Halloween On Amazon Prime 2017 : “Leaving D.C.”


Trash Film Guru

So here’s an interesting one : more or less a one-man production helmed by writer/director/cinematographer/editor/star Josh Criss, 2012’s Leaving D.C. is the working definition of a “bare-bones” production. Lower than low-budget, lower than micro-budget, we’ve straight-up landed in “no-budget” territory here, a truly homemade effort shot on a now-outdated camcorder by a guy with only a rudimentary working knowledge of what he was doing — but bound and determined, for whatever reason, to make himself a movie anyway. And he took it all the way to Amazon Prime. Not bad for what probably was a few days’ work, am I right?

Here’s the most impressive part about the entire enterprise, though : it’s actually pretty good. And not just by “vanity project” standards, but by any standards.

Criss plays Mark Klein, a guy who’s gotten fed up with the big-city rat race in our nation’s capitol (hence the title) and…

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Horror on TV: One Step Beyond 3.31 “The Sorcerer” (dir by John Newland)


The Twilight Zone wasn’t the only televised horror anthology show to air in the late 50s and early 60s!  There was also a show called One Step Beyond, which ran for three seasons.  It was hosted by a man named John Newland and each episode was supposedly based on an event that may have actually occurred … an event that defied rational explanation!

The episode features one of the icons of horror cinema, the one and only Christopher Lee!  Lee plays a German soldier who, during World War I, enlists a local psychic to discover whether or not his lover is being faithful to him.  When he discovers that she isn’t, he uses the psychic’s powers to get revenge.  Afterward, when he wants to confess to his crime, he runs into a problem.  No one believes him because he was over 800 miles away when the crime occurred.

To be honest, the main reason to watch this episode is to see Christopher Lee but isn’t that reason enough?  Lee was one of the great gentlemen of horror and his performance in this episode helps to show why.

This episode originally aired on May 31st, 1961.

Enjoy!

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: The House on Skull Mountain (dir by Ron Honthaner)


Before I say anything else about 1974’s The House on Skull Mountain, I just want to say how much I love the film’s poster.  Seriously, that poster is everything that you could hope for from an exploitation film print ad.  Everything about it, from the lightning to the giant skull to the mansion to the unfortunate person plunging to her doom is pure perfection.  I especially like the question at the bottom of the poster: “Which of these five will come down alive?”

And, to be honest, it’s actually a fairly honest poster.  The majority of the film really does take place in a house on a mountain that has features that look like a skull.  Of course, the skull in the movie is not quite as prominent as the one in the poster.  The house actually does look a lot like the one on the poster.  There’s also a lot of lightning in the movie.  It’s the same basic lightning stock footage that has appeared in almost every film ever produced by Roger Corman.  In The House on Skull Mountain, it’s used as a transitional device.  “Is that scene over?” you might find yourself wondering.  Well, don’t worry.  The lightning stock footage will let you know.

One reason that I’m focusing on the poster is because the film itself is kind of anemic.  In the movie, the house on top of Skull Mountains belongs to Pauline Christophe, a direct descendant of the first king of Haiti.  Upon her death, Pauline’s four great granchildren are invited to hear the reading of her will.  None of the four have ever met Pauline or each other.  Phillippe (Mike Evans) is an alcoholic who says stuff like, “Baby, what’s the scene?”  Harriet (Xernona Clayton) is fragile and nervous and it certainly doesn’t help her nerves when she briefly sees a hooded skeleton sitting a few rows in front of her on her flight to Atlanta.  Lorena (Janee Michelle) drives too fast but is otherwise responsible and mature.  And then there’s Dr. Andrew Cunningham (Victor French), who shows up late and turns out to be white.

“You’re the wrong color!” Phillippe snaps at him.

Andrew shrugs and says that he’ll explain it all later.  He does eventually tell a story about being abandoned on the front steps of an orphanage but the dialogue is so awkwardly-written and delivered that I’m not sure if he is being serious or if he is poking fun at Phillippe’s shock.

Because Andrew showed up late, the four of them have to stay in the house for a week until Pauline’s lawyer returns to read the will.  Keeping them company is the butler, Thomas (Jean Durand), and Loutte (Ella Woods) the maid.

And that’s not all!  It also appears that there is a robed skeleton wandering around the house as well!  Add to that, the relatives start having visions.  One falls down an elevator shaft.  Another has a heart attack after someone stabs doll with a pin.  Could all of this have something to do with the fact that Pauline and her servants were all dedicated practitioners of voodoo?

Sad to say but the House on Skull Mountain is pretty dull.  The film does provide a brief history lesson concerning how Haiti was the only nation to be formed as a result of a slave rebellion and how the real-life Henri Christophe went from being a slave to a king but the film doesn’t really do much with the information.  It’s tempting to look for some sort of subtext in the film’s plot but it’s really just not there.  Much like Andrew being the only white member of a historically important black family, the history of Haiti and the actual origins of Haitian voodoo are elements that are brought up and then quickly abandoned.   There is one good and lengthy voodoo ceremony but otherwise, the whole film is almost all filler.  When it’s not showing us the same lighting stock footage, it’s showing us Andrew and Lorena wandering around Atlanta.

But seriously, that movie poster is to die for.

Bunnyman: Vengeance


 

Before I start, if you haven’t watched the first two Bunnyman movies, do yourself a favor and go watch them now…don’t worry about reading this review…just go down that rabbit hole now, I’ll be here when you get back.

(For those of you that are impatient, Bunnyman trilogy is about a man who dresses like a Bunny and likes to hunt Easter eggs…(FFS…watch the damn movies!!)

Let’s talk about the technical stuff while everybody catches up!

 Writer-director: Carl Lindbergh,

Starring:

Diana Prince (Puppet Master: Axis Termination),

Debby Gerber (“Glee”)

Marshal Hilton (The Bunnyman Massacre)

Now on to the VENGEANCE! and I mean let the fur fly!

poster

Preview:

The man known as Bunnyman returns home to find his family running a haunted house attraction. The family welcomes him home, but soon realizes you cannot domesticate a wild animal. Death and mayhem ensue as the family turns on one another to fulfill their bloodlust…

 

Review:

If you haven’t already guessed, I am a huge fan of the Bunnyman movies. And when I got this screener I couldn’t watch fast enough. In this final chapter, all …umm Rabbies break lose and vengeance is regained! And I mean regained with a VENGEANCE!

girl 2

 

Would I recommend this movie?

Nothing will stop you from watching the final chapter. Watch it as soon as you can escape your bloody burrow…or I will be gunning for your rabbit skin!

sheriff 3_preview

Bunnyman: Vengeance will be available on VOD thru Uncorked Entertainment on October 20,2017….

 

And you can watch the awesome trailer here!

A Movie A Day #272: Mirror Mirror (1990, directed by Marina Sargenti)


Following the death of her husband, Susan Gordon (Karen Black) relocates to Los Angeles with her teenage daughter, Megan (Rainbow Harvest).  An angry goth girl who always wears black and bears a superficial resemblance to Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice, Megan struggles to fit in at her new school and quickly attracts the unwanted attention of the school’s main mean girl, Charlene Kane (Charlie Spradling).  Fortunately, Megan has an old and haunted mirror in her room that can not only bring her rotting father back to life but which Megan can also use to kill all of her tormentors.

Of the many rip-offs of Carrie, Mirror Mirror is one of the best and I am surprised that it is not better known.  The plot, with a teenage girl using paranormal powers to get revenge on all of the bullies at her school, may be familiar but Mirror Mirror is better executed than most of the other films of its ilk.  The script is full of snappy dialogue and, despite the low budget, the special effects are effectively grisly.  There’s a scene that does for garbage disposals what Jaws did for the water.  One thing that sets Mirror Mirror apart from similar films is that Megan is sometimes not a very sympathetic character.  Unlike Carrie, who was scared of her powers and only used them once she was pushed over the edge, Megan is initially very enthusiastic about using the mirror to get revenge for every slight, real and perceived.

The cast also does a good job, with Karen Black giving one of her least restrained performances.  Keep an eye out for Yvonne DeCarlo playing a realtor and William Sanderson as Susan’s strange new boyfriend.  The best performance comes from Rainbow Harvest, a talented actress who appeared in a handful of movies in the 80s and 90s and then appears to have vanished from the face of the Earth.  Believe it or not, Rainbow Harvest was her real name.

Halloween Havoc!: Tod Browning’s FREAKS (MGM 1932)


cracked rear viewer

Ex-carnival and sideshow performer Tod Browning had combined his love for the macabre and carny life in films before in two silent films with the great Lon Chaney Sr (THE UNHOLY THREE, THE UNKNOWN), but with FREAKS Browning took things to a whole new level. The cast is populated with genuine “abnormalities of nature”, legless and armless wonders, bearded ladies and skeletal men, a crawling human torso and microcephalic pinheads, parading across the screen to shock and frighten the audience. Yet it’s not the “freaks” that are the monsters in this movie, but two specimens of human physical perfection, their healthy bodies hosting malice and murder.

The film opens with a sideshow barker drawing a crowd to a horror hidden in a box, victim of what happens when you dishonor the code of the freaks – “offend one and you offend them all”. A flashback introduces us to the members of this dark carnival…

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Horror Scenes That I Love: The Monster Meets The Blind Man In Bride of Frankenstein


Today’s horror scene that I love comes from 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein!

In this scene, directed by James Whale, the Monster (Boris Karloff) meets his first friend, a blind hermit played by O.P. Heggie.  It’s a scene that features Karloff at his best and it’s still touching, even if it is kind of hard to watch it without thinking about Peter Boyle accidentally burning down Gene Hackman’s shack in Young Frankenstein.