Posts Tagged ‘grae drake’

The Third Annual All Night Horror Show @ The New Bev!

October 12, 2010

It was that magical time of the year again! That time when Phil Blankenship hosts his Third Annual All Night Horror Show at the fabulous New Beverly Cinema here in L.A. I’ve attended the first two all nighters and I was there again for another heaping helping of scary flicks shown over a 12 hour period. It’s a serious endurance test for all horror movie maniacs and if you can make it all the way to the end, you’re one of the proud, the brave and the insane. This year was without a doubt, the best one I’ve ever attended. Each selection made me very happy and I’m marking the days on my calendar ’till next year’s all nighter. The following is a hazy recollection filtered through various chemicals (actually it was only a lot of caffeine and sugar this year ’cause I’m on the wagon):

1st movie:

DARIO ARGENTO’S TENEBRAE (1982) is my second favorite giallo of all time, right after Argento’s DEEP RED. It was a joy to watch this on the big screen with an audience. This fun filled and extremely violent movie is about a famous giallo writer who has come to Rome to promote his new book, Tenebrae. In an unsuspected bit of unwanted publicity, a black gloved killer is slicing women up and stuffing pages from the book in their mouths. Argento is clearly having fun with the genre as everyone is a suspect in this flick and the red herrings are tossed around like a trip to an Asian fish market. At one point even a vicious doberman is a possible killer (by the way, the dog is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen, and at one point it actually sizes up a tall fence, backs up and jumps it in a single bound). Even the actual killer turns out to be a red herring for yet another mysterious killer! The bloody murders are incredibly stylish as usual, especially one where a woman has her arm chopped off with an ax that sprays a geyser of blood against a wall like an abstract artist painting his canvas. The audience ate this one up and it was a great way to start things off.

2nd movie:

What better way to follow up a great Italian horror movie then with another great Italian horror movie. LUCIO FULCI’S THE GATES OF HELL (A.K.A. THE CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD) is a wonderfully insane supernatural zombie flick. It’s about a priest who happens to hang himself in a cemetery over one of the 7 portals of Hell, in a town call Dunwich. Bad choice, because all kinds of crazy hell breaks loose, literally. Before long the residents are having the back of their heads ripped off by zombies that can actually teleport. Let me tell ya, there is nothing more unfair than a zombie that can just materialize out of thin air directly behind you. You can’t defend yourself against that. How about the suicidal priest coming back as a demon who can telepathically make your eyes bleed and cause you to puke out your guts? Not cool. And just when you thought everyone was safe and sound inside the house, cue the maggot storm! That’s right, real maggots showering you from head to toe. These events have their toll on the towns people’s patience, as clearly shown when a protective father shoves a guys head through a power drill because he catches him smoking weed with his daughter. This movie’s plot is all over the map and concludes with a final shot that I still don’t really understand, but I don’t care. I love this movie and it really plays well with an audience. Nobody does crazy fucked up horror as well as the Italians do. Bravo!

3rd movie:

THE EVIL is a creepy little haunted house movie from 1978 that I’ve never seen before. Richard Crenna and Joanna Pettet play a couple who have just purchased an old, cob web filled mansion. They invite a group of friends and some former psychiatric patients of Crenna to help clean the place up. But when Crenna opens up a door in the basement that’s sealed with a weird looking crucifix (bad sign) an evil presence seals the home up making escape impossible. A ghostly apparition tries to help, but one by one the guests drop like flies. There are lots of electrocutions, a dog pushes a woman down a flight of stairs, Andrew Prine (wearing a weird pair of sailor pants) gets stuck in quick sand, and Victor Buono plays the goddamned Devil. What more can I say?

??Surprise movie??

Last year’s surprise movie almost created a near riot when three episodes of TALES FROM THE CRYPT were shown and met with a fairly negative reaction. Well, Phil made up for it this year with a very well received presentation of the 80s Heavy Metal Horror classic TRICK OR TREAT (1986). It was just what everyone wanted at exactly the right time. The fourth film in the night is the RALLY movie where you really need to invigorate the crowd and this one did just that. I’ve never seen TRICK OR TREAT before, so it was a great TREAT for me to finally see it on the big screen with an extremely enthusiastic crowd. The plot concerns a high school metalhead named Eddie Weinbauer (played by Marc Price A.K.A. Skippy from FAMILY TIES) who is constantly being bullied by a group of mean jocks. He is the number one fan of a devil worshipping metal God named Sammi Curr, who is killed in a accidental hotel fire. Heartbroken Eddie seeks support from a metal DJ named Nuke (Gene Simmons) and is given a rare demo album the deceased rock star cut before his untimely death. Eddie soon realizes that Sammi Curr is trying to return to life through the backwards passages on his record. Before long, he starts getting back at the bullies who’ve wronged him as the homicidal rocker returns to the world of the living. This movie was a lot of fucking fun! The awesome music was by the hair band FASTWAY and it was directed by actor Charles Martin Smith (AMERICAN GRAFFITI, STARMAN). Rock on!

5th movie:

Global panic ensues when it is revealed that a mysterious UFO is actually a giant bird that flies at supersonic speed and has no regard for life or architecture. – IMDB plot description for THE GIANT CLAW.

I remember seeing scenes from THE GIANT CLAW (1957) as part of the incredible MOVIE ORGY that Joe Dante edited together along with a handful of other shlocky creature features from the 50s. This one peaked my interest because it featured a giant rubbery looking vulture swooping down and destroying buildings and knocking airplanes out of the sky. This was an inspired choice. A nice taste of old school monster movie madness. It’s about a hot shot jet pilot (are there any other kind?) who spies a UFO “as big as a battleship” one day while flying a test mission. He’s dismissed as a crackpot, but when it becomes apparent that there is actually a giant bird destroying shit and gobbling people up, he becomes the hero who must save the day. Turns out the creature is from some antimatter universe and can only be destroyed with antimatter weaponry (pure nonsensical 50s logic). This movie was a surprising amount of campy fun that kept me chuckling as we pressed further into the early morning hours.

6th movie:

BREEDERS (1986) had been described to me previously as “80 minutes of alien rape” and that’s exactly what it was. This was the HOLY FUCKING SHIT movie of the night and at a time when my attention was drifting towards sleep, it perked me up and kept me glued to the screen with its ridiculous plot, cheesy gore, excessive nudity and the worst acting ever committed to film. The single women of New York are being attacked and raped by a creature that mutates from human form into a nasty, slimy monster with tentacles and a huge penis-finger. The women are all virgins, which is a tough nut to swallow considering all the actresses are in their late twenties, live in the largest city in the world and it’s the 80s. One of the virgin victims is a bathing suit model who snorts cocaine for lunch and does nude aerobics in the studio. The only two people who can crack the case are the world’s dumbest police detective and an equally dumb female doctor with huge hair, who also happens to be a virgin. They uncover a hidden lair in the subway tunnels where the rape victims bathe in a hot tub full of alien semen so they can transform into something more horrifying. This movie was like SEX AND THE CITY meets HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. Pure madness and I loved every second of it.

7th movie:

I blacked out from exhaustion following BREEDERS, but I managed to stir awake just in time to catch the last half of THE OUTING (1987). Another wacky 80s horror flick that I somehow missed back in the day. This one (from what I can gather) was about a group of teenagers who somehow awaken an evil monster genie from a bottle. The kids have decided to spend the night in a museum and that’s where the genie starts magically killing them off one by one. One girl is bitten to death by cobras while she takes a bath and two wannabe rapist jocks are murdered with their own masks. It all leads to a showdown with the giant rubber genie chasing the main girl and her parents through the museum as they attempt to destroy the magic lamp. I always thought genies were supposed to be helpful and grant you three wishes and shit. This movie felt like a surreal dream that I was having or how I really wanted NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM to actually play. It closed the All Night Horror Show with a bang!

My fellow Horror Show veteran, Grae Drake (who couldn’t make it all the way through last year) and I stumbled out into the bright early morning sun feeling like we really accomplished something. Anyone can hang for part of the night, but it takes a certain kind of geek warrior to make it ’till the very end. It’s what separates the men from the boys. Or the normal from the crazy. Can’t wait until next year!


Wide awake and ready to be scared at the start of the All Night Horror Show.



12 hours later. We survived.



July 29, 2010

We were somewhere around  San Diego when the geek-gasms began to take hold. I remember saying something like, ” I’m feeling a little lightheaded…” And suddenly there was a huge roar all around us and the streets were filled with Supermen, Wonder Women, Klingons, Stormtroopers, Steampunks, Zombies and millions of other costumed geeks. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Moly! Who are all these goddamned nerds?”

Welcome to Comic-Con 2010!

This year’s Comic-Con was something special, because I was there to represent the awesome movie podcast  THE POPCORN MAFIA, along with its lovely host Grae Drake. We stayed in an amazing hotel suite that was a light disc’s throw from the convention center and after checking into press registration on Wednesday, we hit the floor for preview night. I made a stop to the GENTLE GIANT LTD. booth to pick up my official Comic-Con exclusive Darth Vader bust that is based on the original Ralph McQuarrie design. Score one for the Star Wars nerd that lives inside me! The next day we made our way over to Hall H for the first panel of the day, MEGAMIND from Dreamworks…

Will Ferrell shows up in costume for the panel.

Tina Fey keeps the comedy rolling.

Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt's standee join the panel.

I’ve been a fan of Dreamworks animation ever since I saw ANTS and just recently I loved the holy hell out of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, so I’m really looking forward to their take on the superhero genre. This story involves two sworn adversaries that are constantly at battle: a superhero called Metro Man (Brad Pitt) and a supervillian named Megamind (Will Ferrell). But, when Megamind manages to actually destroy his crime fighting nemesis and is allowed to do whatever his evil little heart desires, he learns that a bad guy is nothing without a good guy to oppose. It looks amusing and has a very funny cast that also includes Tina Fey and Jonah Hill. The panel was good and Ferrell had some great jokes about how he was the only one who showed up in costume. Next up, the most highly anticipated panel of the day and possibly the whole con…

The Big Tron-bowski, Jeff Bridges!

Tron himself, Mr. Bruce Boxleitner.

The REAL creator, Steve Lisberger!

The TRON LEGACY panel was moderated by PATTON OSWALT and was absolutely mind-roasting awesome! The cast came out headed up by Flynn himself, JEFF BRIDGES, and also included OLIVIA WILDE, MICHAEL SHEEN, GARRETT HEDLUND (Flynn’s son) and of course, BRUCE BOXLEITNER (Tron). Also, on the panel was TRON LEGACY director JOSEPH KOSINSKI and the original creator STEVE LISBERGER. The footage shown was beautiful and exciting and looked stunningly gorgeous in Real 3-D. One long scene shown involved Flynn’s son (Garrett Hedlund) and his introduction to the computer game world in much the same way as his father’s was in the first movie. The flying ships that look like three dimensional versions of the aliens from SPACE INVADERS are back and they look similar, only much more detailed. Everything I saw has the same design from the first TRON, only more engaging and fully realized. The light cycle race looks crazy-ass sweet and there are fucking light cars, too! I can’t wait till December and you better believe I’ll be seeing it in IMAX 3-D for sure.

After TRON, Disney showed a teaser trailer in 3-D for the new PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie that featured JOHNNY DEPP as Captain Jack addressing the audience. It made me want some rum.

Then it was announced that GUILLERMO DEL TORO will be writing and producing a HAUNTED MANSION reboot and Hall H went crazy when DEL TORO took the stage to talk about it. He said that ever since he was a little boy and went to Disneyland for the first time, he has loved HAUNTED MANSION and he intends to make a movie that will honor how fucking cool and scary and fun that attraction is. He also said that EDDIE MURPHY will NOT be getting a call for this one. Sounds great to me, as I too love HAUNTED MANSION and can’t wait to see the marriage of DEL TORO’S mind with what already exists there visually!


After the Disney panel, the Sony Pictures presentation began with SALT. The breathtakingly sexy ANGELINA JOLIE and the very reserved LIEV SCHREIBER came out to show some footage from SALT and I must say that I had zero interest in this movie until I watched some scenes from it, and now I think it actually looks pretty cool. They showed us this really great car chase scene where Salt (Angelina Jolie) escapes from custody in a car full of cops and beats their asses Jason Bourne-style. That combined with watching Jolie’s big red lips tell the crowd how hard she worked on the movie from the huge jumbo-tron in Hall H guarantees that I’ll be checking it out soon.

Next up was the BATTLE: LOS ANGELES panel and AARON ECKHART and MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ were trotted out for that. The movie’s about an alien invasion and a group of soldiers sent into an occupied L.A. to take back the city. There was some really intense fire fight footage shown of the squad going head to head with aliens armed with advanced weapons in an urban street fighting scenario similar to BLACKHAWK DOWN. I’m looking forward to this one a lot, because I never get tired of alien invasion movies and war flicks and this is both genres combined. THE HURT LOCKER meets HALO.

Mmmmmm, pass the SALT please.




Sony was followed by the Summit Entertainment presentation of RED, which is another graphic novel turned motion picture. This one features BRUCE WILLIS, HELEN MIRREN, MARY LOUISE PARKER and KARL URBAN, who were all on hand for the panel. The movie’s about a group of retired CIA agents who are forced out of retirement because someone’s trying to off them. Nothing I saw got me that interested. Maybe it was because BRUCE WILLIS couldn’t have seemed more bored and detached from the proceedings and answered everything posed to him in an unenthusiastic tone similar to a Cylon, only without the fun costume cred. Even the free swag for RED was unimpressive.

BRUCE WILLIS tries to stay awake for the RED panel.

MARY LOUISE PARKER and HELEN MIRREN are young hot and older hot.

Next up was the “visionaries” panel hosted by Entertainment Weekly. JOSS WHEDON and J.J. ABRAMS came out to discuss their bodies of work, future projects and their thoughts on the current state and future of fantastic cinema. It was very cool to hear these guys talk about what kind of things motivate them and what their influences are. JOSS WHEDON talked about how excited and frightened he is about the forthcoming AVENGERS project and his hope that MGM eventually releases his recent movie CABIN IN THE WOODS. J.J. ABRAMS had a lot to say about the forthcoming SUPER 8 and his love for old school SPEILBERG-style AMBLIN’ entertainment. He looks so cool in glasses, he made me wish I had shitty vision. I’m really looking forward to basically everything these guys do.


Following that, the testosterone level in Hall H went up to about 200% because it was time for THE EXPENDABLES panel! HARRY KNOWLES moderated the proceedings with cast members TERRY CREWS, DOLPH LUNDGREN, STEVE AUSTIN, RANDY COUTURE and none other than SLY STALLONE himself. Even a much more lively BRUCE WILLIS came out to support this exciting new throwback to the old school action flicks of the 80’s. This was the most macho panel of the entire con and I was afraid that at any second people could start fighting or fucking, or both! A few clips were shown, including a badass fight scene between SLY and STONE COLD where STEVE AUSTIN actually broke STALLONE’S neck for real! Talk about sacrificing for your art! This panel got me even more pumped up than I already was! I wanted to shoot some juice, lift some weights and blow something the fuck up with a bazooka while hanging from ANGELINA JOLIE’S tits!

TERRY CREWS is more than a little excited about THE EXPENDABLES!

DOLPH LUNDGREN comes in peace, but leaves in pieces!


After the EXPENDABLES panel, there was a presentation for SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, but I was starving and had to leave to get some food. Besides, why watch a panel for a movie that I was just about to see an advanced screening of?! Grae got us both into a sneak peek of SCOTT PILGRIM at the beautiful Balboa theatre in downtown San Diego and EDGAR WRIGHT was walking up to everyone in line and personally thanking them for coming. No problem Edgar, your movie was absolutely awesome! SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD is a romantic rock ‘n roll action comedy that takes place in a comic book universe where our hero must battle the League of Evil Exes in order to win the heart of the girl of his dreams. The audience gave it a standing ovation and after the film, Edgar brought out the entire cast. Then the screen raised and METRIC rocked out for the crowd with a mini-concert that was off the hook EPIC!

EDGAR WRIGHT and ME at the SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD screening at Comic-Con!


After the concert, Grae and I went to the MACHETE party. Sadly, we missed the footage shown, but we were still able to load up on some free swag and grab a couple tacos from the MACHETE taco truck. It was late and we were exhausted, so we headed back to our hotel to rest up for the next action packed day. Stay tuned for part 2 of my Comic-Con adventures. Nerd out!

CROPSEY is one of the scariest horror films of the year AND IT’S A DOCUMENTARY!!

July 14, 2010


I love scary stories. When I was a kid growing up in the mid-west, we would often terrorize each other with tales of escaped lunatics with meat hooks for hands. They were usually hiding in the local forest preserves, waiting for us to go exploring so that they could extract some bloody vengeance upon us for a past misdeed. These yarns would fuel our imaginations so much, that they would evolve more and more with each telling and before long, we would start to believe our own fiction.

One day (around Christmas time) a real-life horror story rocked my young world with the police discovery of over thirty corpses buried in the crawl-space of convicted mass-murderer JOHN GACY’S suburban Chicago home. I lived in a neighboring town and a few of his all-male teenage victims went to the same high school that I would later attend. It was very scary and it was all 100% real.

In the new documentary CROPSEY, filmmakers JOSHUA ZEMAN and BARBARA BRANCACCIO explore the parallels between an east coast urban legend, an abandoned mental institution and a real-life boogeyman named ANDRE RAND, who’s probably responsible for the disappearances of at least four children in Staten Island, NY. The results are very disturbing.

Directors Josh Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio outside the abandoned Willowbrook Mental Institution.

Along the Atlantic seaboard, kids have been scaring the shit out of each other around the campfires for generations now, with the tale of the deformed, escaped madman Cropsey. The horribly burned psycho, armed with a hook or an ax (depending on who’s telling the tale) is a “fictional” monster that preys on anyone stupid enough to enter the forest he calls home. The Cropsey legend is often told at many of the sleepaway camps located in the woods of upstate New York and you may remember a variation of the story that’s told in the 1981 slasher movie, THE BURNING. For kids growing up in Staten Island, the legend was incorporated into the very real abandoned mental institution known formerly as Willowbrook. This is where the movie really starts to work its creepy magic on the audience.

Back in the early 70’s a young, ambitious reporter named GERALDO RIVERA did an expose on Willowbrook. He uncovered some really terrifying footage of a facility completely overcrowded with mentally and physically handicapped children living in absolutely inhuman conditions. At one time the patients outnumbered the staff fifty to one. Not long after the RIVERA report, the state closed Willowbrook down and moved most of its patients out, but some would return and make a home in the woods and tunnels around the vacant institution.

In 1987, a 13 year old girl with Down Syndrome, named JENNIFER SCHWEIGER, was abducted and became the focus of an intense search through the woods of Staten Island. Her body was found on the grounds of Willowbrook and before long, a homeless man named ANDRE RAND, a former worker at the closed facility who was living in a nearby tent, was arrested for suspicion of her murder. He was convicted of kidnapping through mostly circumstantial evidence and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Many years later he was on trial again, only this time for the abduction of another missing girl named HOLLY ANN HUGHES, and there are at least three others that he’s suspected of being responsible for as well. There are also a lot of ambiguities as to whether he acted alone or if he’s just an innocent scapegoat for the police. Some even suspect a conspiracy involving the same Satanic church that the Son of Sam allegedly belonged to.

Andre Rand in police custody.

Many of the discoveries made by the filmmakers are downright bone chilling. One scene in particular shows JOSHUA ZEMAN and BARBARA BRANCACCIO finding an old piece of news footage featuring a local reporter on the scene for one of the missing kids. Over the reporter’s shoulder is a young man from the neighborhood mugging for the camera. He just so happens to be one of the future missing children that police suspect ANDRE RAND of abducting. Blood-curdling.

This is one of the few documentaries I’ve seen that follows the narrative of a horror film. It’s really very frightening at times and like most good true crime stories, there are more questions posed than solid answers provided, leaving the audience to come up with their own theories. It’s the unresolved mysteries that I found to be the most haunting part of this film.

I was lucky enough to do a podcast interview with co-director JOSHUA ZEMAN about CROPSEY, along with GRAE DRAKE for THE POCORN MAFIA. Click to listen HERE or check it out on iTunes. We discuss the movie, the case and one of Josh’s film influences, the highly acclaimed documentary PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS. Nerd out!

I’m a guest on THE POPCORN MAFIA this week!

November 17, 2009

Your very own PLANET OF THE NERDS (a.k.a. Michael Monterastelli) is the guest reviewer on the hilarious movie-review podcast, THE POPCORN MAFIA this week! I join co-hosts GRAE DRAKE and GARIANA ABEYTA to discuss the new films, THE FOURTH KIND and THE BOX. This is the second time I’ve been on the show and we all really cut loose on this episode, which is called DOUBLE KNOT NAMEPOCALYPSE. You can listen to me talk about why aliens don’t like giving oral at and you can also download the show on iTunes. If you’ve never heard the ladies before, they’ve got themselves one helluva funny program and it just got nominated for best movie podcast of the year! Good luck girls!

2nd Annual All Night Horror Show @ the New Bev!

October 15, 2009
12 hours of mind roasting madness!

12 hours of mind roasting madness!

Last Saturday night I attended the 2nd Annual All Night Horror Show at The New Beverly Cinema and I’m still trying to recover from the mind roasting madness that oozed across my eyeballs! I got there super early so I could get my favorite seat and was joined by the lovely Grae Drake (her first time) and my buddy Wendell (vet from last year).

Ready to be scared!

Ready to be scared!

Last year was a blast and now with the addition of brand new and very comfortable seats, I was not surprised that it was a sold out show. My goal this time was to make it through the whole 12 plus hours and receive my “I survived the all night horror show” pin. I just couldn’t do it last year with the old seats. At 7:30 P.M. the show promptly began. The following is an account of what I saw, as it happened, filtered through a hazy, chemically enhanced memory:

Trailers for BLOOD FEAST, ZOMBIES (European trailer for the original DAWN OF THE DEAD) and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (featuring the oddly absent CLU GULAGER. We missed ya CLU!), and a D.A.R.E. drug P.S.A.

1st Movie:




NEIL MARSHALL’S DOG SOLDIERS screened first and it was great to finally see it on the big screen! Awesome flick about a group of British soldiers on a military exercise in the Scottish wilderness, that find themselves on the run from a pack of werevolves bent on having them all for dinner. Great movie, that’s like a mix of ALIENS, SOUTHERN COMFORT and THE HOWLING.


2nd Movie: burning



FISHER STEVENS loses his fingers during the infamous RAFT SCENE.

FISHER STEVENS loses his fingers during the infamous RAFT SCENE.

One of my favorite slasher films of all time, THE BURNING screened next and it was the second time I’ve seen it screened in a theatre since it was first released back in 1981. I had convinced my mom to take my friend Curtis and I to see it back then, after telling her it was all about camping. It wasn’t a complete lie, but my poor mother was horrified at what she had taken two small children to see, for it is one of the sleaziest slasher films ever made.

It tells the tale of a horrible prank gone awry that befouls one Cropsy, a caretaker at Camp Blackfoot, who is unfortunately set ablaze and covered with painful 3rd degree burns as a result of the gag. He’s released from the hospital burn ward 5 years later and decides to return to the woods and extract some vengeance on a few campers with his trusty gardening sheers.

This movie, in addition to being written and produced by the WEINSTEIN brothers, features a highly accomplished cast that includes first appearances by JASON ALEXANDER, FISHER STEVENS and HOLLY HUNTER!

Unfortunately the print had the best scene in the movie cut out of it, which is of course, the infamous RAFT SLAUGHTER SEQUENCE. It was obviously the work of some douchebag projectionist who screened it in the past and no fault of the New Bev, but it was a huge buzzkill nonetheless.

Trailers for DAY OF THE ANIMALS, Edgar Wright’s DON’T trailer from GRINDHOUSE and THE BEYOND.

3rd Movie:






I’ve never seen LUCIO FULCI’S HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY completely through before. This is the plot according to IMDB: A deranged killer lives in the basement of an old mansion and pops out occasionally to commit grisly murders that include be-headings, ripped throats, and stabbings with a fireplace poker. The killer needs fresh body parts to rejuvenate his cells. He also has maggots for blood.

It opens with a vicious murder, where a woman is stabbed in the back of the head with a huge butcher knife by some sort of zombie-man. Awesome! Then a married couple and their creepy son Bob move into the same house and soon discover there are a lot of things really wrong with the place. You’ve got dolls missing an arm and a leg, crazy bat attacks and a creature with glowing yellow eyes that murders whoever is stupid enough to go in the basement.

Not one of FULCI’S best, but definitely a fun time. The film ended with this perplexing quote: NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW IF CHILDREN ARE MONSTERS OR MONSTERS ARE CHILDREN. – HENRY JAMES

Trailers for SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (featuring music by DEVO), a P.S.A. for mentally retarded children (very tasteful), DR. GIGGLES and a Fritos corn chip commercial.

?? Secret Movie ??:


There were many guesses before, but nobody could have seen a 35mm print of the TALES FROM THE CRYPT T.V. show coming. There were three episodes from the classic series shown that included: LOVER COME HACK TO ME directed by TOM (FRIGHT NIGHT) HOLLAND, COLLECTION COMPLETED directed by MARY LAMBERT and ONLY SIN DEEP directed by FRED (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) DEKKER.

The reaction from the crowd was not very good during this. You could sense that a lot of people were upset by this choice and would have preferred a cool horror film instead. Not being the biggest TFTC fan myself, I kind of felt the same at first. But my girlfriend Grae is such a HUGE fan of the show and was so happy and on nostalgia from each episode, I couldn’t help but enjoy it along with her.

Trailers for TWICE DEAD, AMITYVILLE 3-D, a Shasta commercial and a Renault car commercial (What’s with all the commercials?).

5th Movie:


There's something you don't see everyday.

There's something you don't see everyday.

1982’s SUPERSTITION is basically a slasher movie with a sharp clawed Witch doing all the killing. It seems that many years ago, said Witch was murdered by a gang of angry townspeople and she has returned to the 80’s to wreak vengeance on a few of their ancestors.

It’s a fun, cheesy horror film with some great “kills”, that includes a guy’s head exploding in a microwave! Cool!

Another commercial, this one for FLAVOS – AN “ORIENTAL” TREAT, followed by trailers for LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, MANIAC and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.

6th Movie:


This came on at about 5 A.M. If you’ve never seen FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE before, it is probably one of the most intense, politically incorrect films ever made. I saw it a couple of years ago at the Grindhouse festival thrown by QUENTIN TARANTINO at the New Bev. The tagline is: 89 MINUTES OF SHEER TERROR and that’s no joke!

The plot concerns an unfortunate African American family that are held captive by a trio of escaped convicts, led by a racist white trash killer, played by a young WILLIAM SANDERSON. This movie is just wrong in so many ways and watching it with an audience kinda becomes like an endurance test for everyone. In addition to hearing a family of black people called every single racial epitaph ever invented, they are also forced to perform acts of humiliation and degradation at the hands of their captors. There’s also a scene where a little white boy (a friend of the black child) has his head beaten in by a rock! Not technically a “horror” movie, but one fucked up, terrifying film nonetheless.


7th and Final Movie:


That's a cheap looking alien!

That's a cheap looking alien!

SID HAIG'S arm has a mind of it's own.

SID HAIG'S arm has a mind of it's own.

ROGER CORMAN’S GALAXY OF TERROR, a low budget ALIEN ripoff epic that stars EDDIE (GREEN ACRES) ALBERT, ERIN (JOANIE LOVES CHACHI) MORAN, RAY (MR.HAND) WALSTON, ROBERT (FREDDY KRUEGER) ENGLUND and SID (JASON OF STAR COMMAND) HAIG! The set dresser on this movie was BILL PAXTON (before he started acting) and JAMES CAMERON was the Art Director (you can see how he honed his skills on TERMINATOR and ALIENS in this film).

The movie is about the crew of a spaceship that encounters a weird pyramid that kills everybody one by one, by transmitting their deepest fears into them. In the best scene in the movie, SID HAIG chops off his own “infected” arm, only to have the severed appendage throw a giant throwing star into his chest, killing him. Nice!

The only time during the evening I fell asleep was during the first 20 to 30 minutes of GALAXY OF TERROR and I’ve seen that one several times before. My girl Grae had to leave during FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, not because the movie was too much for her, but because she just couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore. But, Wendell and I made it to the end like we had promised ourselves we would and collected our “I survived the all night horror show” pin on the way out of the theatre. It was 8:00 A.M and time for some much needed sleep. Great times! Can’t wait for next year!

We survived the all night horror show!!!

We survived the all night horror show!!!


October 13, 2009



Back in 1983, one of the weirdest, cheesiest, funniest and downright craziest slasher films ever created was released on an unsuspecting world. It was called SLEEPAWAY CAMP and if you’ve never seen it before, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITNG FOR? It’s incredible!

The first time I saw it was back in my teenage years. My girlfriend at the time and I were at the local video store looking for a good horror movie to rent. As we scanned the aisles I stopped upon the box for SLEEPAWAY CAMP, which I had noticed many times before and had made a mental note to give it a shot. The artwork was really awesome, with the sneaker impaled with a bloody knife and the kid’s frightened letter home. It was way too intriguing to pass up, so we took it back to her parents house, popped it into the VCR and watched it with all the lights turned off in the basement. We were expecting something along the lines of a simple FRIDAY THE 13TH rip-off, that would be good for a few harmless scares and would be easy to make out to. Well, we got a lot more than we bargained for.

Last Thursday night in L.A., the Cinefamily held a double feature screening of SLEEPAWAY CAMP (the director’s own 35mm print was flown in from New Jersey) and it’s most recent sequel, RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP (2008) to kick off their slasher series, that will be going on every Thursday night, all month long. I was joined by the lovely GRAE DRAKE and GARIANA ABEYTA of THE POPCORN MAFIA and good old KATHY ZONIS, who was their cameragirl at last years COMIC-CON. She was the only one in our group who hadn’t seen SLEEPAWAY before and watching her reactions to it was priceless.

What is it like? If DAVID LYNCH’S brain were transplanted into the head of a low budget filmmaker from New Jersey back in the early 80’s, he would have made SLEEPAWAY CAMP. It’s a film that is not really well made at all, but manages to entertain as well as genuinely creep out the audience. Over the years it has built up a huge following of fans, whom speak of the film with great admiration. Much of this can be attributed to one of the most notorious and shocking “shock” endings ever filmed. But there are many other reasons to love SLEEPAWAY CAMP:

Angela and Ricky are ready to have lots of fun at Camp Arawak.

Angela and Ricky are ready to have lots of fun at Camp Arawak.

The most awesome pairing of two guys wearing shorts ever!

The most awesome pairing of two guys wearing shorts ever!

The most tweaked out performance I've ever seen belongs to this lady, who plays Angela's mom.

The most tweaked out performance I've ever seen belongs to this lady, who plays Angela's mom.

There are more half shirts and short shorts than any film in history and that's if you just count the guys.

There are more half shirts and short shorts than any film in history and that's if you just count the guys.

Lots of unconventional "kills" in this movie. When was the last time you saw someone use a beehive to murder somebody?

Lots of unconventional "kills" in this movie. When was the last time you saw someone use a beehive to murder somebody?

Camp owner Mel pays for his cheapness and dating underage girls with an arrow to the throat.

Camp owner Mel pays for his cheapness and dating underage girls with an arrow to the throat.

This image will be burned into your mind's eye for eternity after witnessing it fully.

This image will be burned into your mind's eye for eternity after witnessing it fully.

The film opens with a horrible boating accident that occurs at Camp Arawak, which judging from everyone’s “Joisey” accent, is located somewhere in upstate New York or perhaps in the garden state itself. Flash forward to five years later and the surviving child of the accident, Angela has been adopted by a crazy lady, who ties string to her fingers and has a few bizarre ideas about parenting as well. She sends Angela (FELISSA ROSE) and her new brother Ricky (JONATHON TIERSTEN) to the exact same place where Angela watched her dad get chopped up by a motor boat, Camp Arawak. As a result of the accident, Angela doesn’t speak very much, which makes her the target of all the camp bullies and the pedophile cook. One by one, they all meet a grisly end at the hands of a mysterious killer who’s stalking the camp. The highly creative murders range from being burned by a pot of boiling corn on the cob to having a beehive dropped in your lap while on the can. Normally, after the first murder, the camp would be closed and the children sent home. But Camp Arawak is run by a very cheap middle aged man named Mel (MIKE KELLIN), who keeps the murders under wraps, convinces the local sheriff (who sports the most obvious fake mustache ever) that they are all accidents and plans a rendezvous with Meg (an underage counselor). The bodies continue to pile up and the final “reveal” of the killer is something that is so absolutely insane, it blows the mind! If you’ve never seen it before and want to be surprised when you do, don’t look at the next photo because it’s an enormous spoiler!



I wonder if  ROBERT HILTZIK, the writer and director of SLEEPAWAY CAMP, ever realized how truly crazy the movie he was making is. There are so many weird characters in this film, it’s almost like the TWIN PEAKS of slasher movies. The overall tone has a pervasive feeling of cruelty and an undercurrent of weird sexuality that made me glad I never went to camp as a kid. Also, there has never been such an amazing collection of bad 80’s fashions ever featured in one film. Lots of half shirts and short shorts and that’s just what the guys are wearing!

After SLEEPAWAY there was a short break and when we came back, we were treated to a special screening of the long awaited followup film (the 4th official sequel. 5th if you count another unreleased sequel) RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP or “…TURN TO” as the cast and crew referred to it. You see, it just so happens that our good friend KATHY ZONIS is friends with one of the actresses from “…TURN TO”, JACKIE TOHN and she invited her to the screening. My friend BRIAN COLLINS, who has an awesome website called HORROR MOVIE A DAY, conducted a very funny, impromptu interview with her before the screening.

JACKIE TOHN is interviewed by BRIAN COLLINS about her work on "...TURN TO".

JACKIE TOHN is interviewed by BRIAN COLLINS about her work on "...TURN TO".

We enjoyed watching her die so much, we tried to kill her again outside the theatre.

We enjoyed watching her die so much, we tried to kill her again outside the theatre.

The "...TURN TO"!

The "...TURN TO"!

She talked about how seriously the returning director ROBERT HILTZIK took the production and how the cast took it the opposite way. She’s no stranger to working with shlocky filmmakers, considering she worked with UWE BOLL on the horror film POSTAL, which I still have to see. Her performance in this movie is really good and I almost didn’t want to see her die in it. Almost. I’ve actually seen “…TURN TO” before, when it was released on DVD from MAGNET. She said it was shot in 2003, but it just came out last year. I thought it was fun then, but watching it with an audience and a live “heckler” commentary from one of the stars was fantastic. At one point during the movie, Jackie was perplexed by her hairdo in the film and screamed out at the screen, “WHY DO I LOOK LIKE THAT!?”. It was a riot! She had never seen the film all the way through and afterwards she told us that it was a blast for her to watch with everyone. She even received huge applause after her death in the movie, which involved her head being wrapped up in barbed wire. Awesome!

Although “…TURN TO” is not quite the cultural zeitgeist nugget that the original is, it’s still a great deal of fun to watch. The plot involves another summer at the notorious camp, which is now called Camp Manabe ( Man-a- be, get it? Jackie told us that the director was very proud of himself for coming up with that one). This one centers on an obnoxious, disgusting fat kid named Alan, who’s viciously picked on by everyone. Once again, there’s a killer on the loose and nobody can figure out who it is. PAUL DeANGELO returns as Ronnie, the counselor from the original who only wears tank tops and the shortest shorts ever. He is joined by VINCENT PASTORE (Big Pussy from THE SOPRANOS) and ISSAC HAYES in a cameo as the “chef”. OH!

 Meet Alan, the obnoxious fat kid who lights his farts on fire.

Meet Alan, the obnoxious fat kid who lights his farts on fire.

The babes of "...TURN TO"! That's JACKIE TOHN on the far right.

The babes of "...TURN TO"! That's JACKIE TOHN on the far right.

Big Pussy and a "familiar" looking cop, who uses one of those cancer throat things to communicate.

Big Pussy and a "familiar" looking cop, who uses one of those cancer throat things to communicate.



The thing that I like the most about “…TURN TO” is that the cruelty from the original is back and has even been amplified to a higher level than before. Every character in the movie seems like they are on the brink of completely losing control. The Alan character is so horribly treated by his peers you would almost feel sorry for him, if he wasn’t such an unsympathetic freak. One moment I found to be particularly funny and cruel features Alan screaming in agony at the sight of a dead frog he loved, that was skinned alive by bullies. BRIAN COLLINS turned to me during that scene and said, “This is one of the meanest horror movies ever made”, in which I concurred.

It was a great time and the slasher retrospective will be going on every Thursday night, all month long at the Cinefamily. This Thursday is a triple feature of three high school slashers that include SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, GRADUATION DAY and REDEEMER: SON OF SATAN. See you there.

I was TRICK ‘R TREATing, all weekend long.

October 6, 2009


On October 5th, 2007 the first horror anthology movie in quite awhile was supposed to be released theatrically by the folks at the WB. It wasn’t. Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because the movie isn’t very good. On the contrary, it’s excellent. It’s not because the movie was too expensive and that they wouldn’t make their money back, because it cost less than 15 million to make. It’s not because there wouldn’t be an audience for a horror film that takes place on and is released near Halloween, who’s only real competition is the latest SAW sequel, because I believe it would have done great. So why WB? WHY!? Why are you dumping this film on DVD with no fanfare except the cult-like buzz it has gotten by the few people who’ve been lucky enough to see it? I don’t know the answer to this, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that studio execs are brainless idiots that are born without spines, guts, or balls. I mean, that’s got to be it, right?

The problem with TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it’s just too damn clever and a bit too original for a studio system that is only interested in marketing a pre-sold property. If TRICK ‘R TREAT was a remake or a sequel, or if it was based on a popular video game or graphic novel, then no problem. It would already be a franchise and therefore, a bankable property. But the WB can’t be expected to get behind something that’s new and original, because then they could possibly lose some of their precious money and then some executive douchebag might lose their job, which they don’t deserve anyway, so let’s greenlight that FRIDAY THE 13th remake/sequel instead and fuck what the people want, right? WRONG!

I saw TRICK ‘R TREAT a full year ago with a packed house of horror maniacs at a special screening held in Hollywood by the folks at AIN’T IT COOL NEWS and the reaction was phenomenal. I know others who saw it at the ’08 L.A. Screamfest and even before that at The Alamo Drafthouse’s annual BUTT NUMB-A-THON in ’07. After the success of these screenings, I thought for sure the WB would realize their error and release it theatrically the following October with all the bells and whistles. EPIC FAIL!

So now TRICK ‘R TREAT has finally seen the light of day on home video and I guess we should be thankful for that, but this a movie that really needs to be seen in a theatre with an audience, to be truly appreciated. Luckily, I live in L.A. and there were a few screenings of it at the two best revival theaters in the city, the New Beverly Cinema and the Cinefamily @ The Silent Movie Theatre, this past weekend. I attended both.

An awesome double bill @ The New Bev!

An awesome double bill @ The New Bev!

Michael Dougherty introducing his film to the Cinefamily.

Michael Dougherty gets a "hand" introducing his film to the Cinefamily.

Both screenings were a lot of fun! The Cinefamily threw a costume contest before the movie and I went as the DARK WIZARD (which won me 3rd prize and an autographed TRICK ‘R TREAT poster!), while my companion Grae Drake from The Popcorn Mafia went as a sexy ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL, with a pencil sticking out of her cheek. She looked awesome and did her own makeup too!





The New Bev featured TRICK ‘R TREAT on a double bill with one of the greatest horror anthology movies ever made, 1982’s CREEPSHOW. Both screenings included an introduction and Q and A from the director, MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, who seemed ecstatic over how well received his film was by both audiences.

Michael Dougherty introduces his movie at the New Bev.

Michael Dougherty introduces his movie at the New Bev.

The best way to describe TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it is an anthology film in the spirit of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, CREEPSHOW and THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE, only presented in an non-linear narrative similar to PULP FICTION, that features interwoven characters and stories.

The first story centers on a school principal (played with dark humor by DYLAN BAKER), who happens to be a candy poisoning, child killer bent on teaching his son how to carve a pumpkin the “right” way.

I'd check that candy if I were you, kid.

I'd check that candy if I were you, kid.

The second story involves a prank thrown on an autistic girl that involves an old “legend” about a bus of mentally challenged kids that were driven off a cliff to their deaths. This segment is like THE GOONIES with a body count.

The WB execs had a hard time wrapping their skulls around this one!

The WB execs had a hard time wrapping their skulls around this one!

The third tale features a group of attractive, twenty-something girls who are throwing a costume party in the woods, so they can “feed” their animal instincts. ANNA PAQUIN is a virgin trying to find a date, dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. Virgins, vampires and werewolves. Oh my!

Four hot "bitches"!

Four hot "bitches"!

The final story is about a mean old man (BRIAN COX) who refuses to celebrate Halloween in any way, shape or form. No decorations, costumes or candy from him, just a lot of bad attitude. Unfortunately, SAM is a stickler for the rules of the holiday and makes sure they are being followed by all. This bizarre little creature serves as the film’s mascot (ala the Crypt Keeper) and in this story he proves to be a real menace to anyone who doesn’t want to play along.

Better get that candy ready, or else!

Better get that candy ready, or else!

TRICK ‘R TREAT is an instantly iconic horror movie for horror movie geeks, made by a horror movie geek. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY has created one of the most Halloween-ish movies about Halloween ever. Not even HALLOWEEN is as Halloween as TRICK ‘R TREAT! The incredible art direction by TONY WOHLGEMUTH and beautiful cinematography by GLENN MacPHERSON creates the most richly detailed setting I’ve ever seen. Every corner of the frame virtually explodes with amazing images of pumpkin patches, costume parades, and lavishly decorated neighborhoods where every house has a carved Jack-O-Lantern and all the kids are dressed as pirates, monsters and ghosts.

There is also a great deal of gore and a pervasive tone of mirth and malice that reminded me a lot of the kind of horror movies I grew up on in the 80’s. And that’s where those dummies at the WB had their biggest problem with the film. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY kills off 15 kids in this movie and I admire the balls it took to do that. We live in an age where the very thought of harming a child in a movie is considered taboo, even if the kid really deserves it. What puss-ified times we live in. It’s just a movie, people!

Following the TRICK ‘R TREAT screening at the New Bev, was a screening of the classic GEORGE ROMERO and STEPHEN KING collaboration, CREEPSHOW. I loved seeing it again so much and it complimented TRICK ‘R TREAT beautifully. CREEPSHOW still has a great deal of SCARE power left in it, as there were a lot of screams from the audience. The term, “they don’t make ’em like that anymore” would fit here, if it wasn’t for the fact that MICHAEL DOUGHERTY did do just that.


To hell with renting TRICK ‘R TREAT, just go ahead and buy it. It’s worth it and trust me, you’ll be watching it every Halloween from now on. Just be sure to watch it with all the lights turned off and don’t forget to follow all the rules, or you might find yourself in trouble with SAM! Trick ‘r treat!

That's SAM hanging out at the New Bev's TRICK 'R TREAT screening.

That's SAM hanging out at the New Bev's TRICK 'R TREAT screening.

Summer Camp with the Cinefamily!

August 31, 2009

“Dear Mom and Dad,

Camp is great! We’re learning how to use knives and guns and the boys and girls are sleeping with each other. It’s the greatest summer camp ever!”



I am truly saddened over the fact that I have never been to summer camp a day in my life. I would have loved to have camped out in the woods by a crackling fire and toasted marshmallows while singing, “Koom-by-yah” with my fellow campers. Archery, arts and crafts, and skinny dipping would have been a lot of fun, but this was just not meant to be.

My summer camp memories are relegated to the movies, so I was excited to see that the Cinefamily was throwing an all-night SUMMER CAMP MOVIE MARATHON! I went with my partner in crime, the lovely Grae Drake of The Popcorn Mafia and boy did we have ourselves some fun. The Cinefamily’s main programmer, Hadrian Belove and his staff were all dressed like counselors and there was a wading pool and a crafts table set up for making “friendship” bracelets. There was also plenty of beer on hand for us older campers and I ate one of the most delicious smores ever made. The first movie we watched was the amazing, LITTLE DARLINGS…

Kristy McNichol and Tatum O'Neil spend their summer trying to get laid.

Kristy McNichol and Tatum O'Neil spend their summer trying to get laid.

You’ve got to love a teen comedy that’s this inappropriate. Tatum O’Neil and a chain-smoking Kristy McNichol spend their summer camp experience trying to win a bet on which one of them can get laid first. Kristy has her eyes on a teenage (almost unintelligible) Matt Dillon, while Tatum tries to score some loving from an extremely hairy and waaaaayyyyyy too old Armand Assante. If you like under age drinking and jail bait, this is the summer camp movie for you! Up next was something truly incredible…


Meatballs meets The Beach!

Summer Camp Nightmare

1987’s SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE tells the story of an all boy’s summer camp that’s run by a very strict Chuck (The Rifleman) Connors. He makes them watch religious programs on the only T.V. and cancels the dance with the nearby girl’s camp. That’s when the kids form an uprising and take control by killing him, jailing the counselors and creating their own society with their own rules. This movie was like a cross between MEATBALLS, LORD OF THE FLIES, THE BEACH, TAPS and a half dozen prison films I’ve seen, complete with a shanking, a rape and a lynching! WOW! Next up, it was time to get stupid…


Meet Meathead, the pot smoking alien.

Meet Meathead, the pot smoking alien.

MEATBALLS PART 2 has absolutely nothing at all to do with the Bill Murray movie. It’s about a war between the laid-back Camp Sasquatch and the military-themed Camp Patton. There’s also an E.T. who smokes weed in it, named Meathead, who has been sent to Earth for the summer by his parents to get his merit badge. Pee Wee Herman, John Larroquette, Richard (EMPTY NEST) Mulligan and the guy who played Ogre from REVENGE OF THE NERDS are on hand for the hilarity. I haven’t seen this one since VHS back in the eighties and it was quite a treat to see a beautiful 35mm Sony archive print of it.

Then, our “camp director” Hadrian offered us all a choice between watching the MEATBALLS rip-off GORP or a christian summer camp movie called, GERONIMO.


We chose GERONIMO and boy am I glad! It’s the “honky and the home-boys” tale of a born-again camp counselor who’s given the tough assignment of taking care of a group of wild, inner-city kids from Chicago for the summer, all of whom seem very “real” and behave like the cast of Larry Clark’s KIDS. After dozens of lectures about Jesus and a few unintentionally racist comments, the boys finally discover the “joy” of camping, when they’re not stealing everything in sight, picking fights with everyone and sniffing glue. This was truly a “rare” treat to see.

Next up was GORP, but it was about 4 a.m. and we needed to take the big, yellow bus back home. Thanks again to the Cinefamily for all the fun. It was the best summer camp experience I’ve ever had, without all that awkward “growing up” stuff!