MOVIE REVIEW: Deathgasm (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Deathgasm (2015)

By Nick Durham

Deathgasm

Heavy metal up your fucking ass. That’s what Deathgasm promises, and holy mother of fucking shit, that’s what Deathgasm delivers on. A delirious, New Zealand-birthed film revolving around metal, demons, and hysterical gross out moments, this film is a total fucking treat, and that’s saying it lightly. Fifteen minutes into this movie, I knew I stumbled upon something special.

Deathgasm revolves around Brodie (Milo Cawthorne): an abandoned teenage metal head that is stuck living with some fairly conservative family members that don’t approve of his dress style, taste in music, or penchant for playing some blistering licks on his guitar (it should go without saying that I totally relate to this kid, but I digress). Anyway, Brodie meets local troublemaker and fellow metal head Zakk (James Blake), and of course they decide to start their own band. Before you know it, they inadvertently summon up an ancient evil that begins taking demonic possession of the local townfolk.  What results is some of the most hilariously amazing scenes you’ll see in a horror flick around today.

Nearly everything about Deathgasm is wondrous. The film’s screenplay and scenes are peppered throughout with various metal-flavored in-jokes and nods to the metal genre. Combined with the pitch-black comedic moments and even more nods to 80s horror flicks (this film owes a lot to The Evil Dead (1981) and Demons(1985)), you won’t be able to do much else other than love this fucking film. The film’s makeup and gore effects, and especially the soundtrack, are totally fucking killer.

Now for as much as I love Deathgasm, it isn’t perfect. In fact, it falls just short of being an all-time classic, albeit just barely. The bro relationship between Brodie and Zakk, and the love triangle with the super fine Medina (Kimberly Crossman), doesn’t get as much depth served to it as I would’ve liked. That and sometimes the film’s pacing is sometimes all over the place. All of that aside, this is a fucking great time.

All in all, if you’re a longtime fan of metal music, you owe it to yourself to see Deathgasm. Even if you’re not into metal music, you’ll find a lot to admire here regardless if anything like The Evil Dead or Demons (1985) is up your alley. If you don’t get even a smidge of enjoyment out of this, I think something may be wrong with you, and we just can’t be friends.

Rating: 4/5


Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Blacula (1972)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Blacula (1972)

Blacula

By Dixielord

The 1970s were the time of the exploitation films and spawned many subgenres.  One of the more famous, or infamous, depending on who you asked, were the blackspolitation films. These in turn were so popular and lucrative that these  films developed their own subgenre. Among those were boxing, crime, musical and my favorite, the horror subgenre. Horror blacksploitation consisted of films such as Abby, Blackenstein, and Blacula, among others. Blacula, released in 1972 was the first of these films.

William Marshall as Blacula

William Marshall is Blacula

Blacula was directed by William Crain and starred William Marshall and Vonetta McGee. It's largely due to the commanding presence of Marshall that the film is lifted above other blacksploitaion films and its somewhat silly name. Blacksploitation films have a mixed representation among critics. Some praise them for offering roles to black actors and directors and exposing black culture across racial lines, others decry them for reinforcing racial stereotypes. In my opinion, most of the films are guilty, to some extent, of both. While Blacula does have some unfortunate stereotypes, and is a bit too comfortable with throwing out homophobic references, overall it's a much better film than its name implies.

Blacula is the story of Mamuwalde, an African prince who travels to Europe to seek an end to the slave trade. Unfortunately, one of the heads of state he meets is Dracula. As it turns out not only is Drac a blood drinking vamp, he is also a bit of a racist who thinks the institution of slavery is just dandy.

Dracula from Blacula

We knew Dracula was evil vampire, but in Blacula he is also pro slavery.

He puts the bite on Mamuwalde and locks him in a coffin to spend eternity thirsting and starving for blood. Fast forward to modern (1970s) times where two interior decorators buy the Dracula estate and have it shipped stateside. There they open Dracula’s coffin and inadvertently wake the fledgling vampire. The former Mamuwalde wastes no time recruiting the two into his service. Later he happens across the beautiful Tina (Vonetta McGee) who is the spitting image of his long lost love Luva. Not shocking since she was played by McGee in the pre title sequence.

Mamuwalde begins a courtship with Tina that attracts the attention of Dr. Gordon Thomas, the boyfriend of Tina's sister. Thomas is a pathologist for the LA police department and is played by blackspolitation regular Thalmus Rasulala. Mamuwalde confesses his love (and undead existence) to Tina, and she, believing she is the reincarnation of Luva, makes plans to go away with him. Meanwhile Thomas, deducing the truth, moves to stop Blacula.

When it was released Blacula was a huge commercial success, despite mixed critical opinions. It is my favorite blacksploitation horror film and one of my favorite vampire films of all time. The film does have a few racial stereotypes, but they aren't glaring or extremely offensive. Its portrayal of two gay characters and the casual use of the word “faggot” by the film's heroes is a bit more offensive. Although the 70s were a different time and the film probably accurately portrays the language of the time, it's still one of the more objectionable parts.

It's tempting to say Marshall is the only thing that lifts Blacula above other films of the genre, and a lot of critics do. You cannot downplay his presence, physical stature, and his acting ability, but even without him the film is a great horror movie. Blacula has a Gothic feel that harkens to the great horror films of Universal and Hammer, with warehouses substituted for castles and night clubs for taverns.

And while Blacula is no emo sparkler, he’s downright bloodthirsty at times, he is one of the more sympathetic vampires to be put to film. His whole undead life is due to his fight to free his people. Not only that, but as a vampire he refuses to take his reincarnated love by force. In many scenes in Blacula, and even more so in the sequel, Scream, Blacula, Scream, Marshall shows a range of emotions that other vamps have never shown on film. The films ending puts it squarely in the realm of a classic tragedy as the noble count once again loses his love and decides to end his eternal life.

Original poster for Scream, Blacula Scream

Sequel to Blacula; Scream, Blacula Scream

If there is one flaw in Blacula that bothers me, it is that it tends to shift between Mamuwalde being a vicious creature of the night and a love sick character out of time. I really like the more emotional Mamuwalde, but sometimes the shift happens with little reason. I can understand his unwillingness to kill Thomas, even his running from him, as Tina implores him not to hurt him. But at other times he seems to randomly shift from vicious to somber.

An added bonus to Blacula is the musical performances by The Hues Corporation. The band, best known for the 1974 hit Rock the Boat, perform two songs during the night club scene. The soundtrack and score, using upbeat funk and jazz unlike traditional horror which relied more on classical and somber music. It's another small piece of what makes Blacula stand out in the horror genre as a whole.

Overall, Blacula is a standout of the blackspoitation genre and a must see for anyone calling himself a horror fan. It has flaws, and overly sensitive people may rankle at the homophobic slurs, but it's a great film and a slice of 70s film nostalgia. Plus it has William Marshall, one of the most underrated, and underused actors of his generation. At the time of this review, Blacula is streaming on multiple platforms and available on different media, including Blu-ray and a double feature DVD with its sequel Scream, Blacula Scream.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

TYPE O NEGATIVE

untitled (4)By John Roisland

TYPE O NEGATIVE

In honor of the late Peter Steele celebrating his birthday January 4th, I bring you my personal tribute two Type O Negative.

Formed in 1989, Type O Negative, out of Brooklyn, New York, hit the hard core/heavy metal scene with a sound that was of their own. Heavily influenced by The Beatles, Black Sabbath, and The Doors, the "Drab Four", as they were nicknamed, lyrically gave us songs about romance, depression, death loss, addiction, vampirism, and hate. The lyrics were often with a very dark sense of humor that lady over many of their songs.

When I was first introduced to the band, just after the 1991 release of their first album Slow, Deep and Hard, I thought to myself, "Okay, not bad". But at the time, I was into heavy thrash metal, so these guys weren't fast enough for me. But before I knew it, I was absolutely in love with them. They just made sense to me at that point in my life; the lyrics, spoke to me. I can remember putting their CD on repeat while I would be home and my old roommate getting very pissed after hearing about 4 hours of Christian Woman!

Over the years their creative style and dark imagery was burned into my heart, my mind, and my soul. It inspired me to the point that if I were an artist, Type O Negative would have easily been my muse. And the odd thing is that they have actually inspired me to do artwork every time I've listened to them in recent years. The Brooklyn New York music scene was known for its hardcore bands, Agnostic Front and  Sick Of It All for example, and then some long haired guys come on stage with songs about vampires and a following of their own.

With the 1993 release Bloody Kisses, they took the world by storm! Type O Negative were now touring the world over and over again. A follow-up album in 1996, October Rust, earned them critical acclaim. From one album to the next as each followed, their level of maturity grew in their music, as lyrically they  became darker, more emotional, and more personal. The last three albums, World Coming Down, Life Is Killing Me, and Dead Again, were both incredible and very sad, because you could hear him singing about his real life monsters: alcoholism and paranoia brought on from newest vice, cocaine.

images images4UVCUBX1

Lead singer Pete Steele was a monster of a man who stood 6'8 and towered over everybody on stage. Though I am 6' tall, the few times I was fortunate enough to have met Mr. Steele, my neck was sore from looking up at him. He was an incredible person to talk to, and he spoke genuinely and honestly. He didn't hold back, which I appreciated,  but he was also a very shy and depressed person. Steele suffered from being both bipolar and clinically depressed, which led him to drink before going on stage to get over his stage fright, and he sometimes consumed an entire bottle or two of red wine while on stage to continue.

Their shows were always phenomenal, no special effects, no fancy light show, just four guys performing great music. I think seeing them in DC on Halloween night was very suiting! Their songs are ones that you could dance to, throw down in a pit, work out, have on in the background while you were doing things around the house, or even have sex to, but their music to me was much more. Their music was never, ever turned off if ever their song was playing. I always allowed it to finish. I'm not trying to say that every song they wrote was  masterpiece, but there was never one that I could say I didn't like either.

Listening to Peter Steele's voice always amazed me. This 6'8 mountain of muscle had a voice that could hit some of the lowest sounds I've ever heard. It was as if you were listening to Lurch from The Addams Family singing to you, and on the flip side has voice with so melodic and graceful. If you didn't know who he was, you may have thought to put a battle axe in his hands and throw him into a set of Conan the Barbarian, but you wouldn't think of him as a a singer.

Back in my day, every time Type O Negative  came to town I always had my tickets and never missed a show. No matter how big or small it was, it was  always a great show. It didn't matter who they were performing with , the  likes of Danzig, Pantera. or taking a night off from a major tour and doing a small club show unannounced, they were always awesome!

Peter Steele died April 14th, 2010 from heart failure due to an aortic aneurysm at only 48 years old. I miss Type O Negative a lot, I still listen to it all the time.  As a  matter of fact, it's the most popular played Pandora station that I have. I listen to it at work, in the car, and any chance I get. The memories that I have of them are very strong though they weren't  everybody's cup of tea. The friends that I hung with were all metal heads and hardcore music fans. I was the Type O fan of my group, and they all knew and respected that.

The untimely death of Peter Steele and the end of the band hurt. I was living in Florida at the time and had just got home from work. I turned the computer on and saw the headlines. I was crushed! Memories of their concerts, sounds of the music, and friends I was with as their music played thru out the years came rushing to me like a hail storm of bullets.

To this day , through me, their music lives on and always will. People always ask one another, "What's your favorite...?" Well, I don't know what my favorite food, or actor is. Not sure what my favorite movie is (unless its horror), but I do know what my favorite band is, ..... Type O Negative.

images (2)

So to Peter Steele, Kenny Hickey, Josh Silver and Johnny Kelly, I thank you for the music and memories that were and will be made through it.

And to Peter, I hope you are no longer fighting with your monsters, and can nest rest easy.  We miss you.

Keep It Evil.

Posted by John Roisland in EDITORIALS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

solange

By Nick Durham

Italian horror and giallos...these are two of my favorite things ever. So why the fuck did it take me this long to discover and watch this? What Have You Done to Solange? is a 1972 giallo that features all the hallmarks of the genre, yet somehow manages to have a bit of class about it (well, a small bit) that a majority of these films certainly do not. Sleaze and giallos go hand in hand, yet this film is something else entirely, and now thanks to Arrow Films, a whole new generation of viewers can discover it.

What Have You Done to Solange? revolves around an Italian teacher named Enrico (Fabio Testi) whom is trying to get in the pants of one of his students. After a nasty murder occurs literally a few yards away from them, things begin to unravel for everyone involved. Enrico becomes a suspect, his affair gets exposed to his wife (Karin Baal), and the bodies just keep piling up with no end in sight. What's their connection? And just who the hell is Solange (Camille Keaton from the original I Spit on Your Grave in her debut role) and what does she have to do with everything?

Like I said earlier, What Have You Done to Solange? features a lot of the hallmarks of the giallo genre: eroticism, rampant nudity, vile murders, a confused detective, and a black-gloved killer. One thing that is notable about the film though is its craftsmanship. The camerawork and cinematography are wonderful to say the least. This shouldn't be surprising, considering it is directed by Massimo Dallamano, who served as the cinematographer for some classic Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. Speaking of spaghetti westerns, legendary composer Ennio Morricone provides the lush score here as well. Nearly everything about this film is wonderful. If there's any flaws, it's that its conclusion is a little too anticlimactic.

This Blu-ray release from Arrow Films is a wonderful sight to behold. We get a new 2K restoration of the film, as well as a commentary track from critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman. There's interviews with Testi and Baal, as well as a visual essay that explores the themes of the film as well the sort of official, sort of unofficial sequels that would follow in its wake.

All in all, What Have You Done to Solange? is a masterwork of the giallo genre to say it lightly. This film is one of the landmarks of the genre, at least to me, and it deserves your time and attention. If you've never seen it and you dig giallos in the least, do yourself a favor and pick up this Blu-ray from Arrow Films. You'll be damn glad that you did.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): The Hunger (1983) Dedicated to David Bowie

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): The Hunger (1983) Dedicated to David Bowie

The Hunger
Nothing Human Loves Forever

By Woofer McWooferson

The Hunger (1983)

The Hunger (1983)

Dedicated to David Bowie
(nee David Robert Jones)
8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016
Thank you.

Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie

Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as Miriam and John Blaylock in The Hunger

Director: Tony Scott; Writers: Ivan Davis and Michael Thomas (screenplay), Whitley Strieber (novel); Stars: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandan; Rating: R; Run Time: 97 min; Genre: Fantasy | Horror | Romance; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1983

The Hunger, Tony Scott's 1983 adaptation of the Whitley Strieber novel of the same name, is perhaps the most sensual and artistic vampire film ever. The story of ageless Egyptian vampire Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) whose lovers are promised eternal life and youth, The Hunger begins as her latest lover John Blaylock (David Bowie) is beginning to age. Tony Scott's elegant and graceful style is perfect for the story, and he delivers scene after carefully crafted scene of cold lust, warm passion, and hot love. Denueve, Bowie, and Susan Sarandon are uniquely suited for the roles of Miriam, John, and Dr. Sarah Roberts (Sarandon), each bringing raw sexual intensity to mix with the aching hunger of the title.

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus in The Hunger

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus in The Hunger

Opening in a club where Miriam and John are hunting, The Hunger cuts back and forth between Bauhaus performing Bela Lugosi's Dead and Miriam and John scouting the crowd for a suitable meal. This juxtaposition sets the style and tone for the rest of the film. With very little ado, the Blaylocks accompany their meal home, seduce them, and then feed, said feeding being juxtaposed with Dr. Roberts' monkey test subject going wild, attacking his mate, and eating her. Using ankh necklaces with hidden blades, they slash their victims' throats and lap up their blood rather than using something so crude as their teeth. Nevertheless, the message is clear: we, vampire or human or monkey, are all animals with animal urges and animal desires. Shortly after this, John finds himself unable to sleep and realizes that Miriam's promise of eternal youth was hollow and selfish. Eventually John and Miriam separately seek Dr. Roberts because of her research on aging and longevity.

David Bowie as an aging John Blaylock in The Hunger.

David Bowie as an aging John Blaylock in The Hunger

The gore is minimal, but what there is of it is expertly placed for maximum impact, and the corpse and aging effects are top notch. The viewer believes he is seeing John age right before his eyes, and it is heartbreaking not just for John and Miriam but for the viewer as well. Watch for a young Willem Dafoe as 2nd Phone Booth Youth.

Susan Sarandon in The Hunger

Susan Sarandon as Dr. Sarah Roberts in The Hunger

From Bauhaus to Delibes and from Iggy Pop to Schubert, the soundtrack is haunting and beautiful and further accentuates both the smoldering passion of lust and the heartbreaking anguish of loss. Between the lead performances, Scott's direction, the use of light and shadow, and a soundtrack that feels deftly tailored for the story, The Hunger truly is a masterpiece in the vampire subgenre of horror.

Catherine Deneuve as Miriam Blaylock in The Hunger.

Catherine Deneuve as Miriam Blaylock in The Hunger

10/10 claws – Stylish, sensual, and satisfying.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
GAME REVIEW: Molly Maggot

GAME REVIEW: Molly Maggot

maggot1

By Nick Durham

I have come to the conclusion that I am indeed a masochist…or at least I think I am. Why else would I keep subjecting myself to shitty games that I find on Nintendo’s E-shop on the Wii-U? My latest find is called Molly Maggot…and good fucking grief, I don’t even know where to begin.

First and foremost, Molly Maggot is a platform game…sort of. You play as our titular heroine (the fucking thing is named Moly, so I’m assuming it’s a she), an adorable little maggot trying to find your way throughout the rotting flesh of a duck…or a bird…I don’t know what the fuck it is because the animated intro is so shitty that all I can say for sure is that the animal has wings. Anyway, your mission is to munch on blocks of flesh and navigate your way to the end of each zone. The blocks of flesh themselves consist of regular blocks and super rotten blocks that can hurt you if you touch them. After you first start munching on the blocks, you realize that each zone is actually like a maze, and due to the ungodly stage designs, you will get stuck and fuck yourself a lot. Not literally fuck yourself of course though, maggots don’t have sexual organs. I think. Wait, do they? Comment below and let me know, I’m too lazy to go look it up right now.

Now in addition to royally fucking yourself by munching the wrong direction (not a euphemism), you also have the ability to jump. This should help you on your quest, but it doesn’t, because the jumping and platforming mechanics of Molly Maggot are so goddamned terrible that I literally can’t put them into words. I was a fucking English major in college, and I CANNOT FIND THE FUCKING WORDS to describe how bad the mechanics are. Add to that the seemingly randomly generated enemies that pop up, piss-poor hit direction, shoddy animation, and the lack of game music, and you have one of the most hilariously awful games you’ll ever play.

So yeah, can you tell I didn’t care for Molly Maggot? It’s bad…like The Letter bad. That game was two bucks too, and I demanded my money back for that…Molly Maggot is so bad that not only do I want my two bucks back, I want my dignity back. This game is an abortion…and that’s me being nice.

Rating: 0/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
RIP Angus Scrimm

RIP Angus Scrimm

RIP Angus Scrimm

By Dixielord

Sad news tonight as Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Angus Scrimm has passed away. Scrimm is best known to horror fans as The Tall Man, the imposing and enigmatic villain from the Phantasm film series directed by Don Coscarelli. In addition to the Phantasm series, he also had roles in Wishmaster (as the narrator), I Sell the Dead, John Dies at the End, an episode of Masters of Horror, and many others. But it was The Tall Man that made him an icon to horror fans around the world. Angus Scrimm took on the role of The Tall Man in five Phantasm films, although the fifth, Phantasm: Ravager, is awaiting released.

RIP Angus Scrimm

Angus Scrimm

As The Tall Man, Angus Scrimm was a heartless monster of a man, but off-screen he was one of the nicest people one could ever hope to meet. He loved his fans, loved to meet them, and happily chatted with them at conventions. He was still doing occasional appearances as late as last year.

RIP Angus Scrimm

Angus Scrimm

I met Angus several years ago at Texas Frightmare Weekend. Even though he had a long line, he took time to chat with everyone who came to meet him. During his question and answer session, Angus said the only thing he disliked about conventions was that he didn't have time to talk as long as he liked with everyone. If you ever met Angus, you would know that statement is true. Meeting him was an experience I will treasure forever.

Angus Scrimm was born August 19th in Kansas City, Missouri. He moved to California and studied drama under the brother of Cecil B. DeMille. In addition to acting, he also wrote liner notes for artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to The Beatles. Before he became The Tall Man, he won a Grammy under the name Rory Guy for his liner notes.

The Tall Man Angus Scrimm

Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man

From the bottom of my heart and from everyone at the House of Tortured Souls, we send our love to the family and friends of Angus Scrimm. You were a class act, and we will never forget you. Rest In Peace, Mr. Scrimm, you have earned it.

Posted by Allen Alberson in HORROR HEROES, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Autopsy (2008)

MOVIE REVIEW: Autopsy (2008)

Autopsy

Autopsy poster

By John Roisland

2008 After Dark Horrorfest III,  AUTOPSY, written and directed by Adam Gierasch who also brought you Fractured in 2013 and Night of the Demons in 2009.

The story is of a group of friends who leave Mardi Gras after partying,  have a car accident, and are picked up by an ambulance that takes them to a nearby hospital, that can examine their wounds... very carefully!

The problem is, this hospital has been closed for 3 years. It has been taken over by mental patients, the head physician included. The lead physician, played by Robert Patrick ( Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Walk the Line, Copland) has plans of his own, to help his dying wife, by any medical means possible.

The group is seen, one by one, and none return to the lobby to rejoin their friends. At this point things get chaotic as the group finds themselves at the hands of psychos. Unable to escape from the hospital, one by one they are put on the slab, and brutally taken apart...all in the name of science.

This is a really fun movie and was from a great time era of the After Dark releases. The film is full of guts and gore, and even has a few decent scare factors. One memorable scene I always liked is an autopsy with the entrails draped around the operating table like Christmas tree garland. The  film quality is also top rate, which definitely comes thru in the movie as the color and sound are perfect!

Autopsy in Autopsy

The films also stars Jessica Lowndes (Altitude, The Devils Carnival), Ross McCall (Green Street Hooligans , Serving Up Richard), Ashley Schneider ( Extreme Movie, Stupid Teenagers Must Die), Michael Bowen (Less Than Zero, Django Unchained, Kill Bill Vol. 1+2) and Mr. Robert LaSardo (Death Race, Anarchy Parlor, The Human Centipede III, Nip/Tuck, Strangeland), who I must say, was perfect in this role!

The film is now 8 years old, so really there is no reason why you haven't seen it. But if by some chance you WERE born yesterday and haven't, you need to put it on your list! For those of you who have, it's overdue for another good viewing!

7/10

Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Inhabitants (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Inhabitants (2015)

the-inhabitants-01-600x350

By Nick Durham

We’ve had a bit of a renaissance lately in terms of some small-budgeted spooky movies that deliver the goods without buckets of blood and gore and rely more on old school tricks to give the viewer goose bumps. A lot of these films tend to be of the slow burn variety as well…which has its own share of likeable qualities (and some serious hate-worthy qualities as well). The Rasmussen Brothers (writers of John Carpenter’s The Ward and helmers of Dark Feed) throw their hat into the ring with The Inhabitants, which actually manages to make a fairly good impression despite its shortcomings.

The Inhabitants revolves around married couple Jess (Elise Couture) and Dan (Michael Reed), who have just purchased a New England-based bed and breakfast. Of course, as these things tend to go, the house itself holds some terrible secrets thanks to its past inhabitants. These come to light when Dan has to take an emergency business trip and leaves Jess all alone in the big, spooky house. All the creepy house hallmarks are here: scary shadows and figures, creaking sounds, and some creepy camera angles.  The film offers plenty of atmosphere that really gives the film an ominous tone and it works really well.

While The Inhabitants offers good atmosphere, there’s some other elements where the film sadly lacks. It begins with our leads in all honesty, neither characterization really reaches out to the viewer at all in any way. Not to mention the fact that there are some serious plot holes and flat out leaps in logic that pop up as the film crawls towards its conclusion. Granted the film’s story is a little inventive compared to other films of its ilk, so it does have that going for it at least.

All things considered, I could think of worse ways to kill an hour and a half. The Inhabitants isn’t half bad, but it doesn’t offer much either in all honesty. Still though, it does show that Michael and Shawn Rasmussen have talent and promise as filmmakers. Here’s hoping that they only go onward and upward.

Rating: 3/5

 

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

MOVIE REVIEW: Maggie (2015)

MAGGIE_web_1

By Nick Durham

I really want to see that horror/drama film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger…file that under things I’d never, ever think I’d ever hear myself say.

Maggie had received a lot of press since its inception, mainly because it features Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger as the lead in a zombie that doesn’t feature him taking down hordes of the undead. Instead, it’s a subdued drama about a mid-western (yet Austrian accented) farmer trying to take care of his bitten daughter (Abigail Breslin) as the whole world begins a descent into hell. By all rights and purposes, such a film should not exist, but here we are.

Maggie isn’t quite a horror film for the most part. It’s actually kind of hard to really classify this flick. The zombie element of course is rooted in horror, but the film is actually more of a drama…and holy shit is it a fucking depressing one at that. From the stark landscapes and haunting imagery, to the overall tone of the world this film is set in teetering on the verge of an apocalypse (yet the humans are still in control), this is where Maggie manages to succeed the most.

Now, let’s talk about the acting. Everyone’s made a big deal out of Ah-nold here, and with good reason. Believe it or not, he does fairly well here, and I can’t believe I’m actually typing those fucking words. If there’s one major flaw with having Arnold in the lead of a movie like this…well, it’s that he’s ARNOLD FUCKING SCHWARZENEGGER! No matter how old he is, no matter how much he manages to emote and actually put on a decent acting performance, I just can’t get away from the fact that he’s ARNOLD FUCKING SCHWARZENEGGER. This is The Terminator, this is Conan the motherfucking Barbarian, this is the ultimate action hero from the 80s and 90s and one of the most recognizable stars in the history of celluloid. Seeing him in a role like this, it’s just hard to separate him from his other screen personas and still take him seriously here, but that’s just me. Aside from Arnold, the rest of the cast does well, particularly Breslin as the doomed teenage daughter who is literally seeing herself rot away.

In closing, Maggie is an interesting dirge of zombie horror/drama, made all the more interesting because of its star. Arnold aside, this movie is worth watching if you want to see a zombie flick doing something different, which in itself is a nice change of pace. Still though, it’s nothing really special in the least, but I can think of way worse zombie movies, and Arnold movies, that could waste your time more.

Rating: 3/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood Rage (1983)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood Rage (1983)

bloodrage

By Nick Durham

You guys want to see an 80s slasher that features an assload of gory moments, murderous twins, and a young Ted Raimi in a cameo as a dude selling condoms in a bathroom?

If your first question is what's a condom?, well...we're in the same boat. I don't know what they are either, but I do know what a Ted Raimi is. My preferred choice of birth control is what I call the Ted Raimi, where right before I'm about to blow a load I start chanting I'LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL and that's when my partner runs away screaming. No babies for me.

Anyway, Blood Rage is a cheap slasher flick that was filmed in 1983, but not officially released until 1987 in a heavily edited version that was even re-titled Nightmare at Shadow Woods for some reason. The story revolves around twins named Todd and Terry (both played by Mark Soper), of which Terry is a crazed killer that has blamed Todd for a gruesome murder when they were young. In the years that followed, Todd has been institutionalized while Terry has led a pretty nice life while being smothered by his mother (Louise Lasser). Things come to a head though when Todd escapes, and Terry goes on a blood-thirsty rampage for shits and giggles.

As I had said before, Blood Rage was heavily edited upon its eventual release, and it's easy to see why. This film is a flat out fucking bloodbath literally from its beginning to the end. Some of the effects are pretty good for their time, and some of them...well, they weren't then, and definitely aren't now. Still, there are some inventive kills, and the film walks a fine line between being tongue in cheek and ridiculously mean-spirited. The film's story is fairly predictable, but it's surprisingly well-acted for what it is.

The wonderful folks at Arrow Films have unleashed another shockingly spectacular Blu-ray release. A three disc limited edition set, the Blood Rage Blu-ray set features three (!) versions of the film that encompass its uncensored version and edited cuts, along with a shitload of commentaries and interviews as well. The film itself has been restored in 2K HD, and it looks wonderful to say the least. Arrow seriously literally overdid themselves bringing Blood Rage home.

To wrap things up, Blood Rage is a fairly entertaining and somewhat forgotten slasher that has received a brilliant Blu-ray set release from Arrow Films. The features and overall presentation of this set make Blood Rage worth picking up by itself alone. This is by and far worth your time and money, and you should probably act soon and pick it up while you can, because when Arrow calls something a limited edition, they're not fucking around. Grab this while you can.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Mine Games (2012)

MOVIE REVIEW: Mine Games (2012)

minegames2

By Nick Durham

We’ll get to the badness of this movie in a bit, but there’s one thing I feel I need to address right off the bat, and it’s the confusion over the actual title of this piece of shit. First and foremost, I discovered Mine Games on Netflix, and noticed that it stars Briana Evigan (Sorority Row, The Devil’s Carnival, Paranormal Island).  Anyone who knows me well enough knows that one of the things I love more than horror is ogling Briana Evigan, so I was sold right away into pressing play. As soon as I did, the film’s title card appears, but doesn’t say Mine Games, and is instead titled The Evil Within. Imagine my confused state, for not only am I now watching something I didn’t select, but I may also not get to ogle Briana like I had intended.

As I feared that my penis would soon begin to weep along with my eyes for fear of seeing no Briana, I soon realized that I would be weeping internally as well, because no matter what this movie is called, it’s a piece of dogshit either way. Upon further examination, it turns out that this film was titled and re-titled a couple different times throughout a turbulent production period, and an even more turbulent post-production period as well. The story of all that itself is infinitely more entertaining than the actual film itself, but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, the plot of Mine Games revolves around a group of friends that consist of stock type toolbags and airheads going on a nice, relaxing trip outdoors, and all eventually getting slaughtered. This involves a claustrophobic mine and looping timelines and multiple versions of the characters that doesn’t amount to a lick of fucking sense. This is made all the funnier because the film actually believes that it is being clever, and it isn’t at all; it’s just confusing and boring.  The characters are all stock types: jocks, annoying partyhounds (but one here has a British accent, so that makes him charming!), a hippie, a maybe psychic chick (with no explanation how), and the previously mentioned Briana Evigan plus Julianna Guill (who had a legendary sex scene in the 2009 Friday the 13th remake) absolutely both refuse to show much skin, which in turn helps make my penis sad in addition to the horror nut inside me.

So yeah, in case you can’t tell by now, Mine Games is a total stinker. Like I said before, it’s on Netflix right now, and if you’re a masochist, I’d say give it a look and hate yourself later. For the rest of us though, this piece of crud is better left not being seen…by anyone.

Rating: 1/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Goodnight Mommy (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Goodnight Mommy Is a Mother's Nightmare

By Amy Mead

Goodnight Mommy poster

Directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz

Starring Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz and  Lukas Schwarz

After what appears to be an idyllic summer for a young set of twins, their young mother returns home to them after an unseen incident causes her to have facial reconstruction surgery. The boys seem a bit taken aback by her appearance, almost hesitant and afraid to approach her, as she is still healing and her head is swathed in bandages.

Almost immediately her behavior seems very odd and based on the boys reaction, it is very much unlike her. She imposes harsh rules and guidelines for play and she seems almost hostile with the twins, particularly Lukas who she refuses to speak to or even feed.

When she suddenly begins lashing out at Elias with violence, the boys begin to question if this woman is really their mother and not some sort of replacement. This woman seems like a stranger to them with each passing day and it doesn't take long before the boys take some pretty extreme measures to find out is she really is in fact their mother. This culminates in some fairly shocking images of torture and a twist ending that won't soon be forgotten once witnessed, even if it is easy to be seen coming very early on in the film. 

Like many others, I was enthralled by the trailers for Goodnight Mommy when they first began to surface and was anxiously awaiting the films release. Unfortunately, the trailer is very misleading and all the things that  seemed to draw an audience in are sadly shown in the first thirty minutes of the film.

Not only that, Goodnight Mommy is one hell of a slow mover with a lot of prolonged periods of silence. There isn't much action to be had. That being said, the silences do really seem to work for the film, giving it an unsettling and almost melancholic feel while simultaneously helping to build the tension and atmosphere within the film.

Goodnight Mommy offers a very limited but talented cast but the three key players, knock it out of the park with their performances. There's something very unsettling about the twins (Elias and Lukas Schwartz) and they play their roles brilliantly and Susanne Wuest also gives a very chilling performance in her role as "The Mother". The audience is never really sure how to feel about any of them and this effectively dials up the creep factor and gives the film a little darker edge.

Goodnight Mommy is definitely a film with an art house feel but that doesn't make it any less creepy or tragic, it in fact adds to the film. It's a psychological thriller but there is also a great deal of sadness and an underlying sense of loss that keep it from ever becoming a full blown horror film.

While entertaining and full of some pretty graphic and horrific elements, it never fully lives up to it's potential and it almost feels as though there is something missing. Some vital piece we are not made privy to, however we are unable to stop watching or look away and have to see where the film takes us. The films end is one that is likely to stay with you after the credits roll and the final five minutes could very well be what brought on all the critical acclaim the film received when it hit the festival circuit. 

Even if mildly confusing and somewhat disappointing, Goodnight Mommy is definitely worth a watch. It didn't deliver in the way I had expected it to or hoped it would but is does still deliver. Check it out and judge for yourself. 

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

BOOK REVIEW: Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

futuristic

By Nick Durham

David Wong is a fucking loon. Don't believe me? Go read John Dies at the End. Don Coscarelli directed a pretty good adaptation that captured most of the insanity contained in that book, but the novel itself should be read by one and all to get the full effect of Wong's lunacy. After John Dies at the End became a sleeper hit, Wong (real name Jason Pargin, AKA the editor of the wonderful humor site CRACKED) released This Book is Full of Spiders, which further cemented his demented talents. Now, here we are with his eagerly anticipated Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits; a novel which grabs you firmly by the balls and rarely relents.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits revolves around a young girl named Zoey Ashe, reserved to living her life in a trailer park with her mom, as well as he beloved cat Stench Machine. Zoey's estranged father, an insanely wealthy crime lord/business man named Arthur, has recently met a mysterious death, and left everything to Zoey. Before she knows it, Zoey is hunted down by psychopaths with freaky-ass enhancements (including a guy with a metal jaw and another one that shoots lightning from his fingertips). Her only place of refuge? A Vegas-esque city called Tabula Ra$a, where she is to hook up with her father's cohorts, who have plans of their own and surprises up their sleeves.

While definitely more in the realm of science fiction than horror, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits is equal parts farce, action romp, dark (very dark) comedy, and surprising commentary on the effects of social media and the absurdity of the YouTube generation and those that always feel the need to broadcast themselves to satiate their own narcissism. This is illustrated by Wong presenting us a world in the very not too distant future where nearly everyone in the world is broadcasting dumb ass bullshit for various audiences that eat it up, including all the viewers that tune in to what becomes a potential genocide thanks to a literal super villain.  Yes, this book is absolutely fucking insane.

The characters are well developed for the most part. Zoey is a likeable protagonist and our guide through the insanity of Tabula Ra$a. Out of her father's cohorts, the stoic Will somehow manages to be the most interesting of the bunch with the least information given about him compared to his partners, while our super villain Molech is equal parts douche bag frat boy and horrifying psycho. Oh, and little Stench Machine is a pisser. I'm all for more cat sidekicks in literature. I demand it, make this shit happen...it may be one of the only ways to get people to get off their phones and actually fucking read more.

So yeah, you should definitely go pick up Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits as soon as you can. If you read John Dies at the End and/or This Book is Full of Spiders, then you should know more or less what to expect here, except this is a much more coherent and better-structured story that is a legitimate page turner. I seriously can't recommend it enough. Check it out.

Rating: 5/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

By Kev B.

Silent Night Deadly Night poster

 

My favorite holiday horror flick is another one that brings me back to my awesome childhood, growing up in the 80’s with one of the coolest Moms on earth. Way back then, before the internet, we had a show with two opinionated douche nozzles who did movie reviews, called Sneak Previews and later At The Movies. A week before Halloween back in 1980, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert had declared war on horror movies, and dedicated an entire episode of their show to a disturbing new trend in Hollywood, the slasher film. How douchey were they? Well, Siskels review of Friday the 13th for the Chicago Tribune included this gem of a quote "It has been suggested to me that a great way to keep people from seeing a truly awful movie is to tell them the ending" so he spoiled the reveal to discourage readers from seeing it. He also encouraged a letter campaign to harass the studio, producers, and even Betsy Palmer for taking part in the film.

Silent Night Deadly Night Controversy

In 1984 Siskel and Ebert reviewed Silent Night, Deadly Night. They said it was crude and mean spirited and that the profits made from the movie were blood money. They read the names of the film's production crew on air, shaming them and again encouraging viewers to send hate mail. Whenever they were outraged, Mom and I knew we had a winner and ran off to the theater to check it out. The more disgusted and repulsed they were, the more excited I would get. In fact, they’re the reason I write reviews today, as I had always wished I had a like minded critic whose opinion I could trust. And it really is all a matter of taste and opinion, including the debate on artistic merit. Ya ever heard the old saying: Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one… and most of them stink.

They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but the shit storm that ensued and the protests at showings of the film caused the studio to pull it from theaters a week or so after its release. Had it not been for that TV commercial running at dinner time across America, the movie probably would’ve had a moderate run in theaters and went unnoticed. And despite Silent Night Deadly Night out-grossing Wes Cravens A Nightmare On Elm Street, also released on the same day, they listed the film as one of the worst of 1984. The major fatal flaw was that 30 second television commercial, not the movie itself, as most of the outraged protesting parents didn’t even see 30 seconds worth of the movie.

"My 3-year-old son saw the television commercial for Silent Night, Deadly Night last week and now refuses to sit on Santa's lap for our annual Christmas picture this year. How dare producer Ira Barmak rob my child and others like him of their fantasy. Make the splatter films, if you must, about adult subjects and leave our holidays alone. What next? A marauding turkey at Thanksgiving? Think of the children!!!"

The subject of the controversy is almost more interesting than the movie itself, and in the long run it’s helped more than it hurt this fun little slasher. It put the movie on peoples radar, and actually solidified and justified its mark in horror history. It wasn’t the first killer Santa movie, and it aint the last, but its my favorite and it’s become a holiday tradition for me and many others out there.

Silent Night Deadly Night protest

Poor Billy Chapman never had a chance, he had that perfect storm of consequences that effected his life and mind so deeply it would’ve been a miracle if he turned out a well adjusted young man. The movie begins, Christmas eve 1971, with Billy at 5 years old visiting his grandfather at the Utah mental facility with his parents and baby brother Ricky. Grandpa seems catatonic until poor Billy is left alone with him for a few minutes, he snaps out of it and tells the young boy “Santy Claus only brings presents to them that's been good all year. All the other ones, all the naughty ones, he punishes! What about you, boy? You been good all year?” “You scared, ain't ya? You should be! Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year!”

With that still fresh in his young mind, the ride home is cut short by a chance meeting with a derelict on a crime spree dressed in a Santa suit. After witnessing his parents murdered at the hands of Santa, Billy and little brother Ricky are sent to St Mary's home for orphaned children and subjected to the strict disciplinary guidance of Mother Superior. Her sadistic abuse accompanied by noteworthy quotes like “Punishment is absolute, punishment is good!” and “When we do something naughty, we are always caught. Then we are punished!” Not the best place for a kid to grow up with a possible hereditary mental illness and extreme childhood trauma.

Billy gets a job at Ira’s Toy store as a stock boy, but when the holidays come around his attitude becomes a little erratic. Add to that the need for someone to fill in as the store Santa, and before we know it Billy is all dressed in red and white and looking a little stressed. The store closes and the bottle opens and the celebration begins, Christmas party at Ira’s. Turns out alcohol is the final trigger when Billy gets a few drinks in him, and before you know it holy holiday hell breaks loose. Billy goes into full on punish mode, and punish he does!

Maybe I give this movie extra credit for the nostalgia, but I still think it has a solid story, some interesting kills, and enough gratuitous sex and violence to get me thru most of the holiday season. He beheads a dude riding a sleigh. He strangles someone with a string of Christmas lights, He impales Linnea Quigley on the antlers of a taxidermied deer head, and if that don’t make you want to see it then disregard everything I’ve said and go watch Jim Carrey as the Grinch. I highly recommend you make Silent Night, Deadly Night part of your movie collection, and a holiday tradition in your home too. If you can find the double feature DVD it includes the sequel featuring Billys little brother Ricky, all grown up and crazy as hell. “Garbage Day!”

Depending on how much cheese you like with your horror there are 5 SNDN movies in the original franchise, and part 5 has Mickey Rooney in it too.

And remember… “You see Santa Claus tonight you better run boy, you better run for your life!”

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Holiday Tunes for the Horror Lover: Even Scarier Solstice

Holiday Tunes for the Horror Lover: Even Scarier Solstice

Holiday Tunes for the Horror Lover
Part 3 of 3: An Even Scarier Solstice

An Even Scarier Solstice from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

An Even Scarier Solstice from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

This final segment of my three part holiday tune recommendations looks at An Even Scarier Solstice, the second solstice carol album from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS). Once again, the good folks at the HPLHS take themes, characters, and events from Lovecraft and Lovecraft-inspired writers, set them to traditional carol tunes, and then perform them beautifully. This album is equally as clever as its predecessor, a worthy follow up to their first foray into holiday tunes.

Here’s a list of the tracks and a brief description of each:
1. “We Wish You a Scary Solstice” (1:04) Excellent way to open the album because children love the Old Ones, too!
2. “The World in Terror and Madness Lies” (3:55) It’s that time of the year… time for great Cthulhu to rise!
3. “Mountains of Madness” (1:37) Why walk in just a winter wonderland when you can walk in the mountains of madness? One word: Shoggoths.
4. “A Cyclopean Tomb (Down in Deep R’lyeh)” (1:30) There’s no place like home, and there’s no home like R’lyeh!
5. “Death to the World” (2:02) A carol that examines the best outcome if the Old Ones come. Praise the Old Ones.
6. “Awake Ye Scary Great Old Ones” (1:30) The tale of the Old Ones to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”.
7. “Mi-Go We Have Heard on High” (1:15) What do Mi-Go want?
8. “The Shoggoth Song” (0:44) Be careful what you wish for!
9. “It’s the Most Horrible Time of the Year” (1:23) Some claim this is the most wonderful time of the year, but this song reminds us why that’s not so.
10. “Harley Got Devoured by the Undead” (2:52) Taking a more modern tune, this gem tells the story of the statement of Randolph Carter.
11. “It’s Mi-Go!” (2:03) Mi-Go! Why DO they put our brains in cans?
12. “A Brumalian Wish” (2:10) An original tune with an excellent period feel.
13. “Look! Professor Angell Brings” (2:42) The heralding angels have nothing on Professor Angell!
14. “The Cultist Song” (2:21) A song about the cultists who work to help bring about the return of the Old Ones to the tune “Merry Christmas to You”.
15. “Death May Die” (2:35) Key parts of the Necronomicon to “Auld Lang Syne”.
16. “The Festival” (1:12) A song inviting a distant family member to partake in the ancient rites and rituals of his bloodline.
17. “Eerie Dreary Solstice” (1:22) Who wants a “Holly Jolly Christmas” when you could have an “Eerie, Dreary Solstice”?
18. “The Deep One Song (Solstice in R’lyeh)” (2:34) Deep Ones, not chipmunks, will mate with humankind on this day.
19. “The Worst Hotel” (2:15) Our narrator was less than satisfied with his Innsmouth accomodations.
20. “Unholy Night” (5:01) Another song about the coming of the Old Ones because there can’t be too many songs about the main prophecy in the Cthulhu mythos.
21. “We Three Friends of H.P.L. Are” (6:24) Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert Bloch sing the praises of H.P. Lovecraft and his extraordinary imagination.
22. “Blue Solstice” (2:40) Elvis (or an celebrity sound alike) mourns a solstice without Cthulhu.
23.”Go Summon Up the Dead Ones” (2:58) Celebrate your ancestors, but oh so carefully – unless you want to die. An Even Scarier Solstice is the second of two original Lovecraftian-themed holiday albums from the folks at HPLHS. As with the first CD, An Even Scarier Solstice can be purchased from the online store.

An Unbearably Scary Solstice

An Unbearably Scary Solstice

If you want an extraordinarily special solstice treat, the HPLHS has a bargain double header with A Very Scary Solstice and An Even Scarier Solstice bundled with their songbooks and packaged lovingly in a collectible tentacle stocking that even has room for more stocking stuffers. This treat, commonly known as An Unbearably Scary Solstice, can be purchased here.
10/10 – More top notch Lovecraftian holiday music!

Posted by Alan Smithee in MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Djinn (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: Djinn (2013)

Djinn_poster

By Nick Durham

What the fuck happened to Tobe Hooper? That was my first thought when watching Djinn; the long delayed Arab/English horror film that has been sitting on the shelf since being originally filmed in 2011. But then throughout the course of watching the film, I remembered something: Tobe Hooper hasn’t been the same director that he was in decades.  Here’s the thing: Hooper will forever be a horror icon for crafting the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, along with Poltergeist and Salem’s Lot. He’s helmed some super enjoyable films as well, including The Funhouse, Lifeforce, and Spontaneous Combustion; but over the past couple decades, he’s been a shell of his former self with his work. Djinn is not excluded from that sad, sad fact.

Djinn revolves around an Emirati couple who return home from America after the death of their infant child. Their glorious new high-rise apartment building though appears to be built upon a part of land that also houses some very, very malevolent spirits that have ties to the local culture. Soon enough our couple realizes that things aren’t all what they seem with their home, or with their new neighbors either. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that some very bad things are going to happen, and no one is coming out of this one hundred percent intact either.

Djinn actually features a ton of promise from its first shot onward. There are some genuinely creepy images and moments peppered throughout the film, but sweet fucking Christ does it ever plod along. Seriously, the pacing of this film is all over the fucking place. One minute things are moving at a brisk pace, the next minute they slow to a crawl. It feels like a decent amount of footage was left on the cutting room floor, which would explain the erratic pacing. Considering this film sat on the shelf for a few years (released in some parts of the world in 2013, and the rest over the following two years), this wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

The acting isn’t too bad (mostly), but despite the creepy moments that Djinn does offer, it doesn’t pack nearly enough scares, tension, or suspense. Back in the day, no one could do scares, tension, and suspense like Tobe fucking Hooper. Until you’d see his name in the credits, you would never know that he helmed this, that’s why it’s so hard to believe that this is the same guy that graced us with a handful of classic films decades prior.

So yeah, Djinn is a stinker, but in all honesty, I didn’t really expect it to be much else given Hooper’s previous few works. It’s available on Netflix right now, though I can’t say I really recommend it, no matter how bored you may be. What happened Tobe? Seriously, what the hell happened?

Rating: 2/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY

By Margeaux DeMott

 

The legend of Cropsey comes from New York and is now closely associated with Staten Island. Cropsey's affiliation with Staten Island is because of a documentary made in 2009 by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, titled Cropsey. Their documentary briefly covers that urban legend and purposes a man named Andre Rand could be the aforementioned boogeyman. However, the legend of Cropsey is older than the disappearances of the children that are attributed to Rand. Started as a spooky tale that campers in boy scouts, summer camps, and groups of teenagers would tell around a campfire, Cropsey shares a similar tale common to most boogeymen. Cropsey lives in the woods and preys on the young; from children to young adult campers. The story varies slightly from campfire to campfire. Sometimes he has a hook for a hand, some times his face is burnt, but most often he does his killing with an ax. I have read of people being told the legend going all the way back to the 1950s, and the tale of Cropsey is still being told around campfires to this day. 

The Urban Legend, reprised

Cropsey was a man that lived in a cabin in the woods with his family. He had a wife and two children. He was an upstanding pillar of his community and had an all around good life. Until one fateful day.  A group of campers in the woods started a campfire that they could not handle. The flames spread through the woods and caught Cropsey's home ablaze. His children and wife found themselves trapped inside the house. He tried to get them out but failed. He fell into a deep rage aimed at careless camp goers. Insanity soon took over, and Cropsey moved into the woods to hunt people with his ax. He swore his deadly vengeance on any and all campers he could get his hands on.

The man that became the Urban Legend

The man who would become Cropsey

In their documentary, Zeman and Brancaccio match a man to the myth and put a face to the boogeyman in the form of a person we know as Andre Rand. Throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's strange occurrences  transpired. Several children, and one young adult, on Staten Island went missing. Rand was the prime suspect in these disappearances due to his criminal record involving crimes against children. In 1972 Alice Pereira, nine years old, went missing. She was last seen playing in an apartment lobby with her brother. Her brother said he left Alice alone for a moment and when he returned she was gone. Coincidentally Rand was employed as a painter at this apartment building. In 1981 Holly Ann Hughes, seven years old, never returned home from going to the store with a friend. Her friend reported that Rand drove up in a Volkswagen and pulled Holly into the car. In 1983 Tiahease Jackson, eleven years old, was reported missing after she failed to return from going out to purchase food on her mothers request.  In 1984 Hank Gafforio, twenty-two years old, was reported missing. Hank Gafforio was born with an IQ in the seventies. His last sighting was with Rand in a local diner. In 1987 Jennifer Schweiger, twelve years old, was reported missing and was last seen walking with Rand. Schweiger's body was found on the grounds of the former Willowbrook State School.

Andre Rand was convicted of the kidnapping of Jennifer Schweiger (1988) and later the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes (2004) -concurrent sentences of 25 years-to-life. As of the time of this writing he is still living, and will be eligible for parole in 2037 at the age of ninety-three years old. Considering the areas in which he hunted his prey, and the vivid imagination of a pre-internet society, one can easily see where people made the connection from Rand to the legend of Cropsey.

Posted by Alan Smithee in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, 1 comment
Holiday Tunes for the Horror Lover: Very Scary Solstice

Holiday Tunes for the Horror Lover: Very Scary Solstice

Holiday Tunes for the Horror Lover
Part 2 of 3: A Very Scary Solstice

A Very Scary Solstice from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

A Very Scary Solstice from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

Part two of this three part holiday tune recommendations looks at A Very Scary Solstice from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS). The HPLHS take themes, characters, and events from Lovecraft and Lovecraft-inspired writers, set them to traditional carol tunes, and then sing with some of the most beautiful voices I've heard on any serious holiday album. It's not just a witty and clever album, it's an album that can be enjoyed everywhere.

Here's a list of the tracks and a brief description of each:

1. "Have Yourself a Scary Little Solstice" (2:30) The dark and drear of midwinter celebrated to the tune of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

2. "Freddy the Red Brained Mi-Go" (1:24) This little ditty drops Rudolph in favor of the squishier, yet vastly more talented Mi-Go.

3. "The Great Old Ones Are Coming To Town" (1:11) Why worry about Santa coming to town? The Old Ones will probably just devour him anyway.

4. "The Carol of the Old Ones" (1:16) Actual lyrics to the misnamed “Carol of the Bells”.

5. "Silent Night, Blasphemous Night" (2:12) When it's so quiet that you can hear the horror taking hold.

6. "Awake Ye Scary Great Old Ones" (1:30) The tale of the Old Ones to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”.

7. "Mi-Go We Have Heard on High" (1:15) What do Mi-Go want?

8. "The Shoggoth Song" (0:44) Be careful what you wish for!

9. "It's the Most Horrible Time of the Year" (1:23) Some claim this is the most wonderful time of the year, but this song reminds us why that's not so.

10. "Es Y'Golonac" (1:21) To the tune of “Feliz Navidad” we learn that he has orifices on his hands. Orifices.

11. "Away in a Madhouse" (1:14) Locked away in a madhouse needn't be a bad thing.

12. "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fishmen" (1:42) Nothing smells more like Christmas than fishmen.

13. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth" (1:18) Why in the world would Mommy kiss Santa with Yog-Sothoth around? Exactly.

14. "Oh Come All Ye Old Ones" (1:28) Another tune addressing the true meaning of the season by calling for the Old Ones to rise.

15. "I'm Dreaming of a Dead City" (3:15) Not dead but dreaming.

16. "Dance the Cultists" (1:01) There's room for everyone around the cultists' fire!

17. "He'll Be Back for Solstice" (1:50) Never stop dreaming.

18. "Mythos of a King" (2:08) Celebrating the vast and insane world Lovecraft discov- , uhm, created.

19. "Here Comes Yog-Sothoth" (0:23) It's not over until Yog-Sothoth sings.

20. "Little Rare Book Room" (3:17) Who doesn't love a good book? Or an evil one?

21. "Demon Sultan Azathoth" (1:01) Lovely redo of “Good King Wenceslas” only creepier.

22. "Tentacles" (1:21) Silver bells? Only if they're on the end of tentacles!

23. "Do You Fear What I Fear?" (1:39) Another fine carol, this one tracking the fear from inception to reader.

24. "Cthulhu Lives!" (0:47) In case you were concerned.

25. "Oh Cthulhu" (3:21) Chorus celebrating the god, the priest, the legend: Cthulhu.

A Very Scary Solstice is the first of two original Lovecraftian-themed holiday albums from the folks at HPLHS. It comes with a songbook with information about each tune as well as lyrics to enable you to sing along.

I really cannot praise this album enough. I listen to it all year.

A Very Scary Solstice can be purchased from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical society store

10/10 – Top notch holiday music with brilliant Lovecraftian themes!

Posted by Alan Smithee in MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Pod (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Pod (2015)

pod-poster

By Nick Durham

Well, this is…something.

What happens when your crazy, war-vet brother claims he’s found something in the woods that is some sort of blood-hungry, otherworldly beast? Well, you go stage an intervention of course! That’s pretty much the basis of Pod; a super brisk (about 78 minutes long) dirge of a thriller that has a quite a surprising amount of positive things going for it for about half of its running time.  After that though…well, read on and find out.

From writer/director Mickey Keating, Pod tells the story of bickering brother Ed (Dean Cates) and sister Lyla (Jug Face‘s Lauren Ashley Carter) who unite to take a road trip up north in an effort to stage a possible intervention for their seemingly mentally ill brother Martin (Brian Morvant). When they arrive at Martin’s cabin, they learn his dog has been slaughtered, the windows and doors are secured and boarded and taped up, and there’s something in the basement that Martin keeps referring to as a pod that he claims is responsible for his behavior and the death of his dog…along with much, much more.

Fairly minimalistic in its presentation, Pod has a lot going for it. From the initial trip and tour of the dilapidated cabin to the first encounter between the siblings, this film manages build a shitload of wonderful tense moments. The camerawork, editing, and acting are all wonderfully impressive given the film’s almost barebones nature. That’s all pretty much the first half of the film though, as all the good things that are built up initially are betrayed as Pod stumbles towards its conclusion.

The major flaw of this film is that from the beginning sequence onward, we pretty much know that this monster exists and that Martin isn’t totally crazy. Pod could have benefited as being more of a psychological-based thriller if this wasn’t known right away. If instead the film kept playing with the viewer, making you wonder if this thing is real or if Martin is as much off his fucking rocker as it seems. Instead it degenerates into a creature feature, with a predictable hoot of an ending.  Oh, Larry fucking Fessenden is here too in a small, yet pivotal, role as someone whose presence never gets explained. I swear, I can’t fucking escape him.

That’s the other thing about Pod: nothing is ever really explained. We don’t know if the creature is some kind of mutant or a fucking alien or what. The film’s promotional material kind of makes the film look like an alien abduction-style affair (which is what I thought this was at first glance) but in reality it’s little more than a monster-in-the-woods affair. The little to no explanation of things about the film is something I actually kind of dig. There’s no cell phones present and the cars are old models, so we know this film takes place in the past, but we’re never sure exactly what decade. Little things like this kind of elevate the whole thing, at least to me that is.

All things considered, if you’re looking for a brisk and somewhat enjoyable thriller that actually does tension (mostly) right, Pod may be for you. It doesn’t wind up being as promising as its first half makes you think it might be, but it isn’t horrible either. It was just added on Netflix, so give it a look.

Rating: 3/5

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