In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2Dark

I'm finally getting around to posting about my thoughts on Frédérick Raynal's indie game 2Dark.


I must admit there was much dawdling on this review because I wasn't that struck on this game. I felt that the concept was sound, but the format chosen by Rynal and his team at Gloomywood didn't fully realize the horrific nature of the piece. I remember being wowed by the early concept art, and the final product was far removed from that. The abduction, torture and murder of children didn't really resonate within a 16 bit style construct.

The puzzle solving in 2Dark was satisfying enough, once I got through the trial and error phase. Having died within the first five seconds of the first level, I realized quickly that it was that kind of game. Initially, I wished there was voice, instead of text. That is, until I heard the cheesy voice-over during the load screens. I also didn't like that the repetitive child noises became really grating to the point where I was like, why am I saving these little shits again? A complete one-eighty from my experience with Clementine in Telltale's Walking Dead series. That's not ideal.


Depsite my dissatisfaction with this game, I am willing to make two concessions, the first being that I have no sense of nostalgia for this era of video gaming. Having gone from Atari 2000 to PC to Playstation, I have no affiliation with Nintendo's oeuvre of top down adventures – Zelda and the like. Secondly, I think I've just been spoiled of late. After a long list of fantastic indies over the last twelve months (Gone Home, Life is Strange, Inside, Virginia, Firewatch and This War Of Mine) 2Dark just paled in comparison, especially considering it was significantly more expensive than all of those aforementioned titles.

As a game, 2Dark was fine, but I just wish Rynal and company had been able to better translate their truly disturbing world. I don't necessarily need impeccable graphics, but I do need something to connect with. When I accidentally gassed my kids (one of the multiple possible endings) I was like, oh well sucks to be you I guess


Again, not ideal.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Food In Film

I checked out a great little event at the Revue Cinema earlier this week. As part of their Food In Film series curated by cinephile/pastry chef Cora James, there was a screening of Larry Cohen's classic 1985 flick The Stuff.


The food paired up with the movie was some tasty gelato served up by Queen West eatery Death In Venice. I'd never actually had gelato before, and this special blend of grapefruit, tonka bean & mint was pretty tasty. Like I couldn't stop eating it. Maybe they were right to put up this disclaimer.


Although I didn't go much on James' assertion that The Stuff is a bad movie that gained a cult following and due to their inherent greed Michael Moriarty & Garrett Morris' characters were in fact also villains, she did share some interesting pieces of trivia during her intro. Did you know that Patrick Dempsey and Mira Sorvino both have uncredited appearances?

Cora James intros The Stuff.

I, of course, think this movie is terrific and lament the fact that people don't (and likely can't) make them like this anymore. The Stuff is a somehow comedy, horror and satire all at once. Aside from the comment of blind consumerism, it was also hard for me to see Paul Sorvino get on the airwaves toward the end of the film and not think of Alex Jones.

It was an awesome screening that I left with my belly full and my spirits high. Long Live Larry!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: The Fog

Just because it takes place in April - and maybe cuz I still have that Matthew Therrien piece on the brain - here's the trailer for John Carpenter's 1980 horror The Fog.



What a cast! Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook & Janet Leigh! Funny how three of those actors ended up in Creepshow two years later. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

DKTM 337


Hey all. I hope your weekend is going fine. Here's some great bits of news to wash down your brunch.

Stephen King Spotified.

The artist known as Butcher Billy unleashed these awesome pieces on the world last week. In his own words, he explains, “this series imagines an alternate universe in which some of the most hopeless, desperate and tragic heartbreak songs of the 70's and 80's were actually novels written by Stephen King.”







For the rest of the series, click here.

Friday the 26th.

Gun Media posted an update video for their hotly anticipated video game Friday the 13th, in which our boy Voorhees slashes his way across the screen to tell us he will arrive March 26th.



Very much looking forward to grabbing a bunch of friends around the fire and playing this.

A Look Back/Forward.

Showtime released a two-minute recap of Twin Peaks recently. I can't imagine anyone would be watching this who hasn't seen the show, but just in case spoilers be thine.



I'm so stoked that the lore of the Black Lodge will be continued here. Twin Peaks returns May 21st.

Friday, April 21, 2017

It's Not A Toomuh


Technically I will be cheating, as I do not actually own Brent McCormick's 1986 gore flick The Abomination on VHS. Actually getting my hands on this item are pretty remote, so this time around, YouTube will have to suffice.


A tumor coughed up by his mother, infects Cody (Scott Davis) and wills him to fetch it victims in order for it to grow and reproduce.

Yes, this movie is pretty fucking rough. Shot on Super 8 in Texas, there is barely a movie here. In between the terrible dubbing, padded out scenes of car rides and stock footage of horses – at least Blood Shack went to a rodeo! - it's pretty shocking how little happens here. I mean, they actually replay the opening sequence in its entirely towards the end of the movie, for fuck's sake.


The Abomination was somewhat salvaged – and likely the only reason anyone knows about this movie at all – by its gore effects, but they're still nowhere near the caliber of the similarly creatured The Deadly Spawn which runs rings around this in every way possible. It's funny though. I would have bet money that Frank Henenlotter's Brain Damage served as a major influence for McCormick, if not for the fact that movie wouldn't exist for another two years.


I did find the idea of the tumour becoming a tentacled beast that controls its hosts to feed it intriguing, but it's still only half a movie. Using an weird voice-over at the outset to explain away all the stuff that made no sense was not particularly satisfying either. At the end of the day, it's probably just as well I didn't find this VHS out in the wild, as I would have dropped an ungodly amount of money for a serious case of buyer's remorse.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Canadian Corpses.

Today is National Canadian Film Day, so if you feel so inclined, bust out a flick from the Great White North. Yesterday, in celebration of the affair, the boys of the Laser Blast Film Society put on a double bill of their own with Nick DiLiberto's animation wonder Nova Seed and Lawrence Zazelenchuk's 1974 zombie yarn Corpse Eaters.


It was my fourth time seeing Nova Seed, so needless to say how much I adore that, but Corpse Eaters was completely new to me. Made in Sudbury from funds saved up by working at the local nickel mine, Zazelenchuk produced what was to be Canada's first gore film.

It is rough as hell with a story that lacks well, pretty much anything, but it does have its charms - my favourite part being the onscreen warning system the movie employed. When things were about to get bloody, an old man retching into a handkerchief appeared. Only, after his first appearance it was like he left to take a walk or something because he only reappeared once more toward the end of the film. 


The middle chunk plays like a rehash of Bob Clark's Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, except with more awkward sex scenes, inter-cut with wildlife and Molson Export product placement. The movie does deliver on the gore, but the movie - even at under an hour long - feels loooong.

The behind-the-scenes story connected to this movie is rather sad. Zazelenchuk had made the movie to fulfill a life-long dream to play a film at the local Drive-In that he also owned. After a local run, he sold the movie to a New York distributor which promptly shelved it. So distraught was he that Zazelenchuk moved to Florida and proceeding to drink himself to death. Isn't the film business grand?


Corpse Eaters is a curiosity that is worth watching for its historical significance at least. Happy Canadian Film Day everyone!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: Critters

My buddy Schwartz reminded me recently that this week thirty-one years ago, Stephen Herek's Critters was released into the world.



Let's just ignore the fact that New Line recycled the NOES score for that trailer, okay? Anyway, the Crites are definitely one of my favourite movie monsters and thus take up a good deal of premium wall space at Casa Jay.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

DKTM 336


Hey all. I'm all rested up now after a healthy dose of MST3K (still got this song stuck in my head) over the last two days. Here's some cool stuff from the Web.

Halloween UK.

I found this fantastic piece of archival material on Film On Paper recently. For the release of John Carpenter's Halloween in the UK, the distributor Miracle Films put together this beautiful cinema advertising guide.






What a great time to be alive. To check out the full guide, click here.

What You Can't See...

Keeping with the subject of  JC, (the important one) I wanted to throw up Matthew Therrien's newest addition to his Final Girls & Cinema Survivors series based on the 1980 film The Fog.


To check out the rest of the series, click here.

Sam's The Man.

Get ready to be incredibly frustrated. I found a YT video on Dread Central from 1987 which features Sam Raimi under siege in the UK about his “reprehensible & irresponsible” films Evil Dead 1 & 2.

This man has the patience of a saint. Fuck man, I don't see how people could ever take Evil Dead 2 seriously. Now that the “nanny-staters” have moved onto violent video games I sometimes forget how ridiculous these so-called experts were. Good on ya, Sam.




That's it for now. Oh, and Happy Easter I guess.


Friday, April 14, 2017

#StabAThon

It's gonna be a day of recuperation today. My friend Serena had one of her movie drinking game affairs last night and everyone got wrecked.



That's right, somehow I was able to drink my way through all four Scream movies. And with rules like; drink every time someone screams, a phone rings or there's a movie reference that is no easy feat. We didn't all make it.

Do you want to die tonight?

Those cups of bad news were for the secret rules when peeps got caught for stuff like; mentioning a TV show any of the actors were in, feeling sorry for Randy, or pondering just what the fuck was going on with Courteney Cox's hair in Part 3...

This edition was pretty epic. And the cookies were good too.


So, now I rest.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: Slugs

After watching Juan Piquer Simón's nineties snoozer Cthulhu Mansion last week, I kinda want to go back to better days. Here's the trailer for his 1988 movie Slugs.



The perfect double bill with Jeff Lieberman's Squirm, there's enough ooze to keep you busy for days. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April Showers IV: Day Seven


Finishing up this edition of April Showers, I checked out another offering available on Shudder, Robert Fuest's 1970 thriller And Soon the Darkness.


Jane (Pamela Franklin) desperately searches for her friend Cathy (Michele Dotrice) after she goes missing during their cycling trip across France.

In the early seventies, the UK was putting out a lot of films with similar subject matter (a lot of them starring Susan George incidentally) and And Soon the Darkness may be the most pure in its intentions. I found this extremely stripped down affair that lets Ian Wilson's gorgeous cinematography and the mounting unease of the situation do most of the heavy lifting to be really solid. While it can be said that the last act was largely chase scenes and posturing, there was a great deal of legitimate dread in this piece.

I was immediately struck by how times have changed in the last few decades, as the naïve innocence of these two ladies casually cycling across Europe was both admirable and appalling. What this movie did really well was put you in Jane's shoes. Fuest's choice not to subtitle the locals and put you in the same predicament as she struggled to find help was an inspired one. As a person whose grade school French only let me pick out every fourth or fifth word, I totally got how frustrating that would be. Man, how the hell do people travel by themselves these days?

Pamela Franklin (left) & Michele Dotrice in And Soon the Darkness.

This film had some pretty substantial pedigree behind it. Fruest went on to direct the classic The Abominable Dr. Phibes among others and writer Terry Nation was well known to me as a prolific writer on the Dr. Who of my childhood years. Franklin was no stranger to the genre, as she began her career playing Flora in the 1961 classic The Innocents. Both her and Michele Dotrice had remarkable screen presence and immediately pulled me in.


And Soon the Darkness' worst case scenario travelogue resonated because of how plausible it all was. In my research, I discovered there was an inevitable remake made in 2010 starring Amber Heard. I looked it up on YouTube and was immediately annoyed after fifteen seconds of it. I respond more to the creeping dread of Fuest and his peers than I do the flashy one-upmanship of their successors. Maybe I'm growing up.

Anyway, this has been April Showers IV. Hope you enjoyed it, and perhaps discovered a title or two along the way. See you next week.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

April Showers IV: Day Six


Needing titles for the back-end of this edition of April Showers, I decided to knock off another entry from my giallo deck, as Shudder is currently streaming Luciano Ercoli's 1971 film Death Walks on High Heels.


Nicole (Nieves Navarro as Susan Scott), the daughter of a murdered jewel thief gets caught in the middle as his partners try to track down the missing loot.

I have now seen enough of Italian thrillers to recognize there are actually different subsets within the dozens that were made. The most popular were the hyper-stylized efforts drenched in operatic gore by the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci & Sergio Martino, but there were also those that were decidedly low-key and more like straight-up crime mysteries. They still shared a lot of the same traits involving masked killers, wonderful scores and sexual overtones, but overall they were a little more restrained.

Death Walks on High Heels, in addition to titles like Martino's Case of the Scorpion's Tail, Forbidden Photos of a Woman Above Suspicion (also by Ercoli) and Bava's proto-giallo The Girl Who Knew Too Much, are of this latter category. And while it might have not been as flashy as your average giallo, I still enjoyed this quite a bit. It had a nice flow and despite the large number of characters, it only got momentarily confusing when Claudie Lange showed up due to her passing resemblance to Scott. Quirky constables were also a touchstone of the genre and this pair (played by Carlo Gentili & Fabrizio Moresco) were among the best I've seen.

Susan Scott (left) & Claudie Lange in Death Walks on High Heels.

I really like the setting of this one, as there were smatterings of London and Paris in with usual Italian and Spanish locales. I was chuckling to myself about what Ercoli seemed to find sexy in this movie, whether it be close-ups of Susan Scott (who was no slouch, but not quite as striking as mainstays Edwige Fenech or Barbara Bouchet) endlessly eating bits of fish, or her confounding blackface striptease. That was a thing I guess.

And those are not the only things I will take away from this movie. I mean, that eye surgery scene! Why would an actor agree to do that? It could've been a fake head, but it was pretty convincing. Somehow it seemed worse than the treatment Malcolm McDowell received in A Clockwork Orange. Also, this movie must have a record number of backhands to the face. Nobody punched anybody in the seventies?

makeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstop

What Death Walks On High Heels lacked in gore, it made up for in personality and a thoroughly enjoyable narrative. In the near future, I'll definitely be checking out Shudder's other Ercoli offering, Death Walks At Midnight.

Friday, April 7, 2017

April Showers IV: Day Five


In a vain attempt at symmetry, I originally meant to review Claudio Fargasso's 1984 flick Monster Dog, but I had to do some last-minute improvisation when I found my VHS copy had snapped. I went back to my shelf and then found J.P. Simón's 1992 effort Cthulhu Mansion. With The Void releasing in select theatres today, I guess it's a vague connection.


A gang of thugs running from the cops take refuge in a mansion occupied by an old magician (Frank Findlay) and are set upon by malevolent forces.

Yeah, this is not Simón's best work. I mean, I'm not shocked that it was terrible, but I wasn't expecting it to be so dull and lifeless. It was so unsatisfying, where was the maestro who made Pieces and Slugs? Those movies rose above their B-movie underpinnings with unbridled personality and this one just flapped around like a dying cuttlefish.

Where do I start? Well, the patchwork story did not help and neither did the characters who were likely the least likable group of punks I've ever seen -- they made the crew in Demons look like well adjusted folk. It was like they all had a secret competition going to see who could overact the most. There was a character who literally just waited outside in the car for almost the entire movie. Least offensive was Eva, played by Melanie Shatner (yes, daughter of Bill) and she just got absorbed(!) by vines when the Simón couldn't think of anything else for her to do.

Melanie Shatner aka Nineties Cobie Smulders in Cthulhu Mansion

Worst of all, Cthulhu Mansion didn't even deliver on its promise of Lovecraftian lore. It could've sucked at everything else and at least brought the creatures, but all that was offered up here was a pair of claws hiding behind a fridge and some pustuled face make-up. Sure, they teased me with something that was trying to bust out of the door in the basement, but even that led to absolutely nothing. It never followed through on anything!

This is as good as it gets, folks.

Cthulhu Mansion was a big ol' bust, and doesn't even reach good-bad territory. We all know that Lovecraft adaptations don't have the best track record, but most of them at least try and fail. I'd rather that, than whatever this was supposed to be.

The Void Beckons!

Steve Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie's cinematic nightmare The Void will be unleashed on select cities today. If it is playing in your area, make sure you check it out. It's bad-ass.

I recently received my perks from supporting the IndieGogo campaign, which are now proudly displayed in my collection.

Movie magic!

The Patient (right) says hello to Decker and Bobby.

For a list of the cities playing The Void, click here. See you on the other side.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April Showers IV: Day Four


On Day Four of April Showers, I will finally talk about Dave Jackson's bizarre little indie Cat Sick Blues.


A troubled man named Ted (Matthew C. Vaughn) believes that taking nine lives will bring his beloved cat Patrick back from the dead.

I caught this at Fright Night Theatre a few weeks ago and it's been rattling around in my brain ever since. An extension of a short film I remember seeing a few years ago at Little Terrors, this effort from Down Under is very hard to get a handle on.

Matthew C. Vaughn as Catman in Cat Sick Blues.

Coincidentally, Cat Sick Blues does share several traits with Alice Lowe's Prevenge, the film I talked about yesterday. Both protagonists are dealing with loss, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake and share almost identical epiphanies when they reach their endgames. However, that's where the similarities end, as Lowe's dry humour was pitch perfect and Jackson's was more of a bad taste bonanza.

Cat Sick Blues' sense of tone is decidedly problematic. I've never seen audience laughter cut off so abruptly than I did here. On more than one occasion, I found myself just trying to get into the head space of how Jackson came up with some of this stuff. Apart from the brutal violence of the killings, Jackson also shined a light on the uglier side of Internet culture, which lead to its own set of uncomfortable moments. I say uncomfortable mainly because they were sadly all too true.


I think perhaps what made Cat Sick Blues hard to dissect was how it at the same time felt cheap, yet was also fantastically well shot. The hostel sequence where Catman (Ted's alter ego) goes on a Ted Bundy-style rampage to the tune of Mistabishi's Repulsion will never leave your head once it's in there. I was, somewhat begrudgingly, with this movie up to a point, but the tail end really dragged while it struggled to find a conclusion. I could've have done without the odd tangents that made up most of the last half-hour.

Cat Sick Blues is such a confounding piece because even though there was as much bad as there was good, I can't stop thinking about it. Catman was such an indelible figure, and it's troubling because characters that have this much resonance with me usually end up being future Halloween costumes. I mean, I've dressed up as Bobby Yeah and Peach Fuzz before, but I feel this one would get me arrested. So yeah, probably a no-go.