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...:::It’s a Horror to Know You!:::...

It’s a Horror to Know You:: David Young Author of Born on the Night of the Living Dead

October 4th, 2012 · 4 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: David Young Author of Born on the Night of the Living Dead!

What is the first film that ever scared you?

That would be “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark.” Those little demons that crawled out of Kim Darby’s chimney looked just like the apple-head dolls my grandma used to make and display around her house. Only these weren’t farmers, princesses or hoboes – these were monsters that came out at night with the sole purpose of dragging you to hell. Yeah, try being a kid and going to bed after that one. Runners-up include “Horror Express,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and TV commercials for “It’s Alive.”

What is the last film that scared you?

I get creeped out just thinking about “Tiptoe through the Tulips” from “Insidious” but I’d say “Grave Encounters” was the last movie that had a near-perfect mix of fun and fright.

Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.

1. Geez, I’m probably alone on this one but 1979’s “Dracula” hasn’t aged a day for me. Frank Langella is cool as all get-out and undead Mina crying “Come papa!” still freaks me out.

2. Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie.” With every new CGI-driven, semi-competent zombie movie I see, I have to go back and scrub my brain by watching this nasty beauty. While it’s often seen as the imbecile cousin to Romero’s chef d’oeuvre, it’s filled with so many shocking and unbelievable images, I’ve yet to see a zombie movie that can top it – or figure out how to fit a shark into the plot.

3. Since I currently reside in Thailand, I’ve got to include at least one Thai horror film. “Shutter” from 2004 is truly suspenseful and frightening and has one of those endings that will burn itself onto your brain no matter how hard you try to get rid of it. Bonus, it’s Thai!

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

I’m sorta embarrassed at how much I enjoyed “Dance of the Dead.” But how can you not love a move where the only thing holding back an army of the undead is a slow rock version of Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night?”

2. “1408” Ummm… how can I put this? Kinda great.

3. I’m going with another Thai movie to finish off this list: “Art of the Devil” from 2004 – which is basically a gore flick but tells a story that relies heavily on Thai and Cambodian black magic. I’ve heard bits and pieces of this stuff over my years here in Thailand so it was fun to see it played out in a movie.

Send us to five places on the Internet!

For the latest in Thai horror – and everything else: Enjoy Thai Movies.

More fun than a barrel of Blood Shacks! Red Letter Media.

The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast.

Never give up on Johnny: Hellblazer Forum.

Get lost in VHS box cover art: CRITICAL CONDITION.

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It’s a Horror to Know You:: Kevin Sommerfield of Slasher Studios!

October 1st, 2012 · 4 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Kevin Sommerfield of Slasher Studios!

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

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was the first horror movie I ever saw at the tender age of 5. It scared the bejesus out of me so much that I refused to go to bed that night and stayed up for nearly thirty hours. It took me nearly a decade before I was able to watch the film again. Twenty+ years later and I’m still looking to recapture that wonderful experience.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

Silent House (2012). I know the film was mangled by both critics and audiences alike but I enjoyed this little gem thanks to a great lead performance by Elisabeth Olsen and some frightening imagery. Without giving too much away, let’s just say the scene in the car with the rear-view mirror gave me the chills for a few days.

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

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. I know that most horror fans seem to despise this movie but I find it to be a beautiful shot, misunderstood gem of a horror film. I admire Zombie for not doing a straight up remake of the original sequel and I like how you actually are able to see the emotional grief that the first travesty has caused its characters. We are able to see Laurie and Annie as real, flesh and blood characters that are each trying to deal with this travesty the only way that they know how. It’s not a perfect film (the horse imagery is out of place to say the least) but it is an ambitious film and that’s more than you can say about most horror movies today.

Deadly Blessing. I cannot possibly oversell “Deadly Blessing”. The cinematography is pitch perfect, the deaths are extremely suspenseful, and the ending, while a bit “out there”, stays completely true to the story. It is with this film that Craven showed the film world that he could make a horror movie that relied on actual intelligent filmmaking as opposed to cheap scares. While it is true that the film is a bit slow and meanders a bit in its middle act, it is still a fine horror movie that deserves far more acclaim than it has received. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out immediately. It is getting a brand new Blu-ray release from Scream Factory soon.

Humongous.“Humongous” is a fun, homage filled 80’s slasher that rips off a dozen other, better slasher films but still manages to be a lot of fun. Remember the scene at the end of “Friday the 13th Part 2“; where Amy Steel pretends to be Jason’s mother? This film sure does as the exact scene is repeated here to lesser effect. That being said, the kills are fun and characters are a tad bit better developed than most of the other 80’s slashers out there. David Wallace is particular is quite strong as our lead twin Eric. Most of the time in 80’s slasher, guys are given nothing to do but not so here. He almost becomes the final girl by being smart, likable, and even given a chance to emote. Lead Janet Julian possesses similar qualities and has a lot of fun with her “last girl standing” appearance. This is a must watch for fans of the early 80’s slasher genre. I can’t say that everyone is going to enjoy the film as much as I did as the film is quite slow and repetitive at times. Nonetheless, it is one of the better examples from the under-appreciated genre.

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

Chopping Mall. “Chopping Mall”, one of the best named slashers of the 80’s, and one of the best premises too. “Chopping Mall” is the kind of movie that couldn’t have been made in any time except the 1980’s. Killer robot security guards taking over a mall by night? Sound like a good time? It does to me. The beauty of a cheesy horror movie like “Chopping Mall” is that you will either buy into this wacky, overblown premise or you won’t. Chances are that if you are in the mood to rent or buy a movie called “Chopping Mall”, you will probably have a good time with it. The film is a camp delight from beginning to end with just enough laughs and gore to make the whole thing watchable. Is this great cinema? Hell no. Can you do a lot worse than this little gem of a slasher flick? You bet.

Cabin Fever 2. “Cabin Fever 2” is a messy, gory, bloody cherry on top of a demented sundae. From the opening (poor Rider Strong) to the blood bath of an ending, nearly everything about this sequel works. This is one of those slasher movies where I just don’t understand the hate. Had this movie been made in the 1980’s and directed by Sam Raimi, horror fans would be praising this as the next second coming of horror. The gore is demented, the kills are extremely disgusting, and the central love story is actually quite sweet. I was actually touched at the sacrifice that one friend gave so another could live. So the epilogue doesn’t really work (poor Ti West got his movie taken away from him and had his ending completely butchered just to go in some producer cameos) but this is splatstick at its very best. If John Waters directed a horror film in the 1980’s, it would look something like this. Bloody recommended!

My Soul to Take. The story is overly complicated and doesn’t always seem to know where it is headed but there is a sense of dread in this film that has been missing from most of horror today. The cinematography is lush (nobody can make a run through the woods as scary as Craven) and the performances are all quite solid. I also quite enjoyed the high school dynamics that are played out throughout the film. There is an ever running thread throughout the movie that if you grin and take it, it will make you a stronger person. It is a lesson that Bug learns throughout the course of the film and, in the end, he is finally willing to stand up for himself. The end may be a bit over-the-top for many hardcore horror fans, but this movie has a big heart hidden behind the bloody exterior. I can’t say that this is a perfect film but it is an entertaining one that tries to bring back the slasher genre. Give it a chance and go in with an open mind and you may find yourself giving your soul up to this film as well.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

Final Girl. Although it isn’t updated as regularly as it used to be, Stacie Ponder is awesome and the reviews on this site are some of the best you’ll ever read.

Forced Viewing. Excellent horror reviews from a team that clearly loves the genre. Some of the best “bad” reviews you will ever read.

LA Horror. I gotta give a shout out to a fellow horror fan from Wisconsin, even if he doesn’t now live in California. Great reviews and lots of passion.

Horror Mansion. An excellent forum for a little bit of everything on the world of horror. Before a waste a dollar on any Blu-ray “upgrade”, I always check out this site first.

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It’s a Horror to Know You:: Ryan Clark of Thrill Me!

September 27th, 2012 · 8 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Ryan Clark of Thrill Me! (

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

It’s difficult to recall, but I’m going to say Frankenstein (1931). I had seen The Ghost of Frankenstein prior to watching the original, but I think I handled that one pretty well. When my mom finally bought the original on VHS for me, the main thing keeping me from watching it was the commercial at the beginning for the Universal Monsters Classic Collection and the clip it showed of the monster’s hand rising from the slab as the good doctor yells, “It’s alive!” I actually brought the movie to Catholic school (!) and convinced my first grade teacher to let us watch it in class to help me conquer my fear. It didn’t work, though, because I was shaking so badly in my seat that she took out the tape. Eventually, I worked up the nerve to watch it at home, and I was fine.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

I don’t get scared by films very often anymore, but A Serbian Film filled with me a sense of dread that I haven’t felt in a long time. The tone of it disturbed me more than the disgusting acts.

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

Okay, I’m gonna pick three that are TRULY underrated:

The Premonition (1976) – Bizarre supernatural horror film with a wacked-out, terrifying performance by the late Richard Lynch as a psychotic mime and a nice turn from Ellen Barber as a mentally ill mother who kidnaps her daughter (All in the Family’s Danielle Brisebois) from her foster parents. I can’t figure out why this film is rated so low. It’s a little cheesy (if you think that’s a valid criticism – I don’t) but it has wonderful atmosphere akin to Let’s Scare Jessica to Death and Don’t Look Now.

I Know Who Killed Me (2007) – I know, I know… Maybe this belongs on the next list, but I don’t care. I don’t hate Lindsay Lohan like most people, so I’ve got nothing against this unique, giallo-esque gore thriller. The lighting is exquisite, the score is highly reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann, and Lohan really isn’t bad at all. I wish she’d get her act together and make more movies like this one.

The Headless Eyes (1971) – I genuinely enjoy this piece of trash. It’s probably the allure of sleazy 70s NYC that draws me in, and it’s way grittier than even Maniac could ever hope to be. The opening scene alone is brilliant: a thief gets his eye poked out with a spoon and yells “My EYE!!!! Aaarhhhhhrrrgg!!!” on a loop as he staggers into the street with his eye dangling by a thread and people crowd around him. Classic.

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

Breeders (1986) – For me, this beats out Troll 2 as the best worst movie ever made. It’s about an alien’s attempt to take over the world by raping virgins – except the “virgins” all look like they belong in 80s adult movies. A big-haired feminist doctor and a clueless detective are on the alien’s slimy trail, and they play it so seriously that every line of dialogue is gold.

Scream for Help (1984) – I just reviewed this one for my blog. I really think it should become a cult movie on the level of Rocky Horror, because it’s so delightfully over-the-top in every way, yet there was genuine talent involved behind-the-scenes, so it’s alternately engaging and mind-boggling.

Pieces (1982) – What can I say about Pieces that hasn’t been said before? So many great and hilarious scenes, but for me it’s all about Lynda Day George repeatedly screaming “BAAAAAASTAAARD!!!!” at the sky.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet !

Final Girl.

Doomed Moviethon.

Trailers from Hell.

Hysteria Lives.

And the Facebook page for the book I’m working on, Blood Among the Stars: The Making of “Carrie” (HERE).

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It’s a Horror to Know You:: Captain Cruella of the Carnivorous Cadavers!

September 20th, 2012 · 4 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Captain Cruella of the Carnivorous Cadavers of Cruella’s Crypt!

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

This is a real toss up. I’d have to say it was Jaws or Hellraiser II. Both of which my mother let me watch when I was ridiculously young, ( Thanks Mom!) I wouldn’t set foot in any body of water unless I could see the bottom and even then a, “dun dun, dun dun, dun dun” would get me running out of the pool faster than a fly to rancid meat.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

It takes a lot to scare me, I mean I AM the Captain of an undead Army, however…. I would say the last movie I saw that really gave me pause was Prometheus. The movie was beautifully atmospheric and foreboding. I’m also one of those alien conspiracy theory nuts and the thought of alien life decimating the earth with viruses and general doom isn’t something too far off from what I really think is a very real possibility.

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

1. Candyman – because who didn’t see that movie as a kid and say it in a mirror just to freak yourself out?

2. Maniac – it’s gross, it’s over the top and I’ve never viewed mannequins in quite the same way.

3. Jeepers Creepers – another film where something as simple as a corn field in the middle of the night during one of those haunted hayrides in October just screams, “EVIL”

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


1. Amityville II. It is so epically retarded, it’s good!

2. Troll II ( I see a pattern of two here) This needs ZERO explanation.

3. Night Train to Terror – because every horror movie should have a catchy dance and song segway.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

T Shirt Bordello.

The Vault of Horror.

Zombie Terrorist Targets.

Love Train For The Tenebrous Empire!

Monster Island Resort.

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It’s a Horror to Know You:: Mike of Swords & Dorkery!

September 19th, 2012 · 3 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Mike of Swords & Dorkery!

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

The first movie I remember being scared by is Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (“If you move, I strike; if you don’t move, I strike!”). Hey, I was like 4.

The first horror movie I saw in a theater was Poltergeist, and for a ten year old that was scary sh*t.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

The remake of The Hills Have Eyes. The sense of peril was sustained really well.

The scariest thing in a movie for me, though, is still the brief flashes of white fright masks in The Exorcist, maybe because I somehow didn’t notice them the first time I watched the movie but now I spend the whole time viewing it waiting for those little flashes.

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

Martin. Everyone talks about Romero’s zombie films but this was such a punch in the gut when I first saw it I can’t believe more people haven’t seen it.

The Prophecy (1979). Not a great movie but better than it’s rated and almost forgotten because of all the other movies with the same title. I read the book after seeing it and would say the movie does the book justice, which is maybe damning it with faint praise, but still I give it credit for trying to have a message as well as scares and decent characterization.

Blood on Satan’s Claws. A bit better than a run-of-the-mill Hammer production, this one has a great atmosphere and builds a sense of dread that is only slightly spoiled by the rushed ending.

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

Motel Hell – probably the first slasher I ever saw, and although it is seriously goofy in parts, there is a sincerity to the production that demands respect. I doubt it would hold up so well to repeated viewings and I’ve only actually watched snippets in the last 30 years.

Versus – if that counts as horror. Incredibly stupid but still fun all the way through.

Acolytes – the writing could have been better but it has its moments.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

Not all of these are horror-related but most have some scary/creepy stuff alongside interesting tidbits your readers might enjoy.

Halloween Movie Marathon – a collection of creepy images.

Yog Blogsoth– mostly drawings based on HPL.

Cyclopeatron – a kaleidoscope of crazy science fantasy and D&D.

Aldeboran – the blog of a great comic-style artist with a seriously disturbed aesthetic.

Skulls in the Stars – physics + horror + more.

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It’s a Horror to Know You:: Chloe of Old Horrors Renewed!

September 18th, 2012 · 4 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Chloe of Old Horrors Renewed!

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

It must have been The Little Mermaid. Ursula terrified me from the moment I saw her and I spent most of the film cowering behind my grandmother’s sofa.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

The Innkeepers! The ending had me pausing the film so I could breath.

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

1. Sauna. I don’t know if it was the film’s small distribution and it just slipped under everyone’s radars, but I’d love to more people to see it and discuss it.

2. Blood Creek. Joel Schumacher has a bad reputation from the Batman films, but I found it was scary, crazy and interesting.

3. The Mothman Prophecies. Not too sure if you could say this was a true horror film, but Indrid Cold’s pretty damn creepy.

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

1. 13 Ghosts, because it’s just fun.

2. In The Mouth Of Madness, which suffers from having a lot of good ideas and Sam Neill but not forming a structure with them.

3. End Of Days, for Gabriel Bryne playing the Devil.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

1. Folk Horror – one of my favourite niche genres.

2. Junta Juliel’s Culture Shock – Sean Gill’s reviews are well-written and passionate.

3. I’m Into Survival – This is the horror movie blog of A Softer World writer Joey Comeau.

4. A Podcast To The Curious – A couple of guys discussing the ghost stories of M R James. They’re always funny and thought-provoking.

5. Stale Popcorn – I’ve always found Glenn’s Scream By Scream series interesting and fun.

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It’s a Horror to Know You: Brian Solomon of The Vault of Horror!

September 10th, 2012 · 6 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Brian Solomon of The Vault of Horror!

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

It was either the Hammer film Lust for a Vampire, or the original made-for-TV Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. I watched a lot of horror on TV as a small child (big shock!) Back then there was plenty of Hammer on weekend afternoons in syndication, and Lust for a Vampire was the first one I remember watching. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a movie that, while maybe not excellent by any means, scared the living hell out of me as a kid. And for years in the pre-Internet age, I went around as an older person not even knowing whether I had really seen it, or if I had just dreamed it.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

Prometheus had some pretty terrifying moments.Visually, it’s so vast and haunting, with such unforgettable imagery. And just the concept itself is so completely unnerving.

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

1. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. Also known as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. This was a zombie flick that came out in the decade in between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, and doesn’t get the credit it deserves for helping to shape the subgenre.

2. The Last Man on Earth. Still the greatest film adaptation of Matheson’s I Am Legend, and another pioneer of the modern zombie subgenre.

3. Grapes of Death. Only the French could come up with a movie in which a zombie plague is spread by contaminated wine. Jean Rollin’s finest.

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

1. TerrorVision. A guilty pleasure from my ’80s VHS childhood.

2. Troll 2. This one almost goes without saying.

3. Saw. It catches a lot of flak, but the original film in the series is an innovative, well-shot, well written and well acted horror film. It shouldn’t be judged by the diminished returns of the sequels.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

1. Classic Horror Film Board.

2. Cruella’s Crypt!

3. The Art of Manliness.

4. Proof of a Benevolent God. (my Tumblr page!)

5. Day of the Woman.

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It’s a Horror to Know You: Jeff Nelson – Marketing Director (Scream Factory / Shout Factory)

September 3rd, 2012 · 7 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Jeff Nelson – Marketing Director (Scream Factory / Shout Factory)

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

That would be the first horror film I ever saw: The original Halloween. I was very unprepared as a nine-year when I watched it on TV in 1981 on NBC (yes, I’m dating myself). It didn’t matter that it was edited, I had nightmares for months because of “The Shape” and couldn’t stop hearing that classic piano-tinkling theme in my head. I do have to thank the universe for starting off my love of horror films with a real classic because when the shock finally wore off, it prompted me to seek out more thrills. Before I knew it, I was daring myself to watch all sorts of terrors like Alligator, Poltergeist, Jaws 2, When a Stranger Calls, The Amityville Horror, Carrie and The Fog (my all-time favorite).

2. What is the last film that scared you?

Insidious really freaked me out. I literally had my hands my front of face during certain scenes. The last two Paranormal Activity sequels worked me up too.

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

Tough question. I’d have to go with Wes Craven’s Deadly Blessing (1981), the Lee Grant hospital slasher Visiting Hours (1982) and the totally fucked up The Sentinel (1977). Honorable mention: Curtains (1983)

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

Just three huh?? That’s way too hard to narrow down but God help me I love Eyes of a Stranger (1981) with Lauren Tewes, Night School (1981) with Rachel Ward and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). Honorable mention: Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

The official Scream Factory Facebook Page (of course!)

DVD Talk.

Home Theater Forum.

DVD Drive-in

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It’s a Horror to Know You:: Eric of FilmFather!

August 20th, 2012 · 7 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Eric of FilmFather!

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

It’s been said by several people already, and it goes for me, too: JAWS. I saw it on HBO more times than I should have as a kid. Ben Gardner’s head and Quint’s demise gave me nightmares. On the opposite end of quality horror, the scene in KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS of Woody Strode’s lifeless head slumping out of his overturned truck scared me so much that I had visions of him creeping past my bedroom door at night. Honorable mention for scar(r)ing me deeply goes to the trailers for IT’S ALIVE, MAGIC, CARRIE, and PROPHECY.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

I don’t know if you’d call it scared, but the last film to traumatize me is WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. As a parent, I felt terrified and helpless watching Tilda Swinton try in vain to bond with, control, or even love her son. The scariest part isn’t even teenage Kevin; it’s when he’s merely 8 and already a full-blown sociopath.

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

THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006) — Many horror remakes are rubbish, but this redux by Alexandre Aja is more brutal and agonizing than Wes Craven’s original. As a parent, I can appreciate the depths Doug goes to in order to retrieve his infant child. And his killing of the mutant Pluto had me cheering; I love how he broke the big man down.

THE BLOB (1988) — Another horror remake I prefer over the original. Co-written by Frank Darabont and highly underrated. Great action, impressive effects, and certain people you think will survive…don’t.

DEAD AND BURIED — A semi-forgotten flick about a town of murderous mobs and reanimated corpses, featuring dear old Jack “Grandpa from WILLY WONKA” Albertson as the town’s creepy undertaker. The “you think he’s dead, but he’s not” and needle/eyeball scenes (both involving the same character) are forever burned in my memory.

4. Name three Horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgement.

BRIDE OF CHUCKY — When people would ask me if BRIDE OF CHUCKY is a good movie, I honestly tell them it was one of the most thoroughly entertaining movies I have ever seen. Great horror? No. But the pairing of Chucky and Tiffany, be it human or doll form, had me in stitches. Everything about this movie is outrageous: the kills, the punchlines, and yes, the hot doll-on-doll action (“Have I got a rubber? Tiff, look at me. I’m ALL rubber.”).

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V — I saw this on opening weekend 1985, bailing on my family who all went to see WITNESS. My theater was fully packed. Maybe it was the crowd mentality that made seeing FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had in a theater. The audience ate up every creative kill, and broke out in cheers when little Reggie (Shavar Ross) busted out the bulldozer!

BASKET CASE — One of the first horror films I ever saw (back when we had to rent the VCR with the tapes!). Trashy, splatty fun featuring a man and his blob of a conjoined twin seeking bloody, gory revenge on the doctors that separated them. Ah, the stop-motion animation of little Belial… [kisses fingertips] magnifique! I’m a sucker for horror films that capture the seediness of New York / Times Square in the late ’70s/early ’80s, as BASKET CASE does.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

Cinema du Meep — A great retro movie site, with focus on genres of the ’70s and ’80s (horror, teen comedies, etc.).

Dinner with Max Jenke — The tagline is “New Horror Opinions at ’80s Prices.” Here, Jeff Allard waxes poetic and nostalgic about all things horror, comic, and sci-fi – often providing insight I hadn’t thought of before.

The Droid You’re Looking For — A great blog featuring a mix of classic film, horror, lists, and even some TV on occasion.

Every ’70s Movie — Daily movie reviews by filmmaker Peter Hanson (TALES FROM THE SCRIPT) of films from the 1970s.

Space: 1970 — A recently discovered gem. A blog dedicated to the science fiction films and television series of the 1970s — polyester, feathered hair, and all.

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It’s a Horror to Know You:: Todd Miller Author of A Silence of Spiders!

August 13th, 2012 · 8 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Todd Miller author of A Silence of Spiders!

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

My parents did a pretty good job of keeping me away from scary images in the movies and on television—until that fateful plane ride to Amsterdam in the summer of 1978. Just seven-years-old, I was tricked into watching the in-flight movie: Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe. At some point Jacqueline Bisset is wandering around in some fancy kitchen, when she opens up one of the ovens and out pops a hideously charred human arm! I spent the rest of the plan ride cowering under the seat, bitterly cursing Dutch hospitality.

But the first scary movie I remember seeing all the way through was The Black Hole. I can hear Walt Disney now…

“Hey, kids! Come to our wholesome Walt Disney movie! It takes place in Outer Space, just like that other Outer Space Movie you kids like so much. And our movie’s got robots! In fact, our movie has a big, scary red robot named Maximillian. And he’s got little chainsaws for hands. Look out, spaceman Anthony Perkins! Maximillian is going to get you! Oh, no! Look, kids! Spaceman Anthony Perkins is getting butchered right before your very eyes! And here’s a bunch of black-robed, lobotomized drones with hideous ghoul faces under their gleaming metal masks! And here’s that lobotomy machine we were talking about earlier. It shoots lasers into your brain! Uh-oh, now everybody’s getting sucked into that giant black hole, and oops! Now the bad guy is trapped in a burning Hell surrounded by the flailing bodies of the damned!”

Thanks, Walt.

1. What is the last film that scared you?

The last film that really creeped me out was Carnival of Souls. This movie marches along to the beat of it’s own drum, and man, that drum is weird.

A young woman named Mary is the sole survivor of a drag race gone bad, and shortly after the accident she takes a new job in a far-away, desert town as a church organist. And, well, things get really strange from there.

What’s going on in that dark, abandoned amusement park on the edge of town? Why does Mary always play that creepy organ music as if she’s in some kind of hypnotic trance? And what exactly is causing those unsettling moments when Mary appears to become invisible to everyone else?

And then there is The Man. A white-faced apparition who appears without warning, in her dreams, in her waking hours, reaching for her, trying to pull her back to the whirling, never-ending dance at the amusement park…the dance of the damned.

2. Name three horror movies that you believe are underrated.

1. If Frankenstein is the Grandfather of all Mad Scientist movies, then Island of Lost Souls is their Great Uncle, the bad one that nobody talks about anymore. It’s too bad that the movie seems to be best remembered for inspiring the lyrics of a Devo song, because Island of Lost Souls is a wild, kinky freak-out festival of darkness and perversity.

The film is based on H.G. Wells’s book The Island of Dr. Monreau, but plenty of liberties are taken with the source material and what ends up hitting the screen is a boiling cauldron of American fears, circa 1932. And these fears aren’t pretty (or politically-correct): The perils of Colonialism! Eugenics! Miscegenation! Rape! And, of course, the dangers of playing God with Science!

But, I’m making this sound way too academic.

A castaway ends up on a mysterious island and is gleefully taken in by the even more mysterious Dr. Moreau. The good doctor does experiments here in his secret jungle laboratory. Secret, mysterious experiments that usually involve someone…or something…screaming in agony. But don’t worry about the Doctor. He’s only a cheerful, smirking, civilized little sadist who likes to play with a whip.

And never mind the island’s lumbering, hirsute inhabitants, with their fangs and pointy ears. They obey The Law. What is the Law? Not to run on all fours. Not to eat meat. Not to spill blood. Are we not men? Here, meet our only woman, Lota…don’t you find her…strangely alluring? Wouldn’t you like to…get to know her better? Never mind her strange fingernails…

2. In the 1970s, kids weren’t just bad, they were Evil. And the Doublemint twins of Evil are Niles and Holland Perry, from The Other. Based on a book by Tom Tryon (author of the also excellent Harvest Home), The Other is a crafty, gothic tale of madness and murder set during the summer of 1935.

I know what you’re thinking: one of the twins is good, and one is evil, blah, blah…YAWN. But, what if both of the twins are evil…or what if something else entirely different is going on? To say anymore would give away the devious plot twists that raise the movie to a whole other level of horror.

Instead, I’ll just throw out a few tid-bits: a mysterious well, a woman in the attic, a grandmother from the Old Country, a circus freak show, a rickety staircase, a white rat, a pitchfork, Dad’s old ring, a voice in the darkness, a book about Changelings…

The movie’s deliberate pace isn’t what we’re used to these days, but try to stick it out. Holy moley, what an ending! It gave me goose bumps.

3. You know that Roman Polanski movie about the person who goes crazy in their apartment building because all the other tenants are evil? No, I mean the other one. Okay, I mean the other, other one—Roman Polanski’s The Tenant, based on a book by Roland Topor.

The Tenant has been called the last film in Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy,” and the story involves a somewhat meek man named Trelkovsky (played by Polanski) trying to rent a new apartment in a busy section of Paris. It seems the apartment’s previous tenant just threw herself out the window, and when Trelkovsky goes to visit her in the hospital, he can’t help but notice that one of her teeth is missing. Shortly after his visit, she dies, and the apartment becomes his to rent.

Ah, but the landlord is unreasonably strict, the other tenants are boorish and mean, and the noise complaints against Trelkovsky begin to pile up. Soon he can’t help but notice that the neighbors are spying on him. A little house cleaning reveals a bizarre object that belonged to the former tenant, an object which sets in motion Trelkovsky’s frightening descent into paranoia and madness. But is Trelkovsky going crazy, or is everyone really out to get him?

Why does the landlord insist he hears a woman in Trelkovsky’s apartment at night? And why does Trelkovksy wake up one morning with painted fingernails? Or…does he? And, what’s with the tooth?

This is a classic Person-Going-Crazy horror film, my favorite in the genre.

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

1. Poor H.P. Lovecraft. There’s never been a really good, big-budget adaptation of any of his stories. But there have been plenty of bad ones. One of the goofiest has to be Roger Corman’s The Dunwich Horror, filmed in 1970 and staring Sandra Dee and Dean Stockwell as the evil hippie wizard Wilbur Whateley. And hey, the soundtrack is by faux-exotic lounge music composer Les Baxter!

Okay, they didn’t have a lot of money for special effects. But, man, they try really hard to invoke the mind-blasting, sanity-shaking horror of encountering one of Lovecraft’s cosmic baddies. What other movie presents a hideous dark god from another dimension in the flesh as a really, really bad acid trip? Incense and Peppermints! Yog-Sothoth!

Oh, those weirdo hippies with their Free Love and their Elder Gods! Dean Stockwell is perfect as an oily, ascot wearing youth with dangerous hair who needs the body of Sandra Dee to open up a portal to another universe. And just who is going to come out of that portal? I think you know…

2. The Stepford Wives is another movie which has been reduced to a pop culture catchphrase. You may think you don’t need to see this movie because you already know the main surprise of the story. And it all sounds so completely over–the-top. Women getting replaced by robots? Please.

But, really, how is it any different than getting replaced by aliens from seed pods, or getting turned into a zombie, or any other horrible thing that can happen to a person, to their identity, in any number of scary movies? What is the loss of your identity, if not a kind of death?

It’s all here, all the trapping of a good horror movie: paranoia, creepy clues that Something is Wrong in Stepford, our heroine’s growing sense of isolation and fear as her friends are changed and her enemies grow stronger…

And then suddenly there’s violence and the appearance of The Strange Thing…

“I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe. I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe. I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe.”

3. Way before Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lector, he was Corky Withers in Magic, a movie about an evil ventriloquist dummy. C’mon, we all know ventriloquist dummies are evil. Look at them. With their dead eyes and gaping mouths!

Okay, maybe the dummy isn’t evil. Maybe eccentric, short-tempered ventriloquist Anthony Hopkins just has something wrong with his head. Crazy-wrong! Killing wrong!

As goofy as the concept sounds, the movie is incredibly clever. Let’s just say that as Corky starts to make mistakes, and the bodies start to pile up, that watching him twist and turn in mental agony is good, creepy fun.

Plus, the dummy really is evil.

4. Send us five places on the Internets!

MATTHEW KIRSCHT – shout-out to my friend Matthew Kirscht, an artist whose work is inspired by 19th century Halloween imagery. (He also draws Wacky Packages for Topps.)

CTHULHU LIVES – The official website of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. They did a cracking-good silent movie adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu.

SPACE 1970 – A really fun blog about 1970s science-fiction movies. Soylent Green! Rollerball! Logan’s Run!

MIKE”S AMAZING WORLD – A great resource for tracking down old horror comics.

THE BOOK DESIGNER– Helpful advice for self-publishing authors.

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