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Friday, December 24, 2010

RED STATE TRAILER



Here's the trailer for Kevin Smith's forthcoming horror film, "Red State." It may not be your typical horror film, but it looks pretty scary to me.

Happy HorrorDays!




Last night I watched something I always try to see around Christmas -- the Tales From The Crypt episode "All Through The House." It's set on Christmas eve, and features a killer Santa -- this time played by Larry Drake, later to evoke both laughs and screams as "Dr. Giggles."

There's a twist, though -- Santa, an escaped lunatic, wants to invade the home of a scheming woman (Mary Ellen Trainor) who's literally just killed her second husband for insurance money. The wife sees this as an opportunity to frame crazy Santa for her husband's murder, but forgets one thing: her small daughter's unquestioning love for Santa Claus.

Originally a comic book story in EC's "The Vault Of Horror," "All Through The House" was previously dramatized in the 1972 Amicus theatrical film "Tales From the Crypt," directed by the legendary Freddie Francis. For a change, the Americans did as well as the Brits with the material, though -- this HBO "Crypt" episode, only the second in the series, was directed by the great Robert Zemeckis. I found it on DVD as part of "Tales From The Crypt: The Robert Zemeckis Collection."

Actually, I enjoy Christmas horror films partly because I'm not big on Christmas -- being bombarded with all the Norman Rockwell family propaganda gets old fast if your own history was not so cheery. I'm also one of those folks who fights with Christmas depression every year. But my partner and my pets are a fine family now, and I am particularly grateful for them at this time of year.

Whether your favorite seasonal film is "Gremlins," "Silent Night, Deadly Night" or something more traditional like "White Christmas," I hope you can find time to enjoy it -- and that you and your loved ones have a joyous, safe, peaceful and prosperous holiday.

Monday, December 20, 2010

FA LA LA LA....AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH!

Here, as part of the Christmas Week Tod Slaughter Blog-A-Thon masterminded by Joe Monster at From Beyond Depraved, is a glimpse of Mr. Slaughter when you’d expect him to be out of character. The problem is, he apparently never was!

Tod Slaughter, for those who don't know, was an actor who specialized in playing villains on the British stage. He became strongly identified with Sweeney Todd, and went on to play him in the first filmed version of that famous gory story. This "newsreel" introduces movie audiences to Slaughter just as that film arrived in cinemas. You can tell the man really loves his work (just a little too much, in fact, as this luckless "journalist" is about to find out!)



This appeared with other “newsreels” by the Pathe company between feature films at the local cinema. It was, of course, really an ad for Slaughter’s 1936 film “Sweeney Todd, Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.”

Sadly, there are no films featuring Mr. Slaughter as an evil Santa. He would have made a great one, but such an idea would have been way ahead of its time.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DOMIN...EEEEEK!!!!!



The Little Sisters Of Chernobyl always threw a few surprises into their annual holiday production of "The Sound Of Music."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

MEDICINE CABINET MAYHEM



Stop growling, Wolfie. If you didn't claw the labels off, we'd be able to tell the Clearasil from the Nair!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A GIRL IN WOLF'S CLOTHING




"Blood Moon" (2001) -- aka "Wolf Girl" -- is one of the most original and surprising horror films I've ever seen.

It stars Tim Curry as impresario Harley Dune (love the name), who runs a traveling carnival that specializes in freaks. One of them is the seductive and darkly philosophical half-man-half-woman Christine/Christoph, played to the hilt by Grace Jones. The star attraction, though, is Tara the Wolf Girl (Victoria Sanchez), covered in shaggy hair since infancy due to a condition called Hypertrichosis. Otherwise Tara is a normal teenage girl, but the show plays her as a vicious, snarling creature that frightens the audience.

The real surprise in the show is the prominence of musical numbers in a style similar to the decadent jazzy show-tunes of the film "Cabaret." Curry and Jones both perform musical numbers, and there is even a hilarious bawdy song from a dwarf backed by an all-girl chorus line, "Just The Right Height For Delight."

All goes smoothly till a group of teenage bullies cruises into the audience and starts harassing Tara during her act. However, this causes her to bond with a nerdy local boy Ryan (Dov Tiefenbach) who is a favorite victim of her tormentors. Ryan's mom is a cosmetics researcher (Lesley Anne Warren) who is testing a hair removal drug on mice. He tries to use the drug to cure Tara, and, though she starts shedding hair, it has an ironic side effect -- the more normal she appears, the more she becomes like a wild animal inwardly. You can imagine what's in store for the bullies, who just don't know when to quit.

Though it has some horror movie tropes and violence, the film is really more of a cross between a drama and a musical, driven by the complex relationships between the characters. Sometimes it's darkly funny, sometimes it's quite touching -- as in scenes showing Tara's affectionate friendship with the show's gigantic fat lady -- and sometimes it's quite disturbing.

"Blood Moon" certainly addresses themes relevant to gay and transgender people -- being different, being bullied, etc. -- and it prominently features two gay icons, Curry and Jones, who may not be on screen a LOT, but make quite an impact when they do appear. One of Jones's songs ambitiously turns the whole idea of gender identity on its ear. The only female in the bully clique secretly comes on to Tara, and for the guys there's even a scene with full frontal male nudity (though the point of it is to humiliate the character because he has such a teeny willy, so don't get too excited!)

This movie won't make you jump, but it will make you think and feel (and sometimes laugh). It's not all that scary, but it is fascinating -- a very unusual film if you're up for something truly different. The whole cast is superb. The film is directed by Thom Fitzgerald and written by Lori Lansen, and they've really crafted something special.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

BAD HAIR CENTURY



Please, Sir, can't you spare some change? I need to raise funds to have this hair catastrophe professionally corrected.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

PLANNED PARENTING



So when The Boogeyman catches up to us, me and Johnny jump out in front of him and hop up and down screaming -- while you run for help? That doesn't sound like such a great plan to me, Mommy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

ABOUT MY ABSENCE

My partner had to have emergency surgery last weekend and is still in the hospital. My blogs will resume when he gets home. At the moment, we have no idea when that will be.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

...AND WE THOUGHT HE WAS BEING KNIGHTED!



I'm serious, Lee. If I catch you dancing on Cushing's grave again, I'll slice your head off.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ANTICS OF THE ANTICHRIST, INSTALLMENT #1



Damien politely asked his mother whether he could have another Mountain Dew, but for some reason, she didn't respond.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Since Everyone's Upset About Calling Folks "Trannies..."



Here's a film that uses the word in its title but looks pretty bleeping empowering to me...

Thanks to Johnny at "Freddy In Space" for making me aware of this flick, which has just shoved its way to the top of my must-see list.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

THE JAWS OF LIFE



Uh, Dear, your mother's just about gone through the appetizers. Could you bring dinner out now? Please?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

FRANKIE TURNS AL DOWN AGAIN



I'm sorry, Al, I know how much it means to you, but I'm a Method actor -- I never had a mother, so how could I play this Norman Bates character? Go with Tony Perkins. I've met his mother. Lots of source material there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

ALFRED STITCH-SOCK PRESENTS: SOCK PUPPET PSYCHO

Sock Puppet Psycho from Jeff Lynch on Vimeo.



When you can find time, treat yourself by watching this video. It's a scream.

From the Vimeo post:
A demented parody of Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" as performed by Creative Works on Halloween, 2010, in Lancaster, PA, before an audience of devoted fans. "Sock Puppet Psycho” is performed by a cast of hands wearing button adorned hosiery and wielding fake knives. The show’s creators are experts in their field, having worn socks for most of their lives.

This first production in a planned series of sock puppet shows was presented at Lancaster Dispensing Company (Dipco), located on the corner of Market and Grant Streets, Lancaster, Pa., on Halloween Day, Sunday, October 31st.

36 minutes 58 seconds

***

From Jack: I planned to see this on Halloween, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I couldn't -- however, thanks to this video generously posted on Vimeo by Jeff Lynch, we can all have a front row seat! My friend Chet Williamson – author of several wonderful horror novels including the classics “Soulstorm” and “Ash Wednesday” -- plays a number of roles in this.



http://vimeo.com/16432558

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

BE KIND TO YOUR WEB-HANDED FRIENDS



I doubt it's from that, Bill -- that's supposed to put hair on your palms. By the way, how's your eyesight?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FOUR MORE DAYS TO HALLOWEEN...



Since it's Halloween, I want to take this opportunity to give proper respect to the
most underrated and misunderstood movie in the original Halloween franchise.

I refer to director/writer Tommy Lee Wallace's "Halloween III: Season Of The Witch," a movie usually dismissed by fans and critics alike. Yes, Michael Myers isn't in it. Yes, it has nothing to do with the rest of the films in the franchise except that the story takes place at Halloween. It also has more surprises in it than any other film in the franchise except for the first one, and is an infinitely more original and better-executed film than any of the subsequent sequels except for "Halloween H20."

The story concerns ER Doctor Dan Challis (ruggedly sexy Daddy Tom Atkins) whose patient, a shop owner, is murdered in the hospital by an impossibly strong male assassin in a suit who pulls his skull apart by hand. The murderer then promptly sets himself and his car on fire in the hospital parking lot. The doc agrees to help the victim's distraught daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) track down the truth behind her father's bizarre death. Their search takes them to the small town of Santa Mira, which turns out to be the ultimate company town -- everyone there works for the Silver Shamrock Halloween mask company, the streets roll up at curfew, surveillance cameras are everywhere, and within the town's limits it's impossible to communicate with the outside world.

OK, here come the spoilers, because one can't discuss this film without revealing its central concept -- the Silver Shamrock company is actually a front for a Druidic cult headed by the charismatic factory owner and mechanical genius Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy), who plans to pull off a mass sacrifice of children to his old gods on Samhain (the original Celtic name for Halloween). During the big Silver Shamrock giveaway on Halloween night, when thousands of kids are glued to their TV sets watching a contest commercial in their Halloween masks, the factory will transmit a signal that will activate -- maybe DETONATE might be a better word -- a mysterious electronic disc hidden in each mask, and a ghastly supernatural phenomenon will occur. (The film's scariest scene -- which is also darkly funny -- shows Cochran demonstrating this device on an obnoxious salesman's family visiting the factory, while he and his "guests" watch on a monitor.) The factory's operations center contains an actual standing stone from Stonehenge amid all the futuristic computers and control panels, and Cochran's suit-wearing security goons are actually androids.

The ultimate irony is that the cutesy song that plays during the killer commercial ("four more days to Halloween...") goes to the tune of London Bridge, and is sung by a chorus of chipmunk-like voices. The jingle is used to build tension at intervals throughout the film, and if it doesn't set your teeth on edge, nothing ever will.

Dr. Dan and Ellie brave various dangers while figuring this out, and finally Dr. Dan has to try to stop Cochran's plot single-handedly. Just to make things more suspenseful, his own kids, in the custody of his hostile ex-wife, are among those in danger.

I can't understand why so many people missed the ingeniousness of this story, or failed to be grabbed by the performances of the cast. O'Herlihy is particularly eerie as Cochran -- he waxes eloquent about his plan to bring back his "old world" at one point in a monologue that still raises goose bumps every time I hear it. Atkins makes a ballsy frustrated protagonist who nobody will believe (he's a Pittsburgh PA native, and usually a character actor in such other flicks as "The Fog" -- it's great to see him in the lead here. And not only that -- we even get to see him shirtless!)


Tom Atkins in "Halloween III: Season of The Witch"

The movie is an evocative mixture of the ancient and futuristic, science fiction and the supernatural. It was John Carpenter and Debra Hill's attempt to turn the Halloween series into an anthology, with a different horror story every Halloween. Perhaps it would have been more successful if it weren't labeled a Halloween film. If it had just been called "Season Of The Witch," folks might have judged it on its own merits as a film, instead of fixating on insisting that it ought to be something it wasn't.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF



I'm clueless, Dr. Crane. I don't have the vaguest idea why I'm haunted by this insecurity.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

BE VERY AFRAID



After getting no results from Extenz or Enzyte, in desperation Seth Brundle decided to send himself through the transporter with a kielbasa.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SOCK PUPPET PSYCHO?

I realize the likelihood of any reader getting to this local event is remote, but I can’t imagine anything better to do on Halloween. My friend Chet Williamson – author of several wonderful horror novels including the classic “Soulstorm” and “Ash Wednesday”, BTW – is playing a number of roles in it. I think the idea is a scream (as is the trailer video below).

When I first saw the title, I thought it was a "Child's Play" type story -- only the killer was a sock puppet instead of a doll. Turns out it's even crazier than that -- it's a spoof of "Psycho" enacted by sock puppets!

Sock puppet community theater parody of movies is apparently not new -- YouTube has several videos -- but I've never seen one before, and I'll bet you haven't either. I loved "Superstar," the brilliant cult movie with Barbie dolls playing Karen and Richard Carpenter. Why not sock puppets as Norman, Marion and company?

Here’s the press release copy:

“Sock Puppet Psycho” is a parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho performed by a cast of hands wearing button adorned hosiery and wielding fake knives. The show’s creators are experts in their field, having worn socks for most of their lives.

This first production in a planned series of sock puppet shows will be presented at Lancaster Dispensing Company (Dipco), located on the corner of Market and Grant Streets, Lancaster, Pa., on Halloween Day, Sunday, October 31st.

Performances will be held at 4pm, 6pm, and 8pm. The show is intended for adult audiences, and donations are cheerfully accepted.

Food and drink will be available, and patrons are invited to stay for the entire evening.

And here's the very amusing trailer:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

THE ULTIMATE REVENGE FILM



Yes, this is my first review in quite awhile. I'm not going to get in the habit of doing lots of reviews -- just don't have time -- but the way this film grabbed me was really exceptional.

I saw this brand new movie on SyFy last night. I wasn't expecting much, but I was riveted. Brilliantly written and acted, this was the most intense horror film I've seen in ages.

Directed by Joey Stewart and written by Jason Kabolati, tt's about a group of high school kids tormented by bullies who finally have enough and plan to avenge themselves on their tormentors. After we watch the insufferable popular kids wreak merciless havoc on our heroes for about the first half of the film, the "misfits" invite the bullies to a party, drug them, and get medieval on their asses. With the recent suicides of bullycide victims in the news, the subject couldn't be more timely.

A familiar horror film theme, I grant you, but no one's ever done it as eloquently as these kids. During the long and harrowing "torture party" that makes up the second half of the film, most of the horror comes from the dialogue -- as Dane, the ringleader, and his cohorts make these very articulate speeches to their captives explaining WHY they're doing what they're doing, and scathingly dismissing all attempts to talk them out of it. He begins with a "good news/bad news" announcement: "the good news is that we're not going to kill you. The bad news is, you'll wish we had." Marc Donato's very chilling understated performance as Dane provides the film with a lot of its juice.

Not that the violence isn't awful (and very personal to each victim), or that the film doesn't have its share of unusually upsetting gore. The movie just understands that no matter how bad physical realities are, the worst part of horror happens in the mind. As Dane tells hs victims at one point: "Think of this as the Final, and there's only one question -- what did I do to deserve this?" They all know they did plenty, and it's way too late for "I'm sorry."

By the way, the other stand-out performance in the film is that of Dane's female co-conspirator Emily, played with unnervingly calm menace by Lindsay Seidell. Even when she's masked and silent, she's quite a disarming, electric presence.

This movie is definitely not for the squeamish, but is fascinating and powerful, and really has something to say. And it scared the hell out of me even though I, of course, identified with the misfits.

Oddly, there are a lot of internet reviews angrily bashing this film, dismissing the writing and acting particularly, though I found the film exclelled remarkably in these areas. I guess it's not all that surprising. We all know how many bullies are on the internet. I bet this flick strikes a nerve with them in a big way.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

BLIND LUST



First of all, Frankie, I'm sorry I walked in on your Bride before she was dressed. But second, and more important -- I'VE GONE BLIND!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

BEDTIME WITH CHUCKY



No, Mom, Chucky is not "inflatable," and you can't borrow him for the night!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

OK, WANNA SEE MY ROPE TRICK?



I am very impressed with this huge party you've thrown for the neighborhood children, Mr. Gacy... but no, I don't want to "go someplace and rassle."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

EVEN FAY WRAY DRAWS A LINE SOMEWHERE



I've put up with a lot from you, Kong, Honey, but "I Like To Watch" better not mean what I think it does.

Monday, September 20, 2010

THE BIG REVEAL



No need for such drama, Mr. Erik. Your prostate is fine.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NIGHT OF THE LIVING TREKKIES



I shared this on Facebook, and then realized – hey, why not on Lavender Lair? It’s just a trailer for a book, but I’ve seen short films that weren’t half as entertaining. I have no interest in reading the book, but I’ve watched this thing about five times now. It’s a scream.

Friday, September 17, 2010

CHANGE PARTNERS?



His dancing continued to thrill her, but Ginger couldn't help but wish Fred would add the word "moisturize" to his vocabulary.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FLASH UNDER PRESSURE



Don't worry, Dale, I'll never talk. I'll never tell Ming our secret, not even if he puts alligator clamps on my nipples or uses a buttplug the size of a softball on me. You hear that, Ming?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

IN A MORE OPEN WORLD



Not wanting to seem narrow minded, Rodney decided to give Edna's alien chiropractor a try.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

MONSTER THERAPY



Now Rex, what did we say about limiting ourselves to "I" statements?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A TOAST



OK, I am tryink this Metamusil of vich you speak, my dear. If it doesn't vork, you haff my permission to drive a stake through my heart.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010



No, Master Larry, my daughter would rather you did not call for her again. She finds it embarrassing when you suddenly sniff her butt in public places.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

THE HORROR ESCALATES



M. Night Shyamalan parodies his own film, "Devil," with a fake trailer about three people stuck on...an escalator.

Friday, August 27, 2010

FRANKENSTEIN'S POODLE



No, it's not a movie...it's a POEM! I told you I was going to experiment with putting different kinds of things up on this blog. It's funny...and kinda sick. Give it a chance.


FRANKENSTEIN’S POODLE

It has bright green fur, of course.
And he controls it with
A leather choker —
Black leather, covered with studs --
That chafes under
The bolts on its neck.

It’s just a poodle outwardly,
You see. It has the heart of a pit bull,
And the brain
Of a corporate lawyer –
Oops, I mean the brain
Of a piranha. You can’t mix
Human parts with animal,
By law. Though Frankie himself,
By some accounts,
Has the schlong of a mule;
That’s why the ladies sing
“Sweet Mystery Of Life.”

And Frankenpoodle isn’t fixed, you know;
Why steal perfectly good parts
Only to slice them off
To stuff down the disposal?
Besides – could zombie poodle sperm
Create a puppy anyway?
Only dog spelled backwards
Knows.

The Doc, meanwhile, has fled the scene
Leaving his freak handiworks
To just fend for themselves:
The big guy
And his bride with the huge perm,
The poodle, and the patchwork brat.
They say the Doc cobbled the tyke
From Jeff Dahmer’s leftovers.
One hopes, when he grows up,
His stitches hold.

As for the dog,
Beware the smoking stream
Of test tube potion
When he marks his territory.

– © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

DRACULA'S REAL MOTIVATION



Yes, my Queen, now that you have joined me in undead matrimony all this shall be yours for eternity! By the way, there's a feather duster in the bureau next to your coffin...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BUTCHNESS ABOUNDS IN LAKE PLACID 3


(Ironside and Ferguson in Lake Placid 3)

As monster movie franchises go, Lake Placid has done reasonably well so far -- the second had wonderfully crusty Cloris Leachman and gorgeous Daddy John Schneider going for it -- so I was looking forward to SyFy's part 3. Except for the substandard CGI, it didn't disappoint me.

This time cutie Colin Ferguson (Sherriff Carter of "Eureka") was our hero, with veteran Michael Ironside, of all people, as his sidekick. This time the crocodile-feeding culprit was not a batty old broad but the hero's young son, who was shoplifing meat from the local market to feed the at first small, then REALLY BIG crocs in the lake. The kid did a good job -- they in fact gave him a couple of the film's best lines -- but my partner and I were hoping for another another croc hag, played by Mary Tyler Moore. Then they could have cast Georgia Engel as the croc feeder in part 4 -- but no! Those who remember the Mary Tyler Moore show will get what I mean: first Betty White, then Cloris Leachman, then...

Anyway, Ferguson plays the likably quirky zoologist/ game warden who moves his wife and son into the notorious cabin by the lake (inherited from Leachman's character Sadie, supposedly his late aunt). Either for the sake of his comfort zone or ours, someone got the idea to have his character wear a shirt throughout the film that is nearly identical to the sherriff shirt he wears in Eureka. The sherriff in this film, though, is played by Ironside, bearded and looking surprisingly hunky in a bearlike way. His character is gun-happy but a nice guy.

The real balls in the cast, though, belong to gravel-voiced Yancy Butler, who plays a smart-mouthed and impressivley butch wilderness guide and hunter's mercenary named Reba. Her endless put-downs of the male characters whose asses she repeatedly saves give the film a big added dose of salt that keeps things amusing. She's way scarier than the crocs, particularly the one hapless croc she regularly stabs in the face with her hunting knife.

David Reed's dialogue is worthy of the cast, though the plot is predictable -- when the crocs run out of stolen beef, they move on to chewing up yappy lap dogs and horny teenagers (why don't those kids ever learn?) Many characters appear who are clearly just intended to be croc entrees. Ferguson learns that he should appreciate his neglected boy (who delivers the line, "I thought a law of nature was parents caring about their kids -- my mistake") and frustrated career woman wife. But it remains fast-paced and entertaining, though the crocs aren't integrated with the live action as smoothly as they should be.

It didn't quite live up to #2, but it's worth catching on one of the dozens of times SyFy will show it again. Next time, they should dispense with the expensive weaponry and just have Yancy Butler wrestle the crocs. Or better yet, forget the crocs and have John Schneider and Colin Ferguson wrestle, in speedos. What can I say -- I've come to expect wrestling from SyFy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

THAT IRREPRESSIBLE DOMESTIC IMPULSE



Though they were denied the right to wed in the state where they lived, Frankie and Igor never regretted their decision to adopt.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FROM A SUB SHOP IN ZOMEBIELAND


(From the hilarious webiste Engrish, http://store.engrish.com/subwei.html)

Monday, August 16, 2010

CHEMISTRY AMONG THE CANNIBALS: "Ravenous"



You’d think a film which includes a moment of high drama when one male character cries out, “He was LICKING ME!” is probably a gay movie, right?

You wouldn’t exactly be wrong, but director Antonia Bird's “Ravenous” purports to be a nonsexual film about cannibalism among soldiers in 1840s California. The story is loosely based on the case of Alfred Packer, a prospector and former Union soldier who was accused of eating companions with whom he was snowbound in the Colorado Rockies in 1875. It also echoes the more well known story of the Donner Party.

Guy Pearce stars as a US Army officer who freezes in combat when his unit is massacred in the Mexican-American war. He survives by playing dead, and is carted back to Mexican headquarters with the other corpses – and with his commander’s blood running into his mouth. In remorse, he suddenly rises up and captures the Mexican command, which nets him a promotion to Captain. However, he is recognized as a coward and transferred to a remote fort in the Nevada mountains.

A stranger named Colqhoun (Rober Carlyle) shows up at the fort and shares a spellbinding story of how his wagon train, relying on the guidance of one Colonel Ives, got lost in the Sierra Nevadas. They had to resort to cannibalism to survive; Ives had misled them deliberately, and provoked them to cannibalism.

The soldiers and their Commanding Officer, Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones), decide they should investigate Colqhoun’s story and search for survivors. They of course ignore the warnings of George (Joseph Runningfox), their Native American scout, who tells them that a man who eats human flesh becomes a powerful cannibalistic demon called a “Wendigo.”

When they reach the location of Colqhoun’s tale, his behavior rapidly gets weirder and weirder, and it soon becomes clear that he is, in fact, really Colonel Ives. He has lured them there to massacre and eat them. For me, this is the scariest part of the whole film. It quickly escalates from spooky to downright bloodcurdling, and Carlyle’s gleefully leering performance is the most chilling thing about it.

Boyd hurls himself off a cliff to escape from Ives, and breaks his leg. He hides in a pit with another wounded soldier who soon expires. Yes, he ends up eating some of his companion’s flesh out of desperation. Eventually he is strong enough to drag himself back to the fort, where no one believes his story. No one currently there has met Colqhoun – until he arrives again as the new commander, cleaned up and well dressed, calling himself Colonel Ives. No one will believe Ives is the killer, and he begins to secretly taunt Boyd, claiming eating flesh can heal all illnesses and wounds. And the fort's inhabitants begin disappearing.

The film certainly has a strong gay subtext. The relationship between the protagonist and antagonist is every bit as bitter (and intense) as a love affair gone wrong. Ives repeatedly tries to goad Boyd into eating human flesh, for which he has developed a taste, though he denies it vehemently for as long as he can. The situation echoes the classic clandestine relationship between a gay man and a married closet case-- not that I’ve ever personally engaged in such ill-advised behavior (nudge nudge wink wink). And there is a pivotal scene, which I can’t describe without spoiling the film, where the two do literally end up in each other’s arms.

It’s all played in such a way that even the supernatural aspects seem plausible – the only references to them are in convincingly delivered dialogue. The cast and locations are perfect, and the gore effects very realistic. Above all, Pearce and Carlyle have electric chemistry together – and their relationship is the heart of this haunting, disturbing film.

Friday, August 13, 2010

FRIDAY THE 13th: A DAY FOR A DECISION


(The original Variety ad for the now-classic film)

OK, folks, I've got an announcement about Lavender Lair Of Horror.

From now on, this blog will no longer appear on Fridays. I originally planned to add a new blog every Friday, but it turns out Friday has become an impractical deadline day for me. I've become involved with running events on Thursday nights, which means I'm out and up late the night before, and I'm really dragging on Fridays -- not a good state to be in when trying to produce snappy, entertaining writing.

So from now on, I'm going to post the blog on a less predictable schedule -- I'll still do something every week, it just won't always be on the same day. I'm also going to be more flexible about WHAT I post -- I won't exclusively do a film review every time. Some items may be shorter, some longer. The blog may also appear more than once in a week. I'm going to experiment with my approach to it, and see what happens.

If you have any thoughts about this change, please feel free to comment. The old approach just isn't working any more, so I'll shake things up.

BTW, my partner got hired for a new job today -- so that proves Friday The 13th doesn't have to be unlucky. Here's hoping it's a good day to inaugurate other changes as well!

Friday, August 6, 2010

BLOOD AND SOAP: Vampires On Television




Well, last night I finally saw an episode of CW's "Vampire Diaries." I thought I'd been missing something. I was wrong.

God, how boring. It's slick, talky, full of wooden actors who look like models -- and in the "vampire soap opera" category, the emphasis was not on "vampire" but on "soap opera." Very little action. Compared to "True Blood," it's completely anemic.

The good news is that it was followed by a rerun of a fairly exciting episode of "Moonlight."

I've been watching vampire soaps since the 1960s, when I ran home from Catholic grammar school every weekday to watch "Dark Shadows" with my grandmother. She'd be half in the bag by then -- she'd started drinking red wine during "General Hospital." Even though we were Catholic, it never occurred to me that her dark red drink was an ironic choice of beverage while watching a vampire show.

A few years later, I actually met star Jonathan Frid, when he did a personal appearance at the John Wannamaker department store. I shook his hand and got him to sign my copy of a "Dark Shadows" comic book. I would give my left testicle to still have that issue, but my mother threw it out during a vengeful "cleaning" binge. It's no wonder her mother drank.

I was very fond of the vampire detective show "Forever Knight," not so much because of the handsome hero, Geraint Wyn Davies, but for Nigel Bennett, who played his delightfully supercilious nemesis/sire/old friend Lucien LaCroix. I particularly liked the episodes where they emphasized LaCroix's part-time job as late-night radio host -- a sinister voice expounding very cynical philosophy and dripping with sarcasm toward the whole human race (and other sentient species as well). Davies and Bennet acted much more like bitter ex lovers than the ambivalent associates they were supposed to be.



The hunky Mick of "Moonlight" -- another vampire detective, albeit a private one -- turned my head too.




Before "True Blood" came along, though, my favorite "vampire soap" -- though it was certainly much more than that -- was the TV version of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." I really cared about the characters -- making us feel that is the key to making horror that really hooks the audience -- and it had the two hottest male vampires we'd ever seen at that point, Angel and Spike.

I was also very moved by the delicate and poignant depiction of the relationship between Willow and Tara, one of the most empathetic presentations of a gay relationship ever shown on TV.

Now we have "True Blood," which not only gives us gay characters but gay vampires -- not to mention the hottest parade of shirtless hunks ever to grace the small screen. Yum.

What's your favorite vampire show so far?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

COOT, WE HARDLY KNEW YE



I'm majorly bummed that "True Blood" has killed off Coot, a bad guy werewolf played by the gorgeous Grant Bowler. He had a hot "love scene" with series star Stephen Moyer when he abducted his character, Bill, and got a little too tempted by the allure of vampire blood while absconding with him in a sort of rough trade S & M scene.

Above is a scene to remember him by -- he's the one who tears off his shirt, steps out of his jeans, and wolfs out. OWOOOOOO!



R.I.P., Coot -- or better yet, come back as a naked ghost!

Friday, July 30, 2010

ALIEN HOSPITAL ROOMMATE (Or, THE LIMITS OF TOLERANCE


(Hey, I had to show you how he ended up in the hospital, didn't I?)


This week I thought I'd try something different. My current entry in my other blog (Sun Through A Broken Window) is a humorous short short story in the horror/science fiction genre, so I thought I'd try showing it to my fellow genre fans here too. I'm not going to make a habit of it, but I'd love to know what y'all think. Enjoy!



ALIEN HOSPITAL ROOMMATE
(Or, THE LIMITS OF TOLERANCE)



I suppose it’s a good thing that we’re trying to get along with them. It’s certainly not fair to deny them anything just because of where they’re from. They should be able to use the pool at the hotel, of course. If everyone else gets out of the pool when one gets in, that can’t be helped. You can’t control everybody, now can you?

But let’s face it – if given a choice, would you share a hospital room with one?

We have one TV between us. True, we each have a remote. But it doesn’t matter which button I push, when he can just flick out one of those tentacles of his, without getting out of bed, and change the channel back. So he picks all the programs. Ten hours a day of nature shows about squids and octopi gets old fast, let me tell you – and what do I care how homesick he is for a world where everyone has tentacles?

And the first time the doc needed to check his private parts, what does he do -- have the doc just drag the curtain around, like anyone else would? Oh no, he has to eject this cloud of noxious-smelling black fumes for camouflage! The staff were quick to point out that it’s harmless, that it doesn’t pollute the air anymore than an octopus pollutes the water with its ink. But they don’t have to lie here and smell it all afternoon. I don’t care how much Glade the nurses spray in here, I can still smell it. And I don’t care if he just did it by instinct – what it means to me is that in here, it stinks.

Then his squeeze comes to visit him, and they do pull the curtain around. If I wasn’t hooked up to all these tubes, I woulda been outta here. I know they were just kissing hello, but I never heard such a disgusting sound of slurping and gurgling and smacking in all my life. And the flashing red lights! You’d think he just pulled in his own private ambulance over there!

I used to be a lot more liberal, but now that I’ve had to live with this for five days, I think we need to ship them all back to Venus where they came from.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

DON'T DEBUNK MY DIBBUK, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!




When I see a horror film, the primary thing I’m hoping for is that I’ll be scared. I find being scared by movies therapeutic – it’s good for my soul. And, truth be told, it seldom happens anymore. I’m usually mildly amused, but I don’t often find myself getting lost in the action, jumping at surprise movements onscreen, etc. When I do, I’m so delighted that I can easily forgive a film for failing in lot of other ways. Whether it satisfied the demands of my intellect is way down on my list of priorities – when I want that, I read philosophers.

I also particularly enjoy horror films that have some sort of spiritual content. I’m a recovering Roman Catholic, so I’m especially susceptible if – as in “The Omen” or “The Exorcist” – the imagery and atmosphere are Catholic. But I find most religions equally scary (don’t think about that statement too much). Any faith will do.

This week I watched "The Unborn" (2009), an American horror film about a young woman named Casey (Odette Yustman) whose unborn twin brother was possessed by an evil spirit called a Dibbuk -- which is gradually forcing its way into the world of the living so it can come after her. The story is tinged with Jewish mysticism from the Kabbalah; the biggest name in it was Gary Oldman, who did a plausible turn as a rabbi exorcist.

It was fairly eerie, and it took awhile before what was going on became clear; the girl is menaced by apparitions in mirrors, receives ominous warnings from her long-lost grandmother, and is stalked by a creepy little boy (unnervingly played by the remarkable Atticus Shaffer).

The flick got very bad reviews, mostly for things that are readily accepted in a movie that's say, Italian; the biggest criticism was that it didn't make really narrative sense (you could say that about practically any Dario Argento film, but critics love those). Yes, the plot made a point of telling us that twins are particularly vulnerable to possession by a Dibbuk because twins are like living mirrors, through which Dibbuks enter this world -- and yet the spirit possesses almost every non-twin character in the movie while trying to get to heroine Casey. Point taken, but -- who cares?

The movie is a roller coaster ride of scares. The demon in its non-human form is a repulsive vision that varies a bit each time we see it -- as did the monsters in "Alien" and John Carpenter's "The Thing." The cast does an excellent job, the cinematography is wonderfully stylish and spooky, director David S. Goyer times every shock perfectly. It kept me on the edge of my seat and made me jump several times. I enjoyed it, and I'd recommend it. You'll have a great time if you suspend disbelief and allow yourself to get into it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NIGHT OF THE LIVING ACCORDION

I'm unable to write a blog this week because I'm busy covering a national accordionist's convention for my local newspaper. No, I'm not kidding.

In place of my blog I give you this short horror film from YouTube called Night Of The Living Accordion. At the end, you'll find the credits attribute everything to the star, one J. White. The only other film I've seen with similar credits was Bambi Meets Godzilla, which looks like a Hitchcock masterpiece compared to this thing. It's 8 minutes and 14 seconds you'll never be able to get back, so don't sue me. I warned you.

Ever hear several people sitting around in a hotel hallway playing different songs simultaneously on accordions? Now THAT'S scary.

See ya next week.


Friday, July 9, 2010

HONEYMOON OF HORRORS


(Divine has nothing on leading lady Shirley Stoller, who also played the female Nazi -- the "Bitch Of Buchenwald" -- who humiliates Giancarlo Giannini in Seven Beauties).


This 1969 flick, the only known film by director Leonard Kastle, made an unforgettable impression on me when I first saw it, and it still impresses me every time I watch it again. The film depicts the real-life story of Ray Hernandez and Martha Beck, a notorious couple who murdered at least 12 women. Though it takes considerable liberties with the facts, The Honeymoon Killers is utterly believable – it has a gritty fly-on-the-wall perspective that makes it seem almost like cinema verite. Tony LoBianco and Shirley Stoller are also perfect for their roles. The Honeymoon Killers was originally supposed to have been directed by Martin Scorsese, who got canned due to “creative differences” with the producer. Brilliant as he is, he couldn’t have done a better job than Kastle.

Alternately funny, sexy and horrifying, the film follows Ray and Martha as they con a series of gullible women into marrying Ray so they can abscond with their money. Overweight Martha poses as suave, hunky Ray’s sister so she can accompany him, but her jealousy compels her to kill the women he marries, transforming his modus operandi from mere con jobs to mass murder. Martha and Ray’s real passion for each other makes us identify with them rather than the whiny women they victimize, but their ruthlessness and cruelty still shocks when the murders are shown – especially in the one case where they kill not only the latest wife but her young daughter.

I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will say that the film makes us empathize with the killers even at the end – putting it in that rare category, along with In Cold Blood and a few other titles, of films that truly succeed in portraying multiple murderers as human. Though it doesn’t shrink from showing violence, it’s more of a crime drama than a horror movie -- but it’s riveting from start to finish. And The Criterion Collection DVD does a superb job with its presentation.

And yes, Tony LoBianco looks as good here as he did in God Told Me To, and we do see him shirtless.

Friday, July 2, 2010

MAX SCHRECK COMES TO LIFE AGAIN


(John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe in Shadow Of The Vampire)


This week I revisited Shadow Of The Vampire (2,000) director Elias Merhige's fictionalized account of the making of the classic silent film Nosferatu. The film's central conceit is that star Max Schreck (brilliantly played with twitchy, barely-restrained menace by Willem Dafoe) actually is, unbeknownst to the cast and crew, a real vampire. Director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) has convinced him to play the role in exchange for the blood of his spoiled leading lady (Catherine McCormack) -- and on condition that he wait till the filming of the final scene to actually drain her on camera.

The company finds it odd that Schreck is shot only at night, and that they only see him in character and in full makeup (and the makeup job, I might add, is an unnervingly effective homage to Schreck's original). The catch is that, as they say, "you can't eat just one" -- cameraman Wolfe (Ronan Vibert) ends up a snack for Schreck, and producer Albin (a perfectly cast Udo Kier) starts to suspect what's really going on.

Everyone plays their role flawlessly, The film is darkly funny at times, but also really spooky and suspenseful. It lives up to the ingeniousness of the idea and makes it plausible. It also makes a very respectable tribute to the original film, especially in the recreation of "Nosferatu" scenes where it moves seamlessly in and out of the camera's POV, adding peeks at events occurring out of camera range.

The film's gay connection? For one thing, the title character in the novel Dracula is rumored to be inspired by author Bram Stoker's repressed love for his employer, stage actor Sir Henry Irving, on whom the vampire is allegedly modeled.


(Sir Henry Irving -- looks a bit like Gregory Peck, doesn't he? But perhaps what turned Bram on was having to call him "Sir.")

More to the point, Nosferatu director F.W. Murnau, a major character in Shadow Of The Vampire, was gay -- a fact the film doesn't ignore but doesn't really dwell on, either.


(F.W. Murnau)

Ironically, Bram Stoker's widow successfully sued Murnau because he filmed her husband's novel without her permission, and ordered all prints of Nosferatu destroyed. Luckily for us, a few bootleg copies survived.

Friday, June 25, 2010

ULTRA MAN: The First Big Guy I Admired




At last, those of us who’ve waited decades to see Ultraman again can see 20 episodes – with a good picture and pretty good, if not absolutely perfect, sound – on an inexpensive 2-disc DVD set. The set includes the entire first season of the show.

For those who don’t remember, Ultraman was a half-hour 1960s live action TV series about a gigantic flying superhero from outer space who merges with Hiyata, a young pilot from Japan’s Science Patrol (a sort of space-age police force that deals with extraterrestrial invaders, giant monsters and such). Because of this merging, Hiyata can walk away from what should have been a fatal crash with the space hero’s ship – but in a crisis he can turn into Ultraman. He holds up a flashlight-like device called a “Beta Capsule” and a voice on the soundtrack tells us, “Using the Beta Capsule, Hiyata becomes Ultraman!” We then see a flash of light and the hero’s towering figure rising up out of it. (Though I was very young, the idea that one could hold up a cylindrical object and suddenly become much bigger somehow resonated with me).

Usually Ultraman appears to fight a Godzilla-like rubber-suit monster (the effects director, in fact, is Godzilla’s creator, Eji Tsuburaya.). After a few minutes of fighting, a bulb on UM’s chest begins to flash on and off, and to beep. The soundtrack voice tells us that his energy is depleting in Earth’s atmosphere, which builds suspense -- if he can’t defeat the monster in time, the voice-over warns, “Ultraman will never rise again.”

Hiyata’s Science Patrol co-workers – a cute young woman with an annoying little brother; the serious Captain; a buffoonish fellow pilot who often does pratfalls and such, etc. – have no clue that he is also Ultraman. To be fair, there’s no resemblance for them to spot, as there was with Clark Kent and Superman – Ultraman is taller than a skyscraper and has silver skin and a pointy head. (He also has opaque egg-shaped eyes that look, as a friend so aptly put it, "like an insect's." Now and then you may notice that they have little holes poked in the bottom so that the actor can see!) Ultraman’s powers include great strength, martial arts skills, flying, and the ability to cross his arms and shoot cosmic rays from the heel of one hand.




The dubbing is dreadful and the effects laughable, but that remains part of the series’ charm. One funny aspect is that the monsters continually get more and more outrageous looking and colorful (and sillier) because they had to come up with so many of them. Godzilla himself even shows up at one point, disguised, but not very effectively.



You can watch the DVD in Japanese if you want, and can leave the subtitles on even if you’re watching it in English – this is interesting, because the characters are often saying very different things than what was dubbed in. (For instance, the female character -- in an episode about a monster that eats pearls -- makes a rather surprising and solemn speech at one point about how her male co-worker does not "recognize a woman's wrath.")

These episodes are also complete, though when they first showed on American TV, they were edited for time – so some scenes appear in Japanese, with (and sometimes without) subtitles even if you’re watching it in English. This makes for a somewhat unpredictable viewing experience, but it never goes on for longer than a few minutes, so you don’t lose track of the story.

I found this set for five bucks at Kmart. On Amazon it’s around ten bucks. Trust me, it’s the deal of the century so far.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This film may cause you... ANGUISH!




Anybody else remember this 1987 movie? I first saw it in on the big screen. It starts off with a scene from a lurid horror movie that you think is the film you're watching -- then pans back into a theater where an audience is watching that film. Then real-life violence starts happening in that theater. Then the perspective starts switching back and forth between the two movies and theaters.

Strategically located speakers were installed in your actual theater to the front and side of you, and some in back; the sound would come from different places depending on what was occurring onscreen. The effect was to make you disoriented -- you couldn't help but get confused about "which" theater the current action was in (or YOU were in). it may be sacrilegious to say so, but William Castle never came up with a gimmick as effective as this one. It took the device of setting violence in a movie theater, which was unsettling enough in Lamberto Bava’s Demons or the classic slasher He Knows You’re Alone, and ratcheted up the suggestivity factor.

The late Zelda Rubinstein starred in the "movie within a movie" part. That “movie” is called The Mommy, and involves a mother who sends her (unlicensed) “doctor” son out into the night to gather human eyes for her –- from live and unwilling donors! There’s something about horror involving eyes that particularly gets to me. Who could forget that scene with the binoculars in Horrors Of The Black Museum, or the scene with the doctor’s wife and the big splinter in Zombie?

The Mommy was gorier than Museum and as gory as Zombie, but what really messed with you was the "which theater" aspect. I just watched the DVD and it's still a creepy film, but it doesn't work nearly as well as it did in the theater. When I first saw it with a horror movie buddy who was as jaded as I am, he was so spooked that afterwards he was afraid to go to the men's room by himself! I went with him willingly, because I was afraid to wait in the lobby alone! Rumor had it that the film also had sublminal messages in it, and if so, they certainly affected me. I never get that scared at a movie.

Directed by Bigas Luna, this Spanish film is dubbed into English -- but it's an unusually good job. It's 89 minutes long. Watching it in the dark with the volume turned up helps evoke some of the lost "theater" effect.