Horror on TV: Tales From The Crypt 3.7 “The Reluctant Vampire” (dir by Stephen Hopkins)

Since I’ve been reviewing so many Dracula films as of late, it seems only appropriate that tonight’s excursion into televised horror should be about a vampire as well!

The Reluctant Vampire was the 7th episode of the 3rd season of HBO’s Tales From The Crypt!  It stars Malcolm McDowell as a vampire who is a little bit too nice for his own good.  Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Malcolm McDowell as a vampire.

The Reluctant Vampire originally aired on July 10th, 1991.


The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Green Room (dir by Jeremy Saulnier)


Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is one of the best films of the year but I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to bring myself to watch it a second time.


There’s two reasons:

Number one, Green Room is one of the most intense films that I’ve ever seen.  Much like Saulnier’s previous film, Blue Ruin, this is a violent movie that never makes violence look fun.  The violence here is all too real and the pain that the characters feel is all too real as well.  I watched a good deal of Green Room through my fingers, hiding my face behind my hands.  Seriously, I’ve seen some pretty gory movies.  (I’m an unapologetic fan of Italian horror, after all.)  But Green Room still left me shaken.  Occasionally, it even left me gasping for breath.  It’s just that intense.  It’s a film about four people battling for survival and I’m surprised (and a little proud) that I survived all the way to the end.

The other reason is that the film stars Anton Yelchin.  It was one of the final films that he made before his death and he gives such a likable and committed performance that it’s impossible for me to think about the film without getting a little emotional.  Far more than his supporting work in the Star Trek films, Green Room showcased what a good actor Anton Yelchin truly was.  It’s impossible for me to think about Green Room without mourning a talent taken from us far too soon.  And though it might be difficult to watch the film a second time, everyone should watch Green Room at least once.  If you ever wonder why some of us still get emotional when we talk about Anton Yelchin, it’s all there in the movie.

In Green Room, Yelchin plays Pat.  Pat is the bass player for a punk band called the Ain’t Rights.  The Ain’t Rights have been touring the northern part of the country.  It’s a low-budget tour, one that perfectly reflects that anti-corporate politics of the Ain’t Rights.  For them, the tour means crashing with friends, siphoning gasoline, and doing interviews with underground radio stations.  In fact, one interviewer — the rather dorky Tad (David W. Thompson) — arranges for them to do a show at an isolated bar in Oregon.  Tad tells them that the bar attracts a rough crowd but that they’ll be okay because his cousin Daniel (Blue Ruin‘s Macon Blair) works there.

The Ain’t Rights arrive and discover that the club appears to have a clientele that is exclusively made up of Neo-Nazi skinheads.  After some hesitation, the Ain’t Rights take the stage and, for a few brief moments, Saulnier shows them performing in slow motion and those of us in the film’s audience — even someone like me, who would probably otherwise never listen to a band like the Ain’t Rights — are briefly caught up in the joy and excitement of their performance.

Unfortunately, while the band is performing, the Nazis are busy murdering a woman in the green room.  And, after the band walks in on the aftermath of the murder, they soon find themselves marked for death as well.  The band is smart enough to lock themselves in the green room and to take one of the Nazis as a hostage.  However, they know that they can’t stay in that room forever.  At some point, they’re going to have to figure out how to escape from the bar…

Green Room is a harrowing and violent film, one that maintains an almost feverish intensity from start to end.  Making it all the more difficult to watch is that Saulnier keeps the horror rooted in reality.  The Neo-Nazis never turn into cardboard movie slashers.  Instead, they are a very real and disturbing threat.  (It’s interesting to note that occasionally, a Neo-Nazis will express some doubt about killing the band but none of them have the courage to actually refuse any of the orders that they receive.  We often hear that people need to respect authority.  Well, Green Room shows what happens when people blindly respect authority to the extent that they can no longer think for themselves.)  Though the film may be violent, it never celebrates that violence and when one character does get a chunk of arm chopped off, it’s literally one of the most painful images to ever be captured on film.  You like every member of the band so, when they get hurt, you feel their pain as well.  Though Yelchin may be the main character, the other members of the Ain’t Rights — played by Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner — all make a good impression as well.  You want them all to escape and dread the realization that not all of them will.

As for the owner of the club, his name is Darcy and he’s played by Patrick Stewart.  At first, it may sound like stunt casting.  Patrick Stewart as a Neo-Nazi?  But interestingly enough, Darcy doesn’t really seem to care about ideology.  Instead, you get the feeling that he realized that there was money to be made by catering to racists so that’s what he decided to do.  When he barks out orders and demands that the members of the band be killed, his main motivation seems to be pure greed.  If the band escapes and reports the murder, he’ll lose his club.  Stewart gives a chilling performance.  When he first appears, you do think, “Hey, it’s Patrick Stewart!”  But, within minutes, you forget who is playing him.  He becomes Darcy and you’re scared to death of him and his followers.

Green Room is an incredibly intense and scary film.  It also features perhaps the best performance of Anton Yelchin’s career.  Green Room stands as a testament to a talent taken too early.

(On a purely personal note: I’m glad that Green Room took place in Oregon.  Too often, movies tend to portray racism as being an exclusively Southern issue, one that somehow magically disappears once you head up north.  It often feels as if people spend so much time talking about racism in other states that they fail to actually look at what’s happening in their own backyard.  It’s easier to laugh at a state like Alabama than to ask why someone like Eric Garner died on the streets of New York City.  Racism is an American issue, and that includes the states both below and above the Mason-Dixon line.)


Halloween Havoc!: THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE (Hallmark Releasing 1974)

cracked rear viewer


While doing some background research on actor Arthur Kennedy for my post about DESPERATE JOURNEY  back in June, I came across an IMDb entry for a movie titled THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE. It’s description is as follows: “A cop chases two hippies suspected of a series of Manson-family like murders; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by chemical pesticides being used by area farmers”. Sounded right up my alley, and a perfect candidate for this year’s ‘Halloween Havoc!’ horrorthon!


Though the description isn’t 100% accurate, THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE is a surprisingly good Italian-Spanish made chiller with elements of giallo movies, as our lead George is traveler who stumbles into murder. His motorcycle (a nice looking vintage Norton) is backed into by Edna on his way to Wyndhamere. She gives him a lift, and…

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Bollywood Horror: Indian A Nightmare on Elm Street/The Monster/Mahakaal (1993, dir. Shyam Ramsay & Tulsi Ramsay)


This is my very first foray into the genre of Bollywood Horror. In fact, I wasn’t even aware this was a thing. I just knew that while looking for foreign knock-offs of famous American films, this one showed up on my radar. I decided to save it for October. Little did I know that this film came with a decade or so of horror films made by Bollywood prior to it. Even while I called this movie the Indian A Nightmare on Elm Street in the title of this post, it wasn’t really the first one. It’s just the one that is most well-known, and was an intentional remake of the original. Well-known to the point that it was even included in the Elm Street retrospective film Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010). The other is very easy to find, but has no English subtitles.

This movie was done by the Ramsay brothers who were pioneers of the genre. While Khooni Murdaa (1989) wasn’t a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), you can see below why it became an issue for the Ramsay brothers who were in the middle of making their film when it was released.

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

As a result, they either tweaked kills from the original movie, kept the style of the kill, or simply went with a kill from one of the other Elm Street movies. Full confession: I have only seen the first two, so I won’t be able to make sure I know which films all of the kills come from. With that little bit of exposition out of the way, let’s have some fun.

The movie begins with a shot of what looks like some sort of humanoid that appears like they are being crucified on a skull. Then the movie goes ahead and gives a shot of Freddy’s eyes.


Then we meet Seema (Kunika) as she wanders around Indian Freddy’s Boiler Room.


Eventually she runs into Freddy. Well, she runs into his claws to be more specific.


Note that she does indeed take it to the the stomach because she will wake up to simply find claw marks on her arm.


That’s a pretty nasty wound that you’d think she’d show somebody, but she won’t for awhile. Instead, it’s time for the directing credits to show up blinking like an old website before cutting to Anita (Archana Puran Singh) putting up a picture that appears to be somebody fighting a bear.


If that doesn’t make any sense to you, then don’t worry, because none of the tone whiplash in this movie is going to make sense.

We then meet the family, including her boyfriend Prakash (Karan Shah). I don’t recall anything about Nancy’s mother from A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), but Anita’s father is with the police in this one.

Now we cut to her school where we meet the head of what I assume is the Tutankhamun gang.


He is telling everyone that someday, Anita will be his. This is as good a time as any to mention that Anita’s regular life in this movie comes across as worse than Freddy coming after her.

Then we cut to what must be a restaurant rather than a cafeteria.


It was nice of Rambo to make an appearance in this movie. The same goes for Michael Jackson.


That’s when the movie’s extremely annoying comic relief (Johnny Lever) enters the room. And what song off the Bad album would play for his entrance, but Thriller.


That was on the Bad album, right?

This guy is less like the “bad” Michael Jackson was singing about, and more like what Huey Lewis & The News were singing about in Bad Is Bad. He’s the worst.


Now Anita shows up sporting a bandage where she was wounded. For some reason they cut from Seema getting attacked in her sleep to a similar looking woman and her boyfriend. It was confusing, and it didn’t help that IMDb says that Anita is the center of attention, not Seema. I got them screwed up over and over throughout this film till I knew for sure that Seema was dead. Also, the self-referential joke that turns into breaking the fourth wall here isn’t funny. Nothing he says or does is funny.

Oh, and did I mention this guy is the worst with enough emphasis? In case I didn’t, when the Tutankhamun guy shows up, this guy proceeds to sexually assault him.


Don’t worry, Tutankhamun guy will get his turn to do some sexual assaulting of his own.

Once that is done, we get our first musical number. I’m sure that Wes Craven always intended his film to have musical numbers in them. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt flattered, and thought this movie was hilarious. Stupid, but hilarious. I say that because when you watch the movie, you can tell the Ramsay Brothers were fans of the original. If you cut out the parts that don’t fit for an American market (inappropriate and otherwise), then you actually have an interesting variation on the original that also brought together parts from the other films in the series. As for this musical number, I think the Ramsay Brothers decided to work in From Here To Eternity (1953) for some reason.


I have to guess at which girl is Anita and which one is Seema here. I believe this one is Anita. This musical number seems to be here just to include breasts…


and a crotch shot.


After finding out that Tutankhamun guy’s friend is a fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees based on his shirt, Anita finally shows somebody those gigantic wounds on her arm. Unlike Nancy in the first film, Anita really doesn’t take an active role in fighting Freddy. She’s just kind of there. This is particularly hilarious considering they get their ending from that other big 1984 film that had one of the strongest female leads of the decade.

We now go home with Anita. I am trying very hard to keep these two straight.


She goes to bed, and we cut to the father looking at a picture on the wall. It’s of his dead daughter. We find out she died seven years prior before cutting to another dream sequence.


I think I have seen that before.

A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, dir. Jack Sholder)

A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, dir. Jack Sholder)

That is Anita’s dead sister Mohini (Baby Sweetha) who is here to lead her into another Freddy place.


Things are getting more serious because Freddy has expanded his repertoire to include Dario Argento lighting.

Suspiria (1977, dir. Dario Argento)

Suspiria (1977, dir. Dario Argento)

While we are down there, we get some genuinely creepy shots. The Ramsay Brothers didn’t have such great success in the genre of Bollywood Horror for nothing. That includes Anita ripping part of Freddy’s face off.


I absolutely love how the father (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) comes in, and just shrugs the whole thing off as her fault. Let’s take a look at this. Here is how she looks when he enters the room.


There are clear as day claw marks on her arm, but nobody notices. Not even Anita, till he leaves, which is apparently no reason to call him and her mother (Reema Lagoo) back in for a look. The best part of this is when you can see the mother clearly looking at the claw marks.

Moving on, we get to see that Tutankhamun guy is also a fan of Iron Maiden.


However, before we have the opportunity to say “2 Minutes to Midnight to kill Freddy”, things go downhill.


They pin Anita down and squirt her with a garden hose after basically saying they are going to rape her. Luckily, this doesn’t turn into the scene from The Lonely Lady (1983) where Ray Liotta raped Pia Zadora with a garden hose.

The Lonely Lady (1983, dir. Peter Sasdy)

The Lonely Lady (1983, dir. Peter Sasdy)

This uncomfortable scene is broken up with a martial arts scene.


The same thing happened in Dariya Dil (1988) during a badminton match.

Dariya Dil (1988, dir. K. Ravi Shankar)

Dariya Dil (1988, dir. K. Ravi Shankar)

I guess that’s part of the standard Bollywood formula. They insert martial arts scenes wherever they can. Unfortunately, the bad guys getting the crap kicked out of them is stopped by Anita’s two friends, who are then stopped by administrators at the school this is all taking place at.

After going to the cafeteria, the never funny guy does get in one good line about the scumbags concerning what just happened.


Remember tone whiplash? It’s time for another musical number right after this sexual assault. For some reason, during it we get this guy dancing like an Egyptian.


When the car doesn’t work, they have to stop at a hotel.


Yes, that is the same actor as never funny. There’s another character later that I’m quite sure is played by him as well. I think something is lost in the translation, but I am pretty sure they are poking fun at the running joke from Magnum PI where long lost brothers of Higgins would show up at the estate.

Anyways, the two guys played by the same actor go to peep through a keyhole to watch a woman paint her nails. Don’t worry. She spots them, drags them into her room, and beats the crap out of them. I’m really glad that pointless padding is this movie.

Speaking of padding, let’s cut out the rest of this part and just get to Freddy showing up again. After showing up to chase after Seema, he pins her to the ground.


Then she dies under a sheet, and her boyfriend Parma (Mayur Verma) goes on the run because he believes that they will try to pin the murder on him. It doesn’t work for him. The police catch up with him pretty quick.

As does Freddy when he lures Anita into a freezer room by making her see Seema’s body come alive under plastic.


This time he only leaves Anita’s arm with a burn on it.


Now we reach the point in the film where Freddy spoke to me through the movie to make me aware that the copy I had only wanted to display in widescreen when it was actually 4:3.

Ready for something random again? Now two unrelated women appear, and want to go see an Amitabh Bachchan film. On their way home they are chased by several bad guys when this happens.


Not funny guy shows up to rescue the girls dressed like Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic character from Shahenshah (1988).

Shahenshah (1988, dir. Tinnu Anand)

Shahenshah (1988, dir. Tinnu Anand)

The character is essentially an Indian version of Batman. If Amitabh Bachchan looks familiar, then you probably saw Piku (2015) where he played the constantly constipated Dad, Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby, or one of his other 200+ acting credits.

What does that scene have to do with anything? Nothing! That’s why after Anita has a short conversation with her mother, Freddy decides to pay a visit to Param in jail. He remembers that the other film already did the hanging thing, so he decides to top that by scratching the walls to make snakes come out of them.


By the way, we are an hour into this two hour movie, and I was able to keep calling him Freddy because they haven’t said his actual name, nor have they explained why he’s around yet. That’s why Anita wakes up to tell her father Parma is dead, he finds him as such, and he finally decides to tell the family what’s going on.


Here’s the gist. Freddy’s name is actually Shakaal in this one. The father refers to him as an evil spirit in a human body. He would kidnap children in order to sacrifice them to increase his magical powers. We get a nice little flashback, which shows us his daughter being sacrificed by simply being tossed down a bottomless pit before he can stop it. He locks Shakaal in a coffin and buries him alive. But then he gets home and there’s Shakaal’s glove alive and well hiding behind some drinks.


He tosses it in the fireplace, which really doesn’t explain why he still had it in a drawer all these years later for this reveal. So, it’s off for Dad and Prakash to go and see if Shakaal is still in his coffin. What they find are pointless explosions…and snakes.


When that is over, we cut to Anita driving when Shakaal decides to make an appearance. He chases her into an aquarium, and pops up to say hi.


I love that shot.

Then we get more padding in the form of a foreshadowing holy man. I have to give them credit though. He says they should sever Shakaal’s body in half. Remember that Shakaal’s main thing is his glove. That’s when they cut to Evil Dead chasing after Bruce Campbell camerawork to take us back into Anita’s bedroom to wake her up. Well played.

You know the routine. She wakes up, she finds Shakaal’s glove, and it tries to strangle her.


There is one difference this time. Shakaal has decided it’s time to start moving away from the first film and into the second one because they find her on the floor of her room fighting as if the glove was actually there.

While the dad is having a drink, Shakaal decides to amp up his attacks. He reveals himself to the father, but is kind enough to disappear in a puff of smoke when he tells him to leave. That’s because Shakaal has got better things to do. First, he has to walk across the living room disappearing, and then reappearing closer to the camera, before he pays another visit to Anita.


With that little bit of green in his eyes, we now have a possessed Anita.


The scumbag from earlier makes another run at Anita who is possessed now so that the movie can pad itself out with more marital arts.


Now it’s off to the disco!


Sure, you can have another random musical number, but can we leave references to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) to Egyptian Rocky Horror AKA Fangs (1981).

Fangs (1981, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Fangs (1981, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

After her dance number, possessed Anita leads Scumbag right to A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 (1988).


My favorite part of this scene isn’t that Scumbag finally gets his comeuppance, but that after Shakaal breaks through the plastic and pulls him under, he magically reseals the plastic.

The next morning Anita wakes up to appear shocked at what happened.


That’s the last we’ll see of Anita being possessed by Shakaal. Hold on a minute there. That means Shakaal possessed Anita. He then went to school as her where the scumbag tried to stop her and her friends took care of him via fighting. Then Shakaal performed a musical number in front of him to get his juices going. That was followed by Shakaal taking him to his place where he proceeded to tease that they would have sex, then kill him. Afterwards, Shakaal left her body. Sounds like Shakaal did her a favor. Also, this screenshot did me a favor because I finally know that Scumbag is named Randhir (Dinesh Kaushik). He seems to have a been a B-Movie actor, but he did have some role in Sarfarosh (1990), which at the time of writing this is ranked as #65 of the top rated Indian Movies on IMDb.

Not funny and some more padding shows up before we can move on with this movie.

Now we find out that Shakaal is also a fan of Romero.


Day of the Dead (1985, dir. George A. Romero)

Day of the Dead (1985, dir. George A. Romero)

Finally, Shakaal decides to stop messing around, and just takes Anita in to be sacrificed like her dead sister.


Leather boyfriend and her family show up to all confront Shakaal. This includes Shakaal taking an axe to his head.


I’m sure if there were sequels to this movie, then no matter how much of Shakaal’s history they changed, or what actor they had playing him, they would always make sure to acknowledge that axe to the head by putting a dent there.

He also gets impaled.


But Shakaal finds an alternative power source and pulls it from himself. If you haven’t noticed by know, Shakaal is less like Freddy and more like Jason. He doesn’t talk either like Jason, which people who haven’t seen the Friday the 13th movies say.

After beating up leather boyfriend, Shakaal follows Anita down into his basement where he has a convenient guillotine in it to chop his own legs off.


Look, as long as crazy looking holy man from earlier said they needed to cut him this way, then it is a totally original thing and not a role reversal with Anita being the one to cause Arnold Shakaal to end up this way. Never mind this scene that follows.


That’s when leather boyfriend shows up to make use of the convenient hydraulic press.


I mean spiked ceiling that I don’t know why Shakaal had in his place anyways since he just appears to toss children down pits like he did with Anita’s sister.

With the family all reunited, they can throw “The End” at the screen.


They sequel bait this with Shakaal’s glove sticking out from his crushed body, but since there are no sequels, it doesn’t matter.

I do recommend this one. It may have come at the tail end of the Bollywood Horror renaissance, but it is fun to see a variation on A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) that doesn’t just copy the concept, but actually tried to stay somewhat true to the original.

Horror Film Review: Dracula’s Daughter (dir by Lambert Hillyer)


Did you know that Dracula had a daughter!?

Well, Bram Stoker might disagree but, according to Universal Studios, he did.  Her name was Countess Marya Zaleska and, as played by Gloria Holden, she is the title character in 1936’s Dracula’s Daughter!  Like her father, the Countess was also a vampire.  The film never gets into just how she became a vampire.  Was she born a vampire or, far more disturbingly, was she once a mortal who turned into a vampire by her own father?  The film doesn’t tell us but it does establish early on that she hates being one of the undead.  Unlike her father, she struggles with her urge to drink blood.  When she discovers that Dracula has been staked, she and her servant, Sandor (Irving Pichel), steal the body from the morgue and burn it.  The Countess thinks that this will cure her of her urges.

Sadly, it does no such thing.

So, what’s a reluctant, 20th century vampire to do?  Well, she can always go to a psychiatrist and hope that science can somehow break the curse.  She ends up as a patient of Dr. Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger).  By coincidence, Dr. Garth has another famous patient — Dr. Edward Von Helsing.  (That’s right, they changed the “van” to a “von” in Dracula’s Daughter.  Despite the name change, Edward van Sloan returns to play the veteran vampire hunter.)

Von Helsing in on trial, accused of murdering Dracula in the previous film.  Oddly enough, nobody mentions Renfield who, seeing as how we’re told Dracula’s Daughter starts exactly where Dracula left off, would have been found dead in the crypt as well.  Even stranger, no one steps forward to defend Von Helsing.  Dr. Seward, Mina, Johnathan Harker?  Forget about them.  Not a single one is to be found while Von Helsing is accused of murder.


Fortunately, Von Helsing has a defense!  Since Dracula was already dead and had been for 500 years, Von Helsing could not have killed him.  Helping him out with this defense is Dr. Garth…

Meanwhile, the Countess tries to resist the urge to attack every woman that she sees.  She pours her frustrations out into painting.  One night, Sandor brings the Countess a new model, a beautiful young woman named Lil (Nan Grey).  The Countess orders Lil to undress and then, after staring at her, gives into her urges and attacks…

If you’re thinking that there’s a subtext here, that’s because there is.  (In fact, Universal’s tagline for the film was, “Save the women of London from Dracula’s Daughter!”)  Perhaps even more so than in Dracula, Dracula’s Daughter uses vampirism as a metaphor for forbidden sex.  When the Countess stares at Lil and, later, when she prepares to bite the neck of Dr. Garth’s fiancée, she is embodying the hysterical fears of a puritanical society.  When she unsuccessfully seeks a cure for her vampirism, we’re reminded that, in the 1930s, psychiatry classified homosexuality as being a mental illness.  When the Countess struggles with her urge to drink blood, she is a stand-in for everyone who has struggled with their sexuality.

Gloria Holden plays the Countess as being as much a victim as a victimizer.  Whereas Bela Lugosi turned Dracula into the epitome of evil, Gloria Holden gives a performance that is full of ambiguity.  In fact, she at times seems to be so tortured by her vampiric state that, when she finally fully embraces the fact that she’s a vampire, you have to cheer a little.  At least she’s finally being honest with herself!  At least she’s no longer making apologies or allowing society to punish her for being who she is.  Was Countess Zaleska the first reluctant vampire in film history?  I’m not sure but Holden’s performance undoubtedly set the bar by which all other self-loathing vampires should be judged.

Dracula’s Daughter holds up surprisingly well.  It’s definitely one to look for during this Halloween season.

4 Shots From Horror History: Dr. Cyclops, The Wolf Man, Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie

This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we take a look at the first few years of 1940s.

4 Shots From 4 Films

Dr. Cyclops (1940, dir by Ernest B. Schoedsack)

Dr. Cyclops (1940, dir by Ernest B. Schoedsack)

The Wolf Man (1941, dir by George Waggner)

The Wolf Man (1941, dir by George Waggner)

Cat People (1943, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

Cat People (1942, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

I Walked With A Zombie (1943, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

I Walked With A Zombie (1943, dir by Jacques Tourneur)

Horror on the Lens: Children of the Corn (dir by Fritz Kiersch)


Today’s horror on the lens is the 1984 film that TSL editor-in-chief Arleigh Sandoc has called the worst Stephen King adaptation of all time.  For the record, I tend to agree with that judgment but, for some reason, a lot of people seem to like Children of the Corn.

And I will admit — the kids are creepy.  Especially that little Isaac guy with the shrill voice.  Whenever Isaac starts screaming, “MALACHI!!!!,” — well, it’s like nails on a chalkboard, to be honest.

Anyway, in case you’d forgotten, this is the movie where all the little kids hang out in a cornfield and kill adults.  It attempts to say something about religion but I’m not sure what it’s trying to say.  It’s all kind of silly but, as I said, some people seem to like it.

(Personally, I prefer that old episode of South Park where they keep declaring shenanigans on the carnival, all the cows jump off a cliff, and the visiting yankee tourists end up getting devoured by rats in jail.)

In order to help you decide for yourself whether or not this is a decent film, here is Stephen King’s Children of the Corn!  Enjoy it while you can because you just know that YouTube is going to eventually yank it down for copyright reasons.

Halloween Havoc! Extra: A Centennial Salute to FORREST J ACKERMAN

cracked rear viewer


If you’re of a ‘certain age’ (like me), you’ll immediately recognize the gentleman in the above photo. Forrest J Ackerman (affectionately known as Uncle Forry) was the long-time editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, the official magazine for Monster Kids of the 60’s and 70’s. FJA was the world’s #1 science fiction fan (and was given a Hugo Award to prove it!), writer, literary agent, actor, collector, and so much more. He would open his “Ackermansion” to fans who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles, allowing them access to view his 300,000 piece collection of incredible horror and science fiction movie memorabilia.

fja2 Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS (1927)

Ackerman was born in L.A. on November 24, 1916, and remained a life-long resident. He was enthralled by sci-fi (a term he coined) early on, always stating his favorite film was Fritz Lang’s silent epic METROPOLIS. As a young man he worked as a…

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Music Video of the Day: Madhouse by Anthrax (1986, dir. Amos Poe)

Madhouse was banned from MTV because of its’ portrayal of the mentally ill. I didn’t think I was going to get to a music video that was actually banned from MTV till I got around to doing Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy.

I’m bipolar, major depressive, get migraines, have been on more psychiatric meds than I can count, have been a cutter, and have been a patient in a mental hospital (inpatient and outpatient) to only name a few things in this area that I have had some experience with in my life. The person holding a fake baby makes me think of a woman I knew while in a mental hospital that had postpartum depression so bad that they gave her shock treatment (it helped her significantly). The people that appear mentally handicapped bother me because one of my lifelong friends has a younger sister who is mentally handicapped. I grew up around her, and have known others in my life who are in the same situation, but for different reasons. The nurse at the beginning reminds me of what we nicknamed “vampires” at the mental hospital that would come to take blood samples from us early in the morning in our beds. The person who accidentally lets one of the patients fall out of the wheelchair and the doctors smoking reminds me of people I’ve dealt with that treat the mentally and physically ill like they are nothing but a burden to them and/or even as if they are criminals. The whole music video and song reminds me of late 2014 and early 2015 when my brain completely turned against me, leaving me actually thinking I was trapped inside of something like The Matrix. To quote the song:

“Trapped, in this nightmare
I wish I’d wake
As my whole life begins to shake
Four walls surround me
An empty gaze
I can’t find my way out of this maze”

There were other things that accompanied that experience, and no doctor can tell me why it happened. I was just lucky I came out of it eventually.

The point is that I completely understand why some people would find this offensive. However, what I see when I watch this music video is a controversial short film that is drawing a parallel between the internal state of the mind of the mentally ill–we all are to some degree–with the apparent chaos of heavy metal and the actual chaotic relief of a mosh pit. I think Ben Kingsley in Shutter Island (2010) said it best when he described a migraine like having razor blades being shaken around in your head. Personally, I don’t find this offensive, but frighteningly accurate.

All that said, I can see why this would get banned from MTV, and probably should have been. It’s one thing for me to stupidly seek out Still Alice (2014) when I clearly should have known it would remind me of my brain turning to tapioca, but I did, and couldn’t finish it even with several anti-anxiety pills in my system. It’s another thing to be simply watching one of the most popular networks of the era, then have this music video suddenly show up on your TV. Despite being banned, it was still very successful and pushed the boundaries of what could and couldn’t be done in music videos.

This is one of those music videos where we apparently only know the director. That would be Amos Poe who only appears to have directed five music videos, including the one for Animotion’s Obsession. He has done other work in film that includes the documentary The Blank Generation (1976) that was filmed at CBGB during the birth of punk rock.