Horror On TV: Suspense 2.5 “Dr. Violet” (dir by Robert Stevens)


I think it’s fairly safe to say that wax museums are inherently creepy.

I mean, don’t get me wrong.  If I see a wax museum off of the side of the road, I’m definitely going to visit it, if just so I can find the Hall of Presidents and give the finger to FDR.  (It’s a long story.)  But that said, wax museums are definitely not some place where you would want to get accidentally locked in.

Well, in tonight’s episode of Suspense, that’s exactly what happens to one unfortunate college student.  AGCK!

This episode originally aired on October 4th, 1949 and it has a very impressive cast that will be familiar to anyone who has ever spent a few hours watching TCM: Anne Francis, Hume Cronyn, Ray Waltson, Evelyn Varden, and Mike Kellin are all featured.

Enjoy!

“The Death Of The Master,” The End Of An Era


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Last month’s release of Patrick Kyle’s The Death Of The Master from Koyama Press was both an auspicious and somber occasion — auspicious because it marked the ambitious fleshing-out of a self-published mini into a 244-page “graphic novel” of remarkable texture and character, somber because it meant the end of the road for an exceptionally fruitful relationship between cartoonist and publisher that’s offered readers a privileged glimpse at the upward trajectory of the former’s artistic development with the latter’s full faith and support every step of the way. We’re all going to miss Annie Koyama’s publishing efforts when she fully transitions into “patronage mode” after next year, it’s true, but no one will miss her more than the talented people she’s shepherded from “promising newcomer” to “fully-formed, utterly unique creator.”

Certainly last year’s Roaming Foliage offered lead pipe-cinch evidence that Kyle had completed that trek from point A to point…

View original post 736 more words

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Lisa (dir by Gary Sherman)


 

So, here’s the thing about Lisa, a horror-thriller from 1990 that shows up occasionally on This TV.

It’s got a great title.

Seriously, this film has got one of the greatest titles of all time. I would almost say that you really don’t even have to pay attention to the movie because the title itself is so perfect that the plot doesn’t even matter.  The only thing that would make this title even better would be if they had added a “Marie” to the end of it but oh well.  You can’t have everything.

This is a movie about a girl named Lisa and, speaking as a girl named Lisa, I have to say that it’s incredibly true to life.  Lisa (Staci Keanan) is a smart and amazingly talented 14 years old and not alllowed to date by her incredibly overprotective mother, Katherine (Cheyl Holland).  So, instead of dating, Lisa spends her time stalking a serial killer.  See, Katherine thought she was protecting her daughter but instead, she’s only inspired her to take an even greater risk.  That’s why you need to let the Lisas in your life do what they want.

Admittedly, Lisa doesn’t know that Richard (D.W. Moffett) is a serial killer.  She doesn’t even know that he owns a successful restaurant.  All she knows is that he looks like a model and he drives a nice car and it’s fun to follow him around Venice Beach.  When she jots down his license plate numbers, she hacks the DMV to get his name, address, and phone number.  Soon, Lisa is calling him up and having flirtatious conversations with him.

 

It’s all good fun, except for the fact that Richard is also known as The Candelight Killer and he’s got a thing about calling people and leaving them messages right before he kills them.  It’s all very ritualized.  For instance, it’s very important that his victims be in the process of listening to his message when he kills them.  To be honest, though, that sounds like he’s taking a lot of risks.  I mean, what if someone came home and didn’t immediately check their messages?  Would Richard just have to hide behind the drapes for hours until the did?  Of course, Richard would be even more out of luck if this movie were made today because who has an answering machine anymore?

Anyway, Richard is obsessed with discovering who is stalking him and Katherine is obsessed with keeping Lisa out of danger and Lisa just wants to actually be allowed to full celebrate having the greatest name ever.  Did you know, for instance, that Lisa may have started out as a shortened form of Elizabeth but that it became so popular on its own that it was one of the most popular names in both the United States and the United Kingdom for several decades?  And, even though it’s no longer in the top ten as far as names are concerned, being named Lisa is still one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed upon anyone?  Lisa means God’s Promise by the way.  And….

 

What?  Oh yeah, the movie.

Well, anyway, it all leads to pretty much what you’re expecting it to lead to.  Plotwise, the movie may be predictable but the Staci Keanan, Cheryl Ladd, and D.W. Moffett all gives good performances and director Gary Sherman keeps the action moving at a steady pace.  It’s dumb but entertaining, kinda like cinematic junk food.  Plus, it has a great title.  What more do you need?

 

You Have To Pay The Bills Somehow: The Maddening (1995, directed by Danny Huston)


Because her husband’s a dick who spends too much time working and not enough time taking the day off, Cassie (Mia Sara) grabs her five year-old daughter, Samantha (Kayla Buglewicz) and heads off for her sister’s house.  When Cassie stops at a gas station to fill up the car, she’s spotted by seedy Roy Scudder (Burt Reynolds!).  Roy puts down his cigar long enough to tamper with her car.  When it breaks down a few miles down the role, Roy drives up and offers Cassie and Samantha a ride back to his place, where he can fix her car or where she can at least call for hep.  Not realizing that she’s in a direct-to-video horror movie, Cassie accepts.

Big mistake!  Roy’s wife, Georgina (Angie Dickinson!), has not been the same since the mysterious death of her son and Georgina and Roy’s other child, Jill (Candace Huston, daughter of the film’s director and granddaughter of John Huston), needs a playmate.  Roy has decided that Samantha fits the bill.  Cassie is locked in a room while Samantha is turned into Jill’s slave and Roy deals with the angry ghost of his abusive father (William Hickey!).

You have to feel bad for Burt Reynolds.  He made this film at a time when his career was in decline.  His TV show was no longer on the air.  Boogie Nights was still two years away.  The man had bills to pay.  Can you blame Burt for accepting any role that came his way, especially if it meant a chance to co-star with Angie Dickinson and be directed by the son of John Huston?  Reynolds was famous for hating even his good films so you can only imagine what he must have thought about The Maddening.  Fortunately, since Burt was playing a total psycho in The Maddening, he could at least channel his feeling into the role.  Throughout ever minute of The Maddening, Burt is totally and thoroughly unhinged and angry in the way that only the former number one star in America could be upon having to settle for a role in a direct-to-video horror film.  He yells at his ghost father.  He slits throats.  He beats people into unconsciousness.  He does everything that a normal movie psycho does but, when he does it, it’s even more memorable because he’s Burt Reynolds.  Burt and Angie Dickinson playing the type of role that Bette Davis would have played for Robert Aldrich in the 60s are not just the main reasons to watch this movie.  They’re the only reasons.

This was Burt’s only horror film and it’s too bad that it couldn’t have been a better one.  But if it helped Burt keep the lights on during the lean years of the early 90s, good.

Game Review: Dwelling: Insomnia (2014, 0vr)


This piece of interactive fiction is a strange game.  I’m not quite sure how else to describe it.

The premise is a simple one.  Each night, you try to sleep.  Every night, you are awoken by someone or something pounding on your door.  Every.  Single.  Night.  In Choose Your Own Adventure fashion, you are given a set of options.  Do you try to go back to sleep or do you go to the door?  Do you look through the peephole or do you return to bed?  Open the door or hide?  Left or right?  At every step, you’re given the option to explore further or to try to return to safety.  The problem is that if you make the wrong choice, you might make it back to your apartment in one piece but you’re still going to be woken up the following night.  Make the right choice and something bad might still happen to you but at least you’ll no longer be woken up in the middle of the night.

What makes the game so strange is the way that it constantly loops back to the beginning, until you finally make the “right” choices.  The only thing that changes is the number that lets you know how many nights you’ve been woken up by someone pounding at your door.  Is someone really knocking at your door or are you stuck in some sort of time loop or permanent dream state? Having played the game and gotten to the end, I am still not sure.

The game itself is well-written and vivid enough to justify its placement in the horror genre.  It can be played here.

A Halloween Scene I Love: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown


Last night, I was so excited about watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown that I even missed the first 30 minutes of the World Series so that I could watch it!  (Go Astros!)

I really love It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown(I even wrote about it!)  There are a lot of scenes that I love in this special but I think my favorite moment is when Lucy, Charlie Brown, Pigpen and the rest are trick or treating.  I love the spooky music in the background.  I love that almost everyone’s a ghost and that Charlie Brown had trouble with his costume.  And I especially love that, if you watch for it, you can actually see the rocks getting thrown into Charlie Brown’s bag.

Someday, Charlie Brown will get real candy on Halloween and Linus will see the Great Pumpkin.  Until then, happy early Halloween!

Halloween Book Review: The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree


Up until a few years ago, every episode of the original Twilight Zone was available on YouTube.

That always made me really happy in October because, really, what better way to end each day of the Halloween month than by watching a classic episode of The Twilight Zone, right?  To Serve Man, The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, It’s A Good Life, that episode with William Shatner freaking out on the plane and that other one with the guy entering his bedroom only to discover a lion waiting to eat him, these were all great episodes to watch in October!

Sadly, once Hulu started carrying Twilight Zone, all of the old episodes got yanked off of YouTube.  And now that the Twilight Zone is on Netflix, there’s no way the show will ever show up YouTube again.  We can still watch the episodes, of course.  Even if you don’t have Netflix for some reason, SyFy does regular marathons of the original show and, of course, there’s the Jordan Peele revival for those who watch old episodes of the Twilight Zone and say to themselves, “This is good but I just wish it was a little more heavy-handed.”

Well, I may not be able to embed any episodes this October but I can recommend that you order Marc Scott Zicree’s The Twilight Zone Companion, which is an indispensable guide to the original show.  Every episode is covered, with credits, plot synopsis, and anecdotes about the production.  Since a lot of important directors, actors, and writers did at least a little bit of work on Twilight Zone, the anecdotes are all very interesting and very much worth reading.  Even more importantly, Zicree takes a look at the life of Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling and also some of the key people involved behind the scenes.  The tragic story of Charles Beaumont will move you to tears.

So, if you’re a fan of the original show, you need this book!  Order it and enjoy!