Halloween On Amazon Prime 2017 : “Unwanted”


Trash Film Guru

Here’s one I’m predisposed to like right off the bat : writer/director Paul Foster’s 2017 indie horror Unwanted, a well and truly “homemade” effort shot in Pittsbug (no “h”), Texas, earlier this very year for a whopping $8,900. My love for “micro-budget” filmmaking is well known around these parts, of course, but East Texas has held a special fascination for me for the past couple of decades ever since reading cartoonist Michael Dougan’s outstanding books I Can’t Tell You Anything and East Texas : Tales From Behind The Pine Curtain, both of which made this uniquely off-beat part of the country seem something of a world all its own. Surely, then, this one must have at least  something to recommend in its favor almost by default, right?

Still — there’s no point getting ahead of ourselves, is there? I mean, plenty of films with more going for them…

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Horror on TV: The Outer Limits 3.15 “The Revelations of Becka Paulson” (dir by Steven Weber)


For today’s excursion into the world of televised horror, we have another adaptation of a Stephen King short story.

In The Revelations of Becka Paulson, Becka Paulson (Catherine O’Hara) accidentally shoots herself in the head and subsequently finds herself being spoken to by a photograph of a tuxedo-wearing man (Steven Weber).  The photo has some suggestions as to how Becka can get out of her stifling marriage.

(In the original Stephen King short story — which he later adapted into a chapter of his novel The Tommyknockers — the talking photograph was a picture of Jesus.)

The Revelations of Becka Paulson originally aired on June 6th, 1997, as a part of Showtime’s The Outer Limits series.  Steven Weber not only played the man in the tuxedo.  He also directed this episode as well.

(The episode itself runs for 44 minutes.  The video below has some extra stuff, including alternate takes and a scene that was cut out of the original broadcast, tacked onto the end.)

Enjoy!

A Movie A Day #278: The Power (1968, directed by Byron Haskin)


Who is Adam Hart?

That is the mystery that Professors Jim Tanner (George Hamilton) and Margery Lansing (Suzanne Pleshette) have to solve.  Someone is using psychic powers to kill their co-workers in a research laboratory.  The police think that Tanner is guilty but Tanner knows that one of his colleagues is actually a super human named Adam Hart.  Hart is planning on using his super powers to control the world and, because Tanner is the only person who has proof of his existence, Hart is methodically framing Tanner for every murder that he commits.

The Power is underrated by entertaining movie, a mix of mystery and science fiction with a pop art twist.  It was also one of the first attempts to portray telekinesis on film.  Similar films, like Scanners, may be better known but all of them are directly descended from The Power.  George Hamilton may seem like an unlikely research scientist but he and Suzanne Pleshette are a good team and The Power makes good use of Pleshette’s way with a one liner.  Also keep an eye out for familiar faces like Arthur O’Connell, Nehemiah Persoff, Michael Rennie, Gary Merrill, Yvonne DeCarlo, Vaughn Taylor, Aldo Ray, and even Forrest J. Ackerman as a hotel clerk.

 

Halloween Havoc!: BLOOD HARVEST (Titan International 1987)


cracked rear viewer

Wisconsin-based auteur Bill Rebane has made some interesting movies: THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION, THE CAPTURE OF BIGFOOT, THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW. I’m not necessarily saying they were good films, just interesting! Rebane entered the slasher film sweepstakes with 1987’s BLOOD HARVEST, a lunatic entry starring falsetto singing wonder Tiny Tim (“Tip Toe Through the Tulips”) as a delightfully demented clown named Marvelous Mervo!

I’ll try to give you a brief description of the madness going on here: so there’s this girl Jill (Itonia Salchek) who returns home from college to find her parents gone and her house painted with the words ‘Scum!’, ‘Thief!’,  and ‘Bastard!”. Welcome home, Jill! It seems dad worked for the bank that’s been foreclosing on all the local family farms, including Jill’s ex-boyfriend Gary’s (Dean West) parents, who were murdered, leaving Gary in charge of his loony brother Mervyn (Tiny Tim), who spends his time dressed in clown make-up.

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Horror Scene That I Love: The Underwater Ballet of The Creature From The Black Lagoon


Today’s horror scene that I love comes from 1954’s The Creature From The Black Lagoon!

In this scene, Julie Adams goes for a swim while the creature follows her just below.  It’s one of the most iconic scenes in horror history.

Check out my full review of the film by clicking here!

Enjoy!

Horror Review: Rings (dir by F. Javier Gutierrez)


As our longtime readers know, I’ve seen my share of stupid movies but it’s hard for me to think of any recent film that’s quite as dumb as Rings.

It’s a shame, really.  Rings, which came out in February of this year, is the second sequel to The Ring.  Despite the fact that it’s been imitated by a countless number of inferior rip-offs and the film’s central premise of evil traveling through a VHS tape has become dated, The Ring actually holds up pretty well.  But, Rings just does not work.

It should be said that Rings gets off to a good and chilling start, with passengers on an airplane asking if they’ve heard about “the tape that can kill you” and then Samara Morgan (Bonnie Morgan) suddenly appearing on every screen in the plane.  It’s the film’s way of declaring, “Just because VHS tapes are a thing of the past, that’s not going to stop our Samara!”  It’s a good opening but it’s also only five minutes and it’s followed by a “two years later…” title card.

Spoiler alert: two years later, everything goes down hill and the movie gets stupid.

The main plot of Rings deals with Holt (Alex Roe) and Julia (Matilda Lutz, who looks and sounds like Ellen Page but isn’t Ellen Page).  They’re teenagers in love and when Holt leaves for college, they promise to skype each other every night.  However, one night, Julia sits down in front of her laptop and discovers that Holt is not in his dorm room.  Instead, there’s a woman demanding to know where Holt is.

HOLT HAS DISAPPEARED!

Julia goes to the college to find her boyfriend.  She discovers that Holt has fallen in with a professor (Johnny Galecki) who apparently watched the infamous video tape.  In order to avoid dying, the professor showed the tape to one of his students.  And then he had that student find someone else to watch the tape and so on and so forth.  I kept waiting for someone to ask the professor why he was ripping off It Follows but, apparently, no one at the college has ever seen a horror film.

Anyway, Holt has yet to force anyone to watch the video tape and he’s running out of time.  In order to save her boyfriend’s life, Julia watched the video.  Oddly, we don’t really get to see much of the video in Rings.  I’m going to assume that the filmmakers felt that it would be pointless to show the whole video again since, presumably, the everyone in the audience has seen either The Ring or The Ring 2 or maybe even Ringu.  But seriously, this is a Ring movie.  Not showing the entire video without interruption feels almost disrespectful to the audience.  It’s kind of like making a Friday the 13th movie and then refusing to actually show us Jason killing any of the counselors.

Anyway, after she watches the video, a weird symbol appears on Julia’s hand and somehow, all of this leads to Holt and Julia going to the town of Sacrament Valley, which is where Samara was buried after she was retrieved from that well at the end of the first Ring.  Julia and Holt do some investigating, which basically means talking to a bunch of overacting character actors with inconsistent Southern accents.  The film spends the majority of its time filling in Samara’s backstory, which is kind of pointless since we learned everything that we needed to know about Samara during the first two films.  It’s enough to know that she’s a little girl who can pop out of your TV and kill you.  She doesn’t really need the Ancestry DNA treatment that she gets from Rings.

Vincent D’Onofrio appears as a reclusive blind man, who might be the key to figuring out whatever’s supposed to be going on.  D’Onofrio gives a performance that makes his work on Law and Order: Criminal Intent look subtle and nuanced.  Normally, I wouldn’t mind an actor going over the top in a film like this but there’s nothing surprising about D’Onofrio’s character.  Even when his big secret was revealed, I shrugged.

Rings is one of those worst movies of 2017, featuring bad acting, bad direction, and totally wasting whatever potential the franchise had left.  The dialogue was so bad and the characters were so inconsistent that the movie actually made me angry.  It doesn’t even work as a self-reflective parody.

For the sins of Rings, we all deserve to watch this:

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Brian De Palma Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s director: Brian De Palma!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Phantom of Paradise (1974, dir by Brian De Palma)

Carrie (1976, dir by Brian De Palma)

The Fury (1979, dir by Brian De Palma)

Dressed To Kill (1980, dir by Brian De Palma)