Category Archives: Horror Nostalgia

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.” 

It’s A BOY Video Retailers! The Rare 1990 VHS Retailer Promo For “The Dream Child”

Long live the days of Mom and Pop video rental stores and the VHS early screener promos that today, serve as a lost art of visual romance. Especially for us horror enthusiasts. Because hey, who DOESN’T want to see Chucky bust out an awful yet incredibly entertaining rap about how great the Child’s Play movie is?

In case you’re not hip to what the hell a VHS screener may be, basically, it’s an early release of a VHS tape sent to video store owners that will ultimately either sway them to stock the shelves with said movie or give it a hard pass. In addition, some of these screeners would be sent to the media for reviews. Hard to imagine a time where critics would have to actually wait on the postman to deliver physical media as opposed to a screener email that can be obtained in under 60 seconds, eh?

Oh, how the world has changed. And Freddy is hard at work here taunting a sleazy marketing rep in this delicious ball of cheese VHS promo for Dream Child.

nightmare 5.gif

In my humble opinion however, that’s what makes these clips so great and a must-see for any movie fan. While it seems as if Robert Englund may have skipped the on-screen promotions for this installment doubled with a not-so-great-look-alike, and it sort of comes across as a second-rate porno without the boner shots, the promo still gives some great info on the film. It also totally reminded me about that gem of a rap, Whodini’s “Anyway I Gotta Sing It” that included a special music video featuring clips from NOES 5- which you can watch here. Trust me, you don’t want to miss that national treasure.

So here it is! The unconventional, yet weirdly awesome VHS promo for A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child! Might want to watch it before Susan gets any ideas…

Special thanks to Youtuber Jason H. for uploading this diddy.

 

 

A Few Things You Might Not Know About “The Exorcist III”

I fondly remember the fateful night in 1990where my father, uncle, my cousin and an eight-year-old Patti made a Saturday night trip to our favorite local movie theater that stood as possibly, one of the last retro looking movie houses in all of Las Vegas. This might sound silly as of course, this was 1990, but I’m talking SUPER RETRO here. The entire building was made of brick, popcorn stands where mere popcorn and hot dog carts inside the lobby with a few cases of candy on the side, velvet red curtains covered the theater screens until showtime commenced, and the GIANT illuminated cinema marquee sign that displayed the featured films playing, could literally be seen from miles away. The place was absolutely beautiful inside and out, (as you can see pictured below of the inside lobby) and served as the place where I had seen most of the movies growing up until its demise and demolition over 15 years ago.

A Few Things You Might Not Know About "The Exorcist III"

*Shout out to ClassicLasVegas.com for this awesome photo!

It’s also the place where I first saw our movie of the day here, The Exorcist III. And yep. I remember peeing my pants a little as I was eight-goddamn-years-old in regards to that one scene. You know which one I’m talking about… And also, yes. The two grown men and older teenage male cousin laughed at the eight-year-old girl who produced a squirt of nature’s lemonade.

Dicks.

*MAJOR SPOILER HERE. DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU HAVEN’T LIVED AND HAVE DONE A DISSERVICE TO YOUR LIFE BY NOT WATCHING THIS FILM.

 

As fun as it is to reminisce about peeing the pants, let’s get to the real topic here. If you’re here and still reading, chances are you’re a fan of the HIGHLY UNDERRATED psychological-thriller based off William Peter Blatty’s fantastic novel, Legion; which of course, serves as the true direct sequel to The Exorcist. So, we’re going to skip all the captain obvious bullshit plot explanations and get right into some shit that you may or may not know about this film. And hell, if you watch it again with a new knowledge and some more appreciation, well stunning. I’ve done my job here.

 

1. The Exorcist III Was Jeffrey Dahmer’s Favorite Movie

A Few Things You Might Not Know About "The Exorcist III"

Well, a film that focuses on another serial killer doesn’t seem far-fetched as a favorite of one of America’s most notorious, eh? According to various old reports, Dahmer would watch the movie over, and over. And even watched portions of the film with some of his victims after bringing them back to his apartment. One of these men was one who had escaped- Tracy Edwards, who claims the film was on at the time he was guided around the apartment by Dahmer. Reports also claim that Dahmer had purchased contact lenses with yellow tint, to mimic The Gemini Killer.

 

2. They Snuck In A Reference To The Fly II

A Few Things You Might Not Know About "The Exorcist III"

As I may have stated in previous articles, my parents had no qualms about taking their young child to the theater for an extreme horror film. Becuase, hey, fuck 101 Dalmations. They didn’t have the patience for that watered down-Disney shit. So, watching this at the theater at the age of eight, I caught this one right away as I had seen The Fly II a year prior with my mother and I left the theater crying after the scene with the dog. Ugh. I still hate it. Anyway, Lee Richardson plays that asshole in that film that got his just desserts for hurting that animal and has a small part as the University President in The Exorcist III. When asked by Father Dyer what his favorite film, he replies coyly, “The Fly.”

*Also worth noting, Brad Dourif who brilliantly portrays the Gemini, references his cinematic alter-ego Chucky during one of his ramblings. In the film, he says, “It’s child’s play”, and we then cut to a scene to a young boy that resembles a Good Guy.

 

3. Both William Friedkin and John Carpenter Were Attached To Direct Before Blatty

john carpenter

Well, it certainly would have been iconic enough had OG Exorcist director William Friedkin at the helm once again, but John Carpenter?! That would have been something to see his vision of legion eh? Blatty originally collaborated with Friedkin and penned out The Exorcist III with Friedkin attached to direct. After Friedkin backed out, the project died and was turned into a novel- AKA Legion. After the success of the novel, Blatty offered out it on the market in the form of a screenplay and Morgan Creek bought the rights to make the film, whom brought on the legendary John Carpenter to direct. However, after seeing Blatty’s passion and visionary input regarding his adaptation, he stepped down to hand the reigns to the rightful owner.

 

4. A Plot Twist Was Suggested Involving Regan Macneil- And A Birth Of Possessed Twins….?!

Regan-MacNeil-From-Exorcist

This has to be the most WTF fact of them all…

Yes, this was suggested to William Peter Blatty as studios were in negotiations to adapt the screenplay by Carolco Pictures. The idea of a grown-up Regan giving birth to possessed twins completely undermines the whole idea of Legion and I don’t blame him a bit for laughing that off and settling with Morgan Creek Productions- even if they still haven’t given us a REAL directors cut of the film, at least that didn’t happen.

 

5. The Alternate Ending We Still Haven’t Seen

exorcist 3 ending

The ending we all know, and even in that Shout Factory edition, was not the intended final vision of Blatty. Reports claim it was scripted AND filmed, but we’ve still yet to see the dramatically different ending to The Exorcist III. But you know, Morgan Creek wanted that exorcism in there, so if moneybags wanted it, by God they were going to get it and the following was scrapped and reshot to their liking:

The novel Legion ends with the Gemini Killer summoning Kinderman to his cell for a final speech and then willingly dropping dead after his alcoholic Christian evangelist abusive father, finally dies from a heart attack. As his motive for killing was always to shame daddy, the Gemini’s reason for remaining on Earth ceases to exist. He then drops dead, thus freeing Karras. Albeit by death, but nevertheless releasing him from all the torture. In Blatty’s original screenplay adaptation, the ending is similar to the novel except that the Gemini’s death is not self-induced but forced supernaturally and suddenly by the death of his father.

 

The Exorcist III remains criminally underrated and if anything to the haters, (and really, who are you?) serves as a beautiful character analysis of different walks of life in the form of one chilling film. Aside from Silence f the Lambs, it stands as one of THE BEST psychological thrillers in cinematic history. Bold statement? Maybe. Perhaps you should schedule a rewatch and come back to comment to challenge me.

That’s me issuing a clear invitation to the dance. Pick up your copy from Amazon here!

 

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

Missing the Jim and Pam of Horror

“For a really long time, that’s all I had. I just had little moments with a girl who saw me as a friend. And a lot of people told me I was crazy to wait this long for a date with a girl who I worked with, but I think even then I knew that, I was waiting for my wife.”

The parallels between the goals relationship of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) from The Office and Ash vs Evil Dead’s Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago) are staggering.

Both had their fair share of flirtation and near misses, laughs, jealousies, and tender moments, and it even took both couples three years to realize that they were perfect for one another. As DeLorenzo told me in an interview before Season 2, “Just make out already!”

The will they / won’t they approach is not a new strategy in television, but damned if they don’t have audiences pining for hook-ups when done correctly. And if we’re honest, what we miss most about the band of merry misfits from both Scranton, Pennsylvania and Elks Grove, Michigan are not Michael Scott (Steve Carell) or Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), but watching and waiting as relationships we rooted for came to fruition.

Santiago played the role of hopeless romantic (aka Halpert) from the very moment we heard him refer to Kelly in AVED’s pilot episode. “She haunts my dreams. Just kidding. She does, though.” Much like Pam, however, Kelly saw Pablito as a confidant, saying “You’re like a brother, so sweet. How could I ever look at you that way?”

ash-vs-evil-dead-season-3-pablo-ash-kelly-second-coming-finale-2So it went over three seasons and thirty episodes, but glimmers of hope sprang up throughout the journey. Both Kelly and Pablo got a little jelly in bookend seasons, when Heather (Samara Weaving) showed near the conclusion of its initial campaign, and with the emergence of Dalton (Lindsay Ferris) for the Ghostbeaters’ swan song. It’s a sensation that can only be generated when one feels a profound connection to another, whether acted upon or not. But make no mistake, both Kelly and Pablo (much like Jim and Pam) felt their relationship unique, that they belonged to one another, and others were only temporary obstacles delaying the inevitable. Albeit, such sentiments were a bit more overt from the men.

For years we witnessed the pair compliment one another. Kelly made Pablo stronger, and he was the only person who could wear down her hardened exterior to reveal the vulnerability housed within. They supported one another from (kinda sorta) afar, not unlike our favorite pair from Dunder Mifflin, but when the chips were down, they never came out swingin’ as when they felt someone, or something, was messin’ with their person.

CXUKWhen she felt that Ruby (Lucy Lawless) wasn’t being upfront with Ash’s right-hand man, Kelly offered pep talk after pep talk to instill Pablo with confidence and the belief that he was, in fact, her powerful vagina, the El Brujo Especial. And for as lovable and hesitant as Pablo appeared throughout most of the series, those times he stepped up without a second thought, were to protect Maxwell.

Think back to a scene at the Elks Grove Police Department in Season 2 when Chet (Ted Raimi) wondered aloud if Baal (Joel Tobeck) hadn’t actually commandeered Kelly’s body, to which Pablo immediately turned to walk toward Williams’ lifelong pal and said “Hey Ash, I think you need to tell your friend to shut the fuck up!”

While Jim and Pam dealt with other suitors and the jealousies that came with them,  they never endured life-threatening situations, but the nature of the Evil Dead universe — that loved ones die — was what kept the two apart for so long, and ultimately what brought them together.

The enemy for Halpert and Beesly was Pam’s indecisiveness and inability to realize she deserved happiness and to take a chance on something that was only five feet from her her desk. What finally pushed Pablo and Kelly over the finish line was not the idea of losing their person to another, but of losing them entirely. So why the fuck not?

KissWe waited roughly 26 episodes to finally see that kiss DeLorenzo had ranted about the season before when she was unsure that Pablo would emerge from a vision, and was so overwhelmed with emotion she pulled him in to express her true feelings. Pablo hummed when their lips locked, because even a patient man is human. Lest we forget, Kelly blamed Ruby for nearly losing her man and growled “Fuck with my Pablo, fuck with me. And I am done bein’ fucked with, Ruby.”

And when Kelly returned from the rift, Pablito believing her to be dead, tearfully hovered over her body and shared “Descansa en paz, mi amor (Rest in peace, my love).” When Kelly jolted awake, thinking she had to fight her way out of another jam, Pablo grabbed her to ensure that she was safe, and offered a tender kiss to calm her fears. The two locked eyes with a smile, and in that moment, we knew there was no going back. It was official. Though Ash and Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) laid the final bricks of a joke the show had been building for three years, “Filthy and not fine.”

Kelly and Pablo made us laugh, they made us cry, they made us yearn for two people who didn’t even exist to get together, because truth be told, there simply aren’t many horror couples that stand out, and damn it, we wanted this one. They began as friends, knowing and trusting one another completely. They cared for one another, they supported one another, and they challenged the other to be the best versions of themselves. In the end, that’s what true partners do.

The magical nature of their on-screen relationship was not lost on Santiago, who took to Instagram after the series finale to say “…my love for [DeLorenzo] and everything you brought to the table will never die. Always a semi in my pants for #Kelly Maxwell!”

Though we won’t be lucky enough to see where Kelly and Pablo progressed from their own version of popping in to interrupt an interview with “OK…it’s a date,” we’d seen enough to know that Pam’s words rang true.

“When you’re a kid, you assume your parents are soulmates. My kids are going to be right about that.”

Stand-up

That Random Car In the Title of ‘Tales From the Darkside’

One of my fondest memories from childhood was staying up late and watching the many glorious horror-themed shows late-night TV had to offer us back in the 80’s. My mom was pretty cool about that back then. I was no more than five and I still recall the greats I spent many nights watching. Twilight Zone, The Hitchhiker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Unsolved Mysteries – just to name a few, and their themes still ring loud and clear in the shadowy halls of my memory.

One thing these spooktacular shows all shared was a riveting opening title accompanied by a haunting score. You all know what I’m talking about. The Twilight Zone sports a pivotal theme that remains timeless to this day. And who can deny the impact Danny Elfman’s immortal theme from Tales From the Crypt had on our generation? Remarkable!

All of that is to bring us to the subject at hand revolving around one of my favorite creepy shows, Tales From the Darkside!

From horror maestro himself, George Romero came this grizzly collection featuring beloved short horror tales from the mind of Clive Barker and other renowned writers of horror, Tales From the Darkside brought scary stories to life in various comeuppance morality tales.

The opening always gave me the chills as a kid. That eery as Hell music playing over visions of lovely fields, a country farmstead, a rippling brook and a covered bridge. Sights that should convey a welcoming sense of warmth and meditation, something the dark mind of Paw Paw Romero intentionally planned just so he could pull the rug out from underneath our feet. The sights change as the title is revealed and all of a sudden the pleasant world we have been introduced to is malformed into a sinister realm of shadows and dread, just like the genuine dark world which awaits behind the placid world we live in. Darkness is always just only one bad day away.

Right before the title shows, and I mean like a second or so before, we see in the bottom left corner a car that gets swallowed up in the Darkside. It never was anything I gave much of a thought to until an ex of mine mentioned the car was a blooper. Like it was a mistake and wasn’t supposed to be caught on film. Like while the studio was filming the opening shots some random car photobombed the process.

Funny, because I never once got that impression. I told her that too and explained how I always assumed the car was meant to be there. As if whatever family was in that car had just suddenly been sucked into the void. The idea startled her, because that’s how Hell works, right? One moment you’re out enjoying a lovely drive out in the countryside and the next the Darkside consumes you, your day, and possibly you’re entire life.

A flat tire lands you stranded in the middle of the shadowy woods where you can hear a distant banjo playing.

You’re out by yourself hoping to get some sun by the lake when local rapists come zooming by with oogly eyes all over your body.

The Wolfman Cometh
image via The Wolfman Cometh

You get a puzzle box and suddenly awaken the wonders of Hell.

You have a nightmare that lures the dream demon to your helpless state of mind.

That’s what horror has always been about! The normal and everyday world being consumed by the Darkside. That little car in the opening credits epitomizes what we love about horror. I don’t know who was in that car – and that’s part of the charm, it could be anyone of us in it – but I thank them for providing such a wonderful (but underrated) visual for us.

Ok my Nasties, this has been your good pal, Manic Exorcism once again. I’ll be back later to over-analyze even more things no one in their right mind would give a second thought to. But hey, that’s what we do here.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment below? Was it a simple photobomb, or perhaps there was something more sinister afoot?

 

 

 

Shout Factory Just Made My Day – ‘CREEPSHOW Collector’s Edition’ to be Released!

Welcome back my Nasties! Gather close and snuggle up with a corpse because we have some ghastly goodness to discuss. I’m your host, Manic Exorcism, and today I, once again, am being forced to bid farewell to some more hard-earned cash. That’s because our friends over at Shout Factory just gave us some of the best damn news ever, and frankly, I’m a bit shocked. Earlier today the team responsible for giving us some of the finest horror Blu-rays ever just announced that we will be getting a CREEPSHOW Collector’s Edition. It’s finally happening!

It’s about fucking time too! For the longest while, we had to settle for an inferior, bare-bones release of one of the most beloved horror titles of all time. CREEPSHOW is the pinnacle example of how a horror anthology should be done. Certainly, this movie wasn’t the very first horror anthology, but it’s certainly the favorite among many. It’s my personal favorite one.

 

amazon
image via Amazon

 

The masterminds over at Arrow Video did give us a brilliant release of CREEPSHOW 2, and I’m very happy with that edition. Nevertheless, I still wanted the set to be complete (CREEPSHOW 3 can eat shit and die because it doesn’t exist to me) and hoped to see the original movie (FINALLY) get a proper Blu-ray treatment.

The movie deserves it.

The fans deserve it.

Jordy Verrill gave his life to see this finally happen.

And by God, we’ve waited long enough!

“Romero and King have approached this movie with humor and affection, as well as an appreciation of the macabre.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

That’s the charm of this movie. It’s spooky fun, something modern horror needs to be reminded of.

No matter what kind of day you’re dealing with this movie will make you feel better.

Hollywood Reporter
image via Hollywood Reporter

It’s also something you can watch with your kids, just in case you’re wanting to raise them to be proper horror fanatics. It has everything! The dead rising from the grave,  Joe Hill getting the shit slapped out of his face, Leslie Nielsen being a dickhead to Ted Danson, and a drunk Adrienne Barbeau – this movie is fun for the whole family!

I’m curious to see what kind of Special Features we’re going to get with this one too. I’m really hoping it mirrors the UK DVD edition that came out a while ago. Regardless this is the Collector’s Edition and given Shout Factory’s past record I know we can expect some great things.

Preorders are limited right now, and they boast:

EXCLUSIVE LIMITED-EDITION OFFER FOR SHOUTFACTORY.COM – ONLY 1,500 AVAILABLE – INCLUDES:

A rolled 28.5” x 16.5” lithograph of the new slipcase art by Laz Marquez
A rolled 18” x 24” poster of an alternative art illustration by Laz Marquez
– Shoutfactory.com

 

https://www.shoutfactory.com/product/creepshow-collector-s-edition?product_id=6868