Sunday, December 18, 2011

House (1986)


Written by Fred Dekker & Ethan Wiley
Directed by Steve Miner

Roger Cobb...William Katt
Harold...George Wendt
Ben...Richard Moll

Following the suicide of his elderly aunt Elizabeth, author Roger Cobb moves into her house, where he was raised, in attempt to shake things up and overcome the writer's block that is threatening his career.

Roger has had his fair share of trauma.  He's a shell-shocked Vietnam vet, recently divorced with a young son that has gone missing. When you tack the death of his beloved aunt onto this laundry list, it's no wonder that he's a little off-kilter. Who can blame the guy for hearing a few voices, and maybe seeing a few monsters?

So are these horrible visions the result of mental instability, or is the house truly haunted, as his supposedly senile aunt believed?

Well, this is the first film in a franchise, so I'll let you guess.

Rewatching this movie for the first time in many years, it's stunning how different it is than I remember. For starters, it's not neatly as frightening as I remember it being (but what is?), nor is it quite as serious and foreboding. There's definitely a dark sense of humor here that I didn't "get" as a child, and even when it is playing seriously, there's a certain mischievous cheese factor that brings out a smirk in me. Just look at these special effects!

I'm not going to lie: I am a true William Katt fan--he is and always will be THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO in my eyes--and I'm yet to see him in something that I haven't enjoyed on some level. House is no different, as he brings coolness and credibility to an outlandish scenario that is at times part Poltergeist, part Evil Dead, part House of Leaves.

George Wendt, ol' Normie Boy, is great too as the nosy neighbor, along with Big Beautiful Bald Bastard Richard Moll as a hardcore soldier with a taste for blood.

As already said, the special effects are kind of corny, but not in a sad "we tried and failed" kind of way, but in an appealing "Jim Henson Horror" kind of way. It's definitely part of its charm.

Although it no longer frightens me like it did when I was just a Boy Beatnik, and I can fully admit that nostalgia probably colors my perception, I can only now appreciate it for the underrated gem that it truly is.

Rated R
93 Minutes
United States

"Solitude is always better with someone else around."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Text Message by William Malmborg

Text Message
by William Malmborg

While shopping at the mall, Mallory receives an alarming text message from her sister's phone:


The mystery man on the other end of the phone instructs her to perform a number of humiliating acts, and if she hesitates or refuses to partake, Mallory receives a photograph of unspeakable acts being committed on her younger sister.

He calls it a game, but it is obviously one that she is not meant to win, and it's all leading up to a violent final level.

This is the second Kindle-exclusive novel by William Malmborg that I've had the pleasure to read and review, and while I enjoyed his previous effort (Jimmy) more, TEXT MESSAGE is far from a sophomore slump. Busting at the seams with torture and debauchery, there's a chilling darkness here that will keep you turning the digital pages well into the night, because not only will you not want to put it down, but also because you know you won't be able to fall asleep.

Told through a revolving series of POV's, we're granted access into the inner workings of all of our principals--for better or for worse.

Mallory is a believable character, a precocious sort of heroine that we hope exists in real life. Her sister Jenna, though, a mere prop for so much of the proceedings, turns out to be a much more interesting character in the end. I only wish that we had spent more time with her as an actual person.

The villain, whose identity I won't reveal, is a victim himself, who came out the other end of a trauma as a physically and emotionally scarred individual. Malmborg may offer some degree of explanation, but don't confuse this as an excuse. This is one evil bastard, and there are no bones made about that.

There's another character, too, a boy scout-type of security guard named Dan who wants to play hero to make up for past sins. A lot of the story takes place through his eyes, but unfortunately, I found him a little dull and lifeless. And, ultimately, relatively pointless.

I can't say if it was Malmborg's intention or not, but while reading I was struck by how cinematic the story (if not necessarily the writing) seemed. Many times my mind wandered off to ponder how great a film this would make if only a few tweaks for the studio's sake were made--turn the story over to the great Larry Cohen, and let him complete the triad he began with Phone Booth and Cellular just under a decade ago.

TEXT MESSAGE is by no means a Christmas story, but it does take place around the holidays. So feel free to purchase a digital copy for the lit-loving horror fan as a gift.  Support author and fellow-blogger William Malmborg by downloading the book from Amazon.


Monday, December 12, 2011

John Carpenter at Funny or Die!

So apparently back in October, John Carpenter hosted a number of "scary" videos over at Funny or Die in honor of Halloween. I know that I'm a few months late to the party, but I just discovered them and wanted to share. Besides, it's always my head.

Embedded below is the introductory video, but to watch the actual short films themselves, all you have to do is click on the title.


What Have You Done To Me?: A trailer for the fake sci-fi/horror hybrid I Was A Human Experiment which comes from another planet. It's got a chuckle or two nestled in its 92-second running time.

Scary Girl: Believe it or not, this video starts off with a brief clip of John Carpenter himself playing the Halloween theme on an organ, almost worth the price of admission alone.  We follow Scary Girl actress Enid through the ups-and-downs of her career, from appearing on television (iCarly), horror films, and even a Sunny Delight commercial.

Twilight - Breaking Dawn Spoof:  Not at all what you're expecting.  I had to watch this one a few times to be sure that my browser didn't screw up.  Sort of like a bizarre skit from the cancelled-too-early MTV series The State, with a cute little reference to Enter the Void that not everyone is going to catch.

Horror Masters - Cat Thrower:  You know all those fake scares in horror movies caused by felines jumping through the air at the characters onscreen?  That's the work of Clint Cornwall, Cat Thrower.  Features real-life examples from horror flicks, and a genius Friday the 13th Part V joke.

1:00 On Cedar Lane:  It's got a creative "villain" in it, but in truth it is neither scary nor funny.  Die, please.

Clumsy Ghost:  What if the ghost in Paranormal Activity wasn't really mean, just a bit of a klutz?  This could have been a clever video, but at a mere 36 seconds, it never gets a chance to find its footing.

Haunted Slide:  Slide aficionados be warned, that when you find a slide on a Native American Burial Playground, it can only lead you to one place.  And that place is Satan's butthole.  Dumb, pointless, and immature.

The Original Monster Mash: Did you know that the Monster Mash song we all know and love isn't the original version, but instead is a watered-down bastardization of Bobby Pickett's true artistic vision?  For the first time anywhere, see the original music video.  Crude, but oddly brilliant.  Warning: NSFW.  Not even a little bit.

Soblin the Finx: A trick-or-treater gets a surprise when he bumps into Soblin the Finx.  Although it's not funny, there is definitely a certain charm to it, and would have benefited from a longer running time.  I could easily see this concept being expanded into feature length and becoming an indie Halloween favorite.

Charlie Brown - Blockhead's Revenge: Ever wonder what the Peanuts kids would be like when they grew up?  Marcy and Peppermint Patty are hot lesbians; Lucy finally seduces Schroeder; and Charlie Brown?  He's a psychotic killer.  Cool and clever every step of the way, this short even manages to give us the Peanuts theme by way of Halloween.  Badassery is afoot.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bag of Bones Premieres Tonight!

The 2-night mini-series event based on Stephen King's epic ghost story Bag of Bones begins on A&E tonight at 9/8 Central.

The official synopsis:

A&E Network presents “Stephen King’s Bag of Bones,” a four-hour epic miniseries based on The New York Times #1 bestselling novel, and featuring Pierce Brosnan’s return to television. The two-night event from Sony Pictures Television premieres in December.
“Bag of Bones” is a ghost story of grief and lost love's enduring bonds, about an innocent child caught in a terrible crossfire and a new love haunted by past secrets. Melissa George (“In Treatment”), Annabeth Gish (“Brotherhood”), Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls), William Schallert (“The Patty Duke Show”), Jason Priestley (“Beverly Hills, 90210”) and Caitlin Carmichael (“True Blood”) also star.
In “Bag of Bones,” bestselling novelist Mike Noonan (Brosnan) is unable to stop grieving after the sudden death of his wife Jo (Gish). Suffering from writer’s block, a dream inspires him to return to the couple's lakeside retreat in western Maine. While there, Mike befriends an attractive young widow, Mattie (George) and her daughter Kyra (Carmichael), and becomes involved in a custody battle with the child's enormously wealthy grandfather, Max (Schallert). Though his ability to write suddenly returns, Mike is plagued by ever-escalating nightmares and mysterious ghostly visitations from Sara Tidwell (Rose), a blues singer whose spirit lingers in the house. As he is haunted by the many secrets at the lake, Mike comes to realize that his late wife still has something to tell him.

Click HERE to visit the official website.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Goodies In The Mail!

Thanks St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books & John Ajvide Lindqvist!
Review Coming Soon!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nightmares and Dreamscapes Ep.08: You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band (2006)

Nightmares and Dreamscapes Ep. 08:
You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band

Clark and Mary are a married couple on a road trip. They find themselves hopelessly lost, but things start to look up when they roll upon the small town of Rock and Roll Heaven, Oregon.

This idyllic-sounding town is right up Clark's alley, as he was obviously born in the wrong decade. He listens exclusively to classic rock and roll, drives a classic Mustang (Sally, natch!), and is an all around throwback sorta guy. So they cruise on in at Clark's insistence, much to Mary's chagrin.

While there, they notice an inordinate amount of people who look exactly like dead rock stars...and none of them want the newcomers to leave.

Honestly, it's a blatantly ridiculous concept, but somehow it works here. It's a cross between the old adage that Rock and Roll is the Devil's music and the Ray Bradbury short story "Mars Is Heaven". Only in this case, Mars is a small town in Oregon.

Despite a few silly moments, this is still the best episode of the series. Glad to see that they went out on a high note.

"Great music died the day they dreamed up disco."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nightmares & Dreamscapes Ep. 07: Autopsy Room Four (2006)

Nightmares & Dreamscapes Ep. 07:
Autopsy Room Four

Howard Cottrel, a Wall Street money maker, drops dead while playing golf with one of his buddies. An aging doctor who just so happens to be passing through--a doctor on a golf course!? Impossible!--pronounces him dead and wheels his still-warm ass into the local hospital's autopsy room.

Room number four, as it turns out.

Problem is, Howard's not dead. He's just immobilized, and very much aware of his impending procedure.

Much of the "action" takes place in the
autopsy room, while the two doctor's flirt shamelessly over Howard's naked body, and Howard narrates with his thoughts. However, this inner dialogue is rather stiff and rarely comes off as natural.

These quiet and far-too-tame scenes are interspersed with flashbacks to Howard's last day of life, although these aren't any more interesting.

It's an intriguing premise, but one that fails in execution. A mediocre, weak-spined episode.

However, it's about time a boner saves the day.


Monday, December 5, 2011

The Ward (2010)

The Ward

Written by Michael & Shawn Rasmussen
Directed by John Carpenter

Kristen...Amber Heard
Dr. Gerald Stringer...Jared Harris
Roy...D.R. Anderson
Iris...Lyndsy Fonseca

An attractive young woman named Kristen finds herself institutionalized at the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital after burning down a farmhouse. There she becomes acquainted with the other female patients--both living and dead.

It seems the girls have a tendency to die off. But after they're gone, they don't STAY gone.

Having John Carpenter's name attached to a project just doesn't have the same cachet that it used to, and yet I keep getting suckered into watching. This film (which was nominally a NOES III: Dream Warriors, without dreams or warriors, crossed with Shutter Island, without shutters or islands--and a certain other movie I won't name for fear of spoiling everything for those who still want to see it) was a real chore to sit through, a slow-moving burner without adequate suspense or surprise to make up for the sluggish pace. It lost my interest near the 30 minute mark when it became apparent that there were no shocks or genuine surprises lying in wait, but I stuck it out partially out of responsibility, and partially because of the superfluous shower scene.

A glossy, Hollywood-style horror flick without real teeth to speak of.

Rated R
88 Minutes
United States

"Sorry, I don't converse with loonies!"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Planet of the Apes

Written by Rod Serling & Michael Wilson
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
Based on the novel Monkey Planet by Pierre Boulle

Taylor...Charleton Heston
Nova...Linda Harrison
Zira...Kim Hunter
Cornelius...Roddy McDowall
Dr. Zaius...Maurice Evans

Three American astronauts wake up some 300 light years and 2000 Earth years from home when their shuttle crash-lands on a distant planet. Finding a civilization of primitive humanoids, they initially think that they themselves are now the most advanced creatures on the planet.

They think wrong.

They quickly discover the truth when an army of apes (it's their planet, after all) swoops in on horseback, capturing and killing all of the humans they can. Astronaut George Taylor is one of the humans captured and is taken back to the City of the Apes, where he's held in a cage and studied like an animal by psychologists Dr. Zira and her fiancé Dr. Cornelius.

Three different breeds of ape are on display here, and there's a lot of class separatism between them. For the most part, the orangutans are the leaders; the chimpanzees are the thinkers; and the gorillas are the muscle. Surely intended as commentary on the world of the late 1960s, it's still somewhat viable even today--whether you view it as commentary on race relations, or just stations in life.

In this flipsy-flipsy world, humans are mute and possess only moderate intelligence, viewed as pests and nuisances. Taylor's advanced state seems to prove Cornelius's wacky theory that apes are in fact evolved from humans, something that many of the leaders are loathe to admit even possible. Sound familiar?

This goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway: Taylor is one badass mother. How badass is he? He smokes a cigar in outer space, that's how badass. Cynical, bitter and tough, he's a hairy-chested man's man that is definitely the product of the era. He even scores a ridiculously gorgeous primitive chick by name of Nova. She doesn't speak, and she doesn't wear a lot of clothes.

That's just what Dr. Zaius ordered.

The evolution of the apes must have zapped some of their strength (as it probably zapped some of ours), because otherwise no man--no, not even Charlton Heston--could render a gorilla unconscious with a single, well-timed elbow to the back of the skull.

The special effects are still pretty good, even today, although the facial masks are rather stiff, making it difficult for the performers to express any emotion without use of their voice. The fact that all members of each breed dresses alike, and the masks are remarkably similar, occasionally makes it difficult to tell one another apart. But apes probably think the same thing about us.

Whether you give a damn about the subtext or not, this is a downright amazing movie that spawned a massive multi-media franchise and must have blown many minds upon its initial release. And somehow it still manages to capture the imagination all these years later. Sadly, many younger viewers have probably watched the recent prequel, without ever having seeing where the franchise began. If that's the case, do yourself a favor and book a vacation on the Planet of the Apes.

112 Minutes
United States

"Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil's pawn."

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nightmares & Dreamscapes Ep. 06: The Fifth Quarter (2006)

Nightmares & Dreamscapes Ep. 06:
The Fifth Quarter

White trash Willy (Jeremy Sisto) has just been released from prison after a 7 year stint. Despite his promises of going straight, he winds up back on the twisty road of crime when Barney--his former cell mate, and his wife's former lover--shows up on his doorstep, dying from a gunshot wound to the gut. He's babbling about some map worth 3.5 million dollars, cut into quarters and divided among four men, himself included.

When Barney expires, Willie collects his piece of the map, and then proceeds to seek out the missing pieces with extreme prejudice.

It's a pretty good crime thriller, but it's not as gritty as it should be, probably the result of appearing on TNT instead of HBO, or at the very least FX. The source material reminded me of King channeling Vachss, but it seems slightly watered down here, but not so much that it can't be enjoyed.

King is a master of horror, but not quite a master of crime. However, I do love me some Sisto, an actor you don't hear about all that often but who absolutely crushes it every time he's onscreen. It's him--and the artful camerawork--that rank this among the better episodes of the series.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Confessions Of A Horror Addict

1991 was a watershed year for pop culture: Sonic the Hedgehog debuted as a worthy rival to the Mario Brothers; the Super Nintendo dropped; rival cable channels the Comedy Network and Ha! merged to create Comedy Central; and "Can't we all just get along" entered the American lexicon.

But most importantly of all, THIS happened:

That's right.  To coincide with the release of the new big-screen adaptation of The Addams Family, Hammer (formerly of the MC variety) released the video for his single, "The Addams Groove", which was featured both on the film's soundtrack and on Hammer's new album Too Legit To Quit.

Being an impressionable 12 year old, and a burgeoning horror freak, I fell in love with not only the music video but the song itself, and with lyrics like this, who can blame me?

I remember the day I needed to borrow
A little of pepper (for my chicken)
The next thing you know, comin' at me
Was a hand with the fingers high steppin' (I'm witcha)
Now I tried to play it along (you know)
And act like I was havin' a ball (ha ha)
But what do I see (yo) a perm with feet (cousin it)
Standin' about three feet tall (I'm outta here)

I'm not ashamed to say--well, I am ashamed, but I'll say it anyway--that I purchased Too Legit To Quit at the onset of some long road trip, the final destination of which is long lost to memory.  Sitting in the back seat with my Walkman (that's right, a Walkman!), I listened to that song over-and-over again, practically ignoring the rest of the album, until the point that I wore the tape straight through.

And then, when we got home, I pieced it back together with Scotch tape.

And I proceeded to wear it out again.

Don't judge me.  I'm an addict.  I know not what I do.

Have your own CONFESSION that you'd like to share? Drop me a line: JonnyxMetro [at] hotmail [dot] com.


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