Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween 2020!


I know this is going to be a strange Halloween for all of us but keep safe and try to enjoy it as best you can. Hopefully by next year we can get back to our usual shenanigan's! 
It does suck that the year the holiday falls on a Saturday we all have to crouch inside to avoid making a freaking pandemic worse. 

Here's a couple of HALLOWEEN III trailers to put a smile on your face. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

TRICK (2019) - New Slasher!

Having now caught up with TRICK (2019) I am finding it difficult to understand why the film is not better known. It features a straightforward slasher film plot crossed with a police procedural structure to add more to the tale than just waiting for the next set of victims to present themselves. In fact, the ongoing police interest in the initial murder serves to build the mystery of the killer’s possible supernatural nature and deepens the story's darker details. The first multiple murder incident happens at a Halloween party in 2015 with the known killer escaping custody by diving into a freezing river. As the cops and the FBI investigate, they end up following subsequent October 31st attacks that seem to be the work of the same person taking place in places further down the river in which he supposedly died. The small-town atmosphere of the location and its people add a lot to the feeling of a community assaulted by shocking violence and gives the characters more appeal than the usual faceless drones. I would have even enjoyed some more time spent with a few of the students that survived the 2015 attack specifically. The appearance of Tom Adkins as a local restaurant owner and the man in charge of the annual Halloween festival shows how good the added details already are, so I guess I just want more.

 The story zigs and zags finding smart ways to pull new scares out of the genre tropes that horror fans know so well. Having the attacks center on Halloween makes for the perfect setting to both hide the killer in the open and make chasing him difficult. Situating an attack in a haunted maze that makes it easy to hide and even easier to disguise fresh costumed corpses is even smarter. The script is also clever enough to factor in a lie being told about the first attack that doesn’t pays off until the third act giving the attentive audience another reason to be curious about how things will play out. The movie has a good cast as well, meaning that the dialog is delivered with the right nuance to make things work when doubts start to surface and questions start being answered. I would suggest that new viewers not learn too much about the film so that the fun surprises can have maximum effect.
If more slasher efforts were this inventive and well made, I could see a resurgence of the genre. Now, I just hope the writer and director have an equally entertaining sequel up their sleeves. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Dracula Graphic Novel Featuring Bela Lugosi’s Likeness!

There is going to be a new comic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula from Legendary Comics and it is set to be the most faithfully version of the classic horror story yet done in graphic novel form - with one wonderful cinematic addition. Dracula has been drawn to look like Bela Lugosi, with the use of the late horror legend’s likeness being approved by the Lugosi Estate! I can hardly wait until November 3rd! 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Horror Movie Novelizations - Cover Gallery

I take a lot of joy in finding one of these on the shelves of used book stores. I love digging into the alternate version of the film they often present with deeper characterizations and more nuanced motivations. Of course, there is also the fun of reading the descriptions of the monsters the author came up with as well. And sometimes a novelization will give you a surprise or two that was cut from the finished movie. Fun stuff for a horror loving reader! 


Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Bloody Pit #116 - LISA AND THE DEVIL (1973)

Mario Bava is one of the most influential European filmmakers of all time. At the time of his passing in 1980 it is doubtful that he would have thought his work would be held in high esteem but the number of cinema luminaries that praise his talent is too long to list. Certainly, by the measure of box office take Bava would have thought himself an unsuccessful director. Few of the movies we consider classics today were big hits in their day finding much more acclaim years after their initial release. And then there is his glorious masterwork LISA AND THE DEVIL. Given the opportunity after one of his rare hit films to craft a long dreamed of project, he made this film with almost complete control. Sadly, the producer was unable to find distribution for the finished movie except in one country and so demanded that new scenes be shot to make the film more commercial. The resulting film became THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM and is as messy a product as its gestation would imply. But, luckily, fans of Bava’s work can see his original vision and marvel at the beauty and joy of a master filmmaker letting his imagination take flight.

Joining me to discuss this amazing film is author Troy Howarth, the writer of many books on various film directors and actors including The Haunted World of Mario Bava originally published nearly twenty years ago. We delve into the film’s haunted palace imagery with an eye to the use of manikins and statues and corpses that seem to trade places randomly. The time-slip nature of the dream-like story is examined along with the possible ways to read the underlying meaning of what Bava was saying with this rumination on death and decay. The cast is amazing with a scene stealing turn by a grinning Telly Savalas as both family servant and devilish observer. We also note the origins of the wonderful Carlo Savina score and the producer’s feelings about being sold used goods!

If you have any comments or questions the address is or the show has a Facebook page where occasional updates are posted. Thank you for listening to this episode and we will be back soon with more.  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

TALES OF TERROR (1962) - Trailers From Hell

It's always fun to have Roger Corman talk about his classic Poe adaptations and this is no exception. Check it out! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Beyond Naschy #32 - SLEEP TIGHT (2011)


Filmmaker Jaume Balagueró made the big time when he co-directed 2007’s REC but he is a much more accomplished than a found footage zombie film would imply. His feature film debut THE NAMELESS (1999) managed to both brilliantly adapt a Ramsey Campbell horror novel and find a smart way to darken the wrenching finale of the tale. Over the last twenty years he has become one of Spain’s hidden masters of taut thrillers and smart horror tales. The only complaint I have with his career is that I wish he had more completed films released but I continue to hope for more excellent cinema from him in the future. 

SLEEP TIGHT (2011) is both a thriller and a character study of a deeply unhappy man named Cesar. As the concierge of a Barcelona apartment building, he presents a pleasant face to the upper middle-class residents but behind this mask he seethes with rage at their contented lives. Since he is incapable of being happy, he staves off his suicidal ideation by finding ways to make the people he serves in the building miserable. In both small ways and large he wages a one-man war to make them uncomfortable, embarrassed or inconvenienced in any way he can imagine. But he reserves his most vicious attention for Clara, a beautiful single woman of such sunny disposition as to seem angelic. She is the focal point of Cesar’s most persistent activities aimed at making her life unbearable. His repeated failures to change her optimistic outlook seem to only enrage him further until he finally resolves to escalate things to violence. But will circumstances allow his plans to succeed? 

Troy and I dig into this film and its themes but we do our best not to spoil the final act’s shocks and surprises. Indeed, we begin the show with a discussion of several recent viewings to get the Halloween season off to the right start. We touch on THE GHOST AND MISTER CHICKEN, THE OPEN HOUSE, THE CHANGLING, the remake of THE BLOB and our plans for 2020’s indoor October 31st. It’s been a strange year, folks. We end the show with a listener email that prompts a series of interesting horror icon mash-ups. 

We hope you enjoy the episode and if you have any comments is the show’s address. Thank you for listening and we’ll be back soon. 

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Made For TV Horror - DARKROOM (1981)

Although the past decade has seen a resurgence of the anthology horror film there haven't been nearly as many new television series that follow the multiple stories per episode format. That is a shame as I think these kind of shows allow for a couple of fascinating programming possibilities. There is the ability to put together two or more different stories that share a theme or even a star. I could even envision a series that occasionally featured multiple stories by the same famous author as an event episode. Also, it would be possible to use a later story to soften the harshness of the preceding tale with a humorous final play to make the darker opening punch seem less rough. The options seem limitless especially with the more permissive standards of cable and streaming we have now.
But if you are interested in past attempts to bring this type of show to the masses I am happy to say that NBC has made the short-lived 1981 anthology horror series DARKROOM available to stream from their website. If you have a Roku TV or another streaming device you can watch episodes of this rare little gem on the NBC app and see what worked and didn't in this show. I can't claim every episode was great but when you see Robert Bloch and Brian Clemons' names attached you know the right people are in there pitching! I'm going to be rewatching episodes for the rest of October to discover if my positive memories are accurate or not. Fingers crossed! 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Novel - The Halloween Children

As part of my celebrating of the season I recently read this excellent horror novel by Brian James Freeman and Norman Prentiss. It tells a short and clever tale of madness and murder during the month of monsters that I found hard to put down. Well crafted and creepy it is exactly the right kind of scary tale for you if you're looking for something to get under your skin! I highly recommend it. 

"The accommodations at Stillbrook Apartments aren't exactly glamorous, but they're quiet, affordable, and well-maintained. The handyman is usually available to help with a leak or a broken bulb, his wife and two adorable kids often tagging along. When occasion dictates, the neighbors gather to wish each other well and spread the requisite holiday cheer. Everything's very nice. Very normal.

But as Halloween approaches, strange occurrences are happening all around Stillbrook. The children tell disturbing stories, bizarre noises bleed through the walls, and one abandoned unit is found to be inhabited by something sinister—something that's no longer alive." 

Check it out!