Halloween On Hulu 2016 : “American Ghost Hunter”


Trash Film Guru

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Fed up to the gills with lackluster “found footage” or “mockumentary” horrors, the other night I found something a bit different in Hulu’s “horror and suspense” queue — a genuine, honest-to-goodness documentary from 2010 called American Ghost Hunter that purports to tell the “real life” story of director/star Chad Calek and his family, who apparently have endured years of paranormally-inflicted terrors in their home in the tiny town of Persia, Iowa.  What the heck? At the very least, it’s a change of pace, right?

Weeeelllllll — not exactly. Unfortunately, American Ghost Hunter — or American Ghost Hunter : The Movie, if you prefer — is, in may respects, every bit as listless and dull as many fake “hand-held horrors,” but at least it has one thing going for it : the genuine terror and distress of Calek’s family. So, hey, three cheers for legit human suffering, right?

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The damn…

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Halloween On Hulu 2016 : “666 The Devil’s Child”


Trash Film Guru

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Okay — who in the fuck‘s bright idea was this?

I get that every low-budget indie filmmaker needs a “hook” of some sort, but this is the most curious one of all : get washed-up former tabloid mini-sensation Nadya Suleman, better known as the infamous “Octomom,” to appear in a “found footage” flick about a lady trying to sucker a guy into getting her pregnant so that she can give birth to, as the title implies, the devil’s kid (I know, I know — you’d think that if you wanted to have Satan’s baby, the best way to go about that would be to get Satan himself to knock you up, but apparently not) — and cast her not as the succubus who’s eager to get a very hot bun in her oven, but as the guy’s “second fiddle” platonic best friend, who’s a virgin to boot! A woman who’s…

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Horror On TV: Night Visions 1.1 “The Passenger List” (dir by Yves Simoneau) and “The Bokor” (dir by Keith Gordon)


Do y’all remember an old show called Night Visions?

Night Visions was a horror anthology show that ran for a season in 2001.  It got some good reviews as a summer replacement series but it struggled to find an audience.  After the 9-11 attacks, the show was preempted for three weeks straight and, when it finally did come back, I imagine that viewers weren’t really in the mood for a horror anthology, not when they had real-life horror to deal with on a daily basis.

And so, Night Visions was canceled but apparently, it still has a strong cult following.

Below is the very first episode of Night Visions.  It originally aired on July 12th, 2001 and it tells two stories.  In the Passenger List, a man investigating a plane crash starts to doubt his own sanity.  In the Bokor, a group of medical students make the mistake of cutting into the cadaver of a powerful voodoo priest.  Mayhem follows.

From what I’ve seen on YouTube, it looks like Night Visions was actually pretty good so enjoy this episode!

(And yes, each episode was hosted by Henry Rollins.)

 

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Most Likely To Die (dir by Anthony DiBlasi)


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Most Likely To Die is a slasher film about a group of old friends who gather at a remote house for the weekend.  It’s their high school reunion and almost everyone’s looking forward to getting caught up on old times.  What they don’t know is that there is a killer in their midst and that killer is going to kill them one by one.  Even worse, he’s going to do it in a way that ironically comments on their senior year superlatives.

Fortunately, everyone received a superlative that lends itself to an ironic death.  Seriously, this killer is just lucky that Most Likely To Eat Anything was friends with Most Likely To Break Hearts and Most Likely To Be Put On Ice.  Just imagine if Most Likely To Kill A Psycho had shown up for the weekend?  And what if he had brought his wife, Most Likely Not To Split Up In The Face Of Danger?  That would have screwed everything up!

Who is the killer?  Well, the natural suspect is John Daughtery.  He was the outcast who all the kids made fun of.  They even vandalized his yearbook entry, declaring him to be “Most Likely To Die.”  John was pretty upset about that but then it got even worse when a gun was discovered in his locker!  That pretty much ruined John’s life!

But maybe it’s not John.  Maybe it’s Tarkin, the groundskeeper.  Tarkin used to own a liquor store but he lost it when it was discovered that he was selling alcohol to underage kids.  Could Tarkin be looking for revenge?  Or is he just a perv who obsessively hangs around outside a certain bedroom window?  Tarkin, incidentally, is played by Jake Busey and, whenever Busey shows up in a slasher film, you know he’s either going to be the murderer or the film’s biggest red herring.

Then again, maybe this killer is Perez Hilton!

Seriously, Perez Hilton is in this movie and it’s not stunt casting.  Perez actually plays a real character and, at no point, does he wink at the audience and go, “It’s me, Perez!”  Perez gives a far better performance than you might expect.  His work here is, at the very least, on par with Paris Hilton’s performance in House of Wax.

Or maybe the killer is … someone else!

Honestly, if you’ve ever seen a slasher movie before, you’ll guess who the killer is.  Most Likely To Die does offer up a typical, last-minute slasher movie twist but it won’t take you by surprise.  In fact, there’s really nothing surprising about Most Likely To Die.  That said, for fans of the slasher genre, Most Likely To Die is entertaining and fairly well-done.  It doesn’t redefine the genre but it’s well-acted, the house is a creepy location, the murders are properly gory and mean-spirited, and the film does what it does with a certain panache.  If you’re a horror fan, there are worse (and, it should be noted, definitely better) ways to waste your time.

Most Likely To Die made its premiere at Film4 FrightFest in 2015 and it had a very limited release earlier this year.  It’s now available on Netflix, where it can be watched by anyone with 80 minutes to kill.

Halloween On Hulu 2016 : “All Hallows Eve : October 30th”


Trash Film Guru

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So here’s one from the Hulu horror queue that’s so fucking obscure no one’s even bothered to review it for IMDB yet — 2015 no-budget (as in $9,000, Canadian) indie production All Hallows Eve : October 30th, a strictly fly-by-the-seat-of-its-pants venture from the mind of writer/producer/director/star Ryan Byrne filmed in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in probably just a handful of days and starring a cast of locals, most of whom are quite likely friends of the filmmaker himself. Sounds like the kind of thing I’m more or less genetically pre-determined to love, right?

And, ya know, truth be told this homemade number — also released (to the extent that it can be said to have been “released” at all) under the inverted title of October 30th : All Hallows Eve — has quite a bit going for it, mostly in terms of sheer heart and determination, but it also…

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Halloween Havoc!: PEEPING TOM (Anglo-Amalgamated 1960)


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PEEPING TOM had been sitting in my DVR for a year before I finally got around to viewing it recently. I shouldn’t have waited so long, for this is absolutely one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them. This movie, released the same year as Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, is an outstanding look at voyeurism, mental illness, and murder, and along with PSYCHO helped usher in the slasher genre. It’s ‘movie within a movie’ backdrop makes it a bonus for film fans, putting it in a category beyond horror as a great film period!

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The opening sequence sets the stage for the madness yet to come, as we salaciously watch the murder of a prostitute through the lens of the killer’s camera. Then we see the killer go home and view the footage in his darkroom, obviously getting off on it. It’s a chilling…

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Horror Film Review: The Ghost of Frankenstein (dir by Erle C. Kenton)


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In 1942, three years after Son of Frankenstein, Universal Pictures continued the story of the Frankenstein family with The Ghost of Frankenstein!

However, The Ghost of Frankenstein was a far different film from the three that came before it.  The budget was lower.  The story was less complicated.  The running time was much shorter.  Whereas the previous films in the franchise clearly took place in Germany, the setting for The Ghost of Frankenstein is less easily defined.  (Considering that the film was made during World War II, this isn’t surprising.)  The biggest change is that, in The Ghost of Frankenstein, the monster is not played by Boris Karloff.  Instead, the role is taken by Lon Chaney, Jr.  Chaney’s hulking frame was perfect for the monster but his face is never as expressive as Karloff’s.  Whereas Karloff turned the monster into as much of a victim as a victimizer, Chaney plays the monster like a … well, a monster.

Returning from Son of Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi is back as Ygor.  At the start of the film, we learn that Ygor actually wasn’t killed at the end of Son of Frankenstein.  Instead, he was just wounded.  He’s spent the last few years hiding out in the old castle, trying to once again revive the monster.  When the villagers attempts to blow up the castle, he and the monster flee.

It turns out that there’s one other Frankenstein son.  His name is Ludwig and he’s played by a very dignified Sir Cedric Hardwicke.  Ludwig, who has been hiding his identity and denying the family legacy, has a successful medical practice in another village.  Working with his assistants, Dr. Kettering (Barton Yarbrough) and the bitterly jealous Dr. Bohmer (Lionel Atwill, who played a far different role in Son of Frankenstein), Ludwig has developed a procedure in which a damaged brain can be removed from the skull, repaired, and then stuck back inside the skull…

Uhmmm … wow, I have no idea what to say about that.  That’s quite a medical breakthrough, though…

When Ygor and the monster show up in the village, searching for Ludwig, the monster ends up getting arrested.  The local prosecutor (played by Ralph Bellamy, Cary Grant’s romantic rival in both The Awful Truth and His Girl Friday) asks Ludwig to examine the prisoner.  Ludwig is shocked to discover that the prisoner is his father’s creation!

Ygor wants Ludwig to perform a brain transplant on the Monster.  At first, Ludwig is hesitant but then he’s visited by Henry Frankenstein’s ghost.  (Since Colin Clive died 5 years before Ghost of Frankenstein went into production, Hardwicke plays both Ludwig and Henry.)  The ghost asks Ludwig to perfect the monster.

Ludwig finally relents and agrees to give the monster a new brain.  Ludwig wants to use the brain of kindly colleague but Ygor has different plans…

The Ghost of Frankenstein is only 67 minutes long but, oddly, it still feels just a little bit draggy.  Director Erle C. Kenton does a workmanlike job but, at no point, does Ghost feature the wit that distinguished James Whale’s films or Rowland V. Lee’s work on Son of Frankenstein.  Chaney is not a particularly interesting monster but Bela Lugosi is a lot of fun as Ygor.  With Chaney showing even less emotion than he usually did and Hardwicke appearing to be occasionally embarrassed by the whole film, it falls to Lugosi to keep the audience awake and he manages to do just that.  Lugosi’s performance may be overly theatrical but that’s exactly what The Ghost of Frankenstein needed.

The Ghost of Frankenstein is occasionally entertaining but ultimately forgettable.  It’ll best be enjoyed by Universal horror completists.