Lisa Marie’s Week In Television — 10/10/21 — 10/16/21

I didn’t watch much TV this week.  I’ve kind of made the decision to hold off on a lot of shows until after October so no Dancing With The Stars or The Voice for now.

Here’s what little I did watch:

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

With the Gestapo looking to arrest Rene, Rene was forced to disguise himself by wearing a putty nose.  Yes, the nose did get smashed.  Yes, Rene did try to smoke a cigar.  Yes, the nose did catch on fire.  Rene, being the bravest man in France, ripped those nose off and threw it out the cafe, where it promptly exploded.  It was an interesting episode.

Bar Rescue (Weekday Mornings, Paramount Network)

I watched two episodes on Monday morning.  Judging from all the yelling and the scowling, apparently there is no more important job in America than being a good bar owner.

Friday the 13th: The Series (Yahoo)

I’m still having fun watching and sharing this series on the Shattered Lens!

Gabby Petito: ID Special Report (Wednesday Night, ID)

This didn’t really reveal anything about the case that I didn’t already know.  John Walsh showed up to say that he thinks Brian Laundrie is still alive.  I agree but, at the same time, I’m not sure if sending Dog the Bounty Hunter after him is the best way to eventually capture him.  So many people are using the Petito case to build up or reboot their own brand that I fear that Gabby herself is getting forgotten in the rush.  My heart breaks for her and her family.

The Office (Thursday Night, Comedy Central)

It watched an episode on Thursday.  It was from the final season.  Andy got out his guitar and started singing.  It was cringe city.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

Help I’m Being Held Prisoner, Granville painted on the store window.  No one came to his aid.  This is the darkest British sitcom that I’ve ever seen.

Parking Wars (Weekday Mornings, A&E)

A&E’s tribute to fascism continues to be must-viewing for anyone who wants to understand how authoritarianism took root in the United States.  I watched a few episodes on Monday morning while I was straightening up around the house.  There was one terrifying parking cop in general, who kept complaining about people making excuses but who, at the same time, seemed to feel that she was a victim just because people didn’t appreciate getting ticketed.  Giving out tickets to the guilty is one thing.  Whining because people aren’t kissing your ass in response is another.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about this week’s episode here.

Talking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)

In the past, I was often bored with The Walking Dead but charmed with Talking Dead.  This season, I’ve pretty much had the opposite reaction.  Every good episode of The Walking Dead is followed by a boring Talking Dead.  It doesn’t help that Talking Dead also has to hype up stuff like World Beyond.  It’s been a long time since that night that Chris Hardwicke shed a tear while discussing the death of Herschel.  (We miss you, Scott Wilson!)

The Walking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)

I wrote about this week’s episode here!

Walking Dead: World Beyond (Sunday Night, AMC)

Eh, who cares?  I set the DVR for it.  I watched it.  It didn’t interest me.  It feels too much like Walking Dead fanfic, to be honest.  I guess I’ll give it another chance next Sunday but, so far, this show just is not holding my interest at all.  It’s like the CSI: Cyber of The Walking Dead franchise.

Horror on TV: Friday the 13th: The Series 1.24 “Pipe Dreams” (dir by Zale Dalen)

On tonight’s episode of Friday the 13th: The Series, Ryan discovers that his own father has been using a cursed pipe to get ahead in business!

This episode originally aired on July 16th, 1988.  Ryan’s father is well-played by Michael Constantine, a familiar character actor (he was the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) who passed away on August 31st of this year.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Dead in Tombstone (dir by Roel Reine)

In the 2013 film, Dead in Tombstone, Danny Trejo plays Guerrero De La Cruz, an old west outlaw who is loyal to his family, who has no problem robbing banks, but who also is not a fan of unnecessary bloodshed. Even though the film opens with Guerrero and his gang gunning down a posse of men, that’s just because they were saving the life of Red (Anthony Michael Hall), who just happens to be Guerrero’s half-brother. No sooner than you can say, “In what world could Danny Trejo and Anthony Michael Hall possibly be related?,” Red is asking Guerrero to help him pull off a daring robbery.

Guerrero helps Red because Guerrero is all about family. Unfortunately, Red is all about money and, not wanting to share the loot after the robbery, he promptly guns Guerrero down. Not only does Red shoot Guerrero but he insists that each member of the gang shoot him as well, implicating all of them in the crime.

Guerrero dies and promptly goes to Hell, where he’s met by Lucifer (Mickey Rourke). Guerrero doesn’t want to go to to Hell. He wants to get revenge. He offers to send a lot more souls down to Hell if Lucifer gives him a chance to return to the world of the living so that he can kill Red and the former members of his gang. Amused, Lucifer agrees but with a condition: Guerrero only has 24 hours to kill all six of his killers and Guerrero has to do all of the killing himself. He can’t hire someone else to do it or ask anyone for help. Guerrero agrees.

Unfortunately, as Guerrero soon discovers, he’s not the only one who wants Red dead. He’s going to have to move quickly if he’s going to kill all the members of the gang before Calathea (Dina Meyer), the wife of a sheriff killed by Red, gets a chance to do it herself!

Dead In Tombstone is one of those films that sounds a lot more interesting than it is. The concept behind the film is actually a pretty neat one and I like the idea of Guerrero actually having competition. This isn’t one of those westerns where everyone patiently waits their turn to go after the bad guys. The entire world wants these guys dead! Plus, who wouldn’t be excited about the idea of watching Danny Trejo and Mickey Rouke act opposite each other? With his weathered features and stoic demeanor, Danny Trejo is the perfect choice to play an outlaw and, for that matter, Rourke’s gravelly whisper and permanent smirk are put to good use in the role of the Devil. And while Anthony Michael Hall might seem like an odd choice to play Danny Trejo’s half-brother, he’s still properly villainous and loathsome in the role of Red.

And yet, the overall film itself is a bit uneven. The film looks good (especially for a straight-to-video project) but it never really seems to develop any sort of narrative momentum and there’s more than a few slow spots. At times, the film seems to be unsure of just how seiously it wants to take itself and, as a result, the story exists in a kind of limbo between being a straight western with supernatural elements and send-up of the whole genre. The end result is pretty uneven but the dream combination of Rourke and Trejo still makes it worth watching.

Dinosaur Island (1994, directed by Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski)

What do you get when a producer like Roger Corman notices that Jurassic Park was the most financially successful film of 1993?

Dinosaur Island!

Directed by not just Fred Olen Ray but also Jim Wynorski (and if that combination isn’t enough to spark your interest, I don’t know what is), Dinosaur Island is about what happens when a cargo plane transporting three AWOL soldiers back to the United States crashes near an uncharted island. Led by no-nonsense Capt. Briggs (Ross Hagen), the soldiers make it to the island.

They discover that the island is full of beautiful cavewomen who spend much of their time topless. For the film’s intended audience of teenage boys, that’s good.

They discover that the women are ruled by a queen (Toni Naples) who hates men. That’s bad.

When the women notice that one of the men has a smiley face tattoo, they decide that he is the chosen one who has been prophesized about in the ancient scrolls. That’s good, I guess.

Chosen or not, the men still have to battle the Tyrannosaurs Rex that rules the island. That’s bad. Or is it good? I don’t know anymore.

To save money, Roger and the gang reused the dinosaur who appeared in Corman’s previous Jurassic hit, Carnosaur. They also reused a lot of stock footage from that film. The Carnosaur footage often doesn’t match with the footage that was shot for Dinosaur Island but I don’t know that anyone would expect anything less from Corman-produced rip-off of Jurassic Park. There are some films where the cheapness of it all become a selling point and this is one of them. The special effects are less important than marveling at how the movie got a dinosaur without spending any money.

Dinosaur Island is a bad movie with less than convincing special effects and a lot of overacting but it seems to be aware of its limitations so it’s hard not to like it. It’s obvious that Ray and Wynorski both understood that there was no way that they were gong to be able to make a serious film with the resources that they had available so instead, they shot a flat-out comedy that made fun of its own cheapness. It was the right approach to take, even though the film’s jokes are as often groan-worthy as they are funny. Among the cast, Ross Hagen seemed to have the best understanding of what was needed because he deadpans his way through the entire film, delivering his weird lines with a straight face and giving a performance that wouldn’t be out of place in Airplane! or one of the other ZAZ films.

Not surprisingly, this was a popular film on late night cable back on the day. It’s combination of boobs, jokes, and dinosaurs made it a Cinemax mainstay. Rewatching it, I knew how stupid it was but I couldn’t help but laugh at a few parts. I enjoyed viewing it again. Nostalgia is more powerful than any dinosaur.

Game Review: RetroCON 2021 (2021, Sir Slice)

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

Welcome to RetroCon 2021!  You’ve just arrived in Las Vegas and now that you’ve unpacked, it’s time to decide what to do.  You can go down to the hotel’s casino to gamble and try to add to the amount of money that you already have.  Or you can head to the convention hall and check out Retrocon, where you can play three other unique games.

That’s pretty much the entire game.  It’s simple but it’s also very addictive.  Will you play poker?  Will you bet on a horse race?  Or will you save your money and play an old football game or maybe the zombie killing card game?  There are several games to choose from and, what makes it even better, is that you can switch from one game to another.  If you’re not winning any money, head on down to the convention hall and blow off some steam by playing Last Will and Testament.  And when you’ve played enough for the day, head back to your hotel room and get ready to to play against then next day.

Retrocon 2021 is six games in one and they’re all enjoyable.  It’s almost as good as going to Vegas yourself!

Play Retrocon 2021.


Scenes That I Love: Angela’s Dance From Night of the Demons

Last year, a group of friends and I watched 1988’s Night of the Demons for our weekly #ScarySocial live tweet. Not surprisingly, everyone loved the film. This scene below, featuring a possessed Angela dancing, was especially popular. Since today is director Kevin Tenney’s birthday, it only seems appropriate to celebrate by making it today’s horror scene that I love!

Take it away, Angela!

DCFanDome presents the 2nd Trailer for The Batman!

On the DCFanDome today, Matt Reeves, Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz shared the 2nd Trailer for The Batman, which is looking pretty good!

We’ll let the visuals and Michael Giacchino’s score do the talking. The Batman releases in cinemas March 4, 2022.


Horror Novel Review: The Lost Mind by Christopher Pike

First published in 1995, this is an odd one.

The book opens with our main character waking up in middle of the wilderness. She has no idea who she is or where she is. She doesn’t know why she’s covered in blood. What she does know is that there’s another girl lying a few feet away from her and she’s been stabbed to death! Did the living girl kill the other girl? She knows that she didn’t but, at the same time, she also knows that everyone will assume that she did.

It’s only after our main character stumbles across her car that she discovers that her name is Jenny. It’s only when she drives to a nearby town that she discovers that she lives with her overworked mom and her little brother. Apparently she goes to school and she has a job but Jenny can’t remember the specifics of any of it. Also, Jenny has a best friend named Crystal and they’re so extremely close that people are shocked whenever they see that Jenny is by herself. In fact, no one has seen Crystal for a while. Where could she be …. uh-oh.

Now, if this was an R.L. Stine novel, this is where you would expect some sort of cutesy twist to kick in. This is where you would look up from the book and says, “Ah-ha! I bet Jenny actually is Crystal and Jenny is just some imaginary character that she created to help her deal with a past trauma!” However, this is not an R.L. Stine novel. This is a Christopher Pike novel and Christopher Pike was always a hundred times darker than R.L. Stine ever was. If Stine always ended his books with a return to normalcy and maybe a joke or two, Pike’s novels took his characters to Hell and usually abandoned them there.

Even as she tries to figure out what type of life she’s led up until losing her memory, Jenny finds herself having dreams and visions where she’s in another person’s body, watching as they smoke hash, commit murders, and perform occult ceremonies. Soon, Jenny is investigating just what exactly it means to have a soul and whether or not a soul can move from one body to another. And, as she discovers more about the circumstances of Crystal’s death, she’s forced to consider just how far she’ll go to get revenge….

AGCK! Seriously, this is pretty dark stuff for a YA novel. I would have had nightmares if I had read this when I was a child. But that’s the thing with Christopher Pike. When he told a horrific story, he didn’t hold back. Instead, he created a world where happy endings often did not exist. The Lost Mind is dark and morbid and, even reading it now as an snarky and sarcastic adult, the book’s mystery was still intriguing. The book started out with a murder and it ended with a bang. Someone needs to turn this one into a Lifetime film.

Book Review: Murder By Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento by Troy Howarth

Ah, Dario Argento.

That Argento is responsible for some of the greatest horror and suspense films of all time, everyone agrees. At the same time, there’s a tendency amongst critics to be unfairly dismissive of his post-Opera films. The claims that Argento either lost his touch or that he ceased to care about his films or that Asia Argento is somehow to blame for the uneveness of his later films have themselves become clichés, repeated by people who really should know better. Obviously, any director is going to struggle to follow-up the string of masterpieces that Argento directed early on in his career. And yet, the claim that Argento’s later films aren’t worth watching simply does not hold up under scrutiny. Unfortunately, these claims became even more widespread with the release of the unnecessary remake of Suspiria. When it become obvious that Luca Guadagnino’s film was a pretentious disaster, his online supporters responded by trying to destory the legacy of Argento’s masterpiece.

That’s why I’m grateful for Troy Howarth’s Murder By Design. Published in 2020, Murder By Design examines the life and the work of Dario Argento. It’s a combination of a biography and a critical analysis and it’s probably about as fair of an examination of Argento’s controversial legacy as I’ve ever read. Howarth, of course, writes about the films that everyone agrees are brilliant but, even more importantly, Howarth also gives the same amount of consideration to the films that are usually dismissed, like Phantom of the Opera and The Stendhal Syndrome. Though Howarth is hardly a blind Argento cheerleader — he’s critical of many of Argento’s later films — he also doesn’t give in to the temptation to lazily dismiss everything that Argento directed after 1985. He approaches Argento as both a fan and a scholar, critical but open-minded. As a result, he not only provides an interesting look at Argento but also a look at the development of post-World War II film industry and at the growth of horror as a genre.

Even better, Howarth explores all of Argento’s work. That includes the screenplays that he wrote before directing his first film. That includes the films that he produced and the television shows that he hosted. He makes the case for Argenton as an artist whose influence and vision goes far beyond just the films that he’s directed. Troy Howarth is one of the best writers about Italian cinema out there and Murder By Design is a must-read for anyone serious about Argento.

International Horror Film Review: Escape From The Bronx (dir by Enzo G. Castellari)

The Slo Mo of Doom!

All bad action films tend to feature it.  (Actually, it shows up in some good action films as well.)  Whenever a group of soldiers step on a mine and slowly flip through the air as a result of the subsequent explosion, that’s the Slo Mo of Doom.  Whenever an important supporting character is shot and the film suddenly slows down so that each frame of their collapse is their highlighted, that’s the Slo Mo of Doom.  Sometimes, it’s a way of saying, “Hey, you should care more about this violent death than you care about all of the other violent deaths in this movie.”  Sometimes, it’s a way of showing off the fact that the producers could afford stunt people, even if they couldn’t afford anything else.  Other times, it’s just a way to pad out the running time so that a movie can at least reach the 90 minute mark before the end credits roll.  Regardless of the reason why it’s deployed, Slo Mo of Doom is usually a good sign that you’re watching a cheesy action film.

Last night, when I watched the 1983 Italian film, Escape from the Bronx, with a group of friends, we counted at least six instances of the Slo Mo of Doom.  There may have been even more, it’s hard to say.  Along with frequent slow motion, Escape from the Bronx features a lot of flame throwers, several corporate bad guys, and an abundance of graffiti.   It also featured Henry Silva as a villain named Floyd Wangler and Antonio Sabato, Sr. as a flamboyant rebel leader who dressed like he was appearing in an Off Broadway adaptation of The Fantasticks.  In short, it was a classic of its kind.

Escape From The Bronx takes place in, what was then, the future.  (To be specific, the story is said to take place in the year 2000.)  The Bronx has become such an eyesore that an evil corporation wants to blow up all the buildings and rebuild.  Unfortunately, the residents of the Bronx know how difficult it is to find an apartment in New York City and they don’t want to move.  In order to change their minds, Floyd Wangler and his army of jackbooted, flame thrower-wielding bad guys invade the Bronx.  “Leave the Bronx!” they announce.  “It is time to leave the Bronx.”  And, to be honest, the Bronx looks like a terrible place to live so maybe they have a point.

A motorcycle-riding bad boy named Trash (played by Mark Gregory) doesn’t want to leave the Bronx so he goes underground.  While the buildings are being blown up and people are being set on fire, Trash teams up with Doblon (Antonio Sabato, Sr.) and his gang of flashy rebels.  Working with a mercenary named Strike (Giancarlo Prete) and journalist named Moon Gray (Valeria D’Obici), Trash plots to kidnap the president of the corporation.  Of course, by doing so, Trash might be doing exactly what Floyd wants him to do.

Both John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and George Miller’s Mad Max films were very popular in Europe and Escape From The Bronx was one of the many Italian films to imagine New York (or, in this case, one unfortunate borough of New York) as being some sort of a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  (In fact, Escape From The Bronx was a sequel to another film called The Bronx Warriors.  The adventures of Trash could not be contained to just one film.)  One could argue that Escape From The Bronx was an early warning against the horrors of gentrification, with the poor being set on fire so that the rich can blow up their homes and make even more money.  Personally, I thought the film was much more about the struggle of the Italian film industry to come to terms with the legacy of Mussolini.  Floyd Wangler may have had a silly name but, as played by Henry Silva, he was the chilling epitome of the authoritarian impulse come to life.  With his black uniform and his steely gaze, it was easy to imagine Floyd as one of the fascists who marched on Rome in 1922.  There’s a definite political subtext to Escape from the Bronx, one that can easily get overshadowed by the prominent use of the Slo Mo of Doom.

That’s not to say that Escape from the Bronx is a particularly good film, of course.  There’s a few decent action scenes but the middle part of the film drags and Mark Gregory doesn’t have much screen presence.  Henry Silva is better-cast as the bad guy but it’s hard to take a villain named Floyd seriously.  That said, Escape from the Bronx is an entertaining film to watch with a group of friends.  This is a film that invites you to talk back to the screen and, with all of its costumed rebels, it’s actually a good film for October.  Whatever its flaws, I defy anyone to watch this film without getting “Leave the Bronx” stuck in their head.

And, if nothing else, you can always have fun counting all of the Slo Mo of Doom.