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.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Sign Next To The X.

This week's VHS was Stephen M. Kienzle's 1990 anthology flick Terrorgram.

Three tales about ne'er do wells whose lives are thrust into chaos after receiving a mysterious package.

This was another title offered up by Ben Ruffett at his latest Hamilton Trash Cinema screening and again, his curation skills were on point. Terrorgram was wildly over-the-top and cheesy, but also kind of charming in its excesses. Don't take my word for it though, just listen to the dolcet tones of James Earl Jones!

It's like Rod Serling's opening to The Twliight Zone, but super dense and filled with mail puns. As Ben said, you kind of just zone out half way through and then it's just the sound of Jones' voice washing over you.

Terrorgram consisted of a trio of stories, the first being the most excessive. Heroine Overdose was basically about a misogynistic director that gets pulled into a parallel universe where gender stereotypes are reversed. He gets harassed and assaulted by women at every turn and can't seem to do anything about it. I have to wonder if this scenario had happened to Harvey Weinstein thirty years ago, a ton of people may have been spared a lot of trauma. Rest assured, they both got what they deserved in the end.

Pandora revolved around a newscaster that runs down a child, but does nothing so she can save her career. When the kid's jack-in-the-box shows up at her door, all manner of creeps invade. This may be the weakest of the three, perhaps just because everyone on the news team made Louis Bloom look like a saint. I will say that this segment does have some good gore and make up effects though.

Last was Veteran's Day and its more serious tone was quite a departure from the camp of the first two. Kienzle was himself a war vet and I wager this was the story he actually wanted to tell after buttering us up with some comedy. A deadbeat dad gets visited by the ghost of a soldier whom he got drafted into Vietnam by ratting him out to the army. It does not go well for either of them, as he is forced to relive the man's 'Nam experience. It's kind of like House, but if William Katt had been a garbage person.

Terrorgram was a lot better and more entertaining than it should have been, largely by way of its fresh scenarios and both the quality and quantity of its special effects collectively supplied by John Blake, Kevin Hudson, John Eggett and Richard Burk.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Clapboard Jungle

Here's the new trailer for Justin McConnell's documentary The Clapboard Jungle.

When it says “five year journey”, that is no hyperbole. I've known Justin for many years now and I've been in the periphery of some of the projects and events that take place in the film so I'm eager to see it all put together. 

There were times when I thought it may never be finished. Not for lack of effort or funds, it's just tough to find an end point in a project like this. Life is life, right? It ebbs and flows and chapters are not as easily discernible as they are on the printed page.

The Clapboard Jungle will premiere on March 26th at the Canadian Film Fest.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Ham, Anyone?

This week, I cracked open my VHS of Carl Monson's Blood Legacy aka Will To Die from 1971.

Four heirs to their dead father's fortune must stay the night in his country mansion in order to collect. But will they live that long?

I saw a lot of other films in this movie. Obviously, the surviving the night gimmick recalls Bill Castle's House on Haunted Hill, but without all of his pageantry. I love John Carradine to death, but he's not Vincent Price. With it being a body count picture by nature – something that was still rare in the early seventies – I also thought of Dementia 13. Blood Legacy's use of colour may or may not have been influenced by Bava's seminal film Blood and Black Lace, but it's amusing to note that Bay of Blood was also released in 1971 – especially since both it and Legacy share similar endings. Oh, and I'm happy to report that the scene on the coverbox actually happened.

As for the movie, it's not too bad. I didn't mind watching a bunch of rich assholes get knocked off for eighty-plus minutes. It had a lot of weird asides that kept things interesting, like the character's love of leftover ham. They just kept going back to it even after they found the Sheriff's head in the fridge. Actually, they seemed to get over that pretty quickly.

The film's preoccupation with Johnny (Richard Davalos) and Leslie's (Brooke Mills) incestuous relationship was a bit gross though. I was sad when she got offed. Her doctor boyfriend (John Smith) let her out of his sight for a moment, and BAM. Dude! You had one job! The best was the estate's driver, Frank (John Russell). Now here's a guy who just didn't give a fuck. His many life lessons included such adages as, “cars are like women, Dan. You have to treat them with care if you expect them to function properly.” Then of course, there was the “lamp story.”

Spoiler! He still had it. It was in his bedroom. Meanwhile, the killer remained unseen. I have to say that they were pretty resourceful, switching from axe, to electricity, to gun to flesh eating(!) bees. Yes, you read that right. Despite its more disturbing predilections, Blood Legacy gives you a literal wink at the end to make sure you were aware it was supposed to be camp.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Come One, Come All!

This year's Hexploitation Film Festival kicks off tomorrow!

The festivities begin tomorrow night with prolific actor Art Hindle being presented with a Career Achievement Award. Hex weekend is jam packed with genre content, but don't take my word for it, behold this sizzle reel!

For more info, including festival director Aaron Allen's recent appearance on CHCH-TV, click here. I'll be there most of the weekend, including Saturday afternoon to introduce our bangin' shorts block. Hope to see ya there!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Movies I've Rented From Eyesore #2

Filing through Eyesore Cinema's rental bins, I came across a Shot-On-Video title I had been meaning to check out in John Wintergate's 1982 slasher Boardinghouse.

Holeee. I feel like I could fill up a page worth just on the opening credits alone, but even then I'm getting ahead of myself. The filmmakers were first gracious enough to tell me that this movie was filmed in HorrorVision, complete with visual and audio queues that prepared me for the terrors within.

Then, after the faux Carpenter score kicked in – along with a screams of a woman who I couldn't tell was having sex or being murdered – I was regaled with several minutes of state-of-the-art computer graphics recalling the history of the titular abode. This section really put the “crawl” in opening crawl, as the narrator had to slow his pace just to not get ahead of the text. Wintergate was quick to point out in subsequent interviews that he was the first to use computer typing in a movie. He loved this thing, like five-minutes-worth-of-screen-time love.

So, once the movie started proper I was introduced to the antagonist, a shadowy figure that could get people to kill themselves by heavily breathing at them from off screen. A neat trick. After that, our hero and new haunted house owner (also Wintergate) appeared and concisely reminded anyone watching that it's the eighties.

Clothes notwithstanding, I did like Wintergate's style. He's makin' a movie, casts himself as the lead, buys a big house and then fills it with, like ten ladies who just parade around the place half naked – granted one of them was his partner Kalassu. I mean, talk about the American Dream!

As a movie, it is a fucking mess. Narratively, it's all over the place and scenes often seem to cut before they've played themselves out. I found out after it was because it was edited by the distributors who wanted a straight up horror film, while Wintergate was going for full-on camp. They had a point though, as the movie was over ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FOURTY MINUTES when it was handed in. An hour was clipped out of it and that resulted in a movie that made little sense, but somehow still bonkers enough to stand the test of time. Seriously, there's so much confounding stuff in here that I've barely scratched the surface.

Boardinghouse all culminated in a huge house party with lots of blood and guts and smoke and screaming and a live band made up of members of the crew. Wintergate had ambition, I'll give him that and will forever have the distinction of filming the first SOV horror film. For better or worse, he paved the way for every “auteur” with a Sonycam for decades to come.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Brain Museum

Since my acquisition of “the” Brain last November, I've cleared some wall space to pay tribute to Ed Hunt's 1988 cult classic.

Items (clockwise from left)
-The Brain prosthetic, the only known surviving piece.
-Original Pre-production sketch by Asst. Art director Michael Borthwick.
-Event poster by Leigh Young for screening at The Royal in 2016.
-Original video release poster.
-Original IVE VHS release.
-Bootleg DVD with alternate sleeve art. 
-Independent Thinking mug from 2017 Indiegogo campaign for Yuletide Horror.

The Brain Museum is complete... for now!

Monday, February 10, 2020


A big Congrats to Bong Joon-ho for crushing it last night at the Oscars.

Director Bong Joon-ho wins the Oscars.

His 2019 film Parasite (and my fave of last year) took home four Awards last night, including Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and even Best Picture, the first international film to ever do so. A terrific night!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Movies I've Rented From Eyesore #1

While I replenish my VHS queue, I'm going to start up this new segment. For those not aware, Eyesore Cinema is one of the last video stores left in Toronto. It opened down the street from the wreckage of the old Suspect Video about twelve years and has since north to Bloor St. It now also has a backroom for screenings that Little Terrors relocated a while back. But enough with the history lesson, here we go.

After seeing Richard Stanley's recent recommendations video I was reminded of a film called The Blood on Satan's Claw from 1970. The title has been in my brain since childhood when I read about it in the first video guide I ever owned.

The editors of Video Times Magazine saw fit to give Piers Haggard's period horror piece three-out-of-four stars. Reading this book as a pre-teen I distinctly recall how it mentioned it was also known as Satan's Claw and Satan's Skin, teaching me that movies could have multiple titles.

Anyhoo, I'm inclined to agree with the book in that this was some pretty evocative gothic horror. I guess this falls toward the end of when the Brits were fucking owning this genre. Everything about this felt incredibly authentic, even if the effects were fairly rudimentary. 

Haggard did a solid job of balancing all the tropes one associates with this era. Some of it could've even been rather horrifying, but growing up in an English household, I can't hear an angry mob yell “Witch!” without thinking of Monty Python.

Being set in a small village, the cast was rather large and both leading ladies (Linda Hayden & Wendy Padbury) absolutely lit up the screen as totems of “evil” and “good” respectively. I also have to mention the theme by Mark Wilkinson, as it has become one of new favourite instrumentals.

Linda Hayden (left) & Wendy Padbury in The Blood on Satan's Claw.

After watching Satan's Claw, I came away with two questions. First, how the hell did any women live through this era, and why were dudes so terrible at saving damsels in distress? Like, what the fuck Ralph? How were you just running through the countryside for five minutes while Zoe from Doctor Who was getting slaughtered? Weak sauce.

I'm glad I waited thirty-five years to finally see this, as I don't think I would have appreciated it nearly as much as I did now.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A PG I Can Get On Board With.

Bloody Disgusting dropped some wicked pics from the new project from Steve Kostanski (The Void) called Psycho Goreman.

A few of my friends slaved over this, holing up in a warehouse for what seemed like months doing just the effects shots so I'm super stoked to see how it all turned out. Not sure when it will premiere, but SXSW or Fantasia would be a good bet. Click here for more info.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

It Came From The Archives 29!

While digging around in the Archives last year, I unearthed evidence of my brief foray into cartoonism. I date these little cartoon strips somewhere in the mid-nineties based mainly on the fact they were pencilled on the backs of Blockbuster Video sleeves. It should also come as no surprise that my favourite comic strip as a teen was The Far Side. Enjoy.

Monday, February 3, 2020

A Familiar Monstrosity.

After winning monthly horror trivia at Storm Crow, I took home this eye-catching vinyl.

Easiest way to describe Bukkakecore is aggressive drum & bass with Japanese porn samples mixed into it. It's actually pretty bangin'. Anyhoo, when I actually took a good look at the cover, I realized it looked familiar. Only someone as batshit as Japanese artist Shintaro Kago could come up with something like this. I recognized it because I happened to meet him at his art show a few years back at TCAF.

Artist Shintaro Kago at TCAF 2016

Weird how things come around like that, isn't it?