“Manson Family Vacation” Is The Year’s Weirdest Bromance


Trash Film Guru

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Now that Halloween has come and gone, and I can safely venture out of Netflix’s mostly-lackluster horror queue into other areas without feeling like I’m slacking off on my (unpaid) “responsibilities,” I’m finding that there are actually a few interesting things available to stream at the moment, and one of the first things that caught my eye when I wandered into the “indie” section was a Kickstarter-funded (to the tune of approximately $40,000) effort that was lensed earlier this very year and saw release onto so-called “home viewing platforms” on October 6th called Manson Family Vacation, the brainchild of writer/director J. Davis working in conjunction (to one degree or another) with  brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, who are making something of a name for themselves in the world of low-budget independent cinema.

Mark — who recently did a bang-up job in the movie Creep — doesn’t seem to have much…

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Children’s Horror: R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: Don’t Think About It (2007, dir. Alex Zamm)


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Then the mask turns a little more to reveal the subtitle “Don’t Think About It”. It’s hard not to think about the fact that Emily Osment is one of the Disney Channel stars who sings when you have her do it over the ending credits.

I watched the three other R.L. Stine movies for October. Not sure why I wound up going in reverse chronological order, but I did. This one really should be called R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: How Many Other Movies Can We Reference?

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The movie opens up with this kid in his room scared that something is in his closet. But really, this kid should be more frightened by the fact that his pillow changes between cuts. It was like this before he got up.

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Then as he moves closer to the closet, it changes back. As for the supposed monster in the closet, Major Payne (1995) taught us what to do about that.

Of course that can’t happen here because his sister Cassie played by Emily Osment is in there. That would make for a really short movie. But while shenanigans are going on inside, this guy is outside kindly posing to reference the poster for The Exorcist (1973), and maybe trying to look like El Topo from El Topo (1971)

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Now we go to The Knoxville Jr. High School and get a good look at Cassie.

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Yes, Cassie is every 90s Goth girl rolled into one except she’s missing the Nine Inch Nails T-Shirt.

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And that’s Priscilla (Brittany Curran) in the middle and a friend of her’s on the right who apparently could go as actress Stacey Farber for Halloween. I’m not exactly sure what she’s looking up at, but I’m guessing it’s what shows up from the top of the screen a little later.

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After we find out that Cassie has no idea how to deal with Priscilla, She-Devil of Knoxville Junior High to get the attention of blondie boy toy Sean (Cody Linley), we meet the stranger from the street. Cassie finds him in a Halloween Store tucked away in a tiny alleyway. He’s played by Tobin Bell who proves once more that once you’re captured by the Hallmark/Lifetime/Disney/ABC/Nickelodeon net, you never escape. And he appears to be selling a copy of the Necronomicon.

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It’s been awhile since I saw Army Of Darkness (1992) or Evil Dead II (1987), but I’m sure there’s a scene where Ash sells it to this guy. Of course Cassie buys it, opens it, and reads from it even though it says “Do Not Read Aloud”. This of course brings about evil things immediately such as the boom mic popping in from over this kid’s head.

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Funny, considering this came out the same year as Twitches Too where the boom mic also popped down into the frame. Hmmm… the kid is black and there’s the boom mic. This must be young Dolemite. Well, Cassie should have no problem with monsters now. Just make friends with this kid. If he’s Dolemite, then he doesn’t even have to touch you to hurt you.

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It also leads to the parents playing a really stupid game involving squirrels and popcorn with XBOX 360 controllers.

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Now the movie just becomes a series of references to other movies.

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Priscilla gets the Carrie treatment with roaches.

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I’m guessing this kid is Captain Jack Sparrow if he were a vampire and had the Rocky Horror lips.

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One of several times this movie will reference Jurassic Park (1993). This is when the monster Cassie unleashed takes away a Papa Johns pizza delivery boy. They really do have the tastiest delivery boys. Dominos has the tastiest delivery girls. Actually, it will turn out that the monster is taking people in order to create a scene that references the Alien movies.

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This isn’t a reference, but kudos this movie for reminding me of how kids like to pad out writing assignments.

There’s also a scene here with ectoplasm. After that Scared Topless movie, I can never enjoy a movie with ectoplasm again. Thanks a lot, Dave Zani!!!

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While Cassie’s younger brother is attacked by more Jurassic Park references in his room we get what appears to be a reference to the creepy monkey from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977).

All of this leads up to a scene where Cassie and blondie need to go and save delivery boy, her younger brother, and apparently also Priscilla. This scene references Alien and what I’m assuming must be Shivers (1975) and/or Slugs: The Movie (1988) after monster babies break out of eggs and slither across the floor. Of course we all knew this reference was coming.

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Yep, the scene from Say Anything… (1989) where John Cusack held up a boom box to lure the monster out of the house in order to kill it. It’s probably been about 15 years since I saw that movie, but my memory never fails!

After they vanquish the monster and the pizza boy hits on Priscilla, the movie takes the opportunity to reference The Lord Of The Rings when they go to burn The Evil Thing. The book is saved from destruction and ends up in the hands of the parents who proceed to read from the book. Then Emily Osment starts singing over the credits. Can’t say I knew that Dave Mustaine was her producer.

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All jokes aside, this movie and The Cabinet Of Souls are the best of the four R.L. Stine movies I’ve watched so far. I recommend The Cabinet Of Souls first, then this one.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Silk Stockings, Save The Last Dance, The Company, StreetDance 3D


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films.  As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

Oh my God, it’s my birthday!  True, this is the day of the year when I get presents and hear from a lot of wonderful people.  That’s the wonderful part of the day!  The only downside is that this is also the day of the year when I’m reminded that I’m an adult.  But fear not, I know how to chase off any birthday angst.  These 4 shots come from 4 films that always cheer me up.

(And, if you know me, you won’ be surprised by what they all have in common!)

4 Shots From 4 Films

Silk Stocking (1957, dir by Rouben Mamoulian)

Silk Stocking (1957, dir by Rouben Mamoulian)

Save the Last Dance (2001, dir by Thomas Carter)

Save the Last Dance (2001, dir by Thomas Carter)

The Company (2003, dir by Robert Altman)

The Company (2003, dir by Robert Altman)

StreetDance 3D (dir by Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini)

StreetDance 3D (dir by Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini)