Halloween On Hulu 2016 : “Hazmat”

Trash Film Guru


Okay, this is it for me. One more sub-micro-budget flick from Hulu’s “horror and suspense” offerings, and I’m done. It’s damn near Halloween, and I’ve got the next couple of days off work and would like to spend them watching good, reliable horror staples that I know will entertain me. Trolling through stuff I’ve never heard of on Hulu in the hopes of finding some hidden gems has yielded decidedly more misses than it has hits, but no matter : it’s been an interesting viewing experiment, and even if I go back to “Netflix Halloween” next year, as is my custom, or give Shudder a go, or do something else altogether, this hasn’t felt like a complete waste of time on the whole.

Unfortunately, the final film I chose to watch as part of “Halloween On Hulu” — writer/director Lou Simon’s 2013 slasher Hazmat — proved to be exactly that.

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Halloween On Hulu 2016 : “Altergeist”

Trash Film Guru


Hey! Look what I found on Hulu! Another ultra-low-budget “found footage” horror flick about wannabe paranormal investigators! Let’s give writer/director Tedi Sarafian’s 2014 effort Altergeist a go and see if there’s anything that sets it apart from its legion of competitors, shall we?

Right off the bat the setting here is a winner — the purportedly haunted King’s Ransom Winery in northern California is a reasonably original (and equally reasonably atmospheric) one, that’s for sure, but that’s where any “newness” begins and ends with this film, as we’re introduced in fairly short order to the entire cast of highly derivative characters, all portrayed by obviously amateur actors who struggle to one degree or another : the winery’s owner, Ashen Till (played by David Weidoff) only closes down his operation for one weekend out of the year, and he’s agreed to allow our team of ghost hunters — consisting of pregnant…

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Horror on TV: Thriller 2.26 “Kill My Love” (dir by Herschel Daugherty)

Tonight’s excursion into televised horror is Kill My Love, an episode of Thriller that originally aired on March 26th, 1962!

In this episode, Richard Carlson plays Guy Guthrie.  To the outside world, Guy looks like the perfect husband and father.  However, he’s actually a cruel sociopath.  When his mistress threatens to expose him, he murders her.  When his wife realizes what Guy has done, he murders her as well.

But then Guy’s beloved son (David Kent) starts to figure out what his father has done and Guy is forced to decide just how far he’s willing to go to hide his secrets…

This episode, of course, is introduced by the one and only Boris Karloff!


Halloween Havoc!: Bela Lugosi in THE CORPSE VANISHES (Monogram 1943)

cracked rear viewer


A little over a week ago I wrote about Bela Lugosi’s pairing with The East Side Kids , and mentioned what’s been come to know as “The Monogram Nine”. These Poverty Row horrors were ultra-low-budget schlockfests made quickly for wartime audiences, and though the films weren’t very good, they gave Bela a chance to once again have his name above the titles. From 1941 to 1944, the Hungarian cranked out the rubbish: THE INVISIBLE GHOST, BLACK DRAGONS, THE CORPSE VANISHES, BOWERY AT MIDNIGHT, THE APE MAN, VOODOO MAN, RETURN OF THE APE MAN, and the two East Side Kids entries. Let’s take a look at a typical Lugosi vehicle, 1943’s THE CORPSE VANISHES.


Our story concerns young, virginal society brides who keep dying at the altar, their corpses hijacked by mysterious Dr. Lorenz (Bela, of course). The brides receive an “unusual orchid” whose “peculiar sweet odor” causes them to go into a…

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4 Shots From Horror History: Halloween, Paranormal Activity, Colverfield, The House of the Devil

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 complete to the aughts!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Halloween (2007, dir by Rob Zombie)

Halloween (2007, dir by Rob Zombie)

Paranormal Activity (2007, dir by Oren Peli)

Paranormal Activity (2007, dir by Oren Peli)

Cloverfield (2008, dir by Matt Reeves)

Cloverfield (2008, dir by Matt Reeves)

The House of the Devil (2009, dir by Ti West)

The House of the Devil (2009, dir by Ti West)

Halloween H20; ALT Title: They Stab Baby Boomers, Don’t They?


Gentle Readers, Is it time for Michael Myers? Oh yeah.  Is it time for Halloween H20? Oh Yeah! You bet your ass it is!

Halloween H20 is a lot of fun and had a deep bench of talent.  Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg wrote the film and Veteran Horror Director Steve Miner helmed it. Robert Zappia went on to write for Children’s Television and Graphic Novels. Matt Greenberg later wrote “Reign of Fire” and “1408” – both films had good moments of suspense.  I wrote to Robert Zappia and he informed me that the rest stop scene, which I will discuss later was written by Matt Greenberg.  He and director Steve Miner knew what they were doing to jolt us without any jumpscares.  The casting was very well done and, it was, in fact a who’s who of soon to be Stars.  Here we go!!!

Langdon, Illinois.  October 28, 1998.  I just needed to smell the clove cigarettes,  see the flannel, and not see any cell phones to know it.  A simpler time.  For the uninitiated,  the 90s were a time when you met someone that you had attraction for in person. A Nurse is concerned that her office was broken into by a person unknown. We see younger Joseph Gordon Levitt (Pre-Looper).  He was not manly in any way, but a real heart throb in his “3rd Rock” days.  Of course, they have him playing Hockey … somehow.  Nurse asks Levitt to search her home.  He goofs around and steals some beers.  The Nurse realizes that her files were stolen.  Which files? Wait for it…. Laurie Strode’s.  She looks around for Levitt and his friend.  They were not so creatively killed with Hockey Skates to the face.  He kills her too and steals her car.  There is also a bit of continuity trouble with the daylight turning to night abruptly.  Let’s take a moment and think about this: Michael Myers is really good at intelligence gathering, stealing, and killing.  If only we could harness his skills for Uncle Sugar…..

We’re goin back to Haddonfield to Haddonfield to Haddonfield …. Nah, I don’t think so! [sung]

Random California Town:  We see Jamie Lee Curtis fresh off from “True Lies”and the Headmistress of an elite boarding school.   She has a grown son- Josh Hartnett (Josh) who really really wants to go camping in Yosemite.  She won’t let him go.  Sorry Josh, you’re just gonna have to stay home and make out with Michelle Williams.  How will he possibly manage?!  Speaking of the 90s, we’ve got Michelle Williams (MW), Chicago Hope Guy (CHG), Jodi Lynn O’Keefe (Jodi), LL Cool J (LL Cool J), and Ally McBeal (jk on this last one…probably).  Through some not bad showing not telling, we learn:  LL Cool J is an aspiring trashy romance novel writer AKA as a Paaaaaperback Wriiiiiiter, Jamie Lee and CHG are k-i-s-s-i-n-g, Jodi is dating a guy way below her level of hotness, and we can tell Michelle Williams is on financial aid because she works in the kitchen and uses a dumbwaiter.

CUT TO: A Mom pulls into a rest stop.  We see the stolen car in the BG. This scene is pretty goddamn suspenseful! Well done, Robert Zappia.  MM isn’t there to kill, just steal the mom’s car.  Damn, MM is a great car thief!

Josh is all in lurve with Michelle Williams, sending her flowers in the dumbwaiter.  JLC and CHG make out again. These are the horniest baby boomers ever! Josh wants to go into town.  JLC says no. He convinces LL Cool J to let him sneak out. LL, I get it – Josh is dreamy, but you have a job responsibilities.  Plus, I don’t think he’s the supermarket romance novel kind of guy; Josh’s more of the porking Michelle Williams kind of guy. JLC is out with CHG and snakes a drink when he goes to the bathroom.  Good showing! She catches Josh off the compound…I mean school grounds.  He lets her have it.

Back to the school:  JLC releases the kids to Yosemite and her son so she believes so that the victims ….I mean residents….can be a …killable number.  JLC gets home and boozes up.  Josh has totally Dawson’s Creeked the make out basement area.  I’m with Josh on this one. I’ve been to Yosemite and Yellowstone and thye’ve got Old Faithful, but if Michelle Williams is your other option …I don’t even want to write choice because Old Faithful could get its feelings hurt.  I’m not saying that Josh isn’t planning on some regularly scheduled eruptions coupled with amateur photography, but it’s likely not at a national park.

JLC and CHG are making out … again. She tells him all about her brother being a murdering sociopath to set the mood and give herself an excuse to polish off more vodka.

This story has been pretty compelling, but it’s stabbing time.  MM finds the way too ugly to date Jodi O’Keefe guy, cuts his throat, and puts him in the dumbwaiter.  MM really likes things in their place; it makes you wonder if psychopathic murderers are OCD people gone to a terrible extreme. I knew a girl in college who would check her car doors to see if they were locked over and over.  Maybe she murdered people too?   Jodi looks for her BF and gets stalked by MM.  She flees to the dumbwaiter and is next to her dead BF.  She gets to the basement, but as she exits, MM cuts the dumbwaiter cord, the dumbwaiter lands on her leg, and her leg breaks horribly.  Josh and Michelle find their friends all dead.   They run to JLC.  She sees her brother – Yikes.  They must have the most awkward Thanksgivings! Seriously, it must be much worse than the year my girls and I wore Bernie Sanders shirts and my mom started quoting Ayn Rand over stuffing.  

They all run and CHG accidentally shoots LL J.  Bummer.  CHG gets stabbed for his trouble.  JLC ,MW, and Josh run, but he gets wounded and MW hits MM with a rock.  Michelle Williams might be perfect: smart, can cook, gorgeous, can fight … Call Me.  JLC badasses and sends MW and Josh off to safety as she gets an axe to deal with her brother. You go girl!   They confront each other in the dining hall.  It’s a pretty amazingly suspenseful scene.  Seriously, the writer and director really kicked ass with this and many other scenes.  Well done.  JLC gets the upper hand and stabs MM.  She’s ready to cut him up into bits when LL shows up, telling her he’s dead.  Word?  If only LL had been reading our reviews, he would know that this is not the end.

The Coroners show up, but JLC isn’t having it! She grabs the van and proceeds to drive MM out to the woods and chop his head off.  Pretty awesome ending! I have to be honest this film is not really dated, it has terrific suspense, great writing, edgy directing.  I would recommend making this a staple of Halloween season viewing.



Halloween Havoc! Extra: Farewell to ‘The Cool Ghoul’, Zacherley

cracked rear viewer


John Zacherle passed away October 27 at the age of 98. Younger readers may not understand the significance of this, but to Monster Kids like me it’s another reminder of the rapid passing of time. For John Zacherle, under the guise of an undertaker named Zacherley, was the TV horror host who set the standard for all the local horror hosts to come, influencing generations of horror fans to this day hosting public domain flicks on the internet and local cable access channels.

John Zacherle the man was born September 26, 1918 in Philidelphia, PA. After serving in WWII, he acted in local theater companies, until landing a gig as “Roland” in 1957, hosting the city’s SHOCK THEATER package of Universal horror films. What set him apart was the skits he performed on the show, gruesome little comic parodies from his crypt with his dead wife and a lab assistant named Igor (what else?)…

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Horror on the Lens: Panic at Lakewood Manor (dir by Robert Scheerer)

Today’s horror on the lens is a made-for-TV movie from 1977.  This movie has many different names: Panic at Lakewood Manor, It Happened At Lakewood Manor, and Ants.

Panic at Lakewood Manor is a mix of different genres.  It’s a disaster film, a soap opera, and ultimately a revenge-of-nature horror film.  The film begins with our cast gathering at Lakewood Manor, a luxury hotel that’s only partially finished.  In fact, the owners are so determined to complete construction that they ignore the threat posed by …. KILLER ANTS!

Anyway, this is a made-for-TV movie from the 70s so it’s never as graphic as what we’d expect to see today.  That said, I once accidentally stepped on a fire ant mound while I was barefoot and OH MY GOD DID THAT EVER HURT!  AGCK!

If you’re a fan of old movies, you’ll enjoy seeing a lot of familiar faces in this one.  Even Myrna Loy shows up!

(Incidentally, this film was written by Guerdon Trueblood, who directed the brilliant The Candy Snatchers.)

Music Video of the Day: Runnin’ With The Devil by Van Halen (1978, dir. ???)

It’s surreal to see Van Halen this early–complete with David Lee Roth wearing a pearl necklace. I wish I could find out who directed this, but I can’t. I did find out, thanks to the Van Halen News Desk, that it was filmed at the Whiskey A Go Go in 1977. Other than that, people bring up that it was done similarly to the way it was done live. There’s the alleged KISS impersonation rocking back and forth bit. Roth screws up a bit on the lip-syncing. The obvious crew members in the shots are funny. However, none of those things make this music video fun for me.

What I love is how the four of them act onstage. Alex seems to be into it, but is covered with smoke and focused on what he is doing. Eddie looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. David looks like he desperately wants more stage to work with. Michael appears to be having the time of his life. I can’t take my eyes off of him during the music video. He’s awesome. I know he would go on to make Hot For Teacher unintentionally funny in 1984 because he couldn’t dance, but I didn’t realize he was working his magic this far back.

As for the meaning of the song, if we’re going by Rock: It’s Your Decision (1982) logic, then clearly it’s Satanic. If we have brains, then it’s Van Halen’s Highway To Hell, and is mainly about life on the road. I’m not kidding about the Satanic part though. They got accused of that, because of course they did.