Thursday, August 7, 2014


Angela, host of Angela's Trailer Park, is one of the most eccentric horror reviewers out on web, because rather than just knit picking fake efx  shots or slamming shoddy writing, he rather praises his subjects for their entertainingly campy and bloody forays into the genre. With an equally eccentric image and DGAF attitude to boot, he provides an alternative to the oft oversaturated web geekery.
Thee Satanophile: If you could remake any horror series, which would be and how would you improve it?
Angela Voorhees: The ones I would want to remake or do my own thing left, I’m not good enough to do so. Haha.
Thee Satanophile: Maniac (1980) vs. Maniac (2012)
Angela Voorhees: William Lustig’s Maniac. The remake was unwatchable for the sole reason of [the] POV 98% of the flick.
Thee Satanophile: Favorite non-horror film?

Angela Voorhees: Mallrats, Pink Flamingoes, Grease (CD in car at all times), Party Monsters, and Rock n Roll High School.
Thee Satanophile: First and last movie to scare then shit out of you?
Angela Voorhees: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). 5 year old me was pissing himself. The Conjuring from last night.
Thee Satanophile: If you were the scriptwriter for Ghostbusters 3, what should I expect?
Angela Voorhees: I’d pass because I’m not the biggest Ghostbusters guy. It’s not a bad movie, just
never had the love for it like most do.
Thee Satanophile: Who are your favorite reviewers in the Reviewsphere?

Angela Voorhees: The Cinema Snob and [anything] 12:01 Beyond related.
Thee Satanophile: Death match! Maniac Cop vs. Terminator.
Angela Voorhees: Psycho Cop!
Thee Satanophile: Death match! Laurie Strode vs. Jamie Strode.
Angela Voorhees: Tom Akins.
Thee Satanophile: How true to your life is the character of Angela Voorhees?
Angela Voorhees: A louder one I guess.
Thee Satanophile: Favorite bands? The Germs are a given.
Angela Voorhees: Marilyn Manson, GWAR, GG Allin, The Misfits, Danzig, Skid Row, and anything with Keith Morris.
Thee Satanophile: Your family was all about horror, as you were growing up, which I feel (maybe I'm wrong) is exceptional for many of us. Tell me about that upbringing.
Angela Voorhees: My Disney films were Godzilla flicks. In Kindergarden I was sent to the principal office for my Friday the 13th lunchbox. It was very much a open househould and my mom is the reason I'm doing this today.
Angela's Trailer Park appears on American Horrors on Mondays

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Leslie Rice, aka the Fear Fan, is the writer/director and star of the web series Terror Obscura, a review show that tackles the horror genre. Mr. Rice takes a more analytical approach than most reviewers, and he opts to review entire franchises, giving each installment in a series its own episode. Also, he offers shorter, truncated reviews on a show called Fright Bites, to appease fans in between episodes of Terror Obscura. The following is an interview I conducted with Mr. Rice, wherein we discuss the philosophy of horror, what's up next for both shows, and which horror icon would survive in a fight to the death. 
Thee Satanophile: What do you think makes horror unique? What separates it from genres that include similar themes of murder or crime (i.e. drama, sci-fi)?
Leslie Rice: Well, that's a very interesting question, and I think it can best be answered by defining the term 'Horror'. If you were to go through each of the other genres and evaluate them, you would eventually be able to boil them down to a single term or phrase that describes what feelings or thoughts they were meant to inspire. For example, you might get something along the lines of 'speculation' when you talk about Sci-fi, or 'excitement' when discussing Fantasy. When discussing Horror though, the primary goal is to inspire 'Fear'. Think about it - you can have any of those other genres, but whenever that element of Fear creeps in, they become a hyphenate. "Sci-fi horror." "Horror Comedy."
Thee Satanophile: Would you say, then, that other genres, like comedy for example, essentially contain elements of horror? Furthermore, if we can equate horror with conflict, then horror is the jumpoff for narrative storytelling in all genres. Hell, when Mr. Hooper died on Sesame Street, was that not a form of horror narrative?
Leslie Rice: Ha ha! While I admit that's an interesting idea, I think that saying all genres contain elements of horror is like saying that you and I contain elements of an elephant seal - we're made of the same stuff, but what really matters is how it's put together. All narrative storytelling requires conflict, but what makes horror... well... 'Horror'... is the consistency of that conflict - man vs. fear. When you look at every single horror movie, what you'll find lying under the surface is a particular fear, or combination thereof. What if my kid turns out to be a terrible person (The Good Son, The Bad Seed, Children of the Damned)? What if everyone really IS out to get me (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Faculty, Invaders from Mars)? What if the Boogeyman actually IS real (Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.)? While everything contains the POTENTIAL for horror, it's only when they begin to focus on one of those questions that you get a true horror story. Like you said though, most things do contain some trace elements of fear, and I think that's why so many other genres mesh so well with horror- because it's already got the seeds there. It's not really TOO surprising given that fear is one of the oldest human emotions.
Thee Satanophile: What was the first horror film you watched as a kid? Also, what's the last movie you saw that authentically scared you?
Leslie Rice: Looking back, it's difficult for me to say what the FIRST was, but I DO recall the ones that first managed to scare the crap out of me. While I always liked the classic Universal Monster movies as a kid, the first thing I remember actually scaring me is the Disney version of Sleepy Hollow. There was just something about that insane cackle and how damn RELENTLESS he was. No matter what poor Ichabod Crane did to get away, that sword was always just a few seconds away from taking a little too much off the top. If I had to give you a runner up, it was Forbidden Planet, although that's not technically a horror movie. There was something about the Id Monster that messed with me.There, it wasn't just the fact that it was invisible, or that it was invincible, it was that godawful ROARING sound it made. Awesome stuff. As for things that've scared me recently, I've got to admit that it's been slim pickings as far as stuff that's actually FRIGHTENED me to the point where I was legitimately scared. There have been plenty of films that startled me or made me a little uneasy, but I'd say the best bang for my buck in the last few years were the Insidious movies. THOSE are films that know how to use atmosphere, creative setups, and yes, the occasional jump scare to great effect. There have also been some pretty good smaller, independent films, but since I generally watch those on the small screen, I'm afraid their impact is lessened considerably...
Thee Satanophile: Let's play death match! Round one is The Tall Man vs. Pinhead.
Leslie Rice: That's an interesting one... Since Pinhead is primarily concerned with the souls and flesh of the living while the other is a collector of the bodies of the dead, it's kind of hard to think of a reason they would come into conflict, but if they did, I guess we'd have to look at what they have to work with.
All right - let's start with the Tall Man! He's an extra dimensional being who can be killed, but no matter how gruesome the death, he can simply send another one of his multiversal doubles through to take his place, provided there's a gate nearby. Then there's his arsenal- A finite number of 'turned' replicants and human collaborators as well as a theoretically unlimited supply of dwarf minions and HK spheres as well as the occasional master sphere. On top of that, there's his own prodigious size, strength and transformative abilities to consider.
Then, there's the cenobites! Acolytes of a dark god, shapers of flesh and bringers of both pleasure and pain. Capable of appearing at any point after being summoned and arguably invulnerable to anything other than losing the favor of Leviathan or having the Lament Configuration's alignment altered. They bring with the blades, stabbing weapons, and the hooks that their leader can summon from the shadows.
So, who would win? Well, the Tall Man has the advantage of numbers and not having a soul, as well as some experience with interdimensional travel. The Cenobites on the other hand... Well, I tend to disregard pretty much anything from the second movie on, so really the only way I can see them coming out on top is by recruiting and converting enough new cenobites to send them out and close all the gates at once. So yeah, I'm giving this one to good ol' Angus Scrimm, the Tall Man.
Thee Satanophile: Round two! Peter (Dawn of the Dead 1978) vs. Daryl Dixon.
Leslie Rice: Sweet picks! As for Peter vs. Daryl... Peter. Because Ken Foree, motherfuckers.
Thee Satanophile: Can't argue with that. Round three! Count Jackula vs the Horror Guru.
Leslie Rice: Shit... Another tough one, lol! Well, if they both do one another in, there'd have to be SOMEONE to step in and fill the gap... (Conspicuously adjusts collar with a wink.)
Thee Satanophile: Who are your favorite producers in the "reviewsphere"?
Leslie Rice: Well, I refuse to play favorites with my friends on the Booth, and I can honestly say that I love all their work equally. Of the larger, better known critics, I'd probably say my top 3 are Doug, Phelan, and Brad. I'm always looking at others who are just starting out, or who have managed to carve out their own fanbases, and I'm always amazed by the amount of effort and love people put out for their work.
Thee Satanophile: In your Friday the 13th Part 3 review, you tackle the Jason-as-a-rapist controversy, but I noticed you didn't mention Tracie Savage's character Debbie's alleged pregnancy.
Leslie Rice: Yeah... Video was already 35 min... Didn't want to push it too far and besides, I didn't have much to say on it since it didn't affect things too much.
Thee Satanophile: I had always taken that character's comments about being pregnant as sarcasm; her and her boyfriend were constantly ribbing each other. If her character was intended to be pregnant, though, I think that would make her death more savage.
Leslie Rice: Yeah, she says it a couple of times, but he doesn't ever ACT like she's pregnant, so who knows?
Thee Satanophile: If I'm not mistaken, A Nightmare on Elm Street is your favorite franchise, am I right?
Leslie Rice: Hmn... Let's just say favorite 'straight' horror franchise.
Thee Satanophile: OK... which do you prefer... Freddy as a child molester/killer, or Freddy as just a killer?
Leslie Rice: Well, while it was never explicitly stated in the original series, it WAS heavily implied that he was a kiddie fiddler. Also, that WAS Craven's original intention, so I don't think there's ever been much of a separation for me.
Thee Satanophile: In your opinion, what was the first slasher film? Some people say Halloween, but there was Black Christmas and Psycho before it. Before Psycho, there was Peeping Tom and going back even earlier, Fritz Lang's M and The Phantom of the Opera... whose canoe attack scenes were aped later (many times) by the Friday the 13th series.
Leslie Rice: Well, everything draws it's inspiration from everything else, so it IS really difficult to tell where things start or end. Hell, arguably Cain and Abel were the first slasher villains. Still, if you define the modern 'Slasher Movie' as a deranged killer stalking multiple victims and doing away with them in creative fashion on screen- I'd say Halloween is the first true modern slasher film in that it established so many conventions of the Genre. Still, honorable mention to all the others.
Thee Satanophile: Where can my readers can find your show?
Leslie Rice: Thanks again for the promotion, and I really appreciate your featuring me on your blog!
Thee Satanophile: No problem! I love the show, looking forward to more Friday the 13th reviews. What's next on your agenda?
Leslie Rice: Thanks! I'm doing an editorial on why Masks are so important in horror and a Fright Bites on Gremlins 2, then I'll be tackling (Friday the 13th) Part IV.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


MALICE IN WONDERLAND (1982) (UR) Dir. Vince Collins
4 mins.
This short animation juxtaposes the themes and characters of the Lewis Carroll classic with psychedelia and sexuality. Alice enters into her own labial gates and transforms into various yonic and phallic creatures. Using simple, crude and yet hypnotizing animation loops, Vince Collins essentially encapsulates the Gnostic angst towards the human body.
Certain Gnostic groups, such as the Skoptsi and the Cathars, believed the body to be the prison of the soul. Enlightenment was therefore to transcend the mortal shell, and this goal was obtained through various extremes, be it sexual abstinence, castration, flagellation, or even, in the case of some Gnostic sects, promiscuity.
Alice is shown physically morphing much like the alien in John Carpenter's The Thing. The different illustrations highlight the fluidity of gender, the frailty of flesh, and the implicit sexual innuendos in commonplace phenomena, be it drinking from a bottle, smoking a hookah, or opening a door.
Sometimes the images are surreal and beautiful, other times they are jarring, nightmarish and unrelenting. They reflect the full and complicated spectrum of human sexual relation, both internal and external. It can be gorgeous, sensual, fun, indifferent, gross, violent, or traumatic.
Many Gnostics believed that the creator-god, or Demiurge, was evil and had created an imperfect world; hence the proclivity of suffering and disorder within it. Alice herself seems to question the intentions of the Demiurge itself when, at the end of the animation, she asks, "Who has had such a curious dream?"


Saturday, July 5, 2014


Dir. Jake West
72 mins.

In the 1980's a wave an inquisition concerning graphic films erupted in British politics. The DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) compiled a list of 72 films, labeled the "Video Nasties," and attempted to pass legislation banning the distribution, rental, ownership or sale of any of the entries on the list. Because of this, there was mass seizings of videos from collections and warehouses, as well as the legal prosecution of multiple distributors and store owners. The DPP constructed not only a mainline Nasty list, but a supplementary watchlist known as "Section 3", which included 80 more films, as well.


The concern was that Nasties, a relatively new phenomena at the time, would irrevocably corrupt the nation's youth and, over time, cause massive spikes in violent crime. Many violent crime and murder cases in this era were blamed on these movies, regardless if the perpetrators had seen them or not. The most famous example of this being the murder of two-year old James Bulger by two ten-year old boys. The press insinuated the Bulger's murderers had been inspired by the film Child's Play 3. This, of course, amounted to little more than propaganda, as there was no evidence to suggest the youths had even seen the offending movie.

Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me.
This documentary follows the nativity of the Nasties controversy three decades ago, up until the modern era, in which many of these celluloid pariahs are still censored or completely unavailable to British consumers. Director Jake West has compiled interviews hailing from both sides of the fence; he speaks with journalists and industry insiders who oppose the legislation, and with the politicians who were the architects of the public scare. Though it is clear that West sympathizes with the former camp, he grants the latter the opportunity to explain their views. This is a thoroughly entertaining and informative documentary begging to be seen by horror fan and sociologist alike. 8/10
View the trailer here:

THE NEST (2014)

THE NEST (2014) (UR) Dir. David Cronenberg
9 mins.
The Nest is a short mini-film that David Cronenberg made exclusively for the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam, which is hosting a gallery and retrospective of the director's works. It was filmed using a GoPro camera, in a single continuous take, and is from Cronenberg's own first person perspective. The director plays an alleged surgeon, most likely of the illegal variety, as he interrogates a visibly distraught topless woman who desires to remove her left breast.

It is not clear if the woman is insane, or if Cronenberg's character is truly a surgeon, a psychiatrist, or a charlatan. Nor is it clear if the ailment she complains of is an authentic condition or a product of her unstable imagination. See, the woman is convinced that her left breast is infested with insects. From a psychological standpoint, it is interesting to note that it is the LEFT breast; mirroring, yet updating the antiquated belief that the left hand, or sinistra, is an instrument of evil.

This nine minute, low budget experiment hints at a return of the director to the subgenre that made him a household name in the underground (and briefly, the mainstream with 1986's The Fly), and that is body horror. Fans have been clamoring for him to revisit his roots, as most of his output of late has been more dramatic in tone (i.e. A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, M. Butterfly, and A Dangerous Method). Not that these movies aren't good--they are--but because no director can make us feel like fleshly and vulnerable humanoid slugs quite like the maestro himself.

Unfortunately, The Nest is not a return to form, but is, hopefully, a hint of things that may come. The short is a little boring at worst (even with a quick running time), and suffers from dodgy acting, mostly on the part of Cronenberg himself. However the concept, in and of itself, and the back-of-the-garage appearance of the "surgery" room works to the film's advantage. As the conversation between the woman and the doctor escalates (through the use of a stethoscope he confirms he can hear a buzzing, like that of a wasp), there is a tangible sense of dread that builds... but this crescendo is abandoned in an abrupt and anticlimactic ending that provides no real explanation or closure to the premise.

In a perfect world (at least for me), at the nine minute mark the film would have cut to a scalpel as it effortlessly breaks through the fatty tissue of the contentious tit, and to the horror of a doubtful (and likely confused) audience, a gaggle of slimy, insectoid vermin crawl out. That would have been too good for us. Perhaps in the future, the perverse king will reclaim his throne, but not now.

Though doubtful that Cronenberg will pursue this story any further, it would be nice to see this concept fleshed out into a full length feature, with a decent budget and better production values. Sow doubt into the audience; have them believe the woman is a hallucinating psychotic, to the extent that when the nest is proven to be a very real and life-threatening phenomenon, it shocks the viewer in a wonderfully graphic manner. After all, internal insect infestation is a horrifying concept, and quintessentially Cronenbergian.

I would recommend this movie to die-hard Cronenberg fans only. Others will likely be left scratching their heads. It's on YouTube, but supposedly for a limited time (somehow I doubt it, though). 4/10

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


FATHER'S DAY (2011) (NR) Dirs. Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matthew Kennedy, Steven Kostanski, and Conor Sweeney
99 mins.

Like House of the Devil and Hobo with a Shotgun before it, Father's Day is recorded with the aesthetic of a late 70's or early 80's grindhouse flick. Specifically, it 's made to look like it was taped off the TV with a VHS, channel bumpers and all. There is even a fake trailer halfway through the film, a la the movie Grindhouse. Everything looks authentic; the film's frames are scratched and linty, the colors are saturated to a ridiculous degree, there are jittery splices in the footage, and the score is pure Moogy deliciousness.
The story revolves around the legend of the Fuchman. Chris Fuchman to be precise, an obese necrophile who likes to kidnap fathers, rape and kill them. When Fuchman kills a priest and kidnaps stripper Chelsea from the club she works at, it's up to three intrepid heroes, film noir reject and Chelsea's brother Ahab, male hooker Twink, and Father John, to rescue her and stop the Fuchman.

They follow in hot pursuit of Fuchman and Chelsea following the abduction, chasing Fuchman's truck, but ultimately lose him and fail to rescue Ahab's sister. The day is fading, so they pitch camp until morning. During the night, Twink and Father John eat hallucinogens and fuck.
The next day, they follow Fuchman's trail to a waterslide park, where they discover a corpse and a terribly wounded Chelsea. Ahab engages a fleeing Fuchman, unleashing a flurry of handgun rounds and shotgun shells into his body. After Fuchman falls, Ahab stomps in his skull and hurls the body off the side of a ledge.
The trio's victory is short-lived, although, as it is discovered that the Fuchman is actually a demon of sorts, a spirit that is reborn each generation. He has Chelsea's soul and is using her as his vessel. Yet Fuchman is in Hell. So Hell ahoy! Ahab and the boys load up a pistol and prepare to kill the Fuchman, on his home turf, and end his reincarnations.

Father's Day is vile, disgusting and hilarious. It revels in breaking taboos and making the audience uncomfortable. Male on male rape, Catholic homosexuality, abortion, genital mutilation, and incest, all make their appearances. The gore is both cartoonish and gruesome. The whole movie is brilliantly shot and edited, and the comedy mostly hits its mark. The acting is hammily self-aware and the many homages and parodies (i.e. Escape From New York, Twin Peaks, Phantasm) are clever and respectful.
Easily recommendable to gorehounds, Troma fiends, and fans of black humor. It's a goldmine, but as with most of Troma's fare, it's definitely not for the squeamish. 7/10

THE BLACK 6 (1973)

THE BLACK 6 (1973) (R) Dir. Matt Cimber
94 mins.

After a white girl's brother discovers that her boyfriend is black, he and his biker cronies beat the man to death with chain links. Later, the victim's estranged older brother Bubba, leader of the Vietnam vet biker gang the Black 6, receives the news. He makes his way home with his gang in tow to reconcile with his family and find out what happened to his little brother, Eddie.
Since the murder occurred on the local high school's football field, Bubba first questions the coach. The coach is little help, so Bubba petitions the police to no avail, but he does learn that the murderers were bikers. What does he do next? He goes bar-hopping, of course.
Bubba meets up with an old drunkard at the bar #1, who tells him that his high school sweetheart Lucille might have some answers. Bubba leaves to find her. He finds and threatens her pimp, Copperhead, in bar #2. Copperhead spills her whereabouts and off goes our hero. Bubba finds Lucille and she informs him that Eddie's girlfriend was named Jenny King. He drops Lucille off with his mother and heads for Jenny's workplace: bar #3.
This has got to be the breeziest investigation ever, as at the bar the gang responsible for Eddie's death are all there. It's quickly revealed to Bubba that Jenny's brother and his friends are the killers (they practically brag). The rest of the Black 6 arrive to back Bubba up against the gang, but before they can scrap, the police enter and break up the ruckus.
Later, the white gang meets up with another biker gang run by a strange fellow called Thor. The two gangs form an alliance to bring down the Black 6. They send two envoy riders to invite the 6 to meet up and talk things out, in what is clearly a trap. Yet the 6 bite, and they head off on their bikes much to the dismay of Bubba's mother and sister.
What follows is one of the most frustrating endings I've seen in a while. The lighting is so terrible, I found myself gazing at the screen in wonder for roughly ten seconds before I realized that I was looking at the front of a motorcycle. Shitty lighting, shitty fight choreography, and the sudden piss poor editing make the whole climax pretty incomprehensible. After killing many dozens of his fellow racist bikers, a desperate gang member rides his bike, with a flare in its gas tank, at the Black 6.  The motorcycle explodes in (what I assume is) midair, and the movie's over. It's so sudden, so abrupt and it really squanders all of the momentum built up during the first eighty minutes. A shame.
The actors portraying the 6 were all NFL stars of the day (their teams are listed in the opening credits), so understandably their acting is a bit wooden at best. Gene Washington is clearly the most charismatic of the bunch and he basically carries most of the film. The supporting cast is great though, and the actors portraying Lucille, Bubba's mother, the Coach, and Jenny all stand out for their strong performances.
The Black 6 dwells in the realm of comedy for its first third and but gets a bit darker as the film progresses. The transition is not handled well and all of the plot's setups do not pay off. Unfortunately, what could have been a great murder/revenge film is marred by bad pacing, a lack of any mystery surrounding the killers, slapstick segments (mostly early on), and most of all, a muddled and unfinished climax. Yet is has so much potential. If any cult classic should be remade, it's this one. 4/10


DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1912) (NR) Dir. Lucius Henderson
12 mins.

Though there have been a couple film adaptations of Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde before the 1912 version, this is the only one to have survived, so far. Directed by Lucius Henderson and starring future director James Cruze as the doomed doctor, the film serves as a cornerstone to not only horror, but to narrative cinema itself.

Dr. Jekyll is in his lab, reading up on the effects of different drugs. He is a able to concoct a new substance that separates the good half of a person from his/her evil half. Upon testing the formula, Jekyll turns into his criminal shadow-self, Mr. Hyde. He checks out his new visage in a mirror, and having succeeded in his experiment, ingests an antidote and returns to his Jekyll form. Jekyll immediately jots down his results.

However, experimenting with the drug over the course of a few months, Jekyll begins to transform into Hyde unwillingly. While studying one day, Hyde emerges. It's interesting to note that you can physically see Jekyll struggling for control over the Hyde personality. Kudos to James Cruze for being able to portray that in a matter of a few seconds. Hyde wins out and, after tearing Jekyll's notes, runs amok in the town streets, where he attacks a little girl. He scurries off, evades capture, and using the antidote reverts back into Jeckyll.
Later, when meeting with his fiancée, Jekyll begins to suffer from one of his spells. He runs off out of sight and transforms. As Hyde, he attacks his wife-to-be, and when her minister father intervenes, Hyde strangles him to death.

A policeman chases a fleeing Hyde to Jekyll's house, but when he reaches it, Hyde has already ingested the antidote. Dr. Jekyll appears and reassures the officer that Hyde is not there. Knowing now that he will never rid himself of Hyde, Jekyll arranges to meet his fiancée and break it off. During their meeting, he must again run off to avoid endangering her. He gets back to his house in time and morphs.
Inside Jekyll's home, Hyde finds that he has run out of antidote and must remain in this form indefinitely. Hyde trashes the lab and Jekyll's butler fetches the police. In desperation, as police ax down the laboratory door, Hyde drinks a flask of poison and dies.
Even at twelve minutes there is a lot going on in the adaptation. The pacing is very fast, especially for its time. Blink and you will miss scenes. The Hyde makeup is excellent, I can imagine very creepy for 1912 audiences, and the big dissolve used to show the initial Jekyll's initial transformation is groundbreaking. At this point, horror cinema is still in its infancy, but its teeth are starting to come in. 7/10   


THE EXECUTION OF MARY STUART (1895) (NR) Dir. Alfred Clark
18 sec.

This is arguably the very first horror film ever made, and it was produced by American inventor Thomas Edison. The idea that Edison invented the horror film is mind-twisting. Why didn't they tell me that in elementary school? The Execution of Mary Stuart consists of only one scene and runs about eighteen seconds. Interesting enough, you could also call it the world's first exploitation and splatter film.
It's 1587. A group stands around a blindfolded Mary Stuart, Queen of the Scots. The blindfold is removed and she kneels at a chopping block before her. The executioner raises his ax and beheads Mary for treason against Queen Elizabeth. He then picks the head up and holds it aloft.
That's it. Through clever early editing (this is oft considered to be the very first edited film), the actress playing Mary is substituted with a dummy, so that the decapitation can occur on camera. Wow. A hundred, and almost a quarter, years have passed since then and directors still use that dummy trick. Sorry H.G. Lewis.... the dynamic duo, Clark and Edison, did it first. 8/10

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


DON'T GO TO SLEEP (1982) (NR) Dir. Richard Lang
93 mins.

This made for TV movie is brought to us by none other than Mr. 90210 himself, Aaron Spelling, and was originally aired on the ABC network. The plot follows Phillip and Laura, a married couple with three kids. Well, two kids now, because a year ago, a car accident left their eldest, Jennifer, deceased. The two surviving children, Kevin and Mary, leave the city with their parents, who have decided to make a fresh start and settle into a new house in a more quiet, rural setting (house number 13666, no less). Along for the mooch is also Laura's mother, who makes a sport out of taunting the newly sober Phillip.

After the five move in, the youngest, Mary, starts hearing noises and a gravely voice calling her name at night. She screams for help, and the alarmed parents burst in her room to find Mary's bed aflame. She is rescued, and the fire squelched. Lacking any clear explanation for the occurrence, the couple have Mary retire to her brother's bedroom for the evening, but it is not long before the disturbances begin anew. Mary starts convulsing and yelling for help. When Kevin retrieves the skeptical Phil and Laura, they find Mary sound asleep and with no evidence to corroborate Kevin's story. Kevin vows payback.

So the next day, Kevin makes some (allegedly) spooky sounds on his tape recorder. That night he plays them to torment his little sister. He smirks as he feigns sleep and eavesdrops on Mary being scolded for her outburst.

On the third night, as Kevin runs off to tattle on his sister for freaking out again, Mary musters her courage and investigates the noises, which seem to be originating from beneath her brother's bunk bed. There she meets the apparition--her dead sister Jennifer, smiling intently.
When she is discovered by her parents, Mary tries to convince them that she saw Jennifer, but to no avail. Not knowing how to deal with their daughter's apparently increasing break with reality, the parents argue about seeking psychiatric help. Meanwhile, a spectral Jennifer continues to visit the confused child. She is able to convince Mary that not only is she indeed real, but that if she wants Jennifer to stay for good this time, Mary's going to have to dispose of any person that gets between them. This does not bode well for the other members of the family... who are all growing weary of Mary's antics.

As time goes on, Mary becomes more and more possessed by the spirit of Jennifer. She starts to rationalize her previous supernatural encounters. She cleverly eludes her psychiatrist's inquiries during their visits. By night she is concocting schemes with Jennifer to eliminate her pesky family members. Grandmother first, then that snitch Kevin. It's not long before she sets her murderous sights on dear ol' Dad. Laura eventually discovers what has been going on and is able to escape. Young Mary is hospitalized. During the film's denouement, we see what really happened to Jennifer the night she died in that car accident, and ladies and gents, it's fucked up. This is grim stuff for television, especially for 1982.
Don't Go To Sleep, like Dark Night of the Scarecrow, is a great example of less is more. In lieu of elaborate gore or special effects, we instead get fleshed out characters, great acting and a legitimate creepiness that is far more tangible here than in horror films that have ten times the budget. Dennis Weaver and Roth Gordon are excellent per usual, but Robin Ignico's Mary is superbly executed. Her fear during the initial hauntings is vividly pronounced and totally believable, and her frenzied, schizophrenic monologue at the climax of the film would be impressive for the most veteran of actors, let alone a child of her age.
Another great early 80's TV movie. Sort of like a fleshed out Twilight Zone episode meets an episode of Dark Shadows. The music is full of melodrama. It's soap-operatic. The cinematography is average for television, but the lighting is very well done, and the film's arguably scariest moments are accomplished by lighting (and good acting) alone. The conclusion is a near-Shakespearean tragedy. I mean, I truthfully feel bad for the mother, Laura. Jesus, lady. Sucks to be you. 7/10

SCHRAMM (1994)

SCHRAMM (1994) (NR)
Dir. Jorg Buttgereit
65 mins.
The only other Jorg Buttgereit film I've seen so far is Nekromantik, and as much as I enjoyed that film, Schramm is easily the better of the two. The production values are higher, the acting, much more somber and realistic, and the camera movement and projection effects are incredible. The movie feels like a mixture of William Lustig's Maniac and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, with a few drops of Fulci-esque gore. It's invasive, grim and uncomfortably personal, as we follow the sad life and death of the Lipstick Killer, Lothar Schramm. 

We are introduced to the titular character, a prosthetic leg-wearing cab driver, who, when he's not running in marathons or driving his prostitute friend Marianne to various jobs, is in his apartment, ejaculating onto Sears catalogues or cleaning the semen out of his inflatable vagina. Fortunately for society, Schramm is now dying, having fallen off of a step ladder while painting over some bloodstains in his apartment. Seems his prosthetic came loose, and he snapped his neck upon impact with the floor. As he slowly departs this coil, Lothar's brain floods with flashbacks of his life and the events leading up to his fall.
These flashbacks are apparently random at first, but as the film progresses we begin to flesh out a timeline. We see Lothar doing normal things like showering, going to dinner or seeing his dentist. We also see him nail his foreskin to a table... and drug and rape Marianne (his only friend, mind you). The juxtaposition of everyday tediums with his shadow life of criminal perversion is striking, to say the least. Lothar's increasing levels of delusion lead to the double murder of two Christian missionaries in his apartment. It was their stains he was painting over. Towards the climax, as the dying killer's consciousness finally dims, we see some final flashbacks to Lothar as a boy, playing with crabs by the shore with, what I assume, is his family. And we see the wildflowers that grew there, suggesting that Luthor used to be innocent once, too. It begs the question, what happened to this guy that made him so fucked up? There are no real answers, you are left to speculate, and this makes him much more interesting than your average Norman Bates clone.

There is also a quasi-afterlife scene that I don't know what to make of.

The story is simple, but interesting, the writing and acting are up to par, and the special effects are effective and fun, but the real standout in this feature is the direction and editing. It looks as though Jorg projected the movie onto a piece of warping plexiglass, creating motion blurs, trails, and proportional distortions that make for a very psychedelic experience. Even the subtitles stretch with the picture. It's an incredible way to force the audience to sympathize with Lothar's condition, as the camera emulates his own hallucinatory view of his environment.

Schramm is definitely a splatter movie, but it's equally an art film. If you're into disturbing and disorienting films, this is like foie grois. Definitely an benchmark work for the genre. The visuals are amazing, the actors are fearless... and there is a rubber vagina monster, with teeth and tentacles, living in Schramm's lipstick drawer. Can't forget to mention that. 8/10

Sunday, March 16, 2014


THE REDEEMER: SON OF SATAN (1978) (R) Dir. Constantine S. Gochis
84 mins.

This is a weird movie. It's been speculated to be a religious film, but that's debatable. Six adults attend their ten year class reunion at their old high school, only to find there's no one there but them. They enter the banquet hall, pig out, and it begins to dawn on them that something might be wrong. They begin to investigate, and soon the former students realize they are locked and barred inside the school, with no way out, and there is a killer after them.... for SOME reason.
Seriously, they can't figure it out, and even after the denouement, I couldn't either. There are both a prologue and epilogue to the movie that just discombobulate the plot further. Basically, a thespian/priest, who had attended the same school and grade as his victims, is attacking them for living sinful lives. One girl is a lesbian, another is vain, one man is a lawyer, another is gay, etc. Apparently that is the motive. I kept waiting for a "you picked on me in high school" motive, as even the characters speculate that to be so. But no, unless I somehow missed it.
The editing is atrocious, but it fits in context with the grainy footage, muted yet oversaturated colors, and choppy narrative. It's surreal, if anything, and it does add a certain dream-like atmosphere to the clichéd slasher proceedings. There is little gore, but one scene in the school lavatory is brutally violent and well-executed. Props to both actors in that scene. The ending is impenetrable. Once the redeemer is finished with his work, there is a prologue that not only reveals his identity (as if the audience didn't know by now), but suggests he might have accomplices as well. Oh, and something about a curse involving a third thumb. An odd final note to end an odd movie.
The killer is played by T.G. Finkbinder, who is now a high school teacher, and although some of his performance is heavy-handed, some it works as well. As an actor, I'm sure he jumped at the role, as the redeemer dresses differently in almost every scene he shows up in, and every costume the killer wears is like new personality.
The movie also begs the question, 'do the writer and director sympathize with the priest?' If so, is this a Christian horror movie? Like the ending, this question will probably never be answered. I do know that the original title of the film was simply The Redeemer, and it was filmed in 1976. However, it was not released until 1978, after The Exorcist made a huge splash, so the producers added the 'Son of Satan' subtitle to cash-in on the Satanic horror boom late that decade. In reality, the concept of Satan has nothing to do with this film; if anything, it deals with sin and redemption.
Would I recommend this film? Perhaps to hardcore horror completists and fans of the surreal. It's not particularly well written, shot or acted, but it does have a feeling that separates it from other no-budgeted films of its time. It's a shame the director Gochis didn't make more films after this one, because as flawed as it is, it shows promise. 5/10

Saturday, March 15, 2014


NINJA TERMINATOR (1985) (UR) Dir. Godfrey Ho
87 mins.

The Ninja Empire has acquired the Golden Ninja Warrior, a statue in three parts, which, when combined, grant a ninja the Supreme Ninja Art, aka imperviousness to blades. Three students of the Empire, led by Ninja Master Harry, steal the artifact, each absconding with a separate piece. Ninja Master Harry claims that the Empire has become evil, and he wants to reclaim the honor of the Ninja Empire by reforming the cabal with the help of the Supreme Ninja Art. The rest of the movie is just a slew of absurd fight scenes as the Ninja Empire send their forces to retrieve the Golden Ninja Warrior and kill Ninja Master Harry and his two accomplices. And there's a toy robot that delivers ninja threats. And a ninja Garfield phone. Just sayin'.

Ninja Terminator is spliced together using footage from the 1984 South Korean film Uninvited Guest, as well as new footage that Ho shot with three Western actors, including the unintentionally hilarious Richard Harrison as Ninja Master Harry. Ho then wrote a completely new plot and overdubbed the film entirely. I have to say, the music in this movie was quite good, and quite stolen from a great deal many sources, like Star Wars, A Clockwork Orange, Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream. So.. obscure Korean footage, new Westerner footage, overdubs, and stolen music. This is the formula for Ho's infamous era of "ninja" cut and paste films (he has directed many other, more competent projects); quick, cheap, and efficient.

Apparently Ho meant these films to be serious and to have international appeal. Instead they have become cult classics and Ninja Terminator, in particular, is widely considered to be the best of the bunch. Much of the film is like a fever dream, so colorful, so strange, so explicit and yet so hard to completely recall... It's a hodgepodge of awesome fights, incomprehensible storytelling, magic and stinky cheese gently sautéed and served over a bowl of whatthefuckery. This is a must see for fans of the gut-wrenchingly inept. A disasterpiece of the highest order, Ninja Terminator proudly joins the moldy ranks of the great pantheon of distaste. 7/10 


KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977) (PG) Dir. John "Bud" Cardos
97 mins.

I remember being royally freaked out when I caught Kingdom of the Spiders on cable in the late 80's. Now, many years later, I find it a charming addition to the killer wildlife subgenre of horror. No doubt riding the coattails of movies like Frogs, Jaws, band Grizzly, this oft-forgotten film has its own furry little charm and is quite possibly the main inspiration for 1990's Arachnophobia.

This time Shatner is playing Rack Hansen, a veterinarian in a small Arizonian town. When local farmer Colby calls him concerning a sick cow, Rack is baffled by its condition. The cow dies, and Rack sends blood samples to a university for a more thorough analysis.
The university dispatches a young specialist named Diane, who informs Rack that the cow died from a spider venom that is five times its normal potency. They soon discover that the normally cannibalistic spiders are organizing into colonies like ants or bees, and that farmer Colby has an assload of these spider hives in his fields. Diane suggests that the spiders migrated to this town in search of a food source, their usual menu having been depleted because of DDT testing.

A few deaths later and the mayor, trying to save face in light of an upcoming county fair, attempts to solve the problem by sending local pilot, Baron, up with enough insecticide to blanket the areas surrounding the town. Unfortunately for Baron, he isn't flying alone.

After failing to air raid the infestation, the spiders take the offensive and completely invade the town. This is where the movie really shines. Panic ensues; the residents are all rioting, cocooned bodies lay in the street, the police are helpless, and outside reinforcements do not appear to be coming. During the climax, Rack and Diane hold up in an inn with the owner and an out-of-town couple. In scenes reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead, they make numerous attempts to fortify the building; plugging entry ways, boarding up windows and gathering supplies. The spider attacks seem to be tapering off... The ending is grim and apocalyptic, and it practically begs for a sequel.
Shatner tried to make that happen for thirteen years, but the possibility collapsed along with its production company Cannon Films in 1990. RIP KOTS II.

It has cheesy establishing dialogue, slow pacing and some cheap effects (take a drink every time you notice a fake tarantula), but it also has that aforementioned charm, the unquestionable charisma of the Shatness, a few memorable scares, and an exciting, wholly satisfying climax and ending. A warning to the squeamish though: this film was made before there were strict animal rights codes in cinema and there are quite a few squishings on-screen. The filmmakers claim to have taken every precaution to avoid tarantula deaths, but if you look for them, they are there. When it comes to cruelty towards animals, Cannibal Holocaust ain't got nothing on this. 6/10



DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981) (UR) Dir. Frank De Felitta
96 mins.

Long before Darkman and Dr. Giggles, Larry Drake portrayed a mentally challenged thirty-six year old in the CBS TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Drake is Bubba Ritter, an large fellow with the mind of a child, and he spends his days playing with his close friend, Marylee, picking flowers in the fields and exploring the neighborhood. This comes much to the chagrin of some of the locals, most notably the postman Otis (Charles Durning), who suggests to the others that Bubba will eventually harm, or even rape her. When Marylee is mauled by a dog in a neighbor's yard, Bubba saves her and brings her to her mother, but he can't properly explain himself. Bubba is quickly blamed for her injuries, and a lynch mob is formed by Otis and his three dim-witted cohorts, Skeeter, Philby, and Harliss.

Mama Ritter, knowing of the incoming danger (as these men have been tormenting Bubba for years), has her son disguise himself as a scarecrow in the field behind their farm. Unfortunately, Otis and company have with them bloodhounds, and soon discover the rouse. All four men unload a flurry of bullets into the Bubba scarecrow> Shortly after, they are informed over their CB radio that Bubba had actually saved Marylee and was not responsible for the attack. Panicking, the men swear absolute secrecy, and by planting a pitchfork in Bubba's dead hand, attempt to pose the murder as an act of self defense.
A trial is held, and the men are found innocent due to a lack of evidence. The district attorney swears vengeance, and Mama Ritter swears vengeance, but the men laugh it off and go about their lives. That is, until one day a mysterious scarecrow shows up in Harliss' wheat fields... and Harliss suspiciously dies. The police are convinced it was a drunken accident, but Philby and Skeeter are convinced it's a murder. If so, was is the district attorney? Bubba's mother? The mysterious Marylee is claiming she still plays with Bubba... what else does she know? Has he returned from the dead seeking justice?
For a TV movie, this film is fantastic. I was a bit skeptical at first and didn't know what to expect. Yet although it starts on Bambi legs (feeling like a Wonderful World of Disney special), Dark Night of the Scarecrow eventually gains its momentum and delivers a ghost yarn with a tight and tense atmosphere. All this, despite the miniscule budget, awful soundtrack and lack of any on-screen violence. The story is spooky and classic, (a murder/revenge from the grave plot), the acting is solid (especially by Larry Drake), the stalking/death scenes are anxious and well executed, and the final reels are definitely spiked with a few shots of nightmare fuel. There are even a few twists. Recommended to enthusuiasts for its earnestness and its creep-factor, and also as a testament to the legitimacy of made for TV horror. 6/10