Horror on TV: Baywatch Nights 2.21 — “The Vortex” (dir by L. Lewis Stout)


On tonight’s horror on TV, we present the next-to-last episode of Baywatch Nights.  In this episode, David Hasselhoff and Angie Harmon visit a Native American fortune teller (Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman) and end up entering a vortex that sends them into the future.  They then watch as their future selves investigate something weird that happened on a ship that’s just arrived from the Amazon.

This is a very weird episode and it originally aired on May 9th. 1997.

Horror(-ish) Film Review: Hubie Halloween (dir by Steven Brill)

“Oh my God!” I said as I looked at what was new on Netflix, “A Halloween movie starring the guy from Uncut Gems!?  THIS IS GOING TO BE INTENSE!”

Of course, as I’m sure you already guessed, Hubie Halloween might as well be taking place in a totally different universe from Uncut GemsUncut Gems was an intense drama that starred Adam Sandler as a man so self-destructive that he literally seems to spend the entire movie just daring death to reach out and take him.  Hubie Halloween, on the other hand, is fairly laid back comedy featuring Adam Sandler playing yet another well-meaning manchild.  The film features supporting performances from all the usual Happy Madison suspects, like Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows, Ben Stiller, Maya Rudolph, Keenan Thompson, and Colin Quinn.  It’s sentimental and it’s about thirty minute too long and the humor is often juvenile but also frequently funny.

Adam Sandler plays Hubie, who lives in Salem, Massachusetts with his mother (June Squibb).  Hubie is the town eccentric, the type of guy who thinks that he’s protecting the entire town but who mostly just gets on everyone’s nerves.  A lot of people make fun of Hubie (who they call Pubie).  Pete Landolfa (Ray Liotta) may be mourning the recent death of his father but he still finds time to toss Hubie into an open grave.  Not even Father Dave (Michael Chiklis) has much sympathy for Hubie.  Hubie is the type of guy who goes down to the local school to give a speech on Halloween safety, just for the students (and teachers) to respond by throwing all of their food at him.

One of the few people who is nice to Hubie is his new neighbor, Walter Lambert (Steve Buscemi).  However, Hubie suspects that Walter might be a werewolf and when people start to disappear over the course of Halloween, Hubie suspects that Walter’s responsible.  Meanwhile, the police (represented by a heavily bearded Kevin James) thinks that it might be Hubie, seeing as how everyone who has disappeared is also someone who has bullied him.

Then again, Richie Hartman (Rob Schneider) has just escaped from the local mental institution.  Could he possibly have something to do with the mysterious happenings in Salem!?

When Adam Sandler won his Indie Spirit Award for Uncut Gems, he infamously announced that, if he didn’t get an Oscar nomination, he would get back at the Academy by making the worst film of all time.  Well, Sandler was snubbed the Academy.  (Though Sandler deserved that nomination — and probably nominations for The Meyerowtiz Stories, Funny People, and Punch-Drunk Love as well — it’s pretty obvious that the Academy is never going to nominate the star of That’s My Boy and Jack and Jill.)  However, Hubie Halloween is certainly not the worst film ever made.  It’s actually a rather likable and sweet-natured comedy, one in which the humor is definitely juvenile but, in contrast to some of the other Happy Madison comedies, never really mean-spirited.  In many ways, it’s a perfect Netflix film.  It’s good enough to keep you entertained while, at the same time, you don’t necessarily have to really pay attention to every minute of the film to get it.  It’s the epitome of the type of film that you can watch while doing something else.

One of the main complaints that’s always lodged against Sandler is that he primarily just makes movies so that he can hang out with his friends and get paid for it.  There’s a certain amount of truth to that statement and that, more than anything, explains why Sandler’s filmography tends to be so frustratingly uneven.  The cast of Hubie Halloween looks like they had a lot of fun making it.  Fortunately, in this case, that sense of fun actually translates onto the screen.  Steve Buscemi, June Squibb, and particularly Ray Liotta all seem to be having a ball getting to parody their own dramatic images.

Admittedly, Hubie Halloween is not a film that sticks with you.  It won’t make you laugh as much as Happy Gilmore and it won’t leave you stunned like Uncut Gems.  But, for what it is, it’s just likable enough to be entertaining.


Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood (2000, directed by Ron Ford)

Warlock-turned attorney-turned-police consultant Will Spanner is back for the 11th Witchcraft film.  This time he’s played by James Servais.  Working again with Lutz (Stephanie Beaton) and Garner (Mikul Robins) of the LAPD, Will is investigating yet another attempt to perform a ceremony that will bring Satan back to Earth.  Why is every Satanic ceremony so elaborate that it always gives Will, Lutz, and Garner time to investigate and disrupt it?  That seems short-sighted on Satan’s part.

This time, the head Satanist is a drama professor who is putting on a production of MacBeth and who convinces the three actresses playing the witches to really get into their roles by performing a “fake” magic ritual.  Unfortunately, the ritual is real and the actresses are possessed by the spirits of three actual witches.  Because they have to find a stone that will help to bring a demon into the world who will then bring Satan into the world as well (See what I mean about foolishly complex rituals?), the three actresses are soon going on a sex-fueled murder rampage across campus.  One of the possessed actresses is also the sister of Will’s long-suffering girlfriend and now-fiancée, Kelly (Wendy Blair).  That makes it even more important than usual that Will prevent Satan from coming into the world.

As easy as it is to make fun of the Witchcraft films for their grade-Z production values and the often less than impressive performances of the actors involved, it’s hard not to appreciate their loyalty to the idea behind the entire franchise.  With only a few exceptions, every film has dealt with Will coming to terms with being a warlock.  Even though the actors change frequently, just the fact that nearly every Witchcraft installment features the same characters does a lot to distinguish Witchcraft from other direct- to-video horror franchises.  Will and Kelly finally getting engaged would probably be more meaningful if they had been consistently been played the same actors over the last several films (and if Witchcraft XI spelled Kelli’s name correctly) but it still rewarded the viewers who had stuck with the franchise up to its eleventh installment.  (Unfortunately, this movie would also be Kelly’s final appearance in the series.  The character is never mentioned in any of the films following this one.)

Otherwise, Witchcraft XI features some of the worst acting in the series up to this point and the plot is incoherent even by Witchcraft standards.  Supposedly, this was one of the most financially successful of all the Witchcraft movies, probably because of three possessed and often topless co-eds.  Will Spanner would return, though unfortunately without Lutz, Garner, or Kelly, in Witchcraft XII.

Game Review: The Shadow In The Snow (2020, Andrew Brown)

The game is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the games can be played here.

You’re in a dicey situation.  You’ve been driving through the middle of the blizzard, simply trying to find your way back to the main road.  After you crash into a snowdrift, your engine dies.  It doesn’t matter how many times you turn the key in the ignition, the car is not going anywhere.  It’s cold.  It’s snowing.  You haven’t seen another car for hours.  What do you do?

You can stay in your car.  I tried that a few times.  I don’t recommend it.

Your only other option is to get out of the car and wander through the wilderness in search of help.  Move in the right direction and you might find a cabin or a motel.  But be aware that you’re not alone in the wilderness.  There’s a shadow in the snow and it’s coming for you.

This Twine game is perfect for Halloween.  The story plays out like a horror movie and I was impressed by the number of ways that I ended up dying.  Right when I thought I had figured out the right way to kill the beast, I discovered that there was more to the monster than I originally considered.  The Shadow in the Snow is an enjoyable challenge and one that makes good use of the Twine format.

You can play it here. 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Bela Lugosi Edition

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.

Today is the 138th anniversary of the birth of Bela Lugosi!  In honor of his legacy, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Dracula (1931, directed by Tod Browning)

White Zombie (1932, directed by Vincent Halperin)

Island of Lost Souls (1932, directed by Erle C. Kenton)

Bride of the Monster (1955, dir by Edward D. Wood, Jr.)

Horror On The Lens: The Dead Don’t Die (dir by Curtis Harrington)

For today’s horror on the lens, we have a 1975 made-for-television movie called The Dead Don’t Die!

The Dead Don’t Die takes place in Chicago during the 1930s.  George Hamilton is a sailor who comes home just in time to witness his brother being executed for a crime that he swears he didn’t commit.  Hamilton is convinced that his brother was innocent so he decides to launch an investigation of his own.  This eventually leads to Hamilton not only being attacked by dead people but also discovering a plot involving a mysterious voodoo priest!

Featuring atmospheric direction for Curtis Harrington and a witty script by Robert Bloch, The Dead Don’t Die is an enjoyable horror mystery.  Along with George Hamilton, the cast includes such luminaries of “old” Hollywood as Ray Milland, Ralph Meeker, Reggie Nalder, and Joan Blondell.  (Admittedly, George Hamilton is not the most convincing sailor to ever appear in a movie but even his miscasting seems to work in a strange way.)

And you can watch it below!


Music Video of the Day: Burn by Nine Inch Nails (1994, dir by Hank Corwin and Trent Reznor)

I like Burn, even though it’s not exactly subtle song.  I mean, Trent Reznor has never exactly been the most low-key of songwriters but Burn is a bit heavy-handed by even his standards.  That said, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it and it’s fun to music to play while you’re setting a fire or trying to freak out a boomer.

The video was apparently included on a special VHS tape of Natural Born Killers.  And now it’s on YouTube so watch it while you can because I have a feeling this video will probably get yanked down for copyright reasons in another month or so.  Stuff like that just makes me want to burn it all down.  The video pretty much follows the Natural Born Killers aesthetic.  It’s a type of style that’s good for music videos but a bit much for a 2 hour-plus film.  Natural Born Killers is one of those films that I always get bored with before it ends but the soundtrack’s pretty good.