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Entries from May 2012

It’s a Horror to know You:: Ross Tipograph of Camp Blood!

May 31st, 2012 · 3 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Ross Tipograph of Camp Blood!

1. What is the first film that ever scared you?

The Ring” remake was actually the first anything that made me throw my hands in front of my face in sheer resitant terror, along with another 2002 candy, the awful “Darkness Falls” starring Buffy’s Emma Caufield. But actually, “Candyman” ruined my youth. That scene where he stalks Virginia Madsen in the parking garage… “Helennn…”

2. What is the last film that scared you?

I’ll admit “Insidious” was a hot little slice of surprises that had grown men shrieking in shock, the endings of “The Woman” and “Inside” nearly made me vomit, and “Black Swan,” upon second viewing, was less camp and more me questioning my own skin.

3. Name 3 horror movies that you believe are underrated.

Apartment Zero (1988) Combines a bunch of Hitchcock movies into a series of queerly twisted sequences between two great looking men.

The Faculty (1998) Slick, seamless, subversive, and addictive. Killer soundtrack, and Bebe Neuwirth gets wrapped in a volleyball net and shot in the head.

Kairo (Pulse) (2001) The first Japanese horror film where I correctly predicted someone would jump off a high point and die, and I still gasped. Also, the ghosts move crazily!

4. Name 3 horror movies you enjoy against your better judgment.

Lady in a Cage (1964) HELP! Olivia de Havilland is TRAPPED! In a PERSONAL, PRIVATE ELEVATOR!

Wicked (1998) A pre-teen suburban girl wants to boink her dad (seriously) so she kills her mom (yes).

Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire (2000) A kids’ horror fave. Caroline Rhea in a Disney Channel Original Movie “Fright Night” rip-off? Sign me up!

Honorable mention: “Troll 2” because of Holly’s graceful boombox dance, “Final Destination 3” because tanning booth death is my kryptonite, and “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” …because tanning booth death is my kryptonite.

One more! “Hello MaryLou: Prom Night 2”!

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

Blogger Beware: One blogger’s hilarious and total exploration of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and their wonderfully awful idiosyncrasies.

Gay of the Dead: Sean Abley’s Fangoria column showcasing gay movie news and interviews, all around pleasant as punch.

Dark Horizons: My personal go-to site for up-to-date release lists.

The October Country: The Justin Graves-led blog, an intimidatingly knowledgeable forum for all horror multimedia and editorials. He’s also great on Facebook, too.

Are You Afraid of the 90s: Shameless self-promo plug. A side project for all things scary and children-y from the Nineties, movies, television, and movies on television included. Please, let yourself hate it!

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Tags: It's a Horror to Know You!

It’s a Horror to Know You:: J. M. Cozzoli of Zombo’s Closet!

May 30th, 2012 · 4 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: J. M. Cozzoli of Zombos’ Closet!

1. What is the first film that ever scared you?

That would be the original Night of the Living Dead. When I saw it with my mom at the local movie theater, the walk home, at night, was pure terror. I was 12. I’d seen all the classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, King Kong, The Wolf Man, etc, mostly with horror host Zacherley camping it up, but this baby scared the crap out of me. It hit too close to home. My home. I kept imagining being trapped in my house with shambling dead outside. I barricaded my bedroom door at night to sleep and I locked the bathroom door for two weeks after seeing this bloody damn movie.

You have to remember there weren’t any ratings back then, so kids like me went in expecting the usual goofy terrors and walked out scared shitless. It was numbing and mind-blowing at the same time. I think that was the night I couldn’t sleep so I stayed up in bed reading Famous Monsters issues until dawn. Maybe even then I realized I’d lost that “horror innocence,” of supernatural beings equals unreal, so they were “safe.” These infected walking dead didn’t just kill you, they ate you. Alive. And they didn’t stop until they got you. And it was happening TODAY, not in some frilly Gothic period way back when. These monsters were real.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

The last movie to really scare me would be a tough call between Hostel and Hostel 2. I’ve been scared by movies before and after, to some extent, but the thought of being helpless, fully conscious, and at the mercy of a sadistic person taking enjoyment from peeling you like a grape, or gouging your eyes out like coring a melon, or taking bolt cutters to your fingers and clipping a lot more than your nails is quite intense for me. It’s revolting but also emasculating, and for a guy, that’s pretty scary.

I believe it was in Hostel 2 that one victim is being carved up like a turkey by some rich nut drinking wine and eating him like human sushi. To be completely helpless while your body is ravaged at whim is very terrifying for me because it’s a physical and mental mind-f**k stripping away every bit of humanity until there’s nothing left. You want to talk horror, THAT’s horror.

3. Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.

Hard calls here, but the ones I’d pick to narrow this down would be The Ruins, Frozen, and May. May is the more sedate one of the bunch. A sad woman, a depressing life, a yearning for love and much more. The movie’s a downer; pensive, tediously slow, but the ending makes it all worthwhile, as does the actors and the subject. You feel her pain so much, it’s silly, but you want to believe in magic as much as she does.

The Ruins has one of the most gut-wrenching and frightening scenes: a spreading infection leads to the decision to amputate a leg; but the doctor’s out and the student’s missed a few classes. The guy sitting in front of me in the theater couldn’t take it. He jumped up and down at every whack of the dull axe and let out some loud yells of pain himself. I thought he was going to faint. I kept feeling my leg watching this scene, but I didn’t faint. Beyond that, The Ruins is a pretty scary story of alienation, desolation, hopelessness, doom, and vegetation that gets under your skin. It’s like Cabin Fever, Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space, and Caltiki rolled together for good effect.

Frozen is downright chilling (hey, cheap pun!) I don’t think many people caught this on the big screen, but I will never, ever, ride a ski lift again. I don’t like them to begin with (I’m afraid of heights), but this movie is so minimalist–three skiers are trapped for the weekend on a ski lift and it’s freezing cold, and a long way down. The cable is razor sharp so climbing it is near impossible. Their clothing is minimal because it was warmer in the day. And it’s dark and lonely, except for the wolves below. When one of them decides to drop down (not tooo far, right?), it really will make you think about this movie every time you go skiing. A stunningly effective little gem of building terror and suspense.

Now if you said 4 movies, well I’d mention The Monster of Piedras Blancas, but since you said only 3, I won’t mention it.

4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.

4. Just 3 here, too? Well, okay. I suppose I better not fess up to any more or I’d be considered a real rube. Speaking of Caltiki… it’s top on my list of guilty pleasures. I saw this when far too young and had nightmares for weeks. Sure, it’s the blob, but there’s something about this movie–maybe it’s the black and white scenes or prehistoric curse kind of stuff–that makes it very effective, even if the story is more Swiss cheese than robust munster when the military shows up. The creature effects are still quite effective, and squishy gooey, too.

The Video Dead is sublimely inane and so evocative of the 1980s. Really, I can’t defend this one at all, but it’s so damn watchable! Zombies terrorize by stuffing little old ladies in washing machines and turning on the spin cycle; a television set is the portal to another dimension where goofy looking zombies–how they actually crawl their way through the small set beats me–enter to wreak mayhem; to save herself, one woman dances with the zombies because they like music. The acting is cheesy, the story is lame, and the overall effect is ingenuously satisfying.

Trumping The Video Dead for WTF! craziness is Spookies (also 1980s), an incoherent amalgamation of half-baked ideas and nonsensical set-pieces, which include a gloating evil sorcerer with a bad Bela accent, a deserted house by a cemetery, a purple werewolf, a dead bride, and a car load of New Jersey “kids.” The car winds up at the house, the kids find a Quija Board–gripped tightly by a corpse, no less–and decide to play anyway. All hell ensues and the purple werewolf spends much time holding doors shut from one side while the kids scream and pound the doors trying to open them from the other side. Practical effects take over as each dumb-ass victim meets a suitable demise via a nasty monster. Nastiest being the fart monsters that spring up from the mud floor in the basement. Yes, read it again, that’s what I wrote. This is one movie you root for the monsters because the people are so damn stupid and annoying. This is THE horror movie party movie. Trust me.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

First, you’ve got to go to the League of Tana Tea Drinkers for the sine qua non of horror bloggers who know their stuff. Then there’s the Internet Archive for hours of scintillating discovery to be had on lots of stuff, including horror. (I also get a kick out of using the Wayback Machine to see how my blog looked years ago.) Next I recommend i09, where the genre coverage is always insightful and informative. For recent horror fiction, The Horror Zine is a good bet. Jeani Rector publishes an anthology of stories from her webzine every year (I should have one of my zombie stories in the 2013 anthology, actually), and the contributions from known and unknown authors is impressive. The site’s early web design look (long scrolling pages, large font, etc), is too retro, but look past that and you’ll find a lot of solid reading. Finally, the AMC Filmsite is a reference gold mine for movie addicts. There’s so much here to keep you busy, you better get started now.

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Tags: It's a Horror to Know You!

It’s a Horror to Know You:: Dante Tomaselli Writer/Director/Composer of Torture Chamber!

May 29th, 2012 · 4 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Dante Tomaselli Writer/Director/Composer of Torture Chamber!

1. What is the first film that ever scared you?

I would have to say Horror Express. I remember being incredibly young, burning up with a fever, and watching it on TV in my parents bedroom and all-out hallucinating. The Jesus-like figure terrified me, especially when his eyes would glow and bleed. A close second would be It Lives Again. I used to have really upsetting and violent nightmares about the baby in that movie. I watch it now and don’t feel the same, but at the time….

2. What is the last film that scared you?

The House with Laughing Windows. I saw it about five years ago and it gave me serious nightmares. Evil, bloodstained old women haunt me.

3. Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.

Tourist Trap. It’s a perfect horror movie. I’m not sure if it’s underrated because true horror fans love it. I vow to direct a terror film with scary mannequins. Frightmare. Dark and creepy British Pete Walker chiller that is all about family sickness. I love actress Sheila Keith. Christie Sanford reminds me of her, actually. This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse. Coffin Joe. This is just the kind of home-grown horror imagery I adore. The shots of our protagonist being sucked into the bowels of hell stand out.

4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.

XTRO. It’s low budget and so imaginative and that’s good. So bizarre. This movie is out-of-its-mind and I love it for that. I’m not guilty to say it’s one of my favorite films. Amityville Horror 2: The Possession. I watch it every couple of weeks. I love its atmosphere and brooding music and how it confronts, um, taboo subjects. It’s a very well made film. There’s just something wrong about it all, and off-putting, which I like. It doesn’t play by the rules. And Rutanya Alda. I became friends with her when I lived in Manhattan years back. Such a nice lady and in so many memorable films like When a Stranger Calls and Mommie Dearest. My third choice…The Hearse. I enjoy Trish Van Devere. She was excellent in The Changeling, a very warm personality. There’s something about her that I want to protect. The Hearse is fun and has some eerie, stylish moments, otherwise it’s drab and kind of silly. I still love it though. I feel comfortable watching, there’s something comforting, kind of like It Lives Again or Prophecy or The Legacy. Movies I seem to watch over and over.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

Mixed Signals. I have synesthesia. Sound-Color.

Double Life: A group for Diehard fans of The Cars. Lifelong CARS fan. Growing up, I was the only fanatic in my school and I was a bit of a misfit for it. Those were the days of hair metal bands, which I never really liked. I was more into Depeche Mode and Jean Michel Jarre.

John Carpenter’s Prince of DarknessOpening Titles. I’m addicted, I can’t stop playing the low-toned moody music. Halloween 3 too. I listen to these soundscapes all the time. Kudos to Mr. John Carpenter and Alan Howarth.

DepecheMode.com Depeche Mode. The electronic soundtrack of my youth. As Martin Gore would say, ‘Let’s have a Black Celebration.’

The Last Drive-In. I grew up going to Drive-Ins in New Jersey. I saw so many horror movies there first, The Omen, Theatre of Blood, The Sentinel….

UNK SEZ: Thanks Dante! It’s fascinating to learn which films lead you to become the horror Maestro your are today! Folks, we have a special treat in the form of the brand-spanking new trailer to Dante’s upcoming opus Torture Chamber! I’m sensing something dark, disturbing and deliciously kinder-traumatic! Check out the magnificently creepy splendor below!

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Tags: It's a Horror to Know You!

Kinder-flix:: Memorial Valley Massacre!

May 28th, 2012 · 1 Comment

UNK SEZ: It’s Memorial Day so we’re taking the day off to go fishing for hamburgers! We are loath to leave you high and dry so why not take a load off and watch the non-classic MEMORIAL VALLEY MASSACRE a.k.a. MEMORIAL DAY? We’ll be back with our regularly scheduled program tomorrow! Happy Memorial Day!

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Tags: Holidays · Kinder-Flix

It’s a Horror to Know You: Mike of My Rotting Brain!

May 27th, 2012 · No Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Mike of My Rotting Brain!

1. What is the first film that ever scared you?

If you want to get technical then I’d have to say Rollercoaster Rabbit, the Roger Rabbit short film that played in front of Dick Tracy. I was four, and it was the first movie my parents ever took me to. I’m told I ran screaming out of the theater about six minutes into the cartoon.

The first movie I really remember being scared of due to being creeped out, not just overwhelmed, was Beetlejuice. I remember having it on VHS and being terrified of the sand worms. I was oddly okay with everything else though.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

Paranormal Activity. Yeah, I’m one of those guys. Seeing it in a theater with an excellent sound system was an experience. I saw it the day it opened, so I really had no idea what to expect going in. It was one of the more unsettling movie experiences I’ve ever had.

3. Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.

Trick ‘R Treat– It’s probably not underrated as much as it is under publicized. It’s the ultimate Halloween movie, and should be a yearly tradition for anyone who loves the holiday. It’s got so many great horror elements all wrapped up in the mischievous Halloween spirit, I can’t recommend it enough.

Clownhouse– It’s got a premise so clichéd you almost can’t believe they actually made it into a movie. Patients escape from an insane asylum, disguise themselves as clowns and terrorize children. It’s not gory, nor is it particularly scary, but for anyone who’s ever been leery about clowns, it can be the stuff of nightmares. It really comes off more like a long episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? or Amazing Stories than a movie.

Near Dark– The moody older brother of The Lost Boys. I’d say the action scenes are better and Bill Paxton’s Severn is every bit as badass as Kiefer Sutherland’s David. Plus you’ve got Lance Hendrickson, so you can’t go wrong with that. Its ending might be a tad ridiculous and separate from the popular vampire mythos, but it’s still a fun, well shot film. Let’s all just be happy they never moved forward with a remake, and oddly, we have Twilight to thank for that.

4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.

The Wicker Man (2006) – I’m not sure “enjoy” is the right word here. I watch due to morbid curiosity and so I can marvel at just how off the rails it went. Then again, it’s hard not to enjoy Nicolas Cage wearing a bear suit and punching a woman in the face. It’s my personal favorite terrible movie of all time.

Friday the 13th (2009)– People despise this remake, but after years of seeing Jason movies become almost horror comedy, it was nice to see one that tried to recapture the series’ original spirit. It doesn’t add anything to the franchise, but I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as people make it out to be. This is Friday the 13th we’re talking about, it’s never been Shakespeare. Derek Mears plays a great Jason, the kills are fun and it’s a monumentally better than Jason Goes to Hell.

CHUD– It’s a bad movie, but it’s a fun one. How can you not enjoy a movie where homeless people mutated by toxic waste try to eat Daniel Stern? And successfully eat John Goodman, who has a really random cameo. It’s set in New York City, while looking absolutely nothing like New York City, which just adds to its charm. You could definitely do worse than CHUD.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

X-entertainment– One of my favorite websites of all time, a premier destination for 80’s stuff, horror movies, old commercials and strange food items. It’s sadly shutting down after many years, but it has archives full of great stuff.

Dinosaur Dracula– Matt of X-Entertainment’s new website. It’s still under construction, but I have no doubts that it will fill whatever void XE leaves behind. It’s probably the best URL you’ve read all day.

Bloody Disgusting– My go-to source for horror news. Pretty sure BD has a healthy following, but it still deserves a plug. They’ve always got excellent giveaways going on, which I’d say is reason enough to visit.

Hey U Guys.co.UK– UK based movie, gaming and technology website, with a great crop of authors.

My Rotting Brain’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? Review Index– Alright, shameless self-promotion. Here’s my archive of all the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode’s I’ve reviewed thus far. I figure some of these had to inspire some kindertrauma in readers, so why not go re-live that terror all over again?

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Tags: It's a Horror to Know You!

It’s a Horror to Know You:: Enzo S!

May 26th, 2012 · 3 Comments

1. What is the first film that ever scared you?

Hell, I spent most of my early childhood in constant terror. Between Dog Satan from All Dogs go to Heaven, psychopathic ‘toons from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and all-devouring tiger-caves from Aladdin, there wasn’t a kid’s movie made that didn’t curdle my blood in some way or another. Still, nothing compares to the first fright flick that I saw: Nicolas Roeg’s 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. I must have been four or five. Back then, a movie rental was a special treat. I was allowed to stay up late and my mom made popcorn. All went well at first – in fact, I remember having a great time – but then BANG! Anjelica Huston TEARS OFF HER SCALP to reveal a HIDEOUS MELTING WAX/VAMPIRE/RAT/BAT/THING.

The tape was swiftly ejected and replaced with Robin Hood, but it was already too late. The damage was done. The sight of a hairless, vulture-faced mutant emerging from the husked skin of Anjelica Huston was enough to give me nightmares for weeks. To this very day, I still find something very unpleasant about The Witches.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

Eh – that’s difficult to say. These days, the best I can hope is a mild case of unease. That said, I saw Wild at Heart about a year ago, and that flick made me pretty uneasy. About three-quarters of the way through the film, there’s a scene in which a slick, satanic Willem Defoe tries to rape Laura Dern’s character. Every single aspect of this scene is grotesque – and not grotesque in the regular, garden variety way, but grotesque in that ugly, fever-dream way that haunts your brain cells for days on end.

3. Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.

1) Ravenous: Ever see the trailer for Maximum Overdrive? In a nutshell, Stephen King stands there, points at the audiences, and whines, “I’m gonna scare th’ HELL outta you!” Rather than actually do something clever, he just arches his eyebrows and loudly announces his intention to frighten us all to death with his bad-ass, supercool new movie.

Now, I think that a lot of horror movies make that exact same mistake. They’re so desperate to be taken seriously that they dial the intensity up to eleven without anything to back it up. The result is often overwrought and self-important, and worst of all – boring.

Fortunately, there are movies like Ravenous. This movie is a perfect example of a film that takes itself seriously without being especially serious (if that makes any sort of sense). It’s a wild sort of movie. Gruesome, weird, and very funny – sometimes all at the same time. Ravenous is proof that humor can be a tremendous asset for a scary story. Also, the soundtrack is terrific.

2) The Haunting (1963): This is an elegant, self-assured haunted-house movie. The central conceit is brilliant. Rather than a gloomy old house filled with evil spirits, this gloomy old house IS an evil spirit – a malevolent entity that swallows up the weak and the lost. It’s all accomplished through power of suggestion of course, but I love the idea that a building, by virtue of its design and construction, can possess a crude soul. All the better if that soul can become “diseased and deranged.”

3) Alice, Sweet Alice (Communion): A lot of contemporary horror films don’t have any grit. I’m not referring to the sort of sprayed-on, industrial video, blue-filter grit that you get from movies like Saw – I mean actual, tangible despair and decay. Alice, Sweet, Alice is such a movie, featuring crumbling buildings, empty streets, and filthy apartment houses. This movie doesn’t attempt to create a fictional world of grime and nastiness, rather, it taps into the very real grime and nastiness of suburban America during the 1970s: a bleak, hollowed-out world, haunted by paedophiles and maniacs.

4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.

1) Waxwork: This movie begins with the jerk boyfriend from Twin Peaks falling into another dimension and getting mauled by a werewolf. It ends with Patrick MacNee and the kid from Gremlins in a life-or-death swordfight with a horde of wax monsters that have been brought to life by a satanic voodoo ritual performed by David Warner. I dig it.

2) Demon Wind: “What if Tommy Wiseau wrote and directed The Evil Dead?” That’s how my brother summed up this movie, and I can’t think of a better description. Suffice to say, it’s very peculiar.

3) The Uninvited: I watched this last week with a big crew of people and I had a blast. Good storytelling be damned! Good acting be damned! I want to see George Kennedy get murdered by a mutant, killer housecat! A killer, mutant housecat that LIVES INSIDE ANOTHER HOUSECAT!!

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

The Hyper Kitchen! A two-fisted blog that serves up food for thought on a semi-regular basis. Expect interesting articles about science, monsters, and other thought-provoking topics.

SRBissette.com! The website of Swamp Thing artist Steve Bissette – stand up guy, ace horror illustrator, and monster movie guru.

The American Barbarian! Home to several different webcomics created by GODLAND artist Tom Scioli. It’s good stuff!

Vietnamese Chicken Salad! Make some right now! Now, dammit!

Ha ha! It’s Burl! It’s Burl! He reviews movies. One day, he’ll review all of them!

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Tags: It's a Horror to Know You!

Traumafession:: Bigwig on Kulerek’s The Maze

May 26th, 2012 · 3 Comments

Hi guys.

This one will come at you from a different direction.

William Kulerek’s Despair.

We had Time-Life Science books in our bookcase growing up, which were a layman’s overview of a variety of topics; not quite an encyclopedic. They were broken down simple enough for a nine year old to at least look at, and we poured over them, since they were rife with illustrations. One such volume was called “The Mind”. In the middle of the book was a section on Art used as therapy in diagnosing mental disorders.

I wanted to be an artist.

There were a few paintings by schizophrenics, and a few by Van Gogh…but the most riveting was a two-page spread by William Kulerek entitled “The Maze“. This was before the internet, and I had no idea that Kulerek was an accomplished painter; rather I thought he was merely an incredibly good, incredibly ill patient. The painting was a cross-section of his skull laying in a field, with many painful, harrowing, surreal illustrated memories compartmentalized within. The caption by the photo went to say that the artist painted “The Maze” while in a mental hospital as means of therapy.

I would always stare horrified at these pages, seeing these interpreted memories of a young boy being isolated, beaten, mocked, dissected….and they get worse…horrified not so much by the images themselves, but by the fact that someone felt this way. Could a child’s life have been this horrible?

Somewhere down the line, after I came out of art school some 15 years later, I stumbled upon another painting called “I Spit on Life”. All it took was five seconds I’m sure until I was assured that this painting, perhaps even more bleak with it’s hopeless, miserable vignettes, was created by the same artist from the mental hospital in the book I saw as a kid. It turns out William Kulerek was far more a talent than I had ever known. In fact, Van Halen used part of “The Maze” as an album cover in the 80’s. News to me.

The good news is that Kulerek tamed his inner demons to a point, and went on to illustrate children’s books, and painted a number of religious works before his death. But none of those pictures, which I have seen, had near the lasting impression of these bleak works which had a place in my nightmares and sleepless nights throughout childhood.

Kulerek’s own explanation of The Maze with a picture: (HERE).

Here’s a great zoom-inable view of “I Spit on Life”: (HERE)

And just like that….I find this is coming out…

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Tags: Traumafessions

Final Exam (1981) by Chris Moore

May 26th, 2012 · 1 Comment

As the final days of my collegiate career dwindle down, it’s got me thinking about how I used to perceive college life back when I was a kid. I always assumed, due to my love for college farces and slasher films, that I’d be surrounded by tons of fun loving, big breasted, bubble-headed bleach blondes and beer guzzling, dumb as rocks frat guys on their way to a midlife crisis. Since I go to an art school, there are no sports teams, sororities, or fraternities. I’m a little bitter that I didn’t get the authentic college experience. Thankfully, I have a little movie called FINAL EXAM to help me pretend I did.

Ask any slasher film fanatic and they’ll tell you that FINAL EXAM is not on the top of their list of great ‘80s slash ’em ups. In fact, it probably rates more towards the bottom of the barrel, right next to EVIL LAUGH and BOARDINGHOUSE. I’ll admit it, FINAL EXAM marches to its own (slightly off tempo) drummer and I salute it for that. The film begins with a rather unimaginative murder scene involving two horny co-eds parked on lover’s lane and then thrusts us head first into a tension filled exam week at Lanier College, an institution populated by every early ‘80s and slasher film stock character known to man.

We have the smart, bookish, huge haired Courtney (CECILE BAGDADI) stepping in for Laurie Strode (guess she was still recovering from her previous ordeal). Her BFF, Radish (did his parents hate him or what?), played by JOEL S. RICE, spews out factoids about serial killers, all the while, clearly having the hots for Courtney. There’s also Courtney’s sex kitten roommate, Lisa (DeANNA ROBBINS) and their friend, Janet (the adorable SHERRY WILLIS-BURCH, who you may remember from KILLER PARTY). The real scene stealer is the eternally wasted Wildman (RALPH BROWN) who, I guess, is supposed to be some sort of JOHN BELUSHI in ANIMAL HOUSE clone. He spends the majority of the film drinking beer, shouting, and feasting on anything he can find.

FINAL EXAM takes its sweet time, letting us get to know its colorful cast of characters before starting the carnage around 50 minutes in. It’s a risky move – one that most viewers don’t seem to care for; however, I always find these characters so fun that I forget I’m in a slasher movie. One of the more memorable (and dated) sequences in the film involves the entire frat staging a fake terrorist attack in the quad just so one of their own can find some time to tamper with his exam. It’s gloriously over the top and could never be pulled off today without someone bitching and moaning about it being socially irresponsible.

The killer is always drenched in shadows, but no effort is made to disguise his face. He’s bulky and imposing, but never very scary. We never find out who is or why he’s doing what he’s doing. I have my own theory, but I’m sure you don’t want me to bore you with all that nonsense. Still, I sort of like the vague and mysterious quality of the killer’s identity (or lack thereof). It’s certainly something different from what was going on the glut of other HALLOWEEN clones out around the same time. Also, Radish talks an awful lot about the randomness of serial killers, so perhaps there’s more to this particular killer than we really think.

Most cite its lack of anything remotely resembling suspense, scares, or gore as being its downfall, but I find the film oddly refreshing. FINAL EXAM is what I liken to a movie version of comfort food. You know it’s not really good for you and has very little nutritional value to offer, but it’s like an old friend you just can’t say “No” to. It’s light on the gore and scares, but I still enjoy it for its quirky characters and am not afraid to say so.

Interestingly enough, FINAL EXAM was shot only an hour or two away from my university in North Carolina. I think that’s pretty neat-o (yes, I just used the term “neat-o”). FINAL EXAM was just recently released on a brand new DVD by Scorpion Releasing (who are doing the Lord’s work as far as I’m concerned!) Give it a shot!

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Tags: General Horror · Special Guest Stars

Traumafession:: Amanda Panda on Rugrats, Robot Dolls and More!

May 25th, 2012 · 3 Comments

The first one being the episode of the rugrats “In the dreamtime” that episode used to make me cry when I was little and if I saw it was on I would run out of the room screaming, it gave me nightmares. It’s an episode where Chuckie, one of the main characters, is having a bad dream, and at several points in the episode he comes across one of his friends or family (Tommy, Stu, Chaz) turned away from him, so he taps them on the back and they turn around and with distorted faces say “I’m not (insert name of who ever turned around here)!” Lots of Rugrats episodes spooked me, but that one I flat out hated, I’m 20 years old now and still don’t like it.

Next being a couple of children’s books, I forget the author, but they were called “There’s a nightmare in my closet” and “There’s something in my attic.” I think. Anywho, these were straight up children’s books about things that go bump in the night, it had pictures of the monsters, those are what scared me, I used to take them and hide them alot because looking at them scared me. I still have the books actually, though they reside in my little sister’s room now, she’s 9 and laughs when I tell her they used to scare me, she thinks the monsters are cute and the story is funny (Which, they really are cute stories, I was just a scaredy cat.)

The last one was a doll named “Amazing Amy” I thought this doll was evil and I was terrified of robotic things anyhow, I didn’t like how this doll could talk and seemed to know when I would feed her the wrong foods or dress her in clothes she didn’t want to wear. My big brother would often find her hidden in the house and would sneak her into my room at night and place her standing by my doorway facing my bed. Years later another doll named “Amazing Ally” came out, she was alright until she told me and my sister she needed new batteries. We taped her up in a box and stuck her in the top corner of the closet. Then just a couple years ago we got my youngest sister (she was 7 at the time, 9 now) the “Amazing Amanda” doll. Her robotic face has all these things under her doll skin that cause her to have facial expressions, but when we first turned her on she malfunctioned and all the robotics began to move at once causing her eyes to open and shut, her mouth to open and close, and her entire face to just move awkwardly as if she had something trapped under her skin. It made my sister cry and we had to take out it’s batteries. Long story short, robotic dolls are spooky.

I hope these stories entertained, I just recently discovered your website!

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession/Name That Trauma!:: Coffeegorilla on Children of the Corn, Visiting Hours and a Mysterious Eyeball!

May 25th, 2012 · 1 Comment

When I was a lad of about 6 or 7 (1985ish), my parents would take me to a place called ‘The Video Station’ to pick out movies; it’s long gone but I still have a frisbee the owner gave me. Being a typical child, I tended to rent the same movies over and over, usual kids stuff, old Spider-Man cartoons, Speed Racer, The Last Unicorn (trauma inducing in itself). While my parents would debate what movie they were going to rent, I would slip away and sneak upstairs; yes, this video store had TWO levels. The first level was all new releases, family movies, cartoons, etc. The second level was all sci-fi and horror movies and a room with a curtain and a pink light shining from beneath. I never went in that room, but I did learn what it was years later. Anyway, I would walk through the aisles of movies I was never allowed to rent and look at the movie jackets and just scare myself silly.

The slip case for Children of the Corn scared the hell out of me, those kids with the glowing eyes in the cornfield. Same goes for Visiting Hours, all the hospital windows lit up like a skull. But there was one movie jacket that scared me the most and for the life of me, I do not know the name of the movie, so hopefully someone can help. If I remember correctly, there was a giant naked eyeball hovering in blackness and two clawed hands that held a piece of wire with blood running down the wire’s length. Google searches for video jackets with giant eyes and blood result in a movie called Terror Vision which isn’t the one sadly. So, anyone out there remember this relic from the VHS era? Thanks so much!

Coffeegorilla

UNK SEZ: Thanks Cofeegorilla for this VHS-centric post! Luckily, the inside of my brain is forever lined with tape-filled shelves! I think the eyeball cover you are looking for is 1979’s THE VISTOR! You can read more about that movie right over HERE!

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Tags: Name That Trauma! · Traumafessions