Horror on TV: The Veil 1.2 “Girl on the Road” (dir by George Waggner)

From 1958, it’s The Veil!

The Veil was a horror anthology series that, because of financial difficulties at Hal Roach Studios, were never actually aired on television.  10 episodes were filmed before production was abruptly canceled.  Each episode was hosted by (and often starred) Boris Karloff.  Karloff later stated that he was never actually paid for his work on the show but his work as the host did eventually lead to him being hired to host Thriller, a horror anthology series that eventually did air.

As for The Veil, the ten episodes that were produced were never actually sold to a network but, in the 60s, several episodes were edited together to create films that aired on late night television.  It wasn’t until the 90s that the episodes were actually released on video.  For that, we largely have Something Weird Video to thank.

Each episode of The Veil opened with Karloff promising the lift the veil on a strange, perhaps supernatural, event.  (Most of the stories were supposedly based on true stories.)  Karloff would also play a role in each episode.  For instance, in tonight’s episode, he plays Morgan Debs.

Tonight’s episode is called Girl on the Road.  It’s a nicely atmospheric tale about a man (Tod Andrews) who picks up a mysterious woman (Eve Brent) who is stranded on the side of the road.  What is the woman’s secret and why is she terrified of Morgan Debs?  Why does everyone in the town refuse to talk about her?  Watch to find out!

This episode was directed by George Waggner, who is perhaps best known for directing the original Wolf Man.


Gary Loggins, Rest In Peace

We have some sad news to report.  Gary Loggins, who shared his film reviews here and over on his own page, passed away this weekend.  He was 61 years old.

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to Gary.  He was a good man.  He was active and respected in the recovery community and a tireless advocate for those trying to turn their lives around.  He was a good writer.  He loved Boston and he loved movies.  Oh my God, did he ever love movies!

Most of Gary’s reviews were of classic films and his knowledge indeed was encyclopedic.  He also reviewed more recent films as well.  He reviewed classic television shows and he enjoyed looking at the history of one-hit wonders.  His writing was full of warmth and joy.  I mean, this was a man who truly loved cinema and reading his reviews, it was impossible not share that love.  He brought so much to the online film community and he will be missed.

Gary first contacted me in 2015, asking me if I was looking for another reviewer for Through the Shattered Lens.  I asked him if I could see a sample of his work.  He sent me a review of Monster Zero.  I read it and I said, “Hell yeah, you can write for the Shattered Lens!”  For the past four years, Gary was a regular contributor here and on his own site, Cracked Rearviewer.  He introduced me to a lot of older films that I probably wouldn’t have seen if not for his recommendation.  As I said, he really loved movies and he shared that love with not only those of us here at the Shattered Lens but with everyone who read one of his reviews.  And for that, we will be forever thankful.

I’m going to miss my friend.

Rest in peace, Gary.

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: The Yesterday Machine (dir by Russ Marker)

The 1965 film The Yesterday Machine opens with dancing!

Well, okay, actually, it opens with two college students out in the middle of nowhere, listening to an old radio.  Howie Ellison (Jay Ramsey) is working on his car, trying to get the engine to work again.  Margie de Mar (Linda Jenkins) is working on her baton twirling, as one tends to due when stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

As soon as the film started and I got one look at the barren landscape, I knew that it had to have been filmed in my part of the world.  The whole thing just screamed Texas/Oklahoma border.  Then I saw Margie’s boots and then I heard Howie and Margie’s accents and I yelled, “OH MY GOD, THEY FILMED THIS IN TEXAS!”

And, indeed, they did.  The Yesterday Machine is a regional production, through and through.  Nearly everyone in the film has a strong accent and the North Texas landscape is notably flat.  (The film’s harsh black-and-white cinematography actually gives it something of a apocalyptic feel.)  After I watched this film, I did some research and I discovered that this film was shot in Dallas.  Director Russ Marker was a Texas filmmaker and actor.  He apparently directed two films over the course of his short career, this and The Demon From Devil’s Lake.  He also had an uncredited role as a bank guard in Bonnie and Clyde.

(There were actually quite a few low-budget filmmakers working in Texas in the 60s.  The best-known, of course, would probably be Larry Buchanan.  But, at the same time that Russ Marker was shooting this film, Hal Warren was filming Manos: The Hands of Fear.)

Anyway, Howie and Margie are supposed to be heading to a college football game but it turns out that Howie is totally useless when it comes to fixing cars.  So, instead, they leave the car and go looking for help.  After wandering around for a bit, they run into some soldiers who are dressed in Confederate army uniforms.

“Those are some crazy threads, Dad!” Howie says.

Having no respect for Howie’s beatnik ways, the soldiers shoot him and then kidnap Margie.

What’s going on, you may ask.  Well, fear not!  Lt. Partane (Tim Holt) is on the case!  And yes, classic film fans, you read that actor’s name correctly.  Tim Holt, star of both The Magnificent Ambersons and Treasure of the Sierra Madre, lends his gravitas to The Yesterday Machine!  According to the imdb, Holt grew disillusioned with Hollywood in the 50s and gave up the movies, retiring to his ranch in Oklahoma.  He only came out of retirement to play Lt. Partane in this film and Agent Clark in Herschell Gordon Lewis’s moonshiner epic, This Stuff’ll Kill You.  According to imdb, Holt only came out of retirement as a “favor for his friends.”  So, in other words, Tim Holt probably did this movie to be nice.

Helping out Lt. Partane is a reporter named Jim Crandall (James Britton) and Margie’s sister, a singer named Sandy (Ann Pelligrino).  Working together, they investigate why Confederate soldiers are wandering around North Texas and what they discover is that it’s because a fugitive Nazi scientist, Dr. Blake (Charles Young), has built a time machine!  He’s planning on using it to go to the past and help Hitler win World War II!

However, before he does that, he wants to make sure that everyone knows how time travel works.  This leads to a — I kid you not, dear readers — TEN MINUTE LECTURE IN FRONT OF A BLACKBOARD, during which Dr. Blake goes into meticulous detail about how he can travel in time!  It’s interesting because you can tell that the filmmakers actually did go to the trouble of researching all of the theories about how time works and how man might be able to travel into the past and it’s also obvious that they really wanted to show off what they had learned.

But, here’s the thing.  It’s totally unnecessary.  We’ve already seen the Confederate soldiers.  If we’re still watching the film by the time that Dr. Blake shows up then it’s safe to assume that we’ve suspended our disbelief enough to accept that time travel is possible.  There’s no need to convince us.  And, since Young wasn’t exactly the best actor in Texas, having him spend ten minutes madly lecturing the audience wasn’t exactly going to convince anyone that time travel was a plausible reality.  Instead, it just brings the entire film to a halt and kills the small amount of narrative momentum that it had going for it.

Anyway, once Dr. Blake finally shuts up, it’s time to stop his nefarious plans and hopefully make the world safe for college football games.

The Yesterday Machine is a really bad movie but I have to admit that I always kind of enjoy watching these regional oddities.  There’s something touching about everyone’s attempt to turn The Yesterday Machine into a “real” movie and, at its best, the film features the type of enthusiasm that you can only get from a low-budget amateur production.  If nothing else, this movie about time travel is a real time capsule.  Movies like this are about as close to real time machine as we’ll ever get.

Robot Without A Cause: Class of 1999 II: The Substitute (1994, directed by Spiro Razatos)

There’s a new substitute teacher at a local high school in Oregon and he’s not going to put up with any disrespectful punks.  John Bolen (Sasha Mitchell) can educate minds and change lives but only when he’s not busy killing any student with a bad attitude and trying to protect his fellow teacher, Jenna McKenzie (Caitlin Dulany).  Jenna is scheduled to testify against the local gang leader so every punk at school is trying to intimidate her and her boyfriend, Emmett (Nick Cassavetes!).  It takes Jenna and Emmett a while to realize that John is killing all of their students but soon, a mysterious man named G.D. Ash (Rick Hill) shows up and insinuates that John might be connected to the robot teachers that, two years earlier, terrorized a high school in Seattle.

This sequel to The Class of 1999 is mostly more of the same, with the main difference being that the focus is not on the students being hunted but instead on the teachers being “protected.”  If the first Class of 1999 was about the dangers of a no tolerance discipline policy, the sequel is all for it and suggests that maybe the world really would be better off if teachers could just kill some of their more disruptive students.  The first film’s director, Mark L. Lester, did not return for the sequel and directing duties were given to stunt coordinator to Spiro Razatos who, not surprisingly, emphasized action and stunts over characterization.  Fortunately, Sasha Mitchell was a champion kickboxer so he’s believable in the action scenes and he’s such a stiff actor that you could believe that he might be an android.  There’s a good and unexpected twist towards the end of the movie but, ultimately, the victims are too interchangeable and the direction is too flat for this sequel to duplicate the demented pleasures of either Class of 1999 or Class of 1984.

Game Review: Mystery House Possessed (2005, Emily Short)

Mystery House Possessed is an Interactive Fiction game by Emily Short.  It was one of the first IF games to be developed with Inform 7 and it is a classic of its kind.

Your friend Eulalie has died.  As per her instructions, her greedy heirs will be allowed to enter her house and spend the day searching for where she has hidden her diamond necklace.  However, she has also hidden something in the study and, in her final letter to you, she asked you to retrieve it.  She didn’t specify what it was, only that you would know it when you saw it.  And, Eulalie writes, if you happen to find the necklace, that’s cool too!

When you arrive at Eulalie’s house, her six heirs are already present and preparing to tear up the house in their search for her necklace’s hiding place.  It turns out that one of the heirs is a murderer and, unless you can figure out the killer’s identity, everyone in the house is going to die.  Including you!

What sets Mystery House Possessed apart from other interactive fiction games is the amount of randomization involved.  At the start of every new game, not only is a new killer selected but the location of the necklace changes as well.  The movements of the 6 NPCs also change from game to game and you’ll have to keep track of who has picked up each of the potential weapons that have been left around the house.  You might even have to pick up one of those weapons yourself so that you can be ready if the killer comes after you.

It’s a short game, with a clear goal and time limit.  Because of the heavy randomization, it’s also a game that can played over and over again.  Like almost all of Emily Short’s games, Mystery House Possessed is well-written with a careful attention to detail and challenging without being impossible to win.  If you’ve never played an interactive fiction game before, Mystery House Possessed is a good place to start.


Horror Scenes That I Love: After The Changeling’s seance….

So, last night, at the TSL offices, Jeff, Leonard, Case, and I watched Insidious!  It was an enjoyable experience.  I think we were all surprised to discover just how well Insidious holds up.  When the film reached the seance scene, in which the ghosts were asked questions and a possessed Lin Shaye would write out their answers, I said, “This scene reminds me of the seance scene from The Changeling!

And then I thought to myself, “That should be our next horror scene that I love!”

So, I went to YouTube and I searched for the classic (and really scary) seance scene from Peter Medak’s great 1980 ghost story, The Changeling.  And guess what?  I couldn’t find it!  I found a lot of scenes from The Changeling and I found a lot of people talking about how much they love the seance scene but I couldn’t find the scene itself!

So, here’s the best I could do.  This scene that I love takes place immediately after the seance and features George C. Scott listening and re-listening to a tape of the seance until he can finally hear the voice of the child who, years before, was murdered in his house.

Even if it’s not the seance scene, it’s still pretty good.  I personally consider this to be one of George C. Scott’s best performances.  And the sound of the little boy’s voice on the tape is chilling.

The Changeling is really good, by the way.  You should watch it, if you haven’t already!

Book Review: Haunted Heartland by Beth Scott and Michael Norman

Today’s review comes straight from my Aunt Kate’s paperback book collection.  It’s Haunted Heartland by Beth Scott and Michael Norman!

First published in 1985, Haunted Heartland is a collection of supposedly true stories about ghosts and other supernatural things.  The catch is that all of the stories take place in “American’s heartland.”

Where is the heartland?  Well, according to this book, the heartland is made up of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  So, sorry, Arkansas!  Too bad, Oklahoma!  Your ghosts do not qualify for inclusion in this book that’s a shame because both Arkansas and Oklahoma are home to some pretty interesting ghosts.  That said, the ten states that are profiled in Haunted Heartland are apparently home to some fascinating stories of their own.

For instance, did you know that Egypt, Illinois is nearly as haunted as Chicago?  Of course, I guess when you’re the home state of Al Capone and the Chicago Outfit, you’ll end up collecting a number of restless spirits.  Since President Lincoln was from Illinois, the authors also take the time to recount Lincoln’s numerous supernatural encounters.  The ghosts and the dream weavers loved Abe Lincoln.

Did you know that La Llorona has actually been spotted in Gary, Indiana?

Did you know about the poltergeist of Gutenberg, Iowa?

Or how about the mad woman of Topeka, Kansas?

Did you know that Michigan is haunted by phantom ships?

Ever heard of the phantom miner of Minnesota?

Did you know that Missouri’s own Mark Twain was psychic?

Have you ever been curious about the grinning skeletons of Nebraska?

Have you ever searched for the headless biker of Ohio?

Could you survive meeting the wandering dead of Wisconsin?

All these stories and more are detailed in Haunted Heartland!  It’s a pretty enjoyable book.  Norman and Scott narrate their tales of the paranormal in a breezy and fun manner, with the stated goal being more to entertain as opposed to terrify.  Even with that in mind, though, Haunted Heartland is a treasure trove from aspiring horror writers searching for inspiration.

International Horror Film Review: Last Stop on the Night Train (dir by Aldo Lado)

This Italian film from 1975 opens with two German teenagers — Lisa Stradl (Laura D’Angelo) and Margaret Hoffenbach (Irene Miracle) — happily looking forward to the future in general and spending Christmas with Lisa’s parents in specific.  (Of course, the Stradls live in Verona so Lisa and Margaret are going to have to take a train to visit them.)  Their happiness is reflected by the song that plays over the opening credits.  A Flower’s All You Need is perhaps the most obnoxiously happy song to ever show up in an Italian horror film.  Imagine my shock when I discovered that it was apparently co-written by Ennio Morricone.

Like many Italian exploitation films, Last Stop on the Night Train has been released under many different titles.  Here’s just a few: Night Train Murders, Xmas Massacre, Don’t Ride on Late Night Trains, Torture Train, New House on the Left and Second House on the Left.  As those last two titles indicate, this film was directly inspired by the financial success of Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left (which, for what it’s worth, was sold as being a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring).  According to an interview with director Aldo Lado, which was included with the film’s Code Red DVD release, the film’s producers approached him and told him that they wanted him to remake Last House On The Left.  Since Lado hadn’t seen Last House on the Left, the producers hastily filmed him on what happened in Craven’s film.  Based on what the producers told him, Lado proceeded to write the script for what would become Last Stop On The Night Train.

As a result, Last Stop on the Night Train follows the general plot of Last House on the Left but with some key differences.  Lado was a protegee of director Bernardo Bertolucci so, not surprisingly, he added a Marxist political subtext to the story, one that makes Last Stop On The Night Train a bit more interesting than the usual exploitation rip-off.  (Wes Craven, it should be said, always said that Last House On The Left was meant to be political, too.  Whether that’s true or not is open to debate.)  Like Craven’s film, Last Stop On The Night Train is about two innocent travelers who are abused and murdered by a group of thugs (played, in this case, by Flavio Bucci and Gianfranco de Grassi).  By an amazing coincidence, the murderers then find themselves staying at the home of one of the girl’s parents (Enrico Maria Salerno and Marina Berti).  When the parents discover the identity of their guests, they get revenge and prove themselves to be just as capable of violence and sadism as the murderers.

The main difference between Craven and Lado’s take on the story is that Lado adds a mysterious character who is identified as being only The Lady on the Train (played by Macha Meril, who also played the unlucky psychic in Argento’s Deep Red).  The Lady on the Train is apparently very privileged.  When we first see her, she is coolly and calmly talking to a group of other wealthy passengers.  The only hint that she’s anything other than an upper class passenger on a train comes when she reveals that she’s carrying a collection of BDSM-themed postcards with her.  Before meeting the Lady on the Train, the two criminals played by Bucci and de Grassi were portrayed as just being obnoxious and larcenous but not necessarily homicidal.  It’s the Lady on the Train who goads the two men into attacking and ultimately murdering Lisa and Margaret, largely for her own amusement.  (Disturbingly, the train’s other upper class passengers are portrayed as being aware of what’s happening but either not caring or being amused by the whole thing.  One passenger — who is later revealed to be an acquaintance of the Stradls — briefly joins in.)  Even at the end of the film, while the parents are savagely attacking the two men, the Lady on the Train watches with the confident certainty that her wealth and position will protect her from any form of retribution.

It’s a disturbing film and definitely not one for everyone.  Even if you appreciate the technical skill with which it was made, this is a film that you won’t necessarily want to rewatch.  (I rewatched it only so I could write this review.  For me, it certainly didn’t help that one of the victims was named Lisa.)  If Wes Craven’s film was ultimately about gore and the idea that violence only leads to more violence, Lado is less concerned with both of those and instead focuses on the idea that, when the privileged and the marginalized both commit the same crime, only the marginalized are punished.  Lado’s film is also far better acted (and, if we’re going to be honest, directed) than Craven’s film, which makes Last Stop On The Night Train the rare rip-off that’s better than its source material.

Constantine, Review by Case Wright


Can one act stain your soul for all eternity? It turns out that if you attempt suicide, you’re going to Hell.  Anywho, Constantine was a comic by Alan Moore (Watchmen) long before Keanu Reeves played the demon fighter.  Full disclosure, I have purchased, but not read the comic. It’s long and I’m not sure if I can get through it for this horrorthon, but I WILL TRY!

Constantine was born with a “gift” that he could see demons among us.  This drives him out of his mind; so, he commits suicide and is sent promptly to Hell. He’s tormented for what seems like an eternity, but in our time was just two minutes. He returns to Earth because paramedics revive him.  Because he attempted to kill himself, he’s condemned to Hell when he dies.  How do I know this?The “Half-Angel” Gabriel tells it to us in really clunky exposition.  It turns out that Heaven and Hell are basically in a Cold War and can’t directly fight on Earth.

Constantine REALLY doesn’t want to go back to Hell.  His solution is to fight demons for a living to get into heaven. He does an exorcism here and there and fights evil, but this isn’t his ticket back to heaven- as I was told by MORE exposition.  Constantine is kind of a depressive and a little whiny at times.  I guess that’s why I kept getting annoyed by him.  Yeah, Yeah, your life sucks, but there’s no reason to do this all the time:


There’s a lot of these “I’m so broody Boohoo” moments in this film.

Like this one: broody 3.jpg

This one was a long trip to bummer time with a soupçon of anger:

broody 2.jpg

Between the complaining, Constantine uncovers a plot that Lucifer’s son Mammon is trying to break into earth and cause a lot of trouble.  Trouble….Trouble….that starts with M …. and ends with N, which stands for Mammon!

Constantine was entertaining, but it seems kinda all over the place at times.  The parts that had him hot on the trail of Mammon and his evil plans were fun, but all the side plots and side characters were a mixture of goofy and dull.  Overall, it was a good burgers and fries flick.  Not to say that the comics or the cartoon (yep, there’s a cartoon, I know because of Google) aren’t awesome, but if they are the same quality as the movie, they are beach reads or I’m stuck on public transportation reading.  There might be sequel.  Will I watch it? Yes, because despite my snark, I’m basically 14.


4 Shots From 4 Films: City of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th, Night of the Hunted, The Shining

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!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1980 Films

City of the Living Dead (1980, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Friday the 13th (1980, dir by Sean S. Cunningham)

Night of the Hunted (1980, dir by Jean Rollin)

The Shining (1980, directed by Stanley Kubrick)