Friday, July 31, 2020

HOST (2020)


So good

NOTE: This is a spoiler free review. Do yourself a favor and view this film WITHOUT WATCHING THE TRAILER FIRST! You will be glad you did. A two minute trailer for a 56 minute film can give a lot away! 

Last Monday I heard about this new "computer screen" horror film called HOST. I saw the screenshot and tried not to roll my eyes. 

"Ok...another UNFRIENDED thing. Cool...I liked that one." 

Then I saw what people were saying about it and took a bit more notice. During the course of the day, reviews kept popping up all over the internet raving about the film. Now, this wasn't studio hyperbole, this was coming from horror folks I knew and respected. I zoomed :::grin::: over to Shudder to view it....but found that I was a few days early and had to wait. 

Last night...the waiting was over. 

I started watching the film on my television and stopped a few minutes in after seeing the format. 

"No...no, this needs to be seen on my computer." 

I raced to my iMac and started the film up again and I was glad that I did! It's PERFECT for late night viewing in the dark via computer. Especially in this era of covid ZOOM meetings and the Cult of Quarantine.

Host tells the tale of six people having an online seance through....ZOOM, the online meeting app. (If you are like me, you are very...VERY familiar with ZOOM right now) With their medium Seylan at the helm, they dive into the mysterious astral plane. :::::DRINK:::::  ;)

My spoiler free mini-video review can be seen here....    It's silly, but I was inspired. 


I'm not sure how they did it, to tell you the truth. I mean, the general "horror over online meeting" concept has been done for sure. The aforementioned UNFRIENDED did a really good job of bringing the paranormal and computer tech worlds together and was very entertaining. But HOST brings something new into the mix - several new things, really. 

Thanks do the wonders of SHUDDER, they didn't have to try and pad out the story to meet the requirements of a theater run film. This allowed them to keep the film down to a wondrous 56 minutes or so. They packed that time with tons of great content and a strong story.

They used small ZOOM meeting knowns to their advantage all over the place which added a lot to the production. People waiting to get into the space, putting themselves on mute, messages popping up saying the meeting was going to end soon, and microphones being turned up to max so people could hear things better all had me grinning from ear to ear. There are more things in this particular bucket that I will let viewers discover for themselves. 

Making use of the new, virtual environment created with the use of six or seven separate locations joined together via cameras and microphones added tension in very interesting ways - again, spoiler free. 

I'd love to see another film on the making of this film, to be honest. Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, and Jed Shepherd wrote a stellar script and Savage's direction was amazing. Picture staring at a large painting of a town, then zooming into a few of the town's locations and back out again as you stared at it. That's what HOST managed to feel like. You see all six folks, then from time to time you explore one of their apartments or homes. It was incredibly dynamic and engaging. It really brings a lot of NEW to a sub-genre that I thought was tapped out. 

But...more than anything else mentioned here...the acting. 
Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward, Seylan Baxter, and Edward Linard sold the film 100%. Subtle, nuanced, and BELIEVABLE performances all around brought a much needed feeling that these were all real people. They seemed like they all knew each other and that they had a history with each other. Subtle changes in the way they interacted felt very real to the point where I actually forgot that they were actors for a moment. So, when the shite hit the fan and things started to go south, I was concerned for their well being. 

AND....they didn't look like they were "acting scared", they looked like they were truly freaked out. 

I'm going to stop there before I say too much. 

HOST brings a ton of fun to the table and is WELL worth a viddy. I'll be watching it again this weekend...on my computer....in the dark....




After you watch you can check out the interview with Rob Savage here:
https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/movies-tv/behind-the-scenes-of-host-a-british-horror-film-shot-on-zoom

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

MAGGIE MAY - Etheria Film Festival on Shudder


Reviewing the amazing MAGGIE MAY from Director Mia Kate Russell starring Katrina Mathers and Lulu McClatchy!

The short film is part of the Etheria Film Festival and is currently up on SHUDDER.

Monday, June 8, 2020

TRUE GHOST STORY: Boo Ghost




I can't remember if I wrote about this already. Going to assume I have not. :)

I used to work at an ad agency and I had a baby on the way and a toddler home with my wife, so I was making an effort to leave for work early and head home early.

I was standing in front of the Starbucks on 19th Ave and Geary in San Francisco waiting for them to open. The street was totally empty - a fog/drizzle combo making things cozy.

Then I got that feeling you get when someone rushes up behind you - a sort of energy jolt, and a female voice whispered, "BOO!" inches behind my head. I ducked and spun around. My back was facing the street and nothing was there. No car, person running....anything.

I remember smiling as I stood there looking around - shaking slightly from the jolt. I checked all around me, but there was nothing. I chuckled to myself and whispered, "Boo? Really?" out loud. I thought it was hilarious that I waited over 35 years to see something paranormal and the ghost that I get is a joker who thought BOO would be the thing to freak me out with! If you know me, you'd know that it was completely perfect for my strange sense of humor. 😁 I'll never forget it.

I was standing right by the mailboxes in front of the Wells Fargo ATM. You can see all the way up and down Geary and 19th. No one was there.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Monday, April 20, 2020

DAWN OF THE DEAD zombie celebration movie list


DAWN OF THE DEAD was released April 20th, 1979 and it changed horror cinema forever. George Romero hit it out of the park yet again, creating a socially relevant horror epic that people still hold near and dear. I know that it was in constant rotation in my teen years as my friends and I rented and re-rented the movie to watch during weekend late night horror movie marathons.

As I became older, I saw how significant the film was for horror and the zombie genre. From the story points to the makeup effects, DAWN was a groundbreaking horror film that people will never forget.

But, are we done with zombie films now? Is the current zombie cycle over? These things are cyclical, moving from zombies to vampires to aliens, usually. (Sadly, werewolves seems to miss the horror cycle rotation...not sure why...). 

I still love a good zombie film. I have several that I think are well worth a viddy. Check out my list and let me know what you think!




Dawn of the Dead remake
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j69OPw9nFHw
I thought I was going to HATE this remake, but...nope....I friggin loved it. I was turned around by the opening scene and was giddy with joy all the way through. I know some people still shun this film, but....aside from a few trope issues of the 2000s, the film is a super solid horror vehicle that took the brilliance of Romero's DAWN and made some interesting changes to make it work for modern audiences.
Zack Snyder Returning to Zombies With Netflix's 'Army of the Dead ...


Night Eats the World
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-night-eats-world.html
I thought this was a super solid film showing one man's struggle to stay afloat by himself during a zombie outbreak.
The Night Eats the World | FilmInk




WILD ZERO!!!!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ_D9OjDoQ0
ROCK AND ROLL ZOMBIE MADNESS FROM JAPAN THAT NEEDS TO BE IN ALL CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!!!!!!   SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!Wild Zero Ace and Tobio – Genkinahito



Night of the Hunted
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-night-of-hunted.html
An arthouse alternate zombie style film from the wondrous Jean Rollin. Beautiful and haunting, but not a traditional zombie film. Be warned. :::grin:::
The Night of the Hunted, 1980 (Review & Photo Gallery), Jean ...


Dead Set
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2012/08/dead-set.html
One of my all time favorite zombie epics of all time. TV studio employees and actors deal with a zombie outbreak. A brilliant 5 episode series.
Netflix Remaking "Dead Set" as Undead Brazilian Series "Reality Z ...



Dawning of the Dead
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/11/dawning-of-dead-2017.html
A fun, lower budget UK zombie offering that was highly entertaining.
‎Dawning of the Dead on iTunes


Burial Ground
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/05/burial-ground-1981.html
Classic Italian 1981 horror film that must be seen if you love 80s horror. It's bonkers.
Burial Ground | Famous monsters, Grind movie, Night terror


Mutants
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2013/12/mutants.html
Stylish French zombie film that straddles sci fi and horror. Again, not traditional zombies, but so good.

Mutants (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes


Train to Busan
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/09/train-to-busan-i-love-you.html
I think we've all heard of this film by now. TRAIN TO BUSAN is one of the best zombie films to be released in the past 20 years. While it may be hard for some to "get" some of the Asian cinema elements of high drama, it's a ride that not only shocking, but also heartfelt.
Train To Busan 2 Finally Gets A Release Date And It's Coming Soon


Shaun of the Dead (D'uh)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIfcaZ4pC-4
Yeah...it's great. :::grin:::   No need to talk about it more.
Zombie experts toast Shaun of the Dead



Wyrmwood
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2015/08/wyrmwood-road-of-dead.html
Aussie zombie goodness. MAD MAX meets an early Peter Jackson film.
Tristan Roache-Turner Talks Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead ...


Nightmare City
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2014/10/nightmare-city.html
More Italian horror goodness from the 80s. Zombies....with weapons!
Nightmare City (1980) – MonsterHunter


The REC Series of films
REC3 - https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2013/03/rec3.html
A fantastic series of zombie films with a twist. [REC] 1 and 2 are fantastic and, while the series tends to take a dip after that, they are still highly entertaining films.
30 in 30: A MONTH OF HORROR. [REC] - Filmarket Hub - Medium

Undead
https://youtu.be/Ok8J-xyS4H0
Another cool Aussie zombie offering that has a lot of fun with the genre. Strange comedy elements abound as well.
The Horror Club: Review: Undead (2003)


Sugar Hill
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2012/11/sugar-hill.html
A classic "blacksploitation" zombie film that is a must see. For the longest time, I thought it was just a black crime film from the 70s, but it's actually a super cool, voodoo zombie extravaganza!
Sugar Hill (1974) — Episode 23 — Decades of Horror 1970s – Decades ...


STACY: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2012/11/stacy-attack-of-schoolgirl-zombies.html
Bizarre j-horror zombie goodness with wild visuals, a crazy story, and a TON of blood and gore!
Trauma Film Screenings: Japanese Zombie Trash (Double Bill)



Doghouse
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8rsPuFN8wg
Silly and fun UK zombie romp that explores the "battle of the sexes" with a zombie twist. A goofy zombie comedy and is highly entertaining.
Laptop Zombie | Doghouse


One Cut of the Dead
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wBImbHqhFk
Went into this cold and wasn't disappointed. I don't want to say much about this for fear of ruining it, but it had an amazing story and some wild shots.
One Cut of the Dead – All the Anime


The Dead
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2012/02/dead.html
Bringing the slow moving zombie back to the screen, THE DEAD takes place in Africa and has some grand scenes of high tension as a man makes his way through the treacherous African landscape made even more dangerous due to a zombie outbreak.
The Dead (2010/2011) - Covering Media



The Horde
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2011/01/horde.html
High energy zombie madness from France. High on blood and tense action without letting much story get in the way of the thrills. ; )
The Horde streaming: where to watch movie online?

Cemetery Man
https://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2010/09/cemetery-man.html
Stylish 90s film with zombie elements. In this non-traditional zombie film, Francesco Dellamorte takes his job at the cemetery very seriously...because he needs to re-kill the people who are buried there a little while after they are put in the ground. Beautifully shot with a comic inspired esthetic, Cemetery Man is a super cool and strange horror classic.

Cemetery Man": A philosophical film, with zombies! - Cinephiled



Hope this gives you something to do while you Shelter In Place! :) 





Friday, March 13, 2020

Dead Things: At The End of Her Rope featured on the SCARE YOU TO SLEEP podcast!

WOW!
The amazing Shelby Scott brought another one of my stories to life on her amazing SCARE YOU TO SLEEP podcast! She nailed it once again. This is the third story I've been honored to have on the podcast. You can find the other two here:

Sleeping
https://radiopublic.com/scare-you-to-sleep-6nbkDl/s1!94108

Only a Paper Moon
https://radiopublic.com/scare-you-to-sleep-6nbkDl/s1!83a94







End of her rope. The end. The ropes end. The end of it. Smoking gun. Caught with the smoking gun. Pain in the neck. Time. End of. End of my rope......

Eyes fluttered open and the owner of them tried to focus in the darkness, but they didn't cooperate. She felt something around her throat and reached up with a shaky hand to investigate.

Rope.

The rope bit into the pink flesh of her neck and burned with the slightest of movements. It took her a minute to regain what little control she had. First, she felt the cold wood on her cheek and realized that it was flooring and not wall since she was laying on it. Her neck and ribs ached fiercely. Her back felt twisted, but she could move her legs. Something bumped in the hallway and she tried to call out for assistance, but her throat was constricted and pain shot through her when she tried to speak. Everything smelled stale and medicinal.

The dimly lit space was some sort of medical facility by the looks of it. A few gurneys were scattered around as well as a large amount of blood and blood splatters on the walls. It looked like this was some sort of hospital or clinic.

It was dark. Night time?

What the hell had happened? She blinked and tried to sit up. Her head spun and the rope caught under her arm and pulled at her burnt skin when she pushed up. She winced and yanked it from under her arm and shoved – bringing herself to a seated position. She then assessed the situation.

Rope. Broken pipe above her on the ceiling. Hand gun on the floor before her. Her left shoulder hurt almost as bad as her throat. She touched the burnt skin around her neck and glanced up to the broken set of pipes. Had she tried to kill herself? It seemed impossible, yet there she was. But, the gun didn’t make sense. Maybe someone had tried to kill her? Hang her? And she shot them? Her head was muddy and the left side of it throbbed as she tried to think it through.

“What…” she clamped her eyes shut as the sting from her throat ran down her spine. No talking for now. She tasted blood and licked her lip. It was split and slightly swollen.

She blinked hard and slowly removed the rope from her neck. Pain made her wince as she tossed the rope aside. Her whole body ached.

The noise in the hall came again and the situation made her heart beat faster. If this person in the hall had tried to kill her and she had indeed shot them, she’d have to seek help and fast. She narrowed her eyes when she heard footsteps. Obviously, someone was still very much alive.

She rose to her feet and lost her balance immediately.  She was shaken and felt dizzy. She thought that maybe she had hit her head on the way down. She reached forward and grabbed the gun and the dizziness made her swoon and she went down on one knee. Her left arm and shoulder were useless – every movement of them made her shudder with pain. She clamped her teeth down hard and pushed herself up. She had to get out of here, wherever here was.

She looked around and saw that the room she was in had another way out. At least another door. She stole a glance towards the footsteps in the hall and saw the growing shadow of what looked to be a woman moving up the wall in the half light. She looked back toward the opposite door and made her way towards it slowly and quietly. Her head was clearing, but she was still very dizzy and almost fell through the door in the back of the room when she reached it.

She slipped around the corner and checked the gun. She didn’t remember much of anything, but her fingers flew over the weapon as muscle memory took over. She spun the chamber quietly and saw that all the bullets were spent. “Shit,” she mouthed to herself as she slid to the floor. Not good. Not good at all. She looked around and saw that the room was nothing more than a large closet.

The footsteps stopped, then she heard them start to move into the room where she woke up. A scan of the closet room showed that there were no other exits. A few random things to hide behind, but no means of escape. The small windows at the top of the room didn't look like they were operable let alone big enough for an adult to crawl through.  She listened and tried to keep quiet. The room seemed to grow smaller with each shambling step she heard growing closer. She wouldn’t be able to fight this person in her current state.

The person sounded injured. Hell, if she did in fact empty a gun at them, she must have hit the person somewhere no matter how horrid a shot she may have been.

That’s when she caught the reflection of the figure in a large, steel vacuum propped against the wall on the other side of her. The reflection made her heart beat even faster. She fought back the urge to scream and she stared on with wide open eyes and tried to convince herself that what she was seeing was just due to the head injury.

The person shambling towards her had no right arm. It looked like it was shredded at the end of the nub and bone shone through at the shoulder. Bits of gore hung from it and swung back and forth with each step. The figure made a sick, gurgling and smacking sound as if it were chewing air wetly. It was a woman – a breast exposed and covered with blood with ribs exposed beneath it. But the worst part was the things face. Half of it was gone - pulp with white skull showing through. The one eye the thing had looked like a sharks eye – black and dead.

Memories rushed in with tidal force. She looked down at herself and the uniform she wore. Police. She was an officer. Officer Janet Temple. She was in the clinic and trying to run away from…them. Oh God, she remembered it all now. There were more of these things outside and she had run into the small clinic to avoid them. She had shot the thing in the face when it came after her. Shot it over and over, but still it came. That's when she had run for it and...tried to end herself.

She stood and gripped the handle of the gun tightly, raising it high and ready to hit the thing. She drew in a quiet breath and went still. Janet closed her eyes, wished she were somewhere else, then opened them and waited. She knew she wouldn’t be able to fight for long in her current state. She could barely keep her eyes open and she felt the room spinning under her feet. She braced herself against the wall.

The thing stumbled forward and into the small room. Blonde hair was matted to its head with dried blood. Long scrapes marred her side and exposed ribs and muscle. Janet had seen the look before. This woman – what was left of her – was dragged by a car after being hit. She shouldn’t be up and walking.

Janet shook off the growing fear and concentrated. Her head and throat throbbed with every heartbeat. She stared at the things rotten, gore covered face. Skull shown through and the left eye was a ruined mess.

Janet didn’t move. She felt dizzy, but she willed herself to remain totally still. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead and upper lip and dripped down the back of her uniform.

The creature stumbled towards the closet. It continued to make the sucking and slurping sounds as its tongue slithered in its mouth and out of the hole in the side of its head. Drool or blood dripped from it like candle wax. It shuffled into the closet and stopped just past the doorway and right next to Janet. It cocked its head to the side. Its hair parted slightly as scalp pulled away from bone. The missing eye socket was an angry shade of red mixed with deep bruise blue and black. It waited, moving its head from side to side slightly.

Janet held her breath, fire raging in her arm still held high with the useless weapon in a death grip. She was inches away from the thing now and the stench made her want to wretch. She stared into its ruined face and prayed that it wouldn't turn to face her. The missing eye saw nothing on the left where Janet stood. She didn’t breathe as she stared at the thing mere inches from the grotesque face. She didn’t make a sound.

The thing raised its working arm, then lowered it slowly with a small whimper. It turned to it’s right and shuffled out of the room. Janet heard it stumble and fall, drag its body back up, then move out of the room slowly.

Janet’s arm slowly slid to her side. She stared forward and took shallow, painful breaths. Her eyes closed, then opened slowly. She bit her lower lip and tried to wrap her brain around what was happening, but nothing made sense. She listened, but didn’t hear a thing. Her stomach was churning and she felt as if she might be sick.

“Ok,” she whispered. She palmed the gun, peeked around the corner, and peered into the dark. Nothing. She moved back into the room and looked up at the broken pipes as she ran a hand over her neck. She couldn’t believe it could be so bad that she’d try to hang herself.

Her belt lay on the floor in the corner and she grabbed it and slipped it back around her waist, slipping the gun back into the holster. No bullets, but she’d sort that out later. The baton she carried was still tucked neatly into her belt’s compartment. She withdrew it and held it tight as she made her way towards the room’s doorway.

The hallway was empty, but that thing could be anywhere looking for her still. She moved quietly and tried to stay to the shadows and darkness.

She glanced out the window and saw other shapes moving there. Other figures stumbling and shuffling in the dark. Part of her thought it might be best to wait in this building until the sun rose, but something inside her wanted out. Wanted to have the option to run if she wanted it. Being stuck in an unfamiliar building seemed like a very bad idea.

The first door she found was heavy and bolted shut. The second revealed her follower from before. It crouched over something small and ate away at it feverishly. Janet didn’t want to think what the small, meaty thing was and moved on down the hall.

The door to the outside stood ajar and light pour in from outside illuminating the hall and the lawn outside. A police cruiser was smashed up against the clinic’s fence and smoke rose from the engine as it idled and sputtered – more dead than alive. Radio chatter poured from the open door of the car and the people’s voices sounded panicked and full of fear.

Figures moved around the car, glancing into it and moving on. Shuffling corpses wandering every which way. Janet counted six around the car and more in the street and surrounding area, but they were slow moving and spread out at a good distance. She felt around in her pocket for the keys to the shotgun, but realized they were on the keyring in the car’s ignition.

Her teeth ground together as she peered around the door jam. Panic gave way to anger. She didn’t like this at all. It didn’t make any sense. The things outside were…dead. They were in various states of decay. This wasn’t happening.

Her arm was pulsing and she glanced back into the clinic wondering if she should try to find some sort of sling or meds to help her fight through the injury. Her eyes narrowed as the follower from before stumbled from the room it had feasted in and spotted her. It made a small, guttural sound and started moving at her down the hallway. Janet looked outside and saw another one of them moving toward her slowly from the small garden to the right of the car.

She drew in a deep breath, nodded to herself then moved into the light of the headlights, out onto the porch, and made her way to the cruiser. She couldn't let the fear overcome her. She had to work through it if she was going to make it.

She pulled the baton from her hip and drew in a deep breath as she raised it up and brought it crashing down on the head of the first dead thing that came for her. It crashed down on its head and it looked like the thing felt the blow. She brought it down two more times as it reached for her shirt. Its hands slid down her front as it fell to the ground and lay motionless.

Janet felt hope for the first time of the evening. At least they could be killed. But, she didn't want them to have to be so close to do it. She needed that shotgun. She set her sights on the cruiser and ran for it. Her head spun and her vision blurred as she fell forward and hit the ground hard. Her eyes lost focus and her vision dimmed. Everything swirled before her as she tried to push herself up and into the cruiser.

Something came at her from the right and she rolled onto her side to see a little boy stomping towards her – mouth wide open and face covered with blood. He grunted and swung his hands around in front of him as his lifeless eyes narrowed. Janet shrieked and swung the baton as he fell onto her. He leaned forward and tried to bite, but Janet shoved as hard as her injured arm would allow and held him back.

Tears streamed down her cheeks as she gripped his hair in her hand and pulled him towards the ground hard, bringing his head down on the sidewalk. He went still with a squish. Others stomped towards her. She screamed and shoved herself up and into the cruiser, then lashed out with her left arm to slam the door closed as another dead thing reached for her. It's fingers slammed in the door, but it didn't seem to notice or care. Janet thought about freeing it, but didn't want to risk opening the door. She hit the auto locks and pressed herself back in her seat. She screamed as loud as she could and pounded her fists against the steering wheel.

Her heart skipped in her chest and she swung her head around to make sure there was nothing in the back seat. It was empty. Her head continued to swirl and spin as the dead man outside pounded weakly at the window with his free hand. His skin was pale and his eyes milky. Blood covered the front of his button down shirt.

Bile rose in Janet's stomach and she clamped her eyes shut. She had a concussion for sure. She gave herself a minute as more of the things start to surround the vehicle. First thing's first. She needed to arm herself. She had left the baton outside. She'd forget about that. She made note of the engine's low fuel, then twisted the keys free. The engine stopped its rattlings and died. She panted as she fumbled with the shotgun lock and smiled a wide smile as it popped open and the shotgun was free.

“Yes....yes....yes...,” she muttered as she slid the extra shells free from the compartment between the seats. She loaded the gun, then slid the rest of the shells into her pockets. She remembered that here were more bullets for her handgun in the trunk, but she'd have to clear the things away from the car before getting them.

She thought through where she was and tried to ignore the thumping of bloody hands against the cruiser's windows. The radio chattered with panicked voices.

“They're everywhere!”

“Requesting backup! Large group of dead attacking a bus at Lexington and Commonwealth!”

Janet closed her eyes. There wasn't going to be any help getting to her. She needed to deal with this on her own. She slipped the keys free of the lock and back into the car's ignition. The cruiser started to rock as more and more dead tried to fight their way past the car's windows. Janet thanked God that they didn't seem to be bright enough to use tools.

She turned the key and the engine shuddered and cranked, but didn't turn over.

“Come on, Baby. Come on....mommy loves you...” She tried again and sweat dripped into her eyes. “COME ON!” The engine turned over, clattered and rattled, then died. Janet breathed in deep and winced. Broken rib. She closed one eye and the spinning of her head subsided a bit. She needed help and knew it wasn't coming.

One headlamp flickered and lit up the front yard and porch while the other shone into the sky like some sort of beacon. A woman in hospital scrubs stumbled out of the med center into the light, then fell onto the hood of the car. She pounded at the hood and clawed her way over it to the window. Janet stared into her grey, dead face and milky eyes as the thing clawed at the window. A small smile played on Janet's lips as she thought about asking the woman for help with her injuries.

Janet closed her eyes. She just needed time to think. Time to sort this out.

Janet kept her eyes shut tight as more and more dead things found the cruiser and its contents. They rocked it back and forth and punched and clawed the windows trying to get in.

Janet rocked with the cruiser. Her hand slid up to her neck and across the burn. She just needed some rest. Just some sleep to regroup.

The car rocked and Janet let herself slip into sleep.

____________________________
______________



The sun rose over the hills and light flooded in and around the town of Coopersmith in a filtered, gray haze. Fires burned wild and out of control and smoke filled the air. Ashes drifted from the dull grey sky like spirits. Dead things walked through the streets.

The rumbling of a truck sent a pack of dogs running. The large armored truck slipped though the street and around obstacles - dead cars and dead people. Figures moved inside the truck and peered out through bullet proof glass.

“Police cruiser. Over to the right.” The man named Jack tapped the glass of the passenger side window.

The driver glanced over as the passenger pointed. “You want to check it out?”

“Could have guns. And that clinic. We could get a few medical kits or something?” He shrugged.

“No. Don't go inside anywhere.” Her voice cracked.

He nodded and truck stopped behind the cruiser.

The small door between the front cab and the back opened and a man shoved his head through. “Why did we stop?”

“We're going to check something out. Keep this door shut.” The driver pulled the small door closed and reached for her gun.

The passenger picked up a metal bat from the floor and glanced around and into the trucks rear view mirrors before opening the truck's heavy, metal door. He kicked hard and sent a dead man reeling backwards, then he jumped down to the street. He slammed the door shut. Beads of sweat dripped down his dark skin as he swung the bat and caught another dead creature in the side of the head. His arms flexed and his eyes scanned the area around him coldly. He swung the bat into anything that came close.

The trucks driver slid over into the passenger seat and slipped the rifle out the gun slot. She watched for any dead that might have escaped his eye, though it was very unlikely that he missed any. She felt sweat drip down her armpits. It was going to be a hot day in hell today.

The bat crashed down again and Jack's eyes narrowed. The driver side door of the police cruiser was open. He peered in and saw that the shotgun was gone. “Shit.” He popped the trunk and looked around. He saw someone moving towards him from inside the clinic. “Hello?” He rested the bat on his shoulder prepping it for use.

A woman stepped out of the shadows. She wore a police uniform and clutched a shotgun. It hung at her side.

“Hey, officer. Sorry – I thought this thing was abandoned.” He pointed to his armored transport uniform and motioned back towards the truck. “We have this armored truck and we were going to try to make it out of town and into the mountains. You can...” He stopped when he saw her milky gray eyes and slack jaw. And angry red line wrapped itself around her neck.

She ran at him with an awkward shuffle step. Her arm and leg had been chewed at and exposed bone and muscle shifted with each faltering step the shotgun stuck around her finger.

He brought the bat back and gripped it tight. There was a loud crack behind him and the officer flipped backwards and into the dirt with a spray of viscera exploding from the back of her head. He glanced back towards the truck, then ran up to retrieve the shotgun.

He winced down at the police officer, then knelt down and patted the her down, quickly removing shotgun shells from her pockets and slipping them into his own. He thought about it for a moment, then dropped the bat and unfastened the belt from around her waist. He shoved her over on her side, and pulled the belt free, absently tossing it over his shoulder as he snatched the bat and shotgun from the ground.

He delicately shifted her back over on her back and read the tag on her chest. “Janet...Temple,” he whispered. "Thank you Officer Temple," he whispered.

“There's more! Let's go, Jack!” The driver took aim at a fresh, fast zombie and shot it as it started off towards Jack. The bullet caught it in the throat and sent it spinning to the ground, but it was up quickly. Others started towards Jack from the street and around the side of the clinic.

“There might be more guns in the trunk,” Jack said as he moved around to the trunk and lifted it. He saw a large black case in the back and a duffel. With the dead streaming towards the truck, he wouldn't be able to carry both. He slipped the duffel over his shoulder and awkwardly ran for the truck. The door opened and he tossed the duffel inside with the shotgun and belt.

“Let's go!” The woman behind the wheel bobbed her head up and down wildly and gripped the wheel with one hand and a handgun in the other. A few loud cracks could be heard from the back of the truck as the people in back thinned the ranks of dead towards the back of the truck.

Jack lashed out with the bat and dropped three more dead things, clearing the area before climbing up and into the cab and slamming the door shut.

The truck rumbled away down the street as more and more dead streamed towards the noise. It was slow going as it swerved its way out of town.

Smoke drifted through through the streets like ghosts as figures ran and stumbled through it. It truly looked like Hell.

Officer Janet Temples cold, grey eyes stared up into the sky as the moaning, gurgling, and distant screams filled the air around her.

Friday, February 14, 2020

My short story "Sleeping" on the Scare You To Sleep Podcast


Photo credit - https://pixabay.com/users/xusenru-1829710/




The wondrous Shelby Scott read another one of my stories ( SLEEPING ) on her amazing SCARE YOU TO SLEEP podcast.

The podcast is fantastic - a collection of short stories read wonderfully with just the right amount of added folly sounds to bring them to life without being overwhelming.










The story is the third one here around the 33 minute mark, but all of the featured tales in this one are a ton of fun.


The original story can be found here:
https://malcojojo.blogspot.com/2007/09/sleeping.html


Friday, January 31, 2020

The Sublet (2015)

QUICKIE REVIEW: THE SUBLET

Well well well....here we go again with the "Hmph....that was actually pretty good," from me, but there it is...it was pretty good, actually.

Now, I don't want to give too much away here. It can be tricky with these movies.

So, Joanna and Jeff have a baby, lots of new pressures in their lives due to it, and have just moved into a sublet that proves to be a perfect pressure cooker for the stuff they are dealing with. They fall deeper and deeper into the new baby fire as they try to make Jeff's career as an actor work with Joanna as a full time stay at home mother - a job that is filled with daily pressures as it is.

But....is theirs the only sadness the sublet has seen? Is their pressure strictly related to the items listed above...or is there more to it?

I'm sure the trailer gives a lot away. :::grin:::







Basically a one-set-show, Tianna Nori and Mark Matechuk do grand jobs in what could laps into soap opera territory with ease. They get the new parent free fall right. This is really due to the script from Alyson Richards and director John Ainslie. Things get more and more strange as the movie goes on and what started off as a rather simple tale devolves into something more and more complex and off-putting as things go along. 


( I love when the detectives arrive - a fun performance from Mark Ettlinger and Jeff Sinasac! )

All in all, this was a fun watch! Currently on....you guessed it! SHUDDER!  :)





Bliss (2019)




QUICKIE REVIEW: BLISS

Writer director Joe Begos (Almost Human, VFW) brings us more goodies with BLISS - a modern tale of work, blood, drugs, and bad friends.

Artist Dezzy is under pressure to complete a painting. A lot of pressure. She's out of cash and out of time with her landlord wanting cash and the gallery wanting their goods. She needs a break from it all, so she goes to see her dealer. And that's when all hell breaks loose! A dark and bloody hell.

I kinda see this film as being THE HUNGER meets MANDY. It just came to mind. And I loved it. This sexy and visually stunning little trip goes all out with sex and violence at the forefront, but never overshadowing it's wild and twisting storyline of a persons decent.


Dora Madison turns in an amazing performance, just tearing things up like a little tornado. We even get fun little scenes with George Wendt and Abraham Benrubi as she starts to fall further and further into her new world and further down the path to some really dark areas.



Begos' story is fantastic and super solid. It's a very interesting take on a theme that can often be dull and dripping with tropes no one really wants to see anymore. He really took things to interesting areas and at a rocketing 80 minute runtime, it feels like a fantastic horror rollercoaster ride.


Check it!   AVAILABLE ON SHUDDER at the time of this posting! 



Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Alien Outbreak


This new poster is much better! :)






I recently had the pleasure of being surprised by another film. When I saw one of the posters for it, I shook my head and sighed. The poster showed a huge city with alien ships around it. I thought, "Not on your budget. That's not going to be happening."

Then....I saw the trailer and thought I'd give it a go. The trailer looks great.



As my screener started...my eyes narrowed and I viewed the film with caution. Ok, there were some things that I started to see here and there that set me off a bit, but they were rather small things that didn't take away from the fact that I was locked onto the screen. (Some dodgy audio mixing and camera moves in the beginning paired with the lead actor and her rather interesting acting style that I had to get used to)

But, as the film unfolded and the plot started to be revealed, I was totally sucked in and loving where things were going.

We have a classic alien attack film here, but with a few really interesting new ideas added into the mix. It seems that they are able to make people have suicidal thoughts, which ups the danger and risk factors overall. When will our leads be driven to take their own lives like many others in their town?

They also kept it set in a small town which was a major win as I see it. If they had tried to run this scenario in a large city, this film would have gone the sad way some others have gone in the past leaving you to wonder why we don't see more people and why we're limited to a few locations that seem to be in an abandoned warehouse district somewhere. :::grin:::  I've seen this MANY times before and it's distracting and upsetting. heh  These folks play well within their budget and it's grand.

The small UK village feel really locked me into the story. The police officer leads who were in the area knew the people they were trying to help and the people knew them. They had a history. That aspect made things more interesting for sure.

And gore? Yup! There are some really grand splatter effects that manage to add to the story without being too distracting. CGI effects blended with what looked like practical effects seemed super seamless.


What I was REALLY impressed with here, however, was the 3D and effects work. This is not a major budget epic. It's not even an indie funded medium level effort, I don't think. However, the effects are very good and there are a lot of them. They don't hide things in darkness or used the "camera as villain" to avoid having to show the aliens and the tech. They full on show rather cool looking tech monster robots attacking and stalking in full light. Massive ships take to the skies and sweep past trees. HUGE alien figures stroll along at roughly two stories in height and I was loving every minute of it. They were solid and locked into the scenes and felt like they had weight and that they were actually IN the scene instead of being pasted on top.




VERY difficult to do, but seeing as writer / director Neil Rowe looks like he has a VFX background, it seems like he knew exactly what he was doing. The story and direction are engaging and interesting and the whole film holds up right through to the end. Our leads Katherine Drake and Ritchie Crane have a lot of good dialogue to work with and the supporting cast is not only up to the challenge, but have some grand, WORLD WAR Z-like monologues to sink into.

ALIEN OUTBREAK is well worth a viddy!!! 
I believe the release date is Feb 11, 2020





 From IMDB
In a small rural community local police officers Zoe and Patrick begin their shift as normal but it soon becomes clear that something is wrong. Strange events unfold before their eyes, residents begin behaving strangely and mass suicide panic spreads amongst the community they are trying to protect. Zoe and Patrick realise they are under siege from alien machines as they become cut off from the outside world. They are forced to do battle against these uninvited visitors. Can Zoe and Patrick save their community and the outside world from extinction?