Horror TV Review: The Walking Dead 11.8 “For Blood” (dir by Sharat Raju)

The first third of The Walking Dead‘s final season came to a conclusion on Sunday night with For Blood. With the Alexandrians trying to figure out how to protect their community from a combination of bad weather, shoddy craftsmanship, and walkers gathering at the wall, Maggie launched her assault on Meridian.

Considering that it was the first finale of the final season, it was a surprisingly low-key episode. The majority of the running time was taken up with Darryl, Leah, and Pope watching Maggie, Negan, and the walkers they had culled approaching Meridian. When Pope revealed a willingness to sacrifice Reaper lives, Leah killed him and then took over the Reapers herself. Darryl revealed to her that he was a double agent. Leah proceeded to start shooting fireworks at the invaders and, as the episode ended, it looked like a rocket was heading straight for Maggie.

It was simple but it was effective. I liked it. In the past, talky episodes like this one have driven me crazy but, in this episode, all of the talking actually advanced the story. We learned more about Pope. We learned more about Leah. We even learned a little bit more about Darryl, a testament to the fact that Norman Reedus has managed to keep the character fresh for 11 seasons.

The highpoint of the episode, not surprisingly, was the death of Pope. Personally, I’m happy to have Pope out of there. Pope always came across as being a less effective but somehow even more longwinded version of Negan and it was hard to take the Reapers seriously as long as he was in charge. It was like finding out that a town’s most fearsome gang was led by someone who played Dungeons and Dragons every weekend. I was seriously dreading the prospect of having to spend this entire season with Pope as the main villain. But now, Pope is dead and Leah is in charge and Leah seems as if she’ll be a much more worthy adversary. Certainly, her relationship with Daryl adds a new element to her battle with the Alexandrians.

Darryl tried to convince Leah to join the Alexandrians. Leah, instead, starting shooting fireworks at Maggie. My hope is that Maggie will duck out of the way but still, this episode dealt with something that I think is too often ignored on The Walking Dead. Not everyone wants to be a member of Alexandria. That was something that Rick Grimes never quite understood and I think it’s also something that Maggie needs to learn. Just because the world has changed, that doesn’t mean that people don’t want to find their own community. Some people just aren’t going to want to embrace the Alexandrian way of life, which is something Rick, in his attempts to nation build, often missed

It was a good episode. I look forward to seeing what happens when the show returns next year. I’m looking forward to seeing what else is going to happen with the Commonwealth. I’m definitely looking forward to the moment when Maggie and Negan realize that they’re in love. (Sorry, Glenn. But, that’s just the way of the world.) I’m looking forward to Gabriel’s inevitable sacrifice. (Seriously, Gabriel is so obviously doomed.) I’m looking forward to Darryl and Carol going off to have adventures in their own spin-off. And I’m looking forward to seeing what Leah can do with The Reapers.

If you have told me last year, at this time, that I’d be looking forward to the return of The Walking Dead, I would have given you one of my epic eye rolls. But these past few episodes have won me over. Here’s hoping the rest of the season lives up to the potential of the first third.

Horror on TV: Friday the 13th The Series 1.17 “The Electrocutioner” (dir by Rob Hedden)

On tonight’s episode of Friday the 13th, a cursed electric chair gives its own the power to shock his enemies.

This episode was written and directed by Rob Hedden, who would later direct Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan!

This episode originally aired on April 23rd, 1988.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Amityville: The Awakening (dir by Franck Khalfoun)

You have to feel bad for the DeFeo family.

Not only where they murdered in their sleep by a junkie loser who also happened to be a member of the family but, for the past five decades, their names have been slandered in a countless number of Amityville books and films.  The house’s subsequent owner, George Lutz, realized that he could make a fortune by claiming that the murder house was haunted by a demon and, working with an author named Jay Anson, he did just that.  Anson’s book, The Amityville Horror, was published in 1977.  The first film version was released in 1979.  Since then, there have been over 20 Amityville films, the majority of which feature reenactments of the DeFeo murders and all of which let Ronald DeFeo, Jr. off the hook by suggesting that it was the supernatural that led to the murders as opposed to a raging heroin habit.

With so many different films having been made by so many different directors and companies, it’s next to impossible to maintain any sort of consistent continuity from film to film.  2017’s Amityville: The Awakening acknowledges this in the most meta way possible by having the film’s lead character, Belle (played by Bella Thorne), watch the original film with two of her friends while discussing all of the sequels.  In the world of Amityville: The Awakening, the films exist and the house is both famous and infamous.  And yet, people still voluntarily live there.

The latest inhabitants are Joan (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and her three children, Belle, Juliet (McKenna Grace), and James (Cameron Monaghan).  James is on life support after having been paralyzed in an accident and Joan is fanatically devoted to him.  Though Dr. Milton (Kurtwood Smith) says that there’s no chance of James ever recovering and that he’s probably brain dead, Joan remains convinced that James will someday come back again.  As she explains at one point, she’s abandoned her faith in God but she still has faith that there will be a way for James to recover.

No sooner has the family moved in then all of the typical Amityville stuff starts happening.  Flies start buzzing around.  The dog doesn’t want to be in the house. Juliet starts talking to people who aren’t there.  One night, James flatlines but, after being dead for several minutes, his heart suddenly starts to beat again.  Suddenly, James is showing indications that, though paralyzed and unable to speak, he is aware of his surroundings.  Joan is convinced that James is recovering but is it possible that something else is happening?

If I may take the risk of damning with faint praise, Amityville: The Awakening is not bad for an Amityville film.  Yes, you do have to wonder why the house has never been torn down and yes, I’m as bored with the big Amityville flies as anyone else.  And the scenes where the characters discuss the DeFeo murders are icky and unethical as Hell.  But, with all that in mind, this is actually one of the better-made Amityville films.  Director Franck Khalfoun was also responsible for the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be remake of Maniac and he brings a lot of energy to his direction here.  He’s smart enough to realize that the audience is going to automatically roll their eyes at yet another Amityville film and he often rolls his eyes with them.  As a result, we get some deserved digs at the shoddiness of the other films.  Khalfoun is also smart enough to understand that Bella Thorne is more effective as a personality than an actress and, as such, the character of Belle is carefully developed to fit with Thorne’s public image.  Jennifer Jason Leigh, on the other hand, is such a good actress that she actually brings some unexpected depth to the role of Joan and the film as a whole.

Amityville: The Awakening is one of the better Amityville films.  You still have to wonder why that house is still standing, though.  Seriously, tear it down already.

Terror on Tour (1980, directed by Don Edmunds)

It’s not easy being a Clown.

The Clowns, of course, is the name of the band that’s at the center of this sleazy slasher film.  The Clowns (who were played by a real-life band called The Names) wear clown make-up and sing songs about how they want to chop up the members of their audience and “send you home in a box.”  When Clown groupies start to turn up dead during a 24-hour Clown orgy, the police suspect that the Clowns are the murderers and they send an undercover cop to one of their performances.  It turns out that the Clowns are innocent because the murders continue even while they’re performing on stage.  But if the Clowns aren’t the killers, who is?

Terror on Tour is one of the many zero budget extravaganzas to come out in the early 1980s, trying to capitalize on the slasher boom and the popularity of bands like Alice Cooper and KISS.  It’s not every good, mostly because the members of The Names couldn’t act worth a damn and the film is so badly lit and the sound is so poorly recorded that watching the movie will make you want to sleep long before it makes you want to rock.  You won’t remember the name of a single member of the band but you will remember the groupie who says, “This cocaine is making me horny,” with all the passion of Kramer saying, “These pretzels are making me thirsty” in that Woody Allen movie.  Speaking of Seinfeld, Larry Thomas plays the band’s manager.  Years later, Thomas would receive an Emmy nomination for playing the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.  He would also go on the imdb and post an apology for having appeared in Terror on Tour.  Larry, everyone has to start somewhere!  And you were by far the best actor in the movie.  You didn’t look straight at the camera once.

The best scene is one member of the band shouting, “I need a joint!” until someone brings him one.  That’s the advantage of being a star, I guess.

Game Review: Codex Sadistica (2021, grave snail games)

Codex Sadistica is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

Finally!  You and your heavy mental band are scheduled to perform at Blood Furnace!  But what’s this!?  The Infurnal Stage (as it’s called) has been taken over by a glam metal band and they’re playing over their allotted time!  They’re not only eating into your set but they’re spreading glam!  Can you track down the other members of your band, pull them away from their distractions, and save metal?  You can if you try and if you remember that there’s no problem that can’t be solved by jamming!

Codex Sadistica is an enjoyable text adventure.  The Blood Furnace was a memorable location and the members of your band were all well-developed.  Some of the puzzles took some effort but none of them were impossible and the game comes with a walk-through in case you get stuck.  Not surprisingly, this game will be most enjoyed by people who know about the metal scene and are familiar with all of the different subsets but the writing is clever and witty enough that I think even people who cover their ears whenever they hear a screech guitar will be able to enjoy it.  Be sure to jam with every member of your band.  As the game goes on, you find new ways to jam and each style that you play will have a different effect on the people listening.

Play Codex Sadistica.

Horror Scenes That I Love: Michael Ironside vs Stephen Lack in Scanners

Scanners (1981, dir by David Cronenberg)

Be warned! Today’s scene that I love is a messy one!

Actually, I should call this a scene that we love because TSL founder Arleigh Sandoc is a fan of it too. He shared this scene a few years ago. Unfortunately, the YouTube video that he embedded in the post was later taken down. (Hate it when that happens!) So, I’m happy to share it a second time on behalf of both of us!

From David Cronenberg’s Scanners, here is the video of a scene that we love, the final battle between Stephen Lack an Michael Ironside….

Oh my God! It’s age restricted! Well, that’s probably for the best because these guy like set each other on fire and rip their skin off their flesh. I mean, it’s intense but it’s brilliant and it perfectly captures just how powerful the Scanners really are! It’s also a perfect visual representation of the extreme body horror that has always been a Cronenberg trademark. So, click on the video below and go watch it on YouTube if you’re old enough.

Holiday Fear, Review By Case Wright

Did you ever wonder what happens after all the action is over in a Christmas horror movie and it’s the next day- Christmas Morning? Did you further wonder if that question could be answered in just over 3 minutes? Then, this is the short for you!!!!

It’s crazy; I’m on such a roll right now because I have watched so many great shorts! I was EXTREMELY dubious that a 3.766 minute short could entertain me let alone Laugh Out Loud (as the kids say). This short delivered, therefore, these are the greatest actors of all time and the director is both the greatest director and writer of all time (Mathematical proof available upon request). If you look at the imdb pages of Rebeca Robles, Eric Whitten, and Nicholas Santos, I am once again proven correct (which is the most important thing in life).

This is another must see short. These actors are just terrific!

4 Shots From 4 David Cronenberg Films

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!

Since today is Canadian Thanksgiving, it seems like the perfect day to pay tribute to one of the great Canadian horror directors!  It’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 David Cronenberg Films

Videodrome (1983, dir by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

The Dead Zone (1983, dir by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

The Fly (1986, dir by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

Dead Ringers (1988, dir by David Cronenberg, DP: Peter Suschitzky)

Horror On the Lens: Creation of the Humanoids (dir by Wesley E. Barry)

The Creation of the Humanoids (1962, dir by Wesley Barry)

What makes us human?  What does it mean to have free will?  What is love?  What is freedom?  The questions and more are asked in the low-budget (and rather odd) science fiction epic The Creation of the Humanoids, which you can view below!

Now, I should warn that Creation of the Humanoids is an extremely talky film.  And the plot is occasionally difficult to follow. There’s a lot of ennui to be found in this particular film, both from the humans and those who have been built to serve them  However, I find it impossible not to love this one because it’s just such a strange movie.  I love it for the colorful set design, the contrast between the resentful robots and the paranoid humans, and the fact that the film — despite being made for next to nothing — actually has more ambition than anything ever made by several of the more successful directors working today. And, while it may not really be a horror film in the way that some of our other October films are, it still feels appropriate for the Halloween season. It just has the perfect holiday atmosphere.

First released in 1962, Creation of the Humanoids was reportedly one of Andy Warhol’s favorite films.  Keep an eye out for Plan 9 From Outer Space‘s Dudley Manlove.