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.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Fantasia Beckons.

Here begins my yearly trip - the eleventh! - to Montreal for the Fantasia Film Festival.


Things will be a little different this year though, as this will be the first time that I'll be going as industry, representing the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Fest. That said, now that I no longer have to sing for my supper as it were, review frequency may be sparse over the next week. I do plan on seeing about five to ten flicks while I'm there, so I'll try and do a wrap-up post at the very least. Inspiration for writing about new releases has been a tad elusive lately, (Cheers for Hereditary! Jeers for A Quiet Place!) but we'll see how it goes.

Be good while I'm gone, kiddies.  

Friday, July 13, 2018

Southern Inhospitality


This week’s VHS was Armand Mastroianni’s 1986 effort The Supernaturals.


A platoon of recruits (headed by Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame) out on maneuvers come across the site of a Confederate massacre and run afoul of some vengeful ghouls.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! If I’d been more astute I’d have posted about a slasher this week, but such is life. I’ve been preparing for my yearly jaunt to Montreal – and crying into my pint over England’s loss – so I just picked the VHS on the top of the pile.

The Supernaturals was a half-decent yarn. I say “half” because it started pretty strong, but fizzled out toward the end. I did learn something new though. In the opening sequence, set during the Civil War – actually a solid bit involving Confederate civilians forced to walk through a mine field – I wondered if mines had been invented yet. The Internet then let me know they’ve actually been around for almost a thousand years. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. If humans are good at anything, it’s dreaming up new ways to kill each other.

Anyway, I was into it during the first act, as the camaraderie between the recruits was entertaining and boasted some familiar faces, including Max Caulfield, Scott Jacoby (now grown up from his teen roles in Little Girl That Lives Down the Lane and Bad Ronald) and also, decades before her work in two of my favourite shows Homeland and Mad Men, Talia Balsam.


Quite strangely though, once things started to get weird, everyone turned into an idiot. It wasn’t particularly clear that one of the characters was drunk when he went monosyllabic and stumbled off, but on several occasions people went sprinting through the darkness knowing full well there were pointy stick traps set up everywhere.

I imagine that the budget was a restraint here, but I really wished the effects (provided by Bart Mixon) could’ve been more front-and-center here. It’s like the opposite experience Mixon had on NOES 2 where it seemed like they had money leftover for some inserted climax creature gags. The ghouls in The Supernaturals were largely just shadowy shamblers and save for a decent throat rip, there’s not much to write home about. It’s disappointingly a decidedly PG-13 affair at best - regardless of what the coverbox says! With the Civil War backdrop, I guess I had the sinewy excesses of H.G Lewis’ 2000 Maniacs in my brain.


Oh I forgot to mention that, in a stroke of serendipity, LeVar Burton was also in this film. I like to think that between takes Burton was asking Nichols about Star Trek, not knowing that, within a year or so, he himself would become part of the canon in The Next Generation.

The Supernaturals was watchable fare, but I feel it could have been better if it had more money and edge behind it. Mastroianni is a prolific director who by that time had already directed He Knows You’re Alone (and later some notable genre television like Tales From the Darkside & Friday the 13th) so he certainly had the chops.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Short of the Week #27: Chairs

The newest episode of Poppy Seed Place entitled “Chairs” dropped last week. Here it is below.



I love these little vignettes, they never cease to make me smile.

Friday, July 6, 2018

That Worked Out Well.


This week's VHS is Alfred Sole's 1976 thriller Alice Sweet Alice.


After a young girl is murdered at her communion ceremony, her sister Alice (Paula Sheppard) becomes the prime suspect. But is she guilty?

No sooner had I picked this VHS up from Rue Morgue's yard sale last month when The Royal announced they would be screening it as part of their No Future series. Perfect!

Alice Sweet Alice was a solid film, but also a strange one for many reasons that I'll get into shortly. The evening's host (I didn't catch his name and the website was no help) made a very valid point that due to being made in the mid-seventies, the film treads a very fine line between giallo and what would become the most popular horror of the next decade – the American slasher. Alice Sweet Alice was much more conscious of its visual style and many other tropes – The Don't Look Now-inspired costume was a striking image in itself – appeared as well.


However, for all its genre leanings there were also several irregularities. Firstly, the inevitable reveal happens very early on at the end of the second act. We then stay with them for a while as they try to cover up their crimes, which leads me into my next point. Alice Sweet Alice oddly has no clear protagonist. As a viewer, we spend time with Alice, her sister Karen (Brooke Shields in her first role), the mother (Linda Miller), the father (Niles McMaster) and even the family priest (Rudolph Willrick). It can be a bit erratic at times.

Though the acting could be a tad melodramatic (Jane Lowry really cranks it to eleven as the suspicious Aunt Ann), the story kept me engaged. A highlight for me was Sheppard as the title character. Nineteen when she took the role, yet somehow managing to pull off playing a twelve-year-old, she sadly only made one other film, Slava Tsukerman's Liquid Sky. She comes off as apologetically devilish regardless of whether or not she's the culprit. At one point, she actually avoids being molested by murdering a kitten. So many emotions!

Paula Sheppard in Alice Sweet Alice.

Alice Sweet Alice was not at all what I was expecting, but I was still pleasantly surprised. Instead of a generic slasher (I initially thought it to be about five years newer than it was), I got a competently executed mystery that contains more than a few jabs at Catholicism. I can get behind that. With all their kneeling and chanting, church services never cease to creep me out. Oh well, whatever gets you through the day I guess.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Short of the Week #26: Autopilot

This week's short is Dario Ortega's Autopilot based off the Reddit /nosleep short story of the same name.



I posted this short today because tragically, in a case of life imitating art, this story recently became a reality for one Montreal family. I remember getting chills the first time I watched this short a few years ago because it was so incredibly plausible. People are often slaves to their routines and any subversion can have catastrophic results.