October Music Series: Månegarm – Ur själslig död


If I asked a random metal fan to name ten folk/viking metal bands, chances are they wouldn’t drop Sweden’s Månegarm among the contenders. It’s a bit odd, considering they’ve been around since 1995. But besides having a name that isn’t entirely easy to reproduce on a standard keyboard, there’s no reason to leave “Månegarm” off the list. Their ability to fly under the radar is something I don’t really understand; this band has definitely drawn less attention than they deserve over the years.

I am guilty to an extent, with nothing prior to Vargstenen–their 2007 release–in my collection, but I was still a little surprised to realize I had never featured this band before let alone this song. Following a brief intro track, “Ur själslig död” kicks off Vargstenen with epic bombast and a creative progression that avoids the easy temptation to repeat the track’s catchy main melody in excess. One thing that always stood out to me on this song was the vocals. Erik Grawsiö demonstrates a level of diversity I’m more accustomed to out of Slavic metal bands than their Germanic counterparts, and I absolutely love how he transitions back and forth between guttural singing and atonal growls. I couldn’t resist the urge to belt out a death metal roar of my own at the 40 second mark when I was listening to this in my car earlier today. So much for not scaring the new neighbors. <_<

Horror on TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.20 “The Prom”


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This episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer made me cry the first time I saw it. And it’s made me cry every time that I’ve watched it since.

(Along with She’s All That, It also left me with a totally unrealistic expectation of what my senior prom would be like but that’s okay.)

The Prom originally aired on May 11th, 1999.

(10/13/2015 update: Oh my God, y’all! I am so pissed off at Hulu right now! This entire show was available when I first created this post. And now, that I’ve actually published it, Hulu suddenly just wants to provide a 90-second preview. Please accept my apologies.)

The Daily Horror Grindhouse: Hell’s Highway (directed by Jeff Leroy)


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“This is the worst trip ever!”

— Monique (Beverly Lynne) in Hell’s Highway (2002)

It certainly is, Monique!  It certainly is.

Hell’s Highway is a stretch of road that runs through the desolate California desert.  The side of the road is decorated with crosses, each signifying another person who lost her or his life on the road.  There are only a few cars on this lonely stretch of highway.  One car belongs to a serial killer who dresses as a priest.  Another car is being driven by veteran porn actor Ron Jeremy, who ends up getting castrated in close-up.

And then there’s a group of college friends on a road trip.  They drink beer.  They smoke pot.  They occasionally stop to camp out on the side of the road.  And they also pick up a hitchhiker named Lucinda (Phoebe Dollar).

Picking up Lucinda was probably a mistake because, as soon as she gets in the car, she starts talking about how much she enjoys killing people.  She then pulls out a gun and tells them, “My name’s not really Lucinda but it’s close enough.”  The road trippers manage to kick her out of the car and drive away.

But it’s not that easy to get rid of Lucinda!

The next day, they once again come across her hitchhiking.  They run her over and then drive off with her large intestine still wrapped around the back bumper.

And yet, Lucinda continues to reappear!  No matter how many times they destroy her, Lucinda always returns…

Like so many of the films that I’ve reviewed for this October, Hell’s Highway is included in the Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares box set.  Like every other film included in that set, Hell’s Highway is a low-budget, direct-to-video gorefest that doesn’t really waste much time with anything as mundane as plausibility.  And yet, for what it is, Hell’s Highway is actually pretty effective.  Lucinda makes for an effectively creepy villain and all of her victims are so unlikable that you won’t feel too bad when they get killed.

Perhaps best of all, Hell’s Highway ends with one of those out-of-nowhere twists that makes so little sense that it becomes oddly brilliant.  Just when you think the film can’t get any stranger or any more implausible, it goes there.  And it goes there with such conviction that you can’t help but slightly admire it.

Perhaps despite itself, Hell’s Highway works surprisingly well.

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Halloween Havoc!: BLOODY BIRTHDAY (Ignite Films 1981)


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When I sat down to watch BLOODY BIRTHDAY, I was expecting a big slab of 80s cheese. What I got instead was a suspenseful (albeit far-fetched) horror film about three murderous children. The little darlings were born during a solar eclipse which, according to astrology buff Joyce (Lori Lethin), blocked Saturn during their births. This makes then completely without empathy. I don’t know about that, but I do know one thing: these are the creepiest fucking kids since Spider Baby!

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Cutie-pie Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy) keeps a murder scrapbook and charges 25 cents to let kids watch her teenage sister Beverly undress through a closet peephole. Steven (Andrew Freeman) is a shy child with a fondness for knives. And nerdy looking Curtis (Billy Jacoby, later Jayne) is a total psycho who shoots people. These enfants terrible kill a teenage couple doing the wild thing in a cemetery in the opening scene, bash Debbie’s sheriff…

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Horror Film Review: Stuff Stephanie In The Incinerator (1989, dir. Don Nardo)


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Wow! This was not what I expected at all. This is what I imagine Luis Bunuel would have made if he started his career as a low budget 1980s horror director. Since the characters have several names, I’m just going to refer to them by the actor’s names.

The movie begins and we are introduced to William Dame’s character as he seems to be a mechanic for planes. Two men show up, remove a ring from his finger, and proceed to knock him out by holding a plastic bag over his head. Then he wakes up in some house dressed in a tux and we meet Catherine Dee’s character.

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Next we are introduced to an old lady who appears to want him to have sex with Dee for her amusement, and then have sex with her, or Dee dies. This whole scene plays out like something surreal you would expect from Bunuel, The Twilight Zone, or the like, but then…

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just as Dame is about to have sex with the older lady, we are introduced to the third main character played by M.R. Murphy. I almost feel bad for giving away the twist that the old lady is a guy, but honestly, I could keep giving away twists all I want and it would still have something more up it’s sleeve.

I guess the best way I can sum it up is like this. We start off in what appears to be reality. Then we feel like we are in something truly surreal till the mirror breaks on that to reveal a new reality. This pattern of destroying the current setup for a new one repeats throughout the entire movie till it comes to it’s conclusion. But it’s not like we see them stop, then dress up for a new part. It’s like when a character wakes up from a dream, but it’s just another dream. Except it’s not annoying.

This is the one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen all year. I know this is not a movie for everyone. It’s weird, but it’s my kind of weird. It had me thinking about The Exterminating Angel (1962) and mostly The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955).

I’m not sure what else I can really say about this movie that doesn’t just lay out the plot for you. Doing that would ruin it if you wanted to watch it and it’s one of those movies I think loses so much in the translation to words. Here are a few of the highlights and some closing thoughts, followed by the movie itself which is available on YouTube.

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I guess my only real complaint about the movie is that they didn’t make it even more surreal. That, and I actually wanted it to keep going longer. I love that the movie nearly takes place entirely inside this one house. It gave it that claustrophobic feeling of The Exterminating Angel, while the resetting of the characters and their relationships kind of reminded me of The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972). Seriously, this movie had me thinking about Bunuel throughout it. That’s a good thing!

Not for everybody, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

Horror Film Review: Rise Of The Animals (2011, dir. Chris Wojcik)


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I think this is the only other obviously shot on digital video low budget film from the 2010s I’ve seen this year. The other being the mildly enjoyable A Portrait of Female Desperation (2012). Which by the way has a user review left by who I can only assume is the director of the movie I recently reviewed called I Married With A Vampire. Somehow I think it’s the same Jay Raskin. But this isn’t a mockumentary like that movie was. This is about killer animals.

The movie begins with a house we see through a dutch tilt. Of course that means things aren’t right. And yep, the cat tries to attack a girl so she hits it with a frying pan and destroys it in a garbage disposal. Then cut to a kid that is her son calling her on the phone because it looks like the dad has just been killed by a killer squirrel.

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The squirrel tries to chase the kid down, but he gets to a car and jumps on top of it. The mom shows up and shoots the squirrel. But that’s when the dog jumps out of the car and kills her offscreen. We are left seeing the kid hopelessly running away from the killer dog when the opening credits roll.

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Clearly, Bill Cosby failed in Leonard, Part 6 because the animals have risen to destroy us. We now meet two of our three main characters. Two idiots driving around in a car for way too long in order to pad out the film. One delivers pizzas. They were going to go to a movie, but since they apparently live in that part of Texas where GPS fails, they don’t make it. However, they do find the Slumber Party Massacre Evil Dead cabin to deliver the pizzas too. Our main idiot spots a blonde with big tits so that means a sex scene. Sort of. But first this happens.

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This is one of the dumbest sex scenes I have ever seen. All you need to know is that he loves this girl, and she is who he will be looking for during the rest of the movie. The next morning is when shit gets real. And by shit getting real, I mean puppets attacking people.

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Hey, it’s still better than the CGI birds in Birdemic (2010)! Main idiot’s friend’s sister is at the party and she’s a bit of a badass in this. In fact, the rest of the movie can be summed up as Rachel (Stephanie Motta) and the idiots travel across country as she beats up animals.

Deer problem? She electrocutes that sucker till it burns.

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Horse problem? She beats that horse to the ground with her fists and legs.

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Bear problem? She cuts it’s head off with what I think is a sword she pulled out of thin air.

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The rest of the film plays out like a zombie movie with the world crumbling around these three people as the boy and girl develop a relationship. The main idiot is trying to find the blonde because he thinks hopelessly that they are meant to be together. There’s even the crazy apocalypse DJ on the radio while they are driving.

It’s a stupid movie, don’t get me wrong, but it’s kind of fun. I really appreciated that when they could, they used actual animals or puppets. They obviously learned from those ridiculous scenes in Birdemic.

This one is fun for a bad monster movie night.

Horror Artist Profile: Stephen Cooney


After starting out as a tattoo artist, Stephen Cooney branched out into both painting and illustration.  Working primarily as a horror artist, Cooney has designed over a 100 book and magazine covers.  You can learn more about both Stephen Cooney and his art by visiting his site, http://www.stephencooneyart.co.uk/

Here’s just a small sampling of Stephen’s work.

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