Creepshow, S1 Ep 4, The Companion & Lydia Lane’s Better Half


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Happy horrorthon! This episode followed the trend of the second story being the better of the two, but really it showcases a two short films every week.  I never really watched short films before because they sounded impossible  You have twenty minutes or less to put a story together and give it some heft.  It’s interesting to see how it’s accomplished.  Short stories are one thing, but a film has establish shots and tension in short order…pun intended.

The stories tend to be very straight forward; you really can’t spoil them.  The Companion- a boy makes a Golem who kills his mean brother.  Lydia Lane’s Better Half- Lydia is trapped in an elevator with a woman she killed.  Yes, the second one is better. I like that elevator horror is slowly becoming a sub-genre, but does everyone have to be crushed between floors?

The Companion opens with a teenager who is repeatedly abused by his older brother.  This changes when he goes to a farm and finds a Golem-Scarecrow.  At first, the Golem wants to kill him because he isn’t holding a magical cane…really.  The deceased farmer in the story created the Golem because after his wife passed, he was lonely; so, he created a Golem-Scarecrow….as you do. Well, the Golem murders people if they aren’t holding his dead wife’s cane.  Whatevs.  As with most of the first stories, the acting was fine and the story was fine.  Not great, but it did allow me to pass the time during physical therapy exercises.

The second story starred one of my favorite actresses and people- Tricia Helfer.  I loved her in BSG, she’s great in Burn Notice and Lucifer, and she does the Tulip Ride for the Seattle Humane Society.  She has the drive and talent of a million people, which means that there are 999,999 very sad lazy people out there because of Tricia Helfer.  This short film was no different! She plays Lydia Lane, a high-powered CEO, who passes over her protege Celia for a CFO position.  Later, a struggle ensues and Celia gets accidentally impaled in the head with a glass award killing Celia and she needs to get the body out of the office building and hide it.  She seems to be getting close to an escape until an earthquake causes the elevator to stop.  UH OH.

After Celia’s death, there’s virtually no monologue or dialogue. Tricia Helfer has to deliver suspense and fear with movement and facial expressions alone- she does.  It becomes a one-woman show …. except for Celia who is a possible zombie, but it could also be that Lydia is losing her mind and it’s this ambiguity that makes the story really pop.  The direction by Roxanne Benjamin was excellent as well. She has a great future in both action and horror.

These stories are really important because they are great and they give opportunities to new directors with a lot of talent!

 

The Odyssey of Flight 33, Comic Review, by Case Wright


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Yes, they have comic versions of The Twilight Zone! I really enjoyed this and I know that some of you are like….hmmm is this horror? Yes… Yes, it is. No further questions!  Besides, we have a Twilight Episode to discuss.  The Twilight Zone always leaned more into horror IMO.  The Outer Limits was all about teaching you a moral lesson, but TTZ was all about the scare factor.

I enjoyed this format too.  Face it, a lot of the TTZ episodes don’t hold up amazingly well.  It’s the truth….Deal With It!  The book has all the components of a good TTZ episode: the setup of perceived normality that takes a terrible left turn.  There aren’t many things more normal or boring than air travel.  The flight is just a typical run to La Guardia and the passengers appear very normal as well: the chatty passenger, the braggy passenger, and the emotionally unstable passenger.

These archetypal passengers pull us into the story much like the Stephen King stories do. Stephen’s characters are your neighbors and these passengers are too.  But, something isn’t right is the friendly skies! They feel hit a pocket of air and their speed goes into the thousands of miles per hour and whammo – they start time traveling! They arrive in 1939 and don’t stop because they want to get back to their own time- So no killing Hitler for these time travelers.  Then, they arrive in the Cretaceous and decide not to land because Jurassic Park is so five minutes ago, but then they arrive in the future.

This one troubled me a bit.  They are low on fuel and the future has cable and they can’t screw up time.  Really, they could just try to make a go of it in their new time.  No one seemed like things were that amazing for them in the present.  I mean, why not just land? You’d at least make a living on the talk show circuit. The comic ends with ambiguity.  They are low on fuel and lost in time.

I would recommend checking these issues out.  They’re a lot of fun and have a good creep factor.

 

Horns, Book Review, By Case Wright


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Horns.  What if you woke up and realized? Gee Whiz, I’m a demon! Well, that’s exactly how it was for Ig Perrish in Horns.  One day he was the pariah of his town because everyone believed he murdered his girlfriend and the next day he’s got budding horns with magical demon powers!

Ig is loathed by everyone for being a rapist and murderer.  There was only one problem: he didn’t do it.  The lab that would’ve exonerated him with DNA evidence caught fire, leaving him as the likely suspect, but no physical evidence to convict or exculpate.  His town and greater world hates him forever.

The horns start growing out of his head and give him powers to cause people to indulge and confess their darkest desires.  When he uses the horns, people can see the horns, when he’s done, they’re no longer visible. He goes through the town getting people indulge and confess.  He slowly realizes that xxxxxxxx was the killer.  Ha! No spoilers! The killer figures out that Ig has discovered his identity so they begin a cat and mouse game that goes all the way to the climax.

The book elicits a visceral response because it deals with the key concepts of human existence: Betrayal, love, revenge, and envy.  There are quite a few of the other deadly sins on display in the book as well.  The only knock that I give the book is that it really obvious very early on who the real killer is.  Nope, still not spoiling!

Is it worth reading? Yes. There is also a very fine audiobook with a voice actor  who does a very good job.  I highly recommend that as well.  You can check out the trailer review for Horns by Arleigh here!

Masters of Horror, “Deer Woman”, Dir. John Landis


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Happy Horrorthon! There’s a Half-Deer woman (DeerTaur?) on the loose and only Martin Tupper…I mean Detective Dwight Faraday can stop her…maybe. Many of you don’t remember Dream On from the late 80s-early 90s on HBO, but it was awesome.  Benben played this kinda cranky book editor Martin Tupper who always thought in movie clips and seeing him act again was like being a wee kid again who quietly watched Dream On after his parents fell asleep.  Dream On BTW was hilarious and created by John Landis- Check it Out!  Yes, The American Werewolf in London director and he did Thriller.

Well, in the early 2000s Mick Garris got a lot of the greats from the 80s and 90s to do short horror films and Deer Woman was one of them.  In Deer Woman, Drunk dudes are getting trampled to death and Detective Faraday is assigned to the case.

Faraday is a down and out detective who no one respects.  Martin Tupper was a down and editor who no one respected.  Faraday is actually not a terrible detective.  He follows up leads and sees where they go.  He checks with the coroner and sees that the bodies are riddled with hoof prints.  You know what makes hoof prints? Deer-Taurs!!!!

Also, men are really portrayed as dumb and horny.  The Deer-Taur picks her next victim up at a hotel bar without speaking a word, but the dudes don’t seem to mind.  Once the seduction is on, she tramples him with her hooves! Yes, hooves.  I love this show!

What’s not to like?! Deer-Taurs, Detectives, and hooves!  There’s also a great dream sequence when Faraday imagines how the kill went down where a Deer in flannel carries off a victim Creature from Black Lagoon style.  It’s hilarious.  This is what’s great about Landis; his horror is always interspersed with great comic relief.

Anywho, bodies keep dropping and they’re so beat up that their arms are found on rooftops! AWESOME!!! Does Detective Faraday stop the Deer-Taur? Who Cares?! It’s got Deer-Taurs and Brian Benben! I would definitely recommend finding this show however you can.  Pretty much all of the Masters of Horror episodes are great. Cheers!

yuou

Creepshow, S1, Ep3, All Hallow’s Eve, The Man in the Suitcase, Review By Case Wright


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Happy Horrorthon! I’m am once again reviewing Creepshow.  It is officially a true Guilty Pleasure, but come on, aren’t those all of our go to pleasures anyway? To the uninitiated, Creepshow is a GOOD horror anthology series, but really it’s a showcase for short-films.  How? It’s broken down into two stories and neither of them are over 23 minutes.  Aside from giving writers like Christopher Buehlman his big break (before this he’d only written skits for Renaissance Faires….really), they are the short short brought to life.

Many of Stephen King’s short stories are made into movies, but they are always lengthened into something (usually better) than their original quick-paced short story.  Creepshow keeps that fast pace…mostly.  Well, they keep it for the second story.  The second story is always the better story and moves at the quick pace that you’d expect in a short story.  Even at 22 minutes, the first story tends to drag.

All Hallow’s Eve follows 5 youths trick or treating in a terrified neighborhood.  It was obvious to anyone with a pulse that these kids were dead and out to cause trouble.  Turns out that during a vigorous D&D session in their treehouse, some bullies from the neighborhood thought it would be funny to set it on fire, with the D&D nerds in it.  As you do.  Well, their door gets stuck and they all die.  So, they haunt the neighborhood setting fire to one bully each Halloween until they are all briquettes.

The acting in story A is ….ok.  Story A is a bit slow-paced, which is really hard to do in 20 minutes, but here we are.  I still watched it and so should you.  It’s not like 2 Sentence Horror we are talking about, which is garbage wrapped in rotten bacon.

Story 2 was The Man in the Suitcase, which could’ve worked as a twilight zone episode.  Justin is a loser stoner who is dumped by his girlfriend and used by his roommate.  He is arriving home after visiting his family and he gets a carry-on from the airport and it’s not his stuff that’s inside; it’s a Middle-Eastern man bent so he can fit into the carry-on.  It turns out the Man wants to leave the suitcase, but every time Justin tries to move him, it causes the Man pain, which in turn causes the Man to spit out a gold coin.

Well, Justin isn’t sure what to do, but Justin’s roommate and his ex-girlfriend do and they all decide to torture the man in the suitcase so that he’ll spit out loads of gold.  The torture gets pretty gross, but Justin eventually has a change of heart and tries to free the Man, but his girlfriend and roommate want to keep the gold so she tries to kill Justin with a wrench, which is just lying about.  I won’t spoil what happens next because this was a lot of fun and really makes Shutter worth my subscription fee.

This story really had some good pacing.  Yes, it was predictable and very over the top, but that is just the Creepshow way.

Again, relax and enjoy!

 

The Mangler, Story Review by Case Wright


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Sometimes you just can’t win! You need to make a few bucks and you take a job at a cleaners, but the laundry press is possessed by a demon and starts killing everyone and the Christmas party is BYOB. This is the premise of The Mangler.  This laundry press gets exposed to a bunch of different bloods – animal and virgin human, which summons a demon to possess the laundry press. The laundry machine goes a killing spree, but my collars have never looked crisper!  I always liked this story because it’s so awesomely bad. It’s really corny and silly, but unintentionally so.  It would be great as a Rifftrax.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help thinking, Self, it really is EASY to summon demons in Maine.  It makes you wonder why anyone visits or lives there?  Sure, the fall foliage is nice, but you’re always knee deep in clowns, werewolves, vampires, large rats, ghosts, creepy college students, aliens, more ghosts, the devil (kinda), cultists, creepy rednecks, slime beasts, and pederasts.  I’ve been to A LOT of Maine and I will attest that the above villains are truly a nuisance and they are all close talkers!

The Mangler is a fun read because it turns into a quick-paced detective story.  The cops Hunton and Jackson become ghost busters and try to get the demon out of the machine. I know it’s a short story, but they really embrace the whole – it’s a demon laundry machine really fast.  There’s no time where people are like, What? This is stupid! Really stupid!  It starts getting really goofy when the machine chases its victims down a gnaws them to death.

At the end, I know it’s not supposed to be a comedy, but it chases the cops around and eats one of them.  It’s just kinda silly.  Of course, this story is really needed as unintentional comic relief because some of the other stories are just so depressing in Night Shift like “The Last Rung on the Ladder” ….ughhh- best cure for a happy thought.  Really, if you think you’re a bad sibling, read “The Last Rung on the Ladder” and you’ll feel waaaaay better about yourself.

The Mangler is not his best story- it’s actually really dumb, but it reads like a fun bad movie.  It’s the Sharknado 1 of Stephen King if not ALL literature. In short, it IS entertaining. You have a big iron up to no good and two incompetent policemen trying to save the day.  It needs a SYFY run desperately! Happy Horrorthon!

“I Am The Doorway”, Story Review by Case Wright


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How free are we?  “I am the doorway” by Stephen King is an early work. It was published in 1971, when he was just 24. For context, we’d just gotten back from the moon 2 years prior.  The stories in Night Shift were gathered from this time period.  “I am the doorway” was published by Cavalier (see above).  I always thought that was odd not that Stephen King was getting published, but Cavalier?  Cavalier was a “Men’s” magazine.  I always thought that was strange and must be unique to the 1960s and early 1970s where people paired their Men’s magazines with literature and poetry.  Shel Silverstein wrote poetry for Playboy.  I guess that’s where The Sidewalk really ended?

The stories in Night Shift, and “I am the doorway” revolve around free will and how free we actually are by outside influence.   The occult is present of course, but that’s tangential.  The real meat of Stephen’s stories is always about the people living with the monsters.  In these early stories, it’s the people who are the monsters.  Either people are pulling their strings, life is pulling their strings, or monsters.  This was his life.  He was newly married, he had kids on the way, and he was working jobs from substitute teaching to laundry to meet the bills.  Very few of us are free and if you think you are one of the Select, stop paying your credit card or student loan for a couple of cycles and get back to me.

The will once given up can’t be retrieved, you’re trapped like Richard in Quitters Inc..  Blood called to blood in Jerusalem’s Lot from generations forward, poking free will right in the eye. In Salem’s Lot, Ben Mears described his oddly fortuitous meeting of Susan Norton – Ben Mears’ love interest- as if the “universe were making some sort of cosmic bread.” When the will is taken away, it can be retrieved with a cost like in Jerusalem’s Lot or in this story “I am the Doorway”. The main point is that if we give into the darkness like the teenagers did in Night Surf, we are gone for good.  The will itself is like origami beautiful, fragile, and unique to the individual.  The will is cajoled, stolen, sold, and bought back.  The will for King appears to be akin to the soul.  Perhaps that’s why giving up one’s will to a higher power is so challenging and difficult to do?

“I am the doorway” is told as a first person narrative by Arthur who was an astronaut to Venus.  He gets exposed to alien cooties and starts to morph…grossly.  He develops eyes on his hands, which allows the aliens from Venus to see into our world.  Although he is disabled, when he falls asleep, the Venusians hijack his body and make him kill with lightning bolt powers.  The first victim is a child.  He understands that the Venutians will invade using him as a portal somehow.  Maybe he could try Atkins and get really small? To stop the invasion, he tries to burn the eyes off of his hands with Kerosene, but 7 years later, eyes open on his chest or as Stephen King would write “Sometimes They Come Back”.

Arthur can get his will back and stop the murders and the invasion, but the price will be the highest he can pay.  Like Arthur, we have these external forces in our lives.  Whether we are really free or not, I don’t really think so.  Some will is great to be abdicated.  You give some freedom for the best moments in your life: marriage and children.  Both take up time and limit your freedom (no spur of the moment Vegas Trips and getting out the door can be interminable), but they complete a part of yourself that was missing and desperately needed to be found and they kinda look you and act like you, or the UPS man. Maybe giving up some of our will is the only way we can grow? Perhaps the doorway for us is to wisdom.