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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Apr 24th Horror Trivia Screening Guide

To all those who came here from the event or Storm Crow's FB page, welcome! I am Jay, one half of the horror trivia quizmasters and this is my humble blog. Here's the selected list of titles mentioned at the last event. Click on the titles to be redirected to their Imdb listing.

Horror Trivia Night happens at Storm Crow Manor in Toronto. If you're in the area, come on down! Register here. If you're not local, we do occasionally stream the event on @ruemorguemag Instagram.

Hatchet (2006)
Cat's Eye (1985)

Hereditary (2018)
The Witch (2015)
Veronica (2017)
Suspiria (2018)

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Final Hex

Hello all. I know I've been slacking off recently, but my festival duties have been eating into my play time of late. I did want to make a point of saying good-bye to a fest near and dear to my heart though.

The Hexploitation Film Fest is calling it quits after fifteen years. After our last hurrah in Feb 2020, Hex head honcho Aaron Allen has decided to throw dirt on the coffin as it were. BUT not before going out with some kick-ass events collectively dubbed The Final Hex.

I took in Here For Blood a few weeks ago, starring "Wesker" himself Shawn Roberts. It's actually quite fun and I think the local FX crew The Butcher Shop's best work to date. Earlier this week though, I went to an absolutely delightful screening of the 80s Canadian banger Murder By Phone.

I have sung in praise of this film after discovering it during the pandemic, but seeing it with a crowd was a real hoot. Aaron also cooked up a little game with it, as well. Everyone in attendance gave him their phone number before the show, and when someone in the movie got a call, someone in the audience also did. Then you were DEAD. I sadly got offed at the same time as Lenore Zann, but I still made out like a bandit with all these runner up prizes courtesy of The Hearty Hooligan and Blood Opera.

A terrific evening. I wish Aaron the best, and hope the Crypt Cinema at Doors Pub (who hosted the screening) keep the horror flame alive in Hamilton.

Friday, April 5, 2024

My Girl Wants To Party All The Time!

Next VHS off the pile was the 1988 slasher Party Line. I certainly recalled the coverbox, but never got to it back in the day because it was one of a SLEW of titles that almost seemed interchangeable. Let's pick up the phone and call! I hear it's private, confidential, one-on-one and discreet!

Crazy sibling serial killers Seth (Leif Garrett) & Angelina (Greta Blackburn) cruise telephone chat lines for victims, while hothead detective Dan (Richard Hatch - the Battlestar one, not the gay Survivor one) remains one body behind.

Party Line was amusing, but this was admittedly not top-tier stuff. For those who were not alive in the eighties, there were all kinds of call-in services available, some not even for degenerates. I remember calling one called Dial-A-Joke a few times, until my father confronted me with the subsequent phone bill. Hell, there was even one to hear Freddy Krueger.

Anyway, I digress. For a movie called Party Line, the phone sex stuff actually makes up little of the movie. Characters would disappear for chunks at a time, tagging out for stretches of police procedure and generic nightclub revelry. I was being generous when I used the word slasher earlier. I guess technically it's accurate as the killer's weapon of choice is a straight razor, but it's really more of a tame erotic thriller. Save for a few slit throats, it is fairly anemic too.

We do get a lot of weirdo scenes with the "complicated" shenanigans of Seth & Angelina. It's a lot of simping and leering from the former and the latter slapping him around for it. It's... awkward. It sure was a banner year for Garrett, who also appeared in Cheerleader Camp in '88. 

Imdb tells me that viewers thought Hatch was miscast. I don't know if I agree, I think it more that the detective character as a whole was miscast. Everyone knows the "hard boiled cop who doesn't play by the rules" trope, but this was ridiculous. He pulled his gun out so much in this movie, he might as well have had fused to his hand ala Videodrome. And, since when do District Attorney employees visit crime scenes? Seems like a conflict of interest, but I guess Dan & Stacy (Shawn Weatherly) had to meet somehow.

Speaking of conflicts, when the teen using the party line in the beginning finally reappears again, Dan actually has the brilliant idea to have said sixteen-year-old help them in their investigation. Does any of this sound like it would hold up in court, people? However, after the inevitable plot twist and kidnapping of Stacy, I was happy that she didn't need to be saved at the end. She made short work of Mama's boy Seth, even with her hands tied. You go, girl!

Call me Nancy Lew-d.

Party Line was run-of-the-mill fare that needed more of a hook than just the passing fad it hung its hat on. Hider in the House had the wild card magic of Gary Busey and Fear had Ally Sheedy's psychic superpowers. This just has well, people perving on and off the phone. I want more for my dollar-ninety-five per minute, ya know?

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Horror Movie Guide: The Brain That Wouldn't Die

The next film in the Guide is perhaps one of the most recognized B-movies in existence, and yet one I had never seen - Joseph Green's 1962 movie The Brain That Wouldn't Die. I, and I am sure you, at least know the iconic image of actress Virginia Leith's head in a tray hooked up to various amounts of rigging and equipment. I feel I must have seen the MST3K episode at some point, but it was so long ago now, who knows?

After his girlfriend Jan (Leith) is decapitated in a road accident, a maverick surgeon Dr. Cortner (Jason Evers) keeps her head alive using his new experimental transplant procedure.

So yes this is primarily what I expected. I find the majority of these weird curiosities of the atomic age are "come up with a good hook or title" and then just pad the rest to make it feature length. What am I saying, that is the nature of most B-movies in general, isn't it? Nevertheless, The Brain That Wouldn't Die does go back and forth between lab scenes to mostly superfluous burlesque shows and beauty pageants that the good Doctor is cruising for new subjects.

Virginia Leith as Jan in The Brain That Wouldn't Die.

As good a surgeon as Cortner must have been, he was a shit driver, as that inciting accident was totally avoidable and not even serious from what I could tell. Then I had to chuckle that Cortner's first reaction to seeing his dead girlfriend was to pick up her head and run with it. Then again, that is the inherent nature of TBTWD really. Run with it. I mean, that cat fight scene? You might as well had Jerry Lewis come in and mug to the camera.

It makes me sad that Leith - whom was actually "the Girl" in Stanley Kubrick's debut film Fear & Desire that I saw for the first time recently - had such a terrible time on this picture that she wouldn't even come back for post. That may explain the ghoulish fake head that appears in the long shots of the lab.

I have to admit that I was shocked to see boobies in a film from the early sixties, but I guess that is what Tubi meant by "uncensored". With my expectations tempered, I guess my only disappointment was that after all that talk of the abomination locked behind the door, it turned out to just be a dude in a mask -  think Richard Kiel crossed with Michael Berryman. And that ending - quite abrupt!

The Guide didn't seem to think much of it, but that is to be expected.