Lisa’s Week In Television: 9/26/21 — 10/2/21

If it seems like I watched an excessive amount of old TV shows this week, that’s because I did.  While I was working this week, I kept the TV turned to the retro channels.  The only exception to that rule was on Friday when I watched three daytime dramas.  For the most part, these shows served as background noise while I was making plan for this year’s Horrorthon but, at the same time, I have to admit that I do kind of like occasionally watching the old TV shows.  I’m a history nerd and, at their best, those shows are like stepping into a time machine and seeing the way people used to dress, talk, and, for better or worse, think.

This week also saw the end of Big Brother, which means that I can now devote all of my time to horror films.  Yay!

With all that in mind, here’s my week in television:

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

With the Germans and the Italians holding a conference to determine their plans for invading England, it falls on Rene to discover their plans to send that information to the Resistance, via the use of a homing duck.  Yes, a duck.  There’s probably worse ways to do it, to be honest.  I know that the ducks in our neighborhood are pretty resilient.  Needless to say, Rene complained quite a bit but still did what he had to do.

Bachelor in Paradise (Tuesday Night, ABC)

Ivan had to leave the show because he snuck out of his room during lockdown and tried to see one of the future contestants.  This show certainly does have a lot of rules for something that is essentially just a second-rate knock-off of Paradise Hotel.

Bewitched (Weekday Afternoon, Antenna TV)

I watched two episodes of this classic sitcom while doing some work around the office on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, both episodes were from the Dick Sargent years.  (I prefer the episodes with Dick York’s hapless Darrin to the episodes that feature Dick Sargent flying into a rage every few minutes.)  The first episode features Sarena causing trouble, which was fun.  The second episode featured Endora casting a hex on Darrin, which was fun if just because Darrin was such a pain in the ass that he certainly deserved it.

Big Brother (24/7, Paramount Plus and CBS)

It’s over!  I wrote about the show and big finale over at the Big Brother Blog!

The Bold and the Beautiful (Weekday Afternoons, CBS)

Last year, when the COVID lockdowns first kicked in, I got sucked back into the world of the daytime dramas.  However, up until this week, it had been a few months since I had watched any of them.  I guess I just got bored with them.  That said, this Friday, I decided to check in with a few of them, just to see what was going on.

The Bold and the Beautiful remains my favorite, just because it’s so self-aware and intentionally over the top.  This Friday’s episode featured a lot of people having heated discussions and it was fun to watch.  The drama, the eye rollings, the flaring nostrils, the little smirks — Hell, I might have to start setting the DVR for these shows again!

CHiPs (Weekday Afternoon, Charge!)

I watched two episodes of this 70s cop show on Thursday.  The show itself was pretty bland but the California scenery was lovely and that opening theme music really gets stuck in your head.  They knew how to work a bassline in the 70s.

Cold Case (Weekday Afternoon, Start TV)

Remember this show?  Cold Case followed the adventures of Lily (Kathryn Morris), the deathly pale cold case detective who never seemed to wash her hair.  On Wednesday, I watched an episode in which Lily and the cold case squad investigated the murder of a woman who made a tape for a dating service shortly before her death.  As always, the show started off on an interesting note but then got unbearable once Lily and the gang started doing their thing.

Crossing Jordan (Weekday Afternoons, Start TV)

On this crime show, Jill Hennessy played Jordan, a coroner who investigated crimes for some reason.  This was one of those overly quirky crime shows that aired in the aughts, so naturally Jordan has a crew of odd co-workers and a potential boyfriend played by Jerry O’Connell.  Fortunately, Miguel Ferrer was also on the show, lending it all some much needed gravitas.

I watched two episodes on Wednesday.  In the first one, Jordan researched the darkest corners of the internet.  (GASP!)  It was interesting to watch, just because the episode was made before Twitter and Facebook really became things.  This was followed by an episode in which Jordan investigate the death of corporal who had gone AWOL from Afghanistan.  Crossing Jordan was always at its worst when it tried to be political.

Considering how annoying I found this show to be, both during its original run and in reruns, I’m kind of surprised I watched two episodes.  Was I just too lazy to change the channel?  It’s possible.

CSI: Miami (Weekday Mornings, Charge!)

I don’t care what anyone says.  Between David Caruso putting on the sunglasses and Emily Proctor’s Southern accent, CSI: Miami was the best of the various CSIs.  I watched two episodes on Thursday.  The first one dealt with a man who died at a race track and it was okay but kind of forgettable.  The second one dealt with the mysterious world of the internet and there’s nothing I love more than when CSI: Miami explores the dark web!  While the team explored the internet, Horatio protected his niece from a killer and did that thing where he delivered one-liners in an extremely serious voice.  It was fun!

Dennis The Menace (Weekday Afternoons, Antenna TV)

Dennis the Menace?  More like Dennis the sociopath!  I watched two episodes on Tuesday.  When Dennis wasn’t harassing Mr. Wilson, he was making everyone else’s life a living Hell.  GO AWAY, YOU LITTLE BRAT!

Friday the 13th: The Series (YouTube)

Getting to discover old shows like this is one of the truly fun things about our annual horrorthon at TSL.

General Hospital (Weekday Afternoons, ABC)

Oh my God, Sonny might still be alive!  On Friday, I watched this show for the first time in months and I was immediately reminded of why I love General Hospital, despite the fact that I find the title to be misleading.  The show features nonstop drama, much of it revolving around gangsters named Sonny who know how to fake their own death.

Ghost Whisperer (Weekday Mornings, Start TV)

As I’ve written in the past, I love Ghost Whisperer!  The episode that I watched on Wednesday featured a ghost leading Melinda to a munitions dump that was full of unexploded bombs.  I don’t believe in ghosts but, if they did exist, I would hope they would be willing to confide in me as easily as they do Melinda.

I Dream of Jeannie (Weekday Afternoons, Antenna TV)

I watched two episodes of this old show on Tuesday, while I was doing some work around the office.  The first episode featured Jeannie’s sister trying to steal away Major Nelson.  The 2nd featured a con artist (played by Milton Berle) trying to outsmart Jeannie! Oh no!  The 2nd episode took place in Hawaii, which was nice.  I loved visiting Hawaii.

Hazel (Weekday Mornings, Antenna TV)

Hazel is an old sitcom about a live-in maid who insists on trying to run everyone’s life.  On Tuesday, I had the TV in the office tuned to Antenna TV and, as a result, two episodes of Hazel served as background noise while I worked.  In one episode, Hazel’s employer was convinced that the neighbors were interfering with his TV reception.  In the second episode, Hazel came to the defense of a friend who was accused of being a corporate spy.  I felt bad for Hazel, who apparently didn’t have much of a life outside of work.

Knight Rider (Weekday Afternoons, Charge!)

I’ve often heard of this old show but Thursday was the first time that I ever watched an episode.  In fact, I watched two episodes.  Youngish David Hasselhoff driving a car that talks in the voice of Mr. Feeney?  What’s not to love!?  Actually, to be honest, it seemed like the type of show that would get pretty boring once the novelty wore off.  The car was cool, though.  The first episode featured the Hoff and the car saving a building from detonation.  The second found the Hoff driving the car in a race and protecting a journalist.  In both cases, everything turned out for the best.

McHale’s Navy (Weekday Mornings, Antenna TV)

This was an old sitcom about a bunch of sailors in the Navy.  It was obviously made at a time when America was not at war because you wouldn’t trust any of these people to be able to handle a combat situation.  Ernest Borgnine played the McHale of the title.  I had the show on for background noise while I was doing some work around the office on Tuesday.  Antenna TV aired two episodes but I didn’t pay much attention to either one.  One featured a chimpanzee.  The other featured McHale trying to run a beauty contest.  Ernest Borgnine seemed to be having fun.

Medium (Weekday Afternoon, Start TV)

Medium was the serious version of Ghost Whisperer, starring Patricia Arquette instead of Jennifer Love Hewitt.  It will always be interesting to me that Patricia basically spent the first decade of this century starring in Medium and filming Boyhood on the weekends.  Anyway, Medium was always a bit too dour for me but Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber both gave good performance every week that the show aired.  It was a show for grown-ups, one that unfortunately aired when I was anything but.

Start TV always shows Medium after Ghost Whisperer, which makes it impossible not to compare the two shows.  On Wednesday, I watched an episode in which Patricia developed a sensitivity to light.  She started wearing sunglasses but whenever she put them on, everyone that she saw would have a number on their head that states how many days they have left to live.  AGCK!  Actually, by Medium standards, this was a fun episode.

Moone Boy (Sunday Night, PBS)

PBS’s airing of Moone Boy came to a touching end with two final episodes on Sunday.  The first featured Dessie trying to open a Catholic book shop.  It soon became popular with people of all religions, including Scientologists!  The second episode featured the death of Martin’s grandfather and the return of his grandfather’s imaginary friend, George Gershwin (played by Paul Rudd).  It was the a very, very sweet episode, one that took an honest but humorous look at aging, maturing, and death.  The final scene brought tears to my mismatched eyes,  What a good show!  I’m glad I got to see it.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

I didn’t really pay much attention to this episode but I’m pretty sure a dog ordered Granville to go on a rampage.  I’m a little bit worried about Granville, to be honest.  He seems to let things get to him.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

You can read my thoughts on the latest episode of Survivor here!

Talking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)

Talking Dead was a bit bland this week, which was a shame considering how good the latest episode of The Walking Dead was.  For the record, the guests were superfan Yvette Nicole Brown and, via satellite, Lauren Ridloff.

That Girl (Weekday Afternoons, Antenna TV)

On Tuesday afternoon, I had the TV in the office tuned to Antenna TV, largely because I had a lot of work to do and retro sitcoms are often the perfect background noise.  Among the shows that aired were two episodes of That Girl, which is a show that I had heard of but never watched before.  Marlo Thomas plays Anne Marie, an actress.  I appreciated the fact that Anne and I share a middle name.

Anyway, I didn’t really pay much attention to the two episodes that aired.  I had a lot of work to get done.  The first episode featured Anne dealing with a potential audit from the IRS and it was nice to see that people in the 70s hated the IRS as much as I hate them right now.  The second episode featured Anne Marie trying to encourage a singer who was planning on becoming a nun.  In both cases, everything worked out for the best.

Three’s Company (Weekday Afternoons, Antenna TV)

I watched two episodes of this very 70s sitcom on Tuesday.  I should admit that I only had it on for background noise while I was finishing up some work so I didn’t pay much attention to it.  I’ve seen a few episodes of this show over the year and I’ve never really seen the appeal.  I’m just like, “Just explain what really happened and get on with your life!”

Anyway, the first episode features James Cromwell — yes, that James Cromwell — as a vice cop who thought Chrissy was a prostitute so he came back to the apartment to arrest her but Jack thought he was just a jerk so he punched him and then Cromwell tried to arrest everyone but then Mr. Roper said that Jack was gay so Cromwell let him go because it would be too embarrassing to admit that he got punched out by a gay guy.  God, that was exhausting.  This was followed by an episode where everyone thought the apparently asexual Mr. Roper was having an affair because every character on the show was an idiot.

Unforgettable (Weekday Afternoon, Start TV)

On this show, Poppy Montgomery played a detective who had the ability to remember every single thing she had ever seen or heard.  It was a really interesting premise and Poppy Montgomery was a good series lead but the show was never as interesting as it should have been.  The episode I watched on Wednesday featured Poppy and Dylan Walsh transporting a witness down to Florida.  It was a pretty basic show but Poppy and Dylan had an enjoyable chemistry.

The Walking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)

This week’s episode was pretty good and I wrote about it here!

The Young and the Restless (Weekday Afternoons, CBS)

After having not watched the show for a month, I watched Friday’s episode.  There was a lot of talking.  Mariah and Tessa were debating whether or not start a family.  Victoria and Nick’s rivalry was threatening to ruin a wedding.  As usual, there were a lot of restless people on the show.  I enjoyed it.  I like watching attractive, rich people argue.

In conclusion …. actually, this post is already over 2,000 words long so we probably don’t need a conclusion.  It was a good week!

Horror on TV: Friday the 13th: The Series 1.3 “Cupid’s Quiver” (dir by Atom Egoyan)

On tonight’s episode of Friday the 13th: The Series, a cursed cupid statue is causing trouble!

Now, I’ll just be honest here.   The idea behind the cupid statue is not a bad one.  The statue causes people to fall in love with the owner of the statue, with the unfortunate twist being that the owner is then required to kill them.  However, the sight of incel Eddie Munroe (Denis Forest) carrying around that statue is often unintentionally funny.

That said, even if this isn’t necessarily the strongest episode of the series, I wanted to share it because it was directed by future Oscar nominee, Atom Egoyan.  Friday the 13th: The Series was filmed in Canada and this was an early credit for Egoyan.  Later, Egoyan would go on to direct films like The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica, and Where The Truth Lies, making him one of the most important Canadian filmmakers not named Cronenberg, Villeneuve, or Arcand.

This episode, the third of the series, originally aired on October 17th, 1987.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Another Son of Sam (dir by Dave A. Adams)

Well, his friends call him Another Son of Sam

But his real name is Mister Earl….

Actually, his real name is Harvey.  Let’s make that clear right now.  Despite it’s title, Another Son of Sam has next to nothing to do with the Son of Sam.  Instead, this zero-budget, North Carolina-shot exploitation film is about a mental patient named Harvey who, having been traumatized by his mother, escapes from the hospital and goes on a rampage at a nearby college.  This film was first shot in 1975, under the name Hostages.  However, it couldn’t actually secure a release until 1977, when it was retitled Another Son of Sam.  

Another Son of Sam is difficult to summarize, not because it’s particularly complex but, instead, because close to nothing actually happens.  Even though it’s only 70 minutes long, there’s really only enough plot for about five minutes.  However, because I do like to maintain a certain minimum word count when it comes to my reviews, I guess I better find something to say about this film.

It opens with a lengthy sequence of police Lt. Setzer (Russ Dubuc) enjoying a weekend at the lake.  The lake is never really mentioned again but some of the shots of the boat skimming the water are so nicely done that you can’t help but think that the film should have dropped the whole escaped killer thing and instead just focused on Setzer’s weekend.  After leaving the lake, Lt. Setzer goes to a bar and enjoys a performance from singer Johnny Charro!  Charro, who was and is something of a local celebrity in Charlotte, North Carolina, is credited as playing himself.  He sings an endless song, one that is repeated several time throughout the film.  Whenever anyone turns on a radio, there’s Johnny Charro!

Meanwhile, crazy old Harvey kills an orderly, escapes from a mental hospital, and hides out on a college campus.  Luckily, Lt. Setzer just happens to be investigating an unrelated case at the college!  Once Setzer realizes that there’s a killer on campus, he calls out the SWAT team!  The SWAT team searches for Harvey but, because they all kind of suck at their job, Harvey kills a few of them.

And that’s pretty much the entire film.

Now, there’s a lot of negative things you can say about Another Son of Sam.  None of the characters are memorable.  The acting is risible.  The pace is so slow that 70 minutes feels more like 70 hours.  However, I would like to take a moment to focus on two things that work surprisingly well.

First off, director Dave Adams (who was apparently a stuntman making his directorial debut) purposefully avoids showing us Harvey’s face.  Instead, we see his hands when he’s committing a murder and his eyes when he’s watching a potential victim.  The many shots of Harvey’s eyes, glaring out from the darkness, are actually effectively creepy.  By not showing us his face, Adams allows Harvey to remain an unknowable force of evil.  This is not one of those films where the audience is meant to sympathize or identify with the killer and I appreciated that.

Secondly, the film does this weird thing where the scene will suddenly freeze but we’ll still hear the sounds of people talking or walking down a hallway or listening to Johnny Charro or whatever else they were doing before the scene froze.  Apparently, this is because Adam shot the film using short ends and, as a result, the camera would often run out of film in the middle of a scene.  However, even if it wasn’t deliberate on the part of the director, the freeze frames actually do improve the film.  Along with creating a properly surreal viewing experience, they also remind us of just how unpredictable life can be and how quickly it can end.  One minute, you’re taking a shower or you’re talking about your plans for Spring Break.  The next minute, you’re frozen in place as all of your plans come to a perhaps permanent halt.  The freeze frames may have been the result of incompetence but they still work.

And it’s good that something works in Another Son of Sam because this is an otherwise unfortunate film.  I say that as someone who actually has a weakness for grainy, low-budget, amateur movies.  I liked the lake, the freeze frames, the eyes, and Johnny Charro.  But once the film hit 30 minutes, my mind was wandering.

One interesting note: the film opens with a list of mass murders, starting with Jack the Ripper and ending with David Berkowitz.  It makes the point that most of the killers were never caught and, even if they were, their motivations were never understood.  One of the killers they mention as having never been caught is “Seattle Ted.”  This, of course, was a reference to Ted Bundy, who would be captured two years after the release of Another Son of Sam.

Ladies and gentleman …. JOHNNY CHARRO!

The Night Brings Charlie (1990, directed by Tom Logan)

The small town of Pakoe has 1,251 residents but that number is about to steadily decline because there is a killer on the loose. Wearing overalls, a burlap sack, and a pair of swimming goggles, the killer comes out at night and removes people’s heads from their bodies.

Sheriff Carl Carson (Kerry Knight) and Walt the coroner (Joe Fishback) suspect that the killer might be a disfigured handyman named Charlie (Chuck Whiting). Not only has Charlie been disturbed ever since he returned from Vietnam (where he served with Walt) but he also just happens to wear an outfit that looks exactly like the outfit that the killer wears. Charlie seems like the obvious suspect but, when he refuses to confess despite all of the evidence against, Sheriff Carson wonders if he’s really guilty.

The Night Brings Charlie has plenty of flaws. The acting is often amateurish and the pacing is slow, especially at the start of the film. For a film that only runs 77 minutes (and seven of those minutes are devoted to the opening and ending credits), there’s a lot of filler, most of it dealing with Walt’s daughters and their idiot friends. But, all of that aside, The Night Brings Charlie is not that bad. At its best, the film does capture the feeling of a small community under siege by a mysterious killer. (The influence of The Town That Dreaded Sunset is easy to spot, in both the look of the killer and the emphasis on on a town paralyzed by fear.) There’s a few moments of unexpected humor, my favorite being the killer taking the time to update the population number on the town’s welcome sign after committing his latest murder. Even better, the film has not just one surprise twist but two! Though the first twist was easy to guess, the second one was actually pretty clever and it did take me by surprise. Finally, while the first hour is slowly paced, the same can’t be said of the final 17 minutes, when the film comes alive. The Night Brings Charlie may start off on the wrong foot but it ends strong. Stick with The Night Brings Charlie and the film will pay off.

For a low budget, direct-to-video slasher that was made with an obviously amateur cast, The Night Brings Charlie isn’t bad at all. Unfortunately, it’s never been released on anything other than VHS but it can be found (with Spanish subtitles) on YouTube.

Game Review: The Waiting Room (2021, Billy Krolick)

The Waiting Room is an entrant in the 2021 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be browsed and experienced here.

In The Waiting Room, you have just been hired work at a nursing home. From the minute you show up for your first day, it seems like something is off. The lights keep flickering. A patient named Ethel says she needs help but your co-worker, Austin, orders you to ignore her. The night nurse, Maria, refuses to go in the back hallway. The patients all say that the nursing home is haunted by shadow people, waiting to abduct the dying.

Can you solve the mystery? That’s up to you. One of the things that I like about The Waiting Room is that it actually is a work of interactive fiction. The choicse that you make actually do effect the direction of the story. How the game ends will depend on how brave or cowardly you decide to be. Will you be a compassionate caregiver or will you be cruel and self-centered? The choice is yours but there are consequences for each choice.

The Waiting Room is a well written twine game. (If you’ve never played a twine game, they’re like the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, just with more options and details.) There have been a lot of good IF gams about haunted house and the atmospheric The Waiting Room brings to mind some of the best of them while also establishing its own identity. There are a few puzzles to be solved but they’re not extremely difficult. Instead, the emphasis is just on making the right decisions when it comes to dealing with both the living and the dead.

Play the Waiting Room.

Horror Scenes That I Love: A Trip to the General Store from Troll 2

Since today is Claudio Fragasso’s birthday, my first instinct was to select the famous “OH MY GAAAAAAAWWWD!” scene from Troll 2 as today’s horror scene that I love. However, I then remembered that I’ve already shared that scene a few times on this site.

So, instead, here’s a different scene from Troll 2. In this scene, Drew visits the town of Niblog and stops by the general store, where he’s pressured into drinking the poisonous Niblog milk. The milk will eventually turn Drew into a plant so that he can then be eaten by the town’s goblins. The goblins are all vegetarians but apparently, it’s okay to eat meat that’s been transformed by evil magic. It’s kind of weird. Personally, I think the Goblins are kind of hypocritical. They remind me of this girl I went college with who we’ll call Bree. Bree was vegan and would never hesitate to tell you that she was better than you. And yet, she still wore leather shoes. So, screw her, screw her pathetic attempts to steal everyone’s boyfriend, and screw the goblins.

Anyway, there’s two ways of looking at this scene. On the one hand, it’s an oddly acted and oddly paced scene in a film that was full of odd performances and odd directorial choices. On the other hand, it’s so strange and off-center that it contributes to the film’s dream-like atmosphere. Since today is Fragasso’s birthday and I tend to always assume the most positive explanation to be the correct one, I’m going to go with the second possibility.

Enjoy this scene from 1990’s Troll 2:

Book Review: Execution of Innocence by Christopher Pike


I was super excited when I came across a copy of the 1997 Christopher Pike novel, Execution of Innocence, in my collection of used paperbacks. Along with R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike was one of the kings of YA horror and suspense literature in the 1990s. In fact, his books were often a bit more macabre than even Stine’s. If Stine killed off four people in a book, Pike would probably kill off 8. I was looking forward to reading Execution of Innocence. Just the title alone promised all sorts of morbid drama! Unfortunately, the book itself doesn’t really live up to the promise of that title.

The book opens with Mary, a teenage girl, sitting in a police department. It turns out that one of her classmates, the wealthy Dick (and that does turn out to be an appropriate name) is dead. The cops thinks that Mary’s boyfriend, Charlie, murdered Dick because he got jealous over Mary and Dick going to the school dance. Charlie, it turns out, is a mechanic from the bad side of town. Mary’s a good girl and Charlie’s a bad boy, and Dick’s dead. And now, Charlie has mysteriously disappeared.

The problem is that Mary swears that she doesn’t remember what happened the night that Dick died. The cops are skeptical, especially when another witness comes forward and declares that Mary threatened to kill Dick herself! Now, Mary has to work with her friend Hannah and prove that she didn’t murder Dick. But what Mary doesn’t realize is that Hannah has secrets of her own….

This is one of those books where describing makes it sound more than it actually is. The mystery of who murdered Dick has the potential to be intriguing but Pike, instead, continually has his characters act in the most illogical and improbable of ways. The reader spends a good deal of the book trying to understand everyone’s possible motives just to discover that the actual motives either don’t make sense in the first place or, in the case of one major character, they feel a bit homophobic. It also doesn’t help that the book attempts to present Charlie and Mary as being some sort of ideal couple when they’re relationship is actually about as toxic as they come. You really can’t help but feel that all of Mary’s friends (and the cops) had a point when they warned her away from the guy.

Execution of Innocence is definitely not first-rate Pike. Try re-reading Monster instead. That’ll give you nightmares!

Book Review: Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood by Danny Trejo

As I sit here, preparing to write a few words about Danny Trejo’s autobiography, I find myself tempted to refer to him as being a “horror star.”

That’s just because it’s October and I’m in a horror mood.  The truth of the matter is that Danny Trejo has appeared in all sorts of films.  He’s done comedy.  He’s done action.  He’s done drama.  Not surprisingly, given his background, he’s appeared in a ton of crime films.  He guest-starred on two episodes of Baywatch.  On King of the Hill, he lent his voice to the character of Enrique.  He starred as Machete in two movies.  And yes, he’s done his share of horror.  He was killed by a giant snake in Anaconda.  He was killed by Michael Myers (or “Mikey” as Danny’s character called him) in Rob Zombie’s Halloween.  He battled both a multi-headed shark and a murderous ghost for SyFy.  Danny Trejo has appeared in all sorts of films, to the extent that you never really know where or when he’s going to show up.

That’s something Trejo addresses in his autobiography, which is itself simply called Trejo.  He writes about getting asked whether or not he minds appearing in so many B-movie and his reply is that even a B-movie will give people jobs, put food on the table, and perhaps provide some joy to someone who watches it.  In another passage, he points out that one bad day on a movie set is still better than the best day in prison.  He makes a good point.  A lot of movie snobs could learn a lot from Danny Trejo’s attitude.

As for the book, it’s as straight-forward as the actor himself.  Trejo talks about his early life of crime, the time he spent in prison, his struggle to get off drugs, his career as a no-nonsense drug counselor, and finally, his current status as a pop cultural icon.  Trejo doesn’t hold much back, discussing not only the crimes that he committed when he was young and incarcerated (A lot of the people who love Danny Trejo the character actor would have been terrified of Danny Treo the violent criminal, including myself) but also his subsequent struggles to be a good and responsible father.  Maturing is a theme that run through the entire book and Trejo admits that, even as he closes in on his 80th birthday, he’s still learning and growing.  What makes the book truly effective is that Trejo never avoids responsibility for his mistakes nor does he attempt to deflect blame.  He’s as honest about his sins as he is about his subsequent redemption and it’s that honesty that makes his story so inspiring.

If you’re hoping for a lot of Hollywood gossip, this book might disappoint you.  With a few notable exceptions involving Edward James Olmos’s attempts to make a movie about the Mexican Mafia, Trejo focuses on the positive when he discusses his film career.  One gets the feeling that he loves his life and he loves his unique place in the entertainment universe.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Trejo takes a great deal of joy out of the fact that he’s survived and it’s hard not to share that joy.  It’s also hard not to be touched by Trejo’s efforts to keep others from making the same mistakes that he made.

Trejo is a good and inspiring read.  Check it out and give thanks for Danny Trejo.  He’s a survivor and the world is better for it.

Night of the Slasher, Review by Case Wright

It’s so nice when a short gets it right!!! Also, I LOVE a good horror comedy! Night of the Slasher inverts all of the horror tropes. Jenelle is left home alone and she listens to 80s metal, engages in pre-marital sex, drinks and does drugs to attract the killer who slashed her the year before. This is so fun and so quick. Janelle lures a co-worker to her home named “The Bait” … really. It’s that awesome!

He brings some beers and she rapidly drinks all of them, giving the greatest dead pan line:

I have some friends in AA you could talk to. It’s funnier when you see it and you SHOULD!!!!

International Horror: Short Night of Glass Dolls (dir by Aldo Lado)

Short Night of Glass Dolls, an Italian thriller from 1971, opens with the discovery of a body in Prague.  American journalist Gregory Moore (Jean Sorel) is found lying in a plaza, his blank eyes staring up at the sky.  When he is examined by a doctor, we can hear a heartbeat pounding faintly on the soundtrack but Gregory is still declared dead.  At the hospital, he is taken down to morgue and left on a slab until a coroner can get around to opening him up….

The only problem is that, as the heartbeat indicated, Gregory Moore is not dead!  Instead, he’s paralyzed.  He can’t move or speak but he is alive and he can think.  As he waits to be dissected, Moore tries to figure out how he came to be in the situation.  He searches through his mind and we search with him.  He remembers his lover, Mira (Barbara Bach), who begged him to help her defect.  He remembers how she mysteriously vanished and how he worked with Jessica (Ingrid Thulin) and Jacques (Mario Adorf) to investigate her disappearance.  Moore’s mind is full of disturbing and surreal images but, as he remembers, it slowly starts to make sense.  And yet, even if Moore does eventually figure out what happened to Mira and how he came to be paralyzed, the coroner is still making his way over to Moore’s body….

Because it’s an Italian thriller from the 70s, Short Night of Glass Dolls is often mistakenly referred to as being a giallo.  Actually, it’s not.  Though the film does have the type of convoluted plot and the stylish imagery that is typically associated with the giallo genre, the film also lacks a black-gloved killer and really, it can’t be a giallo unless you have the unknown killer wearing black gloves.  Instead, Short Night of Glass Dolls is a deliberately paced paranoia thriller, one in which Moore uncovers not just a single crazed killer but instead a shadowy conspiracy.  It’s also an effective horror film, one that makes good use of Prague’s gothic atmosphere and which is full of haunting imagery.  Whether it’s the leering gargoyles that seem to be present on every building or the mysterious chandelier that continually shows up randomly in Moore’s mind, Short Night of Glass Dolls plays out like a cinematic dream.  Moore finds himself trapped, both physically and mentally.  His body is trapped in the morgue while his mind is trapped in the past.

Director Aldo Lado was always one of the more political of the Italian thriller directors and, not surprisingly, there’s a heavy political subtext to Short Night of Glass Dolls.  It’s probably not a coincidence that the journalist, who starts out as being cocky just to eventually discover that he doesn’t understand the world as much as he thinks he does, is an American.  It’s also not a coincidence that the film takes place in Prague, which was, at that time, a Communist-ruled city.  Prague is portrayed as being a city that is controlled by secret police and secret societies, where no one is allowed to fly free.  In the end, Short Night of Glass Dolls is full of secrets.