Horror on TV: Tales From The Crypt 4.13 “Werewolf Concerto” (dir by Steve Perry)


For tonight’s excursion into televised horror, we present to you the 13th episode of the 4th season of HBO’s Tales From The Crypt!

Werewolf Concerto originally aired on September 9th, 1992.  It deals with what happens when a group of hotel guests believe that there might be a werewolf in the area.  Fortunately, Timothy Dalton is also in the area and he claims to be a professional werewolf hunter!

Or is he….?

You’ll have to watch to find out!

Enjoy!

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Demons 2 (dir by Lamberto Bava)


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1985’s Demons was such a success that it only took one year for it to be followed by a sequel.  Like the first film, Demons 2 was directed by Lamberto Bava and produced by Dario Argento.  (Once again, Argento is also credited with co-writing the script.)  Bobby Rhodes appears in both films, though he plays two different characters.  And again, it’s the same basic plot: watching a movie leads to an outbreak of a plague that transforms a group of people into a pack of murderous demons.

And yet, despite all the similarities, Demons 2 is a hundred times better than the first Demons.  And I say that as someone who really likes the first film.  There simply is no comparison between the two.  If Demons was a nonstop thrill ride, Demons 2 is a filmed nightmare.

Demons 2 takes place in a high-rise apartment building.  In the style of any good disaster movie, the first part of the film introduces us to the tenants and gives us just enough information so that we’ll be able to remember who is who.

For instance, in one apartment, we have George (David Knight) and his pregnant wife, Hannah (Nancy Brilli).  In another, we have a woman (Anita Bartolucci) who obsessively dotes on her dog.  Down the hall, ten year-old Ingrid Haller (Asia Argento, making her film debut) watches TV while her parents eat dinner.  In the basement, a gym instructor named Hank (Bobby Rhodes) shouts encouragement at a group of body builders.

And finally, in another apartment, a teenage girl named Sally (Coralina Cataldi Tassoni) sits in her bedroom and cries.  It’s her birthday but her parents are out for the night.  Meanwhile, her friends are gathered in the living room and wondering if Sally is ever going to come out of her room.  Sally is upset because her boyfriend didn’t come to the party.  Poor Sally.

In her sadness, Sally has turned on her TV but she’s barely watching.  And what’s on TV that night?  A horror movie, one that tells the same story as the one we saw in the first Demons and the one that we will eventually see again in Demons 2 (and also in Michele Soavi’s The Church).  A group of teenagers come across a dead demon.  When one of them accidentally gets splashed by the demon’s blood, he is transformed into a demon himself…

(If this sound familiar, that’s perhaps because the same idea was later used in 28 Days Later, a film that owns a not insignificant debt to both of the Demons films and Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare City.)

Suddenly, the movie demon stops and seems to be staring straight at the unseen camera.  He starts to approach it, until his twisted face fills the entire TV screen…

Suddenly, the demon bursts out of the TV and infects Sally.  Sally finally leaves her bedroom and proceeds to attack everyone at her party, spreading the infection.  Meanwhile, acidic demon bile eats through the floor and drips into the apartments below, infecting everyone that it touches…

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And I do mean everyone!  If there’s anything that truly separates the Demons films from so many other horror films, it’s that literally anyone can be infected.  It doesn’t matter if you’re likable or if you’re funny or if you’re played by a familiar actor.  If you get infected, you’re going to turn into a demon.  Usually, when you watch a horror film, you can sure that children and pregnant women will automatically be safe.  Demons 2 wastes little time in letting you know that this isn’t the case as far as this film is concerned.

Demons was pretty much distinguished by nonstop action.  In Demons 2, director Lamberto Bava devoted more time to atmosphere and characterization.  As a result, Demons 2 features characters that we actually care about and  some truly haunting images, everything from Sally’s friends moving, in slow motion, down a dark hallway to Asia Argento watching as her parents are literally ripped into pieces in front of her.  If Demons was defined by its relentless heavy metal soundtrack, Demons 2 is defined by the ambient but haunting new wave music that plays through the majority of the film.  Demons was an action-horror film.  Demons 2 is a nightmare from which you cannot awake.

If you have the opportunity, I would say to watch both of the Demons films.  But if you have to choose only one to watch, go with Demons 2.

Halloween Havoc!: GOD TOLD ME TO (New World 1976)


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God Told Me To (1976) aka Demon Directed by Larry Cohen Shown: Poster Art

Last year during “Halloween Havoc!”, I took a look at writer/director/producer Larry Cohen’s cult classic IT’S ALIVE . This time around, it’s GOD TOLD ME TO, a  creepily twisted tale tackling mass murder, aliens, Catholicism, and the nature of God himself that could’ve only been made in the paranoiac 70’s, and may be Cohen’s best film.

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There’s a sniper on a rampage in New York City perched atop a water tower. Fourteen people are dead, and police have the scene surrounded. Det. Lt. Peter Nicholas, a devout Catholic who was orphaned as a child and goes to confession daily,  climbs the ladder in hopes of engaging the shooter before he kills again. When Nicholas asks the killer why he’s caused all this carnage, the man simply replies, “God told me to”, then jumps off the tower, plunging to his doom.

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This stage the stage for more bizarre mayhem, starting with a…

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Congratulations, Bob Dylan!


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Congratulations to the latest Nobel laureate in Literature, Bob Dylan!  After being twice considered, Dylan was finally honored this year “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Dylan now joins such previous winners as Mario Vargas Llosa, Harold Pinter, Gunter Grass, William Golding, Samuel Beckett, and Saul Bellow.

In this scene from Bob Dylan’s directorial debut, the 232-minute long Renaldo and Clara, Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg pay a visit to Jack Kerouac’s grave.

Horror Film Review: Thirteen Ghosts (dir by Steve Beck)


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Thirteen Ghosts!  

Oh my God, this 2001 haunted house movie scared the Hell out of my when I was way too young to know any better.  Seriously, it would come on HBO late at night and I would secretly watch it with the sound turned down and just the visuals would freak me out.

That lawyer getting chopped in half by the glass doors?  AGCK!

That ghost staring at Shannon Elizabeth?  AGCK!

That other ghost attacking Shannon Elizabeth?  AGCK!

All of the ghosts suddenly appearing and then just as quickly disappearing?  AGCK!

MATTHEW LILLARD!?  DOUBLE AGCK!

Seriously, I had nightmares about those ghosts!

For this month’s horrorthon, I decided to rewatch Thirteen Ghosts and … well, first of all, I was reminded by the DVD that apparently, the name of the film is not Thirteen Ghosts.  Instead, the proper name is Thir13een Ghosts, which is really kind of annoying because it’s not like that “13” even vaguely resembles a “T”.  I’m not even sure how exactly you would pronounce Thir13een.  Wasn’t one of the robots in the last Star Wars film named Thir13een?  Just looking at the title makes me think about that episode of South Park where Cartman went into the future and had a robot dog named K-10 (and a cat named Kit-9 and a bird named Kok-A-3!)

So, no offense meant to anyone who was involved in the naming of the film, but I’m going to keep calling it Thirteen Ghosts!

Anyway, I decided to rewatch Thirteen Ghosts because I remembered it as being the scariest film ever made and … wow, it really did not stand up to the test of time.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  The ghosts were still kind of scary and I guess that Tony Shalhoub did the best that he could do with the material.  But the movie itself…oh my God.

Seeing as how I’m contractually obligated to come up with at least 500 words about Thirteen Ghosts, let’s talk about the plot, shall we?  Tony Shalhoub is Arthur.  Arthur’s a widower who has two children, Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby (Alec Roberts).  For some reason, Kathy is obsessed with sink fixtures.  Bobby, meanwhile, is your typical bratty kid.  Arthur is like way poor and about to lose his house.  Despite this, he continues to employ a housekeeper named Maggie (Rah Digga).  HEY, ARTHUR, THERE’S NO POINT IN HAVING A HOUSEKEEPER IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD YOUR FREAKING HOUSE!

Anyway…

Fortunately, Arthur is informed that his uncle, a legendary ghost hunter named Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham) has died and, as a result, Arthur has inherited his mansion!  YAY!  PROBLEM SOLVED!  Of course, the mansion is kind of weird.  The walls are covered with Latin phrases and it’s all glass.  “I do not do windows,” Maggie says.  Ha ha ha.

Well, it turns out that the entire house is full of murderous ghosts.  (Of course, you can’t see them unless you put on special glasses.)  We occasionally get glimpses of the ghosts and this is where Thirteen Ghosts actually triumphs.  The ghosts actually are really freaky looking and they’ve all got enjoyably weird backstories.  That’s a good thing.

What isn’t a good thing is that, in order for the ghosts to get free and wreck some havoc, everyone in the house is required to act like a total idiot.  Hence, we get Shannon Elizabeth staring at herself in a mirror for literally four minutes, just so one ghost can sneak up behind her.  We get Bobby and Maggie constantly running off.  We also get Embeth Davidtz as a “spirit liberator” and Matthew Lillard as a psychic.

Does Matthew Lillard give a good performance in Thirteen Ghosts?  It’s hard to say.  He definitely gives a performance that could only be given by Matthew Lillard.  There’s a few scenes where you do wish someone on set had told him to calm down but, on the whole, you can count me in the pro-Lillard camp.  It’s a silly film and it needs someone willing to give a silly performance.

There are a few parts of Thirteen Ghosts that have stood up well.  The ghosts, the production design, the scene with the lawyer.  But ultimately, the movie fails because you really don’t care about Arthur or his family or his housekeeper.  In these type of films, the main characters either have to be likable or they have to be so unlikable that you don’t mind seeing them get terrorized.  But bland just will not get the job done!

Since I love lists, here’s my ranking of the ghosts, from least to most frightening:

  1. The Withered Lover — I can’t talk too much about her without it counting as a spoiler but she’s the only ghosts that isn’t malicious and therefore, she’s not frightening.
  2. The Bound Woman — A hanging woman wearing a prom dress.  Who cares?
  3. The Torso — The torso is a legless torso that has to drag itself around by its hands.  The torso is kinda freaky but it’s hard to be scared of something that doesn’t have legs.
  4. The Pilgrimess — The Pilgrimess was accused of witchcraft in the 17th Century.  She’s kind of scary but she’s also still in the stocks so she’s not quite as threatening as she could be.
  5. The Great Child and
  6. the Dire Mother — AGCK!  The Dire Mother is a tiny woman who is always feeding her giant son, the Great Child!  Creepy!
  7. The Torn Prince — The Torn Prince always freaks me out.  Not only is he massively disfigured as the result of a car crash but he also carries a baseball bat.  AGCK!
  8. The First Born Son — The first born son is a kid who has an arrow sticking out his head.  He whispers that he wants to play.  AGCK!  Children are creepy.
  9. The Angry Princess — The Angry Princess is a total rip-off of the bathtub ghost from The Shining but she still scares the Hell out of me.  AGCK!
  10. The Hammer — AGCK!  He’s a former blacksmith, covered in spikes and featuring a hammer in place of his left hand.
  11. The Juggernaut — Oh my God, this guys is scary and evil-looking!  We’re told that he killed 9 people when he was alive and 31 people as a ghost.  DOUBLE AGCK!
  12. The Jackal — OH MY GOD!  The Jackal gave me nightmares when I was younger and he’s still the scariest of the ghosts!  He’s the one who has a cage on his head.  The scene where he attacks Shannon Elizabeth is pure nightmare fuel!  TRIPLE AGCK!

Anyway, the movie’s not as scary as I remembered but those ghosts are still Agck-worthy.

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Four Shots From Horror History: La Bruja, Cult of the Cobra, Dementia, The She Creature


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 continue to look at the 1950s.

Four Shots From Four Films

La Bruja (1954, dir by Chano Urueta)

La Bruja (1954, dir by Chano Urueta)

Cult of the Cobra (1955, dir by Francis D. Lyon)

Cult of the Cobra (1955, dir by Francis D. Lyon)

Dementia (1955, dir by John Parker)

Dementia (1955, dir by John Parker)

The She Creature (1956, dir by Edward L. Cahn)

The She Creature (1956, dir by Edward L. Cahn)

Horror On The Lens: Revenge of the Creature (dir by Jack Arnold)


For today’s horror on the lens, we present to you 1956’s Revenge of the Creature!

Revenge of the Creature was the first sequel to The Creature From The Black Lagoon.  It turns out that the Gil-Man didn’t actually die at the end of the last film.  Instead, he’s alive, he’s been captured, and he’s now being displayed in an aquarium.

Now, I’m going to be honest: Revenge of the Creature is not as a good as The Creature From The Black Lagoon.  But it’s still kind of fun in a silly 1950s monster movie sort of way.  And, if you keep your eyes open, you might spot a very young Clint Eastwood, playing a lab technician and sporting a truly impressive head of hair.

Enjoy!