It’s in every horror fan’s best interest to periodically drop on over at CRACKLE and see what’s new. I’m happy to report they have recently added AVA’S POSSESSIONS, a neon, neo-noir, post-possession character study that plays like prime SUSAN SEIDELMAN directing a horror version of THE LOST WEEKEND. It meanders at times and the tone doesn’t always gel but this movie is so visually arresting and the cast is so appealing that I really think you should check it out. LOUISA KRAUSE is highly endearing as Ava, a gal who is picking up the pieces of her life after a recent possession threw all of her relationships into turmoil and perhaps even caused a homicide or two (don’t act like you haven’t been there). The supporting cast is just as good with DEBORAH RUSH (Yay, STRANGERS WITH CANDY!) portraying her mom and WILLIAM SADLER (Yay, ROSWELL!) as her dad. WASS STEVENS of SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER even shows up as the leader of a possession survivor support group and horror royalty CAROL KANE (WHEN A STRANGER CALLS) graces this fine production with a divine cameo. And not to get all artsy on ya but I just really loved this flick’s sense of style and pitch perfect use of color, plus the score is pretty phenomenal too. Did I mention it’s FREE? Yes, it’s FREE to watch this movie completely unedited right HERE on CRACKLE. You just have to withstand some commercials but such is life. At least you’re not currently possessed.
Who in the world is strong enough to resist the VHS box for 1987’s ANGUISH? Why, it’s positively hypnotic! I’m not sure why the good people of KEY VIDEO (one of my all time favorite distributors) decided to drop ANGUISH’s charming eye-filled theatrical poster art and simply zoom in on ZELDA (POLTERGEIST) RUBENSTEIN’s scowling mug encased in a swirly spiral (which makes sense only after you’ve seen the movie) but I’m going to give them high marks for thinking outside the box anyway. And really, what kind of person is going to pass up a tape that comes emblazoned with an urgent warning stating: “contains scenes of powerful hypnosis, shocking crimes and unrelenting terror!”? I hope you all appreciate that I had to put on my glasses to relay that fine print for you. But wait; hold up! The best part is on the back! ANGUISH pays tribute to the fact that at least part of this Spanish produced motion picture takes place in a movie theater with an adorable illustration depicting a tub of popcorn and two un-torn movie tickets! I will marry this box.
Because ANGUISH partially takes place within a movie theater (that is showing a movie called THE MOMMY) the optimum way to view it is in a theater (as I did because I’m that old) because it adds to the forth wall breaking paranoia (sorta like the beginning of SCREAM 2). If that option is not feasible than I’d recommend the DVD because this movie is reliant on its tactful visuals. In other words I’m not recommending you watch it on VHS at all but I like having this old tape around anyway because the DVD cover art is drab as hell. According to the security labels inside, this tape was once a former rental at TOWER VIDEO (but I’m pretty sure I picked it up at a used joint in Philadelphia not too far from the theater I once saw the actual movie in which is now a hideous pharmacy). Not much more to say about the tape itself but I will always respect this strange movie for doing its own thing and being so against-the-grain bizarre. I’ll also admit that when I first saw it, I didn’t care for it that much because it was a lot to take in and ZELDA’s acting style can sometimes be a little rough around the edges (sorry Z!). Eventually though, I learned to love it so there’s your tip for the day, never be afraid to give a flick a second chance! Ciao! Arrivederci! Have a nice Saturday! Stay woke!
Some time back (HERE) I asked for help remembering the name of a creepy live action movie where a St. Bernard dreams of being chased by a man dressed as a terrifying skiing cat. Turns out it was called Fantasy on Skis, a 1962 film that later showed up on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color TV show. After a little research, I think I saw it in the theaters in 1975, when they rereleased Snow White. It served as a short subject before the main film. Watching the rest of the film provides PLENTY of other nightmare fuel…on skis! A scarecrow chases a pair of crows, cowboys (skiers wearing horse costumes around their waists) have a gunfight, Captain Hook chases Peter Pan…it’s amazing. The cat part though IS especially terrifying, and starts at about the 24:50 mark (HERE).
Thanks to Dan S.—who had similar childhood memories of the film and managed to find the above link—for tipping me off!
Let’s celebrate the release of the restored CATHY’S CURSE on Blu-ray & DVD with a possession puzzle! Here are ten images from ten possessed movies. How many can you identify?
I’m super old and slightly cranky but that didn’t stop me from turning into a giddy 12-year-old the other day when I fortuitously found myself walking into a Philly subway car that was taken over from top to bottom with ALIEN COVENANT advertising. It was even on the roof! To the chagrin of my fellow passengers who seemed even crankier than myself, I took some photos to share with you guys. How cool is this? I only wish this subway was taking me into the future to MAY 19th so that I could go directly to the movie theater and get my full dose of ALIEN COVENANT.
1.) What is the first film that ever scared you?
The first film that ever scared me had to be The Wolfman (1941). It was the first horror movie I ever saw as well as one of if not the first movie I ever saw. My father had a copy of the Gene Shalit Critic’s Choice VHS with it’s goofy pictures of Gene on the bottom which has always stuck with me.
The movie itself had an atmosphere exuding dread, provided courtesy of the heavily fogged woods, sad and yet harrowing score and disturbing Jack Pierce make up. I think what scared me was the idea that a person could transform into some sort of grotesque violent beast and something about that tip toe walk he did was just uncanny.
Even though I love all the Universal monsters, the Wolfman has been my favorite Universal monster and no matter what anyone says he’ll always be tops in my book; so suck it Drac and fall to pieces Frankie.
2.) What is the last film that scared you?
Horror films tend not to scare me anymore, more so they mostly either get me imagining about the world in the film and/or disgust me with gore; but there is one I’ve seen recently that not only did all of this but in so doing deeply unsettled me and that is City of the Living Dead (1980).
My favorite of the Gates of Hell trilogy and my favorite Fulci movie overall (No I don’t think The Beyond is his best; I don’t even think it’s all that good and I don’t understand why it’s seen as his best film- get over it). The atmosphere in this one is the most doom laden, nihilistic and cosmically anti-human I have ever encountered in a film.
No one is safe anywhere, no matter what you do, it’s all over, there is no hope, we’re all going to die-end of story. The gore is top notch and absolutely raw and vicious and that priest! That priest is to my mind the most menacing antagonist/figure in the history of film.He wants to literally unleash hell on earth and do all kinds of nasty things to human bodies and souls.
I know everyone makes a big deal about narrative in Fulci‘s films, but I don’t watch them as normal movies with a linear plot progression. Shut up and suspend your disbelief. I see them as filmed nightmares, with all the sometimes chaotic aspects that entails. That is what this movie is to me; pure unadulterated nightmare.
3. Name three horror movies that you believe are underrated.
I’m just going to go ahead and cheat here and talk about more than three horror movies I think are underrated. Eerie is the name of the game with me and all of these evoke an eerie feeling in me.
How Awful About Allan (1970)
One of the few TV movies I actually like. Anthony Perkins is absolutely fantastic here; for my money this just edges out Psycho II as his best movie (no I don’t like the original Psycho and yes, I think the sequels-especially part II- are superior). I heard about this one from Phil Anselmo and I’m forever in his debt for turning me on to it.
This isn’t some scare fest but the atmosphere is what does it for me (atmosphere is what endears me to a film and is far more important to me in a horror film than blood and guts and stupid jump scares, which is why modern movies and modern horror in particular, suck).
This film to me is the essence of autumn; it evokes the altogether not unpleasant and oddly cozy feeling of overcast suburban cold and desolation, I as city folk experienced on excursions to grandma’s house as a child (Don’t know if anyone knows what I’m talking about).
Where Are the Children? (1986)
Provides a similar experience for me as the aforementioned How Awful About Allan. This one has a damp, dank feeling to it; a perfect overcast, rainy Saturday morning/afternoon film. Frederic Forrest is great as a real son of a bitch in this one. No one seems to talk about it, give it a watch.
The Norliss Tapes (1973)
The Norliss Tapes gave me a really uneasy feeling. I love the set up; a rainy day (if you can’t tell by now, I’m big on those) a reporter stumbles onto the supernatural, goes missing and leaves behind a series of baffling tapes which chronicle his horrific discoveries. This was supposed to be the pilot to a television series in the tradition of Dan Curtis‘s better known Kolchak: The Night Stalker that unfortunately never got made.
The premise, the zombie, the unsettling voice over narration from the tape all combine to create something which to me is quiet, strangely contemplative and unnerving. The ending with the demon is cheesy and weakens it somewhat, but other than that, it is pretty creepy and is another (almost) perfect rainy day movie.
Remakes can’t work nowadays but I think this would have been perfect for a movie remake circa the 1970’s or 80’s and had it been done in this era, would have worked. This movie got my imagination going and I have continued David Norliss’s investigations in my head for my own edification and amusement many a time. This way nothing can be mishandled by modern film making.
A Warning to the Curious (1972) and The Signalman (1976)
Two English ghost stories for Christmas made for TV movies; Did you know the British tell ghost stories at Christmas? I didn’t. A scary Christmas? sign me up. Both at once engaging, entertaining, atmospheric and unsettling. I highly recommend both.
Schalcken the Painter (1979)
Another British TV movie. On the whole, it seems to me that the British make better TV movies than us colonists. Some mighty strange happenings in this one. Slow and eerie with one hell of an ending.
The House by the Cemetery (1981)
The third in Fulci‘s Gates of Hell trilogy but my second favorite of his films. Again, like City of the Living Dead, this one had the power to frighten me at times sitting there alone in the dark. The first time I saw it, you can bet your life it did just that. I, like Fulci, have a thing with eyes and when Dr. Freudstein’s eyes peered out from the darkness of that basement, I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat. Glowing eyes peering out of the darkness has always been a scary thing to me.
The movie overall has a sense of impending doom about it different than the aforementioned City of the Living Dead; this is a much more localized doom, to be visited only upon those unfortunate enough to enter the house and so it does not have the same scale and scope intended for us by Father Thomas in City of the Living Dead. Dr. Freudstein is a nasty piece of work quite literally and he isn’t averse to hurting you badly with sharp objects.
This film taught me something as well. I learned there is a fate worse than any of the death’s suffered by the characters in this movie, one that is infinitely more dreadful than anything imagined in the twisted inner workings of Dr. Freudstein’s mind- my own private vision of hell- ‘Bob’; god I hate ‘Bob’.
Beyond the Darkness (1979)
This movie is more disgusting than scary. One scene in particular created an extreme aversion to eating in me. The scary aspect is the thought that people like the main characters can exist in this world or at the very least someone seemingly sane can think them up. The whole of this movie from the as usual excellent score by Goblin to the acting and carnage being depicted emanates something terribly nihilistic, depressing, hopeless and empty.
Not scary but it has a cool premise, great super gory special effects (I can’t believe what they did sans CGI) no one talks about this one and I have no idea why.
The first Jesus Franco movie I ever saw. I had never heard of this one before so I had no idea what to expect and this one shocked me which is no easy feat. It is surprisingly good and the gore so effective you feel the pain the characters must be experiencing. 1987 wasn’t an altogether bad year for horror movies.
4.) Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.
I’ll cheat again here (I’m a cheater, it’s a character flaw; nothing can be done about it) but because I both was long winded in the previous section and I can’t watch anything I don’t genuinely enjoy, I’ll skip this question. If it’s a bad movie, it’s a bad movie and I don’t enjoy it, ya know?
5.) Send us to five places on the Internet!
I’ve cheated my way through the majority of this so I see no reason to stop now. I’ll send you to six places on the internet.
SOILED SINEMA. Nothing else like it on the internet. These guys do the best movie reviews anywhere. You definitely haven’t heard this perspective on cinema before, I promise. Check it out.
HYSTERIA LIVES! 408 slasher movie reviews and counting! Who knew there were that many? Slasher movies are my favorite sub-genre of horror and I’ve seen a lot of them but I haven’t even heard of most of these. For my money, one of the best horror websites out there.
RETRO SLASHERS. Another great slasher movie site. Definitely worth a perusal.
ROTTEN COTTON. Like Spicoli said, “Awesome, totally awesome!”
SHITCASECINEMA. Some really great (and hilarious) reviews of some terrible yet entertaining movies as well as the occasional good one. Zardoz approved!
WeWatchedAMovie. Movie reviews/news, humour and Michael Myers parodies? What’s not to love? I said GOTDAMN!!!!!!!
Hey it’s Easter Sunday so it’s likely many of you are hanging out with a giant bunny. But just in case some of you fine folks need something to watch later, let me inform you that our pals at COMET TV will be airing a favorite of mine this afternoon, STUART GORDON’S 1987 masterwork DOLLS! Oh how I love everything about this movie! I love the old dark house atmosphere, the beautifully done stop-motion special effects, the cast of charming character actors, the well-timed appearance of video vixens, the creepiness, the music box score and I love that it’s short, sweet and to the point like any good fable. I also love that it’s all about the tragedy of transforming into a douchebag and losing touch with hope, imagination and your inner, not a narrow minded selfish jerk yet, child. I wrote a review for this gem way back HERE but I think I like the movie even more now than I did back then. In fact, I’d dare say it’s in my top twenty favorite horror movies- I love it that much. I mean it’s got a giant killer teddy bear in it for crying out loud. Giant killer teddy bears are way cooler than giant rabbits! If you haven’t seen it before give it a watch and if you have seen it before know that it holds up to infinite viewings and watch it again! You’ll find it RIGHT HERE at 4pm ET! Hop to it! You’ll be hoppy you did!
Sometimes you worship a VHS tape simply because you have no other options and SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) is just such a tape. Due to the death of righteousness caused by the extinction of unicorns (or more likely, music rights issues) this difficult to categorize teen thriller has yet to find its way to DVD let alone Blu-ray. In other words, if you ever come across a VHS tape of SCREAM FOR HELP and a brick of 14k gold hanging off a cliff and you can only save one- choose the tape! Trust me, there is NOTHING in the world like this movie. It’s completely in a lunatic class all by itself to the point that it basically exists in its own dimension. There is life before you see it and there is life after you see it and watching it is an experience you’ll treasure forever. It’s gloriously its own thing and surges with a blatant disregard to subtly, good taste or anything resembling mundane sanity. My advice: If you meet anyone who doesn’t like this movie run as fast as you can away from them unless that person is TOM HOLLAND. It is said screenwriter HOLLAND (of brilliant PSYCHO II fame) was anything but pleased with how director MICHAEL WINNER (of kooky THE SENTINEL fame) handled his screenplay and who can blame him? It’s clear from the opening scene that something is seriously (and sometimes hilariously) amiss. But I thank heaven above for everything that screeches, clanks and rattles in this indescribable misfire. Sorry, I much prefer a highly original failure to a soggy routine success. This movie simply rules.
Let’s look at the tape! Geez, with all of poor SCREAM FOR HELP’s erratic identity issues (Thriller? Horror? Soapy Drama? Afterschool Special From Hell?), it sure could have used an ad campaign that didn’t suck Nilla Wafers. Its title is certainly no prize in the memorability department, so the least they could do is grant it some eye-catching imagery. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but I furiously despise white box art. Seriously, it looks like it’s just begging to fade to gray or turn yellow and as an oldster horror collector, my peepers are permanently magnetized to black and red (is it psychotic that I still remember how the boxes for DEAN KOONTZ’s WHISPERS (1990) and RELATIVE EVIL (1994) would wreck the uniformity of my video store’s horror section? The only white box I ever forgave was THE WEEKEND IT LIVES (1992)). And the sappy cursive handwriting doesn’t help either. It looks like somebody was jotting down a grocery list while the tape just happened to be by the phone. Sadly I also have the SCREAM FOR HELP soundtrack album and its alternate artwork isn’t any improvement. But hey, this means we can learn a lesson today! The cover art doesn’t matter! Bad art doesn’t mean a bad movie- or even a good one in this case. Bad art doesn’t mean anything. Some magical movies defy description, illustration or even explanation. They have to be seen to be believed (or not believed as is the case here). In closing, if you have to kill someone to see SCREAM FOR HELP– you should totally consider it (or you can rent it for three bucks HERE). One things for sure, you can’t borrow my tape.