Horror on TV: Friday the 13th: The Series 1.19 “The Quilt of Hathor” (dir by Timothy Bond)

On tonight’s episode of Friday the 13th: The Series, it appears that Ryan might be tempted to abandon searching for haunted antique when the quest to find a cursed quilt leads him to a religious cult that has rejected “modern” society.

Honestly, at this point, a religious cult that has rejected social media could probably win over a lot of adherents.  However, I think things are a bit more sinister in this case.

Tonight’s episode first aired on May 7th, 1988.  Fear not the “To be continued” ending!  We’ll have the second part of this story tomorrow night!


Of Comic Books, Capitalism, And Culture War Crackpots, Or : What A Bisexual Superman Means — And What It Doesn’t, Part One Of Three

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’m loathe to start things off on a “housekeeping” note, but in this case I think it’s in order — when I re-tooled my approach to this site about a month back with an eye toward broadening out its scope beyond small press and self-published comics, I figured I might occasionally look in on what the “Big Two” were up to — but I honestly never imagined that just a few weeks on from writing a multi-part series on Captain America By Ta-Nehisi Coates Vol. 1 that I’d be embarking on yet another long-form essay/rant on the funnybook mainstream. And if you’d told the me of a month or so back that my second foray into critically less-familiar waters would be to talk about a comic I had almost no intention of reading and certainly no intention of buying, I’d have asked for your dealer’s number because for 50-year-olds like…

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The TSL’s Grindhouse: The Last Laugh (dir by Jeremy Berg)

Myles (Steve Vanderzee) is a once-hot comedian whose career has been going downhill ever since 1) his wife died in a car accident and 2) he started taking medication to control his moods. Myles has now gone from playing packed comedy clubs to appearing in sleazy dives where he’s regularly cheated out of getting paid.

However, it appears that Myles finally has a chance to get back up on top! He’s been booked as the opening act for an egotistical comedy superstar! All Myles has to do is deliver one good set and his life will no longer be a joke. The only problem is that there’s a dead body in Myles’s dressing room and the staff of the theater is disappearing one-by-one. There’s a murderer stalking the theater and, at times, it seems like only Myles can see him. Is Myles — who hasn’t taken his pills — losing it or is there really a killer in the wings?

That’s the question asked by 2020’s The Last Laugh. It’s an intriguing question and the premise has a lot of promise but, unfortunately, the execution leaves even more to be desired. Not only are the victims rather generic but you also never really feel as if you know Myles. The film doesn’t show us much of his act so you really don’t know if the guy’s even all that funny. Since a lot of the movie hinges on whether or not Myles is willing to blow his shot at stardom in order to expose the murderer, it would be helpful to actually care about whether or not Myles becomes a star or not. Unfortunately, Myles isn’t really that likable or interesting of a character so who cares?

I did like the fact that the people behind The Last Laugh paid homage to some classic Italian horror films. Several of the shots of the killer creeping through the theater appeared to pay homage to Michele Soavi’s StageFright and there’s also a clever shout out to the Short Night Of The Glass Dolls at the end of the film. Unfortunately, there’s not really enough to the plot of The Last Laugh to make it memorable and the ambiguous ending will probably leave most viewers angry rather than intrigued. (Personally, I usually like ambiguous endings but, in this case, it just felt a little lazy.)

The Last Laugh has promise but it doesn’t really live up to it.

Here’s The Trailer For Home Sweet Home Alone!

Good Lord, people, how hard is it to make sure that all of your kids are in the car before you leave for the airport!? You make out a list, you look in each car, you put a check mark next to each name, and you don’t go anywhere until every name has a check! It’s not that difficult!

Anyway, Home Sweet Home Alone is the new version of Home Alone. It’ll be premiering on Disney Plus in November so that will be your chance to watch this new kid, Max, be traumatized for the rest of his life. Here’s the trailer:

Seriously, if you’re going to totally abandon your child for the holidays, you should at least make sure that you abandon them in a big house. Sure, they might have some problems with the burglars but that’s to be expected, I guess.

The Cost of Living, Short Film Review by Case Wright

I would’ve put up a poster pic for this, but they were all terrible- Much like this short film. Sometimes an artist just gets in her own way and forgets that you need a story first and not just adapt a Bazooka gum wrapper joke to film. I get it- doing things IS hard. BUT, why bother me with your terrible terrible work? What did I do to you? I’m just a humble math-oriented-handsome-Italian with a love of film and artists, but more importantly, I like to be entertained. I don’t sit down and take time from my busy life to groan.

This short is boring, corny, overdone, and cost WAY too much to make because I’m assuming that production cost over 50 dollars or….. pounds. It’s about a hipster couple who pays the rent by letting their “Bloodsucking Landlord” drink the boyfriend’s blood because…get this… the landlord’s a vampire…see what they did there? *Eye Roll so hard that eye is now at Trader Joe’s 2 miles away*

UGHHHHHHH. I never thought that I’d watch something that made me long for the days of watching Sabrina on Netflix because at least post-season one the lighting was so dark that I could pretend that I wasn’t watching. Plus, I watched it with Lisa, which was fun. Whereas this horrible garbage trash is neither fun, nor good.

Maybe if you had gas-station-sushi or drank the month old chocolate milk because hey…chocolate and you brought your phone with you on your emergency run…maybe it’s worth a watch? Maybe?

Horror Scenes That I Love: The Redrum Scene From The Shining

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy 49th birthday to Danny Lloyd, the child actor who — at the age of 6 — brought Danny Torrance to life in Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining. After appearing in one made-for-TV movie after The Shining, Lloyd retired from acting. (He did make a cameo appearance in Doctor Sleep.) He went on to become a teacher. Somewhat sweetly, it’s been reported that, during the filming of The Shining, Kubrick went out of his way to keep Lloyd from knowing that he was appearing in a movie about killer ghosts and a father attempting to kill his family.

In honor of Danny’s birthday, here’s a scene that I love from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining!

Horror Novel Review: The Boy Next Door by R.L. Stine

Oh my God, a super cute boy has moved in next door! Squee!

Seriously, Scott, the title character of this 1996 YA thriller from R.L. Stine, seems like he could be the perfect neighbor. He’s handsome. We’re told that he’s charming, though you don’t really see much of that in the book. He’s a star football player and, obviously, that’s a very important thing in the world of R.L. Stine. And, perhaps most importantly, Scott’s single! Of course, Scott’s single because he previous kind of girlfriend jumped into a pool that happened to be empty at the time. Scott was the one who encouraged her to do it.

Scott, you see, has some issues. He expects every girl that he meets to live up to an impossible ideal that he’s apparently created from watching old sitcoms from the 1950s. What the means is no makeup, no flirting, and definitely no short skirts! Scott really gets worked up over short skirts, to the extent that he’ll kill anyone who wears one. AGCK!

(If I had been a student at Scott’s high school, I would have been so dead.)

Scott’s new neighbor Crystal and her best friend, Lynne, both think Scott is totally hot and want to date him. Unfortunately, they both wear short skirts and Scott even catches Lynne putting on lipstick. Even if he wasn’t a puritanical incel murderer, Scott would still be creepy because he always seems to be staring through the windows of Crystal’s house. You would think that would be a red flag but …. well, Scott’s a football player and this is an R.L. Stine novel.

Fortunately, Crystal has a sister named Melinda who likes to read books and who doesn’t wear makeup so it seems pretty clear that she’s going to be the secret weapon to stopping Scott. But will it be too late for either Lynne or Crystal?

Scott is revealed to be a killer during the first few pages of this book so I have to admit that, the whole time I was reading it, I was waiting for one of those out-of-nowhere R.L. Stine twists. I was expecting Scott to discover that he was actually suffering from amnesia and that his real name was Jake. I was waiting for someone to reveal themselves to be a ghost. I was thinking, at one point, that it was all a dream. But nope, there’s no twist. This is one of the most straight-forward Stine books that I’ve ever read.

At times, the book felt like one of those weird Lifetime movies where everyone keeps talking about “girl power” and how no one has the right to judge you for behaving and dressing the way you want but, at the same time, you can’t help but notice that it’s always the really independent and fun-loving girls that end up getting killed. The Boy Next Door seems to be all over the place. On the one hand, Scott is a crazy puritan. On the other hand, almost every girl in the book is portrayed as being shallow and easily fooled. I was happy that Scott was presented as being a total monster but couldn’t the girls have been a little less naïve? Couldn’t they have at least acknowledged that Scott’s behavior was pretty creepy even before he turned out to be a killer? It doesn’t help that the plotting throughout the book feels rather random. There’s a lot of convenient coincidences, including one that happens during the climax. Chekhov wrote that, if you introduce a gun at the start of the story, it must be fired by the end of the story. One gets the feeling that Stine would be the type to forget to introduce the gun but still have someone fire it. One also gets the feeling that Stine may have been in a hurry when he wrote The Boy Next Door.

(Don’t worry, though. you’re still loved, R.L! Thank you for Fear Street!)

Anyway, the lesson here is that if the boy next door flies into a rage every time you put on lipstick, you don’t need him in your life! Even if he does play football….

Book Review: Spaghetti Nightmares, edited by Luca M. Palmerini and Gaetano Mistretta

Do you love Italian horror?

If you answered yes, Spaghetti Nightmares is a book that you simply must own.  Actually, you probably already do own it.  You’re probably looking at it sitting on your book shelf right now.  And you’re thinking, “Gee, thanks Lisa.  Maybe next you’ll tell me that giallo is named after the cheap yellow paper that thriller novels were published on in Italy and then you’ll really blow my mind!”

Okay, well fine.  Make me feel bad.  That’s okay.  I hope you’re proud of yourself.  It’s a pretty good thing that we both love Italian horror because, if we didn’t, I’d probably never speak to you again….

Anyway, just in case you don’t own this book, you really should.  First published in 1996, Spaghetti Nightmares is a collection of interviews with some of the top figures in Italian horror.  Michele Soavi, Dario Argento, Ruggero Deodato, David Warbeck, Umberto Lenzi, Lamberto Bava, Luigi Cozzi. Antonio Margheriti, and many more answer questions about their careers, their artistic visions, and their feelings about the future and the past of the Italian film industry.  What makes this volume special is that it was written at a time when Italian horror was just starting to be appreciated.  So, the questions and the answers are a bit more honest than they probably would be now that everyone is a confirmed Italian horror fan.

This book also features what I believe was Lucio Fulci’s final interview before he passed away.  He describes himself as being Italian cinema’s “last zombie” and displays a strong knowledge of cinematic history.  Unlike some of the directors interviewed, who come across as being competent (if charming) craftsmen, Fulci comes across as being a true artist.  The interview with Michele Soavi is also poignant as he would soon abandon filmmaking to take care of his son.  (Fortunately, he has since returned.)

So, if you don’t own this book, get it!

International Horror Film Review: The Phantom Carriage (dir by Victor Sjöström)

In this 1921 silent film from Sweden, Sister Edit (Astrid Holm) is dying on New Year’s Eve. She has tuberculosis, an illness that was once as common and as feared as COVID is today. Knowing that she doesn’t have long to live and that she probably won’t even make it through the night, she makes one last request. She wants to talk to David Holm (played by the film’s director Victor Sjostrom).

This request shocks everyone because David Holm is known for being a petty criminal and a notorious drunkard. As if to the prove their point, David is spending New Year’s Eve in a cemetery, getting drunk with two friends of his. He tells his friends about a legend that the last person to die on New Year’s Eve is cursed to spend the next year driving death’s carriage and collecting souls. David is obsessed with this legend because, last year, his best friend Georges died right before the clock turned twelve.

Believe it or not, David is actually right. Georges (Tore Svennberg) is currently steering his phantom carriage through the streets of the city, stopping to collect the souls of the recently departed. It’s not a job that Georges wants but it’s one that he’s destined to do until the end of the night. Once a new year begins, someone will take Georges’s place.

When a fight breaks out at the cemetery, David is struck over the head with a bottle, just as the clock strikes midnight. Georges promptly appears. It looks like David has a new job but, before he can get started, he has to deal with both Sister Edit’s request and his guilt over the collapse of his marriage to the tragic Anna (Hilda Borgström). Anna is now near death herself, struck down by the same disease that is killing Sister Edit, a disease that was quite possibly given to both of them by David himself. (It’s easy to imagine someone making a modern version of this film, with COVID replacing the consumption.)

When one hears that The Phantom Carriage is a Swedish film about death, one can probably be excused from thinking, “Aren’t all of them?” And it is true that Ingmar Bergman regularly cited The Phantom Carriage as being a huge influence on his own films, especially The Seventh Seal. And yet, to say that either The Phantom Carriage or The Seventh Seal are solely about death is to do a disservice to both films. The Phantom Carriage is about many things; love, guilt, regret, addiction, destiny, and the promise of redemption. In the end, it’s a film about life. After he’s struck on the head, David reflects on the life that led him to that moment and, finally, he sees how his life not only effected the lives of so many others but how their lives effected his own. It’s only after he’s hit on the head with that bottle and he rides the phantom carriage that he understands what the life he had was truly about.

Of course, for most people, the main appeal of the film will be viewing the ghostly carriage as it moves, unseen by the living, through the streets of the city. The film’s supernatural effects were captured through the use of double exposures, which may sound simple today but which was a very new technique way back in 1921. The images of the transparent ghosts and the carriage making is way through the living remain haunting. There’s a real sense of melancholy that runs through this film, an atmosphere of loss and regret that, a hundred years later, is still effective. It’s a film that plays out like a dream of life and death, light and darkness.

For a film that was released in the early (some would say primitive) years of narrative cinema, The Phantom Carriage holds up remarkably well. Though the film has its overly sentimental and melodramatic moments (it is, after all, a silent movie), the sight of that carriage continues to be hauntingly sad and beautiful.

4 Shots From 4 Bob Clark 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!

Yesterday, we paid tribute to the great Canadian director, David Cronenberg.  Today, we pay tribute to another filmmaker who got his start in Canada.  Though born in America, Clark spent most his career up north.  Though he’s today best remembered for directing the holiday classic, A Christmas Story, Clark started his career as a horror director.  In fact, long before telling the story of Ralphie and his BB gun, Clark directed one of the first Christmas slasher films.

Today, we honor the legacy of Bob Clark with….

4 Shots From 4 Bob Clark Films

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972, dir by Bob Clark, DP: Jack McGowan)

Deathdream (1974, dir by Bob Clark, DP: Jack McGowan)

Black Christmas (1974, dir by Bob Clark, DP: Reginald H. Morris)

Murder By Decree (1979, dir by Bob Clark, DP: Reginald H. Morris)