Horror on TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.17 “Legacy of Terror” (dir by Don McDougall)

Tonight, on Kolchak….

All across Chicago, people are losing their hearts …. literally!  A string of murders are all connected by the fact that the heart has been cut out of the body.  Could it be the work of an Aztec death cult that’s being led by a centuries-old mummy!?

Carl Kolchak is going to find out!

The episode originally aired on February 14th, 1975.  Wow!  Happy Valentine’s Day!


Vampire Party: An American Vampire Story (1997, directed by Luis Esteban)

When his parents leave to spend the summer in Europe, Frankie (Trevor Lissauer) has the entire mansion to himself.  Frankie wants to spend the time getting closer to his girlfriend, Dee Dee (Daisy Torme), but his best friend Bogie (Danny Hitt) says that it’s time to “party hearty!”  (That’s right.  Someone in a film made after 1991 says that it’s time to party hearty.)  Bogie thinks that the best way to party would be to invite Moondoggie (Johnny Venocur) and his gang (which includes Carmen Elecrta) to hang out at the house.  But then it turns out that Moondoggie is a vampire and once he’s invited in, he refuses to leave!  Even worse, Dee Dee dumps Frankie for Moondoggie!  Luckily, there is one man on the beach who can help Frankie out of his predicament.  They call him the Big Kahuna, he wears a Hawaiian shirt and he’s played by Adam West.

This is really, really dumb but at least it’s got Adam West saying lines like, “Stop that sucking!” and “Holy wipe out!”  The movie is supposed to be a throwback to the old Frankie and Annette beach party movies from the 60s, just with vampires.  (Moondoggie’s real named is Count Erich Von Zipper.)  What the movie didn’t take into account is that there was already a perfectly good Beach Party movie with vampires and it was called The Lost Boys.  Don’t be fooled by that PG-13 rating or the way that Carmen Electra is posing on the poster.  An American Vampire Story is a tame and bloodless vampire story.  The cast is game but most of the jokes fail to land like they should and ultimately, only Adam West keeps the anemic tale alive.

Horror Scenes That I Love: Susie Meets Helena in Dario Argento’s Suspiria

In this horror scene that I love, from Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Susie Bannion (Jessica Harper) finally meets the Mother of Sighs, Helena Markos (Lela Svasta).

To make clear, this scene is from the original Suspiria.  This isn’t from the remake or the rehash or the reboot or whatever it’s supposed to be that Film Twitter is currently going crazy over.  Don’t get me wrong.  I haven’t seen the new Suspiria yet so it could be brilliant.  It could be the best film ever made, for all I know.  But regardless, Dario Argento’s Suspiria will always be the only true Suspiria for me.

4 Shots From 4 Vincent Price Films: The Masque of the Red Death, The Last Man on Earth, The Witchfinder General, The Abominable Dr. Phibes

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 pay tribute to a true icon of horror with….

4 Shots From 4 Vincent Price Films

The Masque of the Red Death (1964. dir by Roger Corman)

The Last Man on Earth (1964, dir by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow)

The Witchfinder General (1968, dir by Michael Reeves)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971, dir by Robert Fuest)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 1.4 “Chapter 4: Witch Academy” (dir by Rob Seidenglanz)

Witch Academy opens with Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka), Harvey (Ross Lynch), Roz (Jaz Sinclair), and Susie (Lachlan Watson) debating just what exactly The Fly was about.  Harvey just thinks it was just a film about a guy who turns into a fly.  Ros says that it’s about body dysmorphia.  Sabrina points out that Cronenberg said that the film was about STDs.

(Actually, they’re all wrong.  The Fly was actually a pilot for a Canadian TV series about a sarcastic fly and an earnest tabloid journalist who team up to help people, solve crimes, and battle climate change.)

It’s the weekend and that means that it’s time to debate horror movies and get ready for three days of terrifying drama in the lives of Sabrina Spelmman and her friends.  Ros is desperate to get out of having to do church stuff so she agrees to spend the weekend hanging out with Susie.  Harvey would love to spend all of his time with Sabrina but it turns out that Sabrina is going to be gone for the entire weekend.  She tells Harvey that she’s going to a farm expo with Hilda.  But we all know that she’s actually starting as a part-time student at The Academy of the Unseen Arts!

Unfortunately, the Academy turns out to be a fairly unfriendly environment.  Sabrina is not even allowed to bring Salem with her and she’s immediately bullied by Prudence Night (Tati Gabrielle) and two other witches.  Sabrina is put through the harrowing, which is a witch version of extreme hazing.  Sabrina even meets the ghosts of several children who, over the years, have died during the harrowing.  They want revenge but, in a rather sweet twist, they can’t pursue it unless someone gives them permission to do so.  Fortunately, despite having been excommunicated last episode, Zelda (Lucy Davis) still comes to the school and gives them permission to do what they want.

(At one point, Sabrina points out that the witches are treating a fellow witch as cruelly as the mortals once treated them.  Unfortunately, Prudence and her witches fail to appreciate Sabrina’s point.)

Perhaps even worse than the hazing is the fact that Sabrina isn’t being allowed to take any conjuring classes.  Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) says that he needs to make sure that Sabrina is capable of handling conjuring but could it be that he secretly suspects that the only reason Sabrina agreed to attend the Academy was so she could learn how to defeat Satan.  Father Blackwood gives Sabrina a puzzle and says that, if she can solve it, she can take conjuring classes.  It turns out that the puzzle was made by her father and, with the help of a student named Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood), Sabrina does solve it.  Of course, as soon as she does, a demon shows up and things end with Sabrina screaming in terror.  Nothing’s easy when you’re a witch.

While Sabrina was dealing with Witch Academy, her friends were dealing with Susie’s Uncle Jesse.  Apparently, Jesse used to work in the mines and he hasn’t been the same ever since he saw the same monster that Harvey saw when Harvey was a child.  In fact, Harvey’s attempts to tell Uncle Jesse about his experience led to Jesse going crazy and attacking him.

Meanwhile, Ambrose violated the terms of his sentencing by using astral projection so he could go on an extremely awkward date and Madam Satan (in the form of Ms. Wardwell) managed to get into the Spellman house.  It was a busy three days in Greendale!

This was a pretty good episode.  If I’m not as enthusiastic about Witch Academy and I was about The Trial of Sabrina Spellman, it’s just because the whole hazing subplot was a bit predictable.  That said, Kiernan Shipka continues to impress in every single scene in which she appears and Lucy Davis had some great moments in the episode as well.  After watching this episode, I’m a bit concerned that Sabrina and Harvey are heading for heartbreak because 1) the Witch Academy is a huge part of Sabrina’s life that she won’t be able to tell him about and 2) she’s going to have to keep coming up with excuses for why she can’t spend the weekend with him.  Add to that, she seems to have a lot more in common with Nicholas Scratch than with Harvey Kinkle.

But for now, Sabrina’s main concern has to be with the demon that’s just been conjured up in her bedroom.  We’ll see how she deals with that in episode 5!

Halloween Havoc!: HOUSE OF DRACULA (Universal 1945)

cracked rear viewer

Since I’ve already reviewed HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN back in 2015,  we now turn our attention to HOUSE OF DRACULA, the last “official” entry in the series (though the Universal Monsters would ‘Meet Abbott & Costello’ three years later). The film tries to put a new slant on things, using science to conquer the supernatural, but winds up being just a hodgepodge of familiar horror tropes without much cohesion. HOUSE OF DRACUA does have its fans, but I’m not one of them.

John Carradine  returns as Count Dracula, introducing himself as Baron Latos to Dr. Edlemann (Onslow Stevens ) and seeking a cure for his vampirism. Edlemann discovers a “peculiar parasite” in Dracula’s blood, and believes he can cure him through a series of transfusions. But the Count, that sneaky devil, has his fangs set for Edlemann’s pretty nurse Militza (Martha O’Driscoll),  whom he hypnotizes with those hypnotic eyes of his…

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Horror On The Lens: I Was A Teenage Frankenstein (dir by Herbert L. Strock)

From 1957, it’s I Was A Teenage Frankenstein!

This film was produced as a direct result of the box office success of I Was A Teenage Werewolf.  Just as in Teenage Werewolf, Whit Bissell plays a mad scientist who makes the mistake of trying to play God.  (He also makes the mistake of keeping an alligator in his lap but that’s another story.)  The end result …. Teenage Frankenstein!

The makeup on the Teenage Frankenstein is probably the best thing about this film.  If nothing else, this film features a monster who actually looks like he was stitched together in a lab.

Enjoy and please be sure to read my review of this film at Horror Critic!


Halloween Havoc! Extra: Boris Karloff in THE SNAKE PEOPLE (Columbia/Azteca 1971) Complete Horror Movie!

cracked rear viewer

Boris Karloff frightened the nation in 1931’s FRANKENSTEIN , and continued to terrify audiences for over three decades. In 1968, at the age of 81 and suffering from emphysema and crippling arthritis, Boris signed on to do four low-budget horror films for a Mexican production company. Unable to travel, Karloff’s scenes were shot in Hollywood by Jack Hill (SPIDER BABY, THE BIG DOLL HOUSE, SWITCHBLADE SISTERS). These films had a limited release here in the U.S. in 1971, two years after Karloff’s death, then went straight to late night TV.

THE SNAKE PEOPLE is probably the best of the quartet (which admittedly isn’t saying much!), featuring some bizarre imagery, flesh-eating zombies, voodoo rituals, human sacrifice, and other cool stuff! Karloff looks ill (and he was), but still manages to command every scene he’s in. Enjoy a last visit with the King of Horror, Boris Karloff, in THE SNAKE PEOPLE!:

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 10/21/2018 – 10/27/2018, The Sandman Universe

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

At the risk of losing an untold number of “cool points,” I’m gonna come right out and admit that Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman remains one of my all-time favorite extended series in comics, and even though I smelled a cash grab right away with DC/Vertigo’s new slew of spin-off titles (purportedly “curated” by Gaiman himself, whatever that even means) gathered under the umbrella of The Sandman Universe, the extra-length “special” introducing the line (reviewed in one of these very “Weekly Reading Round-Up” columns, if memory serves me correctly — which it does) was just barely good enough to convince me to give the first issues of each series a go. Now that they’ve all been released as of this past Wednesday, this seems as good a time as any to give some “capsule review”-style appraisals of each, it seems to me, so without any further ado, that’s exactly what…

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