Horror on TV: One Step Beyond 2.7 “The Open Window” (dir by John Newland)


If tonight’s episode of One Step Beyond seems familiar, that’s because it’s a remake of a story that was originally filmed as an episode of The Veil. 

This time, instead of witnessing a murder occurring in another apartment, it’s a suicide that is witnessed by artist Anthony March (Michael Higgins).  Of course, when he investigates, he discovers that the apartment in empty.  Is Anthony hallucinating or has he gone one step beyond and is he seeing the future?  Watch to find out!

By the way, that’s future Oscar winner Louise Fletcher playing Anthony’s model.

This originally aired on November 3rd, 1959.

Enjoy!

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: The Children (dir by Tom Shankland)


Poor Casey (Hannah Tointon)!

As 2008’s The Children opens, all she wants to do is celebrate New Year’s with her friends.  Instead, her mom and her stepfather are dragging her off to some stupid house in the middle of nowhere, where she’ll have to hang out with her aunt and her dorky uncle and she’ll also be expected to look after not only her two much younger cousins but her two half-siblings as well!  Even worse, once they arrive at the house, all of the young children start to complain about feeling sick.  One of them even throws up.  Everyone assumes it’s just car sickness but could it be something worse?

(Of course.  There’s always something worse!)

In fact, perhaps the only positive thing about the holiday is that it’s snowed!  All of the snow sure does look pretty and it’s a lot of fun to play in.  Once the kids get over being sick, they can’t wait to go outside and have some fun!  One of the adults accompanies them.  While he’s sledding, the kids use a garden rake to kill him.  They even disguise it to look like an accident…

Yep, there’s definitely something going on with the children.  At first, Casey is the only one who understands that the children have turned evil.  (Of course, her first clue comes when they attack her in the woods.)  All the adults are either in shock or denial.  At first, they refuse to even consider that their children are trying to kill them.  Of course, once the children lay siege to the house, the adults are in for a rude awakening…

This is actually the second film called The Children that I’ve reviewed for this site.  The first one was a film from the early 80s that featured a school bus driving through a toxic cloud with the end result being a bunch of homicidal, radioactively-charged children.  In the second version, it’s left a bit more ambiguous as to why the children have suddenly turned homicidal.  While it’s established that that they’re suffering from a virus, the film never tells us where the virus came from or even how it was contracted in the first place.  In fact, until the film’s last few minutes, the audience is never quite sure just how far the infection has spread.  That ambiguity is what gives this film its power.  There’s nothing scarier than not being sure what’s going on.

The Children is a grim and disturbing horror film, one the features very little humor and which ends on an ominous note.  It’s a film that exploits something that we all know but rarely want to admit, which is that children can be incredibly creepy.  We tend to idealize children, which is exactly what the children in this movie use to their advantage.

The Children is also a very well-acted horror film.  Hannah Tointon is sympathetic in the lead role while all of the killer children are played with a proper combination of savagery and innocence.  This may very well be the best killer children film ever made.

The Odyssey of Flight 33, Comic Review, by Case Wright


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Yes, they have comic versions of The Twilight Zone! I really enjoyed this and I know that some of you are like….hmmm is this horror? Yes… Yes, it is. No further questions!  Besides, we have a Twilight Episode to discuss.  The Twilight Zone always leaned more into horror IMO.  The Outer Limits was all about teaching you a moral lesson, but TTZ was all about the scare factor.

I enjoyed this format too.  Face it, a lot of the TTZ episodes don’t hold up amazingly well.  It’s the truth….Deal With It!  The book has all the components of a good TTZ episode: the setup of perceived normality that takes a terrible left turn.  There aren’t many things more normal or boring than air travel.  The flight is just a typical run to La Guardia and the passengers appear very normal as well: the chatty passenger, the braggy passenger, and the emotionally unstable passenger.

These archetypal passengers pull us into the story much like the Stephen King stories do. Stephen’s characters are your neighbors and these passengers are too.  But, something isn’t right is the friendly skies! They feel hit a pocket of air and their speed goes into the thousands of miles per hour and whammo – they start time traveling! They arrive in 1939 and don’t stop because they want to get back to their own time- So no killing Hitler for these time travelers.  Then, they arrive in the Cretaceous and decide not to land because Jurassic Park is so five minutes ago, but then they arrive in the future.

This one troubled me a bit.  They are low on fuel and the future has cable and they can’t screw up time.  Really, they could just try to make a go of it in their new time.  No one seemed like things were that amazing for them in the present.  I mean, why not just land? You’d at least make a living on the talk show circuit. The comic ends with ambiguity.  They are low on fuel and lost in time.

I would recommend checking these issues out.  They’re a lot of fun and have a good creep factor.

 

Oedipus Mess: Rivals (1972, directed by Krishna Shah)


Christine (Joan Hackett) is a young single mother and widow who lives in New York City.  She has a son, Jamie (Scott Colomby, playing a ten year-old even though he’s obviously a teenager).  Jamie is an aspiring director who make a film of his classmates running around the playground while wearing Richard Nixon masks.  Jamie, who is described as having a genius IQ, is also unhealthily obsessed with his mother, which the film, via flashback, links to her taking a shower in front of him while he was still potty training.

Jamie is not happy when Christine meets Peter (Robert Klein), a loudmouth who gives tours of the city to New York residents only.  If you’re from out-of-town, don’t even try to get in Peter’s microbus.  Peter and Christine start to date and then, eventually, they get married.  Despite the fact that his older babysitter wants to have an affair with him, Jamie remains obsessed with his mother and refuses to accept Peter as his stepfather.  Peter knows that Jamie doesn’t like him and eventually gives up on trying to win him over.  What Peter doesn’t know is that Jamie has come up with an elaborate scheme to murder him.

Rivals is the type of strange and messy film that could only have been made in 1972.  I guess it would be considered to be a mix of a horror movie and a psychological thriller but the tone of Rivals is all over the place so it’s hard to know what the film is trying to say about Jamie or his mother.  Throughout the film, there are sudden montages that seem to have little to do with the plot.  For instance, the film comes to a halt so we can spend several minutes watching as Peter attempts to harangue people into getting in his bus.  Peter is supposed to be likable but he comes across as being so obnoxious that it is easy to see why Jamie would not want him for a stepfather.  As for Jamie, he’s supposed to be ten but looks like he should be starting middle school so his obsession with sex is never as shocking as it should be.  The ludicrous subplot about his babysitter goes nowhere and just seems to disappear.  The one bright spot in the film is Joan Hackett as Christine.  Hackett does the best she can with her inconsistent role and she’s the one person in Rivals who you will actually care about.

Rivals is a mess, perhaps worth seeing only for the location footage of New York in the early 70s.  Otherwise, this is a forgotten film that does not need to be remembered.

Game Review: The Witness (1983, Infocom)


You are a detective, working in 1930s Los Angeles.  One night, you and your assistant, Sgt. Duffy (remember him from Deadline?) are called to the home of Freeman Linder.  Linder is a soldier of fortune whose wife has recently died under mysterious circumstances.  After you arrive and assuming that you are smart enough to follow Linder into his study, he tells you to have a seat while he explains why he needs to be protected from a man named Stiles.  If you don’t take a seat, you’ll end up getting a bullet that was originally meant for Linder.  If you do take your seat, you’ll witness Linder getting shot by an unseen assailant.  You now have 12 hours to explore the house, interrogate all of the suspects (there aren’t many of them), and figure out who murdered Freeman Linder!

The Witness was Infocom’s follow-up to its fabulously successful murder mystery, Deadline.  The Witness is a much simpler and much easier game, though it’s still a good deal of fun.  If Deadline seemed like a big budget MGM extravaganza, The Witness is an entertaining Warner Bros. B-movie.  The mystery at the heart of The Witness is not difficult to solve.  It’s mostly a case of making sure that you’re in the right place at the right time to witness certain events and also making sure that you do certain things in the right order.  The mystery may be easy to solve but getting all of the evidence necessary for a conviction can be tough.

As with most Infocom games, The Witness is well-written and full of memorable details.  The game is set on February 9th, 1938 and, if your detective turns on the radio, he’ll hear programs that actually aired on that date.  The game’s author, Stu Galley, even researched 1930s slang to give the game’s dialogue an authentic feel.  It’s a fun if not particularly difficult game.

The Witness can currently be played over at the Internet Archive.

6 More Paranormal Creatures Who Deserve Their Own Movie


Earlier this month, I listed 6 paranormal creatures who I felt were just as worthy of a movie as Bigfoot.

Of course, by limiting myself to 6, I ended up leaving out some very worthy possibilities.  So, just to keep things fair, here are 6 more paranormal creatures who I think deserve their own horror film franchise!  Hopefully, I’ll be writing about some of these creatures during the 2021 horrorthon!

1. Spring-Heeled Jack

Oh, Spring-Heeled Jack!  Jack terrorized London from 1832 to 1901, with numerous people claiming that they saw this mysterious figure not only harassing other Londoners but also leaping away when spotted or confronted.  Just what exactly Spring-Heeled Jack looked like depended on who you asked.  Some people said that he appeared to be a normal English gentleman, until of course he started leaping up into the air.  Others said that he had claws and eyes that glowed like red balls of fire.  Some people said that Spring-Heeled Jack could speak English while others claimed that he only communicated with animal-like grunts.  Some said that he was a ghost and others said that was the devil.  Sometimes, he was described as being a trickster and, other times, he was described as being a violent monster who attacked young women while they slept.  Some people even claimed that he was Jack the Ripper.

Of course, some people also claimed that Spring-Heeled Jack wasn’t a supernatural creature at all.  They claimed that he was an elaborate hoax, started by a bunch of bored aristocrats who decided to have a bit of fun with the commoners.

Well, no matter!  Whether Spring-Heeled Jack was the devil or just the Marquess of Waterford, he deserves his very own movie!

2. The Hammersmith Ghost

Spring-Heeled Jack wasn’t the first paranormal being to haunt London.  There was also the Hammersmith Ghost.  In 1804, it was said that there were a ghost attacking people in the Hammersmith area of London.  It was said that the white-clad ghost was the spirit of a man who had committed suicide and, because he had been buried in consecrated ground, his soul could not find peace.  Several people reported being attacked by the ghost, leading to citizens setting up patrols to try to hunt the ghost down.  Tragically, this also led to a totally innocent bricklayer being mistaken for the ghost and killed by a night watchman.  Having turned Londoner against Londoner, The Hammersmirth Ghost appears to have faded away.  However, both the story of the Ghost and the real-life tragedy that it caused seems tailor-made for a great film.

3. The Headless Nun

We’ve all heard of the Headless Horseman but how about the Headless Nun?  In the 1700s, a Canadian nun named Sister Marie Inconnue lost her head.  Some say that it was chopped off by a mad trapper.  Others say that it was done by two sailors who were convinced that the nun knew the location of a treasure.  Regardless of how it happened, the Headless Nun is now said to wander the Canadian wilderness, searching for her head.

4. The Mare

Ever wondered why people have nightmares?  Well, according to Germanic mythology, it was because this evil little creature was sitting on their chest while they were sleeping!  AGCK!

5. Ozark Howler

The Ozark Howler is a giant cat that apparently lives in the Ozarks.  They say that the Ozark Howler has horns and glowing eyes and I assume that you wouldn’t want to make it angry.  Most people insist that the Ozark Howler is just a legend but I’ve spent enough time in Arkansas to know that anything is possible.

6. Robert

If we can do a hundred movies about Annabelle, surely we can do one about Robert!  This doll, which used to belong to a painter named Robert Eugene Otto, is said to move on its own and apparently it occasionally giggles.  Robert is currently in a Florida museum and it’s said that museum visitors that didn’t show proper respect to Robert have subsequently suffered from all forms of misfortune: car wrecks, job loss, divorce, broken teeth, and just about anything else that you can think of.  So, why not pay Robert the respect of letting him star in his very own movie?