Lisa’s Oscar Predictions For October

And now, we take a short break from TSL’s annual horrorthon to bring you Lisa Marie’s Oscar predictions for October!

Be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May. June. July, August and September!

Best Picture

Black Panther

Boy Erased

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

First Man

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

The Mule


A Star is Born


Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Peter Farrelly for Green Book

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Vice

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Clint Eastwood in The Mule

Robert Redford in Old Man and the Gun

John C. Reilly in Stan & Ollie

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

Felicity Jones in On The Basis of Sex

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Bradley Cooper in The Mule

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun

Michelle Yeoh in Crazy Rich Asians




Horror On TV: One Step Beyond 2.14 “Make Me Not A Witch” (dir by John Newland)

In tonight’s episode of One Step Beyond, Emmy (Patty McCormack) makes the mistake of telling her parents (Eileen Ryan and Leo Penn) that she can read minds.  Needless to say, the news does not go over as well as Emmy might have hoped.  Her parents have a farm to run!  The last thing they need is a witch in their midst!

Emmy runs to the church and prays, “Make me not a witch!”

But what if the world needs a witch?

As with every episode of One Step Beyond, this episode is supposedly based on fact.  Patty McCormack is best-remembered for her Oscar-nominated performance in The Bad Seed while Eileen Ryan and Leo Penn are best remembered as being the parents of Sean and Chris Penn.

This episode originally aired on December 22nd, 1959.


The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Rasputin, The Mad Monk (dir by Don Sharp)

In turn of the century Russia, there lived a man named Grigori Rasputin.

He was a monk, though some considered him to be more a servant of the devil than of God.  Legend has it that he was a man who rarely bathed and who made it a point to live in the wild, a part of nature.  His hair was long and unkempt and he was known for his wild eyes.  Depending on who is telling the story, Rasputin’s stare is described as either being seductive or frightening.  Rasputin had a reputation for being a great healer, as well as a great seducer.  (It is said that Rasputin offered up as his defense that it was necessary to sin so that he could be forgiven by God.)

Despite being a controversial figure (and, in the eyes of same, an instrument of the devil), the charismatic Rasputin became well-known in Russian social circles.  In fact, the stories of his powers as a healer eventually reached the household the Tsar.  The Tsar’s son suffered from hemophilia and was frequently ill.  Rasputin was brought into the royal palace to cure him and, according to contemporary accounts, he was somehow able to do just that.  It was said that only Rasputin could stop the boy’s bleeding.

It was also said that Rasputin grow to have a good deal of influence over the Tsarina.  In fact, he was seen as having so much influence that certain members of the royal court started to view him as being a threat to their own power.  On December 30th, 1916, Rasputin was murdered.  There are many stories about how Rasputin was murdered but it’s generally agreed that the conspirators first tried to poison him, just to discover that Rasputin was apparently immune to cyanide!  Eventually, Rasputin was shot twice and then dumped in the Malaya Nevka River.  Stories about how difficult it had been to kill Rasputin only added to his legend.

After his death (and the subsequent communist revolution that led to the murders of the Tsar and his family), Rasputin became a legendary figure.  Because of his connection to the occult, it’s perhaps not surprising that he’s also been the subject of a number of biopics.  Everyone from Klaus Kinski to Lionel Barrymore to Alan Rickman has played the mad monk.  (Apparently, Leonardo DiCaprio has been attached to an up coming film about Rasputin.)

And then there’s Christopher Lee.  Christopher Lee played Rasputin in the 1966 Hammer Film, Rasputin, The Mad Monk.  It’s probably one of Lee’s best performances, as well as one of his most lively.  Lee plays Rasputin as being a cunning charlatan, one who may act like a madman but who always know exactly what he’s doing.  The film makes perfect use of Lee’s imposing physical presence and, when Rasputin uses his powers of hypnotism, Lee stares with such intensity that you never doubt that he’s a man who knows how to get exactly what he wants.  Lee makes you believe that, through sheer willpower, Grigori Rasputin very well could have become one of the most important men in Russia.

As for the film itself, it’s a briskly paced retelling of Rasputin’s final years, hitting all of the expected points without ever digging too far beneath the surface.  Rasputin cures the sick and seduces their mothers, wives, and sisters and uses his powers of hypnotism to hold most of St. Petersburg under his control.  Many of the usual Hammer performers (including Barbara Shelley, as the Tsarina’s servant and Joss Ackland as a bishop) make an appearance and the fact that no one makes the least bit of effort to sound Russian just adds to the film’s charm.  It’s an entertaining look at a fascinating historical story and, most importantly, it features Christopher Lee at his chilling best.

Rock and Roll Creation: Zombie Nightmare (1986, directed by Jack Bravman)

When muscle-bound teen baseball player Tony (Jon-Mikl Thor) does a good deed by stopping a grocery store robbery, he’s rewarded by getting run down by a bunch of stupid teenage joyriders.  Luckily, there’s a voodoo priestess in the neighborhood and, while she can’t revive Tony permanently, she can bring him back as a zombie so he can kill those who killed him.  Soon, Zombie Tony is killing all of the teens (including Tia Carrere) and Detective Tom Churchman (Adam West) is on the case.  Detective Churchman, however, has a previous connection to both the voodoo priestess and the murder of Tony’s father.

Zombie Nightmare is best known for later being shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  It was one of the best episodes of MST 3K but Zombie Nightmare is just as great even without commentary from Mike and the Bots.  This film features Jon-Mikl Thor, Adam West, Tia Carrere, zombies, and a heavy metal soundtrack that features Girlschool, Virgin Steel, Thor, and Motorhead!  What more do you need?  Jon-Mikl Thor is actually really convincing as the zombie and it’s always interesting to see Adam West play a role straight.  West even gets to be the bad guy here, and he does it without winking at the camera once.

Jon-Mikl Thor followed up Zombie Nightmare with the even better Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare.  He was also the subject of a recent and revealing documentary, I Am Thor, which should be required viewing for anyone who thinks they want to be a star.

Scenes That I Love: The Witch Melts In The Wizard Of Oz

I’ve reviewed two movies about witches today and I should be posting a review of a movie about Rasputin in a few more hours.  Needless to say, all of this witch talk might be disturbing to some.  Well, fear not!  Today’s scene that I love is for you!

Halloween Havoc!: WEREWOLF OF LONDON (Universal 1935)

cracked rear viewer

Lon Chaney Jr.’s Lawrence Talbot wasn’t Universal’s first Wolf Man . That honor goes to Henry Hull in WEREWOLF OF LONDON, a chilling but lesser film in the Universal canon. This one reminds me more of DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE than any of Chaney’s lycanthropic outings, and Jack Pierce’s makeup job is a little light in the hirsute department (more on that later).

British botanist Wilfred Glendon travels to Tibet to search for the rare mariphasia lumina lupina, a flower that only blooms in moonlight. Trekking into a forbideden valley, he is attacked and bitten by a werewolf. Returning to London with his find, Glendon is confronted by the mysterious Dr. Yogami, who says they’ve met before. Unbeknownst to Glendon, Yogami is the werewolf in question, who wants the phosphorescent moonflower as an antidote for his own lycanthropy. Yogami manages to steal the two blooms, leaving Glendon to transform…

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Book Review: Rapture by Thomas Tessier

Like 666, Rapture is a novel that I read after coming across the cover in Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell….

“Ah!” you’re saying, “so this is all Grady Hendrix’s fault!”

Well, kind of but not really.  Unlike 666, Rapture was actually a well-written and legitimately frightening book.  I mean, I probably wouldn’t have ever heard of this book if it wasn’t in Paperbacks from Hell but it’s not like anyone owes me an apology for inspiring me to read it or anything.

Anyway, Rapture deals with a guy named Jeff.  Jeff grew up in Connecticut but then he left for California, where he made a fortune in computers and suffered through one bad marriage.  Now, he’s nearly 40 and he can’t escape the feeling that maybe something is missing from his life.

When Jeff’s father dies, Jeff returns to Connecticut and accidentally on purpose runs into Georgianne.  Jeff grew up with Georgianne.  They were best friends in high school but they were never more than friends.  Now, years later, Jeff thinks that was a missed opportunity.  In fact, he soon convinces himself that he and Georgianne were meant to be together.  The only problem is that Georgianne is happily married and has a teenage daughter, Bonnie.  In fact, as Jeff observers, Bonnie looks almost exactly the same way that her mother did at that age….

It looks like Jeff is going to have to murder a few people if he wants to find true love.  Jeff turns out to be surprisingly skilled when it comes to killing people.  Either that or the police are just totally incompetent.  (Rapture was written in 1987, which might explain some of Jeff’s success.  If it was written today, DNA, texting, and social media would have rendered the entire story implausible.)  But is Jeff really as clever as he thinks he is?

While I was reading Rapture, I kept thinking that it would make a good Lifetime miniseries.  (I then checked the imdb and I discovered that Rapture apparently was turned into a made-for-TV movie in 1991.)  It’s a shamelessly sordid little tale, one that is all the more disturbing because Thomas Tessier tells almost the entire story from Jeff’s twisted point of view.  Though Tessier wisely resists the temptation to use a first person narrator, he still puts you in the head of a madman.  It’s more than a little icky.  At the same time, it’s undeniably effective and creepy.

In fact, I would say that it’s time for Lifetime to remake Rapture.  Pair it up with the latest episode of YOU.  It’ll be great, I promise!

Italian Horror Showcase: The Long Hair of Death (dir by Antonio Margheriti)

This 1964 Italian horror film takes place in a feudal village in the 15th century.  It’s a time of fear, corruption, and ignorance, which is a dangerous combination.  The village is ruled over by the corrupt Count Humboldt (Giulliano Raffaelli).  With his villagers panicking about every day problems like poor crops, banditry, and disease, the Count understand that the best thing to do is just blame it all on a witch.  Of course, it doesn’t do much good to blame a witch unless you also burn her and that’s exactly what the count decides to do Adele Karnstein.  When Adele’s daughter, Helen (Barbara Steele), goes to the castle to make an appeal for her mother’s life, the Count responds by raping her and then tossing her over the edge of a cliff.

Adele’s other daughter, Lisabeth (Halina Zalewska), is adopted by the Count and grows up in his castle.  Eventually she is married off to the count’s evil and greedy nephew, Kurt (George Ardisson).  Knowing fully well what Kurt’s family did to her mother and her sister, Lisabeth is not all happy about the arrangement but what can she do?  She has absolutely no one to help her.

And then, one night, lightning strikes Helen’s grave.  Not only does the grave fly open but Helen is now suddenly walking around the village and heading for the castle.  Except, of course, she is now calling herself Mary.  When Mary arrives at the castle, Kurt is immediately taken with her, so much so that he starts to plot the murder of Lisabeth.  However, is it possible that this is all a part of Mary’s plan?

Meanwhile, the black plague has once again struck the village and again, the villagers are starting to demand a sacrifice….

Obviously, the main reason to see The Long Hair of Death is for Barbara Steele’s performance in the dual roles of Helen and Mary.  In the early 60, Steele appeared in several Italian gothics and she almost inevitably always seemed to play a character who, after being unjustly killed by a member of the upper class, returned from the dead to get revenge.  (This was a template that was set down by her best-known Italian film, Mario Bava’s Black Sunday.)  While I’ve read that it’s a role that Steele got tired of playing, that doesn’t change the fact that she was very good at it.  Steele’s characters always returned to punish the men who had previously used and abused her, which is one reason why her performances remain popular to this day.

That’s certainly the case with The Long Hair of Death, in which the entire film is basically leading up to Kurt being punished for both his sins and the sins of his uncle.  George Ardisson gives a wonderful performance as Kurt, effortlessly going from arrogant and lecherous to terrified and helpless without missing a beat.  Director Antonio Margheriti plays up the story’s gothic atmosphere, giving the film an occasionally dream-like feel.  He emphasizes not just the villainy of the Humboldts but also the superstition of the villagers, making clear that evil cannot prosper without ignorance.

The Long Hair of Death is hardly perfect.  The middle part of the film drags and the low-budget is occasionally a hindrance.  (The village often looks like it’s made out of cardboard.)  But the film comes alive whenever Barbara Steele is on-screen and the ending is a brilliantly macabre.  Lovers of Italian gothic horror will find much to appreciate about The Long Hair of Death.

4 Shots From 4 Witchy Films: Burn, Witch, Burn, Season of The Witch, The Craft, Maleficent

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 lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we celebrate witches everywhere with….

4 Shots From 4 Witchy Films

Burn, Witch, Burn (1962, dir by Sidney Hayers)

Season of the Witch (1973, dir by George Romero)

The Craft (1996, dir by Andrew Fleming)

Maleficent (2014, dir by Robert Stromberg)

Horror Film Review: From Within (dir by Phedon Papamichael Jr.)

Strange things are happening in Grovetown, Maryland.

Sitting out on the dock, Sean (Shiloh Fernandez) reads from a book while his girlfriend, Natalie (Rumer Willis), waits.  After he finishes reading, he promptly shoots himself in the head.

Natalie staggers back to her father’s dress shop and says that someone is following her.  She then ducks into a backroom and stabs herself in the neck with a pair of scissors.

The next day, Natalie father (Jared Harris) hangs himself in the back of his shop.

And the deaths continue, one after another.  One girl crashes her car while screaming that someone is following her.  Another cuts her wrists on a broken window.  A recovering alcoholic drinks drain cleaner….

Normally, all of this death would be a cause for panic (or, at the very least, a sudden surge of people moving out of town) but the citizens of Grovetown are all confident in their ability to survive.  That’s because almost all of them are members of the same megachurch, led by the charismatic Pastor Joe (Steven Culp).  They believe that the deaths are the results of witch’s curse.  Perhaps all they have to do is kill the witch’s descendants….

Now, the witch’s son, Aidan (Thomas Dekker), is willing to admit that yes, it’s possible that his mother put a curse the town.  And it’s also possible that it was the suicide of his brother Sean that unlocked the curse and activated all of the deaths.  But Aidan still swears that it’s the townspeople themselves who are choosing to commit suicide.  If anything, the curse is just pushing them toward the inevitable….

Of course, complicating things is the fact that Aidan has kind of fallen in love with Lindsay (Elizabeth Rice) and Lindsay is dating Dylan (Kelly Blatz), the fanatical son of Pastor Joe.  Aidan and Lindsay think that they may have found a way to stop the curse but Dylan is more interested in just killing Aidan.  Working with Dylan is a white trash pyromaniac named Roy (Adam Goldberg) and you really haven’t lived until you’ve seen Adam Goldberg play a white trash pyromaniac.

Anyway, From Within is a film about which I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, the film is full of creepy moments.  On the other hand, it keeps getting bogged down in its attempt to say something meaningful about religious fanaticism.  I mean, we know that Pastor Joe, Dylan, and Roy are all bad news as soon as they start talking about how religious they are because this is a movie and religious people are always evil hypocrites in movies.  At times, this movie comes across as if it thinks it’s the first movie to ever suggest that maybe not all religious people are as perfect as they claim.

Far more effective are the scenes involving the curse.  Whenever someone falls victim to the curse, they find themselves being chased by their own doppelgänger, which leads to some incredibly creepy moments.  (When the doppelgänger appeared in a mirror and compelled one woman to drink bleach, it totally freaked me out.)  These scenes reminded me a bit of It Follows, though it’s important to note that From Within was released in 2008, seven years before It Follows.

From Within is an uneven film, a bit frustrating in its pretensions but undeniably effective in its scares.