If at first you at least partially succeed — then keep going! That seems to be the modus operandi of micro-budget horror filmmakers from Nigel Bach to Ryan Callaway to — shit, everyone in the game, right? You don’t have that much money you need to earn back from these things because they didn’t cost that much to make, obviously, but if you get a few months’ rent or mortgage payments in the can every time you put one out, then why not keep on keeping on?
Turner Clay is no exception, and since he probably recouped whatever “investment” of time and money that went into 2017’s The Blackwell Ghost, plus a little something extra for the effort, there was literally no reason for him not to go back to the well in 2018 and crank out The Blackwell Ghost 2. Amazon Prime picked up the first one, so…
108 regular season wins… playoff victories against bitter rivals the Yankees and defending champs the Astros… a historic 18 inning loss in Game 3… and finally, the Boston Red Sox seal the deal to become the 2018 World Series Champions! And best of all, they did it before midnight!!
No one thought this team was anything special at first. Their new manager, Alex Cora, had no experience running a team on his own. They didn’t sign free agent slugger J.D. Martinez until late in spring training. There were questions about David Price, the bullpen looked shaky, superstar Dustin Pedroia was unable to come back from knee surgery, Jackie Bradley couldn’t hit, Rafael Devers couldn’t field. They lost their first game to the Tampa Bay Rays, and I had low expectations about them.
Then something magical happened. The team won nine in a row, then another eight-game streak, and they never…
The armor of a 12-century knight is possessed and determined to keep anyone from harming the museum in which it is currently housed. This includes anyone who might want to build a nightclub nearby. With the armor trying to prevent Chicago from enjoying disco, it’s up to Carl Kolchak to report the story and solve the case!
I like this episode because it features a holy ax.
Katie (Mary Steenburgen) is a struggling actress with an out-of-work husband (William Russ) and a deadbeat brother (Mark Malone). Desperately in need of money, Kate goes to an open audition and is immediately hired by Mr. Murray (Roddy McDowall), who explains that Katie will have to meet with one of the film’s investors, the wheelchair-bound Dr. Lewis (Jan Rubes). In the middle of a raging snowstorm, they go to Dr. Lewis’s home and, once they’ve arrived, Katie discovers that she is meant to replace an actress who looked exactly like her but who Dr. Lewis claims had a nervous breakdown. She’s told that she must stay the night so she can meet the director in the morning and when she tries to call her husband to let him know where she is, the line is dead. (For those born after 1996, the line being dead was the 80s equivalent of not being able to get a signal.) Dr. Lewis says it must be due to the storm but he promises to have Mr. Murray take her into town in the morning. Of course, the next morning, the car doesn’t start and it becomes clear that Dr. Lewis is not planning on ever letting Katie leave his home.
Dead of Winter is a throw-back to the type of gothic, damsel-in-distress films that actresses like Nina Foch, Ingrid Bergman, and Linda Darnell used to make back in the 1940s and 50s. If you can accept that anyone could ever be as naive as Katie, it’s not that bad of a thriller. Director Arthur Penn fills his movie with homages to Hitchcock and the scene where a drugged Katie wakes up to discover that she’s missing a finger is an effectively nasty shock. By the end of the movie, Mary Steenburgen has played three different characters and she does a good job as all three of them. Jan Rubes makes Dr. Lewis’s too obviously evil but Roddy McDowall is great as the polite but psychotic Mr. Murray. When Mr. Murray sees that Katie has tried to escape by climbing out a window, he yells, “Oh dear!” and only Roddy McDowall could have pulled that off.
Dead of Winter was Arthur Penn’s second-to-last theatrical film. After making films like Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man, and Alice’s Restaurant, Penn’s career went into decline as the American film industry became increasingly centered around blockbusters and Penn’s cerebral approach fell out of favor. After Dead of Winter, Penn would direct Penn & Teller Get Killed before returning to his roots as a television director. Penn ended his long and distinguished career as an executive producer on Law & Order.
Rondo Hatton (1894-1946) was dubbed by “The Ugliest Man in Hollywood” by Universal for his repulsive visage. Originally a Tampa-based sportswriter, Hatton began developing the disease acromegaly as a young adult, a form of gigantism which distorts the facial features and bone structure (wrestler Andre the Giant suffered from this). Rondo moved to Hollywood and got work as a film extra and some bit parts (he can be spotted in SAFE IN HELL , IN OLD CHICAGO, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (’39 version), and THE OX BOW INCIDENT, among others).
1944’s “The Pearl of Death”
Hatton played “The Hoxton Creeper” in the 1944 Sherlock Holmes entry THE PEARL OF DEATH (with Universal Scream Queen Evelyn Ankers as a villainess, for a change), then proceeded to scare the daylights out of audiences in JUNGLE CAPTIVE and THE SPIDER WOMAN STRIKES BACK. While not a trained actor, his unique looks made…