Tag Archives: Manic Exorcism

Monsterpalooza 2018 – A Celebration of Horror at its Finest

Welcome back my lovely ghouls and grizzlies, you just couldn’t stay away, could you? I’m touched. And what great timing on your behalf. I’ve just freshly returned from the long trek back from Pasadena. What compelled me to brave seven hours on the road? What led my nocturnal steps so far south where the sun shines hot and bright? Monsterpalooza of course!

That’s right. My annual sojourn to be with my fellow monsters, freaks, beasts, and family has once more come and (so sadly) gone, and from it, I am loaded down with so many more fond memories. Each year the convention offers us, visitors, a rich diabolical alchemy of old-time fuzzy feelings that hit all the right spots as we relive our favorite horrors from times past. The convention also provides plenty of encouragement as we stand witness to the future plans for our beloved genre and are reminded that horror is thriving. Monsterpalooza masterfully balances the nostalgic tug with the modern progression of horror.

 

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In short, and in case you’ve never had the pleasure of attending yet, Monsterpalooza has something for everyone.

The Featured Guests

As with any convention you can expect to meet a favorite celebrity or two. Although many fans have complained about the cost of autographs I still argue the worth of the experience alone. For example, I’ve now had the chance to meet Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7-X, Hatchet 1-3, Deathhouse) a few times now, and each time is a blast. You’ll not meet a better man anywhere. He’s very much all about the fans and is all-too-happy to take the time to talk to each one of them.

Funny enough this year I got Kane to sing for me. I almost told him that Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Maniac Cop, Army of Darkness, Ash vs Evil Dead) called him an asshole last I met up with the Chin, but I felt it might be better kept for a future conversation.

Now among all the celebs I met this year, I have to say one of the highlights was meeting with Judith O’Dea, Barbara from Night of the Living Dead. What a glamorous lady.  A true star, and so very personal and warm.

 

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As far as the stars all go though I’ve never once had a bad experience with any of them, and this marks the 5th year I’ve attended Monsterpalooza. But that goes for any star I’ve met at all the conventions I’ve now attended. So is it worth standing in line and handing over your hard-earned cash just to say hi and get a signature? Yes, because they will treat your time with respect.

Panels

To my shame, I don’t attend these as much as I probably should. I’m usually in line to meet someone or busy with my friends and haunting my favorite vendors ( and saying goodbye to my money). I just miss the panels. That being said though, I did hit the tale-end of the Full Moon panel and heard their upcoming announcements. Of course, most know about the imminent Puppet Master reboot. They said the film will have a theatric run, so if you’re a fan be sure to follow them for updates. Full Moon also announced that – and with Stuart Gordon’s blessings – they will be rebooting Castle Freak in the near future.

The Monsterpalooza Museum

This is a must for everyone who attends. This museum features the best talents that our genre has to offer. You’ll see the painstaking work of some insanely gifted artists who brought our favorite movie moments to life in full-size replication straight out of the scariest movies out there! In this house of wax, you’ll stand eye to eye with creatures all-too lifelike. The museum alone is worth the price of admission.

 

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Something To Look Out For

A new Halloween themed movie will be released on home video this coming September. I’m very excited to get my hands on this one. It’s a creature feature that prides itself with some beautiful practical effects and sports the talents of Doug Jones (The Shape of Water, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) once more.

 

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Criticism

I only have one complaint about this year’s convention. They overbooked weekend ticket sells, I was one of the unfortunate souls, and Saturday became a big ugly hassle for many, many visitors. And I mean ugly, like dead hooker rotting in the bottom of a dumpster bin’s maggot bed ugly.  I would urge the great minds behind Monsterpalooza to be better organized in the years to come. This convention proves to grow bigger each year, and they need to plan more accordingly to suit the demands. They need to figure out a better way to handle the lines. For example, prepaid ticket holders should get in quicker rather than being stuck waiting outside half-an-hour after the convention opens it doors.

 

Pretty simple. And best to not overbook next time. The last thing we want is for people to have a miserable time and spend most of the con standing in line. There are already a lot of those to put up with.

The Vendors

But let’s end on a positive note. Let’s hear it for the vendors! These guys are out there all weekend, they’ve shelled out $500 for a table and they are selling us some of the finest horror merch we’ll ever get our hands on. So take it from me, if you’re planning for a horror con be sure to save some money. You will see things you will want to buy.

Obscure and rare movies (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray) are one of my favorite obsessions. If you want nostalgia for those little movies or Halloween specials you’ve not seen in a long time, this is your stop. This year I bought a DVD that’s just a bunch of extras from Freddy’s Dead that were never released on either DVD or Blu-Ray. It even comes with some old promos for Call Freddy! Awww memories.

I also picked up some brilliant artwork! Soon there will be no wall in my study, only masterpieces of the macabre. I couldn’t be happier.

I’d like to send a personal shout out to a great store, Time Tunnel Toys. These two have never failed to impress me over the years. They are regulars at Monsterpalooza and the nicest couple you’ll have the pleasure of meeting. Time Tunnel Toys is what Nightmare Nostalgia lives off of: those happy blasts from the past and warm memories of Saturday Mornings. TTT thrives on all of that and gives us a way to relive those happy days.

Finally, this year I had the pleasure of picking up a Gates of Hell comic from Eibon Press. I do not exaggerate when I say I now have a new obsession. These comics have won my dark heart over and I cannot get enough of them. Luckily, we have the option to order online, but I really enjoyed meeting the madman behind the macabre. I love seeing horror fans giving fellow fans what they want. That’s what Eibon is in the business of doing. How to explain these comics, hmmm? Ok, think the raw violence of Crossed with the gritty art style of early Spawn. I’m not making it up, it’s that amazing!

Monsterpalooza is my favorite con to attend and very much worth a visit for any horror fan. It’s the event of the year for many of us. It’s certainly one I am always happy to go to but sorry to have to leave. To me, it’s like returning home in a way. I have friends there who are just family. With that said: Frank, thanks for a great weekend! Our paths can’t cross again soon enough. Love ya, buddy.

This has been yours truly, Manic Exorcism. I’ll be catching you again next time, lovelies.

Controversy of ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’

“The Dual Substance of Christ… has always been a deep inscrutable mystery to me. … In order to mount to the Cross, the summit of sacrifice, and to God, the summit of immateriality, Christ passed through all the stages which the man who struggles passes through. That is why his suffering is so familiar to us.”

– Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ

 

In honor of the current holiday, I thought I’d take a moment of reflection for one of the most emotionally charged films in my entire library – The Last Temptation of Christ. Filmed by Hollywood’s legendary Martin Scorsese, this movie dared to take on one of the most violently hated novels of our modern era. Based on the imperial book written by Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ tells us the beauty of the Gospel through an entirely new and never-to-be-repeated manner. For that reason, I feel this movie has earned a tremendous cult attraction among thousands while also offending devout practitioners of the evangelical Christian persuasion.

 

Nolan Fans
image via Nolan Fans

 

Rest assured, I may be a theologian, but this will not be a religious discussion. You have no worries of me evangelizing to you through this. I merely want to praise the daring work of a magnificent film, one that manages to stir the souls of believers and nonbelievers alike. Which, if we’re being honest, is one hell of an accomplishment.

 

Daring. Bold. Controversial.

These all three manage to describe this film’s immense merits.

 

Beautiful. Heart-rendering. Tragic.

These are also the great weights of the movie’s glory.

 

Solemn. Celebratory. Triumphant!

This journey of the Christ instills in the viewer a mighty swell of victory once we reach that final heart-pounding moment. It is a victory summed up with a humble smile and three sacred words.

“It is accomplished.”

Words which echo across Time and have marked their place in History as deeply spiritual landmarks for millions of souls.

The movie accomplishes its goal in a steady and determined march, and that’s what this movie really does feel like – a march, a defying-all-the-costs parade of Christ and twelve other individuals who would have their names etched upon the pillars of mankind’s religious history. This was ultimately a death march though, and no matter how many of them might try, there would be absolutely no wavering from that looming imminent finale. The march began with one single individual who inspires others, and they soon join and follow him. The march leads them to Jerusalem where, for a time, the following grows and becomes a multitude. But all too soon it dwindles to just four – the Christ and his three Apostles – in Gethsemane, and , ultimately, becomes only one – the very same one who started the movement three years previously, who will find himself beaten, abandoned, and alone to face death as he is lifted up, stapled between Heaven and Earth, the essential totem of Grace, a sacrifice for those he loves.

 

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image via Blu-ray.com

 

This is only some of the heart of Scorsese’s gripping masterpiece of love, death, and ultimately unyielding life.

 

In The Beginning

On the Criterion Collection’s release of the film, Scorsese admits he always wanted to make a big-time biblical epic about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Originally, Scorsese says he was heavily influenced by the larger-than-life works of Cecil B. DeMille. With movies like The Ten Commandments in mind, Scorsese dreamed of matching that level of grandeur someday.

 

 

Scorsese also says he wanted it to be a black and white film, something that (I can only speculate now) would have looked like a Gustave Dore work of art come vividly to life. Undoubtedly that would have been breathtaking, but, admittedly, there already was a black and white Jesus epic out there – King of Kings, which is another Criterion Collection release.

Scorsese’s original vision for his future Passion work was later redefined upon seeing Pier Paolo Pasolini’s critically acclaimed The Gospel of St. Matthew. Yup, that means Pasolini, the director of Salo: 120 Days of Sodom, indirectly influenced what we now have as The Last Temptation of Christ. The work of one fervent visionary sparked the inspiration of another and maybe there was something in the air, but people were just damn creative back then.

 

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image via IMDB

 

Scorsese changed his epic into a powerfully humble character study and focused that study on the Son of God. He didn’t have his core story until Barbara Hershey (Black Swan, Damien, The Entity) gave him a copy of Kazantzakis’ mystical novel and told him he needed to film this story, and (kindly) demanded to play Mary Magdalen, a role she fills dramatically.

The movie was a go. Paramount greenlit the work, but then the Moral Majority of America got wind of the project and threw a fit. The studio feared some very ugly protests and on Thanksgiving Day, 1983, Scorsese was told his Jesus movie was canceled. The film wasn’t even out the door and its protesters were already screaming blasphemy. Scorsese had to cut the budget back if he wanted his passion-project to see the light of day. Universal would later pick up the rights and the movie was a go once again. But people still fought it tooth and nail.

 

The Great Controversy

So was the controversy of the film justified? Honestly, the subject matter of the movie has always been a subject of controversy – Jesus. In the Gospel record itself, the Son of God is tremendously controversial. In Jesus, we have a Prophet who claims to be Incarnate God and vows to bridge the gulf between humanity’s soul and the divine by using only three nails and two pieces of wood. It is an outrageous claim, one only the God-Man could fulfill. Jesus does just that.  Society didn’t know what to make of Him. And, if we’re being real, society still doesn’t.

 

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image via metacafe

 

There is a definite idea of who the Messiah needs to be, and if that idea doesn’t match people’s preconceived expectations there is going to be an uproar. And an ugly one at that.

So is the film justifiably controversial?

 

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When you have a Jesus film that opens with Jesus building a cross for another man to be crucified, yeah that is going to ruffles some feathers. Well, Jesus was a carpenter after all, and seeing him build a cross that will hang a man guilty of sedition is somehow amazing. This movie presents us with a Christ who is just doing his job. Before he was called Messiah he was just a regular guy making a living. Therein lies the key genius of this movie.

Christ was like one of us. He felt fear and then proved his strength by facing fear. In this movie, he didn’t want to be Christ, but he couldn’t deny being the Son of the living God. It’s a horror story in a way. Think of it: what if you woke up one day and learned God was your father? You were meant to be the Savior of all mankind, but in order to do that, you had to die as a sacrifice. Oh! And you couldn’t just die, but you had to be crucified, the most horrific and painful death invented out of man’s most heinous imaginations.

 

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image via FictionMachine

 

That’s scary! That’s the story behind Last Temptation. A Jesus who is God become Man. God, Eternal Almighty Jehovah, the I AM, become flesh, beautifully and wonderfully human. One of us, just like we are told in St. John 1:14. This film explores the sacred (and often overlooked) humanity of the Savior.

As a man, all he wants is to live a happy life. Marry the woman he loves, drink with friends and laugh in a good company. He wants to build a home and raise a family. He wants to kiss his grandchildren on the head and close his eyes in death knowing he has led a full life – just like a man. That is his greatest Temptation. The amazing drama of the Christ is the fact he is BOTH Man and God, so as a man he wants to live with those he loves, but as God, he must die to redeem their eternal souls.

 

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image via IMDB

 

That is the heart of this movie. It is real and raw human emotions springing from the Gospel record. I stress this is not the Gospel, and the filmmakers make that known from the opening title. But this is a celebration of the Gospel’s triumph.

I say that because I grew up in a home that discouraged me from seeing this movie. My parents were missionaries over in Russia, and so I grew up in a very religious home. We did watch religious-based films, but Last Temptation was on the forbidden list. This and The Omen were the top no, nos. Well, shit if those two films weren’t the very ones I had to see though!

I was expecting to see a gross depiction of my Savior, something that would mock up the Christian faith and damage any one’s personal belief upon viewing it. My first reaction though was admiration for how tenderly they depict Jesus. Willem Dafoe steps into the Messiah’s shoes (sandals) and presents us with a very real and very likable Christ. He doesn’t feel far away and distant, but all too real. Someone you could approach without fear of being denied. Before seeing this film, Dafoe isn’t a top choice I’d think of for such a role, but now I can’t imagine anyone else playing this pivotal part.

 

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image via Criterion

 

I can’t neglect to mention the other roles mastered in this film. As I said, Dafoe is wonderful for his part, but he is joined by some other titanic performances. Harvey Keitel joins us as Judas Iscariot, the man who will be forever marked as the Traitor of Christ. Unlike any other Jesus movie though, Judas is very close to his Rabbi. At times it feels as if he alone gets what Jesus’ mission has to be. The others are ready to take over all of Jerusalem and (eventually) overthrow their Roman conquerors. Judas, on the other hand, is listening and asking questions.

 

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image via Cinema Viewfinder

 

One of the most powerful moments from the movie transpires between both Jesus and Judas. Jesus knows his fate is at hand, that he must be crucified. He takes Judas aside and tells Judas that he has to be the one who turns the Son of Man over to the soldiers. Judas weeps when he realizes his role in this eternal epic is to ‘betray’ his Master.

In a minor role (but incredibly impactful) David Bowie becomes our Pilate. His interaction with Dafoe’s Jesus was filmed in one day but you’d never know any different. “You’re more dangerous than the Zealots, do you know that?” he asks the condemned Christ with an air of cynicism in his gestures. The confrontation is short but it somehow lingers in our memory. It’s also a scene that then leads us into one of the most emotionally charged Passion scenes depicted on film. Peter Gabriel’s score, something that elevates this movie a hundredfold, simply outdoes itself during this entire painful process. When Jesus is shouldering his cross you’ll feel as though the weight of the whole world is on his shoulders.

Have a listen for yourself.

 

Finally, the movie is a work of art come to life. Scorsese admits that he used lighting to try and accentuate the visuals as best they could to harken back to some of the finest art of the Reni séance Age.

 

Final Thoughts

The movie is a masterpiece. It’s a Jesus story unlike any you’ll ever see. Sure, we all feel as if we know the saga of the Messiah, but this film does offer us a story angle we’ve never been introduced to yet. We see the heart of God through the humanity of Christ Jesus. This movie may not be the Gospel account, but it does manage to present us a lot of that self-same heart. Personally, this and Gibson’s own controversial film Passion of the Christ are two common staples to watch each Easter. Both movies offer my inspiration something unique, disturbing, and remarkable.

If you’ve not seen this movie (or if it’s been a while) let yourself taste a little bit of spiritual inspiration and give this one a watch. This has been Manic Exorcism. Have a Happy Easter, a Great Passover, and I’ll be catching you all soon enough. Try not to eat too many tasty chocolate bunnies. That’ll make you sluggish and too easy to hunt, and where’s the fun in that?

March to the Grave: The Vision of Romero and Fulci

Welcome back, my little creepies! Just can’t get enough of the dearly departed, now can you? Well, that’s perfectly alright with me. I love the dead too, you know.

Today we’ll be delving even further into the dripping depths of this rancid crypt of the living dead. The worm dieth not here as we expound upon the very threshold of Hell’s widening maul. The lights are dim and Death is restless as we take a look back at two extraordinary horror masters and the connection between both of their nightmarish visions. The original infection that began in the mind of George Romero would spread across the globe and finally mutate in the fetid imagination of Lucio Fulci, and zombie mania became unstoppable thanks to both men’s fiendish contributions.

In The Beginning, There was NIGHT

 

The late George Romero managed to do something few creative minds in the field of horror ever have the good fortune to accomplish. He invented a new monster, a monster that tore away taboos and desecrated the sanctity of the restful grave. Without explanation, the dead rose from the cold soil and stalked friends, lovers, and family without prejudice. We, the unfortunate living, were prey for a fresh new nightmare, a nightmare that took the globe by storm and essentially gave way to an entire sub-genre. That same sub-genre persists to this day with no sign of hesitation in sight.

It should be noted that Paw Paw Romero was well aware that zombies had already appeared in cinema. However, those zombies were worlds apart from what we now know them as. Growing up, Romero saw movies involving Haitian zombies, men or women, unfortunately, who have fallen victim to some very dark voodoo magic. They were will-less slaves lumbering about with wide-eyed abandon to serve their master’s beck and call.

Did Romero intend to reinvent these helpless creatures? Aw hell no, and he would be the first to correct us should we argue any differently. George Romero did not set out to create a zombie movie, but rather he wanted to create a whole new kind of monster – ghouls! Being the learned man that he was, Paw Paw Romero was quite aware that ghouls in folklore were known to haunt mist-shrouded graveyards and feed their sensational gluttony among the dead. It was his genius to bend the rules (just a  little bit) to his own liking and make the ghouls of his movie be the actual dead freshly risen from the graves and set about with an insatiable craving for warm human flesh.

With that idea in mind Night of the Living Dead was made and a new genre was begotten. Romero’s ghouls were an instant hit as audiences screamed their lungs out and watched under a veil of tears as the victims on screen desperately fought a hopeless battle for their very lives, with increasing fever to just survive the dire night of merciless carnage.

Audiences embraced Romero’s monsters, but with one condition. By and large, people accepted them as zombies and not as ghouls. Ask most people today and even still they’ll say it’s a zombie movie. I’ve never really heard Romero had any qualms with that either. His vision was a success and he did accomplish creating a new type of nightmare to scare us shitless.

With the insistence of fellow horror genius – Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red) – Romero was invited to Italy where he would sit down and lay the groundwork for what many (even still to this day) consider the greatest horror movie of all time – Dawn of the Dead. For many fans, Dawn of the Dead became their favorite scary movie, and for good reason. The movie includes a little bit of everything for anyone.

 

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Relentless, cruel and still good-natured, this was Romero’s answer to his original vision of dread. The movie would be in color this time around meaning all the blood would be quite noticeable. It would also feature the ingenious work of special FX legend, Tom Savini who has spent a lifetime exploring ways to show us death in the most visually violent ways as possible.

Romero welcomed us all to the Apocalypse!

 

Nightmare on Film Street
image via Nightmare on Film Street

 

From the very opening scene, Romero impresses upon the audience a world that has lost all control. We are introduced to the Apocalypse from a news broadcasting room livid with very real human reactions. The movie wastes no time and drops the viewer into this world where you now must follow a band of characters who are ill-prepared to deal with the world’s ending at the hands of the zombie plague.

This isn’t something anyone can prepare for, and it certainly proved to be something no audience at the time was prepared to handle. Savini’s gruesome work splashed across the big screen like foul art, a thing no one wanted to see but nobody could look away. It was a violent array of popping headshots, flesh-eating, and ghoulish fun.

Romero struck gold and genre fans couldn’t get enough of the simple formula he used.

This formula is repeated even still. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead or Resident Evil you have George Romero and his Dawn of the Dead to thank for that. Once again, the man reinvented himself and the monster he brought to life.

 

The Italian Echo of Living Death

 

When Dawn of the Dead was released overseas, in Italy the movie was simply titled Zombi. The film had a definite impact on one particular viewer – Lucio Fulci.

 

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image via Film International

 

It’s been said that the screenplay for (what would become) Zombi 2 was written before Romero’s classic DotD was released. What is fact though is Lucio’s movie served as the unofficial sequel to Dawn, or Zombi, and hence the name Zombi 2.

 

VHS Archives
image via VHS Archives

 

Fulci’s contribution is brilliant. This is not some half-assed movie either, something quickly cooked upped to cash in on an internationally acclaimed hit. This movie has heart, a swollen, blackened heart beating with putrescent awe and terrible beauty.

 

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image via Amazon

 

A few years ago Shriek Show was kind enough to releases an incredible 25th-anniversary edition of Lucio’s cult classic. This is the edition you’ll want to pick up if you’ve not seen the movie, love zombies, and have even the smallest bit of interest right now. To be honest this is my all-time favorite zombie film. Yup, even though I love Paw Paw Romero, Zombi 2 is my favorite out of all the great many zombie flicks to choose from. When asked why I always refer to one simple reason – this movie has everything I’d expect out of a zombie film. Lots of gore is a given, as well as actual visuals of the dead themselves rising from their graves. And these are rotting zombies too, so foul you can almost smell their ripe decay. Not to mention we get some pretty ladies running for their lives and heroes who don’t really stand a chance. This movie is chilling of its own accord and the slow pace build up is powerfully executed.

 

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The one scene that stands out most to me – and if you know this movie you’ll probably already be guessing which one, but you’d be surprised to find you’re wrong – is what I call the’ zombie picnic’ scene (not the shark scene, although it’s also amazing). It’s just a scene featuring some zombies seated around a freshly dead victim. Her body is in oozing pieces. Blood is pooling everywhere and the living dead help themselves to the meaty morsels of her organs and muscles. Like I said it’s a great (and chilling) scene. One that takes a moment, hits pause on the action and just focuses on why we are afraid of zombies. We fear them because they feed off of us. Your spouse, your children, your best friend, should they die, will come back with a need to feed off of you. Or you, should you go first, will ultimately eat your own loved ones. That is the terror of zombies, that inescapable march to the grave, and not even the grave is safe anymore thanks to them. Weirdly it’s sometimes overlooked in so many other zombie movies.

 

The Series (?)

Now, wait, if we take this seriously, that would make Dawn of the Dead, Zombi 1. Sooo would that mean Night of the Living Dead is Zombi the Prequel? It’s kinda fun to let that be true. To imagine these movies are all connected. (And Disney tries to act like Marvel was first to do a shared universe)

There were follow up movies after Zombi 2 made its mark. We might get into those at a later time, but that’s going to be it for now. I hope you enjoyed our little visit with these flesh eating monstrosities. As always be sure to keep checking in to get all those warm thrills or eerie chills, all right here at Nightmare Nostalgia! I’m Manic Exorcism, and I bid you all farewell for now. Go while you still can, dearies. Hehehe.

March to the Grave – Cemetery Man!

Hello, my sweet gargoyles and ghouls. It’s your dearly demented friend, Manic Exorcism, asking you to join me on a lovely cemetery stroll where the departed, well, they just aren’t content to rest peacefully.  So grab a shovel – or a boomstick, should you prefer – as we unearth the unconsecrated bowels of these crypts and look at this underrated gem – Cemetery Man. Or also known as Della Morte Dell Amore.

The Zombie Genre

Once upon a time zombie films were few to be found. Cemetery Man, much like its festering brothers and sisters of the genre, was a definite rarity. That might seem shocking to our modern audiences today – who have been nursed on The Walking Dead, Resident Evil games, and countless tons of independent flesh eating atrocities – but zombie movies used to be hard to find.

Crazy, I know, right? Today we have too many of them. It’s an over saturation really, as if we’re overrun by hordes of living-dead films. Each one shambling over one another and inseparable in their rotten likenesses.  A drooling mess of celluloid brainless insatiable cravings, each of them clawing at us, demanding our numb attention and refusing to let us escape. A true epidemic and apocalypse. It is a wasteland of lost creativity.

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Wow!  Almost sounds like I hate zombie movies. I don’t, but admittedly I’m not a fan of the current state of them. They’re all too similar. Similar in tone, in style and even in their characters. Honestly I think that zombies were way scarier when they were rare.

The Cemetery Man

Cemetery Man came out during a golden age when film makers dared to take risks and tackled well-established tropes we were familiar with, but added some much-appreciated originality to a subject matter that otherwise would have been left rotting beneath the earth. There were some creative minds that brilliantly brushed away the layers of mold and breathed putrid life into those bones.

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The problem I have with modern zombie incarnations is if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Stop me if this sounds familiar: a band of miss-matched survivors must face the undead legions across a dystopian landscape. Throw in some romantic drama and BOOM you have your zombie flick. CG blood effects will complete the mendacity and your indie zombie movie will get lost in the stinking tide of an over-used gimmick. 28 Days Later was part of the zombie renaissance and it’s formula has been recycled to death with few contributions adding any freshness to the field. But hey, I guess we can praise Zombeavers for its uniqueness. At least it was different!

(That’s not to say I don’t have my modern favorites. Shaun of the Dead is to be praised. So is Planet Terror. However, both of those movies were clear throw backs to that golden age of risky film making I already mentioned.)

On the contrary, films like Creepshow, Braindead, Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Creeps (they’re zombies, right?) and of course today’s subject, Cemetery Man all offered audiences something new, fresh, and (believe it or not) entirely unseen before. Who can forget the mean old bastard who rises from his wormy grave still demanding his father’s day cake? Or who else got hot around the color as our pre-pubescent eyes watched Trash bare it all and dance in a grave yard? (We love you Linnea Quigley!) We also got to see (whether we wanted to or not) zombies have sex  on a dining table and later give birth to a zombie baby who goes on to run amok across a playground. Holy shit! These movies were awesome!

They became instant cult classics and are still highly adored to this very day. There is no replacing them.  Their fandom swells with every new generation and will never lose steam as more audiences are introduced to their ingenuity and creativity.

They weren’t about any catastrophic dystopian society. They were about everyday people having a really bad, bad day. And we genuinely felt a connection with the characters.

Aside from practical effects do you know what each of these beloved movies have in common? They don’t take themselves too seriously. They made horror fun. They’re fun but not stupid, I must stress that. They are serious movies with some hard-core punk flare. They made us squirm, squeal and scream for more! That’s something gravely lacking in the majority of today’s zomb-zomb endeavors. Their tones are too serious for their own good or they try to be funny and just mock it up. (I guess there was a time when talent was a thing.)

If you’re a fan of any of these aforementioned punk-rock flicks then I can assure you that Cemetery Man is one you’ll want to see. The plot centers around our hero who is tasked with killing the freshly buried who rise from their graves. That’s it. What makes this movie remarkable are the scenes and visuals. The filmmakers had a great eye and at moments it feels like grotesque art come to life.

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image via imdb

Honestly this movie is more beautiful than any zombie movie has any right to be. It’s hypnotic and at times you won’t be able to look away. The project was purely a work of inspiration.

The movie is also subtly deceptive. Sure, on the surface you’ll think it’s about a guy who shoots the living dead in the head. But then the film begins to explore intense subjects such as love and all of its treachery and the mysteries of Death itself. It becomes a gradual existential odyssey between the living and the dead.

Our cemetery man is played by Rupert Everett, a surprising role for him but very well done! He is assisted by a mentally challenged fellah, Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro), who is the perfect cross between Curly from the Three Stooges and Uncle Fester. Gnaghi is just too much fun. At one moment he crushes hard on the mayor’s daughter and throws up all over her as a sign of affection. There’s another great scene where he’s sitting down in front of the TV and happily eating some chocolate ice cream all the while his partner is busily fighting off a sudden invasion of the living dead. Gnaghi remains entirely oblivious the whole time.

nerd ninja
image via Nerd Ninja

Just like Return of the Living Dead this movie is damn cool. I mean what other movie will give you a zombie biker bursting out of his grave on his mother-fucking motorcycle? That and the Grim Reaper makes one Hell of an appearance that you won’t soon forget.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one and upon a re-watch, I now have a brand new favorite. I really hope that someday Arrow Video will give us a proper Blu-ray release of this sadly underrated cult classic.

villains wikia
image via villains Wikia

This has been Manic Exorcism thanking you for joining me on another macabre journey into the heart of darkness. Be sure to keep checking in here at Nightmare Nostalgia for all those lovely chills and thrills. I’ll catch you all later, my lovelies. And next time you won’t get away so easily. Heheheh

Cemetery Man (1994)

Valentine’s Day Poetic Justice with Peter Cushing

Happy Valentine’s Day, my lovelies!

We here at Nightmare Nostalgia truly hope you have a bloody good one today! But we know why you’re here. Wherever you find yourself right now: out to eat, on your way home (or tonight’s big date) or whether you’re a single heart with a party of one you have still found yourself here with us in our happy little private asylum of dark wonders.  So huddle up close and join the Nightmare cast on the most romantic day of the year! And oh boy, does your ol’ buddy Manic have a sticky good treat for you all tonight!

Firstly, holiday horror movies are all the rage during the festive times. We have so many to choose from, and although it sometimes feels as if both Halloween (obviously) and Christmas hog all the spotlight we do in fact have some dark little delicacies to pick from every February 14th! Oh I know many will naturally go to the timeless classic My Bloody Valentine – as rightly you should – but today I want to focus on a little lesser known Valentine’s Day atrocity brought to us by the one and the only, the late great Peter Cushing!

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image via giphy

He and Christopher Lee are my two favorite actors of all time! More than once this dastardly duo starred in some of the greatest horror classics of the ages. Anytime the two appeared in a monster classic you could bet it was going to be grander than life itself!

Today Peter Cushing is best known by modern audiences as the cold-blooded Grand Moff Tarkin of Star Wars, a man who gives orders to annihilate entire planets, snuffing out life, erasing cultures and extinguishing entire histories.

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image via vulture

To me, he will always be revered as Baron Frankenstein, who was not above murder to obtain specimens to further his heinous crimes against Life. However, when he wasn’t building monster he was fighting them as the heroic Dr. Van Helsing, a man who was a superhero long before Marvel pooped out their products over-abundantly nearly every month – and his Van Helsing was more kick-ass than the Avengers combined. Dracula ran from him!

A long while ago there was a Tales From the Crypt movie that worked as an anthology horror film, much like Creepshow. This film featured several segments of the comeuppance of some very unpleasant fellows who get to revisit their ungodly crimes right before they are dropped into the flaming horrors of Hell.

YouTube
image via YouTube

One such segment is Poetic Justice. In it, we see our dear Peter Cushing who is a loving man who behaves like the local Santa of sorts. The noble widower finds discarded things among the rubble and makes toys out of their otherwise abandoned parts, giving new life and plenty of joy to the neighboring children. However, hateful eyes are turned against the dear old man and spitefully he is attacked and bullied until he no longer can take it.

The Spooky Isles
image via The Spooky Isles

It’s interesting because I first saw this movie back when I was a kid and had no earthly business watching such gruesome spectacles at such an early age – but I’d not trade it for the world! I couldn’t have been older than five, and this episode of the movie always stood out to me. So much so that I thought it was a nightmare I had dreamt up because anytime I inquired about it, no one knew what I was talking about. Then last year I picked up a VHS copy of Tales From the Crypt and to my surprise HERE IT WAS! Exactly as I remembered it.

So here you go, lovelies! From Manic with Love! Awwww.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and remember it NEVER pays to be heartless to others.

Hehehehe……

Tales From The Crypt / Vault Of Horror [Blu-ray]

The Splatterhouse Franchise – Horrifying Fun

Do you like blood, guts, and a whole lot of gore? Does horror make you all hot and bothered in all the right ways? Have you ever wanted to pick up a 2×4 and splash some zombie faces all over the wall?  Well lucky you, because your ole buddy Manic has a sticky treat for you.

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image via imdb

Kick off your shoes and get cozy because I’m bringing you some splat-tastic fun.

You see, there’s a legend around here among gamers. A legend of a demon-haunted mansion sitting between the reality of our world and the dimension of infernal terror. A Hell-house in the mist just daring you to put on some big-boy(girl) pants and come play with the older kids as you explore the many caverns of mayhem and sadism. It’s the old West mansion, a shunned abode better known as the Splatterhouse.

Backstory to Splatterhouse

Here’s all you need to know as a player. A horde of drooling ghouls has stolen your gorgeous girlfriend right after spilling your guts all over the floor. As you lay in the hot sticky pool of your own fluids you watch the howling deformities take off with Jennifer with you-don’t-even-want-to-know what kind of plans in mind for her. The minions of Hell have just flipped you off, pissed in your iced tea, and they think you’re a big ole douche bag. Well damn, it all you’re not gonna put up with that! Lucky for you the Terror Mask (an ancient Mayan occult relic infused with a forgotten god) has taken a shine to you and saves your life. Not only that, but he’s given you unspeakable powers that would make the Incredible Hulk run home crying for his mommy. Now you get to go punch the heads off of the gruesome assholes who infest the West Mansion. 2×4’s, chainsaws, and plenty of boomsticks are left at your exposal as you make the game live up to its raunchy name SPLATTER-house. The legions of Hell await you, but you’re a badass mother fucker and can take whatever the house throws at you.

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image via gamersradar

In case you can’t tell I love these games! This is old-school horror fun at its finest. Most of our favorite horror movies are – right to their cores – lots of fun. They don’t take themselves too seriously, at least this is true for many slasher movies: they were made with a fine balance of scares and laughs.

And one of the biggest influences on the Splatterhouse franchise is the Slasher genre.

Digital Spy
image via Digital Spy

The most obvious reference can be found in our lead character Rick. As a matter of fact, back when I was a kid and first saw the game being played I honestly thought this was a Friday the 13th game, and honestly, it made the game way more exciting. A game letting the player take control of Jason?! Oh Hells yeah! But alas, I was wrong and would have to way some 20+ years on Gun Media to give me Friday the 13th: The Game. However, by its own merit Splatterhouse is a thrilling experience and needs to be played.

gamefaqs
image via gamefaqs

Back on topic, Rick is clearly based on the titanic slayer Jason Voorhees. The Terror Mask alone bears some insane similarities to the iconic hockey mask. I mean who can rightly deny that? And if you compare the original arcade’s design for Rick with Jason’s look from Parts III or VII, well it’s blatantly obvious someone was a Friday fan.

Midnight Only
image via Midnight Only

Splatterific References

This is a series truly made by horror fans for horror fans. As you make your way through the Splatterhouse franchise merrily busting open oozing heads please be sure to keep a keen eye peeled for all those amazing scary movie references.

Along with Friday the 13th  being obviously referenced, one particular boss fight just can’t help itself but smell like Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

hellnotes
image via hellnotes

This is Biggy Man, an abomination with two chainsaws for hands, and no wonder he’s so mean! How does he take a piss? So yeah, I’ll admit the chainsaws are the glaring TCM reference, but if you look closely you’ll see our pal Biggy Man is also wearing a sack over his head, and kinda reminds me of (once again) Friday the 13th Part II’s ‘tater sack’ Jason.

Some more classic horror references can be seen in other boss fights too. For example, in one battle you’ll find yourself in a room where every single piece of furniture hates your guts and wants to see you dead as you fend off bouncing chairs, a portrait of a giant eyeball, and knives that are way too happy to throw themselves at you. The entire sequence is very heavily inspired by Poltergeist.

The creature feature Deadly Spawn finds itself immortalized in the game’s franchise as well.

Muzzleland Press
image via Muzzleland Press

Some of my favorite Easter eggs can be found in 2010’s Splatterhouse remake. For instance, and admittedly the saddest cameo in the whole franchise is found from the Evil Dead. On the gore-encrusted tiles of a filthy room, you’ll find the discarded and very lifeless body of everyone’s favorite wise-ass, Ash. This is when you get to use the boomstick for the first time in the game, a sad but fitting farewell to a very groovy hero. Hail to the King, baby.

Evil Dead News
image via Evil Dead News

Another level is entirely based on the beautifully haunting cult-classic Wicker Man. I admit this is one of my all-time favorite movies so I was geeking out during this section. It’s a race against time as you fight through hordes of demons to get closer, ever so slowly closer, to the menacing wicker-built figure standing silent and cruel atop the distant hill.  And thank God there are no bees anywhere in sight!

One of the biggest Holy Shit moments was (fittingly enough) in the boiler room. Now who could be connected to a boiler room, hmmm I wonder? Now if you rush through here you might sadly miss it. But if you have a keen eye and have been taking in all the sights so far you just might be lucky enough to see a familiar hat lying near the furnace. You’ll also find a red-striped sweater hanging above that hat. And just in case you’re thinking it’s all a coincidence you’ll also find that wonderful glove of his, the claws dark with past kills. That’s right, my lovelies. Without any doubt, Freddy Krueger is part of this series.

The most glaring reference found in each game of the series is the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft’s influence permeates the franchise and grows stronger as the series expanded. The main antagonist is Dr. West, as in Re-animator’s Dr. West. Some stages in the 2010 remake depict a world entirely given over to ruin by (what we can only assume is) the awakening of Cthulhu who has brought madness and destruction to the planet. At one point you’ll find a gargantuan size tank housing a massive abomination that bears a striking resemblance to how Lovecraft detailed his beloved Cthulhu. The West Mansion is similar to the Shunned House. Rick must encounter altered dimensions, battle madness, and fight humans who have been malformed by forbidden contact with ancient evil powers from beyond the stars. Along with all that the 2010 game revolves around the stars and their alignment, which will unleash old evils that have been waiting in a cosmic prison. That is pure Lovecraft.

At one point Dr. West even shouts, “IA IA! Cthulhu Ftagn!” during one of his rituals.

As if all that wasn’t enough to get you revved up to play these games, can you tell me what other game out there gives you the opportunity to chainsaw some creepy babies during a boss fight?

The Rotting Zombie
Image via The Rotting Zombie

I honestly don’t know why Splatterhouse gets lost beneath the fandom waves of other horror titles such as Resident Evil or Dead Space. When the game’s remake was released in 2010 critics went out of their ways to hate it. But what’s even worse, most people listened to the critics and avoided the game as if it were diseased. The 2010 remake is far from perfect, but it’s certainly not a bad game. Not in the least! It’s a very good game. It’s meant to be enjoyed in the same way you’d enjoy any great 80’s scary movie. Do you think critics were kind to movies like Night of the Demons, Madman, or Cannibal Holocaust? Of course not. Those movies weren’t made for snobs though. They were made to be enjoyed by fans of the genre, and the same is true for Splatterhouse.

GameCrate
image via GameCrate

Are enemies reused in some stages? Yes. Are the mechanics same-ol’-same-ol’ from one level to the next? Sometimes. Nevertheless, these issues don’t make the game bad or ruin the experience. Each level does offer a new array of demons and mutants to fight. The boss fights are each unique, and the levels themselves are just a lot of fun to play through. I take my time and explore while I play. The game is easy to learn and still challenging, but not enough to make you rage quit…that much.

I instantly fell in love with it. It’s a masterful throwback to so many horror classics. The gore is over the top and kept me laughing. One kill-move, in particular, has Rick punch his way up a demon’s ass, go elbow deep, only to then pull out its rectum. OUCH! Buah ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! The bastard had it comin’ though.

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image via siliconera

The best way to really experience the games is to get yourself a copy of the Xbox 360 or PS3 Splatterhouse. The remake includes all three original games – including an uncensored version of the initial arcade game. Even if you hate the 2010 game you’ll still have the original trilogy to enjoy.

Already the games have proven to be a horror fanatic’s dream come true as it offers one of the most comprehensive and detailed horror-fan experience out there.

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image via gamefaqs

This has been Manic Exorcism. Thanks again for joining me on this retro journey. Happy gaming everyone!

Splatterhouse – Xbox 360

Manic Mania For the Madman – Horror’s Unsung Slasher Icon

Madman may not share the infamy of other slasher films of the era such as Sleepaway Camp, Silent Night, Deadly Night, or My Bloody Valentine, but make no mistake – this small-budget independent horror movie has proven to be a tremendous force to be reckoned with.

Madman Could Not Be Stopped

Upon its release, it received horrible coverage. According to Madman himself (Paul Ehlers) the film never found its way on the cover of any magazine of the day and there was only a tiny blurb of an article discussing its merit. That’s shameful! To top it all off, very few theaters chose to showcase the movie making its audience miserably limited. Under most usual circumstances, Madman should have been quickly forgotten in the traffic of better-known franchises. However, in spite of its challenges not only did the film find its audience but has enjoyed cult stardom that grows stronger with each new viewing.

ComingSoon
image via ComingSoon

Being a fan of Madman is like being part of an exclusive club. A fan club with members like Joe Bob Briggs and Quentin Tarantino. Yup, both of them are Madman fans. Others praise Jason, Michael, and Freddy (nothing wrong with that at all I must add), but Madman fans are a category all of their own. It’s as if knowing the movie is our own kind of secret handshake. We recognize his growl and know his theme song by heart – and damn proud of it!

Originally the movie was based on local ghost stories. That’s right, my little ghoulies, initially Madman was rooted in the infamous Cropsey legend and was always intended to be the quintessential campfire boogeyman. He is a rumor, the resident guilty secret no one dares talk about after nightfall, and a whisper that chills the blood with inescapable dread. After thirty years he is still proving to be the ultimate deep woods camp legend. All you need to know to survive is “Don’t say his name above a whisper, or pay the hideous consequences.”

Villains Wiki
image via Villains Wiki

Today we’re going to pay the Madman his dues and celebrate all the fun, screams, and gory good fun of this underrated slasher!

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image via Fangoria

The Madman Legend

Old man Marz was anything but a soft-spoken farmer who lived peaceably out in the woods with his family. Oh no. Marz was an ugly drunk who beat his wife to a pulp and savaged both of his kids. When he wasn’t raising Hell at home he was busy cracking skulls open at the local tavern. In one such brawl his nose had been bitten off, but Marz – being the hateful cuss that he was – didn’t feel a thing.

His was a house of pain where a bruised wife and traumatized children lived in constant fear of his violent outbursts. It was anything but a home. That same hateful abode still stands, but is now rattled by the cruel ticking away of time and is cursed with haunted whispers and frightful suspicions; for one night Marz went completely ravenous mad. Without a hint of warning or any reason the old farmer picked up his axe and walked across the creaking floor boards with only a single thought in mind: murder. One by one Marz slaughtered each member of his family with cold systematic precision. As if to celebrate the event once finished Marz strolled into town – and still sodden by his family’s blood – sat himself down and had a beer at the tavern.

Upon realizing his crime vigilantes took matters into their own hands. Fed up with the sadism of the hateful creature they dragged Marz onto the streets. Someone took the Madman’s bloodied axe and buried it deep into the farmer’s face. He was still standing though, now driven by a rage that would please the cruelties of Satan and ready to slaughter the whole town. Luckily though they strung him up to the nearest tree and hung him there, thinking all was over. The next morning though Marz was no longer at the tree. He and the bodies of his family went missing, never to be found.

Blood Soaked Horror Reviews
image via Blood Soaked Horror Reviews

Madman Marz –as he came to be known, was never mentioned among the locals for fear that he would hear his name and come running.

coming soon
image via comingsoon

Upon the anniversary of the Marz family murder our cast of heroes (victims) have decided to camp just a little too close to the old farmer’s abandoned property. What begins as a fun little camp-fire ghost story soon turns into a night of savage butchery as the Madman hunts each of them down. All too late it becomes apparent that the legends are real – that he is real – and there is no escaping him.

fangoria
image via Fangoria

As far as back stories go his is one Hell of a good one. So why in the Hell does he not get any more recognition than he does? Madman is just as equally vicious as either Jason or Leatherface. As a matter of fact, I’d love to see a crossover of Madman vs Leatherface. The hatchet vs the chainsaw. Two backwoods maniacs with a taste for blood battling it out to the death! It should at the very least be a comic book for Shoggoth’s sake!

It’s an understatement to say this is a criminally underrated 80’s slasher film. It’s beautifully filmed all at night giving it an eerie tone that makes you think the killer waits behind every shadow. Fans of the slasher genre deserve to discover this one. It’s a film that needs to be experienced, and is best experienced with a group of friends.

Rivers of Grue
image via Rivers of Grue

Fun Facts

While filming Madman there was a rumor that someone was lurking around the woods at night uninvited and wanting to interrupt the crew’s progress. The director approached our Madman star and asked him to go out in the woods at night and stalk the stalker. While in full makeup and costume by the way. No lurker was ever found though.

Gaylen Ross of Dawn of the Dead stars in the movie. However, not only does she use a fake name in the end credits but allegedly refuses to admit she was ever involved in the making of the film.

cineoutsider
image via cineoutsider

Final Thoughts

Today we have seen Jason in Manhattan and space. Hell, the fucking Leprechaun got his little ass shot up into space. Michael has survived rappers and a remake. Freddy has been in a womb, in hell, and at Crystal Lake. And we have how many Hatchet – clearly inspired from Madman’s design – movies are there now? Not to mention Leatherface, Michael, Jason and Freddy are all now video game stars. But we only have one Madman movie. No sequels or remakes. There was talk that Paul Ehlers and his son had been working on a remake, but to my knowledge it hasn’t progressed beyond that. I think it’s a travesty that this never was allowed to become a franchise in of itself.

Not to mention I’m a horror figure collector and my shelf feels empty because Marz isn’t there. I’d gladly commission a talented artist to make me a Madman figure to stand beside my McFarlane Movie Maniacs.

Wicked Horror
image via Wicked Horror

Fans have made custom masks and fake trailers in honor of Marz. There’s a high demand for the Madman out there, and the love for his lore isn’t dying down. If you’re looking for a fun movie this is one

This has been Manic Exorcism. You all be sure to stay tuned in and keep those fuzzy nostalgic feelings warm here by the campfire.  I’ll be leaving you with the iconic Madman song.

Madman [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]