Reader Billy V. wrote in and suggested that we feature TIM BURTON’S HANSEL & GRETEL today for our weekly Sunday Viewing and that’s just what we’re going to do. Legend has it that this short flick aired only once on the Disney Channel way back in the greatest year that ever happened, 1982! It’s not hard to see why BURTON‘s vision was quietly hidden under Micky Mouse’s rug, it tastes like it’s marinated in Kindertrauma sauce! Yikes, that witch looks like the lead singer for THE CULT and acts like SEAN YOUNG pitching for a part in a movie! She really gives JOAN COLLINS in the SHELLEY DUVALL version a run for her money! And don’t get me started on that gingerbread man. Ya know what? This is so wacked-out and off the wall that I find I am now finally ready to forgive TIM BURTON for being behind the lowest point in cinema history, the breakdancing Mad Hatter scene from ALICE IN WONDERLAND. I’m just going to forget it ever happened! Thanks for the treat Billy V.!
June 22nd, 2014 · 5 Comments
June 15th, 2014 · No Comments
Happy Father’s Day! Today I submit for your viewing pleasure the very father-tastic made-for-TV flick, 1972’s HAUNTS OF THE VERY RICH. It stars the father of JEFF & BEAU BRIDGES, LLOYD BRIDGES, Mary Richards’ father figure ED ASNER, America’s most favorite dad ROBERT REED as a reverend (or father), TONY BILL who fathered one of my favorite movies, FIVE CORNERS, CLORIS LEACHMAN who played somebody who shared the same father as Mrs. Garrett on THE FACTS OF LIFE and the father of Julie’s baby on ONE DAY AT A TIME, MICHAEL LEMBECK.
This sorta reads like a precursor to that show by TORI SPELLING’s pop, FANTASY ISLAND although it’s sadly HERVE VILLECHAIZE-free. It’s about a bunch of rich people who get trapped on an island and thanks to forces beyond their understanding, come to realize how wretched existence is when hopes are dangled in your face like carrots on strings and repeatedly snatched away. If I could throw us all in a time machine back to the days when this flick’s SARTRE-lite rug-pull was still a mind blower, I would but Father Time just won’t allow it. Thankfully, seventies era slo-mo shots and background music brandishing hellish death sirens singing “ahhhh-ahhh” will always retain their eternal creepy power ‘round here. Enjoy, and have a mutha of a Father’s Day.
June 8th, 2014 · 1 Comment
Here’s a nice beginning of summer treat for y’all. It’s like a delicious Italian water ice with a tasty shark fin sticking out of it! I’ve wanted to chomp on this one for a while but the copies I found were always too murky. Happily, this particular upload looks semi-sharp. Poor little adorable LAST SHARK (aka GREAT WHITE) played in theaters back in 1981- that is until it was yanked out due to UNIVERSAL STUDIOS being big babies and crying “copycat” while sucking on their greedy, humorless thumbs. I guess I do kinda see their point, LAST SHARK does indeed like to pretend it’s JAWS but how many other films can that be said about? I guess the rub is that LAST SHARK‘s parroting hits uncomfortably close to the mark. Ironically enough, it reminds me a lot more of what I love about JAWS than either JAWS 3-D or JAWS 4: THE ORGIN OF HOAGIE. It’s got all the primary colors, stark backdrops, super swank swim fashions and satisfying doses of mutilation that JAWS’ crustier later entries sorely lack (not that I don’t have affection for those dummies too).
Plus this movie is amiable enough not to tease. The giant shark here doesn’t coquettishly bat its shark eyelashes from behind a wave; it gets all up in your grill Italian-style like it’s inventing the selfie (at least near the end). Importantly, the creature’s scene chewing talents are exactly zero match for our born for this kinda thing hero VIC MORROW. Obviously UNIVERSAL was just jealous! How else can you explain the fact that those sue happy vestiges of originality went and swiped this film’s explosive climax and used it (and the shark’s inexplicable roar) in their insane 3-D sequel? Of course this also swam is no JAWS (duh) but it’s the only shark movie I’m aware of that has a line the likes of, “One thing’s for sure, it wasn’t a floatin’ chainsaw.” Yum!
NOTE: Allow me to add too that unlike any official JAWS film, this flick has a killer opening theme song! Even if you don’t watch the movie listen to the groovy tune below! It will make you happy for approximately 24 hours…
NOTE 2: Hey look! The hand on the teaser poster is the same hand from the MORTUARY ad (not to mention THIS book cover). Silly hand, stop getting into so many dangerous predicaments! It’s your own fault, hand!
June 1st, 2014 · 5 Comments
Today is the day for ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN. I have no excuse for not watching this regional anthology sooner as it has been creeping around these pages for some time. Our buddy Crafty Pants Carol included it in her “It’s a Horror to Know You” and “Creepy Lady Faces” posts and it has been the sought after answer in Name That Trauma’s from as far back as Bigwig’s in 2010 and as recent as Steve Q’s from earlier this week. What was I waiting for, a written invitation? And so watch it I did and now here I am all in your face pressuring you to follow suit…
Narrated by the legendary ROD SERLING, this TWILIGHT ZONE inspired grab-bag of supernatural yarns is admittedly tame by standards of both today and yesteryear though that doesn’t necessarily curb its ability to offer a few chills. Anyone who grew up in the seventies is likely to get at least a nostalgic buzz from the film’s overall eerie vibe. I myself felt right at home with this flick or more specifically, right at home in my backyard, in a tent, at the age of twelve, holding a flashlight in my shaky hand. In other words you could probably knit this together with faves THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK and SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT into one big five hour long scarf of a movie and I doubt anyone would notice the seams.
Oh sure, its flawed up the wazoo, it shamelessly pads its running time by showing the same scenes over and over again but you’re either charmed by such things or you wouldn’t be watching it in the first place. I believe the movie’s persistence in showing up time and again around these parts is proof enough of its effectiveness. It may be shoddy and makeshift but there’s something spooky enough going on here to make it sticky. Maybe its pure nostalgia, I could almost hear the theme to “IN SEARCH OF…” while I watched and that’s good enough for me. You won’t believe any of these “true stories” but you’ll be reminded of when you might have.
ENCOUNTER was directed by HARRY THOMASON who has several semi-forgotten Arkansas –set drive-in spookers under his belt (REVENGE OF BIGFOOT, SO SAD ABOUT GLORIA, THE DAY IT CAME TO EARTH) and remarkably went on to great television success as a producer, director and writer (THE FALL GUY, DESIGNING WOMEN, and not so much with EMERIL) and a prolific partnership with his wife LINDA BLOODWORTH THOMASON. Believe it or not, 20 years after the release of ENCOUNTER, THOMASON would be all kinds of chummy with the President of the United States Bill Clinton and even testifying on his behalf before the Grand Jury during the Lewinsky scandal. Who’da thunk?
May 25th, 2014 · No Comments
I say it’s high time we have a “Be Kind to SIESTA (1987) Day” around here. Poor SIESTA never gets enough love. I guess that’s what a movie gets for being so insane. If only it were on DVD I’d feel fine placing it on the shelf right between fellow trippy brain scramblers, JACOB’S LADDER, ANGEL HEART & MULHOLLAND DR. but sadly it is not (at least not in these parts). SIESTA is directed by MARY (PET SEMATARY) LAMBERT and you can tell because it sorta visually resembles a MADONNA music video. In fact , I believe it shares some footage with LA ISLA BONITA. The tone is something else though, it’s got a creepy nightmare vibe enhanced by a haunting and hypnotic MILES DAVIS score. Rumor has it that LAMBERT asked her pal MADONNA to star but she said, “Nope” which is fine because that’s how we get ELLEN BARKIN.
BARKIN stars as Claire who is having one of those mornings. You know the kind where you wake up on the side of the road remembering nothing wearing blood-soaked clothes. The rest of the film she staggers around Spain trying to figure out if she killed somebody while encountering every single person you wouldn’t expect to see hamming it up in a movie together. Are you ready for GABRIEL BRYNE, JULIAN SANDS, ISABELLA ROSSELLINI, GRACE JONES (!), THE YOUNG ONES‘ ALEXEI SAYLE and a near LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE reunion in the form of MARTIN SHEEN & JODIE “My House!” FOSTER? Wait, maybe this movie actually is based on a dream I once had. Some folks make bigger fools of themselves than others but I’ll let you judge for yourself who escapes with the most dignity. Of course critics for the most part attacked this film like a pack of rabid dogs but the bizarreness that makes it so easy to rip to shreds is exactly what makes it such an interesting and unique view. I heart me some SIESTA and am listening the soundtrack as we speak. Make sure you check it out if you’ve yet to…
May 18th, 2014 · 1 Comment
I forgot to tell all you critters that while I was rummaging through HULU‘s boss freebie pile I spotted an old pal, BASKET CASE 2! I love this wonderfully bizarre, surprisingly thoughtful, highly hilarious sequel so much that my brain now tends to think of the original BASKET CASE as a prequel. Who can blame me when SUPERMAN 3‘s reluctant robot lady ANNIE ROSS rules so hard in BC2? She really should be forced to star in everything forever for the benefit of mankind. If you have a mind to, you can read my full crusty & dusty review HERE, catch the snappy trailer below and then happily skip on over to the HULU joint to watch this fine feathered freak-fest for the sensational price of zero plus zero clams! Make sure you tell them Unk sent you so that you may marvel at the profound indifference that statement yields!
TOTALLY TRUE TID-BIT: Here’s ANNIE as a kid in an OUR GANG short!
May 11th, 2014 · 5 Comments
I remember years back talking to a friend on the phone in my old apartment. We were yacking about creepy things you shouldn’t yack about if you don’t want to get the creeps. Suddenly all the lights went out and I stood in blackness. The phone spit out some garbled non-language that couldn’t be the voice of my friend and then went dead. I couldn’t see a foot in front of me but I could hear loud multiple foot stomps pounding down the staircase outside my door. “This is it,” I thought. They’re coming for me and this is the end.” How did I forget that this was going to happen eventually?
Then the lights went back on. It was just some citywide blackout. Nothing was happening. There was nobody in the hall. What was all that stomping though? There’s only one apartment above me and the floor-quaking racket I heard sounded like a dozen bulls charging down the stairs. It was nothing to worry about. I called back my friend and joked through the sticky paranoia. The thing I couldn’t shake was how my quickly my mind traveled from alpha to omega and the weird sense that the world disappearing beneath my feet was something inevitable that part of me was secretly resigned to or prepared for. I went to bed that night knowing that with the drop of a hat my sense of security could vanish and that Crazy Town was just a curtain drop away. Maybe I can better explain the episode by comparing it to a terrifying dream that when recounted, sounds terrifically lame.
Anyway the above non-incident returned to my brain while I was watching the 1992 alien abduction miniseries INTRUDERS. Anyone who has seen FIRE IN THE SKY (1993) can tell you just how scary alien abduction can be but this movie has something even more unsettling. I’m talking about faceless dudes who disguise themselves as telephone repairmen (!) and have no problem walking through walls. These guys get under my skin because rather than fly in ships, they just skip through dimensions and probably pal around with the likes of THE MOTHMAN.
I’m just saying if I get abducted, I’d prefer a straight forward U.F.O. deal complete with large-eyed, skinny grey beings over that weird reality warping jive where there are no rules or boundaries and you’re likely to find out your whole existence is fake and part of some experiment and you don’t even have a body and are just a brain in a box somewhere being fed nonsense through an electrode. If something like that is going on, I don’t want to know about it. Furthermore if any extraterrestrial shape-shifting shadow creature out there is thinking about enlightening me with trippy COMMUNION-style mind-fuckery in which I have to talk to a doppelganger of myself wearing a magician’s outfit they should stand warned that I will simply cover my ears with my hands and go “la-la-la”.
Let’s change the subject. INTRUDERS is extra special because it was directed by the undisputed super king of wonderfulness, DAN CURTIS, who enriched all of our lives with such delights as DARK SHADOWS, THE NIGHT STRANGLER, TRILOGY OF TERROR and the traumadelic BURNT OFFERINGS to name a few. INTRUDERS was originally a miniseries, so it’s a little on the lengthy side but what are you in such a rush for anyway? Stars? You want stars? How’s about some RICHARD (THE EVIL) CRENNA as a crow eating smarty-pants, MARE “BEST peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I have had in my entire life” WINNINGHAM as a convincing abductee and MONKEY SHINES’ own JASON BEGHE as a guy who is not a quadriplegic and doesn’t have a monkey nurse that’s in love with him. You also get ALAN AUTRY who played a cop in HOUSE and SUSAN BLAKELY of MY MOM’S A WEREWOLF fame. Remember that one? With RUTH BUZZI? It’s practically TEEN WITCH 2- so good.
Because it takes place in the ancient days of 1992, INTRUDERS is chuck full of psychological mumbo jumbo like hypnotic regression therapy and the theory that folks dream up alien abductions to cloak repressed memories of sexual molestation. Remarkably, it tries to get away with switching gears near the end and painting the entities as good natured and kind even after we have witnessed them raping, stealing babies and shoving painful metal objects up people’s noses for three hours. I’m sorry but nice creatures don’t steal you from your bed, drug you, shove who knows what into you and then dump you like trash thirty miles away from your home, forcing you to do a walk of shame in your pajamas.
INTRUDERS is kind of all over the place but CURTIS knows how to create a dark creep-tastic off-kilter scene when he wants to. There’s one bit that finds MARE’s character remembering an early encounter from her youth. It’s all gauzy and dream like and ends shockingly with a scowling mutant alien hybrid kid turning to face her. It’s alarming as only CURTIS could pull it off (sort of like the ending of the “Bobby” segment of DEAD OF NIGHT) and I stand shocked that nobody has ever sent in a Traumafession for it. No, I wasn’t bowled over by the entire affair, as there’s one too many cliché ridden “open your mind” diatribes but there are at least a half dozen successful scenes that will make your house seem darker than you remember.
Not soon after INVADERS was done I realized that I had to re-watch 1998’s PROGENY. This is a movie directed by the sometimes brilliant BRIAN YUZNA (SOCIETY) and written by his frequent cohort STUART GORDON (RE-ANIMATOR). It seems like most folks hate or dismiss this flick but I can’t resist saluting its colorful freak flag. Due to its subject matter it’s easy to poke fun of but its never not entertaining and that’s good enough for me. I realize normal genre fans will not be equally over the moon over the idea of COMMUNION’s LINDSY CROUSE (!) playing a psychiatrist or THE MUMMY’s ARNOLD VOSLOO rampaging against invisible people in his boxers but certainly THE THING’s WILFRED BRIMLEY as a gynecologist and CHILD’S PLAY’s BRAD DORIF as a nerdy U.F.O expert sweeten the deal.
PROGENY is an alien abduction version of ROSEMARY’S BABY that is a perfect mate to INVADERS as it touches many of the same bases including forced impregnation, baby swiping and shoving metallic objects up people’s noses that self destruct when you remove and attempt to analyze them. It’s far-fetched, cartoony and histrionic (VOSLOO is like RAY MILAND on steroids and that’s a compliment) but let’s give it credit for braving toward gooey uncomfortable places that many a dry alien flick avoids. This is no way as thought provoking as YUZNA’s SOCIETY yet it’s somehow more consistent and feels a little more complete.
Like YUZNA’s INITIATION (aka SNDN 4), it sort of plays like CRONENBERG for dummies and yay on that. YUZNA returns to collaborate with wildly creative make up effects artist SCREAMING MAD GEORGE and that’s good news too. The alien beings depicted here have translucent, white flesh that reminds me of spring rolls and twisty tubular forms that are like ugly balloon animals made from condoms. At one point there is an abduction flashback that contains an awesome giant LOVECRAFT-ian super monster and it’s wonderfully laughable and horrifying at the same time. This may be the sillier side of abduction but its sweet lunacy tastes great after INVADERS.
Let’s do one more! How about a LIFETIME movie called VISITORS OF THE NIGHT from 1995? This one stars everybody’s dream date MARKIE “the mullet” POST, PET SEMATARY’s trustworthy DALE MIDKIFF, PONTYPOOL’s scarecrow- faced STEPHEN McHATTIE and singer of the international smash hit “lollipops & gummy bears” CANDACE CAMERON. This was a semi-facetious watch for me that totally paid off in that it features an evil Christmas tree with impeccably placed glowing eyes and worse, a devious grin (perhaps only myself and anyone crazy enough to trip on acid while watching a MARKIE POST movie will catch this subtle feature).
This is an evil Christmas tree! Please tell me you see the face!
This last slice might be my favorite but only because I watched it the most recently. It’s noteworthy because it concerns not only man vs. alien but mom vs. teen! Sadly it gets super duper schmaltzy toward the end and acts like a LIFETIME dog whistle howling about a mother’s love knowing no bounds. In doing so though, it kind of reveals the key to all three movies and how they’re all really about people feeling powerless and worrying about the fact that they have zero ability to insure the safety of those they love. I’m not saying I don’t believe in U.F.O stuff, just that after watching these three flicks back-to-back ,I wonder if the real fear trying to be expressed is the fear of doctors, hospitals, operations and faceless authoritarians that can snatch you away at any time. I’m going to have to look further into that. Suffice to say all three of these movies involved childhood trauma, lost time and elusive memories of some sort so they are ever so welcome here.
If you’ve been abducted recently or simply like watching other people being abducted while sitting safely on your couch this triple feature is for you! Check ‘em out before they disappear like an alien implant under investigation!
May 4th, 2014 · 6 Comments
Today’s picks are all available to stream for free on HULU. I’m not sure if HULU is available everywhere so if you don’t get HULU, seek out these flicks anyway. HULU is pretty annoying. You gotta deal with commercials, pathetic attempts to convince you to upgrade to HULU-plus and the generally loud and unappealing look of the joint. It’s like the place is lit with industrial florescent lights. Have I mentioned I loathe the color white more than hydrangeas? Who cares because they have FREE movies and we’re all about that! Here are five flicks that deserve your attention.
ENTER NOWHERE (2011)
I took this one out from the library a while back (support your local library!) and now I’m so glad I can share this find via HULU. The only reason I wanted to see this was because of THE INNKEEPERS’ SARA PAXTON but I ended up liking everybody in it and digging it more than I expected. It’s about three strangers who inexplicably find themselves lost in the woods. I was all convinced I was being set up for ye old “We’re already dead!” routine but ENTER NOWHERE has a whole other batch of tricks up its sleeve. There’s a very interesting TWILIGHT ZONE vibe going on here and I found the limited setting and the eventual camaraderie between the characters highly enjoyable. PAXTON is predictably charming, KATHERINE WATERSON is genuine and convincing and SCOTT EASTWOOD is exactly the right level of handsome to get away with clunky acting every one in a while. The camera loves him like it loved his pa CLINT circa THE BEGUILED, and that goes a long way. ENTER NOWHERE is so story and character driven that it could easily work as a stage play and I’d put it up along with THE DARK HOURS (2005) and DEAD END (2003) as a worthwhile head-trippy independent keeper.
This one was recommended to me a while back (review HERE). It was something I could have very easily passed over and I’m so thankful I didn’t. You’d never know it but ISOLATION is an engaging, wonderfully slimy monster movie.
Released the same year as SCREAM, TESIS did not make anywhere near a comparable impact but it’s amazing what a better predictor it is of themes that are popular in horror today. It’s also interesting to consider it predates THE RING and BLAIR WITCH with its preoccupation with VHS/found-footage horror. Director ALEJANDRO AMENABAR would go on to deliver OPEN YOUR EYES and the hit THE OTHERS, but the darkest road he has traveled remains this quietly influential debut.
I have quite the love/hate relationship with this movie (full review HERE.) As much as I refuse to outright like it, here I am still thinking about it. I don’t get it. It’s very possible that this movie just has some real, undiluted crazy in it and therefore I shall never truly be capable of fully scraping it off of my shoe. It may be more fun to think about than it is to actually watch but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
TOWER OF EVIL (1972)
We previously covered this one in our SEVEN FROM THE SEVENTIES post. I love me some seaside horror and this movie has the coolest seventies clothes, deliciously grisly death scenes and plenty of fog infused atmosphere. The original story comes courtesy of GEORGE BAXT who’s responsible for another favorite I can always count on to put me in the desired creepy mood, CITY OF THE DEAD (1960). This is a must see but you might want to wait till its dark out to get the full effect.
Hope you guys enjoy these and try not to let those pesky commercials ruin the fun!
April 27th, 2014 · 5 Comments
Abby (1974) starts with a group of students talking to Dr. Williams, who is an expert on the deity of chaos and trickery, Eshu. Soon to be leaving for Nigeria on an archeological expedition, his students give him a sweet silver cross necklace as a going away gift.
While exploring caves, they find a box with a carving on it. More specifically, it’s Eshu with an erection. I can’t be sure, but as they struggle with how to open it, I think they end up twisting the wooden boner. Dr. Williams exclaims, “Yes, of course!”
The box is opened, dust flies everywhere, and there are several demon cut away flashes of what looks like a female Hulk (Lou Ferrigno style).
Eshu proceeds to make an instantaneous cross continental journey back to good ole’ Louisville, Kentucky to wreck havoc on Dr. William’s daughter-in-law (Abby) and extended family! What follows is a passive aggressive possession of Abby and her violent sexual adventures. I mean, why didn’t Eshu just go after Dr. Williams and his team in Nigeria? When Reverend Emit (Abby’s husband) calls Dr. Williams to tell him what’s going down, Dr. Williams takes a stab at logic and thinks it’s because Abby is overwhelmed by, “All the Church and community activities.” At one point, Abby feels like some kind of Saturday Night Fever/Exorcist splice up. Disco/funk music plays in the background as Abby alternates between being horny and picking up guys in a bar, to violently tossing these same guys across the room while laughing maniacally.
The cornucopia of expletives that flows forth from possessed Abby’s mouth is reason enough to watch this film! As Abby says, “Killing is too much fun!”
Warner Bros. sued the filmmakers and won for copyright infringement of The Exorcist(1973). Abby was actually removed from theaters in 1974 and did not resurface again until 2004!! Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!
April 13th, 2014 · 4 Comments
What does OFFERINGS (1989) have against me? I was not even able to finish it the first time I tried to watch it back somewhere in that missing decade. I am forever searching for that elusive hidden classic and I doubt I was too far into OFFERINGS before I realized it wasn’t classic and should probably stay hid. Its title evaporated in my head but it left all this stupid debris anyway. Sometimes I’d wonder to myself, “What was that movie with the terrifyingly hideous orange wallpaper?” or “What was that stupid movie that had that poorly executed bit about kids eating pizza with human flesh on it thinking it was sausage?” or “What the heck was that boring movie with the strange cake eating parents who laugh maniacally while watching cartoons?” In all cases the answer was the same; gosh darn OFFERINGS. This was before KT so it wasn’t like I could write up a Name That Trauma and Googling “hideous orange wallpaper” would get me nowhere. Plus there was the fact that I had absolutely no desire to watch whatever movie it was again to consider. That really curtailed the search.
Then again, dipping my psychological pigtails in ink is a great way for a crap-tastic movie to endear itself to me and it’s not as if my sensibilities have not nose-dived towards the bottom of the barrel lately. OFFERINGS is terrible and rather hypnotically so. It’s like watching a dozen HALLOWEEN rip offs in one sitting because it goes on forever and whatever trance everybody in this movie is in, is highly contagious. Let’s face it too that at the end of the day I’d rather see something atrociously flawed than something all Hollywood-sanitized and pruned of all character. It’s my curse.
Here’s an example of why OFFERINGS is maddeningly stuck in my craw. One scene finds our dazed heroine preparing dog food for the family pooch. Her front door bell rings and so she goes to answer it carrying a full spoon of dog food because who has time to put a spoon down? At the door is her friend who sees the spoon sporting an unidentified substance and then bends down and eats whatever it may be and is alarmed to find that she has just eaten dog food. Who does that? And more importantly why am I so fascinated by the idea that somebody out there at one point thought human beings might behave this way. I will give points for the line, “Serves you right!” which is the spoon girl’s response to her friend’s insane actions because truer words have never been spoken. There are dozens more inexplicable occurrences in this guesstimated 9-hour long movie but I should really just let them go and move on with what is left of my squandered existence.
Maybe you shouldn’t watch it. Maybe you should just put it on and do something else while listening to its wonderfully shameless rip-off score. It’s up to you. All I know is that I found it on YouTube with a better picture than I recall and spectacularly enhanced with spicy Spanish subtitles! Yay! It’s called OFFERINGS because the killer leaves random body parts like ears and noses behind as gifts. If it was up to me though, I would have titled it THE HOUSE WITH THE SCREAMING WALLPAPER.