Category Archives: Retro Reviews

Tale of Three Godzillas PArt i – Gojira (1954), A Legend Begins

Godzilla’s foundations are fortified beneath layers of deepest sorrow and tragedy.

March 1, 1954 A Date With Destiny

The neon haze of a new era was begun under the heated shadow of mushroom clouds. This marked a new achievement for man’s capacity to destroy his own kind and the atomic age was secured whether we wanted it to be or not. This date marked the first hydrogen bomb testing and – it would seem – Armageddon was right at Japan’s back door.

But this wasn’t the first time nukes touched down on their soil.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Previously, during WWII, a couple of bombs were dropped on two populated cities in Japan. The effects were catastrophic, although that is a puny word and pales in comparison to the trauma those unsuspecting citizens felt that day. It made history and shook the entire planet.

The homes of approximately 450, 550 people would be left in ruins due to the catastrophic effects of the bombs dropped on the unsuspecting population. When the clouds cleared, in the place where homes once stood, a wasteland had emerged where Hiroshima and Nagasaki once flourished.

Boy being tested after suffering burns from Hiroshima

The bomb had no pity. Women and children weren’t spared any more than the elderly. People melted into the sidewalk making it tough to differentiate where the people began and the cement ended.

Others who were far enough away to escape the initial blast would all-too-soon learn how cruel nature can be as they began feeling the sickly effects of radiation poisoning. Hell had been opened and there was no escape.

image courtesy of History.com

Now, just a few years after the a-bomb dropped on them, the same culture had hydrogen bombs being tested just a little ways off the mainland. It would seem nuclear horror inundated Japanese culture.

Some may say it was in poor taste for the US to go ahead with using Japanese land for a top secret testing ground (for nukes nonetheless). After all this was a nation already suffering the hazardous effects of radiation poisoning to last three lifetimes.

victim of radiation poisoning, image via newsweek

Some would also argue that this was American occupied territory and they had a right (maybe by some higher power) to do it. But the powers that be approved of the plan and the US started dropping nukes and playing like some Old Testament act of God.

The surrounding waters of the Marshal Islands were strictly off limits.

A new stroke of misfortune was on the rise though, as the crew aboard the Lucky Dragon set sail, dangerously close to the apocalyptic islands. The fishing crew hoped to make good on all the tuna just begging to be caught, and with no competition this seemed like a win win all around.

Were they simply ignoring the warnings surrounding the Marshal Islands and tempting fate or were there no real warnings laid down to begin with? It’s said that the project was so top secret that not even the Japanese government knew what the US military was doing out there.

Whatever the reason, the fishermen aboard the Lucky Dragon weren’t so lucky.

To their horror a second sun appeared before their eyes and set the sky aflame with unnatural light. A deafening boom clamored overhead like a storm and with it the crew were knocked off their feet.

The bomb had gone off and their fates were sealed under the swift lambent vapors of a very cruel destiny. Already the H-bomb was claiming its first prey and the Reaper emerged out of the smoldering air as the crew quickly felt the sickening effects of radiation poisoning.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

This tragedy – along with the traumas of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – deeply affected the nation.

Art For Exorcism

The opening sequence of Gojira strongly echoes the terrible misfortune that befell the Lucky Dragon. Incorporating a national tragedy into the film’s prologue set audiences up for the right tone of the film and prepared them for a new kind of horror movie.

This wasn’t going to be just a giant monster film. This movie dared to tackle recent – terrifying – topics that scarred an entire nation; brazenly the film makers chose to exorcise their demons through means of art rather than hide from them.

Bold, daring, and distinctly Japanese, this was going to be one helluva’n experience.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

For a lot of people when they think of Godzilla they think of the silly moments given throughout the franchise. Be it Godzilla dashing across the sky being carried by his atomic breath alone, or the tail-glide kick, or characters like little Minilla or Jet Jaguar.

Ok, there have been some fun shenanigans along the way, and that’s ok. That’s part of what’s embedded Godzilla into pop culture and made him accessible to younger audiences.

But Godzilla’s introductory film is far from campy. It is dark and very bleak, and not what many viewers expect it to be. It serves as both a metaphor for nuclear weapons and a warning against them.

Origins For Destruction

Sure there can be no denying that King Kong was also influential over the film project, as it was to all giant-monster cinema that followed it. And yet Godzilla was his own monster and became a hallmark for Japanese cinema. He rose from a fresh new Hell of mankind’s own making and stood as the devastating embodiment of humanity’s unbridled ambitions.

There’s no doubt about it. Godzilla is the monster of the atomic age.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

The film opens with the iconic roar we’ve all come to love. It’s a bold statement letting us know this is a film that stands apart from any that’s come before it. In other words, it’s not ‘just another big monster movie.’

For one thing, Gojia‘s been called a Japanese ghost story and for good reason. His rampage across Tokyo does feel like a supernatural force risen up against humanity. He’s a phantasm of the deathly affects left behind from nuclear weapons and rapidly begins to repay death with more death and none are spared before him.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

Others have called this a force of nature. For example: a tsunami ushers in Godzilla’s approach to land and a nearby village is completely flooded in the catastrophe, leaving survivors in a sodden ruin that was once their home.

Perhaps the planet has sent him with a mission to show mankind the dire follies of their careless handling of science and the destruction wrought thereof. The disaster Godzilla causes is no less effective than that of a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or fire. In fact, Godzilla manages to embody each of those disastrous traits as he slowly looms over the city and crushes buildings and bones with equal ease. Steal, iron, and stone are impervious against his path and prevent nothing.

image via Criterion Collection courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

Not even the army has a chance at slowing him down.

So a living force of nature, a vengeful ghost, and the atomic monster. And this is still the opening of the movie!

Once we do finally get the first glimpse of the titular kaiju we see Godzilla’s head slowly crowning over a hilltop. It’s undeniable the haunting imagery bears an uncomfortable resemblance to a mushroom cloud ascending.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

Even the design of Godzilla’s skin was based on the radiation burns victims of the bomb came back with. So rather than being a green lizard covered in scales, Godzilla is a coal-black body of radiation scarring.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

This is some pretty heavy stuff for a kaiju film and is nothing short of a true horror story.

After giving the film yet another re-watch I was struck by how easily this movie can stand alongside the classic horror heavyweights like Dracula and Frankenstein. But there’s something more to Godzilla that those other guys didn’t have – originality. More akin to his predecessor Kong, Godzilla didn’t have a graphic novel to inspire his lore. Gojira, like King Kong, is a work of imagination on the film makers behalf.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

Audiences will sit through some uncomfortable moments. Like a recently orphaned little girl looking down upon her dead mother’s body. It leaves you with a cold sense of silent revelation. A revelation that even if humanity stumbles upon a means to rid Tokyo of Godzilla the lingering after affects of his titanic carnage will never be remedied for so many, many lives.

Everyone seems to pick up on another emotion-fueled scene as well. I’m speaking of the mother sitting in the shadow of all the destruction while encouraging her little ones that soon they’ll be with daddy again. It’s a fierce moment featuring a doomed mother who’s come to realize there’s no chance for her or her children. The only thing she has left to offer is the meager comfort that at least their family will be reunited again after death.

There’s a reason why we all focus on that scene. It pulls at the heart and brings to light just how dire everyone’s situation really is. And the film masters these sobering moments and tricks us into thinking we’re not watching a monster movie. It elevates what should be a B movie to A-list quality.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

The tone and story lines of the ensuing films would lighten up significantly and Godzilla would evolve from his initial role of being mankind’s ultimate destruction to humanity’s conquering protector.

And that’s how I like my Godzilla most, as the protector. Nevertheless I admit there’s something imperially satisfying about seeing Godzilla wreck havoc across unsuspecting cities. At the end of the day, fans have a multilayered monster to adore which isn’t bad for a man in a rubber suit.

actor Haruo Nakajima, image via Toho

Speaking of which, actor Haruo Nakajima, the man who brought Godzilla to life (from inside the suit), said he based his movements on what he saw from bear behavior. It does give Godzilla a more natural feel, something organic and feral.

That beautiful man’s performance is what has kept Godzilla the ultimate King of the Monsters all these many decades later. Nakajima played the roll from 1954 all the way into 1972 and laid the unshakable foundations that none have strayed from as they fill his giant-monster shoes in later roles. His spirit lingers on and is felt even in 2016’s Shin Godzilla.

This master of monster art is responsible for bringing fans some of the most iconic battles seen throughout the entire franchise. His Godzilla was first to stand against the likes of King Kong, Rodan, Gigan, and his archenemy King Ghidorah! He introduced us to the gigantic world of larger-than-life fantasy! He suffered inside that hot, sweaty, bulky suit to bring us a beautiful film series to believe in and be enchanted by.

Lost in Translation

Unfortunately, many Western audiences associate the first Godzilla movie with Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) which was – to be fair – technically the first Godzilla movie released in the US. However it suffers from a ton of re-editing.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

The two films may share the initial concept story but they honestly couldn’t be further apart from each other. In terms of tone, atmosphere, and pacing Gojira wins hands down.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

I’m not saying GKOTM (1956) is a bad movie but it does lack the very things that made Gojira a masterpiece. By purposely cutting out the political message and removing significant scenes of tragedy the American re-edit lacks the heart and soul of Gojira.

Because of this, the Americanized version feels more like a typical ‘50s nuclear monster movie akin to Them. And that’s not a bad thing…I love those kinds of movies. But compared to Gojira you see how malnourished the Western edit is.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

So even if you’ve seen Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956), and not Gojira you’re missing out. Gojira is a cinematic achievement just as much as the original King Kong was.

Thanks to the Criterion Collection a very nice edition of Gojira has been made available to fans. Be sure to check it out here. There’s never been a better time to catch up on our favorite kaiju’s apocalyptic roots.

Sixty-six years later and still going strong, Godzilla’s adamant sovereignty is proven just as indestructible as himself! And given the success of his reintroduction to newer audiences – largely thanks to Legendary – his fame has hit an all-time high thus assuring his place in history… as if there was any doubt.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

This has been Part 1 of a 3-part look into the three Godzillas. Next time we’re going to dare take a look at that, yes that, Godzilla movie that came out in 1998.

I’m Manic Exorcism and if you need to satisfy any further Godzilla goodness be sure to check out my previous articles both here and here. Don’t forget to give us a like and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

You can follow my shenanigans over on either Instagram or Facebook @thetruemanicexorcism

Stuart Gordon’s DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl’s Horror World

Australian wildfires. Devastating earthquakes. Tragic plane crashes. A terrifying global pandemic. Now Stuart Gordon. The man that I think very well set in motion full blast, my exploration into (at the time) lesser-known horror films. I’m pretty confident that it’s safe to say 2020 can eat a big hairy dick.

On March 24th, 2020, the horror world received the news that legendary filmmaker Stuart Gordon passed away at the age of 72. According to a source that had spoken with someone close to the family, Gordon had been sick for some time, (from what I don’t know). The grand visionary of independent horror and theater aficionado lit up the 80s’ VHS section with such works as Re-Animator, From Beyond, and of course, the film I really want to talk about right now- DOLLS.

 

If you’re familiar at all with my internet ramblings, you already know my love of horror history watching Halloween in my diapers with my father. Around the time I was eight-years-old, I was well versed in the Slasher and Universal Monsters Genre; with A Nightmare on Elm Street 1, 3, and 4, Friday the 13th films, Halloween movies with almost a nightly visit from Stephen King’s Silver Bullet all in pretty heavy rotation in my Pioneer VHS cassette player. What can I say- creature of habit. Until one day on our Tuesday night visit to our local Mom and Pop video rental store, something had caught my eyes that changed my comforting rotation of horror flicks forever.

 

Stuart Gordon's DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl's Horror World

 

As an eight-year-old little girl, I was completely enamored with the VHS cover alone. You see, I had already had a fascination with creepy dolls. Mainstream popular films like Poltergeist and at the time, a recently released Child’s Play had only fueled that curious fetish further.

Squirlling off for a sec, again, just another grand example of how powerful good ole’ VHS box art had and continues to have with such online retailers as Shout! and Arrow preserving that beautiful legacy of horror home video art.

Anyway, I grabbed it off the shelf to show the Mother and disgusted as she was looking at it with an attempt to push me into another rental from the “kiddie” section, she gave in. Upon our return, I settled in with a nice juice-box of Hawaiian Punch, (if you remember those boxed 10-packs- fist bump to you buddy) a can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and rode the Full Moon journey into this crazy ride of killer yet somehow weirdly compassionate dolls, witches, and straight to the point moral warnings to humanity. Or at least in this version- be a decent human or a witch might turn your dumbass into a creepy as fuck decorative dolly porcelain.  And you know what? It’s been one of my all-time favorites since then.

Stuart Gordon's DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl's Horror World

DOLLS is sort of a dark and twisted fairy tale with just the right amount of gore and goofiness. The film starts with a shithead Dad, the even bigger shithead Stepmom, and a young girl Judy clutching her favorite toy “Teddy” getting stranded in the middle of creepy backwoods nowhere England with a severe thunderstorm approaching. In an attempt to seek shelter, the family heads out on foot to a spotted castle-like mansion that just so happens to be sitting close by- it’s like none of these guys had ever seen a horror movie in their entire life. Little Judy, lagging behind annoys the evil step-mother played by Stuart Gordon’s wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, snatches Teddy and tosses it in some bushes setting up one of the most glorious scenes in the film.

Big kudos to special effects supervisor and head honcho make-up artist Gabe Bartalos (TCM 2, Basket Case) for this magnificence that runs consistently throughout the film.

Moving on, the trio makes their way to the mansion, breaks in because why not, and gets met by an elderly toymaker couple at gunpoint played by Guy Rolfe and Hilary Mason; who then takes pity on them upon seeing the presence of a child in the mist. They take them through the endless hallways in the home to see the place is filled with hundreds, maybe thousands of nightmare-inducing dolls. Then we throw in two criminal punk rock hitchhikers with a bumbling but loveable man-child also seeking asylum and hot-damn we got ourselves a movie now!

The dolls themselves pretty much do the couple’s bidding. Giving people a chance to basically just not act like a dick and be respectful. It seems like these really are the only rules in this home filled with little homicidal plastic terrors. But, we wouldn’t have a movie if that were the case, so of course, some of these people cross the dickhead line and pay the ultimate price. According to the Blu-ray from Scream Factory, Stuart Gordon reveals his inspiration behind the look and story of  DOLLS involving being accidentally locked in a room full of Victorian-style porcelain horrors for a period of time.

Yep. Big bag of FUCK NO for me.

Dolls, usually overlooked by such films in Gordon’s Rolodex like From Beyond and Re-Animator, has gained a monumental cult of popularity over the past ten years thanks to the multiple horror internet outlets dedicated to this sort of thing. To me personally, the story of what is actually a pretty damn abused girl by the hands of her asshole father and his new wife partnered with her pure innocence and love of toys remains extra special and a cautionary tale at its finest. It also opened up a whole new world of 80s’ horror shortly after as I began to expand my genre curiosities based on VHS box art alone.

Thanks for the memories and the movies Stu. Rest in peace toy soldier.

dolls gif

 

WTF Am I Watching: Microwave Massacre (1983)

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

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

microwave massacre

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

In layman’s terms, it’s really bad.

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

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

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

All this in the first five minutes of the movie.

donald

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

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

Anyway.

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

A goddamn bread roll.

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

And I’m done talking about it.

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

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

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

invasion of the blood farmers

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

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

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

invasion of the blood farmers

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

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

*This book does not exist

WTF Am I Watching: Day of the Animals (1977)

If we fight over everything else in life, I think we’d still unanimously agree that the sun sucks. You likely need no more evidence of this since you can’t walk outside without the skin melting from your flesh, but you can bet your ass that I’m going to give you more anyway.

On this week’s installment of WTF Am I Watching, we’re taking a look at Day of the Animals, the not-so-classic natural horror film from director William Girdler. This choice flick plays like a cautionary tale of terrors to come, as a depleted ozone layer leaves all life on Earth exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun- especially those living in high altitudes. In those particular areas, scientists discover that animals are becoming highly aggressive towards humans.

Now, I’m no scientist, therefore I cannot vouch for the legitimacy of this threat. However, since worst case scenarios seem to be the norm, I’m gonna go ahead and buy into it: The sun will turn animals against you.

day of the animals

Day of the Animals takes place somewhere in Northern California as Steve Buckner (Christopher George) accompanies a dozen hikers on a days-long trip up a mountain despite the warning from local law enforcement. Unbeknownst to them, the group is being stalked through the woods by mountain lions, bears, wolves and more- each of which are inexplicably at peace with each other, even with their hyper-aggression. I would assume that carnivorous creatures at peak monstrosity would be at each other’s throats, but again, I’m no scientist.

I digress.

When the group stops to rest, they notice that the mountain has fallen silent and that the birds are exhibiting bizarre behavior. This is also the point when each individual in the group is introduced, among them Leslie Nielsen as Paul Jenson, an angry-type man with an insensitive and racist sense of humor. So a typical old white man, amirite?

That evening, Steve and the hikers come across a campsite that appears to be in use by another group, who are nowhere to be found. Worried about the campers, Steve decides that they should stick around for the night and wait for them to return. As the group sleeps, a woman is attacked by a pack of wolves while in her sleeping bag. The hikers manage to chase the wolves away before she’s killed, but she’s badly injured and needs medical assistance.

The following morning, the woman and her husband journey to a nearby ranger tower in search of help, but she’s attacked by vicious birds and knocked over a cliff to her death. Her husband manages to escape, and in doing so, finds a young girl who is presumably part of the missing group from the night before. As the film progresses, the two escape the mountain, but while searching for help, the newly widowed husband is ambushed by a mad dog AND rattlesnakes, resulting in his death. The child survives though, destined for life without parents or protectors while dealing with the constant trauma and paranoia from seeing several people she cared about be ferociously torn apart by animals. So that’s a silver lining, I suppose.

Elsewhere, Steve leads the group to a spot where food has been left for them, only to find that animals have raided the area and devoured all of their grub. Tensions begin to rise as Paul questions Steve’s leadership, ultimately resulting in the groups splitting up after they are attacked again. Paul takes his group up the mountain towards the ranger tower, and Steve leads the rest back down the mountain.

day of the animals

During a rainstorm, it’s revealed that Paul has lost his goddamn mind, and in an unexpected turn, believes himself to be the macho king of the mountain and attempts to rape one of the young women in his group. He’s briefly fought off by her boyfriend, but ends up driving a walking stick through his gut and murdering him. He then drags the woman away to rape her while the rest of the group watches helplessly, until a large grizzly bear intervenes. The group manages to escape and find safety, other than Paul, who, naturally, wrestles the bear until his throat is ripped out.

If you ever wanted to see a shirtless Leslie Nielsen fight a bear to the death, Day of the Animals is the movie for you.

As for Steve and the remaining four members of his group, they are attacked by a pack of especially aggressive German Shepherds (I didn’t count, but the glance-test deduced that there are at least nineteen of them). Two of the hikers are overcome by the dogs, and even Steve barely manages to escape with his life. He and the other two survivors drift downstream on a raft, eventually coming to a safe place as all the affected animals simply drop dead.

Lesson of the day:

The sun killed them, and it will kill you too. Stay indoors and monitor your goddamn pets.

WTF Am I Watching: Black Devil Doll From Hell (1984)

Dearest Reader,

Welcome to the inaugural article of my WTF Am I Watching series. Throughout this extended (barring my sudden death at 27 years old like some sort of coked out rockstar) collection of articles, I’ll be viewing bizarre horror films that most people have never even heard of and describing them to you in great detail. This week’s flick is Black Devil Doll From Hell, a mid-eighties blaxploitation horror film from writer/director Chester Turner.

black devil doll from hell

Black Devil Doll From Hell begins with a nearly four-minute opening credit sequence in which several names appear against a fuzzy black background while a sampled beat of sinister funk (is that a genre?) plays on a repeated loop three or four times in full. In layman’s terms, it was long as fuck.

Once the credits finally wrap up, the viewer is met with a foreboding warning in regard to the terror they’re about to experience:

We all have our personal horror stories to tell. May yours never be as devastating as Miss Helen Black’s.”

If I may backtrack for a moment… I watched Black Devil Doll From Hell on Shudder, and since I neglected to read the plot information, I had no idea exactly what I was getting myself into. Foolishly, I expected something more along the lines of Child’s Play, but, um, that’s not exactly the sort of devastation Helen Black would be faced with.

This was Turner’s directorial debut, and it shows from the very moment we see something other than words on the screen. I didn’t do my research on the particular subject, but the film appears to be shot on a standard 80’s home video recorder. The picture looks like something you’d find on a VHS tape in the dusty cabinet under your grandparent’s bulky box television. The opening scene is set in a church, and you’d be hard-pressed to believe that any of the characters are played by real actors. I 100% think that Turner filmed an actual church congregation, save for Shirley L. Jones, the lead actress, with a home video recorder, and turned it into the first scene of a movie. Some of the pew-sitting church members even glance directly into the camera! It’s quite charming.

What we learn from this opening church scene and the walk home that follows, however, is that Helen Black is as devout as Christians come. She follows the ten commandments to the letter, tries to bring sinners to the lord, and shuns any negative influence. She’s a virgin, and as she confesses to a friend over the phone, she intends to remain that way until she is married. At the time it was spoken, I really thought the bit about her virginity was just a throwaway line. I had no idea that the entire plot of this insane film was hinging on her sex life.

Not long after convincing her phone friend to attend church with her next Sunday, Ms. Helen Black visits some sort of thrift shop, where she becomes instantly fascinated by the antique doll of a black man. She asks the owner of the store for a price, and the owner is surprisingly straight-up with her about the doll’s supernatural abilities. In a bit of terribly acted exposition, the owner explains that the doll possesses the power to grant the deepest desires of the heart, and that every time someone purchases it, the doll eventually finds its way back to her shop.

Ms. Black laughs, sets the doll down, and begins to walk away while shaking her head at the silly story she’d just been told. However, when she reaches the doorway, she decides to buy the doll regardless of its supernatural power because either (A) she really doesn’t believe fables other than the bible, or (B) she DOES believe the story, and since she’s not the virgin Mary, God isn’t providing the D that her heart most desires.

black devil doll from hell

That’s right, it’s quickly revealed after she purchases the doll that, despite what she’s preached throughout the thirty minutes of the movie so far, what she wants more than anything in the world is to get laid. Ms. Black keeps her innocent charade up while speaking with the doll upon returning home. She sets the doll on the toilet, begins to undress for a shower, and declares that the doll’s eyes are the only ones who will see her naked until she’s married.

While Helen bathes, the doll opens its eyes and looks around the bathroom, observing that his new owner is in the shower. He exhales an unexplained white mist, causing the shower curtain to slowly open by itself. Under the doll’s influence, Ms. Black experiences visions of herself and the doll having dirty, nipple-lickin’ sex, and she begins to touch herself without realizing exactly what she’s doing. When she eventually catches herself, she laments the dirty thoughts and pulls the shower curtain closed without so much as a thought as to why it opened by itself. Because that happens.

That night, Helen wakes from disturbing sex dreams to find the doll watching her. She removes the doll from the room, but it’s watching her yet again when she awakens the following morning. Inexplicably confused by the doll seeming to possess a supernatural power in which she’d already been warned about, Ms. Black ties the doll up inside of a closeted box before leaving the house for a few hours. To her surprise, the doll is still tied up when she returns home, so she decides to shower in peace.

As I mentioned before, I really expected Black Devil Doll From Hell to be something similar to Child’s Play. I was fully prepared to see a doll cussing, killing, and placing its soul in the bodies of small white children. What I didn’t plan on, however, was for this ridiculously cheap-looking puppet to attack Helen Black, knock her unconscious long enough to tie her to a bed, and rape her against her will while calling her “bitch” about a hundred times and degrading her very existence.

Also unplanned was the fact that Black Devil Doll From Hell becomes what is essentially softcore pornography. The doll has a tongue, and it uses it in more ways than one. Most unexpected, though, is that Ms. Black not only enjoyed her sexual experience, but complimented the doll’s sexual prowess and begged it not to stop. Talk about good girls gone wild.

black devil doll from hell

After the moderately graphic seven minutes of doll on human sex (!!!), the doll vanishes, having fulfilled Helen’s deepest desire. Throughout the rest of the film, though, she grows increasingly lustful, but the missing doll has the only wood she craves. It’s wild, y’all.

Black Devil Doll From Hell is the type of horror movie that’s so bad, you’ll never be able to unsee it. Every aspect of the film is horribly executed, from the direction, editing and performances, to the in-your-face misogyny. I can’t at all recommend it, but I hope like hell that you watch it anyway.

Manic Presents Underrated Slasher Killers – ‘Uncle Sam’

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

Uncle Sam (1996)

Yes, the patriotic spirit swept the nation this past week as droves of hard-working men and women piled into cars and made their ways to picnics, barbeques, beaches or to visit friends and loved ones. Bold rockets lit up the night sky and people sat back from Coast to Coast to celebrate how Colonials kicked a whole lot of ass back before any of us were ever born. So why not commemorate that victory with a shitty little slasher film a lot of people have never heard of?!

Fear Forever
image via Fear Forever

 

 

Uncle Sam is a movie that – and if – anyone has actually heard of it, they’ve never really seen it. Now, and thanks to Shudder, you can spend an evening with this star-spangled serial killer and remember freedom as the blood flows out of wounds before your eyes.

The movie is guilty fun. Let’s face it though, Slashers are not known for their acting. We know what to expect here: boobs, blood and fantastic kills. That’s the basic formula, and Uncle Sam is not above that expectation. It does have all three of those tropes here, so seasoned horror fans won’t be disappointed.

imdb
image via IMDB

That said, this movie has some of the worst acting I’ve seen since Twilight. We don’t expect anything of Hugh Jackman’s caliber here, but mother of piss is the acting terrible in this one.

Summary

So the movie is about a mean bastard of a guy named Sam Harper (David Fralick). A fucker so god-awful nasty that his fellow soldiers see him to the grave with a little ‘friendly fire.’ Back home though his now-widowed wife (Anne Tremko) is not really phased, and if anything is glad to be rid of his sadistic abuse. However, his obnoxious little nephew (Christopher Ogden) hero worships the man and can’t wait until he’s old enough to enlist himself and follow in Sam’s footsteps.

So Sam is brought back to life once a group of local morons burns a flag over his open grave, and well, this soldier ain’t staying dead for that kind of shit. His reanimated corpse comes back to inflict revenge on anyone he deems to be unpatriotic or disrespectful to the Nation. He finds some peeping-Tom dressed in an Uncle Sam costume, and after poking the perv’s eyes out (and spouting off one-liners that would make Freddy cringe, things like, “Hope you got an eyeful?” as he digs his fingers into both eye sockets) and then walks about on the 4th of July as our happy killer Uncle Sam.

horrorpedia
image via horrorpedia

It’s a fun gimmicky movie, another holiday-centered horror flick, and honestly, that’s a category all on its own, and one the slasher genre loves to infiltrate. I felt this movie missed some golden opportunities. Like I wish there had been some hilarious Star-Spangled type of deaths. I wanted Uncle Sam to walk around shoving fistfuls of bottle rockets up people’s butts and seeing them burst from the inside out like gooey fireworks. We do get a flagpole death though.

I can’t say this is anywhere near one of my favorite slasher characters/films, but it does have a goofy charm to it. If NECA ever released an Uncle Sam figure I’d be tempted to buy the damn thing. I mean I do collect horror icons, I’m even getting my own custom-made Madman figure! Whoop whoop!

I know the holiday has come and gone already, but the movie is still a perfect choice if you’re looking for a good summer screamer to enjoy.

So yes, without any doubt Sam is worth our attention. We stand and salute you, Sir. We thank you for your service to the history of horror and may you remain obscure no longer.

Manic out.

Get Your 80’s Goldblum Fix with Transylvania 6-5000

It seems these days the world is coming up Jeff Goldblum. That sexy salt and pepper sumbitch is everywhere and I don’t see a single person complaining. But Mr. Goldblum isn’t new to the party. He didn’t share himself with the world starting from Jurrasic Park. No…there is a movie before that in particular when I was first introduced to him before he was Dr. Ian Malcolm. I’m talking about Transylvania 6-5000 (1985).

This movie is a goddamn gem. It was written and directed by Rudy De Luca. It stars Jeff Goldblum as Jack Harrison and Ed Begley Jr. as Gil Turner. Both men star as tabloid journalists looking for a story to save their jobs. When a video is found showing a possible Frankenstein’s monster attacking tourists in Transylvania, their editor sends them on a trip to find the monster or find themselves a new gig. Stakes are high and the duo head to Transylvania to find the evidence.

Transylvania 6-5000

Immediately Jack gets a love interest in the form of Elizabeth (Teresa Ganzel) in all of her big eyed, high pitched glory. Gil is the bumbling dope of the two and immediately embarrasses them. At their hotel owned by Mayor Lepescu (Jeffrey Jones), they are greeted by the strangest butler, Fejos (Michael Richards) and over their visit meet a ragtag group of hilarious classic monster movie rip offs like Odette (Geena Davis) a “vampire,” Radu (John Byner) and his wife Lupi (Carol Kane) the hump-backed servants, a wolfman (Donald Gibb) and Dr. Malavaqua (Joseph Bologna) the mad scientist.

There’s a scene where Gil gets backed into a lake where he is knee deep in water. Out of the murky water rises a hand that immediately grabs his business casually dressed Begley dick. The reaction is perfection and is hands down one of the funniest scenes in the movie.

I have seen Transylvania 6-5000 at least a dozen times and it never gets old. Geena Davis is hilarious, Jeff Goldblum does his Goldblum thing, and Begley Jr. is a hot mess in the best sense of the word. See this movie…you’ll thank me for it.

Review: Arrow Video’s “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” Showcases Epic Never Before Seen Interviews and Features

In space, no one eats ice cream!

As we head into the official 30th anniversary of the Chiodo Bros.’ cult-clown-classic, the prestigious restoration of retro beloved titles Arrow Video has released a beautifully restored version of the film that made us question that cotton candy you acquired at the county circus and fair. Chock full of all-new special features including a never-before-seen 24-minute interview with all three Chiodo brothers that offers a glimpse into the filmmaker’s wild-imaginary world and the origin of their passions leading up to Killer Klowns From Outer Space.

With a brand new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative opening with the Trans World Entertainment logo (BONUS), the differences in color and quality here are top-notch when compared to previous releases of the film. Perhaps the most predominant aspect of this brand-new visual look of the movie is the magnificent detail of the clown faces and suits you get to see now. So if you ever need a photo-still for those DIY Killer Klown Halloween costumes, this is the version you want as every last indent of each clown’s mug is seen as clear as Gordon Ramsay’s polished silverware.

Among the retrospective interview with the creators of killer popcorn kernels, the special features included with the 30th-anniversary disc are worth every damn penny you spend on this ultimate release of the cult-horror. A never-before-seen look at the auditioning process of the “klowns” is included with instructing the candidates in full-costume how to walk and move like a creepy as hell, vengeful alien clown, as seen below in a screen-shot I took from the excerpt.

I literally can’t believe I just wrote that last sentence. Jesus and JoJos, I love my job.

killer klowns audition

 

The circus of special features is only beginning as we move unto a new 11-minute interview with the original members of The Dickies, a tour of the Chiodos studios, and all-new interviews with stars Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder along with important members of the production cast. In Behind the Screams, we get a retro VHS style look at the behind the scenes action of the movie and we also, of course, have the beloved deleted scenes and a decent amount of bloopers from the movie. Because with a movie as silly and fun as Killer Klowns, you have to know there’s some gems from that cutting-room floor.

Even if you have one, two, or 6 copies of this movie already, THIS is the one you’ll definitely need in your collection. On that note, I’d like to personally thank Arrow Video for sending me a copy to review for this site, as it obviously didn’t disappoint. You can pick yours up by heading straight to Arrow’s website by clicking here.

killer klowns arrow

 

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.

 

Blu-ray
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.

 

IMDB
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.

 

metacafe
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?

 

US-SCORSESE-FILM-PROTEST
ucanews

 

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.

 

FictionMachine
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.

 

IMDB 2
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.

 

Criterion
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.

 

Cinema Viewfinder
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?