Horror on TV: Thriller 2.4 “The Weird Tailor” (dir by Herschel Daugherty)

On tonight’s episode of Thriller, we see what happens when an aspiring sorcerer (George MacReady) accidentally kills his son.  In order to brings his son back to life, he has to have a special suit made by the weird tailor of the title (played by Henry Jones).

This is one of the better episode of Thriller.  For once, the use of the word “weird” in the title is not a misnomer!  This one was written by Robert Bloch, who adapted his own short story.  It originally aired on October 16th, 1961.

A Movie A Day #289: Night Visitor (1989, directed by Rupert Hitzig)

Billy Colton (Derek Rydall) is a teenager who has a reputation for exaggeration.  Lisa Grace (Shannon Tweed) is his next door neighbor, a high-priced prostitute who does not mind if Billy spies on her.  When Billy tries to tell everyone about his wild new neighbor, no one believes him.  Billy decides to prove his story by grabbing his camera and sneaking next door.  Instead of getting proof that she’s a prostitute, Billy witnesses his neighbor being murdered by a robed Satanist, who just happens to be Zachary Willard (Allen Garfield), Billy’s hated science teacher!  Billy goes to the police with his camera but Captain Crane (Richard Roundtree) points out that Billy forgot to take off the lens cap.

What can Billy do?  He knows that Zachary and his strange brother, Stanley (Michael J. Pollard), are sacrificing prostitutes to Satan but he can’t get anyone to believe him.  Working with his best friend (Teresa Van der Woude) and a burned out ex-cop (Elliott Gould), Billy sets out to stop the Willard Brothers.

Combine Rear Window with late 80s Satanic conspiracy theories and this is the result.  Not as bad as it sounds, Night Visitor is an unfairly obscure movie about Satanism in suburbia. While it has its share of dumb moments (like when Billy uses a watermelon to end a car chase), it also has enough good moments that suggest that Night Visitor is deliberately satirizing the excesses of the Satanic panic that, at the time of filming, was sweeping across the nation.  It also has a once in a lifetime cast.  Along with those already mentioned, keep an eye out for character actor extraordinaire Henry Gibson and future adult film star Teri Weigel.  Allen Garfield is especially good as the evil Mr. Willard.  Any actor can say, “I sacrifice you in the name of Satan.”  It takes a good actor like Allen Garfield to say it without making anyone laugh.

One final note: this movie was originally called Never Cry Devil, which is a much better title than Night Visitor.

Halloween Havoc!: CHRISTINE (Columbia 1983)

cracked rear viewer

Stephen King turned 70 last month, and the Master of Horror’s grip on the American psyche is stronger than ever, thanks to the unprecedented horror hit IT!, now playing at a theater near you. King’s macabre novels have been adapted for the screen since 1976’s CARRIE with  varying degrees of success; some have been unabashed genre classics, others complete bombs, most lie somewhere in the middle.

Top: Stephen King 1983
Bottom: John Carpenter 1983

Director John Carpenter had a string of successes beginning with 1978’s seminal slasher film HALLOWEEN, but his 1982 remake of THE THING, now considered a masterpiece of the genre, was a box office disappointment. Carpenter took on King’s novel CHRISTINE as a work-for-hire project. I recently watched it for the first time, and think not only is it one of the best adaptations of King’s work to hit the screen, it’s one of Carpenter’s best horror…

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Horror Scenes I Love: What Happens When You Summon Candyman

Today’s horror scene that I love is from 1992’s Candyman.

For the record, after watching this film, I stood in front of a mirror and I said Candyman three times.  I’m waiting until I have something to be mad about before I say it two more times.

Jedadiah Leland’s Horrific Adventures In The Internet Archive #12: Voodoo Island (1985, Angelsoft, Inc)

For my next adventure in the scary part of the Internet Archive, I played Voodoo Island (1985, Angelsoft, Inc.).

Voodoo Island is an early text adventure from Angelsoft, Inc.  Angelsoft was Infocom’s only serious competitor when it came to creating challenging and rewarding text adventures.  Typically, both an Angelsoft and an Infocom game would require the player to solve puzzles and search for clues.  What made Angelsoft unique was that the results of solving the puzzles were frequently randomized.  You could solve a puzzle and still die, just due to the luck of the draw.  That may be why Infocom outlasted Angelsoft by several years.

In Voodoo Island, you are the sole survivor of a shipwreck.  You wake up on the beach, confused but with the feeling that someone has been watching you.  The game’s introduction establishes Voodoo Island‘s tone early:

Spend enough time exploring the island and eventually, you will find a hotel.  Exploring the hotel leads to scenes like this:

The first time I tried to play the game, it took me a while to make it to the top floor of the hotel.  That is where I discovered not only Doctor Beauvais but also Sharleen, who the game describes as being “buxom” and “blonde.”  Considering the target audience of this game, I assumed that buxom and blonde was going to be a good thing.  I turned out to be wrong:

Your goal is to get off the island and avoid joining the living dead.  It is not easy but I have discovered a few things that might help: examine everything, grab everything that you can, and remember that just because you don’t see something the first time you look, that doesn’t mean you won’t see something the second time.

Good luck!


4 Shots From 4 Films: Special George Romero 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 is one of the most important names in the history of American horror cinema, George Romero!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Night of the Living Dead (1968, dir by George Romero)

Dawn of the Dead (1978, dir by George Romero)

Day of the Dead (1985, dir by George Romero)

Land of the Dead (2005, dir by George Romeo)

Horror on the Lens: Monster A Go Go (dir by Bill Rebane and Herschell Gordon Lewis)

Can you figure out what’s going in today’s horror on the lens, the 1965 film Monster A Go Go?

This sci-fi/horror hybrid details what happens when an astronaut lands on Earth and promptly disappears.  Much like The Creeping Terror, this film makes frequent use of a narrator.  I always appreciate it when movies like this come with a narrator.

Anyway, Monster A Go Go was reportedly started by Bill Rebane in 1961.  When he ran out of money, the film sat unfinished for four years.  That’s when Herschell Gordon Lewis bought the film, added some additional scenes, and then released it on a double bill with one of his own films.  Hence, if Monster A Go Go seems like two different movies crammed together … well, that’s pretty much what it is.

Along with its interesting production history, Monster A Go Go is also well-remembered for its amazingly nonsensical ending.  I imagine that this film led to a few drive-in riots.


Cleaning Out The DVR: New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell (dir by Stephen Tolkin)

(Lisa is not just watching horror movies!  She is also trying to clean out her DVR!  She has got over 200 movies that she needs to watch before January 1st!  Will she make it?  Keep checking here to find out!  She recorded New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell off of Lifetime on April 23rd!)

“That is some hard wood.”

— Joyce Mitchell (Penelope Ann Miller) in New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell (2017)

Why would Joyce Mitchell, a middle-aged wife and mother, help two convicted murderers escape from a prison in upstate New York?

That was the question that everyone was asking in 2015, even though everyone already knew what the answer probably was.  (Bad boys are sexy.  Murderers are the ultimate bad boys.  Plus, Joyce Mitchell appeared to be a little bit crazy and a little bit stupid.)  After breaking out of Clinton Correctional Facility, both Richard Matt and David Sweat spent several weeks on the run while Joyce Mitchell was briefly both the most hated and the most ridiculed woman in America.  Interestingly, Joyce Mitchell was not the only prison employee to help out the two convicts.  She was just the only woman.

During the manhunt for Sweat and Matt, I did what I usually do.  I made a joke.  I can’t even remember what the joke was but I do remember that it really ticked off some random people on twitter.  Seriously, the way these randos reacted, you would think that I was the one who had helped two killers to escape from prison.

“Certain things are not funny!” they shouted, “CERTAIN THINGS YOU DO NOT JOKE ABOUT!”

(Seriously, can you believe that people could actually get that mad at little old me?  What is this world coming to?)

Anyway, I have to wonder if any of those self-righteous losers watched New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell and, if they did, how they reacted to it.  New York Prison Break may sound like a standard Lifetime true crime film but it takes a satiric approach to the material.  If certain people found my relatively innocuous comments to be triggering, I can only imagine how they reacted to a made-for-TV movie that opened with a bloody recreation of Matt and Sweat’s crimes and then segued to a scene of Joyce making breakfast while listening to a trashy romance novel on tape.

As played by Penelope Ann Miller, Joyce is somehow sympathetic, pathetic, annoying, and frightening, all at the same time.  She has a nice house with a perfect kitchen and a husband, Lyle (Daniel Roebuck), who is utterly clueless as to how bored and dissatisfied Joyce has become with her very safe life.  It leaves her open to being manipulated by both David Sweat (Joe Anderson) and Richard Matt (Myk Watford), both of whom drew her into aiding their escape by feigning a romantic interest in her.  While they both encourage Joyce to fantasize about running off with them and starting a new life in Mexico, Lyle’s idea of adventure is to go out for Chinese food.  For Joyce, helping Sweat and Matt escape is like a real-life version of one of her novels.

Though it’s a true story, it’s also a very absurd story.  New York Prison Break emphasizes the strangeness of it all.  Scenes of Joyce and Lyle discussing the ins and outs of fabric softener are mixed with scenes of Sweat and Matt bickering over whether they should go to Canada or to Mexico.  Joyce’s desperate attempts to cover up her own involvement in the escape are contrasted with Sweat and Matt bonding outside of the prison.  Joyce may have been in love with both of them but, as the film makes clear, Sweat and Matt only loved each other.  And, as it eventually turns out, they didn’t even love each other that much…

“Mrs. Mitchell,” one detective asks, “you knew these men murdered and tortured a man and you gave them the means to escape from prison?”

“Everyone says I’m too nice,” Joyce explains.

New York Prison Break is a superior and well-made Lifetime film, distinguished by a quartet of strong performances.  Penelope Ann Miller, Daniel Roebuck, Joe Anderson, and Myk Watford are all at their best and it makes for very compelling viewing.

Music Video of the Day: Night Boat by Duran Duran (1983, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

I meant to do this video a few days ago, but I’ve been a zombie lately, including today–pun intended.

From the Duran Duran wiki:

“It is possible that the video is a homage to the Italian horror film Zombi 2, with settings and zombies that look very much like the ones in the film.”

That is exactly what I thought of when I started it. This video screams “Italian horror film.” The shot below that shows up within the first ten seconds immediately made me think of Italian horror.

It took me awhile to recall what movie that shot was reminding me of. It’s Come And Out Play (2012). That was a remake of the Spanish film Who Can Kill A Child? (1976). Italian. Spanish. It’s all the same in this context. A good example is Amando de Ossorio’s film Zombi 8 (1975).

From IMDb

You can read Lisa’s review of it here.

The lines that Simon Le Bon speaks are part of a speech that Mercutio delivers in Romeo And Juliet. It’s probably there because it announces to the audience that there is something wrong with him in addition to everything else.

As for the similarities to Zombie/Zombi 2/Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979), I only watched the movie for the first time the other day. It does bear some resemblance to it. On a superficial level, I would think of that movie. I would also think of The Blind Dead films, as well other Lucio Fulci horror movies. The following shots remind me of both City Of The Living Dead (1980) and Zombie (1979).

City Of The Living Dead (1980, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Zombi (1980, dir. Lucio Fulci)

The zombies bear a resemblance to the ones in Zombie.

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

We also get a cameo appearance from the Caribbean crabs since this video was shot in Antigua and the island sequences of Zombie were shot a bit west in Santa Domingo.

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Even the Night Boat itself ties back to Zombie. The beginning of Zombie starts with a boat, not too dissimilar from the one Le Bon leaves on, arriving in New York City with a zombie onboard so that Fulci could have zombies walking on the Brooklyn bridge at the end of the movie while drivers below go about their day.

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

This is possibly my new favorite Duran Duran music video. It’s the complete opposite of Rio. There’s nothing glamorous about this. It’s just stylish. They even worked in references to Rio.

Rio by Duran Duran (1982)

Rio by Duran Duran (1982)

The boat is a reference too. And, what is her name this time, Le Bon?

She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomi
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.