Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dark Ditties: The Unquiet Grave

"The Unquiet Grave" is an old English folk song believed to date back to at least 1400, and it details a man whose lover has been killed. As was one of the superstitions of the day, the man mourns her too much, thus preventing her from reaching peace and moving onto the next realm. While sitting at her grave, his tears awaken her from the dead, and he attempts to get a little PG-Rated necrophilia love, but she warns him that such an act would surely kill him.

Kinda creepy.

There are dozens of variations on this ballad, but this version was pulled from 1904's Ballads of Mystery and Miracle and Fyttes of Mirth, compiled by Frank Sidgwick. It's a dark little ditty, so I thought I'd pass it on to you.


The Unquiet Grave

1.
The wind doth blow today, my love,
And a few small drops of rain;
I never had but one true love,
In cold grave she was lain.

2.
I'll do as much for my true love
As any young man may;
I'll sit and mourn all at her grave
For a twelvemonth and a day.

3.
The twelvemonth and a day being up,
The dead began to speak:
'Oh who sits weeping on my grave,
And will not let me sleep?'

4.
'Tis I, my love, sits on your grave,
And will not let you sleep;
For I crave one kiss of your clay-cold lips,
And that is all I seek.'

5.
'You crave one kiss of my clay-cold lips;
But my breath smells earthy strong;
If you have one kiss of my clay-cold lips,
Your time will not be long.'

6.
'Tis down in yonder garden green,
Love, where we used to walk;
The finest flower that ere was seen
Is withered to a stalk.'

7.
'The stalk is withered dry, my love,
So will our hearts decay;
So make yourself content, my love,
Till God calls you away.'
--J/Metro

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Teacher (1974)

The Teacher


Written & Directed by Howard Avedis

Diane Marshall...Angel Tompkins
Sean Roberts...Jay North
Ralph Gordon...Anthony James

Ralph Gordon was probably the happiest Peeping Tom ever, sporting a shit-eating Cheshire Cat grin while leering through his binoculars (which he stores in an old, red coffin, along with the rest of his dangerous stalker paraphernalia) at Diane Marshall, the hot young high school teacher that surely fuels many a student's masturbatory fantasy. But when Ralph's younger brother Lou and his best friend Sean invade his one-man pervert party, a confrontation leads to the accidental death of Lou, and Sean is too frightened of Ralph to say anything to the police.



Time truly does heal all wounds, and within days (if not hours) Sean is acting as if there never was a Lou. He's too busy ogling Diane himself--who, it turns out, is both his teacher and his neighbor. But this is no Cory Matthews/Mr. Feeny relationship that they have--Thank God--as Diane wastes no time in seducing her virginal student as soon as summer vacation begins.

The flirtatious and wildly inappropriate game of cat and mouse between the two is flaunted openly, watched from a distance by the still-leering Ralph, and practically encouraged by Sean's mother Alice! If that's not creepy enough, she openly admits, "What can I say? I find him attractive...even if he is my son!" Unbelievably, that's not even the creepiest line of dialogue here. As Diane begins her strategic seduction, she invites Sean into her house, but his initial reluctance prompts her to rationalize, "Come on in a minute. I'm not going to rape you. It's too early in the morning for that!"

When the seduction is complete, young Sean is initially to enamored too realize that an obviously mentally deranged stalker can quite easily turn into a jealous "boyfriend", and the threat of Ralph's menace is constantly lurking in the background, culminating in a violent finale.



Can't say that I really blame Sean for being hot for teacher. She was gorgeous, willing, and often scantily clad (which you knew she would be when you saw a bikini designer listed in the opening credits) when not outright nude. Curiously, though, for a movie that plays so much off of the 'taboo' nature of this relationship and revels in Erotica-Lite, the sex scenes were notably un-sexy: Two bodies lying still on top of each other, occasionally whimpering. Not exactly titillating.

As a whole, this movie isn't quite as sleazy or exploitative as it could have been--or should have been--but there are enough slimy and off-beat elements here to make this a worthy watch for fans of less-than-moral movies.

It should also be noted that Jay North had played the lead in TV's Dennis the Menace (1959-1963), and this is an episode from that series that you're never going to see: After he grows up and Mr. and Mrs. Wilson kick the bucket, Dennis trades his tricycle in for a wood-paneled conversion van, watches his pal Joey fall to his death, and then nails Margaret's mother.

Ruff would be proud, Dennis...even if you didn't do it doggy style.

AKA: The Seductress

View the trailer below!


1974
Rated R
98 Minutes
Color
English
United States

"After School ... Her Lessons Began With Sex and Ended in Violence."
--J/Metro

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Horror Icons (Literally!)


"If you are designing some project that is supposed to be scary – be it a Halloween-themed site, a private blog or an online-store with some particular merchandise – you may need some beautiful yet scary icons to set up the atmosphere on your site. David Arazim created a horror icon set for this very purpose. The set contains 8 icons (axe, bat, eye, grave, gun, jason, skull, voodoo) and is available for free download and use."

I found these icons while searching the web, courtesy of Smashing Magazine. Click here to see the original post and grab them free of chrage.

--J/Metro

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Genre Films on TCM Tomorrow (01.29.10)

Bright and early--well, dark and early, actually--tomorrow morning (Friday January 29th), Turner Classic movies is playing a suspense film with the unlikely casting combination of Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney Jr, and...Bob Hope?

4:15 AM My Favorite Brunette (1947)
"A baby photographer mistaken for a private eye ends up framed for murder."

Then, late tomorrow night/early Saturday morning, Turner Classic Movies is showcasing a couple of classic crime films on TCM Underground.

2:45 AM Girls on the Loose (1958)
"A nightclub owner runs an all-woman robbery gang."

4:15 AM Teen-Age Crime Wave (1955)
"Juvenile delinquents pull a young innocent into their crime spree."

Consider yourself in the know.
--J/Metro

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The Bad Place by Dean Koontz

The Bad Place


By Dean Koontz

Frank Pollard awakens one day to find that he doesn’t remember anything about his life, only his name and that he’s on the run…from something. And has been for a very long time. On another occasion, he awakens with scratches on his body and blood on his clothes. And yet another time, he finds a sack full of loot and two pockets full of diamonds. Just who the hell is he, and what is he doing in his sleep? To answer these questions, he hires Bobby and Julie, the husband-wife team of security specialists and owners of Dakota & Dakota. In their investigation, they find themselves pursued by the same evil that is after Frank. And that evil has a name: Candy. Say what? Only Julie’s Down Syndrome suffering sibling Thomas knows where Candy will strike next.

Amnesia, teleportation, ESP, animal mind control, incest, beetles that eat dirt and shit out diamonds, serial killers and…aliens? This mishmash of strange elements reads like Dean Koontz’s laundry list of abandoned ideas, hastily assembled under the guise of a singular story. It’s a serious case of trying to squeeze too much between two covers, besides which the dialogue is sometimes less than believable and the “startling realizations” some characters come to about themselves make one assume Koontz had just finished reading a self-help book or two. In fact, the story’s stumbling narrative never takes a pleasurable twist until near the very end when the Pollard family’s origins are explained—a truly grotesque and fucked-up background. Not, however, grotesque or fucked-up enough to warrant reading this book.

Sorry, Koontz. But this is hack work. Now get back to work.

--J/Metro

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shock the Vote at Bloody Disgusting

I'm sure all of you have noticed an abundance of horror blogs respectfully requesting that you vote for them in the Bloody Disgusting Horror Blogger Award Hullabaloo. I, for one, am not going to do that. Primarily because I wasn't nominated. I am, however, going to encourage you to vote for SOMEONE--I don't care who, so long as it's a blog that you believe in. Horror Bloggers (and bloggers in general) are hard-working folk who do this shit for free, so when something like this comes along you should really take advantage. You only get one vote so make it count, you spooky bastards.

Clickity Clickity


--J/Metro

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IMPORTANT UPDATE: La Casa Muda (The Silent House)


 
A short while ago, I published a post about an upcoming Uruguayan horror movie called La Casa Muda (The Silent House). The producer, Gustavo Rojo, had e-mailed the information directly to me, so I passed it on to you guys.



Well, a few days later, I received another e-mail, this time from someone claiming to be Eric Paquette, a Senior Vice President at Sony Pictures' Screen Gems. He said that he is a "big fan" of my blog, and "read with interest" my post on La Casa Muda. He asked if I could put him in touch with the director, for a possible business opportunity.

I'm of the skeptical sort, so I wasn't sure if this was on the up and up. I e-mailed Mr. Paquette back and told him that I felt that it was not my place to give out Gustavo's e-mail address, but that I would forward his e-mail onto him. Which I did, telling Gustavo that this guy appeared legit based on some rudimentary research, but that I could guarantee nothing.

Gustavo then e-mailed me back, thanking me for the contact and saying that he was "expecting good news".



Cut to yesterday, and there is yet another e-mail from Gustavo Rojo in my Hotmail account, this one titled "Hollywood is waiting for THE SILENT HOUSE (LA CASA MUDA)!!!‏"  Here is the business part of the e-mail in its entirety for your perusal.
"A few days after the Spanish Teaser Trailer was released, executives from some of the most important production company of Hollywood have shown interest in seeing it once it is finished and acquire the rights. The film is still at audio post production, and is expected to be finished in march. "The silent house" teaser trailer with English subtitles has come. Perhaps we may see the remake soon!!!

The film is directed by Gustavo Hernandez, photographed by Pedro Luque (renown for his worldwide success in “Ataque de Pánico”) and produced by Gustavo Rojo, at an amazingly low budget which amounts to U$ 6000. “The silent house” digs deeply into the unexplored subject of psychological terror, and the story runs through a terrifying story through a single continuous shot. This makes the film unique in the audiovisual market since it was filmed with a SLR digital, to be more precise, a Canon EOS 5D Mark. The film is therefore the first one in Latin America and the second one in the world to have been filmed by a photograph camera. This makes it the first film of horror in the world to have been filmed with this particular narrative language.

To be filmed in one single shot implies that the sequence is filmed in one go, without cuts, and the camera movements need a prior careful and meticulous planning which leads the viewer to share each one of the experiences of the character.

Laura ( Florencia Colucci) and her father ( Gustavo Alonso) settle down in a cottage which seems to be off the beaten track in order to update it since its owner ( Abel Tripaldi) will soon put the house on sale. They will spend the night there in order to start the repairs the following morning. Everything seems to go on smoothly until Laura hears a sound that comes from outside and gets louder and louder in the upper floor of the house. Wilson goes up to see what is going on while she remains downstairs on her own waiting for her father to come down. The plot is based on a true story that happened some time ago in a small village in Uruguay. “La Casa Muda” focuses on the last seventy eight minutes, second by second, when Laura intends to leave the house which hides an obscure secret and she hopes to leave unharmed.

REAL FEAR IN REAL TIME, this is the most remarkable underlying feature of the film which will not go unnoticed by all those who may be willing to experience this different and disturbing filming experience."

 Forgiving the inevitable language barrier, I have to say that I'm quite intrigued by this film and glad to be a part of it from the Ground Floor, as it were, and that my little blog may end up playing some small part in its future success.

Midnite Media, people...we're making magic happen!



View the Trailer Below!


...and don't forget to check out the official webpage while you're making with the clickity-clicks.

--J/Metro

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fun (1994)

Fun


Written by James Bosley
Directed by Rafal Zielinski

Renée Humphrey .... Hillary
Alicia Witt .... Bonnie
William R. Moses .... John
Leslie Hope .... Jane
Ania Suli .... Mrs. Farmer


"God says to man, 'I heal you, therefore I hurt, love you, therefore punish'—Stray Birds, Rabinoranath Tagore"

The film opens with this cryptic quote and then proceeds to a detention center where we meet Jane, a caseworker hiding behind a lot of hair and a pair of frumpy glasses. She exchanges crude words over the telephone with John, a reporter for Tomorrow magazine who is doing a story on two of Jane's newest "kids." From here, it's a series of interviews and non-sequential flashbacks that tell the story.

Bonnie and Hillary are two troubled 15 year olds, both outcast from their peers and wanting only to be understood. When they meet for the first time at the bus stop, it was like a door being opened. They were no longer alone and felt as if they had known each other forever. Throughout the course of the day, they wandered around town mapping out their subconscious mind to each other in the form of idle chatter, explicit dialogue, and pseudo-existentialist babble. They reach the conclusion that being normal is bullshit and "fun is number one."

In their incessant search for kicks, they break into an elderly woman's house and murder her with a kitchen knife. After it's over, the girls feel free for the first time in their lives and able to do anything. But the next morning they come to a rude awakening, when the police arrest them and charge them with murder.

Inside the prison, the girls are not allowed to see or communicate with each other. The separation is driving the two of them crazy, and in the end becomes ultimately too much to bear.

Despite its early potential, this film failed to deliver the goods. It was excessively dialogue driven, dissecting events in speech that the camera never actually shows. And because of the use of flashbacks, we never actually see the murder scene for ourselves until the end of the film, where it was meant to be some kind of "money shot". After all the anticipation and suspense that had built up, however, it seemed poorly done and the whole movie deflated. The transition from color to black-and-white was inspired, but it takes more than that to turn a film around.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Saint Axl Rose; Invisible magic ninjas; Hyper-caffeinated tap dance; Door to door insults; Is this the movie or a Fatboy Slim video?;

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Fun was based on writer Jim Bosley's play of the same name; Renée Humphrey (Hillary) later went on to portray Tricia Jones in Kevin Smith's Mallrats and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back; Fun was nominated for the Jury Prize at 1994's Sundance Film Festival


1994
Unrated
95 minutes
Color/black & white
Canada
English

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Night Train to Terror (1985)

Night Train to Terror

Written by Philip Yordan
Directed by John Carr, Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan, Jay Schlossberg -Cohen,
and Gregg C. Tallas

Satan...Tony Giorgio
God...Ferdy Mayne

The Devil (looking like a third-rate aging vampire) and God (looking like the son of Kenny Rogers and Colonel Sanders--who must have had a recipe for some damn fine chicken!) are sharing a table on a train that leads to nowhere.


No, it's not a parable. It's just plain terrible, which is evident from the get-go as the film opens with a seemingly inexplicable 1980s music video, complete with Olivia Newton John legwarmers, headbands, big hair, and that distinct cheesy sound akin to a Casiotone making sweet love to A Flock of Seagulls.

Anywho, God and Satan work as a framing device to three tales of terror (and I use that word loosely), as they discuss the fates of three separate souls.

The first story is a convoluted mess that would almost be surreal if it didn't try so damned hard to make sense. It has something to do with Harry Billings, a salesman who kills his new wife in a car accident and finds himself in a sanitarium, hypnotic medications, date rape-type drugs, human bodies being sold on the black market, and Bull Shannon from Night Court. At least there's some nudity exactly 5 minutes and 45 seconds in, and a moderate amount of gore.

Tale number two involves carnival worker and aspiring star Greta Connors who falls for the sleazy George Youngmeyer, who puts her in the movies. Porno movies, that is. Young frat brat Glenn Marshall develops an obsession for the starlet which develops into a relationship. Youngmeyer, angered by her betrayal, turns to the secret society of the Death Club for revenge. A claymation revenge, nonetheless. When this fails, he goes for the Dr. Marvin Monroe method, and finally an old school James Bond approach. This time around they upped the nudity and the coherence, but not the level of enjoyment.

Too bad.

The final story follows Claire Hanson, respected surgeon married to Nobel Prize winner James Hansen, and author of the Nietzche-esque "God is Dead". The appearance of a number of individuals with '666' tattooes (i.e., written sloppily in magic marker) isn't enough to change James' philosophy, but it's enough to give Claire some pretty bad nightmares, which lead James to the Ashton Kutcher/David Cassidey/Anti-Christ Superstar lookalike Mr. Oliver--a German war criminal who hasn't aged a day in more than forty years. It's all very spooky. Really it is! And although the nudity is nil, we get even more claymation this time around, in a scene in which they try to pass off an extra from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a real man.

This is one of those fucked-up, mock-anthology films that is actually comprised of condensed versions of other films (Death Wish Club, Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars, and Cataclysm) that were, at least at the time, unfinished.  This becomes painfully evident when you look at the list of directors associated with this mess:  Why else would you require five people for this job?  It was pretty out of character for God and the Devil to appear in such a low budget cesspool (they are, according to the credits, portrayed by themselves), but at least they drop some great theological ponderings (the Devil has no tears, while God can laugh and cry at the same time).  I know this movie has some following as a classic of bad cinema, but this film as a whole was just a bit difficult for me to enjoy.  Taken individually, any one of these stories is just plain lame. But combine all three of them together Voltron-style, and what do you get?

Three times the lame.

It's just simple mathematics, really.

Check out the other J's decidedly more-forgiving take on this film over at the Cheap Bin!


Screw the trailer!  View the tubular music video below!


1985
Rated R
98 Minutes
Color
English
United States

"I think this train is coooool!"
--J/Metro

Saturday, January 23, 2010

XXX Patents

Eewwwww....





Friday, January 22, 2010

Diary of the Dead (2007)

Diary of the Dead


Written & Directed by George A. Romero

Following the initial outbreak of a zombie epidemic, a group of film students and their drunkenly distinguished instructor from the University of Pittsburgh jump all aboard a mammoth RV and hit the road, looking to escape the ever-growing hoards of the undead and hoping to reconnect with their family members that may still be among the living. Along the way, they meet up with other scattered groups of survivors (including a deaf-mute old Amish man who proves quite adept at re-killings), and of course a good number of hungry flesh munchers. Being film students, they seem completely unable to put their cameras down, so we see it all unfold POV style in Mockumentary format, the first cousin of the found-footage genre that is so heavily discussed these days.




George Romero is the mastermind of the entire zombie genre as we know it today. Before he burst onto the scene, zombies were of the old school variety, drugged and brainwashed victims of black magic forced to perform menial tasks for their slave master, as showcased in the classic Bela Lugosi vehicle White Zombie. But with the release of Night of the Living Dead, the zombie became a whole new creature, a shambling corpse returned from the grave with only the most rudimentary of life functions, acting on one natural instinct alone: the need to feed, and their manna was human flesh.

If Night of the Living Dead was an ambitious horror film with subtle nuances of race relations, Dawn of the Dead was symbolic social satire on American consumer culture, Day of the Dead was a scathing critique of the industrial-military complex, and Land of the Dead was an, albeit flawed, parody of class warfare (the Haves versus the Have-Nots), then it's easy to go into Diary of the Dead looking for some deeper context rippling beneath the bloody surface. But this movie just doesn't run all that deep.

Perhaps it's because the four films mentioned above all comprised parts of an unofficial series--although none of the characters carried over from one film to the next, they followed a natural and believable chronology that allowed them to be viewed as segments in an historical timeline of some alternate reality. But this movie takes place at the beginning of a zombie outbreak, one that is obviously not the same as the one from Night of the Living Dead (proven by the abundance of and reliance on modern day technology if nothing else), so it is at best the beginning of a new, modern franchise, or at worst the reboot of an old one.



Truth be told, there is a modicum of subtext here, simultaneously about modern paranoia in a post 9/11 world, and the world's reliance on media outlets that are not all together reliable or honest--but both of these matters are nominal at best and serve more as set dressing than real social commentary.

By no means is this a bad movie, but it's such a shift in tone from Romero's previous zombie epics that it's almost unsettling. Romero had always been a bit of a sardonic outsider in the movie-making world, and here it seems almost as if he, well...sold out. Gone is the ugly, gritty realism that we love, replaced by a beautiful cast of CW coulda-beens, too-glossy and too-trendy for its own good. He does score a few points for slipping in some sly and gentle jabs at the imitators who have bastardized his rules ("You're dead! You don't run! You shamble!"), but that's far from enough to turn this movie into the masterpiece the world was hoping for. If all you're looking for is a little guilty entertainment and gore, then you will admittedly find that here--but if you're looking for something that feels like Vintage Romero, then you're going to have to rewatch some Vintage Romero. This is Romero 2.0, Romero-Lite. This is a Hollywood remake of a George Romero film that George Romero never made.

And they got George Romero to direct it!


View the trailer below!


2007
Rated R
95 Minutes
Color
English
United States

"If it didn't happen on camera, it's like it didn't happen."
--J/Metro

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wasp Woman (1959)

Wasp Woman


 Written by Leo Gordon
Directed by Roger Corman

Susan Cabot .... Janice Starlin
Michael Mark .... Eric Zinthrop
Anthony Eisley .... Bill Lane
Barboura Morris .... Mary Dennison
William Roerick .... Arthur Cooper

A doctor with an unusual fondness for winged insects has found a way to extract a chemical compound from wasps that can be injected to reverse the aging process in animals. When Mrs. Starlin, an aging beauty queen in charge of a faltering cosmetics business, sees the wonders that the formula can perform, she insists that she be the first human test subject.



Initially the formula is successful, restoring her former youth and beauty, but eventually it transforms her into a deadly bug-eyed insect-woman hybrid. Unfortunately, it takes too long to happen. 52 minutes to be precise. I'm all for building up suspense, but that never was the director's strong point. It dwells too much on inter-office suspicion and politics and not enough on much of anything else.

The acting is fine but the characters are dull and one dimensional. The make-up effects are lame and forgettable, but that's to be expected. Most importantly, however, is that the film itself is slow and boring, unlike much of Corman's work.


It's The Fly as filtered through the eyes of a Poverty Row denizen. The years have not been kind to this film, and it remains for completists only.

ALSO KNOWN AS: The Bee Girl; Insect Woman;

1959
Not Rated
73 minutes
Black & White
United States
English

--J/Metro

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Midnite Media Turns One!

It was exactly one year ago to the minute that I first started posting on this little blog of mine, so Happy Freakin' Birthday to Me!




 More than once I've contemplated giving it up, but I'm glad that I didn't because this blog has proven to be a lot of fun and I'm glad to belong to such a colorful community as this one, which I have come to call the Blogger Horror Society. I've "met" a lot of great people, watched a lot of great movies (and a lot of not-so-great movies, too), and have even managed to snag a freebie every now and then--which is only fair. I'm not gettin' paid for this, you know!

Well, I'm not much for tooting my own horn (at least not in public), but it's my blogiversary and I'll toot if I want to. Every guy does it, even if they refuse to admit it. So here goes.

One year and more than 370 posts. A whopping 187 of those have been movie reviews (all of which can still be accessed by clicking their titles on the right hand side of the screen). There were also a handful of book reviews thrown in there for good measure, and a whole lot of other fluff as well.

Seeking to do something that isn't found on every other horror blog out there, I contacted some members of the indie horror community and offered them the spotlight, so that they could shine it on their "Horror Hotlist"--their ten (or so) favorite genre films. There was Chris R. Notarile (director of Methodic), Ryan Graham (director of Livelihood), Sam Barrett (director of No Through Road), Nathan & Robert Olsen (creators of Haiku Comics), and Emil Hyde (director of The Landlord).  Many others were contacted--some promised lists that never came while others never responded back--so hopefully there will be more to come in the future.

Another series of posts that may have been overlooked, but that I'm proud of nonetheless, are my Cryptopopology posts (Cryptopopology: The Study of Pop Culture Ephemera That May or May Not Exist).  Here's the run down on them so far:

Aquaman: The Unaired TV Pilot
Batgirl: The Unaired Test Pilot
Dracula's Death (Drakula Halala) (Pre-dating both Nosferatu and Browning's Dracula)
Freddy Vs. Jason: Unused Scripts #1, 2, 3 and 4
The House on Value Street by Stephen King
It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman! (The Superman Musical)
Life Without Soul (The Frankenstein story 16 years before Whale's version)
Quantum Leap: A Bold Leap Forward (The Quantum Leap reunion)
Swamp Thing #88: Morning of the Magician (In which Swamp Thing meets...Jesus Christ!?)
Sword in the Darkness by Stephen King

I've also got a post on the "banned" Sesame Street episode, but it didn't really seem to fit here.

Well, I suppose that's enough shuffling through the Midnite Media Memory Book.  Before I'd leave, I'd just like to thank all of my readers (I finally broke the 50 followers mark!), everyone who leaves a comment on one of my posts (I appreciate them all, even if you disagree with me), and everyone who has given me an award.  If any of you are looking for more reading material, just check out the Jonny-Approved blogs on the blogroll further down the page.  With people like these writing about the genre, it doesn't even bother me that I can no longer afford a subscription to Rue Morgue.

You guys kick ass.  Here's to another year of Horror and Hipsterism, together again for the first time!

Consider me tooted.
--J/Metro


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Monday, January 18, 2010

Poltergeist III (1988)

Poltergeist III


Written by Gary Sherman & Brian Taggert
Directed by Gary Sherman

Tom Skerritt .... Bruce Gardner
Nancy Allen .... Patricia Wilson-Gardner
Heather O'Rourke .... Carol Anne Freeling
Zelda Rubinstein .... Tangina Barrons
Lara Flynn Boyle .... Donna Gardner
Kipley Wentz .... Scott
Richard Fire .... Dr. Seaton
Nathan Davis .... Kane

Since the last time we've seen the Freeling family, Carol Anne has taken up residence with her aunt, uncle and cousin in a Chicago high rise. The building is state of the art and brand new, but has lately begun experiencing a few "technical difficulties." The heat has gone out, the elevator is malfunctioning, the security cameras are constantly on the fritz and,oh yeah...those damned pesky poltergeists have returned as well.



Carol Anne has been attending a special school for gifted and disturbed youngsters, and the resident doctor there has been stirring up the past by putting Carol Anne under regressive hypnosis. This gave the evil Kane Carol Anne's whereabouts and he promptly appeared to complete his mission.



Lucky for the poltergeists, the entire building seems to be constructed out of mirrors. This time around Kane and his minions are (for some reason) only able to haunt the reflection of this world, although sometimes those reflections can be just as deadly as the real thing. Tangina reappears after Carol Anne, her cousin Donna and Donna's boy toy Scott are all pulled through the reflection and into the Other Side. In the psychic's words, "They're between dimensions, behind reflections, behind mirrors, stealing images." Whatever the hell that means.



This third installment is a travesty of cinema for a great multitude of reasons. The believable family dynamic that we had with the Freelings is long gone, replaced with a couple of actors who seem to only vaguely know each other. The whole mirror mythology remains vastly unexplained and out of place with the rest of the series. Tangina's requisite appearance was nice but seemed utterly pointless by the end of the film. Nathan Davis as Kane, doing his best Julian Beck impression, just couldn't carry the character nearly as well as his predecessor. It would have been equally blasphemous to have another actor return to portray Taylor, but thankfully the producers didn't take that last horrendous leap.

The highlight of this film is and always shall be the sight of Lara Flynn Boyle emerging from Tangina's rotting corpse. Beautiful!

View the trailer below!


1988
Rated PG-13
98 minutes
Color
United States
English

"You look great! Now remember, LESS IS MORE!"
--J/Metro

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lost Boy, Lost Girl by Peter Straub

lost boy, lost girl

by Peter Straub

In the quiet, cozy little town of Millhaven, nothing is ever as it seems. Nancy Underhill, loving wife and mother, commits suicide without apparent reason. One week later, her son Mark disappears from sight. While most speculate that Mark is but the latest victim of the so-called Sherman Park Killer, others believe he has run away, emotionally scarred from having discovered his mother’s body in such disrepair. Mark’s uncle—famed horror novelist Timothy Underhill—arrives from New York to offer sympathy and support to his estranged brother Philip. Due to Timothy’s special way of thinking and seeing the world—through the eyes of a character in a book—he suspects that there is more to the story than the rest of the town is seeing, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let the truth slip away.

It’s a haunted house tale. It’s a ghost story. It’s a murder mystery. Hell, it’s two murder mysteries. It’s all of these, in fact, rolled into one. Peter Straub’s effortless weaving of multiple stories and genres into one fascinating tale that not only entices and entertains but seems perfectly plausible as well once again proves that he is the most intelligent and under-appreciated horror author today. And readers of his other works will be thrilled with the return of both Timothy Underhill and the reclusive detective Tom Pasmore, easily two of the greatest characters in modern fiction.

Switching from e-mails and journal entries to first person perspective and omniscient narration without missing a beat, you’ll be asking the same question that Neil Gaiman did upon reading lost boy, lost girl: “How the hell does he do that?”

Forget Koontz. Forget even Stephen. Straub is, without a doubt, the reigning King of horror.

--J/Metro

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Darkman 2: The Return of Durant (1995)

Darkman 2: The Return of Durant


Written by Robert Eisele, Lawrence Hertzog & Steven McKay
Directed by Bradford May

Arnold Vosloo .... Darkman/Dr. Peyton Westlake
Larry Drake .... Robert G. Durant
Kim Delaney .... Jill Randall
Renée O'Connor .... Laurie Brinkman
Lawrence Dane .... Dr. Alfred Hathaway
Jesse Collins .... Dr. David L. Brinkman

Sam Raimi cashed in his director credits for an executive producer title on this sequel which follows the improbable comic book logic of the original by having criminal mastermind Robert G. Durant awakening from a coma after the helicopter crash that should have killed him. He quickly plants his roots back in the underground and breaks a mad scientist out of the local asylum to help him develop a super-weapon that he can use to take over the illegal arms trade.

Meanwhile, Darkman—that 99 minute superhero who has been lingering in the shadows of the city and working in his own little private Bat-Cave set up in the sewer—has found a scientist himself: Dr. David Brinkman, whose research on synthetic skin parallels that of his own. Just when they seem to be on the verge of cracking the puzzle, Durant's interests interfere with Darkman's interests and they finally cross paths once again.

The expected series of battles ensue, of course.

Not bad for a sequel, especially considering that it carries a new director and a new actor in the lead. Larry Drake returning as Durant was great, playing the prototypical comic book mobster. Jill Randall, the news reporter from Street Copy came across as a prototype of Courtney Cox's character from Scream, which was amusing. The action and violence wasn't nearly as “animated” as it should have been, seeing as that was what made the original so charming.

Worth a watch for fans of the original, but it's not going to have you running out to buy Darkman 3 any time soon.

View the trailer below!


1995
Rated R
93 minutes
Color
United States
English

"When every 12-year old is packing heat, death is cheap."
--J/Metro

Friday, January 15, 2010

On TCM Underground Tonight (01.15.10)

Turner Classic Movies is playing a pair of fine films you might want to check out late tonight/early tomorrow morning (Friday January 15th/Saturday January 16th) on TCM UNDERGROUND.  Brew some coffee or set your VCR hipsters!

2:30am Deep End (1971)
"A 15-year-old's obsession with a co-worker leads to a deadly string of crimes." [Cast: Jane Asher, John Moulder Brown, Karl Michael Vogler, Christopher Sandford Dir: Jerzy Skolimowski]

4:00am Shout, The (1979)
"A married man protects his marriage from a mysterious traveler who can kill with a shout." [Cast: Alan Bates, Susannah York, John Hurt, Robert Stephens Dir: Jerzy Skolimowski]

--J/Metro

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Omen (1976)

The Omen



Written by David Seltzer
Directed by Richard Donner

Robert Thorn...Gregory Peck
Katherine Thron...Lee Remick
Damien Thorn...Harvey Stephens
Keith Jennings...David Warner
Mrs. Baylock...Billie Whitelaw

I was but a wee beatnik when I first saw this film on basic cable, and I had not revisited it since, so when I dropped this puppy into my DVD player just a little over two hours ago (as I write this), I was slightly apprehensive. I remember this film scaring me to the extent that I eyed all the other children at school suspiciously, wondering if somewhere beneath their unkempt hair lay the Birthmark of the Beast. Could it possibly live up to those childhood memories?

Probably not. They seldom do.



As I'm sure most of you are aware, this movie concerns a married couple, Robert and Katherine Thorn, whose son Damien may or may not be The Anti-Christ. Things seem to start going South on Damien's fifth birthday with the arrival of a mean-looking dog and the hanging suicide of his kindly nanny ("Look at me, Damien! It's all for you!"). She is quickly replaced by Mrs. Baylock, whose nurturing cultivations seem a little on the dark side. It takes more than the warning of some shabby, unshaven priest to convince Robert that his son may be the Biblical Bad Boy, but in the end he decides that he may be ready to make that leap of faith and embarks on a far-flung investigation with an unlikely partner, news photographer Keith Jennings. Said investigation takes him down a few dark Roman Roads, leading him to a solution he may not have the stomach for.

Religious horror is a touchy subject for some people, but when done properly, it is an extremely effective genre. And this movie does practically everything right.

Although it may be a bit slow-moving when compared to today's MTV-inspired directorial pacing, the building of suspense here pays off every time; beyond being "just a horror movie", it also has elements of the psychological thriller and crime drama. The death scenes are pretty good, too, and include a decapitation by runaway window...which is a rarity if nothing else. The acting was rock solid all around, even from the nearly-silent Harvey Stephens in the role of young Damien, whose initially innocence turns into a burgeoning deviousness by films end. The directing and cinematography brought about a very distinct look to the proceedings, and the scene with Robert and Jennings in the cemetery has got to be one of the best horror scenes ever put onto celluloid.



And then, of course, there's the music by Jerry Goldsmith which won the film a much-deserved Academy Award. The cathedral-style chants, coupled with the Roman Catholic imagery and the ever-present threat of crossing into the realm of Taboo give it all a dark and twisted atmosphere that would make it enjoyable and frightening even if the rest of the production was weaker.

The Omen, along with The Exorcist, are two of the better-known components of the Religious Horror genre, and so many people can't help but try to compare the two. But there's no comparison, really. They're like alligators and crocodiles: on the surface, they may have similar characteristics, but in reality, they're very different animals.

Alligators Vs. Crocodiles...I think I smell a SyFy movie.

So did The Omen live up to my youthful memories? Lets just say this: I've convinced my wife that we shouldn't have children.

The world is safe. For now.


View the trailer below!


1976
Rated R
111 Minutes
Color
English
United Kingdom/United States

"Have no fear, little one... I am here to protect thee."
--J/Metro

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Genre Films on TCM Tomorrow (01.14.10)

Starting bright and early tomorrow morning (Thursday January 14) and running on into the evening, Turner Classic Movies has a whole smorgasbord of genre flicks that you may want to check out. Better call your bosses now...I think you're coming down with something (cough, cough).

6:00am Most Dangerous Game, The (1932)
"A big game hunter decides to stalk human prey." [Cast: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Leslie Banks Dir: Irving Pichel]

7:15am Night Nurse (1931)
"A nurse discovers that the children she's caring for are murder targets." [Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Ben Lyon, Joan Blondell, Clark Gable Dir: William A. Wellman]

8:30am Night Must Fall (1937)
"A charming young man worms his way into a wealthy woman's household, then reveals a deadly secret." [Cast: Merle Tottenham, Kathleen Harrison, Dame May Whitty, Rosalind Russell Dir: Richard Thorpe]

10:30am Rage In Heaven (1941)
"A jealous man plots to fake his death and incriminate his wife's suspected lover." [Cast: Robert Montgomery, Ingrid Bergman, George Sanders, Lucile Watson Dir: Robert B. Sinclair]

12:00pm Woman's Face, A (1941)
"Plastic surgery gives a scarred female criminal a new outlook on life." [Cast: Joan Crawford, Melvyn Douglas, Conrad Veidt, Osa Massen Dir: George Cukor]

2:00pm Cast A Dark Shadow (1955)
"A wife-killer marries an innocent barmaid and plots her death." [Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Margaret Lockwood, Kay Walsh, Kathleen Harrison Dir: Lewis Gilbert]

3:30pm Anatomy Of A Murder (1959)
"A small-town lawyer gets the case of a lifetime when a military man avenges an attack on his wife." [Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell Dir: Otto Preminger]

6:15pm While The City Sleeps (1956)
"Reporters compete to catch a serial killer." [Cast: Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Howard Duff Dir: Fritz Lang]

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Asylum (2008)

Asylum


Written by Ethan Lawrence
Directed by David R. Ellis

Madison McBride...Sarah Roemer
Maya...Carolina Garcia
Ivy...Ellen Hollman
String...Cody Kasch
Tommy...Travis Van Winkle
Dr. Burke...Mark Rolston

A group of horror movie stereotypes--the pretty girl, the troubled girl, the geek, the jock, the loner, etc.--discover that their new college dormitory was once the site of an insane asylum for trouble teenagers. Dr. Burke, the quack that ran the place, had a sick and twisted idea of therapy: simultaneous dual lobotomies performed by shoving picks through the eye sockets of rowdy patients and scraping out all of the bad thoughts.


Not exactly enlightened, but not exactly that far off from the real "medical miracles" of the day, either.

The patients, deciding that enough was enough, staged an uprising and murdered the mad doctor. All these years later, the creepy old maintenance man seems to think that the dorm is haunted, and he may not be all that far off. Multiple members of the stereotype troop suffer from waking hallucinations that are reminiscent of the more restrained dream sequences of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, slightly spiced up with a Dr. Giggles-like character. Casper he ain't. The ghost of Dr. Burke is quick to judge, quick to diagnose, and quick to kill.


The best I can say about this movie is that I didn't hate it. Of course, I didn't love it either. It was competently shot, competently acted, competently edited. That is to say, it was strictly mediocre, save for a few impressive moments that I wouldn't mind re-watching (especially the lengthy flashback to the asylum's revolution, and a nightmare sequence involving a smart-mouth losing his gift of gab when his tongue is cut out). For the most part, though, it was just run of the mill stuff without any real scares, or anybody to really root for. I didn't give a damn if any of these kids made it out alive.


The major problem with a lot of these lower budget, unheard of horror films is characterization. The filmmakers come up with what they think is a good idea for a movie, populate it with pretty plastic fodder, and then slap the finished product on DVD without putting any thought into making the leads likable. In order for the audience to truly enjoy a horror movie, they have to have some sort of investment either in the heroes or the villains--ideally, in both! But often, as is the case with Asylum, we don't care for the 'good guys' or the 'bad guys' enough to care either way. All we're rooting for is the next bloody scene, and we don't care who it happens to. And when those stop rolling around, we'll be more than happy to take the closing credits.

To the credit of the filmmakers, they did attempt to shatter the stereotype mold of the characters by showcasing each of their hidden secrets--the sex-obsessed jock used to be overweight; the pretty girl is a self-mutilator; etc. But that's really not enough to make you care about the majority of these characters.

An asshole who used to be fat is still an asshole.

The poster proclaims that this is "From The Director of Final Destination 2."

Any questions?

2008
Rated R
93 Minutes
Color
English
United States

"Give me your suffering, motherfucker!"
--J/Metro

Monday, January 11, 2010

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