October Positivity: Thin Ice (dir by Rick Garside)

Thin Ice, a short film from 1988, tells the story of Vince (Jay Roberts, Jr.).

Vince is a college student.  He likes to party and drink and basically do all of the stuff that, if we’re going to be honest, people are supposed to be doing in college.  I mean, yes, it’s true.  College is about getting you ready to enter the adult world.  But it’s also that last chance that most students will have to truly enjoy all of the stuff that’s typically frowned upon by the adult world.  College is supposed to be a time of experimentation and Vince has certainly been experimenting!  Good for him!

His parents, of course, disagree.  When Vince comes home the winter break, his parents insist that he go to church with them.  Vince is all, “I’m too cool for church!” but he goes anyways because otherwise, he might have to stay at a hotel.  He meets some other college students at the church and he ends up getting invited on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe.  Vince loves to ski so, of course, he says yes.

Vince is stunned to discover that his new friends are actually being sincere when they say they’re Christians and he struggles to adjust to hanging out with them.  However, he soon discovers that they’re not as a weird as he thought they were.  Of course, Vince and everyone else is soon more concerned with Shawna (Amy Lyndon).  Shawna is the type of bitter atheist who always shows up in movies like this.  From the minute she first appears, she’s complaining about religion and accusing all of the members of the youth group of being hypocrites.

A good deal of the movie is literally this:

Youth Group Member: “Hey, Shawna, good morning.”


Youth Group Member: “I think I’m going to get some skiing in, if you want to come.”


Youth Group Member: “Okay, well, let me know if you change your mind….”


Yes, Shawna is pretty spiteful and, most of the time, pretty annoying.  But she’s ultimately so extremely hateful that it becomes oddly fascinating to listen to her.  As a character, she really is the epitome of what most Christians think of when they think of an atheist.  She’s intolerant, angry, condescending, and self-destructive.  Admittedly, there’s quite a few atheists who are like that but there are others who simply don’t believe in God because they don’t and not because they’re angry at the world or consumed by self-loathing.  Just as secular films always seem to struggle with the idea that a normal person can go to church, Christian films can never seem to accept that some people just don’t believe in God.  Instead, the assumption is that everyone secretly believes in God but they’re just not willing to admit it.

Anyway, a character eventually falls through some thin ice (hence, the title) and nearly drowns.  This leads to everyone having a religious epiphany so I guess the lesson here is that, if you’re confused about what you believe, just wait  for a casual acquaintance to have a near death experience.

Anyway, Thin Ice is a pretty typical 80s Christian film.  It’s not quite as slickly put together as the films of the Christiano Brothers but, at the same time, it also doesn’t have the mean streak that runs through a lot of the early Christiano films.  Shawna may be an obnoxious atheist but she’s not threatened with Hell or anything like that.  For the most part, though, this is a pretty low-key and forgettable film.  It’s a bit of a time capsule of the time in which it was made but otherwise, Thin Ice is almost as forgettable as an ice cube melting in the summer.

Horror Film Review: Angel Heart (dir by Alan Parker)

First released in 1987 and set in 1955, Angel Heart tells the story of Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke).

With a name like Harry Angel, it’s perhaps not surprising that Harry is a private investigator.  Harry operates out of New York.  He’s got a shabby apartment.  He wears wrinkled clothes.  He rarely shaves.  He smokes almost constantly.  (In a rare moment of comedy, the camera catches Harry blithely emptying a full ashtray in the middle of the street.)  Harry looks like he reeks of tobacco, beer, sweat, and lost dreams.  And yet, it’s difficult not to like Harry.  He’s got a charming smile, even if his face is often bruised from his latest beating.  He speaks in a low whisper and it’s hard not to get the feeling that Harry is actually kind of shy.  He’s incredibly sleazy but there’s something about him that just makes the viewer want to take care of him.

Harry is hired by a mysterious man named Louis Cyphere (Robert De Niro, cheerfully overacting).  Louis wants Harry to track down a singer named Johnny Favor.  As Cyphere explains it, he did a favor for Johnny and Johnny has yet to pay Cyphere what he owes.  Johnny has been suffering from PTSD ever since he served in World War II.  When last seen, Johnny was receiving electroshock treatment in an upstate hospital.

Harry’s search for Johnny leads him into an increasingly complex and disturbing conspiracy.  He meets a doctor who is addicted to morphine and, when the doctor turns up dead, Harry coolly uses the dead man’s shoe to light his match.  Eventually, Harry’s investigation leads him to New Orleans, where he meets both Johnny’s wife (Charlotte Rampling) and Johnny’s unacknowledged daughter, Epiphany (Lisa Bonet).  As Harry searches for Johnny, he deals with strange visions of his own mysterious past.  He sees himself wandering around Times Square shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Harry also finds himself having to deal with the fact that almost everyone that he talks to ends up being brutally murdered.  Every time that Harry tries to quit the case, Cyphere offers him more money.  (Cyphere tends to show up whenever Harry finds himself on the verge of abandoning his search.)

Angel Heart moves at its own deliberate pace.  In fact, the first hour can feel a bit slow but that first hour definitely pays off during the second half of the film.  By the time that Harry starts to truly uncover what has happened to Johnny, the audience actually cares about Harry and is actually worried about what’s going to happen to him when he reaches the end of the case.  Mickey Rourke was (and is) an eccentric actor but he’s at his most effective in Angel Heart.  A lesser actor would have just played Harry as being a typical hardboiled detective.  Rourke plays Harry as being a lost soul, a vulnerable man who is often as confused and scared as the people that he’s looking for.  By the end of the film, Harry realizes that the answer to the mystery was right in front of them and his look of despair is surprisingly powerful.  If De Niro gives a good performance that is almost totally on the surface, Rourke gives the type of performance that allows the audience to explore what’s going on beneath the surface of a character who many would initially view as being a cliché.  Mickey Rourke’s Harry Angel is right up there with Bogart’s Sam Spade and Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes.  He’s a familiar character who also seems to be a human being.

Full of sex, violence, and increasingly disturbing imagery, Angel Heart is not for everyone.  Alan Parker’s direction emphasizes the darkness of Harry’s world and the bleakness of his situation.  The film ends with a twist that may not be totally unexpected but which is still undeniably disturbing.  The more you think about it, the most disturbing it gets.  Angel Heart is an atmospheric and intelligent chiller.  It’s existential horror at its most nightmarish.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 10/23/22 — 10/29/22

I spent most of this week watching horror films.  I’ll have a lot to catch up on, starting on November 1st.

Here’s some thoughts on what I did watch this week:

Abbott Elementary (Wednesday Night, ABC)

This week’s episode was a Halloween episode and it was a true classic, with Baby Thanos releasing candy to all the children in the middle of the school day and chaos breaking out as a result.  Jacob dressing up as Wage Theft for Halloween made me laugh way too much, as did the competing Scarlet Witch costumes.

Atlanta (Thursday Night, FX)

This week’s episode was a mockumentary about Thomas Washington, a black animator who was briefly the CEO of Disney Studios when the board mixed him up with a white exceptive named Thompson Washington.  Thomas Washington was obsessed with making “the blackest movie” ever.  The end result was The Goofy Movie, though it’s explained that Disney’s Board of Directors interfered with Washington’s vision and cut the most powerful scenes out of the film.  Thomas Washington, we’re told, died under mysterious circumstances.

I’ve never seen The Goofy Movie.

The Amazing Race (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the latest episode of The Amazing Race here!

Full House (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

On the first of this week’s episode, Michelle was finally punished for being a brat.  She nicknamed Jesse “Uncle Tattletale.”  This episode was even more cingey than usual because it featured a scene with Michelle talking to “Angel Michelle” and “Devil Michelle.”  The Olsen Twins weren’t even believable as one person, let along three.  This was followed by an episode in which DJ learned how to drive.  As usual, her stupid family screwed everything up.

Hell’s Kitchen (Thursday Night, Fox)

No one went home this week!  Chef Ramsay decided to spare the nominated chefs because it was a good service overall.  I would have sent home Vlad but Ramsay decided to show mercy.  Good for him.

Highway to Heaven (YouTube)

My friend Mark recommended an episode of this show to me after reading my review of I Was A Teenage Werewolf.  I’ll write more about this episode tomorrow.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (Hulu)

On Tuesday night, I rewatched the classic “The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award” episode.  Sudz seems like a fun place.

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

This week’s episode featured a law professor who was being blackmailed after he was filmed using a slur.  After the blackmailer turned up dead, the professor was put on trial.  It turned out that the professor’s 14 year-old son was the guilty party.  It was kind of boring.  This season has been a dud so far.

The New Wave Theater (NightFlight+)

This was an old show from the 80s, which featured live performances from various up-and-coming bands.  It was hosted by Peter Ivers, who co-wrote the classic “In Heaven, Everything Is Fine” for David Lynch’s Eraserhead.  I watched an episode on Saturday morning.  Elvira was the co-host.  The music was cool and trippy.  All of the performers were off in their own little world.

Night Flight (NightFlight+)

I watched three episodes of this show on Friday.  One episode was about “rock poets.”  The second episode dealt with “villainous actors.”  (Dennis Hopper, Henry Silva, Rutger Hauer, James Woods, and Robert De Niro were profiled.)  The third episode featured Talking Heads.  Good stuff!

The Real Love Boat (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I don’t know if I so much watched this show as I just sat through it because it aired in between Survivor and The Amazing Race.  I didn’t pay much attention to it.  The people on the boat are boring.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

You can read my thoughts on Survivor here!

AMV Of the Day: Another (Scary Song)

Halloween is almost here!  And to celebrate, here is an AMV Of The Day!

Anime: Another

Song: Scary Song (by Nightcore)

Creator: Animemixedit (please subscribe to this creator’s channel)

Past AMVs of the Day

Horror on TV: Halloween Is Grinch Night (dir by Gerard Baldwin)

So, we all know that the Grinch once tried to steal to Christmas and then his heart grew a few sizes but did you know that apparently, the Grinch also tried to steal Halloween?

Until a few years ago, I did not.  I was going through YouTube, searching for horror films that I could share here on the Shattered Lens, and guess what I came across?

A TV special from 1977 entitled Halloween is Grinch Night!

Unlike How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Halloween is Grinch Night apparently never became a holiday classic.  Perhaps that’s because Halloween is Grinch Night is not exactly the most heart-warming of holiday specials.  Whereas How The Grinch Stole Christmas tells us about how the Grinch learned the true meaning of Christmas, Halloween is Grinch Night gives us a Grinch who has no redeeming features.  There is no hope for this Grinch.  This Grinch will steal your soul and probably drink your blood.  This Grinch is pure Grinchy evil.

This is the Grinch of our nightmares.

Check out Halloween is Grinch Night below and hope the Grinch doesn’t capture you this Halloween….

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions For October

Even though Horrorthon has taken up the majority of my time this October, I still have been watching as this year’s Oscar race has developed over the past 29 days.  And that’s a good thing because it’s time for my monthly predictions!

Below, you’ll find my predictions for October!  In order to see how my thinking has evolved over the course of the year, be sure to check out my predictions for February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September!

Best Picture


The Banshees of Inisherin


Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

She Says



Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

Best Director

Chinonye Chukwu for Till

Todd Field for TAR

Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Insherin

Sarah Polley for Women Talking

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Austin Butler in Elvis

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Insherin

Hugh Jackman in The Son

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Insherin

Tom Hanks in Elvis

Woody Harrelson in Triangle of Sadness

Judd Hirsch in The Fabelmans

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Claire Foy in Women Talking

Nina Hoss in Tar

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Carey Mulligan in She Says

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Teenage Caveman (dir by Roger Corman)

Who is the Teenage Caveman?

Believe it or not, he’s Robert Vaughn.  Vaughn, who would later go on to appear in The Magnificent Seven, The Man From UNCLE, Bullitt, The Towering Inferno, and Hustle, was 26 years old when he played a nameless caveman in Roger Corman’s 1958 film, Teenage Caveman.  At the age of 26, Vaughn looked like he was closer to 35 and he certainly didn’t resemble a teenager.  Despite wearing a loin cloth, he also didn’t appear to be a caveman.  If he was a caveman than he was certainly a well-groomed caveman and perhaps the only caveman to understand how to use hairspray.  Seriously, his hair is perfect in this film.

As for the film itself, it’s about a primitive tribe of people who live in a rocky wasteland.  However, just across the river, there’s a land that’s full of plants and animals.  It would obviously be a much better place to live and Vaughn’s teenage caveman is totally annoyed that the older folks on the tribe refuse to cross the river.  They claim that a monster lives in the river and that it will kill anyone who tries to cross.  Being a rebellious teenager, Vaughn decides to cross the river anyway.  He convinces a group of friends to go with him.  When they reach the river, they meet and fight the monster and they also discover that the monster was doing more than just guarding the river.  It all leads to a plot twist that feels as if it was added at the last possible second.

In a later interview, Robert Vaughn referred to Teenage Caveman as being the worst film in which he ever appeared.  He went on to suggest that it was the worst film ever made.  Those are bold words coming from someone who appeared in as many bad films as Robert Vaughn did.  That said, I do think that Vaughn was being a bit too hard on Teenage Caveman.  For what it is — an extremely low-budget film that barely runs over an hour — Teenage Caveman is entertaining if you’re in the right mood for it.  It’s hard not to smile at the cavepeople, with their modern haircuts and their very American accents.  As well, the film features the same stock footage of dinosaurs fighting that appeared in countless other B-movies of the time and, again, it’s hard not to smile at the actors valiantly trying to pretend that there are dinosaurs fighting just a few feet away from them.  And while that final plot twist may come out of nowhere, it’s just random enough to be interesting.  Worst film of all time?  With all respect to the teenage caveman, I have to disagree.  It’s a B-movie and, if you enjoy B-movies, you’ll enjoy this one.  And let’s give some credit to Robert Vaughn.  He gives an earnest performance, even though he later said that he felt foolish every time he stepped out on the set.  Add to that, his hair is perfect.

Claws (1977, directed by Richard Bansbach and Robert E. Pearson)

After a group of hunters wound a grizzly bear in Alaska, the bear mauls a logger named Jason Monroe (Jason Evers).  Both the bear and Jason survive their initial meeting.  For the next six years, the bear attacks people in the woods and Jason tries to move on from his experience.  The indigenous people call the grizzly, “Satan Bear” and it seems like no one can stop it.  But when Satan Bear dares to attack a group of boy scouts (including Jason’s son), Jason decides that it’s time to enter the woods and track down the bear.

Claws is like Jaws except the monster has claws.  Actually, despite the similarity of their names, Claws isn’t really a rip-off of Jaws as much as it’s a rip-off of Grizzly, which was a rip-off of JawsClaws is a rip-off of a rip-off, complete with the all the usual characters who appear in revenge of nature films.  Jason is the grizzled hunter.  There’s an idealistic college student who knows all about bears.  There’s a wise old native man who talks about spirit animals.  What sets Claws apart from both Jaws and Grizzly is its heavy use of badly tinted stock footage and all of the flashbacks.  The movie starts with a group of hunters shooting at two bears but it’s obvious that the actors playing the hunters were nowhere near the two bears that are featured in the stock footage.  The flashbacks are used to fill in everyone’s backstory but none of them have anything to do with the bear so I’m not sure what the point of them was supposed to be.  The movie would not be exciting even if it only focused on the bear attacks but adding all those dull flashbacks transforms Claws from being merely mediocre to a real challenge to sit through.

Claws was a flop when it was first released but, a year later, it found success when it was rereleased and retitled Grizzly 2.  I guess the film’s distributor figured that they should just go ahead and admit it.

President Elect: Nixon vs Frankenstein’s Monster

Yesterday, I used the old President Elect simulator to determine who would win a presidential election between Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and The Mummy.  Dracula crushed both of his opponents, mostly because neither Frankenstein nor The Mummy could really speak.

Today, I decided to see if Frankenstein’s Monster would have had better luck if the Democrats had nominated him to run against Richard M. Nixon in 1960.  In the real world, John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated Nixon, despite the popularity of Dwight Eisenhower.  (Kennedy had some extra help in Illinois.)  Nixon had the experience and the depth of policy knowledge but Kennedy had the charisma that Nixon lacked.  After logging into President Elect, I imagined a situation in which the Democrats of 1960 turned not to Kennedy but to Frankenstein’s Monster.  Just as he had with Dracula, I imagined that Frankenstein would run on a largely non-partisan platform that put strong emphasis on fire prevention.  As well, I had to give Frankenstein low scores on his speaking ability and his ability to stay cool under pressure.  But he did get a high personal magnetism score because people have been interested in him for over 200 years.  Would that be enough to beat the similarly challenged Nixon?

No, it would not.

Just as with the campaign against Dracula, it was obvious who was going to win from the start.  Frankenstein’s Monster barely campaigned and, unlike Kennedy, he refused to debate Nixon.

On election night, the first result told the story.

The good news is that, unlike when he ran against Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster actually did manage carry a state.  In fact, he carried two.  He won both Mississippi and Georgia, receiving 51% of the vote in both.  Every other state, he lost to Nixon.

The final vote tally:

Managing to win 43% of the vote while being unable to speak or be around fire is actually pretty impressive.  But Frankenstein’s Monster still could not beat Richard Nixon.

Retro Television Review: California Dreams 2.4 “Sleazy Rider” and 2.5 “The Sly Who Came To Dinner”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Saturdays, I will be reviewing California Dreams, which ran on NBC from 1992 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

With Jenny gone and Samantha as the band’s new lead singer, it was time to once again update the opening credits of California Dreams.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a separate video for just the revised season two credits.  So, imagine the video below with Jennie Kwan instead of Heidi Noelle Lenhart.

Anyway, let’s get on to the surf dude with attitude….

Episode 2.4 “Sleazy Rider”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 2nd, 1993)

Jake has spent months working on his motorcycle so that he can win the big bike race.  Unfortunately, Jake has to go out of town so he leaves the bike with Matt.  Because Matt is a wimp who is unable to handle even the least bit of responsibility, he is unable to keep Sly from jumping on the bike, starting the bike, running over Tony with the bike, and then crashing the bike.

While Tony recovers in the hospital, he becomes convinced that Tiffani is falling in love with him.  Meanwhile, Sly tries to get everyone to forgive him for nearly killing Tony.  Strangely, no one gets mad at Matt despite the fact that Matt’s only job was to keep Sly from getting on the bike.

It’s a silly episode but I’ll give the show some credit for the title.  At first, I thought the title (a play on Easy Rider) was kind of a dig at Jake and I was like, “What did Jake do?”  But then I realized that Sly was meant to be the sleazy rider and it all made sense.

Episode 2.5 “The Sly Who Came To Dinner”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 9th, 1993)

This episode opens with the Dreams playing at Sharkey’s and it’s our first chance to see the new line-up of Matt, Tony, Jake, Tiffany, and Sam.  For once, they actually look like a real band and it’s understandable that an audience would actually pay money to see them.  Of course, it helps that we only hear the end of that radio song from season 1 and then Sam’s “Hey Baby” song.  As Matt would put it, those were two of their better “tunes.”

The Dreams may be hot but Sly is not.  Sam says that she feels sorry for Sly as she watches him get slapped by every girl at Sharkey’s.  Matt says that he feels sorry for Sly in the same way that he feels sorry for monkeys at the zoo.  WHAT!?  Sam dedicates a song to Sly so Sly decides that Sam is in love with him.

Meanwhile, Tiffani is getting cards and flowers from a mystery fan.  Has she got a stalker!?  Who cares?  That’s just the B-plot.  In the A-plot, Sly’s family is visiting his grandmother so Sly ends up staying at the Garrison house.  Sly thinks that this will allow him to pursue Sam.  Sam, however, has a big history paper due and she’s not interested.  Sly offers to type up her paper but instead just steals a college term paper that Mr. Garrison is supposed to be grading.  Somehow, that leads to Sam getting a D-.  Apparently, the high school has very high standards when it comes to history reports.

These two episodes are mostly interesting because they’re the first ones to really take real advantage of Sly’s comedic potential and Michael Cade’s talent for physical comedy.   As I watched these two episodes, I realized that the scheme-obsessed Sly basically was Zach Morris if Zach lived in the real world.  On Saved By The Bell, Zach never had to deal with any consequences for his schemes.  On California Dreams, Sly was constantly on the verge of losing his friends and was often running for his life.  Zach ended up as governor of California.  Sly probably lost all of his money in 2008.  Poor Sly.

Will things look up for him next week?  Probably not but we’ll see.