All posts by Landon Evanson

Still Hooked on Teri McMinn Four Decades Later

It is perhaps the most iconic scene from one of the most iconic franchises horror has ever known. Yet the lasting wound inflicted upon TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE audiences forty-four years ago had more to do with a meat hook than a chainsaw.

While director Tobe Hooper and stars Marilyn Burns and Gunnar Hansen have enjoyed most of TCM’s notoriety since 1974, the most indelible images (and sounds) came not from Leatherface, but Pam, a character created by a then 22-year old actress from Houston, Texas named Teri McMinn.

What McMinn was able to accomplish in less than one minute is by any standard, underrated. McMinn went from sheer dread at the sight of Leatherface (Hansen) to crazed desperation in efforts to escape his clutches, before the horrified recognition of what was to come and finally (and as odd as it may seem to say), the subtle performance which followed Pam being plopped onto a hook designed for slaughtered animals.

That fleeting minute offered much to digest, and because its intensity was so unrelenting, it felt like a landed sucker punch that to this day, still takes this writer’s breath away.

Rather than over-the-top writhing shrills, McMinn communicated what our collective imagination was too frightened to conjure—incomprehensible pain—and as such, her reaction was almost one of disbelief.

McMinn hookDisbelief of what was happening to be sure, but also the agony that would have undoubtedly been coursing through Pam’s body. Truly study McMinn’s face and the whimpers which emanated from her throat and you won’t witness a contrived portrayal of misery, but rather an honest performance from an actress who dared to take a momentary glimpse at torture.

Hooper’s decision to deliver a quick, almost home movie style shot of McMinn’s feet as they hovered above a bucket to collect droplets of blood, then quickly panned to capture Pam’s excruciating and immobilized terror served as the icing on the proverbial cake.

It was heart-pounding and almost too real, and we have McMinn to thank for that.

For as much as Leatherface means to horror, memories of McMinn’s minute are what flood through this writer’s mind when conversations turn to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

That we’ve lost Hansen and Burns over the past few years is all the more reason to embrace the fact that McMinn owned a scene like few have owned any scene.

McMinn German

Joe Bob and ‘Dinners of Death’ Redefined Family

Before signing off on The Last Drive-In for what we believed to be the final time this past summer, Joe Bob Briggs noted that the Shudder marathon, as well as his Drive-In Theater and MonsterVision programs “tried to be the place to hang out for the weirdos and the misfits, and the people who felt left out of mainstream culture,” before touching on the myriad people who had shared tales of how he had saved their lives by giving them something to look forward to.

Some of it had to do with “horrible home” lives, and the ability to “lock the doors of their room when our silly show came on, and it would make ‘em feel able to face the next week.” Ever the gentleman, Briggs added that it was a “wonderful by-product” of shows intended to make people laugh and expose them to forgotten films. He then added, “I can’t take credit for that.”

I’m here to stump Joe Bob by saying yes. Yes, he can.

A common theme of both The Last Drive-In and Dinners of Death was the idea of communal experience, that stories were intended to be viewed together, to be shared and discussed with friends and strangers alike. In other words, like family.

The horror community is a small one, in many ways like a family, and that is exactly what I want to discuss here.

Be it because of depression or absence of actual family, the holidays can be a difficult time for people. I know—I fall under each category—and also know that I am not alone, not by a wide margin.

Whether direct or extended, Thanksgiving is a day for family, to gather around a table for a meal, to talk and laugh and love. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that opportunity. Maybe they’ve moved and can’t return home for the holiday, they don’t want to burden their friends by “tagging along,” or their loved ones have passed away, or they simply don’t speak with family members anymore. Whatever the reason, it can leave people feeling worthless, and very alone.

But that’s where Dinners of Death and Joe Bob Briggs and Diana Prince come in.

DarcyThe concept of giving folks something to look forward to still rings true, because for many (myself included), waiting for the clock to strike nine and Shudder’s Thanksgiving marathon provided those who were feeling alone something to hold onto, something to share.

As soon as Joe Bob opened the festivities with a crack about Wild Turkey only needing to be aged eight years and “do not make me tell you this again,” a smile found our lips, perhaps for the first time all day, and the stress of said day began to fade.

And as the drive-in Jedi began to regale us with tidbits about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and vehemently defended the career of Tobe Hooper, we felt connected to what he was saying (not just because it was true goddamn it), but because we too felt discredited and forgotten. All it took was a few short minutes of impassioned twang from a man we all adore to feel peace for the first time all day.

And it was shared. Not only on the screen, but on Twitter and Facebook. Not just with fellow fans who may or may not have been or felt alone that day, but thanks largely to Darcy the Mail Girl, otherwise known as Kinky Horror. She spent the entire marathon, nearly 10 hours, interacting with us as we watched. She laughed at our observations, shared images and stories (even the Drinking Game Fu I came up with while downing a turkey dinner at a restaurant by myself), answered questions, and just…kept us company as we enjoyed what was unfolding in and outside of Joe Bob’s “trailer.”

Many felt alone for most of Thanksgiving, but from nine o’clock on, we were anything but. Briggs and Darcy made sure of that. They gave us something to look forward to. Joe Bob and Prince gave us something to share. With a Drive-In Mutant family. They made what would have otherwise been a sad day one to smile about.

Briggs had said he couldn’t take credit for such things back in July, but to be honest, that burns my bacon. Yes he can. And he should. As should Prince.

A professor of mine once said that when it comes to art, if a person takes something away from it that its creator had never intended to be there, it’s still real. It still matters. Briggs and Diana gave something to all of us that can never be taken away, intended or not.

Maybe Joe Bob and Darcy hadn’t set out to give folks who were feeling alone a sense of inclusion and peace and family on Thanksgiving, but that’s exactly what they did. Something for which I, and many others shall be forever thankful .

For all those who feel as I feel — please — take credit for that.

JBB

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

The first time I watched HELLRAISER (1987), I actually blurted, “Looking forward to whatever happens to that fucker.” Julia Cotton’s pool of loathsome deeds ran deep—a strained relationship with her daughter-in-law, unfaithful to Kirsty’s (Ashley Laurence) father with her uncle Frank (Sean Chapman), luring numerous men to their death—all so that she could help said uncle return to form after his dance with the Lament Configuration. To say nothing of plotting to murder her husband so that his brother could inhabit his skin and they could live happily ever after.

In short, Julia was deplorable. And played to poisonous perfection by Clare Higgins.

When summoned back to Earth in HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II (1988), Julia quickly proved that old habits die hard, leaning on murder and mayhem as means to an end. This time, she led Dr. Phillip Channard (Kenneth Cranham) and his morbid curiosity around by the nose, to say nothing of his psychiatric patient who possessed an aptitude for solving puzzles. The good doctor simply felt compelled to understand the secrets and power of the box, and the hidden world it housed.

Nearly two feature films in, Julia had a moment of redemption.

Not that she had an epiphany or did the right thing. No, no, no, Julia finally embarked on a mission so deliciously sinister that I couldn’t help but smile at the similarities between her endeavors and the story I hold most dear, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.”

Dr. Channard’s thirst for knowledge and power were the elusive barrel to Julia’s impunity; and much like poor Fortunato, by the time the physician realized that what he desired wasn’t worth the asking price, it was too late.

“But this is what you wanted! This is what you wanted to see. This is what you wanted to know. And here it is.”

Higgins 2Julia, in full, smirking Montresor could not help but point out that what her lord required was souls, and she had brought him one to celebrate the symbolic retribution of hell—a doctor to impale with needles and probe with disgusting tentacles.

Backing the doctor into a box where immediate invasion was met with screams, Julia smiled “And you wanted to know.” Moments before razor-sharp wires wrapped themselves around Channard’s skull, digging deep into his skin, again Julia delighted “Now you now.”

Though she stopped short of imploring the doctor to touch the damp nitre, Julia couldn’t help but taunt the fettered Channard with the painful reminder that he had found exactly what he’d been seeking.

With a grin, Julia offered “Goodbye, doctor” as the box began its descent, hauling the doctor away for eternity.

Not unlike my reaction to Melisandre (Carice van Houten) resurrecting Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) in Game of Thrones, all was forgiven.

For as despicable as Julia was, I couldn’t help but smile at the parallels between Poe and Pinhead, and revel in the powerful arrogance of Higgins’ performance.

If you’re going to be evil, at least do it with a little flair. For one delectable moment in HELLBOUND, Clare Higgins was downright flamboyant.

And I kind of loved it.

Did You Guys Here the One About: Joe Bob’s Best Jokes from ‘The Last Drive-In’

We’re all sad that the blissful days of October have once again come to an end, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find something to smile about.

HALLOWEEN (2018) is still ripping it up in theatres everywhere, SUSPIRIA (2018) opens tonight, and we’re not allowed to forget that Joe Bob Briggs returns to Shudder with the Dinners of Death Thanksgiving marathon on November 22, “because there are two things in life you should always binge on, horror flicks and Wild Turkey.”

See? Plenty to be giddy about.

We don’t need to remind any of you that no one spins a yarn quite like the drive-in Jedi, and with that in mind, it’s time to revisit some of Briggs’ best jokes from July’s The Last Drive-In.

Get ready to laugh. And when you inevitably share one or five of these with friends or co-workers later today, don’t thank us, thank Joe Bob.

TOLD AT THE CONCLUSION OF BLOOD FEAST

“So did I tell you guys the one about the history professor and the psychology professor at the nudist camp? The history professor and the psychology professor are sittin’ on a sun deck at a nudist resort, and the history professor turns to the psychology professor and he says ‘Have you read Marx?’ And the psychology professor says ‘Yeah, I think it’s from the wicker chairs.’”

THE PROWLER

“That actually reminds me of the one about the man who comes home from work and he’s greeted by his wife, and she’s dressed in spiked high heels and lingerie. And she says ‘Tie me up, sweetie. You can do anything you want.’ And so he ties her up and goes golfin’.”

Crew

SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA“evidence that in the ‘80s you could basically write a script on Tuesday, film it on Wednesday, and have it in the video store by Thursday.”

“Alright, man goes into a bar (laughs), man goes into a bar and he orders a drink. The bartender’s a robot, so this robot serves this perfectly prepared cocktail and then the robot says ‘What’s your IQ?’ and the man says ‘150.’ And so the robot proceeds to make a conversation about global warming and quantum physics and nanotechnology and string theory and Jungian psychoanalysis. And the customer is very impressed, but he decides, ‘Ya know, I’m gonna test that robot.’

So he walks out of the bar, turns around, comes back in for another drink. Robot serves a perfect cocktail and then he says ‘What’s your IQ?’ This time the man says ‘About 100,’ so immediately the robot starts talkin’ about football, NASCAR, baseball, supermodels, fast food, guns, and enormous hooters. Now the guy’s really impressed, so he leaves the bar again and he turns around and he decides to test the robot one more time.

So he goes back in, gets the perfect cocktail and the robot says ‘What’s your IQ?’ ‘Uh, it’s only about 50, I think.’ Robot says ‘So are you gonna vote for Trump again?’”

DEMONS

“I was watchin’ The Bachelor the other night, and it reminded me of this guy in Arkansas who was wantin’ to get married but he was havin’ trouble choosin’ among three likely candidates to marry.

So he decides to give each woman a present of $5,000 and watch what they do with the money. So the first woman does a total makeover, she goes to a beauty spa, she gets her hair done, new makeup, buys several outfits, joins a spa, gets toned, tells him she’s done all this to be more attractive for him because she loves him so much, and he’s fairly impressed by that.

Second woman, she goes shoppin’ to buy him a bunch of gifts. She gets him a new set of golf clubs, walk-in humidor for his cigars, some expensive clothes, and she presents all this stuff to him and she says she spent all the money on him because she loves him so much, and he’s fairly impressed by that.

The third one invests the money in the stock market, she earns several times that $5,000 back. She gives him back his $5,000, she re-invests the rest in a joint account, and then she tells him she wants to save for their future because she loves him so much, and the man is very impressed by that.

So he thought for a long time about what each woman had done with the money, and then he married the one with the biggest boobs.”

JBB Bowling

TOURIST TRAP

“Did I ever tell you guys the one about the Irish girl who runs away from home? I feel like we need an Irish joke in honor of Chuck Connors, this is Chuck Connors’ night. So, this Irish guy’s daughter disappears, she doesn’t come home for five years. She finally comes home and her dad cusses her out, ‘Where you been all this time? Why didn’t you write? What were you doin’? You know what you put your mum through?’ They call it ‘mum’ in Ireland.

Well, the girl’s cryin’, she says ‘Dad, I’m so sorry. I became…a prostitute.’ And the dad says ‘What?! Go back where you came from. I don’t ever wanna see you again.’ And the girl says ‘Okay dad, I will, but I’m gonna leave all this stuff I brought for you. I have some fur coats for mom and I have a deed to this mansion I bought, and I have a savings account for five million euros, and I also got a gold Rolex for my little brother. And for you there’s a limited edition Mercedes outside, and if you want it, there’s a yacht, I parked it on the Riviera.’

And so her dad thinks for a minute and he says ‘Tell me again how you got this money,’ and the girl says ‘I became a prostitute.’ And dad says ‘Oh Jesus, you scared me for a minute. I thought you said Protestant. Come give you old man a hug!’”

BASKET CASE a film presentation that remembered Gerald the security guard, who was released on weekends to work (at the Highway 183 Drive-In in Irving, Texas), and would always have words of drive-in wisdom like, ‘Never walk up on a baby blue El Camino with two men inside unless you wanna see things described in the Old Testament.’”

“Girl goes into her doctor’s office for a check-up, as she takes off her blouse the doctor notices a big red ‘H’ on her chest. He says ‘How’d you get that mark on your chest?’ She says ‘Oh, my boyfriend went to Harvard and he’s so proud of it that he never takes off his Harvard sweatshirt even when we make love, so I guess it leaves an impression.’

Couple days later, another girl comes in for a check-up, takes off her blouse, there’s a big ‘Y’ on her chest. ‘How’d you get that mark on your chest,’ asks the doctor. ‘Oh, my boyfriend went to Yale and he’s so proud of it he never takes off his Yale sweatshirt, even when we make love.’

Couple days later, another girl comes in for a check-up, as she takes off her blouse the doctor notices a big green ‘M’ on her chest. So the doctor says ‘You have a boyfriend who went to Michigan?’ and the girl says ‘No, but I have a girlfriend at Wisconsin, why do you ask?’”

THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK

“Did I tell you the one about the husband and wife don’t trust each other? So the woman doesn’t come home one night and her husband wants to know why, and she says well, she slept over at a girlfriend’s house. So, the man calls his wife’s ten best friends, none of ‘em know anything about it. So he cuts her off, he calls her a liar, he makes her suffer for days.

Little while later, the husband doesn’t come home one night, so in the morning the wife wants to know why not. He tells her, ‘Well, I slept over at a buddy’s house.’ So, the woman calls her husband’s ten best friends. Eight of ‘em confirmed that he slept over, two of ‘em claimed he’s still there.”

Maple syrup

Postmortem and Pulled Pork: A ‘Saw’ Story

For fans of horror, it always comes down to a single film or franchise. You can love them all, most of them, or even just bits and pieces, but in the end, it boils down to the one vehicle that drives that affection. I plan to be a six-foot Billy the Puppet this Halloween, adore Tobin Bell, and have a soft spot for Shawnee Smith. For me, it’s all about SAW, but above all else, the world of John Kramer has always been about friendship.

Each October for seven years, my best friend and I would make our way to the theatre for the latest installment of Leigh Whannell and James Wan’s creation, strengthening a bond already more than three years in the making. While my boy Dan dug the traps—and got a chuckle out of how much they made me squirm—I was happy to lay money down to get the latest dose of Bell, which is always worth the price of admission.

Both of us fall under the massive fandom umbrella of THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987), and while many a laugh was had at the beauty of Westley book-ending the initial seven chapters of the saga, often times we found ourselves defending our SAW obsession with friends who were not of the horror persuasion. “It’s basically the same movie over and over, why do you keep going?” Our stock answer became a running joke, “We’ve come this far.”

Part of that journey came in 2007, when we met right after work for SAW IV. For as much as I love the genre of blood and guts, I’ve never been big on gore, especially when I’m eating, but my old pal thought it would be fine to pick up some sandwiches, sneak them into the theatre, and get dinner out of the way.

I was a bit hesitant—like I said, the traps are Dan’s thing—and let’s face it, SAW films usually start with a bang. He quickly shot back that we’d most likely have the sandwiches eaten before the trailers were over, but even if we didn’t, it wasn’t like someone was going to have flesh peeled from their skulls right off the bat.

With sandwiches discreetly tucked into our jackets, we took our seats, and dug in.

Saw IV

With a few bites remaining at the close of said trailers, I was hopeful that I’d gobble them down before anything heinous turned my stomach. Moments later, the autopsy of John Kramer began unfolding on-screen, and wouldn’t you know it, Jigsaw’s scalp was being removed from his cranium like a bloody wet suit.

I shot a death stare and “You motherfucker!” in my buddy’s direction to find him doubled over in laughter just one seat over. Safe to say, the sandwich met the theatre floor and those last few morsels went uneaten.

Dan denies it to this day, but I’m still not convinced that he hadn’t seen it already and thought he’d have some fun at my expense.

A friendship that began over a mutual love of movies continues 17 years later, but no one film or series represents our bond more than SAW. Nearly a decade after our shared disappointment with what was supposed to be THE FINAL CHAPTER (2010), both of us were missing our October tradition, unable to believe or accept that 3D was truly the end.

But then JIGSAW was announced for last fall. The franchise we had shared for seven years was returning after seven more, and when I found out, I giddily texted “I want to play a game. Again.”

His response was simple, “We’ve come this far.”

Dan and I have been all-in since SAW debuted on this day in 2004, and we’re willing to go much, much further. Just…without sandwiches.

Whannell Adam

Jackie Gleason on Acid: How Vinny Guastaferro Landed a Role in ‘Shocker’

Long have we been fascinated with behind the scenes stories that detail how certain scenes came to be, or  parts were scored, but few are as genuinely entertaining as how Vinny Guastaferro came to his role in Wes Craven’s SHOCKER (1989).

Forget that Horace Pinker was supposed to supplant Freddy Krueger as Craven’s next franchise villain, because three years after Guastaferro made “Ya-Bang” a household word for horror fans, he was tasked with making a strong first impression on the legendary director.

Apparently that red dot had reach.

On the 29th anniversary of SHOCKER’s release, we share Guastaferro’s story.

“I’ll start out with a disclaimer saying I blame it on myself because I don’t know if I was in a good mood or a bad mood or if I felt like ‘Oh boy, another horror movie and why is my agent doing this and why should I be going out for a horror movie?’ But then I realized it was Wes Craven, and I knew who he was from his earlier movies, which some of them weren’t really that scary.

He was an excellent writer, and I went in the room, and I looked at this role on paper and I said ‘God, wouldn’t you know it, he’s not havin’ me like read some of the more mundane crap that I have to say at the beginning of the movie, he wants me to do the actual meltdown scene,’ the scene where I am possessed.

Guastaffero ShockerVery early in my career I had worked with Jackie Gleason, who was dominant on television during my childhood and was known as one of the best comedians in the business. He had a very broad comedic style, and when he used to yell and go ‘Pow! Zoom! To the moon!’ and all of that, I used that image of Jackie Gleason getting mad at Alice and having him be on acid.

I went into the audition room for Wes Craven and I just went fuckin’ nuts. I kicked over the coffee table, I laid on the floor and (growling, snarling noises), and did everything that probably you saw in the movie. I squirmed, I laid, I yelled, I fake shot, I did everything (chuckles) that I do in the movie in the audition room. And when I was done–I was having such a good time I got immersed in it–I looked up, Wes was smiling and the two casting people were sitting there with a look of fucking horror on their faces (chuckles). They looked like ‘What did this guy just do?’

The only thing that casting ever worries about is did I bring in somebody who’s gonna make me look bad by doing a bad job, or did I bring in somebody that the director’s going to like and hire? And the casting people were sitting there with that ambiguous look on their faces, Wes was already smiling, and then he went over to Gary Zuckabroad the casting director and he said ‘I want Vinny, so what can we do to get out of this session?’

And I swear, I’m just, I’m not bragging, I’m just telling you this is such a Hollywood story—the casting director had to go to the outer room where there are like six, eight other guys waiting to audition and say ‘I’m sorry everybody, something has come up and the director has to leave. We’ll have to call you again and re-schedule you for this,’ and he sent everybody home. I was called back into the room and he said ‘You’ve got the part. You got it on the spot. I want you to start workin’ on this now.’ And that’s how it went.

I mean, it was a fantastic experience for me because, once again to give you another analogy, what an actor likes to do is go into the room, throw their fastball–meaning whatever choices they’ve made, you don’t go in a room with a guy like Wes Craven and say ‘Well, how do I do this? How do I act crazy and possessed and deadly, and at the same time funny?’–ya know? You gotta go show them your variant of it, so I went in and threw my fastball and ended up getting the part. And that for me, was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. And then to work with Wes was just unbelievable.” 

Livin’ the Dream: An Interview with Fright-Rags’ Ben Scrivens

If you’re a horror freak (hint: if you’re reading this, you are), there’s no doubt that you’re not only aware of Fright-Rags, but own at least one of their shirts. Our guess is that you’re just like us and have several. Probably some socks, too.

All thanks to a dream that founder Ben Scrivens made a reality a decade-and-a-half ago. Unable to find unique horror tees, Scrivens set out to design and print shirts that he would want to wear. And as it turned out, everyone else wanted to wear them, too.

Fright-Rags recently enjoyed its 15th anniversary, and Nightmare Nostalgia was lucky enough to catch Scrivens on the phone during some rare down time to talk about his excitement for the new Halloween film, upcoming design releases, and the memories he’s made with genre giants Joe Bob Briggs, P.J. Soles and Tom Atkins as a result of following his dream.

NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA: Fright-Rags recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. How does it feel to have been living the dream for a decade and a half?

BEN SCRIVENS: (Laughs) I’ll start off by saying that it’s amazing and I wake up feeling incredibly blessed and lucky every single day, that’s for sure. We never take it for granted here at the office that we’re able to do what we do, and we’re just thankful for it. I mean, things get stressful, things get really crazy and busy, and sometimes to the point that you’re at your wits end, but we also know that the worst of days are better than being at some crappy job.

It’s so funny to think about it because when I first started out, my friend Tim, who eventually became my first employee, we were working at a job together and we’d go out to lunch and we would talk about the business—I was doing it on my own—but I was sharing with him some of the stuff that I was doing. I remember going to Subway and just dreaming about what it would be like to do this full-time. Imagine doing this full-time and sitting around and watching horror movies all day like the work was going to get done itself and we could just literally sit down and watch horror movie all day (laughs).

It’s so funny to think about that and then think about what the reality is to make this a full-time job or career, and it’s so different than that. There’s less time now to sit around and watch movies and do those things, but it’s incredibly rewarding and even though it’s so different than I could have ever imagined, it’s still pretty amazing.

NN: Tell us about your involvement with the IT fan film, Georgie.

BS: John [Campopiano] and Ryan [Grulich], who did the film, came to me and discussed wanting to do something for their Indiegogo campaign. I had recently watched Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary, and I really dug it and I know they’re going to be doing one for IT as well, and the idea of the short film Georgie and featuring the same actor who played Georgie in the original IT (Tony Dakota), I thought it was just really clever.

There really wasn’t any involvement, they did the work, they did the art, they did everything, they just wanted to know if we would kind of partner up with them to print the shirt for their campaign and help them get the word out. A lot of people ask us to print stuff for them or if we do partnerships or sponsorships, and we turn down a lot of them because I don’t have any personal feeling toward them. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just if I connect with something then I feel a lot better kind of pushing out to our audience because it feels a little bit more personal.

I love IT and I liked this idea and just thought it was an interesting thing that they were trying to do, and I thought it would be fun to help them out. So really, as far as our involvement, all the credit and work goes to them, we’re just printing some shirts for them and, of course, we’re helping blast it out to our audience.

H40 logoNN: It’s obvious that Halloween has a special place in your heart, being your first exposure to the genre at just four years old. Now there’s such an energy and anticipation for the new film, so what was you’re your initial reaction when HorrorHound and Tranacas International Films reached out and asked Fright-Rags to design the logo for H40: 40 Years of Terror?

BS: That was incredible. We work directly with Trancas for all of our Halloween stuff—I, 4, and 5—so we’ve had a great relationship with them over the past several years, and they also use an independent agency that licenses to a bunch of other companies, so a lot of other companies that license Halloween have to go through them which goes then to Trancas. I have a good relationship with that company as well, and that’s when they approached us about possibly doing something for Halloween’s 40th. I thought they were reaching out to everybody, and maybe they did, they made it sound almost like a contest type of thing, I don’t know, it was kind of odd the way that they positioned it.

So I got with my designer and I was like “Maybe we can put something together,” and at the time I really wanted to put something together myself, or at least try because I’m a designer myself and it would have been fun to try to poke around and do something, but I offered it to my designer because I just didn’t really have a chance to do anything. Our designer’s so great, and I’m like “Why don’t you come up with something? Maybe you can come up with some ideas.” It was a couple of days later and he turned out three or four ideas, and I saw that one, and personally, me and everybody at the office was like “Oh my God, that’s it. That’s perfect.” The four and the zero and the Ls, and I’m like “Oh my God!” I probably could have done a thousand sketches and maybe never have come up with that, and I just thought it was perfect. I think we submitted three of the four, maybe we submitted all four or maybe just that one, but I was like “Hey, check this out!”

Again, I don’t know if anybody else submitted or if we were the only ones asked, I don’t really know any other details other than when they saw it they were like “We want to use this.” That was a really cool moment and all credit goes to Joe [Guy Allard] our designer because he came up with it, but it really feels great to be a part of something like this. It’s forty years after the film, and as you said, that was the movie that got me into horror, and here we are, not only creating official merchandise for the film, but sort of putting a stamp on its anniversary. It’s pretty incredible.

NN: Blumhouse’s Halloween (2018) just enjoyed its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and by all indications from those lucky enough to be there, they nailed it. Can you put into words your excitement and anticipation for that film?

BS: Oh, man. It’s funny, we were just talking about that in our weekly meeting today. We all gathered in my office, not only to watch the teaser trailer a few months ago, but the other trailer that came out [September 5] and we were talking about it again today, how we all just have chills. It’s funny, we have a little bit of a behind the scenes look into the film, we have some access to certain things like the script and images that we’ve had for a few months now that have helped shape what we were going to do (with merchandise), but even with that stuff, honestly, I get chills.

It sounds crazy to me, but we were tearing up watching the trailer last week, and it is hard to put into words, because this one feels different, and I think everybody else can agree, and not just because Jamie Lee [Curtis] is back. Even when she came back for H20, which I think was a solid film, the fervor, maybe it’s because the internet is more prominent, so you can have that connection a little more easily and freely now, but it just feels like this one, there’s an energy that I think we’re all feeling about it. And I love the fact the reviews are so positive because I think it’s just going to help this film and I think fans are just going to love it.

NN: Let’s talk about scoring a line for Ash vs Evil Dead, or the new Halloween. Do you seek that out, do they contact you, a bit of both? Walk us through that process.

BS: In general we seek it out, but there have been cases where we definitely get people that contact us. A good example is about maybe four months ago, we got a call from Paramount—we’ve been working with Paramount a little bit, we had signed licenses with them last year for The Warriors and Pet Sematary. We already started with Warriors, Pet Sematary will be out in a couple of months, and we’ve got much more for both of those coming next year because of their respective anniversaries—so we’d already been talking to them, but they called us and they said “Hey, would you like to do shirts for A Quiet Place?”

 And it’s funny because I hadn’t seen the movie yet, it was still in theatres at the time, it had been out for maybe a few weeks or a month and it had gotten some good buzz at that point. When I first heard about the movie it sounded interesting, but a lot of movies are like that and when they come out they kind of fizzle and maybe I’ll catch it on home video or something, but I had just started hearing some really good things about it and I said “Ooh, maybe I should check this out.” Everybody at the office except me and two other people had seen it and they really loved it, so I said “Maybe I need to see this.”

Anyway, they called and wanted to know if we’d like to do shirts for it, and I said “I need to see the movie first (laughs).” So the next day, me and two other people from the office went out during the day to go see it and when I got back I said “Yeah, this is a great film. I think we could do something with it, we just have to be really creative because, obviously, you don’t really see the monsters too much in it.”

That’s definitely a case of that happening, and there’s definitely been cases where people approach us, studios or people who have smaller properties that see if we’re interested. It really is a case-by-case basis. Again, something like A Quiet Place kind of fell into our lap, where other things we’ll see maybe just isn’t the right fit for us, but in many other cases it’s us having a relationship with a studio and asking them for rights, or sometimes the studios don’t even know they have rights for things, and we’re the ones saying we think you have the rights for this and they say “Let us check,” and then they come back and they say “Yes we do,” and I’m like “Okay, we want it.” That happens a lot, too.

Fright Rags logoNN: Fright-Rags is always great with sneak peeks at new collections, and offer coming attractions emails for customers, but do you have a teaser or two for things you might have on the horizon that’ll get peoples’ wheels spinnin’?

BS: We spend so much time going back and forth between what’s happening right now and then what’s happening down the road. We’ve already started planning 2019, almost the entire year, and it’s pretty crazy. I’m already living in October, basically (laughs). Something that’s a little bit closer on the horizon that I don’t think we’ve really done much announcing for—I think we may have teased something almost a year ago that we might be doing it—but we do have a Die Hard collection coming out in November.

Branching out into non-horror type movies, we got some licenses that will be rolling out over the next year or so that are not outright horror, but are also very popular with fans. I grew up with horror, but I also grew up with Die Hard and I grew up with other things, I don’t think it’s so far out of wheelhouse of fans’ love for certain popular movies. So Die Hard is one of them, and I can even say—granted, this isn’t going to be out for a while, but in keeping with that—we’ve also got properties like Edward Scissorhands and Home Alone, as well, that’s going way further out, because that’s not even action (laughs).

Edward Scissorhands you can make a case, where Home Alone is decidedly not horror. It’s horrific for the kid maybe, but we’ve done things like that in the past, we’ve done Garfield, but we did Garfield Halloween, and we’ve done E.T., but we’re trying to do properties here and there that I think can fit outside the horror genre, but fit within our site.

NN: What’s one film or franchise that you’ve been dyin’ to add to the roster that you just haven’t been able to seal the deal on as yet?

BS: I used to skirt this question a little bit because we’ve done shirts for it before but they were all unlicensed, and in recent years we’ve changed a lot in our company. When we first started out nothing was licensed and you have to get licenses for stuff, but we did a lot of unlicensed things for years and then we started finally being able to get licenses, and then we would still do things on a very limited basis here and there, but we’re not going to do unlicensed stuff anymore, period. Unless it’s something that’s so darn obscure or something where we can’t find the rights-holder where we might put something out there just to see if somebody turns up, which doesn’t happen very often but sometimes these movies, no one knows who owns them, so you try to put something out just to see.

Someone says “Oh, I own that,” like “Okay, we’ll pay you,” but my point is the ones I want the most, I’m going to have to say two because they’re kind of on the same level, but it’s Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. We’ve done plenty of Jason shirts on Friday the 13th before, we’ve done parodies, and I don’t mind parodies so much—G.I. Jason’s a parody—we consult a lawyer for those things to make sure we’re not stepping over too many toes with those types of things, but we’ve done plenty of out-and-out Jason and Freddy shirts over the years, a lot of them, and they’ve sold really, really well.

Those are all done limited, and it just got to a point where I’m like, “Just because it’s Friday the 13th, I’m not gonna put out a Jason shirt like most people do,” nothing against anybody else, I’m just making a decision on my own on behalf of the company to not do that anymore unless it’s something like a parody. But I really, truly want to be able to come out and say, “Listen, we have the official rights for Friday the 13th, we have the official rights for Nightmare on Elm Street and we’re gonna do some really kick-ass shirts and not try to hide it, not try to pass it off as something that’s licensed.” I want to do it the right way. It’s weird because we’ve done so many great designs for them, but really it’s not going to feel true and right until we’ve signed that deal.

Scrivens Joe BobNN: As lifelong fan myself, does it feel real, even now, that you had Joe Bob Briggs present a film with you for Saturday Night Rewind at the Little Theatre in Rochester, New York a couple of years back?

BS: It was surreal. It was two years ago in October, and it’s funny because I had talked a lot to his manager, and just prior to that we had done our MonsterVision shirts with them, so I had dealt with his manager Tracy, who’s sweet and she’s great. I dealt a little bit with him, but just a tiny bit before he got here. I didn’t know what to expect, and you just never know with somebody, and he took a train here from New York [City], which is about a six or seven-hour train ride, and I am going to pick him up from the train station and I don’t know if he’s going to be too tired, I’m kind of rolling with it.

When he got off the train and got in the van and I took him to his hotel he’s like, “You want to go out to eat?” and I’m like, “Yep! Let’s go eat.” I mentioned there was a cigar bar across the street, we were talking about something like whisky or cigars—and I like cigars, and I think he likes smoking cigars—and I said there’s one across the street and he said “Let’s go.” We hung out till two in the morning that night just talking.

And the next day he had signed our posters at our office, and then we went to dinner and hung out, we had beers above the theatre and then he did this intro. I came out to the lobby when he was done with his intro, we were going to start the movie, and he said “Hey, let’s go back to that cigar bar.” It’s right down the street so I’m like “Alright,” so we went there during the movie—we were showing The Warriors—during the whole movie, he and I were drinking whisky and having cigars (laughs). And then after the movie was done, it was almost midnight and he’s like “Let’s go back there,” and we hung out until three in the morning.

Then the next day we had lunch and I took him back to the train station, but I’m telling you, he’s got stories for days, I didn’t even have to say a word, he’s just so engaging and nice. And I am so happy, I know it sounds weird to say this, but I’m incredibly proud to see this resurgence of love for him. I know it’s always been there, but I feel like with the Shudder (marathon), that’s what we wanted it to be when we bought the MonsterVision shirt a couple of years ago, and even though that sold well and we did really good with it, I really wanted people to be like “No, celebrate this guy,” and I feel like now with the Shudder thing, it’s just this renaissance. I’m just so happy for him, not to say that he was begging for it or looking for it or in some weird spot in his life and he needed it, I think he was doing just fine, but I just feel like in general it’s nice to see it. That was an incredible weekend and he’s an incredible person.

NN: Obviously,  you have a professional relationship, but it’s impossible to completely do away with fandom, so be it The Last Drive-In or Halloween 2018, give us those impressions when you step back for a moment and realize you’re working directly with these entities in preparation for events that the horror community is out of its collective mind for.

BS: That’s hard to put into words. A year ago for Saturday Rewind we had P.J. Soles come out here, which was another incredible, incredible weekend experience where I got to hang out with her and just talk, and really connect with her.

It’s funny, because she even told me “This is like being with my son.” She really felt like family, it was this crazy connection, it wasn’t just with me, it was with everybody at the office, but we filmed a short movie (November 1st) that we wanted her to cameo in and she agreed to be in it. I was playing Michael Myers and she was going to have this really quick cameo and we were debuting it that night, and I’m standing there in my Michael Myer mask—and listen,  I know this is just a little fan film, just something silly that we were doing as a fun thing—but I’m playing Michael Myers across from P.J. Soles and my inner freakin’ four-year old is just fucking going crazy.

I can’t put into words, but the cool thing about someone like her, and most people that we’ve worked with, they get it — they get the fandom part. They’re not weirded out when you want them to sign something or when you talk about the fandom part, so it’s very disarming in that sense because you feel more comfortable. But it’s weird because someone like her, and again I extend this not just to her but almost everybody we’ve ever worked with in this capacity, you get so friendly with them. There was a small balcony in the theatre that we showed at, and it was my wife and I and P.J. and her boyfriend, it was just us four up there watching Halloween. It was weird because we were watching this movie that I love, with her, it’s an original 35 mm print that I own, so it’s my print of the movie and all these layers of personal connection. She’s laughing at her lines, and I’m watching her watching the movie and there is that half of me that says “Holy shit, this is P.J. Soles!” but the other half of me is just like “This is just a wonderful person and we’re having a wonderful time,” and it was comforting. The nerves weren’t there anymore, it was just “This is cool, this is right, this is okay.”

But again it’s because of those people that make it that comfortable, or allowed me to be that comfortable, so it’s hard to put into words when you’re hanging out with P.J. Soles or when Tom Atkins and Fred Dekker were here and we were hangin’ out until two or three in the morning drinking at the hotel bar hearing stories that I would have never heard before. Yeah, there’s definitely a part of you that’s shaking your inner-self going “Holy shit! Do you see what’s happening right now?!” (Laughs) But it really doesn’t hit you until after, like literally after everything happens and you’re like “Oh, my God! Oh, my GOD! What just happened?!” (Laughs) It’s pretty wild.

Scrivens SolesNN: You’ve been drinking with Dr. Challis? Now we have to hear your best Tom Atkins story!

BS: Oh, my God. I don’t even know if I can say it (laughs).

NN: Now you have to!

BS: I’ll tell you the one thing I remember about him, the thing that stood out to me the most. We live by Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes, and we have a beach and it’s beautiful in the summer, it’s just great, and this was during the summer. I’d had some work to do during the day, so I took Tom out and we had lunch. We were sitting outside on the upper deck of an area overlooking the lake and it was a beautiful July day, and we were just talking about his childhood and how he grew up. We weren’t talking about movies, we weren’t talking about anything else, we were just talking about our upbringing and I just got to learn a lot more about him. It was just serene, this beautiful, perfect day and we spent a couple of hours just talking and getting to know each other. Again, it’s moments like that—the fandom brings you together—but after that connection happens, it deepens. It’s pretty awesome. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.

NN: So what’s on-deck for Fright-Rags releases?

BS: We’re looking ahead to October right now because every single week we’re doing a Halloween release, and we’re kicking it off the first week with the new movie. We just did our preorder, but that was really for people to kind of get ahead of the game primarily because when the movie comes out the 19th, we’re going to be shutting down between the 11th and the 16th because we’re going to be in L.A. at the Halloween 40th convention.

We really wanted people to get a chance to get at least one of the shirts if they wanted to wear one to the new film within time, so we held the preorders, but we’ve got more for that movie coming out on the 3rd as well as the ones that we released already.

Then the following week will be the original Halloween and we’ve got a ton of stuff for that, and then the week after is Halloween II and III, and the week after that is 4, 5 and 6. We’ve really packed the entire month full of just Halloween, Halloween, Halloween (chuckles).

We’re really moving full steam ahead, and there’s actually a few things that we’re putting out that we’ve never put out before, a really wicked Varsity-style hoodie that we’re doing that’s really cool, a couple new hats that we’ve never done—we’ve done hats before, but these are new ones—and a few other things that we’re really excited about.

Joe Bob is Back!

When July 13 turned to the evening of July 14, and the lights dimmed and credits rolled on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, 24-hour marathon, those who live and die with blood, breasts and beasts believed they were saying goodbye to the man who had not only curated their love of drive-in cinema, but broke the internet along the way.

But as Joe Bob had relayed through a Diana Prince tweet on July 20:

PrinceJob Bob Briggs will be returning not once, or even twice, but three times, and the world is just a better place for it.

Shudder will bring back the drive-in Jedi for Thanksgiving and Christmas specials “to be titled ‘The Dinners of Death’ and ‘A Very Joe Bob Christmas,” and Shudder, “the premium streaming service of thriller, suspense and horror,” also has plans to launch a regular series featuring Mr. Briggs as host in 2019.

The Thanksgiving special is slated to air on Thursday, November 22, and the Christmas chicanery is set for Friday, December 21. “Both marathons will be streamed live and feature films hand-picked by Joe Bob himself, with special guest stars and Joe Bob’s signature brand of Drive-In deep-dives and commentary.”

From Shudder’s press release:

“The response to our first marathon was overwhelming, and we can’t think of a better gift for our members than to bring Joe Bob back for the holidays,” said Shudder GM Craig Engler. “We’ve been hard at work with Joe Bob and his team to make these new marathons unforgettable events, and we have even bigger plans for 2019.”

Joe Bob Briggs adds, “In November we’re turning Black Friday into Red Thursday with the best deadly-dinner movies in history, and in December we have a very special way to fill that void felt by American households ever since ABC stopped airing the ‘Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey’ Claymation special.”

Continuing:

Details for the Joe Bob series will be announced in early 2019. Both the marathons and the series will be produced by Matt Manjourides and Justin Martell and directed by Austin Jennings.

Nightmare Nostalgia will offer more details on this developing story as they become available.

Briggs smile

Sight Unseen — The Lasting Images of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Tobe Hooper once said “I don’t believe in using too much graphic violence, although I’ve done it. It’s better to be suggestive and to allow the viewer to fill in the blanks with their minds.” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is not one of the finest horror experiences ever put to film because of on-screen slaughter, but rather the suggestion of bloodshed. The long-lasting effect of Hooper’s direction was borne from the simple presentation of a scenario, the resulting (and very personal) nightmares were conjured entirely within the headspace of whomever laid eyes on it.

The concept isn’t exclusive to TCM, but certainly applies to John McNaughton’s tense tale of a week in the life of a sociopath, 1986’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Though it made its way around film festivals for years, the Motion Picture Association of America’s inability, or unwillingness to give it a straight R-rating delayed its limited theatrical release for 4 years.

As legendary film critic Roger Ebert noted, however, “This film deserves to be seen,” and over the course of more than three decades, it has become essential viewing for horror aficionados everywhere. And not for overt violence, although like Hooper, it had its fair share, but rather for what wasn’t seen.

Make no mistake, the reasons for suggestion in this case were partially due to budgetary and time constraints. However, McNaughton wanted to truly explore the inner workings of Henry’s (Michael Rooker) mind, as well as his relationship with Otis (Tom Towles) and Becky (Tracy Arnold), which meant that on-screen violence would have to be dispersed carefully, but to offer a true glimpse at the danger housed within the protagonist, the film would need to be littered with other misdeeds.

And that is where the power of suggestion entered the equation, in part through the utilization of brilliant music cues strewn throughout by film editor Elena Maganini. Portrait of a Serial Killer’s main theme is composed of the simplistic yet powerful piano chords of Ken Hale, Steven A. Jones and Robert McNaugton that matched Rooker’s icy glare, begging the question, what truly resided beneath the surface.

The horrors left in Henry’s wake were revealed through a series of pan shots, offering a peek behind a veneer that should never come into focus. Again, the issues of budget and time factored into McNaughton’s decision-making, yes, but ultimately the road followed was that which would make the greatest impact, and that avenue was paved by sound editor Cory Coken and post-production sound mixer Ric Coken. The audible screams of victims blended with Henry’s angry commands to “shup up!” underneath ghastly visuals painted a picture that turned blood cold, as viewers were burdened with whatever terror played before their mind’s eye thanks to the macabre melody dancing through their heads.

All which set up McNaughton’s final stroke of genius.

BeckyAfter Henry returned to the apartment to find Otis raping his sister, and the ensuing scuffle that resulted in Otis’ death, Henry’s instinct took over and he dismembered his friend’s body in the bathtub before hitting the road with Becky.

In a wink to the audience, another music cue foretold Becky’s fate, as “Loving you was my mistake” sprang from the radio before the pair reached their roadside motel.

The following morning, pulling to the side of a desolate road in the middle of nowhere, Henry exited his vehicle and waited for cars to pass before he opened the trunk. When it had reached its apex, it was accompanied with a single, ominous piano chord. To that point, there may have been hope that Becky had already been in the car when the vehicle pulled away from the motel, but in that moment, the audience knew.

Henry waited for another car to pass, then glanced over his shoulder to ensure no others were coming, lifted Becky’s blue suitcase, now her tomb, and laid it at the top of a ditch beside his car. Once again, the terrified shrieks of one of Henry’s victims echoed as the luggage connected with the earth below. McNaughton had cinematographer Charlie Lieberman hold the shot, and slowly zoom to the blood-smeared bag, a grotesque exclamation point on a film that has always carried an unsettling tinge of documentary.

As Henry pulled away and the camera closed in, all that was left were the curdling chords of Henry’s theme, and the remains of the one person it appeared Henry may have had the slightest sentiment for. Uncaptured and unpunished, the sounds perfectly encapsulated the unknown of where Henry, or those like him—who unquestionably exist—would head next.

The visceral images of McNaughton’s masterpiece proved too much for many audience members to endure when it first reared its head at film festivals decades ago, and abandoned it to what Ebert described as “the purgatory between [an] R and X [rating].” The film was too powerful and too well done to be contained for long, but for the violence we witnessed, including the devastatingly difficult to digest home invasion segment, it was the intonations left unseen that made Portrait of a Serial Killer so indelible.

They were haunting in 1986, and haunting today.

Henry luggage

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