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Thursday, April 04, 2019


A tragic funeral procession...for a deceased beloved pet, or for the movie?

I just saw the latest adaptation of PET SEMATARY and, in the immortal words of Johnny Rotten, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" I freely admit that PET SEMATARY is hands down my favorite Stephen King novel and that I was never a fan of the 1989 adaptation, which to me looked and felt like a cheap made-for-TV movie, so after the superb recent remake of IT, I approached the new PET SEMATARY with hope. 

  • The film starts out with a flash-forward to nearly the end of the film, then promptly skips back to the start if the story proper. Why this was done I cannot begin to tell you.
  • The characters are given little or no fleshing out and what we do understand about them is hugely dependent upon the viewer having read the novel. I cared about no one onscreen.
  • The pacing and omission of certain plot elements renders the narrative into a Crib Notes version of itself, eradicating most of the story's atmosphere and thematic weight.
  • Unlike in the novel, Church is never put down after his resurrection as something malevolent, thus robbing the story of Louis truly understanding why using the burial ground is not a good idea.
  • The sub-plot about Rachel's judgmental asshole of a father is completely omitted, and with it goes one of the most intense and emotionally wrenching moments in the original story, namely the wake. In fact we only see brief glimpses of her parents, or at least I assume they were her parents, as they are never identified as such and they also have maybe one line each.
  • The filmmakers switch the wrenching narrative purposes of  the Creed children, so it is now Ellie who is killed by the truck, the reason given by the filmmakers being that they could get a better performance from an older child. That made sense on paper, but by swapping 9-year-old Ellie for two-year-old Gage, her resurrection is just nowhere near horrific enough. Also, as a result of that change, the last third of the story is more or less rewritten and swapped out for a headlong descent into full-tilt stupidity.
  • When Ellie returns, she is at first merely stoic and Louis attempts to restore things to normal with her. She, however, twigs to the fact that she was dead and soon becomes malevolent. Her mother, sensing the cosmic wrongness afoot, returns home with Gage and finds her husband, who basically says "It's okay, honey. I just dug up our daughter's corpse, buried her again in a magic burial ground, and now she's back," at which point Ellie shows up and freaks her mother the fuck out.
  • As the shit hits the fan and Ellie goes all Norman Bates, Louis locks Gage in the family car and tells him not to unlock the door for anyone, "Not even mommy and daddy." He then goes inside the house, where he is knocked unconscious by Ellie, who has just murdered her mother. Ellie drags her mom's body to the burial ground and inters her, only to have her father show up and the two engage in a final battle...until the resurrected Rachel drives a handy piece of rebar through Louis's back and out of his chest. The scene fades and then things fade back up to the opening flash-forward (now the present), and we see the house ablaze. Gage, still in the car, notes the burning house, then his parents, sister, and cat approach the car. They beseech him to let them in and the credits roll (to the feeble accompaniment of a wan remake of the Ramones' 1989 PET SEMATARY theme song).
Less than a half-hour into the film, groups of people got up and walked out, and the exodus continued throughout. During the last half-hour, there were numerous audience exclamations of "What???" and "What the fuck???" before things degenerated to outright booing. I even let fly with "This is some fucking bullshit!" which was met with "You said it, muthafukka!!!" When the film finally ended, I have never seen a movie theater's auditorium clear out so fast.

Anyone who can find enjoyment in this film has probably never gotten within ten miles of the source novel, and what this adaptation did to it can be considered nothing less than a desecration, especially when taking its sequel-bait "zombie family" ending into account.

PET SEMATARY, my caramel-colored ass. "Shit Sematary," more like. AVOID.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018


"Ho, ho, ho," indeed!

This year I finally sprung for a straight copy of SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964) — as opposed to the admittedly hilarious MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 and RIFFTRAX versions (which I already have) — and I'm glad I ordered the ordinary DVD edition. It's out on remastered Blu-Ray but that would be like getting PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE or ROBOT MONSTER in a hi-def and remastered format. What would be the point? I grew up with crappy prints of SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS and the faded print quality, scratches on the film, and the film abruptly opening after the theme song has begun, all of which only adds to its legendary crap-tasticness, and I'm glad to say that the DVD that I bought has all of those shoddy elements intact. I bought it with the intention to run it as this year's holiday feature for the weekly bad movie night at my friend Lexi's and threw it into my player to see how it looks, and I've found myself having left it on as welcome background noise. 

It's utter garbage and features the screen debut of '80's softcore legend Pia Zadora (at age 8 as girl Martian "Girmar"), so if you somehow missed it during your misspent childhood, get your hands on a copy immediately. It's perfect for Christmas gatherings that involve good friends, adult libations in abundance, and illegal smokables. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

Saturday, December 01, 2018


That feel-good moment when doing errands in the rain on Park Slope's 5th Avenue, running into a pack of very drunk 20-something white boys loudly singing the Misfits' "Some Kinda Hate," and surprising the shit out of them by joining them in song. They looked at me, a 5' 10" bald black dude in birth control glasses like I was an alien god that had stepped out of a psychedelic UFO, and one of them smiled as he exclaimed, "Righteous, dude!" while flashing the horns. Proof to me that there is still hope for this nation's youth.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


"What the fuck???"

Ah, the holiday season in NYC, when the beggars (homeless or subway "entertainers" or otherwise) come out of the woodwork. 

On the Q train to and from Mount Sinai (for the second of this month's bi-weekly Dupixent treatments for my atopic dermatitis), I encountered a tejano duo (the same one, both ways) and numerous bums, one of whom was among the most strung-out women I have ever seen. Then, just a few minutes ago as I was leaving my local pharmacy after picking up a prescription, some random black dude walked up to me, looked me up and down and then said "Say, nigga...You like like a rich muh-fugga...GIMME FI' DOLLAHS!!!" The idea of myself being perceived as a "rich muh-fugga" amused me to the point of out-loud laughter, which confused the beggar. He even uttered "What the fuck???" as I walked away cracking up to myself.

Saturday, November 17, 2018


Today marks the 40th anniversary of THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, unarguably one of the worst pieces of crap in the history of American television. On this night in 1978, the world was still gripped in STAR WARS-mania a year-and-a-half after the original film came out and the first cinematic sequel was not due until May of 1980, so this two-hour special was created in hope of scratching that itch and possibly starting a new annual tradition for the whole family. I was but one of millions of eager youngsters who sat in front of the TV that night, foaming at the mouth for a return to thrilling adventures in the galaxy far, far away, but what was all got was something that none of us were prepared for. 

Ad promoting the original broadcast.

The show was an absolute train wreck of late-'70's variety show cheese, complete with guest stars that would possible appeal to our parents and grand-parents but not our demographic, special effects cribbed directly from the movie, musical performances that should have been outlawed by the Geneva Convention, Carrie Fisher very obviously coked-up out of her mind, Mark Hamill fresh from his face-scarring accident and slathered with so much makeup that he was easily mistaken for a pretty-but-butch lesbian tennis star, Harrison Ford looking totally ashamed and pretty much marking the exact moment when he stopped giving a fuck, "agonizing "comedy" sketches that were about as funny as the Middle Passage, and a framing device that hung the entire mess on spending time with Chewbacca's family as they nervously awaited his return for the quasi-psychedelic Wookie holiday of "Life Day" (which is never properly explained). The show's two saving graces were the presence of Bea Arthur as the proprietor of the famous alien-packed cantina, and an animated segment by Canada's Nelvana studio that featured the first onscreen appearance of Boba Fett (voiced by LOVEJOY's Ian McShane). 
The end result was so bad that it came off as "entertainment" intended for no one, and school that Monday was an all-day litany of kids grousing in stunned disbelief over what they had witnessed. The idea that any of us would hate something that was officially a STAR WARS project featuring the original cast was inconceivable, yet there it was, and it was jaw-droppingly, mind-bendingly godawful. Universally lambasted for its level of wretchedness that made PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE look like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY by comparison, the show was never broadcast again and George Lucas — who, it should be noted, signed off on the this debacle — was famously quoted as saying "If I had the time and a hammer, I would track down every copy of that program and smash it." 
However, thanks to VCR's being a relatively new thing, the special was captured for posterity by eager fans, and now well-circulated bootlegs of dodgy visual quality are the only way to see the damned thing, as it has never received an official release and probably never will. That said, it is easily obtained and can even be had in a version with running commentary from the Rifftrax guys (who also starred in the Mike years of the legendary MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000). And you know a show is terrible when the vintage commercials (that were taped along with the special during its sole legit airing) are one of its least-irritating aspects. 
If the usual suspects do Movie Night at Lexi's this week, I'm going to push for a screening of the Rifftrax version of this and hopefully spread the misery.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Ah, Brooklyn. Where you can just be hanging out in your apartment while working on a freelance assignment and hear a random passerby on the street scream "FUCK YOU!!!" at some unseen offender.

Thursday, November 08, 2018


(Not the actual subjects of this piece, DUH.)

It's 1:30am and thanks to the ease with which I can hear the action on the sidewalk in front of my building through closed windows, I just overheard a woman, I think one of my building's newer residents, address what I presume was her date with the following:
(excited and grateful) "OH, THANK YOU! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! You bought me ONE bottle of pills! (drops the excited/thankful act) You're so CHEAP! You can just fuck off..." (walks into building's lobby, slams door)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2018-Day 31: BEING HUMAN "Adam's Family" (2011)

An unusual way of putting food on the table for one's child.

Meet Adam Jacobs (Craig Roberts), a 46-year-old British vampire with the physical/social/emotional development of an obnoxious, hormonal teenager. His poorly-controlled feeding habits force him and his parents to periodically move residence to places where they are not known, only for the cycle to once again repeat itself, but this time Adam opts to feed on an old man in the Bristol hospital where George Sands (Russell Tovey) works as an orderly. That's a fortunate development for him because George is a reluctant werewolf with a kind heart who lives as a seemingly mundane guy in normal human society. George brings the (relatively) young suckface home with him, intent on giving the "kid" someplace to live while his father lays in a hospital bed, slowly dying after decades of allowing his son to feed on his blood. (An example of which we see in the episode's opening flashback, set in the 1980's.)  Once the old man expires (in a truly tragic scene that makes clear that he loved his son very much, vampire or not), Adam officially moves in with George and George's housemates, Mitchell (Aidan Turner), who is himself a vampire of over a century in age, and Annie (Lenora Crichlow), the ghost of a young woman who was murdered in the house. The three supernaturals strive to live as normally as possible but it's not an easy task — as Annie is adjusting to just having been rescued from purgatory, and Mitchell is attempting to stay "clean" after savagely slaughtering twenty people on a train — so they seek a stable family of vampires with whom to place Adam. 

BEING HUMAN'S protagonists: housemates George (a werewolf), Mitchell (a vampire), and Annie (a ghost).

The perfect foster home seems to be found when Adam is introduced to the kindly and well-off Richard (Mark Lewis Jones) and Emma (Melanie Walters), who live in a posh country estate and get around the grotty business of killing humans by maintaining a dungeon in which they have kept a succession of all-too-willing humans as a straight-from-the-tap blood source. That arrangement strikes George as weird, especially after meeting and chatting with Number 7 (Morgan Jones), the latest "big, bouncy food supply" who happily resides chained up in the dungeon and perpetually clad in a full-body rubber S&M outfit. His interactions with Richard reveal that he is treated like a beloved (if rather stupid) puppy, and that his drained-out predecessors have been given the "dignity" of a burial in the family garden, as if they were simply expired house pets. Richard and Emma also display a solid streak of upper-class snobbery and racism, considering humans and the other members of the non-human community to be "trash from housing estates, the dole scum, the layabouts, mongrels...and werewolves," but George and his girlfriend, Nina (Sinead Keenan), figure Adam would be better off in a vampire environment that eschews straight-up murder of innocent prey. However, once back home, George and Nina realize they've left an immature and impressionable killing machine to be raised and influenced by foster parents whose attitudes are elitist and racist, so they head back to get the lad the hell out of there. But what George and Nina did not figure on was the fact that Adam's new foster parents are a pair of hardcore, kinky-as-hell hedonistic S&M swingers who seek to initiate the already hormonal Adam into their lifestyle during a full-blown orgy, complete with guests openly engaging in sex acts, sporting leather fetish wear, and indulging in clearly expert flagellation. But the parents' true and most horrifying party piece is leading Adam into an upstairs room where he will be "made a man" in the presence of — and with the accompanying kinky sexual participation — of Richard and Emma, plus assorted guests, as a delighted Number 7 is laid down upon a pool table covered with plastic sheets, so Adam can literally drink him dry. A nervous Adam is encouraged to feast, as he will' need all his strength" for when his attention is turned to Emma — who, remember, is now his mother figure — and when George and Nina arrive just as the main event is about to go down, Adam must face a choice between going with the good guys and enduring an eternal life of considerable hardship, or giving himself completely to evil and indulging every forbidden whim and fantasy as his heart desires.

Adam's "coming out" party, interrupted.

BEING HUMAN was a five-season comedy-drama series that ran on the BBC from 2008 through 2013, and while I only saw the first three seasons, I loved what I saw. It took the kind of horror-as-serialized TV thing pioneered by DARK SHADOWS (1966-1971, 1991) and later codified with the likes of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and TRUE BLOOD and gave it a distinctly British reworking that rendered its fantastical elements utterly believable. Though rooted in a recognizable reality, the series perfectly blended the real and supernatural worlds, and the main focus of the show was on how the un-human housemates made their way through the world in as normal a way as fate would permit. Nothing was ever easy for any of them and the audience gets quite invested in their individual and combined struggles and arcs, such as Annie slowly recovering suppressed memories of how she really died and the circumstances leading up to her death, or Mitchel losing control over his vampiric nature and becoming a wanted man by both the human authorities and the vampire community's elders for his role in the "Box Tunnel 20 Massacre." Very good stuff and I intend to someday watch the final two seasons, but the main plotlines sometimes take a back seat to standout episodes like "Adam's Family," which do something new and fun with the tropes one expects from a genre as well-trod as horror.

The correlation between the vampire and the sexual has been explored innumerable times since the dawn of the genre, but "Adam's Family's" depiction of Richard and Emma as jaded, posh, upper-class hedonistic assholes was a stroke of genius, and their portrayal by Mark Lewis Jones and Melanie Walters is nothing short of darkly hilarious as they perfectly convey the oblivious obnoxiousness of the super-entitled. It's made quite clear that there is no perversion that they would not indulge in, and that makes them of far more interest than your run-of-the-mill undead suckfaces, and I was kind of sad that they didn't get their own six-episode side story that allowed us even more of an intimate look into their home (un)life.

Emma and Richard: a refreshing change of pace for the depiction of the modern-day vampire.

In short, if you have not already checked out BEING HUMAN, it is well worth your time, or at least the first three seasons are. You will not be disappointed.

And with this year's final entry, I bid you a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Let's meet again next year! Same blog, same time! AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Cornwall, 1860: a village suffers from mysterious lethargy and numerous odd deaths, so resident doctor Peter Tompson (Brook Williams) sends for the aid of his old friend and former teacher, Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell). Accompanied by his daughter, Sylvia (Diane Clare), Sir James arrives in the afflicted village and immediately runs afoul of a band of fox-hunting blue-blood assholes who, in their zeal to run down their prey, accidentally knock over a coffin being borne by two men. Upon crashing to the ground, the casket opens and exposes the body of the recently-deceased body of one of the bearers, who is none too pleased at the disruption and takes it out on the new arrivals. Since setting up practice in town twelve months previous, one local has died per each month of Dr. Tompson's presence, and he is at a loss to explain what the cause could be. As the locals' mistrust of Tompson percolates, Sir James find lodgings with Dr. Tompson and his wife, Alice (Jacqueline Pearce), and during an after-dinner conversation with the doctor, it is stated that Tompson has not been allowed to perform autopsies on any of the dead, both due to the villagers' reluctance at the perceived desecration of their loved ones' corpses, and also by the decree of Squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson), whose word amounts to local law in the eyes of the villagers. Since they cannot legally obtain a corpse for their investigation, Sir James and Dr. Tompson take it upon themselves to illegally exhume the body that was so rudely exposed by the fox-hunters, but upon opening the grave, the coffin is found to be empty...

Meanwhile, Alice has been looking haggard and behaving strangely, as she has been targeted by Hamilton for diabolical, voodoo-fueled purposes. Following Alice as she leaves in the middle of the night, a crying and terrified Sylvia is abducted by the returning fox-hunters and subjected to the preamble of what is clearly about to become a gang rape, which is thwarted just in time by an irate Squire Hamilton. Though allowed to depart unharmed and with a (seemingly) sincere apology from the Squire, Sylvia threatens to report the assault to legitimate authorities, but Hamilton persuades her not to do so, citing his appreciation and promising that the would-be rapists will be punished. On her way back to the doctor's house, Sylvia encounters Alice, now quite dead, in the arms of the undead brother who was missing from his coffin. 

The deceased Alice, carried by the undead.

Horrified and in shock, Sylvia makes it home and informs her father of what she has seen. Alice's body is retrieved and an autopsy finally takes place, which yields the discovery that a sample of blood taken from Alice is not human. The investigation leads Sir James and Dr. Tompson to a forgotten mine on the moors, and from there the true horror of what's been transpiring beings to become clear.

Oh, what the young lads bring back after studying abroad...

Unbeknownst to the general public, Hamilton is the head of a clandestine voodoo cabal comprised of himself and the fox-hunting rape gang, and the Squire has been utilizing his voodoo powers (which he learned during his studies abroad during previous years) to steal and revive the bodies of the dead to serve as slaves in the abandoned mine, which now yields tin that the Squire and his followers will maintain their wealth with. Thus, it's only a matter of time until the forces of goodness and medical science engage in final conflict with black arts cribbed from black people.

 Tompson encounters the living dead.

I'm a big fan of the Hammer cycle of shockers, a roster that cut a bloody and colorful swath across screens worldwide and which redefined the horror genre after the iconic run of Universal's monochrome celluloid nightmares, and despite being an avid seeker of their films, THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES was one that eluded me until just a few days ago. It never seemed to run on any of the local TV showcases for horror movies during my growing up years and I never saw it listed for cable airings. I finally had to shell out ten bucks for a DVD copy at the Chiller Theatre Convention over the weekend, and I am saddened to say that it was not worth the wait nor the ten bucks. I've certainly seen worse horror films, but I hold Hammer's works to a certain general standard and it's painful to encounter one of their films that's a solid dud, which is a kind way to describe THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES. First of all, the title is an outright lie. There is no "plague" of revenants. Prior to the film's ending, we get brief glimpses of exactly two zombies who do nothing but lurch around a bit, and a bit where Dr. Tompson is confronted by four newly-risen undead, only to wake up and have the encounter revealed to have been a nightmare. Then, during the climax, we see a bunch of zombies slaving away while being whipped in the tin mine. That's it. And bear in mind that these are pre-Romero, classical-style zombies, so they are simply undead slaves as opposed to being the ravenous flesh-eaters that now define the creatures in question. That lack of flesh-munching leaves little room for much in the way of gore, and the one bit of signature hammer-style gruesomeness that we do get is a weak and unconvincing beheading of the zombie Alice via shovel.

To be fair, the cast does their best with what the script gave them to work with, but one cannot make a gourmet meal from a can of Spam and a box of saltines. It is with a heavy heart that I rate THE PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES near the bottom of my estimation of Hammer's horror catalog. Perhaps not the worst they had to offer, but definitely a dull, tepid disappointment that does not warrant subsequent viewings.

Poster from the U.K. release.

Poster from the American release.

Monday, October 29, 2018


The unearthing of sheer evil.

In 17th -century England, plowman Ralph Gower (Barry Andrews) unearths a portion of some strange creature's skull, complete with an intact eye, and promptly runs to alert the authorities, represented by the local circuit court judge (Patrick Wymark). The judge is an educated man, the antithesis of the sort of magistrates seen in stories of this stripe, so he at first dismissses Gower's claims as mere peasant superstition, but nonetheless allows Gower to take him to the location of the mysterious remains. Upon arriving at the scene, Gower and the judge find the remains are gone, so Gower is disbelieved. From that moment on, the town is afflicted with a rash of insanity among its residents, with the local youth getting up to assorted improper "games," a nasty self-inflicted severing of a hand, and many developing odd and random patches of coarse, dark fur upon their bodies, all while some weird creature lives in the infrastructure of the house where the judge is staying while visiting an old friend. The hairy patches are believed by the still-superstitious peasants to be a sign that those thus afflicted are marked as the Devil's own, and soon many of the local youth are in the thrall of the witchy and seductively beautiful adolescent Angel Blake (Linda Hayden), whose unsavory actions influence the village's teens. Matters escalate as the teens follow Angel and set up a base in some ruins in the nearby woods, from where they launch a campaign of ritualistic murder and mutilation as they harvest patches of hair skin and organs for their unseen "master," who is apparently the aforementioned thing inside the house. It was incomplete, but it comes closer to being fully intact with ever human part stolen and every atrocity committed in its name. Needless to say the judge must get his shit together and go all WITCHFINDER GENERAL on the diabolical evildoers before that weird devil thing is fully incarnate.

Angel (Linda Hayden) introduces innocent Cathy (Wendy Padbury) to a new game. If you can call her ritualized rape and murder a game, that is...

Falling neatly into the niche that some term "folk horror," THE BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW was part of the wave of witch-hysteria films popular in Europe during the late-1960's and early-1970's, with items like WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968), THE DEVILS (1971), and MARK OF THE DEVIL (1972) being the best-known examples of the form, and it were up to me, it would take the place of the appalling and sleazy MARK OF THE DEVIL on that roster. THE BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW is a well-crafted take on the genre's tropes and it surprises in that it's not the festival of over-the-top badly-acted peasants with bad teeth that one expects. The characters are largely rational and relatable, and when things turn diabolical none of the un-influenced behave in ways that do not make sense. Also interesting is how it takes place  just as the witch-paranoia of old is giving way to more level-headed enlightenment, only to have the old fears and superstitions turn out to be wholly justified.

Ralph Gower (Barry Andrews) prepares to offer his skin while enthralled in an unholy ritual.

The story's events unfold slowly and logically, and Linda Hayden's Angel Blake proves an enticing and sinister young witchling indeed. Hayden was born to play sexy roles and she's perfect here as Angel leads a pack of sweet-faced former-innocents into all manner of evil and murderous shenanigans, including luring sweet local girl Cathy into what is pitched as a "new game," but is in actuality the young lass' ritualized rape and savage murder. The tension that builds during that sequence is truly squirm-inducing, and it's made that much more unpalatable by Cathy being portrayed by Wendy Padbury, aka Zoe Heriot from the Patrick Troughton era of classic DOCTOR WHO> Seeing her so brutalized is not something anyone would want to witness, and it's especially hard to see it happen to the much-loved actress who played Zoe.

Angel goes in for the ritualistic kill.

Though rather tame by today's standards, and even for its era, especially when stacked against the excesses of its more infamous brethren, THE BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW is a solid little piece from Britain's short-lived Tigon studios, and the only element that would earn it an R-rating now would be the full-frontal nudity of Linda Hayden as Angel attempts to seduce the village's religious leader (NOTE: she was seventeen or so when the film was shot and she physically looks it, so exercise discretion when viewing) and the rape of Cathy, which is more disturbing than graphic. Definitely worth your time if you're into films about ye olde schoole witchcraft from the POV when witches were all presumed to be followers of the Devil.
Poster from the American theatrical release.