Horror on TV: One Step Beyond 3.26 “Signal Received” (dir by John Newland)


Starting tomorrow, we’ll be showcasing a new show here on the Shattered Lens so, for tonight, here’s the last episode of One Step Beyond that we’ll be sharing during this year’s horrorthon.

(If you’ve enjoyed these episodes, all three seasons of One Step Beyond have been uploaded to YouTube.)

Tonight’s episode tells the story of three sailors who hear an unexpected message on the radio.  Two of the sailors hear that their ship will soon sink.  The third sailor hears that he will live a long and fulfilling life.

One Step Beyond always claimed that all of its stories were “based on fact.”  This episode actually goes the extra mile by interviewing one of the real-life sailors about the message and about whether or not he believes in the supernatural.

Enjoy!

Beauty In Decay : Ian Sundahl’s “The Social Discipline Reader”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

We’ve all been there — the end of the road. The last stop on the train ride. The bottom of the barrel. How we pick ourselves up again and move forward — that’s up to each of us, I guess. If we even manage to do it at all.

For some folks, however, there’s no way out. What once looked like rock bottom becomes their new reality. Changing things is either impossible, or no longer an attractive option. I humbly submit that, based on the characters whose existences he delineates in his recently-published Domino Books collection The Social Discipline Reader, that cartoonist Ian Sundahl knows these people, and their circumstances, very well indeed.

Which isn’t to say that Sundahl’s work wallows in, or in any way even exploits, the misery or hardships or unfortunate situations of others. Quite the contrary, in fact : he not only respects the motel…

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The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Nocturne (dir by Stephen Shimek)


Have you ever noticed how movies about teenagers always treat the rules of the “Never Have I Ever” game like they’re some sort of legally binding contract?

Seriously, I’ve seen this happen in so many movies.  Someone has a deep, dark secret that they don’t want to reveal.  They know that if they reveal the secret, a lot of bad stuff will happen as a result.  Feelings will be hurt.  Friendships will be crushed.  Lives will be lost.

But then the minute somebody says, “Never have I ever fucked my best friend’s boyfriend,” they always drink up.  Half the time, they’re the only person to take a drink.  And, during all of the drama that unfolds, it never occurs to anyone to say, “Why didn’t you just not take the drink!?  It’s just a game, after all!”

Something like this happens in the 2016 film, Nocturne.  Nocturne takes place at perhaps the saddest high school graduation party of all time.  All of the cool kids have gone to another party, which means that only seven people show up at this party.  From that humble beginning, things quickly go downhill as the graduates hang out in the hot tub, play the Never Have I Ever game, and listen to Gabe (Jake Stormeon) ramble about religion and philosophy and stuff.  Gabe also demonstrates some card tricks so yeah …. that’s definitely the way to end your high school career.

Anyway, bad parties always seem to lead to people trying to contact the dead and that’s what happens here.  Gabe sets up a makeshift séance and the graduates ask the dead a lot of questions that they probably shouldn’t have asked.  (Seriously, I’ve been to a few bad parties in my lifetime and you an always tell that the party is officially dead once people actually try to talk to the …. well, dead.)

Needless to say, this leads to someone getting possessed and just about everyone else dying.  The other party was probably a lot more fun.

So, on the plus side, Nocturne is fairly well-acted and some of the death scenes were clever.  The film’s chronology is a bit jumbled, which is one of those storytelling tricks that can be really annoying but which is justified here by the fact that demon exists beyond our conventional understanding of time and space.

On the negative side, a cat dies about halfway through the film and, as I discussed years ago in my review of Drag Me To Hell, it’s hard for me to endorse any film in which a cat is killed.  I mean, honestly, I would think most supernatural beings would appreciate the fact that a cat can sleep through just about anything.  Whereas a dog would be barking and throwing a fit over all the murders being committed, a cat would probably just relax in a corner and play with a toy mouse or something.  In this film, there was really no reason to kill the cat and it felt a bit gratuitous.  It was hard not to tell that the only reason the cat was put in the film was so it could be killed.  My point is, if you want to me to like your movie, don’t kill the cat.

Anyway, Nocturne is a rather uneven film.  If you can see past the dead cat, you might find this one interesting.  It has its creepy moments, even if it’s hard not to feel that the overall movie doesn’t really work.

Captain Kirk vs. Sheriff Taylor: Pray For The Wildcats (1974, directed by Robert Michael Lewis)


The year is 1974 and there’s nothing more dangerous than being a hippie in Baja California.  That’s because psychotic business Sam Farragutt (played by Andy Griffith!) is on the loose.  Sam likes to describe himself as being a hippie himself.  “A hippie with money,” Sam puts it as he waves a hundred dollar bill in the face of a hippie without money,

Actually, there is one thing more dangerous than being a hippie in Baja California and that’s being an ad executive.  Once again, Sam Farragutt is to blame.  He’s willing to give his business to three ad execs but first they have to agree to go down to Baja and ride around with him on their motorcycles.  The three ad execs are Terry Maxon (former child evangelist Marjoe Gortner!), Paul McIllvain (former Brady Bunch star Robert Reed!), and suicidal burn-out Warren Summerfield (William Shatner!).  Warren is having an affair with Paul’s wife (Angie Dickinson!) but he’s still planning on committing suicide in Mexico.

However, going to Mexico gives Warren a new lease on life.  After Warren discovers that Farragutt is responsible for the death of two hippies, he becomes determined to make sure that justice is served.  Soon, Andy Griffith (!) is chasing William Shatner (!) across the Mexican desert.  Someone’s going to die.  Is it going to be Sheriff Taylor or Captain Kirk?

Pray For The Wildcats was a made-for-TV movie that aired the same year as Savages.  Both movies were a part of Andy Griffith’s attempt to change his image after playing the folksy Sheriff Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show.  Griffith is a good villain but the main appeal of Pray for the Wildcats is the chance to see William Shatner doing his thing.  Shatner has a juicy role here, playing a man who is at first suicidal and then righteously indignant.  He overemotes with the self-serious intensity that was Shatner’s trademark in the years before he finally developed a sense of humor about himself.  The movie itself gets bogged down with unnecessary flashbacks and dated dialogue but the spectacle of Griffith vs. Shatner makes it all worth it.

Book Review: Baal by Robert R. McCammon


Baal begins with an act of violence.

In the late 60s, a woman is raped in an alley by a stranger whose touch burns her skin.  Nine months later, Jeffrey Harper Raines is born.  The woman’s husband fears the baby and tries to drown him, just to be stopped and murdered by Jeffrey’s mother.

Jeffrey is sent to a Catholic orphanage, where he proves himself to be an intelligent and troubled child, the type who can not only mentally control all of the other children but also inspire them to go on a rebellious and destructive rampage.

Years later, a mysterious cult leader named Baal has emerged, first in California and then eventually in Kuwait.  His followers come from all walks of life and they include some of the wealthiest men on the planet.  A researcher tries to gain access to Baal’s cult and promptly disappears.  The researcher’s mentor, an elderly theologian named Dr. Virga, goes to Kuwait in search of his protegé.

What he discovers is that Baal is not only extremely dangerous but that his followers are willing to do anything that he orders them to do.  Fortunately, Virga does find one ally out in the desert — a mysterious man named Michael….

(I guess it was Gabriel’s week off.)

Baal was first published way back in 1978 and reading it, it’s obvious that the novel was heavily influenced by films like The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby.  In fact, it’s so derivative of those films that it’s impossible not to get kinda annoyed at not only how predictable the story is but also at the fact that it takes the people in the book so much longer to figure out what the reader realizes immediately.  You really do have to wonder if a cult leader couldn’t have perhaps come up with a name other than Baal.  I mean, that’s kind of like naming yourself Lou C. Ifer or something like that.  You’re just giving the game away.

Today, Baal is best known for being the debut novel of Robert R. McCammon.  McCammon was only 25 years old when he wrote and published Baal and most of the book’s problems — the lack of focus, the occasionally clumsy plot twists– are problems that many debut novels seem to have in common.  For quite some time, McCammon refused to allow Baal to be republished, saying that he felt it was inferior to his later historical and crime novels.  For the record, McCammon’s correct about that but Baal still has enough trashy and sordid moments to be occasionally entertaining.  I guess my point here is that Baal isn’t great and, at times, it’s barely good but it’s still better than Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.

4 Shots From 4 Other Lucio Fulci Films: The Black Cat, Aenigma, Demonia, Door To Silence


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.

Since I finally got around to reviewing Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond Trilogy (as Arleigh can tell you, I’ve been talking about reviewing those films ever since I first joined this site), it seems appropriate to dedicate today’s horror-themed 4 Shots From 4 Films to Lucio Fulci’s other horror films.  We present to you….

4 Shots From 4 Other Lucio Fulci Films

The Black Cat (1981, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Aenigma (1987, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Demonia (1990, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Door To Silence (1991, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Horror Scenes That I Love: From Pieces, The Greatest Line Reading Ever


I may have shared this scene before.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that I did because I can remember discussing this scene with Val Troutman.

Oh well, no matter!  There are some things that deserve to be shared more than once!

This scene comes from the 1982 film, Pieces.  Now, for the record, it’s not easy find an appropriate scene to share from Pieces.  Just about every scene in the movie seems to either feature gratuitous nudity or really bloody violence.  I mean, it’s probably nothing that would shock our jaded readers but it is the type of stuff that would probably get this site blocked from being accessed from a public library.

But then there’s this scene right here.  Now, in order to understand what’s happening here, you should keep in mind that Lynda Day George is playing an undercover cop who also happens to be a tennis pro.  She’s been assigned to the local college.  Her job is to figure out who is using a chainsaw to kill all of the students.  Unfortunately, she sucks at her job so she has to get this kinda nerdy college student to help her out.

Anyway, after spending the morning playing tennis, they’ve just discovered a dead body in the showers.  Yes, the killer has struck again and …. well, it was really messy.  Speaking as someone who appreciates a clean house and a carefully organized day, I can relate to the reaction below:

By the way, it’s impossible for me to watch this scene without thinking about the episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia where they’re playing Chardee McDennis and the question is, “Dennis is asshole.  Why Charlie hate?”

“Because Dennis is a bastard, man!”

Anyway, stay safe.