Weekly Reading Round-Up : 10/07/2018 – 10/13/2018, November Garcia And Ines Estrada

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s no secret to anybody who’s read this site for any length of time that I consider November Garcia to be the best comics art import to come out of the Philippines since Alex Nino, and it’s equally-public knowledge that my adoration for Mexican (by way, the last few years, of Texas) DIY cartoonist extraodrinaire Ines Estrada knows no bounds, so when John Porcellino recently listed two new self-published titles from each of them for sale at his Spit And A Half distro site, you knew I was gonna be all over them in no time. Let’s have a look at ’em, shall we?

Rookie Moves  is a witty and never-less-than-completely engaging mini that charts Garcia’s “rise” from the ranks of comics fan-girl to published cartoonist in her own right and showcases her at her neurotic, self-deprecating best as she rubs shoulders with the likes of Gabrielle Bell, Jon…

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Horror on TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.3 “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be….” (dir by Allen Baron)

On tonight’s episode of Kolchak, Carl investigates a series of mysterious thefts which could very well be connected to a series of mysterious murders.

Needless to say, it’s all very mysterious.

Kolchak is often cited as having been an influence on The X-Files and you can certainly see why in this episode.  While I don’t want to spoil the nature of this episode’s monster, I will say that this episode will be enjoyed by conspiracy fans everywhere.


First Man, Review By Case Wright


Happy Horrothon……wait a minute…this isn’t a horror movie!!! Nope, but it is going to win Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director.

First Man is a biopic of Neil Armstrong from his test pilot days, Gemini missions, Apollo Mission and return home.  I was moved.  Ryan Gosling inhabited that man’s very soul.  I have not seen acting that good in years and years.  At every point in the film, you are more on the edge of your seat than you have been in decades.  I knew he would land the LEM on the moon, but it was so close to disaster that you felt for him.

The picture opens with Neil doing test piloting.  He’s already getting tapped to be in the Gemini missions, but he almost passes.  He has a daughter that stricken with cancer and we share in his grief throughout the film’s entirety.  I won’t spoil it, but there’s a moment when Neil is on the moon with his late daughter’s bracelet and …. oh man.  Once his daughter passes, his wife pushes him to take the Gemini mission and we rapidly see that she is his ROCK!  We see it when his daughter passes and when the stress of the burden of achievement weighs upon this Great Man.

The weight of greatness and death is looked dead in the eye in this picture.  Brave men are facing and dealing with mortality in nearly every scene.  We see that the cost of putting the first man on the moon is paid in blood.  So many great men die in this heroic quest that it begins to feel like a Homeric adventure or great tale of an ancient Samurai told through a modern lens.  All the while they are struggling to make this great achievement, we hear the familiar whining of lesser men moaning in the background like white noise.

Once it is clear that Neil will be Commander to go to the Man, his wife demands that he explain the risks to his two remaining children.  He tells them and we feel his paternal pain twisting in him like a blade because his destiny is set.  We get closer to the other two members of his team – one I can’t remember and the other is Buzz Aldrin who is portrayed as complete asshole.  I mean…wow…what a dick!

When Neil approaches the moon, the LEM is heading for disaster and fate tempts Neil to abort, but it’s obvious that Neil will succeed or he will die trying.  There was no going back empty handed for him.  There’s a lesson here: the greatest achievements require sacrifice up to and including your life.

The film allows us to see this amazing quest through the eyes of our greatest American Representative.  It is also clear that the Space Race, Humankind’s greatest achievement, was a road that led to victory and was paved with blood.


The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Last Girl Standing (dir by Benjamin R. Moody)

The final girl.

Every old school slasher film has one.

You know who I’m talking about, of course.  She’s usually the only person in her circle of friends who isn’t sexually active, who doesn’t drink, and who doesn’t do drugs.  She’s usually studious and responsible and it’s usually said that she’s so mature and smart that guys are scared to ask her out.  While that may sound like kind of a boring life for a teenager to lead, it also means that there’s nothing around to distract her once the killer shows up.  While all of her friends are too drunk, stoned, or naked to escape, the final girl is the one who not only outruns the killer but who occasionally beats his head in as well.

Every slasher film has a final girl but few of them ever really seem to concern themselves with what’s going to happen to her after the end credits roll.  (Usually, if there is a sequel, we find out that the final girl died mysteriously a few months after surviving the previous massacre.)  It’s only logical that having all of your friends killed over the course of one night would not necessarily leave you in a good place emotionally.

The 2015 horror film Last Girl Standing answers the question, “What happens after the horror movie ends?”  In the opening scenes, we find Camryn (Akasha Villalobos) in a very familiar situation.  She’s running around the woods.  She’s stumbling across the bodies of all of her dead friends.  She’s being pursued by a man wearing a deer mask.  The man is known as The Hunter and when Camryn finally manages to turn the tables on him, we have reached the point where most slasher films would end.

However, this is right where Last Girl Standing begins.

Two years later and Camryn is still struggling to recover from the night.  She’s haunted by nightmares and sometimes, she even has visions of the Hunter stalking her.  She’s gotten a job working in a laundromat and her co-workers seem nice but are they?  It seems like everyone Camryn meets either asks her about that terrible night or they’re scared to get too close to her, as if she carries bad luck or they’re afraid that the Hunter’s insanity has somehow been transferred to her.

For her part, Camryn worries that someone might be stalking her and it doesn’t help her paranoia when Nick (Brian Villalobos) starts working at the laundromat.  Again, Nick seems friendly but is he?  Can Camryn ever trust anyone again?  Even more importantly, should she ever trust anyone again?  As most things do, it all ends in blood and tragedy.

Last Girl Standing is an interesting hybrid of a film.  On the one hand, based on the film’s opening and its final scenes, Last Girl Standing is definitely a horror film.  And yet, the middle part of the film is far more concerned with examining the life of someone struggling with PTSD than with providing the usual jump scares.  While the film’s premise might sound like the setup for a typical slasher film, Last Girl Standing is ultimately more about how we deal with trauma.  Akasha Villalobos gives a sensitive and empathetic performance as Camryn and the entire cast of this low-budget film does a good job of grounding this story in reality.

All in all, Last Girl Standing is a worthwhile film for those of us who have wondered what happens after the final credits roll.

Bad Medicine: Dr. Giggles (1992, directed by Manny Coto)

In 1957, the citizens of the town of Moorheigh discovered that their local doctor was doing experiments on his patients, removing their hearts and using them to try to bring his dead wife back to life.  The townspeople responded by executing Dr. Rendell and chanting a poem that goes, “This town has a doctor named Rendell/Stay away from his house because he’s the doctor from Hell.”  They would have killed Dr. Rendell’s son too, except that Evan, Jr. escaped by sewing himself up in his mother’s corpse and then later using a scalpel to cut his way out.

Thirty-five years later, Evan, Jr. (Larry Drake) returns to Moorheigh, looking to get revenge on the town.  Because of his evil laugh, he is now known as Dr. Giggles and he has a medical-related one liner for every occasion.  When Dr. Giggles learns that Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs) needs a heart monitor, Dr. Giggles decides to stalk her while killing all of her interchangeable friends.  Dr. Giggles says that he wants to give her a new heart, preferably one that he’s ripped out of someone else’s body.  Jennifer is not very appreciative.

Dr. Giggles was meant to be a franchise started, in the fashion of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th films.  It was a franchise that would never be because there wasn’t much that could be done with Dr. Giggles that wasn’t done during the first film.   Larry Drake was a good actor but, other than the scene where he used a scalpel to cut himself out of a dead body, there was nothing about Dr. Giggles that distinguished from all the other horror movie slasher.  He wasn’t a dream weaver like Freddy or indestructible like Jason.  He was just a dude dressed like a doctor who giggled too much.

For a better film featuring Larry Drake as a villain, do yourself a favor and watch Sam Raimi’s Darkman.

Horror Scenes That I Love: The Ending of Friday the 13th

Since today is October 13th, I figured that today’s horror scene of the day should be one of the best endings ever!

I’m talking, of course, about the ending of 1980’s Friday the 13th.  You can say what you want about the rest of the film (though, personally, I think the film’s underrated) but the ending is brilliant.  No, it doesn’t really make much sense, both in the context of the film and in the Jason-dominated sequels that followed.  That’s probably because the ending was a last-minute addition.  It wasn’t designed to make sense.  It was designed to make audiences scream and hopefully set the groundwork for a sequel.

But no matter!  I still love everything about this scene.  I love how thing sopen with that serene lake.  I love the calming music in the background.  I love the feeling that everything’s going to be safe.  And then suddenly …. AGCK!  It may not be as effective today because we all know it’s going to happen but I bet this scared the Hell out of people back in 1980.

“He’s still out there.”


Halloween Havoc!: HORROR ISLAND (Universal 1941)

cracked rear viewer

Universal Pictures kept cranking out the horrors, but HORROR ISLAND isn’t one of them. It’s as misleading a title as Hollywood ever produced, more of a comedy/mystery with some “old dark house” elements thrown in for good measure. This little ‘B’ was released as a double feature with MAN MADE MONSTER, and while its good for what it is, it ain’t horror!

Atmospherically directed by George Waggner and shot by Universal workhorse Woody Bredell , HORROR ISLAND  begins spookily enough with a peg-legged sailor trodding the docks attacked by the mysterious Phantom. Rescued from the briny water by hard-pressed for cash entrepreneur Bill Martin and his pal Stuff Oliver, we learn the sailor is Tobias Clump, a Spaniard who claims he has half a map of Sir Henry Morgan’s buried treasure – and The Phantom just stole the other half! Bill happens to have inherited Morgan’s Island, where twenty…

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