Vincent Price takes on fish men and a movie of the week gets a sequel

It’s back to the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s in search of some old school horror thrills. But not even horror faves Vincent Price or Lynda Day George did much to make these more enjoyable.

WAR-GODS OF THE DEEP (aka: City in the Sea) (1965)

I had high hopes for a Vincent Price film that starts with underwater POV made famous later by Jaws.

It shows even more promise early on. A dead body is found on the shore.

Tab Hunter is a mining engineer staying at a hotel where he befriends a quirky artist with a pet chicken—and then a fish man sneaks in at night and abducts a young woman who is very interested in Tab. Little does she know he’s going to spend much of the movie buddying up to the artist…

Anyway, Tab and the artist find a secret entrance to a cave that leads them to an underwater city.

Vincent Price is the evil leader of a gang of smugglers that has lived there for ages thanks to a special oxygen that keeps them young. Vincent has also made those fish men his Creature from the Black Lagoon minions.

Unfortunately, this movie is all talk as Vincent spends much of the time explaining the origins of his city. There are a few near escapes for our heroes, but they keep getting recaptured. And only in the final act is there finally action involving the fish men. There’s a lot of it, it’s all underwater, and it’s all rather chaotic and doesn’t quite deliver any chills or thrills. Great footage though.

FEAR NO EVIL (1969)

Fear No Evil is the first of two made-for-TV movies focusing on the same supernatural investigator, and has a notable cast including Carroll O’Connor, Bradford Dillman, and most importantly, horror queen Lynda Day George—the reason I purchased this double feature disc.

This is one long and bland supernatural mystery movie. Lynda’s man purchases a mirror from a store after seeing a vision in it. He brings it home. He sees a vision in his rear view mirror while out for a drive with Lynda. They crash, she is thrown from the car, he dies.

Lynda is invited to stay at his mother’s house to grieve…and the mirror is brought along and placed in her room. Lynda begins to see visions of her man in the reflection and wants to die and go join him.

Their friend, a detective of the unexplained, begins investigating to find out what led to the purchase of the mirror. He slowly discovers it concerns a cult, a demon resurrection, and eventually, the car crash.

There are plenty of twists along the way that were probably much more surprising when the film came out. In this day and age, this feels very paint-by-numbers and I didn’t find it at all eerie or suspenseful. However, Lynda gets a pretty good chase scene.

RITUAL OF EVIL (1970)

The supernatural investigator from Fear No Evil is back for this sequel, investigating the death of a rich young heiress who was a member of a cult.

This follow-up is even duller than the first film. We have a family of dysfunctional elites, a Black guy who found the body and makes it very clear from the start that he feared for his life because he found a white woman dead (50 years later and it’s still the same), and a pretty blonde witch the investigator falls for who worships Satan.

Once again we get talk talk talk for a majority of the film, there’s an anticlimactic ritual scene at the end, and then the witch disappears from the investigator’s life.

It definitely seems to set this one up for another movie, but that never transpired. Instead, Kolchak took over with his much more thrilling horror investigations that scored him two movies of the week and a series.

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1970s horror: killer animals, a Mardi Gras murderer, and another nod to Ed Gein

I recently added this mish-mosh of bad movies from the 1970s to my collection, so let’s just get this over with.

THREE ON A MEATHOOK (1972)

Such a great nasty name for a totally disappointing film inspired by the Ed Gein story. If you’re expecting Texas Chainsaw Massacre level horror, forget about it. This movie is bogged down by filler montages drowning in bad early 70s muzak that ruins any chance of capturing the essence of its gritty look.

A group of girls goes on a road trip. Their car breaks down. A nice guy offers to let them stay at his farmhouse with him and his dad. When they arrive, the father makes it very clear to his son that it’s a bad idea.

In less than ten minutes, all the girls are murdered. The killer POV and heavy breathing shots are perfect foreshadowing of slashers to come, but two of four murders are by gunshot. Blah. Although quick, the other two murders are with sharp weapons and offer some serviceable gore for the time.

And then…the son leaves home so his dad can clean up the mess. There’s a huge chunk of the middle of the movie in which he walks around a city, watches a band play at a bar, then gets romantically involved with a waitress.

Eventually he brings her home to meet his dad, and she brings along a friend. They all frolic in a field, eat dinner with the dad, the girls reference the mysterious cut of meat he cooked for them (uh-oh), and then the final, brief murderous act begins.

It’s all pretty disappointing, totally predictable and doesn’t make much logical sense when the big twist is revealed. We also learn that the movie title spoils the big shocker moment of the film.

This is most definitely an unintentional segue film between Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre considering it shares elements of both due to extracting details from the Ed Gein true crime story.

DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1977)

The director of Three On a Meathook gives us a “nature strikes back” movie that’s as ecologically aware as horror of the seventies gets.

The opening title card literally explains that hairspray is burning a hole in the ozone layer and this movie depicts what the possible results could be.

By the way, what the hell ever happened to that hole? It’s taking as long to open as the killer bees are to get here from Africa.

So the deal is the environmental damage is making things quite wonky, especially in high altitudes. A group going out hiking is warned about the dangers but goes anyway.

And then the animals start attacking.

The cast includes 1970s horror power couple Christopher George and Lynda Day George, young Andrew Stevens, and Leslie Nielsen as a man who is the only one in the group that starts to go batty as a result of the sun’s rays.

Our cast is subjected to angry birds, mountain lions, wolves, dogs, and rats, plus crazy Leslie Nielsen infamously wrestles a bear while shirtless.

It’s definitely a cheesy film, but the attacks are notably gruesome and vicious, and I actually found some of them quite unsettling because it felt like real animals were being roughed up for the footage.

MARDI GRAS MASSACRE (1978)

I can’t believe I waited so long for this one to come back into print thinking I’d missed out on some crucial gem to add to my collection. I’m now so glad I didn’t spend a fortune buying it on eBay while it was out of print.

I won’t drag this out. This movie is atrocious. Forget any sense of atmosphere, tension, fear, or mystery. This is a painfully repetitive film about a dude who picks up prostitutes in a bar, takes them back to his place, straps them to a leather table, and then hacks out their hearts while wearing an Aztec mask.

Oh, and the entire time, generic 1970s disco plays. They couldn’t even spring for some Donna Summer or Village People.

The only side story in this disaster sees one of the cops on the case dating one of the prostitutes. He also ends up smacking her around. Women’s rights have come a long way…it’s scary how quickly conservatives are rolling them back and this will be seen as normal treatment of women again in movies soon.

 

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It came from the early 80s and I just bought it on Blu-ray

Bette Davis leads the charge as we enter the eighties with this trio of films I’ve finally added to my collection. Let’s have a look.

THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS (1980)

The most frightening scenes of this Disney supernatural film are the kick ass alternative opening in the Blu-ray extras consisting of POV approaching a little girl playing with her doll in the woods, and an alternate ending with a giant bug thing coming down to take away one of the main characters.

Thanks to what was left on the cutting room floor, we end up with a boring, repetitive film about a teenager trying to figure out what became of a girl who went missing years before.

A family, including a young Kyle Richards as one of the kids, comes to live in a home with Bette Davis. The older teen daughter immediately begins to get visions of a young woman wearing a blindfold.

As the story unfolds and is repeated over and over, we learn Bette’s daughter disappeared years before.

So the main teen starts to pick apart the puzzle pieces of what could have happened to her.

With the same info and same spooky gimmicks happening constantly, this short, 83-minute movie feels like it’s two hours long—and leads to a convoluted final act that’s painfully anti-climactic despite dabbling in witchcraft, the occult, aliens, and a secret supernatural society.

DEADLY GAMES (1982)

I’ve seen a lot of pseudo-slashers from the 80s, but this is perhaps one of the weirdest.

It begins with a woman being chased through her home by an intruder all in black and then dying without the intruder actually even touching her. Every decision this woman makes in this scene sets the women’s rights movement back like twenty years. And the way things are going in this country right now, that would put it at about 1930.

Her sister comes back to town and spends much of the movie getting reacquainted with old friends. She also starts a relationship with the hot detective on the case…who gets her to warm up to his odd friend, played by Steve Railsback, who runs a local theater.

The kills are few and far between, but this killer goes to some serious lengths to murder victims, like getting into a pool in full killer costume to tie a woman’s leg to a filter vent. WTF?

What makes this film so weak is that it glosses over the actual themes that are supposed to give it life. It’s basically about the psychological trauma of war, as well as bonds bordering on homosexual desire that can form between men who went through such life-altering experiences together.

The two male leads regularly play a horror board game together, and as the film progresses, they get into a weird sort of throuple relationship with the main girl, complete with a hokey montage set to a cheesy ballad. The problem is it is so obvious who the killer is and who the red herring is right from the start. It’s insulting if the film’s creators think they’re tricking us.

As dull as the film is, at least it ends with a chase scene, body reveal, and shocker final frame (that is not very shocking).

REVENGE OF THE DEAD (aka: Zeder) (1983)

The news is out that this movie is not a living dead zombie film despite the alternate title. So what kind of movie is it? It is an overly long Euro horror film that offers very little in the way of horror as the main man investigates some supernatural studies of the past.

A young journalist buys a used typewriter, and some words are still written on the ribbon. He learns they are about experiments in which the mad scientist believed there’s a non-plane of existence where death doesn’t exist and the dead can therefore return from it.

He spends almost 90 minutes meeting with various people to learn more about the experiments. The most exciting part of all this would be his swimsuit.

He eventually sneaks onto property surrounded by a fence and sees a video of a dude who sacrificed himself to prove the theory is true.

The dead dude suddenly pops up through some floorboards and the idiot main guy runs right over them in his attempt to escape. Does he get away? Hey, if you really want to sit through this yawnfest, I’m not going to spoil it by telling you the end.

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I saw it on cable: a dead mom, a dead husband, and a killer dress

I can basically just elevate my horror viewing experience by watching horror films on the cable channels rather than picking them off my watchlist on Prime, so here’s my latest excursion into the selection on Showtime and HBO.

THE DJINN (2021)

The directing duo of The Boy Behind the Door is clearly heavily influenced by 80s horror revolving around kids. In fact, this film takes place in 1989, has a synth score modeled after 80s horror movie music, and focuses on a mute boy trapped in his house with an evil entity.

In short, his mother committed suicide, his father leaves him alone for the night, and he then uses some magic to wish for his voice back. In doing so, he unleashes the Djinn, which first comes in a form that gave me flashbacks to The Ring.

Then to confuse matters, it takes on the forms of people unrelated to the boy who seem to have been past victims of the djinn.

Finally it starts showing as a demon version of his deceased mother, and he spends most of the time trying to avoid her. She’s cool in that big teeth/demon eyes kind of way, so that was satisfying.

Yet overall, just like The Boy Behind the Door, this one may seem more frightening and suspenseful to those who haven’t been around the horror block for five decades. I wasn’t bored, but it didn’t blow me away or terrify me at all.

IN FABRIC (2018)

Just because your film is visually beautiful and artsy doesn’t always mean it’s a masterpiece. And quiet honestly, if you’re going to make a movie about a killer dress, it might be better not to go for visually beautiful and artsy or even attempt to make a masterpiece.

This agonizing 2-hour long movie is basically two separate stories in one. First, a lonely middle-aged Black woman scores the dress from the weird clerk in a store, hopes it’s going to help her with her dating opportunities, and then becomes convinced it’s coming to life at night.

There’s plenty of weird stuff going on, including the store workers having a gang bang with a mannequin, the dress making a washing machine go haywire, and the Black woman spying on her son eating out his girlfriend (ew). Plus, the score is quite reminiscent of Mike Oldfield’s classic 1973 album Tubular Bells.

Eventually the dress ends up in the hands of some dude during a bachelor party. His friends make him wear it, he brings it home, and his woman becomes obsessed with the dress and the store. This segment is even weirder than the first…and just as lacking in pacing. If you really love high end horror, definitely check it out, especially if you’re into visual metaphors for feminine hygiene and monthly cycle issues, because this one is loaded with them. It was just way too focused on quality over thrilling horror content for my tastes.

THE NIGHT HOUSE (2020)

The director of The Signal and The Ritual likes the word “the”, so he now brings us The Night House.

This is a dark and heavy-handed tale of grief and depression wrapped around a supernatural mystery.

After her husband’s death at their lake house, a woman comes to the house to cope with the confusing reality of her loss—she was the one suffering from depression, yet he committed suicide.

She immediately becomes haunted by signs of him still being around…or are those just nightmares? Or is she sleepwalking? Or did he have a whole other life she didn’t know about?

As she forges ahead and digs through his belongings, she finds signs that he was dealing with his own demons, which only deepens her own anguish and makes her more determined to unravel the truth of what he was going through before his death.

Plenty of atmosphere and occult aspects make this one creepy, but it also has a bit of a pacing issue, so it starts to lose steam about halfway through. But the premise is intriguing and it’s worth sticking around, especially if you prefer emotional and psychological driven horror over cheap horror thrills.

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It’s a non-canon Friday the 13th double feature

Jason fans rejoice. A lot of what you’ve been waiting for becomes a reality in these two films about the iconic horror franchise.

13 FANBOY (2021)

This film has such a fantastic meta premise, brings together loads of horror veterans of the Friday the 13th movies playing themselves, indulges in its own fanboy premise, and is directed by Deborah Voorhees, one of the actresses from Friday the 13: A New Beginning.

The opening kill scene sets a classic 80s slasher tone with a killer, a barn, the woods, a chase, and killer POV.

As a bonus, I created a little ScareBearDan POV…

The film then focuses several years later on the (fictional) daughter of actress/director Deborah Voorhees, now an adult and starring in horror films herself. She’s also very tight with Dee Wallace, who seems oddly out of place in a sea full of lesser-known Friday the 13th cast members.

However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that this film is a nod to and acknowledgment of Dee’s elevated status as a horror icon, so how could she possibly say no to taking the lead role as herself?

Dee and the main girl are most specifically being stalked by a psycho fan while they’re doing the Monsterpalooza horror con, but the body count comes in as the masked killer starts brutally offing Friday the 13th actors one by one. Unfortunately, the kills don’t happen at the con, so the film tends to lose focus and feels like it’s throwing in random characters left and right.

Most surprising is that Lar Park Lincoln, the queen of Friday the 13th Part 7, is disappointingly underutilized, and spends most of what little time she gets onscreen stuck in the killer’s lair. Perhaps she didn’t want to have a major role in the film? I don’t know, but Friday fandom alone dictates that she should have been one of the leads in the film.

Also odd is that Corey Feldman has a role…but not as himself! WTF? Such a recognizable face of the horror genre and the Friday the 13th franchise should not have been cast in a role as anyone other than himself.

He is relegated to being tossed into the mix briefly as a red herring. He’s just one of several background characters presented as weird and possible killers…then vanishing from the film almost as quickly as they appear, rendering their inclusion pointless.

Giving a fun meta twist to the situation, appearing as himself is filmmaker Vincent DiSanti, known for the highly regarded Friday the 13th fanboy film Never Hike Alone. Because no matter how you slice it, this is a fan film about talent involved with the Friday the 13th films facing off against a masked killer for real. And that includes two of the actors who actually played Jason through the decades. Yahoo!

The novelty of that premise is also what ironically makes the whole film feel disjointed and padded to about 20 minutes too long. With the main girl and Dee Wallace being the main targets, all the excessive kill cameos fail to glue the plot together, as would, say a group of counselors working together to open a camp in a Friday the 13th movie.

It’s the final act that saves the day, with the reveal of  the killer’s true motive. And for Dee Wallace fans, it’s extra special. Even so, the last few minutes of the film are just awkward and the conclusion feels incomplete.

ROSE BLOOD: A FRIDAY THE 13th FAN FILM (2021)

While 13 Fanboy is a meta film about Friday the 13th, Rose Blood is a true fanboy film that is a direct sequel to Friday the 13th Part 7. Just ignore the cheesy narrator at the beginning—very out of tone for a Jason flick—and sit back for the fun first scene.

It goes right for the fanboy points in the modern day with none other than Lar Park Lincoln reprising her role as Tina. She is now in a mental institution and she hears voices…and sees them, in the form of Terry Kiser, her doctor from the original film. Major kudos to both actors for feeding the hunger of fans and making appearances in this project.

However, Lar once again isn’t the star, for this film takes us to 1989, about a year after the events of Part 7. Hardcore fans are really going to have to suspend disbelief, because the role of Tina has been recast by a young woman who looks nothing like Lar.

Slasher fans are also going to have to be very patient about getting to the “guts” of the film. Approximately the first hour focuses on young Tina being held captive in a facility, where the intent of the military and scientists is to use her powers to conquer Jason.

There is a lot of talk. I mean a lot. There are a few too many authority figures and experts in their fields that weigh the film down with their perspectives on the situation while bringing no thrills or excitement. There’s also a young girl with powers of her own brought in to help with the proposed takedown of Jason, but she’s considered dangerous and is strapped up like Hannibal Lecter.

With all the talk, there are some very forced efforts to go for the nostalgia, as characters have conversations about video games, video game systems, and graphics of the time. On the bright side, there’s plenty of hunky man meat to appreciate on the military team. They really help dress up the bland, generic scenery.

Finally, there’s a semi-exciting scene involving the new girl with powers (that happens off screen), and I began to fear this whole film was going nowhere.

And then…it happens. Over an hour into the movie, Jason is released from the lake once again, infiltrates the facility, and wreaks fricking havoc.

The massacre is a bloody blast, and the low budget amateur feel of all the dialogue-driven scenes is exchanged for what feels like a genuine Jason slaughter fest.

And this shit is violent and gory!

I loved it and could see this film being added as an extra to a future Friday the 13th physical release if it doesn’t get its own release.

While the story isn’t mind-blowing, Jason delivers what we’re really here for, plus we jump forward in time to Lar at the end so she can take Jason on once again with a little help from the always sexy Kevin Spirtas, her boyfriend from the original movie!

Finally, there’s a major spoiler in the final still shot below, so don’t scroll down if you don’t want the final act ruined for you…

HOLY CRAP!

Seriously, super spoiler photo below…

It’s another dream come true for fans of some of the biggest slasher franchises of all time. Question is, will there be a full-length “vs.” movie spawned from this brief scene?

Brace yourself…

We do get a “to be continued” tag scene after the credits, so stick around for it. Time will tell if this will be continued.

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A horror anthology triple feature

I marathoned two low budget indies and the latest installment of a well-known found footage franchise, so let’s get right to this trio.

OCTAGON (2021)

This is an anthology in which all the stories are essentially tied together by what might be the birth of a devil baby. I say “might” because there’s a lot going on here as the wraparound interweaves itself into the stories and the stories interweave into each other, leading to nothing ever being totally quite clear.

The wraparound has a guy in the woods telling his girlfriend he has the same dream every night of strangers crying, pleading, and running in circles.

1st story – a young pregnant woman gets a frightening visit in her bedroom at night that lays the groundwork for the stories to come, explaining to her why she can’t abort her baby. I was quickly turned off by the subject matter challenging a woman’s right to choose, and it’s worse after what transpired just as I’m working on this post.

2nd story – another tale about a woman wishing to kill her child in the womb, approached from a totally different angle. This movie is starting to feel like religious horror to me.

3rd story – I’m really not feeling these “scary” stories. This is a tale about a sleazy father sexually abusing his son using a monkey mask and a razor, and the son’s plot for revenge when he becomes an adult.

4th story – a mid-movie tie-together of the first three tales, this one has a woman holding a boy captive in her hunt for something evil that comes disguised as a boy.

5th story – a magician uses a deformed man monster as part of his act.

6th story – a female jogger is terrorized by an eye plucking psycho in the park.

7th story – a couple’s game involving campfire tales gets dark fast.

8th story – like the fourth story, this one begins to sum up all the stories, seems to bleed into the wraparound, returns to the story, then back to the wraparound…yeah. I really didn’t understand the overall point of the tie-in. Even so, a few of the stories were kind of creepy on their own.

THE BLACK BOOK (2021)

Ari Lehman, the original young drowning Jason in Friday the 13th, is the clerk at a bookstore in the wraparound. A man comes in and buys a particular book, but Ari warns him never to open it or read it. Lucky for us, the dude goes home and delves right in.

1st story – I felt like I was watching the opening scene of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. This short tale is in black and white and takes place in the 1950s. A couple is parked in their car in the woods and things get very hairy.

2nd story – this short is filled with excess just to get to its point. Three young girls sneak into an abandoned warehouse and witness a bunch of men torturing another man while demanding to know more about “the sorcerer”. It’s mostly torture, minimal plot.

3rd story – this is how not to do a backwoods horror story. A mother and her daughter move into a house, we get some uninspired atmosphere, and then the mother sees the daughter disappear into the woods. I rolled my eyes when the mom ran outside and encountered a “scary” redneck.

4th story – this tale has been done before. A dude gets dangerously drawn into a snuff website.

5th story – this is a short alien/zombie hybrid tale that doesn’t cover any new ground.

The wraparound conclusion story is kind of dumbfounding. Basically it’s the Candyman/Bloody Mary concept, but a) you have to say a sentence so long that it needs to be written on the mirror for anyone to get it right, and b) when you say the sentence into the mirror, you conjure a college professor.

No, I’m not kidding. I guess that could be terrifying if you’re afraid he’s going to teach your kid CRT or say gay, but to the rest of us, it’s as dull as sitting through a classroom lecture.

V/H/S 94 (2021)

The popular found footage anthology franchise is back. This time a SWAT team infiltrates a warehouse and finds dead cult members…and videos, of course. Roll the tape.

1st story – this is perhaps my favorite story in the bunch in terms of establishing atmosphere and delivering a few jump scares from hell. A reporter and her cameraman enter an underground tunnel in search of the local legend known as the rat man. EEK!

2nd story – more great atmosphere is established in this tale of a young woman hosting a wake all on her own at a funeral home at night during a thunderstorm. No one shows, the closed casket starts banging, the lights go out, and the truth of what happened to the body inside comes out. DOUBLE EEK!

3rd story – this feels like the longest story in the bunch. It also looks like a super gory first person shooter video game. Busting into a lab where a crazy scientist is fusing humans and machines, a military team quickly realizes one has gotten away.

4th story – an extremist “take back America” militia group plans to blow up a government building…using explosive vampire blood. But the vampire they have imprisoned gets loose in their compound and things gets nice and gory.

The wraparound conclusion about the fate of the SWAT team is the weakest part of the entire movie, especially compared to some of the wraparounds in previous installments.

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Digging into my Stephen King movie collection part 6

Sometimes I come back to bring my series of Stephen King posts to a close, and this is one of those sometimes, so let’s get right into three from the 2000s.

HEARTS IN ATLANTIS (2001)

Hearts in Atlantis combines King’s nostalgia narrative style with his penchant for characters with psychic powers, and in its film form it is a relatively mellow experience.

A widowed woman rents a room to an older man, played by Anthony Hopkins. Soon her young son builds a strong bond with Hopkins. They spend a lot of time together, and Hopkins admits to the boy that men in dark clothes and hats are hunting for him.

Meanwhile, the mother is constantly suspicious that Hopkins might be looking to go pedo on her son. Not the case. The boy is actually falling for his little female friend and Hopkins is nurturing that relationship.

Amazing how straight tweens always fall madly in love in Stephen King novels, yet you don’t see crazy conservatives banning this type of grooming material from libraries…

The film is fairly disappointing. The men coming for Hopkins barely pose any threat or add any suspense to the story. Hopkins rarely uses his mind-reading powers. And when he does, it’s to shame the main kid’s bully, who regularly hurls gay slurs at the kid.

Hopkins calls him out on it because he can see that the bully likes to go home and dress in his mother’s clothes. This weird sort of defense against a homophobic riddled attack by use of another anti-gay attack is basically revisited later when the main kid gets his revenge on the bully, who we now know is queer, by beating him with a baseball bat. WTF?

Anyway, the film tries to go into heartstring pulling territory, with Hopkins unjustly being ripped from the boy’s life, but I wasn’t filled with emotion when all was said and done. I just think these kinds of films worked best in the 1980s…when Spielberg made them…and John Williams orchestrated…

FIRESTARTER 2: REKINDLED (2002)

This made-for-TV sequel that King had nothing to do with was a miniseries, so it suffers from the usual problem…too drawn out into 3 hours when 2 hours would have been fine.

The first half of the film is heavily filled with flashbacks retelling and often rewriting the events of the first movie with different actors. These are presented mostly as dreams that haunt Charlie (no longer played by Drew Barrymore).

Cutie Danny Nucci plays a worker at a research firm who is unknowingly hunting down Charlie for the character Rainbird, originally played by George C. Scott, but now portrayed by Malcom McDowell.

Unknowingly, while doing his job and getting closer to Charlie (so close that we get to see him shirtless and get a glimpse of his upper butt), Nucci is actually leading Rainbird right to her.

Meanwhile, Rainbird is gathering together a bunch of little boys who also have a variety of unique powers.

Seriously, the fun doesn’t begin until halfway into the film when Charlie has her first battle of the psychic powers with these boys.

After that, Dennis Hopper also joins the cast as someone from her dad’s past—a pretty unnecessary inclusion that is also one of the alterations in the plot from the first movie. There are plenty of chase scenes and also plenty of chat scenes (yawn), but the final battle, when both the boys and Charlie pretty much wipe out an entire town, is good cheap sequel fun.

DOLAN’S CADILLAC (2009)

This movie is based on a story from the King collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and it’s quite clear this should have been a short film in an anthology and not a movie. It was agonizing to sit through.

Wes Bentley is a teacher married to horror veteran Emmanuelle Vaugier. While out horseback riding, she witnesses sleazoid Christian Slater kill drivers of a truck transporting immigrant refugee women.

While those women are sold into sex trafficking by Slater, he also has Vaugier hunted down, despite she and Wes being put into witness protection. The only horror moment comes when they find a corpse in their house.

Vaugier is killed and then Wes decides he must get revenge. This is where it’s all downhill. First of all, I have no idea how he figures out Slater’s identity or how to track him, but he begins following him. He gets a gun. He becomes a construction worker. And it’s all part of his plan of vengeance.

Nothing happens beyond one encounter between Slater and Wes in a public restroom, which makes it confusing that they suddenly seem like lifelong enemies in the final act. At this point Wes creates a huge booby trap in a desert road. Once Slater and his car are both in it, they spend a chunk of time in a verbal battle that makes you question why they were ever considered A-list actors. The performances are eye-rolling, and there’s no good reason for Wes to keep Slater alive for so long when the ultimate torture (and the plan) is to just bury him alive…. An awful execution of a typical revenge flick plot.

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Gay horror: a psychosexual short and a religious extremist slasher

Yay! It’s a gay horror double feature from two directors I cover as quickly as they release new material, and two more to add to the homo horror movies page. So let’s get right into them.

BLEEP: A SERIAL KILLER’S DOG

Pete Jacelone is known for making morbid homoerotic horror flicks, and this short film sticks to the trend somewhat. However, it also explores a familiar horror theme through a queer lens: loneliness.

Our narrating killer reveals the details of just one of the many murders he’s committed.

What unravels is an often uncomfortable and icky presentation of his deep love affair with a slowly rotting corpse. It’s also tragically sad if you can look past the more perverse details.

The dog angle, which is ultimately the most unique aspect of the story, is perhaps relegated to the background too much considering it gives the film its name and adds an incredibly complex layer to the plot.

The killer has a beloved dog to keep him company (as lonely people often do). Bleep is there every step of the way. Bleep gets a hint of attention from the young man the killer brings home. Bleep barks with anxiety when the killer commits his crime. And Bleep snuggles in bed right alongside the killer and the corpse.

And eventually, for a fleeting instant, we see how Bleep’s interest in the corpse is in danger of changing dramatically. Jacelone, who is not one to pull any punches, totally does here. I was rather surprised Bleep’s hunger for the corpse wasn’t used as the reason the killer has to keep killing—imagine if just when he’s beginning to nest with his corpse boyfriend, it starts turning into a tasty treat for Bleep, so the killer is forced to dispose of the body and start the process all over, hence becoming a serial killer so his dog doesn’t become a mannibal (you know…a man eating dog). Now that’s a plot that could have been extended into a full-length film, and perhaps Pete Jacelone will expand on this one later on down the line.

To learn more about Bleep: A Serial Killer’s Dog and Pete Jacelone’s other movies, take a look at his site.

CHILDREN OF SIN (2022)

This one comes from Chris Moore, a prolific indie director and one of my social media horror buddies. You could consider it a slasher, but it’s important to note that it’s a good while before we get to the bulk of the slashing. The beginning and end feel like two different movies.

For starters, it’s a heavy-handed film about how religious extremist parents can negatively affect their children. A mother of two teens has entered a relationship ship with a God-loving nut…just the kind of man you don’t want co-parenting a sexually active daughter and a gay son.

To make them pay for their sins, he has the siblings sent to a religious retreat where the woman calling the shots is a total psycho!

I’ll say right up front that Chris doesn’t go for a campy or exploitative approach to the subject matter this time around, and for me personally, this kind of material is not my thing. It’s important to recognize that awful things go on at these religious camps, but I’m not compelled to wallow in the misery of their existence when I’m indulging in horror. In particular, as much as I always appreciate gay themes in horror, I am not particularly drawn to plots with gays being victimized by religious nuts. I prefer positive gay horror…the very reason the horny, happy gay guys in my Comfort Cove fiction series fight ghosts, demons, and monsters in between all their orgies and gang bangs.

Naturally, the darker subject matter presented here may appeal to some gay fans, but it could also be traumatizing for those who are sensitive to such material. However, here is where the big surprise comes in.

In the last 20 minutes, Children of Sin morphs into a fast-paced slasher, and it’s a fricking blast, with the loony lady brutally unleashing her insanity on all the kids she’s trying to “help”.

I personally ate up the final act because the film puts a pause on the gloom and doom reality of religious camps. It’s more in keeping with Chris Moore’s slasher Triggered, which still carries some social significance but is more gay positive and fun.

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PRIME TIME: it’s slasher time again!

I’m never one to turn down the promise of some slashing fun, so I checked out a trio that spans the past decade on my Prime watchlist. Was there fun to be had? Let’s find out.

MUNGER ROAD (2011)

Thanks to IMDb, I went into this one aware that it had a “to be continued” ending and the sequel was never made, so I was prepared for loose ends. Unfortunately, everything about this movie is loose…beginning, middle, and end.

The numerous reviews on IMDb claiming it’s a great slasher filled with jump scares that is just missing a tidy ending are all clearly bogus. There wasn’t a single jump scare, and there weren’t any kills—a few may have been implied in the last fifteen minutes, but we are not sure if those people actually died because they screamed off-screen.

It’s also hugely disappointing that the premise has a small town supposedly preparing for a fall festival when an imprisoned lunatic escapes…yet we never even get to the day of the festival. WTF?

Somehow Bruce Davison ended up in the film as the sheriff. As always, the mayor doesn’t want to stop the money-making event because of the possible threat. So Bruce and his deputy spend the night patrolling the town. Every scene is too dark, I never had any idea where they were in the town or what really led them there, and they do nothing but talk out loud to each other about the nonexistent mystery they’re trying to solve.

Meanwhile, two straight couples head to Munger Road to see if there’s any truth to a legend that says if you park on the train tracks, the ghosts of kids who died in a bus accident will push your car off the tracks. The film fails to make even that interesting or suspenseful…and also keeps it all too dark for us to see anything.

Then the kids head home, their car breaks down, and they slowly split up and disappear. Finally, Bruce and his deputy find one of the kids in a house, turn on a video camera the kids had with them, and we get the dreaded “to be continued” that never happened. As disappointing as this film is, it’s made even worse by the fact that there was no sequel to at least tie any of the plot points together. And considering mostly nothing happens, I can’t fathom why the filmmaker didn’t just edit the script for this film and the sequel into one faster-paced, more interesting movie with an actual ending.

SHHHH (2014)

This slasher gives off a very indie vibe, and even taps into that low budget 80s slasher feel a bit, which was the aspect I enjoyed the most. I was expecting it to be more of a horror comedy based on the artwork, the plot description, and the title. Instead, it seems to take itself kind of seriously. Either that or the tone is just not quite hitting the mark.

The basic premise is that this wannabe filmmaker nerd can’t stand all the different types of people that make distracting noises at movie theaters. It seems those deplorables are the ones that start getting killed off, but the death scenes don’t take place inside the theater, which kind of makes the whole point of the plot fall apart.

So there are kills, the main guy starts dating a pretty girl who is also an aspiring filmmaker, and he tries to juggle dating her and nurturing his relationship with his loving mother.

Meanwhile, there are two cops trying to solve the case of the mounting body count. Their scenes really kill the pacing and add nothing to the movie. I wasn’t exactly drawn in by any sort of whodunit angle—it was more like a “who are all these random people they’re talking to and why are they dressed like frat boys?” angle.

The indie feel comes in the way of various exploitative moments, like a pregnant woman being gutted and strangled with her baby’s umbilical cord, a long and loud blow job scene, and a scene of a guy on the crapper with plenty of explosive poop noises, of course. I’ll never comprehend how filmmakers become convinced their movie can only get better if they add a shit scene, as if that’s where all the movie magic is.

On top of that, we get flashbacks of the main guy’s troubled childhood, which is intended to make us believe this momma’s boy is the killer, but it’s not very convincing.

The bizarre series of events at the end aren’t all that bizarre if you grew up on tons of 80s slashers and Euro horror, but they definitely feel disjointed from what comes before them. I think Shhhh loses its way simply because it doesn’t remain within the confines of the theater.

VENOM COAST (2021)

What we have here is basically Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and other similar backwoods family movies) on a boat. It’s all been done before (although not on a boat), however one thing that stands out is that this family isn’t comprised of your usual religious extremist hillbilly nuts. They’re more like left wing hillbilly nuts that want to take down the 1%. Awesome.

A group of pretty young white people (I guess that automatically makes them the 1%) is invited to come party on some clean-cut dude’s boat. Little do they know he’s a psycho killer.

Once on board, they are soon falling victim to the crazy family, which includes the matriarch, a hippy looking grandpa, a burnout dude, and a big Leatherface clone in a dress they keep chained up way too long, because he would have rocked as the main killer. Instead, he’s introduced nearly an hour in.

The film had potential to be suspenseful, scary, and gory, and does include some pretty whacky scenes, with our baddies presenting themselves in a variety of bizarre costumes.

Unfortunately, in order to up the body count, the coast guard boards the ship and is basically like a fully-armed military. It just really spoils any sense of urgency.

There’s also a totally odd epilogue that feels too detached from the thick of the movie’s story arc.

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Some late 80s additions to my Blu-ray collection

The 80s really is the decade that just keeps giving and giving, so I was psyched to add three more titles to my always growing library. This trio takes us from 1985 to 1990.

HARD ROCK ZOMBIES (1985)

This crazy little film doesn’t even wait to go off the rails. It’s as messy as 80s horror gets.

It starts with a young woman luring a young man into some skinny-dipping while a short dude, a wolf man, and a tall man with a camera spectate.

Then we meet a “hard rock band”…that plays some of the best power pop new wave that should have been hits in the 80s. Only once at the end of the film is there a montage with a song that actually resembles hard rock. Hell, in one of the many montages in this film, these guys with long hair even dance. That was a total taboo for hard rock guys with long hair back in the 80s.

Anyway, this weird film has the faux hard rock guys come to a bizarre town. One guy falls for the skinny-dipping girl, there are werewolf people, there’s Hitler and Nazis, and 45 minutes into the movie it gets to the point—the townsfolk kill the band members and then resurrect them as zombies.

The zombies then go on a rampage turning the Nazis into zombies.

I don’t know what the hell I was watching, but the movie rocked (or new waved) in a totally retro 80s way.

The musical highlight is a montage featuring a power ballad with a girl’s name as the title. Ah, the 80s. Rosanna, Carrie, Gloria, Sherrie, Veronica, Jenny Jenny, Amanda, Eileen, Billie Jean, Elvira, Baby Jane, Nikki, Joanna, and thanks to this movie…Cassie…

THE AMERICAN SCREAM (1988)

80s horror doesn’t get any more WTF? than this. It feels like no one involved in The American Scream had a plan going into it. I guess the best way to describe it is as Children of the Corn with the protagonists and antagonists flipped…and a bunch of nonsense tossed in to fill the time due to a non-existent script(?).

A family wins a trip to a resort. It might be Christmas because there are hints of the season once they get to the resort, but nothing substantial.

The gang consists of a mother and father (the mother played by Oscar Goldman’s secretary Peggy from The Bionic Woman), a totally 80s cute son and his buddy, and a daughter and her friend. The mother and father seem like they’re not normal, almost as if they’re living in another world. The son’s buddy seems like he’s psychotic right from the start. This all just complicates matters when the resort town is inhabited by adults only and they all act openly crazy.

Even worse, no one in the family seems to think they need to get the fuck out. This dilemma starts during the ride there, when all four kids are in the back of a station wagon, see a couple in the car behind them beat a baby to a bloody pulp on the dashboard…and then just go on about their business of going to the resort.

It’s that bad. Even worse, there are barely any kills, and when there are, the film is edited in such a way that you have no idea what is going on.

There’s a lot of time spent at a polka dance party, then late in the game some mysterious dude all in black comes across as the leader of the crazy adults. At that point, the kids decide the only way to survive is to dress up as adults. Huh? Instead of looking like adults, they look like kids playing adults in really bad costumes in a high school play.

There’s a message here about adults being afraid of youth bringing change to society, but it’s buried in a mess of a movie.

NIGHT ANGEL (1990)

The director of Halloween 5 and Omen IV proves that sometimes you’re much better off making your own movie than hopping on a cash cow to make a name for yourself. Night Angel rocks!

A she demon crawls up from the ground and transforms into a sexual seductress. She gets work at a fashion magazine run by Karen Black and begins banging her way through the men there, often killing them, while making Karen her demon bitch.

The main guy is dating Karen’s sister and gets sucked into the demon’s web.

He has some wild nightmares and visits a hellish sex club of the deformed, tortured, and mutilated.

It felt like something out of a Clive Barker movie adaptation, and it freaking rocks the horrific imagery.

We even have a young Doug Jones, who went on to become a horror icon, as one of the demon’s bitches. He even does a funky dance with her early on.

Finally, the main guy and his girlfriend take on the demon with the help of the typical wise old mystic lady.

When we get to see the demon in her real form, she is horror perfection.

Night Angel is a feast for the eyes for lovers of practical effects.

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