March 2013

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

Long before he was Executive A.D.A. Ben Stone on Law & Order Michael Moriarty had a lucrative career in terrible horror movies.  He may be famous for playing a hard hitting lawyer in the early seasons of L&O but I will always remember him in great roles as that guy in Q and that guy in It’s Alive 3: Isle of The Alive.

  • Actors: David Carradine, Michael Moriarty, Candy Clark, Richard Roundtree, James Dixon
  • Directors: Larry Cohen
  • Writers: Larry Cohen
  • Producers: Larry Cohen, Dick Di Bona, Don Sandburg, Paul Kurta, Peter Sabiston
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 6.1 EX)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Blue Underground
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 2003
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • New York police are bemused by a spate of reports of a giant flying lizard that has been spotted around the rooftops of New York, which they assume to be bogus until the lizard starts to eat people.  An out-of-work, ex-con piano player is the only person who knows the location of the monster's nest and is determined to turn the knowledge to his advantage, but will his gamble pay off or will he end up as lizard food?

    Genre pioneer Larry Cohen, who broke new horror ground with the killer-baby hit It's Alive!, takes a stab at the giant-monster scenario with this enjoyable low-budget exercise.  The title refers to the winged Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, represented here as a dragon-like flying lizard (thanks to some quaint but amusing stop-motion animation from David Allen), who decides to take up residence in the art-deco spire of the Chrysler Building, taking frequent jaunts in the midday sun to nip the heads off various hapless New Yorkers.  The resulting bloody mess confounds detectives Shepard (David Carradine) and Powell (Richard Roundtree), who are already scratching their heads over a series of bizarre ritual murders linked to a secret Aztec cult.  Into the picture comes the film's protagonist -- neurotic, sweaty, paranoid crook Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty, in a tour-de-force performance), a two-bit wheel-man with aspirations of becoming a jazz pianist.  After a botched diamond heist leads Quinn to Q's lair, his attempts to go straight take a side-turn  as he decides to extort from the city an enormous sum in exchange for directions to the monster's nest.  A few sneaky deals later, the location falls into Shepard's hands, and he leads a paramilitary assault on the Chrysler Building, where the creature's humongous egg is about to hatch.  Rude, edgy, fast-paced, and peppered with witty dialogue (most of which can't be repeated here), Cohen's script retains the spirit of classic monster movies like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, injecting it with tough, gangster-movie moxie.  Moriarty's unbelievable performance -- one of three collaborations with Cohen -- finds him chewing acres of scenery as a contemptible, loud-mouthed goon who's too funny to hate; Moriarty also composed and performed two schizophrenic piano numbers for the film.

    The movie was shot on location in and around New York city's Chrysler Building and uses the interior of the building's tower crown as a primary location.  The original music score was composed by Robert O. Ragland.  The film was marketed with the tagline "It's [sic] name is Quetzalcoatl... just call it Q, that's all you'll have time to say before it tears you apart!"  The film poster's glossy monster illustration was painted by science fiction/fantasy artist Boris Vallejo.

    The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by United Film Distribution Company in October 1982. It grossed approximately $255,000 at the box office.  The film was later released on VHS by MCA/Universal Home Video.  It was released on DVD by Blue Underground in 2003.


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    Friday, March 22, 2013

    Pickman’s Model (1927) (1972) (2008) & Chilean Gothic (2008)

    In the grand scheme of things, Call of Cthulhu/Mountains of Madness are tied as my favorite stories in the mythos simply because I think they are the best written and fleshed out.  My second is The Outsider that I discussed last week due to subject matter and Lovecraft’s ability to make anyone reading it put themselves in the role of the narrator.  My third favorite is today’s subject, just because it is freaky and weird.


    "Pickman's Model" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, written in September 1926 and first published in the October 1927 issue of Weird Tales.  Pickman's aesthetic principles of horror resemble those in Lovecraft's essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" (1925–1927), on which he was working at the time the short story was composed.  When Thurber, the story's narrator, notes that "only the real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear—the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness", he is echoing Lovecraft the literary critic on Poe, who "understood so perfectly the very mechanics and physiology of fear and strangeness".

    Thurber's description of Pickman as a "thorough, painstaking, and almost scientific realist" recalls Lovecraft's approach to horror in his post-Dunsanian phase.

    The story compares Pickman's work to that of a number of actual artists, including John Henry Fuseli (1741–1825), Gustave Doré (1832–1883), Sidney Sime (1867–1941), Anthony Angarola (1893–1929), Francisco Goya (1746–1828), and Clark Ashton Smith (1893–1961).

    The story revolves around a Bostonian painter named Richard Upton Pickman who creates horrifying images.  His works are brilliantly executed, but so graphic that they result in his membership in the Boston Art Club being revoked and himself shunned by his fellow artists.

    The narrator is a friend of Pickman, who, after the artist's mysterious disappearance, relates to another acquaintance how he was taken on a tour of Pickman's personal gallery, hidden away in a run-down backwater slum of the city.  As the two delved deeper into Pickman's mind and art, the rooms seemed to grow ever more evil and the paintings ever more horrific, ending with a final enormous painting of an unworldly, red-eyed and vaguely canine humanoid balefully chewing on a human victim.

    A noise sent Pickman running outside the room with a gun while the narrator reached out to unfold what looked like a small piece of rolled paper attached to the monstrous painting.  The narrator heard some shots and Pickman walked back in with the smoking gun, telling a story of shooting some rats, and the two men departed.

    Afterwards the narrator realized that he had nervously grabbed and put the rolled paper in his pocket when the shots were fired.  He unrolled the paper to reveal that it is a photograph not of the background of the painting, but of the subject.  Pickman drew his inspirations not from a diseased imagination, but from monsters that were very much real.


    In 1972 (Season 2, Episode 32), the television show Night Gallery adapted "Pickman's Model" as a segment.  In the TV version, the character of the narrator in the short story becomes a woman (Louise Sorel) who has fallen in love with Pickman (Bradford Dillman).

    It is considered by many to be one of the best adaptations of a Lovecraft story even in spite of the changes.


    Pickman’s Model (2008)

  • Actors: Conor Timmis, Jesse Murphy, Derek Meinecke
  • Directors: Gary Fierro
  • Writers: Justin Tacchi
  • Producers: Conor Timmis, Gary Fierro, Justin Tacchi
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: CreateSpace
  • DVD Release Date: February 28, 2008
  • Run Time: 19 minutes
  • When two estranged friends, Thurber (Murphy) and Eliot (Meinecke), meet for drinks, Eliot finds that Thurber is not the person he once knew. Thurber reveals that Pickman (Timmis, Kreating Karloff), a man he was using as a source for a Paper on Weird art, is linked to his recent change in demeanor. It begins with a simple invitation to view Pickman's work at his isolated studio in Boston's North End. And ends with the apprehension that what lurks in the foreground of Pickman's work is far more sinister than the art itself. Adapted from the original short story "Pickman's Model" by: H.P. Lovecraft.

    Timmis's "Pickman" makeup was inspired by both Lovecraft's description of the character and Chris Sarandon's "Curwen" makeup from Shatterbrain.


    The H.P. Lovecraft Collection, Vol. 4: Pickman's Model

  • Writers: H.P. Lovecraft
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Microcinema
  • DVD Release Date: May 27, 2008
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • When a South American journalist goes missing, and eventually turns up on a morgue slab looking like a couple hundred pounds of ground beef, his best friend Gabriel vows to find his brutal killer. His search leads him to a remote Chilean village and an artist named Richard Upton Pickman, whose grotesque paintings so disgusted the art world that no gallery will show them. Gabriel is convinced that Pickman himself is the killer, but the further into the mystery he delves, the more horrifying the truth becomes. Pickman’s diabolical paintings are not just the product of a morbid imagination, as Gabriel soon discovers. Pickman’s Model, it turns out, is all too real.

    Lurker Films fourth collection of Lovecraft adaptations is interesting, if not quite as impressive as The Yellow Sign and Cool Air. Chilean Gothic, the disc’s main feature, is pretty good, if a tad slow and somewhat over reliant on eerie blue lighting. But for a low budget effort, it’s respectfully well done. The subterranean sewer systems of Chile will give you a cold shudder, and the Arthur Gordon Pym building around which much of the action revolves is a nice homage to one of Lovecraft’s primary influences, which will make his diehard fans chuckle a bit.


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    Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    Uno sceriffo extraterrestre... poco extra e molto terrestre (1979)

  • Actors: Bud Spencer, Joe Bugner, Carlo Reali, Luigi Bonos, Raimund Harmstorf
  • Directors: Michele Lupo
  • Format: Import, PAL
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Run Time: 93  minutes
  • The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid (Italian: Uno sceriffo extraterrestre - poco extra e molto terrestre) is a 1979 Italian children's comedy film starring Bud Spencer and child actor Cary Guffey that was released in cinemas in 1979.  It was followed by a sequel in 1980, Everything Happens to Me.

    One morning, the little town of Newnan, Georgia, is thrown into hysteria when a UFO is reported over the nearby lake; even the personnel from the nearby Air Force base is mobilized.  The only one remaining untouched by this hubbub is Sheriff Hall (Spencer), the big and punchy keeper of the local law; indeed, he does not believe in aliens, especially since layabouts like Brennan (Joe Bugner) use the excitement to make all sorts of mischief.  Still, strange things begin to happen to some of the citizens who share his point of view: a barber's chair begins to turn rapidly around its axis - along with its customer - and an ice cream cart suddenly squirts its entire contents (and more) onto the street after the vendor had made a joke about the aliens being hungry for his ice cream.

    The same night, a blackout hits the city.  Hall goes on patrol when his rheumatic deputy Allen (Luigi Bonos) calls him to retrieve a runaway boy.  Arriving at the boy's favorite place, the local amusement park, Hall finds not one but two boys; one of them - wearing a silver spacesuit - turns out to be the runaway, the other (an apparent nine-year-old; played by Cary Guffey) perpetually introduces himself as H-725, comes up with space-related terms like light years and spaceship, brandishes a strange device which makes all things around him go haywire, and even enables Brennan (who has been taken into custody) to escape on two occasions and Allen to (temporarily) overcome his rheumatism.  Still, the sheriff is not convinced - not until the boy irradiates him with what he calls "bio-magnetic energy", enabling him to make a very big trout leap into his hands and a horse talk in English!

    Meanwhile, however, an ambitious Air Force Captain named Briggs (Raimund Harmstorf) sees his chance with the UFO sighting and the evidence of an alien landing (which is, of course, H-725's doing and caused the aforementioned blackout) to further his own career.  Working without the knowledge of his highly skeptical general, Briggs finally manages to track down the boy - but his attempts to take him away are foiled by the sheriff's hard-hitting fists and H-725's technical wizard device, as well as Brennan's assistance.

    Finally, while Hall and H-725 camp out at Stone Mountain to await the arrival of the boy's pick-up, Briggs and his men manage to kidnap the boy and bring him to the base.  The sheriff, however, manages to infiltrate the facility and gets the boy out.  In a mass showdown at the local fire brigade hall, where a party was to be held, Briggs and his men get their share from the Sheriff Hall, the little alien and their friends.  Later that night, a spaceship comes to pick up H-725, and he and Hall part as friends.  But as Hall returns home, he suddenly finds H-725 sitting in the back of his car - he has managed to get an additional period of leave on Earth to spend with his big friend.


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    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Monster In The Closet (1986)

  • Actors: Donald Grant, Denise DuBarry, Claude Akins, Howard Duff, Henry Gibson
  • Directors: Bob Dahlin
  • Writers: Bob Dahlin
  • Producers: David Levy, Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz, Michel Billot, Peter L. Bergquist
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: TROMA ENTERTAINMENT INC.
  • VHS Release Date: December 13, 1993
  • DVD Release Date: September 8, 1998
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Fergie!!! Monster in the Closet is a 1986 horror/comedy with a veteran cast, including Howard Duff and John Carradine, as well as The Black Eyed Peas' Stacy Ferguson and Paul Walker in early roles.  The film was distributed by Troma Entertainment.  In the GotchaMovies article "Final Destinations and Killer Condoms, Monster in the Closet was selected as the 8th greatest moment in teen slasher history.

    After a series of murders in San Francisco that all take place inside closets, a reporter and his scientist friend decide to uncover the mystery and save California.  The film contains many comical and subtle references to homosexuality.  The title referencing the state of being a closeted gay, the creature's sudden smitteness and affection for the handsome leading man even though there is no other indication that the creature is female, and the film ends with it collapsing & dying while marching on San Francisco!


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    • Monster In The Closet – Amazon
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    Friday, March 15, 2013

    Rawhead Rex (1986) & Isolation (2005)

    Hmm, a date night double feature that involves St. Patrick’s Day…But I don’t want to do any of the Leprechaun movies, they’d be the obvious choice plus they kind of suck.  Damn it Warwick Davis you’re better than that!  Make you dress in a freaking green tuxedo and do an Irish gig, I’d have kicked someone square in the shins for that disrespect.  If Little People/Big World or Pit Boss had been on TV at that time your agent would have treated you like a person and not just a novelty.   Play on playah!

    Ok, back on track.  Two movies that have something to do with Ireland.  Should probably be halfway decent and possibly disturbing but without being insulting to the Irish.  Something other sites aren’t going to be doing or even realize there is an Irish connection to.  Oh yeah, and a foam rubber monster in at least one of the movies.  I got it!

    Rawhead Rex (1986)

  • Actors: David Dukes, Kelly Piper, Niall Toibin, Ronan Wilmot, Niall O'Brien
  • Directors: George Pavlou
  • Writers: Clive Barker
  • Producers: Al Burgess, David Collins, Don Hawkins, Kevin Attew, Paul Gwynn
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Geneon [Pioneer]
  • DVD Release Date: October 19, 1999
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Rawhead Rex is a 1986 British/Irish horror film directed by George Pavlou and written by Clive Barker.  The film is about a monstrous pagan god's bloody rampage through the Irish countryside, and based on the short story by Clive Barker that originally appeared in Vol. 3 of his Books of Blood series.  Barker had previously worked on Transmutations (also known as Underworld).

    Howard Hallenbeck (David Dukes) travels to Ireland to research items of religious significance.  He goes to a rural church to photograph some graves.  Meanwhile, three farmers are attempting to remove an ominous stone column from a field.  Two of the farmers head home.  A thunderstorm appears out of nowhere, and smoke pours from the ground.  Lightning strikes the column.  The monster Rawhead Rex rises from the dirt.

    Howard meets Declan O'Brien (Ronan Wilmot), who directs him to Reverend Coot.  The curious O'Brien approaches the altar and places his hand on it.  Images flash before his eyes.  This experience apparently destroys O'Brien's sanity.  Afterwards, Howard inquires about the church's parish records.  Coot says he can arrange to have Howard look at them.

    Later, a man arrives at the home of locals Dennis and Jenny.  He discovers a clearly traumatized Jenny.  Police arrive.  Rawhead drags Dennis's dead body through the forest and comes upon a trailer park.  A teenager named Andy Johnson is trying to make out with his girlfriend.  The two teens head into the woods.  Soon after, Howard sees Rawhead on top of a distant hill with Andy's head in his hand.

    Afterwards, Howard speaks again with Coot, who tells him the church's parish records have been stolen.  Declan O'Brien destroys his camera. He takes his family on the road again.

    On the road, Howard's daughter needs to go to the bathroom, so Howard pulls over and lets her go by a tree.  Hearing her suddenly scream, Howard and his wife rush to her; Howard's son stays in the van, alone.  Rawhead kills Howard's son and takes the body into the woods.  Infuriated by the police's unsuccessful efforts to track down Rawhead, Howard returns to the church.  He discovers that there is a weapon shown in the stained glass window that can be used to defeat the monster.  After Howard leaves, Coot curiously touches the altar but resists the temptations and images it shows him.

    Rawhead arrives at the church to baptize O'Brien by urinating on him.  A bewildered Coot goes outside to investigate the noise and sees Rawhead.  Horrified, Coot flees inside the church and into the basement while Rawhead destroys everything inside.  Coot finds the missing parish records, showing what appears to be some kind of blueprint of Rawhead himself.  The insane O'Brien catches Coot and forces him upstairs to be sacrificed to Rawhead.  The police arrive at the church and prepare to open fire on Rawhead, but they hesitate because he is carrying Coot.  The brainwashed inspector dumps gasoline around the police cars and ignites it just as they begin to shoot at Rawhead, killing all the police, including himself.

    Howard leaves his wife and daughter and goes back to the church where a dying Coot tells him that Rawhead is afraid of something in the altar.  Howard goes inside where O'Brian is burning books and is overpowered by Howard.  Howard, by using a candle stick, opens the altar and gets to the weapon.  O'Brian retreats to Rawhead to tell him, leaving Rawhead displeased.  Howard tries to use the weapon, but has no affect.  In anger, Rawhead kills O'Brian by tearing out his thoat, with Howard's wife watching in terror.  As Rawhead tries to kill Howard, his wife picks up the weapon, it activates, stopping Rawhead from killing Howard.  A ray of light comes out of the weapon and hits Rawhead, hurting him.  Howard realizes that it has to be a woman for it to work.  Then the form of a woman appears from the stone and shoots electric rays through the stones and into Rawhead's body, knocking him to the ground.  After a few more blasts, Rawhead is drained and weakened to the point where he has no hair, has aged, ill and dying.  Finally he falls through the ground with Howard's wife dropping the weapon in with him. Rawhead is smashed under giant stones and finished.  Both Howard and his wife cry in light of it being over.

    In the end, the boy from the trailer park places flowers on Andy Johnson's grave.  As he walks away, Rawhead emerges from the ground and roars.  The film then cuts to the end credits.


    Isolation (2005)

  • Actors: Essie Davis, Sean Harris, Marcel Iures, Crispin Letts, John Lynch
  • Directors: Billy O'Brien
  • Writers: Billy O'Brien
  • Producers: Andrew Lowe, Bertrand Faivre, Brendan McCarthy, Ed Guiney, George Anton
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: First Look Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: June 26, 2007
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Isolation is a 2005 Irish horror film directed and written by Billy O'Brien and produced by Film Four and Lions Gate Film Studios. The film was released direct to DVD on June 26, 2007.

    An experiment in bovine genetic modification goes horrifically wrong in writer/director Billy O'Brien's debut feature, Isolation.  John Lynch stars as Dan a cattle farmer on the remote Irish countryside, whose ex, Orla (Essie Davis), a veterinarian, has convinced him to take part in a profit-driven experiment on his cows, run by John (Marcel Iures), an officious scientist who seems very concerned with maintaining secrecy.  Orla is conducting a routine check on a pregnant cow, and her hand is inside the animal, checking the unborn calf, when something bites at her.  John is called to the farm, and reassures them that the safety checks were all okay.  He's more concerned with the presence of a caravan just outside the farm.  The caravan is occupied by Jamie (Sean Harris) and Mary (Ruth Negga), a desperate young couple who are apparently hiding out from something.  That night, after Orla and John have left, Dan hears his cow wailing.  Dan's phone is out, so he reluctantly turns to Jamie for help.  After a protracted and painful delivery, Orla turns up, and decides to "shut it all down."  She kills the mother and the calf.  Examining the calf, she realizes that it was born pregnant, and the "severely malformed" fetuses have distinctly un-cowlike exoskeletons.  Unfortunately for all involved, one of the offspring survives, and when John finally shows up,  he suggests that the farm be quarantined, as there may be a danger of "infection."

    John, the scientist conducting the experiment, discovers that the cells of the fetus are replicating far too quickly and that the missing fetal creature has the potential to infect cows as well as humans globally, causing a massive infestation of the bloodthirsty creatures.  They are now on a mission to kill the creature before it escapes from the farm.


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    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    The Outsider (1921) and Castle Freak (1995)

    In the documentary “Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (2009)” Lovecraft wrote in various correspondences to other authors in his literary circle that he felt his own writing at various points in his career was just imitating the writing styles of other authors he personally respected.  He would refer to his early writings as his “Poe stories” or certain pieces from the middle of his career as his “Robert Chambers stories”, only believing he started writing “Lovecraft stories” toward the end of his life.  The Outsider would be one of these he felt was written in his own style and also one of my personal favorites.  When read now the subject matter and ending would be considered cliché but when it was written it was fresh and a complete surprise for the reader.  It is also written in such a way that makes the progression from first page to last an adventure,  Lovecraft’s ability to paint a picture is at an all time high in this story.

    "The Outsider" is a short story written between March and August 1921, it was first published in Weird Tales, April 1926.  In this work, a mysterious man who has been living alone in a castle for as long as he can remember decides to break free in search of human contact and light.  "The Outsider" is one of Lovecraft's most commonly reprinted works and is also one of the most popular stories ever to be published in Weird Tales.  It combines Horror, Fantasy, and Gothic Fiction to create a nightmarish story, containing themes of loneliness, the abhuman (see below), and the afterlife.

    "The Outsider" is written in the first-person narrative style and details the miserable and apparently lonely life of an individual who appears to have never had contact with another individual. The story begins with this narrator explaining his origins. His memory of others is vague, and he cannot seem to recall any details of his personal history, including who he is or where he is from. The narrator tells of his environment: a dark, decaying castle amid an "endless forest" of high, lightless trees. He has never seen natural light, nor another human being, and he has never ventured from the prison-like home he inhabits. The only knowledge the narrator has of the outside world is from his reading of the "antique books" that line the walls of his castle.

    The narrator tells of his eventual determination to free himself from what he sees as an existence within a prison. He decides to climb the ruined staircase of the high castle tower that seems to be his only hope for an escape. At the place where the stairs terminate into crumbled ruin, the narrator begins a long, slow climb up the tower wall, until he eventually finds a trapdoor in the ceiling, which he pushes up and climbs through. Amazingly, he finds himself not at the great height he anticipated, but at ground level in another world. With the sight of the full moon before him, he proclaims, "There came to me the purest ecstasy I have ever known." Overcome with the emotion he feels in beholding what—until now—he had only read about, the narrator takes in his new surroundings. He realizes that he is in an old churchyard, and he wanders out into the countryside before eventually coming upon another castle.

    Upon coming to the castle that he finds "maddeningly familiar," the narrator sees a gathering of people at a party within. Longing for some type of human contact, he climbs through a window into the room. Upon his entering, the people inside become terrified. They scream and collectively flee from the room, many stumbling blindly with their hands held over their eyes toward the walls in search of an exit. As the narrator stands alone in the room with the screams of the party vanishing into far away echoes, he becomes frightened at what must be lurking near him. He walks around the room searching for what might be hidden in the shadows but finds nothing. As he moves towards one of the rooms alcoves, he detects a presence and approaches it slowly.

    I cannot even hint what it was like, for it was a compound of all that is unclean, uncanny, unwelcome, abnormal, and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and dissolution; the putrid dripping eidolon of unwholesome revelation, the awful baring of that which the merciful earth should always hide. God knows it was not of this world – or no longer of this world – yet to my horror I saw in its eaten-away and bone-revealing outlines a leering, abhorrent travesty of the human shape; and in its mouldy, disintegrating apparel an unspeakable quality that chilled me even more. (Lovecraft)

    In his shock and surprise, he loses his balance and touches the creature. Horrified, he runs from the building back to his castle, where he tries unsuccessfully to crawl back through the grate into his old world. Cast out of his old existence, the narrator now rides with the "mocking and friendly ghouls on the night wind," forever and officially an outsider since the moment he stretched his fingers towards the creature in the darkness and felt nothing but the "cold and unyielding surface of polished glass," signifying he had touched a mirror.

    Prior to telling of how he discovered that the monster was, in fact, himself, the narrator explains that he fled to a valley of the Nile in Egypt, where he exists alongside other outsiders - presumably undead, like himself - and even enjoys something of a social life (for example, a feast beneath one of the Pyramids), although he describes how "nepenthe has calmed me", hinting that he is still trying to forget his haunted past.


  • Actors: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Jonathan Fuller, Jessica Dollarhide, Massimo Sarchielli
  • Directors: Stuart Gordon
  • Writers: Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli
  • Producers: Albert Band, Charles Band, Maurizio Maggi
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Full Moon Entertainment
  • VHS Release Date: November 14, 1995
  • DVD Release Date: December 16, 1997
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Castle Freak is a 1995 American horror film directed by Stuart Gordon, slightly based upon the short story “The Outsider” by H. P. Lovecraft.  It was released direct to video on 14 November 1995.  The film contains elements of splatter and slasher films.

    After inheriting a 12th-century castle which belonged to a famed Duchess, John Reilly and his family, including his wife Susan and their blind teenage daughter Rebecca, travel to Italy to live.  Susan blames him for the death of their son in a motor drunk driving accident which killed his five-year-old son and cost their daughter her eyesight.

    On the advice of the estate's executor, the three plan to stay at the castle until they can liquidate the estate.  Little do they know, however, that a horrible, freakish monster has been kept locked away in the basement. Unbeknownst to them, the duchess' son, Giorgio Orsino, who was kept imprisoned and tortured by the duchess in revenge for her husband leaving her, still lives in the dungeons of the castle.

    Soon, the disfigured beast has escaped by means of breaking off his own thumb to get out of the manacles which bind him.  The only reference to the H.P. Lovecraft story occurs when the monster beholds his hideous reflection in a mirror.  He has emerged hungry for blood, leading to a series of unexplained deaths and disappearances including that of a prostitute John has picked up and brought to the castle after being rejected by his wife.

    When the police name John their prime suspect, he must find the true murderer before he or his family becomes the next victim.  Along the way, he must not only battle the creature itself but overcome demons from his own guilty past.

    The prostitute is sexually mutilated and killed by the monster, who also prowls around the bedroom of the terrified Rebecca, who can hear, but not see, him.  The monster later kills one of the policemen investigating the castle, as well as the maid who lives at the castle and finds the prostitute's body.  Eventually he abducts Rebecca and she is manacled in his old cell.  Susan comes to the rescue and manages to stab the monster and rescue Rebecca but the monster survives his wound and continues to attack Rebecca and Susan.

    John starts putting together some of the weird things he’s been discovering around the castle and realizes that the Freak is actually his brother, and it was his mother that chained him up and tortured him all of his life because her husband abandoned her for America.  John must now save himself and his family from this castle's unknown inhabitant before the "castle freak" has his way with them.  A climactic rooftop battle between John and the monster ensues, ending in tragedy.


    The Abhuman - In Gothic Fiction, abhuman refers to a "Gothic body" or something that is only vestigially human and possibly in the process of becoming something monstrous, such as a vampire, werewolf, or in this case a walking corpse.  Kelly Hurley writes that the "abhuman subject is a not-quite-human subject, characterized by its morphic variability, continually in danger of becoming not-itself, becoming other."

    The idea of "becoming other" parallels what is happening in this story. The intensity of the process is heightened because the reader is learning of this transition from human to the abhuman right along with the narrator who is learning it himself.


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    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Super Fuzz (1980)

    When I was eleven years old I made my mom take me to see this film in the theater because I thought the ads looked cool.  As an eleven year old boy I thought the movie rocked, my mom on the other hand rolled her eyes a lot.  Since that was the last time I saw this movie until recently I never understood why and always had good memories of it.  Apparently those memories were hallucinations for now I also roll my eyes.

  • Actors: Terence Hill, Ernest Borgnine, Joanne Dru, Marc Lawrence, Julie Gordon
  • Directors: Sergio Corbucci
  • Writers: Sergio Corbucci, Robert Brodie Booth, Sabatino Ciuffini
  • Producers: Josi W. Konski, Vittorio Galiano
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Somerville House
  • DVD Release Date: February 27, 2007
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Super Fuzz or Poliziotto superpiù (also called Super Snooper) is an Italian comedy film about Dave Speed, a bumbling Miami police officer who gains super powers through accidental nuclear exposure.  Directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Terence Hill and Ernest Borgnine, it was released in 1980.

    The policeman Dave Speed is assigned to a mission in an ex-Indian reservation near a military shooting range. Casually, Dave is doing an investigation on the spot.  A nuclear missile explodes.  The radiation gives him superpowers.  Dave is able to move object with the mind force, to discover mysterious crimes and to jump with no problem from a skyscraper.  His friends cannot understand those transformations.

    The story starts as a retrospective, as police officer Dave Speed (Terence Hill) faces his fourth execution attempt (this time by the electric chair) for the alleged murder of his superior and friend, Sergeant Willy Dunlop (Ernest Borgnine).  While taking his last walk once more, Dave reminisces about how this all got started.

    Coming fresh from the police academy, Dave is sent to deliver a parking ticket to the member of a tiny Indian village in the Florida Everglades.  Unbeknownst to him, the U.S. government and NASA are preparing to conduct a secret radiation experiment in the area by firing a nuclear missile loaded with red plutonium into the area where the village (which has long since been evacuated) is located.  Dave, the only person in that particular area, is hit by the radiation but does not die, and returns to civilization.  His tale of having been close to the explosion is marveled at by most, but dismissed by Dunlop.

    As time passes, Dave discovers that he has picked up a wide range of super powers, including super reflexes and speed, endurance, telekinesis, precognition, hypnotism, and the ability to survive a window drop from the 23rd story of a building unscathed.  What is more puzzling is that sometimes his powers suddenly fail to work whenever he sees the color red.  But his powers, even with their limitation, come as an advantage when counterfeit money is found throughout the city.  The masterminds behind this scheme are a local businessman named Torpedo (Marc Lawrence) and his mistress Rosy Labouche (Joanne Dru), a former actress whom Dunlop has a serious crush on. Right now, however, Dave is less a danger to them than an old retired magician named Silvius (Herb Goldstein), who had inadvertently discovered how Torpedo transports his counterfeit money and now finds himself chased by Torpedo's henchmen.  As it turns out, Silvius had also gained super powers the same way Dave did, and reveals his secret to the young policeman: Whenever he sees the color he saw at the explosion, his power is nullified for as long as he observes it.

    Dave reveals his secret to Dunlop and Evelyn, who are less than ecstatic about it.  While Dunlop points out that Dave's precognitive abilities, which helped uncover Torpedo's scam, is unlikely to be admitted as evidence in court, Evelyn is not overjoyed at having a too-perfect man in the house.  One night, Dave and Dunlop proceed to Torpedo's clubhouse, where Dave has Dunlop dance with Rosie (with some hypnotic encouragement) while he poses as a corrupt cop who wants a share of the winnings.  By using his hypnotic powers on Torpedo, he gets the gangster to blab out the location of his printing facility: the fishing trawler Barracuda.  But in the meantime, Dunlop inadvertently tells Rosie about Dave's powers and weaknesses in order to impress her.

    Once the information is obtained, Dave and Dunlop proceed out to sea to find the Barracuda.  Going aboard alone, Dunlop finds the printing press and the latest stash of money, but is knocked out by Torpedo's men, who lock him into a freezer and then sink the trawler to destroy the evidence.  Upon his return to Police HQ, Dave is arrested following a trumped-up accusation by Rosie, who also makes sure that he keeps seeing something red to prevent his escape from prison, though she could not do so during the first three execution attempts.

    Despite Rosie's last-ditch attempt to ensure Dave's demise by having a bouquet of red roses left in the electric chair room, Dave finally manages to escape prison and jumps into the sea, where he promptly swims to the Barracuda.  Once he finds Dunlop aboard, alive but frozen stiff, he uses a borrowed piece of bubblegum to create a balloon, and both men rise out of the ocean and float back to the city.  Having heard of Dave's escape, Torpedo and Rosie prepare to flee with Evelyn as their hostage.  Dave manages to intercept them by jumping onto their Cessna and redirecting it to an airfield where the police are already waiting.  Finally convinced of the validity of Dave's powers, Dunlop overconfidently jumps off the balloon while Dave races to save him with Rosie's red Feather boa wrapped around his legs.  At the last instant, he manages to catch Dunlop (though in the process they wind up plunging through the earth and straight up to China), and both return safe and sound to prepare for Dave's and Evelyn's wedding.  However, Evelyn, still reluctant to have a superman for a husband, has decided to have the last word in the matter by having her hair dyed red.


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    Let me tell you a story…

    Hopefully you hear that in your head in the voice of Michael Westen of Burn Notice fame.   I have two children that I inherited through marriage, a son who is nineteen and a daughter who is seventeen.  “The Boy” has been horribly corrupted by my sense of humor and enjoys the same “quality” of horror and sci-fi movie as myself.  “The Girl” not so much but bear with me for this is important.

    At one time she was more than happy to watch Killer Klowns or Ring of Darkness or even Dementia 13 with her step-dad but those days have passed due by no small part by the onset of puberty and the realization that I may in fact be a big poopie head.  If it’s black and white then it sucks.  If it’s foreign then it sucks.  If it was made before she was born, 1995, then it sucks.  There are no remakes, every horror movie she sees is an original film and she has no idea what that crap from the 70s that dares to call itself Halloween or Prom Night or even Last House on The Left is trying to be since it is clearly not the superior version created by some dude who used to make music videos when music videos were even a thing.  Please don’t judge her to harshly for I believe this line of thinking is common amongst what I will paraphrase from Linkara at Atop the Forth Wall as “Nineties Kids”.  It is hard for me to judge when I spent my pre-teen years watching B-Movies with Doctor Shock on WPHL Channel 17 out of Philadelphia and then nothing but slashers were worth my time from fourteen to twenty-two.

    Now all this is all background so you understand where I am coming from.  She comes to me after a weekend with her friends and ask if I had seen the movies Sinister and Mama to which I reply no.  She says “Good!  Because they suck!”  I ask why and she informs me that both films are just rehashes of other better films and boring.  For a moment I am filled with pride with the idea she is maturing and ready to join me on the couch again in a Kaiju movie marathon but that feeling was short lived when she praised the merits of some other movie that I think is a horrible rip-off of something I think is better.  My point is how bad does a film have to be when a teenager who thinks all seven or eight Saw movies are each fresh and innovative, thinks your film is a rip-off of other movies.   No offense intended toward fans of the Saw franchise, I just think it’s the same movie over and over.  Plus you tell me not to pay any attention to the man behind the curtain and expect me not to think something is up with that, vagueness intentionally used so as not to spoil it if you haven’t seen Saw?

    I feel that movies and to the same extent music should not ever be disposable.  The amount of work that goes into both should be considerable and never done half-assed.  Film makers should always strive for a piece of immortal art.  Let me give an example of something not run into the ground that has stood the test of time.  Rosemary’s Baby is 45 years old this year and still one of the scariest films I have ever seen.  I’m saying it has to have a $300 million budget, I’ve watched some things that were made for two grand and shot on five weekends on a rented camera that were awesome.  Just don’t treat the medium like it doesn’t matter, these films will be viewed by people for years to come and wouldn’t you as a film maker rather be remembered as a top three finisher than just a also ran?

    <<Soapbox mode disengaged>>

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    The Naked Monster (2005)

  • Actors: Kenneth Tobey, Brinke Stevens, R.G. Wilson, John Goodwin, Daniel Roebuck
  • Directors: Wayne Berwick, Ted Newsom
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Anthem Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: August 1, 2006
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • The Naked Monster is a 2005 American ultra low-budget science fiction and horror comedy film written by Ted Newsom and directed by Newsom and Wayne Berwick as an homage to and spoof of the "giant monster-on-the-loose" films of the 1950s.  The final project took 21 years to make, and was actor Kenneth Tobey's last film.

    The project originated in 1984, after director Ted Newsom was challenged with a bet to produce a movie for $2,500.  In response he created "Attack of the B-Movie Monster" which had a limited VHS release under that name in 1985.  In revisiting the project, the filmmakers added scenes from old monster films to make a new version for release on DVD.  According to Newsom, he "hauled out the old scripts, took gags and lines, and did a 25-page script, which condensed things to manageable size.  That version of the project was designed as a half-hour short which could be shot in about four weekends (plus the time for effects).  On that basis, I asked Wayne Berwick to direct "Attack of the B-Movie Monster", since I was 'producing' and had drawn the storyboards for both the live action and effects shots."  The film was shot on Super 8 film during 18 days of shooting in the summer of 1984, although for some days they would only shoot for two hours then quit.  Over the following months the animation effects were added and the version was finished by the end of the year.  The film was first screened at the now defunct EZTV in West Hollywood.

    In 1992, Newsom professed to have "slop-edited a version of the old show together using the original colour footage, although the FX shots were still in black and white", saying "I wanted to see if it looked any good."  However, several of the original stars had died, including Robert Shayne and John Harmon, and Ken Tobey had severe problems with his back which made a remake impossible with the original cast members.  In 1994, Newsom transferred the Super-8 film to tape on a high-end Rank Telecine apparatus and made a deal with Chuck Adleman of Anthem Pictures to use their editing system to cut the 100 minutes down by 16 minutes.  In the cutting process several effects shots were lost, such as the whole Titanic and submarine sequences, but Newsom claimed these needlessly slowed down the film.

    The character names of the veteran performers all refer to their own past films. Brinke Stevens stars, with cameos from two of her fellow Scream Queens. Kenneth Tobey returns as Colonel Patrick Hendry, a promotion for his character originally an army Captain in The Thing from Another World, and Les Tremayne reprises his General Mann role from War of the Worlds (1953).

    A colossal series of disasters releases something monstrous from a glacier.  Strange disappearances in a small California town attract the attention of a thick-headed sheriff (R.G. Wilson), his transparently uninterested scientist girlfriend (Brinke Stevens) and a visiting government agent (John Goodwin).  They discover that a giant green monster is at large, the Creaturesaurus Erectus, ("He wrecked us? He nearly KILLED us!")  They turn to experienced monster fighter Colonel Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), who has been locked in a government asylum for decades.  With the help of other monster experts, lots of stock footage and incredibly bad special effects, humanity fights back against the "Thing from Another Time Zone".

     


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