Tuesday, November 26, 2019


HALLOWEEN SPOOKIES is the rarest of rarities: an amateur production that is wonderfully watchable! Dustin Mills and Dave Parker have already made their own movies before but this time they made a Halloween movie geared specifically for kids; however, this here adult enjoyed the hell out of it!

HALLOWEEN SPOOKIES is an anthology film with three individual stories contained inside a wraparound sequence. The wraparound features two witches introducing each segment while stirring their cauldron and, while obviously filmed in someone's kitchen, manages to still provide good performances. That goes for the whole movie! Friends and relatives seem to populate the cast but, despite this fact, seem to deliver damn good acting jobs. Even the kids in the first story -- "The Babysitter" -- are wonderfully capable little actors (and child actors are NOT number one on my hit parade normally).

The stories are written, directed and shot alternately by either Dustin Mills or Dave Parker and are uniformly entertaining while the cast is damn charming as well. There is no new ground broken here but the execution of each story is always immensely enjoyable to watch! "The Babysitter" features two kids and their babysitter coming back from trick-or-treating to encounter an evil clown. Second tale "The Messenger" finds a man who encounters a "messenger of death" and the third story finds a couple nerds conjuring up a few demons to terrorize a Halloween party. This sequence features some wonderful demon puppets by Dave Parker reminiscent of his previous "film for grownups" SLIMY LITTLE BASTARDS and is probably my favourite of the three stories.

The whole film HALLOWEEN SPOOKIES is such a hoot to watch and comes in at just a little over an hour in length. The true spirit of Halloween inhabits every frame and, despite the amateur origins, shows enough of wit, talent and charm to make it one of my yearly Halloween rewatches. Messrs Mills and Parker, congratulations on a great Halloween family film!

Thursday, October 31, 2019


COULD THERE BE A MORE PERFECT WAY TO SPEND HALLOWEEN DAY?  I'd be hard-pressed to think of one. 
The crowd-funded (and I was one of that crowd) documentary written and directed by David A. Weiner
about the horror films of the 1980s clocks in at almost 4 and a half hours (!) but never dragged.  It was frankly just was I was hoping it would be:  a documentary trick-or-treat bag covering everything from the blockbusters like POLTERGEIST and THE FLY to franchise movies in the FRIDAY THE 13th, HALLOWEEN and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET SERIES but also giving equal time to small indies like BASKET CASE and THE STUFF to beloved favourites of mine like THE BURNING, MANIAC and MY BLOODY VALENTINE. 
Packed with horror celebrities talking about their favourite horror films, this doc features participation from John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Barbara Crampton, Keith David, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Jeffrey Combs, Alex Winter, Cassandra Peterson, Stuart Gordon, Larry Cohen (in probably one of his last interviews), Nick Castle, Heather Langenkamp, Tom Adkins, Doug Bradley, Joe Bob Briggs and many more.   The purpose here is not to provide any new information on the horror movies of the 80s but instead to play like a bunch of (admittedly rather famous) horror fans sitting around talking about the movies they love. 
It's a fun and entertaining blast of a doc.  Now, I know you won't be able to see it until it goes into general release in a few months -- I watched a sneak preview provided to all the donors -- but keep your eye out for it when it arrives.  I think any horror fan will love it. 
IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS has such sights to show you!


AS PART OF THE COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN 2019, I ENDEAVOURED TO WATCH AT LEAST ONE HORROR FILM FOR EACH DAY OF OCTOBER.  Happily, I accomplished that task and then some!  Below you will find charts of my 31-Day Horror Movie Challenge loosely based on a template used for various Dread Central horror film challenges of the past.  And beyond the 31st you will find my additional watches "above and beyond" the call . . . of Cthulhu...

and of course, when I ran out of month I just kept watching horror movies!!!  Including a very special treat on Halloween day when I watched the sneak preview of the wonderful documentary on 80's horror movies "IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS" that I helped fund on indiegogo.  What a treat (with no tricks) for a Halloween day watch!  I hope everyone had a super spooky scary October and a fun Countdown to Halloween!


WHEN HALLOWEEN WAS HELD ON BY A RUBBER BAND.  Back when I was a lil monster in the 1970s, a Halloween costume was usually gotten from some store like Woolworth's for about $2.98.  The costume itself was a vinyl smock usually with the name of the character and some representative artwork on the front while the mask was a vacuum plastic thing with a rubber band stapled onto it which held it on your head.  Halloween eve would feature the sound of many vinyl smocks swishing up and down the dark streets while moisture from your breath condensed inside the plastic mask.  If any of this sounds familiar to you, you'll probably want to check out the brand new documentary HALLOWEEN IN A BOX which debuted on various VOD services on October 1st.  The doc features many vintage photos and home movies of kids in their costumes from the 1940s - 1980s as well as a fairly detailed history of the children's Halloween costume makers Ben Cooper Inc., Collegeville and Halco. 
If you don't already have an interest in the subject, this documentary may come off as a little dry and not for you; however, true Halloween nuts will find quite a bit here to interest you.  Among subjects covered is the "Who created Spider-Man" controversy:  several years before Marvel Comics' created the Spider-Man we all know by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Ben Cooper was producing their own Spider-Man kids Halloween costume apparently designed by Jack Kirby.  Did Steve Ditko happen to see a kid wearing that costume years before creating Marvel Comics' Spider-Man??? 
Ben Cooper Inc. Spider Man (L), Marvel Spider-Man (R)

Also covered is how the Tylenol tampering case of the early 1980's almost put a end to Halloween and these costume companies.  For those with an interest in nostalgic Halloween, this documentary might just hit the spot.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


EPISODE 7 OF THE FIRST SEASON OF THE ADDAMS FAMILY WAS BROADCAST ON OCTOBER 30th, 1964.  As Granmama goes to take Wednesday and Puggsley (wearing their horrible human costumes) out trick-or-treating, Gomez is carving a Jack O'Lantern in the likeness of Uncle Fester.  Police sirens are heard throughout the neighbourhood as a couple of robbers are on the lam. 
The crooks, who call themselves "Marty" (Skip Homeier) and "Claude" (Don Rickles), are invited in for the Halloween festivities and accept in order to hide from the cops.  When Gomez mistakes the robbers' satchel of loot for a trick-or-treat bag, he notices it's full of money.  Instead of the apple he was going to give them, Gomez opens a desk drawer full of money and puts some in their satchel.  Marty and Claude then spend the rest of the episode trying to get into that desk drawer and steal all the cash.  Before a festive game of bobbing for the crab, Gomez and Morticia recite a lovely Halloween poem  --  no Halloween would seem quite complete without it:

"It was Halloween evening and through the abode Not a creature was stirring, not even a toad.  Jack O'Lanterns are hung on the gallows with care to guide sister witch as she flies through the air.  And she calls out to them:  'Come Flitter, come Flutter, come Flapper and Flyer, Come Chitter, come Chatter, Come Vicious Vampire'."  

Fester provides intimate lighting with a light bulb in his mouth while Lurch accompanies on harpsichord.  Eventually, the robbers suggest they play hide-n-seek and, while the Addamses hide, Marty and Claude clean out the drawer full of money and make their getaway -- right into the arms of the waiting police.  

"HALLOWEEN WITH THE ADDAMS FAMILY" follows the tried and true tropes of the series in which some "normals" invade the sanctity of the Addams house and find the contents therein disturbing; however, the innocent Addams Family doesn't understand why they're acting so odd.  There's nothing more perfect than spending Halloween with the Addams Family -- especially with an episode that was originally broadcast 55 years ago tonight!


THE WOMEN WHO PIONEERED HORROR & SPECULATIVE FICTION.  This handsomely-designed hardcover by Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson examines the history and works of female authors who helped create and shape horror fiction from it's very beginnings to the present day.  From founding mothers Ann Radcliffe, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley & Margaret "Mad Madge" Cavendish through Edith Wharton, Margaret Oliphant & Elizabeth Gaskell to Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Anne Rice & Angela Carter.  The authors' lives are delved into as well as their works including a reading list for each author as to what is "not to be missed".  The book also features lovely illustrations by Natalya Balnova.  I just love the dedication:  "To all the girls who still sleep with the lights on, but read the scary stories anyway."  The authors also co-host the KNOW FEAR podcast which focuses on horror in popular culture.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


NOT AT ALL WHAT YOU'RE EXPECTING!  OK, so one look at that poster and you'd be excused for thinking "Oh, another "WHEN A STRANGER CALLS" type of horror movie.  Admittedly, that's what I thought.  But it is sooooooooooooooooooo much more than that.  Richard Stringham's 2+ hour first feature is remarkably not like any other horror film I've seen . . . and yet a little like all of them!  That's because there's SO much going on in this movie that it leaves a viewer feeling almost as dizzy as the lead character often feels.  That lead character is a teenager named MorganMacKenzie (impressively played by Jordan Phipps) who is a troubled teen that's been in and out of rehab and has just been grounded when her father came home and caught her going down on her boyfriend!  Morgan's mother has died in the past year (we get to see her ghost . . . or do we?) and Dad (Kristof Waltermire)
is going out to dinner with his "Queen Bitch" girlfriend Brynn (Carmen Patterson in a marvelous, over-the-top "queen bitch" performance).  All Morgan is required to do is give Gramma her medication and not have any boys over.  Of course, once Dad leaves, Morgan immediately strips down to her bra and panties and does copious amounts of different drugs and alcohol!   

The MacKenzie house is very large and affluently-appointed but, for some reason, the room which Gramma is kept locked inside at the top of the house looks like something out of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE -- decrepit bare wooden walls and floors covered with live tarantulas, rats and giant cockroaches.  Of course, throughout the whole movie we have to wonder if we're really seeing this or if it's a drug-induced hallucination by Morgan.  However, at no point in the movie is it really implied any of this is not really happening.  I believe the director doesn't intend that and that all this trippiness IS actually happening.  That's what makes this movie so much fun!  It is filled with so many horror tropes and twists and turns that there really IS never a dull moment.  And again, this movie is over 2 hours long! 
So, not only is Gramma (Janis Duley) scabrous and coughing up blood all over her nightgown-front but also not in her right mind.  That's why she's kept locked up in the attic!  On the way up to the attic, the walls of the stairway are covered with GIANT framed photos of Morgan's dead mother.  Which sometimes change into rotting corpses.  At various points, Morgan receives bizarre, disturbing phone calls on her Dad's bright red rotary phone (!) . . . . (a la BLACK CHRISTMAS),  is drugged and raped (or is she???) during a visit from her boyfriend and then encounters her Dad's business associate Barry (wonderfully creepy Greg Fallon) knocking on the door.  All this is probably only halfway through the movie!!!!  The film continues to escalate into insanely bizarre horror movie territory!

Hey, does that upholstery pattern look familiar to you???

Jordan Phipps turns in a very impressive performance; and NOT just because she spends most of the movie running around half-naked!  In fact, she manages to overcome that rather silly script requirement and STILL turn in a great performance.  Phipps is in almost every scene of this 2 hour + movie and it must've been exhausting (although by all accounts she had a wonderful time doing it). 
Greg Fallon also deserves praise for his impressively slimy and quite disturbing performance as Barry.  And as mentioned, Carmen Patterson is a Disney witch come to life while Janis Duley's Gramma . . . is ALSO a Disney witch come to life -- Duley is the old hag that gives SNOW WHITE the poison apple while Patterson is her counterpart evil Queen with the mirror mirror on the wall.  The female actors (as well as Greg Fallon) are where the acting chops can be found in this film.  I was actually shocked and surprised at just how much I enjoyed CLOSE CALLS since the totally misleading poster doesn't give a clue as to what the viewer is in for!  

Monday, October 28, 2019


GOODREADS HAS A WAY TO DETERMINE WHAT WILL KEEP YOU AWAKE!   They have a nightmare generator HERE which I'll also post a photo of below so you can tell what'll give you nightmares this Halloween Eve!  Of course, all us booklovers already belong to Goodreads, right?!?  Hop on your broomstick and get on over to Goodreads.com where they're celebrating Horror Month!

According to this, my nightmare will be about a Passive-Aggressive Demon in a haunted house!


PORT CHARLES' OWN DR. RICK WEBBER WRITES, DIRECTS, PRODUCES & STARS IN A LOST FILM THAT AIN'T LOST NO MORE!  The 1975 horror film THE INTRUDER helmed by Chris Robinson was originally shelved by its distribution company and never released on home video.  The film was thought to be lost until one lone print was discovered in 2017 and has subsequently been released by Garagehouse.  While it's always good to discover a film previously thought to be lost, THE INTRUDER is certainly no gem. 
Basically a retelling of Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, the film finds a group of (mostly) relatives boating to a remote island in order to find some gold.  Details about the hows and whys are a little sketchy in the film as it now exists.  Someone then starts bumping them off one by one.  A werewolf is suggested at one point; making a closer link to another AND THEN THERE WERE NONE horror film:  Amicus' THE BEAST MUST DIE.  However, the werewolf angle is never mentioned again.

To me, the film feels like there may be some scenes missing or else never filmed.  I'm not sure if that's the case but the murders seem to come suddenly one on top of the other rapid fire without much buildup or space between them.  We don't see most of the actual kills but only the aftermath with some blood liberally splashed around.  Big stars Mickey Rooney and Yvonne DeCarlo are gone
almost before you know it; I'm sure this was a budgetary decision so these stars would only need to be paid a day or two.  But the entire cast of the film is bumped off within a relatively quick 15-20 minutes.  It's also kinda cool that Yvonne DeCarlo (of THE MUNSTERS) and Ted Cassidy (of THE ADDAMS FAMILY) are in the same film!  The movie is by no means unwatchable and, in fact, seems to fly by before you know it.  I just can't shake the feeling that it seems unfinished and that's probably the reason why it was never released back in the day.   Chris Robinson is best known to me as Laura's father (of Luke & Laura fame) on TV soap GENERAL HOSPITAL and starring in the snakey horror film STANLEY as well as depicting AND designing the eponymous monster in Monte Hellman's BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE.  Here he takes on not only the direction of THE INTRUDER but also producing, writing AND starring in the film.  It may have proved a little too much to put on his plate unless there are indeed missing scenes that were cut from this only existing print which would improve the flow of the film.  Despite all this, THE INTRUDER is a passably fun time-waster which does have a couple nice twists its tail.  

Saturday, October 26, 2019


DC COMICS REVIVES AN OLD TITLE FOR A LITTLE TASTE OF HALLOWEEN.  "Secrets of Sinister House" was an old DC Comics title published from 1972 - 1974 and was a companion to their other gothic horror title "Dark Mansions of Forbidden Love".  When I was a kid, I picked up a couple issues of each and some back issues over the years.  Now, for the October season, DC has revived this hoary old title for an 80 page one-shot featuring 8 "short stories" with a horror tinge to them.  Like all the other DC Comics seasonal one-shot issues of the past few years, the issues feel like a collection of inventory stories in which new talent is given a chance to produce some work to be published.  So nothing in this issue is very spectacular but rather more like a comic book hors d'oeuvres tray of super-hero horror snack bites.  And these DC Comics Halloween one-shots are always fun. 
The 8 stories feature the "Red Rain" vampiric Batman battling a monstrous Talon from the Court of Owls, the Ryan Choi Atom a Lovecraftian-like Old Worm, Zatanna and Harley Quinn teaming up against a zombie clown Dr. Bonkers, Martian Manhunter taking to the swamps to fight an alien shape shifter, Detective Chimp and Justice League Dark vs a demon . . . or is it??? . . . ,
Deadman in a haunted house, Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz inside a haunted spaceship, and John Constantine helping the ghost of a murdered Hollywood starlet exact revenge on her killer. 
Have a nice cup of coffee or cocoa and settle down to read this by the fire.    


VARIOUS HEALTH AND LIFE ISSUES HAVE PREVENTED FAERECHEEK FILM FRIDAYS SO FAR THIS MONTH BUT TODAY MOVIE DAY WAS BACK!  Faeremoon, Sweet Cheeks and I got together for our periodic movie day of horror!  And yes, we only watch horror movies on Faerecheek Fridays no matter WHAT time of year it is but it's particularly appropriate in October.  And why "Under-Bite Nite"???  Well because both of the films we watched this evening featured actors with epic under-bites!

Today's Faerecheek Friday Double Feature began with the epic that is JACK BROOKS:  MONSTER SLAYER [2007].  For the first time ever, Fright Crate included a blu ray in this month's box and this is the one Cheeky Boy got so of course we watched it.  Jack Brooks is in therapy because, when he was a kid, he witnessed his parents killing by a kinda-werewolfy-monster.  For some reason, Brooks decides to take night classes given by Professor Crowley (a tour-de-force comedic performance by Robert Englund).  While working on Crowley's plumbing, Brooks digs up pipes in the yard and unearths a crate full of human bones and an odd heart that still seems to be beating.  Some sort of vapour takes over Prof. Crowley which causes him to eat the heart and gradually turn into some sort of wacky, vomiting demon creature.  Jack Brooks is not much of a monster slayer until near the end of the movie; he spends most of his time as a monster-run-away-from-er.  The saving graces of this film are the wonderfully hilarious performance of Robert Englund, David Fox (PACIFIC RIM, MAMA) in an equally hilarious role as Old Howard and the nicely-done practical effects monster costumes including a terrific cyclops creature as well as Prof. Crowley's ultimate Jabba-the-Hut-like demon.  

Our second horror feature of the day was CUJO [1983] -- well . . . . because I'd actually never seen it, believe it or don't!  As probably EVERYBODY already knows, CUJO stars the magnificent Dee Wallace, a 7 year old Danny Pintauro and about six St. Bernard's as Cujo in this 80's Stephen King adaptation.  The movie is quite good, one of the better Stephen King horror adaptations, but still suffers from King's uninspired subject matter.  I hesitate to call this a horror movie, in fact, because it's more like a movie-of-the-week about a rabid dog attack.  I just don't find a movie (or a book) about a dog with rabies the stuff of horror.  And it's certainly not the most original of premises; more like something you'd see around 15 minutes into the nightly newscast.
I also found a little distasteful the fact the Dee Wallace's character apparently must suffer through a rabid dog attack as some sort of retribution for having an affair on her douche of a husband. 
I mean, this is the guy who let's his wife and son try to drive around in a broken-down Ford Pinto while he tools around in a sports-car.  I still remain bewildered how Stephen King's lackluster, tired plots have made him the "king" of horror novels.  It baffles me.  Lewis Teague's direction is also pretty lacking in any sort of suspense or even much threat; other than the couple times he leaps at the car, Cujo mainly sits around looking glum.  Teague, who brought us such cinematic classics as AVALANCHE with Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow, CAT'S EYE (another bad Stephen King horror movie) and JEWEL OF THE NILE could not really be expected to do much more with CUJO and he doesn't. 
The film's saving grace is Dee Wallace who is always SO watchable and gives a superb performance; plus Danny Pintauro who still manages to pull off a pretty harrowing performance even with such an annoying character that he's saddled with.  A competently-made film with a great central performance based on a lackluster plot.  Zero scares.  Worth a watch if you've got nothing better to do, I guess.  Hell, it's MUCH better than AVATAR, anyway!    

Friday, October 25, 2019


AN EXCERPT FROM "TERRIFIC TALES" BY ISABELLA LEWIS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 1804. Being the account of many and sundry ghostly true tales.