Horror Scenes I Love: Salem’s Lot (Part 3)


This particular scene was my third favorite from Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot.

There’s much to love about this scene. It’s a very claustrophobic sequence with our protagonist Ben Mears (played by David soul) left in the morgue by his friend Bill Norton for just a few minutes. The scene itself gradually builds in tension as Ben realizes that at any second the body on the morgue table could get up. The word vampire rarely gets uttered during the first third of the series, but Ben suspects the worst and he knows that he’s ill-prepared to deal with his fears if they bear fruit.

There’s a definite tv network quality to the way the scene is shot, but Hooper milks the creeping dread and terror with each passing second as Ben creates a makeshift crucifix and begins to chant random Bible passages as a way to bless his home-made icon. When his fears have been confirmed there’s not a sense of relief that he’s not crazy, but one of sheer terror.

This third joins part one and part two of my favorite scenes from Salem’s Lot and when witnessed as a set should give an idea just how terrifying and underrated this mini-series adaptation of the classic Stephen King vampire novel really is.

Horror On TV: The Twilight Zone 5.5 “The Last Night of a Jockey”


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For tonight’s episode of The Twilight Zone, we present to you The Last Night of A Jockey. In this episode, Mickey Rooney plays a jockey who has just been banned, for life, from horse racing. The self-pitying jockey is offered the chance to change his life with “one wish.” He wishes that he could be a “big man” and, unfortunately, he gets his wish.


This episode is basically a one-man show for Mickey Rooney and he makes the most of it. I almost feel like I have to share this episode, just in case my earlier review of The Manipulator inspired anyone to see that misbegotten film. Needless to say, Rooney is a lot more impressive in Last Night Of A Jockey than he was in The Manipulator.


This episode originally aired on October 25th, 1963.


Netflix Halloween 2015 : “The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)”


Trash Film Guru

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For our final pre-Halloween foray into the Netflix instant streaming horror queue (your hint that I’m going to be too busy over the next couple days to do any more reviews prior to the holiday itself, but who knows — I’ve indulged in a “Halloween hangover” series in Novembers past and may just do so again, we’ll see), I couldn’t resist putting my gag reflex (not to mention my conscience) to the test one more time by checking out the long-delayed third (and last) installment of writer/director Tom Six’s notorious-for-good-reason Human Centipede series, this one entitled, as you’d no doubt expect, The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). The question as to whether or not that makes me  a brave explorer of the farthest reaches of the cinematic jungle or merely a glutton for punishment in one that I leave for you, dear reader, to decide.

One thing that’s become…

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Hallmark Review: Midnight Masquerade (2014, dir. Graeme Campbell)


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Midnight Masquerade my ass! It should have been called Gender Swap Cinderella and the Unnecessary and Confusing Domain Registration Story. Let’s do the first part, then the second part.

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That’s our Cinderella on the left named Rob Carelli (Christopher Russell). He works at a law firm run by a guy and his two sons. In other words, the father is the stepmother and they’re the stepsisters. The guy on the right is one of the stepsisters.

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That’s our prince named Elyse Samford (Autumn Reeser). She has recently been given control of a candy company by her father. There’s a trademark infringement issue and the law firm representing her company is the one that Carelli works at.

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Yes, there is a young girl who is attached at the hip to Carelli, but in a refreshing turn she isn’t a daughter from a former marriage. Carelli is simply a cool uncle who likes to go bowling with his niece named Ruby (Helen Colliander).

Samford is going to hold a Halloween ball and she invites everyone at the law firm to attend. Of course some work gets dropped on Cinderella and he has to sneak out to attend the party while masked. Cinderella goes dressed as a prince since she is going dressed as a prom queen apparently.

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Oh, and they make sure you know his prince costume is custom made because his sister insists on making it and we see her measure him several times. Yet, that will not be the way Cinderella is identified at the end. I actually prefer the way they figure out it was him, but then why making sure we know this thing is custom made?

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This happens, but he has to get back to the firm before midnight or he’ll be caught as having snuck out. Since she doesn’t know who Cinderella is, one of the stepsisters takes credit, but he acts like a douchebag when they go out so she has her doubts.

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Ultimately, she figures out who the person was dressed as a prince and Cinderella marries his prince in a bowling alley and in bowling shoes since she also likes to bowl.

Thought it was a little confusing that I kept using he for she and visa versa? That was on purpose. That was to give you a little taste of the second part of this story, which is the domain registration story. I’m still confused about it, but I will try to lay it out for you. Maybe you can figure it out. Let’s run this back to the start of the film.

The reason she came to the firm that represents her company called Samford Candy is because of a trademark infringement. Another company has changed it’s name to Sanford Candy and is selling candy in a similar packaging.

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That part makes sense, but the rest doesn’t quite add up. Now Cinderella chimes in that Sanford Candy is cybersquatting. As far as I can tell cybersquatting is something companies made up and got put into law because they didn’t like that anyone can register any domain they want including your company’s name. It probably dates back at least as far as the bickering between MTV and Adam Curry over the domain name mtv.com. Anyways, that would mean that Sanford Candy has registered the domain name samfordcandy.com. At least you’d think that, but Cinderella says that no one has registered samfordcandy.com. If that’s true then Sanford Candy isn’t cybersquatting at all. At best, they are typosquatting as it’s called in the hopes that people will accidentally type sanfordcandy.com when they meant to type in samfordcandy.com. Except that can’t be true either as we will find out.

Later in the film the father yells at one of the sons for having registered sanfordcandy.com by accident. But it gets worse because during that scene the father says this to his son.

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That means Sanford Candy didn’t have either sanfordcandy.com or samfordcandy.com registered before and thus were not cybersquatting. However, this scene now tells us that Sanford Candy now has the domain name samfordcandy.com. At least you’d think that was the case, but then the next scene happens.

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Cinderella explains to the son that the son registered sandfordcandy.com instead of samfordcandy.com. Fine, but then he says that Sanford Candy can still buy the domain Samford Candy needs. It’s a little unclear here whether he actually means that Sanford Candy can still buy the domain or he is explaining that by registering sanfordcandy.com, it means that it left it open for Sanford Candy to register samfordcandy.com. Either way, this apparently leaves Cinderella with the job of filing a motion to set aside, which is the movie’s reason to keep him from going to the ball.

Later on a deal from Sanford Candy comes in to buy Samford Candy. The father tries to encourage the Prince to buy it. She of course doesn’t want to do that. As Cinderella investigates, he finds out that the father is buying up stock in Samford Candy in order to make a killing if a buyout occurs. Okay, except the non-existent cybersquatting that was supposedly going on at the beginning of the movie is brought up again during the finale.

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She points out that she had to find out Sanford was cybersquatting from Cinderella. Okay, then that means the father knew about the cybersquatting? So why was he mad at his son for registering the wrong name? I mean other than the movie needed some excuse for Cinderella to have to sneak out to the ball. It also means that the movie really did mean that Sanford Candy had already registered samfordcandy.com at the beginning of the story.

None of this quite adds up for me. Luckily, there is an easy way to figure this all out. I did a whois lookup for the domain names sanfordcandy.com and samfordcandy.com and they were both registered by Deborah Marks, who is an executive producer of this movie. There, she’s the real villain of the film.

That whole domain name thing is unnecessary and confusing. It gets in the way of what is otherwise an okay gender swapped Cinderella.

Of course there are a few fun things to point out.

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First, this movie came out in 2014, but her receipt is dated October 17th, 2015. Second, that’s a bill for hosting, not for registering a domain. Those two things are not the same thing. Finding this bill is also a reason why she believes Cinderella’s story about the father trying to get her company bought out. So again, why the scene with the son over registering the domain name sandordcandy.com? And if this was some secret, why was she billed for it by the law firm?

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When Cinderella tries breaking into the father’s computer, he tries three different passwords: Dottsandcrossis, EmmettandAndrew, and 150%. Except only the last password has the number of characters that correspond to the password typed in on the screen. The one above is what we are shown for Dottsandcrossis.

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When Cinderella does get into the computer he launches the standard Mac mail program called Mail to look for anything with the name Sanford in it. Except he never does a search for it. He just quickly browses over several emails, then leaves. That said, I love that they actually tried to come up with emails that look real. Look at the one with the subject line “Ball” about a “LARGE Sucker Spider”. There is another email later on that has some joke about a brunette and a redhead trying to break out of jail.

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Does that chart make sense to you?

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Kudos on this screen. Even if SAM is the stock symbol for Samuel Adams beer, and NOK is Nokia.

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And finally, when they are trying to find out how that father is involved in the buyout, they look up individual investors. I’m sure Mister Rogers probably pooled money from everyone in the neighborhood to buy stock in the company. I actually love that they stuck that name in there.

All in all, if you can block out the domain registration thing and just focus on the Cinderella story, then you’ll be fine watching this.

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Frightmare (dir by Pete Walker)


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Since I already reviewed one British film about cannibalism earlier today, I figured why not review another one?  Pete Walker’s film Frightmare was released in 1974, two years after the release of Death Line.  You have to wonder what was going on in British society in the early 70s that led to so many cannibal films.  When watched together, Frightmare and Death Line present a vision of a society that was devouring itself, both literally and figuratively.

Frightmare tells the story of Dorothy (Shelia Keith) and Edmund Yates (Rupert Davies).  Dorothy is a fortune teller who has something of a violent temper.  Edmund is her loving but abused husband.  However, Dorothy has more than just a temper.  She also has a taste for human flesh.  She’s just spent 15 years in prison, convicted of killing and eating a man.  However, she has now been “found sane,” (and that’s a term that is repeated, with increasing irony, throughout the entire film) and she has been released.  She’s even reading fortunes again!

Jackie (Deborah Fairfax) is Edmund’s daughter by his first marriage.  She’s devoted to her father and, at the same time, scared of her mother.  She doesn’t believe that her mother is truly sane, despite the fact that her psychiatrist boyfriend, the well-meaning but arrogant Graham (Paul Greenwood), continues to remind her that Dorothy has been “found sane.”  Jackie knows that Dorothy still wants to eat human flesh so, every weekend, she takes the train to Dorothy’s home and delivers meat.  Jackie tells Dorothy that it’s human flesh but, in reality, it’s just a placebo.  When Graham finds out what Jackie’s doing, he is outraged.  After all, Dorothy has been found sane!

Jackie, however, has other things to worry about.  Her younger half-sister, the rebellious Debbie (Kim Butcher), is living with her.  Along with dating an obnoxious biker, Debbie also resents the fact that Jackie is obviously Edmund’s favorite.  And, as quickly becomes clear, Debbie is as much of a sociopath as her mother…

Speaking of which, Dorothy may have been found sane but it’s obvious that she’s not.  (Throughout the film, no matter how erratic Dorothy’s behavior becomes, Graham continually assures us that she has been found sane.)  It also become obvious that Jackie’s placebos are not doing the trick.  Dorothy is once again murdering the random people who come to get their fortunes told.  And Edmund is helping her cover up the crimes, all the while pathetically telling anyone who will listen, “They said she was sane….they said she was sane…”

Frightmare is one of those films that you really do have to see in order to understand just how effective it is.  It’s an undoubtedly pulpy story and there’s not a subtle moment to be found in the entire film but it doesn’t matter.  Frightmare is properly named because it is pure nightmare fuel.  This is a film that work both as a family melodrama and a satire on the trust that people put into authority (the authorities said that Dorothy was sane so, everyone assumes, she must be) but ultimately, this is an intense and frightening little film.  That’s largely due to Sheila Keith’s ferocious performance.  She turns Dorothy into a force of cannibalistic nature.

Feel free to have a Death Line/Frightmare double feature.  Just don’t expect to have much of an appetite afterward…

Halloween Havoc!: Vincent Price in THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS (Universal 1940)


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Horror movies vanished from the screen in 1936 due to two factors. One was the ban on horror by British censors, closing a major market for the films. The other, a regime change at Universal, in which the Laemmle family sold the studio. The new owners attempted to reinvent the company’s image, but instead almost ran it into the ground. It wasn’t until 1939, when an enterprising theater owner exhibited a revival of the classics FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, and KING KONG, that Universal decided to plunge forth with SON OF FRANKENSTEIN. The third sequel was a success, and the floodgates opened for the second horror cycle. Universal brought their monsters back from the dead, and cast a young contract player named Vincent Price in THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS, putting Price on a career arc that would build to a long career as a horror star.

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Geoffrey Radcliffe is scheduled to hang for…

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Horror Film Review: Death Line (dir by Gary Sherman)


“Mind the doors!”

— The Man (Hugh Armstrong) in Death Line (1972)

Before I get to far into reviewing the unjustly obscure British horror film, Death Line, I want you to take a look at the film poster below.

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This is the poster that was used when Death Line was released in the United States.  Now, I have to admit that I like this poster but that’s largely because I’m a lover of old grindhouse and exploitation films.  And this poster is a perfect example of the grindhouse aesthetic.  Of course, it’s not surprising that this poster is largely misleading.

First off, the title has been changed to Raw Meat.  That makes sense when you consider that the film is about a cannibal but it also creates the mistaken impression that this film is primarily about cannibalism.  It’s not.  Actually, Death Line is a film about class differences and government secrecy.  (Though it’s probably best to leave this as a topic for another post, I think it can be argued that almost every film made in the UK is, in some way, about class and secrecy.)

The bearded man is obviously meant to be a stand-in for Death Line‘s cannibal.  Known as the Man and played by Hugh Armstrong, he is the last descendant of a group of Victorian railway workers who were buried alive during the construction of the London underground.  The Man is the product of generations of cross-breeding.  And while the Man is definitely frightening at first, he ultimately emerges as the film’s only truly sympathetic figure.  He’s hardly the intimidating figure pictured above.  Instead, he’s a heart-breakingly pathetic figure who, having grown up in the shadows of the underground, is only capable of uttering three words: “Mind the doors.”  There’s a lengthy scene in which the Man howls in anguish after the death of his wife.  I don’t care if he was a cannibal, it still brought tears to my eyes.

The poster does offer up a glimpse of two men who appear to be searching an underground tunnel.  This image, at the very least, is accurate.  The two men are Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence) and his partner, Detective Sergeant Rogers (Norman Rossington).  When the Man makes the mistake of attacking, murdering, and eating a member of a Parliament, Calhoun and Rogers are the ones who end up investigating the case.  What’s interesting is that neither Calhoun nor Rogers are presented as being sympathetic characters.  In fact, Calhoun is something as a fascist.  When Christopher Lee tells them to stop investigating the case, Calhoun is less upset over the government cover-up and more angered by the fact that he doesn’t like being told what to do.

There are two other people investigating the case, though neither one of them are present on the poster.  Alex Campbell (David Ladd) is an American college student and, though Alex starts out as sympathetic to the Man, that changes when the Man kidnaps his girlfriend (Sharon Gurney) and tries to make her into his new wife.  Alex serves as a stand-in for the self-righteous activists who, in most films, would be responsible for saving the day.  It’s telling of just how cynical a film Death Line is that Alex ultimately turns out to be even more ineffectual than Calhoun and Rogers.

Finally, the poster offers up a group of half-naked people.  I have no idea who these people are supposed to represent but I’m sure they helped to sell tickets!

As for Death Line, it’s an unjustly obscure film.  Whether you track it down under the original title or the Americanized title of Raw Meat, be sure to watch it.