Horror Song of the Day: Thriller (by Michael Jackson)


Thriller

What better way to end another month of horror here at Through the Shattered Lens than with a showing a the greatest music video ever made (not even a contest or a question). No matter what one’s personal opinion of Michael Jackson as a person there’s no denying the genius talent the man had and this video just speaks to the horror fan even if one was not into his music.

It has a werewolf (though here it’s a werecat), 50’s horror trope of the girl in distress, zombies, John Landis directing, Vincent Price with one of the best spoken word performance in a music video…and did I say zombies courtesy of make-up FX guru Rick Baker.

A music video that was more a short film plus horror musical, Thriller would become a cultural phenomenon that spread across the globe. It didn’t matter whether one lived in the US or the furthest corner of Mongolia. Everyone saw and enjoyed this music video. Even it’s detractors could only nitpick flaws from the final product.

Oh yeah, it has ZOMBIES!

Hope everyone had a great, happy and safe Halloween!

Thriller

It’s close to midnight, and something evil’s lurkin’ in the dark
Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze, as horror looks you right between the eyes
You’re paralyzed

‘Cause it’s a thriller, thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike
You know it’s thriller, thriller night
You’re fighting for your life inside a, killer, thriller tonight, yeah

You hear the door slam, and realize there’s nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand, and wonder if you’ll ever see the sun
You close your eyes, and hope that this is just imagination
Girl, but all the while, you hear a creature creepin’ up behind
You’re outta time

‘Cause it’s a thriller, thriller night
There ain’t no second chance against the thing with the forty eyes, girl
(Thriller, thriller night)
You’re fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

Night creatures call and the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There’s no escaping the jaws of the alien this time
(They’re open wide)
This is the end of your life

They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side (boom!)
They will possess you, unless you change that number on your dial
Now is the time, for you and I to cuddle close together, yeah
All through the night, I’ll save you from the terror on the screen
I’ll make you see

That it’s a thriller, thriller night
‘Cause I can thrill you more than any ghoul would ever dare try
(Thriller, thriller night)
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, diller, chiller thriller here tonight

‘Cause it’s a thriller, thriller night
Girl, I can thrill you more than any ghoul would ever dare try
(Thriller, thriller night)
So let me hold you tight and share a (Killer, thriller)

I’m gonna thrill you tonight

(Vincent Price voiceover)

“Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize your neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell”

I’m gonna thrill you tonight
(Thriller, thriller)
I’m gonna thrill you tonight
(Middle of the night, thriller)
I’m gonna thrill you tonight
Ooh, babe, I’m gonna thrill you tonight
Middle of the night, babe

(Vincent Price voiceover)

“The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty-thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller”

Halloween Havoc!: HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Univeral 1944)


cracked rear viewer

hof1

Frankenstein’s Monster! The Wolf Man! Dracula! The Mad Doctor! The Hunchback! And just about every classic horror film trope you can think of! They’re all here in Universal’s “Monster Rally” HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN! Throwing everything scary they could think of at you but a kitchen sink full of spiders, Universal decided if one monster was good, five is better. Boris Karloff as mad Dr.Neimann leads the parade of horror all-stars that includes Lon Chaney Jr (The Wolf Man), John Carradine (Dracula), Lionel Atwill (Inspector Arnz), and George Zucco  (Professor Lampini).

hof2

The movie is laid out like a serial, with the chapters kept moving swiftly along by director Erle C. Kenton. Neimann and his hunchbacked assistant Daniel escape from prison and come across Professor Lampini’s traveling Chamber of Horrors. Lampini claims to have the skeletal remains of the original Count Dracula, and he and Neimann discuss vampire lore. When Lampini refuses to take the pair to…

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Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 5.3 “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”


TheTwilightZoneLogo


Wow. It’s hard to believe that is going to be my final televised horror of the year. (Though I imagine this feature will return in October of 2016 — just in time for election season!) Well, let’s get right to it!


For our final televised horror, I have selected a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. In Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, William Shatner is a man who, though being scared of flying, finds himself on an airplane. And guess what he sees out on the wing?


This episode was written by one of Arleigh’s favorite writers, the great Richard Matheson. It was directed by Richard Donner and originally aired on October 11th, 1963.


Enjoy Nightmare at 20,000 Feet! And here’s hoping that all of our readers have had a wonderful, safe, and happy Halloween!


October Music Series: Dissection – Where Dead Angels Lie


My music series this year fell victim to a game of forum mafia that’s eaten up every ounce of my free time (and a little more I couldn’t really afford to lose <_<) but I wanted to share one last song here before we lay the Halloween season to rest. Dissection are one of the more notorious black metal bands of the 90s, embroiled in murder and occult suicide and all sorts of trouble. Generally, bands in that ballpark produced the more deranged, off-kilter songs that granted 90s black metal such a strong air of the sincerely sinister. But Dissection was a bit different. For all of Jon Nödtveidt's faults, he was a really brilliant songwriter in a surprisingly traditional sense. The band's most famous song–"Where Dead Angels Lie", off Storm of the Light’s Bane (1995)–is a masterful six minute progression of beautiful melodies that would not be out of place on an early In Flames album. (Is it a mere coincidence that the band’s home town of Strömstad is not terribly far north of the melodic death metal capital of the world: Gothenburg, Sweden?) It is sinister in a theatrical sort of way, quite different from the traditional roots of the genre and quite better than the few ‘mainstream’ bm bands, who are generally more willing to take this approach.

Hope you enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (dir by Andrea Bianchi)


Burial-ground

“For my final entry in October’s Daily Horror Grindhouse, I want to take a few minutes to tell you about an Italian zombie film from 1981.  Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror is not very good but it certainly is memorable.  I think it’s debatable whether or not any pleasure can truly be described as being guilty but if there ever was a movie that some people might feel guilty about enjoying, it would probably be Burial Ground.”

“Is that the movie with creepy kid in it?”

“Well, yes, one of the characters in this film is supposed to be a 12 year-old boy and yes, he’s kind of creepy.  But you know what?  Whenever anyone tries to talk about Burial Ground, everyone always wants to talk about the creepy kid.  So, let’s hold off on the creepy kid…”

“That kid really is creepy…”

“Yes, I know the kid is creepy but there’s more to the film than just the kid!  For instance, I wonder how many people realize that Burial Ground is perhaps the most blatantly political Italian zombie film ever made?  I mean, let’s think about it.  This is a film where a bunch of decadent rich people get trapped in a mansion — the same mansion that was used in Patrick Lives Again, by the way — and find themselves besieged by zombies.  And who are the zombies?  They’re the former workers.  They’re the servants who used to toil in the fields and who died exploited and forgotten.  And now, without any explanation, they’re suddenly back and they’re determined to kill everyone.  And when it comes time to get inside the house, they actually use tools.  They have scythes and hammers and all the former tools of their oppression.  They are now using them to kill the rich.  Well, not just the rich.  There are two servants — a butler and a maid — who side with the rich and therefore, have to be killed as well because that’s the way things are in a revolution….”

“What was up with that kid?”

“We’ll get to him.  No matter what else you say about Burial Ground, you can’t deny that the zombies were amazingly effective.  I mean, they really looked like the living dead and, even if the ‘living’ actors were never quite convincing, the zombies were scary!”

Burial Ground (1981, directed by Andrea Bianchi)

“Not as scary as that creepyass kid…”

“You know, sometimes I think that y’all spend so much time going on about the weird little kid in Burial Ground that you tend to overlook some other fun parts of the film.  For instance, there’s the scene Janet — played by Karen Well — gets her ankle stuck in a bear trap and, every time that her boyfriend Mark (Gianluigi Chirizzi) tries to pry it open, he accidentally ends up letting go and it snaps back shut on her ankle.  On the one hand, I was having sympathy pains for poor Janet because, as a dancer, I know how much ankle pain sucks.  On the other hand, I couldn’t help but laugh because the scene just goes on for so long that it actually starts to resemble a poorly-written SNL sketch.  Plus, is it just me or does Mark look like a really young Jack Nicholson?”

“That creepy kid kind of looked like Dario Argento…”

“Yes, he did.  But there’s more to this film than the kid!  For instance, remember how it ends with this long quote from something called The Prophecy of The Black Spider but, on the title card, they misspelled prophecy…”

“Maybe the kid wrote that card…”

*Sigh*  “Okay, I guess I should just admit the truth.  The most memorable thing about Burial Ground is the creepy kid.  The zombies may be effective.  The film may be full of blood, nudity, bear traps, and misspelled words.  But ultimately, it all comes down to the character of Michael.  Michael is supposed to be 12 years old.  He has a small body but he’s also got this weird adult face.  According to the credits, he was played by an actor named Peter Bark and strangely enough, there seems to be next to no information available about him.  This has led to rumors that Peter Bark was actually a little person or that all of his scenes used trick photography to make him look smaller than he actually was.  According to Wikipedia, Peter Bark was actually 25 years old but he was cast because Italian law wouldn’t allow a child to appear in a film like Burial Ground.  I don’t necessarily believe that, however.  All I can say for sure is that Michael is a creepy little kid and the fact that he was obviously dubbed by an adult trying to sound like a child doesn’t help.”

peter-bark

“That’s not the only reason that Michael was creepy!”

“That’s true.  He also has a few … icky scenes with his mother.  She, by the way, was played by Mariangela Giordano.  Like Giallo in Venice and Patrick Lives Again, Burial Ground was produced by her boyfriend, Gabriele Crisanti.  For some reason, any film that he produced featured Mariangela dying in the most gruesome ways possible.”

“Plus, that little kid sure was creepy.”

“Yes, this is true.  He certainly was.   Happy Halloween.”

“Happy Halloween!”

“Before we leave, here’s two trailers for Burial Ground.  The second one is the real trailer.  The first one is all Michael.”

Horror Film Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (dir by Tobe Hooper)


TheTexasChainSawMassacre-poster

Occasionally, I get asked why I am always making mean-spirited jokes about Vermont.  Well, believe it or not, there is a reason!  Would you believe that it all goes back to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

In an editorial that was posted on this very site, I argued that one reason why, ever since it was initially released in 1974, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has remained an iconic horror film is because the title specifically alerts you that the film takes place in Texas.  For whatever reason, people across America are terrified of my home state.  Despite the fact that we’re all pretty friendly down here, people are scared to death.  They think we’re all walking around with guns or that something’s bad is going to happen if you make a wrong turn.  (And, of course, folks from up north can’t handle the fact that the temperature occasionally gets above 85. “OH MY GOD, IT’S GLOBAL WARMING!” the tourists shout.  No, morons — it’s just summer in Texas.)  In order to prove my point, I pointed out that no one would want to see a movie called The Vermont Chainsaw Massacre.

For good measure, I may have then added, “Fuck Vermont.”  Because — well, why not?*

Within hours of posting that editorial, I heard from someone in Vermont and OH MY GOD, she was so offended!  Seriously, she seemed to be really upset that I was suggesting that nobody would be scared of getting horribly murdered while driving through Vermont!

So, to the people of Vermont, accept my apologies.  Y’all are just as capable of killing people with a chainsaw as we are, okay?

Seriously, though, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would never work if it was set in Vermont.  That’s not just because Vermont su …. uhmm, is a lovely state.  That’s because The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a uniquely Texan film.  One reason why this film is so successful is because it was made by Texans and it starred Texans (no inauthentic accents here!) and it was filmed in Texas during the summer.  From the minute we see that van driving down the road, we feel the isolation of the characters.  Every frame of the film is filled with Texas heat and humidity and, as such, the audience can almost literally feel how uncomfortable it is inside the van, so much so that you really can’t blame everyone for wanting to get out and walk around for a while.  Ultimately, the burning sun is as important a character in this film as Sally (Marilyn Burns), her obnoxious wheelchair-bound brother Franklin (Paul A, Partain), or Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), the hulking cannibal who chases after them with a chainsaw.

Actually, it’s a little bit difficult to know what to say about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It’s such a famous film that even people who haven’t seen it feel as if they had.  And every review always points out the reasons why it works: the film is shot in an almost documentary style, Marilyn Burns was one of the great scream queens, Leatherface’s final dance with his chainsaw is pure nightmare fuel, and, despite the fearsome title, next to no blood is actually seen on screen.  This is one of those films where we imagine we see a lot more than we actually do.  Despite being advertised as being a “chainsaw massacre,” only one person actually falls victim to a chainsaw and he’s so obnoxious that you’re kind of happy that he finally stopped talking.

They may not be much blood on the screen but this is still one of the most stomach-churning films ever made.  When Sally finds herself trapped in the house with Leatherface and his family, that house is so filthy and disgusting that you can literally smell the rotting flesh coming off the screen.  This may be a case of my own OCD speaking but the squalor of that house tends to disturb me even more than some of the murders.

Speaking of the murders, the death of Jerry (Allan Danziger) always freaks me out.  Jerry is looking for his other dead friends when Leatherface appears out of nowhere and hits him with a sledgehammer.  Up until that point, Jerry seemed like the smartest of the five people to find themselves wandering around that desolated part of South Texas.  Certainly, if I had been there, I probably would have wanted to stay with Jerry.  Perhaps that’s why Jerry’s high-pitched scream before getting killed always disturbs me.  If you’ve seen enough slasher movies, you know that the men in these movies — no matter what is happening to them — hardly ever scream.  When Jerry does so, it makes the movie feel real in a way that most film influenced by Texas Chainsaw do not.

Listen, Vermont … I’m sorry you can’t have a chainsaw massacre of your very own.  But The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a part of our history and, despite the negative implications of the name, we do take a certain amount of pride in it.  It is truly one of the great horror films.  Ignore the remakes, which were made by non-Texans and are all so excessively stylized that you have to wonder if the filmmakers even saw the original.

One final note: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre also has one of the truly great trailers.  Check it out below!

——

* I should mention that I can usually trust someone around here to ask me if I really want to say something like “Fuck Vermont” before I hit publish.  But that weekend, Arleigh was on vacation and this was before I had recruited my sister to come work here so there really wasn’t anyone else around the TSL offices who was used to dealing with me and my impulsive nature.  I tried to show the post to Leonard to get his opinion about the F Vemont line but he was busy watching hockey…