Anime You Should Be Watching: Gakkou Gurashi (School Live)


School LiveHello again all you followers of TTSL.  I could do my usual introduction of why I haven’t posted in forever, and reminder of who I am, blah blah, but for today, let’s forgo that and let me talk about an anime that I personally think is the best anime to come out in the past year.  Depending on where you watched it, you’ll know it as either Gakkou Gurashi, or School Live.

To everyone that read any sort of synopsis for this anime, you all had an inkling of what to expect. But for those of use who read it months in advance and promptly forgot, episode 1 was a total shocker.  Essentially all you have to know is that Yuki is batshit insane, or rather she’s in complete denial mode, and everything else makes a lot of sense.  I try to avoid spoilers as much as I can here at TTSL, but as I said before, the very synopsis gives this part away, so let me be blunt.  There are four girls basically battling for their lives in a zombie apocalypse in a school that was designed for that very purpose.  Yes, in a very short time we are given the facts that the school they’re living in has solar panels to give them electricity, and water purifiers to give them fresh water from the ground, or as long as electricity remains, purified water from their waste.  Hence the solar panels.

Now, these are not the kind of zombies that one would normally expect, no, rather these are Land of the Dead type zombies, where the zombies have some kind of idea as to the kinds of lives they lived before they turned.  So since we’re all Land of the Dead mode, naturally the zombies here are choosing to remain at school, since that’s the most natural thing for them to do.

First thing that must be remembered is that Yuki is a nut job.  Yes, she’s Miss Crazy Girl.  Me harping on that is a minor spoiler, but only one that would last beyond episode 2.  In most every zombie apocalypse, there’s at least one person who is going to deny it as long as they can.  In this case, that is Yuki.  She thinks she’s in school like normal and that everything is fine.  We very easily find out in the first episode that that is not the case.  We’re in full blown zombie apocalypse time, and most of the girls in the group know it and accept that fact.

Still, the fact that you know that I know that you know that we all know the full outcome of this, doesn’t change the fact that the girls here are trying their best to live a somewhat normal life.  Yes, their school is abnormally stocked (it’s explained), and yes 3 out of 4 girls are very ready to accept this (not as well explained as the previous one), but who cares?  This is one of the rare examples of cute girls doing cute things during a zombie apocalypse that kind of actually works.  To all us zombie survivalists, does everything these girls do work out?  Hell no.  But, can we think that for the time being that maybe we could accept that they’d live as long as they did?  Sure, why not?  Because at the end of the day, we all want to hope that there are cute waifus waiting for us when 99% of humanity are shambling hordes.  And really, isn’t that what we’re all hoping for?  Well, I sure am, and if you’re not, then don’t come running to me when you’re bitten and turning.  In fact, you’re not gonna come running to me, because the running zombie is nothing more than a Hollywood invention.

Hallmark Review: October Kiss (2015, dir. Lynne Stopkewich)


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This is one of those Hallmark movies that has me scratching my head. Not because it doesn’t make sense. It does. Not because it is screwed up. I actually like this one quite a bit. What has me confused is the title. Yes, it takes place during October. Yes, the boy and girl eventually kiss, but it’s not like that is some central plot point. Oh, well.

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That’s Poppy (Ashley Williams) running a yoga class when she invites another lady up to show something. Poppy notices that this lady is quite good and asks if she wants to run the class. She says sure, so Poppy leaves. We then see her leave another job. The point is that she seems to have a fear of committing, but it really isn’t quite like that. It’s more that she just hasn’t found something that truly makes her happy and is willing to quit something at the drop of a hat.

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That’s when she stumbles into the job of being a temporary nanny for a couple of kids. She is going to be their nanny through Halloween since their dad is in the middle of the release of a new app he has been developing. He’s going to be busy and could use some help. Seeing as its only temporary and everything, she agrees to do it.

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What do you know? She’s good at it. Williams is a delight in this movie. I hate when a review is this short, but there is really not much more to talk about. As she spends more time with the kids, she spends more time with their father.

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There is a wrong girl, but she has class and steps aside. He decides he needs to spend more time with his family. She figures out that she’s found someplace and someone that doesn’t just satisfy her temporarily, but is something more permanent. It’s not a particularly original Hallmark movie by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just done well, which makes it an entertaining, but throwaway movie. That’s all a Hallmark movie really should be. There’s a reason they make so many of them. I just wish more of them could be like this and none of them be like A Country Wedding.

Horror on TV: Twilight Zone 3.24 “To Serve Man”


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I shared this episode of The Twilight Zone two years ago for Halloween but the YouTube video has since been taken down. So, here it is again!


There’s a lot I could say about To Serve Man but really, all that needs to be acknowledged is that it’s a classic and features one of the best endings ever.


To Serve Man was written by Rod Serling and directed by Richard L. Bare. It originally aired on March 2nd, 1962.


Bon appetit!


The TSL’S Daily Horror Grindhouse: Devil Monster (dir by S. Edwin Graham)


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Oh my God, where to begin with this?

Okay, how about with a few confessions.

Number one, I came across the 1946 film Devil Monster in my 100 Horror Classic Movie Pack from Mill Creek.  The main reason that I decided to watch and review it was because it only had a running time of 64 minutes.  (On a good night, I have a 10-minute attention span.)

Number two, I guess it’s debatable whether or not Devil Monster really qualifies as horror movie.  I mean, it is called Devil Monster.  And there’s a big stingray that shows up during the final 10 minutes of the film and it rips off someone’s arm.  I assume the stingray is meant to be the devil monster of the title.  It’s not really scary but it’s supposed to be.  What matters is that, from the title and some of the dialogue, it’s obvious that an attempt was made to sell this movie as being at least partially a horror film.

Finally, you may have noticed that I mentioned that Devil Monster was a 1946 film.  Well, that’s actually debatable.  Devil Monster was apparently released in 1946 but, according to Wikipedia and the imdb, it’s actually a re-edited version of a 1936 film called The Sea Fiend.  Footage from The Sea Fiend was apparently mixed with stock footage and scenes lifted from other random films.  (One scene, featuring a bunch of island natives dancing, was clearly lifted from a silent film.)  The film was then dubbed over and a heavy-handed, nonstop narration was added in an attempt to link all of these random scenes together.  So, even though Devil Monster was released in 1946, it was actually filmed, in pieces, much earlier.

And really, that’s the main thing that I liked about Devil Monster.  It’s not that the film is in any way good or memorable.  (Well, it is memorable but mostly in a WTF sort of way.)  Instead, it’s a testament to the “never give up” attitude of the best B-filmmakers.  The producers of Devil Monster took a bunch of random footage, crammed it all together, and created something that resembles a movie.  Good for them.

As for the movie itself, it’s about a bunch of tuna fishermen who take the boat out and decide, in between searching for tuna, to stop by an island and pick up Jose (Jack Del Rio), who has been hiding out on the island ever since he was shipwrecked.  The problem is that Jose doesn’t want to go home and, after he’s forcefully dragged onto the boat, he decided to sail the boat into a part of the ocean that is home to the Devil Monster.  But then once the Devil Monster shows up, Jose changes his mind about killing everyone.  He jumps overboard and gets into a fight with the Devil Monster and … well, you simply have to watch it to truly understand how ludicrous this fight truly is.  Basically, footage of Jose throwing punches was superimposed over footage of a stingray in the ocean.  As a result, the scene features Jose punching the stingray and the stingray not reacting at all.  On top of all that, Jose is somewhat transparent.  You can literally see the ocean through him.  And, in the scenes where Jose is supposed to be swimming, you can see the hands of the crew holding him up in the air.

(Meanwhile, as we watch all this, we hear — but do not see — the tuna fishermen cheering Jose on.  “Get that devil fish, Jose!” someone yells.)

Of course, before that exciting scene, we get to see a battle between an octopus and a moray eel.  They are supposed to be at the bottom of the ocean but it’s obvious that they are actually in an aquarium.  How obvious?  Obvious enough that the studio lights are reflected in the glass and that the octopus tentacles gets stuck on the side of the aquarium in a few scenes.

And, before we watch the octopus/eel battle, the fisherman stop off at an island, where they meet a bunch of topless native girls.  We don’t actually see the fisherman interact with the natives.  Instead, we just hear the narrator tell us how much they enjoyed hanging out with the girls.  The natives, of course, change ethnicity from scene-to-scene, depending on from which source the footage has been lifted.

One of my favorite parts of this film comes at the end.  That’s where the boat captain’s son spots Jose and says, “There he is now.”  We then see Jose walking, before cutting back to the exact same footage of the son saying, “There he is now,” followed by the exact same footage of Jose walking.

My other favorite part of the film comes about 40 minutes in.  That’s when the screen goes black and we’re presented with a title card that reads, “One Moment Please, While We Change Reels.”

Of course, there’s also the scene where one of the fishermen suddenly yells, “TUNA!  TUNA!  TUNA!”  He’s just sounds so excited.

Devil Monster is in the public domain and can be found on YouTube.  Watch it at least once, just so you can say that you’ve seen it.

Horror Film Review: Hell Night (dir by Tom DeSimone)


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It’s pledge initiation night at Generic University!  Four students are hoping to join the Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity and its sister sorority.  Denise (Suki Goodwin) is English and never goes anywhere without a supply of quaaludes and a flask of Jack Daniels.  Seth (Vincent Van Patten) is the blonde jock, who wants to spend the entire night hooking up with Denise, despite the fact that Denise keeps calling him, “Wes.”  Jeff (Peter Barton) is the sensitive rich kid who fears that the only reason he’s getting into the fraternity is because of his family’s money.  And Marti (Linda Blair) is the girl from a poor family who works on cars during her spare time.  In order to pass the initiation, they have to spend the night in deserted Garth Manor.

However, they won’t be alone in Garth Manor.  The president of the fraternity, Peter (Kevin Brophy), is planning on spending the entire night playing pranks on them.  Helping him will be his girlfriend, May West (Jenny Nuemann) and his nerdy best friend, Scott (Jimmy Sturtevant).  Unfortunately, what Peter did not realize was that the four pledges are all smart enough to know that he’s going to be trying to scare them.  As a result, they just ignore his best efforts to make things creepy.

Of course, what none of them know is that the legend of Garth Mansion is actually true.  As Peter explains at the beginning of the film, it has long been rumored that Mr. Garth murdered his entire family, except for his horribly deformed son Andrew.  They say that Andrew still lives in the mansion, waiting for a chance to attack and kill all trespassers…

And that’s pretty much exactly what happens!

But you know what?  For a relatively straight forward slasher film from 1981, Hell Night is not a bad film at all.  In fact, with its relative lack of gore, nudity, and painfully stupid victims, it can probably be argued that Hell Night is a slasher film for people who don’t like slashers.  Hell Night emphasizes atmosphere over easy shocks and actually devotes some time to characterization.  Even if the majority of the characters are familiar horror film types, you still care about them.  Even poor Denise, who has the thankless role of being the sexually independent girl who you know is doomed from the minute she first appears on screen, gets a few good lines.

(Plus, the film opens with a costume party so, of course, all of the outfits are to die for!)

One of the things that really made Hell Night effective is that the characters are not idiots.  They don’t just stand around waiting to be picked off.  At first, they just assume that any and all strangeness is a result of Peter trying to scare them.  When it becomes obvious that Andrew Garth is alive, one of them manages to escape the manor and goes straight to the cops.  And how do the cops react?  They tell him that they’re tired of dealing with drunk frat boys and order him to go home, adding to the hopelessness of the situation.

(But, honestly, if some random guy told you that a deformed monster was trying to kill him, would you believe him?)

Hell Night is full of scary atmosphere, clever lines, and good acting.  As far as early 80s slasher movies go, it’s one of better examples of the genre.

Her Name Is Jessica Jones


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The Daredevil series on Netflix was a hit with both critics and audiences. It helped lay the foundation in the street-level corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, we have the second of four planned original series with the upcoming Jessica Jones which looks to continue the mature themes and tone of Daredevil.

The series will star Krysten Ritter in the title role with Mike Colter appearing for the first time as the Marvel superhero Luke Cage aka Power Man. It also stars David Tennant in the role of main antagonist and just all-around creepy villain Zebediah Kilgrave aka The Purple Man.

Where Daredevil only scratched the surface of superpowers in the more down-to-earth, street-level part of the MCU, it looks like Jessica Jones will introduce a wider variety of abilities (superhuman strength and endurance, unbreakable skin, mind-control just to name a few) and an even more mature series than Daredevil with it’s depiction of psychological damage and trauma to it’s treatment of Jessica Jones’ sexuality throughout the series.

While the Avengers fight gods, alien invasions, sentient killer A.I. and terrorist groups bent on world-domination, the Matt Murdock’s and Jessica Jones’ look to keep the street-level safe for the people of Hell’s Kitchen.

Jessica Jones is set to premiere and release all 13-episodes on Netflix this November 20, 2015. Time to set that date for another Netflix binge watch.

Halloween Havoc!: WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS (Fanfare Corporation 1971)


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I love horror movies. I love biker flicks, too. Co-writers David Kauffman and Michel Levesque (who also directed) put the two together and came up with WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS, an exploitation mash-up that’s hard to resist. I’m surprised it took so long for someone to combine the two genres. Filmmakers like Roger Corman and Al Adamson must’ve kicked themselves for not thinking of it first!

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What starts off like a typical biker movie, with a hard-partying gang called The Devil’s Advocates delivering a brutal beatdown to some rednecks who ran one of them off the road, veers into terror territory when the club stumble upon an old church out  in the desert. Only this church has a Satanic symbol in place of a steeple. Bad mojo ahead, guys!  Monks in hooded robes surround them and offer bread and wine (“Free wine, man!”) The cult leader, named One (as in The One) plucks a hair from the leader’s chick Helen’s head. Soon the bikers…

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