Happy Halloween to all of you nice people who visit here! I’m off to see CRIMSON PEAK as per the advice of our pals over at FASCINATION WITH FEAR but I hate to leave you with nothing to watch so here is a double feature of the classics THE HALLOWEEN THAT ALMOST WASN’T and WITCH’S NIGHT OUT ! Remember to eat tons of candy while watching!
October 31st, 2015 · 2 Comments
October 29th, 2015 · No Comments
If you follow these pages you already know that my best buddies are cats even though they are incredibly inconsiderate when I’m trying to sleep. If you don’t have a cat make sure you get one and if you do have a cat, make sure it’s neutered because there’s nothing sadder than a homeless hobo cat especially in bad weather. In any case, here are a handful of movies that feature our whiskered friends…
SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961)
A cat that witnesses the murder of its old lady owner seeks revenge on the conniving creeps responsible! Yes, please! If you like old dark houses, BARBARA SHELLY who also starred in CAT GIRL (1957) or just the fact that most cats have no problem detecting a degenerate when they see one, this is for you!
HAUSU (AKA HOUSE, 1977)
Is it even possible to describe this movie? Once upon a time I think I tried to HERE. As I recall a bunch of teenage girls take a trip to one of the girl’s aunt’s house in the country and an avalanche of inexplicable events ensue. The insanity is somehow overseen by a painting of a big white fluffy cat that eventually shoots blood out of its mouth. This movie can also be watched on National Watermelon Day.
CAT’S EYE (1985)
Don’t even get me started. General the cat is my hero and I will weep tears of joy when he turns on the record player while the troll is standing on it and sends him flying. You’d probably have to live under a rock to have never seen this STEPHEN KING-penned horror anthology directed by the guy who did CUJO (LEWIS TEAGUE) and starring the only human nearly as cute as a cat, the young DREW BARRYMORE. My younger self thought this movie was pretty good but my smarter older self knows it’s beyond phenomenal. Why am I not watching it now?
THE UNINVITED (1988)
As I revealed to you HERE, my late great cat Gato Malo once starred in a movie with the legendary GEORGE KENNEDY and the result was high entertainment on the high seas! I have a theory that every night when God goes to bed he/she cries himself to sleep because he/she knows that he/she lacks the power and ability to create something as perfect as THE UNIVITED and it makes him/her feel like a slouch.
HOCUS POCUS (1993)
Here’s my last choice and I know I had several EDGAR ALAN POE cats to choose from for this list but I’m going to ignore them because you never know when a cat in POE movie is going to get strangled or something (I’m looking at you, TOMB OF LIGEIA– and don’t act so innocent TWO EVIL EYES). Besides, Halloween is just days away so let’s say we again salute good ol’ Binx shall we? I’m always astounded when I hear that black cats are the hardest for shelters to adopt because black cats are the best and smartest and most personable. Trust me! If you want to be superstitious about something be superstitious about Friday the 13th because that is the day Jason Voorhees comes out and shoots an arrow into your eyeball in 3-D. For real.
EXTRA BONUS DON’T WATCH: THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958)
Ugh, what was wrong with people in the fifties? Were they Neanderthals? I had to turn this crap off when a little boy’s cat got stuck in a pit in a cave and then the boy was like, “I’ll be back to help you later!” (!!!) and then he left the cat in the hole OVERNIGHT and when he went to rescue him in the morning it was dead. What? Take a hike RETURN OF DRACULA, you suck.
October 28th, 2015 · 5 Comments
It doesn’t quite feel like Halloween unless I get some black-and-white films in my diet. I know y’all know to check out the classic UNIVERSAL stuff that includes all the usual suspects (FRANKENSTEIN, WOLF MAN, THE MUMMY, et al.) and I know you’ve heard me harp on and on about supernatural favorites like THE HAUNTING, THE INNOCENTS, BURN, WITCH, BURN, CURSE OF THE DEMON, THE UNINVITED and HORROR HOTEL. And certainly you know enough to salute any and everything within a seven mile radius of the name VAL LEWTON (GHOST SHIP, 7TH VICTIM, CAT PEOPLE and assorted kin) but here are five more glorious and nutritious mood setting B&W features that deserve a tip of the pointy witch’s hat this time of year!
THE UNDYING MONSTER (1942)
I’ll never forget the fine night I fell asleep in front of the TV and woke up to this gem and was instantly mesmerized. Somehow this one is known as a tag along B-flick but it could have fooled me with its incredible atmosphere and memorable visual flair (which includes a smoke-framed POV shot from within a fireplace). There’s a gloomy, fog-dipped mansion on a seaside cliff (with massive stain glass windows), an ancient family curse involving a ferocious fuzzy beast and wall-to-wall off-beat characters trying to figure it all out. My only complaint is that it’s too short!
ARSENIC & OLD LACE (1944)
This FRANK CAPRA flick based on the popular stage play is a well-known classic of course but I don’t think we’ve mentioned it enough around here. CARY GRANT should be more than enough to charm you into checking it out but if horror fans require more: it includes plenty of murder and mayhem; it takes place on a Halloween day littered with swirling dead leaves; and it features PETER LORRE and RAYMOND MASSEY doing a fine impression of BORIS KARLOFF, his costar in another B&W necessity, JAMES WHALE’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE.
THE WOMAN WHO CAME BACK (1945)
Please don’t act like you’ve seen enough movies starring THE BAD SEED’s momma NANCY KELLY because you know you haven’t. Here she stars as a lady who returns to her hometown after surviving an incredible bus accident (the special effect showing a toy bus falling over a miniature cliff is adorable) and begins to suspect that thanks to her witch hunting ancestor, she’s living under a witch’s curse and may be possessed by a dead witch herself. I certainly could do without the tacked on ending that explains all of the cool stuff we’ve witnessed away (boo, science!) but otherwise this is one highly entertaining and pleasantly spooky flick.
THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1946)
Exactly one year ago today on October 28, 2014, I was singing the praises of this movie so jump back in time and read all about that HERE.
SCREAM OF FEAR (1961)
This is another one we’ve talked about before (HERE) but I’m bringing it up again because it was just recently finally released on DVD (under the title HAMMER FILMS COLLECTION) thanks to the wonderful and generous folks over at MILL CREEK. I got my copy for less than 5 bucks and it includes four other movies for crying out loud! You can’t beat that kids, not even with a broomstick!!!
October 23rd, 2015 · No Comments
It’s that time of year when I tend to watch every movie in the HALLOWEEN series and yes, that does include ROB ZOMBIE’s 2007 stab and especially its profound 2009 sequel. With the news announced that the next HALLOWEEN installment will be a direct continuation of 1981’s HALLOWEEN II, I guess I’ll have to get used to the fact that I won’t be seeing ROB ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN 3 anytime soon.
That’s just what you naysayers would like, isn’t it? Well, it just so happens that I am not bound to the laws of your puny reality and in fact, I have already carved out my own dimension in which ROB ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN 3 does indeed exist! What’s more, it’s standing right there under your pointy nose and it just happens to be called THE LORDS OF SALEM! You heard that right, from this day forth I’m just going to watch TLOS as if it were a very loose remake of H3:SOTW. Go ahead, try and sue me! No professional lawyer in his or her right mind would take your case! To be on the safe side though, let’s look at the mountains of spurious evidence I’ve haphazardly compiled. Shall we?
Let’s get the most obvious similarity out of the way first and that similarity is the overall lack of similarity! LORDS OF SALEM is to ROB ZOMBIE’s two back-to-back HALLOWEEN films as H3: SEASON OF THE WITCH is to the original HALLOWEEN films in that they both feature a completely different storyline. Not for nothing, both movies directly focus on witchcraft and the pestilential use of black magic. And hey look… TLOS and SOTW have only one letter that differentiates them in the initials of their respective titles too! That probably doesn’t seem like a big deal but when it comes to witchcraft, stuff like that matters. I think.
*Both films feature an actress who appeared in the first two installments (alive in the first, dead in the second) now playing a completely different role and sporting a hairstyle I’m not entirely on board with.
*HALLOWEEN 3 famously features a song that has the power to corrupt and destroy (The Silver Shamrock jingle) and yep, that’s a pivotal part of TLOS too.
*Yikes! Silent, robot-like henchmen are seen roaming about!
*Look at these three darling ladies! They look harmless enough but that’s not the case! They are wearing masks, so to speak, and should not be trusted!
Stand warned, troikas are powerful and the most powerful troikas fit a somewhat particular design. There is the grounding mother/boss (witch) symbolizing birth, there is the more jovial prankster (pumpkin) representing life and the final is the darkest, death (skull) representing conflict, closure and the proverbial kicking of the bucket. These three can be found in the duplicitous witches in TLOS and they appear in baser forms as H3‘s iconic Silver Shamrock masks. Here are some other examples:
(In some cases there may be overlapping characteristics here and there but you get the idea.)
It is important to note that in both the case of SEASON OF THE WITCH and THE LORDS OF SALEM, the nefarious plan to utilize witchcraft to trigger devastation can be deemed successful and that our heroes’ attempts to alter the outcome are for naught. In one flick, the darkness seeps in thanks to a door left open by a nationwide addiction to consumerism and in the other, a more personal rekindled drug addiction is to blame… but what’s the difference when the end result is pretty much the same?
Still not convinced? Neither am I! Oh well! What can I say; I enjoy a facetious fan theory every once in a while. I guess my point is that a fellow needs to watch something after they’ve finished the entire HALLOWEEN series and THE LORDS OF SALEM hits the spot for me because….witches! You can’t do Halloween without witches! Nope, there’s no replacing the one of a kind insanity-mobile that is H3: SOTW but I still hold strong to the belief that two films concerning witches scheming to cause mayhem on a massive scale can stand side by side in harmony! If witches have taught us anything it’s that there’s strength in numbers!
October 18th, 2015 · No Comments
I have nothing very original to offer today BUT I don’t mind reminding you that if you neglect to watch THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL right about now you are doing this entire month wrong, more wrong and super wrong.
September 7th, 2015 · 3 Comments
July 4th, 2015 · 6 Comments
Happy 4th of July to all! What a nice day to enjoy an apocalypse trilogy! I suggest PRINCE OF DARKNESS to represent strawberry red, THE THING to represent cool whip white and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS to signify blueberry blue on this devastating decimation dessert! Now remember, if all this maddening cosmic weirdness concerning man’s meaningless position in the universe starts to get to you, you can always switch to a non-apocalypse trilogy movie about soothing present day reality like say, THEY LIVE. Have fun, eat a hot dog and always remember, safety first when it comes to fireworks. My motto is, if dogs don’t like them, than neither do I.
February 14th, 2015 · No Comments
February 13th, 2015 · 3 Comments
These two have the same wicked sense of humor and both have been known to transform into giant snakes. How could they not get along?
These two could bond over their traumatic childhoods and I’m convinced Angela is just the jolt of outgoing enthusiasm that Mike needs to break out of his shell.
They both share a down home country aesthetic and are known to grunt like pigs. Plus they can trade clothes.
I’m setting Carrie up specifically with PART 2’s depiction of sensitive “baghead” Jason. She is bound to accept him just the way he is and they both understand the pain of not fitting in. I know that Jason famously does not get along with telepathic Tina in PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD but did you ever stop to consider that it could be because she reminds him of his true love Carrie?
They are adorable together. I have faith that THE THING is patient enough to look past THE BLOB’s tendency towards attention seeking. Aw, just think of the squishy possibly crab legged babies! A match truly made in heaven (as in outer space).
He’s snooty and she’s tooty fruity but in the words of MC Skatcat, opposites attract! It’s like Dharma and Greg but with likable characters!
I know, she’s not an evil killing machine like all of our other contestants but somebody’s gotta help her reach things on high shelves.
I was going to set up Dolly with Chucky from CHILD’S PLAY until I remembered that he was spoken for. I don’t want to get on Tiffany’s bad side.
This list is getting a little too heterocentric for my tastes so now I’m outing these two. Look for the new reality show “Rumpelstitskin Loves Morty” on Bravo soon.
In addition to all of the above I also recommend with my incredible expertise in matchmaking that all of the tiny walnut head creatures from DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK should get married to all of the Boogens. I don’t have the time or the inclination to pair ‘em all up individually so if you are a walnut head, please just grab the closest Boogen that strikes your fancy and roll the dice. Love is a many splendored thing.
December 24th, 2014 · 6 Comments
I’ll be watching both Black Christmases this holiday season along with assorted Silent Nights but I decided to take a break as far as posting about them. I feel that anyone who has done a “Help Mrs. Mac Find Her Hidden Hooch” puzzle has done their due. After seven years the idea of writing about the usual horror Christmas flicks made me want to hang myself like a stocking and that’s not very Christmas-y at all (unless you consider the statistics.) Unfortunately my new standpoint left me with nothing to talk about, until I fatefully heard, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year “ on the radio and the lyric “There will be scary ghost stories…” jumped out and reminded me that once upon a time, ghost stories were a big part of Christmas Eve.
This Ghost Story Christmas tradition still maintains a somewhat substantial hold in England but here in the States, we foolishly dropped it save for Dicken’s ubiquitous “A Christmas Carol.” That means that we collectively did the dumbest thing ever and jettisoned the one thing that could potentially make Christmas as cool as Halloween. Whose idea was this? I wasn’t consulted! I blame misguided, overly puritanical religious people because…because I blame them for everything (on account of the history of everything.) In any case, the idea that I could watch any ghost story I liked and still sorta be operating in the Christmas spirit really opened things up for me and added a slew of fresh flicks to my creepy Christmas cache!
As it turns out, if you look far back enough into history, Halloween and Christmas Eve are not that different at all; on both nights it was once believed that the wall between the living and the dead worlds become thin and easier to trespass through. Ghosts are scary, sure, but they also make us feel better because they imply a second act and what better gift to give the dead than the chance to moan and complain a little longer? So here are some ghost movies I suggest checking out this Christmas Eve. Some are more holiday-friendly than others but all suggest that perhaps death is not the final curtain call, an idea that surely lil’ baby Jesus can get behind!
WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU (1968)
Let’s get this 40-minute television production out of the way first. It’s the most traditional on my list as its based on a short story by M.R. JAMES and went on to inspire yearly BBC Christmas-timed adaptations of his work. It concerns a fussy professor who comes across a whistle in a graveyard, makes the grave mistake of playing it and then finds himself accosted by the supernatural forces he unwittingly beckoned. This is horror of the quiet and infesting variety and captures beautifully the type of dread that visits in the wee hours of the night.
THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE (1944)
Is Amy’s new pal a ghost or a figment of her overactive imagination? Parents traditionally look down on imaginary friends but Amy’s pop Oliver (KENT SMITH) has an extra reason to be perturbed on account of his daughter’s invisible BFF sounds an awful lot like his deceased ex-wife who caused mucho drama with her habit of turning into a ferocious animal whenever she was feeling frisky. I’m not sure any film has ever captured both the wonder and terror of childhood in such a glorious way and it’s no slouch in depicting the magical quality of Christmas either.
THE UNINVITED (1944)
I should be embarrassed to say that the first time I watched THE UNINVITED I didn’t care for it that much. I think it was because someone suggested it to me based on my affection for THE HAUNTING (1963) and I originally watched it through a filter of expectation that it would strike me in the same way and of course it didn’t (and why should it?) Thankfully I bumped into it again on a classic movie channel a couple decades later and was able to take in its striking form outside of the pointless dysfunctional shadow of comparison and no bones about it, I loved it. I think what first threw me about the movie was its permeating sense of humor. How could I get scared when everybody kept speaking in quips all the time? The thing that my little head didn’t get was that joviality in the face of life’s darker elements was what this flick was all about. In fact, when the negative force that threatens to drag everybody down is vanquished in the end, our hero (charm machine RAY MILLAND) basically blasts it off by laughing in its face (before chucking a candelabra at its wispy, wet-blanket head.) If you can get the CRITERION COLLECTION version then do so. It features an informative and surprisingly moving video essay by filmmaker MICHAEL ALMERWYDA (NADJA, THE ETERNAL).
DEAD OF NIGHT (1945)
This classic anthology is all about the sharing of ghost stories and I know I’m not the only one who it still has the power to disturb. Incredibly the film’s hide and seek Christmas party segment was left out of its initial American release and I have to wonder what kind of dummy would allow that. Personally I believe the tale’s closing line “I’m not scared, I’m not scared…oh hold me tight!” is the unheralded inspiration for SAVED BY THE BELL”s classic Jessie Spano caffeine meltdown exclamation “I’m so excited, I’m so excited…I’m so scared!” I could be wrong.
THE HEARSE (1981)
THE HEARSE and I have a long, acrimonious history full of mistrust and unfulfilled longing yet I can’t deny there’s a secret fondness that keeps me returning to this ghost flick even though I know I’ll only feel disappointed again. I shall forever admonish THE HEARSE for dropping the ball at the worst time possible and for pushing the limits of lameness repeatedly and yet I’ll watch it again in a heartbeat because it’s for the most part, creepy–cozy. I’m sure nostalgia plays a big part in the relationship but I guess the larger truth is that the type of glee some folks feel when they see a car chase or a fiery explosion I can only feel when I see TRISH VAN DEVERE alone in bed in an old house reading.
A PLACE OF ONE’S OWN (1945)
An elderly couple moves into a mansion with a dark history and soon find that their skepticism of the supernatural is challenged on a daily basis. They invite a young woman to stay with them who confirms their concerns by becoming possessed. I’ll understand if some horror fans find this one a little too restrained and polite for their tastes but the acting (particularly by JAMES MASON who was only in his thirties at the time) and the story consistently intrigues and it sports a cool twist. This one I stumbled across on Netflix and I’m still stunned I hadn’t heard of it earlier.
HAUNTED (1995) & THE SKEPTIC (2009) & THE ECLIPSE (2009)
Skeptics really need to learn not to be so skeptical because clearly skepticism is like a magnet for ghosts and only gets them riled up! AIDAN QUINN in HAUNTED which is based on a book by JAMES HERBERT and TIM DALY in THE SKEPTIC, which I reviewed back HERE, both learn this obvious fact the hard way. Speaking of AIDAN QUINN, remember how he was in that other ghost flick we once talked about called THE ECLIPSE? Yikes, that movie had one of the scariest moments EVER.
GHOST SORY (1981)
Just as I had recently panicked that I might someday run out of Christmas holiday horror movies, this past Halloween I was worried that I might run out of beautiful black and white horror goodies. Then I remembered a post over at our pal Christine’s pad FASCINATION WITH FEAR that suggested many a horror flick could loose their color and be all the better for it. So I adjusted my TV to black and white and I watched GHOST STORY and it was all kinds of awesome. With its classic Hollywood cast, snow-filled settings and gorgeous ALBERT WHITLOCK matte paintings, GHOST STORY wore its new colorless suit like it was born in it. The spirit we’re looking for is all here, there’s scotch, fireplaces and ghostly tales to be told and if a rotted corpse shows up instead of Santa, well that’s fine too. Director JOHN IRVIN’s earlier effort 1974’s HAUNTED: THE FERRYMAN is another chiller worth seeking out.
So why not celebrate the Christmas ghost story tradition by watching one of these fine titles today or if you really want to go old school, you could make up your own ghost story and tell it to your perplexed pals as they look at their phones! You can even just jump on over to YouTube and make some unknown stranger read to you and you don’t even have to pay them for their time! Here’s some tireless lady reading HENRY JAMES’ THE TURN OF THE SCREW in one sitting! Note how this famous story of a nameless governess begins as a tale told around a fire on Christmas Eve!
Even if you don’t follow my ghostly advice, I hope you all have the greatest holiday season! I should warn you that I may be making myself scarce for a little while as I need to spend some quality time with my family and friends…hahahhaha…just kidding. Actually I just got an early present in the form of the ALIEN ISOLATION game so I gotta hang out in space for a while. Wish me luck against those rascally Xenomorphes, and I’ll see ya sometime next year!