Daniel Ryan

I am a 36 year old man from New Jersey with a lifelong passion for horror, science fiction, true crime, and cryptozoology. I will do my utmost to be a worthwhile contributor to House of Tortured Souls.
Scary Good Eats-the IHOP Addams Family Breakfast

Scary Good Eats-the IHOP Addams Family Breakfast

They’re creepy and the goopy, mysterious and mooshy, they’re altogether droopy-the IHOP family breakfast!

Well, okay, its not quite that bad. But it should go without saying that when fine dining is on the mind, the International House of Pancakes (former the International House of Burgers. No really) is not what immediately comes to mind.  This is the kind of option you more likely go for when you are either in an incredible rush on a very long road trip, or it is 3 am and you are drunk out of your mind-or at least your better judgment.  This reputation has not stopped IHOP from cashing in on the anticipation of the debut of the new Addams Family, to take place later this month of October.  And so for the sake of the reader, your humble narrator chose to undergo the intestinal challenge of taking on some of this limited time menu.

Upon perusing the menu, decorated with images of the upcoming CGI cartoon, I took in the board of fair.  Among the items I was tempted by were
Wednesday’s Web-Cakes: Fluffy, signature Buttermilk pancakes topped with cupcake icing, webbed with HERSHEY’S Chocolate Syrup and topped with violet whipped topping.

Gomez’ Green Chili Omelette: Marinated pulled pork, Jack & cheddar cheeses, fire-roasted peppers and onions, and green chile verde sauce topped with sour cream.

Uncle Fester’s Chocolate Ice Scream Shake: A haunted house-made HERSHEY’S chocolate ice cream shake with violet whipped topping.

Morticia’s Haunted Hot Chocolate: Toasted marshmallow hot chocolate topped with violet whipped topping and a drizzle of HERSHEY’S Chocolate Syrup.

Kooky Kids Combo: A Wednesday’s Web-Cakes served with one scrambled egg, one bacon strip and one pork sausage link.

Although the images attached to said menu held promise, I kept my judgment in reservation. If Hannibal taught me anything, it is to always question what goes into a dish, no matter how attractive. After some consideration, I chose to opt for the Gomez Green Chili Omelette and the Wednesday Web-Cakes.  Upon my food’s arrival, my expectations promptly joined the Addams Family ancestors rotting in the graveyard outside their home.  I’ll allow the attached image to provide all the visual summary of the experience that awaited me that could possibly be asked for.

Upon carrying my fork to my mouth, I found the Wednesday Web-Cakes completely unremarkable, outside of the heart attack-inducing amount of frosting that had been slathered across the surface.  There was no particular flavor profile to these pancakes to set them aside from anything you would get at any other chain restaurant. While I’m sure the web pattern drawn into the frosting looked perfectly lovely the instant it was applied, by the time I found this short stack in front of me it was more resembling the clocks in Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Time.

The Gomez Green Chili Omelette at least looked presentable on the plate.  The green chili chunks were clearly visible in the verde sauce, promising a possibly zesty dish to come.  But upon my first bite I was overwhelmed by the unmistakable taste of artificial, rather than organic eggs. The verde sauce proved completely bland without any hint of the kind of Spanish flare you would expect from the partriarch of the Addams clan.  The pulled pork also proved tasteless, allowing the cheese flavors to completely overwhelm. Trying to find any particular flavor in this dish was harder than locating Cousin It’s face amidst his mop-like pelt.

With a final price tag of less than twenty dollars total, I can at least say the dish is not all that outrageous of a loss for what you invest. But I still walked away disappointed, feeling even less inclined than before to try any of the further Addams themed dishes that IHOP had to offer.  And so I revved up my engine and drove the old hearse home as I waited for the Addams Family revenge to hit my digestive track like Uncle Fester behind the wheel of a big rig.  Overall experience, two stars. Eat at your own risk!

Posted by Daniel Ryan in FAMILY HORROR, FOOD AND DRINK, HORROR COMEDIES, PRODUCT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

Friday the 13th Vengeance-A Review

If there is any one given rule among fans of the long running Friday the 13th franchise, it is that Jason never dies. Yet for over a decade fans have languished, waiting for the Crystal Lake Killer to re-emerge from the murky depths of his watery grave to once again bring havoc upon unsuspecting, over-sexed victims.  But the fate of the film series remains stuck in limbo amidst legal disputes and a sheer lack of any truly promising scripts.

But out of this void has emerged a thriving community of productions by fans. Some cross Jason over with other horror franchises, serving as defacto successors to Freddy vs Jason. Others simply follow the hockey mask, machete toting monstrosity on his never ending quest to avenge his mother.  And some try to add new and different twists the mythos of Jason. And that is where Friday the 13th Vengeance delivers in spades.

After several long years of production, this long promised feature was unveiled on (fittingly) Friday, September 13th in Blairstown, New Jersey-the true home of Jason, as many scenes from the first film where recorded there, and the bulk of filming took place at nearby Camp Nobebosco, which is still an active Boy Scout camp that offers frequent tours of filming locations and even overnight stays. The feature was the cap off of a weekend of festivities to celebrate the unique event, as under the light of the first Harvest Moon of the season fans fathered amidst various figures of Friday the 13th past (including no less than Ari Lehman, the very first Jason) to celebrate their favorite slasher film franchise and just plain have fun.

The script, as written by Mike Meade and T.C. DeWitt, follows the standard formula for Jason, yet manages to insert plenty of new and unique elements to provide a satisfactory follow up to where the franchise left off (disregarding the 2009 remake) with a plot that sees the daughter of Tommy Jarvis unite with several other descendants of Jason’s many victims to try to clear their family legacies and put an end to Jason’s reign of terror once and for all.  But this time Jason has some back up of his own, as the character of Elias Vorhees (portrayed by CJ Graham, better known for playing Jason in part VI) makes his long awaited big screen debut to back his son up and even the odds, as well as provide further insight into the true story behind Jason’s dark origin. The film also packs in a final, somber appearance by Steve Dash, best known for playing Jason in most of Part II, as an aged Sheriff with some secrets of his own.  Dash had a very personal connection to this project, as he hosted the creators in his own home in order to film his scenes amidst his own failing health, before his death earlier this year. This provide a fitting tribute to “the REAL Jason.” Also included is a delightful appearance by Diana Prince, better known to a new generation of slasher fans as Darcy the Mail Girl from Joe Bob Briggs Last Drive In from the streaming service Shudder.

Although the direction of Jeremy Brown and Dustin Montierth certainly lives up to the legacy of all prior directors responsible for bringing Jason to life, it would be a lie to say this film is not without its flaws.  The story drags in certain areas, such as seemingly meaningless subplots about a crew of convicts, and hikers off on Camp Crystal Like terror tours that provide eye-rolling fodder for Jason’s rampage.  Yet this is more than compensated for in abundant death scenes that more than life up to the bigger budget, mainstream productions of the past.  Jason Brooks gives a Kane Hodder worthy performance as Jason, living up to the character’s trademark rage and thirst for mayhem.  There are no two kills that are alike in this film, much to the delight of the rowdy audience in Blairstown who whooped it up at all the best moments.

Friday the 13th Vengeance is not readily available online and via DVD/Blu Ray.  This film is easily the best successor to step forward from the dark wilderness of Camp Crystal Lake thus far.  If you enjoy blood, breasts, and laughs then this film is definitely worth your investment. Check it out, and as always-stay out of the woods!

Posted by Daniel Ryan in Categories, EVENT REVIEWS, EVENTS, EXCLUSIVE, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PREQUELS AND SEQUELS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Finally, The Fiend!

Finally, The Fiend!

When WWE debuted the character of Bray Wyatt (real name, Windham Rotunda) on Monday Night RAW in May of 2014, wrestling fans with a passion for horror were instantly captivated. While the character had already had a successful run in the early days of WWE’s NXT developmental territory, it was in the vignettes predating his on-screen debut as part of RAW that it truly came into its own.  The haunting music combined with eerie visuals that conjured the imagery of the backwoods south with a smattering of apocalyptic religious zealotry was unlike anything that had been seen in the ring since the days of Raven in ECW.  The character proved an instant hit, swiftly being launched into programs with Daniel Bryan and John Cena, undeniably the biggest stars of the time.

Sadly, the good times were not to last.  Bray Wyatt’s character eventually drifted into obscurity, delivering monotonously vague promos and repeating the same storytelling over and over with various opponents. Despite a brief reign as WWE champion in 2016, the character seemed to have lost its meaning as WWE could not seem to decide what it wanted Bray Wyatt to be. Insane cult leader? Supernatural force? Or just babbling lunatic?  It garnered little notice when the character vanished from television in late 2018, not to be seen again for months.

Then came Firefly Funhouse, and a seeming rebirth. Bray Wyatt was now revealed as a Mr Rogers style children’s icon, talking in over the top delight to his canned in audience as he introduced his bevy of puppet sidekicks and delighted the little ones in the audience with is antics.  Yet in each promo some ominous signs were given that this new and happier Bray Wyatt was hiding something.  Sinner dark, inner side to himself that he struggled to repress.  Just as swiftly as they began, the promos ended and it seemed this story had gone nowhere. Until last night, Summerslam 2019.

And boy, did it ever deliver!  Under the new moniker of The Fiend, this ghastly figure stalked to the ring amidst a haunting remix of Bray Wyatt’s old theme music.  Sporting a lantern resembling a human head (his own, in fact), garishly mismatched ring gear, and a downright nightmarish mask designed by no less than FX legend Tom Savini, The Fiend came to make an impression.  And promptly did so by destroying the first ever Universal Champion, Finn Balor, in short order.  In less than 24 hours wrestling fandom has been set abuzz by this gruesome new visage, and wait with tense anticipation to see where this new angle shall lead.

Posted by Daniel Ryan in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, EDITORIALS, EXCLUSIVE, FAMILY HORROR, HORROR HEROES, 0 comments
Scary Good Drinks-Fat Bastard Bloody Red

Scary Good Drinks-Fat Bastard Bloody Red

 

Summer may have only just begun, but for any horror fanatic the mind is already venturing three months into the future to that first whips of autumn air and the first hint of the Halloween season to come.

Fortunate for us, retail doesn’t wait.

And what better way to prepare than with a nice glass of Fat Bastard Bloody Red.  Pardon, I meant PHAT Bastard, because that is surely what this wine is.  A popular table wine at a reasonable price, Fat Bastard is best recognized for its great quality as an off the shelf brand, and for its memorable hippo mascot.  Its memorable name comes from its creator Thierry Boudinad, who, upon tasting the rich and full bodied vintage he had brewed, exclaimed “Now THAT’s a fat bastard!”

And boy was he right.

The legend for this bottle certainly makes some bold boasts: “Juicy and spicy, the ripe blood-red nectar stays long and rich in the mouth, much appreciated by Count Dracula for its resemblance to his favorite beverage. Bat stew and confit of calf brains are some of the wonderful classic combinations but as these exquisite specialties can be difficult to source today, perfectly delicious with grilled burgers, fried chicken, and pumpkin pie. Fat Bastard Bloody Red is remarkably impressive and plush!”

And thanks to this wine being so good, I’ll forego their lie, for thanks to Bela Lugosi we all know that Dracula never drank…wine.  But indeed, this would make a fine wine for a barbecue or hot summer evening on the porch as you await the coming fall.  While its color is far more purple than blood red, there is no denying the richness and boldness of its flavor.  It is far more fruity than most dry red wines, but not sugary enough to be considered a sangria.  Its lingering tang is testament to citrus fruits used in its brewing, and while there is little hint of spice you can surely detect the faint taste of wood barrel.

But by far this brand’s biggest selling point is its memorable label, changed each year to suit the season.  This year we enjoy a dark purple background littered with reaching zombie hands, wispy spider webs, and lurking ghosts as our yellow eyed not-so-happy hippo glances over his shoulder to dare us to partake.  Just looking at it puts me in the Halloween mood months ahead of time!

So while our favorite time of the year may be off yet, I invite you all to join me in pouring a glass and toasting the season to come.  Cheers!

Visit FAT BASTARD WINE to see what other great spirits they have to offer

Posted by Daniel Ryan in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, FOOD AND DRINK, HALLOWEEN, OPINION, REVIEWS, 0 comments

Scary Good Drinks: Zinzilla King of the Disappointing Wines

“By the light of the full moon, Zinzilla erupts from the deep within the Zinfandel vineyards of California. A monster vine Zinfandel, producing intense powerful fruit that devastates other varietals and catapults Zinfandel to the forefront of California wines. Full bodied, Zinzilla expresses dense layers of raspberries, chocolate, pepper, and spice.”

So reads the legend printed on each bottle of Zinzilla, produced by the McNab Ridge Winery of Ukiah California.

Don’t you believe it.

Perhaps my experience with this Zinfandel was just a self fulfilling prophecy, as the moment I picked up the bottle I anticipated an underwhelming experience. Doubtlessly named in a blatant attempt to cash in on the anticipation of Godzilla King of the Monsters, my suspicions about the quality of what I would be testing across my tastebuds were set by the sheer fact that despite the name being an homage to the great King of the Monsters, it is impossible to look at he image on the label and not see Groot of Guardians of the Galaxy fame. Yes, I know that is meant to be a Zinfandel vine, but the sheer timing of the most recent Avengers film alone makes it impossible to separate the two out.

In doing some research about this particular vintage, my expectations were only lowered further. For on the website McNab Ridge Winery developed for this wine they do indeed have footage of Japanese kaiju monster films-but of Gamera. And Gamera vs Guiron no less, easily one of the most mundane of the Gamera titles. All of Monster Island weeps for this injustice.

Upon uncorking I found the bouquet of this wine to be rather unremarkable, completely lacking in any of the exotic influences cited by the legend. Upon pouring I found the color to be the first pleasant thing I had experienced thus far, with a deep and rich red perfectly suitable to a fine brew. But the taste proved an experience that left my mouth filled with a taste as bitter as the 1998 Tristan Godzilla. Simply put, I found the flavor completely devoid of raspberries, chocolate, pepper, or spice. What instead met my tongue was a rancid witch’s brew that left me with stomach acid fit to bring about some atomic breath of my own. I had not been this disappointed by anything Godzilla related since the day I first played Godzilla on Gameboy.

While I confess myself on great connoisseur, I do knot what I like-and this was not it. About the only promise the label lived up to was that I found the texture to indeed be full of body-just not the kind that I would want to see walking around barely clad on the beach. Although it may seem a reasonable get for the price of 13.99, there are definitely much better zinfandel’s to be had for the same amount. Should you choose to brave it, I strongly suggest you break out the radiation suit and Geiger meter, lest the mutations take a hold of you as well!

Posted by Daniel Ryan in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, 0 comments