Category: Horror

The Why Files: Season 1 (2020) starring Andrew Gentile / Z-View

The Why Files: Season 1 (2020)

Creator:  Andrew Gentile

Stars: Andrew Gentile

Tagline: Where Cool Nerds Laugh and Learn

The Plot…

The Why Files started as a weekly Youtube podcast where the host, Andrew Gentile looked at myths, legends, strange phenomena and more.  Gentile approaches each subject with respect and the right touch of humor.  After explaining the subject he then explains what part is true, debunks parts that can be and admits if the truth isn’t known.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Andrew Gentile is an excellent host.  His sidekick is a Hecklefish that adds humor.

Some of my favorite episodes from season one include: Top Scariest Places You Can Actually Visit; Rain of Terror; The Most Top Secret Places in the World; Nanorobotics & Nanotechnology – Can We Live Forever?; The Voynich Manuscript; Stay out of the Nevada Triangle; CIA Declassifies UFO Documents; The Philadelphia Experiment and Time Travelers Caught on Film.

The Why Files: Season 1 (2020) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“The Boy Who Cried Werewolf” (1973) / Z-View

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)

Director:  Nathan Juran

Screenplay: Bob Homel

Stars: Kerwin Mathews, Robert J. Wilke, George Gaynes, David S. Cass Sr., Tim Haldeman

Tagline: Possible in this day and age? Those who didn’t believe… are dead!

The Plot…

It’s Ritchie’s weekend with his dad.  They decide to camp out.  That night while walking back to the cabin, they are attacked by a werewolf.  Dad is bitten, but manages to impale the creature.  When police arrive they find a dead man on the fence.  Later when Dad starts acting strange, Ritchie knows his dad is becoming a werewolf.  Even worse no one believes him.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Like a bad 1970s tv movie, but we don’t even get the benefit of commercials.

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973) earns 1 of 5 stars.

HOUSES OF THE UNHOLY by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is Coming!

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips next collaboration has been announced.  HOUSES OF THE UNHOLY will drop on August 13, 2024.  Here’s the lowdown…

HOUSES OF THE UNHOLY is a riveting horror thrill-ride from bestselling creators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, the award-winning team behind CRIMINAL (soon to be a TV series on Amazon Prime), RECKLESS, NIGHT FEVER and WHERE THE BODY WAS.

An FBI agent from the cult crime beat and a woman with a past linked to the Satanic Panic are drawn into a terrifying hunt for an insane killer hiding in the shadows of the underworld. Can you ever escape your past, or are all your bad decisions just more ghosts to haunt you, wherever you go?

“Room 237” (2012) / Z-View

Room 237 (2012)

Director:  Rodney Ascher

Screenplay: Rodney Ascher

Stars: Archival footage featuring Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King, Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Joe Turkel, Barry Nelson, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Tagline: Some movies stay with you forever…and ever…and ever.

The Plot…

Room 237 features nine segments that explore theories that Stanley Kubrick imbedded hidden messages and themes within The Shining.  Some of the theories include that Kubrick directed fake footage of the first moon landing since we really didn’t land with Apollo 11, cultural assimilation of Native Americans or American Imperialism or Genocide are the real themes of the film.  There are more.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

If you don’t like one of the theories, don’t worry, another will soon be presented.  A lot of sizzle, but no steak.

Room 237 (2012) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1953) starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello & Boris Karloff / Z-View

Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953)

Director:  Charles Lamont

Screenplay: Lee Loeb, John Grant; story by Sid Fields, Grant Garett;inspired by The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Boris Karloff, Helen Westcott, Reginald Denny, John Dierkes, Harry Cording and Craig Stevens.

Tagline: The Laughs Are Twice as MONSTER-OUS as Ever Before!

The Plot…

A maniacal serial killer stalks the streets of London.  Slim (Abbott) and Tubby (Costello), American cops sent over to study England’s police methods, are pulled into the case.

Let the good times roll!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

In this version, Dr. Jekyll isn’t such a nice guy.  In most outings, it isn’t until he becomes Mr. Hyde that he becomes evil.

Boris Karloff appeared with Abbott and Costello four years earlier in Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer.

Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Lawson” – The Poster and 1st Teaser are Here!

Here we have the first poster and teaser for Lawson.  I don’t know much about this film but it has me interested.

This is the first official movie teaser for LAWSON, a covert operative for a race of living vampires, as he battles a sinister conspiracy to resurrect an ancient god and an old enemy who resurfaces from his shadowy past in this supernatural espionage film based on the bestselling novel Lawson Vampire series by Jon F. Merz.

Starring Brandon S. Stumpf as Lawson, Shahjehan Khan as Wagner, Liz Eng as Atara, Steven Triebes as Niles, Jose Gonsalves as Arthur, Jam Murphy as Lilith, Jay Street as Newby, Morgan Barnsley as Quinn, Pamela Jayne Morgan as Sari, Logan Raposo as Grom, Christian Carrigan as Welch, Thomas Goze as Stefan, Brian McDonald as the Assassin, and Jon F. Merz as Crawford.

Proteus Entertainment presents: LAWSON, coming in 2024.

“Son of Frankenstein” (1939) starring Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone & Bela Lugosi / Z-View

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Director:  Rowland V. Lee

Screenplay: Wyllis Cooper based on characters created by Mary Shelley

Stars: Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill and Josephine Hutchinson.

Tagline: AFTER 20 YEARS Driven by the same crazy ambition that made his father create the terrifying monster that stalks in the night! See his juggernaut of destruction loosed upon the world!

The Plot…

Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Rathbone), son of Henry Frankenstein, has brought his wife and young son back to live in Castle Frankenstein.  Baron hopes to rebuild the family reputation, but is surprised to find that the villagers still harbor deep resentment.  The haven’t forgotten the murders and destruction brought about by his father’s creation.

Wolf meets Ygor (Lugosi), a strange, deformed man who survived being hung for robbing graves.  When Ygor shows Wolf that his father’s creation lies in a coma below the castle, Wolf decides to revive the creature.  The operation is a success.  Sadly the creature will on follow the commands of Ygor.  Unknown to Wolf, Ygor has scores that he plans to settle using the monster.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Director Rowland V. Lee felt that producers had low-balled Bela Lugosi’s salary.  Since the script wasn’t complete as filming started, Lee continued to pad Lugosi’s part.  This increased Lugosi’s pay and created one of his best non-Dracula roles.

Surprisingly, this is the first Frankenstein film that shows the electrodes in the monster’s neck being hit with electricity to bring him to life.

Son of Frankenstein (1939) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“The Mad Ghoul” (1943) / Z-View

The Mad Ghoul (1943)

Director:  James P. Hogan

Screenplay: Brenda Weisberg, Paul Gangelin, Hanns Kräly

Stars: David Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, George Zucco, Robert Armstrong, Turhan Bey, Charles McGraw and Milburn Stone.

Tagline: A NEW SENSATION IN HORROR!

The Plot…

Dr. Morris (Zucco) has had success in experimenting with an ancient Mayan gas that makes those exposed to it, obedient and without a will of their own.  When Dr. Morris learns that his lab assistant’s girlfriend, Isabel (Ankers) loves another man, Morris believes it to be him.  Then Morris learns Isabel loves the handsome, Eric Iverson (Bey).

Dr. Morris decides to use the gas on his lab assistant.  Morris will then compel his assistant to kill Iverson.  Then Morris will have Isabel to himself.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

One of the rare times that the wisecracking reporter who breaks the case gets murdered.

The Mad Ghoul (1943) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“The Lair” (2022) / Z-View

The Lair (2022)

Director:  Neil Marshall

Screenplay: Neil Marshall, Charlotte Kirk

Stars: Charlotte Kirk, Jonathan Howard and Neil Marshall.

Tagline: Unlocked. Unleashed.

The Plot…

Shot down in Afghanistan, Royal Air Force pilot Captain Kate Sinclair (Kirk) is attacked by enemy forces.  Gunfire forces Sinclair to break into an abandoned underground bunker.  Sinclair’s battle with the enemy awakens deadly creatures that begin attacking.  She survives and is picked up by a unit stationed near the bunker.

Sinclair is unable to convince the soldiers that the monsters exist.  That’s about to change since the creatures have tracked her to the camp.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Director Neil Marshall is hit or miss for me.  Hits include Dog Soldiers and The Descent.  Doomsday and Hellboy fall into the latter category.  Unfortunately so does The Lair.

The Lair starts off well enough.  It has an interesting plot.  There’s action galore.  The acting is okay.  It goes off the rails when the creatures begin shooting tentacles out of their eyes and mouths.  If you’re looking for a way to spend a mindless hour and 37 minutes, then The Lair may fit the bill.

The Lair (2022) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Master of Dark Shadows” (2019) / Z-View

Master of Dark Shadows (2019)

Director:  David Gregory

Stars: Dan Curtis, Nancy Barrett, Ben Cross, Roger Davis, Jonathan Frid, Ian McShane, William F. Nolan, Lara Parker, David Selby, Barbara Steele and Whoopi Goldberg.

Tagline:  The Gothic World of Dan Curtis

The Plot…

Dan Curtis’ soap opera, Dark Shadows, was scheduled for cancellation in six weeks.  When Curtis was told this, he decided to take his traditional daytime melodrama in a new direction,  He added a vampire!  Surprisingly the show soared to the top of the ratings.  Kids and young adults made it must-see tv and the show was saved.  Dark Shadows ended up running for six seasons.  Spin-offs included two feature films, comic books, trading cards, board games and more.

Although Dan Curtis became best known for films in the horror genre he wanted to break out into other genres.  Master of Dark Shadows is his story.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Dan Curtis produced and directed the two Dark Shadows feature films.  He also wrote the second.  Then when the series ended, Dan Curtis was considered the go-to guy for horror.  He produced The Night Stalker. It became the highest rated tv movie of its time.  Curtis followed that up by producing and directing The Night Strangler, The Norliss Tapes, Scream of the Wolf, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Turn of the Screw, Trilogy of Terror, Burnt Offerings, Dead of Night and Curse of the Black Widow.  Although Dan Curtis did produce and direct other films, he was still best known for horror.

That all changed when Curtis produced and directed the television adaptation of Herman Wouk’s Winds of War.  The seven episode mini-series became the highest rated television event of its time.  The series was nominated for eleven Emmy Awards, winning three (Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or a Special; Outstanding Individual Achievement – Costumers; Outstanding Individual Achievement – Special Visual Effects).

Dan Curtis followed with War and Remembrance, a continuation of Winds of War. War and Remembrance received 15 Emmy Award nominations.  It won for best miniseries, special effects, and single-camera production editing.

I’m happy that Dan Curtis was able to break out from the horror genre and make big budget, award winning projects.  But the truth of the matter is, I will always remember the thrill of running home from school to catch the latest adventures of Barnabus and Quentin Collins.  Five days a week on Dark Shadows we got vampires, werewolves, and a taste of horror.  I read the novelizations, comic books, collected the cards and saw the feature films.  The excitement we had as kids talking about Dark Shadows is a highlight of this kid’s elementary years.

If you’re of the right age, Master of Shadows will take you back to that time.  If you’re too young, then you’ll get a taste of something that will never be replicated.

Master of Dark Shadows (2019) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Leave the World Behind” (2023) starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la and Kevin Bacon / Z-View

Leave the World Behind (2023)

Director:  Sam Esmail

Screenplay: Sam Esmail based on the novel LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND by Rumaan Alam

Stars: Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la and Kevin Bacon.

Tagline:  There’s No Going Back to Normal

The Plot…

Amanda (Roberts) and Clay Sanford (Hawke) rent a modern isolated house away from the city for a spur of the moment vacation with their two children.  As the weekend progresses strange things happen.  They lose internet access.  Several deer wander onto the property and just stand still.  At the beach an oil tanker loses control and runs ashore as beachgoers scramble for safety.  That evening the wifi is still out and television channels are off the air.

Later that night, Amanda and Clay are awakened by two well dressed strangers.  The man claims to be George H. Scott (Ali).  He says that the young woman with him is his daughter, Ruth (Myha’la).  George says that the house is his and a blackout in the city is the reason for their return home.  Ruth immediately distrusts them.  George cannot prove who he is. He claims to have lost his wallet.  His wife, Ruth’s mother is due back from a business trip later that day.  George is not asking Amanda and her family to leave. He just wants to stay with Ruth in his own home.  Despite reservations, the two families agree to share the house.

The next day, they learn that the United States is under some sort of attack.  Planes are crashing.  GPS and electronics no longer work.  The emergency alert system warns that the US is at war.  Their worst fears have become reality.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Leave the World Behind reminded me of a M. Night Shyamalan movie written by Rod Serling.  In other words, I loved it. It was well written, well directed and well acted.  Sam Esmail who adapted the screenplay and directed made interesting choices that helped build tension as strange things began happening.  Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la and Kevin Bacon are excellent.  I think this may be the first movie where I didn’t care for a Julia Roberts character.

I like movies that make me think, “What would I do”. Once Leave the World Behind kicks in, I did that a lot.  There were no easy answers since no one was sure what was going on.  I’ve seen a few bad reviews and they’re unanimously because the movie doesn’t wrap things up with a definitive answer.  That’s one of the things I enjoyed about it.  So, as always, but with this one a little more, your mileage could vary.

Leave the World Behind (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

SYFY’s 2023/2024 Twilight Zone New Year’s Eve Marathon Schedule is Up!

SYFY’s 2023/2024 Twilight Zone New Year’s Eve Marathon schedule is up!  The Twilight Zone Marathon has been one of our family traditions for decades.  Sometimes we binge watch. Other times we just check in on favorite episodes. Before you click over to check it out, let me suggest some favorite Twilight Zone episodes…

December 30, 2023
8:30am – Time Enough at Last
10:30am – What You Need
11:30am – Third from the Sun
12:00pm – I Shot an Arrow into the Air
2:30pm – The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
11:00pm – The Howling Man

December 31, 2023
12:00am – Nick of Time
4:00am – The Invaders
8:30am – Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
9:00am – The Obsolete Man
10:20am – The Grave
10:45am – It’s a Good Life
11:35am – The Midnight Sun
1:40pm – The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank

January 1, 2024
3:25am – The Shelter
8:00pm – To Serve Man
9:30pm – Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

January 2, 2024
3:25am – The Shelter

The Twilight Zone and quite a few other folks will be live-Tweeting during the marathon.   If you watch, please join in!

YOU LIKE IT DARKER by Stephen King

Stephen King has a new book of short stories, YOU LIKE IT DARKER coming out May 21, 2024.  Before we get to the synopsis, how about that cover?  That’s a clever design.  Is it land that looks like an alligator, or an alligator that looks like land?

From legendary storyteller and master of short fiction Stephen King comes an extraordinary new collection of twelve short stories, many never-before-published, and some of his best EVER.

“You like it darker? Fine, so do I,” writes Stephen King in the afterword to this magnificent new collection of twelve stories that delve into the darker part of life—both metaphorical and literal. King has, for half a century, been a master of the form, and these stories, about fate, mortality, luck, and the folds in reality where anything can happen, are as rich and riveting as his novels, both weighty in theme and a huge pleasure to read. King writes to feel “the exhilaration of leaving ordinary day-to-day life behind,” and in YOU LIKE IT DARKER, readers will feel that exhilaration too, again and again.

“Two Talented Bastids” explores the long-hidden secret of how the eponymous gentlemen got their skills. In “Danny Coughlin’s Bad Dream,” a brief and unprecedented psychic flash upends dozens of lives, Danny’s most catastrophically. In “Rattlesnakes,” a sequel to CUJO, a grieving widower travels to Florida for respite and instead receives an unexpected inheritance—with major strings attached. In “The Dreamers,” a taciturn Vietnam vet answers a job ad and learns that there are some corners of the universe best left unexplored. “The Answer Man” asks if prescience is good luck or bad and reminds us that a life marked by unbearable tragedy can still be meaningful.

King’s ability to surprise, amaze, and bring us both terror and solace remains unsurpassed. Each of these stories holds its own thrills, joys, and mysteries; each feels iconic. You like it darker? You got it.