Horror on TV: The Veil Episode 5 “The Crystal Ball” (dir by Herbert L. Strock)

On tonight’s episode of The Veil, a writer (Booth Colman) is heartbroken when his lover, Marie (Roxane Berard) leaves him so that she can marry his boss (played by Leo Penn, father of Sean).  To help soften the blow, Marie gives the writer a parting gift, an ornamental crystal ball.  However, it doesn’t turn out to be much of a gift because the only thing that the writer can see in the ball are visions of Marie cheating on her husband!  Boris Karloff both hosts and plays the role of the writer’s uncle.

This is one of the lesser episodes of The Veil but it still has its entertaining moments, largely due to the performances of Roxane Berard and, of course, Boris Karloff.  I guess my main problem with this episode is that it doesn’t so much end as it just stops.  I was waiting for one big twist but …. oh well!  Listen, it’s got Boris Karloff in it and you should always watch as much Karloff as possible in October!


The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Broken Ghost (dir by Richard Gray)

Odd film, Broken Ghost.

It opens with two bikers slowly approaching a big house that appears to be sitting out in the middle of nowhere.  They enter the house, we hear gunshots, and then suddenly….

….a new family is moving into the house!  The Day family is full of secrets, some of which we learn about immediately and others of which are only gradually revealed.  Samantha Day (Scottie Thompson) has recently bought the local drug store and is frustrated by the fact that her husband, William (Nick Farnell), is impotent.  William is a moody artist who is struggling to get over an addiction to pornography.  And then there’s their teenage daughter, who insists on being called Imogen (Autry Haydon-Wilson) even though her real name is Grace.  Or maybe she now wants to be Grace and her original name was Imogen.  To be honest, it’s hard to keep track because everyone refers to her by both names throughout the film.  We do know that Samantha occasionally calls her the wrong name because everyone yells at her about it.

Anyway, Imogen is the reason that the Days have moved to a new house.  Apparently, something bad happened at Imogen’s old school and, as a result, she’s changed her name and her hair.  Imogen is an interesting character and Autry Haydon-Wilson does a good job playing her.  Imogen’s moods swing back and forth, between depression and angry, insecurity and defiance.  You’re on her side as soon as you meet her.  Imogen suffers from a severe vision impairment and the film occasionally shows the world through her eyes.  It’s a uniquely threatening place.

As soon as the Days move into their new home, strange things start to happen.  The television turns on at random and it’s usually showing porn.  Imogen starts to hear a voice calling her name.  Samantha finds herself tempted to run off with every strange man that she sees at the local bar.  William, at least, finds himself artistically inspired.  When his wife and his daughter point out to him that the house is obviously haunted and that it might be a good idea to move somewhere else, William replies, “I’m doing my best work!”

It turns out that the house has quite a history, one that goes beyond those two bikers that we saw earlier.  The house was previously owned by another artist, one who murdered his wife and his children.  When William finds the murderer’s artwork, he starts to slip even further into insanity.  Could it be that William is possessed by the murder’s malevolent spirit or is there a twist lurking in the shadows….

Yes, there is a twist.  I won’t spoil it, beyond saying that it was a pretty bad twist and that it didn’t really make any sense.  In fact, it made me want to throw something at the television.  But, oh well.  I guess we should be happy that Broken Ghost tried to do something unexpected.  Still, as a result of the twist, the movie ends on a rather sour note and it’s hard not to feel that one member of the Day household has been excessively punished while another member of the family has basically gotten away with acting like a complete asshole.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.

So, it’s a flawed film that doesn’t really work but there are still some effective moments.  As I said, Imogen’s an interesting character and I almost wish that the film had dropped all of the supernatural mystery stuff and instead just focused on her character and her struggle to move on with her life.  Say what you will about the script but the cinematography is gorgeous and full of atmosphere.  There’s good moments all through Broken Ghost.

It’s just a shame about that ending.

Robot In Lust: Saturn 3 (1980, directed by Stanley Donen)

The time is the future and Earth is so polluted and overcrowded that the survival of humanity is dependent on space stations that are located across the galaxy.  On one of the moons of Saturn, Adam (Kirk Douglas) and Alex (Farrah Fawcett) are researching and developing new ways to grow food.  Alex is young and has never experienced life on Earth.  Adam is in his 60s and says that Earth is the worst place in the universe.  Alex and Adam are not just colleagues but lovers as well.  Inside the tranquil facility, Adam, Alex, and Sally the Dog live a lifestyle that feels more like late 70s California than 21st century Saturn.

Adam is disturbed when a cargo ship arrives.  The ship is piloted by Captain James (Harvey Keitel, giving the film’s only interesting performance despite having had all of his dialogue dubbed by Roy Dotrice), who immediately takes an unwelcome interest in Alex.  (“You have a great body,” he says, “May I use it?”)  Captain James starts telling Alex stories about life back on Earth and encouraging her to abandon Adam.  Captain James also reveals that he’s accompanied by an 8-foot robot named Hector.  Hector is designed to replace one of the scientists.

If that’s not bad enough, it also turns out that Captain James is not really Captain James but instead, he’s Captain Benson.  Benson was originally assigned to fly the cargo ship but, after a psychological profile deemed him to be psychotic, Benson was replaced by James.  So, Benson killed James by pushing him out of an airlock.  Now, Benson is on Saturn 3 and he’s uploaded both his homicidal impulses and his lust for Alex into Hector’s programming.  Soon, Hector is rampaging through the facility, determined to have Alex for himself.

For an ultimately forgettable film that plays like an Alien rip-off (even though the two films were actually shot at the same time), Saturn 3 has long been infamous for its troubled production.  Martin Amis, who wrote an early draft of the script, even wrote a novel, Money, based on the filming of Saturn 3.  (In the novel, Kirk Douglas is renamed Lorne Guyland and insists on getting naked as much as possible in order to prove that he’s still virile.)  The film was originally meant to be the directorial debut of John Barry, the famed British production designer.  However, Barry departed the film after two weeks, with reports differing on whether he left voluntarily or if he was fired.  The film’s producer, Stanley Donen, took over as director.  Stanley Donen, who also directed legitimate classics like Singin’ In The Rain, Charade, and Two For The Road, confessed to having no affinity for science fiction and it’s obvious from watching his one foray into the genre that he was not exaggerating.

The idea behind Saturn 3, with Hector taking on the personality of it creator, is an intriguing one but the film doesn’t do much with it and the film’s choppy pace indicates that there was extensive executive tinkering both during and after filming.  Harvey Keitel is convincingly strange in his role but Farrah Fawcett is miscast as a scientist and Kirk Douglas does his usual grin and grimace routine, usually while naked.  (It doesn’t seem that Martin Amis had to stretch the truth too far.)  The 8-foot Hector looks impressive until he actually has to chase Fawcett through the facility.  That’s when it becomes obvious that anyone with two functioning legs could easily outrun the lumbering robot.

In space, no one can hear you scream.  But they might hear you laughing at Saturn 3.

Game Review: Ghost Town (1995, E.L. Cheney)

In this text adventure, you are a prospector in the old west.  You’re trying to find the old ghost town of Brimstone.  Though the town is deserted, it is rumored that it might be haunted.  It is also rumored that the town might be home to a fortune in gold.

Ghost Town is a fairly diverting text adventure.  The first few times that I played, I didn’t even make it to Brimstone.  Instead, I wandered around the endless prairie and then I got trapped in one location by a snake.

Once you figure out how to actually get by the snake, you can move on to the town.  It turns out that, despite the the rumors that the town is deserted, it actually is inhabited by a crazy lawman and he’s holding a woman hostage.  It’s up to you to defeat the lawman, rescue the woman, and hopefully make it out alive.

As text adventures go, it’s basic but it’s not a bad game.  I played it because I thought there would be actual ghosts but instead, it’s just a really evil sheriff.  If you can overlook some misspellings and questionable grammar, this a fairly well-programmed game and one that has more than its share of interesting locations.  It’s a game the rewards both persistence and an eye for small details.

It can be played at the Internet Archive.  Good luck getting past that snake!

Jerusalem’s Lot, Book Review, By Case Wright


Jerusalem’s Lot is a short story by Stephen King that is a prequel to Salem’s Lot. Salem Lot was reviewed by Lisa! Lisa’s Salem Lot Review is Right Here! REALLY!  I want to make another thing clear: I didn’t read the story this time. I listened to the Audiobook … again. The performance is by John Glover and it’s really like a radio show.  John brings it! It’s a one-man-show with different voices and gravitas.  John Glover is truly a national treasure!!!

The story takes place in Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine in 1850 and is told as a series of journal entries by Charles Boone and few by Boone’s manservant/pal Calvin McCann.  Boone inherits his ancestral home in Chapelwaite, Maine just two miles from the eponymous Jerusalem’s Lot. After he moves in, he starts to hear what he believes are large rats crawling in the walls. It turns out they’re not rats, but ghosts of the damned!  The longer that Boone is in the house, the stronger the ghosts become.  This is common in Stephen King’s early works.  In “The Shining”, Danny Torrence’s ESP abilities acted as a battery that charged up the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel so that they could interface with our reality.  It was weird that the ghosts wanted to kill Danny; they surmised that his death would give them permanent entry into our world.  This is kinda silly because wouldn’t that make him a Dead Battery.

As Charles stays, the Ghosts leave him and Calvin maps and notes guiding them to the nearby town of Jerusalem’s Lot.  It is revealed that Jerusalem’s Lot was a town founded by Charles’ distant ancestor John Boone who became a devil worshiping sex pervert.  I used to visit Maine a lot in my younger days and sure there isn’t always a lot to do, but who knew that these Maine residents were only a missed Red Sox game away from creating an inbred demonic sex cult?!  Sex cults are in now check out Lisa’s NXIVM Lifetime movie  HERE!

John’s demonic sex cult set out to manifest a gigantic intergalactic demon worm to the Jerusalem Lot Chapel by reading from an evil book called “Mysteries of the Worm” by Nicolas Sparks and then have red punch and bundt cake. They were apparently successful because the town is deserted. Boone discovers that Boone’s descendants act as a doorway for the inbred demonic sex cult to return because blood calls to blood! Bwhahaha.  This is idea of evil deeds being inherited. This is the entire plot of Bag of Bones.

Charles sets out to destroy the book because he doesn’t want the world to end or have a “Notebook” sequel in circulation.  Does Boone save the day? Buy the audiobook!

Night Shift as a whole is a brilliant collection of short stories from a time when Stephen King had just been able to support himself and his family with his writing.  His stories are leaner and heavily edited, making them a lot of fun to read because there’s no extraneous elements.  I will likely review many more short stories from this book and this period because they are some of his best work.  Happy Horrorthon!

Horror Scenes That I Love: The Painting Comes To Life In The Conjuring 2

Obviously, you don’t have to be from a Catholic background to find this scene from The Conjuring 2 totally creepy but it definitely helps.

I remember watching this scene in the theaters.  As soon as Vera Farimga stepped into that room, I was like, “Uhmm …. see the painting?  Uh, there’s a painting behind you.  You might want to turn around and look at the painting….”

I really liked The Conjuring 2 and the first Conjuring as well.  I even liked the Annabelle films.  But one thing that I’ve always noticed about haunted house films is that nobody ever just turns on the lights.  It always seems to me like so much trouble could be avoided just by turning on the lights in every room and leaving them on.  Scary things only seem to happen in the dark.

Anyway, enough of my rambling!  Here’s today’s scene:

Book Review: The Hell Candidate by Graham Masterton

First off, ignore the fact that the cover for the 1981 first edition of The Hell Candidate credits Thomas Luke as being the author.  This book was written by Graham Masterton and, with its combination of sex, violence, and transgressive political commentary, it’s easily identifiable as being a Masterton novel.  Why was it published under the name Thomas Luke?  Perhaps, at the time it was published, it was felt that the British Graham Masterton wasn’t a well-enough known name in the United States.  Or maybe it was felt that the book would prove to be so controversial that it had to be published under a pseudonym.  Who knows?  All subsequent editions of the book have credited Graham Masterton as being the author so, obviously, it’s no longer controversial (or even outlandish) to suggest that an American politician might be in league with the devil.

The Hell Candidate is told from the point of view of Jack Russo, a PR man who has been hired to work on the presidential campaign of Hunter Peal.  At the start of his campaign, Peal is a calm and rather even-handed candidate, advocating common sense solutions for America’s problems.  Everyone acknowledges that he’s a good man but no one gives him a chance of actually winning his party’s nomination.  That all changes when Peal’s personality suddenly changes, seemingly overnight.  Suddenly, Peal is loud, profane, and angry, a candidate who promises to destroy America’s enemies and make everyone at home rich.  His managers worry that Peal has gone insane and prepare themselves for a disaster on the campaign trail.

Instead, it turns out that the voters really like this new, profane and insane Hunter Peal.  No matter what Peal says or does, the crowds love him and soon, Hunter Peal is moving into the White House.  Is it because the people truly love this aspiring dictator or is it because Hunter Peal made a deal with the devil?

The Hell Candidate is an effective novel, precisely because we know that most politicians would gladly make a deal with the devil if it meant a chance to set up residence in the White House.  Indeed, what was presumably meant to be shocking when this novel was written is rather common place now.  I mean, seriously — profanity on the campaign trail?  Oh my!  Bragging about your ability to destroy your enemies?  Horror!  Cynically abusing the power of the office of the presidency?  OH MY GOD!  What makes the book memorable, though, is its suggestion that the voters don’t necessarily need to be influenced by the devil to vote for a candidate like Hunter Peal.  Instead, the book suggests that a dictator is secretly what most voters desire.

In the end, the book suggests that the Vatican might be able to help us deal with a Satanically-possessed president but who can save the American people from themselves?