Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights Unmasks “Halloween 4” Mazes For 2018!

I’ll be totally honest here: A week ago I was pondering on what other attractions were to be announced for the ever so wonderful, Halloween Horror Nights. As I knew, there were to be three more surprise additions to be leaked to us press scum over the next few weeks and while I still have a few guesses on the other two, I knew sure as shit ONE of them just had to be Halloween themed. With of course, John Carpenter’s immortal classic turning 40 this year and Blumhouse’s sequel to that original phenom is set for October 19th, it only seemed logical, right Poncho? Well, I was close enough! Turns out our George P. Wilber version of the Shape will be unleashing hell onto his niece Jamie and guests over at HHN in Orlando and Hollywood this 2018 haunt season!

 

Beginning on Friday, September 14th, 2008 through November 3rd, guests will be able to dive into the world of 1988 Haddonfield with an interactive experience of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the film that began the illustrious Scream Queen career of Danielle Harris and has since become a favorite addition to the franchise.

Per NBC Universal:

Based on the fourth installment in the classic slasher series created by John Carpenter, the mazes will transport guests to the suburban town of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night where Myers has escaped Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and is hungry for revenge. This time, he relentlessly stalks his niece Jamie as his next victim, stopping at nothing to kill her.

Guests will follow Myers as he escapes the mental hospital, encounters his first victims at Penney’s Gas Station and Diner, and wreaks terror on Haddonfield, all set to Alan Howarth’s ominous score. The maze will include horrifying scares by Myers in his classic featureless white mask and navy jumpsuit, with guests dodging his bloody knife at every turn. Halloween fanatics can expect a cameo by Myer’s psychiatrist Dr. Loomis and other famous characters from the film as they try to escape the bloodbath.

Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 25 years, guests from around the world have visited Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood and Orlando to become victims inside their own horror film. Multiple movie-quality mazes based on iconic horror television shows, films and original stories come to life season after season. And, the streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing scare-actors lunge from every darkened corner.

All tickets and vacation packages are on sale now at www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com

About Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood is The Entertainment Capital of L.A. and includes a full-day, movie-based theme park and Studio Tour. As a leading global entertainment destination, Universal Studios Hollywood delivers highly themed immersive lands that translate to real-life interpretations of iconic movie and television shows. Recent additions include “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” which features a bustling Hogsmeade village and such critically-acclaimed rides as “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and “Flight of the Hippogriff™”. Other immersive lands include “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and “Super Silly Fun Land” as well as “Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite TV family, located adjacent to the award-winning “The Simpsons Ride™” and the “The Walking Dead” daytime attraction and the all-new DreamWorks Theatre featuring “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest.” The world-renowned Studio Tour is Universal Studios Hollywood’s signature attraction, inviting guests behind-the-scenes of the world’s biggest and busiest movie and television production studio where they can also experience such authentic thrill rides as “Fast & Furious—Supercharged.” The adjacent Universal CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex also includes the all-new multi-million dollar, redesigned Universal CityWalk Cinema, featuring deluxe recliner seating in screening room quality theatres, and the “5 Towers” state-of-the-art outdoor concert stage.

About Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort is a unique vacation destination that is part of the NBCUniversal Comcast family. For more than 25 years, Universal Orlando has been creating epic vacations for the entire family – incredible experiences that place guests in the heart of powerful stories and adventures. 

Universal Orlando’s three theme parks, Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay, are home to some of the world’s most exciting and innovative theme park experiences – including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels are destinations unto themselves and include Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and coming this August, Universal’s Aventura Hotel. Its entertainment complex, Universal CityWalk, offers immersive dining and entertainment for every member of the family.

Universal Orlando Resort continues to unveil all-new guest experiences, including powerful attractions, incredible dining opportunities and dramatically-themed hotels. Now open is Fast & Furious – Supercharged, where guests can join the Fast family and step into the blockbuster Fast & Furious films at Universal Studios Florida. And at Universal CityWalk, Voodoo Doughnut is now serving more than 50 types of delightfully weird and sinfully delicious doughnuts.

About Trancas International Films
Trancas International Films, Inc., along with its subsidiary Compass International Pictures, Inc., is a film production and distribution company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide with a library of classic and revered films, such as John Carpenter’s HalloweenThe Message and Lion of the Desert. Trancas has been involved in the production of every film in the Halloween franchise, including the upcoming Universal release directed by David Gordon Green and starring Jamie Lee Curtis. In addition to partnerships with Universal, Trancas has deals with Miramax, Blumhouse, Lionsgate, Anchor Bay and Dimension Films, among others.

 

NBC Universal- Nightmare Nostalgia

 

Original Georgie From “IT” Returns For Unofficial Sequel To 1990 Miniseries!

You thought little Georgie getting his arms ripped off by a demonic shapeshifting entity was the end of the little guy? Think again! In an exclusive announcement provided to Nightmare Nostalgia, fellow comrades over at Creepy Kingdom have partnered with Pennywise: The Story Of IT and Unearth and Untold: The Path To Pet Sematary creator John Campopiano to bring us an unofficial sequel in the form of a short film starring none other than the original Georgie himself, Tony Dakota!

Original Georgie From "IT" Returns For Unofficial Sequel To 1990 Miniseries!

 

With the working title of “GEORGIE“, this would be Dakota’s first return to the screen in over 25 years. And what better format than a trip back into the sewers that catapulted his status as a renowned icon in the horror industry; and quite possibly, one of the most memorable scenes not only in the Stephen King universe but in the horror genre as a whole. Also, you might be wondering how this would even be a possibility as clearly enough, Georgie was mincemeat at the hands, or teeth rather, of Pennywise. Well, here’s your answer:

Near the intersection of Witcham and Jackson, Georgie Denbrough’s young life came to an abrupt and tragic end. His paper boat–assembled from a Derry News newspaper with care by his older brother, Bill–had careened down a sewer drain and into the hands of what, not who, would be his killer. Its maiden voyage into death. But what if Pennywise the Dancing Clown hadn’t killed Georgie after all? What if Georgie had somehow escaped death and managed to live some semblance of a normal life in the not-so-normal town of Derry? What might his world look like? Or that of the Denbrough family? Would this horrific experience color their view of the universe? Like the themes explored in Stephen King’s IT, what role does grief, memory, and the confronting of our childhood traumas as children play here? GEORGIE is a snapshot of this very scenario–an experiment in fantastical reinventions that proposes an alternative reality in which, maybe, Georgie Denbrough still walks the earth. But even then, maybe, not everything is at it seems.

Original Georgie From "IT" Returns For Unofficial Sequel To 1990 Miniseries!

To get this wonderful, and personally speaking, intriguing project off the ground, the creators have launched an IndieGoGo campaign in collaboration with horror clothing experts FRIGHT RAGS and Theater of Creeps to help cost the cover of production.   Including a RAD new GEORGIE shirt seen serving as one of the many super cool backer rewards.

GEORGIE stars Tony Dakota with John Campopiano as Producer/Co-writer along with Ryan Grulich as Director/Co-writer with James H. Carter II serving as Executive Producer. 

John Campopiano is an audiovisual archivist, film writer, and producer living in Boston. He co- wrote, produced, and directed the 2017 documentary, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to PET SEMATARY and is writer and co-producer on the forthcoming documentary, Pennywise: The Story of IT. Ryan Grulich is a writer/producer/director based in Seattle. He produced the 2017 film, Foolish Mortals, a documentary about Disney’s Haunted Mansion, and has directed several short films including, I Hate Halloween, which premiered on July 28, 2018.

Established in 2013 Creepy Kingdom, run by James H. Carter II, produces original Films, Podcasts, and Events. They also cover the spooky side of Films, Theme Parks, and Beyond. For more information on GEORGIE go to http://www.creepykingdom.com

You Just Can’t Keep a Good Guy Down: Why the Child’s Play Franchise is Anything but Stale

All honesty, I’ve never been one for rebuttals when it comes to writing about horror. I respect the opinions of others and understand that we won’t all see eye-to-eye very often, if at all. Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong?

However, a recent article from 1428 Elm wondered whether the Child’s Play franchise was not only spreading itself thin, but if it was in danger of getting stale.

I cannot abide. So here we go.

Having recently spoken with Child’s Play 2’s (1990) Christine Elise, she used a phrase that struck me, “Don Mancini’s empire.” Though I had never thought of it quite so succinctly, it’s no less true, because it is Mancini who drives the franchise, not Chucky, he’s merely the vehicle.

The man not only created this universe we all know and love, but has written all seven installments, directed the last three, acted as executive producer for Bride of Chucky (1998), and as of this writing, is slated to, at the very least produce the television series.

Child's Play TV seriesAt a glance, it would appear that seven features and an upcoming TV project may appear to be a bit much, maybe even spread thin, but not when you consider that the original film hit theatres in 1988, and we have seen gaps of seven, six, nine and four years from Child’s Play 3 (1991) to the most recent effort, Cult of Chucky (2017).

What’s more, the last two films are the very reason Wade Wainio’s assertions are askew.

Mancini has always possessed perfect pitch when it comes to his franchise, not only in tone and atmosphere, but with what is or is not resonating with the fans. After Child’s Play 3, Mancini felt as though he was beginning to tell the same story over and over, and believed it was time to switch things up. And he was right, 3 didn’t have the same energy as the first two, which led to that first seven-year hiatus. Mancini made the decision to fully embrace the badboy one-liners and humor inherent in his demonic doll, and gave us the thoroughly enjoyable popcorn horror thrill ride that was Bride. And the fans loved it. That Jennifer Tilly entered the equation as Tiffany didn’t hurt one bit because Mancini realized that the time had come to give Chucky a wing-man, or wing-woman as it were. And make no mistake, Tiffany is adored by Child’s Play fans, so that particular call was a stroke of genius. And it wouldn’t be the last.

When Mancini attempted to build on the final frame of Bride with Seed of Chucky (2004), it seemed to fall flat, at least in this writer’s estimation, but as previously stated, I could be wrong, I’m sure there are many who dig the fifth film. That said, the injection of a humor focus worked for Bride, but not so much for Seed, so Mancini again took his time before unleashing the next chapter.

Nine years later, we would find Chucky venturing back to his darker roots with Curse of Chucky (2013), and though we would get our first glimpse of a new Mancini trick – the end credits tease – it wasn’t the hint of Andy’s (Alex Vincent) return that made the film, but rather the introduction of a new character, Nica Pierce. Beyond the rare slasher trait of continuity, something that has always set the Child’s Play franchise apart is the sense of family, not only on-screen, but off. Those who have built this “Mancini empire” truly appear to be a tight-knit group, and what could be more familial than casting Brad Dourif’s daughter to play the human lead? And as we all know, Ms. Dourif didn’t just get the part because she’s Brad’s offspring, she has added layers of vulnerability, strength, emotion and depth that has elevated the entire franchise.

Fiona DourifFrom Curse, the most recent foray was with Cult last year, and pound-for-pound, it may be Mancini’s finest effort yet. Not only was Chucky at his hilariously villainous best, he is now legion, complete with Hannibal references that warm the heart. Fiona again delivered a sensational performance, Tilly was involved, Tiffany made an appearance, and of course, Andy is back in the fold. The story was strong, the writing spot on, it had creative kills, and despite a clinical setting, it was visually pleasing, and the climax had fans aching for what’s next.

Truly think about that last statement. We are talking about a franchise’s seventh film. Typically with such scenarios, we’re off the rails, numerous writers and directors have veered so far from the original vision that it’s almost, if not completely laughable. But Child’s Play is not Hellraiser or Friday the 13th or Children of the Corn, because it’s always had Mancini.

The final few minutes of Cult were eye-bulgingly fantastic. Chucky’s chant finally worked, and when Nica rose from her wheelchair and Ms. Dourif gifted us one of the most spot-on mimics in cinematic history, we felt chills. What is Chucky going to do in that body? Where is he going to go? What awaits down the road?

Fiona as Chucky walked out into the snow to Tilly while Andy was stuck in a cell, most likely to be framed for the slaughterhouse inside the mental health facility, to say nothing of the small army of Good Guy dolls ready to wreak havoc at Nica / Chucky’s command.

The fun didn’t end there, however, because Mancini had one last face-breaking smile left in his bag of tricks. He sent a friend to pay a visit to Chucky’s head, left at Andy’s secluded cabin, and when the sliding door opened and Kyle (Elise) walked in, you could almost hear the squeals of delight from every corner of the country.

Kyle CultEvents, intriguing events, that will lead into the television series, and perhaps the next feature, whenever that might be.

When a franchise spreads itself thin, over-saturation is almost always the culprit. A new movie, shoddily pieced together to make a deadline focused less on quality than a cash grab. And if a television series were to be a thing, it would usually fall sometime during the height of its run, not more than three decades after it began.

Thirty years and seven movies on, that is where the Child’s Play franchise stands. It’s not only alive and well and thriving, but almost incomprehensibly improving the further it wanders from the night we met Charles Lee Ray.

And that’s as far from stale as it gets.

Chucky

4K Restoration of “The Fog” Coming to Theaters For Halloween!

Merry early Halloween folks! A fully restored version of John Carpenter’s landmark horror gem, The Fog, is hitting theaters this October!

4K Restoration of "The Fog" Coming to Theaters For Halloween!

In its first-ever major restoration, John Carpenter’s THE FOG is back in a full 4K restoration from Studiocanal and opens October 26 for a limited run at the Metrograph in New York, Landmark’s Nuart in Los Angeles, and The Music Box Theatre in Chicago. Additional screenings will occur during the week of Halloween throughout the Alamo Drafthouse circuit and other specialty theaters.

Carpenter’s first post-Halloween venture into the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired, apocalyptic vein that he would continue to mine in films like The Thing (1982) and Prince of Darkness (1987), THE FOG depicts the seaside California town of Antonio Bay in the grips of an ancient curse and a creeping mist. Drenched in malevolent atmosphere and packing an ensemble cast that includes Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook and the mother-daughter duo of Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis, this is the director at his ingenious, chilling best, servicing a contemporary taste for gore while simultaneously evoking the spirit of Val Lewton.   

Out of theatrical release for years due to faded, unplayable prints, THE FOG can now be viewed again as it was intended, with the restoration of its breathtaking color cinematography by Dean Cundey (Escape From New York, Back To The Future (I-III), Apollo 13, Romancing The Stone), who deftly captured both the daylight beauty of the Point Reyes shore and the ghostly goings-on in the dark, eerie night.

The Fog has been our most requested title for as long as we have handled the Studiocanal library here,” according to Eric Di Bernardo, Rialto’s director of sales. “It is Carpenter’s most visually alluring film and we think it’s been worth the wait.”

Founded in 1997 by Bruce Goldstein, Rialto Pictures brings the finest of world cinema to screens across North America. From new restorations of enduring classics such as Carol Reed’s The Third Man, Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion, and Akira Kurosawa’s Ran to genre mainstays like John Carpenter’s Escape From New York and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2, Rialto Pictures offers an eclectic range of cinematic adventures appealing to any audience. Since 2012, Rialto Pictures has been the U.S. theatrical and non-theatrical representative of the Studiocanal library of over 2,000 international classics. Often featuring updated subtitles and renewed marketing materials, Rialto Pictures aims to engage moviegoers with cinematic history, preserve film culture, and highlight the continued relevance of classic stories through high-quality theatrical presentations.

First Official Images From “Creed II” Are Here!

Hot off the press from MGM Pictures and Warner Bros. Studios, the first official images of Creed II have arrived and Junior looks like he means business as he prepares for the fight of his life against Viktor Drago. You know, the son of that scary as hell Russian that killed his father back in 1985.

Vengence at its finest my friends.

Directed by Stephen Caple Jr., the immortal Rocky saga continues with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) stepping into the focal role with, of course, the legendary Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa at his side to guide him through the squared circle along with the brakes of life.

Official Synopsis:

Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.

First Official Images From "Creed II" Are Here!

Images via Warner Bros. and MGM

First Official Images From "Creed II" Are Here!

Written by Sylvester Stallone, Creed 2 stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris, Russell Hornsby, Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu, Andre Ward, Phylicia Rashad, and Dolph Lundgren. Original Creed director Ryan Coogler has a chair as Executive Producer along with Michael B. Jordan and Guy Riedel. Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King-Templeton, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, Irwin Winkler serve as producers.

Creed II drops everywhere in theaters Wednesday, November 21st. 

Underrated Slashers Presents, Frank Zito of ‘MANIAC!’

Horror takes many shapes and assumes various forms in order to affect us. Be it monsters, killers, or simple catastrophes, horror is there to incarnate both our deepest fears and our darkest sense of humor. By far, the Slasher Genre is my favorite kind of horror to watch, and there are hundreds to choose from out there. So much so that too many of them go overlooked and remain underrated. For that reason I, Manic Exorcism, gladly pull back the tattered veil to shed some sinister light upon these underrated slasher killers.

 

MANIAC (1980)

Why hello again. Come and gather around the hobo fire. Have your pick of any select hooker to scalp (they always come in plenty around this side of town), because today on Underrated Slashers we’re heading into some very sketchy places and getting extra sleazy, my little Nasties. Today we’ll be looking at one of the 80’s all-time best slasher films, William Lustig’s MANIAC!

The world of Frank Zito is a vile one indeed. One of the uncontrollable desires, lust, a cruel obsession for the flesh, and – above all else – murder. Brought to us by the larger-than-life performance of Joe Spinell , Frank Zito’s is a tale of atrocities and tragedy. A man controlled by need and ruled by his addiction. An addiction not for narcotics, no, but for something far more seductive. The addiction for perfection and beauty. The lovely victims who fall prey under his serrated knife are not innocent, at least not in his diluted sight. Afterall, they were told not to go out tonight.

The Midwest Film Journal
image via The Midwest Film Journal

The 80’s were the golden years of the Slasher Genre. Ah Hell, that decade gave birth to the genre. That was the golden age of Freddy, Jason, Leatherface and Michael Myers! When the big baddies wet the screens red with the blood of the innocent, and we fucking loved it! That’s also the decade that was pumping out slashers on nearly a weekly basis, so much so that we could barely keep up with them. Sadly, as the bigger names were given limitless sequels as their box office success rose like the smoke off a cannibal pyre, there were single films that got woefully overlooked in the great crowd of murder and mayhem. And by no means does that mean these lesser-knowns were in any way inferior. Quite the contrary, as in the case of MANIAC, often times they were either equal to or superior to the hell unleashed upon Elm Street or Crystal Lake.

rotten tomatoes
image via Rotten Tomatoes

In the case of Frank Zito, the blood was realistic and the outcome was gruesome. As a matter of fact, this may very well be one of the most unpleasant films in the genre to sit through. You can feel the humidity of this film. I swear at times you can even smell it. You get that rancid stench of neglected trash filling the undercity’s gutters, and the odor of cheap cologne mingled with heavy sweat just permeates nearly every scene. It kinda smells like Old Spice and spicy sausage with a hint of uncontrollable BO.

Make no mistake, this is a very dirty movie. Every minute of the film makes damn sure you understand that. It’s a film that makes you want to shower after watching it, and fuck it all that’s why I love it! Few movies can have that kind of an effect on an audience.

Life Between Frames
image via Life Between Frames

We do not simply watch Frank Zito’s life, we are thrust into it. We walk the darkly wet streets with him. We sit in the corner of his dingy flat, and we are up close and personal with his obscenities.

ORIGINS

Every good serial killer must have a beginning, thus keeping that ancient riddle of nature vs. nurture alive – are maniacs born or built? In Frank’s case, we learn that he was constantly abused by his prostitute mother, and honestly, there is a wide-open door left here for us to explore the psychology of a killer through studying our nasty friend, Franky.

scumcinema
image via scumcinema

So, with Freddy we have a child killer who was provoked by his alcoholic father’s sadism, in Jason, we have an innocent child who was bullied, picked on, then left to drown, but who also had an overly-loving mother who was ready and all-too-willing to kill for her beloved Jason. Frank Zito was victim to his mother’s sick perversities. Zito had no supernatural powers, but he kept New York City in a grip of scarlet terror and still proves to be just as deadly as his fellow murderers.

I’ve said it before, but really that’s the kind of killer that makes us all squirm. They live in the flat down the hall, just like Dahmer. They aren’t the type we’d want to spend an afternoon with, but we would never expect to find a hidden museum of the macabre waiting behind their locked doors.

bocadoinferno
image via bocadoinferno

And trust me – and without giving anything away – Frank has a grotesque little shrine built out of sin itself. For gorehounds, this is a film you won’t want to pass up! For slasher freaks, this is one underrated hit you have to finally see.

Recently, MANIAC has been enjoying a much-needed revival thanks to my friends over at Eibon Press. They specialize in bringing the crassness of grindhouse classics back to life with new twists and insidious depth. Their first issue of MANIAC is a must-have for any fan of the sleazy classic. And for the truest of sickies, issue 2 promises to pit Frank Zitto against the New York Ripper himself. So holy fuck! It’s a manic dream come true! To read more on the insane awesomeness of Eibon Press please click here and see what you’ve been missing in your life.

Wicked Horror
image via Wicked Horror

So there you have it, my Nasties. Frank Zito is out there in the dark corners of your world. He waits in the shadows and looks out through wild eyes of craven lust. Once he decides to strike there is no escape. So be careful when you walk away from here, and always keep your head turned towards those grimy alleyways, that parking garage you think is empty, or, if you’re really unlucky, outside your front door.

Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988’s “The Blob”

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Features: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

I don’t care how stubborn, or pompous this may sound: Computer generate all the damn monsters you want with the world’s greatest CGI program and programmer running it. It still won’t look better than practical effects and I certainly can’t appreciate it as much. The perfect example of such splendid monster-movie-magic is of course, Chuck Russell’s vision of the 1950’s Sci-Fi B movie, The Blob jello-molding it’s way into 1988.

 Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988's "The Blob"

Thinking back to my childhood years, I clearly remember my first interaction with this glorious film, that at the time, I had no idea was a remake. In a pre-internet era and films relying on physical media such as TV spots and the good old-fashioned newspaper to get the word out. The one other way to draw unsuspecting fans into a film post-theater release, was the almighty VHS box art that would stare at you from the lined-shelves of the horror section like a haunted painting. This film, like many others of that time, sold itself to a tiny Patti with the cover-art alone that both intrigued and terrified me as a child. The simple showcase of what I later learned to be Paul’s fate displayed on the front of the rental, initially scared the shit out of seven-year-old me. I’m not entirely sure why, as growing up in a horror-loving-household watching Halloween at the tender age of two, this piece of art gave me the skeevies. I can distinctly remember only a few VHS horror art covers having that sort of effect on me. For almost 2 years, that pink, gooey man screaming at me through the art cover taunted me every time the parental units and I made a family trip to our local Action Video for the weekend rentals. And it wasn’t until I was allowed to ride my bike across the busy street by my damn self I was cut loose to roam the horror shelves of that mom and pop video store and rent freely on my own. Whatever I wanted. So of course, I gravitated to that jerkoff blobby Paul who has been tormenting the hell out of me. I had to see what this was about just based on this one picture alone. And now, 30 years later, it has become one of my all-time favorites.

Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988's "The Blob"

 

Which brings me to the point here: That one image from the film doused in practical effects reeled me in and like many films before this gem in the ’80s, was balls-deep with beautifully done man-made monster magic. From Paul’s tragic demise to Vicki being eaten from the inside-out, The Blob is filled to the brim with dazzling and believable imagery that STILL looks better than a lot of modern day effects. The team responsible for igniting a fear of jello-molds everywhere was that of Tony Gardner, Chet Zar, and Bill Sturgeon of Alterian Studios. Who have since released some REALLY FUCKIN’ COOL behind the scenes stills on making that “extraterrestrial” man-eating glob that every fan of the film should take a gander at.

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LONG LIVE PRACTICAL EFFECTS.

Ya-Bang: Vinny Guastaferro Reflects on the Legacy of Jason Lives

“One of the great, great things about horror movies is that because there’s almost, I don’t want to use the words ‘cult following,’ but a fanatic fan base, they last forever.”

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI hit theatres on August 1, 1986, and three decades on, it’s a film that has not only demonstrated the staying power Vinny Guastaferro described, but seems to be gaining in popularity with each passing year. To mark the 32nd anniversary of Jason Voorhees’ resurrection, Guastaferro shared some memories of one the most popular, and certainly most unique chapters in franchise history.

Guastaferro came to the role of Deputy Rick Colone after being cast in Bullpen, a baseball play that revolved around the “banter between the pitchers” in the bullpen of a New York Yankees / Boston Red Sox contest that was directed by Tom McLoughlin.

The mastermind behind Friday’s sixth chapter, “like a lot of people in Hollywood,” shared with Guastaferro that “I just got a job doing a big movie and I’d like you to be in the movie,” the Jason Lives writer and director told the man who would go on to be Colone, “but it’s for Paramount Pictures and you have to audition and everything.”

Guastaferro didn’t mind the specter of an audition because “fighting for a role is part of what an actor is inured to.” It wasn’t until Guastaferro read the script, however, that he became excited for a “terrific role,” because he would be playing a cop with “a singular agenda,” itching to shoot somebody or something, who was “kind of the comic relief and the asshole all at once.”

McLoughlin loved Guastaferro’s take on the character, as would the fans. The rest, as they say, is history.

The overwhelming fan response to Deputy Rick from the Friday faithful was a bit foreign to Guastaferro at first. He wondered if some of the fans were a bit crazy, what with couples waking around conventions with two-year olds in strollers, others with his lines tattooed on body parts, and stories of 10-year olds watching with their parents. But the more exposure he had to horror aficionados, the more Guastaferro came to realize that it was all about the love of Jason Lives being handed down from generation-to-generation.

“I actually came to appreciate the fans and the fanaticism for these movies a little bit later because I just did [Jason Lives] as a movie and said ‘I hope it’s good,’ and it was good.” Guastaferro admits to being “a little prejudiced” when saying that he believes Part VI to be “the best of the whole franchise,” but legions of fans back up that assertion. “Look, I know people who are fanatic about this movie who are still under 10 years old, and I know people that are fanatics about this movie that are about 65 or 70 years old.”

That a horror flick filmed in Georgia three decades back has enjoyed an almost incomprehensible shelf life is humbling to Guastaferro.

“It’s been a privilege to be in a movie that has had this kind of recognition for this many years. People still email me and Facebook me and call me Rick and deputy, and they quote my lines. Pretty amazing to me.”

The affable New Jersey native is very humorous by nature, and wasted no time noting that one of those lines that gets quoted constantly has been more rewarding than the wife he got out of the production.

You read right.

Red dotGuastaferro had been dating Cynthia Kania, who along with Roger Rose was brought in to play Annette following principle photography to be double-skewered on a motor scooter to ensure McLoughlin reached the picture’s death quota. And when asked which ranked higher, landing the line or the spouse, Guastaferro didn’t hesitate.

“Ohhh, having one of the most memorable lines, I was gonna get that wife no matter what,” Guastaferro shot back. “I had met her a little earlier, and I had dated her, but definitely having the line. Are you kidding?! ‘Wherever the red dot goes, ya-bang!’ is something that I get in the mail, I get people sending me photos with that written on it, I had a woman in Vienna (Austria) show up at one of the horror cons I did over there, and she had that line tattooed on her fucking arm!”

“I think having the line is probably the most rewarding thing ever,” Guastaferro said. “I mean, I was watching Predator the other night, and I love the line (adopting an Ahnold accent) ‘If it bleeds, we can kill it.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah! I own one of those lines!’ I’m really happy to have that (laughs).”

It was a line Guastaferro came up with himself, exclaiming “Ya-bang!” when McLoughlin presented him with the hand cannon and scope that would be used in the cemetery scene, a benefit of the trust established through his previous project with McLoughlin. “Tom gave me a lot of leeway in there, and I invented some of the lines and improvised and he decided to keep them because he wanted the character to be revealed as partly a jerk, and funny.”

The line (and the decision to keep it) was inspired, because with the fans, all these decades later, the red dot still hits the target.

“I’ve been to conventions where people have asked me to write it on their ass, on their bald head with a permanent marker, on their cleavage. Girls would come in with crop tops on and have me write ‘Wherever the red dot goes, ya-bang!’ right across [the small of their back].”

For those scoring at home, Guastaferro and Kania were married a month after they wrapped on Jason Lives, but the legacy of “ya-bang!” isn’t lost on Guastaferro.

“I felt good every night knowing that the audience was leaving touched by what I did (on stage), but it’s nowhere near as rewarding as knowing that there are friggin’ five million people out there who were enamored of Friday the 13th,” Guastaferro reflected.

“Listen, every actor wants to know that what they did had some kind of impact on people,” Guastaferro said. After more than 50 films, 100 television appearances and extensive theatre performances, it hasn’t been the dramatic roles with social messages that have endured, but a horror film from 1986.

“It’s not deep, it’s not meaningful, it’s not about social cause or change, it’s entertainment. And that’s what Tom wanted it to be.”

Guastaferro referred to Jason Lives as “the king of my movies,” and continued, “I am so pleased, I’m so pleased. One of my proudest movies is Friday the 13th.

Ted White, who portrayed Jason in The Final Chapter, is apt to say “Always leave them wanting more,” a sentiment echoed by Guastaferro. “Smile and laugh, that’s what we want.”

It’s been 32 years since Deputy Rick Colone unholstered his sidearm. We’re still smiling, and still laughing.

Guastaferro

WTF Am I Watching: Microwave Massacre (1983)

Not since high school algebra have I been as terribly confused as I was today while scrolling through Shudder’s horror library. How, in all my years of watching cheddar-flavored schlock, had I never heard of Microwave Massacre? Just this morning, I’d have been willing to bet my brother’s kid that this film would be enjoyable – and since I love my nephew to pieces, I’m quite glad that I didn’t.

Typically, the WTF Am I Watching train only comes around once per week, but fuck it. We’ve been off the tracks since Black Devil Doll From Hell, so why conform now?

microwave massacre

Microwave Massacre fittingly begins with a glimpse at a fancy microwave oven and a deteriorated severed head, which, by my standards, is the peak of film openings. Unfortunately, when you reach the highest point of my fictional mountain, the only way left to go is down. A slow, methodical descent into Shitsville (The town at the bottom of the mountain, in case you didn’t know) is the respectable way to come down, but Microwave Massacre more-so slips on eagle shit and slams against every jagged rock until it reaches the surface below.

In layman’s terms, it’s really bad.

Immediately following the opening sequence, the camera follows a young woman around town, focusing primarily on her breasts and butt. This is painfully indicative of the woefully sexist film to come. The woman eventually arrives at a construction site and leans over to peek at the workers through a hole in a fence. At this point, a random man pinches her ass, pushes her boobs through the hole in the fence, and has sex with her.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like rape to me.

Strangely, Microwave Massacre plays this sexual encounter for comedy, with eccentric music accompanying the construction workers as they notice the breasts poking through the hole and rush over to find the woman that they’re attached to. When they reach the fence, the moaning woman removes her breasts from the hole and inexplicably hurries away. Can you see why I’m so goddamn baffled about this? If the woman was being raped, which we all agree that she was, why have her rush off so that she didn’t get caught having sex? Does this mean that she was willingly having sex with a stranger who grabbed her ass and made unsolicited advances? Your boy needs answers, and this film isn’t giving them to me.

All this in the first five minutes of the movie.

donald

The primary focus of Microwave Massacre is Donald, a construction worker who has grown tired of his nagging wife and the diet she forces him to follow. Rather than separating from his partner in the more traditional sense, Donald’s constant misery drives him to bludgeon her to death with a pepper grinder and pop her in the microwave. The way she would have wanted to go, he says, staring directly into the camera.

Now with a hankering for human flesh, Donald cuts his wife into dozens of pieces, wraps her up in tinfoil, and places her in the garage freezer. The only part of her body that isn’t covered in foil is her head, which brings to mind The Voices, a far superior horror comedy starring Ryan Reynolds. In that film, Reynolds’ character also keeps the heads of his victims in a refrigerator. While I doubt that Microwave Massacre was any sort of influence on that vastly different film, the connection of that tiny detail seems almost prophetic since there’s a roll of Reynolds Wrap on top of Donald’s meat freezer. This is the type of thing I’ll make conspiracy videos about when I’m 35 and in desperate need of life direction. Not that I couldn’t use some now.

Anyway.

Free from his burden of a wife, Donald starts hanging out with his work buddies more often, feeding them sandwiches made from her corpse. When he grows tired of her meat, however, Donald begins inviting prostitutes over to his house, where he kills them, cuts ‘em up, and cooks them in the microwave – all the while making Rodney Dangerfield style quips while looking, you guessed it, directly into the camera. This occurs repetitively throughout the last 45 minutes of the film, and just when we think Donald has been backed into a corner and that the plot will finally shake things up for us, he uses a bread roll to snuff a woman out and evade trouble.

A goddamn bread roll.

Microwave Massacre is the equivalent to that one friend who thinks he’s hilarious, though he’s actually just obnoxious and abrasive. The attempts at humor are desperate and sad, and the element of horror is non-existent. It’s not the so-bad-it’s-good type of horror movie that the title suggests: it’s just bad.

And I’m done talking about it.

WTF Am I Watching: Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972)

Suppressed deep within the crevices of my mind are hellish memories of Paris Hilton on a farm. A brief sifting through internet garbage determined that these waking nightmares were pulled from a reality series called The Simple Life, which I have no recollection of ever watching. Now, this could very well be a symptom of life’s recurring stress finally frying my brain to the point of memory loss, but after watching Invasion of the Blood Farmers, I’ve deduced that the likely alternative is this:

Paris Hilton is a druid queen fueled by blood that farmers are secretly harvesting from unsuspecting victims all over the world, and I’m having psychic visions of her terrifying reign. Totally logical, right?

invasion of the blood farmers

For this week’s installment of WTF Am I Watching, it was my pleasure to stream Ed Adlum’s low budget Invasion of the Blood Farmers on Shudder – emphasis on low budget. The production of this exploitation flick is so noticeably cheap that I half-expected the movie to end thirty minutes into the runtime with a title card describing what would’ve happened if the filmmakers didn’t run out of money. IMDb claims that the budget for Invasion of the Blood Farmers was $40,000, but if that’s true, I imagine it was paid for in pennies and IOUs.

The film takes place in rural New York, where otherworldly druids pose as farmers in order to harvest blood from civilians and resurrect their queen. You’d be hard-pressed to decipher that they’re druids throughout the first forty minutes of the movie, though, as they appear to be basic, straw hat-wearing farmer dudes with an insatiable bloodlust. Farmers drink dog blood all the time, don’t they? There’s no real difference here.

It’s not until we’re introduced to the leader of the druids, who talks like a twirly-mustached cartoon villain, when we find out exactly what the hell is going on – but even with the numerous scenes of this character standing in a singular spot and sprouting exposition like goddamn wildflowers, it’s hardly clear cut. It’s something to do with a magical key and finding a host for the blood, and the most heavily-featured druid farmer uses a cane that may or may not have some sort of mystical power… who the fuck knows. The point is that the plot of Invasion of the Blood Farmers is hardly the film’s strong suit.

invasion of the blood farmers

Fortunately for my entertainment, the nonsensical story elements only add to the charm of a film that’s brimming with fantastically low quality. There isn’t one decent performance to be found in Invasion of the Blood Farmers, and while most people would mark that as a criticism, I found this aspect of the movie to be endlessly amusing. It’s painfully obvious that the actors struggled to memorize their lines, not because I’m personally questioning the confidence of their dialogue delivery, but because they actually pause mid-sentence, NUMEROUS TIMES, and search for the words in their mind. It’s a rare feat for one of the actors to get through a line without pausing or stuttering, and it’s honest-to-god delightful.

I know it sounds like I’m bullying a film that couldn’t afford the security to protect itself from jerks like me, but these especially poor quirks are the foundation for a retro exploitation flick that I thoroughly enjoyed. I like my movies how I like my beer: dirt cheap and questionable. Invasion of the Blood Farmers proudly checks both boxes, so it’s alright in *my book.

*This book does not exist

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