Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Top 10 Favorite Horror Films – October 2010

I’m always hesitant to do top 5 or top 10 or top 31.14 lists because for one thing, it’s going to be slightly different a month (or less) from now anyway because I’m a fickle beyatch. And for another thing, as I start putting a list together, I immediately start concocting subgenre lists. It’s a pretty nerve-racking process to stay within the confines of the “favorite”, the “top #”, and whatever genre or subgenre I’m talking about. I also feel that if you guys see my pathetic list, you’ll laugh, guffaw, or snicker and then never come back. Please baby please, don’t burn my blog down to the ground!

All of the following films improve (at least in my eyes) with multiple viewings. I can pretty much put any of these on at any time and be completely content. Even if their logic fails under a scrutinizing eye, their entertainment value rarely wavers. I can watch these movies in a room full of haters and come away blissfully unscathed. This is a top 10 list of movies that are very important to me. This list is subject to change and whimsy. In some cases, I have already written about these films in other places on the site or on the blog so links have been provided. Anyway, I hope you dig it.

# 10 – Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama

Is this list set on reverse? How come this isn’t number freakin’ one, dawg? I first heard about Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama on the “This is Horror” series back in the late 80s. Unable to remember the ridiculously long title and having never stumbled across the VHS back in the day, it was many years before SOBASLIBABO finally entered my life on a budget DVD. All I really could remember from the clips was that some hot babes with bad attitudes where kicking each other’s asses. Granted, there is some hot babeness and some ass kickery but this flick is so much more than that.

I knew of Linnea Quigley from Night of the Demons and Return of the Living Dead but it’s in this film that she really captured my heart. Her character, Spider, is the woman of my dreams. No, not those dreams. The other ones, dang it. She could make a zero into a hero and that’s just what she does. I’m not talking about the movie either. I’m talking about myself. I’ve shown this film to many people and they all have groaned and asked me foolish questions like “Why?” and “Do you actually think this is a good movie?” My answer to both questions is always the same: “Because.” I guess that doesn’t really answer both questions but seriously SOBABLIBABO is quite the broken 80s masterpiece.

Read more about my impish obsession here.

And an unnecessary review!

# 9 – Zeder

Zeder is and forever shall be. When I was a kid, I first saw this film under its Revenge of the Dead title and very misleading cover art. The VHS artwork for Zeder is more appropriate for one of the Return of the Living Dead films. It promised me rotting zombies bursting out of the sewers. Yeah, that don’t happen, duder. Zeder is so fucking weird that I can’t help but admire the distributors for their blatant lie. It made me rent the movie. And in the end, I was more perplexed and intrigued than disappointed.

I am pretty fascinated by Italian horror movies (no way, are you for reals?) and oddities like Zeder just knock me out. This film is tense, strange, brutally violent, and subtly terrifying. Its darkness will remain with you for days, months, and years. My heart is racing just thinking about it. Okay, maybe I need to see a doctor about that. Pushing these keys is awfully strenuous. Much like director Pupi Avati’s giallo masterpiece, The House with the Laughing Windows, I will defend Zeder against any negative criticism from any disappointed viewer. Hopefully, I won’t come off as a condescending douchebag. Oops, too late. Renting this film in my youth was very important. It is one of the reasons that I am as insane about horror movies as I am today.

Check out my review here.

# 8 – Lisa and the Devil

Out of all of the films in Mario Bava’s spectacular body of work, Lisa and the Devil just gets to me. It’s super-dreamy and perfectly morbid. I’ve still never seen the abominable thing it became, The House of Exorcism, in its entirety. I guess one day I’ll have to suck it up and actually watch the Exorcist rip-off in all of its glory. Satan knows, I loves me an Exorcist clone. If you don’t know the story, the film premiered as Lisa and the Devil for limited audiences. The studio panicked because let’s face it, Bava made a crazy friggin’ movie. So the film got shelved and a few years later, the studio asked for some exorcism scenes which Bava reluctantly agreed to film. And thus, House of Exorcism was born and its very existence just ticks me off.

Beautiful ladies in tha house. Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina compete for the most beautiful woman in this film and I don’t know who wins. I just don’t know. Of course, I’m avoiding the big issue here: Telly frickin’ Savalas! The guy is in this film all pre-Kojak and shit and just steals every single scene that he’s in. There’s so much delirium and artful wackiness going on that Lisa and the Devil gets better with every viewing. Now it is dreamlike and a bit sleepy so don’t get all pissy with me if you think it’s “boring” or whatever. All I’m saying is if you love Italian horror (or you’re just curious) and you haven’t already seen this film then you need to ASAP.

Lisa and the Devil was the final film I watched during BAVADOOM.

# 7 – Horror Rises from the Tomb

When Paul Naschy died last year, I didn’t want to say anything for fear of sounding trite and silly. This is going to sound stupid but I felt pretty fucked up about it. For some reason, it felt like a real heroic duder was gone too soon. And it seemed like he was finally getting the recognition he deserved too, at least here in the States. When I was a kid going through VHS in the stores, his name never came up. In fact, it wasn’t until I happened upon Anchor Bay’s DVD of Werewolf Shadow that I’d even heard of the guy. The more I pursued his films, the more friggin’ amazing shit I found. Okay, so Crimson was fucking wretched but damn y’all, Naschy made so many great movies.

It didn’t take me long to find out which of Naschy’s films was my favorite. Werewolf Shadow almost makes the grade but I had to choose which one knocked it out of the park. Horror Rises from the Tomb is that movie. It’s gore and a séance and boobs and some more boobs and- But seriously, the suped up chintzy organ soundtrack, the shameless cheesiness, and the cold, desolated atmosphere alone are enough to make this a favorite. Also, this flick is a perfect starting point for folks thinking of checking out bad ass 70s Spanish horror flicks or somebody who doesn’t know jack about the man, the myth, the legend: Paul Naschy.

There’s more about my undying and unholy love for this film right here.

# 6 – Re-Animator

While Hellraiser and its first sequel were instrumental in turning me into a gorehound, I have to say that Re-Animator charms its way onto my top 10 list for a number of reasons. As far as films that push the boundaries of bad taste, well you don’t have to look much farther than this flick right here. I also admire this film for creeping me out more each time I watch it. Those that are re-animated by Dr. Herbert West’s serum are more disturbing to me than the undead of your average zombie movie. They are unpredictable, angry, and really fucking strong. I know I complain about fast-moving zombies in other horror films but these creatures are powered by Lovecraftian molecules so it makes more sense!

Oh yeah. This movie is friggin’ gross. If you want to get desensitized to gore real quick, pop this little number into your DVD player, duder. You’ll have the intestinal fortitude of an ER nurse in no time. I appreciate the rotten and irreverent mood of Re-Animator. The images playing about before me reek of formaldehyde and drying blood. This film introduced me to both its star Jeffrey Combs and its director Stuart Gordon and I’ve never been the same since. As I mentioned a moment ago, any film that gets scarier with repeat viewings is pretty bad ass. Somehow watching this movie as a kid was less frightening than it is to watch as an adult. For instance, the original Nightmare on Elm Street was a walk in the park when I was 9 but was somehow it became more terrifying at age 14. Go figure. Re-Animator is sitting on my DVD shelf right now, taunting me: "Scaredy cat! Scaredy cat! You are a scaredy cat! FLYING INTESTINES GOOOOOOOOOO!"

# 5 – Slumber Party Massacre

I love slasher movies. I really, really love slasher movies. And Slumber Party Massacre slays me so completely that no other slasher films make my top 10 list. I have totally adored this movie upon my first viewing when I bought it unseen from Suncoast Video for $5.99 or something back in 2003. I’m not sure how it happened but this silly and fun film became essential viewing for my wife and me every Halloween. This film has nothing to do with the holiday whatsoever but damn it all, that is what we do every Halloween no matter what.

Slumber Party Massacre is a very weak attempt (like a joke really) to subvert the charge that slasher movies are sexist. So the producers get an all female writing and directing team together and they try to make a feminist slasher movie. Do they succeed? Well, it’s either a massive success or a miserable failure. Sure, all of the male characters are total putzes but the gratuitous nude scenes (female only) make me think that the dudes win in the end. This is one of those rare body count movies where I like all of the characters. Everyone in this movie is essential. The bratty sister, the wise black chick, the chick whose dead body gets stuffed in the refrigerator, the mopey main chick, and of course, the power-drill wielding killer are all integral to one’s enjoyment of Slumber Party Massacre. Watch this with lots of friends and drinks. You will not be disappointed.

# 4 – Masque of the Red Death

If it weren’t for Masque of the Red Death, it would have been years before I ever gave old horror movies a chance. In case you haven’t noticed from my choice of movies that I ramble about on this blog, I’m kind of an ass when it comes to movies older than 1960. Don’t ask me why but I actually need to be constantly reminded that there have been great horror movies around since movies have existed. This started when I was kid. Somehow this stigma that anything older than brand new was bad. But then again, I had no concept of how old things were. I mean I thought that color like as in all colors that human beings can see were invented in the 1960s. How did I get on this topic? Now granted, Masque came out in 1964, but it was one of the first horror movies I saw that just happened to be released before I was born that had an impact on me. I would seek out films like the original Frankenstein, Dracula, and Creature from the Black Lagoon a little bit later because it dawned on me that old films are cool too. Do you see how dumb I was (am)?

What struck me immediately is the pure unadulterated horror packed into this film. Suddenly, I was scared of catching the plague but I was more afraid of my fellow human beings. There are some real pieces of work in this flick. They’re greedy, perverse, self-centered, and cruel. But the real master of evil is Prince Prospero, played by Vincent Price. His cold black heart is a bottomless pit of nastiness and when death comes to collect, he is a sniveling swine. This is the film that introduced me to Vincent Price and I continue to worship at the horrifying altar of this man.

# 3 – Phenomena

Oh shit. How did this slip away from the top spot? For years and years, whenever anyone would ask me what my favorite horror movie of all time was, the answer was easy: Dario Argento’s Phenomena. I always say “Dario Argento’s Phenomena” because if I just say “Phenomena” non-horror movie people go “You mean that movie with John Travolta? That’s not a horror movie, is it?” No, it’s not but I’m sure it is horrifying in its own way. Its number one title slipped away this year when I watched this and my new number one fave back to back. And sadly, it dropped not one but two spots from the top. Sorrio Dario!

But when it comes to pleasing a bunch of restless friends who want to be wowed by a horror movie, Phenomena does not fail. I played this for a group of people after their dismal reaction to Twitch of the Death Nerve (don’t worry, I don’t talk to any of those motherfuckers anymore) and everyone was totally blown away by Dario Argento’s freaky mix of maggots, monkeys, and heavy metal. This was one of the very first Italian horror films I ever watched (back before I even knew that Italians made movies) and it will always be hovering near the number one spot in my heart. Anyone who says they don’t love Phenomena is lying.

Here is where my deformed heart is.

# 2 – The Evil Dead

If not for Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, I probably would still not have seen this fantastic and utterly essential horror film. I think I was 12 years old when I saw clips of Evil Dead 2 on that “This is Horror” show (I really need to get a copy of this) and I was determined to watch it. When I found the film in the video store, I decided to watch the first movie because I assumed (wrongly) that I needed to watch the first Evil Dead to understand what was going on in the second one. So that weekend, I rented both films. I pulled the shades in my room and watched The Evil Dead for the first time. Man, I couldn’t wait for it to be over! It wasn’t funny at all and it was just kind of boring. Thankfully, when I put Evil Dead 2 in I was rewarded with a spastic film loaded with slapstick humor that even has a Holy Grail type ending. Bonus!

Yeah, I’m a little ashamed of my initial reaction to The Evil Dead. After renting and renting part 2 over and over again, I eventually got tired of it. Years later, I bought the Elite DVD (I’m not even sure which edition I have) of The Evil Dead and watched it again. Like, really watched it and now I think it’s the best independent American horror film ever made. The film has this unpredictable and completely bent vibe to it. And it’s charming! It has this held-together-with-spit feeling to it and everything works. The Evil Dead has a big heart. It wants to be loved because the people who made it really, really cared about what they’re doing. I’ve read about how miserable the production of this film was and how difficult of a time the filmmakers had acquiring funds to complete the project and it makes me feel like I’m a weak loser who has never done anything with his life. Shut up. Not you, I was talking to me. I will say more about this another time.

# 1 – The House by the Cemetery

There had to be a number one. It’s a top 10 list, people are gonna expect it. I bought both The Beyond (as Seven Doors of Death) and The House by the Cemetery on those el cheapo Diamond DVDs back in 2003. They were both like $7 apiece or something like that and I watched both of them that same weekend. Needless to say, I was changed forever. I had seen Fulci’s Zombie the year before on VHS and it left me in a little depressed (in a good way) puddle on the floor. But nothing could prepare me for the surreal assault of these two films. The Beyond seems like it’s the weirder movie because it’s bigger, louder, and has more characters doing totally inexplicable shit. However, the more I dig into The House by the Cemetery, the more I realize that it is just as bizarre as its zombie infested cousin.

How can a film produce in a person’s heart a feeling of retroactive nostalgia? I can’t look back on the good old days of watching this movie when I was 10 years old because I didn’t see it until I was 27. And yet, with every viewing, I get the sense that I’m returning to a beloved film from my youth. How the shit does that work? I don’t want anyone to watch The House by the Cemetery thinking either a) “Here’s another overrated Fulci movie” or b) “Some blowtard on a blog said that this is the greatest horror movie ever made like ever”. You have to be patient with this one. You have to be patient with all Fulci films. Did I love The Beyond or House by the Cemetery when I first watched them? No! I thought they were dumb but I liked the gory bits. But then it was too late for me. I couldn’t get them out of my head. I’m like that redhead kid in the “Forever Young” video but Rod Stewart ripped off my arm and is using it to hold his victims still so that he can use their cells to restore his own deteriorating undead carcass.

I sit on the couch of Dr. Freudstein here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Land of the Dead

I wrote about Land of the Dead over at The Death Rattle. It turns out that George A. Romero is James Hetfield's nephew. No, it's true. But don't look it up. DO YOU WANT TO EMBARRASS MEEE? Anyway, check it out. Why is October so fucking short?

This is unrelated:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Let There Be Brad

Okay, so it looks like October is flying by here. Dang. Where does the time go? I am here today, like right now, to post a monstrous (meaning really big) article from my pal, Brad. I asked him to talk about his love of horror movies. You know, a fan's perspective because, let's face it, it's pretty freakin' fascinating. So please, check out Hainted Memories by Brad. It will get you through this lonely life. I promise.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Top Losers

While working on my top 10 list of favorite horror movies (which I’ll be sharing next week), I came up with over 20 films. After making my choices, I thought I’d take a quick look at THE LOSERS. Of course, by LOSERS, I mean TOTALLY ESSENTIAL LOSERS! For both this particular effort and my top 10, I have chosen to leave out Asian horror films since I just did my top 10 favorite Asian horror films last month. One of my failings is that I never seem to stop opting for obscurity and just talk about the essentials.

I look at my upcoming top 10 list and then I look at this list of shit that didn’t make it and I can’t help but find some amusement here. I mean, THIS is a list of the essentials while my top 10 list has stuff on it that (for the most part) aren’t nearly as important for forming the basis of your horror fandom. Does that make sense?

What I’m trying to say is that in my brain, I know that these films should comprise my best of whatever list but they don’t. My heart has other ideas in mind. These films I’m posting right now are some seriously fucking awesome movies that everyone interested in horror should have already seen by now. It warms my heart to see just how many of the following movies got to me when I was still in my formative years. Good stuff.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Sometimes a movie clicks with you the first time you watch it. Sometimes you watch a movie and you can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. The latter is what happened when I first watched TCM as a kid of about 12 or so. I really didn’t get it. After the initial scare of Leatherface coming out and hitting that duder with a mallet, I was fairly nonplussed by the rest of the flick. I liked the bit at the end when the chick was on the back of the truck scream-laughing but seriously, what the hell? The rest didn’t scare me or interest me that much at all.

Many years later, my friend Tim introduced me to Toby Hooper’s sequel to his 1974 film. During my kidhood, I had never had the courage to rent Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. There was something about the cover art that disturbed me. So finally, at 18 years old, I discovered what I had been missing for all those years. I loved Part 2, damn it. I could go on and on about how the 1986 sequel SHOULD NOT have worked (yet totally does) but I won’t right now. I will say that TCM2 is one of my favorite films from the 80s.

Fast forward 8 years more to when I finally, FINALLY gave the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre another chance. It all made sense. The whole crazy thing came together for me. I still love Part 2 but damn y’all, Tobe Hooper really had his head on straight (or dangerously crooked) for this one. The movie is pure unadulterated terror and unease from beginning to end. It’s sweaty nasty and will seriously make anyone reconsider taking a road trip through Texas ever again. Not that anyone would ever want to do that in the first place.

A Nightmare of Elm Street

I’ve written about my first encounter with Freddy Krueger on this blog before. The movies that I’m looking at here get better with multiple viewings and A Nightmare on Elm Street is certainly no exception. There is just enough mystery and tiny hidden details in this near-perfect horror film to keep me coming back over and over again. I can’t believe that Wes Craven directed Swamp Thing and then followed it up with this in 1984. Can you imagine how friggin’ different the world of horror would be if the guy had quit the film industry or croaked before this film had come out? I know I can’t. NOES takes the world of nightmares and the even darker world of suburbia to new and even more frightening levels. Shit, just thinking about this friggin’ movie and Freddy’s darkened visage gives me the creeps.

I don’t want to get carried away with sequel bashing, but if you can, try to forget everything about Freddy Krueger the next time you watch this film. Pretend it’s ’84 and Robert Englund is not a horror icon. Try to put yourself into the shoes of a not-so-seasoned horror fan experiencing this film for the first time. If this is similar to how you actually experienced NOES for the first time then good for you. I think if you can tap into that feeling with every viewing, then this film could potentially never get old. I love most of the sequels and even enjoyed the remake but nothing compares to the original, obviously.

Hellraiser/Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Hellraiser and its first sequel are perfectly connected in my mind. I cannot separate the two. Clive Barker’s film is simply breathtaking in its glorious assault on the senses and Hellbound is its totally fucked up and over the top extension. Whatever trick I pulled on my folks to be able to rent these films for the first time must have been pretty brilliant. Seriously, this is Hellraiser. I remember sitting in my room alone, in the dark, and having the wits scared out of me. If there was one defining moment that turned me into a gorehound for life, this was probably it.


This wondrously stylish flick has an undeniable feeling about it. I don’t know how to phrase it exactly. I do know that one’s enjoyment of Tenebre increases with every viewing. Some scientists studied the brains of Argento fans and found this to be true. However, I can’t say this is my favorite film from the giallo master but it is way, way up there. At times, this film gets its ass kicked by Suspiria but right now, while I’m making this list of things that didn’t make my other list, I’m only just now thinking of Suspiria. I’m weird.

Review here

The Beyond

At the risk of overhyping and thus ruining this outrageous and freakish piece of Italian cinema, I’m going to go ahead and reiterate my statement that The Beyond is the quintessential Italian horror film. How can I backpedal from this? I guess add “of the 1980s” onto the end of that statement. Nothing pains me more than to read about people running to this film and coming away more pissed off than confused. When I first watched The Beyond, I saw it on a budget DVD under its slightly censored Seven Doors of Death moniker. I was, for lack of a better word, amused. I found the movie very funny but my laughter was very dry and nervous.

You see, I had been totally caught off guard by The Beyond. It wasn’t until my second viewing a month or two later that I realized that something insanely important had happened to me. Just pursuing horror movies, any horror movies, would no longer do. I had to see more ITALIAN horror movies, like immediately.

Another important lesson here: horror movies don’t have to make sense. If Fulci has taught us anything it is that people who are about to die hold very still so that what is going to happen can fucking happen; especially when fake plastic spiders rip their tongues out. You don’t have to like this film and I swear I’m not being a snob here. But if you hate a Fulci the first time around, wait a few years, and give it a second chance.

Death Smiles at Murder

My mind gets all soupy and blurry when I think about this darling little film. Joe D’Amato was such a great talent. He could make anything, even porn (the softcore stuff anyway), special. This gory and sexy half giallo, half supernatural gothic nightmare came into my life like a very subtle rhino and I hope it never leaves. Every horror fan with even the most distant and tiny spark of an interest in 70s horror weirdness and Italian horror needs to check this out immediately.

Review here

The Shining

I was much too young when I watched The Shining. I can’t remember what year it was but I know that I was too young for it. This movie is so damn creepy and horrifying. The best thing, of course, is how Stanley Kubrick strayed from Stephen King’s novel. I used to be a pretty big Stephen King fan but I never gave a damn about the original book. The movie has always been and always will be the truer version of the story in my head. Part of what makes this flick so great is that I didn’t feel safe anymore. And not just in hotels either. I mean, anywhere. Suddenly, ghosts were real and they meant me lots of harm.

The Ghost

For a short time there, Barbara Steele was the queen of horror movies. My favorite film of hers is the 1963 sleepy shocker, The Ghost, from director Riccardo Freda. Freda was not a prolific horror director but he made some awesome shit. The Ghost has all the class of a great gothic ghost story but doesn’t shy away from some camera-splattering violence and all out cackling madness when it needs to. This film is quite hypnotic but a little on the drowsy side at times. But if you doze off, no big deal, chances are you’ll wake up when something awesome happens. The Ghost definitely feeds my need for Euro-horror and has "The Vibe" which I obsessively search for all the time.

Halloween II

Ah, sequels. Everyone knows that they are never (well, almost never) better than the original. But what if you’re really, really young. Like 8 years old. So I watched Halloween II and was only vaguely aware that it’s called Halloween II because it’s the second film. Hey, I never said I was smart. Anyway, this was the first thing I saw and this was my introduction to the world of Michael Meyers. I had already spent a few nights in hospitals by the time I saw this film so it was easy for me to get totally freaked out.

I also have a passion for Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 as discussed here.

Messiah of Evil

Most horror fans owe Mill Creek a lot. Their multi-movie packs are what we’ve been waiting for all our dang lives. It seems like a pretty common story among horror bloggers and Messiah of Evil but thanks to good old Mill Creek, I was able to discover this fantastic little gem. I knew absolutely nothing about this flick and to find it that way, tucked away among 49 other cheapo horrors, is just perfect.

Review here

Friday the 13th Part 4 – The Final Chapter

When someone said, “Well, if we’re going to end the series, let’s do it right.” And God help them, they really succeeded, at least in making a great movie and a fitting “end”. Even though I have enjoyed many of the Friday the 13th sequels after this “Final” chapter, I have to say that had this been the end of the series, I would have been completely satisfied. I love this damn movie.

Sorry if I keep getting all sequel happy on ya but Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn is the horror film that I rented the most when I was a youngster. I first heard about this film from that This is Horror series on MTV. I did the right thing and rented the first Evil Dead film but I didn't really like it very much. Immediately after it ended, I popped in the tape of Evil Dead 2 and I instantly connected with this film. Sam Raimi essentially remade the first film but took it to insane new heights of um... insanity. I just could not stop renting this film. I made my friends watch it and I even made my mom watch the part where Ash's own hand assaults him in the kitchen.

Night of the Creeps

I first discovered this film at a neighborhood party my parents were attending. I think I was 12 years old and I was supposed to be hanging out with the other kids my age but they had gone off to cause some trouble in the neighborhood (apparently, I missed out on their games of “ding dong, ditch”). Thankfully, I was allowed into the den to sit and watch TV alone. The station I turned to was playing a little movie called Night of the Creeps. It was scary, weird, and very, very funny. This instantly became my favorite horror movie for many years to come and I tried to wear out my local video store’s copy as often as I could. In fact, this was the only horror movie I rented almost as many times as Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. This poor film floated around in bootleg limbo for far too long only finally coming to DVD (with some lame cover art) in 2009.

Having revisited Night of the Creeps recently, I found out that I still love it but for some reason, it just couldn’t crack my top 10 favorite films. If I was doing my best horror films of the 1980s list, this one would be way near the top. With its kickass gore, recurring jokes, and loveable characters, this movie just warms my heart.

Review here

Monday, October 18, 2010

October Report #5

3rd Rock from the Sun: “Scaredy Dick”

You know something? I friggin’ hated 3rd Rock from the moment I first saw it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. The show has always seemed really irritating to me. Of course, I love John Lithgow but he just wasn’t a big enough draw. It is almost impossible for me to watch him do comedy and not think of his psycho roles from Raising Cain and Dexter. I’m not saying the guy isn’t hilarious but I get more than enough of his shtick on 3rd Rock from this one episode. Oh and I think that aliens are lame and boring. Sorry!

The show really goes all out for this Halloween episode and there are a whole lot of laughs here. I won’t even bother describing the plot. It is more complicated than I am willing to summarize for you. It's about these three aliens disguised as humans and stuff happens. There. You like that? Just know there are some great moments that make 3rd Rock worthy of its classic sitcom status. Can you tell that I'm a huge fan?

Martha Stewart’s Halloween Special: Bad Things, Good Things

Is it unthinkable sarcasm or sub-irony when I admit that I like Martha Stewart? Am I just being a sardonic and cynical snob when I gush about this freakin’ fantastic Halloween special? The answer to both of these questions is: “Naw, fuck it, this shit is so good.” The woman has made a fortune keeping upper middle class ladies’ hands busy for the last 30 years and I don’t know why but she’s kind of fascinating for some reason.

My wife LeEtta gets pretty crafty sometimes and occasionally picks up Martha Stewart’s magazine while in line at the grocery store. I don’t get this but she says that it’s an okay mag. We weren’t all that into her show either but my obsession to record a bunch of Halloween specials one year led me to get “Bad Things, Good Things” on DVD-R. And I’m really glad I did. This special gets better with every viewing. It is equal parts entertaining and ridiculous. Stewart claims that Halloween is her favorite holiday and she puts way too much effort into these cheesy ass decorations.

I can’t really say how much of this special is actually good and how much of it is just painfully hypnotic. When it comes to holiday specials, I fight for my nostalgia even when it doesn’t exist. I will make something that I normally don’t give a shit about into the most important thing. Like the Halloween episodes of things like 3rd Rock from the Sun or Lawrence Welk, Martha Stewart totally redeems her entire annoying career in one magical tribute to my favorite holiday. I am suddenly imaging Lawrence Welk and Martha Stewart trying to kill each other with an accordion and a bone folder.

While I’m here, I might as well confess to my love for that Whatever, Martha show where Martha Stewart’s daughter and her friend heckle the worst bits of the old episodes of Martha Stewart Living. It’s a catty and bitchy show that, as a guy, I probably shouldn’t be watching. But what am I gonna do? Watch fucking football? Come on! But anyway, if you watch this particular Halloween episode which is mostly a hodgepodge of bad Halloween crafts, I doubt you're going to run out and try any of Martha's delightfully quaint and corny ideas. But you might get a little sample of a very strange planet where no one has anything better to do than carve about 2 dozen pumpkins of varying sizes to make a stupid pumpkin snake for the path up to your front door. Spooooooooooky!

Friday, October 15, 2010

October Report #4

The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: “Billy & Mandy’s Jacked Up Halloween”

This show is about a couple of kids who trick the grim reaper into being their best friend FOR ALL ETERNITY. Of course, it’s amazing. “Billy & Mandy’s Jacked Up Halloween” is one of two Halloween specials (the other being Underfist: Halloween Bash) (and there is another Halloween episode) but I like this one the best.

Jack-O-Lantern was a prankster of epic proportions in medieval times. He took things too far one day and the queen orders his execution. When Grim came to take him to the land of the dead, Jack tricked him and stole his scythe (happens a lot on this show). Grim agrees to grant him eternal life but he takes his head as payment. Jack replaces his noggin with a pumpkin. In the town of Endsville, present day, it’s Halloween and Billy and Mandy are getting ready for trick or treating. Billy wants to dress up like the grim reaper so Grim foolishly lets Billy borrow his scythe. While Mandy and Grim take off in one direction, Billy goes in the other. He goes straight up to Jack-O-Lantern’s house (where the pumpkin-headed has been living for hundreds of years) and next thing you know, the scythe is in the wrong hands, a portal to the underworld is opened, and all heck is breaking loose.

This is a pretty friggin’ awesome Halloween special. Great characters, a fun story, and tons of corny jokes make this a favorite of mine. As usually (that's a typo but I'm leaving it in), it’s Irwin, the nerdy kid who pines for Mandy, who steals the show. He spends the entire episode trying to find a scary costume with no luck whatsoever.

Phil of the Future: “Halloween”

So Fred Savage directs stuff now? Sure, why not? He directed this funny yet silly Halloween episode of Phil of the Future. I’ve never actually watched this show but this episode is a good time. Phil (who is from the future), his sister Pim (who is also from the future), and best friend Keely (who is not from the future) are dragged into a bizarre battle with Debbie, a cupcake making cyborg (that is from the future) bent on world domination.

This episode gets bonus points for being instantly nostalgic (how did they do that?) and despite its wildly over the top corniness, it’s just a lot of fun. I might actually have to check out more of Phil of the Future sometime. One day, I might actually be too old to watch some of this stuff. Naw... It's Halloween! Who cares?

And now...

Here are some Halloween treats from my birth year:

Part 1 of 6 (the rest are on Youtube):

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FOUND: Deathday

Ain’t it always the case? Someone lends you a book, you tear through it cover to cover, and the moment it’s over, you forget about it. This is just what happened with Deathday by Shaun Hutson, a gory tale of the undead rampaging in a small English town. My best friend Scott, a death metal obsessed gorehound, lent me the book in 1991 when our morbid natures were in full swing. I loved it! Around the same time I read The Scream by John Skipp and Craig Spector so the two books are intertwined in my brain.

Nineteen years later, I had a sudden urge to read this book again. Scott could remember it but had no idea what it was called. Plus, most of his books are currently packed away somewhere. I turned to the internet with what I could remember about the book but no dice. I hit up Will over at Too Much Horror Fiction but he said that my description of the plot didn't ring a bell. He did suggest that it might be The Fog by James Herbert but that sounded a little too good to be the one I was looking for.

Joe over at From Beyond Depraved suggested I look through this board for the answer. After searching through at least 30 or 40 pages (their search engine blows), I finally found it! Deathday. Um… That’s it? That’s the title? Oooookay. I didn’t remember it having such a lame title (probably why I couldn’t remember it). A few minutes later, I had ordered a used copy from Amazon for around $7. I got my hardcover copy in great condition in the mail in a few days and immediately started reading.

So what the hell is my own personal Holy Grail of splatter all about anyway? Two groundskeepers discover a grave underneath an old tree just outside the cemetery of an old church. Inside, they find a corpse with a golden medallion around its neck. One of the men takes the medallion with obscure writing around its surface. That night, the man, while suffering from a horrible headache and an unbearable sensitivity to light, gouges out his own eyeballs and two tiny glowing red orbs replace his missing eyes. He then slaughters his entire family, rips out their eyes, and disappears into the night, claiming more victims wherever he goes.

Enter Lambert, a police inspector with the small town’s police force under his command. This strapping young man has a crisis on his hands as this rash of murders begins to tear the town apart. Bodies are found with their eyes ripped out and there seems to be no motive whatsoever for the crimes. When the corpses start disappearing altogether, Lambert discovers something horrible: victims of these brutal attacks come back from the dead becoming mad, inhuman killers themselves. Knowing that his community may not survive this nightmare, he requisitions some serious firepower from Scotland Yard and arms his inexperienced police force. Are a few shotguns enough to stop the infernal horrors that the medallion has awakened?

Sounds cheesy, right? Well yeah, it is. Deathday is cheesetastic but the lightning fast pacing, the zombie-esque mayhem, creepy moments, and the splatter are what this is really all about. There is some almost comically predictable dialog in the book which caused some eye-rolling. And the relationship between Lambert and his wife Debbie is quite obnoxious. They are working through a traumatic experience from Lambert’s past so they drink a lot of booze and get it on. I mean, they get it on A LOT. The book would have been much better had there been one really good and steamy sex scene instead of several (I wasn’t counting) mediocre ones. Debbie does have a few redeeming moments but mostly her character is in damsel in distress mode. Lame.

(The author after he was kicked out of Megadeth or Stryper.)

The other lame thing about this book is the introduction. The author basically apologizes for the book saying that he wrote it when he was very young and is now amazed that he ever got it published blah blah blah. Whatever the story behind the book’s creation might be, Hutson is obviously very passionate about Deathday or it wouldn’t be this fun to read. The action is intense, the gore goes flying, and the awkward and corny moments go by quick enough. Thanks to Hutson's cinematic style, this book would make a great movie and it’s a damn quick read that leaves you wanting more at the end.

Deathday was definitely worth tracking down and I'm sure there's still more cheap copies out there. Thanks to y'all awesome dudes who helped me track it down.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October Report # 3

Here I am with my friend, Freddie Cougar!

The weekend started out with a visit to Wilson's Books in St. Pete where I raided the horror section buying paperbacks based solely on their covers or titles. I really love this store and whenever LeEtta and I are visiting her folks, we stop there. Their faded and bent Nightmare on Elm Street cardboard cutout is a landmark, I think. I managed to pick up three books and they look super exciting/terrible.

Illegal in most states.

Perfect cover for a Video Nasty except on a book.

Everything about this is perfect in every way.

Today, we hit a few Halloween stores and it was fun. I like how Target and Wal-Mart have decided that they are going to totally dick around this Halloween season and let all the other stores have all the fun. We hit Halloween City on Dale Mabry, Spirit or whatever its called in the University Mall, and good old Party City on Fowler. It was something all right. Even though I wasn't exactly blown away by anything in the stores, it did get me in the mood for the season.

More like Halloween Village! Zing!


Disproportionate is the new spooky.

Wanker Texas Ranger! Zing again!

I bought this entire display.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daughters of Satan

Daughters of Satan
Directed by Hollingsworth Morse
Released: 1972
Starring Tom Selleck, Barra Grant, Tani Guthrie, Paraluman, Vic Silayan, Vic Diaz
Running Time: 90 minutes

James (played by Tom Selleck) is an art dealer living in the Philippines with his wife Chris (Barra Grant). One day, he sees a painting of three witches being burned at the stake and at the center of the painting is a woman who looks an awful lot like Chris. Instead of packing his bags and relocating to Hong Kong or something, James decides to buy the painting which has a strange effect on his wife. Pretty soon, all manner of supernatural and witchy shit starts happening. Like there’s a big Rottweiler named Nicodemis who shows up and starts giving James some trouble. And there’s that evil maid they can’t get rid of and some Satanists and a gang of bandits and whatever.

As you probably already guessed, Daughters of Satan is kind of like a really bad and obvious episode of Night Gallery stretched out for an hour and a half. Veteran television director Hollingsworth Morse (great name!) did not pull out all the stops for this feature film. It looks like just another TV movie. The only surprise here is a rather sweaty, naked, and spirited torture sequence at the beginning of the film. Don’t let that fool you, there’s only a little more trash stashed around the rest of this flick. I mean, this was made in the Philippines so you can be sure there will be more cheapness and more WTF hilarity later but there isn’t much atmosphere to accentuate these things.

Tom Selleck is Tom Selleck. The guy is just rad and he’s pretty good in this film. I’m sure he screens Daughters of Satan for his friends every weekend because he’s just so proud of it. Barra Grant is pretty much agony to watch in this film. I wasn’t sure why she was in the movie until her top came off and then I was like ohhhhh, I get it. Tani Guthrie (of The Thirsty Dead) plays Kitty the whip-wielding witch with a lot of gusto but even her energy doesn’t save the day. One character I really liked was the creepy mortician played by Paquito Salcedo. There’s a scene where he seems (just seems) like he’s about to have his way with a pretty young corpse before James interrupts (or possibly cockblocks) him. I guess it’s okay. She’s not going anywhere.

Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the awkward, cheesy vibe and the moments of harsh lighting vs. garish décor of Daughters of Satan but this doesn’t compensate for all the dumb and the dull. This movie is more sleepy than dreamy and the bland execution wins out over all the positives. I don’t know if anyone back in ’72 was the least bit surprised by the ending of this one but I’m sure audiences got a kick out of OOO WEE OOO moments in the film’s music score. I know I did. Some of you 70s movie freaks out there might get some enjoyment out of Daughters of Satan but it’s nothing more than an average time waster.


“Sometimes I feel like I’ve got a mind full of meringue.”