The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting (dir by Louis Morneau)


What the sweet Hell is this crap!?

So, the 2003 film, The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting, is a sequel to the original Hitcher.  That’s the film where C. Thomas Howell plays a dumbass who picks up a hitchhiker played by Rutger Hauer and then kicks him out after a few miles because Hauer’s like totally insane.  So, Hauer responds by murdering random people and framing Howell.  The Hitcher‘s a pretty good film, largely because of the terrifying performance of Rutger Hauer as the title character.

The Hitcher came out in 1986.  It got terrible reviews and didn’t do well at the box office but it found an audience when it was released on video.  In fact, The Hitcher became a bit of a cult favorite, which is what it deserved to be.  Then, 23 years later, a direct-to-video sequel was released and….

Seriously, this movie is so bad.

C. Thomas Howell returns, playing Jim, the same character that he played in the first movie.  Jim is still haunted by what happened in the first movie.  He’s a cop now but he fears that his encounter with the original Hitcher may have contributed to him using excessive force on a kidnapping suspect.  Seeking some time away from the stress of it all, Jim decides to visit a friend in Texas.  He and his girlfriend, Maggie (Kari Wuhrer) hit the road and, as they drive through the desert, they see a hitchhiker standing by the side of the road….

Now, I know what you’re saying.  “Oh, come on!” you’re yelling.  “There’s no way Jim would be make the same stupid decision twice!”

Well, you’re right.  Jim doesn’t stop to pick the guy up.  Instead, Maggie is the one who decides to pull over.  Apparently, Jim has never bothered to tell Maggie about any of the terrible stuff that happened during the first film.  Considering that Jim is apparently waking up constantly with nightmares and he’s on the verge of having a mental breakdown, you would think that all of this would be something that he would share with Maggie but no.  Maggie is totally shocked when Jim later tells her that he had a bad experience picking up a hitchhiker.

Anyway, in this case, the hitchhiker is named Jack (Jake Busey) and …. wow, shock of shocks!  He’s totally fucking crazy!  That’s right — it’s happening again!  So, Jack is chasing Jim and Maggie across the desert, murdering people and framing Jim and Maggie for the crimes.  Does this sound familiar?  Jim is eventually killed, giving C. Thomas Howell an excuse to never have to appear in another direct-to-video sequel.  Can Maggie beat the new Hitcher at his own game?

Oh, who cares?  This version of The Hitcher basically has none of the weird subtext of the first film.  Unlike Rutger Hauer’s Hitcher, who seemed to be almost erotically obsessed with Jim, Jake Busey’s Hitcher doesn’t have much on his mind beyond killing people.  If Rutger Hauer was all about quiet menace and charismatic intensity, Jake Busey is loud and in your face and so obviously crazy that it’s hard to have much sympathy for anyone stupid enough to pick him up.

The main problem with The Hitcher II is that it gets so damn repetitive.  I lost count of the number of times that a cop showed up, refused to listen as Maggie shouted, “STOP!  HE’S A KILLER,” and then got gunned down.  Seriously, this film featured the stupidest cops that I’ve ever seen.  The same thing keeps happening for 90 minutes or so, at which point we get a pithy one liner and then big explosion.  And then the movie’s over!

Yay!

Lisa’s Week In Review: 10/21/19 — 10/27/19


It’s been an exhausting week so the list below may be a bit perfunctory.  I apologize for that.  Last week started with a tornado touching ground just two miles away from my house and it’s ending with me coming down with a cold as the temperatures plunge outside.

Oh well!  At least it’s nearly Halloween!

Film I Watched:

  1. A Deadly Dance (2019)
  2. Altered States (1980)
  3. Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970)
  4. The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)
  5. Clash of the Titans (1981)
  6. Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018)
  7. Designed to Kill (2019)
  8. Die Cheerleader Die (2008)
  9. Dolemite is My Name (2019)
  10. Eli (2019)
  11. Erasing His Dark Past (2019)
  12. The Fog (1980)
  13. The Gorgon (1964)
  14. The Guardian (1990)
  15. The Horror of Dracula (1958)
  16. Interview With A Vampire (1994)
  17. Legend (2015)
  18. Lisa (1990)
  19. The Living Dead Girl (1981)
  20. Long Weekend (1978)
  21. Made In Paris (1966)
  22. Requiem for a Vampire (1971)
  23. Revenge (1990)
  24. The Shiver of the Vampire (1971)
  25. Stir of Echoes (1999)
  26. Two Orphan Vampires (1996)
  27. Unspeakable (2002)
  28. Zombie Lake (1982)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. 9-1-1
  2. Beverly Hills 90210
  3. Dancing With The Stars
  4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  5. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  6. Saved By The Bell
  7. Seinfeld
  8. South Park
  9. Survivor 39
  10. Suspense
  11. True Crime Files
  12. The Voice

Books I Read:

  1. Haunted Dallas (2011) by Rita Cook
  2. Haunted Forth Worth (2011) by Rita Cook
  3. Lucio Fulci: Beyond The Gates: A Tribute To The Maestro (1996) by Chas Balun
  4. The Stranger Returns (1992) by Michael R. Perry

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Big Data
  2. Blake Lewis
  3. Blanck Mass
  4. Blitzen Trapper
  5. Britney Spears
  6. Carla Mariani
  7. Caroline Polachek
  8. Charli XCX
  9. The Chemical Brothers
  10. Christopher Lee
  11. Coldplay
  12. Concrete Blonde
  13. Deadmau5
  14. Duffy
  15. Frank Sinatra
  16. Goblin
  17. Hot Blood
  18. Icona Pop
  19. Iron Cthulhu Apocalypse
  20. Jamie T
  21. Jerry Goldsmith
  22. John Forgerty
  23. Lost in Atlantis
  24. Luna
  25. Radiation City
  26. Saint Motel
  27. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  28. Sia
  29. Speedy Ortiz
  30. Taylor Swift
  31. Tina Arena
  32. Vampire Sound Incorporation
  33. Warren Zevon

Links From Last Week:

  1. It’s Not Just Ronan Farrow: NBC News Killed My Rape-Allegation Story Too
  2. THE STRANGE STORY OF RICHARD WRIGHT’S LOST CRIME NOVEL, SAVAGE HOLIDAY

Links From The Site:

  1. Case reviewed The Cats of Ulthar, The Man Who Loved Flowers, Thriller, The Hound, Creepshow, Suspect, and The Plague!
  2. Erin stared her countdown to Halloween with 6 days, 5 days, and 4 days!  She shared the covers of Vault of Horror, along with The Lonely Steeple, Cliffside Castle, Secret of the Villa Como, The House of a Thousand Lanterns, Do Evil In Return, The Reiman Curse, and Diary of EvilShe also shared a Halloween scene that she loves.
  3. Jeff shared a Halloween scene that he loved and reviewed Pledge Night, Suspect, Paranoia, Aisle, Scorned 2, 9:05, Blind Fear, Shadows out of Time, The Maddening, Dwelling: Insomnia, Night Creature, L.A. Noire, Curse III, and Last Half of Darkness!
  4. Leonard shared the final Star Wars trailer!
  5. Ryan reviewed Death Of the master, Bad Gateway, Stunt, and That Miyoko Asagaya Feeling He also shared his weekly reading list!
  6. I posted a lot and, if I attempt to list it all here, I’ll be up all night.  So, explore the site!  We’ve got a lot here to read.

More From Us:

  1. Ryan has a patreon!  Please consider subscribing!
  2. On her photography site, Erin shared Random Tunnel, Curve, Station, Business Park, Close Call, Shock, and Surprise!
  3. On Pop Politics, Jeff shared Tim Ryan’s Out!
  4. For Reality TV Chat Blog, I reviewed the latest episode of Survivor!
  5. For Horror Critic, I reviewed Die Cheerleader Die! and The Fog!
  6. On my music site, I shared songs from Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Blake Lewis, SIA, Coldplay, Duffy, and Charli XCX!
  7. For #ILIkeToWatch, I shared a Halloween-themed playlist!

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!

4 Shots From 4 Films: 28 Days Later, Bubba Ho-Tep, Halloween: Resurrection, The Ring


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 2002 Horror Films

28 Days Later (2002, dir by Danny Boyle)

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002, dir by Don Coscarelli)

Halloween Resurrection (2002, dir by Rick Rosenthal)

The Ring (2002, dir by Gore Verbinski)

Horror On TV: One Step Beyond Episode 1.4 “The Dark Room” (dir by John Newland)


On tonight’s episode of One Step Beyond, Cloris Leachman plays Rita Wallace, an American photographer in France.  She’s looking for a model whose face will serve as the ultimate symbol of the country.  One day, a haunted-looking man (Marel Dalio) shows up at her apartment.  She thinks he’s a model.  The truth, needless to say, is something quite different….

This episode features good performances from both Leachman and Dalio.  In real life, Dalio was an icon of French cinema and a favorite of Jean Renoir’s.  When the Nazis invaded France, the Jewish Dalio fled Paris and, after a harrowing journey, eventually made it to America.  In America, he played the croupier in Casablanca and appeared in several other films.  Tragically, the rest of his family did not escape and were murdered by the Nazis.  Dalio returned to France after the end of the war and remained an in-demand character actor for several more decades, making his final film appearance in 1980.

The Darkroom originally aired on February 10th, 1959.

Horror on the Lens: The Screaming Woman (dir by Jack Smight)


Today’s horror on the lens is The Screaming Woman, a 1972 made-for-TV movie that’s based on a Ray Bradbury short story.

Olivia de Havilland plays Laura Wynant, who has just returned home from a stay at a mental institution.  Soon after her arrival, Laura starts to hear a woman crying for help.  Laura becomes convinced that the woman has been buried alive on her property but, because of her debilitating arthritis, she can’t dig the woman up on her own.  And, because of her own mental history, no one believes her when she tries to tell them about what she’s hearing!

The Screaming Woman features screen legend Olivia De Havilland giving a sympathetic performance as Laura.  It also features two other luminaries of the golden age of Hollywood — Joseph Cotten and Walter Pidgeon — in supporting roles.  It’s a good little thriller so watch and enjoy!

(And of course, I should mention that the great Olivia De Havilland is still with us, 103 years old and living in France.)

N. By Stephen King; Review By Case Wright


kingsnhere

What if you’re not crazy?  What if you’re finally seeing the truth that everyone else is too afraid to see?  Is the revelation too much for your mind?  Could your mind be both the doorway to hell and the gate keeping the evil old ones at bay?  Most importantly, can a person’s mental illness infect another person?  Stephen King’s “N” is a hybrid of Lovecraft and Modern Psychology where we are forced to learn the answers to these questions.

The story was both a novella and adapted as a comic book/olde-timey radio-show.  Confused?  Let me explain.  N was first published as a novella, but instead of getting made into a comic book or as is typical of King’s work- a movie or miniseries, it became something else.  Marc Guggenheim adapted the work as an all dialogue webseries similar to the serials of the 1930s and 40s and presented the story as a series of hyper-detailed comic illustrations.  You can see it in its entirety below.

I have also read the novella several times.  Honestly, sometimes I’m not sure why I like a particular Stephen King story more than another, but it seems to be when the characters are so real that they could be you or your neighbor.  Yes, the monsters are spooky, but it’s the people, their story, their lives, who just happen to have to also deal with a monster or four.

The story begins with Sheila Bonsaint who is in mourning from her brother’s suicide.  She is calling her friend who is reminiscent of Anderson Cooper to look into why her brother John killed himself.  She believes it’s because of his contact with a patient named N.  The story shifts to John’s perspective describing a patient N who suffers from extreme OCD.  N believes his OCD rituals keep the portals between our world and the hell world closed.

N describes how he encountered a field with rocks similar to Stonehenge in Maine and that by viewing the structure, he caused the structure to activate and potentially release an ancient evil that will consume mankind.  He begins to do OCD rituals to keep the portal closed, but realizes that he must sacrifice his life in order to shut the gate forever.  Unfortunately, John becomes infected by N’s mental disorder and becomes overcome with the need to investigate the structure, which activates it again and causes him to spiral into the same OCD as N.

This story struck a very strong chord with me.  Last year, I began to take a long road into facing my own PTSD experiences in the Army.  When I would tell the medical professionals in the VA about what happened, one cried.  My stories had infected them and left them different afterwards.  The world was less clean, less safe, and much darker.  Now, like N, if I have to tell a person the stories, I begin by saying that I am sorry because what I will tell you, will change you.  I suppose that is what humanity does; we share our burdens and our curses.  Maybe that’s how we keep the gate to hell closed?

Horror Artist Profile: Junji Ito


It’s another year and another October here at Through the Shattered Lens. Those who have continued to follow our shenanigans and escapades here know that October is a favorite month for us here. Co-founder Lisa Marie Bowman is one who loves this month. As I pop my head in to see how things are going I would like to add my two-bits to make this latest month-long horror theme be as memorable as years past.

I begin the month-long horror celebration by highlighting a favorite horror genius who might not be as well-known by the casual horror fan. I am talking about mangaka Jujin Ito.

Junji Ito

Jujin Ito is a giant in the Japanese manga industry. His work as a horror mangaka has been lauded throughout the years with some of his more famous works getting not just anime adaptations but live-action ones, as well.

He has stated in the past that his work has been influenced by authors and fellow mangaka such has Hideshi Hino, Yasutaka Tsutsui and H.P. Lovecraft. His work shares much similar themes as Lovecraft’s in that they both tell tales of a capricious and uncaring universe where the protagonists cannot comprehend and/or escape the cosmic, unknowable horror that plagues them.

Jujin Ito’s artwork often depicts a world where it’s inhabitants (sometimes including the protagonist) body horror sometimes becomes the norm which adds to the uneasiness and existential horror which permeates his stories.

Some of his more famous works include this Tomie series which has been adapted into a 3-episode tv drama and Uzumaki which has been adapted by director Akihiro Higuchi.

The former is a long-running series about a mysterious, beautiful woman named Tomie who impacts the lives of the men and women around her. Individuals who fall under sway will commit brutal acts of violence with some being driven to insanity. It would spoil too much to mention much more, but I do recommend for those who want to check out Japanese horror and why it’s very different from Western horror, the Tomie series is one to check out.

In fact, I would recommend that horror fans check out his entire body of work. They’ll definitely leave a mark on those who try.

Junji Ito 1Junji Ito 2Junji Ito 3Junji Ito 4Junji Ito 5Junji Ito 6Junji Ito 7Junji Ito 8

Horror Film Review: The Belko Experiment (dir by Greg McLean)


How far would you go if all you had to do was follow orders?  That is the question posed by The Belko Experiment.

A violent and disturbingly plausible social satire/horror film, The Belko Experiment was released into theaters on March 17th.  It was one of the best films of the first half of 2017 but, as so often happens whenever a genre film subverts the traditional narrative, The Belko Experiment is also one of the most overlooked films of 2017.  It got mixed reviews, with most critics focusing on the fact that the script was written by James Gunn.  (Though Gunn may be best known for directing Guardians of the Galaxy, his non-MCU work has always  been distinguished by a subversive, often transgressive sensibility.)  A few critics dismissed it as being just another lurid celebration of violence, showing once again that you can always count on certain mainstream critics to unfairly categorize any film that doesn’t neatly fit into their preconceptions.  Yes, The Belko Experiment is violent.  And yes, it is gory and sometimes hard to watch.  However, to dismiss The Belko Experiment as merely being that latest entry in the torture porn genre is to totally miss the point.

Mike Milch (John Gallagher, Jr.) is one of the many employees of Belko Industries.  He’s a nice enough guy.  In fact, if I worked for Belko Industries, Mike would probably be one of my favorite co-workers.  He’s friendly.  He’s funny.  He’s not unattractive.  He’s kind of a less smirky version of The Office‘s Jim Halpert.  I’d want to be his friend.  Since Belko’s offices are located in a remote area of Colombia, I would want to make all the friends that I could.

(Early on in the film, we’re informed that every employee of Belko Industries has been required to get a tracking device implanted at the base of their skull.  They’re told that this is because there’s always the risk that one of them will be kidnapped by drug traffickers.  Of course, as the film plays out, we discover that it’s actually for a totally different reason.)

When The Belko Experiment begins, it’s a day like any other.  People show up for work. Some people actually do work.  Some people slack off.  Everyone tries to look busy whenever the boss, Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn), wanders by.  The maintenance workers (Michael Rooker and David Dastmalchian) do their thing.  A few employees sneak up to the roof of the office building and get high.  Everyone tries to avoid Wendell Dukes (John C. McGinely), a pervy executive.  The security guard (James Earl) watches the door.  The newest employee (Melonie Diaz) learns about her new job and coworkers.

Of course, there are a few strange things.  Some new security guards have shown up and they don’t appear to be particularly friendly.  They turn away all of the locals who work at the office, only allowing in the American employees.  Everyone agrees that it’s strange but, instead of thinking about it too much, they just keep going about their day.

Then, the steel shutters slam down, effectively sealing the building off.

Then a voice (Gregg Henry) demands that they select two co-workers to die.  When the employees of Belko Industries refuse (with several dismissing the whole thing as being a tasteless prank), tracking devices start to randomly explode until four employees are dead.  The voice goes on to say that, unless 30 employees are killed in the next two hours, 60 people will be randomly killed…

Some of the co-workers refuse to kill their friends but many more do not.  And soon, even those who refused to take part in the murders, are forced to start killing just to keep from being killed themselves…

The Belko Experiment wastes no time in establishing that anyone can die at any moment.  It doesn’t matter how funny you were a few seconds ago or how likable you may be.  If the unseen voice decides to flip your switch, that “tracking device” will explode and it’ll take your head with it.  And, even if the unseen voice doesn’t get you, your coworkers might.

That, by itself, would be disturbing enough.  However, The Belko Experiment ultimately succeeds as a work of horror because it illustrates a truth that many people would prefer to ignore.  When the employees of Belko Industries start to kill each other, it feels all too plausible.  Culturally, human beings are conditioned to follow orders.  We like to have an authoritarian around to tell us what to do.  It’s a good way of avoiding responsibility for our own actions.  (“I was following orders.”  “I was following protocol.”  “I’m just doing my job.”)  As The Belko Experiment demonstrates, most people would never dream of hurting someone else … unless they were ordered to do so.  The characters in The Belko Experiment start the movie as individuals but, as the experiment unfolds, all quirks and differences vanish.  All that is left are drones who slavishly do what they’re told.

Making the nightmare scenario feel all the more believable is a large and strong cast of familiar faces.  As the closest thing that this film has to a hero, John Gallagher, Jr. is likable and you find yourself hoping that he’ll somehow manage to survive all of this with his humanity intact.  Tony Goldwyn brings some interesting shades to his role while John C. McGinley is memorably creepy as Wendell.  Micheal Rooker, Abraham Benrubi, Sean Gunn, Josh Brener, Melonie Diaz, Brent Sexton, and Adria Arjone all shine in smaller roles.  To be honest, you really don’t want to see any of these people suffer, which makes their inevitable fate all the more disturbing.

The Belko Experiment is ultimately a portrait of how easily people can be persuaded (or ordered) to surrender their humanity.  It’s the exact mentality that we currently see everyday, with people willingly becoming slaves to one ideology or another and then tossing around terms like “treason” whenever anyone dares to do something other than obey.  It’s the exact mentality that leads to people accusing you of being “selfish” when you refuse to surrender your right to self-determination.  Our real-life Belko Experiment has been going on for several years now and it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.  This movie is frightening because it’s real.