Archive for 80’s horror

Dead Air Podcast Ep 1 The Burning

Posted in Dead Air Podcast, Updates with tags , , , , on September 27, 2014 by splatterpictures

In the very first Episode of the Dead Air Podcast Wes and Lydia go back to Camp for The Burning!

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (Holy Sh**!)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , on April 3, 2012 by splatterpictures

The 1980’s has seen its fair share of ridiculous crap. I’ve spoke often about the horror boom of the 80’s and how it’s shaped how we look at horror nowadays. The interesting thing about Killer Klowns from Outer Space is not how 80’s it is but how 50’s.

Watching this movie I couldn’t help but notice how it felt as if I was watching a 50’s B movie in the drive in. Well not that I would even really know what that’s like since the drive-in went the way of the dodo before my time but I have seen a lot of films from that era and they all have the same “feel” to them.

Killer Klowns was written, directed, and produced by Chiodo brothers. Just three guys who loved science fiction and horror and wanted to make something that could be scary and silly at the same time. I think the final product was a lot sillier than anything else, but if you have a phobia of clowns or something this movie is probably your worst nightmare. The film stars Grant Cramer John Nelson and Suzanne Snyder. Snyder of course doing pretty well for horror in the 1980’s being in both Night of the Creeps and Return of the Living Dead II.

Well, I am not sure I’d even need to explain what this movie is about. It’s in the friggin’ title. There are space aliens that come to earth and kill people for food. They don’t just grab them and munch away; first they cocoon them in cotton candy which apparently makes them dissolve into a liquid that the alien clowns then drink. (with a silly straw)  The whole gimmick is of course that these aliens just so happen to look like clowns. Not only do they look like clowns but ever aspect of their technology is also circus themed. They have big top space-ships with pastel interior colour schemes. They have pop-corn guns, acidic pies, and giant wiffle-bats.

I remember wondering how much political debate would it have taken to get an entire society to stick to one theme like that. It probably took years of campaigns. I mean imagine if all of a sudden it became law for us to dress like clowns and then all of our technology would have to be changed to perpetuate the overall theme. I wonder if their home planet has outlaws that don’t dress like clowns…you know what? I’ve officially over analyzed this.

This is one of those movies that I’ve heard as many negative things about it as positive. I like to look at it from the perspective that it’s paying homage to a genre of films that in themselves weren’t exactly great. That being said a lot of its charm comes from the very fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously (honestly how could it?) Sure things are goofy but they’re supposed to be.

The special effects are pretty good all things considered. The clowns themselves look creepy as all hell. The entire time I was watching the movie I was wondering how anybody could be fooled into thinking they are actually people. Not only are they disproportioned they all have fucked up faces that would make me not want to go anywhere near them. A lot of the gags are based around killing unsuspecting people with clown-like shenanigans. My personal favourite was when they rolled up to a security guard in a clown car and then a bunch of them all get out one at a time, while the guard stands there completely confused about what he’s seeing they pelt the poor guy to death with pies. After the guy is a melted pile of ice-cream one of the little clowns puts a cherry on top. I was dying of laughter.

"Anyone who spells "Klown" with a "C" gets the pie!"

As I said before this is a tribute to 50’s movies and the one that it gets compared to a lot is the Blob. The only similarity really is the overall premise of teenagers running around while adults refuse to believe them. This is brought to outrageous proportions by the town’s police officer Curtis Mooney (played by the late John Vernon) he just crosses his arms and refuses to believe anyone even as the phones are ringing off the hook. He hates teenagers and is always just looking for excuses to arrest them. It’s pretty great.

Another similarity to The Blob I noticed was the inclusion of a theme song specifically for the movie.  (The Blob from 1958 had a catchy jingle aswell) Killer Klowns got the novelty song treatment courtesy of the punk group The Dickies (Later to be called Dill Pickles) The song “Killer Klowns” is fantastic and just sets the entire film up as the campy mess it ought to be. The rest of the music was scored by John Massari and every moment is just filled with slightly twisted and silly little circus jingles.

Early word has it that by next year the Chiodo brothers will be adding a long awaited sequel called The Return of The Killer Klowns From Outer Space. As much as I was amused by this film I’m not sure that a sequel should be made even with the best of intentions I like Killer Klowns as it is; a weird oddity that exists on its own.

Sadly, I don't think you can eat your way out of this one.

The Woman In Black (1989) review

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by splatterpictures

I have this little obsession with making sure that I do a little research into upcoming horror that interests me. In this day and age unfortunately that usually means watching the original movie. I’ve written about haunting stories before but this time we’re going into the realm of a TV movie for The Woman In Black. The BBC has a long and proud history of quality productions that sadly not always the easiest to come by. Thankfully we have places like the internet to help us out until things can be released properly.  This isn’t the first time in recent history that a film based on a made for TV horror gets a big fancy Hollywood release. A few months ago Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark hit theatres and that was a made for TV movie from the 70’s.

So before the new Woman In Black remake spooks its way to theatres I wanted to share this wonderful little gem with all of you. The film was released for the ITV Network in 1989. It was based of the 1983 novel of the same name written by Susan Hill. Herbert Wise would handle the directing duties and it starred Adrian Rawlins.

The woman in Black opens up to a young man named Arthur Kipps who is sent out as a solicitor to a small town to attend the Funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow. Drablow was an elderly widow who lived in this creepy old house that sits alone in a marsh surrounded by mist. The narrow ways lack of visibility makes it a notoriously dangerous spot. It becomes known to Kipps that people have lost their lives there before. During his stay he begins to see images of a woman in black. He comes across Mrs. Drablows recorded Journal that confirms that she too was plagued by the images of a woman.  It doesn’t take long before other suspicious activity in the house and even from the locals begins to unravel the bizarre mystery surrounding the Eel Marsh House.

I will start off by saying the movie has a very slow beginning . It just follows Kipps around as he prepares to leave for the town. I don’t know if it was the mood I was in or just the movie itself but the first thirty minutes I was checking the time. Of course I had plans to stick with it and I’m glad I did. In the gothic style of haunting stories this one is nothing particularly different. Strange activity becomes more frequent over time and it serves to help unravel the mystery of the house itself. A lot of the tension comes from the wonderful musical score by Rachael Portman that really amplifies Kipps frantic nature. Seriously the guy could win an award for freaking out if they gave out awards for that sort of thing.

Although there are a lot of tense moments I would honestly say there is only one big scare. It relies on you getting accustom to how the movie presents the ghosts and supernatural activity and then throwing something totally different in your face. It was effective to be sure and that’s saying a lot coming from me.

The last part of the movie I will talk about is the ending. I really don’t want to give too much away but I thought it really was a high point that brought the whole story full circle.

I think a few of the things I didn’t like were a couple of things were handled off camera. I understand this had probably more to do with cost than anything else but it would have been interesting if they had the budget or time.

The Woman in Black is a subdued ghost story that people should go into with patience. The ending pays off nicely but will probably do nothing for people who like a little bit more bang.

There’s no telling how the new film will measure up to the old one. I can tell you that it’s a well known story in the UK having been turned into a stage production that has run for twenty years. In the modern age we can defiantly count on more special effects and more obvious scares, which admittedly wouldn’t hurt. I’ll stay optimistic until opening day.

I recommend that anyone who is interested in a good ghost story check this one out. Just a word of warning, although it was released on DVD it’s out of print now and very hard to come by. If there are some good spots to find it don’t forget to comment and let people know! Until next time, thanks for reading!

"I'm the ghost of Dame Maggie Smith"

Christmas Evil (You’d Better Watch out!)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Ode to the Unsung Slasher, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2011 by splatterpictures

Time to jump into the Holiday season with a properly themed horror review. Christmas has always been a fun time of year, for horror. Everyone sort of gets off on the Macabre concept of this special time of year being ruined by killer Santas or evil snowmen. A lot of the time it’s just utterly ridiculous. Sometimes though, it can be a pretty effective and chilling tale of home invasion during a time when we would hope that kind of evil would take a holiday with everyone else. Somewhere in between the super serious and utterly ridiculous there is Christmas Evil.

Christmas Evil was released in 1980, by good old Pan American Pictures, it was written directed by Lewis Jackson, it tells the story of a lonely man (Brandon Maggart) obsessed with Christmas and the concept of Santa Claus.

The movie starts off with a family watching Santa delivering presents to their home, of course this is just the father of the family pretending. It’s a cute little holiday memory that I don’t actually know for sure happens in real life. It certainly happens a lot in movies and television though.

I remember reading about this film before I saw it and it was said that the main character experiences a traumatic event as a child regarding Santa and it grows up all twisted. Well, the trauma in question is when he comes back downstairs later and sees his father (dressed as Santa) have some PG-13 sexy time with his mother. It’s honestly a pretty weird thing to be traumatized over. He runs up stars and smashes a snow globe then proceeds to cut himself deliberately with a piece of glass. That’s pretty much it.

It cuts to him as a grown man. He isn’t married and has no kids of his own; he lives in a small house by himself and works at the Jolly Dream toy factory. He gets pushed around and talked down too by his co-workers even though he technically has a higher position than they do.

It starts off quickly letting you know that Harry isn’t quite right. He watches the children in his neighbourhood and decides who is naughty and nice, he then writes it down. In books marked rather professionally as Good Boys and Girls 1980 and Bad Boys and Girls 1980. (I really want to know how he found those books or got them made.) You can see how important he considers this “work” and how frantically he makes sure it’s up to date.

As it gets closer to Christmas Harry starts making himself a Santa Suit and getting ready for something. What I like is that he never tells anyone what he’s doing and as an audience you’re not even sure yourself. I knew I was watching a horror movie but aside from a few musical cues here and there you never get a sense that Harry really wants to do anything “wrong”.

It becomes obvious that Harry really just wants to be the Santa Claus he always wished was real. He wants children to believe and know that if they are good, good things will happen to them but, if they are bad, bad things will happen. This in itself is pretty deranged and after he starts breaking into peoples houses you wonder just how far he’s going to take it.

As a horror movie some people might find this one a little slow, but I feel it’s effective.

There are great moments where you see the intensity behind Harry’s eyes and actions the character has moments where he looks like he is just about to snap, but then gets into his Santa character and seems completely harmless. These moments work fantastically because as an audience we know that these people mocking him or being greedy on Christmas are going to get it. There is one scene where he is talking to a group of kids at a Christmas party and telling them to be good. Nothing he’s saying is bad but since you know how screwed up he is, it just made my skin crawl.

I found myself rooting for Harry, I wanted him to get revenge on his bosses who were more concerned about their pockets than children in need. Or his co-worker that was trying to just take advantage of him. Even his brother who was hard on Harry because in his opinion he was a loser. In the end I wanted him to get away with it.

The deaths aren’t that numerous but they are well done with great use of the “holiday themes” A guy getting his throat sliced open with a Christmas star is just damn good film-making if you ask me. There isn’t a huge body count and it isn’t really gory but the deaths have resonance.

There is also the matter of this being considered somewhat of a comedy. I think the moments that are funny are actually some of the more realistic aspects of it. Harry isn’t a smooth, cold calculating killer who has it all worked out. He seems like a man who has been thinking about this for awhile but this is his first outing as old Saint Nick and he’s bound to make a few mistakes. A long scene of him trying to go down the chimney is a good example. As well as struggling to kill someone not realizing how difficult it might actually be. He’s defiantly doing a lot of this on the fly. He stumbles and falls and goes the wrong way, just like any killer getting his feet wet I guess.

The parts that didn’t work for me were mostly around the end, when the parents of the neighbourhood are chasing him around. They had actual torches. Really? It’s like something out of a Universal horror, which isn’t a bad thing but kinda hard to believe modern people (in this case the modern age of 1980) would actually go and cobble together torches.  The other thing that I think could have been worked out better was the reasoning for Harry’s bizarre fascination with Christmas and his desire to –be- Santa Claus. When he goes on to blame his younger brother for never believing in Santa, it seemed way too trivial to explain his mental state. Now that I am writing this though, I do admit that it goes along well with Harry’s delusions that he would take a single incident that his brother did when he was 6 as justification for robbery, breaking and entering and murder. His own brother screams about how ridiculous it is.

The ending is also a little off-beat but overall I think it was a fine farewell to one of the more complicated characters I’ve ever seen in a horror movie.

This is regarded as one of the best Christmas horror movies ever made. That is a pretty bold statement considering how varied peoples tastes are. I think this is a very good character piece that defiantly deserves to be viewed at least once. Brandon Maggart’s acting goes a long way to help this film, that otherwise might be pretty forgettable. He gives us a character that is selfish and selfless at the same time. A character who garners a lot more sympathy than the people he is killing. I say check it out!

"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a much needed tracheotomy!"