Horror On TV: Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy in The Pumpkin That Wouldn’t Smile (dir by Chuck Jones)


Awwww, that poor pumpkin!  Well, hopefully, he’s smiling now!

This animated special originally aired on Halloween night in 1979.  I would imagine that the crying pumpkin probably traumatized children across America.  Hopefully, all the kids were out trick or treating when this aired.  Myself, I remember that when I was a kid, I would help my mom carve a pumpkin every year.  And then I would get so depressed when we later had to throw it out.  Seriously, I would get really attached to those jack o’lanterns.

Anyway, this cartoon is before my time but I have a feeling that, if I had been around to watch it, I would have been depressed for a whole year afterwards.

Enjoy!

The Last Halloween, Short Film Review, by Case Wright


ALter2

Trick or Treaters in the post-apocalypse or is it just San Francisco?

Four kids in traditional costumes go out for candy and find a survivalist house with loads of guns, but hey candy is on the line! The home is occupied buy a very tired husband and wife.  The wife is getting sick, but it appears that the kids might be in the house!!!

The wife disappears and the husband is confronted by one of the kids in a ghost costume. These aren’t ordinary trick or treaters and those costumes aren’t store bought!!!!  It’s kind of cool figuring out what’s going on in the end.  It’s a very fun short!

 

 

 

6 Trailers In Memory of Robert Evans


As Jeff reported earlier today, the famed Hollywood producer Robert Evans passed away this weekend.  As a student of both Hollywood and history, I have to say that I always found Evans to be a rather fascinating figure.  It seemed inevitable that his name would pop up whenever I read a book, an article, or even just an interview concerning the films of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  Robert Evans was nice enough to follow me on twitter and we even exchanged tweets on occasion.

As a producer, Robert Evans is probably more associated with gangster movies like The Godfather and The Cotton Club than horror films.  But Evans was involved in a few “scary” and horror-adjacent films, both as an actor and a producer.  So, tonight’s edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse Trailers is dedicated to Robert Evans.

  1. Man of a Thousand Face (1957)

As an actor, Evans began his career by playing Irving Thalberg in this biopic of Lon Chaney, Sr.  Evans was specifically chosen for the role by Thalberg’s widow, Norma Shearer.  Not surprisingly, the trailer below concentrates on James Cagney’s performance as legendary horror star, Lon Chaney, Sr.

2. The Fiend Who Walked The West (1958)

One of Evans’s rare starring roles was in this western-horror hybrid.  Yes, that’s Robert Evans as the “kooky killer.”

3. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

As head of production at Paramount, Evans was responsible for greenlighting this classic horror film, starring Mia Farrow.  Reportedly, Evans arranged for his friend, Jack Nicholson, to screen test for the role of Rosemary’s husband.

4. Marathon Man (1976)

Evans produced this film.  Technically, Marathon Man was a thriller/spy movie.  But the scenes of Dustin Hoffman in the dentist chair definitely qualify as horror.

5. Sliver (1993)

After spending the 80s financially bereft and an almost forgotten figure, Evans made a comeback by producing this incredibly silly “erotic” thriller.

6. Jade (1995)

Sliver did well enough at the box office that Evans followed it up with another, similarly silly thriller.

Of course, while it’s tempting to laugh at films like Jade and Sliver, it should be remembered that Evans was also involved with some of the best and most important films of all time.  Next time you watch The Godfather, be sure to say a little thank you to Robert Evans.

R.I.P.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #203: Designed to Kill, a.k.a. Deadly Runway, a.k.a. Fatal Fashion (dir by Doug Campbell)


Last night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Channel and I watched a movie that has many names.  When it was originally released on Netflix last year, I believe it was called Deadly Runway.  According to the imdb, it’s also known as Fatal Fashion.  Lifetime aired it under the title Designed To Kill.

Well, no matter which title you want to go with, I watched it!

Why Was I Watching It?

How can I review it without watching it first?  This isn’t rocket science, people!  Beyond that, though, I was in the mood for a good Lifetime melodrama.  Of course, right now, Lifetime is currently only showing Christmas movies from here to eternity.  So, if you want to see the type of Lifetime film that we all know and love, you’re only place to turn is the Lifetime Movie Network.

What Was It About?

Basically, it’s a murderous remake of Pygmalion!

Oh, you doubt me?  Well, consider this — Jennifer Higgins (Linsey Godfrey) — is given a job at the local high school, teaching a class about fashion.  David (Joshua Hoffman) ends up in her class, hoping that he can practice his skills as a photographer.  David is awkward, shy, wears glasses, has no fashion sense, and his hair is almost always a mess.  Jennifer takes one look at him and decides to prove that she can turn anyone into a super model.  Next thing you know, David has new clothes, a new haircut, and a new career.  He almost gets a new girlfriend until Jennifer gets jealous and pushes her off a ledge.

See, there are a few differences between Jennifer and Henry Higgins.  Some of them are obvious.  Jennifer is a woman and is flirtatious.  Henry was a man and a bit of a prick.  But perhaps the biggest difference is that Jennifer Higgins has a tendency to get obsessed with her models and, as mentioned above, Jennifer’s willing to kill people.

Anyway, David is enjoying his new life as a model and Jennifer is enjoying being his mentor but then it turns out that David’s friend, Caitlyn (Ellen Michelle Monohan) has model potential as well!  How will Jennifer handle it when Caitlyn and David are soon appearing on covers together?

What Worked?

Oh Hell, it all worked.  This was so over the top and fun and melodramatic that there was no way not to love it.  Linsey Godfrey was wonderfully insane as Jennifer Higgins and Monhan and Hoffman made for a very adorable couple.  This movie was a lot of fun.

And before anyone starts nitpicking this film or debating whether or not the plot fully made sense, allow me to remind you that if you’re taking a film like this seriously, you’re doing it wrong.  This film was designed to deliver pure entertainment and that’s exactly what it does!

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to Caitlyn, mostly because we both have red hair, bad eyesight, and a low tolerance for alcohol.

Lessons Learned

Henry Higgins could have been worse.

Great Moments In Television History: Lonely Water (1973, directed by Jeff Grant)


From the end of World War II to 2007, the UK’s Central Office of Information used to produced Public Information Films (known as PIFs), which would often air on television during children’s programming.  These were the British equivalent of the “More You Know” PSAs that appear on American television.  A typical PIF would deal with a safety issue, warning children to be careful crossing the street or while visiting a farm or when thinking of sticking a fork into an electrical socket.

One of the most notorious PIFs was first broadcast in 1973 and aired for several years after that.  Lonely Water warned children about the danger of foolish behavior and risk-taking at lakes, ponds, and other pools of standing water.  Aimed at the 7-to-12 year-old age bracket, Lonely Water was narrated by Donald Pleasence and featured a black-clad figure watching as children foolishly dived into danger.  Even though the children ultimately do the right thing, it only leads to Pleasence declaring, “I’LL BE BACK!”

Lonely Water reportedly scarred a generation for life and led to several traumatized British children deciding to never learn how to swim at all.  In 2006, it was voted as the UK’s 4th-favorite PIF of all time.

Previous Great Moments In Television History

  1. Planet of the Apes The TV Series

See You Next Thursday: Bloody Wednesday (1987, directed by Mark G. Gilhuis)


Harry (Raymond Elmendorf) is an auto mechanic with a problem.  He has lost his mind.  When he’s found staring at an engine that he’s taken apart and saying that he can’t put it all back together, he’s fired.  When he shows up in church naked, he’s institutionalized.  When his brother arranges for him to live in an abandoned and condemned Hollywood hotel (because that would be the perfect place for a man with deep mental issues to live), Harry loses it completely.  After playing Russian roulette with a street gang and interacting with a hotel staff that only exists in his mind, Harry goes crazy on one bloody Wednesday.

Bloody Wednesday is a prototypical mediocre white man with a gun movie.  Think of Taxi Driver, The Shining, The Joker, or even The King of Comedy, if all four of those films were terribly written, acted, and directed.  It starts out strong, with Elmendorf doing a convincing job of portraying Harry’s growing psychosis, but goes downhill once Harry moves into the hotel and starts to interact with the people in his head.  When he gets into argument and even fights with them, it doesn’t matter because we know that they don’t really exist outside of Harry’s imagination.  Even worse is the street gang that actually does exist but which decides that they’re going to spare Harry’s life because he challenges them to a game of Russian Roulette.  The gang leader, who looks like he’s trying to be Rambo for Halloween, is impressed by Harry’s self-destructive tendencies.  The film’s final scenes, with Harry going on a shooting rampage, are disturbing not because of anything that’s happened in the film leading up to that moment but instead, because it feels like even more of a reflection of America today than it probably did in 1987.

Interestingly, this film was written by Philip Yordan, who began his career as a writer in 1942, won multiple Oscars, and who was later revealed to have worked as a front for blacklisted screenwriters at the height of the McCarthy era.

Game Review: Night Trap (1992, Sega)


Moral panics about video games are nothing new.

Long before people were worrying about the violence in Grand Theft Auto or the nudity in Heavy Rain, they were holding Congressional hearings about a game called Night Trap. 

Night Trap was an interactive movie video game, one that was presented through full motion video at a time when that was still a big deal.  The player was a member of S.C.A.T., the Special Control Attack Team.  For 25 minutes, your job was to watch as blood-sucking creatures known as Augers attempted to launch a sneak attack on five girls at a slumber party.  Whenever an Auger approached a trap, the player had to click a button to capture the Auger.

It sounds pretty simple and it was.

It also sounds pretty stupid and again, it was.

Night Trap initially received some attention because it featured former Diff’rent Strokes star Dana Plato as one of the girls.  Plato played Kelly, who was actually an undercover member of S.C.A.T. and who searched for clues while you were busy trapping Augers.  Plato gave such an annoying performance that many gamers probably purposefully let a few Augers escape just so they could get the “bad” ending, with Kelly plunging into Hell.

 

However, even more than Dana Plato running around in a sports bra, it was a scene of one of the girls being stalked while wearing a nightgown that truly worried the moral guardians of 1993.  At the Congressional hearings, Senators Joseph Lieberman and Herb Kohl spent hours reviewing this scene and demanding to know whether it had any socially redeeming qualities.  The hearings also focused on Mortal Kombat and the senators seemed to be far more offended by an actress in a nightgown than they were about Kano ripping his opponent’s still-beating heart out of his chest.

Night Trap seems tame today but, of course, it was also tame back in 1993.  One reason why the “nightgown scene” got so much attention at the hearings is because it was the only scene in the entire game that could be considered the least bit racy.  There’s no sex or nudity in Night Trap.  For the most part, there’s also not any violence.  Whatever actual blood sucking that happens in Night Trap happens off-camera.  Probably the most intense scenes in the game involved Dana Plato scolding you if you let too many of the girls get captured.  Since the only thing the player could do during the game was activate a trap by pushing a button at a certain moment, this game required not so much skill as just being able to keep track of time.  Now, If you enjoyed just pushing a button over and over again, Night Trap might have some appeal but otherwise, this is a dull and poorly acted game.  Not even as formidable a thespian as Dana Plato could liven things up.

Ironically, those Congressional hearings made Night Trap.  If people still remember the game today, it’s because of those hearings.  If you want to know how a boring game like Night Trap could get a special 25th anniversary edition, it was because of those hearings.  There’s nothing like a moral panic to boot sales.