just in time for Halloween, I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance is Mine will hit limited theaters on October 9th, with a Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD release to follow on October 20, 2015!
I-spit-on-your-grave-3

Many people were surprised when, back in 2010, a remake of the 1978 cult classic was released. Almost instantly, people were bitching and moaning about it, with some flatly refusing to watch it.

Now, I am not usually one for remakes but after seeing it, I think all the negativity it got was extremely misguided. I'll probably get some hate for this, but I think I actually prefer the remake. Don't get me wrong, Camille Keaton is amazing in the film, but it is a slow burn, a bit too slow for my tastes. The 2010 version moves at a much faster pace, and the revenge scenes were much more gratifying to me, not to mention Sarah Butler did a fantastic job as Jennifer Hills. I had initially thought there was no way she would pull it off and make it believable, but she did just that. She was truly spectacular in the role.

In 2013, the remake spawned a sequel I Spit On Your Grave 2, which focused on an entirely new character in a whole new setting. Sadly, it was nowhere near as good as the 2010 remake. The revenge scenes were slightly lackluster and left me wanting something a little more. It did have its moments, though - I found the sequel much harder to watch during the rape scene than the 1978 and 2010 versions combined. It was extremely unsettling.

Now we hear that a third installment to the franchise has been completed, and the story will once again focus on Jennifer Hills. What little info on the synopsis I was able to find goes something like this: Jennifer now works for a crisis hotline (or possibly a support group), and it just so happens a vigilante type serial killer is using the hotline (support group) to target and victimize rapists. Jennifer's tragic past, of course, makes her a prime suspect to the detectives on the case.

Having enjoyed the 2010 version as much as I did, I was very happy to learn that Sarah Butler will reprise her role as Jennifer Hills in I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance is Mine. The film also stars Gabriel Hogan (Television series Heartland), Doug McKeon (On Golden Pond and Mischief), Karen Strassman (The Ruins), and Jennifer Landon (Cinemax's series Banshee) and is directed by R.D. Braunstein (100 Degrees Below Zero).

I don't know about anyone else, but I enjoy these films and I am really looking forward to the latest addition to the franchise. October can't get here fast enough!

Posted by Alan Smithee in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Scarlet Gospels (2015)

BOOK REVIEW: The Scarlet Gospels (2015)

By Nick Durham

scarlet
Clive, what the fuck?

I want to start by saying that I am a Clive Barker fanatic. In my youth when I first started reading horror, aside from Stephen King, Clive Barker was one of the names I'd heard get thrown around the most. I had seen Hellraiser long before I ever read The Hellbound Heart, but once I did it didn't take long before I had read all through his published works. Barker has been and forever will be beloved by me, so much so that I'd even put him above King on my list of favorite horror authors. The man is a true master of horror literature.

Or at least he was.

I've been looking forward to The Scarlet Gospels for what seems like years. In fact, it doesn't just seem like years, it has literally been years (actually well over a decade) since Barker himself teased this unholy face-off between paranormal detective Harry D'Amour and Pinhead. An unholy face-off between the two that would spell the end for one, or possibly both, characters that we've all come to love over the years. Good fucking lord, such an epic showdown would truly be something special that will as revered in the years to come as much as The Hellbound Heart and most of what's contained in the Books of Blood volumes.

I am very sad to say that it doesn't work out that way, if at all.

First of all, I'm going to try and not delve into too many spoilers, because I'm not a dick (I'm lying, I totally am). With that in mind, be warned, because things may get a little spoiler-y regardless. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Anyway, the novel gets off to a flat-out fantastic start where we learn that various magicians all over the world have been reaching incredibly grisly demises at the hands of Pinhead, who mostly gets referred to as the "Hell Priest" here (truth be told, Barker himself always kind of hated the name "Pinhead", so this is kind of a nice little in-joke here). The opening chapter of The Scarlet Gospels is simply brilliant. It's vintage Barker, with an imaginative set-up, and some disgusting pay-offs. I don't want to give too much away, I really don't...you just have to read it to believe it. Trust me, it's awesome.

After that though, things are mostly downhill. We catch up with Harry and his blind medium friend Norma, as Harry takes on a job that turns out to be a fairly predictable trap that puts him in Pinhead's sights. Before we know it, both Harry and Norma, along with a small crew of their compatriots (or "Harrowers" as they end up getting referred to) are headed straight to Hell...figuratively and literally. This is where I have some of the biggest problems with The Scarlet Gospels. I had really looked forward to reading Barker's take on Hell, because I figured that at the least it'd be unique. Sadly, it just isn't. It's not awful or anything mind you, it all just comes off as meh. His vision of Hell and the denizens therein are just plain boring. Seriously, it feels like more of a chore reading through his descriptions of the inner-workings of Hell, and that flat out kills any momentum that has been garnered by the time we get to this point.

Another problem with the novel, at least for me anyway, are many of the characterizations and dialogue. Harry and Norma come off as well-written as they always have been, but the rest of Harry's Harrowers are two-dimensional, cookie-cutter caricatures. The cookie-cutter caricatures mostly refer to Harry's pal Caz as well as the precognitive Dale, who, once they meet, just totally become gay caricatures. Considering Barker himself is gay, and has usually written gay characters wonderfully in the past, this is a massive disappointment. In fact, whenever Caz and Dale converse with each other or about each other at all, it's kind of mind-numbing.

While I'm on the subject of characterizations, what the fuck is up with Pinhead? We never really get a clear motivation as to why he's doing what he's doing, or why he really needs Harry to be his "witness" to his deeds. We also are never really given a clear reason as to why he wants to usurp Lucifer or much else either. This is one of the story elements that you can just tell had so much left on the cutting room floor. It has been said before that so much had been excised from the original product that I would love to read a sort of "director's cut" of this if it would ever see the light of day. I truly hope that one day such a thing happens, but I'm not really counting on it to be totally honest. I kind of think that we should all be glad that The Scarlet Gospels has finally seen the light of day at all.

Now I know it sounds like I'm shitting all over it, and I kind of am because I've been looking forward to The Scarlet Gospels for so fucking long now, but the end result isn't the abortion I may be painting it to be. A majority of the novel is entertaining, and a showdown between Pinhead and Lucifer and the fallout that follows, is entertaining enough. It's just that the finished product is so disappointing considering the years of hype. Maybe that shouldn't be such a surprise, because when something gets hyped up like this for this many years, it'll never meet anyone's expectations.

So yeah, The Scarlet Gospels isn't what I'd hoped it would be. Like I said before, it isn't bad, not one bit...but it is still pretty disappointing considering what we've seen from Clive Barker in the past. I'd say still check it out though regardless. It's worth reading, just don't expect it to be as wonderful as you might hope it to be.

Rating: 2.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Wes Craven Dead at 76

Wes Craven Dead at 76

Wes Craven

2 August 2, 1939 - 30 August 2015

By John Roisland

Wes Craven

Today a legend has moved on; I bring you the very sad news that Wes Craven has passed away. Craven had been battling with brain cancer and died at his home in Los Angeles, California, today. He was 76.

Wes Craven was born Wesley Earl Craven on 2 August 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio. Craven's first film was the highly controversial The Last House on the Left (1972), a movie so shockingly brutal that he faked an MPAA approval to get it distributed. In 1984, he wrote and directed A Nightmare on Elm Street (featuring a young Johnny Depp), a film that was inspired by news reports of healthy young men who died in their sleep apparently without cause. After five sequels from other directors, Craven returned to Elm Street in 1994 with New Nightmare, bringing both Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon together with Robert Englund again.

Craven became synonymous with horror in 1996 when he directed the Kevin Williamson script for Scream – a movie that redefined the horror genre by looking at the genre from within. He went on to direct the three sequels, each building upon and expanding the original self-reflexive film, as well as produce the 2015 TV series created from the franchise. Other popular Wes Craven are Shocker, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, Chiller, and The Hills Have Eyes.

Wes Craven's writing and directing has and will continue to scare, and inspire future horror fans for years to come.

Rest easy, sir...

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments

COMING SOON: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)

By John Roisland

untitled (7)
Blumhouse Productions along with Paramount Pictures, brings you the fifth installment in the Paranormal Activity series, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. This time around we follow the story of the Fleeges family. The Fleeges have recently moved into the once possessed home of Micah and Katie and have found items that were left behind, including a box of old home VHS recordings and a video camera. Upon using the camera and videos, spirits are evoked and the new tenants are now being haunted.

My personal feelings towards the series have been hit or miss. Some parts of what I have seen with this new feature look interesting, but clichéd. One thing I loosely admired with the other films was the lack of CGI. Well so much for that. This time around CGI is definitely present and will take a lot away from the realism it normally tries to present...at least for me it will. The film is also being shown in 3-D which is usually not a good thing.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is directed by Gregory Plotkin and stars Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill, Chloe Csenergy , Jessica Tyler Brown, Olivia Taylor Dudley, and Michael Krawic. It is set to be released in theaters, October 23, 2015, just in time for Halloween.

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: House of Whores (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: House of Whores (2015)

By Amy Lynes

HOW

Director: Paul Arnone, Tom Komisar and Daniel Murphy

Starring: Linda Schrader, Linsey McIntire,
R.J. Cecott, Maella Cai Vane, and Nurse Hatchet

Wow...Where do I even begin with this one? House of Whores was unlike anything I have seen thus far, and I have seen my fair share of shocking and unexplainable shit. It isn't often that I am stunned into silence, but this movie managed to accomplish just that. For close to a half an hour after the credits rolled, I was still sitting there, trying to figure out just what in the actual fuck I had just witnessed.

The movie starts off with sexy “Nurse Hatchet” warning that the movie could be considered graphic and disturbing by some viewers, which she underscores by dancing seductively and smearing blood all over herself.

Then it starts of with some sleazy asshole auditioning young women for his film project, Double Fisting. He has assembled three young actresses and, based on the cheesiness of his questions alone, it's obvious that he's a real dirtbag and is most likely just looking to get laid and maybe see some weird and kinky shit along the way.

The poor, unsuspecting girls are trying to get cast in this guy’s shitty spank film when three completely fucked up, psycho ass clowns (Smasho, Slasho, and Shago) suddenly bust in on them and a whole new kind of movie begins to go down.

As the title suggests, House of Whores is a sick, sleazy, and sexually violent Indie horror film, complete with new ways to rape and torture. Thanks to this film I will never look at a cheese grater, toilet brush, or a drill quite the same way again. Pain, suffering and unrelenting brutality are swiftly doled out to the unlucky ladies who had the misfortune of showing up for this casting call from hell and it is not pretty. And by the time these clowns are done with them, neither are they.

Even though its run time is only somewhere around an hour, we have a sort of intermission period every so often, a break from the carnage that allows Nurse Hatchet center stage with her sexy, blood covered dance. As much as I love her and have been a longtime fan, it seems to distract from the film and like maybe it would have been better suited as part of the bonus features as it really has nothing much to do with the storyline. I didn't really understand it, although it is nice to see her getting more exposure.

Those with an aversion to a plethora of body fluids or a weak stomach, will want to avoid this movie. I kind of wish I had. It was nauseating and, as I mentioned earlier, I have seen more than my fair share of extreme movies and nothing much bothers me. But this film? House of Whores depicts a laundry list of vomit-inducing acts, from forced rape to Dirty Sanchezes and shit eating. At one point it actually made me gag. This movie is for those who are into really sleazy and downright gross exploitation or snuff films and who aren't easily disgusted. I know there is an audience out there for this type of film. A large one, in fact. I am just not one of said audience members. Still, I give the filmmakers a lot of respect for taking on a film like this. Not all filmmakers are this brave with films such as this.

This movie spits, defecates, and bleeds all over its viewers and makes no apologies for it. Zero. But I suppose that’s part of the allure and most likely what the filmmakers set out to do with it. If that's the case, it has done its job rather effectively and this little Indie film is a raging success.

My stomach just couldn't take it. When it was over, I was nauseated, I felt like I needed to be disinfected, and I kind of hated myself for sitting through the whole thing.

And viewers beware! House of Whores 2: The Second Cumming will be on it's way soon...

Rating 5/10

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

COMING SOON: Tales of Halloween (2015)

Are You Ready For Halloween?

By John Roisland

Tales of Halloween poster

On October 16, 2015, Epic Pictures brings you an all new tale of terror - Tales of Halloween. Eleven directors and ten writers are brought together to each tell a tale of Halloween in an average suburban American town and then tie them all together to bring you one giant nightmare anthology!

Bringing these tales to the screen are such directors as Lucky McKee, John Skipp, Darren Lynn Bousman, and many other well known genre directors. Also on board are writers like Andrew Kasch, Dave Parker, and Mike Mendez. Bringing these directors' stories to life are a long list of Hollywood favorites. There are many talents bringing the stories to light, including Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Helen Keller vs Nightwolves), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Unholy), and John Landis (Quicksilver Highway, Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader). Genre favorites Caroline Williams (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Stepfather II), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond), and Lin Shaye (The Hillside Strangler, 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams) are also in the film.

Tales of Halloween jack-o'-lanterns

Tales of Halloween, a horror comedy classic in the making, has a run time of 92 minutes and is rated R for strong bloody horror violence, language, and brief drug use. BONUS: Watch for a kid trick-or-treating as "Snake Plissken", the main character from the John Carpenter movies Escape from New York (1981) and Escape from L.A. (1996).

With titles like "The Night Billy Raised Hell", "This Means War", "Friday the 31st", and "Sweet Tooth", Tales of Halloween promises to be quite the Halloween treat for horror lovers. So get the candy corn and popcorn ready because this Halloween flick looks like it has the potential to be pretty damn good!

Posted by John Roisland in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Spider Baby (1968)

By Nick Durham

spider baby
There're a lot of films I've seen over the years that have managed to make me say out loud, "What the fuck did I just watch?" Spider Baby is one of them. From exploitation director extraordinaire Jack Hill (who would go on to direct Foxy Brown, Coffy, and one of my all time personal favorites in Switchblade Sisters) and featuring the legendary Lon Chaney, Jr. in one of his last roles, Spider Baby is a nasty little gem and an underappreciated classic.

Chaney plays Bruno: a guardian and caretaker for three siblings who suffer from a strange genetic disorder that causes them to de-evolve. Bruno has always had his hands full, but things soon become a bit more complicated when some distant relatives show up to the decrepit mansion they all live in to claim the property. What happens next is some pretty nasty shit, with sanity and various body parts lost in the process.

Darkly humorous and peppered with some very freaky moments, Spider Baby is a treat. The performances from Chaney and the three siblings (which features a young Sid Haig!) are wonderful and somehow still terrifying to this very day. Granted some elements of the film itself haven't aged all that well, but it still manages to be an effective little piece of trash regardless. Originally filmed in 1964, the film didn't get officially released until 1968, and went through a whole lot of different titles in the process as well. Thanks to midnight showings over the years and word of mouth, Spider Baby has managed to become a beloved film of the era, and continues to be discovered and re-discovered as the years go by.

I know I've raved about other releases from Arrow Films before, but their release of Spider Baby is another wonderful Blu-ray package. The picture quality has been remastered, with it's stark black and white cinematography looking simply beautiful. There's a feature length commentary from Jack Hill and Sid Haig, as well as Hill's 1960 short film The Host (also starring Haig) included here as well. There's a panel discussion on the film from 2012, a rarely seen alternate opening sequence, new interviews, video of Hill revisiting the old house the movie was filmed in, and the typical collectors booklet that all Arrow releases include, among other features packed in here as well.

Like I said before, Spider Baby is a supremely underrated exploitation/horror film from an era where films like this were rarely seen. This release of it from Arrow Films is a must have for collectors and aficionados of this type of wonderful trash. Do yourself a favor, pick it up...even if you've never seen it. You won't be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Sinister 2 (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Sinister 2 (2015)

By Dixielord

Sinister 2 poster
Bughuul returns in the second installment of the Sinister franchise, but does Mr. Boogie still have what it takes to scare up a good time at the theaters?

The plot concerns deputy so and so (yes that's how he was billed in Sinister), now forced off the police force, investigating other killings similar to the one in Sinister. He's visiting the homes of the murders and burning them to try and break the chain of killings. Arriving at one of the homes, he finds it occupied by a single mom and her two kids. While instigating, he begins to become romantically attracted to the mom. Meanwhile, the kids are being visited by ghostly children, and coerced to watching home movies of Bughuul's murders. What is Bughuul preparing the kids for? Well honestly if you watched the first film, you have a pretty good idea what's up.

James Ransom returns from the original (now billed as “ex-deputy so and so”), as well as Mr. Boogie himself Nick King. The ending of the first film didn't really leave anyone else to return for part two. Joining the cast is Shannon Sossamon as the mother of the next family of intended victims. Ransom and Sossamon are what made the film enjoyable for me. Both were likeable characters, Sossamon the put upon single mother trying to escape an abusive husband with her two kids and Ransom as the would be hero.

Ransom plays the hero against type. He's not a macho tough guy and far from Ethan Hawke in the first film. He's not very confident, not macho and honestly most of the time he's scared shitless of whats going on around him. However he's a good guy, immensely likable and I could relate to him. He doesn't give up in trying to save Sossamon and her kids from Bughuul. He might not be a typical hero but it's hard not to root for him.

Likewise Sossamon isn't your usual victim in waiting. She may be abused but she is strong, fleeing her abusive husband and fighting to keep her kids safe. She even makes the decision to go back with her husband (Lea Coco) rather than let him take her kids. Putting herself back in line for abuse in an attempt to protect them. All and all she's a braver person than Ransom's character.

There are some disturbing elements in Sinister 2. Anytime you have kids involved in violent situations, it can be hard for some to watch. The entire Sinister storyline is based on the concept of children murdering their families at the behest of a demon. That isn't the shit you find in Disney films folks, so be aware if you can't handle violence by and against kids as both are present in Sinister 2.

But even with the taboo of child violence, Sinister 2 breaks an even worse taboo for a horror movie. It just isn't very scary. Now I wont lie, the trailers for this film make me jump out of my seat when I first saw them. That scene where Baghuul suddenly appears in the dark in front of so and so, that was a great scene. But it's the scariest scene in the movie, and I've already seen it. I'm prepared for it. It worked in the trailer but it didn't work a second time, and it's best scare in the movie.

The movies within the movie are more disturbing that scary. The first movie titled Fishing Trip was actually somewhat scary. It elicited a small jump from me because I wasn't expecting what happened (I wont give it away). After that the other films were all a bit telegraphed. The last movie might disturb some people but again, I saw it coming and it was just a bit meh.

The star of the movie, Mr. Boogie, or Baghuul if you prefer, is sadly limited to just appearing and taking a few steps forward before vanishing again. He seemed more effective in the first film, perhaps because he was new, and wasn't seen that much in the first. In Sinister 2 he seems like a wasted character, who is basically stands in the shadows to occasionally jump out...and do nothing. I know the kids are the real killers, and the real threat, but it seems that having a character like Baghuul he would be more terrifying. He would get involved a little more himself versus delegating most everything to the kids. Sadly he doesn't.

The lack of scares was my only real issue with Sinister 2, but being this is a horror movie, it's a big issue. Sinister was a well received horror movie, with a disturbing story and immensely disturbing ending. It was scary, too, maybe not that scary to a jaded horror fan like me, but much scarier than the sequel. They decided to end it with a happy ending, which wasn't that happy but I don’t want to spoil it for you, but then end it with a cheap jump scare. It wasn't needed, and it's a cheap shot to I assume keep the franchise going. I wish they had just left that last scene out completely.

So if you want to see a decent movie, with competent acting, and likable characters, and can handle violence involving kids, check out Sinister 2. Just don’t expect to be scared unless you have a really low fear tolerance.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 4 comments

BOOK REVIEW: Step Right Up! (2010)

I'M GONNA SCARE THE PANTS OFF AMERICA

MEMOIRS OF A B-MOVIE MOGUL

By Woofer McWooferson

Step Right Up! Cover 1 new

Author: William Castle; Publisher: William Castle Productions; ISBN: 978-0-5780-6682-0; Media: Paperback; Length: 276 pages; Genre: Autobiography; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2010

Emergo! Percepto! Illusion-O! Fright breaks, Coward's Corner, life insurance policies, punishment polls, and cardboard axes! Fans of horror movies in the 1950s and 1960s know these terms well as they are signature gimmicks of the consummate showman and director: William Castle. Even as a young child, Castle knew that he wanted to scare audiences to the same extent that he was scared during The Monster, a horror play that he attended with his father when Castle was the tender age of six. He was hooked on horror, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life.

Step Right Up! I'm Gonna Scare the Pants off America: Memoirs of a B-Movie Mogul is Castle's autobiography and a captivating journey through the life and mind of the man John Waters called, "...my idol. His films made me want to make films.” Originally published in 1976. Step Right Up! contains musings and recollections that are colorful, entertaining, and educational, his descriptions weaving a tapestry that makes readers feel as if they are sharing a brandy with Castle himself in his den. With Castle as our tour guide, we accompany him backstage to meet Bela Lugosi, whose difficulty in pronouncing Castle's surname, Schloss, instantly convinced the young man to adopt the name Castle, the English version of Schloss. We watch as a young Castle bluffs his way into a meeting with Orson Welles, eventually earning the right to take over Welles' Mercury Theatre. And we thrill as a chance encounter with Vincent Price completely changed the direction of Price's career, eventually establishing him as one of the greatest horror actors in the US.

Though Castle's success undeniably sprang from his ability to sell his films as a multimedia experience – a heretofore relatively rare tactic in filmmaking. Step Right Up! gives readers an unparalleled ride through Castle's life and career at a pace that never flags and that keeps the reader entertained, wondering what will next inspire the genius that was William Castle.

Not sure if Castle is your cup of mead? Check out some of these titles at the Internet Movie Database:

Bug (1975)
Shanks (1974)
Circle of Fear (1972 - 1973)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Project X (1968)
The Spirit Is Willing (1967)
The Busy Body (1967)
Let's Kill Uncle (1966)
I Saw What You Did (1965)
The Night Walker (1964)
Strait-Jacket (1964)
The Old Dark House (1963)
13 Frightened Girls! (1963)
Zotz! (1962)
Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
Homicidal (1961)
13 Ghosts (1960)
The Tingler (1959)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Macabre (1958)

If you like horror, step right up to check out Step Right Up! You will not be disappointed.

Bonus Fact: The character of Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) in Joe Dante's 1993 film Matinee is based on William Castle.

10/10 claws – don't forget your "Illusion-O" handheld ghost viewer

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Sacrament (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Sacrament (2013)

By Amy Lynes

sacrament_poster___

Director: Ti West

Starring: Kentucker Audley, Gene Jones, Joe Swanberg, A.J. Bowen and Amy Siemetz

Having enjoyed a few of Ti West’s other films and also being a huge A.J. Bowen fan, I was very eager to see The Sacrament. I have always been a bit fascinated by Jonestown Massacre of 1978 and I had heard that this film was very similar to what happened there, so I was more than ready to take this in.

The Sacrament starts off with freelance photographer Patrick discovering that his sister Caroline has joined some sort of religious cult in a remote country. With the help of fellow journalist Sam and camera man Jake (who just happens to work for a news show), he goes to Eden Parish under the guise of shooting a documentary about the self sustained community. In actuality, though, the three plan to locate Patrick's sister and persuade her to return home.

Soon after their arrival and a tour of this so-called utopia, they begin interviewing some of its inhabitants before meeting the leader, a man everyone refers to as Father. Father is a cross between a warm, polite southerner and a charismatic, smooth talking politician. Soon after meeting him and hearing his speech, they begin to sense that things aren't as bright and cheery as Father would have them all believe and they soon come to realize there is something much darker and maybe a little more sinister at work here. Father is up to something and it soon becomes evident that what started as just another documentary shoot has become a fight to escape with their lives.

Having become accustomed to the slow burn Ti West is known for with some of his other films, I was surprised at the (somewhat) faster pace of this film and the overall different feel that it had, particularly with the found footage approach.

Not long into it, however, I became profoundly disturbed, knowing what fate awaited the denizens of this society, and I found it increasingly harder to watch as it went on. I could almost FEEL the dread, panic and fear coming. It made me really uncomfortable, and by the time they start making the rounds with the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid in syringes and emptying them into the mouths of children, infants and the infirm, I damn near cried. I then wanted to cry again when Caroline injects her own brother with a cyanide filled syringe without so much as batting an eye. I was truly horrified, but I was unable to stop watching.

The scenes all hit their mark and the images are hard to shake. The film really stuck with me but then again, the story of what happened in Guyana always has. Maybe it is so disturbing to me because it so closely mirrored the events of 1978, or maybe it's the way all these people just so freely and willingly gave themselves (along with all their worldly belongings and assets) so completely to this man, without hesitation or question. Most of the residents of Eden Parish follow his words without even the slightest reservation, never thinking twice about his decisions, even when he tells them that the only way to hang on to their dignity is to die. That seems downright insane to me, and the fact that someone could have that kind of power over so many people honestly scares the shit out of me.

That being said, I am wondering why exactly The Sacrament has been labeled as horror, or if Ti West really thinks that is what he has given us with this film. I felt like I could have been watching a movie of the week or maybe a dramatization of real life events. The only thing that makes this a horror film, in my opinion, is the association to the events that happened in Jonestown in '78. Although, with his portrayal of Father, Gene Jones truly is this films saving grace. He was absolutely brilliant in this role, and the speech he gives right before he blows his own brains out really set me on edge. He might be full of charisma, but this is one seriously creepy dude.

This film definitely does what it sets out to do. It made me extremely uncomfortable and very emotional. It was grim and dark and hard to watch. It is not something I would care to add to my personal collection or ever choose to watch again. I just couldn't get past the fact that most of what is happening on screen really DID happen to people. Fictionalizing it just seems wrong to me somehow.

Rating: 6/10

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Contamination (1980)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Contamination (1980)

By Nick Durham

contamination

My trek through European splatter trash will never end.

Contamination is, as you can probably tell just from the cover, a 1980 Italian rip-off of Ridley Scott's classic Alien, which had achieved monumental success just a year prior. Armed with probably about a quarter of the budget (if I'm being generous) of the budget Alien had, Contamination is a super trashy and cheap cash-in on a much more revered film, much like Bruno Mattei's Hell of the Living Dead is a bonafide Dawn of the Dead rip-off, only this is directed by the guy that made the sci-fi shitfest Star Wars rip off known as Starcrash, and a really shitty Hercules movie starring Lou fucking Ferrigno. Even though it sounds like I'm shitting on Contaminationin this opening paragraph, believe it or not, I have a love for this Italian-branded fecal matter, and Arrow Films has blessed us once again with a beautiful Blu-ray release of the film.

The film's storyline, and I use the term loosely, revolves around a ship drifting into harbor containing a shitload of strange eggs. The eggs of course, are alien in nature, and explode, disgustingly mutilating anyone around them. Turns out there was a mission to Mars sometime prior, and the one drunken astronaut that returned may have some clues as to why these things are on Earth. What follows is a plot to destroy humanity, and quite possibly one of the most laughably awful movie monsters in the history of celluloid.

I know it sounds like I am shitting on Contamination, but I'm doing so out of love. I've always had a soft spot for this film. I know it's bad, I know it's cheap, I know it isn't anything you're likely to remember fondly...but goddammit, I adore it. It attained its fair share of notoriety upon its original release, being labeled as one of the infamous Video Nasties in its day, due to the exploding splatter effects shown mostly in slow motion. The effects, while ridiculously fake looking, are somehow a sight to behold. I know that sounds like it makes no sense, but trust me, watch it. There's also a soundtrack provided by Goblin (!) that is absolutely wonderful.

The Blu-ray rlease from Arrow Films features a bevy of special features that we've come to expect from the label. There's a commentary from super fan and filmmaker Chris Alexander, new documentaries and interviews with director Luigi Cozzi and star Ian McCulloh (who you know from Fulci's Zombie among other splatterfests of the day), a collector's booklet, and even a digital graphic novel based on the film's original screenplay. That's only a handful of what all is in this package, and it is glorious.

All in all, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Arrow Films has provided us with another wonderful release of a wonderful piece of trash from yesteryear. This Blu-ray is a wonderful addition to your collection if any of what I described of the film seems to be up your alley at all. As for the film itself, Contamination is a gloriously goofy and entertaining Alien rip-off that represents what makes this type of Eurotrash so enjoyable. Pick this up.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

PRODUCT REVIEW: Funko POP

By John Roisland

funko-con-1024x585
Funko, created in 1998 by Mike Becker, was an idea conceived to bring nostalgic themed toys back to an era of never ending electronics! My focus in this review is the Fukno POP line. It seems if you walk into any toy store, book/magazine shop - and especially a comic book store - you are bound to find these little guys! From Disney to Marvel and Dragonball Z to Jay and Silent Bob, Funko POP figures are everywhere! The list is endless - hell, there are characters I've never even heard of!

For our beloved HORROR...I must say it's a pretty impressive display. Ranging from classic horror, such as Nosferatu, The Wolfman and The Munsters just to name a few, to more mainstream horror icons, such as Captain Spaulding, Michael Myers, and (let us not forget my favorite) Leatherface! And again the lists goes on....and on, and they seem to add new ones every time you turn around.

Each character comes in a nice window box that stands about 7 inches tall. The figures alone, stand about 5 inches tall and are adorable! Yes, I said adorable! The reason I say this is because I can picture any young girl playing with any of these little characters at her tea party. They are not scary, nor are the meant to be. The detail of the characters, while they may not be as realistic as a da Vinci, is such that you know exactly who they are as soon as you see them. Without a doubt. They all have short bodies and large heads, and they almost have a cartoonish feel too them.

These figures have been a huge success with fans and toy collectors of all ages and lovers of all genres. Personally speaking, we have 11 in our collection, with about 75 more on our wish list. My personal favorites are The Bride of Frankenstein and Jason Voorhees! And what's on the top of my wish list? The new Pinhead of course! With an average price of $11.99 - $14.99, how can anyone pass it by!?

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Posted by John Roisland in PRODUCT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Amnesiac (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Amnesiac (2014)

By Kev B.

Amnesiac poster

On August 10, 2015, I was given the opportunity to attend Fangoria’s screening of Amnesiac, starring Wes Bentley and Kate Bosworth. It’s not often I go out to a movie, and if I do it’s because I think it needs or deserves the big screen experience. I went into this one with no expectations, and though this little movie with a cast of eight actors could have been more comfortably viewed from the couch, I was pleasantly surprised and actually didn’t regret coming out from under my rock.

The film (directed by Bosworth’s husband Michael Polish) centers around Bentley’s character waking from days of unconsciousness with a cast on his leg, a head wound, no memory, and a strange feeling that all is not as it seems… Amnesiac starts off slowly and builds tension as the story unfolds. I can’t say much about the plot, for fear of spoiling any of the twists, and I also suggest not watching the trailer (it’s both misleading and gives away way too much). I felt like the less you know before viewing, the better off you are, and any preconceptions about this movie should be forgotten in order to fully enjoy it. It’s a stylish Hitchcockian neo-noir psychological thriller/mystery with characters that exhibit David Lynchish eccentricities. It’s a more cerebral film that leaves most of the gore up to your own imagination, with most (but not all) of the violence happening off screen.

I’ve seen some reviews that were unfavorable at best, but I really liked it and I give it a big dismembered thumbs up. It’s a well acted film (especially Bosworth’s icy Hitchcock blond), and Polish does a solid job in the director’s chair crafting a visually striking picture with the use of light and shadow… So much so that it almost appeared to be in black and white at times, and I would almost say it should have been.

If you are looking for a quirky little film with a little tension and some mystery (a little dark comedy), and an ending that I felt tied up most of the loose ends and gave a solid resolution, then I recommend this one for you. Amnesiac saw its wide release August 14, 2015, in theaters and VOD.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: As Above So Below (2014)

As Above So Below:
Finding the Philosopher's Stone

By Woofer McWooferson

As Above So Below
Director: John Erick Dowdle; Writers: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle; Stars: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge; Rating: R; Run Time: 93 min; Genre: Adventure | Horror | Mystery | Thriller; Country: USA; Language: English | French | Latin; Year: 2014

MINOR SPOILER ALERT FOR PLOT POINTS

Once in a while a film comes along that is refreshingly different and surprisingly good, and As Above So Below strives to be that film. Indeed, it is ambitious in scope but flawed in execution. As Above So Below is very much like Laura Croft meets National Treasure in the Catacombs. The story follows Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks) as she tries to finish her deceased father's quest for the philosopher's stone. She has multiple degrees, speaks and reads several languages, and is a black belt in Krav Maga (of course), but she must seek help from George, a former lover and friend (Ben Feldman), to complete translation of the clues. It is often mistakenly categorized as found footage due to the shaky cam of videographer Benji (Edwin Hodge) who is filming a documentary on Scarlett and her quest. As Above So Below begins on a bus in Iran where the key to the rest of the puzzle is located.

Scarlett and George ultimately realize that the clue points to a location beneath Paris and is only accessible through the catacombs. After finding a guide, Papillion (François Civil), they hire him and his crew before heading into the catacombs to locate the stone. The rest of the film takes place in the French catacombs and was actually filmed there. Thus, there is a very real sense of claustrophobia and disorientation as the group's quest takes them deeper into the tunnels. With the site they seek not located on any map of the catacombs, they venture into uncharted areas as a sense of unease settles over all.

As Above So Below

Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) and George (Ben Feldman)

As Above So Below is an interesting film that is hampered by its own quest for depth and meaning. With references ranging from Dante's Inferno to Philip Marlowe and from St. George slaying the dragon to the Steve McQueen movie Papillion, As Above So Below has lofty ambitions. It is a tale of sin and redemption, and each person must conquer his own demons to survive. Unfortunately, geographical, historic, and linguistic errors combined with characters who are a little too capable (Perdita Weeks is not entirely convincing as a multi-degreed, multi-lingual, academic and physical juggernaut) and liberal artistic license prevent it from being a really good movie. As long as one can suspend one's disbelief, it is more than enjoyable and even worth a second watch to catch the all of the clues.

6/10 claws

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

SERIES REVIEW: The Killer and I (2015)

The Killer and I:
A Reality Series

By Stephanie Roisland

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This DVD series follows Kane Hodder and Michael Aloisi (aka Author Mike), the author of the journal about the making of Hodder's biography on an array of excursions. They are on a four month long book tour promoting Kane's book Unmasked: The True Story of the World's Most Prolific Cinematic Killer and Mike's book The Killer and I. They frolic about two continents causing mayhem and recording their shenanigans on video. This DVD consists of 13 episodes, each between 10 and 13 minutes long, showing many different situations that Kane puts Mike into.

This duo is truly an odd couple - Mike being a man scared of his own shadow and not so much the adventure seeking type, and Kane a man who loves thrills and makes his living scaring the daylights out of people. Even more than thrills, though, Kane loves torturing Mike and making him scream and squirm! The episodes take you from mini golf, crashing Segways, and hand feeding lions to exploring abandoned castles, ghost hunting, and driving ATVs through the desert. One of my personal favorites is Mike's first time shooting a gun. His reaction absolutely cracks me up. He bet against Kane in shooting and lost (go figure), and he has yet to make good on the bet and get his nipple pierced.

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I enjoyed the insane interaction between these two friends and how much fun they have together. The punches to the nuts and baths together (shower caps and all) are hysterical. Mike falls for just about anything that Kane can conjure up, and even though he whines about it, he takes most of it like a champ. It is nice to see the fun loving, free spirited, easy going side of our beloved "Jason" in his natural habitat. Some parts are almost a horror-themed version of jackass and some, of course, are a little slow. The short run time of each episode can be kind of a drag because it feels like every time you begin getting into an episode, it is over.

All in all this is a great addition to your reality television regimen or just something different to watch on a Friday night. I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and the bonus material is awesome. There are over 200 photos to browse as well as some commentary from Kane and Author Mike. I give this "Horror can be hilarious!" composition a 6 out of 10.

Posted by Stephanie Roisland in REVIEWS, SERIES REVIEWS, 0 comments

COMING SOON: The Green Inferno (2015)

Eli Roth's The Green Inferno Will Devour You This September

By Dixielord

The Green Inferno
In 1980, director Ruggero Deodato unleashed one of the most controversial films of all time on the cinematic world. Cannibal Holocaust is probably the best know of the Italian cannibal genre of films, and today, 35 years later, people are still outraged and disgusted by it. Now September 2015, Eli Roth prepares to unleash The Green Inferno, a spiritual successor to Cannibal Holocaust, on the film going public.

The film's plot concerns a group of students who travel to the Amazon to help save a local tribe. On the way to their destination their plane crashes, and in a savagely ironic turn of events, they find themselves held hostage by the same tribe they were coming to help. Things go from bad to worse as the natives begin to sharpen their knives and look at them with hunger in their eyes.

Eli's fans and a lot of horror fans in general have been waiting on The Green Inferno for what seems like forever. Roth announced his intention to make a modern cannibal film back in 2012. Filming began late in 2012, with an intended theatrical release sometime in 2014. Although the film did have a few screenings at horror festivals, financial difficulties prevented a wide screen release, and many fans, including me, feared it was dead, or at most would be a straight to DVD release. Blumhouse Productions rescued it and now it is scheduled for released on September 25, 2015.

It is important to remember that The Green Inferno, despite some early rumors is not a remake of Cannibal Holocaust, or any other film from the late Cannibal genre. The fact that The Green Inferno was the name of the film within a film, as well as being an alternate title for Cannibal Holocaust fueled these rumors. Instead it's more of a homage to the whole family of European cannibal films that were popular in the late 70s and early 80s such as Cannibal Ferox, Mountain of the Cannibal God, The Man from Deep River, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals and many others.

Eli Roth has shown in the past that he has no problems making a bleak and gory film, and the Italian cannibal films are about as bleak and gory as they come. There's just something about the taboo of eating human flesh that makes us all shiver down deep inside, while intriguing us at the same time. Movies like Cannibal Holocaust hit that nerve square on the head, but can Eli do the same thing with Inferno?

Obviously there's no way he can completely repeat the formula Deodato used. The infamous animal slaughter in Holocaust would land the film banned and Roth in jail, and would most definitely end his career. Other than that though, it's a new age, we ardent as easily shocked or fooled today. We know the special effects and CGI tricks, so film makers have to work harder for a scare. The Green Inferno also looks to be a bright, well lit, beautifully filmed movie. That's all well and good, but the cheap, grainy feel added to the effect of the old cannibal films. It made it feel more real, more dangerous, like not only it could happen, but maybe it did happen. Deodato actually ended up on trial because authorities thought he murdered his cast on screen.

The Green Inferno

Some comments made by Roth seem to imply the film will be, to some extent, a condemnation of Social Justice Warriors. Those who get themselves heavily involved in causes and situations they don't fully understand. His group of activists have the best intentions, to protect the noble savages, without understanding just how savage they truly are. It's a topical subject especially with the popularity of social media, and his statements have garnered a lot of attention. Holocaust seemed more an attack on the media, and their willingness to go to any extreme to get a story. His natives may have been cannibals, but the news crew were far more savage in the end.

With all this I still have faith that this film will be a success, that it will be a good film, a film that pays respect to the older films that inspired it. I have faith it's going to make me cringe, make me feel uneasy, and maybe even jump a few times. It wont be easy but I think Eli can pull it off. On September 25, 2015, I will find out.

Posted by Allen Alberson in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): The Screaming Skull (1958)

The (Steaming) Screaming Skull

A Review of The Screaming Skull on Its Own and as a Classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 Episode

By Woofer McWooferson

Screaming Skull
Director: Alex Nicol; Writer: John Kneubuhl; Stars: John Hudson, Peggy Webber, Russ Conway, Alex Nicol; Rating: Unrated; Run Time: 68 min; Genre: Horror, Thriller ; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1958

Horror movies have been around since the beginning of cinema and have evolved along with it. That which is considered terrifying for one generation may be laughable to another. True gems mature with age, their appeal never being lost from generation to generation. Gaudy baubles become rich fodder for riffing. The (Steaming) Screaming Skull is one of the great gaudy baubles of the 50s, boring and drab on its own, but a real delight when viewed through the lens of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K).

The plot is rather typical: newlyweds Eric (John Hudson) and Jenni (Peggy Webber) arrive at the ancestral home of the husband's late wife where Jenni begins to see and hear things that make her doubt her sanity. Suspicion quickly falls on Mickey (Alex Nichol, who also directed), the slow gardener who was more than fond of Eric's first wife Marion.

Although the movie begins slowly, the pace never picks up, and the movie plods along to the bitter end. I remember this one scaring the life out of me when I was six. I crouched behind my father's chair so that the skull could not see me as I peeked around to watch the movie from the safety of my hiding spot. The titular skull shows up throughout the film, both in actuality as well as spectrally from the camera's point of view. The viewer is led to believe that the latter are manifestations of the wife's subconscious as she falls further and further from sanity.

According to trivia on the IMDB.com page, the movie is based on a novel of the same name by Francis Marion Crawford, but it is not credited as such. Crawford's novel is said to be inspired by the “screaming skull” on display at Bettiscomb Manor, Dorset, England.

The Screaming Skull debuted on August 29, 1998 (season 10, episode 12) of MST3K. Due to its short run time, the film is preceded by a Gumby short entitled Robot Rumpus – a fact that is not lost on the 'bots. The MST3K treatment is flawless, beginning with their disappointment that the movie begins with a disclaimer that anyone who dies of fright will get a free coffin but there is no word of a coffin if someone dies of boredom. As Mike (Michael J. Nelson), Crow (Bill Corbett), and Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy) riff their way through the slow torture that is The Screaming Skull, viewers are treated to some of their best assessments (“This should be called Screaming semicolon Skull” -Mike) and host segments that leave little doubt as to their opinion of this steaming pile of... skulls.

The Screaming Skull is classified as both horror and thriller, but the only real horror is the chalky blandness of the performances and the only thrill is that MST3K riffed it.

3/10 claws on its own, two for the amazing Huntington Hartford Estate and one for its ability to scare 6-year-olds in the 1950s and 60s.

8/10 claws for the MST3K treatment

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Ash vs. Evil Dead

Ash vs. Evil Dead

Evil (Dead) Has Met Its Match?

By John Roisland
Ash vs Evil Dead on Starz

October 31, 2015, Halloween night, saw the world television premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead on Starz.

The long awaited follow up to the huge cult film franchise that began in 1981 as The Evil Dead. Not a bad night to open with if you want my opinion!

The series is set 30 years after The Evil Dead, with Ash living as a loner who is unable to come to grips with what happened all those years ago. Ash lives a dull life but seems to prefer it to fighting the forces of evil. Unfortunately for Ash, a Deadite invasion has begun, and Ash must draw upon his experience, boomstick, and chainsaw to stop the evil from spreading. all while finally coming to terms with his past.

The first season is set up with ten half-hour episodes and is produced by Sam Raimi (Drag Me to Hell), Rob Tapert (The Possession), AND Bruce Campbell (Bubba Ho-Tep) – all of the original The Evil Dead team. Campbell reluctantly jumps back into action as Ash, the chainsaw-handed demon hunter we’ve all come to love! Starring alongside Bruce is Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) as Ruby Knowby, a character who strongly believes that Ash is to blame for the evils that they encounter. (Ash vs. Evil Dead also sees Campbell, Raimi, Lawless, and Tapert reunited, the quartet having all worked on Xena: Warrior Princess.) The show also stars Ray Santiago (In Time), who plays Pablo Simon Bolivar, Ash’s loyal sidekick.

So let the kids run amok in the other room until they pass out from their trick or treating sugar high! Plop your ass in your La-Z-Boy, and grab your remote. It’s time to fight evil!

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
Tucker and Dale vs Evil…2?

Tucker and Dale vs Evil…2?

Evil Will Meet Its Match...Again

By John Roisland

Tucker and Dale vs Evil Blu-ray menu
Remember Tucker and Dale vs Evil? Who doesn't?!?! Everyone who is anyone has seen the hysterical and blood soaked 2010 film. Recently announced at Horror Hound in Cincinnati, Ohio, by the stars themselves, there will be a Tucker and Dale vs Evil 2. Tyler Labine (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly), who were guests at the convention doing a celebrity panel together, said that the producers emailed an outline them both. They duo continued, "We are honing in on who we want to write it. We really want to make another one!"

Tucker and Dale vs EvilThe story itself doesn't have a screen writer yet, and both stars have openly stated in the past that they “would never do a sequel if it's shit", so its a safe bet that this one is gonna be a bit of a wait. Sadly, the original film didn't have a long run at the theaters. However, it has enjoyed its own found success by rapidly becoming a huge cult classic since, so the fan base is most definitely there and eagerly waiting to see what happens!

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments