Lisa’s Week In Review: 10/5/20 — 10/11/20

The second week of Horrorthon is in the books and I’m exhausted but exhilarated.

Films I Watched:

  1. Body Count (1987)
  2. Burning (2018)
  3. Crash (2005)
  4. Circus of Horrors (1960)
  5. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1979)
  6. Deseo, Deseo (2020)
  7. Harpoon (2019)
  8. Hudson Hawk (1991)
  9. The Omen (1976)
  10. Paganini Horror (1988)
  11. The Paramedic (2020)
  12. Scream and Scream Again (1970)
  13. Spiker (1985)
  14. Wake in Fright (1971)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. Baywatch
  2. Baywatch Nights
  3. Big Brother 22
  4. Dancing With The Stars
  5. Friends
  6. King of the Hill
  7. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  8. Seinfeld
  9. The Twilight Zone
  10. The Vow

Books I Read:

  1. Amok (1978) by George Fox
  2. Die Softly (1991) by Christopher Pike
  3. Night of the Living Dummy (1993) by R.L. Stine
  4. The Wrong Number (1990) by R.L. Stine

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Amy Winehouse
  2. Beck
  3. Big Data
  4. Blondie
  5. Bob Dylan
  6. Britney Spears
  7. The Chemical Brothers
  10. Fitz and the Tantrums
  11. Future Islands
  12. Goblin
  13. Imagine Dragons
  14. Jakalope
  15. Jake Bugg
  16. Jimi Hendrix
  17. John Cale
  18. Katy Perry
  19. Kylie Minogue
  20. Miley Cyrus
  21. Mille Turner
  22. Muse
  23. Neon Indian
  24. Night Club
  25. Phantogram
  26. The Prodigy
  27. Saint Motel
  28. Siouxsie and the Banshees
  29. Universal Honey
  30. Van Halen
  31. Vaughan

Horror on the Lens:

  1. Robot Monster
  2. Dead of Night
  3. Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster
  4. The Yesterday Machine
  5. This Is Not A Test
  6. Nosferatu
  7. The Student of Prague

Horror on TV:

  1. Baywatch Nights 2.5
  2. Baywatch Nights 2.6
  3. Baywatch Nights 2.7
  4. Baywatch Nights 2.8
  5. Baywatch Nights 2.9
  6. Baywatch Nights 2.10
  7. Baywatch Nights 2.11

Links From The Site:

  1. I reviewed Wake In Fright, Paganini Horror, Circus of Horrors, Death Bed, Amok by George Fox, The Paramedic, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Harpoon, Night of the Living Dummy, Die Softly, The Wrong Number, Body Count, House, The Burning, Burning, Wendigo, Population 436, Spiker, Man on the Prowl, and Deseo Deseo!
  2. I shared music videos from Millie Turner, Night Club, Kate Vogel, Vaughan, DRAMAS, and Jimi Hendrix!  I also shared a Castlevania AMV!
  3. I paid tribute to Donald Pleasence, Jean Rollin, Bert I. Gordon, Ruggero Deodato, Guillermo Del Toro, Ed Wood, and Terrence Fisher!
  4. I shared scenes that I loved from Death Line, The Twilight Zone, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Stage Fright, Crimson Peak, Plan 9 From Outer Space, and Count Dracula!
  5. Erin shared Terror Tales, Complete Detective, Blood Sugar, Dime Mystery Detective, Blackbook Detective, Nightmare, and Dracula!  She also shared The Covers of Spicy Mystery Stories!
  6. Jeff paid tribute to Eddie Van Halen and shared a music video from Van Halen! Jeff reviewed Six Gray Rats Crawl Up A Pillow, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man Strikes Back, Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge, Witchboard 2, Witchcraft, Witchcraft II, Alone, The Brutal Murder of Jenny Lee, Vampire Ltd., Babyface, The Pinecone, and Electric Word, “Life”!
  7. Ryan reviewed A Good Man’s Brother, Eddie the Office Goblin, and Multiforce Shit!

More From Us:

  1. I reviewed Big Brother for the Big Brother Blog!
  2. At my music site, I shared songs from Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus, John Cale, Future Islands, Chromatics, Beck, and Amy Winehouse!
  3. Ryan has a patreon!  You should subscribe!
  4. On his site, Leonard paid tribute to Eddie Van Halen!
  5. On her photography site, Erin shared: Monday’s Field, Come and Play With Us, Negative Shadows, Night Drive, Driving At Night, Tree of Knowledge, and Cactus!

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

Horror on TV: Baywatch Nights 2.11 “Possession” (dir by David W. Hagar)

Tonight’s episode of Baywatch Nights deals with something that every lifeguard eventually has to deal with: demonic possession.

Well, actually, it’s not so much demonic possession as its dead serial killer possession but it’s still definitely not a good thing.  That’s especially true when it’s a friend and/or co-worker getting possessed.  I mean, it’s never fun to end a relationship but having to end it because someone managed to get possessed …. I just don’t see how you live that down.

This episode originally aired on February 2nd, 1997.


The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Man on the Prowl (dir by Art Napoleon)

Man on the Prowl is a surprisingly intense film from 1957.

Doug Gerhardt (played by James Best) is an overly friendly young man with a pompadour and a quick smile.  Doug works as a deliveryman for a car dealership and he seems like a nice enough person.  He’s maybe a little bit goofy and, if you talked to him, you might think that he’s a little bit slow.  Still, it’s hard not to get caught up in his endless enthusiasm.  Doug is a very friendly man and he certainly does seem eager to help everyone that he meets.

Of course, Doug is also a sociopathic murderer.  He’s just been released from a mental hospital and, as we see when he strangles his date during the first few minutes of the movie, he’s still got some issues.  However, no one ever seems to really notice, just because he is so friendly and kind of dorky.  Even though his own mother (Vivi Janiss) tries to warn people that Doug is not well, most people just think that he’s a little bit eccentric.

When Doug nearly runs over Marian Wood (Mala Powers) and her son, Marian is not very happy with him.  Doug apologizes for driving too fast and he even insists on helping Marian carry in her groceries.  Marian goes from hating Doug to being somewhat forgiving of his reckless driving.  That’s the power of Doug’s charm.  He can go from nearly killing someone to making a new friend in just a matter of minutes.

Marian is married to Woody (Jerry Paris), though it’s not a particularly happy marriage.  Woody is always traveling on business, leaving Marian to take care of the house on her own.  Seeing an opening, Doug starts to casually drop by so that he can do things like help Marian fix the washing machine.  Of course, it’s hinted that Doug might be the one who broke the washing machine in the first place.  Doug is determined to replace Woody in Marian’s life.  When it turns out that Marian isn’t ready for husband to be replaced by a delivery boy (even if that delivery boy can fix a washing machine) …. well, Doug doesn’t take it well.

Man on the Prowl really took me by surprise.  For a film made in 1957, the story didn’t feel particularly dated, beyond a few things that couldn’t be helped.  (Doug’s pompadour comes to mind.)  If anything the film feels refreshingly honest in its willingness to admit that not all marriages are happy and not all wives are content with the idea of just sitting at home and waiting for their husband to return.  However, the thing that really took me by surprise was how Doug was portrayed.  Considering that the term “serial killer” wouldn’t be coined until 23 years after this film was originally released, Man on the Prowl is a surprisingly realistic portrayal of a serial killer.  Doug is someone who is empty on the inside but who keeps the world from noticing by deploying a charming smile and a friendly manner.  He’s Ted Bundy, decades before Bundy became a household symbol of evil.  As played by James Best, Doug is a very realistic and very frightening modern monster.

In many ways, Man on the Prowl is a prophetic film.  In 1957, someone like Doug was probably seen as being an aberration, a once-in-a-lifetime example of the natural order of things getting screwed up.  Now, however, we know that the world is full of Doug Gerhardts.  And we all feel a little less safe as a result.

Witchcraft II: The Temptress (1990, directed by Mark Woods)

The second of the never-ending Witchcraft series continues the saga of William Churchill Adams Spanner.

We last we saw William, he was just a baby and he and his mother had only barely managed to escape from two 300 year-old witches.  In Witchcraft II, William is now 18 years old, which leads to some odd continuity issues.  Since the first Witchcraft was clearly set in the late late 80s, this would suggest that Witchcraft II is taking place in the early 21st Century.  However, judging by the clothing, the cars, and the slang, Witchcraft II is taking place in the year that it was made, 1990.  So, I guess despite all appearances to the contrary, Witchcraft was actually taking place in 1972.

(Then again, Witchcraft II is a Troma film so it’s even more probable that no one involved gave it any of that any thought.)

Having been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Adams (two white witches who fled the evil coven), William (Charles Solomon) is now a typical teenager and is obsessed with getting laid.  Unfortunately, his girlfriend, Michelle (Mia Ruiz), isn’t sure if she’s ready to do that, which leads to William whining and trying to change her mind be playing air guitar.  Yes, air guitar.

While William is playing his invisible instruments, the evil witches are coming up with a plan to bring William back over to the dark side and, not surprisingly, it all centers around William’s need for sex.  Elizabeth, who was the main witch in the first film and who apparently didn’t actually die at the end of that film despite the fact that everyone who watched it saw that she very clearly did, has been transformed into Deloris Jones (Penthouse model Delia Sheppard), and she is now living next door to the Adamses.  While William has hallucinations of Michelle cheating on him with his best friend, Deloris plans to capture William’s soul (and much more) by leaving strange packages on his doorstep and frequently baring her breasts.

The first Witchcraft was low-budge but it still felt like a real movie, albeit not a very good one.  Witchcraft II, on the other hand, is very much a direct-to-video production.  It has the look of an amateur 80s music video and the actors struggle with even the simplest of lines.  The film’s tone is unexpectedly serious, which makes it even stranger when mysterious pentagrams starts to appear on everyone’s chest.

Probably because of the buxom presence of Delia Sheppard (who was very prominently featured on the movie’s VHS and, later, DVD covers), Witchcraft II was a direct-to-video hit.  This, of course, led to Witchcraft III.


Game Review: Electric word, “life” (2020, Lance Nathan)

Electric word, “life” is an entrant in this year’s Interactive Fiction Competition.  Right now, because it’s October, I’m just playing the horror and Halloween-themed entries but all sorts of different games have been entered in this year’s competition and I look forward to playing all of them in November.

Electric word, “life” takes place at a Halloween party in 1999 but it’s not really a horror game.  There are elements of the supernatural in the game but the game is more about memories and grieving than it is about the paranormal.  Your roommate is throwing a Halloween party and, realizing that your flat is full of strangers, you’re looking for a way to either escape or at least find some peace and quiet.  Then, suddenly, your friend Andy shows up but there’s something different about him.

Like most games designed with Twine, Electric word, “life” is more a short story than a traditional game.  You point and click to move the story along and to get extra details.  There are a few choices you can make but they all appear to eventually lead to the same conclusion.  Luckily, it’s a very well-written and emotionally-effective story.  I especially liked the amount of detail that Lance Nathan went into when it came to recreating Halloween, 1999.  Everything from the Matrix costumes to the music playing at the party felt spot-on.  Playing the game, you feel like you really are at that party, listening to strangers chat each other up and wondering how you’re going to clean up the mess afterwards.  When Andy arrives, you’re as relieved as the narrator to see a friend and when Andy reveals his secret, it’s an emotional moment for both the player and the narrator.

Electric word, “life” is a simple but rewarding work of Interactive Fiction.  It can be played by clicking here.

Guilty Pleasure No. 46: Spiker (dir by Roger Tilton)

The 1985 film, Spiker, is an attempt to make an exciting movie out of the one of the most boring sports in the world, men’s volleyball.  Not only does the film attempt to make volleyball look exciting but it attempts to do it on absolutely no budget.  Anyone who doesn’t appreciate the combination of guts and foolishness necessary to even attempt this is not a real film fan.

Spiker follows a group of college volleyball players as they train to qualify for the Olympics.  Or, at least, that’s what I think is supposed to be going on.  The plot is really difficult to follow, not because it’s complex but just because it’s volleyball and who cares?  We learn that the coach of the team (played by Michael Parks) is a tough taskmaster.  We learn that one of the players needs to get his act together and be more mature.  We learn that another member of the team has a wife who is jealous of all of his volleyball groupies.  Eventually, the team competes in Japan and Poland.  In Japan, the teammate who needs to get his act together gets drunk and wanders around with two prostitutes.  Poland, meanwhile, is represented by a high school gym and four women doing the polka.  One Polish woman asks a member of the team to smuggle out some letters.  Which he does.  Yay.  Exciting.

As I said, there’s a lot of volleyball in Spiker but you’re never really sure if the American team is winning or not.  Unless it’s being played on a beach and everyone’s wearing a skimpy bathing suit, volleyball is a thoroughly uncinematic sport.  I mean, what do you think of when you think about volleyball in the movies?  You think about Carrie White not hitting the ball and then burning down the school.  What you don’t wonder is, “I wonder who was winning when Carrie missed that hit?”

What makes Spiker a pleasure is it’s determination.  The film is truly convinced that it can somehow make volleyball exciting and you have to admire it for being so sure of itself.  It’s kind of like those people who spend night after night in Marfa, waiting for the UFOs to arrive.  They may be crazy but you can’t help but admire their dedication, even while you’re laughing at some of the absolutely atrocious dialogue.

The other thing that makes Spiker a guilty pleasure is the extremely intense and almost unhinged performance of Michael Parks at the volleyball coach.  Parks plays the coach as being tough-as-nails and always in a bad mood.  The film’s best scene features him throwing volleyball after volleyball at a player who has displeased him.  Parks does so with a look of grim determination on his face, the sign of a dedicated method actor giving it his best even in a B-movie that he probably agreed to do because he needed to pay the rent.  What makes Parks’s performance so memorable is that he never really seems angry.  Instead, he just seems to be perpetually annoyed and that makes him all the scarier.  Anger, after all, passes.  Annoyance is forever.

Spiker is a bad film but it’s endlessly watchable precisely because it so misjudged.  You can’t help but find both it and Michael Parks’s performance to be oddly fascinating.

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix
  34. Healed By Grace
  35. Valley of the Dolls
  36. The Legend of Billie Jean
  37. Death Wish
  38. Shipping Wars
  39. Ghost Whisperer
  40. Parking Wars
  41. The Dead Are After Me
  42. Harper’s Island
  43. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
  44. Paranormal State
  45. Utopia
  46. Bar Rescue
  47. The Powers of Matthew Star

Horror Scenes That I Love: Dracula vs. Van Helsing in Count Dracula

The 1970 film, Count Dracula, is unique in that it’s a film that stars Christopher Lee but it wasn’t produced by Hammer.  Instead, it was directed by Lee’s friend, the Spanish director Jess Franco.  It was sold as being a far more faithful adaptation of the Dracula story than anything that had been filmed up to that point.  Lee, who frequently bemoaned the quality of the Hammer films, later described Count Dracula as being a personal favorite of the many films in which he appeared.

In the scene, Dracula confronts Herbert Lom’s Prof. Van Helsing.  Lee gets more dialogue in this scene than he did throughout the entirety of Hammer’s Dracula, Prince of Darkness.


Horror Novel Review: The Wrong Number by R.L. Stine

The Wrong Number, an R.L. Stine novel that was first published way back in 1990, is a real artifact.

The plot itself is pretty simple and kind of ripped off from an old Joan Crawford called I Saw What You Did.  Basically, two teenage girls — Dina and Jade — are totally bored so they decided to pass the time by prank calling people.  They call up Jade’s sister.  They call up Rob, the boy whom Dina totally has a crush on.  It’s all pretty basic and, to be honest, kind of stupid.  I mean, if you’re going to prank call someone, don’t pretend like you’re calling on behalf of the mall or something.  Instead, you call them up and say something like, “You need to come home right away.  Everyone you love is dead.”

While Dina and Jade are making prank calls, some unidentified man is having a stream of consciousness discussion with himself, all about how his plan has nearly come to fruition and he just has to make sure that all the loose ends are tied up and how he’ll kill anyone who gets in his way.  Though the identity of this man is not immediately confirmed, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that that he’s eventually going to get an unwanted phone call from Dina and Jade.

Actually, it’s all Chuck’s fault.  Chuck is Dina’s half-brother and he’s got a history of fights and petty crimes.  He seems like kind of a punk but this being an R.L. Stine book, he’s actually just a misunderstood rebel who plays be his own rules.  It turns out that Chuck is an expert on prank calls.  Long story short, Dina and Jade eventually call up a man who is in the process of murdering his wife.  Somehow, this leads to them deciding that they need to investigate the murder themselves.  Myself, I’d probably just try to get on with my life but, on Fear Street, everyone’s curious.

The Wrong Number is pretty much typical Fear Street.  Solve the crime, get a boyfriend, try not to die.  It’s the type of book where Chuck gets into a knife fight after only being in town slightly less than day yet, instead of worrying that Chuck might have issues, it just makes him more attractive to Jade.  (Actually, speaking from my own long and sordid history of developing crushes on bad boys, that might be the most realistic part of the story.)

The most interesting thing about The Wrong Number is that it’s totally a product of its time.  This a book that literally could not take place today.  This plot is dependent upon everyone having a landline (and only a landline) and no one having caller ID or the ability to block annoying numbers.  It’s an artifact of a past time.  Thirty years ago, the world was a much different place.

International Horror Film Review: Deseo Deseo (dir by Eduardo M. Clorio)

Don’t ever play with mysterious board games, especially if you find them in the basement of a dead person’s house.

That would seem to be the main lesson of Deseo, Deseo.

The other, secondary lesson would be to be careful what you wish for.  You might just get it and all that.

Then again, I guess you could argue that the lesson is less about board games and less about wishes and more about the importance of not spending too much time hanging out with your cousins.  Because it really does seem as if a lot of the bad things that happen in Deseo Deseo could have been avoided if the cousins involved hadn’t all been so peculiarly close.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  I come from a big Irish/Italian/Spanish family and I love my cousins but even I’m smart enough not to spend every waking moment with them.

(Basically, a cousin is a sibling for whom you’re not obligated to buy a birthday present.)

Anyway, Deseo Deseo is a Mexican horror film.  (The title translates to I Wish, I Wish.)  Though it’s listed on Prime as being a 2020 film, it’s actually been around for a while.  It was filmed and started making the rounds on the festival circuit in 2016.  It spent four years playing festivals before being “released” on Prime in August.  I point this out not to criticize.  Instead, I just always find interesting how we’ll refer to a film as if it belongs to the year that it finally got a wide release whereas many films — especially independent horror films — are usually one or two years old by the time they’re finally made available to the viewing, non-festival public.  I think sometimes there’s a tendency to assume that a film is shot and then it’s magically released a month or two later.  Actually, it takes a lot of work to not only make a movie but also to get it distributed.

Deseo Deseo tells the story of five cousins who visit the dilapidated home of their dead grandmother.  Each cousin is a very definite type.  You’ve got the fat nerdy guy and the arrogant wannabe rich guy and the awkward virgin guy and the girl who wants to be Salma Hayek and the other girl who is just normal enough that she might have a chance to survive the film.  They’ve all got their hopes and dreams, some of which are better than others.  The aspiring actress wants to be a star, which is understandable.  The awkward virgin guy wants to bang his cousin, which is really icky.

They find a board game in the basement and they make the mistake of playing it.  While holding a magical token, each one makes a wish.  The game then tells them what they have to do to make that wish come true.  (“I want to be a star.”  “Cheat on your boyfriend.”)  The game also tells them who will be punished if they fail to follow the instructions.  “It’s just a stupid game!” the arrogant rich guy says, despite the fact that the game gives some very specific recommendations.

One way or another, everyone’s wish come true.  Of course, this being a horror movie, the wishes usually come true in a totally unexpected way that kind of messes up everyone’s life.  And, of course, people have to die.  Eventually, our five cousins end up back in the basement, trying to wish their lives back to normal which …. yeah, don’t try to trick the demonic board game, folks.

“I wish for this all to end!” someone says.

“Kill them all,” the game suggests.

Seriously, don’t mess with board games!

So, the plot is a bit predictable but honestly, that really didn’t matter.  I mean, yes, the board game is obviously bad news and playing with it was a huge mistake but part of the deal that we enter into when we start watching a film like this is a willingness to accept that the film’s characters are going to do dumb things.  I liked Deseo Deseo, even if it wasn’t exactly the most original horror film that I’ve ever seen.  It was fast-paced, the atmosphere was creepy, and the actors were all likable enough that you at least felt a little bit of regret when they started dying.  I look forward to seeing what director Eduardo M. Clorio does next.

4 Shots From 4 Terence Fisher Films: Brides of Dracula, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Devil Rides, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell

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’ve been using 4 Shots From 4 Films to pay tribute to some of our favorite horror directors!  Today we recognize the talents of the master of Hammer horror, Terence Fisher!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Brides of Dracula (1960, dir by Terence Fisher)

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960, dir by Terence Fisher)

The Devil Rides Out (1968, dir by Terence Fisher)

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1973, dir by Terence Fisher)