Did you see the Great Pumpkin?
Did you see the Great Pumpkin?
What better way to wrap up Halloween and Horrorthon than with an AMV of the Day?
Anime: Owari no seraph, Vampire Knight, Shiki, Another, Vassalord, Corps Party, Future Diary, Tokyo Ghoul, Deadman in the wonderland, When they cry, Akame ga kill, danganronpa, Shiki
Song: This Halloween, covered by Real Chantay
Creator: Color NighTcore
Past AMVs of the Day
What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!
If on Sunday night, if you were having trouble getting to sleep around midnight and if you lived in North Texas, you could have turned over to channel 58 and watched a 2004 film called Six: The Mark Unleashed.
Six: The Mark Unleashed is an evangelical film about the end of the world. By that, I mean there’s a lot of talk about tribulation, the mark of the Beast, and all the rest of that. The whole world is one big secular dystopia, in which people who refuse to accept the mark of the beast are sent to prison and given the choice of either getting the mark or getting their head chopped off.
I think one reason why so many faith-based films deal with the end of the world is because it allows characters to rebel, break the law, blow stuff up, and steal cars while still getting to remain a believer. I mean, usually, you run into the problems of turning the other cheek and giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s but, once you’ve been left behind, you can pretty much do anything you want because you’re fighting against Satan.
Now, admittedly, the car thieves in Six aren’t into religion. They’re just rebels who didn’t want to get the mark and who are talked into stealing a car by Eric Roberts. (That’s right, Eric Roberts is in this movie. Eventually, Eric Roberts will be in every movie.) Anyway, the two thieves get caught in that stolen car and they get sent to prison.
Also getting sent to prison is Tow Newman, who is a smuggler who was arrested by his own ex-wife! Tom is given the option of either losing his head or infiltrating a group of Christians and killing their leader. What’s interesting about this is that Tom is played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. That’s right. Negan is in this movie! Morgan goes all in and does a pretty good job as Tom. In fact, I’d say his performance here is more interesting than his work on The Walking Dead. It helps, of course, that Tom is the only person in the film who actually has a character arc.
Stephen Baldwin’s in the movie, too. That’s not really a shock because it’s a proven statistic that 9 out of 10 evangelical movies will feature Stephen Baldwin. Anyway, Baldwin plays Luke, who is a prison preacher and who teaches everyone about peace and forgiveness. He gets beat up for his troubles.
In the end, it all leads to three characters being tortured until they agree to accept the mark of the beast. Two of them refuse and lose their heads. One says yes and regrets it forever. Try to guess who does what! It’s fun.
Anyway, I have to admit that I always find these low-budget, independent films to be a little bit fascinating. It’s always interesting to me to see movies that were obviously made with one very specific audience in mind, whether that audiences is religious, political, or whatever. Six is the type of film that, quite literally, preaches to the choir. Those who share its vision of the end of the world will nod in agreement. Those who do not will roll their eyes. Both sides will probably end up getting too worked up, since that’s what people tend to do. Myself, I just find myself wondering if there’s any role that Eric Roberts would turn down.
Previous Insomnia Files:
Watching this movie was such a strange experience.
Now, of course, I say that as someone who grew up watching and loving the television version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Back when Buffy was on TV, I was always aware that the character had first been introduced in a movie but every thing I read about Buffy said that the movie wasn’t worth watching. It was a part of the official Buffy mythology that Joss Whedon was so unhappy with what was done to his original script that he pretty much ignored the film when he created the show.
So, yes, the 1992 movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed how Buffy first learned that she was a slayer, how she fought a bunch of vampires in Los Angeles, and how her first watcher met his end. But still, Joss Whedon was always quick to say that the film should not be considered canonical. Whenever anyone on the TV show mentioned anything from Buffy’s past, they were referencing Joss Whedon’s original script as opposed to the film that was eventually adapted from that script. (For instance, on the tv series, everyone knew that Buffy’s previous school burned down. That was from Whedon’s script. However, 20th Century Fox balked at making a film about a cheerleader who burns down her school so, at the end of the film version, the school is still standing and romance is in the air.) In short, the film existed but it really didn’t matter. In fact, to be honest, it almost felt like watching the movie would somehow be a betrayal of everything that made the televisions series special.
Myself, I didn’t bother to watch the film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer until several years after the television series was canceled and, as I said at the start of the review, it was a strange experience. The movie is full of hints of what would make the television series so memorable but none of them are really explored. Yes, Buffy (played here by Kristy Swanson) has to balance being a teenager with being a vampire slayer but, in the film, it turns out to be surprisingly easy to do. Buffy is just as happy to be a vampire slayer as she is to be a cheerleader. In fact, one of the strange things about the film is just how quickly and easily Buffy accepts the idea that there are vampires feeding on her classmates and that it’s her duty to destroy them. Buffy’s watcher is played by Donald Sutherland and the main vampire is played by Rutger Hauer, two veteran actors who could have played these roles in their sleep and who appear to do so for much of the film. As for Buffy’s love interest, he’s a sensitive rebel named Oliver Pike (Luke Perry). On the one hand, it’s fun to see the reversal of traditional gender roles, with Oliver frequently helpless and needing to be saved by Buffy. On the other hand, Perry and Swanson have next to no chemistry so it’s a bit difficult to really get wrapped up in their relationship.
I know I keep coming back to this but watching the movie version of Buffy is a strange experience. It’s not bad but it’s just not Buffy. It’s like some sort of weird, mirror universe version of Buffy, where Buffy starts her slaying career as a senior in high school and she never really has to deal with being an outcast or anything like that. (One gets the feeling that the movie’s Buffy wouldn’t have much to do with the Scooby Gang. Nor would she have ever have fallen for Angel.) Kristy Swanson gives a good performance as the film version of Buffy, though the character is not allowed to display any of the nuance or the quick wit that made the television version a role model for us all. Again it’s not that Buffy the movie is terrible or anything like that. It’s just not our Buffy!
Can you believe that Halloween and Horrorthon are both nearly over!? I’ve got tears in my mismatched eyes.
Originally, I was planning on posting the final episode of Kolchak tonight but I miscounted and, to make a long story short, I ran out of episodes of Kolchak before I ran out of days in October!
So, for our final Horror on TV of the 2018 Horrorthon, I’m going to share an old favorite of mine, The Curse of Degrassi!
Originally airing on October 28th, 2008, The Curse of Degrassi features Degrassi’s main mean girl, Holy J Sinclair (Charlotte Arnold), getting possessed by the vengeful spirit of deceased school shooter, Rick Murray (Ephraim Ellis). Chaos follows! Fortunately, Spinner (Shane Kippel) is around to save the day. As any true Degrassi fan can tell you, only Spinner has a chance against the forces of the undead.
One of the greatest Hammer vampire films didn’t even star Christopher Lee. In fact, it wasn’t even a Dracula film. Instead, it was the story of a circus.
1971’s Vampire Circus tells the dark story of a Serbian village called Stetl. Early in the 19th century, the children of Stetl are dying. The superstitious villagers believe that Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) might be responsible. In fact, they suspect that Count Metterhaus might be a vampire! Why? Well, first off, he only seems to be around during the night. Secondly, he lives in a big spooky castle. Third, he’s a count and don’t all counts eventually become vampires?
Now, it would be nice to say that all this turned out to be a case of the villagers letting their imaginations get the better of them but nope. It turns out that they’re pretty much right. One night, the local teacher, Albert Muller (Laurence Payne), sees his own wife, Anna (Domini Blythe) leading a child towards the dark castle. It turns out that Anna has fallen under the spell of Count Mitterhaus. The villagers promptly drive a stake through the Count’s heart, though he manages to do two things before dying. First off, he curses the town and announces that the blood of their children will give him new life. Secondly, he tells Anna to escape and track down his brother.
Fifteen years later and, as one might expect, Stetl is a town under siege. However, the town is not being attacked by vampires. (Not yet anyway.) Instead, the town has been hit by the plague and, as a result, it’s been isolated from the outside world. Men with guns have surrounded the town and are under orders to kill anyone who tries to leave or enter. Some in the village believe that this is the result of the Count’s dying curse while others just see it as more evidence of man’s inhumanity to man. Regardless, it’s not good situation.
Fortunately, escape arrives in the form of the Circus of the Night! That’s right, a gypsy carnival suddenly appears in town. How did it manage to slip by the blockade? Who knows and who cares? What’s important is that the villagers, especially their children, need an escape from their grim existence and the Circus seems to offer something for everyone. There are dancers. There are acrobats. There’s the mysterious tiger woman. There’s a mirror that makes you see strange things. And, of course, the are vampires….
That’s not really a shock, of course. The name of the film is Vampire Circus, after all. What always takes me by surprise is just how ruthless and cruel the vampires are in this film. Even by the standards of a 1970s Hammer film, this is a blood-filled movie but, even beyond that, the vampires almost exclusively seem to target children. Fortunately, all of Stetl’s children tend to be a bit obnoxious but it’s still a shock to see two fresh-faced boys get lured into a mirror where they are both promptly attacked by a vampire. (And don’t even get me started on what happens when one of the vampires comes across a boarding school.) Make no mistake, this circus is not made up of the type of self-tortured, romanticized vampires that have dominated recent films. These vampire are utterly viscous and without conscience. In other words, these vampires are actually frightening.
The members of the circus are, themselves, a memorable bunch. David Prowse is the hulking strongman. Lalla Ward and Robin Sachs are the achingly pretty, innocent-faced twin acrobats who greedily drink the blood of anyone foolish enough to wander off with them. Some members of the circus can transform into animals. What’s interesting is that not all of the members of the circus are vampires. Some of them, I guess, are just groupies.
Featuring the reddest blood that you’re ever likely to see and a cast of memorably eccentric character actors, Vampire Circus often feels more like an extremely dark fairy tale than a typical Hammer vampire film. Clocking in at 87 minutes, Vampire Circus is a briskly paced dream of carnivals and monsters.
Killer Under The Bed aired on the Lifetime network back on October 20th and, at first glance, it might sound like a typical lifetime film.
Recent widow Sarah (Kristy Swanson) has moved into a new house and gotten a new job. She has two teenage daughters, both of whom are still struggling to deal with the death of their father. The older daughter is Chrissy (Madison Lawlor), the star athlete who is protective of her younger sister, even if she’s not always willing to admit it. Kilee (Brec Bassinger) meanwhile is struggling to escape from her sister’s shadow and fit in at her new school.
Consider some of what Kilee has to deal with. The school’s resident mean girls are determined to destroy her. She has a crush on one of her teachers and he seems to be growing more and more obsessed with her. Kilee has a secret that she can’t tell her mother or her sister and Kilee fears that everyone blames her for what happened to her father.
As I said, it sounds like a typical Lifetime situation but here’s the twist. Almost all of Kilee’s problem can be linked to the rather ugly doll that she stumbled across in her new home. Much like buying weed in Colorado and then trying to sell it for a profit in Wyomng, having a voodoo doll seemed like a good idea at first. By making wishes, Kilee not only punished the school bully but she also resolved a conflict between her mom and a co-worker. And when Kilee wished that her teacher would love her, he went from holding her at a polite distance to suddenly sending her flirtatious texts and photoshopping their faces onto wedding advertisements!
But, much like a Colorado weed dealer spending the night in a Wyoming jail, Kilee soon discovers that nothing’s ever as easy as it seems. Even the best of ideas have consequences. For one thing, the doll has the power to drive people crazy. Secondly, the doll itself is a bit possessive and has a temper. When Chrissy comes across the doll and tries to throw it away, the doll responds by climbing out of the trashcan and reentering the house. Later, when the school bully tries to steal the doll, the doll responds by attacking her with a knife. Soon, the doll is crawling around the house, hiding underneath beds, and creating all sorts of mayhem.
Oh my God, this was such a great movie! From the minute that doll unzipped Kilee’s backpak so that it could escape to raise havoc, I knew I was watching a great film. Killer Under The Bed is totally over the top and just so wonderfully ludicrous that there’s no way that you can’t have fun watching it. Between the killer doll, the bullies that were so evil that seemed like they should be plotting against The Avengers, and the perpetually confused teacher, Killer Under The Bed was way too much fun.
In the past, I’ve been told that Lifetime tends to be resistant to horror movies. They really should rethink that policy. Killer Under The Bed is one of the most entertaining Lifetime films that I’ve seen in a while.
Evening approaches. The sun is setting. It’s time to start counting treats and perhaps playing a few tricks. In other words, it’s time to put on your Silver Shamrock masks and gather around the television….
(Actually, its seem like Silver Shamrock would have more success if they had a bigger online presence but I guess they like to do things the old-fashioned way….)
It’s Halloween in rural Pennsylvania. It is a time for hayrides, trick or treating, and flesh eating. A farmer comes across a box underneath a tree stump. The box has a seal that says it shouldn’t be opened so, of course, the farmer opens it. Out pops a member of the undead (Bill Hinzman) who tears the farmer’s throat out and, before you can say Night of the Living Dead, starts an entire zombie outbreak. Soon, the entire town is under siege as the zombies eat farmers, teenagers, and children alike. The only thing more dangerous than the zombies is the posse that’s been put together to take them down. You might survive the night but, in the morning, just try not to get shot by mistake.
Bill Hinzman might not be a familiar name but every horror fan knows his face. He played the graveyard zombie in the original Night of the Living Dead, the one who killed Johnny and then chased after Barbara. He ws he zombie who started it all. Hinzman not only stars in but he also wrote and directed FleshEater, which is basically an extra bloody remake of Romero’s better-known film. Hinzman even got the some of the same actors who played the members of the posse in Night of the Living Dead to play essentially the same roles in FleshEater. Hinzman made for a good zombie but, unfortunately, he was not as good a director as Romero. While there’s more than enough gore and nudity to keep the film’s target audience happy, FleshEater never comes close to duplicating Night of the Living Dead‘s nightmarish intensity. With most of the victims consisting of shallow teenagers and dumb rednecks, you’ll be on the side of the zombies for the entire movie.
One of the great things about October is that, along with Shark Week, it’s one of the few times during the year that the SyFy channel still shows original horror films. Unfortunately, I ended up getting a little bit swamped with stuff this month so I didn’t get a chance to review this year’s collection of movies when they originally aired. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make up for that today and tomorrow.
Dead In The Water, which aired on October 27th, is a nautical horror story that will probably remind you of a few other horror films. (Of course, if you’ve watched enough SyFy films, you know that’s not necessarily a complaint.) Like The Descent, it features an almost entirely female cast. Like Ghost Ship, it takes place within the claustrophobic confines of a boat floating on the ocean and there’s literally no escape to escape to be found. Like an Alien film, it’s essentially a siege film in which we watch the film’s cast attempts to survive an attack from a relentless enemy that keeps coming and coming. And finally, much like John Carpenter’s The Thing, the enemy is an alien who jumps from victim to victim. You’re never quite sure who might be real and who might be possessed. It’s all about the paranoia.
Dead in the Water follows the crew of a boat that gets lost in a thick bank of fog. When they come across a man floating in the ocean, they pull him out and start to examine him. He’s still alive, though barely. He implores them to kill him and then kill themselves. He says that the only way to “end this.” After they oblige the first half of his request, the crew members speculate that may have had a virus but a video on his phone reveals a far different story. Apparently, the man was the last survivor of a group of scientists who came across an alien life form in the Arctic sea. With an alien life form now running around the boat, the crew must attempt to survive while a terrible storms rages outside.
Both thematically and visually, Dead In The Water is one of those films where everything is really, really dark. In fact, the film was so dark that it was sometimes difficult to see just what exactly was happening on the screen. At times, this was effective. After all, fear of the dark is one of the big phobias and the darkness made it easier for the alien to do its thing. That said, I would someday like to see a horror film that takes place in an adequately lit room. We’re so used to horror in the dark that I think horror in the daylight would probably be an interesting change of pace.
The best thing that Dead In The Water had going for it was its cast. I liked the fact that not only did this horror film feature an all female cast but that they were all portrayed as being competent professionals. No one was there just to scream and be a victim, which is something that I always appreciate. Though the nature of the alien isn’t a huge shock, it’s still an effective little monster. Director Sheldon Wilson does a good job of keeping the action moving and capturing the desperation of being stranded out in the middle of nowhere. All in all, Dead In The Water was an effective October offering.