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Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Unfortunately, there’s no way of saying much of anything about IFC film’s Victim (2010) without betraying the film’s premise, so – SPOLIER DIRECTLY AHEAD! – I’ll start off by doing so: the film depicts an anonymous young man being held prisoner and subjected to involuntary sexual reassignment surgery.

Shortly after the credits, our young protagonist (Stephen Weigand) gets conked over the head and kidnapped in the parking lot of a bar where he’s just failed to pick up an attractive young woman. He wakes up in the basement of a mansion, where a mad doctor and his man-mountain assistant torture him with brutal beatings, starvation, injections, and eventually surgery. We never learn his name (the final credits call him only “Young Man”), and we learn nothing about him until nearly the end of the film (THAT plot twist I’ll keep secret). His “treatment” apparently erases his memory early on, so even he doesn’t know who he is for most of the plot.

His captor Dr. Volk (Bob Bancroft) seems somewhat feminine, and, while being generally cruel, seems to warm to our “Young Man” as his transformation progresses, even kissing him on the cheek occasionally. Volt’s assistant (Brendan Kelly) is referred to only as “Mr. George,” a more likely nickname for a hairdresser than an Igor-like henchman, but other than that he’s all about keeping the prisoner in line – he’s bald, bearded, built, big, armed with a metal club, and never speaks. He seems very eager to do his job, perhaps because of a mysterious reward Volk has promised him “when your time comes,” but we never learn ANYTHING about the exact nature of his involvement with this creepy situation. He does give a surprisingly nuanced performance despite his silence, seeming utterly committed to his mission, but occasionally showing a twinge of regret. He becomes more human when a female detective shows up asking inconvenient questions, a distracting subplot that otherwise really doesn’t advance the story.

The “young man” regularly reads from the only object in his cell, the diary of a young girl. Sometimes he hears tape recordings of patronizing advice on how to be feminine. We can’t help but sympathize with him, although one piece of the puzzle -– the shaky-cam murder of a woman seen before the opening credits -– remains unclarified through most of the film.

The story is engrossing, and the cast does a good job of making you wonder exactly what the hell is really going on here, and why. The apparent sexual tensions between the few characters in this claustrophobic setting add to the mystery. Of course, the involuntary sex change really isn’t the main (nor even the weirdest) plot twist.

Directors Matt Eskandari and Michael Hultquist have made an absorbing film that’s probably wise in its decision to stay on the short side (it’s only 74 minutes long, and while not everything in it works, it never loses our interest). It could easily have been just another torture-and-captivity flick in the vein of “Saw,” but it’s not.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


When Jane decided to stuff each of her children’s stockings with a Slinky, she never dreamed they were capable of coordinated action.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Sucky Award

Though he never received an Oscar, Bela would always treasure his Longest Lasting Hickey Award.

Friday, July 8, 2011


A medium recently contacted Jerry Falwell to ask how the televangelist is doing in the afterlife, and he showed her this.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


So Bill, this Botox stuff wears off in a few hours, right? Whaddya mean, you're not sure about the bootleg home version?

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Ben's somber mood vanished when a cameraman told him Lotrimin could actually cure jock itch.

Monday, June 13, 2011


So I just slide this up there and...wait a minute. What do I twist to make it vibrate?

Monday, June 6, 2011


The cast of MTV's "Teen Wolf"

For those of you who may have missed it, here's the pilot episode of MTV's new "Teen Wolf" series starring Tyler Posey -- and the fact that we see a lot of him shirtless here isn't even the best thing about it.

Remember how "Buffy" started out as a goofy movie, and morphed into a serious and well-done TV series? The same thing's happening here. Well-acted, fast-paced, action-packed and even sexy, "Teen Wolf" is nothing like the Michael J. Fox movie. The plot is predictable at every turn, but it's so smashingly executed that you won't care. By the way -- when you watch it, listen through headphones. The music and use of sound are particularly effective.

I wasn't a fan of the movie, but if the rest of the series lives up to the pilot, I'll be glued to my TV screen on Monday nights.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


...so the guy snapped and killed his whole family. That was the past. I had a dream last night where I married this obnoxious domineering woman who sings in the shower at the top of her lungs, but I'm not gonna take it as an omen of the future...

Friday, May 27, 2011


After T-Rex performed his pathetic "If I Were King Of The Forest" musical number, Kong and the Tin Ape invited him on their journey to ask the Wizard for a blonde, rustproofing and some real teeth.

Friday, May 13, 2011


You will hear only my voice, and you will obey. You will buy only Hormel products, because they are delicious and nutritious...God, this job is even further beneath me than the one in the coffin showroom...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


BANANA! That's the safe word, isn't it Kong, honey? BANANA! ...Kong?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lance Henriksen

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite horror/science fiction/action flick actors -- not to mention HUNKS -- Lance Henriksen. Lance turns 70 today. Here's a publicity shot of him at age 50 for "Pumpkinhead," still my favorite film role of his. Onscreen Lance has faced every monster from Alien and Predator to Sasquatch. I for one, am looking forward to reading his biography, "Not Bad For A Human."

Here's another shot of Lance from a particularly sexy performance as a badass biker named "Chains" in the action movie "Stone Cold."

And I wouldn't mind seeing a picture of him shirtless at 70, if anybody has one!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


(Michael Sarrazin as Peter Proud)

Michael Sarrazin, the star of such genre flicks as "Frankenstein: The True Story" and "The Reincarnation Of Peter Proud," has passed away in Montreal. The 70-year-old actor had cancer.

Sarrazin was best known for playing opposite Jane Fonda in the classic film "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"

I met Michael Sarrazin once, albeit very briefly. He was staying in a center city hotel in Philadelphia in the early 80s. A concert producer who I was dealing with as a journalist dragged me to the hotel restaurant because he'd heard Sarrazin was staying there. Sure enough, Sarrazin was trying to have a peaceful drink at the bar, and my acquaintance (male -- and just a tad flamboyant) made a rather obvious attempt at picking him up, leaving him with a card he clearly had no interest in using. I managed to hustle the producer out of there before things got too embarrassing, then sneaked back in and apologized to Mr. Sarrazin. He was gracious about it, poor guy. By the way, his doe eyes were every bit as beautiful in person.

I must admit my own young gay heart did skip a beat at the striking image of him shirtless on the "Peter Proud" poster.

Who could forget this image?

Though a lot of us would have been delighted to hear gay rumors about him, I don't think there ever were any. I do remember him being romantically linked with Jacqueline Bissett, but that's the only personal dish on him that I recall. I think the gayest thing he ever did was to costar with Streisand in "For Pete's Sake."

But seriously, folks -- Michael Sarrazin was a fine actor who didn't get as much recognition as some of his Oscar-nominated co-stars, and he should have. I was a fan, and I'll miss him.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Tony’s blood ran cold when he realized that his screen test with Dr. Coldfinger would actually be used as a commercial for KY Jelly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I've had a computer disaster. All my data was lost -- six year's worth. Among the things lost was my library of horror photos, which I depended on heavily for use in this blog.

Writing is my life, and luckily I have hard copies of such things as my book manuscript, full-length musical play, poems and short stories, etc. I'm in the midst of tracking down electronic copies sent to friends and re-entering a ton of stuff.

This will be how I spend my time on the computer for awhile, so it's unlikely I'll be posting anything new on this blog in the near future. I appreciate all your support. I'll gratefully accept any good thoughts, prayers, or blood sacrifices -- well, maybe not that last one -- you can send my way.

Take care, everyone.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Look, pal, I don't care if she is 386, I need to see some legal form of picture ID before I can let her in.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I'm grateful that "Women In Horror Month" gives me the occasion to review one of my all-time favorite films, which also happens to be the ultimate female horror film: the original 1942 Cat People, which taps into the great Freudian fear that if a woman unbridles her sexuality, she'll unleash a devouring beast.

The woman in question is Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon), a Serbian fashion sketch artist who is small, delicate, exotic, and exquisitely beautiful. She is sketching at the zoo one day -- surrounded by the caged wildness that perfectly symbolizes the film's main theme -- when a handsome maritime engineer, Oliver Reed (Kent Smith), teases her about littering after she throws a crumpled sketch at a trash bin and misses. Reed flirts with her, and she invites him to her apartment for tea. He doesn't notice that her discarded sketch is of a panther impaled by a sword.

(Simone Simon as Irena)

Oliver seems to be in the habit of not noticing things, or of ignoring anything inconvenient to his desires. As he and Irena quickly fall in love, he dismisses her stories of dark legends from her native village as fairy tales. not seeing that her childhood was traumatic and that these "superstitions" made a deep impression on her. He also doesn't notice that his spunky co-worker Alice (Jane Randolph) is in love with him -- until she tearfully confesses it to him at the water cooler after he and Irena are unhappily married.

Irena is afraid that if she and Oliver consummate their marriage, she -- like the "cat woman" her mother was believed to be, according to childhood taunts -- will turn into a panther while aroused, and kill him. As time drags on and Irena remains paralyzed by this fear, a frustrated Oliver confides in Alice about the situation. Alice suggests he should send Irena to see her friend, psychiatrist Dr. Judd (Tom Conway, also the star of producer Val Lewton's classic "I Walked With A Zombie.") When Irena realizes that Oliver told Alice about their marital problems -- and that Alice's interest in Oliver extends beyond casual friendship -- Alice learns that Irena's jealousy is as much to be feared as her passion.

Alice is followed twice at night by a slinking, growling form that we only partially glimpse in the shadows. The scene where it menaces her at her apartment building's basement pool is justifiably famous as a masterpiece of subtle horror cinema (and an attempt to duplicate it in the 1982 remake failed miserably).

Because of these incidents, the supercilious Dr. Judd begins to take Irena's delusions more seriously, but he still believes them to be delusions. This belief will turn out to be more dangerous than he realizes -- as will his unprofessional attraction to Irena.

"Subtle" is an important word here. Director Jacques Tourneur, cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca and scriptwriter DeWitt Bodeen all take a very restrained approach for as long as possible, never giving us enough information or explicit imagery to clarify whether Irena's fears are delusional or well-founded until we're deep into the story. Even after the big reveal, we're left to fill in a lot of details with our imaginations. Unlike Paul Schrader's remake, the film contains absolutely no gore, no sex, and we never see "the monster" except in shadow. The result is a suspenseful and eerie gem of a film, a sort of dark fairytale for adults.

I don't really mean to bash Schrader's remake -- it's an update, and its conventions suit the time when it was made. Simple lovemaking was no longer considered daring in 1982, so Schrader and company had to allude to incest to give the film a needed jolt of the lurid. It worked -- but it doesn't match the charm, atmosphere, or beauty of the original.

By the way, though "Cat People" shows its two main female characters in a rivalry over a man, it does depict Irena and Alice as career women in an unprecedently casual manner. Their careers are a fact, not an issue. Alice, in particular, is accepted as "one of the boys" at her job -- so much so that the possibility of romance with her never occurs to Oliver until it's staring him right in the face. And Alice is the one who brings it up.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Once the ghosts of the Flintstones began to haunt Hanna Barbera Studios, the gang delved into the past...and they were appalled to learn the dark secret of Wilma, Dino, and the world's first jar of peanut butter.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I'm delighted that February is Women In Horror Month, because my own late mother's birthday is in February, so it has a certain poetic justice for me (don't think about that too much). I swore I'd celebrate the month in grand style, or my name isn't Norman B...er, Jack Veasey.

No, my first tribute won't be Psycho, since the villainess in that classic isn't really a woman. My nominee for the scariest onscreen mom of all time is MARGARET WHITE, whose Bible-thumping brutality made her daughter Carrie into a prom-incinerating one-woman terror squad. Margaret was played to the hilt of the big knife by Piper Laurie, who got one of the few Oscar nominations ever bestowed on a scream queen (as did Sissy Spacek for playing her daughter). She didn't win (neither did Sissy) -- but horror fans everywhere will always cherish her lurid, over-the-top performance. Her chant "they're all gonna laugh at you" will ring in our ears forever as we deliriously hallucinate this:

Here she is taking a final stab at "righteous" parenting:

and here she is again, receiving the most appropriate comeuppance ever depicted on film:

See, Norman, you didn't know how good you had it. If you'd been Margaret's boy, you wouldn't even have made it to adulthood.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Dr. Frank N. Furter realized to his chagrin that leaving a surgical tool in a patient was a much more more serious matter than just leaving a toy... well, you know.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Parents with no medical insurance were attracted by the fringe benefits offered by Camp Slashahatchy, especially the free circumcision.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


..and then I told him that I was breaking up with him because the moonlight reflected off of his bald head was keeping me awake -- and you should have seen the look on his face! What's the matter, Tiffany? You act like I'm boring you to death or something!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Dear, what did we say about keeping the dog outside when he comes home from making one of those bean commercials?

Friday, January 14, 2011


Rusell Tovey

I’m a fan of “Being Human,” the BBC series about a vampire, werewolf and ghost who live together as housemates and struggle to lead “normal” lives. With the SyFY channel unveiling its much-hyped remake next Monday, I tried to find out when Season 3 of the original series might premiere here. Instead, I found this nice bit of news about the actor who plays the show’s werewolf, headlined “Gay Role Model”:

Russell is one of a rare breed of openly gay actors. Despite coming out to his close-knit clan at the age of 18, he expressed that the lack of gay "role models that were blokey" left him feeling estranged as a youth. "Everybody was flamboyant and camp, and I remember going, 'That's not me. I don't think I fit into this world,'" recalled the actor. It appears that Tovey is setting the record straight (so to speak) on this front.

From the article “Being Russell Tovey” on the BBC America website at

The article goes on to note how exposure of Russell’s shapely bum in post-transformation scenes has earned him fan acclaim on gay websites. (Russell has twice made afterelton.com's "Top Hot 100" list.)

Gotta confess that Aidan Turner, who plays the scruffier vampire Mitchell, is the one I’d hoped might be gay.

No word yet on when Season 3, which debuts later this month in the UK, will show up on BBC America.


Usually looking at old family photo albums calmed Jamie Lee, but not today.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


No, this movie has absolutely nothing to do with Frank Sinatra's New Jersey home town.

Writer/director Glen Stephens's "Hoboken Hollow" (2005) appears on a budget-priced collection called "The Midnight Horror Collection: Bloody Slashers." The cast includes Dennis Hopper, C. Thomas Howell, Michael Madsden, Robert Carradine, and Jason Connery, so I figured it was probably worth watching.

It lives up to the "bloody" in the collection subtitle, that's for sure, though I wouldn't call it a "slasher" movie. It vacillates between being a graphic torture porn flick and a serious docudrama sort of thing. It’s based on a real-life mid-1980s case that the media called the "Texas Slave Ranch." Three men who'd run a ranch where workers were held against their will were convicted of "conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping" but received inconsequential sentences, even though at least one of their victims died (there was no body as proof, because they'd burned it). Evidence against them included an audio tape of a worker being tortured with a cattle prod.

The cattle prod, of course, gets quite a workout in this film. The gross-out meter is set high early on, when a speeding truck splatters a guy all over the screen, catching an eyeball in the windshield wipers and leaving a torn-off foot to be thrown to the hogs. We also learn that workers who die are made into "beef jerky", on which their captors lustily gnosh.

The bad guys relish punishing workers with torture, particularly in one lengthy scene late in the film. Mark Holton and Lin Shave – the latter in effectively creepy wart-faced hag make-up – give two of the film’s best performances as the enthusiastic Brodericks, the psycho couple who own the ranch. Holton’s “mentally challenged” character Junior, in fact, provides the film’s only surprise.

All of the cast does a good job, especially Howell as the sleazy ranch foreman, though his character's actions are ultimately puzzling (that such a perversely gleeful torturer should be the one character to act on a pang of conscience seems pretty implausible). Howell even looks scruffily sexy with a black beard that has a splash of white in it, until he opens his mouth to reveal a hideous appliance simulating awful redneck teeth.

Victim-hero Jason Connery (yes, Sean’s son) is handsome too, under all the grime, but his role doesn’t allow him to do much. Annoyingly, almost everything about his down-and-out Iraq War veteran character is immediately explained in a voice-over, leaving him with little to convey. Unfortunately, much information that should come out through action or dialogue is supplied in this solemn narration at the beginning and end of the film.

Madsden and Hopper are completely wasted. Hopper plays a complicit or oblivious sheriff who we see only briefly a couple of times. Madsden is part of a pointless minor subplot about real estate that ultimately has no impact on the story.

In spite of all this, the film did hold my interest, maybe only because the story behind it is compelling enough that I wanted to see it resolved. But I don't recommend it if you're squeamish.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Angie Dickinson never dreamed of the potential hazards when she agreed to be a judge on "RuPaul's Drag Race."