Horror on TV: Friday the 13th: The Series 2.3 “And Now The News” (dir by Bruce Pittman)

Tonight, for our horror on the lens, we have the third episode of the 2nd season of Friday the 13th: The Series!

Kate Trotter plays a psychiatrist who, due to a cursed radio, is capable of helping even the most troubled of her patients! Unfortunately, for everyone that she helps, someone else has to die!

This episode originally aired on October 14th, 1988.

Horror Film Review: Fallen (dir by Gregory Hobilt)

“Time is on my side….” sings an ancient Sumerian demon, who is apparently a huge fan of the Rolling Stones.

“Do you like cream?” asks a possibly crooked detective who is played by a slightly less heavy than usual James Gandolfini.

Donald Sutherland walks through a shadowy police station and flashes his big smile.

A detective played by John Goodman talks on the phone and makes cheery jokes while investigating a brutal murder.

A demon jumps from person to person, possessing everyone for a matter of seconds, just so he can freak out one specific person.

“Beware my wrath,” a white-haired businessman says to Denzel Washington.

There’s no way to deny it.  1998’s Fallen is a film that’s full of strange moments.  Some of it works and some of its doesn’t but it’s never boring.  Denzel Washington plays John Hobbes, a Philadelphia detective who has achieved a small amount of fame as the result of capturing serial killer Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas).  Reese asks to see Hobbes before he’s executed and it turns out that, for a man about to pay the ultimate price for his crimes, he’s in a surprisingly good mood.  Before he goes in the gas chamber, Reese chants something in Aramaic.

Soon, new murders are being committed in Phladelphia.  Hobbes and his partner, Jonesey (John Goodman at his most Goodmanesque), suspect that the killer is a copycat, trying to capture some of Reese’s notoriety for himself.  Gretta Milano (Embeth Davidtz), the daughter of a detective who committed suicide after being accused of committing a series of murders, tells Hobbes that the new killings are actually being committed by a demon named Azazel.  Azazel can jump from body to body and can compel people to do terrible things.  Gretta asks Hobbes if he belives in God.  Hobbes says it’s hard to have faith when you deal with murder every day, a somewhat clichéd line that Washington makes work through the absolute conviction of his delivery,

Denzel Washington is the key to this film’s success.  Sure, there’s a lot of murders and a lot of twists and a lot of possessions and there’s a lot of scenes that are shot from the point of view of the demon but, in the end, Fallen works because Washington is absolutely convincing as a man who is facing an evil that is beyond human understanding.  Washington gives a very naturalistic and grounded performance, one that keeps an element of reality in Fallen regardless of how messy the story may get.  When it becomes apparent that the demon is going to try to harm his brother and his nephew, Washington’s fury feels real.  When Hobbes discovers that the demon has gotten to one of them, Washington’s underplayed reaction makes the scene even more poignant and painful.  It’s hard to imagine Fallen being anywhere near as effective with an actor other than Denzel Washington in the lead role.

Fallen is a twisty movie.  The demon moves quickly and it always seems to have a backup plan.  He manipulates Hobbes into doing some things that are so terrible that you’re not sure that Hobbes is every going to recover, even if he does somehow manage to defeat Azazel.  Hobbes and Azazel are worthy adversaries and, as a result, the film gets away with a lot of stuff that wouldn’t otherwise work.  Even the use of Time Is On My Side pays off, as the one character who you don’t want to hear sing the song suddenly starts doing a Mick Jagger impersonation and you’re just like, “Oh no, what’s going to happen now?”  The film’s high point is a lengthy sequence where Hobbes stands on a busy street and watches as Azazel jumps from body to body.  Everyone who passes Hobbe gives him a death glare.  It’s a frightening moment, one in which Fallen captures the intensity of a nightmare.

I watched Fallen earlier today.  I can’t really say that I was expecting much from it but I was surprised.  It’s actually one of the better horror films that I’ve watched for the first time this month.  It’s big and strange and creepy and it’s got Denzel Washington doing what he does best.  What more could you ask for?

Here’s The Trailer for Being The Ricardos

Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman play Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in a film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin …. well, I was excited until I typed that last part. I love Javier and Nicole but this seems like the type of story that will just bring out all of Sorkin’s worst instincts. Sorkin desperatey needs a director like David Fincher to help him reign in his more earnest and preachy tendencies.

But, you know what? Let’s give it a chance! Enough with a negativity, Bowman! I hope this is a good movie. Oscars for everyone!

Here’s the trailer:

The Terror Within II (1991, directed by Andrew Stevens)

Two years after ripping off Alien with The Terror Within, producer Roger Corman decided to rip it off a second time with The Terror Within II.  This time, star Andrew Stevens hopped into the director’s chair and, along with the sex-crazed monsters, a religious cult was also added.  A year after The Terror Within II was released, Alien 3 was released and it also featured a religious cult.  Was it a coincidence or was Roger Corman predicting the future?

Speaking of the future, The Terror Within II returns us to the crappy future that was predicted by the first film.  As the previous film’s only survivor, scientist Andrew Stevens is walking across Colorado to take a position at yet another lab.  Along the way, he meets a young woman named Ariel (Clare Hoak).  No sooner have they met than they’re doing their bit to repopulate the human race.  Meanwhile, a cult wants to kidnap Ariel and offer her up to the mutants.  (The mutants were called Gargoyles in the first film.  Now, they’re called Lusus.)

Meanwhile, at the other lab, the scientists, including Stella Stevens and R. Lee Ermey, are studying a mutated finger, which appears to be spontaneously regenerating into a Gargoyle or a Lusus or whatever its called now.  Does it occur to anyone at the lab that growing their own monster is a stupid idea?  No.  Humanity is doomed.

The Terror Within II was shot for even less money than the first film but it’s also a marked improvement.  That’s mostly due to Andrew Stevens being a far more competent filmmaker than the director who did the first film.  Stevens know how to shoot an action scene and, when the monsters inevitable do end up storming the lab, it’s more exciting in the second film than it was in the first.  Plus, whereas The Terror Within only had George Kennedy to lend it some class, The Terror Within II has both R. Lee Ermey and Stella Stevens!  It’s an improvement, all around.

Unfortunately, there was never a third film.  The Lusus probably would have won anyways.  There’s only so many underground labs that humanity can hide out in.

Game Review: The House on Highfield Lane (2021, Andy Joel)

The House on Highfield Lane is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

Mandy has always been frightened by the forboding house that sits on Highfield Lane but, when she’s walking home from school one day and comes across a letter that’s been addresses to the house’s owner, she decides to finally conquer her fear. What starts as a simple quest to deliver the mail turns into a long adventure as Mandy explores the house, solves puzzles, and even helps to reanimate the dead.

The author of this game described its genre as being “horror without the horror,” because, even though the game is about exploring a creepy old house, there aren’t any of the elements that usually come with a haunted house game. (There is a mad scientist but he’s not such a bad fellow.) This is actually kind of an old-fashioned game, where the emphasis is on exploring and solving puzzles. There’s a lot of puzzles. Solving puzzles has always been my weak spot when it comes to playing IF games. I’m the type of player who always ends up asking for hints or looking at a walk-through. The House on Highfield Lane does come with hints. It wasn’t long after I started playing that I started to use them but again, I’m terrible at puzzles. I think most experienced IF players will be able to solve the majority of the game’s puzzles without having to ask for help.

This is an enjoyable and engaging game. The descriptions of each room were so well-written that I could easily picture them in my head as I played, This game was partially designed to show off the new Quest 6 engine and it does a good job of doing just that. Content-wise, it feels like a throwback to the old text adventures that you would play for hours, experimenting with different verbs and seeing what you could do in each room of the house. If you like exploration-centered games and don’t mind having to figure out several puzzles, this is a game you should enjoy.

Play The House on Highfield Lane.

Scenes that I Love: Tor Johnson In The Unearthly

We continue to honor the memory of Tor Johnson with today’s scene of the day.

Even though Tor Johnson is playing a character named Lobo, today’s scene that I love isn’t from Ed Wood’s 1955 film, Bride of the Monster. Instead, it’s from 1957’s The Unearthly. In this film, Lobo is now John Carradine’s servant. (Lobo made quite a career out of working for mad scientists.) The Unearthly was directed by Boris Peftroff, a friend of Wood’s, so it’s not improbable that this film’s Lobo was meant to be the same Lobo as the one who appeared in Bride of the Monster and Night of the Ghouls.

Anyway, in this scene, Tor does his usual Lobo stuff while John Carradine plays the piano. “Time for go to bed,” Lobo says at one point, a much-mocked line but one that is delivered with a bit of gentleness by Tor Johnson. My point is that Tor did the best that he could and bless him for it.

4 Shots From 4 Tor Johnson 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.

Today is Tor Johnson’s birthday so it just seems appropriate to present….

4 Shots From 4 Tor Johnson Films

Bride of the Monster (1955, dir by Ed Wood, DP: Ted Allan and William C. Thompson)

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957, dir by Ed Wood, DP: William C. Thompson)

The Unearthly (1957, dir by Boris Petroff, DP: W. Merle Connell)

The Best of Yucca Flats (1961, dir by Coleman Francis, DP: John Cagle and Lee Strosnider)

Horror On The Lens: The Beast of Yucca Flats (dir by Coleman Francis)


Since today is Tor Johnson’s birthday, it only seems appropriate that today’s Horror on the Lens should be one that he starred in, 1961’s The Best Of Yucca Flats.

My friend, the writer and chef Tammy Dowden, claims that this is the worst movie ever made.

Well, technically, she may be right.  The Beast of Yucca Flats is a thoroughly inept film that makes next to no sense and has massive continuity errors.  It’s a film that also features the legendary Tor Johnson as a Russian scientist who gets mutated by radiation and becomes a monster, but not before taking off almost all of his clothes while walking through the desert.  For that matter, it’s also a film about a family that comes together though adversity — namely, being shot at by the police after the family patriarch is somehow mistaken for Tor Johnson.  And finally, it’s the story of how a dying monster can find comfort from a rabbit and that’s actually kind of a sweet message.

Here’s the thing — yes, The Beast of Yucca Flats is bad but you still owe it to yourself to watch it because you will literally never see anything else like it.  Plus, maybe you’ll be able to figure out what the whole point of the opening scene is.

Because I’ve watched this film a few times and I still have no idea!


Music Video of the Day: Let’s Go by The Cars (1979, directed by ????)

On August 1st, 1981, MTV premiered. Over the course of 24 hours, 166 unique music videos were played on MTV.  Yes, there was a time when the M actually did stand for music.

The 85th video to premiere on MTV (and, if you count the videos that were repeated throughout the day, the 100th to appear on the station overall) was this simple but energetic clip of The Cars performing Let’s Go. Like so many of the videos made before MTV changed the face of the music industry, the emphasis here is on the band and their ability to play.


The First Videos Shown on MTV:

  1. Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles
  2. You Better Run by Pat Benatar
  3. She Won’t Dance With Me by Rod Stewart
  4. You Better You Bet By The Who
  5. Little Suzi’s On The Up by PH.D
  6. We Don’t Talk Anymore by Cliff Richard
  7. Brass in Pocket by Pretenders
  8. Time Heals by Todd Rundgren
  9. Take It On The Run by REO Speedwagon
  10. Rockin’ in Paradise by Styx
  11. When Things Go Wrong by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters
  12. History Never Repeats by Split Enz
  13. Hold On Loosely by .38 Special
  14. Just Between You And Me by April Wine
  15. Sailing by Rod Stewart
  16. Iron Maiden by Iron Maiden
  17. Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon
  18. Better Than Blue by Michael Johnson
  19. Message of Love by The Pretenders
  20. Mr. Briefcase by Lee Ritenour
  21. Double Life by The Cars
  22. In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins
  23. Looking for Clues by Robert Palmer
  24. Too Late by Shoes
  25. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  26. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy by Rod Stewart
  27. Surface Tension by Rupert Hine
  28. One Step Ahead by Split Enz
  29. Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
  30. I’m Gonna Follow You by Pat Benatar
  31. Savannah Nights by Tom Johnston
  32. Lucille by Rockestra
  33. The Best of Times by Styx
  34. Vengeance by Carly Simon
  35. Wrathchild by Iron Maiden
  36. I Wanna Be a Lifeguard by Blotto
  37. Passion by Rod Stewart
  38. Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello
  39. Don’t Let Me Go by REO Speedwagon
  40. Remote Control and Illegal by The Silencers
  41. Angel of the Morning by Juice Newton
  42. Little Sister by Rockpile with Robert Plant
  43. Hold On To The Night by Bootcamp
  44. Dreamin’ by Cliff Richard
  45. Is It You? by Lee Ritenour 
  46. Tusk by Fleetwood Mac
  47. He Can’t Love You by Michael Stanley Band
  48. Tough Guys by REO Speedwagon
  49. Rapture by Blondie
  50. Don’t Let Go The Coat by The Who
  51. Ain’t Love A Bitch by Rod Stewart
  52. Talk of the Town by The Pretenders
  53. Can’t Happen Here by Rainbow
  54. Thank You For Being A Friend by Andrew Gold
  55. Bring It All Home by Gerry Rafferty
  56. Sign of the Gypsy Queen by April Wine
  57. The Man With The Child In His Eyes by Kate Bush
  58. All Night Long by Raindow
  59. Boys Keep Swinging by David Bowie
  60. Rat Race by The Specials
  61. Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
  62. Victim by Bootcamp
  63. Tonight’s the Night (Gonna be Alright) by Rod Stewart
  64. Cruel to be Kind by Nick Lowe
  65. A Little In Love by Cliff Richard
  66. Wild-Eyed Southern Boys by 38 Special
  67. Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
  68. Celebrate The Bullet by The Selecter
  69. More Than I Can Say by Leo Sayer
  70. A Message To You, Rudy by The Specials
  71. Heart of Glass by Blondie
  72. Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight by Rod Stewart
  73. Kid by The Pretenders
  74. Come What May by Lani Hall & Herb Alpert
  75. I Got You by Split Enz
  76. Sister Disco by The Who
  77. Fashion by David Bowie
  78. Love Stinks by J. Geils Band
  79. Johnny and Mary by Robert Palmer
  80. Tomorrow by Shoes
  81. Prime Time by The Tubes
  82. Cruel You by Shoes
  83. Calling All Girls by Hilly Michaels
  84. I Was Only Joking by Rod Stewart