Some dialogue is added to clue the listeners in to what is going on. It's lots of fun!
"Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see!" Click the links below to listen!
United Feature Syndicate released this vinyl album in 1978. In this way, people were able to enjoy the classic Halloween special year round without having to wait for the broadcast.
Some dialogue is added to clue the listeners in to what is going on. It's lots of fun!
"Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see!" Click the links below to listen!
This week, I sat through Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood, also known as an Italian horror fest full of thrills, chills, and bad dubbing. It is a controversial slasher film that heavily influenced the original Friday the 13th, as well as many other films of that particular type.
A Bay of Blood begins as an elderly countess is brutally murdered in her luxurious mansion on the bay. After her death, several immoral and disgusting individuals come out of the woodwork to claim the inheritance. Unfortunately for them, there is a murdering psychopath on the loose who has a long spear and a handy dandy billhook in his possession, and he knows just how to use them! These men and women are picked off one by one – including a bunch of horny teenage hippies, who trespass into one of the houses on the bay for a little lovemaking and meet their demise.
There’s really no point in going into the intricacies of the plot. These cardboard characters are simply placed into a situation that will allow them to be horribly mangled for our viewing pleasure. The film is beautifully shot, by the way. Mario Bava’s films have always been gorgeous and full of color. The score from Stelvio Cipriani is one of the best of its kind – quintessential seventies Italian film music.
A Bay of Blood (a.k.a. Twitch of the Death Nerve, The Odor of Flesh, and Chain Reaction) proved to be quite controversial at the time of its release. Critics tore it apart because of the bloody content, which they considered atypical of Bava’s normally restrained style. Many considered it a complete failure, but now those very same detractors claim that it is among the director’s most influential films.
A Bay of Blood is an incredibly stupid, gory, and fun film, and it has a doozy of an ending that left my jaw hanging wide open. If you are a fan of the genre, you need to see A Bay of Blood as soon as possible.
Check out the trippy trailer.
Let Me In is based on the Swedish film, Let The Right One In, which was released in 2008 to monumental acclaim from both critics and art-house audiences alike.
This touching story, concerning a young man who falls in love with a twelve year old vampire named Eli, captured the hearts and minds of everyone who was lucky enough to see it. If Ingmar Bergman were to direct a vampire-themed film, it would look a lot like this. However, one should not think of the film as yet another entry into the recent “vampire” craze. It is much more than that. This is the film that the god-awful Twilight only wishes that it could be.
The remake deviates structurally from the original, only in that the opening is a bit different, and a few minor characters have been altered or dropped altogether. The integrity of the storytelling remains intact, and as a result, much of the remake resembles the original in all of its deliberately paced, snow-drenched glory.
Kodi Smit-McPhee plays Owen, a lonely young man who is constantly bullied at school in the most brutal fashion. He spends his evenings at home playing with knives and spying on his attractive neighbor. In addition to these disturbing quirks, he has an almost addictive fondness for Now and Laters, and constantly eats the candy throughout the film. Chloe Grace Moretz plays Abby, a young girl who moves in next door with a man that we initially assume is her father. In a tender scene, Owen and Abby meet on the playground one night and bond over the intricacies of a Rubik’s Cube. Soon, Owen develops a crush on his new friend, oblivious that Abby is really a vampire – and that her “dad” is in fact a serial killer, who creeps out into the night, stalking and killing random victims in order to bring buckets of blood back to Abby, in order that she will survive.
Meanwhile, as the bodies continue to surface, an older cop tries to figure out who the mysterious killer is. As far as Owen is concerned, the bullying still continues at school, but with a little advice from Abby – and a little bit of weight training – Owen realizes that he can stand up for himself in one of the film’s most shocking, albeit darkly comic, sequences. It doesn’t take long for Owen to realize who and what Abby really is. In all of his fright and confusion, he decides to stay by her side, and as a result, Abby vows to protect Owen in the only way that she knows how.
Both of the leads earned well-deserved accolades for their layered performances. The cinematography is breathtaking. The score is beautiful, although there are moments in the film that could do without a background score. This is my only criticism of this otherwise perfect film. Director Matt Reeves has crafted a worthy tribute with Let Me In. It is the perfect example of how a remake should be done - even if a remake wasn't necessarily called for in the first place.
Horror fans should seek this one out, but should see the far superior original as well.
Anchor Bay has released the "30th Anniversary Edition" of Silent Night, Deadly Night on Blu-ray.
For those of you who aren't in the know, Silent Night, Deadly Night proved to be quite controversial when it was unleashed into theaters in 1984. In fact, the promotional materials caused just as much of an uproar as the actual movie did. You see, the poster features a particularly sinister image of Santa creeping down a chimney with an ax in hand. As a result, parents around the world pitched a fit, claiming that Hollywood had forever ruined the innocence of Christmas for their children and for future generations. Mickey Rooney went on record saying that the "scum" who made the film should be properly taken out into the street and shot. In an interesting turn of events, Rooney would later appear in the fifth installment of the Silent Night, Deadly Night saga, entitled "The Toy Maker".
Controversy aside, you have to admire the audacity of the filmmakers for putting this thing out there. It is an absolute blast from start to finish - one of those unintentionally hilarious oddities that never fails to deliver the goods.
The film opens as a young boy named Billy goes to the nursing home with his parents to visit his grandpa, who is supposedly catatonic. But it turns out that grandpa is an old trickster, because as soon as Billy's parents leave the room to speak with the doctor, this happens. Suffice it to say, after all of that, Billy's fascination with Santa Claus comes to a screeching halt. He tells his parents of the recent conversation with grandpa. Mom gets a little raddled, but Dad seems pretty neutral about it. Grandpa's crazy, after all. All of a sudden, the come upon a man in a Santa suit whose vehicle has broken down on the side of the road. Billy begs his parents to get the hell out of dodge, but being the kindly folk that they are, they stop to see what the trouble is. It turns out that Santa is a psycho. He pulls a gun on Billy's dad, who attempts to escape and ends up getting killed. Billy runs out of the car and hides, leaving his baby brother in the back seat. His mother is then drug out of the car, raped, and murdered. Billy hides in the bushes and witnesses the whole massacre.
Cut to years later. Billy and his brother have been sent to an orphanage. The sadistic Mother Superior rules over the place, and regularly punishes Billy for his increasingly rebellious and violent behavior. When he witnesses two teenagers having sex in a back room, the Mother Superior gives him the following advice: "When we do something naughty, we are always caught. Then, we are punished." She beats him, sends him to his room, and ties his hands to the bedpost. Suffice it to say, this is a recipe for disaster.
Billy grows into a strapping young lad, and soon lands his first job as a stock boy at a local toy store. When they ask him to fill in for the store Santa one Christmas, he flips. Santa-related imagery brings out the crazy in him. When he dons the Santa outfit, his personality shifts. He goes on a murderous rampage, screaming "PUNISH!!!!" to all of his victims, right before he kills them in increasingly gruesome ways. In a memorable scene, one chick gets impaled on a set of deer antlers on a mantle above the fireplace.
It all leads to a showdown between Billy, the cops, and the evil Mother Superior.
Silent Night, Deadly Night is the rare horror film that can be fully enjoyed on both Halloween and Christmas. It is so unapologetically bonkers, and there is a sense throughout the film that the director knew what kind of material that he was working with, and so he decided to have as much fun with it as he possibly could. I keep going back to it year after year, and I love springing it on my friends. Looking back at the controversy, it's kind of silly now. One thing is for certain, and that is the fact that Siskel and Ebert were not impressed at all. However, over time the film has gained a cult status and has been reevaluated as a true eighties horror classic.
If you've never seen it, please, do yourself a favor and seek it out!
Fatal Attraction caused quite a sensation back in 1987 - and audiences are still talking about this film today.
Glenn Close plays Alex Forrest, a mentally unstable career woman who has a one night stand with Dan Gallagher, a successful husband and father. After two nights of extremely bizarre love making (kitchen sink, anyone?), Dan decides that it is time to call it off for good. Big mistake. Alex Forrester teaches him a lesson he'll never forget...this film is responsible for the term "bunny boiler", by the way. Soon, Dan's wife gets in on the fun, and it all leads up to that disturbing, overwrought - and terribly cliched - climax.
One thing is for sure: you never know who to root for in this film. I go back and forth between Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. I can't decide. I mean, he's the jerk that cheated on his hot wife, knowing that he has a wife and a little girl at home. In a way, I think he deserves it. There are times when I smile with glee as he is forced to suffer the consequences to his actions. But then I think, "Geez, Glenn Close. You're one scary bitch! Go on with your eighties power hair! Wait a minute...put down the knife!!!! What did the rabbit do to you?!" It's easy to switch allegiances with the characters in this film. That's part of the fun of Fatal Attraction, if you can get past the hilarious love-making scenes. Back then, I guess that these scenes were considered edgy, but now, they just look ridiculous.
If you can get past those awkward moments, then you'll have the time of your life. These days, this film comes off as extremely campy, but it does still manage to give you the creeps. If I learned one thing by watching this film, it's that I will never, ever cheat on my wife. And that's a good thing. According to Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, fans have approached them before, thanking them for their performances, adding that Fatal Attraction saved their marriage.
All in all, it's an eighties classic with important moral lessons thrown in with lots of psychotic activity, kidnapping, and bunny boiling. You don't want to miss this one.
Director Richard Kelly burst onto the scene in 2001 with the film, Donnie Darko.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko, a teen suffering from schizophrenia. He sleepwalks, hallucinates, and has a very short temper. He is also seeing a psychiatrist, which he visits during the week. It is here that Donnie shares his most personal and bizarre secrets. His family is very supportive, although he and his sisters tend to fight quite often, but his parents try to communicate with him in the best way that they can. His home life isn’t that bad, although sometimes, he feels totally abandoned by those around him, with the exception of this girlfriend, Gretchen, and a small group of friends.
Then one night, his life totally changes. He hears a voice calling for him in the night. He gets out of bed, and walks towards the front entrance of the house as the voice continues to beckon him. He walks outside, only to find a man-sized, demonic looking rabbit standing ominously in his front yard. The rabbit tells him that the world is going to end in twenty-eight days, six hours, forty-two minutes, and twelve seconds. Then, out of nowhere, a plane engine falls out of the sky, and crashes into Donnie’s house, right where his room would have been. No one knows how it got there. All they know is that had Donnie been in his room, he would have died.
From there on, Donnie’s new imaginary friend keeps reappearing. He shows him disturbing visions, and incessantly warns him about the future, telling him that he is the only hope for the survival of mankind. When he comes into contact with a strange woman named Roberta Sparrow, a former nun who has written a book entitled, “The Philosophy of Time Travel”, Donnie begins to weave his way through the labyrinth in which he now finds himself.
Is Donnie really supposed to be the savior of the world, or does this all exist within is head? Kelly wisely refuses to offer easy answers. Like the majority of great films, Donnie Darko requires you to think. If you are up for the challenge, by all means, see this film. One of the great things about Donnie Darko – and one of the many reasons that people keep returning to the world that Kelly has created here – is the sense of atmosphere. It takes place in Middlesex, VA in the eighties right around Halloween, and we latch on to that sense of mystery, and the fact that anything is possible. It is a wholly unpredictable and frightening ethereal masterpiece, one that demands multiple viewings and invites multiple interpretations, making it a deeply personal experience for each viewer. The performances are so authentic and sincere, and because of this, we are drawn to these characters. We deeply care for them, especially Donnie. This is one of Jake Gyllenhaal’s finest performances. He simply disappears into this character and makes us believe.
Donnie Darko has made quite an impact on audiences the world over. It has gained a strong cult following over the years, with dedicated fans who feel very strongly about the film. It is one of the greatest films to come along in a long time, one that stays with you forever. Personally speaking, it is one of my favorites and a film that I will never forget.
Watch the trailer in the SCREENING ROOM.
Filmmaker Peter Dukes of Dream Seekers Productions has crafted an excellent horror short with Daniel, a three minute chiller that will leave you with the shivers - and maybe a few nightmares.
The film opens as an intruder roams through a house, shouting threats as he looks for a little boy who is hiding in the closet. "Your mama's dead. And your father probably wishes that he were," the man tells the child, as he continues to walk through the house with a baseball bat in one hand.
Slowly, the door begins to open. And that's when things get crazy.
For those of us who enjoy a good twist, you can't go wrong with Daniel. In any case, you'll never touch a Ouija board ever again.
Peter Dukes directed this film as a challenge to himself. He wanted to effectively tell a story in a short amount of time, and he has more than met his goal, delivering a quality piece with top-notch production values...and one hell of an ending. Keep an eye out for Peter Dukes, ladies and gentlemen. This man knows his stuff! Trust me. Take a few minutes to watch Daniel. You won't regret it!
Watch Daniel here.
To find out more about Dream Seekers Productions, you can visit the YouTube page or the website.
October 5th, 2011 is when it all started.
The first season of "American Horror Story" blew me away. I've watched that entire season about five times now. The mixture of genuinely disturbing subject matter, kinky sex, and ridiculous camp made it one of the best television events ever. I haven't been that dedicated to a series in quite some time. And, let's face it, the presence of Jessica Lange makes everything ten times better than it has any right to be. Every single actor on this show goes above and beyond, delivering Emmy worthy performances - to name a few: Queen Jessica, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga, Zachary Quinto, Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Frances Conroy, and the lovely Jamie Brewer.
The first season is ripe with drama and terror. The Harmon family won us over from the first episode, even though McDermott's Ben is a cheating asshole. You can't help but love him and hate him, but you know from the get-go that his wife, Vivian, is the kind of strong-willed liberal super-feminist mama that's not going to put up with it - and that makes it all okay. Daughter Violet's not-so-innocent fascination with the creepy-yet-sympathetic Tate really keeps you on your toes. Zachary Quinto is unforgettable as "Hallow-queen", Chad. And then, there's Jessica. Queen Jessica Lange, in all of her glory, acting the hell out of one of the meatiest, bitchiest roles of her career. She is a revelation. She almost single-handedly carries the show due to her strong performance. This is not scenery chewing -- every single performance is equally strong, and Lange knows better than to overshadow the rest.
There are so many deliciously evil sub-plots centered around the Harmon's new abode, the cleverly nick-named, "Murder House". I can't possibly go into all of them here, but I will say, this is one of the richest "haunted house" experiences you're ever going to have by way of a television series. And the fact that this show comes on FX is a good thing, because this is envelope-pushing stuff. The mythology and history surrounding this particular house has been meticulously detailed and really draws you in to the world that Ryan Murphy has created.
Okay, so maybe the title of this post is pushing it a little...but, either way, you have to admit that this show is incredible. Sure, it's a tad cliche, but it's precisely how those cliches and horror tropes are reinvented on the series that makes all of that otherwise cloying familiarity absolutely forgivable.
Seasons 2 and 3 have their charms, and I will explore them later, but the first season of "American Horror Story" will always have a special place in my heart. If you have not seen it yet, do yourself a favor: go to Netflix right now and remedy that!
Originally published at CultureMass on April 5th, 2013.
Last night, I saw an advanced screening of the 2013 remake of Sam Raimi’s cult classic, Evil Dead – and it was everything that I hoped it would be and more. As I write this review, I am still giddy from the experience. I’ll probably see it in the theatres once more before it comes to Blu-ray. You want to see this film in theatres. Do not miss it, especially if you are a fan of Sam Raimi’s work.
The film opens as a happy couple – David and Natalie – arrive at an isolated cabin in the woods to meet up with Mia, David’s sister, and a few of their old friends, Eric and Olivia. David and Mia have been estranged from one another for a while, and in that time, Mia has developed a drug problem. Eric and Olivia have brought her out to the cabin so that she can quit her habit cold turkey and under strict supervision. Mia hasn’t coped with her mother’s death very well, and it didn’t help matters when her brother skipped town when things went from bad to worse. As a result, Mia was forced to watch her mother die a slow, painful death, and she still hasn’t recovered emotionally. Eric and Olivia have taken care of her in David’s absence.
The detoxification process begins in the afternoon, as Mia tosses her stash down a well and makes an oath, promising to never touch the stuff again. Later on during the night, the withdrawal symptoms start to kick in. Mia curses and screams, and complains of a pervasive rotting smell in the cabin. When a cellar door is discovered under and old throw rug, the group reluctantly opens it, revealing the source of the stench. Once inside, they discover a room full of animal carcasses, which are hanging upside down from the ceiling. Other strange and disturbing artifacts are found, including a strange book, encased in a trash bag and wrapped in barbwire. Eric takes it into one of the vacant rooms and removes the barbwire and plastic, revealing a book bound in human flesh and containing strange occult images and incantations. Some of the words have been violently marked through and replaced with warnings, such as “Do not read these words”, “Stay away from this book”, and so on. Of course, Eric just can’t help himself, and, carried away by his own curiosity, he reads one of the sinister incantations out loud.
If you are a fan of the original film, you already have some idea as to what happens next. If you are new to the world of Evil Dead, I am going to spare you any spoilers by ending the synopsis right now.
The events which transpire in the next hour are incredibly horrific, extremely graphic, and darkly comic. Never before have I ever seen anything quite like this in a mainstream film. The mere fact that Evil Dead escaped the NC-17 rating is a mystery indeed. There are scenes in this film that will cause your jaw to hit the floor. Unlike the original - which was quite campy and often hilarious - the humor has almost entirely been stripped away, with only a few laughs here and there to break up the tension, especially during the final act. Evil Dead is a non-stop thrill ride with a perfect setup and execution. The entire cast is excellent, especially Jane Levy as Mia, and Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric. Director Fede Alvarez co-wrote the screenplay with Diablo Cody and Rodo Sayagues, taking the audience a non-stop thrill ride. The score by composer Roque Banos is appropriately eerie and heavy on the strings, creating the perfect mood. The scares build and build until the tension is nearly unbearable at times, but it is all in good fun.
Depending on your tolerance for gore – and this is quite possibly one of the goriest films in recent memory – you will enjoy this film immensely. This is one of the best horror films to come along in years. I would advise anyone going in to this film to just give in to the insanity, have a good time, and prepare for one of the most extreme cinematic experiences of all time.
Be sure to stay for the end credits. Your patience will be rewarded with a little surprise.
Watch the trailer here.
"Gooble gobble, gooble gobble! We accept you, one of us!"
This little chant comes from one of the most controversial horror films in cinematic history – Tod Browning’s cult classic, entitled Freaks. I say that the film is controversial because it effectively ended Tod Browning’s career after its release, repulsed critics and audiences alike, and was banned in the U.K. for thirty years. Even though Freaks was released in the Pre-Code era, it was still heavily censored. Ultimately, thirty minutes were cut from the film – thirty minutes which we will probably never see again, as this footage is considered lost.
The story concerns a circus sideshow dwarf named Hans, who falls in love with a trapeze artist named Cleopatra. Hans has inherited a small fortune and constantly purchases extravagant gifts for the woman, who is plotting a manipulative scheme with the strongman named Hercules. The other sideshow performers know that Cleopatra is an evil temptress, and they attempt to warn Hans on several occasions, but he is blinded by Cleopatra’s beauty. “She is the most beautiful big woman I’ve ever seen,” Hans tells his friend, Frieda.
Cleopatra eventually seduces and marries Hans, much to the disapproval of the others. During the wedding celebration, Hans friends attempt to make peace with her by way of a ceremonial toast, chanting “Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, we will make her one of us!” This is an offer that Cleopatra vehemently refuses. She humiliates Hans at the dinner, mocking him and his friends, calling them “freaks”. Later, she apologizes to Hans. Things seem normal for a while, but little does Hans know that Cleopatra plans on slowly killing him in an attempt to inherit all of his money. But the others know exactly what is going on. Cleopatra does not know that the so-called “freaks” live by a code: “Offend one of us, offend us all.”
She’s about to find out. Cleopatra is the true freak of the film, only she doesn’t “look” the part...not yet, that is.
Freaks is not your typical horror film, and while it is exploitative, the film has lots of heart. Before becoming a filmmaker, Tod Browning was a member of a traveling circus who worked with sideshow performers on a daily basis. He knew of the cruelties that these people had to endure, and he felt for them. Later on, he would make this film using actual sideshow performers, their deformities on full display. However, the intent is not so much to exploit as it is to present them as human beings who love, who laugh, who struggle like the rest of us, making Freaks just as bittersweet and heartbreaking as it is disturbing.
And it is disturbing. The final sequence in which the “freaks” exact their revenge on Cleopatra and Hercules, crawling and creeping through the mud during a torrential downpour in the middle of the night, is absolutely chilling. Apparently, it was heavily edited, as it horrified the censors to no end. One can only hope that this footage will eventually be discovered and preserved.
After the release of Freaks, Browning’s career would never recover. It’s a shame, because Freaks is truly his masterpiece. It is a horror classic that has earned its place in the history of cinema. There is nothing quite like it. If you have never seen it, by all means, check it out as soon as possible!
Watch the trailer here.
My name is Adam Renkovish. I am a certified Halloween addict.