Friday, September 30, 2011

Richard Brautigan on Jack the Ripper

"London.  On December 1, 1887; July 7, August 8, September 30, one day in the month of October and on the 9th of November, 1888; on the 1st of June, the 17th of July and the 10th of September 1889...

The disguise was perfect.

Nobody ever saw him, except, of course, the victims.  They saw him.

Who would have expected?

He wore a costume of trout fishing in America.  He wore mountains on his elbows and bluejays on the collar of his shirt.  Deep water flowed through the lilies that were entwined about his shoelaces.  A bullfrog kept croaking in his watch pocket and the air was filled with the sweet smell of ripe blackberry bushes.

He wore trout fishing in America as a costume to hide his own appearance from the world while he performed his deeds of murder in the night.

Who would have expected?


Scotland Yard?


They were always a hundred miles away, wearing halibut-stalker hats, looking under the dust.

Nobody every found out.

O, now he's the Mayor of the Twentieth Century!  A razor, a knife and a ukelele are his favorite instruments.

Of course, it would have to be a ukelele.  Nobody else whould have thought of it, pulled like a plow through the intestines."

--Richard Brautigan
"The Mayor of the Twentieth Century"
Trout Fishing In America

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Names In The Black Book: 3 Nightmarish Mysteries by Robert E. Howard

Names In The Black Book
Three Nightmarish Mysteries For Detective Steve Harrison Of The River Street Precinct

Written by Robert E. Howard
Edited by Steve Miller

Steve Harrison was a detective character created by pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard, a stalwart of Weird Tales magazine and compatriot of H.P. Lovecraft. Harrison's beat on River Street in some unnamed West Coast metropolis leads him into a number of bizarre cases, three of which are chronicled here.

Names In The Black Book: This opening tale introduces us to the character of Steve Harrison, as he finds himself ensconced in a murder mystery involving a character that has seemingly returned from the dead. Having to protect a woman from this "undead" criminal mastermind, he teams up with a wanted man--perhaps even more dangerous than the villain himself! A good, pulpy story that's a little heavy on the Yellow Menace for my tastes, but those were the times. With murder plots, extreme violence, secret passages and poisons designed to drive you mad, there's plenty here to hold your interest.

People Of The Serpent: In this story (also known as Fangs of Gold), Steve Harrison is trailing a murderer who stole $10,000 from his victim, money that the dead man's daughter is depending on. He never anticipated that he would wind up having to save the murderer's life, but that's exactly what he has to do when he learns that the man has been taken prisoner by a voodoo cult hell-bent on human sacrifice. Slightly on the racist-side at times, this still manages to turn into a damn fine story. I love any weird tale involving voodoo and its variations, and this one is no different. Gators, black magic, and a little light bondage--that's one hell of a read.

Graveyard Rats: The pinnacle of this collection involves Harrison protecting a pair of brothers from a crazed rival, and the twisted legend of the graveyard rats and their insatiable appetites. Definitely the most impressive story out of the three on display here, and one of the best in all of Howard's oeuvre--rivaled only by the infamous Pigeons From Hell.  For more of my thoughts on this excellent story, click HERE.

Overall, a pretty fine collection, edited by published author, fellow blogger and official Writer of Stuff Steve Miller, published by NUELOW games. At just $1.75 from Drive-Thru Horror for the e-book, it's very reasonably priced, so shill out a few coins and support the man. So he can keep on writing. About stuff.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Subspecies (1991)


Written by Jackson Barr & David Pabian
Directed by Ted Nicolau

Radu...Anders Hove
Michele...Laura Mae Tate
Lillian...Michelle McBride
Mara...Irina Movila
Stefan...Michael Watson

Three college students visit a small Romanian village in order to study the local legends and superstitions. During the course of their travels, they stumble upon a power struggle taking place between two vampire brothers.

Stefan is the spawn of a vampire-human union, and he wants to leave peaceably among the mortals; his half brother Radu, however, is birthed from a sorceress, and fully embraces his vampiric side. When Radu murders his own father in order to gain control of the Bloodstone, a mythical gem which is said to continually drip hemoglobin and offer up great power, the sibling rivalry feud comes to a boil.

Now Stefan and his human cohorts set out to make a final stand against the blood-drunk Radu; but not everyone is going to survive to see the outcome.

Definitely one of Full Moon's better features, Subspecies is infinitely more cinematic than most of the studio's other fare. I mean, it looks like a real movie. Not like, say, The Gingerdead Man.

Good acting and special effects, and a rich backstory only furthers the appreciation for this film. It is shot and scored beautifully, making great use of shadows and silhouettes, seemingly inspired by Nosferatu.

This 20th Anniversary blu-ray looks fantastic, but I unfortunately don't have the capability to grab screen shots from this format--so you'll have to make do with those that I cull (rhymes with stole) from the web. But take my word for it and upgrade those VHS copies.

If every Full Moon movie was this good, Charles Band would be a household name.

Rated R
90 Minutes
United States


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode (2011)

Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode

This documentary purports to be the first ever to reveal the true story of Irish author Bram Stoker and his eternally-lauded novel Dracula. While I can't vouch one way or another for the veracity of that statement, I can say that this doc is connected to the Transylvanian Association of Dracula (yes, such an organization does exist) and features interviews with many Stoker and Dracula scholars, so it's overflowing with information that can scarcely be argued with.

It starts, if course, with the life if Bram Stoker and transitions into his novel, its inspirations (from other earlier written works to local legends), its effects on culture (Western as well as Romanian), and the character's tenuous connection to historical figure Vlad Tepes.

Though a bit dry at times and relying heavily on stock footage and talking head interviews, it's a well-executed and thoroughly researched documentary that will probably teach even the most knowledgeable vamp fan a thing or two. Nothing close to a Dracula scholar myself, nearly everything was news to me.

Interestingly, the filmmakers stick it to the book In Search of Dracula by Radu Florescu, previously thought of as the ultimate scholarly treatment on the subject, as a misrepresentation of the truth. For those whose faith is placed in this tome, give Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode a watch, and make up your own mind.

Enthralling, educating, and practically overwhelming, I can whole-heartedly recommend this movie to any fan of the novel, the movies, or those who thrive on learning the real roots of our beloved genre.

(Visit the official homepage!)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong (2011)

Evil Bong 3
The Wrath of Bong

Written by August White
Directed by Charles Band

Al McDowell...Peter Stickles
Larnell...John Patrick Jordan
Brett...Brian Lloyd
Bachman...Mitch Eakins

A strange little bald man who has just murdered his wife discovers a meteorite that has fallen from the sky. The meteorite cracks open, and inside he finds a monstrous looking space bong, which he promptly takes to the local head shop and hocks it for a cool twenty bucks.

Meanwhile, nerdy Al McDowell from the Space Institute and his delusional, conspiracy theorist cohort Larnell arrive at the meteorite too late, and track the space bong to the head shop, which is coincidentally owned by their old friends Bachman and Brett.

The space bong is a chatty little fellow with plans of world domination, and anyone who smokes out of him is transported to Bong World, where they are seduced by red and green hotties collecting human sperm for...some reason.

In order to save the planet from the upcoming invasion, the boys have to call in Dr. Weed and Nurse Hookah, current owners of the notorious Evil Bong.

Silly doesn't even begin to describe it.

Some time back, Full Moon had sent me a preview disk with the first 20 minutes of this movie.  My assessment from that initial exposure proved correct: pot humor gets old quickly when you're not high, and the closest I have gotten to smoking weed in the past dozen years is drooling over Mary-Louise Parker.

Overflowing with weed culture references and white boy weed rap, it's obvious that this series, perhaps more than any other Full Moon franchise, has a built-in audience.

If you have a collection of black light posters, this movie might be for you.

If you're wearing a Bob Marley tee-shirt right now, this movie might be for you.

If you consider Cheech & Chong your spiritual godfathers, this movie might be for you.

If you know the lyrics to a Kottonmouth Kings song, this movie might be for you.

If you have a cupboard full of cheese puffs and Pop Tarts, this movie might be for you.

If you have already forgotten what movie we're talking about...this movie is definitely for you.

It looks surprisingly good despite the cheesy talking bong FX, and the acting is better than in a lot of indie flicks.  It's just too bad that it's so sophomoric and ridiculous.  It probably would have been more enjoyable if some of the gimmickry translated to the home video market.  I understand the 3D being left out of the equation, but the Sniff-O-Rama card would have been a nice inclusion.

Braindead, but mostly harmless.

Rated R
86 Minutes
United States

"I think this thing stinks like a sumo wrestler's just taken a dump on a burning tire!"

(Pick up this flick from Full Moon Direct!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Hitcher (2007)

The Hitcher

Written by Eric Red, Jake Wade Wall, & Eric Bernt
Directed by Dave Meyers
Produced by Michael Bay

Grace...Sophia Bush
Jim...Zachary Knighton
John Ryder...Sean Bean

Jim and Grace are a pair of college students en route to Lake Havasu for Spring Break. Along the way, they get suckered into giving some rambling man hitchhiker a ride, only to discover that he's a homicidal maniac. They manage to fight him off, but this only makes him more determined to slaughter the happy couple, and they engage in a cross-country game of cat and mouse.

For a while there, it really seemed like we were going through a horror movie remake Renaissance, with Dawn of the Dead (2004), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) and The Hills Have Eyes (2006). The Hitcher was an attempt to rival the successes of these films, but just doesn't quite live up.

The acting is decent, and there's plenty of eye candy--both sugary (Grace in short skirt, Grace in panties) and sticky (head shots, throats slashed); and there's also plenty of car crashes and explosions. It's these explosions that concern me the most. The over-stylized action elements on display here are demonstrative of Michael Bay's involvement in this project. Truth be told, this isn't a horror movie. This is an action movie on Halloween, just like The Transformers was an action movie at ComiCon. One genre getting a kinky thrill out of crossdressing.

The Hitcher here is a badass, sure enough. Perhaps a little TOO badass. He's an unstoppable killing machine, but one that is far too human to be believed. He's like Michael Meyers crossed with pretty much any character that Jason Statham has ever played.

Granted, it has been so long since I've seen the original that I can't call up too many details, but I don't recall it being quite like this.

With CGI roadkill, a "cool" soundtrack, and moments specially designed to be edgy, The Hitcher tries just a bit too hard for my tastes. Over all, it's not a bad film. It just seems somehow...empty.

The End.

Rated R
84 Minutes
United States

"I want you to say four little words."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Goodies In The Mail

Thanks Walking Shadows!

Review coming soon...


Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver (2011)

Gingerdead Man 3
Saturday Night Cleaver

Written by William Butler & Muffy Bolding
Directed by William Butler & Silvia St. Croix

Gingerdead Man...John Carl Buechler
Cherry...Paris Wagner
Randy...Steve-Michael McClure
Trixie...Kent Fuher

Apparently escaping from The Scientific Research Institute For The Study Of Homicidal Baked Goods wasn't enough for the Gingerdead Man, because he also breaks into a laboratory, hijacks a time machine, and promptly escapes into the past, too.

Nineteen seventy-six, to be precise, finding himself in the midst of a supafly roller disco. The drug-addled, polyester-clad, sexually adventurous patrons give the titular killer a slew of new (old?) victims to massacre in unlikely ways.

I'll openly admit that I have not seen the first two entries in the franchise, so I went into this movie blind. It's not quite an intellectual discourse, so I'm fairly sure that I figured things out along the way.

My favorite Full Moon movies are the Puppet Master series, because although it is something of a silly idea, they play it straight and at least attempt to follow some sort of interior logic. As soon as this movie started rolling, opening into a Silence of the Lambs parody that would have been rejected from Scary Movie, it was obvious that this was NOT that type of film.

Poor acting, poor special effects and toilet humor galore work against the movie, as does an abundance of filler material and pointless scenes with pointless characters. It was something like a live-action cartoon version of a really bad slasher flick.

So how bad is this movie? Pretty damn bad. And yet, if you just turn off your think-box for the brief 78 minutes of its running time, you might actually be able to enjoy it. Albeit on a completely different level than you would enjoy, say, Psycho or Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

If you enjoyed the slapstick seasonal slaughter of Thankskilling, this one probably isn't too far from your taste track.

78 Minutes
United States

Visit the Full Moon website, and order the Gingerdead Man box set today!

"Freeze, you little fun-sized fucker!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Goodies In The Mail

Thanks Full Moon!

Reviews coming soon...


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Frankenstein Unbound (1990)

Frankenstein Unbound

Written by Roger Corman and FX Feeny
Directed by Roger Corman

Frankenstein...Raul Julia
Joe Buchanan...John Hurt
The Monster...Nick Brimble
Mary Shelley...Bridget Fonda

Dr. Joe Buchanan is a weapon's creator in the year 2031. His latest creation is capable of causing enemies to implode, and then completely disappear. It is not without its side effects, though, which include atmospheric anomalies and "time slips". Dr. Joe gets pulled through one of these time slips and finds himself (along with his futuristic A.I. automobile) trapped in 1817 Geneva.

While there, he discovers that Mary Shelley's book Frankenstein was something more than fiction. He stumbles across the real Dr. Frankenstein, his monster, Mary Shelley, Percy, Lord Byron and the like...even going so far as to bed the slutty little authoress.

The creature looks slightly silly to us, because we only associate the character with Universal's trademarked appearance, although I believe his look here is much closer to that described in the book. His stitched together eyeballs make a good image, but seem highly impractical.

Raul Julia does a fine job as Dr. Frankenstein, the perfect blend of aristocracy and arrogance. John Hurt as Buchanan does pretty well, too, although he seems rather unfazed by his predicament.

On occasion, it's much slower than it ought to be, with a few moments that seem stolen from Marty McFly and Doc Brown, I have never liked this movie quite as much as I feel like I should. It has its interesting moments, but a little more action and a little more thought could have gone a long way. There are long stretches where little seems to be happening, but it pulls itself admirably back together by the end.

Overall, a decent but somewhat uneven take on the Frankenstein myth.

Rated R
82 Minutes
United States


Monday, September 12, 2011

Eerie #11, April 1953 (Avon Comics)

Eerie #11
April 1953
Avon Comics

Anatomical Monster: This may seem silly, but when you think about it, medical charts are pretty damn creepy. Gray's Anatomy is something straight out of a nightmare. Here, a medical student gets an anatomical chart from an antique store, not realizing that when the chart is unrolled, the illustrated anatomical man is let loose to murder as he sees fit. A cool concept, and strangely postmodern in its own way, but the abrupt and predictable ending is a bit of a let down.

Crimson Death: Professional dance duo aren't getting the fame and fortune they think that they deserve, so they learn a voodoo dance routine that blows away the competition. It's just too bad that dead folk keep turning up, prophesying that the two of them are going to be murdered. I live anything with voodoo, and this was no exception. Quick, clever, and surprising.

The Steps In The Cellar (text story): A piece of advice for all the hobos out there: if you see an inscription that says "If this door you swing ajar/your ghastly doom will not be far"...DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR!

The Haunted Murderer: A killer finds himself tormented by a poltergeist in the form of a very small--and very naked--man. The poltergeist can only be seen by him, and the ghost's antics cause him trouble and unwanted attention. Decent enough, but it would have benefitted from an extra couple pages.

Robot Model L2--Failure: A futuristic sci-fi story set during a time in which Earth is at war with Mars. A robot designed for sentry and protection is deemed a failure, although in reality the planet owes their lives to him. Quick and painless, but also not very good. The robo-ghost in the final panel is pretty memorable, though.

Eerie #11 can be accessed free and legally at the Digital Comic Museum by clicking HERE.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Upcoming: Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Just wanted to give everybody the heads up that Double Dexter, the sixth entry in the Dexter series of books by author Jeff Lindsay, is set to be released on October 18th.  For those who don't know, these are the books that are the basis for the kickass Showtime series Dexter.  If you're not watching the show, why the hell aren't you?  If you are watching the show, but aren't reading the books, I repeat: Why the hell aren't you?

No details on the plot, but you can pre-order it on Amazon for only $15.92 in hardcover, or $12.99 for the Kindle.  Better yet, if you're lucky enough to have a locally-owned bookstore, buy it there.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Magic (1978)


Written by William Goldman
Directed by Richard Attenborough

Corky Withers...Anthony Hopkins
Ben Greene...Burgess Meredith
Peg...Ann Margaret

Amateur magician Corky Withers receives one last bit of advice from his mentor, shortly before he passes away: "You better find yourself some charm, kid."  But Corky is shy, reserved, and doesn't possess the stage presence needed to make it in show business.  At least...not on his own.

Flash forward one year, and Corky's brought on a new partner, a ventriloquist dummy named Fats.  Using Fats to say everything that he can't bring himself to say, Corky finds himself on the precipice of a great success.  NBC even wants him to film a pilot TV special, but when he learns that a physical exam is part of the contract, Corky flips out and escapes to the country to "get his head on straight."

There he reunites with an old flame, but it quickly becomes evident that it's difficult to get your head on straight when you've got a screw loose.  Corky sinks deeper and deeper into darkness until we don't know who's calling the shots: him or Fats.

Part horror film, part psychological thriller, and yes, even part romance, Magic is a genuinely creepy experience with some world-class performances.  Years before he redefined the villain as Hannibal Lecter, Hopkins' boyish nervousness gained him a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as the unstable magician.  Ann Margaret does wonders here, too, looking beautiful both in and out of clothes, while Burgess Meredith nails the best role as Ben Greene, the witty and boisterous agent--an old-school Hollywood hipster if ever there was one.

Fats (voiced by Hopkins, naturally) looks creepy as hell, although his filthy Catskills-styled patter does grate on the nerves after a while.  He's exactly what I imagine Chucky's grandfather would have been like--now there's a Child's Play movie I would pay to see.

You probably won't find yourself frightened after watching this movie, unless you happen to have a ventriloquist dummy in your collection, but there may be a lingering feeling of unease, which is ultimately longer-lasting and generally more satisfying, anyway.  Definitely a classic and well worth a watch.  Would make a great double-feature with Pin, and if you're feeling really ambitious, close out the night with the disturbingly erotic Love Object.

Rated R
107 Minutes
United States


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eerie #10, December 1952 (Avon Comics)

Eerie #10
December 1952/January 1953
Avon Comics

Only The Dead Live Here: A young married couple find themselves stranded on a small island populated by a dysfunctional family of ghosts. Suffers from an anti-climactic ending.

Green Grows The Grass: A murderous scientist has the tables turned on him when he finds himself the human flowerpot for a new breed of foliage that can grow anywhere. Really pretty ridiculous, like a Tromaville version of Swamp Thing.

Castle of Terror: This amusingly goofy tale deserves analysis. A physicist who has been "probing the phenomenon of death" discovers from afar that there is a location in Africa where all death stems from, in the form of "death rays". Rather than dedicate his life to AVOIDING that place, he gathers his crew of workers and they embark on a little field trip. They find a castle where the death rays are originating from, and seem surprised when they have a "strange feeling of danger". Really, guys? I mean, you're only knocking on death's door. Quite literally. A frail old man answers, stating that his master is away, and the visitors immediately turn on the privileged American charm, demanding room and board from the "old goat" and claiming the room full of treasure that they stumble upon inside as their own, neverminding the fiery octopus standing like a H.P. Lovecraft Saturday morning cartoon character. When death incarnate makes an appearance, I can understand his look (although he's far from frightening); but the devil, dressed like a gay superhero, is a little baffling. And considering this is supposed to be the grand reveal/twist ending, it should have been depicted in a much larger and more impressive panel.

Phantom Of The Waxworks: Wax museums are natural settings for horror films, dating all the way back to the silents, so it's no surprise that a horror comic should be set here as well. The owner of a wax works finds his museum haunted by his former boss, who has a bone to pick. The dummy of Jack the Ripper briefly comes to life too, but, strangely, is quickly forgotten to make room for the ghost. Decent, but it goes exactly where you expect it to.

Eerie #10 can be accessed free and legally at the Digital Comic Museum by clicking HERE.



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