The Lurking Fear (1994, directed by C. Courtney Joyner)

For years, the town of Leffert’s Corners has lived in fear of the criminal Martense family.  The family’s youngest son, John (Blake Bailey), has just been released from prison and now he’s returning home.  He knows that, before he died, his father arranged for a thousand dollars to be buried in the cemetery.  After the town mortician (Vincent Schiavelli, in a too brief cameo) tells him where it is, John heads to the cemetery.  Unfortunately, he’s followed by crime boss Bennett (Jon Finch) and his thugs.

Cathryn (Ashley Laurence) and Dr. Haggis (Jeffrey Combs) are already at the cemetery, though not for the money.  It turns out that subterranean monsters (all of whom are descended from one John’s relatives) are living underneath the cemetery grounds and terrorizing the town.  Cathryn and Haggis are planning on blowing up the graveyard but that plan is put on hold when John and Bennett arrive.  Underground monsters or not, Bennett is planning on getting that money and if that means holding everyone hostage in a church while the monsters prepare to attack, that is exactly what he is going to do.

As is evident by the welcome presence of Jeffrey Combs, The Lurking Fear is another Full Moon production that was loosely adapted from a H.P. Lovecraft short story.  The premise has promise and the cast is full of talent but the film’s direction is flat, the script is shallow, and the monsters themselves look good but there’s nothing that set them apart from a dozen other monsters that have appeared in Full Moon productions.  (The monsters resemble the dungeon dweller from Castle Freak but they are never as scary.)  It’s too bad because The Lurking Fear is one of Lovecraft’s best short stories and it seems like one that would make a great movie.  But, as a movie, The Lurking Fear, like so many other Full Moon productions, doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself whenever the monsters aren’t around.  Hopefully, someday, Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear will get the film adaptation that it deserves.

Horror on TV: FreakyLinks 1.11 “Live Fast Die You” (dir by David Barrett)

On tonight’s episode of FreakyLinks, Ethan Embry and the crew investigate real-life adrenaline vampires!  Agck!

This episode features appearances from Jeffrey Combs, Dennis Christopher, Paige Moss, and everyone’s favorite, Eric Baflour!

This episode originally aired on June 1st, 2001.

Creepshow, S1 Ep2,Bad Wolf Down/The Finger, Review by Case Wright, Spoilers, but worth it!


Happy Halloween Havoc!!!! Is it enough for horror to just be fun and even funny?  YES! American Werewolf in London or anything by John Landis really proves that. Creepshow on Shudder is all about just sitting back and having some gory fun. This show is so wonderfully over the top that the 90s have returned. Let’s all put away our black turtle necks and put on some Hammerpants and watch some great horror.

Bad Wolf Down is a werewolves in World War II story…Really! It was a lot of fun.  Then, when I saw Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) playing a Nazi, I realized this show is THE AWESOMENESS! An american platoon gets trapped behind enemy lines and takes refuge in an abandoned police station.  They find a woman in the jail who is a french werewolf. This seems relevant because they really spend a lot of time translating.

The Head Nazi (Jeffrey Combs) finds the american platoon and will wipe them out, but the platoon gets the french werewolf to turn them into werewolves and they go and kill a bunch of Nazis.  That’s it…Really!

The Finger is your lonely guy adopts a self-regenerating-human-eating-Alien story.  I know…I know ..  another one?! Clark Wilson (DJ Qualls) is a twice divorced down and out guy who has nothing going for him- until he finds a finger.  The finger looks alien and when he spills beer on it, it re-generates into a medium-sized alien and becomes his pet.  He calls the alien Bob.  Bob becomes Clark’s best friend and as any best friend would do, Bob eats all of Clark’s enemies.  He also brings back body parts from the kill like my old cat did.  Sidenote: I had a cat who used to bring me squirrel heads.  He’d line them on my porch.  Bob is like that.  The police eventually arrest Clark for the murders, but Bob might break him out.

The finger is told by Clark in real-time narration, which really adds to the comedy. He looks dead into the camera, talking directly to us. Also, it’s especially fun watching DJ Qualls hang out with a bro-alien- Brolien. If you wanna chill, watch this!!!!

A Movie A Day #123: Dillinger and Capone (1995, directed by Jon Purdy)

1934.  Chicago.  The FBI guns down a man outside of a movie theater and announces that they have finally killed John Dillinger.  What the FBI doesn’t realize it that they didn’t get Dillinger.  Instead they killed Dillinger’s look-alike brother.  The real John Dillinger (played by Martin Sheen) has escaped.  Over the next five years, under an assumed name, Dillinger goes straight, gets married, starts a farm, and lives an upstanding life. Only a few people know his secret and, unfortunately, one of them is Al Capone (F. Murray Abraham).  Only recently released from prison and being driven mad by syphilis, Capone demands that Dillinger come out of retirement and pull one last job.  Capone has millions of dollars stashed away in a hotel vault and he wants Dillinger to steal it for him.  Just to make sure that Dillinger comes through for him, Capone is holding Dillinger’s family hostage.

This film, which was produced by Roger Corman, combines two popular but probably untrue rumors, that Dillinger faked his own death and that Al Capone had millions of dollars stashed somewhere in Chicago.  Though the two never met in real life (and moved in very different criminal circles), the idea of bringing Dillinger and Capone together sounds like a good one.  Unfortunately, the execution leaves a lot to be desired.  Sheen and Murray are both miscast in the lead roles, with Sheen especially being too old to be believable as the 40 something Dillinger, and the script never takes advantage of their notoriety.  In this movie, Dillinger could just as easily be any retired bank robber while Capone could just as easily be any unstable mob boss.  In classic Corman fashion, more thought was given to the title than to the story.

One things that does work about the movie is the supporting cast, which is full of familiar faces.  Clint Howard, Don Stroud, Bert Remsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Catherine Hicks, Maria Ford, and Martin Sheen’s brother, Joe Estevez, are all present and accounted for.  Especially be sure to keep an eye out for Jeffrey Combs, playing an FBI agent who suspects that Dillinger may still be alive.  He may not get to do much but he’s still Jeffrey Combs.

Film Review: Trancers II (1991, dir. Charles Band)


Well, it sure took them a long time to get back to this series. Actually, they did shoot a sequel before this, but I’ll get to that one after I finish the main releases. This one picks up six years after the events of the first one. In that one we left Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) and Lena Deth (Helen Hunt) in the past of Los Angeles. We also got a short sequel bait at the end in the form of McNulty in his female ancestor’s little girl body. For this installment they appear to have gotten back just about every single person of consequence.


Jack and Lena Deth


Art LaFleur as McNulty in future


Biff Manard as Hap Ashby

Even Telma Hopkins returns as Raines and she was barely in the movie.

Even Telma Hopkins returns as Raines and she was barely in the movie.

The setup here is that Hap Ashby got clean and made a bunch of money in commodity speculation. He needs it since he has taken up the hobby of collecting firetrucks. Jack and Lena live with Ashby on his estate. Whistler’s brother is in the past so that means more Trancers are on their way. McNulty is going to go back in time again into his ancestor along with a time machine. The idea is to bring Jack back to the future with Whistler’s brother in tow. Jack’s body in the future is unsuitable to come back to so he needs to return in his new body. There you go, sequel!

Before I continue, take a look at those screenshots. They do those close portrait shots of the actors a lot in this movie. My guess is not that they couldn’t get the actors in the same place all the time, but that they thought that might happen. As a result, they used that consistently throughout just in case the situation arose. Enter the Trancers!




That’s when one more actor makes a return. Not sure how, but seven years or so after the production of the original Trancers, they got Alyson Croft to reprise her role as McNulty’s ancestor. I think I enjoyed her performance in this movie the most. I love her entrance into the film. She shows up having some trouble riding a bike before falling over.


However, while McNulty may have trouble riding a bike, he apparently has no issues putting on makeup.


This is when one more little important piece of information is dropped on us. In the first film we found out that Jack’s wife was killed by a Trancer. However, in this one we find out that someone was sent back to shortly before she died. They sent her consciousness back in time so that this movie can have some funny scenes between Jack and his two wives.


This is Alice Stillwell played by Megan Ward. You see, while Jack got sent back into the body of Philip Deth shortly after having sex and McNulty ended up in a pretty and funny young girl, Jack’s wife ended up in the body of a mental patient. And not just a mental patient anywhere either.


That’s Whistler’s brother who goes by the name Dr. Wardo played by the late Richard Lynch. And he has a sidekick.


Honestly, if the credits hadn’t told me that was Jeffrey Combs, then I could have easily missed that fact. I really have no idea what Lynch and Combs are up to in this movie. It doesn’t matter. Jack needs to rescue his wife and kill Lynch. It’s that simple.

The long second makes a return! Jack makes good use of it to singe some Trancers. He then comforts three ladies who saw the Trancers disappear by telling them it’s okay because they’re biodegradable. The lines in this just aren’t as good as the first one. Alice also uses the long second to hide the time machine after she finds it. It’s not important why it’s near her. It’s for the same reasons why she is even in this movie. It’s convenient for the plot.


Meanwhile, Alyson Croft continues to be the funniest person in this movie, which is humorous considering Helen Hunt would go on to do Mad About You and Tim Thomerson was once a standup comedian.


Jack shows up and rescues Alice while they are moving her. There’s a short exchange where she says he’s the only man she’s slept with, she passes out, and he’s says it wasn’t that bad. Kinda funny, but nothing in this movie is as memorable as lines like “Beef? You mean like from a cow?” or “I’m from another time, another world. I don’t even know what you people eat for lunch.”, which were in the first film.

There’s some screwball stuff here between Jack, Lena, and Alice, but who really cares. Trancers show up, Ashby starts drinking again, and Alyson Croft continues to be funny.


Now our four Musketeers set out to take down Lynch and Combs. But first we get a cameo appearance by one of director Charles Band’s other movies.


I’ll probably review that eventually. The only really important plot point left here is that Jack is going to have to send Alice back in the time machine since otherwise she’ll die shortly after returning to her body. I say it’s time for highlights.





The good guys win in a final showdown with Lynch, Combs, and their henchmen. Jack sends Alice back to the future in the time machine after a parting kiss. McNulty returns to his body to inform Raines that Jack has a new home in the past. Then Jack and Lena kiss just like at the end of the first movie.


But unlike the end of the first movie, there’s no hint at a sequel here. However, they must have changed their minds because there are five more films in this franchise. This one was definitely a step down from the first. Honestly, I really only recommend it if you are a big fan of the first like I am. We’ll see what’s next for Jack Deth in Trancers III (1992).


The Daily Horror Grindhouse: Castle Freak (dir by Stuart Gordon)


Originally released in 1996, Castle Freak is a film that I watched a few years ago and seriously, it totally freaked me out!  Seriously, this is one truly creepy, scary, and disturbing film.  I imagine that I’m not alone in having nightmares after watching Castle Freak.

Castle Freak takes place in Italy and yes, the main setting is a castle.  (One the reasons why Castle Freak was so effective in freaking me out is because I have actually been to Italy and I have stepped inside castles much like the one featured in this film.)  The castle belonged to a duchess who has recently passed away.  The duchess’s son, Giorgio, is still alive.  The duchess it seems was a bit insane and, after being abandoned by her husband, she was so angry that she had Giorgio chained up in the basement.  After being trapped for years, Giorgio has reverted to a feral state, speaking in grunts and growls.  Horribly disfigured, Giorgio is served a meal a day by a frightened maid.  When Giorgio finally escapes (via breaking off his own thumb so he can slip out of his manacles), he is looking for revenge against humanity.

Giorgio is probably one of the most frightening monsters in cinematic history but yet, like all great monsters, he is as much a victim as a villain.  One reason why the film works is that, even though you’re terrified of Giorgio, you can’t blame him for being angry.  Indeed, one of the film’s strongest moments come when Giorgio sees his reflection for the first time and wails at the sight.  Jonathan Fuller gives a great performance as Giorgio.

Just as Giorgio escape, the duchess’s last remaining descendants move into the castle.  John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs) is a recovering alcoholic.  Years ago, a drunk John had an automobile accident, which led to the death of his son and the blinding of his teenage daughter, Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide).  His wife, Susan (Barbara Crampton), cannot bring herself to forgive John for the accident.

Though neither is initially aware of the other’s existence, there’s an obvious bond between John and Giorgio.  Much as the duchess never forgave Giorgio, Susan will never forgive John.  Giorigio was held prisoner by chains while John was held prisoner by both his own guilt and Susan’s anger.  Both of them are capable of monstrous acts with the only difference being that John has yet to totally surrender his humanity to his rage.  It’s somewhat appropriate that, after John picks up a prostitute from town, it’s Giorgio who ends up killing her because Giorgio really is John’s id unleashed.  And now, John’s entire family is in danger to falling victim to that id.

Castle Freak is a frightening movie, one that mixes shocking gore with other more subtle scares.  Director Stuart Gordon makes good use of the castle’s ominous atmosphere and he also gets wonderful performances from his entire cast, with Jeffrey Combs as the stand-out.  This is a scary and gory film that was truly made for intelligent adults.

And finally, that scene where the blind Rebecca talks about her hopes and dreams while Giorgio stands unseen beside her?

Pure nightmare fuel.

Horror Review: All Souls Day (dir. by Jeremy Kasten)


All Souls Day was part of the wave of zombie films that continues to flood the direct-to-video (and at times straight to cable) market. This particular zombie movie was written by Mark A. Altman who also wrote the campy and very B-movie-like House of the Dead 2. This was a  zombie flick which actually improved on Uwe Boll’s own House of the Dead that doesn’t really come as a surprise. All Souls Day was Altman’s second try at another zombie movie and while this second attempt wasn’t as fun as his previous one it still managed to be a watchable and interesting zombie movie.

The film’s set in a dusty Mexican town that hides a dark secret from its past. A young couple (played by Marisa Ramirez and Travis Wester) happen upon what seems like an abandoned town. They soon come across a funeral procession and when they inadvertently interrupt the ritual all hell literally breaks loose. It doesn’t help the couple that the only person who seems to be real in this town was the sheriff whose own past ties in with the secret of the town. It was very good to see genre veteran David Keith in the role of the town sheriff. His limited time in the movie was pretty good.

When the town’s people (who by now have shown themselves to be zombies) begin to lay siege on the young couple in the town’s only hotel the rest of the movie gradually shows more of what made this particular Mexican town a death trap for any passerby who happen to come across it on All Souls Day. Soon enough help comes in the form of the young couple’s two friends who arrive in town only to get themselves stuck in the same dire situation the original couple find themselves in.

The resolution of the movie was handled well and it brought a nice supernatural origin and reason as to why the town’s population has turned into flesh-eating zombies. The performances in the film could be seen as being mixed. The more veteran performers like Jeffrey Combs, David Keith, Danny Trejo (as the town’s manipulative patriarch) and Laura Herring perform their roles well without being too over-the-top. The actors playing the pair of young couples on the other hand go from very good to awful in the span of moments in some of the scenes. It’s really this mixed bag in the cast’s performance which keeps All Souls Day from turning into one of those hidden gems in a hill of crap that most zombie flicks turn out to be.

The gore effects in this film was pretty good in the small amount of sequences where the zombies end up doing what they do best once they get a hold of someone. While I was hoping for more of the grue in this particular zombie movie I wasn’t too surprised why it didn’t have more. Other than the pair of young couple there really wasn’t much living people for these zombies to munch on. The film itself show’s it’s low-budget origins in that it looks like something one would see premiere on a random Saturday night on the SyFy Channel. The film actually did premiere on that channel when it was still called SciFi. It’s a look that says TV instead of film, but despite that little nitpick it doesn’t distract much from the experience.

Now, most zombie films of the low-budget variety tend to just have badly done make-up effects. With All Souls Day the filmmakers seem to have done an end-around that budgetary problem by taking a page out of the classic Italian zombie flicks of the 1980’s by making these undead dry, decayed creatures. It’s something that worked well for the Fulci zombies and here it works as well.

All Souls Day was not a great zombie film by any stretch of the imagination, but it had enough entertaining moments and some genuine scary sequences to make it an enjoyable hour and a half of horror viewing on any October night.

6 Obscure Films Of 2013: The Call, Copperhead, It’s A Disaster, See Girl Run, UnHung Hero, Would You Rather

Well, it’s that time of year when I look at the list of the films that I’ve seen over the past 12 months and I realize that there’s quite a few that I haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet.  Here are my thoughts on six of them.

The Call (dir by Brad Anderson)

Abigail Breslin is kidnapped by a serial killer.  While trapped in the trunk of the killer’s car, Breslin manages to call 911.  Breslin’s call is answered by Halle Berry, a veteran operator who is recovering from a trauma that — by an amazing and totally implausible coincidence — was caused by the same guy who has just kidnapped Breslin.

Before it became a feature film, The Call was originally developed as a weekly TV series and, as I watched, it was easy to imagine weekly episodes that would all feature a different guest star calling 911 and needing help.  For the first hour or so, The Call is well-made and acted but undistinguished.  However, during the final 30 minutes, the entire film suddenly goes crazy with Breslin running around in her bra, Berry turning into a blood thirsty vigilante, and the killer suddenly getting very verbose.  However, those 30 minutes of pure insanity were just what The Call needed to be memorable.  There are some films that definitely benefit from going over-the-top and The Call is one of them.

Copperhead (dir by Ronald Maxwell)

Copperhead is a historical drama that takes place during the Civil War.  In upstate New York, farmer Abner Breech (Billy Campbell) is ardently opposed to both the Civil War and the union cause.  In most movies, this would make Abner the villain but, in Copperhead, he’s portrayed as being a man of principle who, by refusing to compromise on his views, is ostracized and ultimately persecuted by the rest of his village.  Abner’s views also bring him into conflict with his own son, who is pro-Union.

Copperhead is a slow-moving film that features some rather good performances along with some fairly bad ones.  However, I’m a history nerd so I enjoyed it.  It certainly tells a different story from what we’ve come to expect from American films about the Civil War.

It’s A Disaster (dir by Todd Berger)

Of the six films reviewed in this post, It’s A Disaster is the one to see.  In this darker than dark comedy, Julia Stiles brings her new boyfriend (David Cross) to Sunday brunch with 6 of her closest friends.  During the brunch, terrorists explode a dirty bomb in the city.  With everyone trapped inside the house and waiting for the world to either end or somehow revert back to normal, long-simmering resentments come to the forefront.

To say anything else about It’s a Disaster would be unfair so I’ll just say that it’s a very funny film, featuring excellent work from both Stiles and Cross.  If Jean-Paul Sartre was alive and writing today, he would probably end up writing something very similar to It’s a Disaster.

See Girl Run (dir by Nate Meyer)

Bleh!  That’s probably the best description I can give you of this film.  It’s just a whole lot of bleh.

Emmie (Robin Tunney) is unhappy with her boring marriage so she runs back to her Maine hometown, stops wearing makeup and washing her hair, and pines for her high school boyfriend, Jason (Adam Scott), who works at a sea food restaurant.  Jason also happens to be friends with Emmie’s depressed brother, Brandon (Jeremy Strong).  It’s the same basic plot as Young Adult, just with no humor and a lot more talking.  In Young Adult, it was hard not to admire Charlize Theron’s wonderfully misguided character.  In See Girl Run, you just want to tell Robin Tunny to take a shower, put on some clothes that don’t look like they were stolen from a hospital storage closet, and stop whining all the time.

It’s difficult to put into words just how much I hated this movie.  This is one of those films that critics tend to describe as being “a film for adults.”  I have to agree — this is a movie for really boring, depressing adults who like to talk and talk about how their lives haven’t worked out.  If See Girl Run is what being an adult is like, I’ll just continue to be an immature brat, thank you very much.

UnHung Hero (dir by Brian Spitz)

So, this is not only the worst documentary of 2013 but it’s also quite probably one of the worst documentaries ever made.  The film opens with footage of Patrick Moote (who claims to be a comedian) asking his girlfriend to marry him.  As Moote goes on (and on) to tell us, she turns down his proposal and then dumps him because, according to her, his penis is too small.  Moote spends the rest of the film talking to various people and asking them whether size really matters.

Well, he could have just asked me and saved a lot of time.  I’m sorry if this endangers any fragile male egos but yes, size does matter.  If Moote’s penis really is as tiny as he claims it is, I probably would have turned down his proposal as well.  Then again, Moote could be hung like Jamie Foxx and I’d probably still refuse to marry him because, quite frankly, he’s the whiniest and most annoying person that I’ve ever seen.  He’s like an even less charming version of Morgan Spurlock.  What Patrick Moote never seems to understand is that size matters but personality matters even more.

Would You Rather (dir by David Guy Levy)

Would you rather have a root canal or sit through this piece of crap?  Having seen Would You Rather, I can tell you that it’s not an easy question to answer.

Jeffrey Combs plays a sadistic millionaire who invited a bunch of strangers (including Brittany Snow, John Heard, June Squibb, and Sasha Grey) to his mansion and forces them to play an elaborate and deadly game of Would You Rather.  Unfortunately, none of the characters are interesting, the film’s sadism is more boring than shocking, and talented actor Combs is totally wasted as the one-note villain.

Quickie Review: Re-Animator (dir. by Stuart Gordon)

When one discusses horror films during the 1980’s the talk will ultimately turn into whether one has seen a particular film. The film was a film adaptation of a little-known H.P. Lovecraft short story penned  through chapter installments between 1921 through 1922. While this short story wasn’t considered one of Lovecraft’s finest creations it did inspire one filmmaker to use it as the basis for his own take on the classic “Frankenstein monster”.

In 1985, Stuart Gordon directed what would become one of horror’s biggest cult classics with his adaptation of the aforementioned Lovecraft tale with the film Re-Animator. The film would take certain liberties with the original source material which in the end was the better for it.

Re-Animator is about a young, promising doctor named Herbert West whose research into trying to revive the dead would have him kicked out of the Swiss university where had been doing his research. West would relocate to Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts to continue his research in secret. During his research he would gain a partner in Dan, the medical student whose house he’s renting a room, after a chance discovery of one of West’s experiment’s with the reagent that brings the dead back to life.

The film plays out very much like the lurid EC Comics of the 50’s and early 60’s. From the over-serious dialogue and lurid look of the film, Re-Animator was very much a pulp horror with a sci-fi bent to the proceedings. It was also a film which reveled in the slapstick way gore was used to highlight scenes when the zombie-like corpses injected with the glowing green reagent came back to violent life. It was one of the very few films with zombies in it where the zombies were not flesh-eaters of the Romero variety which everyone had tried to copy to certain degrees of failure.

If all the blood and gore in the film wasn’t enough Re-Animator would cement it’s place in exploitation horror history with a scene involving the character of Megan (played by Barbara Crampton) and the severed, re-animated head of West’s nemesis (played by David Gale) going downtown on a terrified and bound Megan. This scene would go down (no pun intended) as one of the most talked about scenes in all of horror film history.

Gordon’s attempt to make his own “Frankenstein movie” became a major success within the horror film fan community and would spawn two more sequels. Jeffrey Combs would continue to play the role of Herbert West in these follow-up sequels which never reached the same level of success and cult following as the first film. Still, Re-Animator would put both Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs on the horror film map and horror fans everywhere are glad that they made this film.