Sunday, January 27, 2008

Good Bye Dr. Shock

I received word yesterday that TV horror host Dr. Shock passed away. More accurately the man who played Chattanooga's Dr. Shock passed away. Tommy Reynolds was the man I watched host horror movies when I was a kid. In rural Tennessee there weren't a lot of options on the dial (I grew up with 3 channels only). But one of the highlights of my young life was getting to stay up late on Saturday nights to see Dr. Shock and his puppet sidekick Dingbat host movies. The theme music was the opening few minutes of the song Black Sabbath by the band of the same name. It was years before I learned that there were words to the song.

If there is any footage of the show I'd love to be able to see it. I wonder if adult eyes would be kind to jokes made 30 years ago by a local celebrity playing straight man to a puppet bat?

Good bye Dr. Shock. I've been missing you for years.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cinebeats- a Blog you should read

If you've never read the wonderful blog CINEBEATS you have been missing out. Well written, enthusiastic and packed with information it's one of my favorite places on the web to visit. It's subtitled 'Chronicling One Woman's Love Affair With 60's & 70's Cinema' and that tells you everything you need to know to decide if you want to check it out. I've placed a link above to the fantastic post on 20 excellent CD soundtrack releases from 2007 and I'll included it again here.

I've only gotten my hands on a couple of these CDs but I'd love to hear the rest. For what it might be worth the BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW soundtrack is indeed freakin' brilliant.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More Horror Haiku from Mr.Fox

Three more poetical wanderings from Randy Fox.

Tales From the Crypt
1972 - directed by Freddie Francis

Peter brings a heart
Skull dude on bike - squirmy guts
D'oh! They are in Hell!

Land of the Dead
2005 - directed by George A. Romero

The master returns
Allegory and more guts
Revolting zombies!

El Retorno del Hombre Lobo (aka Night of the Werewolf)
1980 - directed by Paul Naschy

Evil witch rises
Existentialist werewolf
Drool and love saves day!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I love cheap DVDs. And I don’t just mean the $5 bin at your local super store either where you can find some great movies mixed in with the crap. I’m talking about the super cheap $1 discs that are put out by companies you’ve never heard of and are packed with Public Domain movies you have also have never heard of. There are a dozen or more of these kinds of shady DVD companies sliding through the cracks and I have to admit I love them all. Any time I spot a display of their product I’ll paw through them out of curiosity and if something strikes my fancy- hey- it’s only a buck! This is how I ended up seeing THIS IS NOT A TEST.

Talk about low budget! I’m not sure what this movie cost but I’m sure it had to be less than was spent on a single hour of filming any normally budgeted movie. Seriously- outside of the actors and the equipment this looks likes it might have been filmed for a few hundred dollars. So I found it wholly appropriate that I should watch this on a $1 DVD. Cheap film with a cheap video presentation obviously mastered from VHS. The world is sometimes perfect!

The film itself is nothing to get excited about. Another in the long line of sad social warning films about the horrible possibility of nuclear war and its terrible aftermath. It’s pretty bad. Barely clocking in at 70 minutes it still feels way too long with lots of dialog padding and scenes that go on longer than they should. A group of people who are vaguely representative of a cross section of American society are stopped on a lonely highway by a policeman. It’s the middle of the night and none of the travelers are happy about having their trips interrupted. The cop informs everyone that there has been a nuclear attack on the country and all the roads closer to the cities are jammed. They are all going to hunker down here to wait out the attack and try to survive. Soon we have fights, romance, silly drama, smart-assed attitudes, adultery and lots of booze drinking. Even a little dog gets offed to save air in the enclosed truck that everyone holes up in. And, of course, the film ends with the bomb going off and killing everyone. So its a happy ending.

This is exactly the kind of film that I know is going to be a waste of my time but I can't stop watching. No matter how bad the acting, the writing or the production values I can NOT turn away. I know I should but I can't. Maybe I should seek treatment. But there is no reason for anyone else to suffer through this movie. Steer clear, good folks. Only if you suffer from the same sick need I have to see these sad Atomic War scare films should you ever think about spending your dollar on THIS IS NOT A TEST.

I need a drink.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

HATCHET (2007)

Every few years a horror film comes along that is touted as some kind of return to form for some sub-genre. Usually it’s the moribund slasher genre which has never really gone away since its smart re-birth with SCREAM in 1996. But every so often a film will be talked about as a new classic of this bastard step-child of the horror film and in almost every case it turns out to be a piece of crap. The perfect case in point would be HOSTEL which was one of the most lauded and most laughable wastes of time in recent memory. That HOSTEL was held up as brilliant shows either how far horror has fallen or just how low the bar is set for gore or slasher movies. Don’t get me wrong. I know that most slasher movies will stink up the screen by their very nature. But it is possible to make a good movie in the genre. Of course, what most slasher fans consider good and what I consider good are rarely the same thing. But there’s little I can do about fans who are really only looking for brutality, gore and OTT violence. If that’s your thing we’ll just have to part ways amicably and move on.

The latest horror film to be called a ‘return’ to old school horror (i.e. 80’s style stalk & slash) is Adam Green’s HATCHET. Having created some impressive buzz through festival showings the movie hit screens last spring with a sickening thud. It bombed terribly causing the director to complain that too many folks had illegally downloaded it and watched it for free. As much as I’d like to agree with him about that possibility the truth is that HATCHET simple sucks. It’s just really, really bad. No amount of sympathy can I dredge up for a film this poor. If anyone honestly thinks this is a good movie they should please explain why. Seriously. Why?

Granted- it has an impressive amount of quality blood & guts and an equal share of nice nudity. Also it is pretty short. Those are about the only positive things I can say. Problem one with this sucker is that it is badly written. The film is filled with awful humor that never once made me laugh or even smile. It seems that script writer Green saw a few episodes of SCRUBS and thought it’d be great to have that kind of ‘witty’ banter peppered throughout the film. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about. Two buddies- one black, one white- joke and verbally spare in a light, smart way that gives us insight into their characters. Except that here it’s just flat rat-a-tat-tat one liners that simply had me rolling my eyes. There were a few lines that that were so stiff I actually wonder if they were meant to be funny or not. They are so flat that they might have been serious lines of dialog but the surrounding ‘funny’ stuff is so off that I couldn’t be sure. I’ve often said that the worst thing in the world is a comedy that isn’t funny. Here we have that as well as an un-scary horror tale. Two crappy tastes that taste crappy together!

While I’m tempted to blame most of the problems with the film on its terrible screenplay actually the worst aspect of HATCHET is that it is very poorly directed. There is not a single scene in the movie that couldn’t have been better directed. I know that sounds a little crazy but its true. The last time I saw such poor choices for camera placement or actor blocking I was watching really bad television. Green doesn’t even have a since of how to give a shot a sense of creepy atmosphere. The movie takes place in the swamp but it never feels scary in that basic way a swamp setting seems to naturally generate. They might as well have been running around a parking garage for all the sense of foggy dread we get.

So, to sum up I’ll just say you can skip this one, friend. I took the bullet for you. Go about your life happier and seek out better horror movies.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Horror Haiku by Randy Fox

One of the great joys of my life is that I have a large and very gifted group of friends that share lots of the same wacky interests as I. Often they will come up with something so fun or simply funny that I won't be able to get it out of my head for days or even sometimes for years. Such was the case recently when my buddy Randy Fox sent out via email a series of Haiku poems composed after watching a slew of older horror films. These stuck with me for weeks until I decided ask him if I could borrow them for this blog. Randy was more than happy to oblige and so I will now present a few of his poetic efforts with occasional illustrations.

Scream and Scream Again
1970 - directed by Gordon Hessler

Vampire killer!
Commie killer, what the f*ck?
Vincent in acid!

Lust for a Vampire
1971 - directed by Jimmy Sangster

Ray Davies gets bit
Wow! Big ol' Danish boobies!
Draculers in flames!

Vault of Horror
1973 - directed by Roy Ward Baker

Blood on the menu
Terry Thomas in pieces!
Doc Who's head goes squash!

More to follow!