Summertime Funtime Flicks!!!

It’s been a while, I know, but I’m back baby!!!

Another long, cold winter here in Western PA is finally over and you know what that means … Summer!!!!

Yes Summer.  Capital S.  The weather gets warm, school is out, time for vacations at the beach or summer camp or a road-trip with your family or friends.  Hell, even staying at home and having backyard barbeques, eating ice-cream from the ice-cream truck, or being stuck indoors during a great summer storm … it’s all part of the Summer experience.

Here are a couple of flicks that, for one reason or another, capture the feeling of summer – like Dandelion Wine.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, or even a best-of or primer, but I hope it’ll help you get some good summertime vibes.

Also, I hope you like Cheese.  Really Cheezy Cheese!

Camp Nowhere

Oh the 90’s, how I miss you!  Well not really, but its fun to wax nostalgic every now and again.  This one really takes me back to being a kid in the Nickelodeon era.  The premise is a bunch of pre-high-school youths don’t want to go to the lousy summer-camps their parents have lined up for them.  So they start their own, unsupervised camp where they can hang out and have fun.  Shenanigans ensue.  Doc Brown himself Christopher Lloyd is their “cool” adult friend who help them perpetrate this crime.  Also we have M. Emmet Walsh, Burgess Merideth, and a young Jessica Alba. Look out for cameos from Jonathan Frakes and Kate Mulgrew – It’s like a damned Star Trek convention!!!

Surf Ninjas

Quan-Su Dudes!!!  Speaking of the Nickelodeon era …  Oh man Surf Ninjas has Ninjas and Surfing!  Basically a couple of brothers learn they are lost princes to an exotic civilization AND that they have mystic martial arts powers.  Lucky!!!!  Oh but their best friend is Rob Schneider so really its kind of a wash.  Ha ha!  Actually Rob Schneider is pretty funny in this.  Plus you’ve got 90s royalty Tone Loc, Ernie Reyes Jr AND Sr (!!!) and the inimitable Leslie Neilson as Colonel Chi.  Lots of jokes, Kung Fu, surfing, and fun in this one.  Check it the hell out!


I don’t think I can really say anything about this movie that hasn’t been said before.  So I won’t try.  It’s Jaws dammit!!  Its set at the various beaches on a New England island during the Fourth of July.  Lots of boating action, vacationers, and that awesome small town feel.  Watch it on July 4 after your family barbecue.

Friday the 13th parts 1 and 2

It should be no surprise that I love the entire Jason oeuvre, BUT, for the purposes of this list I’m saying that parts 1 and 2 have the most Summertime Feel.  In both of these the main group of murder victims characters are Summer Camp Counselors that are being killed off.  In addition to the great Camp sets, both movies feature different little “small town America” locations, a lake, lots of sun and a bit of skin.  Also each one has a maniac killing teens.  So there you go!

Meatballs 2

Another Summer Camp movie!  Yeah there are lots of them out there, but Meatballs 2 really delivers where it counts.  It’s got Pee-Wee Herman as a crazy schoolbus driver.  A psychic alien that smokes weed.  A slobs vs snobs plot that is hackneyed and wonderful.  I don’t think this one is on DVD, and I can’t even find a trailer online!  Boy am I glad to have it bootleg.

Anyway, there you go.  Get your s’mores and hotdogs and watch these 6 flicks and shake of the cold and drear of winter.



October in Pittsburgh: 3 amazing events in one weekend!

Wow, I can’t believe how crazy the weekend of October 10, 11, and 12 is going to be in the greater Pittsburgh area!  That weekend is Monster Bash, an amazing classic horror movie convention in Mars, PA which will be celebrating all things Hammer horror this October.  They have an amazing lineup of stars, programs, Q&A’s and dealers (including yours truly!).  I have been attending this convention for a couple of years and I think it is one of the best horror conventions in the country.  Everyone is amazingly friendly, gracious, and very available.  No long lines here; you can have a conversation.  It is great!  This will be my first time as a dealer, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Literally 5 minutes away in Evan’s City PA will be the Living Dead Fest.  Evan’s City is the filming location of Night of the Living Dead (and The Crazies) as well as the Living Dead Museum.  This year they have an amazing lineup including George Romero and they will be dedicating a plaque on the Cemetery Chapel, which was recently restored.  Man that sounds amazing!

Then, in downtown Pittsburgh proper, at the convention center is the Pittsburgh Zombie Fest.  This event takes place on Saturday and will have people dressed as zombies, vendors, live music … all kinds of fun stuff.  A couple of years back they set the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of Zombies at their zombie walk.  Awesome!

I currently live in Mars, and I am so fortunate to have so many freaking cool events going on around me.  My only problem is that I can’t go to them all!  All things considered though, that is a good problem to have.

Well, that’s it for now.  Like I said I’ll be at Monsterbash selling artwork and having a great time.  If you see me there, tell ‘em Terror Crypt sent ya!!!

Monster Bash October 2014Living Dead Fest 2014 banner

Zombiefest 2014

Review – Logan’s Run TV Show (1977) part 2

Logan’s Run only had 14 episodes before it got the axe.  Still, there is plenty to love.  Here are my favorite moments and aspects in no particular order.

  • The Fashions – Skittles comes to mind when I see the people running around in this show.  Most of the time people wear costumes of a single bright color, maybe with an accent color.  This simple, but colorful, wardrobe choice makes characters easy to identify on screen at any time.  Logan’s black and grey Sandman outfit is simplicity defined, and stands out amongst the bright colors you’ll see everywhere else.  Jessica’s bright mini-skirts in light shades of pink or white almost pop out of the screen.  Other times you’ll see shag carpet vests, cat-suits, flowing robes, weird jewelry … not to mention the super 70’s haircuts and mustaches!  I’ll let the pictures do the talking on this one.  Enjoy!

    I don’t see any patterns here.


    Nice belt!


    Stache, chest hair, shirt made of carpet …. this is the 70’s man!!!

    I don't know what is going on here, but I like it!

    I don’t know what is going on here, but I like it!

    So .... many .... miniskirts!

    So …. many …. miniskirts!


    Science … ?

  • Rem is awesome! – A few short years after Logan’s Run was off TV Donald Moffat would command Outpost #31 in John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (and also play Walt Whitman on Dr. Quinn!) but here he played Rem, the plucky android (not robot!) sidekick of Logan and Jessica.  Rem was great because he stayed forever calm and rational no matter what danger or weirdness our group was facing.  He could have guns held to his head, or be dissected by aliens, but this cool cucumber never broke a sweat.  Rem could always figure a way out of a situation and he never resorted to violence to do it.  TV shows need more characters like this: well-acted, rational, calm, brilliant, and entertaining to watch.


    How many androids can you see in this picture.

  • That Time Travel Episode – Episode 5 “Man Out of Time” is has a cool little twist ending that I really dug.  Spoilers!!!!! 200 some years ago, just before the Great War that ended civilization and caused all this wackiness in the Loganverse there is a cabal of scientists working furiously to prevent the aforementioned war.  Their plan is for massive, shielded, underground supercomputers to autonomously collect data on the aftermath of the upcoming war for hundreds of years.  Then, using the experimental time travel machine they have made, they will send a scientist into the future to collect the data, bring it back, then analyze it to figure out a way to avoid to war.  Well, said scientist goes into the future, meet Logan and our gang, wacky adventures ensue but he does manage to get some of the data.  He has second thoughts about preventing the war, as that would cause his new friends to not exist.  In the end, he is convinced by Logan, Jessica, and Rem to return to the past.  The twist is that when he returns, he finds out that the successful discovery and testing of time travel causes the great war, as various nations view it as a threat and begin launching nukes immediately.  Like, Woah Dude!

    Time Travel

    Time Travel never looked so Shiny!

  • Francis’ Goon-Squad – So Logan and co. escape from the City of Domes and head out all over the countryside looking for Sanctuary.  Somehow, Francis is able to follow them and bring 3-4 henchmen with him.  How the heck does that work!?  I could understand it if Francis alone simply followed them in his own hovercar, always nipping at Logan’s heels.  However, no matter how many miles he covers, no matter how many deserts he crosses, he’s only a radio call away from getting a few dudes to come help him out.  Did Logan just circle the entrance to the City of Domes?  I want to know.


    Can’t you see it hovering?

  • That Haunted House episode – Yep, a haunted house.  Not a futuristic haunted house, but an old-school victorian, cobwebs-and-dust, haunted house.  In the middle of the post apocalyptic wasteland.  And there is a storm that causes our heroes to stop and “seek shelter” even though they are in a damn Hovercar.  Ghosts appear and disappear, Satanists want to sacrifice Jessica to the devil, there are caves in the basement … yeah it is so weird that this kinda just pops up in a Sci-Fi show.  I love it though.  It feels so …. TV.  I don’t know how to explain that better, but sometimes it is wonderful when a show decides to give us a gimmick.  It is fun and silly, and so entertaining.

    LR Halloween


  • Aliens … twice! – There are at least two alien episodes.  Both times the aliens are humans that wear sparkly outfits.  Ha ha, that is how you can tell a human (or robot (or android!)) from an alien.  Also in the first alien episode there are some really, I mean really, lousy creature outfits for some different aliens.  Boy are they bad.  They did make the opening credits though, so good for them!


    This show also had some pretty lousy/awesome looking robots.

Well that is all for now.  Logan’s Run the complete series is by now pretty cheap on Amazon or wherever, so check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

Review – Logan’s Run TV Show (1977) part 1

Logan's Run title

For better or for worse, I love the world of Logan’s Run.  Oh I’ll be the first to admit that it is goofy and makes no sense, and in the ’76 movie Michael York clearly should have gone to carousel more than a few years ago … but hey, its fun, and I like the look and feel of it.

For those of you that don’t know, the ’76 film Logan’s Run (based verrrry losely on the 1967 novel of the same name) is about a futuristic society that lives in an underground domed city which has one rule: Life must end at 30.  Young people are basically hedonists that go about their days having fun and shacking up with one another consequence free.  A crystal imbedded in the palm identifies the age of the individual, and when that crystal turns black, the citizen must report to Carrousel where they are vaporized for the amusement of the public at large.  There is an idea that if you go to Carrousel you will be “renewed” and get to live again, but some folks see that as a lie and decide to escape.  Logan 5 is a “Sandman,” who hunts down “Runners” that try to escape Carrousel, and kills them.  He is tasked to go undercover as a Runner and find a secret base where Runners escape to called “Sanctuary.”

Spoilers!  At the end of the movie Logan 5 and his sexpot Runner companion Jessica 6 find that there is no Sanctuary, which somehow crashes the super-poorly programed AI controller of the city and frees the people to live … past 30.  Yay?  I mean …. yeah living past 30 is great don’t get me wrong, but the computer that provides all the good stuff like food and clothing and fun and enjoyment is gone … so what now?  Anyway like I said earlier the movie is fun and has this great 70’s ultra-modern sci-fi look to it and Roscoe Lee Brown plays a shiny silver robot.  Also Jenny Aguter looks damn fine in this:

Logan's Run picture

I need a pimp robe like Logan

Anyhoo … two years later CBS decides to cash in on the Logan’s Run train by making a TV show.  Premiering in Fall 1977 and lasting a whopping (sarcasm) 14 episodes, the show took the basic premise of Logan’s Run, nixed the movies ending, and focused on weird adventures on the surface of the post-apocalyptic world barely seen in the film.  In the extended length pilot/mini-movie we find Logan 5 (Gregory Harrison) hunting down runners when he bumps into Jessica 6 (Heather Menzies) who is helping runners escape the city.  Jessica 6 … I don’t know, bats her eyelashes at him … and somehow that is enough to cause him to abandon his ways and help her to escape the city and find Sanctuary.

Seriously, he just drops everything to do this within two minutes of meeting her.  They don’t even leave the room they met in before he decides to forsake everything and everyone he knows to go galavanting off with her.  I can’t really blame him though, Heather Menzies is pretty easy on the eyes.  Anyway, Logan’s Sandman partner Francis (7 I think) is called in to meet with a secret cabal of old people who run the city.  The old folks council straight up tell Francis that there is no Renewal at Carrousel and that when you are 30 your ass is just vaporized.  Bummer.  BUT if Francis brings Logan back to the city, they will let Francis live past 30 and he can join their council of Elder(ly)s.

Logan and Jessica make it to the surface, which is a silly place, and immediately find a “hover car” and take off in search of Sanctuary.  Francis finds his own hover car(s) and follows in hot pursuit.

Hover Car

Woah, futuristic!!!!

Soon Logan and Jessica find a castle full of robots which they think might be Sanctuary but which they soon find out isn’t (a recurring theme).  They escape with the help of Rem, and android (played by Donald Moffat) but not before getting Francis and some of his henchmen captured by the robots.  Rem joins Logan and Jessica, and the power trio head off in search of the real Sanctuary!  So begins or series.

Rem, Jessica, and Logan

Rem, Jessica, and Logan

As I said previously, for good or bad, I love the world of Logan’s Run.  This show has a lot of good and bad.  Some things that you would consider bad, I consider good, and vice-versa.  To get into and enjoy this wild hover-car ride, your tolerance for cheese needs to be high, and you absolutely must be able to revel in the weirdness that is 70s sci-fi and television.  Don’t expect amazing scripts, or the best acting, or great special effects (I mean did you see that hover car up there?).  In fact, don’t expect anything that most people typically consider “good televison.”  Don’t do that … just don’t.

However, if you can find joy in weird low budget sets, and brightly colored “futuristic” costume design, you will love this.  If you love the type of stories you’ve already seen on other similar sci-fi shows of the era (Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers) you will find a treasure trove of silly fun on Logan’s Run.  Hey that rhymed!

Logan's Run Robot

Ha ha, if you don’t enjoy this image, you will hate this show.

Also, you have to be comfortable letting this show do its own thing and get away from the ’76 film.  The movie gives the clear impression that the underground domed city of Logan and Jessica is the only civilization left.  Above-ground is a world in ruins where only a handful of people live like hobos.  In the TV show, the above-ground world is jam packed with Desert Nomads, or computerized fallout shelters, Robots, Bandits, pacifist migrant farmers … hell even space aliens show up twice.  Double hell there is even an episode about Ghosts in a haunted house!  Not a future haunted house, a regular haunted house!  WTF?

Haunted House

Complete with lightning storm!

The typical episode formula goes like this:  Logan and Jessica find some weird people (see above) and immediately think they have found Sanctuary.  Rem is a little bit more suspicious.  Francis and one or more henchmen show up one of their apparently unlimited supply of hover cars just as Logan realizes that he hasn’t found Sanctuary.  Logan, Jessica, and Rem escape (sometimes with the reluctant help of Francis) the not-sanctuary, then must escape Francis and his goons.  There are a few episodes that break the mold, but even they contain so many similar story elements that it is hard to even notice at first.  The details are usually changed, and that is where you can have fun!

Frankly, I can see why this only lasted 14 episodes.  It’s too bad though, because when you are in the right mind set, it’s a fun 14 episodes and I wish that the network would have let it build up more.  It makes me pretty mad to think that a network would not give a show like this more time to develop and shine, but “reality” tv or terrible sitcoms go for years and years.

So, final thoughts for now:  This is a flawed, but very entertaining show.  If you like 70s sci-fi and can enjoy the goofier aspects of that aesthetic, you will have a great time watching Logan’s Run.  Good characters and silly stories make this an easy watch, and an easy recommendation.  Stay Tuned for part 2, where I’ll get into some specific episodes and favorite moments.  Until then: Run Runner!




Frankenstein’s Army (2013) “Monsters Galore!”

Look at all the monsters!  They know what we came to see.

Look at all the monsters! They know what we came to see.

I had been wanting to see this one for a while now, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it show up on Netflix streaming earlier this week.  Other than a couple of awesome looking images, and a trailer I had seen months ago, I didn’t know anything about this movie.  I certainly didn’t know it was one of those confangled “found footage” films that seem to be all the rage these days.  Frankly, if I had known, I may not have given this flick a go.

Boy am I glad I did give this movie a shot!  I found it to be extremely refreshing, both in terms of its creative creatures and production design, and its good use of the new-but-already-tired found footage format.

In a nutshell Frankenstein’s Army follows a small squad of Russian Soldiers in WWII as they head into the countryside searching for another Russian patrol which need reinforced.  One member of the squad is a college educated filmmaker, tasked with recording the exploits of the team for posterity.  The squad makes its way to a desolate church, near an equally desolate town.  There they discover strange equipment and experiments, and ultimately the titular Frankenstein’s Army!!

Frankensteins Army Zombot 4Lets talk about the found footage aspect first.  Normally I dislike this format quite a bit, but in this film it really works.  First we are given an explanation as to why, in universe, someone is recording everything we are seeing.  Normally, as soon as some shit goes down and people start dying, you wonder why anyone would continue recording things on a camera.  In this movie their original explanation is updated and reinforced with a mostly believable explanation.  Second, this movie looks like it was shot on actually film, rather than digitally with some kind of old-school grain filter applied.  Often the film will be blurry, or have faults or color distortions that help sell the illusion.  Lastly, the camera shaking is kept to a minimum.  During some running scenes the camera flings about, but these are not too frequent.

That being said, lets get to the heart of the matter:  The monsters!  Yeah, this is pretty much what did it for me.  I had seen some images, and thought the monsters looked pretty sweet, but I only expected maybe 2-3 different varieties of undead Nazi zombie robots.  That would have been swell.  Instead we’re given the full treatment of dozens of different Nazi Zombots!  All of which were practical special effects, no CG, who all had extremely unique and creative designs.  These creatures were an absolute delight, and frankly they alone are worth the price of admission.  Words can’t do this justice, take a look:

Frankensteins Army Zombot 3 Frankensteins Army Zombot 1 Frankensteins Army Zombot 2

Yup, and there are plenty more where that came from.  I can’t tell you how nice it was to see these things in the flesh, not made in a computer.  Additionally, the variety among them was wonderful.  Just when you thought you’d seen the coolest and strangest looking one, something else shows up that is even crazier and more awesome!

I have to say watching this movie was an absolute delight from start to finish.  I’m so glad I had a chance to see this movie, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again to pick out all the cool stuff that was going on in the background.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what writer/director Richard Raaphorst gets up to next!


Creature (2011) Review

Box Art Creature 2011I don’t know what possessed me to watch the movie Creature from 2011.  It was on Netflix streaming, I was in the mood for some direct to DVD monster fare, and Bob’s your Uncle.  I honestly had no other criteria other than that.  Heck I thought this was one of those SyFy movies of the week.  The only blurb I read about it before watching it was like one line that read “…Alligator monster tears up vacationing young people…”

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I went into this thing completely blind, expecting to see nothing more than idiot teenagers killed by a poorly CGI’d alligator thing.  Creature wasn’t that movie.

It’s nice when a movie can surprise you.

Naked Back Creature 2011

This festering swamp looks like a great place for a dip!

We open on some chick stripping completely nude and skinny dipping in a swamp, then getting her legs ripped off by an unseen underwater assailant.  Nice!  Roll Title.

Next we meet up with the aforementioned young people, heading out for camping trip in the swamps of Louisiana.  Oliver and his sister Karen, Randy and his girlfriend Beth, and Niles and his girlfriend Emily.  We get a little character development:  Niles and Randy are in some branch of the military, Beth seems like the typical Final-Girl while Karen is a party chick, Oliver is the jokester/jerk guy and you immediately want him to die a horrible, miserable death.

The group comments on how dilapidated and run down everything looks before stopping at a creepy old gas station for a pit-stop.  The girls go to use the facilities while the boys head inside.  Creepy gas station is staffed by creepy gas station attendants who are walking redneck cliches.  One guy has a bunch of fingers missing, one guy has rotting yellow teeth, one guy is even Sid Haig!  Excellent!  The guys find a little shrine to the local legend: a giant killer alligator man.  The rednecks give them info on where to find the old cabin from the legend and the boys decide to go, dragging their girlfriends along.

Group Shot Creature 2011

Pictured: cannon fodder.

They get to the creepy abandoned cabin and decide to set up camp for the night, couples begin to pair off for sexy times, we see POV shots from the killer in the woods, blah blah blah, you know where this is going right?  Pretty bog standard stuff.

I thought so too, but this is where the movie decided to start throwing me curve-balls.

So far this movie was pretty well acted and had decent dialogue, had good lighting and camerawork, and even though we were 30-40 minutes with almost no kills it kept my interest.  It was like the opening of every Friday the 13th or Wrong Turn or Hatchet.  If it had kept on that track, if it was just these campers running from an alligator monster and being killed one-by-one that honestly would have been fine.

Alligator Man Creature 2011

Kinda looks like the goombas from Super Mario Bros the movie!

!@#$%^&*Here thar be spoilers*&^%$#@!

So Randy heads back to the car to get more beer, and Niles and Emily wander off for sexy times and Oliver goes to bed.  Karen and Beth get drunk on wine, and Karen makes moves on Beth.  Word up!  One of the failings of this film, and all the people involved with it is that this scene does not go on long enough.  Anyway Randy comes back and ruins everything, and Karen wanders off.

Meanwhile Niles and Emily start getting hot and heavy and unbeknownst to them Oliver is hiding in the bushes taking pictures of them.  Karen, his sister, shows up and starts giving him a … helping hand.  Then Sid Haig shows up, punches Karen out, and starts telling Oliver about how he has to sacrifice things in lean times and whatnot.  Turns out Oliver and Karen are his kids.

He has the other rednecks from the store, and a whole bunch of other folks stationed around to make sure the campers don’t leave the area.  Karen is taken back to a cabin and tied up and Sid Haig lobs off her foot with a machete!  He goes on about sacrificing for their family and all this mumbo-jumbo about blood ties and stuff.  Oliver tells Niles and Emily that Randy went nuts and killed Karen.  The alligator man shows up and attacks Beth.  Crazy rednecks with guns roam the woods.  People are disemboweled, shot, bludgeoned, machete’d.

Basically this just turned into a different movie, and that’s awesome.

Tied up Creature 2011

Ugh this dirty rag tastes like a dirty rag!

!@#$%^&*Here thar were spoilers*&^%$#@!

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the greatest flick I’ve ever seen; far from it.  I feel kinda cheated when it comes to the various kills, as quick edits cover up the lack of good special effects.  Which is odd, considering the otherwise great production values.  Also the staging of some scenes makes it hard to know where characters are in relation to one another.  I guess what I’m trying to illustrate here is how even with it’s flaws, I liked this movie because it tried to be its own thing while still staying firmly with that slasher/creature feature genre it so perfectly apes in the beginning of the movie.  I wish more movies would take risks like that.

Plot twists aside, there are a number of other reasons I liked this movie.  Firstly it looked great.  I don’t know if they shot on film or digital or what, but unlike other direct to video movies of this ilk the picture was clear, well lit, and appealing.  There are a lot of night shots, but I could clearly tell what was happening and didn’t have to strain my eyes to try to see into a black picture.

Also I didn’t see any CG.  That alone puts this movie a notch above in my book.  The alligator creature guy was a practical effect, and a pretty cool one at that.  Basically a big rubber suit, it was kept in shadow a lot, but not so much that I didn’t feel cheated.  When you did see the monster in full light it was short and sweet and a welcomed treat.  There are messy entrails and bodies strewn about as well, but the camera thankfully doesn’t linger on them allowing you to see how fake they are.  Very smart use of these special effects.

Mehcad Brooks Serinda Swan Creature 2011

Woodstock ’94 got a little out of hand, didn’t it?

The acting was appealing for this type of movie.  I don’t really feel like there was a weak link anywhere here, everyone did a great job.  Sid Haig was a treat as usual.  He always seems like he’s having the time of his life when he’s in a movie like this.  I really didn’t expect to see him here but he was a wonderful, welcome addition.  Mehcad Brooks (T.K. from USA’s Necessary Roughness) played Niles.  Again, I was shocked to see him here, but he did a great job.  He was able to pull off playing a person with military training thrust into impossible circumstances.  Kudos to you sir!  I’d watch him in more cheapie horror flicks.

*Side note*  All the ladies in this movie were very attractive, and there is a decent bit of nudity.  Much appreciated movie, much appreciated.

So we’ve got a pretty cool plot, solid acting, fun special effects and it looked great.  What’s not to like?  Well like I said before the various kills were not really very creative and quick editing robs us of the deadly money shots.  If you are looking to watch people die in gruesome and inventive ways you might be better served elsewhere.  Also the ending was a little weak for the same reason.  I wanted a really climactic showdown where our heroes use their strength and ingenuity to prevail … and I guess that does happen but we don’t really get to see it.

Alligator Man Creature 2011

Who wants to paaaaarrrrrtttttyyyyyy!!!

You know, thinking about this, it almost feels like the producers used their money to hire good actors, get great locations, make a cool alligator man costume, hired great writers and bought cameras and lights and people that know how to use them … then didn’t have enough money to show us the good stuff.  That’s quite a conundrum.  If they spent the money on gory kills and stunt people for fight scenes then the rest of the movie would have suffered and it might not have been as good.  Weird.

Anyway, I’d say that if you want a slasher that isn’t quite a slasher, check this one out.  It’s not the best, but its only 90 minutes and it has Sid Haig being crazy and guy in a rubber alligator man costume running around killing people in it!


Escalofrio a.k.a. Satan’s Blood (1977) Review

EscalofrioThere are so many movies about The Devil and Satanism out there.  I mean A LOT!  Frankly I think it’s a great sub-genre.  Satan movies seem to have lots of the stuff I like in them.  Gore, nudity, weird rituals, occult symbols and rites …. I could pretty much watch this kind of stuff all day (and I have, ask my wife)!

Something I’m not too familiar with, however, are Spanish horror flicks.  I’ve seen plenty of genre pictures from all over the world, but the horror output of Spain has somehow often eluded me.  For instance, I only became aware of Paul Naschy’s existence maybe two years ago, and since then have unfortunately only seen a handful of his films, which is a shame, as the ones I’ve watched have been outstanding, and I want to see more.  I have seen “Pieces,” which was terrific, and actually shares a Producer with Escalofrio, but other than that and the few Naschy films, that is it for me and Spanish Horror.

That being said, I’m glad to have seen Escalofrio.  Called “Satan’s Blood” in the US, then later released under the title “Don’t Panic” for some reason, this 1977 Satanic murder shocker is a terrific little gem.

You guys really know how to party!!

You guys really know how to party!!

This is a movie whose whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.  The plot is nonsensical, the special effects aren’t all that great, and by the end you are left with plenty of unanswered questions.  However you barely notice these things while watching the film; you become so engrossed in the goings-on that they hardly matter.  The acting is solid.  The cinematography is well-done.  Even the cheesy 70’s electric organ music somehow adds to the goodness.

Story wise, we are operating on a more dreamlike and surreal narrative, as opposed to one of logic and rationality.  Like the two main characters, it is almost as if we are trapped in a sensual nightmare.

The plot is pretty simple but there is lots of room for interpretation and discussion :

We open with a black mass, featuring robed cultists, pentagrams, skulls, black candles … the whole shebang.  Our lead cultist is an old dude who is mostly bald and with a killer beard.  He and his pals drag in some chick, cut off her clothes, and then the crusty old cult leader goes to town with the raping.  Then he stabs her.  Yep, typical Tuesday night for any self-respecting Satan worshiping organization.  Then we go into our opening credits, and this little scene is never referenced again.

Cult Leader

The face of modern Satanism.

Next we cut to our main characters.  Ana (who is apparently four months pregnant but is skinnier than most non-pregnant woman) and her husband Andy are out having a nice day when they meet Berta and Bruno.  Bruno says he knows Andy from college, but Andy doesn’t remember him, and the timeline of when they would have attended college is all wrong.  But hey, that’s no reason not to drop everything and head out to Bruno and Berta’s creepy secluded mansion.

Once at the mansion, things get stranger and stranger, and any sane, rational person would have left.  Good thing Ana and Andy are not sane, rational people, because then the movie would have been over.

Berta is seen in the kitchen devouring a blob of raw, unidentifiable meat using the hands and teeth.  There are books on satanism everywhere, and are filled with delightful illustrations.  Berta and Bruno have a dedicated Quiji-board table, which has skyrocketed to the top of my Christmas list.  A giant pentagram is engraved on the floor.  Ana and Andy’s dog disappears.  Berta is increasingly rude to the couple, and Bruno appears to be insane.  Still, after all this, Ana and Andy decide to just stay and keep hanging out.

This isn't just a board, but a table, and I want it so bad!

This isn’t just a board, but a table, and I want it so bad!

A storm pops up (of course) and Ana and Andy decide to spend the night.  Later that night, Ana decides to wander about the house, and is attacked and almost raped by a crazy homeless guy that is now randomly in the house.  She runs to Andy, who is very casual about the whole affair, and decides that rather then call the cops, or wake up Bruno and Berta or anything like that, he’ll “take a look.”  So Ana and Andy then jointly wander about the house, looking for a homeless rapist.  Instead, they find Bruno and Berta, nude, worshiping the devil in the living room.  Rather than getting the hell out of there (finally!) they decide to … have an orgy.  Good choice!

Orgy Time!!!

Orgy Time!!!

The rest of the movie is even a bit weirder, and Ana and Andy finally decide to get the freaking hell out of the house.  However, without spoiling anything, a satanic surprise awaits them back home.

There is a lot to like here, but I will say that you have to be okay with the tropes of most 70’s Euro-Horror.  By that I mean that the plot, and the actions of the characters relies heavily on dreamlike or surreal logic rather than reason and rationality.  Characters make bizarre choices that don’t make much sense and there are lots of strange occurrences that are never explained.  This isn’t a bad thing though; the viewer just has to roll with it and not expect everything to make sense.

Even if you do want your movie to be more straightforward there is a lot to love.  There is lots of nudity and sex (this being one of the first movies to receive Spain’s special “S” ranking for sex), and a bit of gore, though admittedly the stabbings and special effects aren’t that good.  The cinematography is handled well and you can tell what is happening in every scene.  So often a film will be do dark or unfocused and you won’t be able to tell whats going on.

Who wants leftovers?

Who wants leftovers?

More than anything, this film has atmosphere.

It is a hard attribute to quantify, but when a film has it, you know it.  The atmosphere of this film reminds me of a dark, fantastic dream.  Almost like a sexy nightmare, if that makes any sense.  We are taken from our mundane existence and put into a world that seems beyond our control, filled with mysterious and dangerous forces.

I would highly recommend this flick to a number of groups:  Satanism movie fans, 70’s horror fans, Spanish or Euro horror fans, nudity fans, and general weirdness loving fans.  If you are a member of any of those groups, or are interested in learning a little more about about that kind of stuff, then check this out.





Happy Birthday to the King!

Elvis Aaron Presley, born January 8, 1935.  Happy Birthday!!!

In addition to being the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis was an actor, appearing in about 30 or so films.  Probably not the objective “best” of his movies, but one of my favorites, is 1964’s “Kissin’ Cousins.”

You'd think that they'd get all of the "S's" or none of the "S's" backwards.

You’d think that they’d get all of the “S’s” or none of the “S’s” backwards.

So Air Force Elvis and his Air Force pals are tasked with buying some land in the Great Smokey Mountains so Uncle Sam can build a missile site on it.  Unfortunately, the Hill Folk who live there don’t want to sell.  Fortunately, this Hill Folk is kin to Air Force Elvis, and if anyone can talk these rascally hillbillies into selling of their land, its him.  We meet a kooky assortment of supporting characters, listen to a bunch of delightful tunes, and enjoy some wacky hijinks.

Lobby CardAir Force Elvis finds himself torn between two love interests played by beautiful babes Pamela Austin (from those awesome Dodge Rebellion commercials) and Yvonne Craig (Batgirl!).  Elvis also has a dual role in this flick, playing a hillbilly cousin of Air Force Elvis that falls in love with a cute Air Force secretary played by Cynthia Pepper.

Elvis and Babes

Hefting babes is easy if you fill them with helium first.

Also there is an all-girl gang of man-hungry chicks in bikinis roaming the mountainside, assaulting any even remotely good-looking guy they happen to come across.  Because sexual assault is funny when it’s chicks doing it to guys.

Bikini Chicks!This movie really reminds me of a lot of the mid 60’s AIP output like Dr. Goldfoot or the Frankie and Annette Beach Movies.  The plot is light and silly, the songs are fun, the chicks are good looking, and everything is wrapped up with a great big happy ending.  If your looking to turn off your brain and relax, this would be a good bet.

Once again, Happy Birthday Elvis!

Shine on you crazy diamond!

Shine on you crazy diamond!



Home Sweet Home

Good evening my friends.

While Winter Storm Hercules rages outside, dumping inch upon inch of snow on my driveway, I’m inside and thinking about all the awesome snow themed horror stuff out there.

Gotta start with the Shining.  Yep.  Book, movie, miniseries, and the new, excellent sequel novel “Doctor Sleep.”  It seems like the Stanley Kubrick film version is either a love it or hate it affair; personally I love it.  It’s weird, and slow, and there are no easy answers.  Over the years I really grew to love this movie, and it is the perfect watch for a chilly evening like this one.

Next lets talk about The Thing.  You’ve got John W. Campbell Jr.’s 1938 tale “Who Goes There?,” the 1951 film “The Thing from Another World,” John Carpenters inimitable “The Thing” and it’s recent prequel, cleverly titled “The Thing.”  That isn’t to mention a bunch of comic books, fan stories, and a 2004 video game.  Set in either the north or south pole (depending on the adaptation), this chiller basically follows a group of researchers trapped with an alien creature that may be able to impersonate any other crew member.  If you want some paranoia with your snow, check out Carpenter’s beyond excellent 1982 film.

“That’s all well and good,” you might say, “but everyone has seen the Shining and The Thing!”  Fear not, good reader, I have some wintery gems yet to uncover.

Devil Times Five.  Oh yeah.  You know how bad the Devil is?  Imagine that, but five times as bad.  That’s pretty bad.  In this flick a group of school children are stranded in the snowy wilderness and come across a group of adults shacked up for a long weekend in a large house.  Mayhem ensues.  Also Boss Hogg is in this movie, and that is pretty sweet if you ask me.  Oh, and someone is turned into a human snowman.  And bear-traps are employed liberally on a human body.  This movie is pretty bleak though, the ending kind of infuriated me.  But hey, watching this is better than shoveling snow right?

Ooohhhh them Duke boys!

Pictured: Better than shoveling snow.

Do you feel like some Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing?  Would you like a little Telly Savalas thrown in there too?  Also, would you rather it be produced by a Spanish company and not Hammer for some inexplicable reason?  Well then my friend, Horror Express is your ticket.  Mustachioed scientist Christopher Lee digs up some weird frozen alien in Manchuria and decides to transport it home to England via the Tran-Siberian Express.  Said monster unfreezes, murders passengers, drinks their memories and leaves them with smooth, unwrinkled brains (!!!!).  It’s up to Lee, Cushing, and Telly Freaking Savalas to stop it.

Who loves ya, baby?

Who loves ya, baby?

Do you like Yetis?  Who doesn’t?  It’s like Sasquatch and a Polar Bear had a love child, and now that creature is terrorizing a ski resort in 1977!  Yes, Snowbeast is next.  This made for TV horror flick features …. get this …. a Yeti terrorizing a ski resort in 1977.  It’s up to our heroes to bring this fierce creature to justice before any more winter sports enthusiasts are torn limb-from-limb.  Watch for the scene where the Yeti rolls a bunch of logs onto a camper!

Ahhhh my face parts!!!

Ahhhh my face parts!!!

Here is a new one:  Donner Pass (2012).  I caught this on Netflix a bit ago and hey, you know what … it wasn’t too bad!  A group of high school kids go up to a remote cabin near Donner Pass.  People are murdered.  That sounds pretty formulaic I know, but it’s actually a pretty tight little thriller.  What kind of made it for me was the ending.  Not to give anything away, but I liked the bit when you find out who the killer is and their motivations.  Good atmosphere, decent story, decent acting.  Check it out.

White after Labor Day is a big faux-pas!

White after Labor Day is a big faux-pas!

I’m not sure if I’m the type cut out to enjoy “extreme” activities.  I think it’s really great that people have gone to the bottom of the ocean, or explored cave systems WAY to small for me to fit in, or surfed the biggest waves, or climbed K2.  That stuff is amazing, but not really for me.  So, without further ado … Killer Mountain.  This was made for the … sigh … SYFY channel, so you know its …. good?  watchable?  a movie?  Yeah that will work.  So a group of mountain climbers climb a mountain.  And there are monsters.  Yep.  Still, we have determined that this is “a movie” so why not check it out!

Emmanuelle Vaugier is in this movie and dammit, that's reason enough to post this picture!

Emmanuelle Vaugier is in this movie and dammit, that’s reason enough to post this picture!

Well, looks like that snow is starting to pile on pretty good about now, and I’ve got to lay down some salt.  There are soooooooooooo many more winter themed horror flicks out there it would be impossible to talk about them all.  Or would it?  One day I may try.  Anyway, curl up with one of these and you are sure to keep cool.

I'm sure Kubrick did like 90 takes of this shot.  I love that they went with this expression.

Stay frosty my friends