6 Shots From 6 Horror Films: 1994 — 1996

4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More 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!

This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we take a look at 1994, 1995, and 1996!

6 Shots From 6 Horror Films: 1994 — 1996

Dellamorte Dellamore (1994, dir by Michele Soavi, DP: Mauro Marchetti)

In The Mouth of Madness (1994, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Gary B. Kibbe)

New Nightmare (1994, dir by Wes Craven, DP: Mark Irwin)

Lord of Illusions (1995, dir by Clive Barker, DP: Ronn Schmidt)

The Stendhal Syndrome (1996, dir by Dario Argento, DP: Giuseppe Rotunno)

Scream (1996, dir by Wes Craven, DP: Mark Irwin)

10 Shots From 10 Horror Films: 1987 — 1989

4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More 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!

This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we take a look at 1987, 1988, and 1989!

10 Shots From Horror History: 1987–1989

Hellraiser (1987, dir by Clive Barker, DP: Robin Vidgeon)

Stage Fright (1987, dir by Michele Soavi, DP: Renato Tafuri)

Near Dark (1987, dir by Kathryn Bigelow, DP: Adam Greenberg)

Prince of Darkness (1987, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Gary B. Kibbe)

They Live (1988, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Gary B. Kibbe)

Night of the Demons (1988, dir by Kevin S. Tenney, DP: David Lewis)

The Lair of the White Worm (1988, dir by Ken Russell, DP: Dick Bush)

The Church (1989, dir by Michele Soavi, DP: Renato Tafuri)

Twin Peaks: The Pilot (1989, dir by David Lynch, DP: Ron Garcia)

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989, dir by Rob Hedden, DP: Bryan England)

Horror Film Review: Hellraiser (dir by Clive Barker)

On Monday night, Dancing With The Stars did a horror night, in which “the stars” did dances that were inspired by horror films. One of the first to perform was a professional wrestler who is apparently known as The Miz. When the Miz performed, he was dressed in black and he had several fake pins attached to his face.

After he danced, host Trya Banks asked The Miz what scared him. Obviously seeing a chance to suck up to the judges and the audience, the Miz grandly announced, “This! Doing this every week terrifies me! Dressing up like Hellraiser and dancing terrifies me….”

Uhmmm, excuse me, Mr. Miz — the character’s name is Pinhead. The movie is called Hellraiser. You were dressed up as Pinhead.

Seriously, I felt that the Miz should have been eliminated from the competition at that exact moment but no. His sucking up worked. Everyone laughed. Everyone applauded. No one called him out on his error. It upset me a bit. I was like, “Who are you to do horror night when you don’t even know the difference between the movie and the character!?”

Really, they should all be forced to watch or rewatch Hellraiser. First released in 1987, the directorial debut of Clive Barker holds up pretty well as a blood-filled horror movie. It tells the story of Larry (Andrew Robinson), his daughter Kristy (Ashley Laurence), and his second wife, Julia (Clare Higgins). Larry’s ne’er-do-well brother, Frank (Sean Chapman), has died under mysterious circumstances so Larry moves into Frank’s old house and tries to renovate it. He hopes that this will somehow help his strained marriage to Julia, who was having an affair with Frank. Why Larry thinks this is a good idea is never quite clear. Larry seems to be a nice guy but it doesn’t take long for the audience to get the feeling that he might not be that smart.

Kristy, on the other hand, is much smarter than her father and she knows better than to trust Julia. In fact, Kristy refuses to even live in the same house as Julia. Still, Kristy does check in on her father occasionally and she quickly realizes that Julia is doing something strange. It turns out that Frank may be dead but his tortured, skinless spirit lives on. Julia has been picking men up in bars and bringing them back to the house so that Frank can steal their skin. On the one hand, you do have to feel kind of sorry for all of the people who die. On the other hand, Frank does look better with skin.

Frank ended up in his skinless state because he foolishly opened up a puzzle box. That’s where Pinhead (played by Doug Bradley) comes into the equation. Pinhead and the other Cenobites live in another demension and they’ve spent so much time “exploring” that they can no longer tell the difference between pain and pleasure. Pinhead’s face is covered in pins. (In fact, Pinhead started out as something of a fan nickname as Bradley is just credited with playing “the Lead Cenobite” in the film’s end credits.) The Cenobites are actually only in Hellraiser for a few minutes. The majority of the film is made up of Julia bringing strange men home and Frank attacking them. But it’s the Cenobites — and Pinhead in particular — who make the biggest impression. Beyond his bizarre appearance, Doug Bradley plays the character with such haughty arrogance that it’s hard not to be intrigued. He knows things.

Hellraiser holds up well. Andrew Robinson does his best but Larry is a bit of a moron. However, Clare Higgins has fun with her femme fatale role while Ashley Laurence is likable and sympathetic as Kristy. For the most part, the special effects hold up well and even the film’s slightly more cartoonish moments add to the feeling that the film takes place in a universe that is becoming increasingly unstable. The puzzle box is wonderful creation. It’s easy to say that you would never mess with something like that but most people would. The temptation would just be too great.

Watch Hellraiser and never get Pinhead’s name wrong again!

4 Shots From 4 Clive Barker Films

4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films is just what it says it is, 4 (or more) shots from 4 (or more) of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we wish a happy and nice 69th birthday to writer and occasional director Clive Barker!  Barker’s stories have provided the basis for several films and Barker himself attempted to build a career of his own as a filmmaker.  Though he pretty much retired from directing after the box office failure of Lord of Illusions, he still has a better directorial track record than Stephen King.

Today, we honor the birthday of Clive Barker with….

4 Shots From 4 Clive Barker Films

Hellraiser (1987, dir by Clive Barker, DP: Robin Vidgeon)

Nightbreed (1990, dir by Clive Barker, DP: Robin Vidgeon)

Candyman (1992, dir by Bernard Rose, DP: Anthony B. Richmond)

Lord of Illusions (1995, dir by Clive Barker, DP: Ronn Schmidt)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Castle Freak, Lord of Illusions, Species, Village of the Damned

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!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1995 Horror Films

Castle Freak (1995, dir by Stuart Gordon)

Lord of Illusions (1995, dir by Clive Barker)

Species (1995, dir by Roger Donaldson)

Village of the Damned (1995, dir by John Carpenter)

Halloween Havoc! Book Extra: DARK DETECTIVES (Edited by Stephen Jones; Titan Books paperback 2015)

cracked rear viewer

Back in September, I was browsing at the local Barnes & Noble (as I frequently do, given the lack of independent bookstores around here) looking for something to review this Halloween season. I’d just finished with Stephen King’s REVIVAL (Pocket Books paperback, 2017), and while it’s good, everybody does King this time of year, and I wanted something different. I wandered through the fantasy section, and waaaay up on the top shelf I spotted a title that caught my interest. DARK DETECTIVES: An Anthology of Supernatural Mysteries, combining two of my favorite genres, horror and detective fiction! Curiosity piqued, I grabbed the book and bought it (along with the great James Lee Burke’s latest novel, ROBICHEAUX).

DARK DETECTIVES, first published as a limited edition in 1999, features ten short stories, some old, some written especially for the anthology, by authors I’m familiar with (and I assume you are too, if…

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Music Video of the Day: Hellraiser by Motörhead (1992, dir. Clive Barker)

Kirsty: I only know what it does. It hurts.

Oh, Kirsty. Yes, Hellraiser III was awful. Yes, it is sad that it’s the movie that got Motörhead’s version of Hellraiser. But it could have been worse. It could have been Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005) that got this song. That would have been truly painful.

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005, dir. Rick Bota)

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005, dir. Rick Bota)

In 1992 they finally got around to making a third film in the Hellraiser franchise. It really has nothing to do with the first two films. Once you’ve seen Pinhead create a cenobite with a face made of CDs, there’s no going back. If you’ve only seen the first two films, then stop there. You can watch this music video to get one, if not the only good thing about the third film–this song.

According to The Official Clive Barker website, this is what Barker said the concept for the video was:

We open on Motorhead’s performance, set a large, cavernous space. Dante-esque, dimly lit with pools of light on the band members and their instruments. As the camera moves around the space, various creatures are revealed, oily bodies shining through their ragged bits of clothing, prosthetic pieces (a claw, a beak etc.,) and bandages, stylized make-up all showing that they are THE DAMNED. All of this is shot in shadowy black and white. We also see Props from “Hellraiser 3” (the baby, signage, etc.), which become match dissolves to footage from the film itself.

Back in our black and white cavern a roadie sits in a large Overstuffed chair toward the back of the space, smoking, watching the band’s performance. Suddenly light streams in when a door crashes open. We switch to color as Pinhead makes his grand entrance, rim-lit, a delicate presence. The demons begin to writhe madly to the music. The band’s performance builds as Pinhead moves across the floor, throwing the roadie out of his chair and out of frame. Pinhead takes the seat and gulps virgin’s blood from smoking cup. From Pinhead’s point of view we watch the band.

We cut to a scene of Lemmy and Pinhead in two chairs at a gaming table. Intercutting with performance footage and Hellraiser III footage, we see Lemmy and Pinhead playing cards, drinking, Serious competitors having fun. The demons writhe behind Pinhead, the band stands behind Lemmy as the tension builds between the two.

Doug Bradley added the following in 2005 concerning Lemmy:

The card game finished with me getting the Ace of Spades, so the idea is that Lemmy wins the game but at the price of losing his soul. But that was funny, when we were playing that card game there was a decanter on the table, just as a prop, and Lemmy had a word with one of his people, the decanter disappeared but it came back again full of amber liquid which Lemmy proceeded to drink his way through while we shot that scene, like you and I would drink orange juice, while the dark pope of Hell sat on the other side of the table demurely sipping Evian water…

The attraction of this music video is when Lemmy and Pinhead play cards.

However, there are a few other things I enjoy about the video.

While the footage of the band playing is boring, I do like the reverse shot where Pinhead is at a Motörhead concert.

Why is this person wearing something similar to the jaw-breaking device from the Saw movies?

A bit of a Queen music video is going on here.

I normally don’t go for unintegrated movie footage in videos of this sort, but I appreciate that Barker left in one particular sequence from the movie. There is a scene where the cheap cenobites that Pinhead made chase Terry Farrell’s character onto a street to do a scene similar to the one from Superman II (1980).

Superman II (1980, dir. Richard Lester & Richard Donner)

And yes, Henry Cavill was in Hellraiser: Hellworld where he got killed off by Lance Henriksen, not Pinhead, since, like the other movies after IV, Hellworld was a different movie that had elements of Hellraiser grafted onto it. Pinhead doesn’t actually exist in the movie until the very end of the film.

During that street destruction scene, there are at least two places that get their signs destroyed.

Larry was a character from the first Hellraiser movie played by Andrew Robinson who would go on to be on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with Terry Farrell in 1993–one year after this movie came out.

If you have the misfortune to watch Hellraiser III, then you might notice that the statue Pinhead is in with what I remember to be trapped souls is just a tad similar to something from A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). In that movie, Freddy Krueger explains that he has gotten stronger by capturing children’s souls which he then shows as part of his flesh. I’m sure the similarities weren’t lost on the people involved in both franchises. Elm Street started back up the same year as the Hellraiser franchise started. Also, makeup artist Kevin Yagher, who did makeup on Elm Street 2, 3, and 4, would go on to direct Hellraiser IV as Alan Smithee.

Barker could have just as easily used footage from the club parts of the movie instead of Farrell running on the street. Instead, he left in those shots.

Other than those things, it’s just the song and the card playing scene, which yes, is similar to The Seventh Seal (1957) with its game of chess with Death. There’s nothing else particularly interesting. You’re watching to see Lemmy turn up a joker and the ace of spades.


Duke Tries A Halloween Marathon…Part Three

So, I have made it 11 days! I am going to try to keep it up, but there are some personal changes, job wise, possibly going on in the next week or so and I might not be able to continued watching 1  horror film a day. I will still continue to watch as many as possible, and keep posting the reviews in parts such as this – there just might not be as many films, or they might not be as frequent.

Duke Tries A Halloween Marathon…Part One

Duke Tries A Halloween Marathon…Part Two

October 7th: ‘Willow Creek’ (dir. Bobcat Goldthwait)


‘Willow Creek’ is a found footage horror film that is essentially ‘The Blair Witch Project’ meets Bigfoot and it is pretty damn effective…for about 20 minutes.

The story here is simple, a couple is filming an excursion into the Six Rivers National Forest to find the site of the infamous Patterson-Gilmin film (you know, that grainy footage of some dude in a fur coat). Before trekking into the wilderness they interview locals of Willow Creek, a town that is filled with believers and non-believers, both of which pretty much make their living off the Bigfoot image. Things begin to get fishy when a group of locals start to threaten the couple and tell them to go home. Of course they don’t take this advice, and instead head into the woods. Things turn from bad to worse pretty quickly as something, or someone, starts to terrorize them during the night.

This is a film that takes a very long time for anything to really happen. Much of it is just spent trying to build some level of suspense, and set up some possible mystery about what or who is in the woods. It doesn’t really work for a few reasons.

Mainly, because like most found footage films this one has a lot of scenes that have NO real reason to be filmed. Many of which just involve the two characters driving, talking about whether or not they believe in Bigfoot. They are supposed to be making a documentary apparently. Most of what they are filming is interviews; so why the hell would they be filming conversations that aren’t interesting footage in regards to either the film, and aren’t worth recording even if they are possibly trying to remember the trip? It seems like the sole purpose of it is to show tension building between the couple…but it kills the logic of the style, taking you out of the “reality” they are trying to create.

Once things do get going it basically just becomes another ‘The Blair Witch Project’, with characters in a tent hearing noises and movement outside – but are the scares during these scenes effective? Hell yes. There is one incredible 20 minute long shot of the characters just sitting in a dimly lit tent as something outside is making noises and throwing things at them. It is quite an unsettling scene that gets right under the skin. Unfortunately it doesn’t last. By the time the next morning arrives things become a little too familiar, going from homage to straight up copying, and it isn’t hard to predict where things are going from there as the characters find themselves going in circles and losing their cool.

Other than that 20 minute stretch the film doesn’t really have anything else going for it. Sure the leads are likable and manage to keep you invested when tension is low. But that is only until their personal problems come to the surface. These two really need a whole different film to work things out. This is a bit of a spoiler, but like, yeah dude, really smart to propose to your girlfriend in the woods after receiving weird threats and finding your camp ransacked…oh, she rejected you? She says it is too soon? Maybe cause YOU DON’T EVEN LIVE TOGETHER? Why this scene is even included makes no sense to me. We don’t care enough about these characters to want to see their romantic life. And this minor conflict has NO bearing whatsoever on what came before it or what follows.

It all ultimately resulted in a film that is worthy of admiration for one great and truly eerie scene, but nothing more. It was just impossible for me to get over so many of the glaring character and film making issues to consider it anything special. And as the dust settles, I find myself now more annoyed than anything by how just disappointing it was. Because it DID have something there for a few minutes. If only. So I don’t really recommend it. Honestly, you are probably better off just checking YouTube for the long take I mentioned.

October 8th: ‘Re-Animator’ (dir. Stuart Gordon)


‘Re-Animator’ is an utterly ridiculous horror “comedy”, in the vein of ‘Dead Alive’, that relies almost completely on some crazy visual gags to create a fun and bat shit crazy – but also totally hollow – viewing experience.

The film is about a medical student whose new roommate is secretly working on a formula that he believes can bring the dead back to life. When he finds out – after a hilarious mishap with a zombie cat – he gets caught up in the weird experiments his roommate is doing in their basement. As they progress, their target for test subjects grows from cats to humans; at the same time their egotistical professor discovers their work and wants to claim it as his own.

There isn’t much to say here. The story is rather simple and moves at a very fast pace. This leaves no room for any sort of reasonable character development. I understand this isn’t trying to be some serious horror film, but the gore, effects and humor alone weren’t enough to keep me truly invested. With so much on the line for the characters, I just wished I cared at all about any of them.

Still, it is a fun watch, mainly because of how cartoonish it gets at times, so I’d recommend it if you are looking for something with a light tone, simple narrative and plenty of gore.

October 10th (Watched two to make up for missing the 9th): ‘Hellraiser’ (dir. Clive Barker)


‘Hellraiser’ is at times a grisly horror film with some great truly grotesque visual effects. It is almost completely ruined however by a lackluster and poorly paced first hour.

The film is about a man who moves into his childhood home with his wife; a wife who had a secret affair with her husband’s brother. Little do either of them know that the brother died in the house’s attic while opening a mysterious puzzle box, known as the Lament Configuration, disappearing without a trace. After an accident, the blood of the husband lands on the attic floor causing the brother’s body to re-materializes as a bloody skeleton. He uses the wife to secretly bring men to the attic so he can kill them and slowly regenerate his body. All the while, the husband’s daughter Kirsty suspects something weird is going on and tries to find out what. She discovers that the puzzle box opens a portal to some other dimension filled with “demon” Cenobites – who essentially dabble in the most extreme forms of sadomasochism one could imagine. They want to take the brother back, and also have their eyes on Kirsty.

Practically nothing eventful happens throughout much of the story. I understand a lot of it is to set up the finale, but it could have easily been condensed to allow for more to happen in the third act. There is no development of the characters in the first hour. We know fairly quickly who the adult characters are, as well as their intentions, and so did not need so much time focusing on them. The first hour is literally just the wife bringing men to the brother to be killed. Instead, the film should have focused more on Kirsty, the young daughter, who is the focus of the film in the final 30 minutes. She is the only character anyone could really care for in the whole film and yet she is thrust into danger with so little time spent developing her that any real sense of suspense over her safety is absent.

I think why I found this so disappointing was that it sets up such an interesting horror universe that did intrigue me. There is definitely a lot more to these Cenobites than we are told; and they are frightening enough to have been present and a source of scares for more than the little screen time they get here. These are all really personal gripes, and the film is not a failure. As a whole I quite enjoyed it, I just think it missed a chance to be truly great. With that said, for what seems like one of the first times in a while, I am actually now interested in seeing what the sequel of a horror film has in store.

October 10th: ‘Hellbound: Hellraise II’ (dir. Tony Randel)


‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’ is the sequel to the first ‘Hellraiser’ film, and like the first is a wonderfully sick, twisted and gory horror flick that luckily, in my opinion, puts the focus were the first should have.

The film takes place right after the original left off with Kirsty in a mental ward. She tries to explain to the doctors and police what happened to her parents, but of course no one seems to believe her. No one except one doctor who has studied the Lament Configuration, the puzzle box that started it all. Based on the information he gets from Kirsty’s story, he uses the bloody mattress of Kirsty’s mother in law to bring her back to life and open the Lament Configuration. In doing so he, Kirsty and another girl at the ward – Tiffany – get trapped within the realm of the Cenobites, essentially a labyrinth of horror. Kirsty tries to find her way out with Tiffany, while also fighting off her evil mother in law, and the doctor who is turned into a Cenobite.

The first half hour was truly disappointing. It spends pretty much the entire time flashing back to the events of the first film. Considering this came out shortly after the original – and because I can only imagine those that saw this were people who already saw ‘Hellraiser’ – there was absolutely no need for any of this. Plus, because the ending to the first was were all the action was, I was hoping that would have carried over. Sadly, it was just more waiting around for something interesting to actually occur. Luckily this time it didn’t take an hour.

Once things did get going, the film turns into a twisted and warped mind trip, with the Labyrinth using nightmarish memories and gruesome visuals to confuse and frighten Kirsty and Tiffany. It is not really at all scary, but the craziness of it all is so fun to watch. Plus, it expands on the background of the Cenobites, actually making them more than two dimensional villains.

As with the first, the visuals here – specifically the make up and costumes – are very well done. In particular, I love the way the muscles were constructed when there is ever a skinless body. With all the detail that went into them, along with the creativity of some of the demons, it offset how grotesque the gore could be. In other words, I’d have been more grossed out if not for the fact that I admire it all so much.

Despite the issues I had with the first half hour the film works. It works even better when watched back to back with the first. I do ultimately think I liked this one more, but I highly recommend both ‘Hellraiser’ films…a sentence I didn’t think I’d ever say. Now I have to decide whether I want to delve deeper into the franchise…

October 11th: ‘Les Diaboliques’ (dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot)


‘Les Diaboliques’ is a cold, dark, clever and meticulous horror thriller. One that slowly lays out its plot, piece by piece, reaching an unnerving level of confusion and suspense. All ending in a wonderfully twisted, and at one point quite terrifying, finale.

To go into much detail about the plot would ruin the experience, and to give away the ending would be criminal – the film actually ends with a plea from the filmmakers for the audience to not give anything away. So I will just say that it has to do with the wife and mistress of a barbarous school Headmaster, plotting to rid themselves of his cruelty. But things do not go as planned, and a mystery filled to the brim with suspicion and fear slowly unfolds.

It might sound simple or familiar – and I am guessing at the time it wasn’t viewed that way – but ignore that, because the film is neither; instead it is truly quite brilliant and near perfect. It contains a totally adsorbing narrative that requires, and earns, every bit of the viewers attention. It creates a genuine atmosphere of suspense and uncertainty that is hard to shake.

It does it all through its technical excellency. The direction, fixating on certain locations or items to ratchet up the tension of already thrilling situations, is phenomenal and sets the tone very early on. The performances are also very good, as is the writing, with almost every character having some flaw or secret, which may or may not implicate them in the mystery at hand. It does its best to keep you guessing, and it works right up to the very last frame.

Looking back, I guess I should not be surprised by just how great the film is. It was directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot who also made ‘Wages of Fear’ – arguably the tensest film ever made. It was also a masterpiece, and although I might not yet place ‘Les Diaboliques’ in that category, it is definitely not far from it.