Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 2.3 “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank”


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Today’s televised horror is an episode of The Twilight Zone called The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank. It examines what happens when, in the middle of his funeral, Jeff Myrtlebank (played by James Best) suddenly sits up in his coffin and asks what’s going on. Jeff’s friends and family are now torn between being happy to have Jeff back and being worried as they try to figure out what exactly Jeff has come back as. I like this episode, largely because it’s a good example of country gothic and, in many ways, I’m a gothic country girl. Plus, it has a really great ending!


This episode was directed and written by Montgomery Pittman and originally aired on February 23rd, 1962.

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Trailer: American Sniper (Official)


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Warner Bros. Pictures makes it a triple-bill with the latest in a series of trailers for some of their upcoming films.

The latest to arrive is Clint Eastwood’s latest film. Eastwood adapts the Chris Kyle autobiography, American Sniper, of which Steven Spielberg was originally attached to direct until dropping out in the summer of 2013. Eastwood was announced a week later as taking on directing duties on one of the more sought after properties of the last couple years.

Bradley Cooper will star in as Chris Kyle with Sienna Miller in the role of Chris’ wife, Taya Renae Kyle.

American Sniper is set for a limited release on December 25, 2014 and going wide on January 20, 2015.

Trailer: Interstellar (3rd Official)


Interstellar

Will Interstellar be as  much a game changer as Kubrick’s own 2001: A Space Odyssey? Some are already hyping that it may just be on that very level.

Now, let’s not crown Christopher Nolan upcoming film (his first since concluding his Dark Knight trilogy) as an instant classic when we haven’t seen anything outside of the trailers released. Yet, the teases and brief explanation of the film’s plot hints at something that may just turn out to be incredible.

I know at least one person here at Through the Shattered Lens who is bursting at the seams at trying not to overhype the film for himself. It may just be a losing battle if his reactions to this latest Interstellar trailer is any indication.

Interstellar is set for a limited release on November 5, 2014 (70mm and 35mm film formats) then wide on November 7, 2014 on digital format.

Trailer: Exodus: Gods and Kings (Official)


Exodus Banner

Ridley Scott has been instrumental in bringing back the sword-and-sandal epic when he unleashed Gladiator to audiences everywhere in the summer of 2000. Since then he has made many films which range from black comedy to historical epic right up to horror and a war film.

With Exodus: God and Kings, Scott returns to the sword-and-sandal epic but now with a heavy dose of the Biblical as he adapts the Old Testament Book of Exodus. A film working on the same scope and scale as Cecil B. Demille The Ten Commandments released in 1956, this latest adaptation of Moses, Ramses and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt looks to put the epic back in 2014.

With each passing year, more and more of Scott’s films have taken on the unavoidable sheen of the CGI as his visuals attempt to recreate time and places of Earth’s past. For some, Scott’s been more miss than hit with the last couple films yet they all remain visual feasts and Exodus: Gods and Kings looks to continue that streak. Whether the film will be good storytelling will be something that’s still to be decided.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is set for a December 12, 2014 release date.

Horror Review: All Souls Day (dir. by Jeremy Kasten)


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All Souls Day was part of the wave of zombie films that continues to flood the direct-to-video (and at times straight to cable) market. This particular zombie movie was written by Mark A. Altman who also wrote the campy and very B-movie-like House of the Dead 2. This was a  zombie flick which actually improved on Uwe Boll’s own House of the Dead that doesn’t really come as a surprise. All Souls Day was Altman’s second try at another zombie movie and while this second attempt wasn’t as fun as his previous one it still managed to be a watchable and interesting zombie movie.

The film’s set in a dusty Mexican town that hides a dark secret from its past. A young couple (played by Marisa Ramirez and Travis Wester) happen upon what seems like an abandoned town. They soon come across a funeral procession and when they inadvertently interrupt the ritual all hell literally breaks loose. It doesn’t help the couple that the only person who seems to be real in this town was the sheriff whose own past ties in with the secret of the town. It was very good to see genre veteran David Keith in the role of the town sheriff. His limited time in the movie was pretty good.

When the town’s people (who by now have shown themselves to be zombies) begin to lay siege on the young couple in the town’s only hotel the rest of the movie gradually shows more of what made this particular Mexican town a death trap for any passerby who happen to come across it on All Souls Day. Soon enough help comes in the form of the young couple’s two friends who arrive in town only to get themselves stuck in the same dire situation the original couple find themselves in.

The resolution of the movie was handled well and it brought a nice supernatural origin and reason as to why the town’s population has turned into flesh-eating zombies. The performances in the film could be seen as being mixed. The more veteran performers like Jeffrey Combs, David Keith, Danny Trejo (as the town’s manipulative patriarch) and Laura Herring perform their roles well without being too over-the-top. The actors playing the pair of young couples on the other hand go from very good to awful in the span of moments in some of the scenes. It’s really this mixed bag in the cast’s performance which keeps All Souls Day from turning into one of those hidden gems in a hill of crap that most zombie flicks turn out to be.

The gore effects in this film was pretty good in the small amount of sequences where the zombies end up doing what they do best once they get a hold of someone. While I was hoping for more of the grue in this particular zombie movie I wasn’t too surprised why it didn’t have more. Other than the pair of young couple there really wasn’t much living people for these zombies to munch on. The film itself show’s it’s low-budget origins in that it looks like something one would see premiere on a random Saturday night on the SyFy Channel. The film actually did premiere on that channel when it was still called SciFi. It’s a look that says TV instead of film, but despite that little nitpick it doesn’t distract much from the experience.

Now, most zombie films of the low-budget variety tend to just have badly done make-up effects. With All Souls Day the filmmakers seem to have done an end-around that budgetary problem by taking a page out of the classic Italian zombie flicks of the 1980’s by making these undead dry, decayed creatures. It’s something that worked well for the Fulci zombies and here it works as well.

All Souls Day was not a great zombie film by any stretch of the imagination, but it had enough entertaining moments and some genuine scary sequences to make it an enjoyable hour and a half of horror viewing on any October night.

Horror on The Lens: Robot Monster (dir by Phil Tucker)


Robot Monster

Today’s horror film is a true classic of its kind, the 1953 science fiction epic Robot Monster.

What happens with the Earth is attacked by aliens?  Well, first off, dinosaurs come back to life.  All of humanity is killed, except for one annoying family.  Finally, the fearsome Ro-Man is sent down to the planet to make sure that it’s ready for colonization.  (Or something like that.  To be honest, Ro-Man’s exact goal remains a bit vague.)

Why is Ro-Man so fearsome?  Well, he lives in a cave for one thing.  He also owns a bubble machine.  And finally, perhaps most horrifically, he’s a gorilla wearing a diver’s helmet.  However, Ro-Man is not just a one-dimensional bad guy.  No, he actually gets to have a monologue about halfway through the film in which he considers the existential issues inherent in being a gorilla wearing a diver’s helmet.

Can humanity defeat Ro-Man?  Will Ro-Man ever get his intergalactic supervisor to appreciate him?  And finally, why are the dinosaurs there?

All of those questions, and more, are cheerfully left unanswered but that’s a large part of this odd, zero-budget film’s considerable charm.  If you’ve never seen it before, you owe it to yourself to set aside an hour and two minutes in order to watch it.

You’ve never see anything like it before.

Enjoy!