6 Trailers From The Girl Who Has Returned Home

Now that I’m back home from my vacation, it’s time for me to post yet another installment in my raison d’être, Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!  In keeping with this month’s theme, all of today’s trailers are horror-related.


1) Virus (1980)

Let’s start things out with the end of the world.  From 1980, it’s the story of what happens when the world gets hit by the “Italian flu.”

2) The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

It’s just not October without some Hammer horror.

3) Horror of Dracula (1958)

And wherever you have Frankenstein, you have to have Dracula…

4) The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

As long as we’re taking a look at Hammer horror icons, let’s not forget the Mummy.

5) Baron Blood (1972)

This film is from the great Italian filmmaker, Mario Bava.

6) Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972)

“They plant the dead and harvest the living!”

Horror Film Review: House At The End of the Street (dir. by Mark Tonderai)

Hi there!  I’m back!  For the past two weeks, I’ve been “on the road,” traveling from my home in Texas to Baltimore, Maryland and then back to Texas again.  It was a great two weeks and a much-needed vacation and now, I am back at my office here at the Shattered Lens Bunker, and I am refreshed and I am ready to get caught up on what really matters: reviewing movies.

This is October, perhaps the third greatest month of the year.  Traditionally, October is horror month here at the Shattered Lens and, for my first post-vacation film review, I want to take a look at an underappreciated horror film that came out right before I left for Maryland.  It was released to theaters on September 21st, was the number one film in the country for a week, and got next to no love from either mainstream critics or my fellow film bloggers.  It’s still playing at a theater near you and, believe it or not, it’s not that bad.  The name of the film?  The House At The End of the Street.

(Or, as my BFF Evelyn and I called it, “The House at the End of the Cleavage” because seriously…)

In The House At The End of Street, recently divorced Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) move to a small country home.  Sarah has managed to buy a house that she really shouldn’t be able to afford and the new neighbors quickly explain to them that this is because, many years ago, a crazy girl named Carrie-Ann was living at the house at the end of the street and she murdered her parents before then disappearing into the woods.  Apparently, this has caused all of the property values in town to plummet and I really have to wonder why.  I’m not a real estate expert (for instance, I have no idea what a mortgage is and I have no desire to learn) but, personally, I would love to live next to a murder house.  Seriously, imagine the interesting conversations that could be started by saying, “So, my neighbor buried a salesman in his basement…”

But anyway, it turns out that Elissa has a perfect view of the house at the end of the street from her bedroom window and she quickly discovers that the house is not deserted.  It turns out that Carrie-Anne’s brother Ryan (Max Thieriot) is living in the house and, despite being shunned by the entire community, he seems to be a nice, sensitive guy.  Despite her mother’s misgiving, Elissa befriends Ryan and defends him against everyone who claims that he’s crazy.

Of course, what Elissa doesn’t know is that there’s another girl in Ryan’s life and she’s locked up in his basement…

When I look over the negative reviews of House at the End of the Street (especially the ones written by male film bloggers), I frequently come across the phrase “lifetime movie.”  Their argument seems to be that House At The End of the Street, with its emphasis on a single mom raising her daughter, was essentially just a PG-13 rated Lifetime movie.

Well, they’re right.

But so what?

Seriously, Lifetime movies are a lot of fun to watch when you’re in the right mood for them and that’s a perfect way to describe House At The End Of The Street.  It’s a lot of fun, the type of silly horror film that’s fun to watch with a group of friends.  Max Thieriot plays the type of cute but damaged (and potentially dangerous) outsider that every girl has had a crush on and, for the boys in the audience, there’s plenty of cleavage and visible bra straps.

Finally, I think the main reason that House At The End of the Street stayed with me is because both Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence really invested themselves in their roles.  They were totally believable as mother and daughter and their loving but occasionally contentious relationship felt totally true-to-life (or, at the very least, it was true to my life).  Lawrence and Shue both give performances that bring some unexpected depth to this underrated film.

Horror Review: Off Season (by Jack Ketchum)

I was first introduced to Jack Ketchum’s Off Season by a friend who’d noticed that I was reading books by Bentley Little, Edward Lee and Richard Laymon. He told me about Jack Ketchum and his early work titled Off Season. At the time I was told the book itself was out-of-print and used bookstores sold them at a premium. The moment I received word that Amazon started offering the novel again I was quick to order my copy. I thought I knew what extreme horror literature was all about. I had thought Lee’s Bighead was the epitome of extreme horror, but I was mistaken as soon as I began reading Ketchum’s debut novel.

Jack Ketchum’s Off Season uses the old Scottish folklore of the cannibalistic Sawney Beane Clan — who supposedly had terrorized the Scottish coasts during the 15th-century — and creates a survival horror tale that brings to mind such the zombie films of Romero and his successors not to mention some of John Carpenter’s earlier works. This was not the first time this infamous clan of inbred cannibals’ legend has been adapted for modern times. Wes Craven had used the same folklore to base his 70’s exploitation horror film The Hills Have Eyes. Ketchum’s Off Season is much closer to the legend of the Sawney Beane Clan and Ketchum describes in detail the violence and cannibalistic scenes by which the clan inflicts on vacationing and traveling strangers in the secluded and somewhat untamed coastal forest in the Northeast.

Ketchum pulls no punches and makes the reader believe that scene of carnage and horror inflicted on the characters Carla, her sister Marjie and the men of their small group. The horror is not just the one scene through the eyes of the cabin renters, but also those scenes within the clan’s coastal cave abode where children behave more like ravenous animals than civilized human beings. There’s also a brutal and frank description of the incestuous practice the clan has devolved to in order to propagate their clan’s numbers. It’s this attention to detail which helped give rise to the “splatterpunk” subgenre of horror that some have called horror pornography yet which continues to this day to be a place where one could still find great horror novels.

The novel itself is not without it’s flaws. Ketchum’s fast-paced narrative barely allows for the character he has established as the victims to feel fully developed. The character themselves almost became plot devicesin that they were there to be picked off one-by-one in a way to propel the story forward to it’s apocalyptic conclusion. While Ketchum allows for disgust and horror on what’s being done to these people to occur there’s no empathy to be had towards these victims until the very end and even then it’s mnore a reaction of enjoying violent retribution on those raides. Empathy is definitely not something this novel wants to evoke from it’s readers. It’s all about primal instincts and reactions and in that respect the novel succeeds on many levels.

In the end, Jack Ketchum’s Off Season was not a book for just anyone to read and enjoy (though for some it might just be something that they’d enjoy). In actuality, Off Season was not even a book to enjoy but more of a novel to survive through. I was barely able to get through the novel, not because it was badly written but due to its extreme nature. I would turn around and do what my friend did for me and recommend this harrowing, brutal and violent tale of survival, cannibalism and horror to fans who think they know what extreme horror is all about. They’ll be in for a shocking surprise if they ever pick up this book to try out.

October Music Series: Nokturnal Mortum – Cheremosh

Nokturnal Mortum is a name one should only ever drop with caution. They are unfortunately the flagship band of the Ukrainian white supremacist nsbm scene. One might expect idiotic ideas to lead to pretty dim-witted music, but Nokturnal Mortum broke the mold. In fact, they’re one of the most talented bands I have ever heard. Knjaz Varggoth has a seemingly unshakable knack for infusing his music with the all of the pride and hatred that his ideology implies. From 1996 up to the present they have remained on the cutting edge of the folk/pagan metal scene, like it or not.

Cheremosh is conveniently a track with no ideological strings attached. Appearing initially on the 1997 Marble Moon ep and then in slightly more refined form on To the Gates of Blasphemous Fire in 1998, Cheremosh is an instrumental song. The name refers to the Cheremosh river in western Ukraine. With a distinct build-up and climax characteristic of many of their finest songs, Cheremosh transitions from a secluded scene of the river rolling along to some convincing and bizarre pagan ritual. The folk is mostly keyboards–Nokturnal Mortum did not begin to employ traditional instrumentation extensively until the following year on NeChrist. (NeChrist, I recently discovered, is a pun. “Nechist” are evil spirits in Russian folklore.) Nokturnal Mortum did a pretty impressive job of inventing their own folk sound through synth though, and their first three albums gain a lot from it. If you can stomach their ideology, Nokturnal Mortum present some of the most compelling pagan metal on the market, and this isn’t the last time I’ll be featuring them this month.