The TSL’s Grindhouse: The Incredible Melting Man (dir by William Sachs)


What goes up must come down
What goes ’round must come ’round
What’s been lost must be found

As the song says, what goes up must go down.  The 1977 film, The Incredible Melting Man, is about a man who went up and then came back down and …. AGCK!  What a mess!

The Incredible Melting Man opens with the launch of the first manned spaceflight to Saturn.  That’s right, Saturn.  The film takes place in the 70s, when mankind was still lucky to just be able to make it to the Moon and back.  But somehow, this rocket and its three passengers are going to fly all the way to Saturn, land, and then return to Earth.  And speaking of landing, how exactly do you land on a planet that doesn’t have a solid surface?  And, even more importantly, why do all of the shots of Saturn look like the sun?  How come there aren’t any rings?  WHAT IS GOING ON!?  Could it be that the rocket went off track and went to the sun instead?  It’s possible, I suppose.  Mistakes cannot be avoided, much like a spinning wheel turning around.

Anyway, the rocket eventually returns from Saturn or the sun or wherever it went.  Unfortunately, most of the crew is dead.  The only survivor is Steve West (played by Alex Rebar).  Apparently, West was so physically strong that he was able to survive whatever killed the other astronauts.  Unfortunately, West was still infected with Saturn microbes and now he’s slowly melting.  Steve doesn’t react well to that news so he escapes from the hospital and goes on a poorly-defined rampage.  He kills a nurse.  He rips the head off a fisherman.  He kills two old people who were trying to steal oranges.  Steve loses an eye.  His arm falls off.  He leaves behind a trail a radioactive goo.  Apparently, Steve has to consume human flesh to slow down the melting process but make no mistake, there’s no way he’s not going to end a puddle of goo.

Steve’s friend, Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning), decides to try to track down Steve so that he can get Steve to stop eating people and just melt away in peace.  Ted can’t even tell the local authorities what he’s doing because that information is classified and Ted’s boss is like a total jerk.  Ted does tell his wife, Judy (Anne Sweeny).  Judy and Ted then get into an argument because Judy forgot to buy crackers the last time she went to the grocery store.  Some may scoff that the lengthy and not very relevant cracker discussion was included just to pad this film’s running time but I think it adds a level of reality to the proceedings.  People like crackers, even when they’re looking for a friend who is melting.

Anyway, The Incredible Melting Man is a weird little movie but I always kind of enjoy it.  As played by Burr DeBenning, Dr. Ted Nelson is one of the least likable heroes to ever show up in a movie.  He always seems to be annoyed about everything.  Even when Steve West is killing people, Ted mostly just seems to be annoyed by the fact that he’s having to go outside to deal with it.  Fortunately, Ted’s unlikability makes it fun to watch as absolutely nothing goes right for him over the course of the film.  Ted is beyond surly and Steve is beyond melty.  As bad as most of the dialogue and the acting may be, the melting man makeup is actually really effective and Alex Rebar does about as good a job as anyone cast as a melting man could.  Let’s give this one two and a half star and wonder how many people in 1977 saw it on a double bill with Saturday Night Fever.

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 7.5 “Til Death” (dir by Lennie James)


I can still remember when Fear the Walking Dead first started back in 2015.

The premise, as you may remember, was that the show was going to take place in the “world of The Walking Dead” but that it was going to deal with an entirely new group of characters and follow them through the early days of the zombie apocalypse.  Would there be crossovers with the main show?  While AMC refused to rule them out, it was also said that the world of the Walking Dead was so compelling and fully realized that there really was no real need to bring over Rick, Darryl, Morgan, or anyone else from the original show.  In fact, since Fear the Walking Dead was a prequel, it really wouldn’t make any sense to have any of the original show’s characters show up for anything more than a winking cameo.  Instead, audiences would be thrilled with the new cast of doctors, drug addicts, and city planners.

Well, that didn’t quite work out.  It turned out that audiences didn’t really respond to the entirely new cast and so almost all of them were killed off, Lennie James switched from the main show to the spinoff, and, from season 4 on, Fear the Walking Dead became the Morgan show.

And I’m really not complaining.  I tried to watch the early seasons of Fear The Walking Dead and I was so bored that I gave up on the show fairly quickly.  However, I’ve been mostly entertained by the seventh and final season of Fear The Walking Dead.  Yes, there have been a few pacing issues but, at this point, that’s something that anyone who has ever watched more than a handful of episodes of The Walking Dead and its spin-offs should be used to.  But still, I enjoy Fear the Walking Dead‘s rather surreal landscape.  Colman Domingo’s wonderfully weird performance is always entertaining to watch.  I’m even somewhat interested in discovering who Padre is, even though I know the character probably won’t live up to all the hype.  At this point, unless he turns out to be Rick, there’s no way Padre can meet the expectations that have been set for him.

Last Sunday, Dwight and Sherry joined the search for Padre.  Like Morgan, Dwight and Sherry were originally on The Walking Dead.  Dwight was one of Negan’s lieutenants.  Sherry was his wife.  Now, they’re “ethical outlaws,” riding across the radioactive landscape of Texas and protecting those in need.  During the latest episode, Strand tried to get Dwight and Sherry to join his organization and Dwight was certainly tempted.  But, in the end, they did the right thing and helped a woman named Mickey find and put down her reanimated husband.  They then teamed up with the Stalkers to continue their search for Padre …. okay, so the plot summary sounds a little absurd and, to be honest, the idea of Dwight and Sherry calling themselves the Dark Horses and fighting for the bullied is a little absurd.  But, and this is the secret as to why Fear the Walking Dead‘s final season has been so enjoyable, the show seems to be aware of how absurd it all is.  Whereas The Walking Dead would have taken the whole “ethical outlaw” thing way too seriously, Fear the Walking Dead is willing to have fun with it all.

And this Sunday’s episode was a fun one.  Apparently, with The Walking Dead and its two spin-offs coming to a close with the end of their current seasons, AMC is planning on keeping the franchie alive with an anthology series.  Hopefully, the Dark Horses will appear in more than a few episodes.  As much as I disliked them on The Walking Dead, Dwight and Sherry are a blast on Fear the Waling Dead.  Dark Horses forever!

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 7.3 “Cindy Hawkins” (dir by Ron Underwood)


I finally watched the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead earlier today and, believe it or not, I’ve actually come to like this show.

Considering that I originally stopped watching Fear the Walking Dead because I got bored with it during its first season, I’m as surprised as anyone to realize that the seventh season of Fear The Walking Dead has won me over.  But what can I say?  The first three episodes of the show’s final season have been so weird that it’s been impossible not to enjoy them.  Everything, from the radiation-scarred landscape to Colman Domingo’s wonderfully odd performance as Strand, has come together to make this show a rather lively look at a world dominated by the walking dead.  It also helps, of course, that most of the boring characters from season one are no longer on the show.  AMC figured out that audiences didn’t care about an emergency room doctor and her drug addict son.  They cared about Morgan and nuclear fallout.

Morgan showed up during the final minutes of the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead, just long enough to discover that two of his allies had been, depending on how you look at it, either rescued or abducted by Strand.  He and Strand had a little argument over the radio.  Strand says that he’s going to remake the world, something that Morgan could never figure out how to do.  Morgan and Strand both appear to be batshit insane, which is what made the scene so compelling.  Would you want to live in a world created by either of them?

The majority of the episode revolved around John Dorie (Keith Carradine) and his daughter-in-law, June (Jenna Elfman), living in an underground bunker.  (Before I go any further, I should mention that is the first season of Fear the Walking Dead that I’ve regularly watched since the first one.  So, if I misinterpret anything that was established in a previous season, feel free to correct me in the comments but be kind about it.)  The bunker was formerly the lair of Teddy, who I assume was a serial killer who John pursued and framed during his previous life as a cop.  With June insisting that it was too dangerous to leave the bunker and John suffering from DTS, John became very interested in a hidden room that he and June discovered in the bunker.  The room was where Teddy used to embalm his victims and John soon found himself having conversations with the spirit of one of his victims, Cindy Hawkins.  Cindy’s body was never recovered and John became obsessed with finding it.  Apparently, he made a promise to Cindy’s mother,  The fact that Cindy’s mother was probably dead either as a result of zombies or radiation did not seem to matter with John.

The show left it ambiguous as to whether or not Cindy’s spirit was real or just a product of John’s delirious state.  But ultimately, it didn’t matter whether or not Cindy’s spirit was real.  Cindy was a symbol.  Finding Cindy’s body would bring John some sort of peace.  It would be a sign that there was still a place for men like John in the world of the walking dead.  Keith Carradine did a great job of portraying John’s torment and his single-minded determination to find some shred of hope, even while trapped in a combination of a zombie and a nuclear apocalypse.

It was a good episode, full of enjoyably weird imagery and distinguished by fine performance from both Keith Carradine and Jenna Elfman.  Both John and June ended the episode as guests of Strand.  Hopefully, they’ll both survive.  It’d be a shame for either one of them to exit the season early.

Another Halloween Has Come and Gone


Another Halloween has come and gone and with it, another Horrorthon.  We hope you have had a wonderful October and that you’re November brings you much to be thankful for!

And remember, just because you didn’t see the Great Pumpkin this year, doesn’t mean that he won’t be there for you next October.  I think Linus can explain it best:

To all of our readers and from all of your friends at the Shattered Lens, thank you.

AMV of the Day: Monster (Various)


And with Halloween and the annual horrorthon nearly completed, how about one last AMV for the month of October?

Anime: Another, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, Tokyo Ghoul, School Days, Ib Witch House and Mad Father, Shiki, Elfen Lied, Hell Girl. Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, Corpse Party, Happy Sugar Life, Gakkou Gurashi ,Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, The Promised Neverland, Mononoke

Song: Monster (Meg and Dia)

Creator: グリッチュ

(As always, please consider subscribing to this creator’s YouTube channel!)

Past AMVs of the Day

A Bonus Horror Scene That I Love: Conal Cochran’s Speech From Halloween III


With horrorthon coming to a close for another year, I figured why not allow Conal Cochran to get in a word or two.

This is from Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  Playing Conal Cochran, of course, is the great Dan O’Herlihy.

We hope you’ve all had a wonderful Halloween.

Horror on TV: Friday the 13th: The Series 2.26 “Coven of Darkness” (dir by George Bloomfield)


Well, with Horrorthon coming to a close, it’s time to share one final episode of Friday the 13th: The Series. Coven of Witches is the final episode of the second season. The third season would see John D. LeMay leave the show and Steven Monarque taking his place as Robey’s main co-star. So, this is perhaps the last classic episode of Friday the 13th: The Series.

I’ve really enjoyed sharing this series here on the Shattered Lens. In November, I’m going to sit down and the binge the entire show. Every episode is on YouTube, for anyone else who may want to catch up on it.

This episode originally aired on June 17th, 1989.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Satan’s School For Girls (dir by David Lowell Rich)


Have you ever wanted to enroll in a private school so that you could investigate a murder and maybe uncover some sort of occult conspiracy?  Sure, we all have!  Well, don’t worry …. there’s a place for you!  Welcome to Salem Academy, an exclusive all-girl’s college where students learn all the basic subjects, along with taking courses in art and human sacrifice!

Salem Academy is overseen by the feared and intimidating Mrs. Williams (Jo Van Fleet), who keeps a close eye on her students and tries to make sure that they aren’t distracted or corrupted by any outside influences. However, not even Mrs. Williams can keep Martha Sayers (Terry Lumley) from fleeing the school and going to her sister’s house in Los Angeles. When Martha’s sister, Elizabeth (Pamela Franklin), returns home, she discovers that Martha has been hanged. The police say that it was suicide. Elizabeth believes that it’s something else.

So, Elizabeth does what any vengeance-seeking sister would do. Using an assumed name, she enrolls in Salem Academy herself. She meets and befriends three other students (played by Kate Jackson, Jamie Smith Jackson, and Cheryl Ladd). She gets to know two rather suspicious teachers, Prof. Delacroix (Lloyd Bochner) and Dr. Clampett (Roy Thinnes). She also manages to raise the concerns of Mrs. Williams, who doesn’t like the fact that the new girl keeps asking so many questions about why so many students at Salem Academy have died recently.

Still, Elizabeth continues to investigate. Perhaps the secret can be found in a mysterious painting that she comes across, one that appears to be of Martha? Perhaps the teachers and the students know more than they’re telling. But who can Elizabeth trust?

A made-for-television film from 1973, Satan’s School For Girls is frequently as silly as its name.  Fortunately, the film, which was produced by Aaron Spelling and directed David Lowell Rich, seems to understand just how ludicrous it is and it totally embraces both the melodrama and the silliness of its plot. This film is totally product of the time in which it was made, from the dialogue to the hairstyles to the fashions to the ending that you’ll see coming from a mile away. At the same time, that’s also why this film is a lot of fun. It’s such a product of its time that it doubles as a time capsule. Do you want to go back to 1973? Well, go over to YouTube and watch Satan’s School For Girls.  After you’ve watched it, step outside and ask anyone who the president is and they’ll probably say, “Richard Nixon.”  And if you ask them who they’re favorite Brady is, they’ll look at you like your crazy because everyone know that Marcia is the best Brady.  If you even have to ask, it’s obvious that you don’t really watch the show.  After that, you should probably try to find a way to get back to 2021 before you change the future or something.  You know how tricky time travel can be.

As for Satan’s School for Girls, it’s just a really fun movie so check it out and be sure not to be late for class!

What Lisa Marie Watched Tonight: The Love Boat 2.7 “Ship of Ghouls” (dir by Roger Duchovny)


Today, after I finished up Halloween, I switched over to MeTV and I watched a Halloween episode of that very 70s series, The Love Boat!

Why Was I Watching It?

A special Halloween episode of the silliest television series ever!?  And one featuring Vincent Price as an illusionist!?  How couldn’t I watch?

What Was It About?

For the ship’s Halloween cruise, the Amazing Alozno (Vincent Price) has been hired to do his act.  He’s quite the illusionist.  Through a combination of hypnotism and magic, he transforms the ship into a magical wonderland where people turn into donkeys and the pool briefly appears to be a giant ice cream sundae.  But will Alonzo also be able to conjure up love or will he continue to ignore his devoted fiancée and instead, only worry about keeping his fans happy?

Meanwhile, a model (Barbara Anderson) who is recovering from a serious car accident has absolutely no use for illusion.  She just wants to stay in her cabin but her friend, who also happens to be the cruise director, demands that she enjoy the cruise.

What Worked?

Vincent Price as an illusionist!?  Hell yeah!  Okay, the illusions were kind of dumb and never really made sense and the show never actually explained how he could turn Gopher and Doc into donkeys but …. well, isn’t the silliness kind of the point?  The important thing is that he was Vincent Price and he appeared to be having time of his life.  Good for him!

Barbara Anderson actually gave a pretty good dramatic performance as the model.  Admittedly, it did feel a little strange to have this extremely dramatic story playing out beside scenes of Vincent Price turning people into donkeys and transforming the ship’s pool into a giant ice cream sundae but again, I guess that was kind of the appeal of the show.  It’s all weird and somehow, it works.

The boat, incidentally, looked really nice.  I’m going to take a cruise now.

What Did Not Work?

On the Love Boat, everything works!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I could relate to the model and before anyone rolls their eyes, allow me to explain.  When I was 19, I was in a pretty serious car accident.  The car that I was in flipped over and I basically ended up upside down in the driver’s seat, surrounded by broken glass.  Later, I was told that, when people saw the damage the car, they assumed that I had to have died.  Instead, I only got a few scrapes, bruises, and cuts.  I ended up with two permanent scars — a small one on my hand and then another one on the side of my neck.  And for years, I was so self-conscious of that scar on my neck, even though it faded quickly and I now realize it was barely noticeable.  I obsessed on it, though, both because I disliked having it and also because it reminded me of a traumatic event.  All the angst and worrying that I did about it seems kind of silly now.

Lessons Learned

Love won’t have to hurt anymore.  It’s an open smile on a friendly shore.

Afraid of the Dark (1991, directed by Mark Peploe)


Lucas (Ben Keyworth) is an 11-year-old boy who lives in London and who enjoys watching the neighborhood through his telescope.  Because Lucas’s mother is blind, Lucas is concerned that there is a serial killer who is going around and attacking blind women.  Lucas is determined to help his father (James Fox), an inspector with Scotland Yard, capture the killer.  Lucas starts to sneak out of the house, visiting cemeteries and spying on the same blind women that the killer is stalking.  Investigating on his own, Lucas discovers who the killer might be.

Or does he?

Outside of the imaginary world where he spends most of his time, Lucas is a shy boy and his father is not a detective but instead a florist.  While Lucas’s mother actually is blind, Lucas himself is starting to lose his eyesight as well.  Lucas is scheduled to undergo an experimental surgery.  He’s due to go under the knife, just as surely as the victims of the serial killer that he thinks he’s hunting.  Meanwhile, his mother is pregnant and the increasingly unstable Lucas is both obsessed with his older stepsister and jealous of all the attention that his new baby sister is already getting.

Afraid of the Dark is a British psychological thriller that deserves to be better known.  Intelligently written and directed Mark Peploe, it’s both a poignant and a frightening look at a child who, due to being forced to deal with something that few others can understand, has retreated so far into his own imaginary world (where he can be the hero) that he can no longer tell what is real and what isn’t.  Lucas is both frightening and sympathetic and the movie will keep viewers guessing as to what is real and what isn’t.  James Fox and Fanny Ardant are perfectly cast as Lucas’s parents and David Thewlis, Paul McGann, and Robert Stephens all make an impression as the men who Lucas investigates in his search for the serial killer.  Tense, intelligent, and surprising, Afraid of the Dark is a film that is worth discovering.