Hey, DEVIL TIMES FIVE (1974) is trying to hide from me on Tubi TV by wearing its alternative title THE HORRIBLE HOUSE ON THE HILL. It won’t work! I see you DT5 and you look crisper, cleaner and more colorful than ever. The only proper way to combat a hot, humid and hellish summer day is by watching a winter set film- particularly if it’s a winter set film featuring a gaggle of psychopathic youngsters bent on murdering every dopey adult they encounter in a groovy seventies lodge. I’ve always thought there was something singularly unsettling about this film and its weird vibe. Maybe that’s a natural reaction to witnessing adorable freckle-faced Dodie from MY THREE SONS (DAWN LIN) dumping a bucket of killer piranha into the bathtub occupied by an unsuspecting woman (who happens to be DAWN’s real life mom, CAROLYN STELLAR. BTW-DAWN’s older sibling LEIF GARRET is also on board playing a like-minded murderous tyke). THE DUKES OF HAZZARD’s Boss Hogg (SORRELL BOOKE) and WILL AND GRACE’s Rosario (SHELLEY MORRISON) are exactly zero help in situations like these. My advice is: grab some hooch and a couch and sit back and take in the calamities while the air conditioner churns. Be prepared for moaning slow motion kills, corpses encased in snowmen, the greatest catfight ever put to film and a disturbing young woman in a nun’s habit sporting psychedelic shades. DEVIL TIMES FIVE is playing on Tubi TV HERE. If you haven’t registered yet, what the devil are you waiting for? You’re missing a free horror movie treasure trove!
Hey, it’s been a while since we visited the fine folks over at the free streaming joint SHOUT FACTORY TV and it looks like they have a bunch of cool new stuff up! BAD MOON! That’s a good one! Let’s have a BAD MOON party!
I’m going to let you in on a little life hacking tip, if you are having a crappy day all you need to turn it around is a werewolf movie and an alcoholic beverage of your choice. In extreme cases, you might want to find a werewolf movie that stars a dog. BAD MOON is a werewolf movie that indeed stars a dog. In fact, it’s based on a book entitled THOR, which tells the entire tale (haha) from the doggie’s viewpoint (I don’t recommend the audio book though – it’s just a lot of barking). Honestly, I remember not being crazy about BAD MOON when I saw it in the theaters but it certainly has grown on me over the years. At first I could only see the missed opportunities but now that I’ve come to understand that MICHAEL PARE and MARIEL HEMINGWAY movies don’t exactly grow on trees, I can appreciate it better. Plus, I just love the look of the werewolf in this movie. He’s got that standing upright HOWLING-thing going on which I prefer to the simple fur-face or crawling-on-all-fours kind. All of the classic werewolf themes concerning our darker selves, loss of control and fear of hurting others are present and accounted for, plus you get a crispy new spin involving family loyalty and a mother having to learn to let go of her troubled sibling for the safety of her child (and there’s no denying the abject kindertrauma of a ten foot tall werewolf grabbing a ten year old boy by the throat). BAD MOON was torn apart like an old shoe by critics back in the day but I think it was more of a bad timing thing than anything else. If you just imagine it’s from 1986 rather than 1996 it starts looking a lot better, even charming.
As said above, BAD MOON is currently available to watch for FREE over at SHOUT FACTORY’s pad HERE! If you enjoy it you should buy the Blu-ray too because it looks like they dug up a lot of interesting extra features including a commentary by director ERIC RED (who wrote the classic THE HITCHER!). Sure, at the end of the day, I wish BAD MOON showed a little more werewolf than it does but let’s face it, there will never be enough werewolf for me. As is, it’s a finer breed than it’s usually given credit for and should provide a howling good time on a Sunday afternoon.
I feel like it’s been way too long since I’ve seen a movie like THE VOID. It’s not as streamlined as I would prefer but it’s full of boundary-pushing imagination and its playing field expands in ways you wouldn’t predict. There’s probably a little too much going on in it but I have a feeling that’ll only increase its re-watch value down the road. As much as harkens back to many an eighties classic, there’s something that remains refreshing about it- or maybe it’s the way that it harkens back (with legit admiration rather than a desperate need to pillage) that makes it feel that way (the road to hell is paved with eighties wannabes that have no clue what made the original films so special). THE VOID seems honestly in awe of the possibilities that it is presenting and that sentiment is contagious especially when it’s backed up with incredible eye-popping practical special effects the likes of which you may have thought went extinct decades ago. Plus it’s just plain creepy.
I won’t get too much into the plot because I simultaneously don’t want to ruin it and also may not have fully understood it (I look forward to clarifying a few things with future viewings). Suffice to say that this gem of a movie brought me back to the days when I could happily check out the latest offering from my hero and yours, JOHN CARPENTER. It’s like being reminded of the glory days. It starts with a hospital under siege much like the police station in ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and then it throws a bunch of unlikely characters together like THE FOG (including genre legend ART HINDLE of THE BROOD) and then it starts slapping you in the face with mind-bending surrealism like IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, concentrated cosmic horror like PRINCE OF DARKNESS and flesh-twisty gore a’ la THE THING. Having said that, it still miraculously finds a way to plow its own original course even while throwing CLIVE BARKER and HELLRAISER a bouquet as well. It’s really got a lot more going for it than most of the soggy Hollywood shrug offs that appeared in theaters this year and it really makes for one satisfying night of Netflix viewing.
Today is obviously going to be the greatest day ever because the coolest channel that ever existed COMET TV, is going to be airing BLOOD AND LACE at 2pm! Man, I love that BLOOD AND LACE! What a great movie! How did I survive for so many years without it in my life? Furthermore, how did I survive so many years without COMET TV? Those were dark days indeed and I never even knew it. You can read my full gushing review of the fine flick HERE and you can watch the movie itself HERE or on your TV at two! Ain’t life grand?
Critter crew, I gotta go to this thing at this thing but I am loath to leave ya with nothing to occupy your peepers so I’m sending you all on a field trip to Tubi TV to watch COOTIES! Hey, COOTIES is pretty good, particularly the kooky and kindertraumatic slo-mo playground contagion scene. I love that part! Such creepy imagery! Plus I think COOTIES is pretty funny and I feel like ELIJAH WOOD is a nice person who should be supported since that MANIAC redo was so much better than we all expected. COOTIES does devolve into too familiar zombie territory and some of the casting is questionable (IMO) but neither of those gripes is enough to sink it. Like I said, it’s pretty good and certainly worth the fair price of FREE!!! Watch it HERE and hope you are all having a wondrous Memorial Day weekend!
Have you ever spent the better part of a day sobbing uncontrollably while throwing fine china against the wall because the multi-talented JOHN CARL BUECHLER (TROLL) never directed a movie based on a screenplay written by DON (CHILD’S PLAY) MANCINI? Well, stop doing that because such a film does indeed exist and it goes by the name CELLAR DWELLER. It just so happens to be the greatest horror film involving comic books that takes place in an artist colony that features JEFFREY COMBS ever made. I wrote about it way back HERE and I do believe my only major gripe was that the monster was too adorable. Anyway, today is the luckiest day of your entire life because our good pals over at the best TV station ever invented, COMET TV are showing it for free at four, HERE! I think we should ALL watch it but only after we’ve called our moms and wished them a Happy Mother’s Day. Did I mention the ultimate, quintessential horror momma YVONNE DE CARLO is in this movie making it a perfectly fine choice for Mother’s Day? She is! Happy Mother’s Day!
“There are 32 ways to write a story, and I’ve used every one, but there is only one plot – things are not as they seem.”
– Jim Thompson, pulp novelist
The difference between Columbo and Murder, She Wrote is that in Murder, She Wrote the viewer tries to solve the crime while Jessica Fletcher does. But with Columbo the audience sees whodunit right at the start, and they watch Lt. Columbo try to figure it out.
Watching someone unravel a mystery can be entertaining, even cathartic. And the more personal the mystery is, the more dramatic it can be.
In INVADERS FROM MARS a young boy discovers his parents are not what they seem.
In I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE a young bride discovers her husband is not what he seems.
In THE PARENT TRAP two girls discover they are not what they seem.
One of the most sensitive types of secret is your own identity. Those stories involve some of the most upsetting secrets.
In THE 6TH DAY, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Adam (the hero of the story) finds out he is a clone.
In The Twilight Zone episode “The Lateness of the Hour” a young woman learns that she is an android. (It’s somehow fitting that this is one of the episodes they shot on videotape.)
The clone/robot trope has been explored and executed to great effect on recent cable series like Westworld and Battlestar Galactica.
I most recently encountered a clone narrative in the newest RESIDENT EVIL movie. (Major spoilers coming, but you knew where this was headed…)
At the very end of RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER, Alice finds out she is a clone. This shattering plot-point is down-played. (Granted the series is known for its action set-pieces more than its character moments.) When the Red Queen informs Alice that she’s a clone, Alice is comforted by this judgment: not only is she the best of all the clones, she is superior to the original Alice. (Oh, I get it! They’re speaking metaphorically about RESIDENT EVIL movies. Each sequel is criticized for being a “clone” of the previous film. So now Paul W.S. Anderson is saying that this final installment is not only better than the previous sequels, it’s better than the first film!)
I walked out of the theater (yes, I saw RESIDENT EVIL in the theater! I had to see it for a podcast) feeling like they’d missed an opportunity for bigger drama. Or at least an opportunity to give me the kind of clone-revelation-drama I seem to enjoy so much.
Thinking about clone narratives and how they figure into hero myths, I suddenly summoned a faint memory of kindertraumatic movie called ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER.
I’d seen it once when I was 10, and it was one of those movies no one else remembers. (In the pre-internet days that made you the keeper of the flame, you alone had to keep the movie alive by remembering it.)
I got home and searched for ANNA on YouTube. There were only a couple of short clips. But those brief images were enough to flood me with those tingly kindertraumatic feelings. It’s like when you were a kid and right before you lost a tooth you tasted the bittersweet flavor of your blood. Gross AND exciting!
I kept searching for ANNA online. (Ironically there weren’t any bootlegs of this clone movie.) And then one day it turned up on YouTube, on a channel run by a guy whose content is predominantly videos of Thom Matthews. You can just tell, he’s good people!
You can guess the film’s basic premise: a young girl discovers she is one of many clones. Her entire childhood has been a lie. Who is she cloned from? Why do flickering lights give her headaches? What does any of this have to do with the Nazis?
ANNA is a special kind of science-fiction, where the low-budget and modest filmmaking somehow help it seem more real and relatable. (Kind of like how those videotaped Twilight Zone episodes don’t seem like TV at all.) If the movie gets under your skin, it’s not because of the special effects of grandiose cinematography, but because of simple themes
ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER tackles all the big questions of a good clone movie: addressing ethics, technology and morality, all wrapped up in the soap opera of a pre-teen girl wondering if her family is her family as she confronts who she really is and what she is destined to become.
Throughout the movie there’s a truly haunting song, which was composed by Paul Baillargeon, who wrote music for Star Trek. (Not the original series, but Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Those still count!)
If cheap-but-effective science-fiction isn’t enough to get you on board, I have two words for you: Mark Patton. That’s right, Anna’s brother is played by Jesse Walsh from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE. (Apparently Mark Patton is also drawn to stories about characters struggling with their identity!) His presence adds a certain kind of non-star star-power. You know what I mean? That pleasant familiarity of seeing an actor who you only know from one role. It reminds me of the delight I’ve experienced when Marilyn Burns shows up in a movie that isn’t THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, it’s like you’ve just run into an old friend.
Maybe I’m drawn to these melodramatic clone revelations because it’s a far-removed story premise that could never happen to me. Or maybe, deep down I’m afraid it could be my secret origin. Either way, you should watch ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER while it’s still on YouTube (HERE).
And If you’re looking for a double-feature, Hulu’s streaming an episode of The X-Files that is said to have a suspicious number of similarities to ANNA. Season 1, episode 11: “Eve” (HERE).
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.
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!
I swear I had every intention of broadening my horizons beyond COMET TV this weekend but how can I when they perpetually insist upon showing such awesome stuff? I can’t escape! Tonight they are showing this weird obscure cult-ready fiasco called THE IMMORTALIZER from 1989 (1990?). From what I can tell everybody and their mother hates this movie except me. I caught it on MGM HD in the wee hours about two or three years ago and it was basically everything I wanted it to be and then some. It’s got that weird uncomfortable tortured captive thing that you might find in HELLHOLE or MANSION OF THE DOOMED but it’s also got that campy search for eternal youth plotline that you might recognize from DEATH BECOMES HER, ETERNAL EVIL, SKELETON KEY and this year’s critically acclaimed GET OUT. Plus it’s pretty darn hilarious in its brazen ineptitude and slightly sleazy vulgarity. Did I mention it takes place in the same building as SORORITY MASSACRE PART 2 (More on that HERE)? In any case, the important thing here is that this may be your last chance to see THE IMMORTALIZER for a while. It doesn’t seem to be readily available in any format and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be building a demand for such a thing any time soon. Check it out while you can right HERE at 6 (ET/PT) before it sips away! You’re not getting any younger!