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Spot the Difference:: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

July 21st, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments

You might need to fetch your reading glasses! There are ten differences between the poster above (A) and the poster below (B). Can you find all ten?

→ 5 CommentsTags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

In Memoriam:: George A. Romero

July 17th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 4 Comments

It’s a pretty good bet that I’m going to spend the entire day thinking about GEORGE A. ROMERO and the better part of the evening watching his remarkable, groundbreaking films. If a bomb dropped across the street it would be of secondary interest. Like many in the horror community I’m sure, I feel shell-shocked, it feels like a favorite teacher, mentor or spiritual Godfather has departed. I have never met Mr. ROMERO but he surely had a big impact on my life. I was born the year NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was being filmed, DAWN OF THE DEAD rammed right up against my adolescence and DAY OF THE DEAD knocked me upside my teenage head. I don’t have any personal anecdotes to share about him but allow me to indulge myself with some memories of some of the many times he fueled my love and (and genuine fear) of horror films. (The following is in the order of my own viewings rather than when the films were released).

DAWN OF THE DEAD

Somehow I saw DAWN OF THE DEAD before NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. It was in the earliest days of the VCR and nothing could prepare me for it. It certainly terrified me but it was also the coolest thing on earth! I was probably about 13 or 14 at the time and a big part of me was super ready for the entire world to drop dead and for me to live in a mall in which everything was free for the taking. You can probably see it coming a mile away these days but at the time, the helicopter zombie decapitation absolutely blew my mind and inspired many a rewind.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

For (I believe) several years, early MTV showed NOTLD on Halloween night. I was addicted to slashers at the time but it made it very clear to me that black and white movies could be just as frightening as the then modern fare I was devouring. Geez, that little girl (Karen) in the basement! The echoing screams of her mother! It’s horror at its purest. In addition, NOTLD still has one of the strongest opening sequences I can think of and I feel right at home inside the screen having spent my earliest days on this planet right outside of Pittsburgh (shout out to Allison Park!).

KNIGHTRIDERS

I didn’t have HBO as a kid but my friend did and it was always a blast to check out salacious flicks like TATTOO and VICE SQUAD while guzzling sodas that don’t exist anymore and chomping on bags of garbage. I’m going to say that the ground zero of my puberty occurred sometime while watching KNIGHTRIDERS and leave it at that. This is yet another great example of ROMERO being completely original and marching to the beat of his own drum.

CREEPSHOW

This movie was a damn big deal in my house and my younger brother was an even bigger fan of it than myself. We collected horror movie posters at the time and that CREEPSHOW poster was certainly one of the most striking and I’ll always be obsessed with that little rat crawling through the ghoul’s burlap looking cape. CREEPSHOW is known for being a lot of fun but it sure as hell scared the bejesus out of me too. I will forever and always be freaked out by TED DANSON’s submerged gurgling undead voice when he returns to exact his watery revenge. I need to also mention that the cover of FANGORIA with E.G. MARSHALL’s bug filled face bursting on it is one of the best things ever and I still remember greedily reading that issue in our screened in back porch. The cover has separated itself from its staples but I still proudly own that poor mangled thing.

TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE

ROMERO’s creatively creepy anthology series always had a knack of appearing at times when my brain was most susceptible to its shenanigans. Its opening narration and theme music were like a dog whistle alerting me that normalcy was about to jump out the window and be replaced by total unpredictability. Would it be funny, scary, weird, thoughtful or confounding or all of the above? You never knew what you were going to get, you just knew it would be far off the beaten track and a freaky good time.

MARTIN

I felt exactly as weird and ostracized as Martin as a teenager but looking back, he probably had it more together than I ever did. I was a big new wave music fan around this time and was so happy when I bought a SOFT CELL album that included a 12-inch song entitled MARTIN written in tribute to the film. I actually saw it a couple of weeks ago at a record store and I’m now going to hit myself in the face for not picking it because it may be the perfect song to annoy the neighbors…

DAY OF THE DEAD

Ack! Between you and me and the lamppost, I may own a copy of DAY OF THE DEAD and I may think it is brilliant but I’ve only truly watched it from beginning to end once (as far as I remember). My little brother and I happily went to see a midnight showing of it in Texas when it was first released and it left me with such a dire, hopeless soul-killing feeling that I never dared to watch it again. Maybe I was having mental problems at the time but it really clung to me like a morose, unshakable grimy cloud. I hereby promise to force myself to break the curse and watch it again soon to see if it still murders my precarious sense of well-being.

MONKEY SHINES

Aw, here’s the perfect cure for DAY OF THE DEAD. I love this movie. Is it bad that MONKEY SHINES may well be my favorite ROMERO film? I can’t help it.I‘ve got a soft spot for psychological thrillers and an even softer spot for that adorable monkey, Ella. Listen folks, there are very few movies that properly capture the complexities of an animal’s personality or the intricacies of the loving relationship between a human and their pet. What ROMERO did with this movie and how he presents Ella is incredibly impressive. I don’t care if there was more than one monkey; this has to be one of the greatest animal performances of all time. Also the strong emotional tie that is depicted in this movie totally reminds me of how I feel about my cats and how my cats (surely) feel about me so…now I know the power of representation!

LAND OF THE DEAD (plus DIARY and SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD)

By the time LAND OF THE DEAD came out I was a full grown fully dysfunctional semi-maybe adult (sorta, if you squint your eyes). Frankly after my experience with DAY OF THE DEAD I had some true trepidation mixed with my excitement to return to ROMERO’s vision. I wasn’t disappointed and I remember feeling particularly anxious during its zombies on the waterfront scene. DIARY and SURVIVAL came out over the last ten years while we’ve been doing this site. They are certainly stranger, more idiosyncratic takes on the DEAD and whether you like them or not, they also feel more personal. I’m so glad ROMERO got the chance to really experiment in his sandbox and I admire him for not taking the easy, more commercial route. He gave us horror fans, SO MUCH (and he gave us so much even after he was royally screwed on his rights to his unfathomably influential first feature film). He cut his own path and told us things that only he could. He made real art that whispered truths about humanity and culture that we’ll be happily deciphering and unraveling for decades to come. He generously entertained us while making us think and if you don’t agree, well then I’ll just have to quote my pal Barbara, “You’re ignorant”.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Caution: I break for geniuses! · General Horror · Kinder-News

Sunday Streaming:: Bad Moon (1996) (Via Shout Factory TV)

July 16th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · No Comments

Hey, it’s been a while since we visited the fine folks over at the free streaming joint SHOUT FACTORY TV and it looks like they have a bunch of cool new stuff up! BAD MOON! That’s a good one! Let’s have a BAD MOON party!

I’m going to let you in on a little life hacking tip, if you are having a crappy day all you need to turn it around is a werewolf movie and an alcoholic beverage of your choice. In extreme cases, you might want to find a werewolf movie that stars a dog. BAD MOON is a werewolf movie that indeed stars a dog. In fact, it’s based on a book entitled THOR, which tells the entire tale (haha) from the doggie’s viewpoint (I don’t recommend the audio book though – it’s just a lot of barking). Honestly, I remember not being crazy about BAD MOON when I saw it in the theaters but it certainly has grown on me over the years. At first I could only see the missed opportunities but now that I’ve come to understand that MICHAEL PARE and MARIEL HEMINGWAY movies don’t exactly grow on trees, I can appreciate it better. Plus, I just love the look of the werewolf in this movie. He’s got that standing upright HOWLING-thing going on which I prefer to the simple fur-face or crawling-on-all-fours kind. All of the classic werewolf themes concerning our darker selves, loss of control and fear of hurting others are present and accounted for, plus you get a crispy new spin involving family loyalty and a mother having to learn to let go of her troubled sibling for the safety of her child (and there’s no denying the abject kindertrauma of a ten foot tall werewolf grabbing a ten year old boy by the throat). BAD MOON was torn apart like an old shoe by critics back in the day but I think it was more of a bad timing thing than anything else. If you just imagine it’s from 1986 rather than 1996 it starts looking a lot better, even charming.

As said above, BAD MOON is currently available to watch for FREE over at SHOUT FACTORY’s pad HERE! If you enjoy it you should buy the Blu-ray too because it looks like they dug up a lot of interesting extra features including a commentary by director ERIC RED (who wrote the classic THE HITCHER!). Sure, at the end of the day, I wish BAD MOON showed a little more werewolf than it does but let’s face it, there will never be enough werewolf for me. As is, it’s a finer breed than it’s usually given credit for and should provide a howling good time on a Sunday afternoon.

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Name That Tom Holland Movie!

July 14th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 17 Comments

The great TOM HOLLAND had a birthday this past week (July 11th) so let’s say we celebrate his wonderful career. Below are twelve images from twelve movies (or TV episodes) that he either wrote or directed or in some cases, both! How many can you identify?

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Sunday Streaming:: The Void (2016) (Via Netflix)

July 9th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

I feel like it’s been way too long since I’ve seen a movie like THE VOID. It’s not as streamlined as I would prefer but it’s full of boundary-pushing imagination and its playing field expands in ways you wouldn’t predict. There’s probably a little too much going on in it but I have a feeling that’ll only increase its re-watch value down the road. As much as harkens back to many an eighties classic, there’s something that remains refreshing about it- or maybe it’s the way that it harkens back (with legit admiration rather than a desperate need to pillage) that makes it feel that way (the road to hell is paved with eighties wannabes that have no clue what made the original films so special). THE VOID seems honestly in awe of the possibilities that it is presenting and that sentiment is contagious especially when it’s backed up with incredible eye-popping practical special effects the likes of which you may have thought went extinct decades ago. Plus it’s just plain creepy.

I won’t get too much into the plot because I simultaneously don’t want to ruin it and also may not have fully understood it (I look forward to clarifying a few things with future viewings). Suffice to say that this gem of a movie brought me back to the days when I could happily check out the latest offering from my hero and yours, JOHN CARPENTER. It’s like being reminded of the glory days. It starts with a hospital under siege much like the police station in ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and then it throws a bunch of unlikely characters together like THE FOG (including genre legend ART HINDLE of THE BROOD) and then it starts slapping you in the face with mind-bending surrealism like IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, concentrated cosmic horror like PRINCE OF DARKNESS and flesh-twisty gore a’ la THE THING. Having said that, it still miraculously finds a way to plow its own original course even while throwing CLIVE BARKER and HELLRAISER a bouquet as well. It’s really got a lot more going for it than most of the soggy Hollywood shrug offs that appeared in theaters this year and it really makes for one satisfying night of Netflix viewing.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Stream Warriors · Streaming Alert! · Sunday Streaming

Friday The 13th: The Game

July 8th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 6 Comments

I almost forgot to tell you fine folks that I got an opportunity to play the mind-blowing FRIDAY THE 13th video game! No, I’m not fancy enough to have a state of the art PS4 but I have a friend who is that fancy and we all know it’s not what you know but who you know that counts these days. I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about glitches and impossibly long waiting/loading periods but the night I played everything ran smooth as silk and the only glitch I ever caught was a rifle oddly floating in space and I kind of thought it looked cool anyway. Personally I found the game to be fun as hell. I know not all of our readers are into games but this is one that I think you should check out for kicks anyway if you get a chance. It’s basically like being thrown into one (or more) of the films and it tends to be as much fun to lose as it is to win. You can actually visit your favorite Crystal Lake hot spots like the staircase that poor Mark rolled down after he got an undeserved machete in the face, Jason’s sloppy shrine shack and even cozy book-filled Higgins Haven. It’s really a nice place to wander about in when someone isn’t trying to kill you.

Can you believe I survived the first two times I played? I believe I accurately behaved very closely to how I would in real life in such a situation. In other words, I hid a lot, ran in circles fretting and then jumped into the back of a car that a smart person or persons was able to fix. When Jason came after the car I watched the occupants jump out and bravely attack him as I looked to see if the car was old enough to have an ashtray in the door. I know that sounds cowardly but let me tell you, as soon as I started getting brave is as soon as I started to have my head crushed in. Oh, the things I’ve seen! Oh, the humanity! You really get a front row seat to shady human behavior when you’re playing online with random people. The cool thing is that after you are dead you can spy on the remaining players (or wait to be re-spawned as Part 6 Tommy Jarvis). I watched a person fix a boat only to have their pal jump into said boat and roar away without them! The betrayal! And once when I had gun I decided to help some folks when Jason jumped in front of their vehicle only to have them back up and run me over! The injustice! Ah, memories that will last a lifetime. Anyway, I had a blast and I can’t wait to play it again and check out any and all updates (a single player version and new maps/locations are promised) and I hope it inspires many more slasher movie tie-in games (my fingers are currently crossed for HELL NIGHT: ESCAPE FROM GARTH MANOR).

→ 6 CommentsTags: General Horror · Toy Chest

Name That Arrow Video Movie!

July 7th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 16 Comments

I was visiting a lovely land called Ardmore yesterday and I came across the greatest thing. It was a fantastic movie rental joint called VIVA VIDEO! They had one of the coolest, heartiest horror sections I’ve ever seen. These righteous dudes even proudly carried SCREAM FOR HELP on VHS! Cooler still, their New Release wall was sparkling with offerings from the great folks of ARROW VIDEO. I wanted to work there for free and I don’t know how I was ever dragged out of the place! So today all of our mystery movie stills are from movies distributed by ARROW VIDEO who you can visit HERE. Also I highly recommend a visit to VIVA VIDEO if you are in their neck of the woods (they also have a top notch sell –through section)!

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Traumafession:: Trouble on a Scary Santa Train

July 3rd, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 1 Comment

Pretty standard fare, I suppose:
I was three. There was a special attraction Santa Claus Train ride. Mom was all excited and I was, too. Then we got on the train. First came the clowns. Loud ones. With balloons. Cue me burying my head in mom’s lap and shrieking. Nonstop. Santa Claus came along and I screamed louder. He wouldn’t leave me alone.. One wrecked event for mama, and a lifetime fear of….wait for it….’tainsrides’ (?!) for me.

-Trouble

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Name That Shark Movie!

June 30th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 9 Comments

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Alien: Covenant (2017)

June 29th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · No Comments

Hey, I wrote this review right after I saw ALIEN: COVENANT opening day but I didn’t post it because I thought it sounded a bit too much like an Annie Wilkes nerd-tantrum. Plus, the movie got some decent reviews and I didn’t want to be a wet blanket or something. As it turns out though, it’s really not all that negative especially now that I’ve edited out the part that made me sound like I belonged in a mental hospital. So here it is, here’s me being all disappointed…

RIDLEY SCOTT is one of my favorite directors. He’s got a keen visual style and his explorations into the horror and science fiction genre have resulted in two of my all time favorite films (ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER). I’m point-blank grateful that he has chosen to delve deeper into these mesmerizing worlds. No matter how many times he revisits these cinematic arenas you can bet I’ll be standing in line opening day, giddy as all get out. I couldn’t resist if I tried and wild Xenomorphs couldn’t drag me away. It will always be an honor and a privilege to be invited to witness what currently intrigues a great artist like RIDLEY SCOTT. That said, I’m not exactly over the moon with ALIEN: COVENANT. It may work a shade better than PROMETHEUS as a monster movie but it’s got nothing on its predecessor in the compelling character department and it sorely lags behind its elder sibling in delivering a profound sense of awe. Honestly, it left me slightly peeved. Perturbed even! Downright hexed! But mostly I feel mournful- surprisingly mournful.

Am I being a baby? I know I have to go in the direction that SCOTT points me but darn it, I really want to stay with (possible spoiler) Elizabeth Shaw (NOOMI RAPACE). The weird thing is, I was aware that she might not be present in this new outing and I didn’t give it a second thought. SCOTT decided to switch gears and drive the bus more into the original ALIEN zone and how could I argue with that? I guess I just assumed some new character would rise up (a’ la Ginny Field) and be equally interesting and that didn’t happen. Did they really think they could just shake a tall brunette with an unflattering haircut like a set of keys in front of my face and I’d coo, “Ripley!”? It doesn’t work like that. Really, none of the new crew registers fully and although most (or all) of them are couples they strangely don’t seem to click with each other properly either. I’m going to optimistically assume that future viewings (or an extended cut) will help them gel (BILLY CRUDUP is actually pretty great but he’s trapped in a sad sack Schleprock role). Of course MICHAEL FASSBENDER’s David continues to be an exquisite creation but I kind of resent him for taking over the whole show and for his being shoved down my throat like a rolled up magazine. (Hey, who’s the coldest, most sterile, least emotive character? Let’s double him!) An image of Shaw appears in the film and it’s like salt on a wound. I care about her. I don’t care so much about persnickety androids and people who are torched before they even have a line of dialogue.

That’s my beef. I don’t mind the wonky science or the dumb decisions made by the crew but I do care about the absence of good characters (and specifically Ellen Shaw). The good news is that ALIEN: COVENANT does indeed bring the horror so if you’re just craving monsters in space (nothing wrong with that) you might prefer this to PROMETHEUS. I have to say I dig the old-school shadowy stalking humanoid creature that lurks in the first two ALIEN films a lot more than the spazzy lizard-y beast that whips around in this newfangled flick. Maybe my eyes are too slow but the damn thing reminded me of HALLE BERRY in CATWOMAN and that’s never a good thing. I’m also not completely on board with a late in the game shower-kill that feels like it’s lifted from the phony slasher film at the beginning of BLOW OUT. It’s so out of place and shoehorned and what kind of person wants to have sex in a shower right after all of their friends have been slaughtered? Just like skin-job David’s claims that he loves Elizabeth Shaw while he attempts to exterminate all of humanity, it doesn’t pass the believable behavior/motive smell test.

But who am I kidding? I’m going to buy ALIEN: COVENANT on DVD and watch the heck out of it for years. I’m just going to have to file in my head in close proximity to the underwhelming ALIEN 3 (which is also visually stunning, has a few indelible scenes and heartlessly betrays beloved characters) and ALIEN RESURRECTION (which is also thought provoking, squirm inducing and fatally miscast. Sorry, WINONA ). Don’t go by me. I know a few folks whose opinions I trust who preferred ALIEN: COVENANT to PROMETHEUS, I myself did not. I know I’m supposed to be judging this flick on its own terms (as a hybrid mutation thinly connected to the animal that inspired it) but I just can’t seem to. Maybe I have an exaggerated sense of loyalty to go along with my heightened sense of betrayal. I don’t know, I’m really A-OK with judging a movie purely from an emotional non-technical level. It’s my prerogative as a red-blooded (as opposed to white) non-synthetic. I’ve already been a good soldier and suspended my disbelief; my common sense and my understanding of human behavior– do I really have to suspend my need for an engaging protagonist too?

→ No CommentsTags: General Horror