Freddy had his Nightmares, but Jason was denied his Friday TV time slot

fridaythe13thseries cover

A year before Freddy slashed his way onto the small screen with Freddy’s Nightmares, Frank Mancuso, Jr., produced of many of the Friday the 13th movies, had a hand in bringing the franchise name to a weekly series that had absolutely no connection to the movies or Jason Voorhees. Sure, the name may have drawn viewers, but teens hoping to see other teens slaughtered on a weekly basis were in for a huge disappointment. However, anyone who stuck with the series was in for a surprise—at the time, this was some of the edgiest horror to come to free TV yet.

The show is essentially a horror anthology series with each story based around the wraparound. Micki and Ryan inherit their deceased uncle’s antique store, sell off all the contents, and then learn from their uncle’s good friend Jack that each item was cursed and must be hunted down before people get hurt.

friday 13th cast

Each episode has the trio pursuing a particular object, and thankfully, they never find it until after someone does get hurt! While the three main characters play a part in each episode, most of the time the stories play out like episodes of Tales from the Crypt. There are so many good ones along the way, from slashers to the supernatural, so I’ve broken down my favorites from each season:

SEASON 1

“The Inheritance” – In the premiere episode, cousins Micki and Ryan inherit an antique store from their uncle. Meanwhile, a little girl gets a creepy killer doll from the store. Considering the show’s title, it was smart to start the series with a slasher-esque episode…that predates Child’s Play by a year!

friday 13th series helloween

“Hellow’een” – This is the ultimate Halloween party episode. Plus, the cousins’ uncle returns as a ghost from the other side, and the undead tag along.

“Root of All Evil” – A slasher episode! A gardener turns killer thanks to a cursed mulcher. This one even starts with a rake to the head kill!

“Tales of the Undead” – The 80s sci-fi horror vibe is perfect in this one about a robot-like comic book monster that comes to life. It stars Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High!

friday 13th series scarecrow

“Scarecrow” – Killer scarecrow with a scythe, and it (be)heads right into awesomely 80s slasher territory.

“Faith Healer” – Always love an episode that shows us the horror of religious freaks…and makes sure they get what they deserve for how they treat others.

“The Baron’s Bride” – This time travel episode is classic vampire goodness—shot in black and white and taking place in 19th-century London!

“Bedazzled” – Our main girl Micki is terrorized by a psycho stalker! This episode becomes one big chase scene.

“Double Exposure” – a newscaster uses a special camera to develop images of his own doppelganger so he can commit murders, still have an alibi, and have stories to boost his ratings. But he makes the mistake of targeting Ryan’s girlfriend.

friday13th series pirates promise

“The Pirate’s Promise” – a very The Fog episode, complete with a lighthouse.

“What a Mother Wouldn’t Do” – I love an evil mother story. This mom has to kill to keep her baby happy. The Titanic is even thrown into the mix!

SEASON 2

This season puts a real focus on Micki and Ryan cracking at the pressure of the job they’ve been stuck with, so the cases they work on are noticeably more threatening to them personally.

“Doorway to Hell” – Micki and Ryan come THIS close to being trapped in the underworld forever—and the place is like a fricking haunted house attraction!

fridaythe13th series voodoo mambo

“The Voodoo Mambo” – A rich kid about to lose his inheritance finds a creepy relic, and things get very voodoo slasher as he goes around killing people with the aid of an ancient priestess and a mask that spits snakes from its mouth.

“Tails I Live, Heads You Die” – This is a major devil worship episode, with a cult, rotting corpses, zombies…and the death of one of our major character???

“Symphony in B# – Ryan’s love life really sucks on this show. The concert violinist he has a heart-on for is presumed dead, but this one takes a Phantom of the Opera turn.

“Wax Magic” – Ryan falls for a woman married to the evil owner of a wax museum…who brings Lizzie Borden back to life!

fridaythe13th series read my lips

“Read My Lips” – Killer ventriloquist dummy!

“The Sweetest Thing” – A guy uses bees to suck the life out of people for the purpose of mastering immortality.

“The Playhouse” – Evil children, their supernatural playhouse, and the kids they terrorize in it. Awesome.

friday13thseries faces of evil

“Face of Evil” – Years before The Craft, this episode has an unattractive schoolgirl using a magic compact to make boys – including horror hottie Zack Ward – fall obsessively in love with her. She also discovers that killing people scores her a much better complexion in her reflection.

“Better Off Dead” – Can’t make this up. Some psycho scientist’s experiments create prostitutes with a case of the crazies.

friday13thseries scarlet cinema

“Scarlet Cinema” – Old skool black and white werewolf fun when a college student obtains a camera that lets him turn into the classic movie monster.

“A Friend to the End” – Another deliciously dark tale involving children, this one has Micki’s nephew befriending a little ghost boy that turns out to be a little demon!

fridaythe13th series secret agenda vanity

“The Secret Agenda of Mesmer’s Bauble” – The Late Vanity is a pop star being stalked by a creepy record store worker with dangerous magical powers. Plenty of video performance clips of Vanity, and there’s even a Purple Rain poster on the front door of the record store!

“Wedding Bell Blues” – A wedding-obsessed bride becomes a psycho killer!

“The Shaman’s Apprentice” – Modern medicine meets voodoo – and the results are pretty gross for regular television.

“Coven of Darkness” – Season 2 ends with a kicker – Ryan is abducted by a coven of witches, which leads to Micki tapping into powers she didn’t even know she had.

SEASON 3

The third season could be considered the one that jumps that shark—which would explain why the series was abruptly canceled before it could even bring closure to its characters or its storyline. We’ll never know if the trio was able to get back all the cursed antiques. But what we do know is that the trio is not the same in season 3. Ryan suffers a…um…life-altering change and is written off the show, replaced by Johnny, a well-meaning mess-up with the hots for Micki.

“The Prophecies” – I’ll be damned! This season starts out hardcore with religion, possession, and demons! In this two-part episode, one of our main characters even gets possessed! We also say goodbye to Ryan.

“Demon Hunter” – This is a classic 80s creature—hunting a demon in the woods that is basically Bigfoot with horns.

“Crippled Inside” – Classic teen horror. After a vicious attack by a bunch of boys, a young girl now left dependent on a wheelchair finds a supernatural way to get revenge and regain her ability to walk.

friday13thseries stick it in your ear

“Stick It in Your Ear” – The ear gore alone makes this one a winner. A psychic uses a special hearing device to read minds.

“Bad Penny” – New cutie cast member Johnny uses a magic coin to bring his dead father back to life. While there are some zombies walking around and plenty of horror atmosphere, it’s also a pretty sad episode.

“Hate on Your Dial” – I can barely get through this brutally unsettling episode, but it’s an important one that deals boldly with racism. A redneck goes back in time to the 1950s to save his father—a member of the KKK. The episode even turns black and white during those scenes.

friday13th series night prey

“Night Prey” – Another good vampire episode as a man hunts down the bloodsucker that robbed him of the love of his life 20 years before.

“Mightier Than the Sword” – While the plot of this episode has a writer using a cursed pen to transform into an author famous for writing about serial killers, the best part is that Micki becomes a straight razor killer!

“Midnight Riders” – Like something out of Stephen King’s Sometimes They Come Back, an evil biker gang returns from the grave to terrorize a small town.

“My Wife as a Dog” – Sad episode considering a man’s dog dies. But he saves its soul—by putting it inside his wife!

friday13th series jack in box

“Jack-In-The-Box” – Talk about a PSA. A little girl uses a creepy cursed Jack-in-the-box doll to kill alcoholics!

While every episode of Friday the 13th: The Series stands alone and delivers a classic horror experience, the show really did delve enough into the developing stories of its three main characters, so it’s a shame that we never got any closure. There are rumors on how the creators envisioned the series ending, and I definitely like two of them. One is that the final episode would have the trio hunting down a very specific hockey mask (that would have been amazing), while another would have them discovering a spell that could reverse the curse on all the objects they reclaimed. Sounds like the making of one big 2-part series finale to me.

friday13thseries johnny in cast

Anyway, me being 80s obsessed ScareBearDan, I simply must leave you with this. It’s Robey—who plays Micki on the show—with her karaoke…I mean…”club version” of Murray Head’s 1985 hit “One Night in Bangkok,” written by the boys of Abba and from the musical Chess.

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Hotel horror anthology vs. Halloween horror anthology

No matter how low budget or indie, if there’s a horror anthology to be streamed, I’m going to watch it. I had high hopes for this double feature, one focusing on the horrors at a hotel, the other taking on the horror of a Halloween party. Only one came out a winner for me.

HORROR HOTEL: THE MOVIE (2016)

horror hotel cover

Horror Hotel is a web series I’d never seen an episode of until I watched this movie, which is a collection of episodes from a single season. I’m a big fan of the concept—Tales from the Crypt-esque stories that take place in rooms at the same hotel. Yet there is no wraparound – no bellboy, maid, or front desk clerk to introduce us to tales of the horrific and macabre. But more disappointing is the fact that there are no tales that are horrific or macabre.

Stories go like this:

  • A girl kicks her boyfriend out of their hotel room, only to become jealous and vengeful when two blonde alien babes show interest in him.

horror hotel twins

  • A man tries to romance his woman, who is in a coma, but he didn’t anticipate a threesome.

horror hotel coma

  • After a woman is murdered, a man must try to determine which clone of her sister actually killed her.
  • An older woman’s plans to swap brains with a younger woman don’t go as planned.

horror hotel brain

  • Hiring a hit man to take out his ex-wife, a man makes the mistake of showing the hit man exactly how he wants it done.

horror hotel hitman

  • In a world in which men are practically extinct, a group of man-hunting women sets out to find and destroy more men.

While the production value is good, I personally found every story in Horror Hotel to be unbearably long. The characters and plot ramble on and on, what I assume is supposed to be quirky humor never didn’t tickle my funny bone, the twists have no punch, and there’s nothing in the way of shock, gore, or even exploitation. But the biggest offender is that the forgettable stories haven’t the vaguest hint of actual horror. No horror at the HORROR hotel? Learn more about the show here.

CREATURE FEATURE (2015)

creature feature cover

A blatant homage to Creepshow with interconnecting Halloween horror stories as in Trick ‘r Treat, this one features unoriginal stories that are all blatantly ripped off from other popular movies, but it’s well put together and offers all the cheap Halloween thrills you could ask for.

The very short intro story is simply that popular 2-sentence short story about the man whose son tells him to check for the monster under the bed. If you’ve read the tale, you know the twist (aka: the second sentence of the story).

Then we meet a group of friends at a party. While a rock band rages on, they tell scary stories….

  • This is a virtual copycat of the clown and babysitter segment from Amusement. You know it’s a good story when a low budget rip off is still chilling. Also, the clown is freaky looking.

creature feature clown

  • This story is pretty much a clone of the birthday cake story from Creepshow, beginning with a drunk chick talking to her dead father’s grave before he crawls from it to kill his uncaring family.
  • A short slasher using the good old reliable killer scarecrow plot.

creature feature scarecrow

  • A psycho killer meets his match while he’s busy torturing his latest victim.
  • Troublemaking kids looking for a good time at an infamously haunted house come face-to-fur with a werewolf.

creature feature werewolf

The wraparound concludes with a total monster party as well, making this a perfectly serviceable cheap knockoff film with a good 1980s throwback vibe to get you in the Halloween mood. The only downside for me is the overuse of horror comic stills between scenes – an anthology staple for sure, but here it’s always accompanied by an agonizingly obnoxious jingle that completely destroys the tone of the film. But I guess I can give director Chase Smith, because…yum.

creature feature chase smith director

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80s SLASHER VAULTS 10: It came from 1987

The slashers market was so oversaturated by 1987 that titles became more obscure and often never even made it to the local video store shelves at all, like the remaining titles I’ll be covering in the next few installments of my 80s Slasher Vaults blog series. So here are the first three that may have passed you by in 87.

OPEN HOUSE

open house cover

Open House is from the more “pseudo slasher/thriller” subgenre that became increasingly popular at the end of the decade. Think The Stepfather, The Hitcher, and Blue Steel. It almost feels like a made-for-cable movie.

open house couple

This one has a killer slaughtering real estate agents! The killer keeps calling a radio psychologist…whose girlfriend, played by Adrienne Barbeau (!), happens to be a real estate agent. Adrienne is having a major conflict with a competing agent, so when the body count begins rising, she becomes convinced she’s the next target.

open house head

Open House isn’t going to win any slasher awards because it fails to be scary or suspenseful, but the death scene setups are campy, as are the reactions of the victims, complete with melodramatic music and overly dramatic screaming.  The couple trapped in a bathroom by the killer is a screaming highlight.

open house dominatrix

There’s also plenty of gore, and topping it all off are the gratuitous sexual situations, including the killer tying up a woman and pouring champagne into her cleavage, as well as a real estate agent being put on a dog leash by a dominatrix. Not to mention, Adrienne appears in a sex scene. Sadly, she doesn’t get any kind of kick ass chase as in The Fog, and the big climax is absolutely laughable.

GEEK (aka: Backwoods)

geek cover

Geek is a lost backwoods horror flick that deserves a little more recognition. It has a wickedly good vibe once it gets going, and the general concept of the killer predates Luther the Geek (which I love) by a few of years.

geek killer

A couple camping in the woods suddenly has to rescue a choking girl. The girl’s weird father insists they come home with him so he can feed them as a thank you. The weird man is even odder during the dinner conversation.

geek dinner

But he’s nothing compared to his mentally ill son—a geek that stays out in a shed biting heads off small animals. He also takes a liking to the female because her hair reminds him of his dead mother. Uh-oh.

geek attack

Geek delivers good, gritty atmosphere and creepy music, and once the geek starts terrorizing the main girl, it doesn’t let up. Best of all, she totally fights back, so the final act rox. If you’re a fan of the era and backwoods horror, this is definitely one to check out.

KILLING SPREE

killing spree cover

This piece of direct-to-video absurdity should be a cult classic. It looks so perfectly eighties and the performances are awesomely awful—but the killer totally rules. He completely goes for it, elevating the campiness to near perfection with his performance. For me, he’s more entertaining than Angela in Sleepaway Camp II & III.

The killer is an ordinary dude who becomes convinced his wife is fucking every man that steps through their door. But is she or isn’t she? We keep seeing her screwing guys, but it all might be in the killer’s head.

killing spree head

The film never tries to be serious—it knows its b-movie trash from the start. And you’ll know as soon as he pictures his wife’s entire head turning into giant lips to give a guy head—by blowing his actual head. It’s also incredibly 80s, from the wash of neon light to the severed punk rock head the killer gives extra love and attention.

killing spree lips

The kills are deliciously inventive and gory, from a ceiling fan with machete blades to a screwdriver dropped straight down into a guy’s head from a ladder. The killer bugs out and talks directly to the camera, babbling, spewing one-liners, and doing shit like vacuuming in a Speedo after a kill. Just when you think things can’t get any more whacked…his victims start rising from (their backyard) graves!

killing spree zombie

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H.P. Lovecraft goes indie in a double feature

While I’ve never been a Lovecraft, I’ve always been a huge fan of schlocky 1980s movies loosely based on his works. So my feelings about this two films from the new millennium pretty much make total sense.

THE SHUNNED HOUSE (2003)

shunned house cover

I’ve seen such original comments about Lovecraft turning over in his grave because of this movie, but I say it must be doing something right, because I just couldn’t get into it. Of course, I’m really not the person to comment on its Lovecred. Hell, from what I’ve read, it actually combines three of his stories, but be damned if any of them was familiar to me, despite me having fought my way through his complete works at some point in my life.

shunned house girl

Honestly, my biggest issue with the film is that it chooses to just randomly and rapidly cycle through three different stories with no rhyme or reason. We have a paranormal journalist and his girlfriend entering a house in which murders have taken place in the past. As they tour the creepy place, we jump to a brief scene of a mathematician from the past. Then we jump to a writer from the past. Then we’re back to the journalist. Rinse and repeat.

shunned house math

All three stories takes place in the house, and we get little snippets of each unfolding plot as we hop from one to the next. Basically, the leading man in each story spirals into madness. Sounds Lovecraftian to me. Eventually, we learn the unifying factor behind all their descents.

shunned house hang
This dude is well hung.

While this simply isn’t my kind of film, I don’t understand why it gets bashed for its low budget. The grittiness totally works – the look and tone are foreboding, the imagery is stark and creepy, and the film moves into grisly gory territory by the end.

shunned house violin

Personally, I think fans of Lovecraft and independent film probably should give it a try, if for no other reason than to have the opportunity to write a comment online about Lovecraft turning over in his grave.

ARKHAM SANITARIUM: SOUL EATER (2014)

arkham sanitarium cover

So glad I have no loyalty to the purity of H.P. Lovecraft, because this is one of few found footage films I can say truly fucking rox. I had no idea what I was in for, so I was thrilled it was only 72 minutes long. That is until it was over, at which point I kind of wished it had at least another 20 minutes to deliver.

Truth is, while the film begins as generically as a found footage film can—a trio of paranormal investigators enters an old sanitarium with their cameras—it eventually flips the bird to the genre, turning into a total exploitation horror comedy.

arkham sanitarium found footage

The trio is investigating the story of a sex and death Lovecraft cult rumored to have done horrible things to patients in the sanitarium. After some typical exploratory found footage crap, one of the three investigators suddenly becomes possessed! There are demons hamming it up for the camera, ghosts, a big guy in chains and a Cthulhu mask, odd claymation flashes, and an entire fricking cult. We also get perfectly snarky mockery of the typical found footage final frame, plus a tag to keep the insanity going a little longer.

arkham sanitarium monsters

But most importantly, there’s a horny octopus that likes to face fuck people.

arkham sanitarium girl

It’s especially meaningfully to me because to ensure easy access, the octopus uses an oral contraption not unlike the one used on flesh-hungry children living in the walls in my novel No Place for Little Ones.

no place for little ones

Oh how I wish there had been more than three main characters in this film, because I can’t get enough of the face-fucking octopus.

arkham sanitarium stud
I’d so octopus this guy’s face. I’d octopus it hard.

I also can’t get enough of actor Shannon Brown (Marked, Feast 2014, Halloweed) who scores an immediate place on my list of favorite scream kings. He plays an arrogant, aggressive ghost hunter that wants to be famous.

arkham sanitarium jerk
I’m NOT Jimmy Kimmel.

He’s offensive and gleefully inappropriate and would sell his soul to the devil to make it big…which is the perfect attitude to have in Arkham Sanitarium. I’m so adding this one to my DVD collection.

arkham sanitarium oct

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Zombie cannibals and claymation aliens in the 1980s

Doctor Butcher, M.D. and Mutilations—the titles go together better than the content, but at least it made for a double feature with some 80s variety.

DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D. (aka: Zombie Holocaust) (1980)

doctor butcher md cover copy

This classic cannibal zombie gorefest is better known as Zombie Holocaust (European cut title), but was reissued on Blu-ray as Doctor Butcher, M.D. (American cut title) with both versions of the film included.

The first major difference between the two versions is the music—a synth score is used in the US version, which at times drastically helps with the scare-free atmosphere of the original film. At other times, it’s overkill and just annoying. The other big difference is a cool but ludicrously unrelated intro scene in the US version—zombies coming out of graves in a cemetery. Um…this is a movie about a mad scientist on a remote island performing surgery on primitives to make them into zombies.

zombie holocaust attack

With or without that scene, the story starts off at a hospital rocked by mystery and mayhem. Someone is coming in and cutting up corpses, so naturally, our main characters head to—a primitive island! Before long, they are being torn apart and devoured by tribal cannibals.

zombie holocaust eyes

By today’s standards, most of the mutilation (by hand) looks absurdly exaggerated, there’s no suspense or tension, and there is no intensity to the cannibal attacks. The movie is painfully bland and fails to create any feeling of dread.

zombie holocaust attack

The non-eating zombies don’t help matters. See, once the mad scientist fucks with the brains of the cannibal primitives, they become zombies (pretty much guys with mud masks on their faces) that just stand in the jungle looking ominous. Talk about a failed experiment. This dude can’t even turn a flesh craving human into a zombie with an appetite.

zombie holocaust zombie

It seems like nothing happens in Doctor Butcher, M.D. because nothing exciting happens. The sequences are so amateurish that there’s never a sense of urgency for the survivors to get to the rescue crew that is supposedly coming for them.

zombie holocaust head

We’re talking about a movie in which we finally get to the mad scientist’s lab so can deliver a melodramatic monologue explaining his evil plot while pointing a gun at our heroes. Groan. Considering Zombie Holocaust came out the same year as Cannibal Holocaust, it may as well have been a movie of the week on primetime television.

MUTILATIONS (1986)

mutilations cover smaller

Mutilations is the ultimate recipe for cult trash. It’s so utterly bad but so perfectly watchable—and so amazingly 80s.

mutilations monster

A class field trip takes an unexpected turn when the teacher and his students find themselves in the center of an alien invasion. Turns out these aliens are mutilating then mutating cattle. We actually get to see one of these dead/mutating cows—a big lump of claymation. WTF?

mutilations cattle

It only gets better from there. The movie is drenched in 80s neon horror lights as the class goes to meet an old crazy guy who says he’s seen aliens. Then—a (toy) spaceship crashes into the house! Out come big claymation monsters. The special effects are hilariously 1960s, the best being the total mutation of one of the students.

mutilations face mutate

The class ends up battling the aliens in underground catacombs until a redneck posse shows up to save the day. It’s only in the final act of the film that it seems to know it’s a comedy and stops taking itself so seriously.

mutilations character
No, it’s not Adrienne Barbeau in
Creepshow.

Horrible acting, horrible special effects, weak story, way too much terrible dialogue. Mutilations is the worst the 1980s had to offer—and what made it the best decade ever.

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A streaming session gone almost completely wrong

My weekend streaming selection was nearly a total watch list disaster, but an unexpected surprise film gave this marathon a twist ending for me.

DEAD CRUELTY (2015)

dead cruelty cover

Okay. I went into this one expecting nothing…but got even less than that. The good news is it’s 65 minutes long. The bad news is, even that short running time fails to delivery anything. It’s astounding how many directors don’t understand that making a horror movie is more than just a killer and victims.

dead cruelty attack

There’s a house party. Some guy breaks out of prison and kills a few people on his way to the party (we’re talking blood capsule in the victim’s mouth kills). The party breaks up and a handful of people becomes trapped in a room with the killer just outside the door. Eventually the killer comes in the room and does some simulated fighting with a couple of people before killing them. The others lock themselves in another room and one chick steps up to admit that she knows who he is and describes why he’s after her.

dead cruelty cast

Finally, the “main girl” is abducted—but not by the killer—and flashbacks offer an explanation to this apparent twist. I didn’t understand any of it. Then again, my iPad wasn’t giving me much opportunity to try.

BASKIN (2015)

baskin cover

Hype is all this film has going for it. If I wanted art about hell, I’d read Dante’s Inferno. I just want horror to show me a good time, for fuck’s sake.

After demonstrating what dicks they are, some cops go on a call. They nearly run someone over, get into an accident, and end up at an old building. Actually, they’re in hell, and when they’re chained up and hacked up for a majority of the movie, who gives a shit because they’re a bunch of pricks.

baskin butcher

With all the talk of how gory this film is, I wasn’t expecting to be subjected to a painfully generic experience that wasn’t scary or stomach-turning because it was too busy being smart and philosophical.

baskin leader

I don’t know. Maybe I missed the best part because I did nod off for a few minutes. But I didn’t miss the ending—a twist I’ve seen in at least five movies this year alone.

KILLING ARIEL (2008)

killing ariel cover

What a relief. A film about sex and demons. Thank you, Killing Ariel, for saving my weekend at the last minute.

As a child, some dude witnessed his mother and father being killed at the hands of a bald incubus. As an adult, he’s a happily married man…until he has a dream about a succubus.

killing ariel demon

Next thing you know, he hooks up with some chick named Ariel and takes her away to a house for the weekend. They bang, he keeps thinking Ariel is his wife, he finds some mysterious items around the house, he sees the incubus from his childhood, and…he accidentally kills Ariel!

killing ariel axe

Just when you think Killing Ariel isn’t going anywhere, it becomes a tongue-in-cheek romp, reminding me of a Tales from the Crypt episode. Michael Brainard, who plays our main man, becomes campy and comic as he tries to dispose of Ariel’s body, but she keeps coming back! So he keeps killing her! What a change of tone.

kiling ariel head

He axes her, stakes her like a vampire, takes a chainsaw to her…but the prize scene is when he has a battle with her head. I was getting Evil Dead II flashbacks, and that’s always a good thing.

 

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The Del Tenney 1964 trilogy

Director/producer/actor Del Tenney jumped into the horror movie biz for a brief period in the 1960s, riding on the coattails of bigger names in the genre with knockoff b-movies before going silent for decades. He eventually returned with a few projects in the early 2000s, including executive producing post-Scream slasher Do You Wanna Know a Secret?

del tenney

The bulk of his directing happened in 1964, when he made three black and white horror films – zombies, slasher, and creature feature – one of which didn’t get released until 1971! I’m going to briefly cover them from my least favorite to the one that RULES!

I EAT YOUR SKIN (aka: Zombie Bloodbath)

i east your skin cover

Pre-dating Night of the Living Dead by four years, zombie film I Eat Your Skin didn’t actually get released until the beginning of the 1970s. It also can’t hold a torch to NOTLD. Despite it’s title, there’s no flesh eating. Not even the original title Zombie Bloodbath fits very well, because there’s really no blood.

i eat your skin lead

A (sexy)  novelist goes to Voodoo Island, where he learns of natives turning into zombies. We’re talking old skool zombie lore, but there is an attempt by a scientist to make a zombie army. The zombies look cool for the time – they are all shirtless men with some goop on their faces and big bugged-out eyes. They simply don’t get enough screen time to terrify.

i eat your skin zombie

This is a very dialogue heavy film with the zombies attempting a few times to sacrifice young blonde versions before the group of people trapped on the island eventually sets into action a plan to escape it.

THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE (1964)

curse of living corpse cover

The Curse of the Living Corpse takes a page out of the William Castle playbook, which is a good thing. It has a House on Haunted Hill feel to it, but while there’s a supernatural premise about a dead man returning from the tomb, the film plays out like a modern slasher.

curse of living corpse killer

After the death of their patriarch, the family that hated him gathers in a mansion for the reading of his will. In it, he suggests that he might be coming back from the grave, and if they don’t follow the demands of his will, each of them will die in a manner related to something they fear most. Awesome!

The killer skulking in the shadows has a very Jack the Ripper/Mr. Hyde vibe, and some of the kills are deliciously brutal for the time, including one guy having his face slashed before being dragged by a horse.

curse of living corpse head

There’s a head served on a platter, a portrait with watching eyes, quicksand, a mausoleum, and a twist ending. Classic horror for sure. Plus, the cast includes Roy Scheider and Carnival of Souls main girl Candace Hilligoss!

curse of living corpse scheider

THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964)

horror of party beach cover

Coming before Humanoids from the Deep but after Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Horror of Party Beach is the perfect blend of both and an ideal horror flick for the 1960s teen scene.

All the ingredients of later teen horror movies are in place. A canister of chemicals is dumped into the ocean at the beginning of the film, and we get a great underwater monster transformation scene.

Meanwhile, a surf rock band performs on the beach while kids are doing a dance number in the sand that would make From Justin to Kelly jealous.

horror of party beach dance

There’s even plenty of sexual innuendo, including a girl calling a boy by the wrong name while kissing him, and a guy saying he forgot the hot dog buns then turning with his buddy to look at the ass of a nearby girl.

horror of party beach monster

It’s not long before we get to the best part – the rubber suit monsters that come out of the water. They are b-movie perfection.

horror of party beach rox

The first kill of a girl on the rocks in the water could easily have been the inspiration for my The Rise of the Thing Down Below novel cover—my guess is, it unconsciously was. And here I thought the inspiration was Creature from the Black Lagoon.

rise-of-the-thing-down-below

The kills are violent and as deliciously gory as can be expected from a black and white film, and young women are attacked left and right, with the monsters even invading a slumber party! Awesome. Horror of Party Beach is a creature feature classic.

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The 80s SLASHER VAULTS 9: It came from 1982

By 1982, with the release of Friday the 13th Part III in 3D and Jason getting into his hockey gear for the first time, even Michael Myers took a break and left the killing to a bunch of Halloween masks. But some killers had other ideas, so they let the horny teens party and targeted adults instead.

THE GHOST DANCE

ghost dance cover

In the tradition of killer Indian spirit films like Scalps and The Dark Power comes Ghost Dance…only, this came first.

If The Ghost Dance never gets a remastered release and you have to resort to watching an old VHS tape or an upload of a VHS rip on YouTube, don’t expect to be able to see anything for the first 15 minutes of this horribly lit film…and for much of what comes after that. But the first 15 minutes are the worst. It’s so dark I seriously couldn’t see anything until a woman suddenly got her neck slashed. Of course, isn’t that really all you need to see?

ghost dance first kill

Turns out an excavation has gone bad…anthropologists unearthed not only a mummy, but the vengeful spirit of an Indian. This spirit possesses a modern day Native American man, who then goes around killing white people in a museum. Don’t expect a lot of death scenes, and don’t expect them to be anything outstanding. The film is slow and not much happens.

ghost dance mummy

The “main girl,” an anthropologist, keeps getting paranormal sensations and glimpsing an Indian (always in the dark). Every time she does, the music is quite creepy. Finally, she is chased by the Indian, which is really the highlight here. As the movie comes to a close, it begins to feel oddly like the classic Zuni fetish doll story from Trilogy of Terror.

ghost dance dolls

HONEYMOON HORROR

honeymoon horror cover

A real estate agent and her lover sort of accidentally kill her husband and go on with their lives. The woman even rents a cabin to a group of newlyweds.

But, in true slasher fashion, first a trio of their friends goes up to decorate the place as a surprise. I have no idea why a paper cutout Halloween skeleton is one of the decorations, but it does lead to a good body reveal. And one of the kills is even loaded with severed limbs.

honeymoon horror hammer

Unfortunately, a good chunk of the film after that is all pillow talk. There are some cheap scares, killer POV complete with a corpse hand, effective horror music cues, a muscle daddy character hoping to become Mr. America, and finally, a good axing in a shower, which kicks off all the—well, I wish I could say fun. I

honeymoon horror cast

nstead, the couples do nothing much beyond panicking until the corpse husband back from the dead finally gets in the cabin to take care of business.

honeymoon horror killer

The farcical ending focusing on the local sheriff makes matters worse.

honeymoon horror sheriff

BLOOD BEAT

blood beat cover

This Christmas slasher disaster needs to be on DVD because it fucking rules.

A son and daughter come to visit their mom and her boyfriend at a cabin in the woods for the holidays. The son’s ass look great in 80s jeans. The son brings his girlfriend, who thinks the mom is weird. The mom thinks the girlfriend is weird. Truth is they’re both fucking weird.

blood beat mother and girlfriend

Random people start getting murdered out in the world somewhere, and each time they do, both the mom and the girlfriend have paranormal episodes. The girlfriend appears to be having much more fun during hers because at one point she’s masturbating to the massacre, and she is seriously digging in there.

blood beat body

There’s some ridiculously dramatic classical music, but the actual horror score kicks ass. A slow start is interspersed with lots of killer POV and loads of heavy breathing. And then…suddenly…there’s a supernatural attack in the cabin, with shades of Evil Dead thrown in for good measure. The mom’s boyfriend is beaten down by great flying 80s products, like Nestle’s Quik (not this modern “Nesquik” rebrand bullshit) and classic “saccharin causes cancer in lab rats” diet soda Tab.

blood beat quik

The special effects are uber 80s awesome, especially the Xanadu glow around the Samurai killer as it speaks in a robotic Battlestar Galactica voice.

blood beat monster

Oh, yes. I said Samurai killer. Apparently, someone is possessed by a Samurai killer. Is it the mom? Is it the girlfriend? Is it someone else completely? All is revealed in the hilarious final battle of epic proportions.

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Zomcom Showdown!

It’s Me and My Mates vs. The Zombie Apocalypse VS. Freaks of Nature. I picked them both up on Blu-ray, but which was the better impulse buy?

ME AND MY MATES VS. THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (2015)

me and my mates vs zombie apocalypse cover

This one should be so much funnier than it is based on the title alone. As it stands, it is not the Australian Shaun of the Dead some might be hoping for.

me and my mates chase

We’re thrown right into the zombie apocalypse with a handful of people at a phone company. They’re trying to figure out a way to get a call out for help, but end up doing a whole lot of talking instead.

me and my mates lead girl

There’s also conflict between a few of the guys – they like the one female in the group, her dad is on the scene, and there are numerous suggestions that the guys are actually gay. No one turns out to be gay.

me and my mates leads

Finally, the zombies get in the building. This is by far the most exciting, funniest, and goriest part of the film. If only it didn’t take an hour to get to it. The zombies look cool, but there’s absolutely nothing new here.

me and my mates attack

The cast is very good and does its best to create funny moments, the actors are just not given the right material to pull it off.

FREAKS OF NATURE (2015)

 freaks of nature cover

This is what I’m talking about! Freaks of Nature is a fun, funny romp with plenty of surprises, beginning with the huge cast, which includes Keegan-Michael Key, Vanessa Hudgens, Denis Leary, Joan Cusack, Bob Odenkirk of Breaking Bad, Patton Oswalt, Rachael Harris (Lucifer), Chris Zylka (My Super Psycho Sweet Sixteen franchise, Shark Night 3D, Piranha 3DD), Josh Dalem (Amigo Undead), and our main man, cutie Nicholas Braun (Poltergeist remake, Red State, The Watch). Also, if you watch closely, there are cameos by two Return of the Living Dead alum as…zombies!

freaks of nature cast

Freaks of Nature is more than teen zombedy. There are also vicious vampires and aliens. It’s a trip! It was even clean enough horror fun for my hubby to enjoy. After a bit of a slow start, the movie kicks in with action, gore, comedy, and even our main guy runs around naked.

freaks of nature naked lead

There’s a great “alternate opening” in the special features of the Blu-ray that playfully sets the scene—it’s a shame it wasn’t used. As the film stands, you kind of just have to piece together the setup as it vaguely unfolds through dialogue.

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Basically, zombies, vampires, and humans are all co-existing when awesome looking aliens come down in a spaceship and start turning the three groups against each other.

freaks of nature spaceship

Chaos and comedy ensues! Plus, there’s a Billy Joel reference, a Teen Wolf nod, a Slushee attack right out of Glee, and if you check out the gag reel, the adorable lead puts on a penis puppet show. Freaks of Nature is a great one for a party night.

freaks of nature vamp attack

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Backwoods Battle: Voodoo Rising vs. Squeal!

Camping trips and road trips just never end well, so it’s a relief that dumb kids keep going on them. This backwoods battle is between two Amazon Prime titles that both run about 80 minutes long and have very bleak endings. So which of these two flix better delivers the backwoods goods?

VOODOO RISING (2016)

voodoo rising cover

Don’t let the title or the poster art fool you. Other than a gypsy warning our group of ignorant campers of impending doom, there’s really nothing supernatural here. It’s just the usual – a bunch of kids crosses paths with the wrong family in the middle of the woods.

voodoo rising body

The backwoods psychos are simply a bunch of generic rednecks, so they aren’t all that intimidating. And the kids seem to just wander all over the woods for the entire movie having random encounters with them. Finally, one of the kids kills a family member, which lands all the kids in the clutches of the whole psychotic bunch.

voodoo rising tied up

There’s nothing new here, and other than some intense and grisly torture during the final act, the movie isn’t even scary.

voodoo rising lady

I actually much prefer director Eddie Lengyel’s film Hellweek, which I blog about here. While everyone gives a decent performance, “scream queer” Roger Conners gets to shine as the resident gay character, delivering the most convincing shrieks of terror despite the family not being all that terrifying.

voodoo rising roger conners

SQUEAL (2008)

squeal cover

Put backwoods and “squeal” together and you’ve already got my attention. This one is definitely more of what you expect from backwoods horror. It opens with a vague hint that some sort of experiment went horribly wrong, followed by a pig-like squeal, which is all the backstory you’re going to get.

squeal cage

Next, we meet a band heading out on a tour in their van. After the band makes a pit stop with creepy signs of things to come, the kid driving the van—while—smoking pot and talking about Casey Kasem voicing Shaggy—crashes after almost hitting some little man-beast in the road.

squeal main girl

Half of the stranded group goes to look for help while the other half stays behind to have sex. You know what that means. Before long, everyone is in cages in the lair of a family of pig people! The kids are obnoxious, and half the time you want to scream at them for dumb decisions, but the fact is, many kids would probably act the same way under such dire circumstances.

squeal carry

Squeal is fast-paced, gritty, grisly, and intense in its final act, with the slaughter coming on quick and cruelly. Also, the final guy and girl put up a damn good fight. And finally, the main girl acts the fuck out of being terrified and seriously deserves to be in more horror films.

squeal monster

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