Horror on TV: The Veil Episode 7 “Destination Nightmare” (dir by Paul Landres)


On tonight’s episode of The Veil….

Peter Wade, Jr. (Ron Hagerthy) is a rather timid man who would rather design planes than fly them.  However, his father, Peter Wade, Sr. (Boris Karloff, who also hosted the episode), is a World War I veteran who has gone from being an aviation hero to owning his own aviation company.  Peter, Sr. demands that his son become a pilot.  And yet, every time that Peter, Jr. is flying, he’s haunted by ghostly face that 1) puts him in a trance and 2) tries to get him to crash his plane!  Could it have something to do with a secret from his father’s past?

This episode is effectively creepy, as any show featuring a possessed pilot and a potential aviation disaster should be.  As with some of the past episodes of The Veil, the main attraction here is really the chance to see Boris Karloff doing what he did best.  Karloff was one of the great actors and it’s always fun to see him get a good character role.

Enjoy!

The Dirt On The Relentless: American Satan (2017, directed by Ash Avildsen)


The Relentless are the biggest band in the world, even though their music sounds like it belongs in the 80s.  Led by charismatic singer Johnny Faust (Andy Biersack), the Relentless have just released their debut album, American Satan.  Now, they’re touring the country, doing every drug they can get their hands on and every groupie that stops by their hotel.  The moral guardians say that The Relentless are a bad influence and are leading their children into Satanism.  For once, the moral guardians are right.  Back when they were just a struggling band in Los Angeles, The Relentless made a deal with Satan (Malcolm McDowell).  All they had to do was sacrifice the lead singer of a rival band (played by former teen idol Drake Bell) and all their dreams would come true.  However, if Johnny Faust had bothered to study his namesake, he’d know better than to make a deal with the devil.

The best thing about American Satan is that it was obviously made by people who know the music industry.  All of the details at the start of the film, with the Relentless struggling to get noticed and having to hit the streets and sell tickets to their own show, felt true.  It helps that most of the members of the Relentless were played by actual musicians.  What they lacked in acting talent, they made up for with authenticity.  The music industry is a tough business to break into, regardless of how good or bad your band is.  After watching Johnny and the Relentless struggle with crooked promoters and unsympathetic label owners, it was believable that they would consider signing a deal with the devil.

Much like the band, the movie lost its way after the contract with the devil was signed and official.  The rioting, the groupies, and the drugs were all too predictable and the movie just became The Dirt with Satan replacing Ozzy.  American Satan seems to be building up to an epic conclusion but it never seals the deal.  Instead, it just ends with a whimper, as if no one was sure where the story was supposed to be heading.  Still, any movie that finds roles for Malcolm McDowell, Bill Duke, Goldberg, and Denise Richards can’t be all bad.

At its worse, American Satan is an anti-climatic take on the Faust legend.  At its best, its Tipper Gore’s worst nightmare.

Game Review: An Act of Murder (2007, Christopher Huang)


Several years ago, theatrical producer Fredric Sheppard bought a house on an oceanside cliff and now, his body is lying on the rock below.  Chief Inspector Duffy has dropped you off at the Sheppard house and told you to interrogate the people in the house, search for clues, and hopefully have the case solved by the morning.  You’ve got plenty of suspects, a handful of clues, and only a limited time to get the job done.  Get to work!

An Act Of Murder is a throw-back to the classic Infocom murder mysteries like Deadline and Suspect.  What makes this game interesting is the high amount of randomization.  Though the suspects and their backstories remain the same, the identity of the murderer and some of the key clues changes every time you start a new game.  Because there’s five separate suspects, that means that An Act of Murder is actually five games in one.  Of course, even if you tell Duffy to arrest the right suspect, you still have to have found all of the clues that prove their guilt.  If you don’t have all the clues, even arresting the right person could still lead to the case getting tossed out of court and you getting thoroughly humiliated.

In the tradition of the old Infocom games, each room is vividly described and each character is capable of variety of reactions depending on what you ask them and when you ask it.  The game also has a very helpful hint section and  a valuable and automatic notebook, which records every clue that you come across and every statement that you get.

An Act of Murder can be downloaded, for free, from here.

(After you’ve played the game and successfully solved the murder a few times, be sure to type XYZZY!)

Creepshow, S1 Ep2,Bad Wolf Down/The Finger, Review by Case Wright, Spoilers, but worth it!


Creepshow.jpg

Happy Halloween Havoc!!!! Is it enough for horror to just be fun and even funny?  YES! American Werewolf in London or anything by John Landis really proves that. Creepshow on Shudder is all about just sitting back and having some gory fun. This show is so wonderfully over the top that the 90s have returned. Let’s all put away our black turtle necks and put on some Hammerpants and watch some great horror.

Bad Wolf Down is a werewolves in World War II story…Really! It was a lot of fun.  Then, when I saw Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) playing a Nazi, I realized this show is THE AWESOMENESS! An american platoon gets trapped behind enemy lines and takes refuge in an abandoned police station.  They find a woman in the jail who is a french werewolf. This seems relevant because they really spend a lot of time translating.

The Head Nazi (Jeffrey Combs) finds the american platoon and will wipe them out, but the platoon gets the french werewolf to turn them into werewolves and they go and kill a bunch of Nazis.  That’s it…Really!

The Finger is your lonely guy adopts a self-regenerating-human-eating-Alien story.  I know…I know ..  another one?! Clark Wilson (DJ Qualls) is a twice divorced down and out guy who has nothing going for him- until he finds a finger.  The finger looks alien and when he spills beer on it, it re-generates into a medium-sized alien and becomes his pet.  He calls the alien Bob.  Bob becomes Clark’s best friend and as any best friend would do, Bob eats all of Clark’s enemies.  He also brings back body parts from the kill like my old cat did.  Sidenote: I had a cat who used to bring me squirrel heads.  He’d line them on my porch.  Bob is like that.  The police eventually arrest Clark for the murders, but Bob might break him out.

The finger is told by Clark in real-time narration, which really adds to the comedy. He looks dead into the camera, talking directly to us. Also, it’s especially fun watching DJ Qualls hang out with a bro-alien- Brolien. If you wanna chill, watch this!!!!

Horror Scenes That I Love: A Nightmare From Take Shelter


Take Shelter was one of my favorite films of 2011.  It was not only the first to introduce me to director Jeff Nichols but it was also the first time that I ever watched Michael Shannon act and thought to myself, “Hmmm….so, yeah, he’s a really good actor.”

The film was usually described as being either a “psychological thriller” or “a character study” but that’s just because critics were trying to justify how good the film was by ignoring the fact that it was totally a horror film.  Shannon plays a man who is haunted by disturbing nightmares of the end of the world.  The film perfectly integrates the nightmares into the narrative, so that you’re never quite sure when one of them is going to pop up.  It’s always raining in the nightmares but sometimes, it’s cloudy while Shannon’s awake as well and you’re just like, “Oh no….”

Anyway, this is one of the nightmares and I remember it totally freaked me out when I saw Take Shelter in the theaters.  I was like, “Uhmmm….did anyone else just notice a shadow walk by the window?”

Take Shelter‘s a really good movie so you need to see it if you haven’t already.

Horror Book Review: Book of the Dead by Jamie Russell


If you’re still making out your Halloween movie list, might I suggest that you pick up a copy of Jamie Russell’s Book of the Dead?  Because, seriously — what’s a Halloween movie night without a few zombies thrown into the mix?

Book of the Dead is comprehensive study of the history of zombie cinema, starting with a look at how the legend of the zombie first began and then progressing through White Zombie, the dead films of George Romero, the great Italian zombie films of Lucio Fulci, and finally moving all the way to the modern era.  Scary zombies, funny zombies, porno zombies, political zombies, underwater zombies, French zombies; they’re all here!  It’s a well-written book, one that was clearly written by somebody who not only loves the movies in general but zombie films in specific.  Russell seems to be having so much fun writing about these films that it’s impossible not to share his enthusiasm.

Even better, the book contains a comprehensive appendix that lists and reviews basically every zombie film ever made!  Seriously, there all here — from the obscure to famous.  When I first started to seriously study the history of horror cinema, Book of the Dead was one of the first resources that I purchased and I used to obsessively study that appendix.  It’s thanks to this book that I discovered films like I, Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain.  It was thanks to this book that I discovered that there was more to zombie cinema than just corpses eating brains.

This book was originally published in 2005 and, at that time, basically went up to the Resident Evil-era of zombie films.  Subsequent editions have been updated with even more zombie films and even more zombie reviews!  This is the perfect book for all of your undead needs!

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Chopping Mall, Demons 2, The Fly, The Hitcher


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 1986 Horror Films

Chopping Mall (1986, dir by Jim Wynorski)

Demons 2 (1986, dir by Lamberto Bava)

The Fly (1986, dir. by David Cronenberg)

The Hitcher (1986, dir by Robert Harmon)

6 Haunted Locations That Deserve A Film Of Their Very Own


At last count, there have been an estimated 24 films made about the Amityville Haunting.

TWENTY-FOUR!  From the release of the first movie in 1979 to 2018’s The Amityville Murders, filmmakers have not been able to get enough of the Amityville Haunting.

But you know what?  That house in Amityville isn’t the only place that’s reputed to be haunted.  There are supposedly haunted locations all across the country that haven’t gotten half the attention of the Amityville Hoax!  Here are 6 haunted locations that I think deserve 24 films of their own.  I sincerely hope that I’ll get to review some of them for 2021’s horrorthon!

1. The District of Columbia

There are so many places in Washington D.C. that are reputed to be haunted that it’s difficult to narrow them down.  Abraham Lincoln is said to wander the hallways of the White House and supposedly, you can sometimes hear Thomas Jefferson playing his violin.  The ghost of murdered actor John McCullough is said to haunt the National Theater while literally thousands of dead politicians are said to still be hanging out in the the Capitol.  So, instead of narrowing it down to one location, how about one big movie about all the ghosts in D.C?  Maybe it could be an installment in the Ghostbusters franchise.  Seriously, it’s time to clean up Washington!

2. Cherry Hill (Albany, New York)

This stately farm in New York has a long, distinguished, and sometimes sordid history.  In 1827, a resident at the farm — John Whipple — was shot and killed.  Accused of his murder was his socially prominent wife, Elsie, and her lover, a drifter-turned-handyman named Jesse Strang.  Strang was convicted of the murder and sentenced to hang, though not before the judge called him “a serpent.”  In a nationally-watched trial, Elsie was acquitted of being an accomplice.  While Jesse was publicly hanged (the last such public hanging in Albany’s history), Elsie returned to Cherry Hill and lived out the rest of her days in peace.  The ghosts of Jesse, Elsie, and John are said to still haunt Cherry Hill.  To be honest, this one would make a good movie even if you totally left out the ghosts.

3. Burlington County Prison (New Jersey)

Who doesn’t love a good prison haunting?  Burlington County Prison operated from 1811 through 1965.  At the time that it closed, it was the oldest operating prison in the United States.  154 years is a lot of time to collect a host of spirits.  Reportedly, the third floor of Burlington County Prison is full of the ghosts of prisoners.  Meanwhile, a ghost of a tall man dressed in a correction officer’s uniform has also been spotted, making his rounds.  Just imagine if all those ghosts got free!

4. Dead Women Crossing, Oklahoma

Seriously, that’s the name of the place!  This unincorporated community was named after the murder of Kate Dewitt James, a local school teacher who, after having gone missing in 1905, was found dead and decapitated near Deer Creek.  When Kate went missing, she was traveling with her 14-month old daughter.  Local legend had it that, before her disappearance, Kate had spent the night at the home of a local prostitute named Fannie Norton.  A detective later discovered that the baby was being looked after by two of Norton’s acquaintances.  When the baby was rescued, she was discovered to be healthy but her clothes were covered in blood.  When Norton was questioned by police, she committed suicide.  Kate’s murder was never officially solved but it’s said that her ghost can sometimes be seen walking along the Creek, searching for her baby.

5. White House Tavern (Newport,Rode Island)

White House Tavern was constructed before 1673 and is thought to be the oldest operating tavern in the United States.  It’s said that, in the 1720s, a well-dressed man checked into the tavern with a companion.  The next morning, the man was found dead next to the fireplace and his companion had vanished.  Apparently, his ghost still appears near the fireplace, where he’ll often ask the living to help solve the mystery of his death.  To me, this sounds like the makings of great mix of crime and horror.  Or maybe you could cast Will Ferrell as the ghost and turn it into a comedy.  Either way, this is a film waiting to be made.

6. Houston Zoo (Houston, Texas)

The Houston Zoo is said to be haunted by it’s first zookeeper, Hans Nagel.  Apparently, he was shot in 1941 while spying on teenagers in a parked car.  In life, Hans was a flamboyant cowboy who wowed the crowds by wrestling pythons.  In death, it’s said that his spirit still wanders around the zoo.  Personally, I think Matthew McConaughey was born to star in this movie.

Horror Film Review: Knock Knock (dir by Eli Roth)


 

Knock Knock starts out as a satire of vapid male fantasies before then becoming a vapid male fantasy.  It then transforms itself into a satire of vapid torture porn before then becoming vapid torture porn.  And, in the end, your main response will probably be, “Eh, who cares?”

Keanu Reeves plays Evan, an architect who has a nice house, a nice family, and a nice dog.  He also has an injured shoulder, which leads to him staying home while his wife and children spend the weekend at the beach.  Evan is looking forward to having the house to himself, especially when it starts to rain.  I mean, who wants to be at the beach in the middle of storm, right?  That night, Evan is relaxing in his home when he hears someone at the door.

Knock knock.

Two young women, Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Anna de Armas), are standing on his front porch, soaked.  They tell him that they’re looking for the address of a party and that their phone has gotten wet and could they please come inside for just a few minutes and get online and find the correct address?  Evan agrees.  Genesis and Bel enter the house.  They tell him that they’re models.  They tell him about their girlfriends.  They talk about their sex lives and Evan responds with a goofy smile.  They ask if they can take off all their clothes and toss them in a dryer.  Evan agrees.  “Uh, I’ve got some robes,” Evan says and it’s a funny line because Keanu Reeves sounds sincerely bewildered when he says it.

Anyway, you can tell where this leading.  It starts with a threesome and then it ends with the house getting destroyed and people getting buried alive and, to be honest, it gets a little bit boring after a while.  Perhaps if Evan was truly a loathsome character, as opposed to just an awkward Keanu Reeves, there would be some sort of joy in watching Genesis and Bel taunt him while destroying his home and destroying his wife’s artwork but instead it just amount to a bunch of repetitive taunting.  Despite all of their talk about how Evan represents the 1% and how quickly Evan was willing to cheat on his wife and potentially destroy his family, Genesis and Bel don’t come across as being revolutionaries or avenging angels.  Instead, they just seem to be overcaffeinated with no real reason for doing what they’re doing beyond the fact that there wouldn’t be a movie otherwise.

Keanu Reeves gives a strange performance in this film.  At the start of the film, he actually seems like he’s perfectly cast.  When Genesis and Bel first show up at his door, there’s some genuine wit to found in his confused reaction to the two girls.  But then, as the film progresses, Reeves has to start pretending to be desperate and that’s never really been his strong suit.  Perhaps because he’s trying to keep up with the hyper performances of Lorenza Izzo and Anna de Armas, Reeves starts to shout every single line and it just becomes rather humorous before then becoming rather dull.  “STOP IT!  I COULD GO DEAF!”  he shouts when the girls force him to listen to loud music.  Later, when he curses the girls, he sounds like a cartoon character talking about how much he hates Bugs Bunny.  I like Keanu Reeves but he’s just not a very good shouter.

I’ve defended Eli Roth in the past and I imagine that I’ll do so again in the future but it’s best to keep the door closed on Knock Knock.

Horror on the Lens: Robot Monster (dir by Phil Tucker)


Today’s horror film is a true classic of its kind, the 1953 science fiction epic Robot Monster.

Now, I should admit that this is not the first time that I’ve shared Robot Monster in October.  I share it every year and, every year, YouTube seems to pull the video down in November.  That sucks because Robot Monster is one of those weird films that everyone should see.  So, I’m going to share it again.  And, hopefully, YouTube will let the video stay up for a while.

As for what Robot Monster is about…

What happens with the Earth is attacked by aliens?  Well, first off, dinosaurs come back to life.  All of humanity is killed, except for one annoying family.  Finally, the fearsome Ro-Man is sent down to the planet to make sure that it’s ready for colonization.  (Or something like that.  To be honest, Ro-Man’s exact goal remains a bit vague.)

Why is Ro-Man so fearsome?  Well, he lives in a cave for one thing.  He also owns a bubble machine.  And finally, perhaps most horrifically, he’s a gorilla wearing a diver’s helmet.  However, Ro-Man is not just a one-dimensional bad guy.  No, he actually gets to have a monologue about halfway through the film in which he considers the existential issues inherent in being a gorilla wearing a diver’s helmet.

Can humanity defeat Ro-Man?  Will Ro-Man ever get his intergalactic supervisor to appreciate him?  And finally, why are the dinosaurs there?

All of those questions, and more, are cheerfully left unanswered but that’s a large part of this odd, zero-budget film’s considerable charm.  If you’ve never seen it before, you owe it to yourself to set aside an hour and two minutes in order to watch it.

You’ve never see anything like it before.

Enjoy!