It’s a Horror to Know You:: Jon Clark!

It’s a Horror to know You Jon Clark!

What is the first film that scared you?

Halloween 3, I know it gets a bad rep and all that but when I saw it, it was on TV (edited for TV at that) I was just a little boy, maybe six (who didn’t know or CARE that the film didn’t have Michael Myers in it). It was the opening scene where the mechanized man walks into the hospital and makes the “C” with his thumb and forefinger, then QUIP, plugs it into that poor dude’s eye sockets. There’s that, which is pretty damn horrible and terrifying, but what does he do next? He wipes his fingers off on the curtain! Damn, that’ s just cold. As was always the case when I was a kid, pretty much right after that scene, it was time for me to go to bed (thanks mom!). So of course all that night I knew, just knew for sure some creepy dude was about to open the door and come for my eyeballs!

What is the last film that scared you?

A few months ago, I was on my computer working during the day with no one in the house, and sometimes I open up a little window on the screen and watch movies or TV while I work, usually when I’m inking. It just plays in the background. I decided to have a mini marathon of the syfy show Paranormal Witness. Each case has the real people telling their stories. Sometimes they have videos of what they saw, sometimes they have police officers(!!) saying “this was real.” Watching episode after episode gave me this awkward feeling. Just this cumulative effect of woah, man, something is really going on out there, this stuff is all real! I just got really creeped out and had to put something else on, like a comedy, you know… just until people came home… yeah, better with people around.

Name three horror films that you feel are underrated:

It’s 1983, network TV, primetime, I’m in third grade, alien “Visitors” arrive. They are our friends. They just need our help. Oh, and they eat rodents, oh and they want to eat us too. This is V: The Miniseries baby. There is so much good about this show. I love the concept of the resistance. Julie’s rise to prominence and unwanted power. The scene where the older Jewish father Abraham tells his son why we must hide the scientists breaks my heart. Even the scene when Elias’s brother dies in front of Caleb, I don’t know, it’s borderline ham-handed but I get sucked back in each time to believe in the pain there… He was the doctor! And horror? Dudes and dudettes, my kid mouth gaped down like Diana’s when she ate that mouse, and when Donovan kicked that guy’s face off, it was nuts!

The Dead Zone. Yup, the one by Cronenberg. It’s a movie that I find myself putting on all the time. There’s an intensity and profound sadness to Walken. (on a side note: in my heart of hearts I believe that the comic book character John Constantine: Hellblazer was based off Walken in this film, has to be) The whole sequence with the serial killer “gazebo” is scary, intense, and shocking. Look at the details. Look at his room, it’s the same from when he was a little cowboy. Herbert Lom, wow. Martin Sheen, on fire!

Near Dark. Vampires in Texas and no one says vampire. There’s a sweet love story (that I buy right into) and the whole thing really makes vampires seem real. Of course you gotta duct tape up the windows because: vampires! Added bonus: I’ve read the screenplay and it’s not written like any other script I’ve read, it’s horror film poetry. I leave you with exhibit A and B: “Is this shit kicker heaven or what?” And Homer.

Name three horror films that you enjoy against your better judgment:

This one was the hardest one to answer, because well, if I love something, I love it. I go with my feelings and let go of the critical judgments.

The Crazies remake. (this was surprising because I’m usually a purist and George Romero is a hero of mine) I saw this in a second run theater with a friend the first time around, and I thought it was pretty good. I watched it again just recently and liked it even more. There are some really great suspense moments. That pitchfork scene being one. It kicks off right away and doesn’t really stop. Eisner did a great job with it. I gotta give him respect.

13 Ghosts. The William Castle original. It’s just goofy fun and I can watch it with my son. It’s a live action Scooby Doo movie. There’s a lion ghost! And I love William Castle anything.

Prince of Darkness. I’ve read and heard the arguments. Here’s how I feel about this one: It’s like old Star Trek, yes, the acting can be over the top (or underwhelming for POD), yes, the effects are mostly cheesy (I mean The Thing vs. POD, how the mighty have fallen) BUT, we’re talking about something here. There is a solid story here. There is a big huge frightening concept about the nature of evil, where it is, what it wants. There is a science vs. religion argument here, and it’s creepy. And I love it! I regularly re-watch the opening 45 minutes. I mean a month won’t go by without me re-watching it. The idea that the church has been hiding a demon/antichrist in the basement for centuries, I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I think that’s EXACTLY what they’d do… !

Name three favorite non-horror films.

A Simple Plan (also works in the underrated section) This movie is so freaking good! I don’t know where to begin. The concept, the acting, the script, the direction (Sam Raimi!). Scenes turn and head into dark dangerous places that leave my head spinning.

Singing in the Rain. I am the biggest horror nut in the world, but hear me out. This is a case of the most talented people in the world firing on all four cylinders and then turning on the rockets too. You’ve seen baseball, this is Babe Ruth, you’ve seen basketball, this is Michael Jordan. These people are the best dancers, comedians, singers, choreographers, there’s romance, spectacle, old school Hollywood. I LOVE this film.

The Sandlot. Again and again. Call me a softee. When they play baseball at night under the fireworks with Ray Charles playing in the background, my eyes well up. “You bob for apples in the toilet! And you like it!” Sandlot 4-eVer, 4 eVer.

Jon Clark has his first horror comic THIN coming out on September 7th through American Gothic Press. THIN is an unconventional horror story about an overweight woman who attempts a miracle weight loss cure and finds herself in a nightmare without a way out. It’s intimate, visceral, and horror fans (especially Kindertrauma fans) should love it. THIN is available for preorder HERE and make sure you like THIN‘s facebook page HERE to keep up to date! Check out a preview of THIN below!

It’s a Horror to Know You:: Chris Moore Writer/Director of Blessed Are The Children

What is the first film that scared you?

The last time I did this, I named THE WITCHES, which is still about as traumatic as it gets (and I know there are millions of people who’d agree with me), but I just recently remembered that I first saw CARRIE around the same time I saw THE WITCHES. It was on TBS one night and I was watching it with my mom and sister and the part that caused me to run out of the room screaming was when Carrie was dragged into the prayer closet by her mother, that creepy organ music starts playing, and she lights the candle next to that scary St. Sebastian statue with the glowing eyes. I still remember leaping off the bed and running out of the room. I had this thing about organ music as a kid. It always terrified me. There was an episode of SHELLEY DUVALL’S FAERIE TALE THEATRE where they adapted SNOW WHITE and Vanessa Redgrave was playing the evil queen. The moment she decides to kill Snow White, she enters her cobweb covered lab as really spooky organ music accompanies her. I ran out of the room there, too. Besides that, WHO FRAMED RODGER RABBIT was pretty terrifying. That scene at the end where Christopher Lloyd‘s eyes pop out might have made me hide behind the couch a few times as a kid.

What is the last film that scared you?

I just rewatched CARNIVAL OF SOULS on that glorious new Criterion disc and, boy, does that one hold up! What a brilliant case of making something out of nothing. Nothing in that film should work, but it does. It’s still one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. That scene where Mary is driving on that dark road at night and “the man” appears at her window…I always shriek. I know it’s coming and I shriek. It’s so nightmarish. Also, for some reason, THE INVITATION really got under my skin. I have a fear of cults and people from LA, so it hit a lot of nerves.

Name three horror films that you feel are underrated.

THE REDEEMER a.k.a. CLASS REUNION MASSACRE – This one is sort of like what would happen if ALICE SWEET ALICE and SLAUGHTER HIGH got drunk and had a really judgmental, mentally unstable (yet stylish) baby. A group of friends are invited to their 10 year reunion and find out that, not only are they the only ones there, but a mysterious preacher with a hard on for disguises and sinners has staged the whole thing so that he can punish them for their wicked ways. It’s hard to describe what’s so great about this movie, because it’s sort of like a dream that seemed really creepy when you were having it, but when you try to explain it to your friend the next day, you’re met with a “meh.” The atmosphere, the synth-heavy score, the nonsensical bookends at the beginning and end, the religious hysteria, likable cast, and spooky disguises from the killer are not something you’ll soon forget. The scene in the auditorium with the killer muttering some bizarre Biblical gibberish as a humongous marionette dances behind him will be one that’ll be sure to give you the heebie jeebies. I’d be lying if this one didn’t inspire a few elements of BLESSED ARE THE CHILDREN.

THE ATTICCARRIE SNODGRESS is so underrated, you guys. She really shines in this, which is, less horror film and more Tennessee Williams meets Baby Jane psychodrama. A lot of horror fans will probably get bored before the payoff, but it’s worth it. Easily one of the saddest, most haunting endings you’re likely to see. And that’s not all! There’s also a really cute monkey and RAY MILLAND as SNODGRESS‘ royal a-hole of a dad. Someone needs to clean this up and release it on Blu-Ray ASAP.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II – I LOVE the original PROM NIGHT, y’all. Like, I stayed up late on a school night once to watch and record it off of TV (I didn’t know how to work the VCR timer, ok! Cut me some slack!), so I’m very passionate about it. However, HELLO MARY LOU is a MUCH better movie. No, it has nothing to do with the original (it was written by ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? alum/obvious national treasure Ron Oliver as a standalone film), but it’s the perfect movie to watch when you’d like to marathon THE EXORCIST, CARRIE, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but don’t have the time. It takes the best parts of all those films and crams them into 90-ish minutes of surreal imagery, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, bad hair choices, and deaths to the tune of Little Richard. Thanks to ample airtime on USA Network back in the 90’s, I saw this one constantly and, to this day, it never bores me for a second. Like THE ATTIC, this is crying out for a special edition Blu-Ray. Can someone make that happen? Scream Factory? Kino? Anybody? While you’re at it, someone give us 3 and 4 on Blu-Ray, too.

Name three horror films that you enjoy against your better judgment.

The Last Horror Film – Billed as a follow up to Bill Lustig‘s super gritty MANIAC, THE LAST HORROR FILM takes the two leads of that film, keeps their same dynamic, moves them to the Cannes Film Festival, and adds on a dollop of tongue-in-cheek cheese. It’s genuinely clever at times and always nothing short of entertaining. I mean, a slasher film at Cannes? Genius! Although, whoever decided to give Caroline Munro that ridiculous skunk streak in her hair should be shot.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II – I HATED Rob Zombie‘s first remake of HALLOWEEN. It was like he made a list of everything people admired from the original film and made sure to do the exact opposite with a cheesy backstory and a rushed SparkNotes version of the original tacked on to the last hour of the film with characters we don’t like. To my great surprise, I ended up enjoying his sequel (white horse, ghost mother, and random redneck killings aside) and admired him dedicating almost the entire film to the fractured mind of Laurie Strode, who has gone from mild annoying in the first film to a full blown psychotic in the sequel. It works this time around, especially when she’s surrounded by Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, and Margot Kidder as the folks who lend her a shoulder to cry on AND it makes sense. I’d be a mess if I’d just experience all that crap, too. Hell, I wasn’t even upset with RZ turned Dr. Loomis into a money-grubbing opportunist. At least he was doing something interesting and different. On top of everything else, many of the characters’ deaths have legitimately emotional consequences for those around them, which one rarely sees in a horror film these days. I’ll even admit that, during a certain scene, I might have wiped a tear away from my eye. Although it has MANY flaws, I admire the sheer audacity to release a film to millions of unsuspecting multiplex brats that had more in common with ORDINARY PEOPLE than it did with HALLOWEEN.

976-Evil – This was Robert “Freddy”Englund‘s directorial debut and it’s a pretty solid first go-round. He has style to spare and, even when the story falls apart here and there, it’s still always nice to look at. Plus, we’ve got Stephen “Evil Ed” Geoffreys as a possessed nerd with Sandy freakin’ Dennis as his mother. Y’all, if there’s one reason why you need to see this film, it’s Sandy Dennis. Then again, Sandy Dennis is good enough reason to see anything. I believe someone once wrote (in regards to Dennis) “no home should be without one.” They were right.

Name your three of your favorite non-horror films.

They seem to change every week, but – at the moment – here they are:

1. Nine to Five Dolly, Jane, and Lily. What more do you want from a movie? Why WOULD you want anything more, you greedy bastard? Add in a great story, a ton of laughs, and Dabney Coleman being the world’s funniest sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot and you’ve got yourselves a winner. I can quote it by heart.

2. Young AdultCharlize Theron got the Oscar gold for Monster, but – as great as that performance was – I think this is her best performance. People didn’t know what to make of this film when it was released (many still don’t), but it seems to have developed a little cult fanbase. It’s one of the most awkward and truthful dark comedies I’ve ever seen with Theron playing a washed up, emotional unstable YA ghostwriter who returns to her hometown to steal her high school boyfriend back from his (really rather nice) wife. Theron throws out the gimmicks of her Monster performance and presents us with a woman desperate to remain relevant in a world where all she’s ever had to offer was beauty. It’s heartbreaking and bitterly funny with one hell of a sucker punch of an ending. It’s one you’ll either love or hate. I, for one, think it’s brilliant.

3. Terms of Endearment – There’s been a lot of revisionist clap trap I’ve read about this film in recent years. People say it’s manipulative and schmaltzy, but they can suck an egg. Every performance is perfect and it mixes comedy with drama perfectly. There are so many moments that break my heart, but number one for me is when Jack Nicholson shows up while Debra Winger is in the hospital to check up on Shirley MacLaine. Her bemused “Who’d have thought you were a nice guy?” always resonates with me more than any other moment in the film. Weird, I know.

UNK SEZ: Thanks, Chris Moore! Folks, stay tuned for much more on BLESSED ARE THE CHILDREN and In the meantime, follow the official Facebook page HERE and make sure you check out the creepy trailer below!

15 More Non-Horror Movies For Horror Fans

A while ago, yours truly and MEEP of CINEMA DUMEEP did a post called 40 Non-Horror Flicks for Horror Fans (HERE). I always swore we’d do a sequel because it was such a fun subject but we never did. Truth is, I suffer from a debilitating disorder called sheer laziness so I avoided the idea of tackling 40 more movies like the plague. But now I figured out a cure! Why don’t I just do 15 at a time!? How hard is that? So here ya go! Here’s 15 MORE Non-Horror Movies for Horror Fans!

I got some mild grief for not including DAVID LYNCHin our last list but I swear I thought he went without saying! Everybody knows DAVID LYNCH is a horror-happy mo-fo. His output of material that can bitch slap your very soul is legendary. Allow me to put MULHOLLAND DRIVE up here to represent ALL of LYNCH’s work. There are moments in this movie that are ten times scarier than entire horror franchises put together and I’m not even remotely kidding. After taking to task the heartless Hollywood dream-machine, this psycho-tsunami also rips into rubble nearly every brick in the wall that separates fluffy wishful delusion and screaming, rotting reality. If I should ever neglect to mention LYNCH again, please note that it may be due to my sanity’s desire to protect itself and allow me to remain blissfully in denial.

The big question here is how did I miss this Kafka-esque COEN BROTHERS nightmare in our first list? Luckily JON GOODMAN’s excellent recent turn in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE reminded me of this here magnificent portrait of steadily decreasing mental health. I’ve always felt that BARTON pairs up incredibly well with our pal CRONENBERG’s NAKED LUNCH! Both movies feature the incomparable JUDY DAVIS, interchangeable wardrobes and luscious decrepit wallpaper! Oh boy, I’ve sufficiently sold just such a double feature to my own self!

Every horror fan worth their salt is a fan of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and rightly so. But do you know what makes a fine companion to EFNY, even perhaps more so than the flick’s legit sequel ESCAPE FROM L.A.? I say, STREETS OF FIRE! Think about it, both jams contain gruff rebel tough guys of few words who must navigate a dangerous and dilapidated urban environment to rescue someone while accumulated a rag tag group of eccentric allies along the way. Furthermore both movies showcase musical numbers! Watch ‘em back to back; you’ll see what I mean.

Back in the day MICKEY ROURKE was my favorite actor and in this film he stars with a bunch of my other favorite actors like LANCE HENRIKSEN, ELIZABETH McGOVERN, MORGAN FREEMAN, FOREST WHITAKER and the worship-worthy ELLEN BARKIN. ROURKE plays a facially deformed gangster who gets a brand new mug and sets out for revenge on those who double-crossed him. Like many a horror flick, JOHNNY HANDSOME concerns itself with the anguish felt by those who don’t fit in and the cathartic thrill experienced when they find retribution against the forces that alienate them. This fine film comes courtesy of the great WALTER HILL, the same guy responsible for the aforementioned STREETS OF FIRE. If he’s not a household name in your house, you live in a dump!

I’ll never forget the day back when I was in college when I turned on my TV and randomly found this hauntingly bizarre movie I’d somehow never heard of. Obviously I had to skip all of my morning classes to see how things worked out. In this psychological nesting flick a child-like waif (MIA FARROW) pretends an opportunistic prostitute (ELIZABETH TAYLOR) is her long lost mother while her sleazy stepfather (ROBERT MITCHUM) threatens to tear their fantasy playhouse down. It’s not exactly action packed but it’s gloomy and goth-y enough to weave a spell. Many people find this flick to be a campy howler but as usual I genuinely love it and have no idea what they are talking about.

I see you A24! I’m on to you and your sneaky mission to make me feel as square as an Amish grandmother at a Damien Hirst exhibit. It just so happens I’m artsier than you think! Luckily I was still spinning from A24’s more recent abstruse opus THE WITCH when I checked out UNDER THE SKIN so that I was ever so slightly prepared for its too clever ways. Both flicks play with being frustratingly pretentious, lull you to near boredom and then slam with you with something you’ll never forget. There’s at least one scene in UNDER THE SKIN that sent a lightning bolt of ice down my poor spine. I know I shouldn’t like SCARLETT JOHANSSON because she’s so popular but I just do and I always will. She takes chances and then there’s that voice. Anyway, I double dare you to watch this in a double feature with XTRO (1983).

IN HER SKIN (2009)
As long as we’re on the subject of films with SKIN in the title, remember this one from Australia? I sure do. The damned thing is based on a true story and it worked the miracle of somehow plunging my faith in humanity to a new impossible low. The sad thing is that when I think of this movie I can never remember the title because it’s frustratingly vague and vaporous to the point of nonexistence. They should have just called it “Caroline” after the crazy lunatic main character! Please read my fuller review HERE and only watch this if you want to be truly disturbed.

I’m at a loss for words when it comes to this movie. I used to play it over and over again at the video store I worked at and so I must have seen it a zillion times but I’m still not sure what happens in it. I guess the plot is not the point anyway. It’s like opening a dark closet stuffed with morose emotions that come crashing down on top of you in slow motion. The soundtrack is the saddest thing in the world and paired up with the ethereal beauty of ALICE KRIGE, it’s almost too much. If you can’t find this, find anything created by THE BROTHERS QUAY. They are geniuses.


I’m including these two not because there is anything remotely scary about them but because they both feature characters that horror fans can relate to! W&T is from director Nicole Holofcener and it stars CATHERINE KEENER as Amelia, a tightly wound woman who is adjusting to the upcoming marriage of her best friend. The cool thing is that Amelia spends a lot of time at the local video a store and dates a clerk named Bill (KEVIN CORRIGAN) who ends up being a Fangoria –loving horror fanatic. On their first date he even takes her to a horror convention where they view awesome effects created for BASKETCASE 2 (or 3?). The comedy MY MOTHER IS A WEREWOLF is probably less of a stretch for our horror loving readers because not only does it concern lycanthropy but it also features ELM STREET alum, JOHN SAXON. Better still the film’s young heroine’s best friend Stacie is played by FRIDAY THE 13th PART 7’s Maddy aka DIANA BARROWS. Like W&T’s Bill, Stacie is a huge horror hound who drags her pal to a convention and those with an eye for details are sure to find lots of cool horror related stuff lurking in the background.

I know I hardly need to bend over backwards to convince film fans about the plentiful merits of BLADE RUNNER but I’d like to point out how horror-lovers especially will feel right at home with its themes. I mean, the plight of the film’s man-made replicants to come to terms with their mortality and to confront their maker’s vanity spurred cruelty is right on par with the perils of Frankenstein’s creation. Truly, as much as folks try to complicate the matter, the processing of one’s inevitable death is the meat and potatoes of horror; everything else is garnish. It doesn’t hurt that BLADE RUNNER is often caught skipping rope with both ALIEN (they hang in a seemingly shared universe) and THE SHINING (JOE TURKEL plays an uncannily similar enigmatic character in both films and the theatrical cut of BLADE closes with extra footage from THE SHINING’s angel’s-eye view opening credits).

Let’s say we stick with sci-fi for a moment! If I happen to be the only person in the universe with a soft spot for SPACE TRUCKERS, I am absolutely OK with that. Although why any horror fan would ever choose to miss a STUART (RE-ANIMATOR) GORDON flick is beyond me. Sci-fi comedies are almost always a fun time and I’m thinking this one is good enough to double feature with THE ICE PIRATES! You get DENNIS HOPPER, STEPHEN DORFF, DEBI MAZAR, ALIEN 3‘s CHARLES DANCE and even some square space pigs! The CGI is dated but the physical effects stand up and I like how it all feels like a lost HEAVY METAL comic.

This is such a great film and I’m guessing the only reason it has fallen into the cracks is because it’s so difficult to categorize. It doesn’t help that audiences sometimes have a problem following multiple storylines and digesting dark themes and quirky humor at the same time. JOHN TURTORRO plays a recently released stalking psychopath named Heinz and ever-reliable JODIE FOSTER is the rightfully worried object of his obsession. Heinz’s interactions with his loopy head in the clouds mother are sad and chilling at the same time and keep an eye out for scene-stealing horror royalty ELIZABETH BERRIDGE of THE FUNHOUSE as a wacky glue-sniffing party girl.

In the comment section of our previous 40 NON-HORROR FLICKS post I promised to include two titles if ever we did a sequel and this is the first of the two! Look kids, life is not complete until you see TERRENCE MALICK’s take on the legendary murder spree of Charles Starkweather starring the impeccably cast MARTIN SHEEN and SISSY SPACEK. This movie is so beautiful and poetic you may have to put a post-it-note on your TV to remind you that something horrible is taking place.

This is the second film I promised to cover if ever we should do a Part 2! I am sure you all know that my arm does not exactly have to be pulled to cover any film that stars the incredible DIANE FRANKLIN of AMITYVILLE 2, DEADLY LESSONS and SUMMER GIRL fame. Heck, she doesn’t even play a particularly nice person in LAST AMERICAN but I’m in awe of her anyway. Basically this film is like somebody stomping on your heart for 90 minutes to the beat of early eighties new wave. Why, the only thing as heartless and unfair as this teen comedy’s universe is life itself! Horror fans should dig the whole thing as all the action seems to be taking place about a block away from their favorite slasher flick and they’re sure to recognize FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 4’S LAWRENCE MONOSON in the lead role!

Here’s the last one for now and it’s a doozy! An unrecognizable ANDY GRIFFITH portrays a drunken lout named Lonesome Larry Rhodes, who has a penchant for speaking his mind and is discovered by radio producer Marcia Jeffries (PATRICIA NEAL) sobering up in jail. Soon his homespun wisdom is taking the country by storm and he becomes a power hungry political figure with a talent for manipulating the public to do his biding. Eventually it becomes all to clear to Jeffries that if she has not created a monster, she has at least empowered one and set it loose upon the world. GRIFFITH’s goofy grinning sociopath is legitimately mortifying and most horrific of all is how terrifyingly timely this brilliant slice of cinema from the great ELIA KAZAN (ON THE WATERFRONT, EAST OF EDEN) is today.

Re-Watch Review:: Blood Rage (1987)

I love all types of horror films but it’s no secret that slasher flicks, particularly those born in the eighties, stand as my golden child favorites. It’s all because they carried me from fan to fanatical and I can always count on them to bring the fun. No matter how many times haters try to belittle them, there’s no changing that a good slasher movie is like a party grenade and it’s a party grenade you can enjoy equally with a group of friends as you can alone. Why, just the other day I was feeling down and out and so I threw THE BURNING (1981) into my faithful TV and voila- 90 minutes later I was stinking of joie de vivre. Fellow slasher fans know what I’m talking about.

Long story short, I view the recent blu-ray release of BLOOD RAGE (1987, aka NIGHTMARE IN SHADOW WOODS) as a holy gift from the slasher Gods. BLOOD RAGE is a very special film my friends and I mean “special” in every connotation you can think of. It not only fulfills all slasher film requirements, it also handily adds a few atypical flavors you didn’t know you were missing. There’s a bizarre subterranean river of disproportionate gonzo melodrama surging through the film (which is as off-putting as it is hilarious) and the flick’s limited location (an apartment complex and its adjacent patch of woods) creates a trippily surreal repetitive rat maze quality. You get all the eighties fashions you can ask for, a riveting and righteous synth score, more gore than you’re likely to expect (especially if you are used to the heavily edited version like I was) and it’s all wrapped up in the very oddest and idiosyncratic of bows. You can list superior slasher flicks all day long if you wish, this baby has got true character and that’s worth way more than garden-variety competence to me.

Credibly twitchy LOUISE LASSER stars as Maddie, a mad housewife whose exciting Thanksgiving announcement regarding her recent wedding engagement is dampened by news that her crazy child Todd has escaped from a mental hospital. Little does she know that Todd’s twin brother Terry is the true psychopath and he’s been living with her all along! Easy to look at new wave mannequin MARK SOPER plays both twins and although he’s not always given the best material to work with, he does a fine job of making his duel characters truly distinguishable from each other. Soon Terry is carving up friends, acquaintances, neighbors, bungling mental health professionals and his soon to be step dad with the carte blanche understanding that his put upon bro will take the heat. Will quickly unraveling Maddie discover the truth or will she spend a remarkably inordinate amount of time barking on the phone to unseen and clearly underpaid telephone operators? Both, it turns out! God bless LASSER for having no clue what kind of movie she’s starring in and God bless the director for not having the foggiest idea of when to call “Cut!”

I don’t salivate over any old release that comes down the pike (especially when I already own an earlier version of it) but I have to say I’m so glad I finally got to view BLOOD RAGE in its best possible form (thanks to Arrow Films). Heck, I even dug the Special Features because instead of dragging out ancient chestnuts, they gave me much needed info on this little known gem! Who knew the flick’s Producer MARIANNE KANTER also acts in the film as Dr. Berman, the not nearly nosey enough psychiatrist whose duel talents include participating in the most awkward voice over ever committed to film AND the ability to scream her head off after being chopped in half (spoiler alert). Gee, now that I’ve seen all of the outlandish gore effects returned to their rightful place within the film, I feel like I’ve been living a lie all these years! I’ve been eating chocolate chip cookies with all of the chocolate chips removed! Now, I’m not saying extra vicious kills make BLOOD RAGE a better movie but… who am I kidding? Yes, they DO make it better, way better! C’mon.

In closing, if you’re a slasher fan or even if you just adore cult-y micro-budgeted B-films that star peculiar ladies of a certain age chewing through scenery like they’re playing to a back row in a galaxy far, far away, BLOOD RAGE is for you! Finally seeing it in its full form is like watching a side dish transform into a main course and I can guarantee yours truly will be begging for seconds of this holiday set slasher once that turkey of holidays Thanksgiving comes back around.

It’s a Horror to Know You:: Chris Trebilcock Writer/Director of The Dark Stranger

It’s a Horror to Know You: Chris Trebilcock Writer/Director of The Dark Stranger!

What is the first film that scared you?

I started watching horror movies at a young age – Jaws and Halloween were early favorites – but before I really got into them, one traumatic early viewing experience was the Disney cartoon of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949. The final ten minutes, with Ichabod Crane riding his horse home through a dark forest, waiting for The Headless Horseman to appear, was unbearably scary. Even today, it’s still a masterful sequence of suspense, done all with visuals and sound effects.

What is the last film that scared you?

Don’t judge, but a few years ago I finally got round to watching the remake of When a Stranger Calls (2006). I watched it alone in my parents house… and it really scared me. I thought the remake wisely decided to base the whole film on the first twenty minutes of the original from 1979 and jettison the police procedural middle section. I thought the remake made great John Carpenter-esque visual use of the huge house where all the action took place, as well as playing on the fact that we the audience already know the killer is inside; we’re on edge right away, waiting for him to come out.

Name three horror films that you feel are underrated…

Tough one. Let’s start with Tightrope (1984). Not exactly a straight ahead horror movie. Tightrope is a highly atmospheric Clint Eastwood murder-mystery that plays like an American Giallo. Eastwood gives one of his most vulnerable edgy performances as a cop wrestling with his dark side as hunts for a serial killer in New Orleans. There are many scary/disturbing moments, like Clint coming home and finding his house keeper crammed into the laundry machine.

Someone is Watching me (1978) Next to Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg, John Carpenter is a huge cinematic influence for me. I love most of his films. This made for TV movie, which he wrote and directed, is not as well known as his other films. Carpenter made it right before he made Halloween and has said that the style of Someone Is Watching me was a training ground for what he did in Halloween. The story is about a woman in a high rise apartment building who is being stalked by someone in the facing building. Nice camera work helps to create a sense of menace and dread.

Psycho III (1986) Anthony Perkins is both director and star of this entry. It’s too bad that Perkins didn’t direct more because Psycho III is surprisingly stylish and confidently made for a first time director. Darker in tone than the previous two Psycho movies, this film does the impossible by explicitly showing Norman’s madness and brutal acts of violence, yet makes us still care for him and root for him to get free from his “Mother” side.

Name three horror films that you enjoy against your better judgment…

Terror at London Bridge AKA Bridge Across Time (1985) David Hasselhoff stars as a cop with a troubled past who deduces that Jack The Ripper is alive and well and stalking victims on his beat. I first saw this when it aired in the mid 80’s and it stayed with me. Re-watching it recently, I found the film has its share of cheesy elements but it moves along, has some creepy moments and an overall nutty charm to it.

Out of The Dark (1988). Phone sex workers being stalked by a clown masked killer known as Bobo. The wonderful eclectic cast includes Karen Black, Tracey Walter, Bud Court and Divine. Stylish, darkly funny, suspenseful, some nice twists, yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Imagine Dario Argento and John Waters teamed up to make a Giallo set in LA.

Swamp Thing (1982). Wes Craven‘s adaptation of the Berni Wrightson/Len Wein comic. Man, I loved this movie when I was a kid. But looking at it later on, I could recognize some things that were campy, even silly at times as well as FX that have not aged well. But the film has heart and it has Adrienne Barbeau and a nice score by Harry Manfredini.

Chris Trebilcock is the writer-director of The Dark Stranger, starring Katie Findlay, Stephen McHattie, and Enrico Colantoni. The film is available on DVD and VOD in Canada through Raven Banner, and will be released in the US in October by Terror Films. You can also get info about The Dark Stranger at it’s Facebook page HERE. Check out the trailer for THE DARK STRANGER below!

Re-Watch Review:: Magic (1978)

Take heart kiddies, for every movie that is not quite as good as you recall there is another film that is way better than you remember. Take RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH’S 1978 deadly dummy opus MAGIC for example; once you adjust to the idea that there’s nothing supernatural going on, it’s really a fantastic, character-driven, psychological horror movie. My history with the flick goes like this: the notoriously kindertraumatic TV commercial creeped the crap out of me as a critter and then when I mustered the bravery to watch the movie as a teen (in the height of the gore boom), I found it to be as threatening as a splinter. Maybe my bloodthirsty expectations were too high but sorry, the bludgeoning of BURGESS MEREDITH wasn’t going to cut it. Flash forward to today-ville and I’ve changed my plea to semi-obsessed. I’d say the changing of my tune is due to my need for on screen violence lessening and my getting older and relating to the characters more. Plus, I recently very much enjoyed the book that it’s based on by William Goldman.

Call me crazy but I think one of life’s great pleasures is reading a book that a movie was based on (or one of those tie-in novels based on a script). It’s so fun to contrast and compare and every added or altered tidbit is a prize. Goldman’s novel MAGIC solidified the film for me and although he certainly did a marvelous job on his adapted screenplay, I now have a better grasp of what was missing in the movie (for me) all these years. Unsurprisingly, my qualms are kindertrauma inclined. The book does a far better job filling us in on the main character’s troubled childhood and abandonment by his mother, which goes a long way in explaining his mindset. Additionally, the central love story makes more sense when we are privy to the characters’ full history together. Finally MAGIC’s sly shell game finale works fine in the book but not at all on screen. Too little effort was made to adjust to the changed medium and I think it would have been better to drop the misdirection and go full on cat & mouse mode. Anything would be better than the film’s bizarre last scene that stomps all over what should have been a bittersweet final note.

So there’s a couple things I’d rather were done differently but that doesn’t mean I can’t still love it. At its core, MAGIC is pretty straightforward morality tale about the horror of loosing one’s sense of self in an effort to achieve acceptance. ANTHONY HOPKINS portrays Corky Withers, a down on his luck magician who ads an obnoxious ventriloquist dummy to his act in a last ditch effort to save his career. The dummy “Fatts” is basically Corky’s dark side, a wooden manifestation of his id. He’s sort of like a precursor to an internet troll who “speaks his mind” and becomes popular with those who are cathartically thrilled by hostility but unwilling to pay the consequences themselves.

At first Fatt’s cutting aggressiveness is a watershed for socially stumbling Corky and he becomes a magnet for success but his alter ego becomes harder to keep in line and soon there’s a question of which persona will dominate. Like many an addict, Corky is left choosing between a mutant-self that promises plenty but threatens to eclipse him and an authentic self whose track record is marred by seclusion and little joy.

Seeing MAGIC all cleaned up on DVD in its proper ratio reveals it’s certainly a lot more atmospheric than I remembered. The run-down lake house property that much of the film’s later action takes place in, is deliciously dank, gloomy and downright ill-boding. The real stars of the show however are its two (or should I say three?) lead performances. I think we all know what ANTHONY HOPKINS is capable of. Truth told, our guy’s weird accent in this movie is so all over the place that it’s nearly kaleidoscopic but it matters zero because he’s impossible to be bored by. Creepily, his very last line in the film “Kiss the girl goodbye” I swear, is full on, 100% Hannibal Lecter, to the point of giving me chills. It’s almost like you can hear Hannibal being born in this movie…I kid you not. The way HOPKINS is able to bring both Fatts and Corky to life is impressive indeed and God bless ATTENBOROUGH for leaving in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment with Fatts clearly moving on his own accord, just to keep us on our toes. And then there’s ANN-MARGRET who’ve I’ve been in love with ever since she sang a lullaby to Pebbles on THE FLINTSTONES as Ann- Margrock. She’s every shade of charming and effortlessly pushes the point that MAGIC is as much a tragic love story as it is a horror/thriller.

Geez, I feel like I haven’t said enough about Fatts! I totally get my younger self’s desire to see him leaping around like a mad monkey slashing folks (as Chucky would soon do) but there’s no denying how creepy Fatts is just chilling out, sitting still. The fact that he is designed to vaguely resemble HOPKINS certainly adds much to his unsettling quality and rarely has a non-human been such a scene-stealer. And that voice! That voice, I’m sure has launched countless nightmares. Um, where is the remake of MAGIC? That’s what I’d like to know. Talk about your sleeping giants! All you’d need to do is cram some action into the final act, add a dream sequence in which Fatts massacres a busload of children and then cast SAM ROCKWELL and NAOMI WATTS as leads. Throw out a trailer that perfectly mimics the original trailer and then sit back and watch the money roll in! Who could resist it? Not me. Anyway, if you haven’t seen MAGIC in a while, watch it again and just prepare to forgive it for not ramping up the thrills in the climax. And do read the book, I highly recommend it! And don’t forget to listen to the theme song “Magic” by Olivia Newton John (Don’t correct me, my fantasy world is an improvement on reality)!

Traumafession:: Chanter on a Menacing Hot Potato Recording

Hi Kindertrauma, 

I’ve been batting this particular admission around for a while now while trying in vain to find a full recording of the source, scary bits included. No luck. The closest I can find is the admittedly perfectly innocent song that followed the traumatizing two-second snippet. Oddly enough, or maybe not oddly at all, the fact that I can’t now find the trauma fuel for a relisten has made the memory all the worse. Yes, this trauma has lingered for twenty-five years or more. Brrrrr!

The song in question is ‘One Potato, Two Potato’,’ as recorded on one of many cassette tapes of nursery rhymes, songs and stories I used to listen to as a kid. The song itself wouldn’t have scared me – fairly gentle tenor male voice, simple instrumentals, harmless lyrics about counting potatoes out of a basket – but it definitely took on a menacing quality due to it being right on the heels of something that did flat-out terrify me. In the immediate lead-up to the song itself, a man suddenly yelps “Ouch! That’s a hot potato!”

… Good gosh.

I don’t know if the sudden yell, the content (as a child, I was petrified of hot things and the possibility of being burned) or the intense tone of voice this particular gentleman used – it sure sounded intense to me! – or some combination of all three did it, but whatever it was, the end result was that I full-on dreaded that segment of the tape every time it came around. I remember burying my head in the couch cushions or plugging my ears more than once, then trying to time it so I didn’t unmuffle them until the scary segment had come and gone… which often led to misjudged timing and yells of abject dismay. aaaah! I remember deliberately asking to listen to the full recording once in a brave attempt to get over my fear of it, subsequently scaring myself silly and making myself cry, much to the confusion of my parents; I had *wanted* to listen to the full tape, after all. I hadn’t explained my plan of facing down terror to them before getting on with it, so I can understand why they were bewildered. It was pretty hard to explain after the fact, let me tell you.

I now have the shivers. If I ever do find a full recording of this one, I am *not* sharing it with my niece, who’s now about the same age I was when first traumatized by the thing. Yeeeek!

Unearthed:: Unk’s Very Own D&D Miniatures!

UNK SEZ: All that STRANGER THINGS watchin’ has got me wanting to do something I never thought I would- share my very own D&D figurines! I hand painted these die cast puppies myself around the same time STRANGER THINGS took place (1983)! I even sold them at a local mom & pop hobby shop and made approximately zero dollars!

Here’s my favorite! He’s some kind of swamp monster. I think I fell in love with such creatures thanks to the KOLCHAK episode “The Spanish Moss Murders” (1974) and wasn’t it just a couple years ago when I went mad for that NIGHT GALLERY episode “Brenda”? And then just recently that LAKE NOWHERE kind of slapped me a swampy high five too! Swamp monsters are my pals.

This guy is a “Mind Flayer” I had to look up what the hell color “mauve” was before I could paint him. Maybe I should have dusted him off before I took this picture? He’s my second favorite cuz he’s Lovecraft-y lookin’.

Hey, a traditional mummy! Gold paint takes the longest to dry, folks.

Who is this? A goblin? I think this is a goblin and he eats dead people. Sad!

These are shabbily painted I admit but who doesn’t love harpies and skeletons?

You can’t tell from this angle but the dude on the left has an excellent pornstache. I think the guy in the back fell off of a MOLLY HATCHET LP!

Satyrs! They are the coolest! They’ve got some lady taking off her robe with them! This is scandalous. I could get kicked out of school for such a thing!

Oh boy, it looks like creature from PROPHECY is going to kill that ginger dwarf or maybe they are friends just having a disagreement. I dunno.

Here’s a rat guy hanging out with a boar-face, let’s sneak past.

Finally a dragon (!) on the right, a troll (?) on the left and a Minotaur missing his axe blade. Oh wait, that’s the end! Below is a demon of some sort and look how sad it is that his bottom legs broke off and I glued him to that base anyway. Oh well, at least I kept him!