October Positivity: Late One Night (dir by Dave Christiano)

The 2001 film, Late One Night, takes place in a diner.  As you can probably guess from the title, it also takes place late one night.  It’s so late that there are only five people in the diner.  There’s a cook.  There’s three men who work at a local factory, the main one of which is named Larry (Brad Heller).  And then, there’s a quiet guy (John Gaffga) sitting at the counter.  Though the guy never introduces himself, Larry decides to call him Jesus.

To say that Larry is a bit of an obnoxious character really doesn’t do justice to just how grating a human being Larry is.  At work, Larry sexually harasses the only woman working at the factory.  In the diner, he sexually harasses a waitress as her shift ends.  When he sees the quiet man sitting at the counter, Larry starts to harass him.  Larry is angry.  Larry, as we learn, was abandoned by his father, raised by an unstable mother, and he spent several years in jail before ending up at a go-nowhere job at a bottling factory.  Larry has his reasons but that doesn’t make him any more likable.

In fact, Larry is such a jerk that you kind of wonder why the cook even allows him to hang out in the diner.  From the dialogue, it becomes clear that Larry has a long history of harassing people.  At one point, Larry does point out that he spends a lot of money at the diner but you have to consider how many people probably avoid the place whenever they see Larry and his co-workers sitting in their booth.  No matter how much money Larry spends, it seems likely that he keeps even more money out.  Really, the cook should call the cops whenever he sees Larry and maybe slap with him a trespassing charge.  I imagine Larry probably isn’t even a good tipper.

Anyway, on this night, Larry is obsessed with the quiet stranger.  When the stranger briefly goes into the restroom, Larry searches the stranger’s jacket and finds a pamphlet about Christianity.  When the stranger returns, he’s been given the nickname “Jesus” and he now has to deal with Larry mocking him by asking, “Am I going to Hell when I die?”  “Jesus” controls his temper, no matter how much he is taunted.

If you’ve seen any other films from director Dave Christiano, you might be excused for expecting “Jesus” to reveal himself to actually be Jesus.  In this case, though, I think he’s simply meant to be a believer who simply wants to eat in peace.  For that matter, you might also expect the film to end with Larry converting but instead, he’s as confused and angry at the end of this short film as he was at the beginning.  Particularly when compared to the films that he was making in the 80s and the 90s, Late One Night shows a certain dramatic restraint on the part of Christiano.  The main theme, of course, still seems to be that non-believers are going to suffer forever but, for once, Christiano doesn’t seem to be asking the viewer to take any pleasure out of that.

That said, I do have to say that, in college, I spent a lot of time in a lot of late night diners and I never once saw anyone get into the type of random verbal altercation that Larry gets into in this film.  I kind of suspect that might not happen in the real world as often as it happens in the movies.

Horror On TV: Ghost Story 1.10 “Elegy For A Vampire” (dir by Don McDougall)

On tonight’s episode of Ghost Story, college co-eds are being drained of their blood!  Who could the culprit be?  Oddly, some say that they saw a recently deceased college professor near the scene of the crime.  What was that professor studying when he died?  Vampirism!

This one is kind of silly but I always enjoy a vampire story.  This episode aired on December 1st, 1972.

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Studio 666 (dir by B.J. McDonnell)

In Studio 666, the members of Foo Fighters play themselves.  Struggling with writer’s block and hoping to remain musically relevant in a world where the culture belongs to the young, the band heads to an Encino mansion so that they can work on their latest album.  The mansion is infamous because years ago, another band was murdered while attempting to record there.  (Oddly enough, Jenna Ortega plays the drummer of the murdered band.  Ortega had quite a year as far as the horror genre is concerned.)

The band arrives at the mansion and things quickly go downhill.  The band isn’t getting along.  Lead singer Dave Grohl is revealed to be a bit of megalomaniac.  One of the band’s electricians is killed in what appears to be a freak accident.  Most people would move out of a house after someone dies under mysterious circumstances but not this band!  Instead, the band decides to dedicate the album to the memory of the dead guy.

Soon, however, there are a lot more dead people at the mansion.  Why are there so many dead people there?  This is going to sound like a spoiler but it’s not….


Yes, Dave Grohl has been possessed by the evil spirit of mansion.  On the one hand, it’s given him the inspiration necessary to get over his writer’s block.  On the other hand, it also leads to him killing the other members of the band in various grotesque ways.  Studio 666 is a horror comedy that doesn’t shy away from the gore.  If you’ve ever wanted to see a member of Foo Fighters get cut in half with a chainsaw while having sex with Whitney Cummings, I guess this is the film to track down.  (Cummings, I should note, does not play herself.  This film stars the band as themselves but it’s also filled with recognizable actors who are not playing themselves.)

Studio 666 is a bit of a lark, a horror film starring a band that most people don’t really associate with the horror genre.  Indeed, a good deal of the film’s humor comes from the fact that it’s Dave Grohl doing all of the killing.  In real life, a good deal of Dave Grohl’s appeal is that he comes across as being as close to a regular guy as a rock star can be.  He’s one those famous guys who most people could imagine having a beer with.  Studio 666 gets a lot of mileage out of presenting Dave Grohl as being a pretentious taskmaster who would happily sell his soul for the chance to have a successful solo career.  It helps that Dave Grohl seems to be having a blast playing such an exaggerated version of himself.  It’s hard not to be happy for him because he really does appear to having the time of his life.

That said, once Grohl is revealed to be the killer (and that happens very early in the film so, again, this is not a spoiler), the film really has nowhere else to go.  The whole thing simply becomes Grohl tracking down various members of the band and killing them in grotesque ways and it gets to be a little boring.  There’s little suspense and, since the Foo Fighters are playing themselves, there really aren’t any stakes because we know the band wasn’t actually murdered while recording a new album.  With a 106-minute running time, Studio 666 really grinds its one joke into the ground.

I will say that longtime fans of Foo Fighters will probably enjoy the film, if just because there’s several jokes and comments that are obviously meant to be inside jokes that only a select few will get.  Personally, I think it’s nice that the band did something for the fans, even if the movie itself doesn’t really work.

Omegle, Review by Case Wright

You know, I’m a good person, but somehow though, Alex Magana has inadvertently become my Moriarty: my archnemesis. See, he doesn’t know it, but I’m in a pickle. I need to consistently do brilliant reviews this October- for every day as best as I am able, AND also prepare for my second round of mid-terms as I rocket towards my Senior Year of Engineering, all the while being a Super Handsome Italian Dad.

N.B., I would like to review features; ideally, live tweeting them with the TSL staff and other great people. Until that day, I have….Alex Magana. He has an abundance of fun-sized short horror films and because of my constant time crunch these wee Rabbit-Raisinets are impossible to ignore. Here I am….reviewing ANOTHER Alex Magana film….ok… here it comes.

Omegle is an actual company that, as far as I can tell, wants to bring serial killers and their victims together. It’s business is to allow people to NOT register on the site and randomly pair you to video chat with any random psycho in the whole wide world. This short plays up on the obvious conclusion for this terrible terrible business. A nice, but lonely lady is paired to chat with a random person. This random person does evil magic tricks and puts her into the upside-down or some such mishigas.

Alex is really hot on people being attacked in their safe spaces. His films are a true commitment to obviousness! He is to filmmaking what Popsicle Stick Jokes are to comedy. This is our fault. We allow Alex to make films. Really, how tall could he be? Four or Five us could wrest the camera from him and if he’s really short, we could hold it over his head and say, Mine Now!!!

We allow Omegle to exist too for some stupid reason and of course some evil magician from the IT Department starts whacking people. Didn’t we always know that IT guys were psychopath magicians? Who wakes up soaked with flop sweat from an epiphany-fever-dream and exclaims, “I shall network strangers to Windows 12…TODAY, I TELL YOU WORLD, TODAY!!!!

Whether it’s Omegle or Alex, the fault is not in the stars, it is in our inability to hold him down and stop him from filming.

The Munsters (2022, directed by Rob Zombie)

Have you ever wondered how Herman and Lily Munster came to live at 1313 Mockingbird Lane?


That’s too bad, because Rob Zombie is going to tell you anyways.

Rob Zombie’s The Munsters is a prequel to the 60s sitcom of the same name.  It shows how Herman Munster (Jeff Daniel Phillips) came to be created, how he became a Rob Zombie-style rock star, and how he overcame the opposition of the Count (Daniel Roebuck) and married Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie).  It also shows how Lily’s brother, Lester (Tomas Boykin), tricked Herman into signing over the deed for the Count’s castle in Transylvania.  There’s not much of a plot but there was never much of a plot when it came to the original sitcom either.  Just like the show that the movie is based on, The Munsters exists to show classic monsters making corny jokes and freaking out at the prospect of dealing with what the rest of the world considers to be normalcy.  Unlike the multi-faceted Addams Family, The Munsters have always been a one-joke family.

There have always been elements of satire and subversive humor in everything that Rob Zombie has done, as both a musician and a director.  Those who claim that Rob Zombie does not have a sense of humor are mistaken.  However, the comedy in The Munsters is deliberately broad and vaudevillian, like the show on which the movie is based.  As a director, Zombie doesn’t always seem to know how to best present that type of humor.  The Munsters is the rare movie that would have benefitted from a laugh track because the jokes are definitely sitcom-level.  They were designed to be followed by canned laughter.  Zombie’s affection for the material and the characters come through and the deliberately artificial production and costume design actually works better than I was expecting but, at nearly two hours, The Munsters often feels directionless.  

Jeff Daniel Phillips and Daniel Roebuck do adequate imitations of Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis, respectively, but its Sheri Moon Zombie who steals the show, bringing a lot of mischievous energy to Lily.  Of the principle cast, Sheri Moon Zombie is the only one makes her character feel like something more than just a tribute to an old sitcom.  The camera loves her and she convinces us that she loves Herman, no matter how childishly he behaves.

One final note: Sylvester McCoy — the seventh doctor, himself! — plays the Count’s assistant, Igor.  McCoy doesn’t get to do much but it was still good to see him.  Igor was the type of role that Tom Baker used to specialize in before he was cast as the Fourth Doctor.  By casting McCoy as Igor, it almost felt as if Zombie was keeping the role in the family.

Game Review: Crash (2022, Phil Riley)

Here you are, a member of the Repair Corps.  When a spaceship docks at Space Station Omicron-5, your job is to repair the appliances and make sure that everything is in ship-shape condition while the crew relaxes and does whatever they have to do on the station.

It’s like they say in the song:

Just another face in a red jumpsuit.
He did a good job cleaning up the place,
But his bosses didn’t like him
So they shot him into space.

Except, in this case, it’s not your bosses who send you into space.  Instead, it’s the fact that the space station explodes while you’re getting ready to leave the ship!  Now, the ship is hurtling through space and you’re the only one who can figure out the proper way to stop it before it crashes.

Crash is a classic-style text adventure, programmed with my favorite Interactive Fiction development system, Inform.  What that means is that you pretty much have complete control over what the main character does on the ship.  Walk where you want to walk.  Examine what you want to examine.  Try what you want to try.  Just know that time is running out.  Crash is well-written but it’s also puzzle-heavy.  That won’t be a problem for most people but, for someone like me who sucks at puzzles, it can be daunting.  Fortunately, the game comes with a built-in hint system.  Also, when you’re usually terrible at puzzles, that means you feel even more triumphant when you actually manage to solve one of them.

(Even if you did have to ask for a lot of hints.)

Be sure to ask the computer a lot of questions.  This game has an in-depth backstory and it’s actually interesting to learn all of it.  You’re just a repairman but suddenly, you’re in the middle of a galactic conflict.  It’s the sort of set-up that has led to many classic sci-fi tales.

Play Crash.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 1.11 “The Bachelor Pad” and 1.12 “Poetic Justice”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

We are reaching the conclusion of the first season of Hang Time and it’s time for us to ask where we’re all going with this show.  What will be the ultimate conclusion of Deering’s season?  Let’s get in the mood to find out with the Hang Time theme song!

Get out on that court and put it in the basket!

Episode 1.11 “The Bachelor Pad”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on November 18th, 1995)

“Great game, everyone!” Coach Fuller announces at the start of this episode, letting us know that Deering is finally having a good season.  I wonder if they’ll make it to the state championship?  (Of course, they will!  A show would never be made about a merely adequate team.  That seems a bit unfair, though.  Most high school teams are merely adequate and surely, they deserve some representation as well!)

There’s trouble in paradise!  Danny’s parents are out of town and, for some reason, this leads to Danny staying at Coach Fuller’s penthouse for three days.  A student staying with his teacher and coach for the weekend?  I remember when this happened on Degrassi.  The end result was the coach getting fired and the student being traumatized for life.  Seriously, Danny staying with Fuller seems massively inappropriate but I guess the 90s were a different time.  Meanwhile, Sam is worried that no one takes her seriously because she’s just the equipment manager.

Anyway, you can guess what happens, can’t you?  Coach Fuller goes out for the evening.  Danny does the Risky Business dance in Fuller’s penthouse and then everyone from school shows up.  The wild party leads to Fuller’s $3,000 chair getting damaged.  The next day, during the game, Fuller learns about the party and the damage to his chair and he chases Danny out onto the court.  Fuller is kicked out of the game and Sam has to take over.  Sam coaches the team to victory and the team apologizes to the coach.  Yay!

Oh — and due to winning that game, the team is going to the league championship!  Take that, merely adequate teams!

As for the episode itself, this is another one of those episodes that drives me crazy because every problem that the characters run into is due to their own stupidity.  Still, it was nice that Hillary Tuck finally got a chance to shine.  The team owes their victory to a redhead.  Yay, Sam!

Episode 1.12 “Poetic Justice”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on November 25th, 1995)

“Chris and I are a couple!” Julie announces at the end of this episode.

“A couple of what?” Mary Beth responds and I’ll admit right now that I laughed.  Megan Parlen’s delivery was perfect on that line.

Mary Beth has reason to be upset because, just before Julie made her announcement, she was telling Chris that she wanted to get back together with him.  Mary Beth may have thought that she was over Chris but Earl encouraged her to write a poem about her feelings and that led to Mary Beth realizing that she was still in love with her ex.

Earl’s a poet now?  Yep.

Julie is finally ready to public with her relationship with Chris?  Yep.

The championship is coming up with all of this drama going on?  Yep.

Yes, it’s all kind of silly but it was worth it for that one line.  “A couple of what?”  It made me laugh and that really is kind of the point of the show.

Next week, it’s championship time!

Horror Scenes That I Love: Leatherface Meets Kirk in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre

This scene, from 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only last 52 seconds but that’s all the time that it needs.  Leatherface makes his first appearance and, sadly, Kirk exits the film.

What makes this scene so effective is that, even though it’s obvious that something bad is going to happen, Leatherface still seems to pop up out of nowhere.  When he does kill Kirk, he does it so efficiently and without hesitation that there’s little doubt that this is just an ordinary day for him.  When Leatherface slams that door, what he’s truly saying is that he’s very busy and he’d appreciate it if people just stopped bothering him for an hour or two.

For his part, Kirk really shouldn’t have just gone into someone’s house uninvited.  That’s really not Texas manners.  That said, I do think Leatherface did overreact just a bit.  Killing a guest isn’t really an example of good manners either.

Novel Review: One Evil Summer by R.L. Stine

It’s summer!  That means that it’s time for the Conklin Family to take a vacation to the lovely resort town of Seahvaen.  Unfortunately, Mr. Conklin and Mrs. Conklin are both bringing their work with them and oldest daughter Amanda is having to take summer school classes because she failed Algebra.  (How do you go on a vacation and so summer school at the same time?)  Despite the fact that I never had to do a day of summer school, I could still relate to Amanda because Algebra was always my worse subject.  Fortunately, my sister kept all of her tests from the previous year so I was able to cheat my way to a passing grade.  I still suck at Algebra and, as Case can tell you, I still throw a fit whenever I have to discuss anything that has to do with math but the important thing is that my summers were mine.

(To be honest, I probably could have done just fine if not for the “show your work” requirement, which always struck me as being fairly nonsensical.  If I got the right answer, why did it matter how I got it?  Usually, I do most of my work in my head and the notes that I jot down are usually written in such a way that only I can understand what they actually mean.  That works just fine for me.)

Anyway, someone has to look after the youngest two Conklin kids during the day so Mrs. Conklin hires Chrissy, despite the fact that Chrissy has absolutely no references and is obviously batshit insane.  Amanda keeps trying to get her parents to understand that Chrissy is crazy and planning on killing everyone but her parents are just like, “That’s what you get for failing Algebra.”  Bleh!

The book has an intriguing premise and the first few chapters were so silly that I thought I was going to really enjoy One Evil Summer.  But then all three of the Conklin family pets died, including a cat named Mr. Jinx and two parakeets that got their throats slit and ended up bleeding all over the place.  That pretty much turned me off of the book, as it all just felt gratuitous and cheap.  I pretty much lost all interest in the story when Mr. Jinx died and the death of the two parakeets pretty much guaranteed that I wouldn’t get that interest back any time soon.  I did skim the rest of the book, just so I could be honest when I wrote this review.  Chrissy turns out to be a witch with a secret!  I figured out the secret pretty quickly.

To be honest, things get pretty silly towards the end of the book.  It would actually have been enjoyably over-the-top if not for all the dead animals.  But the death of Jinx and the birds just kind of made the rest of the book too depressing to really enjoy.  To Stine’s credit, Amanda to get a new kitten and the kitten got a bit of revenge for its predecessor but still, the whole book just left a sour aftertaste.