Friday, October 30, 2015

The Basement (1989): Tales from The Unfinished Cellar

The basement 1989 review..

After four poorly-dubbed people find themselves mysteriously trapped in someone’s unfinished basement, they come face-to-face with The Sentinel, a spirit who informs the group that they have found the portal to hell, and now they must confess their sins. Not their sins of the past, however, but the sins they will commit in the future!

Written and directed by Timothy O'Rawe (Ghoul School), The Basement is a shot on Super 8 anthology film that went unreleased until 2011 when Camp Motion Pictures released the film as the main feature in a 5 film Retro 80s Horror Collection. Interestingly, not only did the film go unreleased, it actually sat in storage, unedited, for 2 decades before the film’s director of photography, Michael Raso, took to restoring it in 2010.

The Basement is an extremely low-budget riff on 1972’s Tales From the Crypt, in that a group of less than desirable people come to learn that the poor choices they make will lead to their undoing. This leads to four not-so-inspired tales of terror, starting off with The Swimming Pool.

The basement 1989 review

Focusing on a Black Widow-esque female character who lures men into a swimming pool for one final swim with a sea creature that sort of looks like a garden hose, The Swimming Pool is both a horrible and a wonderful way to kick off the anthology. The segment is bad in every way possible, but it’s bad in the silliest of ways thanks to the dialogue and performance by the lead actress. Of course, the entire situation is so preposterous – especially in how cheaply executed it is – that it’s difficult to believe that the segment is actually a part of reality. As I alluded to at the start of this review, The Basement has some of the very worst  ADR work I have ever heard in any film – which is quite the feat considering some of the movies I watch – and this is most true with The Swimming Pool. To be fair, however, a movie this bad only benefits from such incompetence, simply because it adds yet another layer of unintentional humor.

The second segment, Trick or Treat, is A Christmas Carol style tale about a disgruntled teacher who hates children and Halloween, and he has no problem expressing his distaste. However, his angry ways come back to haunt him when on Halloween night he is visited by a variety of creatures such as demons, witches, and the undead, all warning him that he basically needs to stop being such a jerk. Trick or Treat is one of the best segments of The Basement for a few reasons, one being the heavy focus on make-up effects, which are actually quite impressive despite the low budget. Something else that really stands out in the Trick or Treat is a dream sequence where the teacher goes on a classroom-murder spree, killing off all of his students, one by one, in a variety of bloody ways.

The basement 1989 review...

The third segment is Zombie Movie, a moderately enjoyable story that takes place on the set of a low-budget zombie film that becomes infested with real zombies. The main focus of this segment is a sleazy director who has no respect for horror, let alone the film he’s making. To him, it’s all about making a quick buck, and he has no problem being a complete dick about it. It’s obvious that Zombie Movie is commenting on the studio horror films and sequels that were churned out for a quick profit at the time, which is funny as people still seem to have the same complaints nowadays, despite looking back fondly on horror cinema from the 1980s. Funny how that works.

The final segment, Home Sweet Home, is about a young writer who buys a run-down home, despite being warned that it’s haunted. Shortly after moving into the dark and creepy house, one of the writer’s best friends shows up, and the two spend the evening getting wasted and talking about how this will be the perfect house for them to work on future horror projects. Unfortunately for the friend, however, there will be no future, because he is soon murdered by a demon. Overall, Home Sweet Home is a weak entry in The Basement, though it is kept afloat by some impressive creature makeup effects. The only other notable aspect of the segment is the fact that, as opposed to the characters in the previous segments, the lead character really doesn’t do anything wrong to make him deserving of spiritual reprimand. Makes almost as much sense as the 50 tea lights that are surrounding the bed that the main character and his girlfriend use to make sex.

The basement 1989 review .

The Basement is only 109 minutes long, so minus credits you're looking at about an hour or so of movie. With there being four segments, such a short runtime equals very little time to do much with each segment in terms of building up suspense. With most films that might be an issue, but in the case of The Basement, I think it helps. Spending too much time on each of these already anemic segments could be a cause for boredom, which is the worst sin that any B-movie can commit.   

Overall, The Basement is an astoundingly inept film made by people whose hearts were in the right place, which is a huge part of making a truly bad movie an enjoyable one for those who savor such entertainment.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bad Trick Or Treat Ideas: Religious Propaganda

bad trick or treat candy ideas

Look, I have no beef with whatever you’re into. You do you the best you can, so long as you keep it to yourself. However, the second you push your agenda on me – as opposed to giving me a variety of king-sized treats – well, you, me and a dozen eggs are gonna have some words.

Giving me some religious propaganda on Halloween is not going to make me convert; it’s not going to make me think; and it’s certainly not going to make me happy, so keep that shit to yourself and go out and buy a few boxes of king-size Snickers before I leave a king-size flaming turd on your doorstep.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Goosebumps At 33: Be Careful What You Wish For

Goosebumps TV shows


Goosebumps be careful what you wish for TV

Despite being the tallest girl on the team (and likely the tallest in the state), Samantha Byrd is terrible at basketball. Her awkward frame and clumsy tendencies create issues both on and off the court, resulting in Samantha being the butt of a number of jokes among her classmates. The most popular diss that is directed towards Samantha is "why don't you go fly away, Byrd?", which is clearly a clever and well-thought out play on Samantha’s last name. I can’t even imagine how long it took her classmates to think that one up.

Goosebumps be careful what you wish for

At any rate, while on her way home from school, Samantha has a run in with a lost, eccentric middle-aged woman named Clarissa. When Samantha helps the woman find her way, Clarissa returns the favor by giving Samantha an amulet and granting her three wishes. Naturally, Samantha takes this as an opportunity to become the best player on her basketball team. While she does indeed become the best player on the team, it comes at the expense of her teammates, who have suddenly lost all of their skills and can barely dribble a ball let alone shot one properly.

As is the case with any tale featuring a character being granted three wishes, Samantha finds herself having to try to fix the mistakes from her previous wish while also benefiting herself in some way, which can only result in even more issues. And boy are there issues. Everything from turning everyone on the entire plant into flies to turning an old enemy into an obsessive best friend, Samantha finds her situation getting worse by the wish. Will Samantha be able to set everything right, or will she be doomed to live with her mistakes for good?

Goosebumps be careful what you wish for 2

Airing on August 10, 1996, Be Careful What you Wish For is your typical Goosebumps fare, dealing with everything you’d expect from an episode of the television series, including bullies, very bad decisions, overalls, and even an eccentric character tossed in for good measure. And of course, no episode of Goosebumps would be complete without a twist ending, and Be Careful What You Wish For delivers a twist ending that’s hysterically satisfying.

While there have been better and certainly creepier episodes of Goosebumps, you really couldn't ask for a better way to end this season of Goosebumps At 33, as Be Careful What You Wish For is an enjoyable and worthwhile entry into the beloved children’s series. It sorta makes me wish this season wouldn’t end...

Goosebumps be careful what you wish for 1

Until next time, kiddies, keep your nightlight on and your head under the covers…

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The 2015 Ultimate Halloween Party Music UBER MEGA-MIX!


Dust of your dancing shoes and, while you’re at it, your dancing partner (at least after you’ve dug them up first) and get ready to get ghoulish, because it’s time to unleash the 2015 Ultimate Halloween Party Music UBER MEGA-MIX!

With a number of new additions (and a few subtractions), this year’s playlist is new and improved and tailor made to get you in the ghostly groove! Better yet, not only is this year’s playlist a MEGA-MIX, it’s an UBER MEGA-MIX, which makes it 100% more UBER than last year’s playlist, therefore, 100% more awesome.

At any low-heart rate, hope you enjoy cutting a rug to this Ultimate Halloween Party Music UBER MEGA-MIX, but please be warned: we are not responsible if the rug cuts back…

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Salute Your Shorts: Sweet Tooth

Sweet tooth halloween short film

After a young trick-or-treater has a run in with a bully on Halloween night, the young boy’s father shows up, and soon it becomes apparent that the bully messed with the wrong kid.

Created by Zachary Shore as a part of his first year CalArts film character animation class, Sweet Tooth is short, simple and to the point, all the while retaining an effortless and unexpected charm. The beautifully hand-drawn animation has a muted, almost black and white look to it, and the sketchy, unfinished appearance of the animation adds a nice visual aesthetic to the short.

Sweet Tooth comes in under two minutes, yet delivers a tasty little slice of morality. Quite simply, there’s always someone out there who’s bigger and badder than you are, so be careful who you mess with because it might come back to haunt you in the form of a vengeful vampire dad.

Salute Your Shorts 3.5


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Post of Chucktober Past: Great Story, Emily

I’ve been doing this Chucktober thing for seven years now and there’s a whole lot of content as a result so I thought it would be nice to take a trip down memory lane and revisit a post from Chucktober past. Really, that’s not all too complicated, so I won’t waste anymore time on unnecessary details outside of saying that this post originally appeared on October 27, 2010, and it’s one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy!

Great Story, Emily

I've had a really tough time figuring out what to dress up as for Halloween, so I took to the internet as my guide and found this news report focusing on the hottest costumes for 2010!! Boy, I sure hope it helps with some creative and original ideas that'll stand out amongst the masses!

First off, while I do dig the clown outfit, Emily Deem should probably consider going as a mute. Not necessarily for Halloween so much as she should just become a mute.

So the first costume is brought out, and it's the Mad Hatter from that Tim Burton movie. I just love how Foot Locker describes the costume as being comfortable because Jesus can wear his own pants with it. I was more or less thinking the costume sucked because Jesus has to wear his own pants because, you know, the costume doesn't come with any. Also, is the hair awesome, Emily? Is it really? I'll pass on this one.

Finally, when the one costume I was waiting for the entire time makes an appearance (the Alice costume, naturally), I learn that the shoes are extra?! I totally can't afford all of that, and all the other girls at school are definitely going to laugh at me if I don't wear the right shoes. They really do make the ensemble pop.

The last costume is barely even worth mentioning, as we’ve already seen the idiot store owner wearing it for the last two minutes. Oh, but now it's on a little girl, so it must be cute, right? Wrong. If they wanted to do a family theme, they should go as father and disappointed in her father daughter. That would be more fitting.

You know what, forget it… this stupid news report didn't help me find shit. And seriously, Emily, do you think getting a news camera wet is a good idea? I love how her lame flower joke fails when she misses the camera the first time, and she’s then forced to reign it back in with her wit and charm. But the best part of this whole thing is the condescending female studio anchor saying "That was fun" with the excitement of someone that just found out they will be raped by an alligator everyday for the rest of their life starting in one hour.

Unless my luck should change, it looks like I might be wearing my go to costume for the 27th year in a row…


Thanks for nothing, Emily.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Halloween That Almost Wasn't (1979) The Night Dear John Saved the World

The halloween that almost wasn't review

After learning that Halloween is in jeopardy, Count Dracula (Judd Hirsch) calls upon his fellow monsters to step up their game and make Halloween what it once was: scary. Not all of the monsters are interested in cooperating, however, putting Dracula in a position where he must do whatever he can to change their mind and, in turn, save Halloween for all of mankind.

Originally premiering on ABC, The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t (AKA The Night Dracula Saved the World) is a 30-minute, Emmy Award-winning made for TV film that regularly aired on Disney Channel through the late 1990s. The film opens with Dracula watching a news report claiming that he, as in Dracula, has invited a number of his monster friends over to his castle for a conference the day before Halloween. According to an unnamed source, the purpose of this conference is the eradication of Halloween as we know it.

The halloween that almost wasn't review ...

As it turns out, this news report is part of a smear campaign meant to make Dracula look like the bad guy in the event that Halloween is indeed cancelled, which greatly angers Dracula. As a result, he calls upon all of the other monsters, which include everything and everyone from a Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster and a werewolf to a zombie and a witch. Eventually, Dracula learns that the person causing all the trouble is actually one of his compatriots, and someone who's very important to Halloween and horror in general: Winnie the Witch.

Winnie the Witch is not only tired of being the ugly duckling and the butt of jokes, she's also jealous of Dracula for being the face of the holiday, while she's relegated to being nothing more than a background character. As a result, Winnie demands some changes, and if these changes aren’t met, there will be no Halloween, as Halloween cannot begin until Winnie flies passed the moon. This leaves Dracula and the rest of the monsters in a position where they must do what they can to get Winnie back on board, or forever lose Halloween.

The halloween that almost wasn't review .

The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t is notable for a number of reasons, one of the biggest ones being the impressive cast, which includes Judd Hirsch as Dracula, Henry Gibson as Igor, Mariette Hartley as Winnie the Witch, Jack Riley as Warren the Werewolf, and John Schuck as Frankenstein’s Monster. Interestingly, Schuck would later play Herman Munster in a reboot of the beloved TV comedy The Munsters titled The Munsters Today.

Seeing as The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t is a children’s special, the monster featured are on  the fun/safe side, but not in a way that betrays the monsters. In fact, they’re presented in a fashion that makes them accessible, which is great for young budding horror fans, or at least adult horror fans who have children they are looking introduce to horror. Being mainly set in Dracula’s Castle, the special does a nice job of creating atmosphere with the use set design, sound design and fog, all of which make for the perfect gateway to the Universal Films and even some of the Hammer productions..  

The halloween that almost wasn't review ..

Adding to the kid-friendly element, the special also takes some time to explain the history of Halloween. This mostly consists of the typical stuff we, as adults, have all heard before, with a parent telling their child that people would dress up to ward off the demons and spirits as well as explaining the origins of the name Halloween. it's a nice touch, and certainly a good way to introduce younger kids to the history of Halloween.

When it comes to retro Halloween-themed television specials, The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t is right at the top of the heap. It hits all right notes, being fun and kid friendly while also being the perfect gateway for kids to be introduced to horror and Halloween in a fashion that’s more than just costumes and candy. It’s a monster mash-up worthy of being rediscovered.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Goosebumps At 33: Say Cheese and Die

Goosebumps TV shows


Goosebumps say cheese or die ..

When a group of friends break into a warehouse owned by a creepy neighborhood outcast named Spidey, they come across a camera that, as you would guess based on the title Say Cheese and Die, does more than capture your memories. I suppose the fact that the camera doesn’t quite work as advertised is due to the fact that it looks more like a 1950’s alien sci-fi toaster from the future where the past is… err, in the past.

In any event, when Greg (Ryan Gosling) uses the camera to take a pic…

Ryan Gosling Goosebumps

Oh, I’m sorry… I seem to have gotten a little distracted. Let me try that again:

In any event, when Greg (Ryan Gosling) uses....

Ryan Gosling Goosebumps ...

SHIT! It happened again! Not sure what’s come over me. Okay, one last time!

In any event, when Greg (Ryan Gosling…

Ryan Gosling Goosebumps ....

Ryan Gosling.

Ryan Gosling Goosebumps ......


Ryan Gosling Goosebumps .....


Ryan Gosling Goosebumps .......


Ryan Gosling Goosebumps .

OH! I see the problem now! Ryan Gosling dream-boated his way into my review! Jeez, I’d be upset if I wasn’t so completely enamored at the moment. I mean, this is Ryan “Good LAAAWD” Gosling we’re talking about here. That boy sure do be distracting, and distracted I sure do be.

IN ANY EVENT, when Greg (Ryan Gosling) uses the camera to take a picture of his friend, the photograph shows something entirely different from what he took a picture of. In fact, the camera seems to be capable of predicting the future, or at least altering it so something bad happens to anyone who has their photo taken.

Goosebumps say cheese or die

While you’d think it’d be simple enough for Greg to just NOT take people’s pictures, it’s actually a lot more difficult than one would expect. For some reason, this episode takes place in a world where people are not afraid to be rudely imposing, especially to anyone with a camera, and this is shown by the inordinate amount of people who insist that their photo be taken, no matter how much push back comes from Greg. Of course, Greg could simply take the camera back to where he got it from, but that would require him to have to return to Spidey’s creepy factory. As dangerous as this option sounds, Greg really has no other choice, so return it he does. What happens when he does so, however, may lead to his untimely demise, as Spidey isn’t too pleased about Greg and his mark-ass friends knowing about the camera and its powers, and he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure the word doesn’t get out.

Airing on February 9, 1996, Say Cheese and Die is an interesting episode for a few reasons. Outside of staring international hunk, Ryan Gosling, it’s easily the edgiest episode of Goosebumps that I’ve come across, at least on a technical level. The episode features some pretty showy camera angles and movements, which are not typically found in Goosebumps. It should be noted that the episode’s director, Ron Oliver, has done a ton of television, with the big stand outs being that he directed a number of episodes of both Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? He also helmed Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, which is only more proof of his Canadianness.  

Goosebumps say cheese or die .

I think it’s fair to say that Say Cheese and Die is a satisfying episode of Goosebumps. It has some good scares, a nice fall setting and a few funny moments. One of my favorites being when Greg’s mom refers to a Ford Taurus as “a car with a lot of muscle.” While not quite having a traditional twist, the episode features a thoroughly enjoyable ending, which is always a huge element to a successful episode of Goosebumps.  

Oh yeah, and it should be said that Scott Speedman plays a cop. But who cares about him. 

Until next time, kiddies, keep your nightlight on and your head under the covers…

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Salute Your Shorts: The Initiation (2010)

The Initiation halloween short film

While spending his Halloween trick-or-treating all by himself, the new kid in town runs into some local kids who immediately talk him into stealing a jack-o'-lantern. Despite the risk, doing so would make him an automatic member of their gang (of two), which means no one would mess with him. As simple as stealing a jack-o’-lantern may seem for the young boy, it may come at a steep price.

Coming in at just under three minutes, The Initiation is a very straightforward short film that actually suffers from being too straightforward. Where the short fails most is in how it neglects to deliver a twist of some sort, which is quite unfortunate, as a twist – no matter how big or small – is what one would expect from a short film set on Halloween. As a result, the resolution feels a little lazy and certainly too simplistic to be satisfying.

The short is clearly a no-budget affair, which is probably most obvious from some of the acting, which is well below amateurish. While I can certainly forgive poor acting in a project such as this, it wouldn’t have hurt the filmmakers to maybe shoot a few more takes for the numerous flubbed lines one specific actor delivers.

Overall The Initiation is only three minutes long, so you're really not wasting too much time if you want to give it a watch. At the same time, however, it's kind of difficult to recommend watching such a bland short film even with such a short runtime. Quite frankly, The Initiation is not in any way, shape or form a memorable experience, let alone one worth having. 

Salute Your Shorts 1.5

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bad Trick Or Treat Ideas: Canned Goods

bad trick or treat candy ideas

If there’s one thing I’m NOT doing on Halloween night, it’s collecting cans for the homeless. I am, however, at your front door begging – BEGGING – for treats. If you think a can of Progresso Reduced Sodium Italian-Style Wedding with Meatballs is gonna cut the mustard, you’re dead wrong. If you plan on passing out a few cans of baked beans because you were too lazy to go to the store and pick up some candy, just remember this: canned goods are perfect for breaking car windows. Especially yours. While you’re driving. On the highway. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

U.F.O. Abduction AKA The McPherson Tape (1989): Abducted Footage

UFO abduction 1989 ..

During a child’s birthday celebration, the Van Heese family finds their rural Connecticut home under attack by aliens. Without a way to leave the home or call out for help, the family tries to fight back, as the youngest of three brothers videotapes the entire frightening incident.

Written and directed by Dean Alioto, U.F.O. Abduction is a 1989 found footage horror film inspired by popular books such as Whitley Strieber's novel Communion and other stories of alien abduction from the time period. Wanting to get his first film under his belt, Alioto took the idea of alien abduction and spun it into a film that – mixed with an inexpensive home-video style of filmmaking – could be made for the extremely modest budget of $6,500. The result is a film that has an authentic feel to it, at least in terms of the visual aesthetic. The situation the characters face and the way they sometimes react to it, however, is an entirely different story.

The film opens with a simple dinner table scene, where the Van Hesse family is enjoying a 5th birthday celebration for the youngest of the family. There’s a fairly natural family dynamic at hand, at least in terms of how everyone is interacting with one another. Many conversations are going on at the same time, which is a normal occurrence at many a family table. Though as much as it adds a realistic feel to the film, it doesn’t make for interesting viewing when looking in from the outside.

UFO abduction 1989 .

Shortly after the family sing happy birthday, the power goes out, at which point the film becomes dark and a little discombobulated, adding to the realism of the situation. This leads to a scene where – while out trying to fix the circuit breaker – the three brothers notice some strange lights coming from the woods. The three men decide to investigate the area where the lights were coming from, but what they discover, however, is a spaceship and a handful of grey aliens. 

Afraid for their life, the brothers take off running back to the house after the aliens noticed the three men spying on them. Back at the house and fully armed with shotguns, the brothers argue as to whether or not they should all stay put, leave the house for safety or go out and kick some alien ass. Indecisive, the family realizes they need to cool down for a minute, and they do so by eating some birthday cake and having the little girl opening her birthday presents. This is a huge standout in a film that is trying to portray a sense of realism. At what point can a person ignore, even for the briefest of moments, that they just had an encounter with an alien lifeform? Yet, somehow they do. In fact, it gets to the point where they act as if the occurrence had never even happened.  

UFO abduction 1989 ...

This seems to be a bit of a theme in U.F.O. Abduction. The characters react in one of two different ways: freak out and become completely irrational in the silliest of ways, or act completely lackadaisical as if everything is okay USA.

Outside of the previous example, these varied reactions come to play during two key scenes in particular. One being the reaction the brothers have when the little girl shows them a picture she drew of an alien she saw outside of the window. This sends the brothers into a frenzy, meaning they act like raging lunatics running around with loaded shotguns. What’s really funny about this scene is, up until this point, everything was hunky dory, which is interesting considering they had already “made contact” with the alien life forms.

As this is happening, the aliens begin to attack the home, at which point one of the men shoots and kills one of the aliens. The men decide to bring the alien’s corpse inside the house and store it in one of the bedrooms, which leads to my second example of the two extreme reactions that the family has to this alien invasion. Shortly after the three brothers leave to hunt down the rest of the aliens, the remaining family members, all female, decide to play a game of go fish. WHILE A DEAD ALIEN IS IN THE NEXT ROOM. No need to expound upon that, as I think the situation speaks for itself.

UFO abduction 1989

U.F.O. Abduction pre-dates The Blair Witch Project by ten years, though the film was hardly seen by anyone other than U.F.O. enthusiasts. This is really where the film becomes most interesting, at least in terms of historical merit. Shortly after seeing a truncated direct-to-video run, the master print of the film was lost in a fire and the film was basically forgotten about, even by the director, Dean Alioto. It wasn’t until a few years later where a bootleg version of the U.F.O. Abduction began floating around U.F.O. circles under the title The McPherson Tape. This bootleg was conveniently missing the opening and closing credit sequences of the film as well as was presented as a true event of an alien invasion, convincing many people that it was a real event caught on tape. In fact, there are many people out there who still believe that the footage is indeed that of fact. 

As crazy as that sounds, the tale of U.F.O. Abduction grows all the more wild nearly ten years later when Dean Alioto was approached to helm a remake of the film to air on the UPN network. After completing the movie, Alioto ended up getting pushed out of the picture by unhappy (and new) studio heads, who disliked what Alioto had delivered. Before releasing the film as a one-hour TV special titled Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County, the studio had the film edited down, added some new interviews and removed bumpers that warned viewers that the film was a work of fiction. Their intent clearly aimed at making people believe that the remake of a fake film was in fact real. And guess what? Many people believed it, and still do to this very day.

UFO abduction alien abduction

I highly encourage reading Dean Alioto’s vastly more detailed explanation of the events that led to Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County, as it’s quite fascinating:

Dean Alioto on the making of Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County

In the end, U.F.O. Abduction is most certainly ahead of its time in terms of concept, but as a film it doesn't deliver much of a punch. However, much of that can be blamed on the fact it doesn't really try to throw too many. it is, after all, a low-budget film trying to go for as much realism as possible. In that sense, it succeeds. Unfortunately, however, some may find the film a tad underwhelming, especially when there have been so many found footage films that have nailed the technique (and plenty more that haven’t). Nevertheless, with a storied background that proves to be more interesting than anything the film could deliver on its own, U.F.O. Abduction is an interesting piece of film history that will forever be discussed and analyzed deep within the confines of the internet.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Goosebumps At 33: Night of the Living Dummy II

Goosebumps TV shows

Previously on Goosebumps At 33…

Goosebumps my hairiest adventure 3

Goosebumps Piano Lessons Can Be Murder 3

Goosebumps return of the mummy 4

Well hello there, spoils and gruels! I’m excited to welcome you back to yet another season of Goosebumps At 33! We are now in our 6th season of this silly segment, which only begs the question: who would’ve thought I’d milk this dead cow for so long?! Milked to death or not, this season of Goosebumps At 33 is sure to be LEGENDARY!! Or at least mediocre. Maybe somewhere in between there. Either way, it’s sure to be something.  

In any event, for any of you who aren’t sure what this segment is all about, I encourage you to hit up this introductory post for more info. For the rest of you warriors, grab yourself a couple wine coolers, pull up a seat and settle in as I tell you the horrific tale of…


Goosebumps Night Of The Living Dummy 2

After her dummy breaks one too many times, a young ventriloquist named Amy (Maggie Castle) receives a new one from her parents. Well, it’s not actually a “new” dummy, as Amy’s parents bought it at a pawn shop. Because their daughter is worth nothing more. In any event, the dummy, who goes by the name Slappy,  happens to be alive and begins wreaking havoc for Amy and her family. Naturally, Amy is the fall guy for all the shenanigans that Slappy pulls, as her parents and siblings refuse to believe her stories about Slappy being the cause of all the problems. As bad as all of this is, Amy’s also a pre-teen ventriloquist, which ensures a life of ridicule and loneliness, something of which she has clearly accepted based on her penchant for wearing overalls.

Goosebumps night of the living dummy 2....

What’s immediately obvious from the onset of Night of the Living Dummy II (or Night of the Living Dummy 2, if you’re not vain) this family is, like, THE WEIRDEST. For example, the episode opens with Amy and her siblings participating in show and tell with their parents. Okay, now, who has show and tell with their parents and not at school? They’re their parents! They already know all the dumb crap their kids have! The next day, the dad plays “If You're Happy and You Know It” on guitar and sings it for the entire family, in the living room, while wearing a cowboy hat and a vest. What kind of family does this type of crap? The Duggars? People who partake sister wivery? As it turns out, it’s all part of what this creepy family calls “The Family Night Stage.” Let’s face it, it should probably just be renamed The Socially Awkward Kids Will Live Alone and Die Alone Only to Have Their Cats Eat Their Rotting Corpse After They've Passed Stage.

Goosebumps night of the living dummy 2..

In any event, it’s during "The Family Night Stage" where Amy is given the opportunity to show off her badass new ventriloquist skills. Shortly after she begins, however, Slappy takes over the performance and starts dissing each member of the family. This doesn’t go over well in such a clean-cut and controlling household, so Amy’s pretty much getting all sorts of shade tossed her way. From there, Slappy causes a number of problems for the family, and in a variety of ways, and of course everyone blames Amy for everything that's happening. As things begin to escalate into possible violence, however, Amy comes to realize that she must figure out how she can put an end to Slappy’s reign of terror before someone is hurt.

Airing on January 12, 1996, Night of the Living Dummy II is certainly a notable episode of Goosebumps for being the celluloid introduction of one of the most beloved characters from the book series, Slappy. What’s interesting about Night of the Living Dummy II is the fact that it is the first appearance of Slappy while being a sequel, and this is because Night of the Living Dummy was never adapted into an episode. The reasons for this are unknown, or at least I wasn’t able to find one. Regardless, despite being a sequel, Night of the Living Dummy II stands on its own as a story, and a mostly satisfying one at that. 

Goosebumps night of the living dummy 2.....

Slappy is the perfect type of villain character for a scary children’s story, as ventriloquist’s dummies are inherently creepy, and are so without even having to try. While not nearly as effective to an adult such as myself who is watching Night of the Living Dummy II for the first time, I know from experience that Slappy was and is likely quite frightening to children. I too was somewhat afraid of ventriloquist's dummies as a kid, and that was a direct result of a short film simply titled The Dummy, which used to air on the USA network.

Nevertheless, Night of the Living Dummy II is an enjoyable episode of Goosebumps, and most definitely a fun way to start off a brand new season of Goosebumps At 33!

Until next time, kiddies, keep your nightlight on and your head under the covers…

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Salute Your Shorts: Flicker (2013)

Flicker 2013 Short halloween film

It’s Halloween night, and shortly after stealing a jack-’o-lantern off a scarecrow, a young girl learns from a friend that the jack-’o-lantern is cursed. Naturally, the young girl doesn’t believe her friend, and proceeds paint and even mock the jack-’o-lantern as she waits for her friends to come over so they can see her new prized possession. When her friends don’t show up on time, however, the girl finds herself stuck in the house alone as strange things begin to happen. Was her friend right about the jack-’o-lantern being cursed, or is she just being a little paranoid on this frightful Halloween night?

Written & Directed by Robert Zellner, Flicker does a nice job of building tension through camerawork, music and pacing. There’s a sinister feel throughout the piece, but not in a fashion that’s mean spirited, though it’s certainly in a way that is very fitting to the Halloween season. In terms of tone, Flicker feels very much inline with something that you’d see in an episode of Goosebumps, though on a much shorter and cheaper scale.

The 7 minute short is bookended by some minimal stop-motion animation of the scarecrow, which is possibly the most impressive element of the short. There’s not a lot of movement involved, but these moments work as nice and simple visual treat that adds value to the overall package.  

Flicker is cheaply made and a tad silly, but it's a fun watch and it's heart is certainly in the right place, which is really all that matters in a short film of this nature.

Salute Your Shorts 3

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Houses October Built (2014): This Old Haunted House

The houses october built movie review

Five friends go on a road trip to find the most extreme haunted houses in America, all while hoping to uncover and document something more sinister than your average haunt. While the group come across a few creepy things along the way, their trip turns up very little outside of sporadic rumors about a traveling haunt that is considered the craziest of them all. As they increase their search for this mysterious haunt, things start to take a dangerous turn when a group of very disturbed people begins to mess with them, putting the friends in a situation far more intense than they had ever anticipated. 

Directed by Bobby Roe, The Houses October Built is a found footage style horror flick that does little to differentiate itself from the pack in terms of execution. Where the film does sometimes excel, however, is in its overall concept and some of the ideas that are able to bleed through the thick layer of predictability.

The houses october built movie review 1

The film is essentially a documented look at a group of friends as they travel from haunt to haunt, all the while trying to gain some insight into what makes some of the people who work at these things tick. For some, working at a haunted house is a fun and thrilling way to spend the Halloween season, while there are others who could potentially use the platform as a way to work out some anger on unsuspecting patrons. Throughout the film, the group of friends hear stories about how there’s always the chance that some haunted house employees could be a danger, and no one would know beforehand as there are no pre-employment background checks and other things of that nature. Furthermore, and this is specific to the Midwest locations in the film, many of these haunts are located in very rural areas, where sometimes things can be, well, a tad sketchy.

One of the more frightening elements of The Houses October Built is the fact that it’s difficult to differentiate between what situations and people are actually dangerous and what aren’t. They’re dealing with haunted houses, after all, and the actors at these haunts – especially at some of the more successful ones – will very rarely break character. In fact, many times they’ll do whatever it takes to scare a person, short of harming them of course. Or at least that’s what we hope. The truth of the matter is, you really never know what lengths people will go to mess with you, let alone how far they'll actually go. Worse yet, who’s to stop them before it’s too late?

The houses october built movie review 2

As far as the cast is concerned, the five friends have a very natural rapport with one another, which is likely due to them being friends in real life. While they’re able to play off one another in a natural and realistic fashion, they're not exactly the most fleshed out group of people, let alone the most likable. There's a certain level of disrespect and ignorance a few individuals give off at times – especially in terms of how they look down on the “backwoods” people who are running these haunts –  and that is exactly what puts them in such a rough situation with the locals. Are they so bad as characters that they deserve to be terrorized in the fashion that they are? Not in the least, but it's not always about what one deserves, especially within the confines of a horror film.

An unfortunate component of The Houses October Built is the naivety that plagues the five main characters as a collective. As events unfold throughout the film, at some point one would assume these characters would see enough warning signs to pack up and head the hell home, no matter what anyone else says. It's certainly a trait attributed to found footage films – specifically the one character constantly talking everyone into seeing this thing through to the end, no matter how sketchy things may get – and it's a fairly frustrating element at times, especially in the final act.  

The houses october built movie review 3

One of the more enjoyable elements of The Houses October Built are the haunted attractions the characters visit. Not only does the film do a good job of showing how effective a haunted house can be – especially a really good one – it conveys the enjoyment that can come from being in such a freak show like atmosphere. It certainly works much better than the unnecessary strip club scene that serves no other purpose than to fit some obnoxiously fake boobies into the film.

The Houses October Built is a fairly predictable affair and certainly simplistic in terms of narrative, but it builds tension by presenting a situation that, while a tad far fetched, is plausible. At least in terms of the unsafe situations in which the naive characters put themselves in. If only the film could have fleshed out its ideas a little more proficiently and made better use of some of the more effective imagery – such as the little girl in the white mask, who is utterly frightening. As a result, The Houses October Built is nothing more than a minor and slightly stale treat to be enjoyed around the Halloween season, and nothing more.


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