IT HAPPENED AFTER SCREAM Part 10: 10 years later…

I bring my “After Scream” blog series to a close with this one. Having covered every slasher in my collection that comes from the decade following the Scream trilogy, I leave you with 3 films that came exactly 10 years after the first film was released. As a bonus, I’ve added one film’s sequel, which wasn’t released until 2014. Uh-oh. Is it the start of an “After Scream 4” blog series…? These days, you gotta have a sequel!

BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2006)

behind the mask cover

Ten years after the first Scream was released, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon took the deconstruction of slasher films one step further—and tossed in a found footage feel at times. A small documentary crew follows an expert masked killer as he breaks down every last detail of how he pulls off all the tricks of the slasher trade.

The setup presents to us a reality in which Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers were actual killers. The crew even makes brief visits to the locations of each murderer’s killing spree, leading to a cameo by Kane Hodder as a suburbanite entering the house on Elm Street. Even Chucky and Leatherface are referenced, and there are also Easter eggs from various horror movies embedded in the film if you pay close enough attention.

behind the mask main girl

In fact, there is plenty for diehard slasher fans to love about the first hour of this film. The Vernon character is perfectly bizarre as he walks the crew through his process, from picking the right final girl to target, to establishing his backstory and preparing all the traps and pitfalls the group of victims will face when he chases them. One detail for nitpickers…the killer’s main target is referenced as the “survivor girl,” which Vernon claims is an “industry term,” when the truth is, NOT.

behind the mask zelda

Zelda Rubinstein of the original Poltergeist makes a brief appearance as a librarian, and Robert Englund is great as the Donald Pleasence character—a psychiatrist who is in hot pursuit of our killer.

behind the mask englund

There’s even an appearance by our dearly departed Hershel from The Walking Dead! It was cool to see him, but his role is totally pointless. Cutting it out would have trimmed the running time a bit and helped fix the film’s biggest problem…the meta shtick starts to wear thin, causing the middle to drag.

behind the mask hershel

In the final act, the film at last changes course and reaches the moment we’ve been waiting for – Vernon putting into action the slasher scenario he has been outlining all along. The first kill doesn’t take place until an hour and 9 minutes into the film, but once it does, the last 20 minutes or so deliver all the classic slasher clichés. And the big twist is just what Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon needed to really make it stand out from the barrage of clone slashers released in the wake of the Scream franchise.

SIMON SAYS (2006)

simon says cover

The disdain for this film I’ve seen online boggles my mind. This is one of the best slasher comedy party movies of the era if you take it is an over the-top, darkly comic, backwoods horror film that subtly mocks the genre rather than using blatant humor. Hell, it opens with a little kid bashing his brother over the head with a toy truck! Awesome.

Then we meet a bunch of kids heading to the woods for some camping: the sweet girl, the slut, the bitchy athletic girl, the dumb stud, and the pothead. When they get lost, they stop at a cemetery, where not one but two crazy old men appear to warn them to stay away from the place they’re heading. Next stop, a convenience store, where they meet not one, but two creepy clerks, both played by…Crispin Glover! He’s twins in possibly one of my favorite Crispin Glover roles ever! His Friday the 13th days behind him, he is now the campsite killer, he’s perfectly psycho, and he’s loaded with one-liners delivered in a loony way no one does like Crispin Glover.

simon says glover

Once the kills begin, there’s no way not to see this film for what it is—a splatter comedy. Crispin has the woods rigged with some of most gore-ific, slicing, dicing, and impaling contraptions ever. The body count is upped significantly by the sudden, random appearance of a bunch of paintball players. Crispin simply squashes a poodle with his boot like it’s a bug (I felt so guilty for laughing at a doggy death). In the middle of the woods he has a rotating, targeting turret that throws axes faster than a tennis ball machine. I was laughing out loud when not one, but two different scenes had victims attempting to avoid the projectile axes while running through the woods. The kills in this film are bloody delicious.

simon says stud

On top of that, the dumb stud, played by Artie Baxter (Vile), is shirtless for a majority of the film. There’s a lair filled with dead bodies and…newspaper articles about loads of murders. Glover brings the main girl, played by Margo Harshman (From Within, Sorority Row), to a Texas Chainsaw style dinner party, only he holds his outdoors. The main girl tries to seduce Glover right in the middle of the dinner table while surrounded by all the corpse guests, which leads to a hilarious battle between the pair.

simon saysd monster

Simon Says is an instant classic for me. As for the top billing Blake Lively gets on the DVD cover? It’s because she was in Gossip Girl when the film was released. She only appears for about 2 minutes in the film’s epilogue. Margo Harshman was fucking robbed.

simon says cast

SEE NO EVIL (2006)

see no evil cover

Cashing in on the new levels of brutality ushered in by the Saw decade, See No Evil stars wrestler Kane as Jacob, an enormous, seemingly supernaturally powerful killer taking down juvenile delinquents that come to a derelict hotel to clean it up for renovations. The film is directed by Gregory Dark, whose filmography consists predominantly of adult films, including installments of classic franchises such as The Devil in Miss Jones, Animal Instincts, Between the Cheeks, and New Wave Hookers. The first New Wave Hookers is infamous because it features an underage Traci Lords.

With that tidbit of trivia in mind, Jacob’s motivation in See No Evil is fitting. As a child, he was locked in a cage and abused by his religious fanatic mother for thinking about girls and sex. In flashbacks, we even see that she would wash his eyes out in the shower while saying things like, “The eyes are the window of the soul.”

see no evil eyes

Sooooo…Jacob now digs his victims’ eyes out with his gnarly fingers and puts them in jars in his lair in the derelict hotel. Kane’s massive presence makes for the perfect killer, and the rundown hallways are an ideal setting. Also, the captures and kills, which consist of Jacob snagging his victims with a giant hook on a long chain, are deliciously violent, the eye gouging makes for some great gore, and the kills are gruesome.

see no evil chains

See No Evil isn’t particularly “scary” (we get mostly cheap, bogus jump scares while the kids are cleaning up) or edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, but it has that sleek, fast-paced feel of new millennium slashers, there’s a good old shower scene with T&A, and the kills come rapid fire. There’s even an unexpected twist not too far into the movie that changes everything you thought you could expect from the plot and character focus. It also has some familiar horror faces, including sexy Michael J. Pagan (House of Fears, Chain Letter, Fallen), and ideal scream queen material Rachael Taylor (666 Park Avenue, The Darkest Hour, Shutter, Man-Thing, Ghost Machine).

see no evil cast

Best of all, Jacob’s “death scene” rocks, and there’s a bonus punch line if you sit through the closing credits. Of course, Jacob’s not really dead, but it did take him nearly a decade to get back on his feet for more slaughtering….

SEE NO EVIL 2 (2014)

see no evil cast

So eight years later, the sequel comes around, and actually takes place the very same night of the hotel massacre! Danielle Harris works at a morgue, it’s her birthday, and she’s surprised when her friends show up to throw her a party. Also showing up is Jacob’s “dead” body.

Directed by the Soska Sisters (aka: Twisted Twins), See No Evil 2 is mostly a run-of-the-mill slasher sequel with a just a few notable aspects. Scream queen Katharine Isabelle plays a slutty bimbo who decides to mount Jacob’s corpse, inevitably causing him to wake up from his slumber mighty pissed off.

see no evil 2 isabelle

She also knows a ridiculous amount of details about the killer’s backstory—considering the hotel massacre just happened that night. Major flaw. Also, for reasons I’ll never understand, Katharine becomes a “comic relief” character. At least, I hope that was the intention, otherwise she just gave a bad performance here. Her campy overacting is fun and fresh for her and would be great to see in the appropriate context (think the Hatchet series), but See No Evil 2 is in no way light, so the performance and character are jarringly out of place.

see no evil 2 danielle

Danielle Harris, definitely one of the strongest actresses in the genre today, rescues much of this cookie cutter sequel’s running time. Plus, hottie Grayston Holt of the TV show Bitten plays her dick of a brother, and cutie Lee Majdoub (Dead Rising: Endgame, ABCs of Death 2) shows off his hot bod and a hint of his ass during a sex scene with Katharine Isabelle.

see no evil 2 lee tush

The film’s strong point is in the second half. There’s plenty of cat and mouse chasing, the kills are just as perfectly brutal as in the first film (although, Jacob has pretty much given up on the eye-plucking fun), there are a couple of awesomely unexpected plot surprises, and Danielle’s male counterpart gets one major beating at the hands of Jacob. This kick ass sequence takes full advantage of Kane’s expertise as a professional wrestler and is the highlight of this sequel for me.

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Stream Queen: science vs. the supernatural

Step away from the ghost machine! Will the living never learn not to mess with the dead? I look at The Ghostmaker and Fear Clinic, and they make it easy to make it brief….

THE GHOSTMAKER (2012)

ghostmaker cover

Any horror fan that’s been around for more than 20 years is sure to notice that The Ghostmaker is Flatliners, Ghost, and Thirt3en Ghosts all rolled into one.

ghostmaker lead

A really cute guy (above, not that I needed to say it) scores a mysterious coffin from an old lady getting rid of her dead husband’s belongings. He shows his friends, and pretty soon, they discover it’s actually a machine that’s supposed to let you experience the feeling of being dead. (Super) Naturally they use it, which causes them to walk around like something from The Frighteners.

ghostmaker coffin

They also begin seeing this grim reaper with a machine face when they’re not even in the coffin. One of the guys—constrained to a wheelchair in real life but not when he’s having the out-of-body experience, becomes addicted to the rush the coffin gives him. His friends must stop the evil grim reaper force that’s leading him down a very dark path.

ghostmaker reaper

The Ghostmaker is a well done film, but it’s nothing I personally haven’t seen before—and I prefer all the movies this one echoes. However, I can never get enough of cute shirtless guys, and there are a couple of them here.

FEAR CLINIC (2015)

fear clinic cover

This one comes to us via Robert Hall, director of the Laid to Rest movies, and stars Fiona Dourif (Brad’s daughter and star of Curse of Chucky), Robert Englund, and Thomas Dekker (A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, All About Evil, the Laid to Rest movies), so things are looking up from the beginning.

Englund is a scientist/doctor trying to cure patients of their phobias by putting them in a machine that gives them hallucinations he’s supposed to be able to control. But of course things go wrong, and they begin dying while in the machine.

fear clinic in machine

The current batch of patients consists of survivors of a shooting at a diner. When one of them pukes up some black goo, the doctor experiments with the substance and determines it is some sort of manifestation from the patients’ hallucinations.

fear clinic shooter

Things are rather slow up to that point, but then the film shifts into good, cheesy horror mode. All the patients get stuck in a sort of reenactment of the events at the diner, and Englund turns into a hybrid of the shooter and a tentacled black goo monster! Wahoo! I’ll admit the first half of the film dragged for me, but once all this dumb monster shit hit, I was totally into it.

fear clinic monster

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Stream Queen: girls with guilt vs. creatures in the woods

Once again, the fates have manipulated my existence so that I unintentionally watched movies with a common thread. Separated by a decade, these two films are pretty routine, but I preferred one over the other.

IT WAITS (2005)

it waits cover

I’m shocked that this creature feature from director Steven R. Monroe (I Spit on Your Grave remake and its sequel) isn’t in heavy rotation on SyFy or Chiller. It was probably rejected because there’s not enough monster and not enough of a body count.

it waits main girl

Cerina Vincent (the original Cabin Fever, Freaks of Nature, Tales of Halloween, Return to House on Haunted Hill) is a park ranger sitting up in her tower watching over the woods as she suffers from the guilt of a drunken car crash that killed her best friend. Luckily, her cute park ranger partner shows up to fuck her.

it waits boyfriend

This poor pair of actors has to deliver some of the absolute worst dialogue for a majority of the film. How bad is it? One of the lesser characters that passes by even uses the word “flummoxed.”

Once the couple realizes some sort of creature is after them, the guy goes to die—I mean, to get help—and the main girl is left alone to fight the monster on her own. But first, she runs into a Native American man who knows all about the legend of the creature, which means more awful dialogue.

In old school fashion, we don’t see much of the monster for a majority of the film, which is a negative in this case. The only fun part is when it finally comes out full force and the main girl goes into bad ass mode to kill it. Sadly, this lasts for only 15 minutes of the entire film. The creature is mostly traditional rubber monster stuff, and it’s awesome!

It Waits creature

It also fricking flies, so it has a very Jeepers Creepers feel to it. Not to mention, despite being a creature, it acts more like a masked killer in a slasher, even rigging dead bodies to drop down and scare our main girl at just the right moments.

it waits body drop

GIRL IN WOODS (2016)

girl in the woods cover

Ever sit through a completely derivative film that isn’t even fun for cheap thrills and wonder the whole time why you’re bothering? Well, I do it constantly, so of course I fell victim to Girl in Woods. What do you want from me? Charisma Carpenter is in the cast.

girl in the woods mother

Juliet Reeves London (Automaton Transfusion, Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Strippers vs. Zombies, Second Coming) plays a woman who had a traumatic experience as a child, witnessing her father get shot, which we learn through her nightmares. Now she’s heading to a cabin in the woods with her man, played by Jeremy London (her real life husband as of this writing).

Almost immediately, something awful happens to Jeremy, leaving the main girl trapped in the woods alone, having more flashbacks of her past (with Charisma as her mother), seeing a shadowy figure trailing her, and being influenced and antagonized by a devil’s advocate version of herself.

girl in the woods main girl

She must face her own demons and defeat the evil creature stalking her to get out alive! If you can’t figure out exactly how this one plays out, you are a total amateur.

girl in the woods monster

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Stream Queen: 4 zombie films from 4 years in a row

As the zombie craze keeps coming back from the dead, my latest streaming binge of four zombie films from four consecutive years seems to be digging a deeper grave with each new year…but Jesse Metcalfe saves the day at the last minute!

THE ZOMBIE KING (2013)

 zombie king cover

Okay. Brace yourself. Someone thought it was a good idea to make a British zomcom…then throw in a serious subplot starring Edward Furlong as a man who practices voodoo to bring his dead wife back, which leads to him summoning a god, played by Corey Feldman, who looks like a punk rock demon. And this is the serious part.

zombie king feldman

But forget that serious subplot for a second, considering it’s virtually irrelevant for a majority of the funny part of the film, which makes the occasional cuts to Furlong moping by his wife’s bed so jarring. We meet a band of everyday folks just trying to survive the outbreak. Really, that’s all they do. There’s not much going on here, and while there are some damn funny lines and the cast is likable, this zombedy is very run of the mill.

zombie king cast

The ending, when the two plots come together, is the death knell for this film. A drunk priest tells the group they need to kill the zombie king to stop the zombies.

zombieking furlong

Furlong is now the zombie king because of his little voodoo game. So they go find him. Worst of all, the movie threatens a sequel.

TOXIN (2014)

toxin cover

When a movie starts with what looks like a CGI takedown of a military man by a zombie, you know what you’re in for.

toxin hero

The lone survivor of that military biochemical experiment is a hot Clint Eastwood clone. I don’t know what his plan is, but he hijacks a small plane of young people. I also have no idea who they are, why they are getting in a plane together, or where they’re going. All this may have been explained, but I was already on my iPad seeing what movie I could stream next.

The group tries repeatedly to overtake Clint Clone, which leads to the plane (CGI) crashing on the very island on which Clint Clone survived that biochemical outbreak. The group continues trying to overtake him, and he continues to regain control, finally telling them they won’t survive on the island without him. The good news is, Clint Clone does some sort of exotic dance move with a knife to cut off his shirt so he can use it to patch up one of the wounded in the group. After all, when trapped on an island with zombies, there’s no better camouflage than your exposed, rippling muscles and smooth, delicious flesh.

toxin hero noshirt

As the group explores the island, we get sepia tone zombie POV and CGI blood splatter to signify that one of them was attacked. Then some chick in the group suddenly has a hissy fit and screams at her husband that she’s fucking his best friend. The most shocking thing about this is that the husband looks upset—I figured he’d be happy because his character totally acts like a big queen. The movie could have been a winner for me if he’d just screamed back, “Yeah? Well I’m fucking him, too!”

toxin husband
No, that’s not her gay BFF.

Surprisingly, there’s a brief segment near the end of the film that actually offers some exciting conflict in the woods with fast running, grisly looking infected (they’re more “The Crazies” than zombies).

toxin zombie

Toxin should have ended on the island, because we’re brought back to the reality of this film’s quality by the final helicopter crash sequence, which looks like it could be footage from some action flick of the 1960s—actually, make that some cartoon of the 1960s.

toxin helicopter

ZOMBIE BOY (2015)

zombie boy cover

There’s nothing more grueling than a low budget, slapstick, redneck zombie farce that isn’t funny.

The setup? A mad doctor injects some guy with a green serum. The guy turns into a zombie. A farmer stops the doctor, hides the green serum, takes the zombie in to live with him, and calls him Zombie Boy. As long as he gives Zombie Boy beer, zombie boy doesn’t attack.

zombie boy cast

Meanwhile, the farmer’s dad is kicked out of his old folks home, so he comes to live at the farm. Then these ninjas invade the house but Zombie Boy chases them away. They’re part of an organization that wants the serum and has the ultimate weapon—a big bald daddy in a fur coat. He’s even hotter when he flogs a man.

zombie boy fur

The rest of the movie becomes series of chases and shootouts. I pretty much checked out when the film tried to make blowing up a dog funny.

The movie runs an hour and five minutes with ten minutes of closing credits and bloopers. It just definitely isn’t my thing, because I didn’t even find the bloopers entertaining.

DEAD RISING: ENDGAME (2016)

dead rising endgame cover

At first, this sequel to Dead Rising: Watchtower feels like it’s going to suck real hard. Jesse Metcalfe reprises his role as a reporter, and looks quite sexy with a scruffy face. He’s now investigating disappearances during the outbreak that may have to do with underground government experiments. Shunned by the media, he gathers a rogue team of allies to help him infiltrate the quarantine zone to learn the truth.

dead rising endgame jesse

I was so bored as they encounter various human baddies for the first half of the film. This is a made-for-free-streaming movie based on a zombie hack n’ slash video game. Whose bright idea was it to try to shoehorn a plot into it?

Thankfully, that person’s bright idea was apparently forced into a compromise by a dummy that knew this was a no brainer. The group ends up in an underground facility with—super zombies! They’re stronger. They’re faster. But apparently, so is Jesse Metcalfe.

ded rising endgame jesse escalator

He goes into zombie slaying overdrive in this film! His fight sequences kick zombie ass! There’s carnage galore! That’s all I ask.

dead rising endgame headsplice

As a bonus, Billy Zane has a five-minute cameo as a major player in all the chaos.

dead rising endgame zane

Overall, as the group tries to stop the virus and fetch an antidote, this feels like a cheapo version of World War Z. Which of course means it’s way better than World War Z.

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The horror world needs a full-length feature from this author/director of horror shorts

armando chopped

After seeing the five short horror films director Armando D. Muñoz made between the years 2000 and 2008, I can’t imagine why no one has thrown money at him to do a full-length feature. Perhaps he’ll make one for his recent horror novel, Hoarder. And no, it has no connection to the movie The Hoarder starring Mischa Barton. So let me touch upon his novel before I get to his short films.

armando munoz horder cover

Hoarder was born (from a sick mind!) to be a repulsive exploitation slasher flick. It throws us to the trash right from the very beginning. A group of friends breaks into the house of the local hoarder—a huge, disgusting woman infamous for building her collections by stealing from others. They are on the hunt for a stolen bicycle and a kidnapped cat. No sooner do the kids discover the nauseating circumstances under which the hoarder chooses to live, including rotten food covered in bugs, dead or near-dead animals, and bodily fluids and excrement everywhere (this novel is not for the squeamish), than she returns home. You could easily read this one in a single sitting, for the action, horror, brutality, and suspense come nonstop as the kids try to dig their way out of the heinous world the hoarder has built. But she plans to drag them deeper into it, and she has home advantage in a sea of unthinkable substances and life forms….

armando tran effect

In his short films, Muñoz delves into the sexually perverse and the disgusting—think Frank Henenlotter movies like Bad Biology and Brain Damage if they were even more twisted. However, although the situations in Muñoz’s movies are over-the-top with plenty of campy humor and elements of shlock cinema, he manages to make them feel like genuine horror movies. Absurdly deviant killers, instead of being as strictly ridiculous as they sound, are presented so effectively from a horror perspective that they are simultaneously creepy and disturbing.

armando halloween shrubs

Muñoz knows horror and understands how to use each aspect of it—visuals, sound, concept. Watching his films, it’s obvious that he has paid attention to what makes the best films in the genre so effective. So many indie directors these days want to make a horror movie like the directors they idolize, but instead of crafting a horror film, they simply film a horror plot. There’s a huge difference. For instance, Muñoz will make a sleazy, satirical stalker film about an obsessed killer rambling about panties, yet still deliver a sense of the horror the main character in the film is experiencing. Many horror directors releasing films today attempt to capture the spirit of the movies they loved growing up, but with his 10 to 20 minutes films, Muñoz puts most of those self-proclaimed throwback films to shame.

Here’s a brief rundown of his five short films, complete with some freaky and explicit stills.

THE KILLER KRAPPER (2000)

killercrapper toilet

The Killer Krapper is the most blatantly tasteless of Muñoz’s films and doesn’t take itself seriously (not surprising, considering the title). A young woman flushes her tampon down the toilet. But this is one killer krapper that prefers to earn its red wings without any help. So it chases her through her house, attempting to eat her!

PERVULA (2002)

pervula killer

Pervula is a trippy melding of black and white silent film and trashy exploitation. A pervert in a mask terrorizes a woman, and many of his actions involve anal situations, from sticking a candle up his ass to sending a fricking stop motion pile of poo to get her.

pervula perving

And yet, there are many notable nods to eerie horror films of the black and white era, particularly Nosferatu.

pervula shadow 1

The score, as is the case with all Muñoz’s films, sets a perfect horror tone, and the footage of the killer is so chilling that he’d be the stuff of nightmares if taken out of the context of this film.

MIME AFTER MIDNIGHT (2003)

mine after midnight killer

Damn. This is the one in which Muñoz doesn’t mess around. I could see Mime After Midnight being a full-length slasher, but that might actually water down its effectiveness.

A woman misses her bus at night on a deserted road, and the next thing you know, a mime appears. The woman is relieved at first not to be alone, but when the mime doesn’t drop the act and talk to her, she gets annoyed and begins mocking him. The actress absolutely rules here, and the silent exchange had me laughing out loud.

mime after midnight woman

But then shit gets real. When the mime “mock” slashes her with a knife, she actually gets cut. Cue chase scene and fuck me with a candle, because at one point, it looks like the damn mime is floating after her. There’s suspense, grisly gore (that’s not CGI), and brutal attacks, plus that fricking mime sets a wickedly unnerving tone. This is really a mini masterpiece to me.

THE TERRIBLE OLD TRAN (2006)

terrible old tran cover

This is a devilishly good time with a great 80s Stuart Gordon horror vibe. Three young guys decide to take a trip to the house of an old man rumored to have a big tentacle for a dick. They wear masks to sneak onto the property, and before long they’re falling victim to “something” that most definitely has a long appendage….

terrible old tran tied up

Sex and sexuality play an important part in this one. The homophobic dude in the group whips out his dick—complete with a Prince Albert—to take a piss in a fish pond, and it gets fondled by a tentacle.

terrible old tran ween

He then has a nasty confrontation with some sex toys in the house (Muñoz’s gross sense of humor comes on full force) before finally meeting…the terrible old tran. Love this one.

terrible old tran tran

PANTY KILL (2008)

pantykill cover

A fun, obscene spoof of slasher films—now that’s my kind of movie. This one even begins with a “panty-panty-panty, kill-kill-kill” mocking of Jason’s famous “kill-kill-kill, her-her-her.”

pantyface message

A woman waiting for her man to arrive for some sexy times is terrorized by “Crotchless Panty Face.” He peeps in her window. He whisper-hisses like an obscene phone caller (remember them from the good old days?). He wants her panties, and he wants them crotchless. He wants all panties crotchless. He will cut out the crotches of your panties while you’re still wearing them. Oh yes. This one gets repulsive. Crotchless Panty Face even has a pussy puppet Ed Gein would, well, kill for.

pantyface pusspuppet

Hell, Crotchless Panty Face wouldn’t have to tell me twice to slip into crotchless panties, because he is one studly psycho….

pantyface killer

To learn more about Armando’s work, check out his website, Eek! Entertainment.

And finally, just when you thought Armando couldn’t get any cuter…baby pic!

armando childs play

Posted in Everyday I Read the Book: Literary Thoughts, Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Three more independent zombie films? Bring it!

Nope. Still not sick of zombie films, especially when I watch three in a row that are better than most of the less-than-average junk being pumped out these days.

BAD TO THE JONES (2011)

bad to the jones cover

Writer/director Marlon Ladd and actor Chris Paul star as two brothers surviving the zombie apocalypse in this urban zombedy set in…rural America (eek!).

bad to jones comic

The movie is framed by comic book graphics (there are also occasional comic book stills between scenes), and begins with the brothers showing us exactly the kind of slapstick banter to expect as they get into a goofball fight that inevitably summons a bunch of zombies. Ladd plays the straight character, while Chris Paul is given free rein to run with his comic shtick. As a team they’re infectious, delivering fun, playful, original comedy (not to mention, they’re quite easy on the eyes).

bad to the jones brothers

This first zombie encounter shows that there will be zombie goo and gore, plus we are introduced to a pair of sizzling hot muscle bear super zombies.

bad to jones hunks1

But after an intense scene with these two sexy beasts—these fuckers fricking drag their meals into the woods—all zombies quickly take a backseat for a majority of the film. This might disappoint hardcore zombie fanatics, but if you love horror comedy and buddy movies, you should have no problem just going with the flow.

bad to jones comic duo

The brothers set off to find their sister, picking up survivors along the way, leading to various comic encounters. The humor never grows old, and Ladd and Paul remind me of a modern Abbott & Costello. The highlight for me should come as no surprise—they have a Michael Jackson dance off. Awesome.

bad to the jones dance off

By the time the zombies come back in full force, the zombie action rox.

bad to the jones zombies

My only disappointment with the film is that the return of the sizzling hot muscle bear super zombies is way too short-lived, or short-living dead, whatever the case may be.

bad to jones hunks2

They could have had a much more formidable presence throughout the film considering their initial appearance was so momentous. Guess I’m just going to have to snag a copy of Bad to the Jones on DVD so I can watch them over and over again.

ROCKABILLY ZOMBIE WEEKEND (2013)

rockabilly zombie cover

Where are the funny black guys when you need them? All we get here is white trash and nothing in the way of a horror comedy, despite the quirky sounding title. The redneck characters may be visual caricatures, but Rockabilly Zombie Weekend takes itself pretty seriously. It ends up being a technically well put together zombie excursion—cool zombies, great gore, and plenty of action—that somehow lacks that special spark, and the characters kind of just blend into the background.

rockabilly zombie

Due to toxic chemicals used for crop dusting in a small town, people begin turning into zombies on the night of a young couple’s rockabilly themed wedding. For me, the absolute strongest scene in this film is the first mutation of an older man at a bar. It’s a very slow and deliberate process that makes for a chillingly intense sequence.

rockabilly transform

40 minutes into the film, zombies at last crash the wedding. It’s gore galore as guests fight back, run in terror, are eaten alive, and try to board themselves up in a barn. From this point, the zombie action comes nonstop, but there’s not much here that stands out from the horde—I mean, herd of zombie films out there.

rockabilly break in attack

I got my hopes up when a big boy that was initially a minor player suddenly stepped into the limelight and pulled off a quick series of awesome zombie takedowns, but within seconds he bites the dust, dashing my dreams of a studly redneck zombie slayer movie.

rockabilly zombie man to man

The white trash, the couple, the wedding—none of it offers enough personality to make this one a memorable zombie film. However, it’s good for a quick fix when you need it, thanks to all the zombie insanity. And as for the rockabilly angle, there’s definitely plenty of it played throughout the film, but that did nothing for me personally, considering listening to Stray Cats was the most I ever got into the genre—and only one of their songs in particular.

I SURVIVED A ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (2014)

i survived zombie holocaust cover

For me, I Survived a Zombie Holocaust is the perfect blend of comedy, horror, gore, zombie action, and sex, and I ordered the DVD as soon as I was done watching this one on cable.

i survived gore

A geeky wannabe screenplay writer gets a menial errand boy job on the set of a zombie film with a quirky cast and crew, including a mega hunk muscle hero star, a bodacious bitch of a leading lady, a browbeating producer, and a sweet caterer the errand boy fancies.

i survived hunk

i survived diva

i survived producer

Before long, actors begin turning into actual zombies. Only problem is, no one realizes it! Along with the comedy of errors, we get plenty of one-liners and quick, dry humor from a strong cast. The mega hunk is as funny as he is gorgeous, and he looks fantastic wearing only a cock sock during a sex scene shoot.

i survived sock 1

And kudos to our uber hairy hero for doing the same as he takes on the responsibility of stand-in…which leads to some good old sex humor.

i survived stand in

The hunk seems to be stealing the show for a while (or maybe I was just too distracted by his presence), especially after questions about his sexuality come into play.

i survived pushups

The diva bitch accuses him of being gay, so when he finds her in his trailer with her tits out, he quickly covers up the gay porn magazine on his table and promises to show her “how not gay” he is. Considering he’s too dumb to realize she’s a zombie, this leads to a disgusting case of undead dick later.

i survived cast

Once the zombie outbreak kicks in, it’s fast-paced action, gore, and laughs as our nerd becomes the unlikely hero with a great sidekick in the sweet catering chick. This one is definitely an instant zombedy fave for me.

i survived lead couple

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The 80s SLASHER VAULTS 3: Christopher Lewis’s Blood Pack

ripper 3 pack

Having clear memories of watching The Ripper, Blood Cult, and its sequel Revenge on VHS back in the 80s when I worked at a video store, I must have been feeling really nostalgic the day I purchased this 3-DVD set. After all, director Christopher Lewis released all three of these direct-to-video movies in less than a year….

THE RIPPER (1985)

ripper cover

Looking about as professional as a 1982 Greg Kihn video on MTV, shot-on-video movie The Ripper begins as a period piece in late 1800s London, with Jack the Ripper slaughtering a female victim.

ripper intro

Fear not (believe me, you won’t at all watching this movie), for it’s just a story being told by a college professor giving a lecture. He teaches a class on true crime, and seems to be the object of one male student’s major man crush, which didn’t even exist in the 80s (guys with man crushes were just called cocksuckers).

ripper teacher

The professor’s girlfriend is a jazzercise instructor. We meet her in a full dance class scene set to a synthpop song that sounds like something Laura Branigan would have recorded. Okay, now I see why I bought the DVD—and why everyone called me cocksucker back then.

ripper jazzercise

Running way too long at an hour and forty minutes, The Ripper has nothing going for it except gruesome disembowelments. The professor gets his hands on a ring that may have belonged to the real Jack the Ripper. He starts having nightmares of women being murdered and gutted. Every time he wakes up, he learns there was a real murder that mirrors the one in his dream.

ripper kill

Meanwhile, his male student calls him regularly to let him know what horror movies are on television, essentially serving as his TV Guide (that’s a magazine we used to have back in the 80s that listed every single show that was playing on all 7 channels for an entire week!). The student’s girlfriend finds it quite odd that he calls his professor every night while shirtless….

ripper student

To distract her from her concerns, the student has her watch the VHS tape of—Blood Cult! Groan.

Occasionally, there’s another butchering dream sequence—there’s absolutely nothing scary about them—and eventually, the killer comes after the professor’s girlfriend. It turns out it’s the real Jack the Ripper back from the dead, and he’s played by…Tom Savini. Damn. He looks even sexier with devil eyes.

ripper tom

BLOOD CULT (1985)

blood cult cover

An early entry in the “home video horror” genre, Blood Cult begins with a shower scene kill—a hack, blood splash on wall, rinse and repeat formula. Does wonders for the hair.

blood cult opening kill

This is followed by scrolling text telling us the sheriff is on the case because it’s election season—information we get all over again in dialogue a few minutes later.

blood cult sheriff

There have been multiple murders on a college campus. The sheriff is convinced it’s the work of a cult…or one of those pesky Dungeons & Dragons geeks. He investigates with the help of his librarian daughter and her boyfriend. Good thing the sheriff doesn’t suspect it might be the work of a pesky Dungeons & Dragons geek….

blood cult daughter

After some boring kills, fingers found in a salad at the college cafeteria, a trip to a farm where signs of cult worship have turned up, and more investigating, the sheriff heads into the woods and witnesses a satanic cult ritual. He’s knocked unconscious and wakes up in the hospital.

blood cult cult

Was he just imagining what he saw? He doesn’t think so. He catches the killer in action and is horrified by the truth before him – a twist we saw coming, especially since we were shown the truth in the cult ritual scene. And no, it’s not the Emperor.

blood cult leader

The sheriff is even more horrified at what the killer does next in the name of the cult!

REVENGE (1986)

revenge cover

This direct sequel picks up right where the first film left off. I must say, you don’t even need to see Blood Cult to appreciate it—and there’s actually something to appreciate. While it’s no masterpiece and despite its shitty title, Revenge is much better than Christopher Lewis’s first two, and he finally seems to tap into the formula for making an 80s VHS horror movie that may someday deserve cult status.

revenge trap kill

Christopher Lewis never made another horror film.

Anyway, the improvement in acting alone is immediately noticeable, as is the tone of horror, with a reporter covering the events that ended Blood Cult getting into a car with an expert on the scene to probe him about the rumors of a cult killing spree…and realizing too late that she’s trapped in a car with one of the leaders of the cult!

revenge carradine

Yeah, there’s no real mystery here. A bunch of powerful men are in on the cult and meet about it regularly—and one of them is John Carradine! That dude totally whored himself out to crap horror in the 80s. Thank God.

Meanwhile, the brother of the boyfriend from the first movie has returned home to try to figure out who killed his brother. Casting is everything. These two are supposed to be brothers….

blood cult revenge brothers

Brothers from different planets, I’d say. This brother even looks fine from behind….

revenge back

Also surfacing in a major role is the woman who lived at the farm from the first movie. Revenge proves the actress deserved to get a starring role. She rox. Now, her character is being terrorized—by threatening phone calls and some dude on a motorcycle—to move the fuck off her farm (because naturally, it’s where the cult holds all its rituals and they want the land).

revenge motorcycle

So she and the hot brother team up to try to discover the truth (that we already know) about who is behind the cult, visiting the scenes of the continuing murders. The brother also visits the sheriff, who’s now in a mental institution.

revenge institution

Of all three Christopher Lewis slashers, the death scenes are the best here. There’s a great hot tub scene complete with killer POV, a dude’s tight ass in a sheer wet Speedo, and a dastardly little twist.

revenge hot tub

There’s even one that makes it clear that someone in the cult has supernatural powers—a chick is simply torched with the wave of the killer’s hand!

revenge axe

And speaking of the supernatural, here is where Revenge flips a finger at the slasher genre. When our heroes witness the obligatory satanic ritual, it feels like we’re getting just another lame repeat of the end of Blood Cult. Hell, no! This time, these fuckers turn into demons!

revenge demon 1

Awesome. If you only watch one Christopher Lewis film, Revenge is the way to go.

revenge demon 2

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These clubs suck so hard everyone wants in

Vamp was a favorite of mine in the days when HBO and MTV ruled my teen world, so when I watched the indie vampire comedy Club Dead, I knew immediately I had a double feature blog on my hands!

VAMP (1986)

vamp cover

Revisiting this one, I can see why I loved it in the 80s; it’s so 80s. It stars cutie pie Chris Makepeace, who was born to be a Gen-X teen icon, starting off as a kid actor in Meatballs in 1979 and My Bodyguard in 1980, and then reemerging as a horny frat boy in Vamp. Yet he never latched onto the 80s teen movie landscape.

vamp rusler

Makepeace’s buddy is 80s hottie Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Thrashin’. Dangerously Close, Weird Science). Together, they head to a strip club, with another student tagging along—Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles! During their road trip, they sing Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” and have a fight with a creepy dude at a bar (Billy Drago, who is a horror king these days), which ends when Rusler grabs his balls!

vamp drago

Once at the club, it’s totally 80s—the music, the red neon lighting, adorable Dedee Pfeiffer (Dangerously Close, The Allnighter, The Horror Show) as a waitress, and Grace Jones slithering her way on stage in Ronald McDonald drag, to the exotic rhythm of her song “Vamp.”

In the film’s best scene, Rusler gets a private room with Grace, they begin getting down and dirty, and she goes totally monstrous vampire on his ass (actually on his dick).

vamp change

When he never comes back, Makepeace begins to suspect something is seriously wrong at the club, and Dedee offers to help him find his buddy.

vamp couple

While the pair is busy being hunted by baddies in streets and alleys, it becomes clear that Long Duk Dong is in the film merely as a novelty due to the popularity of the Sixteen Candles character. Makepeace and Dedee occasionally pass through the club to see him still partying it up, oblivious to any vampiric threat, but that’s about the extent of his role.

vamp long duk

Sort of a combination of Fright Night and An American Werewolf in London, Vamp is loads of fun, with a light mix of humor, horror, and sex departments (the 3 most important elements of 80s teen movies).

vamp grace

For nostalgic reasons alone it’s a classic for 80s guys like me, and Grace Jones rules as a hardcore vamp, but I’m not sure if it would impress a modern horror audience.

CLUB DEAD (2015)

club dead cover

Almost 30 years later, Club Dead comes along with a similar plot and a notable 80s throwback feel to it—red neon lighting, synth title theme, faux 80s club music, references to Joan Jett, the Mary Jane Girls, and Sheila E., and just like Vamp, a slow build to the vamp thrills that really gives you a chance to enjoy the lovable characters. Nonstop stimulation at the cost of character development—or even enjoyable characters for that matter—is purely an epidemic running rampant in modern horror.

Club Dead is so about its charming cast (I was particularly charmed when the guys had a conversation about the size of one friend’s penis).

club dead guys

Our main girl works at a restaurant, and she and her coworkers make numerous failed attempts to get into a popular, exclusive club—despite the fact they’ve been warned to stay away from it by a weird convenience store clerk, played by indie horror daddy Brad Potts. And he’s not the only horror hunk here, because holy shit all the guys in this movie are fricking sizzling hot.

club dead guys collage

Anyway, the group’s luck changes when a new girl starts working at the restaurant. They drag her to the club and are immediately hand selected to go in by a mysterious woman who emerges from inside.

club dead group at club

Soon after the group begins partying, our main girl senses something is very wrong at the club. Her worries are compounded when her friends start disappearing. Before long, it’s clear they’ve landed themselves in a bit of a From Dusk Till Dawn problem, urban style.

While the vampire woman is reminiscent of the lead vamp in Fright Night II, there’s really no blood or gore, and the vampire makeup is ever effective traditional goodness.

club dead man vamp 2

This one is more in the vein (so to speak) of vamp comedies like Once Bitten and Buffy (the movie). The character interactions are loaded with humor and the cast has great chemistry and comic timing.

club dead gay vamp

But practically upstaging them all is one Doug Bilitch, who plays a wacky vamp that practically drools when he scores a delicious piece of man meat (sexy as hell Monti Washington, who appeared in several episodes of Where the Bears Are...and is the hottie wearing the purple shirt in the man mural above). This vamp is sinfully underutilized and I would have loved for him to stick around longer to feel up a couple more of the guys.

However, the film makes up for his absence during the vamp chaos that breaks out in the final act and the campy final confrontation between Brad Potts and the divatastic head vampiress (Caroline Gombe).

club dead battle

Together, they steal the show in the last scene. If this one comes to DVD, it’s definitely getting added to my collection.

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He’s coming to get you!

Here’s a trio of films in various subgenres that don’t quite live up to the coolness of their killers, but I wouldn’t skip any of them.

JACK IN THE BOX (2009)

jack in the box cover

Jack in the Box is yet another in the “strangers trapped in an enclosed space must turn against each other to stay alive” subgenre (it seriously needs a shorter official name at this point). Once I knew what I was in for, I went with it and was pretty entertained, despite the characters making some of the usual ridiculous choices.

My big disappointment with the movie is actually that the opening scene grabbed me from the start but seems to have no relation to the rest of the film! From floor level POV, we see a witchy looking woman give a child in a closet a toy to play with. What do we see of the child? Just the dangling, dirty and bloodied feet of a body that is either hung from or impaled on a post but apparently alive, because hands reach for the toy. EEK!

jack in the box closet

Forget that chilling scene ever happened, because we never return to it. Instead we are thrown into a grungy dark room with a bunch of people and some chairs. They think they’ve come to some sort of audition, but they soon learn they have to play musical chairs, and each loser has to leave through a door that creaks open after each round. Soon after the first loser exits, they learn that those who leave are killed by someone—or something—beyond the door. I know. You can think of a gazillion ways they could get themselves out of this predicament. That’s the problem with the film, which opts to have the characters all battle with each other rather than do the obvious. And essentially, this becomes a slasher film in which the characters just wait their turn to leave the room and get killed.

Another major problem is—the fricking use of “Mockingbird!” Yes, I said major problem. STOP, horror movies. Just STOP using “Mockingbird” for your creepy lullaby moment. Also, the ending suggests that maybe it wasn’t a person (or at least not a normal person) waiting beyond that door. But we’ll never know because we never see the killer, and we’ll never know if it was the person hung on a post at the beginning of the film.

jack in the box final girls

Even so, the two main girls carry the movie to the end and you really start to like the bond they create. Plus, the final twist provides a nice zinger, and overall I think this one is worth a watch if you like this sort of setup.

HOME SWEET HOME (2013)

home sweet home cover

Home Sweet Home takes a slightly different approach to home invasion horror. For the first 15 minutes or so, we see a man sneaking into a house and completely booby trapping it. He ends his preparation by slipping on a creepy mask. This definitely creates intrigue and braces us for what we can expect.

Look. This is basically an indie version of The Strangers. Once the couple that owns the house gets home, we get some flirting, moments of separation and silence, an atmosphere of isolation, a few false alarm scares, and even the husband putting on a vinyl record.

home sweet home husband

When the invader suddenly strikes it’s brutal and unrelenting. Home Sweet Home is definitely vicious and cruel as it moves toward a cat and mouse game. The main characters can’t get out of the house and must try to outwit the killer, but things get into a major rinse and repeat formula, so suspense begins to wane. Naturally, some dumb decisions are made as well, and the conclusion’s “twist” pretty much leaves you just as empty inside as that of…you guessed it…The Strangers.

 home sweet home wife

If you love home invasion horror, I’d definitely recommend it to satiate your hunger. But just know that the initially unique take on the genre turns into the usual by the end.

THE DROWNSMAN (2014)

drownsman cover

The opening scene of this one definitely catches your attention. A kicking and screaming woman is dragged through some underground lair, tossed in a big tub…and then starts making out with her attacker….

drownsman drag

Then we meet our main girl. She has a serious fear of water, so the first thing she does is fall off a dock and ruin her friend’s wedding. She’s apparently seeing visions of a terrifying man. So her friends do an intervention, calling in a medium to purge the main girl of her fears. Instead, they summon the main girl’s scary man.

drownsman intervention

The Drownsman has a pretty good if cliché setup. But it’s just kind of boring. Rather than well-spaced kills, the girls spend a lot of time following clues together to figure out who the man is, while the main girl has a lot of underwater dreams and visions. Don’t expect any of it to make much sense.

drownsman monster

The final fight kind of makes up for the slow pacing, with the girls down in a sewer battling the “man,” who looks more and more like a monster as the movie progresses. Yeah, the final battle is the highlight of this one.

 

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3 chillers from the mid-60s!

This could have just been a double feature blog about two from horror master William Castle, but the DVD for his film The Night Walker included another short film, so I threw it in as a bonus!

THE NIGHT WALKER (1964)

night walker cover 

Is someone (or something) trying to scare Barbara Stanwyck of The Big Valley to death, or is she just being haunted in her dreams by her own guilt? That’s the question in William Castle’s effectively creepy thriller The Night Walker. The intro narration and accompanying visuals alone are pure Castle camp and reminiscent of House on Haunted Hill, but this film focuses on the horrors of nightmares.

nightwalker stanwyck

Stanwyck’s character is married to an intensely jealous blind man who is convinced she’s cheating on him with other men. From the start, he’s rather frightening, especially since he’s given blank white eyes. After he dies in an explosion in the house, his body isn’t found, but he begins to appear in the wife’s dreams with his face all burned. EEK! But is it really just dreams or has he returned to terrorize her?

night walker husb

While this is mostly a mystery/thriller, with Stanwyck running around in a daze as she tries to convince herself and others that her nightmares are real, the dream sequences are chilling, particularly a church scene involving a congregation of very alive looking mannequins. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the inspiration for a similar scene in the House of Wax remake.

I SAW WHAT YOU DID (1965)

i saw what you did cover

I’m always amazed at how William Castle’s movies basically created a template for the modern horror era, and I Saw What You Did is no exception. While it doesn’t have the hardcore horror edge of modern films, most everything that happens in this film has become standard in the horror genre. I’m going to go through it briefly, so this will have spoilers.

Unfortunately, since this film was made during the era of beach party movies and revolves around teens, the intro has a horrible surf rock type song while two girls are speaking on the phone, which makes it feel like “The Telephone Hour” number from Bye Bye Birdie! However, each girl is shown in oval cutouts, almost like someone is watching them through a mask. Think the beginning of Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween…the premise of this film? A young woman babysits her little sister when their parents go out for the night, and invites a friend to come over. Bored, the three girls decide to start making prank phone calls. Unfortunately, when they call one man and simply say, “I saw what you did, and I know who you are,” they don’t realize they’ve called a killer!

i saw what you did calls

The killer’s wife actually answers the phone, and since the girls picked the killer’s name out of the phone book, they ask for him. The wife enters the bathroom to fetch him from the shower, and he pulls her in with him and stabs her. There’s a major flub here. The killer is supposed to be showering, but a bad camera angle makes it very clear he is wearing shorts. Dark shorts, no less. Hey, when a guy is in the shower, I pay close attention to every detail.

i saw what you did shower

The killer (played by veteran actor John Ireland, who appeared in various horror movies in the 80s, at the end of his career), has a neighbor that really has the hots for him. It’s…Joan Crawford! Moments after he stabs his wife, she shows up looking to bang him. But he has other problems to contend with—disposing of the body and dealing with the caller who “saw what he did.”

In classic (and contemporary) dumb horror movie kid fashion, the girls think he has a sexy voice, so they agree to go meet him. When they get to his house, the main girl is scared off by jealous Joan, who takes her car registration. The killer gets it from her and goes to the address.

i saw what you did crawford

The final act features all the usual home invasion/stalker situations you could want as the killer chases the kids around the house. One of my favorite moments is when he throws a knife at the little girl! Awesome.

But alas, that damn surf rock crap returns as soon as the girls are saved, and the older sister makes a joke about how they will never use the phone again. It is a ridiculously out of place punch line considering what she just went through. This film could be hugely improved if the soundtrack was replaced with some actual horror music and that final one-liner was edited out completely.

DARK INTRUDER (1965)

 dark intruder cover

Running less than an hour, this “movie” was actually a pilot episode of a TV series that never materialized. Leslie Nielsen plays an occult expert who steps in to help the police when people begin getting murdered by what is believed to be some sort of creature.

dark intruder leslie doll

Don’t expect a body count here. This focuses mostly on Nielsen’s investigation, and although the movie is not an all-out comedy, his character is a charmer and brings a light sense of humor to the roll. He even goes shirtless in a scene. Yowsah!

The monster does make a couple of appearances, including one major scene in which it attacks Nielsen in an occult shop, and it pretty much looks exactly like Hyde.

dark intruder monster

Other than that thrilling scene and some classic monster movie atmosphere, Dark Intruder unfolds mostly as a dialogue-heavy mystery. It reminds me of a cross between Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

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