Hellraiser (1987)


A man who’s made a deal with the devil gets buyer’s remorse and escapes from hell. Now he’s depending on his ex-lover to bring him human snacks to regain his strength and skip town before his demonic tormentors find out he’s gone.

This is another movie that’s supposed to be a classic. Everyone knows this movie. It’s the one with the guy in the black dress with nails hammered into his face. Yea, that guy’s scary! SPOILER: he only has like 5 minutes of screen time. So that’s a bummer because the scrubs who fill the voids between pinhead appearances aren’t nearly as cool.

The movie begins with a man who solves a mystical Rubik’s cube he bought in China Town. Except instead of earning the awe and respect of his peers, he gets ripped apart by fish hooks in sadomasochist hell. Somehow the guy escapes the “cenobites” – the demons who poke and prod him in the underworld – and holds up beneath the floor boards in the attic of his flop house. Also he’s no longer a person, but a withered tomato husk. More on that later.

For future reference. 

The guy’s half brother and his wife move in to the house, where they find the dead guy’s flesh light in the attic. “Ew, gross!” says the half brother. “Ooh la la,” thinks his wife, as she conjures up memories of the secret affair she had with her brother in law. To say this guy has been cuckolded would be quite the understatement. Not only does his wife have the hots for his his brother, but she bangs every barfly in town while not giving her actual husband so much as an Eskimo kiss. Because his life isn’t quite sad enough he also has to endure constant passes being made at both his wife and daughter by just about everyone, including the moving crew and his own dinner guests.

also…he dies

So this guy lets the moving men drink his beer after working up a thirst hitting on his wife and daughter. Then they need his help moving a fucking mattress up the stairs because in addition to being assholes they are also the worst moving men in the world. While pushing it through a doorway the guy shreds his hand on a loose nail. The blood splish splashes through the floorboards onto his his brother-in-hiding begin. Bitching stop motion effects capture his unholy transformation from beef jerky to man:

According to horror movie logic, a few drops of blood can turn a dusty cobweb into a fully functioning muscular skeletal system, but it requires eviscerating two additional whole humans just to add taste buds thereafter. Eventually he’s all set except for the dermis, which his half brother unhappily provides. Now he’s ready to hit the town!

hellraiser_torn apart
Mothers, lock up your daughters

Well, not quite. Remember that niece of his? Well she solved the puzzle box too! But she’s got a bargaining chip to save her from a play date in the stock yards of hell: him. Apparently Cerberus was taking a nap the day he escaped because the cenobites were none the wiser to his absence. Understandably sheepish, the demons agree to keep her north of Hades provided she leads them to her uncle.

Of course you can trust us!

There is a horror movie theorem that states that the haunt in a house isn’t leaving unless it takes the house with them. Seriously, how many movies involve a house being blown to shit when whatever source that pervades it is expelled? Hellraiser fits squarely into this category. Rafters are inexplicably crashing down, the walls are blowing up, and everything is catching on fire. And amidst the confusion the niece figures out she can zap these horny creeps back to their sex dungeons by fiddling around with the puzzle box and pointing it at them. Good thing all these explosions are distracting us, otherwise that might not make a whole lot of sense!


t will tear your soul apart!

Malort is the stuff of legend, and it tastes like putrid death. And yes, you can count me among those who imbibe from time to time. Truly, the lines between pleasure and pain are never as blurred as in a bottle of Malort.


Day of the Dead (1985)



A group of scientists and soldiers are holed up in a bunker in Florida after the country has been overtaken by zombies.  While the scientists desperately try to explain what has happened, the impatient military outfit assigned to protect them is eager to engage the undead.  Humanity’s last hope not only faces the hordes of flesh-eating zombies outside their combine, but must try to survive each as well.


This movie started out really cool.  From the get go it felt so dark and creepy and sinister.  These scientists fly their whirlybird to some Florida town looking for survivors of the zombie apocalypse, one of them desperately imploring through a megaphone: “HELLOOOO?”  Of course the only people who respond are the walking dead.  And not just random bodies in nondescript tatters.  There are brides, clowns, bicyclists; an entire city of human life captured at the moment of their deaths like some gruesome photo.

We’re not gonna take it!

And then 45 minutes of nothing.  Like, nothing really at all.  The scientists bump heads with the group of military personnel until the end.  Apparently when the zombie outbreak occurred a team was hastily assembled and plopped into an underground keep with the goal of trying to discover what had happened to mankind and if there was any way to reverse the effects.  What follows for much of the movie is some douche bag army guy threatening the scientists that if they don’t come up with a miracle cure soon he’s going to go ahead and bring his outfit to the surface to try and fight off the millions of hungry undead.  It is unclear why the scientists don’t just let him go get eaten.

Because, like, our compassion is what makes us human, maaan.  

The whole process of trying to diagnose the cause of the outbreak isn’t even a part of the picture.  An overly involved scientist is tearing into corpses and keeps a pet zombie, but all he’s really discovered is that once people turn into zombies they are like dogs, acting on instinct and conditioned to respond to certain stimuli.  Does the group use this information to conduct a mass zombie-training class?  No, the scientist gets greased and his theories never materialize into anything but filler.

Finally at the end one of the soldiers loses his marbles and decides to go out and open the doors for the undead.  There is no reason in this other than to advance the plot, for which I was grateful.  Once the zombies were back in the picture the movie is again highly entertaining, if only for the remaining 20 minutes.  The special effects are brilliant and entirely over the top.  It’s a shame they weren’t showcased throughout the entire length of the film.  I just wish I weren’t eating spaghetti when I watched it.

zomber gif

Overall: Guinnes

Guinness for strength

Guinness for strength

I’ve run out of explosion gifs, so from now on I’m grading a movie by pairing it to a beer.

Guinness is that beer you grow up believing is the beer to end all beers. And then you get your grubby little underage hands on some and you’re like, “eh…that’s ok.” Actually, when you first try it you act like it actually is the greatest thing ever because you don’t want to look like a chump in front of your fellow pledges. In any case, at some point you switch to something with more of a taste and wonder what all the fuss was about.

It Follows: The Horror Movie We’ve Been Waiting For


It Follows was originally given a very limited theatrical release.  Because it was received so well, it’s release was extended and expanded, delaying its release to VOD.  Thankfully it found its way to Charleston.  I saw it last Friday, loved it, and saw it again on Sunday.  The film has been garnering quite a bit of attention for its separation from a genre which has become synonymous with formulaic and unoriginal duds that spend more time in a Red Box than they ever do in a theater.  It Follows is so good and so important because it has proven that you can make a modern horror movie without sacrificing style, subtext, and intelligence.

It Follows is a film by David Robert Mitchell.  It is a “horror” movie in that it is scary, involves an evil, supernatural killer, and is suspenseful as hell.  But many of the traits that have come to define horror movies do not apply to this one, and that’s a good thing.  It all begins when Jay (Jamie) meets Hugh, and, after a couple of dates, end up doing the dirty in the backseat of his car.  Afterwards Hugh informs her that he’s just given her the worst kind of STD, that she can now expect to be followed by some unknown sinister force hell bent on destroying her.  Though it moves at a steady walking pace, it can assume any form, does not eat or sleep, and will pursue her nonstop until she passes it on to someone else.  “IT” does indeed follow, and Jay relies on the loyalty of her sister and their friends to try and outwit, outrun, and outlast it.

it follows

It Follows is a very loaded story, with layers of symbolism the likes of which we haven’t enjoyed in the genre since perhaps The Shining.  That’s not to say that you leave the theater completely confused about what you’ve just seen; the story is simple and sharp and easy enough to follow.  However, it is impossible not to pick up on the fact that there is much more at play.

The film is incredibly stylish.  With the crisp, gritty feel of an art house project, Mitchell utilizes a lot of wide shots that allow the viewer to fully comprehend the setting and feel as if they are a part of it.  Several shots take wide, spanning angles and others are comprised entirely of slow 360 and 720 degree rotations.  The effect is very eerie, especially since several such scenes show a far-off individual slowly lurching towards the camera who may just be a distant extra… or a definitive force intent on violence.  The soundtrack, done by Disasterpeace, really helps to set the tone, and plays an integral part in the project.  I’m reminded of the film’s very first scene: a terrified girl, running from something no one else can seem to see.  The scene is creepy enough, but the shrieking, piercing tones in the track “Heels” complete the dreadful ambience that caused the hairs on my arms to stand straight up.

I was really impressed with some of the scenery details as well.  A few scenes show the kids watching old science fiction movies in the girls’ house.  The TV they are watching is set upon a larger, broken TV, which is one of those old sets that was built inside a chest of wood and made to look like a regular piece of furniture.  I loved this because my grandma did the exact same thing – she had an old wooden-encased TV that broke and later became the pedestal for the flat screen we bought her.

Certain technologies, an e-reader and modern vehicles, let us know that the film is taking place in the modern day.  Yet there are other details, perhaps anachronisms from the director’s own nostalgia, that give us the notion that the characters are trapped in an earlier time.  None of the main characters uses a cell phone.  Their TV is an old boxy cathode ray model.  The cars that the boys drive are those old long, rust-colored sedans with a couches for seats.  This blending of eras creates a timelessness that is wholly relatable to anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s.

it follows more

Mitchell makes it easy to sympathize with his characters, young adults combating the doldrums of a depreciating Detroit suburb and coping with their inability to escape.  There is a lot of history among the main characters, but everything we learn is through subtle context clues.  Usually horror movies are where dialogue goes to get hacked to death in the woods.  But the speech in It Follows is concise and appropriate.  There was a lot I picked up the second time around that I missed the first time.  Many of these details aren’t crucial to the plot, but it’s refreshing that Mitchell developed his characters into actual human beings with lives that go beyond the story being told.  There is Jay and her younger sister Kelly.  Kelly works with Paul, who has had a crush on Jay since they were young.  Greg is the older neighborhood boy who lives across the street.  The context of their other friend Yara is a bit of a mystery, and seems to stretch beyond what’s initially apparent.  She reads Dostoyevsky, farts, and eats constantly.  On the surface it doesn’t seem like there is any reason for her to be a part of the story, and normally I’d think she was just a poorly written character.  But since Mitchell has already given us so much subtext in the film, we have to assume her presence is more than skin deep.  What is the symbolism of her insatiable appetite?  How does she know the rest of the group?  And why is it that out of all Jay’s friends, Yara is the only one who “IT” assumes the appearance of?

The fact that “IT” is passed along via sexual intercourse is an obvious commentary on sexually transmitted diseases, and all the other problems that can arise from unsafe or irresponsible sex.  I think a lot of this commentary is a little tongue-in-cheek, since none of the characters are outwardly lascivious, and since we have a rooting interest in them.  But it is interesting how, once a person contracts “IT”, their only real option is to pass it along to someone else.  Sex is no longer about desire or lust but becomes a method of survival and safety.  And while sex is often something enjoyed with a loved one, Jay has to look for partners she doesn’t even know because she is afraid of passing “IT” along to someone she cares for.

it follows 2

We get the sense that Jay’s dad has died or is no longer in the picture.  Her mother is either drinking or asleep while her kids are out and about.  Paul and Yara are always at Jay’s house, so it’s not like their parents are keeping tabs on them.  And when the group goes out to Greg’s lake house and Kelly asks him if his mom will mind, he replies that she probably doesn’t notice he’s even left.  And yet, Kelly and Jay mention they don’t want to say anything about “IT” to their mom because they don’t want her to freak out.  And Yara at one point says that when she was a kid her parents wouldn’t allow her to go south of 8 Mile Road because that’s where the suburbs ended and where the city began.  She laments that it seemed unreasonable she couldn’t even go to the state fair just because it was a few blocks into Detroit, and Jay says that her parents were the same way.  What are we supposed to take away from this?  It seems like, on the surface, these kids’ parents could care less where they were or what they were doing.  Although we know almost nothing about Jay’s mom, Kelly mentions that she wakes up before 6am every day, perhaps to go to work.  It might be that Jay and Kelly’s mom is just having trouble raising two kids on her own.  The house looks like its falling apart on the outside, the family is obviously not rich.  It may be that Mitchell is simply trying to say that when parents aren’t around and their kids find themselves in trouble – pregnancies, STDs, whatever – that it’s not always because their parents don’t care about them, but because they’re too busy trying to keep it together.


The themes in the film really seem to converge on that of wasted youth.  When Hugh and Jay are playing the ‘trade game’ Hugh says he would like to trade places with a young boy because he has his whole life ahead of him.  As Jay points out, it’s not like Jay is that old.  However it’s also not like you can enjoy your youth when you’re being constantly stalked by “IT”.  It’s similar to another life-altering event caused by sex, teen pregnancy.  And like pregnancy, contracting “IT” invites a certain finality into one’s life; even after you pass it along you can still see it, and are always in danger of it coming back for you.  Mitchell, being from Detroit, seems to connect this idea of lost youth with the images of his decaying city.  Several of the longer shots in the movie are when the characters are driving around, passing by dilapidated neighborhoods of boarded up houses on overgrown lawns.  We’re shown crumbling theaters, an abandoned indoor pool, and cracked concrete foundations on which buildings once stood.  It’s clear the recent deprecation of the city has affected the Director as it has the characters in his film.  While Detroit may look like a pile of rubble to an outsider, it is still his hometown and invokes a fond nostalgia.  No one can return to the safety and carefree life of their childhood, but that doesn’t mean those memories aren’t worth holding on to.

I remember seeing The Conjuring in the theaters and thinking, ‘it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a horror movie that was actually this good.’  I think that at the time I was thinking that only because I had been watching so many of these God-awful slashers from the 80s.  The thing is, The Conjuring probably is one of the better horror movies that’s come out this decade, but even it cannot hold a candle to It Follows.  I bring it up here because the two represent such distinct ends of the movie spectra.  The Conjuring is very much a Hollywood film.  It’s almost entirely CGI.  The haunted house story is unoriginal.  And it’s already spurned one spin-off in Annabelle (which I refuse to see) and a sequel that’s currently in the works.  On the other end, It Follows is wholly unique – the story is based on a nightmare Mitchell once had.  It is artistic, thought-provoking, and layered.  I’ve read several reviews of It Follows saying how its flipped the genre on its head.  I think that’s a fair assessment.  But what I really hope is that It Follows shows that a horror movie can be an overall great movie, and not just a movie that is great for a horror movie.

Man Crates: 10 Items to Get You Through a Horror Movie


You know those internet-based companies that ship out boxes of “hand picked” outfits  to indistinctive drones who possess neither personality nor fiscal know-how?

Man Crates is not one of those companies.

Man Crates sends you awesome packages of things you actually want.  And, as the name implies, it comes to you in a crate that you need to open yourself with a crowbar.  So if you don’t possess the brute strength necessary to rip open a wooden crate then you cannot call yourself a man, and you therefore don’t deserve the goodies crammed inside.  What kind of goodies?  How about a Zombie Annihilation Crate, which comes with all sorts of sharp zombie-killing weapons, some survival gear for a zombie apocalypse, and a can of spam.

Grade-A man chow

When Man Crates reached out to me and asked what sort of shit I would want in my crate if I suddenly found myself in a horror movie, I came up with these ten essential items:

1. Extra pair of underwear

This is just standard practice.  Accidents do happen.

2. Camo gear

When it comes to flight or fight, I am almost always pro-flight.  That’s especially true if I found myself in a horror movie universe.  If I’m not going to stand up to the playground bully, I’m definitely not trying to throw down with an axe-wielding maniac.  Now how many of these horror movies are set in the woods?  Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, The Evil Dead… the best solution here is to just quietly blend in with your surroundings and let the other campers deal with the bad guys.

3. Full body Hazmat suit

Seems like in every zombie movie there is some guy just kind of playing it safe on the sidelines while everyone else is bashing skulls.  Suddenly a head explodes next to him and  SHIT! – a drop of zombie blood lands right on his canker sore.  Think of this as a full body condom – no glove, no love.

Pro Tip: Try to get one in camo

4. Pocket Bible

Think twice next time before brushing off the guy handing these out at the airport.  Not only are they portable, they are like kryptonite to demons, and entirely necessary in the event of an emergency exorcism.  You see some shadowy winged beast you break this bad boy out and just start reading as loud as you can.

With vampires it can be hit or miss.  Bibles, garlic, crucifixes, and holy water – whichever of these makes them cower like undead little bitches and which makes them laugh in your face is entirely contingent on the movie universe you find yourself trapped in.

5. Old school football neck roll
neck roll

Speaking of vampires, you’ll want to be sure to check your neck at all times.

6. DIY weaponized baseball bat
baseball bat

I’ve already mentioned that if I find myself in a horror movie, I’d rather flee like the pussy I am than try to fight a guy wearing a mask made of human face skin.  That said, there is always that part in the horror movie when the killer trips on his shoelaces or slips on a banana peel and is rendered temporarily incapacitated.  But instead of bashing him in the head, the horny teens he’s been chasing always run away, allowing the madman to regroup and continue the chase.  You have to be prepared for this situation.  No, you don’t need to kill the guy while he’s out cold (we don’t want to sink to his level).  But at the very least you can shatter his knee caps to make sure he stays down.

I was tempted to just list “gun” here, but if I’m being honest with myself I think I’d be too chicken shit to actually shoot one.  Also you can’t really DIY a gun, and I wanted to keep this fun.

7. Dog spray
dog spray

This is in case we’ve got werewolves running around.  I already mentioned I’d be too scared to shoot a gun, so silver bullets are out of the question.  Next time your postman drops the mail off, ask him what his preferred brand is then start hoarding it in bulk.

8. Coffee

The very worst thing you can do in a horror movie is fall asleep.  You wanna get ripped up by a guy with knives for fingers in the dreamworld, or wake up to some perverted creep with mommy issues leaning over you?  Didn’t think so.  Remember, we’re just trying to stay alive in time for the sun to come up, when all the vampires are back in their coffins and the werewolves are turned back into people.  Your drug of choice doesn’t need to be coffee, either.  Red Bull, NoDoz, cocaine –  it doesn’t matter.  Just stay awake.

9. Cyanide capsule

I know, this sounds so defeatist, but hear me out.  You’ve dodged the menace as long as you can, but now it’s got you backed into a corner and you are gonna die.  Do you really want your guts ripped by the cold dead fingers of a zombie horde?  No thanks.  I’d rather take the gentleman’s way out.  There are things much worse than death, and being eaten alive is one of them.

10. Breath freshener

Congats!  You’ve made it! The sun is up and the only thing left to do is kiss the girl with whom you are forever linked through the horrible things you’ve had to endure to stay alive. The only thing that can ruin this moment is peanut butter breath.  Just make sure you keep your gum and cyanide in separate pockets.

Children of the Corn (1984)

children_of_the_corn_poster_01 About:

A road-tripping couple winds up in a town populated by creepy kids with sinister biblical names who worship corn demons.


I bought this movie at a yard sale for a buck when I was a kid, and I’ve held on to it all this time so that one day I could review it in a blog entry no one would read.  As far as film adaptations of Stephen King stories go this one is high up on the list.  That could be just an indictment of movies based on Stephen King stories (it is), but Children of the Corn is actually a pretty good movie in its own right. The movie begins 3 years before the present day.  Church is getting out and the townspeople are off to the local diner for a lazy Sunday brunch.  The eggs are barely poached before a group of surly kids pull out their cleavers and start hacking up the grown-ups!

School’s out forever!!!

Fast-forward to the present day.  A couple – the lady who plays Sarah Connor in the Terminator movies and her henpecked husband – are hopelessly attempting to navigate the Nebraska outlands when they run over an Amish kid.  Shit!  Better drop this little guy off on the doorstep of the nearest constable.  Luckily they are a couple miles outside a town called Gatlin.

joseph We’re definitely not making it to Omaha before dinner.

The town is abandoned of course, save for a religious cult of children brandishing sharp and pointy farm tools.  They don’t take too kindly to outsiders, especially those who are well-past the sacrificing age of 19.  Note: avoid Nebraska at all costs.

Children of the Corn is based on a short story of the same title by Stephen King.  There aren’t a lot of differences between the two except the story is much more gruesome and in the end the bad guys win.  The Shining notwithstanding, it has been my experience that movies based off of Stephen King stories are more often misses than they are hits.  Despite the horrible child acting and cringe-worthy special effects, Children of the Corn is one of the hits, mostly because the subject itself is just so darn eerie.  And the movie itself is pretty much just the short story on screen; it did not take a whole lot of creative vision to transform an already very spooky and well-articulated tale into the film.  But let’s instead talk more about the stuff that sucked.


By 1984 the Star Wars movies had raised the bar for what we’d come to accept as convincing movie magic.  There is really no excuse for the special effects in this movie looking like a high-school audio-visual project.  The makeup and fake blood is fine, but some of the post-production editing really falls flat.  The scene where Isaac is sacrificed to ‘He Who Walks Behind the [Corn]Rows,’ should have been a cinch; at the very least it’s a death scene that could have been implied and left out all-together.  Instead we are treated to an awkward and confusing glimpse of him getting enveloped in a swarm of cartoon lava bugs.

lava Not the face! Anywhere but the face!

Anytime you cast a kid, you run the likely risk that they will ham it up worse than a cold-cut platter.  Professional actors spend their entire lives perfecting their craft.  When you film a child who’s only acting experience was in a K-Mart clothing commercial, bad things tend to follow.  Now multiply that ineffectiveness by the dozens of kids who appear in Children of the Corn and you’re in danger of a Phantom Menace-esque type of meltdown.

That’s actually too harsh – most of the “children” with speaking roles were actually adults when this was filmed, so it’s really not that bad.  The guy playing the leader of the children, Isaac, actually looks a lot like Mickey Rooney and even sounds like an old lady with emphysema.   Still, there are a few rug rats who’s delivery is so bad you’ll wish the protagonists had also run over them on their way into town.

Again, it seems unfair to pile on all the shit that was bad about this movie when overall I really like it a lot.  But I would be remiss if I did not mention the last scene, one which is so bad it truly boggles the mind as to how it ever made the final cut.  With Issac and the corn demon dead, leaving behind a town full of confused and emotionally traumatized children,  the adult couple decides that now is a good time to split.  Since their car has been turned into a giant planter for corn stalks, they decide to hoof it to the next town over – the one they should have gone to from the get-go.  Just before one final lame scare, they decide to take with them two of the cuter kids for a couple days…make that a couple weeks.  A month?  Ah fuck it, if a near death experience won’t save our marriage, maybe adopting a couple of kids will!

Overall: 7.5


I’ve seen this movie several times and I still love it.  Yes, there are some lame child actors and horrible special effects.  But since the story itself is so chilling and original those just seem like minor imperfections that don’t actually detract from the final product.  It is God’s will that you watch Children of the Corn this fall.

Vamp (1986)

poster About A group of fraternity pledges take a trip to the other side of the tracks in hopes of coercing an erotic dancer to perform at their big party.  Turns out the strip club they choose is actually a vampire den.  What a boner crusher 😦


This movie has been floating around Netflix for a while.  I’d always avoided it because of the androgynous Ronald McDonald in the poster art, but then someone told me it was actually pretty good so I watched it.  And hey, it was actually pretty good! DeDee Pheiffer plays an ingenuous cocktail waitress with a secret: where does she know one of our leading men from, and why doesn’t he remember her?  (Spoiler: they met at a party last summer).  The film also stars Gedde Watanabe, that guy the studio calls in any time they need an actor to stereotype Asians.

gedde It’s cool – he just wants to party

The movie starts off with some weird fraternity ritual, where some pledges are being led up to a belltower to be hung from a noose, or to be led to believe they’d be hung from one.  I was never in a fraternity so I don’t know how this stuff really works.  Anyways, two of the pledges declare the whole process really stupid, which it is, and say the only reason they want to join their frat is because it’s supposed to be the tits.  In lieu of participating in their fantasy ritual, they tell the frat masters that they’ll supply them with booze for their big party tonight AND throw in a stripper, because, yeah – these guys know all the right people in all the right places.  Oh, the things boys do to get into their frat.

Already I’m having trouble with whats going on: 1. What kind of frat plans to throw a party without booze in the first place? 2. Why do the elder fratsmen need these pledges to supply them with the booze? 3. Why do these ultra too-cool-for-school freshman want to join a frat that neither plans a party with booze nor has the means to acquire it themselves?

frat Cons: major dorks.  Pros: frequent cloak-wearing opportunties 

In any case, a deal is struck and our cocky fresh fish are granted preferred access to this sacred institution provided they come through with the booze and boobs.  But wait – these guys have access to liquor and strippers but it is apparently beyond their reach to know anyone with a car.  I don’t suppose this is the kind of errand you can ask your parents to drive you on.  It’s ok though, because the rich kid on campus with no friends is willing to let them use his Cadillac so long as they agree to be his friend for the week! Man, these guys pull some serious weight.

usa True American badasses

In the days before GPS or google maps, people just started driving and hoped they’d eventually run into what they were looking for.  After casually crashing into a semi truck and then running afoul of the local gang of albino miscreants, the fellahs finally find a strip club haven.  After a few so-so warm-up acts, the surly troupe of barflies is mesmerized by Katrina, the aforementioned stripper with scary Ronald McDonald for a head and an Australian aborigine cave painting for a body.  One of our frosh studs goes back to smooth talk her into doing a little private show for the brothers back on campus, but she’s more interested in swallowing his throat.

Right after she’s through giving this zebra chair the ride of its life

The vampires in this movie are pretty badass. Like the undead from Fright Night, their whole faces go into beast mode when its time to devour, instead of the boring and subtle lengthening of the incisors.  Sooner or later the act is over and the vampires decide to stop playing nice and turn their out of town admirers into a midnight snack.  At least they got to see boobs before they die. fangs

Overall: 7

Vamp bills itself as a horror-comedy, and while there are no laugh out loud moments (not that I was expecting any), it’s light and funny enough to be really enjoyable without losing it’s spooky edge or becoming too stupid.  Sure, you’ve got the same script inconsistencies that seem to plague every low-budget horror movie, but they aren’t integral to the plot.  By the time this story gets rolling it stays on the rails.gif2
flaming vampire skull approved

The Gate (1987)



A couple of kids unwittingly perform a rite which opens a gate to a demonic underworld in their backyard.  The freed demons are now attempting to create Hell on Earth, and it’s up to the boys to stop them.


I had pretty high hopes for this movie.  Any film that casts kids as the main characters probably can’t be taken too seriously, but the preview made it look like a fun little spinoff of The Goonies with a horror twist.  Such was not the case.

The Gate wasn’t horrible.  It started out ok, with these two bozo kids just screwing around in the back yard and unknowingly performing a step-by-step ritual that opens up the gate to Hell.  Hey, it could happen to anybody.  But after a while the story plateaus when one of the kids just sort of freaks out in a quasi-reality mindfuck for a while before the plot finally gets back on the rails and everything is wrapped up.

eye gif
Mind = fucked

The movie stars a young Stephen Dorff, before his acting career devolved into playing bit parts in Aerosmith music videos.  One night lightning knocks down the tree in his backyard, blowing his tree fort to shit and leaving a giant hole in the ground.  He and his buddy snoop around the crater and pull out a big ol’ geode.  Incidentally, his buddy looks exactly like John Clayton.

clayton gif

So these kids bust open the geode, which happens to be the first step in some mystical ritual to open up the gate to Demonland.  They then go on to do some other shit – bleed all over the hole, speak aloud the sacred text written on the back of a heavy metal record, and toss a dead dog in the hole – and the next thing you know they’ve got little demons running all over the place.  Nice going, twerps!

So metal!

A large portion of screen time is dedicated to the boys and Dorff’s sister running and hiding from the demons.  However, these little guys are each about the size of a football.  At one point one of the kids even falls in the hole in the back yard and is attacked by a group of them, but he comes out no worse for wear.  And yet it never occurs to the group to try and fight these little fuckers.

Come get some!

Dorff’s buddy and his sister get captured by the demons and are supposedly sacrificed in order to complete the ritual.  Now that all the little peon demons did their job, it’s time for the head demon to come out and post up as the figure head of demonic intimidation.  This guy is a giant axolotl who comes crashing up through the floor of the house and is one demon you do not want to mess with.



At this point things seem pretty hopeless for Dorff and the rest of humanity.  His dog is dead, his best friend and sister have being carried off by demons to be sacrificed, and there is a gigantic salamander coming up through his living room floor.  But if he’s going down, he’s going down swinging.  Our hero faces this menacing force and shoots a toy rocket literally into the belly of the beast.  And, wouldn’t you know, that was the chink in the armor all along.

Where are the neighbors during all of this?

Yayy! The demons are gone!  And guess what – Dorff’s buddy and his sister are back!  And not only that – that dead dog is back too!  Everything’s back to normal!  Well, not quite – they’ll still need to explain to their parents why there’s a giant hole in the living room floor.

Overall: 6


After writing about The Gate I’m going to change my tune.  At first I said it wasn’t the great. And while it is pretty stupid, it still is a lot of fun.  Thus I compare this movie to an innocuous marshmallow roast: it may not be anything close to an all-out bonfire, but it is fun, sweet, and at times gooey.  I also have to tip my hat to the special effects – there was a lot of stop-motion animation which I love, especially when compared to all the CGI pollution we see today.

The Lost Boys (1987)




Brothers Michael and Sam have just moved to Santa Carla to live with their grandpa.  Sure, the girls are hot and the beach jams are tasty, but something seems a little off.  For one thing, Michael begins to stay out all night with his new biker gang friends, then sleeps all day.  Sam’s new buddies at the comic store seem convinced that his brother has fallen in with a group of vampires, and set out to prevent his full transformation to a blood sucking creature of the night.


What can one say about The Lost Boys that hasn’t already been said?  It showcases two of the worst things to ever come out of the 80’s in Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, is chalked full of some of the most horrendous dialogue ever written, and, the coup de grace, this oiled up rock n’ roll sax guy:

So this movie sucks, right? NO! In fact all these things that would normally sink a movie combine together in a way that actually makes it really good!  I guess it is so dumb and cheesy that it transcends any normal expectations you would have and right away you realize you’re watching something a little different.  Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t get to pick on all the goofy things that stick out in this movie.  For instance, what’s up with Corey Haim?

Aside from the erupting sex appeal, of course

Not really sure what’s going on with this guy.  He has an interesting wardrobe choice, even for an 80’s teenager.  He splits his time between pestering his taxidermist grandpa, cuddling with his pet husky, and flexing his brain muscles at the local comic shop.  In the clip above of the beach concert, his brother Michael is clearly into the hot gypsy chick, while Sam can’t take his eyes of the sexy sax man.  Ok, so maybe he’s just really into those kicking jams.  Can’t argue with that.  But what about that scene where he’s looking for a place to stash gandpa’s taxidermy owl and there’s a poster of an ab-bearing Rob Lowe closet door?

In your dreams, Haimster

And last but not least, what the hell is up with the scene where this teenaged kid taking a bubble bath and singing into a brush?

It is unfortunate how many Gen-Y girls must have discovered their sexuality to this scene

The special features are a must see…sort of.  The special edition DVD release has an additional disc which is entirely special features, and contains a section titled, I shit you not, “Haimster and Feldog.”  It features the two Coreys – Feldman in his gothic, smug, completely delusional “I’m a Hollywood star” attitude we’re all too familiar with, and a pudgy, frosty-tipped Haim – basically chronicling their bromance and the artistic gift to the world their collaboration inspired.  In fact, the entire special features disc is pretty much just commentary from Haimster and Feldog, presumably because everyone else involved in the movie can still find work.  The only other people on there are director Joel Schumacher, who is practically wetting himself over his idea for a sequel titled The Lost Girls, and the guy who played Max wondering aloud how his character could be written into it, despite dying in the first one.

I gotta say, I really have a lot of disdain for modern Feldman.  Yes, he was a lot of fun as a child actor in the 1980s.  And sure, he’s still relevant in a ‘laughing at you, not with you’ sort of way.  But as an adult this chowderhead just refuses to exit the limelight, instead continuing to try and milk the success of his childhood self, even though that shriveled teet dried up a long time ago.  And the fact that Feldog blocked me on Twitter and told his followers to do the same after one harmless quip at his expense has absolutely nothing to do with my disdain for him.

So lets talk about these vampires.  It seems like in every vampire movie these undead drinkers of blood are always beautiful, noble, and just all around cool kids who you want to become.  But in The Lost Boys, Kiefer Sutherland and his bros are a bunch of dirty, unruly biker punks who spend their nights terrorizing the boardwalk.  “Sleep all day, party all night, never grow old.”  It’s a cool little twist on the typical vampire archetype.  And Kiefer really brings it in Lost Boys.  Watching the movie, he is clearly leaps and bounds above the next best actor in terms of ability and general bad-assery.  I also loved seeing Alex Winter of Bill and Ted fame in this.  The guy has played like two characters in his short acting career and they are both classics.

Excellent! (air guitar riff)

The last thing I want to mention about this film is that, given the title, this is obviously a Peter Pan reference, where the lost boys in Neverland never grow old and are looking for a mother.  And yes, that comes into play in the movie, but only at the very end, and only for a a short moment. It’s during the climax of the movie and the reference comes out of left field and you’re like “oh yea, that makes sense,” but then the movie is over before you really had a chance to reflect on it.  The deleted scenes reveal this subplot in depth, where the main vampire Max attempt to turn Sam and Michael’s mother into a maternal figure for the vampire gang.  It is kind of goofy, and the scenes are terrible and were mercifully cut for that reason.  But it seems like this theme should have been explored a little more in the final cut, if for no other reason than to further justify the use of such a bitchin’ title.

Overall: 8


This movie is as hot as, um…a burning vampire skull (that’s pretty hot, but not, like, the hottest possible)

The Lost Boys will always have a special place in my heart for giving me one of my favorite movie quotes of all time in, “Maggots, Michael; you’re eating maggots, how do they taste?”

It’s a great horror-comedy that is both fun and really refreshing in its simplicity.  You will laugh at the absurdity of some of the dialogue, but also enjoy the fast pace and general likability of the movie as a whole.  Chances are you’ve seen The Lost Boys.  If you haven’t, do yourself a solid and see it now.  If you have, treat yourself and watch it again!


From Beyond (1986)



Dr. Edward Pretorius has invented a machine that stimulates the human pineal gland, allowing anyone within range the ability to see the horrifying inter-dimensional creatures existing around us at all times.  When Pretorius loses his head to one of the monsters his assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast, is presumed to be his killer.  Only by restoring the machine, and potentially opening a rift into a sinister world, can he prove his innocence.


Jeffrey Combs, who played Herbert West in Re-Animator, reprises his role as a budding mad scientist, based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, experimenting with taboo and wholly sinister subject matter.  How type-cast can you get?  Indeed, From Beyond, released a year after Re-Animator, is the second effort from the trio of Combs, Director Stuart Gordon, and screenplay writer Dennis Paoli to adapt a Lovecraft tale into a feature length movie.  Combs plays Crawford Tillinghast, the assistant to a scientist, Dr. Pretorius, who has invented a machine that would allow a person to fully experience each of their 5 senses to the extreme, as well as awaken a 6th sense that had become dormant in humans.  Specifically, the Pretorius Resonator establishes a series of mathematically precise vibrations to stimulate the human pineal gland.  This hyper-sensitivity allows the pineal gland to act as sort of a third eye, making it possible for humans to see all the creatures that inhabit the interdimensional space around us at all times.  Got it?

So this guy is standing behind you right now – you just can’t see him

Tillinghast is actually the less-nutty of the two, and after getting bitten in the face by an interdimensional eel, tries to warn his mentor of the dangers his Resonator poses.  But of course Pretorius isn’t going to listen to his little bitch of an assistant, so he cranks the machine up to full blast and, well, gets his head bitten of by some unseen otherworldly monster.

It grows back…sort of

Ok so all that stuff above takes place before the title card.  So now we have Tillinghast in a mental hospital as the presumed schizophrenic killer of Pretorius, babbling on about interdimensional monsters running around biting off people’s heads.  Enter Barbara Crampton (also of Re-Animator fame) as Dr. Katherine McMichaels, the District Attorney’s appointed psychologist sent to determine the mental state of Tillinghast.  When she remains unconvinced of his schizophrenia, the DA releases him into her care and they return to the lab to recreate the experiment in hopes of proving his innocence.

Also to have one crazy-ass slumber party!

This is right about where the climax of the movie came for me, the point at which I was most excited to be watching it and convinced it was going to be a good one.  Alas, as these films are wont to do, the whole thing began unraveling shortly thereafter.  Frequent readers (hi, Dad) know that my main bugaboo is glaring plot holes.  The little inconsistencies don’t bother me – if someone is wearing a blue shirt in one cut and a red one in the next, I really don’t mind that because it doesn’t detract from the actual story.  What drives me crazy and ultimately ruins a movie for me is when the story comes to a screeching halt because we are supposed to jump over a giant gap in logic and just accept it for what it is.  I can’t do that.  I will become disengaged in what is currently going on in the story because I am still so hung up on that thing that didn’t make any sense that happened thirty minutes ago.  From Beyond did not have one such egregious plot hole, but several.  I was practically squirming in my seat as soon as the opening credits finished up.

Although to be fair several factors contributed to my squeamishness

My favorite character in the film is the policeman, Bubba, who had been sent to accompany Tillinghast and McMichaels for security.  When everyone hauls their gear into the Pretorious house, he casually brings along a giant fucking ninja sword.  This is a small detail – no one even mentions it.  So the whole movie I’m waiting for this thing to come into play, and it never does!  What a tease!

Get back here, you tease!

Bubba is also the only voice of reason throughout this whole thing, so naturally he’s the first to die.  I had to watch his death scene a few times because it made zero sense and even now I have no idea what went down.  While Tillinghast and McMichaels are getting swarmed by interdimensional bugs, Bubba discovers that shining a flashlight on them makes the bugs disperse.  He then looks like he has an idea, probs involving the ninja sword, but accidentally drops the flashlight like a total bozo.  It lands in such a way that the beam is now focused on him, and the bugs swarm all over his body.  But wait, I thought they didn’t like the light?  Yea, well, now they do.  Deal with it.  By the time the bugs are done with him  he is reduced to a justifiably confused head atop a completely skeletonized body.

musical emphasis added by YouTube user ‘CannibalCuisine27’

Definitely coming from out of left field is the spare bedroom / sex dungeon in Dr. Pretorius’s house.  I guess this has something to do with the good doctor’s mortal quest to stimulate the senses.  In the movie they find this room full of whips and chains and gimp suits, as well as some video of Dr. P doing some real nefarious acts with an unknown mistress.  The characters keep coming back to this room just to, y’know, convene and shit.  Only after Tillinghast gets all his body hair ripped out by a laundry room monster and is passed out in the sex dungeon’s guest bed does Dr. McMichaels find him desirable enough to strap one of said gimpsuits onto herself and straddle him.  I wasn’t really sure what this had to do with anything, but we do get to see some extra beefy ass cheeks in the scene, so I let it slide.

some serious USDA Prime beef

By the end of the movie these guys are just shooting for broke.  Tillinghast’s pineal gland becomes so stimulated that forehead balloons to Rihanna size, until finally the thing just pokes itself out of his head for some fresh air.

Too…many…dick jokes!

Yea the weirdness doesn’t stop there.  For no reason whatsoever Tillinghast’s newly acute senses are giving him a craving for human brains.  His preferred method of dining, sucking it through a person’s eye socket like he’s taking down a jell-o shot, makes for some great cinematic special effects but unfortunately does nothing to save this movie from absolutely imploding.

as rendered by Trent Shy (@TrentShy)

Overall: 5


This movie is not unlike an explosion – starts out exciting enough, but quickly subsides into a lingering sulfur stink.

After I saw this I had to read the story it was based on, just to see where these guys went wrong in transitioning it to the big screen.  Turns out Lovecraft’s story is only 4 fucking pages long! – meaning most of the shit in the movie was completely made up from scratch.  In the actual story Tillinghast is actually the evil genius, the he invites some skeptical friend over so he can simultaneously prove to him he was right all along and enact his revenge by feeding him to an ephemeral monster.  I guess that’s not surprising that everything bad about this movie didn’t actually come from the grandfather of horror stories.  Good thing he made Re-Animator much longer, otherwise Gordon and Paoli, left to fill in the gaps with their own imaginations, would have probably turned that into a total stinker as well.


Eaten Alive (1977)



Judd is a crazy old man who owns a run down motel in rural Texas.  His hobbies include babbling incoherently to himself, murdering his guests without cause, and finding new and inventive ways to keep his pet Nile crocodile fed.  Probably a step up from a Motel 8, but not quite the Ritz.


Eaten Alive, not to be confused with this similarly named mess, also goes by the alternate titles Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter, and Le Crocodile de la Mort.  This is Tobe Hooper’s first film after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the similarities are pretty evident, so much so that he even cast the same damsel in distress for the two films in Marylin Burns.  It’s pretty incredible that she agreed to work with Hooper on their second go-round since it has been documented that she went through physical and emotional hell filming the former.

A small price to pay for the promotion of one’s art 

The look and feel of Eaten Alive is very Hooper-esque: the scenes are dusty and dirty, and a lot of detail is put into things like sweat and grime on the actors (although it’s probable that was achieved naturally).  Also the sound track sounds like someone stomping on a Moog synthesizer while banging pots and pans together.  The entire film definitely had that same bizarre, unnerving undertone we all know so well from TCM.

The movie starts out with, guess who? – Robert Englund, playing the town miscreant Buck, in a whore house trying to convince some young and innocent hooker to let him play the back nine.  His quest for backdoor action is actually a recurring theme in the film.

A pretty terrifying proposition

It’s unclear what the relationship between Buck and Judd is, but a couple times in the film Buck rolls up to the motel just to start shit with the old man, who stomps up and down and yells something about being owed money.  Judd is certainly an odd bird, and at risk of beating the TCM comparison into the ground, acts almost exactly like the hitchhiker from the former.  This seems to be a staple of these early Hooper movies – the inclusion of some crazy character who is very edgy, talking to himself, and hopping up and down with gleeful curiosity at the sight of gruesome death.  It’s actually quite brilliant, I think, as method of revealing the uniquely demented and equally horrifying characteristics of someone who, if you saw walking around outside, would definitely cross the street to avoid.  The late Neville Brand, playing Judd, delivers an especially convincing performance as this troubled hermit who is clearly living in a world of his own, his grasp on reality hanging by a thread.

But boy does he wear that mop top well

As you might have guessed, at some point weary travelers set up shop in the motel looking a place to rest, only to receive the exact opposite of that.  A large portion of the movie is dedicated to Judd chasing around half naked girls with a scythe, and tumbling down his own flight of stairs.  I really couldn’t tell you why he’s so intent on killing his paying customers, but he seems to be pretty freaked out and offended by hot women in his presence.

It’s just his special way of showing affection

Unfortunately the movie continues like this without much rhyme or reason.  After half way through a father and his daughter rent a room while looking for a family member who had run away from home, incidentally the same girl Judd sliced up and fed to the croc earlier that day.  This would have made for a good overarching plot line, but it was introduced so late that it didn’t have much impact on creating an actual story.  It’s disappointing that more time wasn’t spent into developing an actual story for this movie, because it certainly had the look and feel of a classic.

Along with well-known B actors Burns and Englund, the cast also includes William Finley from The Phantom of the Paradise, and Carolyn Jones, who played Morticia in the original Addams Family television series.

Overall: 5


The is the kind of back yard fire you have to constantly feed with cardboard just to keep from going out completely; the kind you had such high hopes for only to die out too soon, leaving you disappointed and stinking like smoke

Again, Eaten Alive doesn’t really have much of a plot to it.  Like TCM, it seems to exist just to showcase some gore and scary scenes, without really trying to tell much of a story.  That worked out just fine for TCM, but Eaten Alive is neither shocking nor gory enough to get by on that dubious merit alone.  I liked it well enough, but it seems that, like its antagonist, the film is a few cards short of a full deck.