Lisa’s Week In Review: 10/21/19 — 10/27/19

It’s been an exhausting week so the list below may be a bit perfunctory.  I apologize for that.  Last week started with a tornado touching ground just two miles away from my house and it’s ending with me coming down with a cold as the temperatures plunge outside.

Oh well!  At least it’s nearly Halloween!

Film I Watched:

  1. A Deadly Dance (2019)
  2. Altered States (1980)
  3. Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970)
  4. The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)
  5. Clash of the Titans (1981)
  6. Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018)
  7. Designed to Kill (2019)
  8. Die Cheerleader Die (2008)
  9. Dolemite is My Name (2019)
  10. Eli (2019)
  11. Erasing His Dark Past (2019)
  12. The Fog (1980)
  13. The Gorgon (1964)
  14. The Guardian (1990)
  15. The Horror of Dracula (1958)
  16. Interview With A Vampire (1994)
  17. Legend (2015)
  18. Lisa (1990)
  19. The Living Dead Girl (1981)
  20. Long Weekend (1978)
  21. Made In Paris (1966)
  22. Requiem for a Vampire (1971)
  23. Revenge (1990)
  24. The Shiver of the Vampire (1971)
  25. Stir of Echoes (1999)
  26. Two Orphan Vampires (1996)
  27. Unspeakable (2002)
  28. Zombie Lake (1982)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. 9-1-1
  2. Beverly Hills 90210
  3. Dancing With The Stars
  4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  5. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  6. Saved By The Bell
  7. Seinfeld
  8. South Park
  9. Survivor 39
  10. Suspense
  11. True Crime Files
  12. The Voice

Books I Read:

  1. Haunted Dallas (2011) by Rita Cook
  2. Haunted Forth Worth (2011) by Rita Cook
  3. Lucio Fulci: Beyond The Gates: A Tribute To The Maestro (1996) by Chas Balun
  4. The Stranger Returns (1992) by Michael R. Perry

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Big Data
  2. Blake Lewis
  3. Blanck Mass
  4. Blitzen Trapper
  5. Britney Spears
  6. Carla Mariani
  7. Caroline Polachek
  8. Charli XCX
  9. The Chemical Brothers
  10. Christopher Lee
  11. Coldplay
  12. Concrete Blonde
  13. Deadmau5
  14. Duffy
  15. Frank Sinatra
  16. Goblin
  17. Hot Blood
  18. Icona Pop
  19. Iron Cthulhu Apocalypse
  20. Jamie T
  21. Jerry Goldsmith
  22. John Forgerty
  23. Lost in Atlantis
  24. Luna
  25. Radiation City
  26. Saint Motel
  27. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  28. Sia
  29. Speedy Ortiz
  30. Taylor Swift
  31. Tina Arena
  32. Vampire Sound Incorporation
  33. Warren Zevon

Links From Last Week:

  1. It’s Not Just Ronan Farrow: NBC News Killed My Rape-Allegation Story Too

Links From The Site:

  1. Case reviewed The Cats of Ulthar, The Man Who Loved Flowers, Thriller, The Hound, Creepshow, Suspect, and The Plague!
  2. Erin stared her countdown to Halloween with 6 days, 5 days, and 4 days!  She shared the covers of Vault of Horror, along with The Lonely Steeple, Cliffside Castle, Secret of the Villa Como, The House of a Thousand Lanterns, Do Evil In Return, The Reiman Curse, and Diary of EvilShe also shared a Halloween scene that she loves.
  3. Jeff shared a Halloween scene that he loved and reviewed Pledge Night, Suspect, Paranoia, Aisle, Scorned 2, 9:05, Blind Fear, Shadows out of Time, The Maddening, Dwelling: Insomnia, Night Creature, L.A. Noire, Curse III, and Last Half of Darkness!
  4. Leonard shared the final Star Wars trailer!
  5. Ryan reviewed Death Of the master, Bad Gateway, Stunt, and That Miyoko Asagaya Feeling He also shared his weekly reading list!
  6. I posted a lot and, if I attempt to list it all here, I’ll be up all night.  So, explore the site!  We’ve got a lot here to read.

More From Us:

  1. Ryan has a patreon!  Please consider subscribing!
  2. On her photography site, Erin shared Random Tunnel, Curve, Station, Business Park, Close Call, Shock, and Surprise!
  3. On Pop Politics, Jeff shared Tim Ryan’s Out!
  4. For Reality TV Chat Blog, I reviewed the latest episode of Survivor!
  5. For Horror Critic, I reviewed Die Cheerleader Die! and The Fog!
  6. On my music site, I shared songs from Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Blake Lewis, SIA, Coldplay, Duffy, and Charli XCX!
  7. For #ILIkeToWatch, I shared a Halloween-themed playlist!

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!

Icarus File No. 3: Glass (dir by M. Night Shyamalan)

Oh, Glass.  We all had such hopes for you.

Glass, as you may remember, came out in January and was one of the first big cinematic disappointments of the 2019.  People were certainly excited about it before the film was released.  Glass was a sequel to not only Split but also Unbreakable.  James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis would all be returning to the roles that they played in those original films.  Glass was viewed as being the film that would establish whether director M. Night Shyamalan was truly back after the critical and commercial success of Split or if he was going to return to being the kinda hacky director who we all remembered from the mid to late-aughts.

Actually, it can probably be argued that, as a director, M. Night Shyamalan managed to go from being slightly overrated to being wildly underrated.  Even his worse films aren’t exactly terrible.  Even the incredibly silly The Happening had a few effective scenes.  Shyamalan wasn’t a bad director as much as he was a director who, at times, seemed to be way too convinced of his own cleverness.  The Shyamalan twist became both his trademark and his curse.  I can still remember an entire theater audibly groaning during The Village, not because the twist was necessarily bad as much as just because it was so expected.  Was Shyamalan capable of making a film that didn’t end with a gimmicky twist?  Interestingly, for most of its running time, Split seemed like a straight forward story about a psychotic man with multiple personalities.  It was only at the last minute, when Bruce Willis showed up in that bar, the people realized that Split had a Shyamalan twist.

Glass has a few twists of its own, most of them dealing with how Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) became the killer known as The Beast.  It’s all connected to Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who is also the supervillain named Mr. Glass.  Kevin, Elijah, and David Dunn (Bruce Willis) all end up in a mental asylum together.  Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) insists that the three of them do not have any super powers and instead, they’re all suffering from a shared delusion.  Of course, Dr. Staple has an agenda of her own.  It’s not a particularly interesting agenda but then again, who cares, right?  I mean, the main reason people are going to watch this movie is so they can watch James McAvoy and Bruce Willis square off against each other, right?

Well, those people are out of luck.  The audience may not care about Dr. Staple’s agenda but Shyamalan certainly does and, as a result, McAvoy, Jackson, and Willis often seem to be bystanders in their own film.  When the long-promised confrontations between our three main characters finally do occur, it all leads to a finale that leaves a rather sour aftertaste.  You can’t help but feel that the characters (and their actors) deserved better.  What ultimately happens to David Dunn in Glass feels almost like an extended middle finger to anyone who has ever defended Unbreakable.  One gets the feeling that Shyamalan was so eager to work in one of his trademark surprises that he never stopped to consider whether the film’s storyline was strong enough to support his ambition.

The other problem is that Bruce Willis’s David Dunn and James McAvoy’s The Beast really don’t belong in the same movie together.  Willis gives an understated and rather haunted performance as David but McAvoy is so flamboyantly evil as the Beast that it destroys whatever gritty reality Willis had managed to develop.  Both McAvoy and Willis give good performances but they appear to be performing in different films.  As for Jackson, nobody glowers with the power of Samuel L. Jackson.  But, oddly, he never seems to have much to do.  Glass may be named after his character but Mr. Glass often feels superfluous to the overall plot.

Glass is ultimately a rather forgettable movie.  One gets the feeling that Shyamalan was truly trying to say something profound about heroism and pulp mythology in the final part of the trilogy that began with Unbreakable.  But, ultimately, Glass‘s message is too muddled to have much of an effect.  In the end, Glass leaves Shyamalan’s ambitions unfulfilled.

Previous Icarus Files:

  1. Cloud Atlas
  2. Maximum Overdrive

Horror on TV: Suspense 5.3 “All Hallow’s Eve” (dir by Robert Mulligan)

Tonight on Suspense….

After Mr. Markheim (Franchot Tone) murders a pawnbroker, he assures himself that he’s not going to do anything more than take some of the man’s possessions and then lead a good life.  After all, he’s not really an evil man.  He simply did what he did because he was so jealous of the pawnbroker.  Why should the pawnbroker have so much while Markheim has so little?

Unfortunately, an otherworldly visitor pops up and suggests that there’s no way that Markheim can lead a good life after doing something so evil.  So, why not go out and be evil for a little while more?

This episode originally aired on October 28th, 1952.  Truman was still president but not for much longer.


6 Trailers For The Sunday Before Halloween

It’s a holiday and you know what that means!

Or maybe you don’t.  Sometimes, I forget that not everyone can read my mind.  Anyway, I used to do a weekly post of my favorite grindhouse trailers.  Eventually, it went from being a weekly thing to being an occasional thing, largely due to the fact that there’s only so many trailers available on YouTube.  Now, Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers is something that I usually only bring out on a holiday.

Like today!

So, here are 6 trailers for the last week of October!

  1. Last House On The Left (1972)

“Two girls from the suburbs.  Going to the city to have …. good time….”  Wow, thanks for explaining that, Mr. Creepy Narrator Dude.  That classic tag line about how to avoid fainting would be imitated time and again for …. well, actually, it’s still being imitated.  This was Wes Craven’s 1st film and also one of the most influential horror films of all time.

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Speaking of influential horror movies, the trailer for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is almost scarier than the film itself!

3. Lisa Lisa (1977)

I  have actually never watched this film but I love the trailer.  Can you guess why?

4. Ruby (1977)

Ruby, starring Piper Laurie!  I’m going to assume this was after Piper Laurie played Margaret White in Carrie.  Don’t take your love to town, Ruby.

5. Jennifer (1978)

Jennifer was another film that pretty obviously inspired by Carrie.  In this one, Jennifer has psychic control over snakes.  So, don’t mess with Jennifer.

6. The Visitor (1979)

Finally, this Italian Omen rip-off features Franco Nero as Jesus, so it’s automatically the greatest film ever made.

Happy Weekend Before Halloween!

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Day of the Dead: Bloodline (dir by Hèctor Hernández Vicens)

Hey, it’s another zombie film!

Eh, who cares?

At this point, there’s been so many zombie films that I’m a bit burned out on the whole genre.  I can still get enthusiastic for zombie films that attempt to put a new spin on the material and I still love the classic zombie films of the past.  But, for the most part, new zombie films just leave me bored.

2018’s Day Of The Dead: Bloodline is technically a remake of George Romero’s Day of the Dead but, then again, almost every American zombie film that’s come out over the past twenty or so years has been a remake of something that Romero did earlier.  The whole idea of an isolated military compound where soldiers plot to kill zombies (or rotters, as they’re called here) while scientists try to understand and maybe cure them has been done to death.  Once again, we’ve got a fascist army guy (Jeff Gum) and, once again, we’ve got a dedicated scientist who doesn’t like taking orders from the military.  The scientist is named Zoe (Sophie Skelton).  She was a medical student when the zombie apocalypse began.  Now, five years later, she’s trying to find a way to end it and blah blah blah, wake me when it’s over.

A good deal of the film centers around Max (Jonathon Schaech).  In life, Max was a pervy stalker who was so obsessed with Zoe that he craved her name into his arm.  In death, he’s a rotter who has retained some of his personality and bits of memory.  For instance, he’s still obsessed with Zoe and spends a lot of time saying, “You are mine, you are mine….”  However, Max’s blood potentially holds the cure for the zombie plague.  And, to be honest, that’s kind of an interesting premise.  In life, Max was the worst that humanity had to offer.  In death, he might hold the secret for saving the world.  Even as a rotter, he remains obsessed with Zoe and Zoe has to decide whether or not to destroy the man who tried to rape her or to keep him functional for the good of the world.

But …. eh.  I mean, it’s intriguing but the film doesn’t really do much with it.  It just becomes another zombie movie with a bunch of hardass soldiers and some scientists who don’t understand why the soldiers keep shooting everything.  Who cares?  We’ve already seen all of this in a hundred other movies, not to mention on shows like The Walking Dead.  Neither the script nor the characters in this film are interesting enough to really justify seeing it again.

The Plague- Short on Alter -Youtube, Review Case Wright


Happy Horrorthon! I found a great and FREE place for horror short films! Alter on Youtube!!!!

I’ll admit the social message was a bit obvious, BUT it is WAAAAAAY better than Two Sentence Horror.  Also, the stories try to hide the social message with some well-done horror.  Lastly, if you don’t like it, you’ve only lost 8 minutes of your life- 20 minutes MAX!!!

The Plague takes place in Spain.  A woman is living alone in her father’s home.  He has Alzheimer’s disease and the elderly father has returned to his home.  His daughter finds him in the shower and she is immediately she fed up.  She wants him back at the nursing home and tells him so.  All during the short, he has arms reaching out to her for affection, but his daughter spurns him repeatedly. 

In a brilliant allegory, gun thugs appear and try to kill her father who has super-strength, but not enough against 5 armed men who shoot him, put him in a steel box, and store him in an abandoned area to rot in a living death.  The father was never depicted as a zombie only that when he died he was not ready to go and only wanted to be with his daughter.  The steel box represented the nursing home where so many of us put our parents.  Saying the father was dead but wasn’t ready to go, symbolized how she was treating her father- he was already dead to her, but he still loved his her.

I won’t put my personal opinion on nursing homes here, BUT I will say Guillermo Carbnonell is welcome to break bread with me anytime.


Spreading The Disease: Pledge Night (1990, directed by Paul Ziller)

It’s same old song and dance.  In the 60s, a hippie named Sid (Joey Belladonna) is accidentally killed during a hazing gone wrong.  In the 90s, during another fraternity hazing, Sid (now played by Will Kempe, who, the same year that Pledge Night was released, played Rick Von Slonecker in Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan, a film that about as different from Pledge Night as a apple is from a banana) emerges from a toilet and kills everyone almost everyone at the frat house.  His name is now Acid Sid now and he has more one-liners than Freddy Krueger.  “That’s for Spiro Agnew!” he says as he dispatches one victim who probably didn’t even know who Spiro Agnew was.  Other deaths include death by castration, an egg beater, and, of course, a radio dropped in a bath tub.  Pledge Night is interesting in that it does occasionally have a sense of humor about itself.  It starts out as a frat comedy and there is actually more time spent on the absurdity of pledges being hazed than on them being killed.  Once Sid does arrive, it becomes your standard Nightmare on Elm Street rip-off, albeit one where the majority of the victims are male jocks instead of the usual victims who show up in slasher films.  Most of the frat boys are fairly obnoxious so you’ll be on Sid’s side the entire time.  The film certainly is.

If Pledge Night gets any attention today, it is probably because of a mix of Metropolitan fans who want to see Rick Von Slonecker kill frat bros and Anthrax fans who have heard that Joey Belladonna is in the movie.  Belladonna is only in the movie for a few minutes, just long enough to get submerged in acid as a part of absurdly cruel fraternity prank.  Anthrax also provided the film’s forgettable soundtrack.

Pledge Night is a typical 90s college slasher, clearly influenced more by Nightmare on Elm Street than Friday the 13th.  If the movie had been made a few years later, it could have taken full advantage of the self-referential style of horror that was introduced to the slasher genre by Scream and Pledge Night probably would have been a better movie.  Pledge Night does have a sense of humor about itself and the slasher genre but it often seems to be held back by the requirements of also trying to satisfy what horror fans were expecting to get in 1990.  By trying to toe the line between horror and comedy, Pledge Night is never scary enough to work as horror or funny enough to work as comedy.

Game Review: Suspect (1984, Infocom)

The time is Halloween, circa 1984.  You are a newspaper reporter who has been invited to the annual Halloween costume party that is being thrown by your old friend, Veronica Ashcroft-Wellman.  You show up, eager to find a story.  You are dressed as a cowboy, complete with a lariat and a gun belt.  Shortly after you arrive, Veronica goes to her office.  Not long afterwards, Veronica is discovered dead.  Around her neck is your lariat.  Lying near her body is a bullet from your gun belt.  You’re not only a suspect.  In the eyes of the police, you’re the only suspect!

Infocom’s third and final murder mystery followed Deadline and The Witness.  Just like those two games, you have a limited amount of time to explore your surroundings, find clues, and talk to the other people at the party.  Run out of time and you’ll once again be approached by the trusted Sgt. Duffy.  This time, though, Duffy is coming to take you to jail.  The stakes have never been higher and the mystery has never been more complex.  Not only is the house bigger than the houses in Deadline and The Witness but there’s also many more suspects, all of whom are in costume and all of whom move around at their own free will.  Clues are not difficult to find but it can be a struggle to not only figure out how they link together but to also the convince the investigative detective that they are important.  This is not an easy game to win.  I played it several times and failed to solve the mystery every time.  Finally, I did what anyone would have done in my situation.

I cheated.

I found a walk-through for the game and, following it step-by-step, I solved the murder and cleared my name.  If I hadn’t used that walk-through, I probably never would have solved the case.  This is not a game for casual text adventurers.  This is for people who want to totally immerse themselves in a world and then spend hours working out a plan of attack.

It’s also an elegantly written game, with its fair share of Easter eggs for experienced gamers.  Just count the number of guests who have come to the party costumed like characters from other Inform games.  This game is tough but rewarding, even if you do end up having to cheat to win.

Suspect can be played at the Internet Archive.

Horror Scenes I Love: The Dead Rise From The Ground In Poltergeist

This is from 1982’s Poltergeist.

I love Craig T. Nelson’s delivery of the headstones speech.  James Karen is staring at him the whole time like he’s thinking, “Is anyone going to say ‘cut?'”

Horror Book Review: The Stranger Return by Michael R. Perry

On January 24th, 1989, Ted Bundy — then America’s most notorious serial killer — was executed by the state of Florida.  Before he died, he confessed to all of his crimes and then gave an interview where he blamed it all on an addiction to pornography.  It was all a part of a scheme to avoid the electric chair but it didn’t work and he was put to death while thousands stood outside the prison and cheered.

Or was he?

The 1992 novel, The Stranger Returns, suggests that Bundy — who was once as notorious for his ability to escape custody as for his murderous rampage — escaped one last time.  A duplicate was sent to the electric chair while Bundy made his escape.  I know that probably made no sense when you read it in this review.  It really doesn’t make much sense in the book either.  But I guess things had to start somewhere.

Now believed to be dead, Bundy is free to change his identity, romance a young mother, and once again resume his murderous ways.  Only one man suspects that Bundy may have cheated the executioner, the father of one of his victims.  While he tries to get someone to listen to his theory about Bundy being alive, Bundy continues to move across the landscape like a dark shadow of death.

Earlier this year, it seemed like the entire nation briefly went Bundy crazy.  There was a documentary on Netflix.  Zac Efron starred in a movie.  It seem like almost every true crime show around did at least one episode on Bundy this year.  30 years after his execution, Ted Bundy was trending on twitter, a macabre testament to the power of celebrity.

I found myself thinking about Bundy’s morbid fame as I read The Stranger Returns.  The book was well-written and it was a quick read but it was still a bit troublesome that the book was essentially a novel starring Ted Bundy.  Too often, the book treated him like some sort of Hannibal Lecter-type character whereas Bundy was actually, by most accounts, an impotent drunk who was never as handsome, charming, or intelligent as he is frequently made out to be.  What is this power that a loser like Bundy holds over the popular imagination?

The Stranger Returns is a testament to that power.  I mean, how many other real-life serial killers have starred in a novel?  That’s usually an honor reserved for vampire hunters like Abraham Lincoln.  To be honest, I probably would have liked this book better if it had been about someone who thought he was Ted Bundy as opposed to being Ted Bundy himself.  In fact, I probably would have enjoyed the book if it had featured Bundy’s ghost or if Bundy had used some other supernatural check to come back to life.  But making Bundy into some sort of criminal genius was just a bit too icky for me.

Incidentally, I found this book in my aunt’s paperback collection.  According to her, she found the book being sold in the “true crime” section of Half-Price Books.  Fortunately, it’s not true crime.  Ted Bundy is dead and good riddance.