Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Circle File - Death By Dialogue (1988)

I am not one that usually bashes a movie, for the most part, I can find something it in that makes it appealing. That is until tonight. Death By Dialogue may be the worst 80s horror flick in existance. It took everything, every fad, and threw it together in a story about a haunted script. Unfotunately, for the writer and director, it didn't work. Now no I why it was part of the Drive-In Classics DVD set, because no one in their right mind would buy it for themselves if they knew what it was. I know that I didn't go into great detail, but, thit really didn't warrent it. If you want to see a movie with a terrible script, subpar acting and terrible FX, this is your film. Let me warn you though, you better drink a lot before hand, you are going to need it.

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Bored on Sunday - Built My Mummy Diorama

Being bored and dealing with the remnants of the past winter storm I needed to find something to do before I went crazy. Since I am out of bottles for my Jersey Devil Project, I decided to work toward building a mummy diorama, having scored a loose Little Big Head Mummy at the thrift store the other day. After struggling over two days with clay, finding sand and misplacing the glue, I finally finished it earlier.

Unfortunatly, the sand that I added as a mist to the jar to create a sandstorm effect is preventing me from scoring a great picture...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Succubus (1967)

While thinking of Lilith, the 1967 classic Succubus came to mind. This international cult classic stars Janine Reynaud as Lorna, a nightclub performer whose act involves simulated murder, sex, and torture. Her husband (Jack Taylor) owns the club, and is worried about her. Her fantasies are becoming indistinguishable from reality, and maybe she is killing for real. A mysterious stranger (producer Adrian Hoven) follows her around, claiming to be a demon lover from the past. To try and describe any more would be futile. Suffice it to say, this is one of those 1960s art movies where a dwarf in a tuxedo solemnly puts LSD on everyone's tongue at a swinging party. Composer Jerry Van Rooyen keeps things jumping with an incredible score of strings and surreal jazz. (from Yahoo pictures)

Note: this film has more nudity, sadomasochism, lesbianism, word-association, mannequins, murder, and general decadence than any sane person can soak up in one viewing; hence it needs to be seen twice.

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The Satanic Rites of Dracula

The Satanic Rites of Dracula, or Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride, is definitely a different entity when it comes to Hammer Horror and the great Christopher Lee’s rendition of the famed character. While this film is nowhere near the glory of the original ones in the series, there are some very entertaining moments that truly make this a must see. For me, the modern storyline is awesome and when looking back at that era, it is on the money as Lavey’s Church of Satan was rising. Plus, it was great to see Dracula going to great measures to strike a fatal blow to mankind instead of the clich├ęd Van Helsing family getting the last laugh. Vampires are powerful creatures and this portrayal added some flair to a character that had been growing a bit stagnant over the years (not to mention today)

The basic plotline is that a secret organization meeting at Pelham House worries the British Intelligence after evidence is unearthed of high-ranking officials taking part of satanic rituals. Occult expert Professor Larimer Van Helsing, (Peter Cushing) is called upon to interpret the evidence, and finds a friend of his, Professor Keeley, (Freddie Jones) is involved. When Van Helsing goes to question him of the incident, Keeley is killed and Van Helsing left for dead. Returning to the authorities and his niece Jessica, (Joanna Lumley) with the information from the meeting, they find that Count Dracula, (Christopher Lee) is behind this, and is about to unleash his final vengeance on humanity. Van Helsing hurries to stop him before it is too late.

For me, the scenes shot in the Pelham House remind me of the classic Hammer recording techniques, and regulate and promote terror and gloom effectively. Yes, the movie starts slowly without the typical resurrection scene. In fact, it is not until Peter Cushing appears that the true Hammer feeling takes hold. Cushing does a tremendous job and carries the film, but, it is the performance from Christopher Lee that is the real gem. Lee transforms one of the better scripts and delivers a great performance. I am sure that many will disagree with me, but I definitely feel that this film was a great way for Lee to end is end reign as Dracula.

Satanic Rites is different and viewers should embrace those differences. Yes, this film is not for diehard Gothic Hammer Horror fans because of it more like a BBC television series than a classic Dracula tale. For everyone else, it is a must see and is available in many inexpensive mediums.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Instead Of Watching Paranormal Activity Revisit Poltergeist And Its Curse

With all the talk that Paranormal Activity has received, I thought it would be interesting to look back at a paranormal classic and the apparent curse that has haunted it all of these years. It is hard to believe, but it has been nearly three decades since the release of the original Poltergeist film and, surely, the segment of the public who clamor to blood-and-gore flicks of the 21st century would not be overly interested in voices coming from a static filled TV set…or would they?

With a rehash of classic 1980s supernatural thriller tentatively set for a 2011 release, which, in reality is not too far off. Horror film fans old enough to remember the original Poltergeist movie series may or may not rejoice at the thought of a frame for frame shot for shot remake of the original Steven Spielberg / Tobe Hooper collaboration but it looks to have been green lighted. Don’t remember the original three films? Let me set you up with a primer to the movies – and the curse. Yes, the curse.

Release Year: 1982

Cast: Craig T. Nelson
Jo Beth Williams
Beatrice Straight
Dominique Dunne
Oliver Robins
Heather O’Rourke
Zelda Rubinstein

This is the first and most successful  installment of the trilogy that finds 5 year-old Carol Anne Freeling communicating with the deceased via a static filled television set in the living room of her parent’s suburban California home. Eventually, her communication with the dead opens a pathway for them to enter the world of the living and kidnap Carol Anne. After the kidnap the bulk of the film centers around the family’s efforts to retrieve her from unknown evils on the other side. Eventually, the family is able to rescue Carol Anne but the evil spirits led by a demon known as “The Beast” go on a rampage before they are exorcised.

Release Year: 1986

Cast: Craig T. Nelson
Jo Beth Williams
Susan Peretz
Geraldine Fitzgerald
Heather O’Rourke
Zelda Rubinstein
Will Sampson
Julian Beck

This sequel explains in greater detail why Carol Anne was abducted in the first film – the house she lived in was built over a massive underground cavern that was, in essence, a giant communal tomb for members of a utopian cult that died in the area in the early 1800s. Although the Freeling family knew their house was built on land that was a reclaimed cemetery – and – that the bodies had supposedly been moved to another resting place, apparently no one knew about the cave below the cemetery. The cult, led by an evil and corrupt man, one Reverend Henry Kane, was under his complete domination in both life and death and the manifestations in the Freeling home were the result of his effort to continue to dominate the world of the living from the world of the dead.

Release Year: 1988

Cast: Tom Skerritt
Nancy Allen
Heather O’Rourke
Zelda Rubinstein
Lara Flynn Boyle
Kipley Wentz
Nathan Davis

Sometime between the second and third films the Freeling family has shipped Carol Anne off to Chicago to seek refuge at her aunt Patricia and uncle Bruce’s home while the remainder of the family stays at their home in an attempt combat the evil that inhabits their residence. The evil Rev. Kane eventually finds out where Carol Anne is hiding and continues to terrorize her from beyond the grave. By this time Heather O’Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein are the only members of the original cast to appear in this installment.

And the curse? Maybe you haven’t heard about the curse? If you haven’t you must not be old enough to remember the original films when they were released – or – you may have been living in a cave for nearly three decades. Either way, let me refresh your memory. The so-called “curse” that plagued the cast of the Poltergeist movie series began when four of the leading cast members from the original Poltergeist film died by the time that Poltergeist III was released, but where did all of this “curse” business originally begin? One of the primary thoughts about the origin of the curse centers around the “pool scene.” It was no secret that in the rain soaked “pool scene,” where Jo Beth Williams falls into a partially excavated swimming pool in the Freeling’s backyard, that the skeletons that were used in the production of this scene were real human remains, not plastic props. Between the use of real human remains, the supernatural theme of the film and the interspersed references to demons many believed that the movie was cursed from the start. If it’s true, over the years the Poltergeist Curse has caused the “unnatural” deaths of at least eight victims who worked in or on the set of the Poltergeist series:

Dominique Dunne – Cast as Dana, the Freeling’s oldest child, in the original Poltergeist movie was strangled to death by a jealous boyfriend in 1982.

Julian Beck – Cast as Rev. Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side died of stomach cancer in 1985.

Will Sampson – Cast as the American Indian shaman in Poltergeist II: The Other Side died of post operative kidney failure in 1987.

Heather O’Rourke – Cast as Carol Anne Freeling in all three of the Poltergeist movies died in 1988 of septic shock after bacterial toxins entered her bloodstream.

Beatrice Straight – Cast as Dr. Lesh in the original Poltergeist film died of pneumonia in 2001 at age 87.

Brian Gibson – Director of Poltergeist II: The Other Side died of bone cancer in 2004 at the age of 59.

Susan Peretz – Cast as “daughter” in Poltergeist II: The Other Side died of breast cancer in 2004 at age 64.

Geraldine Fitzgerald – Cast as Grandma Jess in Poltergeist II: The Other Side died of Alzheimer’s related complications in 2005 at age 91.

Even if there is no so-called curse attached to the Poltergeist movie series there does seem to be an unusually high rate of deaths associated with the cast of this film series, which now begs the question: Will this 2011 remake of the original Poltergeist movie spawn more “unnatural” deaths or is the curse merely an over hyped urban legend? I guess we’ll find out more as we move forward, but it seems as if…“they’re back!”

Actress Zelda Rubinstein - Cast as the ghost purging psychic in all three Poltergeist films died of complications from a heart attack in January 2010 at age 76.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Paranormal Activity = The Blair Witch Project in 10 Years

Viral ad campaign, check; creepy subject matter; check, unknown filmmaker creating something special on a shoestring budget, check; I am talking about the famed The Blair Witch Project, right? Well, not this time. While 2009 did mark the 10th anniversary of the independent masterpiece, it is Paranormal Activity that took the world by storm following much of the same rules made famous a decade ago. This film, reportedly made for roughly $18,000 by writer/director/producer/editor Oren Peli, struck fear in the hearts of viewers and eventually outshined some big-budget competition at the box office.

The premise of the story is typical to many ghost stories or paranormal themed movies that frequent the big screen. A young couple begins experiencing strange occurrences in their house after moving in together. Not long after the activity begins, Katie (one of the two main characters) reveals that she has experienced some of the same happenings before as a child. Excited by the possibility of discovering what is happening and determined to find proof Micah (the boyfriend) purchases a video camera to record the happenings to try to figure out what is going on. Over the course of the next few weeks, he gets all of the proof he needs and more.

In all, the film does a great job at setting mood and a sense of unease while watching it. It may not be the scariest movie ever made, but there were plenty of sequences that got the blood flowing. However, there are some structural parts to the movie that will be caught by experienced members of the paranormal field and leave them scratching their heads. Most of these parts centered around the psychic and the referenced demonologist (which ironically seems to be the only one on the internet).

The rules stated by the psychic were at least valid and should be followed when one suspects that they have some type of demonic manifestation taking place. These rules are:

1. Do not run from the house, the spirit will probably follow.
2. The spirit feeds off negative energy (anger, fear, etc).
3. Do not do anything to engage the demonic entity (like buy an OUIJA Board)

While these are valid rules, this is a movie and the actors had to break one or all of them for the sake of the movie. In reality, these rules are probably ignored the majority of the time, helping add to the aura contained within the film. After all, the best horror movies are the ones that can eat into our psyche and present things in a manner that would remind the viewer that these events can happen any day, anywhere.

Like mentioned earlier, many of the video characteristics were reminiscent of those used in The Blair Witch Project with the shaky camera work and the home video feel. Yet, this recording is much more stable than the previously mentioned film and the idea really works on a conceptual level. The film felt authentic throughout, even in the periods that initially felt somewhat slow. The chemistry between the main characters was amazing, and it really felt like these were home videos and these people were actually dealing with a haunting.

To me, that realistic feel is why Paranormal Activity struck a cord with the masses. It plays on the deep-seated fears that many people have when they enter the nether region of a dreamscape. More importantly, it is something that could be happening all around you everyday. Because the movie has all of the right elements, Paranormal Activity will be talked about for a long time and in 10 years; we should be celebrating the 10th anniversary of another breakthrough film in the realm of the unexplained.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Zombie and CSI - One Week Away

I am not a huge fan of CSI Miami, but when I saw that they brought Rob Zombie on as a guest director for their March 1st episode, I was at least intrigued to watch it. Zombie's work has been really hit and miss with me. For everything that I enjoy (Devils Rejects), there is stuff that drives me insane (Halloween II). Plus, to hear he may be redoing The Blob... Ugh!

In this episode (from the press release) entitled, "L.A." - Horatio and Delko must travel to Los Angeles when a secret from Jesse's past may allow a killer to go free, on CSI: MIAMI, Monday, March 1 (10:00-11:00 PM, EST on CBS.  To help complete the environment that he want he brought along guest stars including Zombie's wife Sheri Moon Zombie ("Halloween") as a Los Angeles photographer; William Forsythe ("Halloween") as the Los Angeles Police Chief, Malcolm McDowell ("Heroes") as a sleazy lawyer defending the murder suspect and Michael Madsen ("Kill Bill") as a bodyguard to the murder suspect.

Even after watching the trailer, I am torn (especially when I discovered it was going to take place in Los Angeles...

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dissecting the Creature - The Wendigo

With winter being in full force and creature features everywhere, I figured I would come up with a look into this world. If I may, let me take you on a venture into the dark forest for an encounter so terrifying, your entire visage may change. For now, the wind is howling and the chills of the clear winter’s night are setting in. Outside, surveying your every move in to the taboo is the vile Wendigo, waiting patiently for you to partake in the pleasures of the flesh. A giant, with a heart of ice; stands menacingly before you. This creature is a malevolent spirit, a cannibal and a shape-shifter, all parts of a deformed skeleton waiting to engulf your life force, craving an opportunity to possess your existence.

From Algonquin mythology, this legendary tyrant was a picture of gluttony, greed, and excess; unable to quench their appetite with one bite, or body. They were constantly on a quest for new sinners, new victims that indulge in overwhelming greed or cannibalism. All the while, growing larger with every bite, every feast. Dining upon the flesh of the greedy that prevented their starvation, at times, even changing an unexpected victim into one of their own.

Moderation in life is the key to their defeat and the key to salvation Remember this when you are curled up on the couch and the delicious aroma of popcorn tantalize your senses. Is one bite enough? A Wendigo may be lurking in a dark corner to answer that question for you.

A great and classic tale of The Wendigo is available for a free download from Project Gutenberg. The Wendigo, published in 1910 and written by Algernon Blackwood is a ghostly wilderness tale that slowly builds in suspense. At only 28 pages as an E-Book, this is a perfect entryway into this famed creature.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Short Film Script - The Missing Scene From The Blob

After eating some of the great Blob cake that Brenda made me for my birthday, I started to think back to Blobfest and the interesting day we spent in Pheonixville, home of the Blob. Last year as part of the the 10th Anniversary Blobfest, they had a short film script-writing contest to offset their short film contest. As a writer it was a challenge to in 500 words or less, create the missing scene from The Blob.

If you are familiar with the movie, this would be about what happened in the bar on Second Street that is talked about in the movie but never shown. In scene 240, Sgt. Burt recounts how he stopped at the Second Street bar while making his rounds, finding no one there. Also, when two of the teens stop in another bar to help rally the town against the monster, the bartender tells them about some excitement at the Second Street bar earlier that night.

While my entry did not win, I held my head high as it was the first screenplay of any type that I finished.
Here is the Script:


MARTY: (TO HARLEY) it’s about time for a hunting trip. I was talking about it earlier at work, some of the guys are heading out this weekend. Buddy up here on the wall could use a friend.

HARLEY: (STOCKING GLASSES BEHIND BAR) Yeah, it has been a while. I remember the trip when we bagged that one.

MARTY: That was a cold one… The wife still reminds me of how sick I got when we came back. I’d readily do it again though; it’s about time to get away.

HARLEY: Same here, though, Ida would just prefer me saying around town, playing bridge or attending the gardening club meetings. Ever since Bobby left for college, it has been the same thing.

MARTY: I miss those trips with Bobby and Joe. What is Bobby up to these days?

HARLEY: Bobby is good, studying medicine, wants to be a doc. He says, everyone gets sick and there is a fortune to be made in medicine. I hope he is right; this education is costing me a fortune. So, give me a big tip tonight (LAUGHS).

MARTY: (STILL LOOKING AT DEER) Sure thing buddy. I wonder if we can get ol’ Joe to join us. I haven’t seen him since he moved up into the hills after his wife was killed on the highway.

HARLEY: Yeah, he took that hard. It has been almost two years now. No one has really seen him. Say… I have Monday off, let’s go up Old North Road, find him and make plans.

MARTY: Sounds great, just like old times.


HARLEY: (PLACING WHISKEY BOTTLE ON BAR) I can pick you up around 4… What the… (DROPS BOTTLE – SHATTERS) Marty!

MARTY: (TURING TOWARD BAR) What is going on over there? HARLEY… You there? Harley stop fooling around, you think you are one of those kids? Kids these days, HARLEY!









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My Awesome Birthday Gift That Replaced The Flea Markets This Week (Besides the Snow)

With snow still covering much of our countryside here in New Jersey, the flea market / estate sale finds have been at a minimum. Fortunately, between writing and watching many of my favorite horror movies, I have been able stay somewhat sane. However, todays lack of sales was replaced by joy when I dove deep into my birthday present from my wife, Saturday passes to the Saturday Nightmares Expo in Jersey City, NJ next month. What a cool gift and awesome schedule of events for me to look forward too!

- 10 AM - 7 PM Vendors/Guests signing
- 3 PM Ken Foree  - Main Auditorium
- 6:30 PM Panel Discussion - George Romero, Ken Foree, Tom Savini, Scott Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, John Amplas and Adrienne Barbeau.

- Double-Feature Film Screening - 'CreepShow' & 'Dawn of the Dead'!
- 'Twilight Zone' Marathon Main Auditorium - (All day between events)

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