It’s finally the day that we’ve all been waiting for, Halloween! So I wanted to take a moment to wish all of you awesome baby eaters a happy Halloween by sharing this horrifically horrifying Halloween inspired playlist that I’ve been putting together throughout the month of Chucktober. I guarantee this playlist will do you right on this day of darkness, so put on your dancing shoes, finish off that bottle of witch’s brew and get ready to rock the Halloween night away!
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
20 years after an innocent prank at a haunted house goes horribly wrong, a college fraternity becomes the target of a madman who plans to crash their haunted house and turn it into a true house of horrors.
Directed and co-written by Doug Robertson, HauntedWeen is an extremely low-budget slasher film set during the most wonderful time of the year: Halloween. The film was shot in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and quickly establishes itself with a distinct look from many horror films of the era, and this is specifically due to its ‘Bluegrass State’ setting.
HauntedWeen begins with a flashback to the accidental murder of a girl by the hands of a mentally deficient boy named Eddie Burber (Craig Bitterling and Ethan Adler). The murder occurs in a haunted house that Eddie’s family puts on every Halloween, and this haunted house setting mixes nicely with a soft focus lense that results in the flashback having an aesthetically appeasing nightmare like quality. Despite its obvious low-budget, this opening sets a nice mood that feels somewhat reminiscent to another low-budget horror film, David Prior’s Sledgehammer. Though, with HauntedWeen, things are a tad more sensible.
From there the movie jumps forward twenty years later, where the before mentioned fraternity is - in true ‘save the rec center’ fashion - forced to come up with X amount of dollars or else they'll lose their recognition as a national fraternity. Their first fundraising idea comes in the form of a pay to play party, but that leads to little more than money for more beer. However, in an odd turn of events, a strange man gives the frat members permission to use his abandoned home to host a haunted house and, in turn, make the money they need to keep their frat going. This location is the perfect place to hold a killer haunted house, especially since it’s the same house where the young girl was murdered 20 years earlier.
HauntedWeen features a nice mix of low-budget cheese and a surprising level of competence, both of which keeps the film enjoyable for the long, non-horror stretch that occurs during much of the first half. As one would expect, there’s a lot of terrible acting. On the other hand, though, there’s also some surprisingly okay performances, too. There are also a lot of funny moments, some of which are unintentional, and some that are genuinely worthy of a laugh or two, and this is most evident in the sporadic lines of clever dialogue strewn throughout. Something else that should be noted is the complimentary music that comes with your stay at HauntedWeen; music that mostly consists of pre-set, uptempo Jazz from a Casio. The Vince Guaraldi Trio this is not.
The final act of HauntedWeen takes place in the fraternity’s haunted house where Eddie makes his big appearance. In a seemingly typical fashion, Eddie begins slaying characters left and right, but where things really get exciting is how these deaths lead to a showcase horror moment where Eddie puts on a real showstopper for the patrons of the haunted house; a show they’ll be sure to remember for years to come.
Ushered by the cheering sounds of an oblivious audience, Eddie delivers a Grand Guignol inspired performance that involves various victims being tortured to death. With each slice and dice Eddie makes, the audience grows all the more excited. To them this is all just a good bit of fun. Naturally, this Grand Guignol style of cinema madness has been seen in numerous exploitation and horror films in the past, but rarely are they featured in what would otherwise be a typical slasher film. In that sense, such an approach is quite refreshing, never mind completely enjoyable in its execution.
In the vast ocean of shitty-to-mediocre low-budget slasher films that offer nothing more than a sigh from their viewers, HauntedWeen is truly a hidden gem that shines brightly due to the obvious care the filmmakers put into entertaining their audience. That’s not to say that the film isn’t without its faults, and of course there are some silly moments, but all of these things add to the entertainment value as oppose to taking away from it. HauntedWeen is simply good, home cooked fun from a group of people with their hearts in the right place.
Monday, October 28, 2013
I love me a freshly baked batch of cookies. An apple pie right out of the oven? No doubt I’m all over that shit. Baked goods are called ‘goods’ for a reason, and that’s because they are good, so long as they are made by people like your mother, grandmother or aunt. A perfect stranger, on the other hand, well… I’ll pass. I appreciate that you took the time to whip up a delicious treat for the kiddies on Halloween. Your effort is valliant and all, but why should I risk the chance that you’re the cat lady whose main baking ingredient is cat hair, cat pee or a little of both?
Speaking of pee, how can I trust that you wash your hands on the regular? How do I know you didn’t whip your ass, pick your nose, take out an old tampon, or all of the above at some point during your baking process? Who do you think I am, Miss Cleo?! Because if I was, I would simply avoid your house all together. Do me a favor, and give your baked goods to your kin and let them develop a staph infection.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Phantom of the Auditorium opens with a tripped-out barrage of Phantom of the Opera inspired imagery, all of which turns out to be no more than a strange dream being had by a young girl named Brooke (Jessica Moyes). Brooke - who was cast to play the lead in the school’s production of ‘The Phantom’ - learns that the play is cursed by a missing boy who was set to play the titular role way back in 1923. According to one of the students, every time the play goes into production the Phantom shows up to haunt the cast and crew.
News of this curse doesn’t frighten Brooke in the least, as she is far too excited to be playing such a big role to be concerned about an urban legend. Soon enough, however, someone dressed up as the Phantom shows up and begins causing trouble for the production. The Phantom specifically targets Brooke, who he constantly refers to as Esmeralda, which is the name of her character in the play.
The trouble caused by The Phantom is all pinned on Brooke’s best bud and the school class clown, Zeke (Shawn Potter), who has actually been cast as the Phantom. Looking to clear Zeke’s name and get to the bottom of this mystery, Brooke and Zeke decide to investigate, only to learn that the Phantom may very well be living in the basement of the school auditorium. Is the urban legend about the missing young boy true, or is there someone else looking to sabotage the play for some reason yet to be known?
Appearing during the series’ first season, Phantom of the Auditorium is, in my experience, a true anomaly in the Goosebumps cannon. What’s instantly noticeable about this episode is that it has a slightly Gothic feel about it, which fits in well with The Phantom of the Opera inspired storyline, while also giving the episode a very distinct feel from any other I‘ve seen. Furthermore, it’s certainly one of the more serious episodes that I’ve seen, as there is very little humor on display. Phantom of the Auditorium also marks the first episode I’ve watched that doesn’t feature a twist ending. And if anything’s a staple of Goosebumps, it’s that twist ending.
After doing this segment for four years, and feeling as if I had my finger on the pulse of Goosebumps, I’ve found myself quite surprised by the three episodes I’ve covered this Chucktober. There have been no bullies, obnoxious practical jokers, or even much to poke fun at, which has been an incredibly fun part of reviewing some of the episodes I have. With that said, all three episodes have also been really good, if not some of the best that I have watched so far. I suppose this shows the variety that can be found in R.L. Stine’s writing and, in turn, the show. It also further proves how perfect Goosebumps is as starter horror for young kids. There’s really a little something for everyone with this show.
That does it for this year’s Goosebumps at 33. I hope you’ve enjoyed this fourth season as much as I have, and I look forward to bumping into you again next Chucktober!
Until next time, kiddies, keep your night light on and your head under the covers…
Saturday, October 26, 2013
It’s time to pick the winners of the Pacific Rim and The Conjuring Blu-rays! To see if you were one of the lucky winners, then you will have to watch the video below.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The month of October has been very kind to me in terms of VHS finds, so I decided to do a special Halloween edition of Dumpster Diving for Gold! In what might be my stupidest video yet, I go over all the goodies I have come across throughout the month of madness, all of which are of the horror/Halloween variety. Check out the video below, and I apologize in advance!
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
In an attempt to curb his loneliness, an isolated scarecrow tries to befriend a group of crows. Much to his dismay, however, the crows completely ignore the scarecrow’s every effort. This causes the scarecrow to become deeply saddened, until one day when the scarecrow comes across a wounded, blind crow. The scarecrow nurses the injured creature back to health, and the two becomes fast friends. Out of curiosity, the scarecrow asks the blind crow why the other crows ignore him, in which he learns that the birds are simply afraid of him because he is, after all, a scarecrow. Upset by this notion, the scarecrow approaches his owner to see if there is anything he can do to help him with this situation, but the owner’s reaction results in a chain of events that causes the scarecrow much heartache.
Written and directed by Marco Besas and beautifully brought to life by animator Carlos Lascano, The Legend of the Scarecrow (aka La leyenda del espantapájaros) is a touching morality tale about the dangers of perception. More so, how people’s perceptions can be skewed by fear of the unknown or by things they cannot understand in a simple manner. The short properly deals with the idea that not everyone or everything is or should be only looked at for what is on the surface, as the surface doesn’t dictate who someone/something is on the inside.
With a wonderful, emotionally driven piano score draped over a haunting narration by Sancho Gracia, The Legend of the Scarecrow is a gothic fairy tale that exudes a dark, somber feeling in a fashion that leaves a powerful impact that anyone can understand and appreciate, no matter what the age. The story is simple and possibly even a little hokey sounding in my own description, but within the confines of this 9 minute short, it works perfectly as a touching tale that can be beneficial to adults and children alike.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Everyone’s favorite talking puppies are back in a brand new adventure that pits them up against a wicked Warlock named Zarwick and his horrific Halloween Hound in a battle of good versus evil that’s sure to leave the whole family on the edge of their seat! Will the buddies survive this latest adventure, or will they end up as puppy chow? The answer may be a little spooky, but rest assured, dear buddies, because this is one tail you won’t soon forget!
Directed by Robert Vince, who is a serious baller when it comes to talking animal movies (I’m not kidding), Spooky Buddies is but one of many entries in Disney’s Air Bud/Buddies series of films, which got their start with 1997’s Air Bud. There are seriously like 11 or 12 of these movies, something that I certainly wasn’t aware of until I took a ride on the Spooky Buddies’ train.
Despite the number of films in the series, Spooky Buddies is the franchise’s first foray into what could be looked at as “horror.” Now, using the word horror might be pushing it a bit, but regardless of the fact that Spooky Buddies is an adorable family comedy about talking puppies, its core tale is rooted in horror. Furthermore, it’s set during Halloween, which is really the quickest way to capture my attention, whether or not I’m the intended audience.
The main story focuses on the before mentioned Zarwick (played by Harland Williams, who might actually be the new Christopher Lloyd) and his Halloween Hound trying to take over the world. To do this, the Halloween Hound needs to swallow the souls of five puppies, and there just so happens to be five precious golden retrievers that fit the bill. Chaos ensues and heads begin to roll. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but you follow my trail. Anyway, the buddies cannot take on this otherworldly menace on their own. Thankfully, however, there are others who join them in their fight, including their tween owners, a psychic dog named Zelda (which is a nice nod to Zelda Rubinstein) and a ghost dog.
There’s actually quite a bit more to the story than what I’ve gone over, and that’s because there is a surprising amount going on in Spooky Buddies. The film seamlessly shifts between the exploits of Zarwick, the kids, and the buddies, all of which gives Spooky Buddies a very fast pace that only slows down enough to give the viewer time to ogle at cute puppies. More specifically, cute talking puppies.
Speaking of which (or is it typing of which?), watching a movie like Spooky Buddies is a little odd at first, as I don’t watch a lot of/enough talking animals films, so when the buddies - as lovable as can be - start chatting it up, it sort of freaks me out. Not that it looks at all real or anything like that, but something about it spins my brain around a bit. Once I got passed the whole talking animals thing, I couldn’t help but be entertained by some of the buddies’ personalities, specifically B-Dawg, who is the four legged version of a suburban white boy living that “hip-hop lifestyle.” Adorned with a diamond encrusted “B” chain around his neck, B-Dawg often refers to the other buddies as “yo, dawgs!,” which is kind of the best. My one disappointment is that B-Dawg never takes the time to bust out a rap. I mean, that’s simply a wasted opportunity, if you ask me.
“Throw your paws in the air, and wave ‘em like you just don’t care!”
As I mentioned, Spooky Buddies is set during Halloween, and the Halloweeness of the film is quite satisfying. You get the Halloween drenched suburb setting where every house is decorated, and done so with the types of Halloween decor that you would find in any number of Halloween stores, something that I really appreciate. Children dressed up in an assortment of Halloween costumes literally take over the streets to earn themselves an eventual bellyache, which made me nostalgic for a time when I was young and trick or treating was a big deal. Spooky Buddies is legitimately enjoyable as a Halloween set movie with almost as much Halloween spirit embedded into its DNA as Trick ‘r Treat.
Even outside of the Halloween aesthetic, it’s kind of impossible to not be somewhat charmed by the whole affair. Adorable dogs wearing equally adorable Halloween costumes is enough to cut through my blackened heart in a way that I did not at all expect. Honestly, I was inclined to watch Spooky Buddies because I thought it would be a great movie to make fun of, and while I probably could make fun of it if I really wanted to, that wouldn’t be honest of me.
Spooky Buddies is a kids movie about talking dogs, something that will not ‘speak’ to people who are not either young children or parents of young children. On the other hand, people who do love Halloween, and I mean LOVE Halloween, will likely enjoy this one, so long as you’re okay with watching a talking dog movie. It’s not necessarily original or creative, but it is earnest, properly witty and charming, and I look forward to the day where I can share Spooky Buddies with my own little buddies.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Man, I’ve been searching high and low trying to find some awesome DIY Halloween costume ideas, and until now I have had no luck whatsoever. I’m sooooo pumped that I stumbled across this video, which is going to be SUPER helpful in getting me to that DIY “Next Level” this Halloween. I’m really looking forward to an exciting video, full of passion, care, love, and maybe even a few thrills and chills!
Let’s do it!
I’m not sure how to comprehend all of that. I mean, I really appreciate the work that this young lady put into such a fine video, filled with an intimidating amount of pink blanket and an equal part of indifference. It takes an incredible amount of work and passion to lay in bed and do a video with the excitement level of a dead dolphin sinking to the bottom of the ocean. I can only imagine how challenging it must have been to force all those words out of her mouth, especially after that impressive cough right at the beginning. I‘d really like to thank her for that.
You know, it’s not often one person can deliver such entertainment value with so little effort. It’s like watching someone try to understand why they’re dumb. But that’s exactly what can happen when you’re really giving it your all. Never would I have guessed that I’d get so many good DIY Halloween costume ideas in one place, just as I never would have guessed that the video would get so extremely loud at the minute mark. Quite frankly, I am impressed.
This video has left an emotional impact that will forever change who I am as both a father and a son. Now, I’m not a father, but I feel like one after the inspirational brush with brilliance that came upon me in watching this video. And the best part is, I totally have a MILLION great ideas for making my own DIY Halloween costume!
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Even though the Pacific Rim contest hasn’t ended just yet, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to participate in a giveaway for the Blu-ray release of James Wan’s The Conjuring. Things are a little different this time around, as there isn’t a trivia quiz or anything of that nature. Instead there are these interactive gifs that you can mess around with, which should offer you about 3 minutes of entertainment. Well, unless you’re on acid, in which case I think they’ll provide you with 3 hours of entertainment.
Anyway, to enter this Blu-ray giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment below stating what your favorite horror film is so far this year. The deadline to enter is Friday, October 25th, and please be sure to include your email address and any allergies you may have.
The Conjuring 5 Things to know… INTERACTIVE GIFS!
1) The Conjuring is directed by the acclaimed James Wan, the Australian-born director of the fright-fests Insidious and the Saw series. His Twitter handle is @CreepyPuppet. Say no more.
2) The Conjuring has been given an “R” rating by the MPAA. Not because of blood, gore, or violence, but simply because it’s just so scary from start to finish!
3) The Conjuring’s cast and crew experienced creepy events during filming. Scratches appeared out of nowhere on Vera Farmiga’s computer soon after she agreed to act in the movie, the crew were routinely woken by something in the “witching hour” between 3 and 4AM, and the real-life Carolyn Perron fell and broke her hip while visiting the set.
4) The Rhode Island farmhouse where The Conjuring is set once belonged to an accused witch, Bathsheba, who tried to sacrifice her children to the devil and killed herself in 1863.
5) Hold your applause! The Conjuring will make you terrified to clap! Whether it’s playing a traditional game of hide-and-seek by following the clapping sounds like the mother and daughter in the movie, or being terrorized by ghostly claps in different rooms of the haunted farmhouse, these claps throughout the movie will give you the creeps!
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
It Came from Beneath the Sink!
Soon after Kat and her family move into a new home, Kat discovers a living, breathing sponge living underneath the kitchen sink. Making such an odd discovery gives Kat quite the stir, but as you’d expect, no one believes Kat about the existence of this monster sponge. However, soon after the sponges discovery, Kat and her family are hit with a string of terrible luck. For example, the family dog goes missing, Kat’s brother Daniel cuts his foot on a broken glass and Kat takes a nasty tumble when the brakes on her bike suddenly fail. Are all of these occurrences simply a coincidence, or does this have something to do with the sponge? Like that’s a real question.
Kat and her brother decide to bury the sponge, hoping that in doing so their luck will change. Unfortunately, however, the next morning Kat discovers that all the foliage surrounding the sponge is wilted and dead. Clearly this isn’t going to work. So Kat and Daniel dig the sponge up and take it to their science teacher to be analyzed. In the meantime, Kat, Daniel and a friend named Carlos look to The Encyclopedia of Weird for answers, and as it turns out this sponge is actually a ‘Grool‘.
No, not a Grohl but a Grool.
According to The Encyclopedia of Weird, a Grool is a creature that not only creates bad luck for the people around it, it feeds on it, too. How can Kat and her family stop this bad luck charm from destroying their world from the inside out? Furthermore, how well does this sponge perform when it comes to removing caked on grease and grim?! The answers to these maddening question can only be found in one place: at the end of the episode.
Coming from the thirteenth book in the Goosebumps series, It Came from Beneath the Sink is the 14th episode from the 1st season of the ever entertaining TV series. While being an overall solid entry that’s highly enjoyable and features a nice little twist, what might be most notable about It Came from Beneath the Sink is its star, Katharine Isabelle. It’s not a surprise seeing Ginger show up in an episode as she’s Canadian as a mofo, and I think almost every Canadian actor around her age has appeared in at least one episode of Goosebumps. Still, it’s cool to see her on the show, especially in such a solid episode.
Surprisingly, I don’t have a whole lot that I can say about this episode (which doesn’t speak to the quality of it). However, between The Girl Who Cried Monster and It Came from Beneath the Sink, I am off to a fantastic start this Halloween/Chucktober season, and I look forward to what the show has in store for me next.
Until next time, kiddies, keep your night light on and you head under the covers…
Monday, October 14, 2013
We are knee-deep in the haunted marshes of October, and after a frightening amount of rain and a few days of wicked wind, my witch bitch and I were finally able to put up our outdoor Halloween decorations!
Last year was the first Halloween where we started to go all out with our outdoor decorations. Sadly, however, last year was a little rough for us, as a lot of what we had done as far as decorating goes was rocked by the lame weather that comes with living in a wind tunnel (you can read more about that here). But hey, it was a learning experience, and with last year under our proverbial belt, we went into Halloween 2013 armed with the smarts to do things a little different as a way to counteract that loser wind.
Anyway, some things are similar to last Halloween, namely the Rave to the Graveyard being back in full effect. Also, we did get a new Pumpkin Light Cover Guy, which was one of last year’s horrific wind casualties. Outside of that, we do have a few new additions, specifically the two jack-o jerks offs and the skele-whore, both of which we built ourselves. Of course it’s pretty obvious that they’re homemade, but they only cost us about $15-$20 in materials to make all three. Plus they were fun to make, so there’s that, too.
I’ll stop jibber-jabbing and let you get to watching the video. Hope you guys dig our decorations, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some of Bolo’s babies!
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Jeanie and Michael (Sarah Matinek and Will Nipper) are celebrating what very well could be their last Halloween after the town’s lake, which serves as the main source of power for the local candy factory, has run almost completely dry. How could such a horrific event happen you might ask? Well, let’s just say it involves the town meanie, Mrs. Gizbourne (Rhea Perlman), who with the help of her trusty henchman, Hans (Richard Moll), has been using the lake water to create a solution for achieving eternal youth, therefore leaving the lake bone dry and the candy factory’s future as well as the fate of Halloween in danger.
Meanwhile, as Jeanie and Michael are enjoying their last evening of trick or treating, they come across four Martians (?!) who were sent to earth to replenish their planet’s supply of, what else, candy. Jeanie and Michael befriend the Martians and take them trick or treating so they can get together some candy, at which point things take a hysterical turn! Actually, they don’t, but whatever. Anyway, it isn’t long before one of the Martians runs off to the evil Mrs. Gizbourne’s house to find more candy, and this my dear reader is where the shit hits the fan.
Produced by Hanna-Barbera and premiering on CBS on October 28th, 1991, The Last Halloween is a bit of a mixed bag of tricks and treats in terms of entertainment value. First of all, it’s difficult to fathom why one candy factory’s fate could completely end Halloween for an entire town. You know, since there are other candy factories around the county as well as trucks that could easily deliver said candy. I mean, it’s not like they live in the Taiga and have to wait for the yearly helicopter to drop of food. Then again, I suppose this is an instance where suspending disbelief would play into things, especially when we’re talking about a special that’s story takes everything AND the kitchen sink and jams it into a runtime less than 30 minutes.
Regardless of the overblown plot, there are a lot of things to enjoy about The Last Halloween. As convoluted as the story is, it does a good job of quickly building up depth for the two main characters. There are also some awesome visuals strewn throughout the short running time, my favorite being this great looking matte painting used for the villain's castle. For a short Halloween TV special, it’s clear that a lot of effort went into production value, and it shows in the final product. In fact, this resulted in a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects which were, interestingly enough, provided by Industrial Light & Magic and Pacific Data Images.
Something else that’s notable about The Last Halloween is that it features some early CGI, which is how the mostly obnoxious Martian characters are brought to life. I find it interesting to see early CGI use, as CGI was, at least in the early days, something that was kind of cool and exciting; a new tool for filmmakers to bring new worlds to life. Nowadays, however, CGI has completely affected the landscape of cinema, specifically big-budget Hollywood movies, and in a way that I think is now really hurting the power of cinema. An epic film is no longer epic - it’s green screen. But that’s another topic for another day...
The Last Halloween is a remotely entertaining little ride, though a ride that will likely only be enjoyed by people who either really love Halloween (me) or children (me), which is really the perfect audience for this one. One final observation concerning the Martians: if they wanted candy, why didn’t they go to the local Mars Bar?
If you want to check out The Last Halloween for yourself, then you can give it a watch via the YouTube video below:
Friday, October 11, 2013
I get it. You want to be different and hand out something that you think would actually be beneficial to children. You have no desire to promote bad eating habits or poor dental care, so you say to yourself “I think I’ll pass out toothbrushes this year... all the kids are gonna love and respect me!”
Well, I gotta newsflash for you, buddy! If I’m 6 years old and I waste 3 minutes of my precious Halloween time coming to your house only to have you push your communist agenda on me, then, well, you deserve every single egg I throw at your house when I’m a teenager. And believe you me, I WILL EGG YOUR SHIT!
The only people who should be handing out a toothbrush to a kid is the dentist at the dentist’s office. Otherwise, buy a couple bags of candy. Preferably Snickers.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Pacific Rim is making its way to Blu-ray on October 15th, but why waste your hard-earned drug money buying a copy when you can win one right here?! It’s pretty much the same deal as the other contests: take the SUPERFAN TRIVIA quiz below, then leave a comment with your results as well as an email address, and you will be entered to win yourself a Blu-ray copy of Pacific Rim!
You have until Friday, October 18th to enter, so stop wasting your time reading this, and get to taking that quiz!
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
It’s the last day of high school and Linda, Tracy and Chris (Joann Whitley, Nancy Mayer and Jan Jenson) are looking to kickoff their summer with a bumpin’ slumber party at Linda's house. Complete with alcohol, loud music and a few totally hot guys, surely this is a radical way to begin one’s freedom from the tyranny of high school. However, unbeknownst to the girls, there’s an insane mental patient on the loose. And to make matters worse, it just so happens that Linda’s father is the mental patient’s doctor, making Linda’s home the prime target for this scalpel wielding psychopath.
Directed by Stephen “don’t call me Steven” Tyler, The Last Slumber Party is best described as such: if Halloween and The Slumber Party Massacre had an incestuous baby, and that baby born of incest fell from its crib and hit its head on a nail embedded cinder block every night of its life, then you would have yourself a fairly good idea of what The Last Slumber Party is like.
The comparison to The Slumber Party Massacre is obvious, and certainly not unfamiliar territory for numerous sleepover slasher flicks of the era, but the Halloween influence is a whole other ballgame. To say The Last Slumber Party is inspired by Halloween is like saying that John Carpenter looks a little old, and this is most notable with the film’s three female leads. From the way they talk, act, the specific personality that each girl has, and even the way in which they are filmed, Linda, Tracy and Chris are essentially carbon copies of Laurie, Annie and Lynda from Halloween. Though these carbon copies seem to have spent a little too much time in the sun eating rock salt covered tree bark.
Outside of the Halloween influences, something else that is immediately obvious about The Last Slumber Party is just how insanely cheap it is as a piece of “cinema.” The acting is awful, and the filmmaking is completely amateurish. Furthermore, the sound design is horrific, with moments that are particularly astounding in their lack of quality. This is most obvious in an early scene where it’s nearly impossible to differentiate between the score, a talking teacher and a group of loud-mouth teenagers. There is also another hysterically inept scene where one of the girls is talking on the phone (in another Halloween-esque moment), and the girl on the other end of the line is clearly talking from just off camera to make it sound as if she’s actually on the phone.
Magnum P.I. photobombing like it’s no one’s business!
The killer (played with brilliance by the film’s director, Stephen “don’t call me Steven” Tyler) also delivers a high level of entertainment in a fashion that is nothing short of ridiculous. Adorned with a pair of doctors scrubs and a surgical mask, this mental madman spends 90% of his screen time making crazy eyes directly at the camera. The kills, which consist of scalpel induced throat slashes and nothing else, are also cheap in their simplicity. Though, in all honesty, I’d rather have cheap throat slashes than a copout off-screen kill.
Depending on your taste, the lack of quality found in The Last Slumber Party could work for or against it. While I wouldn’t consider it an upper tier B-Movie, it’s an amusing watch that will play perfectly to a crowd of drunken friends or to that specific horror fan who enjoys these types of bad movies. Namely me.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Previously on Goosebumps at 33...
A new Chucktober brings about a brand spanking new season of Goosebumps at 33! This is the fourth year (!) doing this segment, which is as cool as it is depressing. I mean, what’s worse than reminding yourself that you’re getting old? Anyway, if you’re not familiar with this segment, take a second to read the introductory post from way back when. For the rest of you, however, why don’t you come in a little closer and allow me to tell you the wicked tale of...
The Girl Who Cried Monster!
Taken from the eighth book, this season 1 episode 4 entry into the series focuses on a young girl named Lucy (Deborah Scorsone). Lucy has an obsession with monsters. She also has a knack for pulling monster inspired pranks on her friends and family members, specifically her little brother, whose hair is so big that he will likely serve as the safety net if an asteroid ever comes hurtling towards earth. After she convinces her big-haired little brother that her toes have been chewed off by a toe biting monster, Lucy’s mother makes her go to the library to expel her energy on learning as opposed to be a pain in the ass.
On her way home from the library, and just as Lucy and her buddy are making fun of the weird librarian, Lucy realizes that she forgot, and I quote, her “blades” back at the library. I’m not sure how a person forgets their “blades,” though. That’s like leaving the mall only to realize you forgot your car, but I digress. When Lucy goes back to the library, she soon learns that the librarian, Mr. Mortman (Eugene Lipinski), is a monster living on a steady diet of crickets and spiders. Gross.
Naturally, Lucy runs home to tell her family and friends, but as the title of this episode alludes to, no one believes Lucy because she is, so often, a lying sack of shit who’s always trying to trick people with tales of monsters. As a result, it is up to Lucy to prove her story, and to do so she actually goes back to the library to catch Mr. Mortman in the act.
Of course, as stupid as it may seem to try to catch a monster in the act of being a monster, Lucy further shows a complete lack of intelligence when she actually tries to take a photo of Mr. Mortman as a monster WITH THE FLASH ON! Unsurprisingly, the flash from the camera alerts Mr. Mortman to Lucy’s presence so he chases after her. This actually leads to a pretty great line where, as Lucy flees, Mr. Mortman says: “I love fast food!” Lucy gets away, however, now Mr. Mortman is on to her and looks to keep her quite by sending her on a permanent vacation. To his belly.
Unfortunately for Lucy, her photographic evidence shows absolutely nothing, therefore no one is buying into her story, including her parents who, despite Lucy’s every plea, decide it would be a good idea to invite Mr. Mortman over for dinner. Will Lucy and her family find themselves served up as monster meat, or will they enjoy a nice dinner with great evening of conversation? You think you might know the answer, but as with every Goosebumps tale, there is a twist, and this one is an absolute doozy in just how awesome it is.
The Girl Who Cried Monster is one of my favorite episodes that I’ve seen thus far. The story is satisfying, spooky and fun, and all in a way that one would expect and want from an episode of Goosebumps. Better yet, it is certainly one hell of a great way to start off my fourth year with Goosebumps at 33!
Until next time, kiddies, keep your night light on and your head under the covers...
Friday, October 4, 2013
A young boy named Gregory is dealing with some serious issues as of late, most notably the monster that has decided to take up residence in his bedroom. However, this monster isn’t Gregory’s only problem, as another monster of a completely different variety is making his life a living nightmare. And this monster doesn’t go away when you turn the lights on.
Created by Jonathan Button, Behind Closed Doors is a short animated horror film that deals with the many fears that can come with being a child, especially a child who is forced to deal with any level of intense parental conflict. In Gregory’s case, this parental conflict comes in the form of an abusive alcoholic father, whose prime target is, at least as seen in this short, Gregory’s mother.
The fact that Gregory has an abusive father is what makes his plight so interesting, as no matter where he goes, there is no place for him to find safety. In one room there is a devilish monster hiding in the shadows, while in another, Gregory’s father is aggressively drunk in a fashion that commands complete avoidance for the young boy. This situation leaves Gregory with no place to turn, as he is surrounded by monsters both literally and metaphorically. He’s left alone to deal with these demons, which is likely the truth for many children with abusive parents.
The title of this short film certainly alludes to what family drama can occur behind closed doors, not what monsters might be hiding inside of a young boy’s closet. The truth of the matter is, it’s the abusive father who is the real monster of this short, but impactful story.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
It’s October 31, 1987, and WNUF reporter Frank Stewart leads a camera crew, a priest, a team of psychics, and a live television audience into the Webber House, where years before Donald Webber went on an occult driven killing spree, murdering both of his parents in a grisly fashion. Things begin innocently enough as they explore the infamous house looking for some ghostly activity, but soon this Halloween special goes from hokey fun to a living nightmare, and it’s live on the air for the world to see.
Directed by Chris LaMartina, WNUF Halloween Special is an interesting take on the found-footage genre in that it’s presented as an actual news special as it aired live on television in 1987. Complete with a live studio news broadcast featuring the day’s big news stories and retro-style commercial breaks, I’m honestly flabbergasted by just how authentic this faux-news special feels. While there is a clear tongue-in-cheek approach to the project as a whole, specifically with the hysterical commercial breaks, WNUF Halloween Special perfectly captures ‘80s local television and the VHS culture of the time.
In its 83 minute runtime, WNUF Halloween Special features retro-style commercials for orange juice, furniture stores, monster truck events, law firms, political attack ads, and so on and so forth. There are also a handful of Halloween-centric news features such as Trick or Treat safety tips and a look at a local dentist who is giving kids cash for candy to promote healthy dental care. One of my favorite stories comes from a news segment featuring a local conservative Christian group that’s protesting both Halloween and the news special for “turning our children into devil worshipers,” something that wasn’t at all uncommon in the 1980s (watch this Pagan Invasion video for further proof). These spots are as creative as they are amusing, but most importantly, they truly feel as if they leaped from the frames of a VHS tape filled with random shit recorded off TV in the ‘80s.
WNUF Halloween Special takes a good half hour to get to the actual ‘Halloween Special’, spending the first act with the aforementioned TV ads and the WNUF on set news anchors as they report the local news. When the special begins, host Frank Stewart spends some time with a live audience outside of the infamous Webber House where he talks about the history of the murders, which are also further explained in a nicely done docu-style overview of Donald Weber. After finally moving into the Webber House, Frank continues his “investigation” with the help of Father Joseph Matheson and a pair of clairvoyants named Louise and Claire Berger and their psychic cat, Shadow.
As WNUF goes back and forth between the investigative team and commercial breaks, there comes a point late in the movie where the shtick does begin to wear a tad thin. However, this is also around the point where things begin to pick up in terms of “paranormal activity,” so the lull is thankfully short lived. With that being said, while there seem to be paranormal events that occur, WNUF is not, in any way, effective as a horror film. It’s likely you will not find yourself a solid dose of white knuckled fright with this one, but in all fairness, that’s not necessarily what WNUF is trying to deliver.
The aim of WNUF Halloween Special is to capture a time period of television where Geraldo spent two hours breaking into Al Capone’s vault and George Hamilton explored Dracula’s castle live from Transylvania. In that sense, it certainly succeeds. Furthermore, WNUF effectively taps into the nostalgia that comes with popping in an old VHS tape filled with random commercials and whatever other weird shit people like me, who grew up with VCRs, would record off TV as a kid, and that is exactly the target audience of this sentimentally driven ode to horror kids of the ‘80s.