Thursday, June 30, 2016

Messiah of Evil



Wow. Messiah of Evil (1973) is one of those special films. It's really strange, really slow, but it somehow manages to hold your attention.

A woman ventures out to where her Father was living to try and locate him after he's gone missing. He's an artist and his home is full of his disturbing, modern art. The beautiful Marianna Hill plays her role as daughter Arletty to perfection as she drifts around trying to find her Father , but the town of Point Dune is a place that's far better to drive through than to stay in.

We have voice over from not only the woman searching for her Father, but the Father as well. There is SO MUCH talking in this film it's amusing. But, it's saving grace is the numerous creepy arse scenes within it. If you can hold out they are worth the wait.

Or, you can skim through and find them - that works as well. :::grin::








I actually watched the whole film and enjoyed the pace. Especially since I have a cold going. I needed a slow burn to keep me company for a while. If you like a slow burn 70s creeper, you really may enjoy Messiah.

If you have the time - and maybe some coffee to keep you awake - I recommend a SOMETHING IS WRONG IN TOWN TRIPLE BILL with Messiah of Evil, Carnival of Souls and the most awesome DEAD AND BURIED...my personal fave.







Watch in full below! :)


Funeral Home



FUNERAL HOME is a wonderful start to the world of 80s horror. It's a strange blend of so many tropes that will be seen as the cornerstones of horror of the 80s. The creepy old location, the strange cast of characters - some you don't even know the names of as they stomp around the set, the obvious red herring moments...  It even has an off screen conversation between two people that you just see in shadows - PSYCHO style.
The one thing it's missing is shocks and gore. It's a slower paced little tale, but a fun watch.

Lesleh Donaldson plays Heather, a...teen ager? Maybe? Maybe 23 years old? Maybe 16?...who goes to help her Grandmother run her new bed and breakfast. Yup...in what used to be a funeral home. And...let the mysteries begin! Who's Grandma talking to in the basement? What happened to the WAY over the top couple who was at the B&B humping around IN SIN? Where did this other guy go who seemingly buried his own car under a bale of hay? And...why does a black cat freak Heather out so much?



There are these fantastic moments in the film that date it wonderfully. Things like the Grandmother - played by a wondrous,  scenery chewing Kay Hawtrey - hearing that the two "kids" have gone into the basement area and want to know if there is more "cool stuff" in the cellar to which she replies, "The CELLAR? :::pause::: You must NEVER go into the CELLAR."

And Heather muttering things like, "It's awful the way he just disappeared...without anyone knowing what happened to him," with a far away look in her eyes.

The movie stumbles along spinning it's tale with a fun look and feel. There are flashbacks and side stories that really keep this film moving, even though there are moments where it's not moving at all. hehehe 

Yeah...this is kind of a hot mess, but it's a fun hot mess. It's an interesting move from 70s horror into the world of 80s nastiness that was still to come. It even snatches some nuggets put out by FRIDAY THE 13th mere months before like the flashlight in the face/who's that? gag and shadowy, back-lit killers.  However, there are some new reveals that are rather creepy as well.
 

The story is rather complex and and plays out nicely. It manages to bring a few "Ah Ha!" moments into play. It would be a good "starter horror" for someone who wants to explore the genre, but doesn't want anything too crazy. It has it's "slasher" moments, but all the scenes play out far tamer than your FRIDAY THE 13th films.


And, if the simple story still confuses you when the movie ends, don't worry, there's a full recap as the credits role by Alf Humphreys as he talks to a reporter and pets the real hero of the story, the black cat from the beginning of the movie. :)  This film was a lot of fun.


Give it a watch. Also available on Amazon Prime at the time of this posting.


Dominique is Dead



Michael Anderson (LOGAN'S RUN, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS) directed this fine little chiller from 1979. It's not a perfect film, mind you, but it has a charm to it. Like a warm blanket for me. Perfect for viewing on the sofa under a blanket.

Cliff Robertson and Jean Simmons play Mr and Mrs Ballard. Dominique Ballard had suffered a nasty fall down some stairs and seems to be having some issues with knowing what she's doing and saying while bumping around the old house. She has arguments she doesn't remember. She seems to have stolen a bracelet from one of her dinner guests. Then...she sees someone hanging in the greenhouse. Is she loosing her mind?

Well, as the title says, she doesn't live long. She hangs herself in the same greenhouse she saw her grim vision in. However, it's not long before Mr. Ballard starts seeing visions of his own. Visions...of Dominique. 



I don't really want to say more about the film here for fear of spoiling things. It's a simple film, but the way it's played out makes me happy. There are some fun visuals and interesting twists. (Albeit, simple ones that a movie lover will see coming from miles away. hehehe)

Available on YouTube and Amazon Prime at the posting of this article. Video below.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Black Mountain Side - A slow burn that's worth the wait

SPOILER FREE as usual.

The other day, I got another "blind Twitter follow" from a man named Nick Szostakiwskyj. I get these a lot. An unspoken, "Oh! You like movies?! I make movies! Check one out, please!" I actually appreciate this. It means folks are making an effort.

So, I checked out his Twitter page and website and they both looked really professional. One of the images on the site drove me to look up the film Black Mountain Side.



Intrigued, I checked out the trailer ( ...which I do not recommend that you do!! Seriously ) and immediately went to Amazon and added it to my watch list for that very night.

Now, let me get the small negatives out of the way right off the bat. There are not many, but they will make some people run around screaming. ::grin::: 


This is a slow, SLOW burn. It's like Carpenter's THE THING with several of the action, pulse pounding scenes removed from the first and second acts. Folks sit and talk and you soak in their conversations as the wonderfully shot film spins along crafting it's story. There were a few moments where I wished they went to the "show, don't tell" mode of film making - it might have helped the pacing a bit. Actually seeing some of the things that are talked about after they happen when the characters regroup here and there might have boosted the energy of the film a bit. 

Based on what I've seen from horror fans, this will make many people crazy. They'll bark at their screens yelping, "THERE'S NOTHING HAAAAAAPPENING!!!!" and will start tearing at their skin like wild animals.
To them I say, "Do us all a favor and don't watch this film. I can't take hearing your commentary on it, honestly. Go watch SAW XXI and be happy."  There IS stuff happening, you just need to listen and work it out without seeing jump scares, things popping out at you, and blood spraying 20 feet in the air.


The only other caveat I have about the film is that things are NOT spelled out for you. If you want that, you won't find it here. There are expanses as wide open as the films bleak and beautiful landscape - again, superbly shot  - in the film. If that makes you crazy, skip it. 



And, that's the end of the negatives. Let's move on to why I really loved this film. 


This is a very THE THING like tale. But, more along the lines of the original book WHO GOES THERE? by John W. Campbell, Jr.. It's a character and story based movie that has moments of shock and horror, not the other way around.


Archaeologists uncover a massive underground structure in Northern, "REALLY OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE" Canada that dates back ten thousand years. The team brings in an expert to bless the find and get them much needed funds to continue their research.  As the find is verified and debated, things start to slowly and steadily break down.


This is another film where it feels like you are reading a book. (In a good way) You're allowed to really sink into the story and character development washes over you as the tale unfolds. There were several moments where I ended up saying things like, "Well...this is bad," out loud to my wife who was next to me on her phone. THAT is another check in the PLUS column for this film.

My wife is NOT a horror fan. She can stand them at times, but more often than not, she stands up and says, "Enjoy your movie - I'm off to bed," and is gone by ten minutes in. However, BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE had her completely invested by the midway point. She was positing theories and wondering what was happening right along with me. Wen the movie ended, we had a very interesting series of conversations about the plot, scenes, and what we thought happened at the films climax. All around the midnight out, two hours after her usual bedtime. She really enjoyed the movie which is saying A LOT. 

Nick Szostakiwskyj nails both the Direction and script. The film looks fantastic and the script is riveting, really. It's one of those film stories that doesn't lay it all out for you, but that you find yourself thinking about long after the film is over. Theories spun through my mind all last night and this morning about the movie.



The cast was fantastic as well. In some of these smaller budget films, the cast stumbles through dialogue as they make an effort to play out an emotional range they are not capable of hitting while choking out lines of memorized dialogue. However, these folks do it effortlessly. They are not only believable as who they are playing, but they manage to deliver some very intricate dialogue to the point where I found myself wondering if they found actual archaeologists that happened to do acting as well. :::grin::: 

 If you're a fan of remote chillers, story, and tales of madness and the supernatural, you really owe it to yourself to fire up BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE, settle in with a whiskey or cup of tea, and let this grand tale wash over you like a warm blanket of creepy! :)  I plan to revisit this film again in the winder months...when it's cold...and dark...






Friday, June 24, 2016

LAST SHIFT v. THE ABANDONED

The films LAST SHIFT (Oct 2014) and THE ABANDONED (June 2015) had several similar aspects that I found interesting. Seeing as the two films were released relatively close together, it seems like the two of them were just synchronous and fate spun them out at the same time. Two relatively new Directors as well.

Louisa Krause - THE ABANDONED
Juliana Harkavy - LAST SHIFT

As it turns out, however, the films vary greatly as the films progress, so it's really just the first acts that are super similar.

Both films focus on a woman working a night shift in a new spot she's not familiar with.  They are greeted and ushered in by someone who is rather antagonistic in nature. The buildings are empty save for the one person (in LAST SHIFT) or a skeleton crew (ABANDONED).


Various "bump in the night" situations occur which the lead finds jarring - as we all would, I'm sure.

Then a homeless man shows up and enters the picture. In both cases, the homeless man seem off. Mentally unstable. The main character interacts with him and lets the man stay in both cases - a prisoner and an overnight guest to get out of the rain.

You're lead down a "I wonder if this person is just crazy" trail in both cases, then the paths switch drastically at the end of the second acts.




The paths also separate as far as the stories go - LAST SHIFT holding fast as a great ghost story and THE ABANDONED running off the rails in the third act and skittering off into a gully somewhere after turning in on itself and bursting into flames. hehehehe

While I thought LAST SHIFT was a super strong, smaller budget picture with a strong story, I could see what THE ABANDONED was aiming for and it allllllmost made it, but floundered a bit in the end. It was like an aircraft landing successfully with one wheel not functioning. While everyone was alright and a bit shaken, the plane was ripped up, scraped up, and smouldering after it finally came to a stop - still recognizable as a plane, but in bad shape. :)



BUT...I didn't want my time back at the end of ABANDONED and only skipped a bit when it started to slow down, so I think most of my "MEH" feeling about it is just me not being interested in the story line enough to fill in the minor plot-holes it has within it.

While I still think that LAST SHIFT is the winner here, you still might want to give THE ABANDONED a go. It's interesting and well shot and acted.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Horror Podcasts List - Updated for 2016


Hello All! 
I've added some podcasts onto my original list I made and taken some off that I don't listen to anymore. Hope you find it helpful in your search for horror podcasts! ~M~

I listen to a fair share of podcasts. A lot, really. I fill my chore hours with podcasts to take my mind off of the task at hand...and to drown out the voices in my head. heheheh  I took a look at my growing list of podcasts recently when I found myself running short on iPhone space and thought, "Wow...that's a lot of horror podcasts in there. Maybe I'll spread the word about some of the ones I like today."

So, here is the current list of items on my phone.






United Nations of Horror
http://www.unitednationsofhorror.com/
Like the Faculty of Horror Podcast listed below, the UNH podcast is a more in-depth look at the horror genre with carious roundups of films and news related to the main topic of discussion. They are also an "international podcast" with hosts based in the UK, Germany and the United States which makes it interesting as well. It's nice to get knowledge and viewpoints from other areas of the word.

They do the usual "What have we been watching" segment, a brief overview of items related to the main feature that they plan to discuss, then the main feature roundtable with the films plot run through by one of the members so they can talk about the various elements that make the film up. They also have special segments from time to time that focus on the headliner as well.
You can also find little side channels of podcasts on their page:
ACTION ZONE (action films)
THE (B)AD SIDE (a pay per listen coming soon, I believe)
and, for those so inclined...
SQUARED CIRCLE OF WRESTLING   :)  (for wrestling fans)

"The United Nations of Horror is a podcast featuring a group of hardcore horror movie fans from all over the globe coming together to discuss all things horror including but not limited to movies, television shows, books, video games and much more. Each episode will feature a main topic and may also include contributions on a variety of horror related topics."


Streampunk
http://www.streampunk.show/
The MONDO MOVIE PODCAST duo is BACK with the STREAMPUNK PODCAST! A great podcast idea - they review genre and more that is currently available for streaming through the usual suspects. This makes things much easier when you're trying to play along at home. You can usually stream through AMAZON, NETFLIX, or some other mainstream media servers so you can have easy access to the films being talked about.
Nothing better than listening to two guys who love genre movies and movie history talk movies! 





 

Lore
http://www.lorepodcast.com/
Another grand podcast for lovers of real world horror, LORE focuses on true horror tales and mythos from all over the world. Ghosts, happenings, and real world monsters such as serial killers are discussed in a very interesting and tight fashion. The research is fantastic and host Aaron Mahnke (a fiction writer) has a fantastic voice and grand writing style.

Man...there are some CREEPY things that happen in our world! 
"Lore is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed podcast about true life scary stories. Each episode examines a new dark tale from history, and presents it in a style that's been compared to a campfire experience. With over 3,200 5-star reviews and 2 million monthly listens, that's clearly a good thing.  New episodes are released every two weeks, on Mondays.  Our fears have roots. Lore exposes the darker side of history, exploring the creatures, people, and places of our wildest nightmares.  Because sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction."



Night of the Living Podcast
http://nightofthelivingpodcast.com/
As with HAMMERED HORROR below, this podcast feels like hanging out at a friends house on a Friday night and talking about movies over beer and pizza. Super fun and very silly at times, the multiple host podcast covers what the folks have been watching and the main feature, but also do a fun segment called STRAIGHT TO VIDEO RUSSIAN ROULETTE where one host is selected Russian Roulette style to watch a straight to video movie and report back on it the following show.

Humorous and fun, this is a great podcast for horror shocks and goofy giggles. I have been brought to tears laughing at times. :) A lot of fun!

"Night of the Living Podcast is a weekly show hosted by six friends from Cincinnati, Ohio. Each week a randomly selected podcaster reviews a film for our “Straight-to-Video Russian Roulette” segment. In “The Main Attraction” segment, the entire NOTLP Crew discusses a horror or sci-fi genre feature."



Alice Isn't Dead 
http://www.nightvalepresents.com/aliceisntdead/     
Another fab story podcast by the makers of WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE. (listed below)

It's like THE NIGHT STALKER meets Bruce Banner wandering around in the Incredible Hulk TV show...with a dash of X-Files.

I'm totally hooked. It won't be for everyone - the delivery is not standard, linear storytelling, but I'm riveted by the situations and story weaving that goes on within it.

"A truck driver searches across America for the wife she had long assumed was dead. In the course of her search, she will encounter not-quite-human serial murderers, towns literally lost in time, and a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman."






Uncanny County
http://uncannycounty.com/
More fantastic, odd tales! I love it! So many creative folks putting out wondrous art!
This one is special to me. It involves an area called Uncanny County and every podcast is a story about the area. Robots, killer clown demons, Twilight Zone style twist of fate tales....this podcast has a little bit of everything. And, the fun part is, if you don't happen to love the podcast one episode, you can just wait and see what they have to offer for the next round.





Archive 81
http://www.archive81.com/
I dig this podcast, but the benchmark set by THE BLACK TAPES PODCAST isn't really fair for it. Another ongoing story podcast here. This one deals with a man going though and archiving a set of tapes off in a bunker-like facility. He's supposed to record himself at all times. The man who has set him on his way for the task calls in from time to time to check in on him...making sure he stays on task.
As the tapes are played, you find out more of what's been happening...and you have more things happening to our archivist.
Interesting and atmospheric, this podcast and story line is well worth a listen.
"Three months ago Daniel Powell vanished.  These are the tapes he sent me.  If you know anything, please contact me at archive81podcast@gmail.com  New episodes will be released every other Wednesday."



THE BLACK TAPES
http://theblacktapespodcast.com/ 
This falls under story podcasts and I love it. THE BLACK TAPES is a paranormal serial, really, going over the Black Tapes - a series of cases of a paranormal de-bunker with an interesting past.

The Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist's search for truth, her enigmatic subject's mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both. 
How do you feel about paranormal activity or supernatural? Ghosts? Spirits? Demons?
Do you believe?




DARK DISCUSSIONS
http://www.darkdiscussions.com/ 
Another cool group discussion about horror films and related topics. They are a lively bunch with a vast horror movie viewing history to pull from. Good conversations and some funny banter.




THE DRABBLECAST
http://www.drabblecast.org/ 
Not strictly horror, this story podcast offers up some fantastic literature readings. It's a "smart" podcast as well with some quick and nimble writing.

The Drabblecast is a weekly podcast featuring flash fictions from a variety of genres. Its singular message is that of off beat, funny, eclecticism. It is a paying fiction market, accepting submissions. The Drabblecast is the winner of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Parsec Awards for Best Speculative Fiction Audio Magazine.





FACULTY OF HORROR
http://www.facultyofhorror.com/ 
THE FACULTY OF HORROR podcast is rather interesting in it's overall approach. It's more like a horror class in college with a bent towards women in horror and the roles of women in horror in various horror films and collections of horror imagery and tropes. They really do a grand job and it's always an interesting listen.

Tackling all things horror with a slash of analysis and research, horror journalists and occasional academics Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West are your hosts for brain plumping discussions on all things that go bump in the night.
Produced independently in Toronto, Ontario The Faculty of Horror is your best source for classic and contemporary horror film discussions that will haunt the libraries of your mind!


HAMMERED HORROR
http://www.hammeredhorror.net/ 
I used to LOVE the old MONDO MOVIE PODCAST and I was really sad when it ended. Listening to to fun English gents talk horror was a hoot. Well, HAMMERED HORROR brings it all back with two highly entertaining English gentleman talking and laughing about horror films whilst sipping adult beverages from time to time adding to the wild nature of the podcast. I love it. It's one of those, "MAN! These guys seem like they would be fun to hang with!" podcasts. :)



HORROR ETC PODCAST
(sadly, no more, but still worth a listen)
http://www.horroretc.com/ 
These two may not put out podcasts regularly, but the content is well worth the wait in most cases. I keep them in my podcast list and I'm pleasantly surprised when I see a new podcast in the listing. They are just super busy, which I completely understand. One of them even makes actual horror movies, which I can get behind completely!  Very entertaining horror discussions.




HORROR NEWS RADIO
http://horrornewsradio.com/ 
I'm relatively new to this podcast, but I dig it so far. Another group situation with lively conversations. What I've noticed so far is that these folks don't always agree on each others opinions and they are NOT afraid to let each other know about it! hehehehe  I've enjoyed people having debates on execution and the like - it makes it a more lively podcast indeed!





HYPNOBOBS / HYPNOGORIA
http://www.hypnogoria.com/html/podcast.html 
I love this podcast. It's fantastic. Jim Moon really knows his subject matter and I look forward to the podcast content every time. He covers a wide variety of offerings as well, which makes things interesting and highly entertaining. He covers film, literature, authors and more. His research is fantastic - a comprehensive coverage of the subject at hand for sure. One of my all time faves - especially when he does Christmas Ghost Story readings around the holidays!




KNIFEPOINT HORROR
http://knifepointhorror.libsyn.com/ 
Another favorite of mine, this horror story podcast is fantastic. It's presented in a very interesting way as well. Hardly any music or background sound effects. It's like you've walked into a room where someone is waiting for you. You sit down and listen to their story - a true telling of an even or happening in that person's life. Some of them are really chilling. Fantastic podcast.







THE NO SLEEP PODCAST
http://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/ 
For those who prefer a little more production in their story telling, there's the NO SLEEP PODCAST. Great acting and presentation for some truly creepy tails. Very NIGHT GALLERY in feel, these tales really do promote insomnia! :)

In the spring of 2010, a new forum appeared on Reddit.com. It was called “Nosleep” and the concept of this forum (or “subreddit”) was to be a place for people to post original scary stories about frightening experiences. It was an online version of telling spooky stories around the campfire.
A year later, as Nosleep was growing at a rapid pace, one member named Matt Hansen proposed the idea of doing a podcast where some of the top stories from Nosleep would be narrated in audiobook style. The response was quite positive and over the next few months a small group of members endeavored to put together what would come to be known as The Nosleep Podcast. On June 13th, 2011 Episode #1 was released.




PSEUDOPOD
http://pseudopod.org/ 
A wide variety of horror tales can be found here. PSEUDOPOD has been around for a long time and you can see why when you listen. It's really one of the best horror story podcast offerings out there.

WARNING: This is a podcast of horror fiction. The stories presented here are intended to disturb. They are likely to contain death, graphic violence, explicit sex (including sexual violence), hate crimes, blasphemy, or other themes and images that hook deep into your psyche. We do not provide ratings or content warnings. We assume by your listening that you wish to be disturbed for your entertainment. If there are any themes that you cannot deal with in fiction, that are too strongly personal to you, please do not listen.




THE SCREAM CAST
http://www.thescreamcast.com/ 
Horror discussion on the hip (...but not lame hip) side, these guys play well together and present a lot of interesting info and banter for sure. Lively and entertaining horror discussion. 

The ScreamCast is a podcast hosted by Sean Duregger, Brad Henderson and BJ Colangelo. It began as a celebration of one of our favorite Horror flick label, Scream Factory. Since then, however, we’ve moved into celebrating the many other boutique horror labels like Synapse, Vinegar Syndrome, Cult Epics and more.
With special guests, celebrity interviews, top 10 lists and reviews we celebrate all things retro, cult and fringe in horror!



 
THE SCRIPT
http://thescript.podbean.com/ 
These folks focus on the script of films and cover a wide variety of topics and films, not just horror related. They manage to focus on the script without being too dry about it, which is grand. This could be a super dry, saltine cracker of a podcast, but they manage to keep the conversation lively and interesting, bouncing from the film overview to how the script is structured. Very cool stuff.




 
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE
http://commonplacebooks.com/ 
This is one wild podcast. It's played out like a small town radio station broadcast about the ULTRA-FRUCKING STRANGE goings on in NIGHT VALE, a location that one could look at as the place where every NIGHT GALLERY, TWILIGHT ZONE and RICHARD MATHESON story originates from! hehehehe  I love it! It's strange and fun and funny and the production is tight and crisp. ALWAYS entertaining. ALWAYS strange.

"The new dog park is now open. Remember, there are no dogs allowed in the dog park. Do not talk to the hooded figures that you may see in the dog park. Stay away...from the new dog park."   :)




And, podcasts I'm just starting to explore:



 
This story podcast tells the tale of a man who played a small town, night scares game when he was a teen, but it actually worked and he was taken away by someone or something for a period of time. However, while he thought he was away for days, no one thought he'd been away longer than a few hours. He heads back to the small town where it happened to investigate after his Father passes away. Of course, this is fueled by a package arriving for him...that was sent by his Father days after he passed away. 
Everything is there in this story podcast. Interesting story, good pace for the most part...  I'm just waiting it out to see if the actor flow gets a bit better. I think the same thing happened when THE BLACK TAPES started - it takes a while to get everyone rolling. I do like the podcast - it's holding my interest. 




Found Footage Files
I'm not a found footage guy. I dislike it as a whole. However, there are some nuggets here and there. I just want to have to find them myself. 
Enter the FOUND FOOTAGE FILES podcast! hehehehe
They cover all things found footage. It's been helping to weed out the MEH! and get to the good stuff. They have a very cool, conversational style that sits well with me. Check it. 
"Found Footage Files is a movie review podcast that looks exclusively at films shot in the "found footage" or handheld camera style."




 
The Night Time Podcast
http://www.nighttimepodcast.com/
More goodness for lovers of real life strange tales, this podcast is really very engrossing. He tells the tale of the event - a UFO sighting some family members had and a missing persons case are the two I've heard so far, but then he actually speaks to the people involved. This aspect has been very interesting. (Though, it was very difficult to listen to the Mother of the missing person talk about her ordeal) I love that it's not done in a prying or upsetting way. It's conversational interview style and is presented in a calm, clear manor. 
Fans of real world mysteries and odd happenings will love this.