Sep 30, 2014

FOREIGN CONCEPT


Yeah...I'd see this version of Halloween: H20, starring demon possession and Tommy Lee Jones. And that tagline is kind of amazing.

Sep 27, 2014

JOSHUA WARD HOUSE

The Joshua Ward House is one of the most haunted houses in America. Most believe the house is haunted by George Corwin, the High Sheriff, a man responsible for executing many “witches” during the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

This photo was taken by a real estate agent with a Polaroid camera during a tour of the house. Many believe that this may be one of the many souls condemned to death on the grounds where Joshua Ward House now stands.

Sep 26, 2014

MYERSES

1
2
4
5
6
7
8
Duty!

GREEN BOOTS

The body of David Sharp still sits in a cave, known as "Green Boots Cave," at the top of Mount Everest. David attempted the climb in 2005, and near the top, stopped in this cave to rest. His body eventually froze in place, rendering him unable to move. Over 30 climbers passed by him as he sat freezing to death. Some heard faint moans and realized he was still alive. They stopped and spoke with him. He was able to identify himself, but was unable to move. Brave climbers moved him into the sun in an attempt to thaw him, but eventually, realizing David would be unable to move, were forced to leave him to die. His body still sits in the cave and is used as a guide point for other climbers nearing the summit.

Sep 25, 2014

LONG RANT: HALLOWEEN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION


Despite the "law" of diminishing returns, I have been and continue to be a lifelong Halloween franchise fan. Though it's been since 1998 that I saw a Halloween film I felt was worth a damn, I always hold out hope the powers that be are going to get the next one right. Visitors of this blog know how I feel about both Halloween: Resurrection (shitty) and Rob Zombie's redux (shittier.) I've never gone on record as to my feelings on Rob Zombie's Halloween 2, but that's because I'm pretty sure that was just a really bad nightmare I had one night after eating way too much Mexican food. 

That said and now done with, I'm not here to debate the merits of certain Halloween franchise entries. They are what they are, they have their fans, and that's that.

The horror community is as devoted as one can get. And we like our big guys, our big franchises, our icons. We worship at the altar of Freddy Krueger and love Norman Bates like he were our own mother (see what I did there?). Like most things, we show our love in one single unified manner: we buy shit. DVDs/blu-rays, soundtracks, posters, novel movie tie-ins, t-shirts, McFarlane figures, and then later Neca figures, and holy shit I could keep going, but denial keeps me from thinking of how much easier it would be to have accumulated money for a house down payment had I not spent years collecting the most obscure movie item.

There is one problem with this fiduciary love we show to our horror properties, and it's not just the occasional foolish choice we make because we just had to have that handmade Phantasm sphere. No, the problem is: our love is our worst-kept secret. It's not just the horror community that knows of this love, but it's also known by...them. Studios. Independent video distribution labels. They know our weakness and they know our obsessions. They know we're going to buy every reissue of Halloween, of The Evil Dead, of Dawn of the Dead. We're not going to ask questions; we're just going to pre-order.

Anchor Bay, back during its inception, was every horror fan's dream. They rescued from obscurity the titles we treasured - the above titles, but also the less obvious. There's the Argentos, the Fulcis, and god love him, the Bruno Matteis. Who in their right mind would rescue titles like Rats: Night of Terror or Hell of the Living Dead and - gasp - present them digitally, in widescreen, with liner notes and special features? Fucking seriously? People cared enough to do this? It was unexpected, surprising, mind-blowing, and a pretty sweet fucking time to be a horror fan. 

But then the home-horror landscape changed. Suddenly, it didn't feel the same as it had. And it had to do with "the merger." Popular cable channel Starz bought Anchor Bay outright and changed the label's acquisition strategy. Oh sure, it still pumped out horror titles with a decent regularity, but no longer those obscure or landmark titles that deserved recognition. It was new shit. It was bad shit. And it was - ugh - mainstream shit. Could Anchor Bay ever really care about appealing to the minority OF a minority of people who were into crazy or classic horror while the label was now releasing films by Quentin Tarantino or Antoine Fuqua? Were they ever going to care about revisiting Phantasm or Maximum Overdrive or any of J.P. Simon's films once they were in bed with and distributing films for the Weinstein Company?

No way.

This isn't to say there weren't other great labels out there doing the same kind of work and who were devoted to satisfying the demands of its horror customers. Blue Underground, for one. Kino Video. Dark Sky.

But none of them seemed to possess the large library that Anchor Bay had managed in its brief time on earth. And suddenly, that was all over.

Enter Scream Factory, Shout! Factory's horror-only imprint. And they took off like a bat out of hell by announcing special editions of two films that no one in a million years ever expected: 1981's Halloween 2, and the most maligned Halloween film in franchise history, 1982's Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.

Minds were blown and excitement ran rampant. It felt like the good old days of Anchor Bay were back:

"Who the hell is Scream Factory? You mean, those people who have been releasing old television seasons of "Hart to Hart" and "Barney Miller"? Those guys are doing special editions of Halloween sequels?"

And that was just the beginning. What soon came after was a John Carpenter love fest. The Fog. Prince of Darkness. They Live. Body Bags. Assault on Precinct 13. One at a time, they were revisited, prepared for their debuts on a high-definition format, and stacked with a bevy of special features.

The Fog on blu-ray. Holy. Shit.

Not soon after, Anchor Bay checked back in with its more loyal horror fan base to offer a new edition of Halloween (the studio's ninth release of the film, which had begun with their 1997 single-tape VHS). Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Halloween was remastered under the supervision of original cinematographer Dean Cundey, a new commentary between the director and star/scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis was recorded, and a one-hour feature based solely on Curtis interacting with her fans (in the name of charity) was included. A beautiful transfer and fantastic new features aside, the release was a solid if not definitive release. Thankfully, it offered up enough new material not to be considered obligatory. And it more than made up for their previous blu, which had a severely botched color timing and a misguided audio mix that tampered with the ambiance in which we, the audience, had been immersing since 1978.

Cut to May, 2014.

A major announcement - one no one ever thought possible - began flooding horror websites and social media. Halloween: The Complete Collection. It was coming. Coming soon. And despite differing entries being owned and/or licensed by seven - SEVEN! - different studios and/or licensees, everyone had managed to come together, circumvent who owned which titles and who was owed this and that percentage, and put together this complete collection.

Though my love for the Halloween franchise had begun to stale over the years, thanks to one entry after another that strayed further and further away from what I'd loved about it in the first place, I was overcome by the announcement, the potential treasure trove of material to come, and the horror community's infectious enthusiasm.

Would Halloween: H20 receive a better presentation than the awful Echo Bridge release, with some decent features AND in the correct aspect ratio this time? Would Halloween 4, as well, be celebrated the way it should be beyond a lousy 15-minute making of?

I pre-ordered immediately and I waited with bated breath every day for specs and artwork.

And then that day came.

And it looked like this:

Disc 1 – John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978)
  • HD transfer supervised and approved by cinematographer Dean Cundey
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Director Of Photography Dean Cundey, Editor Tommy Lee Wallace And The Shape, Nick Castle
  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director John Carpenter and Actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • “The Night She Came Home” Featurette
  • “On Location: 25 Years Later” Featurette
  • TV Version Footage
  • Television Spots
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spot
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Original 1978 Audio in Dolby TrueHD Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Disc 2 – John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)
  • Audio Commentary With Co-Writer/Director John Carpenter, Actress Jamie Lee Curtis and Co-Writer/Producer Debra Hill
  • Featurette: Halloween: A Cut Above The Rest
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spots
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); Dolby Surround 5.1; PCM 5.1; Original 1978 Mono Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Disc 3 – Halloween II (1981) Theatrical Version
  • Audio commentary with director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi (Theatrical version)
  • Audio commentary with stunt co-ordinator/actor Dick Warlock (Theatrical version)
  • Theatrical Version And “The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making Of Halloween II” Featuring Rick Rosenthal, Lance Guest, Dick Warlock, Alan Howarth, Dean Cundey, Leo Rossi and Moore…
  • “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween II” – Host Sean Clark revisits the original shooting locations of the film
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
  • Alternate Ending with Optional Audio Commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spots
  • Still Gallery
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD MA 5.1

Disc 4 – Halloween II TV Cut (1981) DVD (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)
  • Television Cut With Added Footage Not Seen In The Theatrical Version
Standard Definition Full-frame 1.33:1; Dolby Digital Mono

Disc 5 – Halloween III: Season of The Witch (1982)
  • Audio Commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace
  • Audio Commentary with actor Tom Atkins
  • “Stand Alone: The Making Of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch” featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dick Warlock, Dean Cundey and more
  • “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” – Revisiting the original shooting locations
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailers
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD MA 5.1; Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0

Disc 6 – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
  • Audio Commentary with Actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris
  • Audio Commentary with Director Dwight H. Little and Author Justin Beahm
  • Theatrical Trailer
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Disc 7 — Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  • Audio Commentary with Actor Don Shanks and Jeffrey Landman
  • Audio Commentary with Director Dominique Othenin-Girard and Actors Danielle Harris And Jeffrey Landman
  • Halloween 5: On The Set
  • Halloween 5: Original Promo
  • Theatrical Trailer
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Disc 8 — Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Theatrical Cut
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1); Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English

Disc 9 – Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Producer’s Cut (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)
  • NEW High Definition Master from the original inter-negative
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Daniel Farrands and Composer Alan Howarth (Producer’s Cut)
  • NEW “Jamie’s Story” – An Interview With The Original “Jamie” Actress Danielle Harris
  • NEW “The Cursed ‘Curse’” – An Interview With Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman
  • NEW “Acting Scared “– A Look At The Film’s Cast With Actresses Mariah O’Brien And J.C. Brandy
  • NEW “The Shape Of Things” – A Look At Michael Myers’ Murders And Mayhem With Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Brad Hardin And Actor George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers)
  • NEW “Haddonfield’s Horrors” – The Sights of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers With Director of Photography Billy Dickson And Production Designer Brad Ryman And Director of Photography (Additional Scenes) Thomas Callaway
  • NEW “Full Circle” – An Interview With Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Cast And Crew Tribute to Donald Pleasance
  • Archival Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Behind-The-Scenes Footage (approx. 30 Minutes)
  • Alternate And Deleted Scenes (Not Present In Either Cut Of The Film)
  • Teaser Trailer: Halloween 666: The Origin Of Michael Myers
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1:78:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English

Disc 10 — Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
  • Presented in the correct 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
  • NEW Commentary With Director Steve Miner And Jamie Lee Curtis, Moderated By Sean Clark
  • NEW “The Making of Halloween H20” Featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Nancy Stephens, Adam Hann-Byrd, Tom Kane, Editor Patrick Lussier, Producer Malek Akkad, Producer Paul Freeman, Composer John Ottman, Chris Durand (Michael Myers), Writer Robert Zappia, Stunt Co-Ordinator Donna Keegan, Make-Up Brad Hardin And Cinematographer Daryn Okada
  • Vintage Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Disc 11 — Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
  • Audio Commentary With Director Rick Rosenthal And Editor Robert A. Ferretti
  • Alternate Endings
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Featurette: “Head Cam”
  • Storyboard Analysis
  • Set Tour With Production Designer Troy Hansen
  • Set Interview With Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Vintage Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Home Video TV Spots
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English

Disc 12 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
  • Unrated Director’s Cut With Audio Commentary By Writer/Director Rob Zombie
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary
  • Alternate Ending With Optional Commentary
  • Bloopers
  • Featurette: “The Many Faces Of Michael Myers”
  • Re-Imagining Halloween
  • Meet The Cast
  • Casting Sessions
  • Scout Taylor-Compton Screen Test
  • Theatrical Trailer
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish

Disc 13 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) Bonus Disc (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition
  • Documentary: “Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween (4 ½ hours)
Dolby Stereo
Subtitles: English

Disc 14 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009)
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Rob Zombie
  • Deleted And Alternate Scenes
  • Audition Footage
  • Make-Up Test Footage
  • Blooper Reel
  • Captain Clegg And The Night Creatures Music Videos
  • Uncle Seymour Coffins’ Stand-Up Routines
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1;
Subtitles: English

Disc 15 – Bonus Features (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)
  • John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN – The Extended Version (In HD – TV Inserts Are In Standard Definition)
  • Interview with Moustapha Akkad about origin of HALLOWEEN
  • Featurette: HALLOWEEN UNMASKED 2000
  • Featurette: The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4: FINAL CUT
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4 Featuring Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont, Beau Starr, Raymond O’Connor, Erik Preston and Sasha Jensen, Stuntmen Tom Morga (Michael Myers) And George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers), Composer Alan Howarth, Writer Alan B. McElroy, Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman, Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Ken Horn
  • Featurette: Inside HALLOWEEN 5
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 5 Featuring Interviews With Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Jeffrey Landman, Jonathan Chapin, Frankie Como, Tamara Glynn, Matthew Walker, Don Shanks (Michael Myers), Producer Malek Akkad, Line Producer Rick Nathanson And Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Interview With Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Burman On HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
  • HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH Radio Spots
  • TV Spots – HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5, HALLOWEEN (2007) and HALLOWEEN II (2009)
1080p, 520p Full Frame, Anamorphic Widescreen 1:85:1, 2.35:1;
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Stereo, Mono



I, like a lot of people at that time, let out a collective, "Seriously?" Because here's the thing: yeah, 15 discs sounds impressive, and seeing all those special features splashed across all those discs was tantalizing...until you got over your rush of fanboyism and reread everything that was soon coming your way. And then the ugly realization finally set in.

Do you like Halloween? Do you like Michael Myers?

Then you had all this already.

Disc One - Halloween (35th Anniversary) - Anchor Bay Repackage.
Disc Two - Halloween (2007 blu-ray release) - Anchor Bay Repackage
Disc Three - Halloween II - Scream Factory Repackage
Disc Four - Halloween II TV Cut - Scream Factory Repackage
Disc Five - Halloween III - Scream Factory Repackage
Disc Six - Halloween 4 - Anchor Bay Repackage
Disc Seven - Halloween 5 - Anchor Bay Repackage
Disc Eight - Halloween 6 - Alliance Canada Repackage

Noticing a trend? Notice that you're already more than halfway through this "deluxe" fifteen-disc edition, and so far, besides one new commentary track on disc one, you've gotten absolutely nothing new that wasn't previously available? In fact, you got less than what was previously available. Pretty sad, right? But, let's keep going:

Disc Nine - Halloween 6: The Producer's Cut

On the ninth disc, we were finally given something that no one could claim they possessed (at least, not in any official capacity). A fan-driven campaign since the theatrical release of Halloween 6 in 1995, this long-talked about alternate version of the film was finally available, and stacked with special features. It took nine discs to reach our first bright spot. Maybe we can keep this going.

Disc Ten - Halloween: H20

As far as the transfer goes, this, too, is a repackage of Alliance Canada's currently available release. Scream did us a solid by giving us a nice little package of features for this mostly-loved title, among them being the commentary track that was erroneously listed on the original collector's edition DVD release back in 1999, but which was either never recorded, or was recorded and for whatever reason never used. (There are differing recollections on this issue.)

H20 is a personal favorite of mine, and was the reason why I went after this set.

Let's keep going.

Disc Eleven - Halloween: Resurrection - Echo Bridge Repackage (but, according to reviews, with an even worse picture, which I didn't think was possible, given the infamously bad reputation of Echo Bridge's Halloween sequel blu-ray releases.)
Disc Twelve - Rob Zombie's Halloween - Dimension Films Repackage
Disc Thirteen - Rob Zombie's Halloween Bonus Disc - Dimension Films Repackage
Disc Fourteen - Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 - Sony Repackage

And, lastly:

Disc Fifteen - Bonus Disc
  • John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN – The Extended Version (In HD – TV Inserts Are In Standard Definition)
  • Interview with Moustapha Akkad about origin of HALLOWEEN
  • Featurette: HALLOWEEN UNMASKED 2000
  • Featurette: The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4: FINAL CUT
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4 Featuring Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont, Beau Starr, Raymond O’Connor, Erik Preston and Sasha Jensen, Stuntmen Tom Morga (Michael Myers) And George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers), Composer Alan Howarth, Writer Alan B. McElroy, Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman, Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Ken Horn
  • Featurette: Inside HALLOWEEN 5
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 5 Featuring Interviews With Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Jeffrey Landman, Jonathan Chapin, Frankie Como, Tamara Glynn, Matthew Walker, Don Shanks (Michael Myers), Producer Malek Akkad, Line Producer Rick Nathanson And Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Interview With Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Burman On HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
  • HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH Radio Spots
  • TV Spots – HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5, HALLOWEEN (2007) and HALLOWEEN II (2009)

A pretty decent haul on the bonus disc at least, right? Let's see what's actually new:

  • John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN – The Extended Version (In HD – TV Inserts Are In Standard Definition)
  • Interview with Moustapha Akkad about origin of HALLOWEEN
  • Featurette: HALLOWEEN UNMASKED 2000
  • Featurette: The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4: FINAL CUT
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4 Featuring Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont, Beau Starr, Raymond O’Connor, Erik Preston and Sasha Jensen, Stuntmen Tom Morga (Michael Myers) And George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers), Composer Alan Howarth, Writer Alan B. McElroy, Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman, Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Ken Horn
  • Featurette: Inside HALLOWEEN 5
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 5 Featuring Interviews With Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Jeffrey Landman, Jonathan Chapin, Frankie Como, Tamara Glynn, Matthew Walker, Don Shanks (Michael Myers), Producer Malek Akkad, Line Producer Rick Nathanson And Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Interview With Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Burman On HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
  • HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH Radio Spots
  • TV Spots – HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5, HALLOWEEN (2007) and HALLOWEEN II (2009)

Now, let's bring to light the not-immediately-obvious issues.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. For whatever reason, the commentary recorded by screenwriter Alan B. McElroy for Anchor Bay's Divimax DVD has been abandoned. It did not appear on the prior Anchor Bay blu-ray release and it does not appear here. It's a real shame, given it's been the most interesting commentary recorded for the film so far.

Also missing, quite suspiciously, is the Halloween 4/5 panel discussion feature that had appeared on the prior blu-ray. Yet, at the same time, it's not missing. Here's a little pssssst for you: that Halloween 4/5 panel discussion is on the very same blu-ray included in this set. It's just that Anchor Bay opted to remove the option to access it from the opening menu. Why is that? On purpose? By accident? Does it even matter?

Worst, however, is the audio issue. Beginning halfway through the film - somewhere around the 46-minute mark - the audio is not in sync with the picture. Not just by a little, but by a lot. And it lasts for more than ten minutes.

This was brought to Scream Factory's attention. Their official response:
We investigated the audio issue with Anchor Bay today. Every disc in the set went through a stringent quality control process. The slight audio off-sync during the isolated section of Halloween 4 has apparently been that way on prior releases. There will be no replacement program in place for this disc. 
We apologize for the less-than-100%-perfect audio presentation of H4. Unfortunately, when dealing with films where the source materials are almost 30 years old it can sometimes be a challenge to bring a film up to the best of everyone’s satisfaction. We hope you understand that Anchor Bay and Scream Factory takes a lot of pride in what we do and don’t take these issues lightly. Thank you for your purchase and we hope you enjoy the otherwise amazing set.
Blaming the problem on "thirty-year-old" source material is disingenuous, being that the multiple copies of the film that I've owned - on VHS, and on DVD - never had the kind of audio issues plaguing this particular release. And it's not a matter of having to go back and re-author a new disc. They already did once before - to "remove" the Halloween 4/5 panel discussion feature. And the fact that their response is tantamount to "you're shit out of luck, thanks for your money" is a real slap in the face.

Congratulations: you now own an inferior version of the same blu-ray you bought two years ago.

And that's what really gets my ghost about this whole debacle: too much of this set is recycled material that had already been made available to consumers, all with release dates of less than one year before this set became available.

You mean to tell me that Scream Factory and Anchor Bay, back when they were working on putting out their single releases, had no idea this was in the works? You mean to tell me it only took them a few months to work out licensing issues among seven different companies in order to put out this set?

Something reeks of conspiracy here, folks. Something reeks of backdoor conniving and shenanigans; ie, "You put your release out first, then we'll do ours. We'll collect on the profits, wait for demand to die down, and then we'll hit them with the set and collect all over again."

Though this is my own personal theory, the fact that all the "new" stuff is ONLY available in this set is the biggest red flag. (Meaning, you want the Producer's Cut? You want the edition of Halloween: H20 you should have gotten the first time? Well then, you've gotta buy alllllll those other movies - you know, the ones you already bought months ago.) Scream has spent the last two years licensing films to release as standalone special editions. So now it was apparently someone's stipulation that they only be available in a set fetching over $100?

"No one put a gun to your head to buy this set!" you're shouting at me right now.

"How dare you blaspheme the great Scream Factory, who has proven their devotion to the horror community over the last year!" you might also be shouting.

Scream Factory has proven only one thing to me so far: they are devoted to greasing my back under the guise of appealing to my sense of nostalgia and ramming it home, recycling previously produced special features for their releases, throwing in a few of their own, taking whatever master is sent to them instead of striking their own, and calling it a day. Their quality control is lacking, to say the least, as concerns ranging from minor to major have been present on way too many of their releases: a typo on the Phantasm II commentary track menu refers to Angus Scrimm as Angus "Scrumm"; severely botched audio tracks on Day of the Dead, The Slumber Party Massacre, and most unfortunately, Body Bags, makes them unbearable to listen to (another issue to which they replied, "Eh, that was the best we could do.") [Seriously, they did - find it on their Facebook.] Blu-ray packaging offers alternate audio options that are nowhere to be found. Aspect ratios are changed or cropped from their original theatrical presentations. Compression artifacts are more apparent than they should be. And all for releases that cost, on average, $20 a pop.

As should be obvious, I have made pretty clear my extreme skepticism of Scream Factory as an entity. Lots of horror dudes and dudettes give them a pass for the same reasons horror dudes and dudettes used to praise the original incarnation of Anchor Bay. Meaning: "They are putting Squirm on blu-ray. Who else would do that? I love these guys."

Sorry. For me, that's not enough. I'm getting tired of plopping down $20 on releases, much of them being new versions of blu-rays already available, and for my troubles and hard-earned cash, ending up with a release that features overly-sibilant audio or dialogue I can't even hear. And I'm getting tired of their fanboy baiting with Facebook posts that announce a new acquisition, offers up no other information, and then eventually promises special features on which they ultimately cannot deliver. (The Halloween collection was supposed to feature the theatrical editions of Rob Zombie's entries. Did you know that? Spoiler: It doesn't.)

Yeah, neat - all the Halloween films are now in one collection. And they come in a neat box that the neat black cases can fit into. Boy, look how neat it is. Until the next Halloween film comes out, and your complete set isn't so complete anymore, because who knows who will have the video rights to that one.

Listen, at the end of the day, all of the above doesn't mean dick. If you're one of those who feels this collection has been nothing more than a way to forcefully extract money from legions of dedicated fans who owned 85% of this set already, then you will agree with me. If you're one of those who feels this set is a gift from the horror gods to all Halloween fans, then you never will.

For the virgins out there popping their blu-ray cherry on this collection, then this set is not just a no-brainer, but an absolutely wonderful and momentarily definitive release. But if you're a massive Halloween fan, to whom this set of course would appeal, then you've already bought all the previous single releases the moment they were available.

Of course you did. And of course you'd buy this one, too. I did.

And all to own one lousy movie.

A lot of people who share my viewpoint have been derided by others, telling us no one else would have given us this set - that we didn't even deserve something this good.

I agree with that last part.

We deserved better - a little respect.

GIRL IN BLUE

In 1933, a girl dressed all in blue came to Willoughby, Ohio on a Greyhound bus. She stayed the night in a boarding house before spending the next day greeting everyone with heartfelt warmth. At the end of the day, she saw the train to New York approach, dropped her cases, sprinted for the track, was hit by the train and died of her injuries. No one knew her name for 60 years, yet 3,000 people attended her funeral. And no one will ever know if it was an accident or suicide.

Sep 22, 2014

THE FOOTREST

Recent reminiscing with a friend of mine reminded us both of this very random and creepy occurrence that took place about five years ago or so at a movie theater somewhat local to us both, and where he used to work. This is going to sound like 100% bullshit, and I know everyone who's about to tell some kind of creepy tale always preempts with that disclaimer, but you should know that this really did happen. It's too bizarre to have made up. 

In the midst of this particular movie theater being bought out by yet another, larger movie theater company (which seemed to happen every 2-3 years), small signs began appearing on certain seats in one particular theater auditorium. This sign read something to the effect of:
"Part of our renovation process includes the installation of automatic footrests, which will engage once the lights dim and your feature begins."
During this time, customers began to experience the automatic footrests for themselves.

And then the feedback began.

The first feedback was quite negative, and for good reason. (More on that later.) Simply put: the footrests were not as advertised. Management did not take her concerns very seriously, assuming she was complaining just to get some free tickets.

A couple weeks later, the theater had their second customer feedback: the customer simply remarked that they liked the new automated footrests, had used them for the duration of the film, and had nothing more to add.

By this point, theater employees were mystified. You see, there were no automatic footrests installed anywhere in that theater.

One day, my buddy, who was a manager at the time, was asked to see about a situation that occurred within one of the auditoriums, and to assist the security staff as needed. Upon getting there, outside the auditorium in the hallway, he saw a frazzled girl, her angry boyfriend, and a strange looking man sitting on a bench in handcuffs, looking ashamed and terrified.

Clearly, something bad had gone down between all of them.

That strange looking man, it turns out, was the automatic footrest. He would place the sign on the seat where the "footrest" would engage, slide beneath the seat on his back once the lights went low, grab the person's feet with his hands, and stare up at them from the floor while holding the person's feet up above him.

Turns out: the first "customer feedback" had not only been quite negative, but flat-out described the situation for what it was: there was someone in an auditorium sneaking under seats and holding people's feet. She'd described the grabber's face as "ghostly white." The fact that staff did not find the "sign" she'd reported to be hung on the seat reinforced management's stance that she was pulling a scam. They even did a round of myth-busting and tried sliding on their backs under the seat to see if anyone could even fit.

No one could.

Following the second feedback about automated footrests, the light bulb went off and employees went to the auditorium and saw that the sign was still hanging on the seat.

On the day of the third and final reported instance, the grabber had finally been caught. The boyfriend had seen the man take his place below his girlfriend's seat and ripped him out from under it, understandably ready to beat the ever-loving stuff out of him until others had broken up the fight. At that point, security and management had intervened.

This strange man – described as little and pale – had been doing this for months before he was finally caught. In at least one confirmed instance, he'd held a person's feet for the duration of an entire film, and that person never knew. Makes you wonder how many people he'd actually done it to, but who never bothered to provide feedback for these "automated footrests."

See you at the movies.

Sep 21, 2014

SUN-DRIED

Finnish soldiers displaying the skins of Soviet soldiers near Maaselkä, on the strand of lake Seesjärvi during Continuation War on the 15th of December in 1942. Original caption: “An enemy recon patrol that was cut out of food supplies had butchered a few members of their own patrol group, and had eaten most of them.”

Sep 19, 2014

SEAT'S TAKEN

In 1702, a convicted murderer named Thomas Busby was about to be hanged for his crimes. His last request was to have his final meal served at his favorite pub in Thirsk, England. He finished his meal, stood up, and said, “May sudden death come to anyone who dare sit in my chair.”

The chair remained in the pub for centuries, and patrons would often dare one another to sit in the cursed seat. During World War II, airmen from a nearby base frequented the pub, and locals noticed that the soldiers who sat in the chair would never return from war.

In 1967, two Royal Air Force pilots sat in the chair, only to crash their truck into a tree just after they left. In 1970, a mason tested his fate in the hot seat, only to die that same afternoon by falling into a hole at his job site. A year after that, a roofer who sat in it died after the roof he was working on collapsed. When the pub’s cleaning lady tripped and fell into the chair, she died shortly afterwards from a brain tumor.

This list goes on, and finally the pub owner moved the chair into the basement. Unfortunately, even in storage the chair claimed another victim. After a delivery man took a quick rest while unloading packages in the store room, he was killed in a car accident that same day.

Eventually, the pub owner donated the chair to the local museum in 1972. The museum displays the chair by hanging it five feet in the air so that no one can possibly sit in it by mistake again. Fortunately, no one has sat in the chair since.
 

Sep 18, 2014

SHITTY FLICKS: SAVAGE PLANET

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant, camp-girl penis. 

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


I've seen a lot of dreck. I've seen dreck from low-rent filmmakers, and I've seen dreck made by so-called real, established directors. I've seeked dreck and gotten quality; and, in turn, I've seeked quality, and boy oh boy, did I get dreck. It happens. It's unavoidable. And all during this, Savage Planet comes along - a cinematic equivalent of a really really bad liar - comes up right behind us all, and says, "Oh, sorry I'm late. Did you save any bean dip?"

Savage Planet is pretty special. Not because it's "ha ha" bad, and not because it was made by the Sci-Fi Channel back when their original television movies were bad by accident instead of kitschy bad-on-purpose nonsense like Sharknado (although one can still appreciate Savage Planet for those things), but for a very different and special reason. We'll get to that reason in a bit. I suppose it should be considered a spoiler - not because it will ruin the "plot," but because it would ruin the moment during this film that you would be struck by the sheer stupidity of its "villain" and be so utterly taken aback in joy that I kind of don't want to let the air out of your tires.

But, if you choose to keep reading, that's on you.

The film opens with a group of scientists on another "planet" and machetteing their way through a thick wood. The leader takes readings with a gizmo and mentions how the levels of whatever are better than on Earth. It's really important that the film establish right away that these guys are most def NOT on earth, because what are clearly very plain woodsy areas of Canada should at NO point be mistaken for Planet Earth.

References To Being On Alien Planet And Definitely Not Earth: 1

Lead guy gets his hand hacked off by a machete completely by accident and falls into a hole, where he burns his hand stump in a puddle of radioactive green goo. His hand grows back (kind of), and he is then viciously attacked by a space alien. This poor man's fear is paramount. Never, back on Planet Earth, had he ever encountered such an otherworldly monster, but yet here he is, facing something harvested from his nightmares - something so indescribable and beyond comprehension that H.P. Lovecraft would have needed nearly two volumes and limitless cognac to properly describe every minute detail. 

On a planet that savage, aliens look like this:


Okay, you got me. The "aliens" in Savage Planet are bears. And not just plain old bears, but "mutant" alien bears. This is also something they will say over and over to force you into believing you're seeing, like, gigantic mutant bears. But, you're not.

Even the DVD packaging goes very far out of the way to not drop the "b" word. The front cover is a picture of a mossy-looking planet, on the back is nary a photo of a bear, and the summary reads as follows:
Earth is declared uninhabitable from years of toxic pollution and ecological damage. A team of scientists are sent to visit an unknown planet in hopes of finding a new, safe, world. But within the lush and verdant landscape of the new planet they find a mutated species that turns their expedition deadly. They expected and needed utopia but instead found something more deadly than what they d left behind.  
Yep. They found bears.

Just go with it.

Sean Patrick Flannery plays Randall Cain, a sad earthling man with a haunted past who has a giant scar across his chest that actually looks like an even gianter Cronenbergian sex bug. It's...off-putting to look at, and even more off-putting to pet. He lives in a "Dystopian" future, which means everything looks exactly the same as it does now, except for the first establishing shot of the city, which is a 3D generation of smoothed-over metallic building blocks probably designed by the guys who made Candy Crush while they were each on their own toilet. From what is immediately apparent by this future, The News is dominated by one bored-sounding voice, everything is really white, and Mexico seems to have become a breeding ground for violence and depravity. 

So, it's pretty much like now, only really cheap looking.

Cain's vacation of looking sad and lying in a future cot with that weird bug-looking scar thing across his person is interrupted by his superiors and is brought on to be briefed on a very important mission that he apparently has no choice but to endure. There, he is told that a planet nearly identical to Earth (let's just get that established as soon as possible) has been discovered and I guess some dudes and dudettes need to go there and do some science stuff to determine if the people of Earth can go live there. The planet is called Planet Oxygen, which is just as imaginative as the person whosever idea it was to film a movie set on an alien planet in the not-so-alien looking woods of Ontario. (See, because there's a whole bunch more vegetation on this planet, and hence, a whole bunch more oxygen.)

Cain and his rag-tag group of colleagues, including Not Stephen Moyer, Guy Who Looks Like A Grown-Up Baby, Token Black Guy, and Almost Lisa Kudrow are beamed directly onto Planet Oxygen using an invention called DST (standing for distance travel). 

Each time someone is beamed onto the planet, the director is quick to use split screen, so we can see everyone's understandably amazed faces while the person disappears right before their eyes!

If they think that's amazing, wait till they see how LARGE these bears are!

Let's make a joke about how this bear's favorite song is Roar by Katy Perry
and get it out of the way, because I know that's what we're all thinking.

One of the last people to beam through - and also the guy in charge of security - dies during transference. He hilariously makes pain sounds identical to that of a monkey's, his bones disappear, and he crumbles into a pile of thin, blankety, wet man. Carlson says, "We all agree this is a tragedy," without looking all that bothered by it, and then he--

Oh, shit!

References To Being On Alien Planet And Definitely Not Earth: 2

Where were we? 

Oh, right.

So, these scientists, I guess, are about to--

References To Being On Alien Planet And Definitely Not Earth: 3

Jeeze. 

So, the scientists begin their expedition--

References To Being On Alien Planet And Definitely Not Earth: 4

Right.

During their recon, they locate the body of a dead bear.

"What the hell is it?" asks one of the many people claiming to be a scientist.

After an autopsy of sorts, this amazing exchange takes place:

"It's a prehistoric cave bear; been extinct on Earth for over ten thousand years...The most formidable predator in its day." 

"How does an extinct bear come to get on this planet?"

"Somehow its DNA sequence regressed. No modern bear, even full-grown, has claws this big, or a hide this dense...Their only known enemy was man."

Later, everyone has a philosophical conversation about whether or not the lives of those already lost are worth whatever discoveries they might find on Planet Oxygen. If this were real life, of course the lives lost would be deemed irrelevant, but since this is television - brainless brainless television - these scientists have hearts and decide it's not worth it and everyone wants to go home. Not Carlson, though, because he's the movie's resident money/fame-driven penis head.

"For a scientist, you know a lot about death, but nothing about life," someone says to Carlson, and god damn does he look SHUT DOWN.

(No he doesn't.)

Also:

References To Being On Alien Planet And Definitely Not Earth: 5

One of the scientists decides it would be best to go off on her own. I think her name was Bird Seed(?)

Weird, right?

Then this happens:


It was quite a sight to see!

Cain attempts to take control of the mission, since the whole science part of it seems to have gone out the window and now it's more about survival, which means Carlson can be 100% dick. Bears come and Cain asks Carlson to shoot some of them, but Carlson says "fuck that" and him and his eyebrows peace out of the scene. Cain promptly falls and hits his head on a gigantic rock.

I don't blame him.

Maybe he accidentally watched a little bit of his own movie and it all just got to be too much.

As everyone makes plans to spelunk down a cave wall, let's all pause for a moment of out-of-context dialog:

"Okay, here's the plan: I'm gonna go down first, followed by the two girls." 

Day dims, night comes, and it's almost too easy to take out these attacking bears with a shot gun. A perfect juxtaposition of: stock footage of roaring bear, man with shot gun, stock footage of roaring bear calmly lowering from two feet down to all four = man successfully killed bear with a shotgun. 

Movie magic.

After one of the dudes' girlfriends gets dragged from her tent and eaten perfectly in half, the other scientists begin to really doubt their own faith in science. Talk about horror!

- "You know, I was actually offered 'The Walking Dead' first."
- "Is that true?"
- "Oh, lord, no."

The bears continue to take out our scientist characters one by one, and shockingly, Token Black Guy is still hanging in. Even Harold Perrineau was bear meat at this point in The Edge

Have you seen The Edge

It's great.

Anyway, this shit has gotten far too complicated for a killer alien film where the aliens are played by bears. There's something happening now about "life serums" and Planet Oxygen's habitat becoming "increasingly unstable." All I know is: more bears, please. Token Black Guy is still breathing, as is Guy Who Looks Like A Grown-Up Baby.

Whoop. Never mind.

As the bear viciously attacks Token Black Guy and begins tearing apart his innards and ripping off one limb after another, he screams for Cain to shoot him and put him out of his misery. Count how long Cain stands there holding his shot gun with a stupid look on his face before he actually does anything to alleviate Token Black Guy's suffering, and then convert that to Bear Time. Your final figure should be somewhere around, "Cain's a dick."

Rest in peace, Token Black Guy!


Dear god, I've never seen a more boring film where bears play aliens and aliens rip apart really terrible dummies filled with gooey balloons that play the people. My time would've been better spent digging a hole in my backyard and shitting directly into it, and when my one neighbor called the cops and the cops came and asked, "Just what on Earth were you thinking?" I would say, "Well, it was either that or watch Savage Planet," and they would be like, "Say no more, we totally get it. Please shit some more into that hole you dug," and I would say "Thanks, officer," and I might even buy a couple tickets to their Policeman's Ball, even though I'd have no one to go with, because who's gonna go to a ball with someone who shits in the backyard?

No one. :(

Carlson gets his head beared off and things begin to look really dire for our remaining heroes. Almost Lisa Kudrow manages to beam herself back to earth while Cain falls down for something like the hundredth time in this fucking piece of shit, and then a large mutant alien bear with regressed DNA, bigger claws, and a denser hide (read: a normal bear) attacks Cain before he can beam back to Earth.

The scene cuts to several days (weeks? months?) into the future at a press conference where it's revealed that Cain somehow survived his attack even though I'm pretty sure he was within the snares of a bear and unable to get back to his beamer. Jump-cuts save more lives on the Sci-Fi Channel then firefighters save people from fire. That's a real stat - I just looked it up. I couldn't even tell you what happened during this scene because I was already ejecting the disc and dreaming of the fifty cents I'd get for it at MovieStop.

Production is underway on Savage Planet 2: Beary Scary, and it will star Norman Reedus from "The Walking Dead," which is both a stupid joke I just made up and also an excuse to put the words "Norman Reedus" and "The Walking Dead" into this review, just so a bunch of pre-teen girls and sad moms can find it by accident when Googling the phrases "Norman Reedus no shirt" and "Norman Reedus kiss me" and "Norman Reedus friend bear movie."

Sean Patrick Flannery was in the movie Powder. He played 'Powder.'

Good night.

Sep 16, 2014

MADE OF STONE

ACCORDING to Dante, the Styx is not just a river but a vast, deathly swamp filling the entire fifth circle of hell. Perhaps the staff of New Scientist will see it when our time comes but, until then, Lake Natron in northern Tanzania does a pretty good job of illustrating Dante's vision.

Unless you are an alkaline tilapia (Alcolapia alcalica) – an extremophile fish adapted to the harsh conditions – it is not the best place to live. Temperatures in the lake can reach 60 °C, and its alkalinity is between pH 9 and pH 10.5.

The lake takes its name from natron, a naturally occurring compound made mainly of sodium carbonate, with a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) thrown in. Here, this has come from volcanic ash, accumulated from the Great Rift valley. Animals that become immersed in the water die and are calcified.


Source/more.

Sep 15, 2014

CRAPPYPASTA: DARK BEES

legands talk for bees about in past that didd horrble things and had the curses but nobody belived silly story and laugh at them but they would be wrong and pay for it with death

it was at the farm and sam the farmer went to his bee area of te farm and fed them some honey “good bees” he said but then one got in his anti bee suit and stung him “ouch stop that hurt” he sout and then the bee went inside his skin and made a bee hive in his body and it hurted but he thought it was just cold “i go dinner and bed” said sam

sam ate the dinner and went to bed and heard buzzing “what is buzzing” he say and then he felt sore and his chest burst and bees came out and the bees started eating him and he was sekelton and then the bees open a window and go to city.

at the city people where shoping and having fun and ice cream and it was ghood day “ouch daddy a bee stung me” said a girl and the dad patted her on head “it alright bees just want friends” said the dad but it was too late because she was a bee hive and die and bees eated her and her dad and there was screaming and death as city was bee city now

a man kiss his wife “let me love you forever” said the wife and then she turn into bees and cover the man in bees and he die

on a hill there was a blue man in gas mask and it was leader of the bees and creator of creepypasteas mrcreepypasta “remember live good life or bees find you to” he laugh

the police got to city nexct day but there was no sign of bees and they decise that everyone just had car accdants and forgot what happen but there was scary legands about bees but nobody belive them which was foolash of them but people never laern.

the end
 

by megamangx


Quite possibly my favorite CrappyPasta...ever.

Source.

Sep 14, 2014

REVIEW: WORLD OF TROUBLE (BOOK 3 OF THE LAST POLICEMAN TRILOGY)

 
"...But on the core fact there is one consensus: the asteroid 2011GV1, known as Maia, measuring six and a half kilometers in diameter and traveling at a speed of between thirty-five thousand and forty thousand miles per hour, will make landfall in Indonesia at an angle from horizontal of nineteen degrees. This will happen on October 3. A week from Wednesday, around lunchtime."
Detective Henry Palace returns in the third and final entry in the Last Policeman trilogy, Ben H. Winters' "existential detective series" about one man and the last few cases that fall in his lap leading to the end of days, caused by an asteroid that is on an unavoidable destructive path with the earth. In the first novel, The Last Policeman, Palace's case was his job; in the second, Countdown City, his case was a favor; and in this, the final hurrah for Henry Palace and all the other earthlings, his case is his most personal yet: his sister, Nico, has gone missing, and he's got to find her, desperate to make amends before Maia the asteroid comes along and puts an end to everything. Believing Nico to be in the company of other like-minded folks who are convinced they have found a way destroy the asteroid before it can touch down, Palace, along with his unlikely team of companions - Cortez, a man who'd attempted to kill him with a staple gun in the previous book, and Palace's rescue dog, Houdini - travel the ruined landscapes of America in an effort to find his missing sister. But, as is usually the case, there's more than just a missing sibling. There's two bloody trails leading in and out of an abandoned Ohio police station. There's the barely-alive young girl with the slit throat Palace found in the woods. And there's the missing scientist who may or may not be with this end-of-the-world group of would-be heroes insistent they know how to avert the apocalypse.

World of Trouble is a solid finale for a solid series. The world has continued to regress since the last book, and different factions of people are acting in different ways. Some have taken to the streets in groups of vigilantes to take over stores filled with potential rations; others hide in their homes behind drawn shades, clutching shotguns and nervously peering out windows. Two particular well-meaning teens let all the animals out of the zoo to prevent them from starving to death in captivity, and one of them being immediately cornered by a tiger. These details and the many more flesh out this pre-apocalyptic world and turn it into something both surreal but also entirely believable.

For his swan song, Winters has embraced an almost-The Road type device for his tale, which puts Hank Palace on a rather innocuous task (finding a sledgehammer to bust through a suspicious and newly-installed hatch in a police station parking garage floor), but during which Palace, instead, crosses paths with several different characters, all of whom are reacting to the end of times in very different ways. In prior Last Policeman novels, the characters with whom Palace interacted were all part of the larger mystery - the "point" of the respective novel. But now, instead, there is less of a focus on unraveling a mystery than there is immersing in the drama of this environment. The mystery is still front, center, and fully accounted for, but Winters is instead weaving human experience in and out of Palace's mystery. Each character provides a missing piece of the puzzle, sure, but they're also there to provide something else: humanity.

World of Trouble's ending is bittersweet, and obviously while I won't reveal if the world comes to an end, or if Nico's band of anti-asteroid misfits manage to come through and destroy the means in which the world will end, there's still an ending here:

Hank Palace has solved his last mystery.

Sep 12, 2014

SCREAMED MY NAME

I moonlight as a paramedic and working EMS you will see all kinds of creepy and fucked up things. Every shift I go in I do so with the knowledge that there is a good chance my face will be the last or first thing a person sees as they leave or enter this world. The one that sends a chill up my spine though happened last year while I was still doing clinicals. We received a call to a nursing home for a unresponsive 87-year-old woman. When we picked her up it was obvious she was not long for this world. She coded three times on us before we got her to the ER. What freaked me out though was when she became responsive briefly during transport. I was starting an IV and she just sprang to life, grabbed my arm with a strength unholy for a frail old woman, looked me square in the eye and in a raspy, guttural way quietly screamed my name. The look in her eyes was unlike anything I had seen before or since. It felt like she was staring straight into my soul.

What is so disturbing about that is that during no point had I introduced myself to her as she was unresponsive. Also being a dumb student I had forgotten my ID badge that day as well. I had never worked her before as a patient, nor meet her that I can recall in any capacity. Could be she mistook me for somebody else by the same name but it sure seemed meant for me. She died less than an hour after admission. To this day I still remember everything about that call like it just happened and it makes my blood run cold to remember her face and the way she called to me. Sometimes I close my eyes and still see that face.

Story source.

Sep 11, 2014

CABIN FEVER


"It's a slang term for the claustrophobic reaction that can occur when people are shut in together over long periods of time. The feeling of claustrophobia is externalized as dislike for the people you happen to be shut in with. In extreme cases it can result in hallucinations and violence—murder […]."

Sep 10, 2014

REVIEW: SONNO PROFONDO (AKA DEEP SLEEP)


I love revival films. I love this idea of resurrecting a time period from cinema history and finding ways to cleverly and lovingly recreate it in ways that are both genuine homage but still effective enough to create a strong and competent standalone film.

I've explored this art of imitation in a previous post, in which I highlighted certain modern horror films that lovingly revisited every major horror movement in cinematic history, starting with the silent era, and up to and including the 1980s. Sonno Profondo, produced by Italian filmmakers (though lensed in Argentina) is as successful an homage I've seen since Ti West's '70s satanic thriller House of the Devil.

The giallo was a sub-genre of which I have always been aware and always respected for its ability to combine often graphic horror, hypersexuality, and poetry of the camera to create an altogether different and revolutionary cinematic experience. Though my previous experience of the giallo resides entirely within the confines of Dario Argento and the brutal masterpiece of absurdity that is Pieces (it totally counts), it's not hard to have developed at least a rudimentary idea of what defines a giallo film: the killer's point of view, the leather gloves, the rich red blood, the discotheque score, the unrestrained sexuality, and the abstract non-linear sense of time. Add a killer with a whacked background and fixations on the fairer sex, and, well:

Giallo is back, and its name is Sonno Profondo.


Written/directed/resurrected by Luciano Onetti, Sonno Profondo is not just a love letter to the giallo movement. It's a fever-dream art house exploration of madness – what it is, what feeds it, and the chaos it creates. There is very little dialogue outside of some television reports; lacking (though not suffering because of it) are any kind of "big picture" shots. No sweeping exterior scenes of *coughcough*Italy, no day or night establishing shots. As was often the case in previous giallo films, and in the case of Sonno Profondo, scenes of murder and mayhem were always shot from the killer's point of view, but would often cut back either to the protagonist as she or he dealt with the repercussions of the killer's presence, or the inevitable detective hot on the trail of the killer. Not the case here. Similar to last year's Maniac redux, the entire film takes place behind the killers' eyes (and no, my apostrophe is not in the wrong place - we're dealing with two killers, here: the first killer [black leather gloves] responsible for the murder and mayhem, and the second killer [white surgical gloves] who begins to methodically blackmail and stalk the first). 

Sonno Profondo preserves the sensibilities of '70s-era European filmmakers – Michelangelo Antonioni, for example, who assumed his audience was prepared to have patience for the journey he was about reveal to them – even going as far as dirtying up the film's negative to add all the cracks and pops one would come to expect from a forty-year-old film. Manufactured to look like it was both produced as well as set in the 1970s, Sonno Profondo is as immersive an homage you're likely to find in the independent scene. Lots of filmmakers are pledging to make films in the vein of paranoid-at-home thrillers of the 1970s and cheese-ball gimmick dead-teenager flicks of the 1980s; very few have endeavored to recreate the giallo, a movement that likened the horror genre as close to pornography (in terms of tastelessness) as it could get until the VCR boom of the mid-1980s, in which it actually did kind of become the kind of pornography as we know it today. (The Astron-6 crew [Manborg, Bio-Cop, Father's Day] are also working on their own giallo homage: The Editor.)

The first giallo trend would continue for some time and travel to American shores, even becoming embraced by Hollywood powerhouse directors like Hitchcock, though the style would become so watered down that it barely resembled everything that had directly inspired it. Psycho first, and then Halloween later, would both be termed as variations of the giallo movement; Carpenter would state for years he had been a big fan of Argento's Suspiria, around which he had modeled portions of Halloween.

Make no mistake, Sonno Profondo is not a film for the uninitiated. If you've never seen any giallo films before, don't start here. Start with the very first credited entry - Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much - and continue on with Argento (but skip the Adrian Brody film Giallo while you're at it), whose collaborations with composers Ennio Morricone and Goblin would soon cement the importance of the soundtrack on the giallo movement. Only when you're immersed in the movement can you truly appreciate the homage.

If Sonno Profondo is successful or unsuccessful just on the merits of being a film alone, I couldn't say. When you have no choice but to experience the murderous exploits of either one or both off-screen killers, you've got no one to root for. You've got no sympathetic protagonist to whom you're supposed to relate. Some audiences don't know how to respond to such an idea.

And that's how you know if you're ready.

Buy it now.

Sep 8, 2014

THE SOFA CORPSE

Samantha Clairmont, 11, was a girl with Muscular Dystrophy who was beaten to death with a kettle and hammer by her grandmother and a nun in 1974, then stuffed into a sofa, because she would not eat her chocolate pudding. The body was found when they dropped it off at a garage sale to be auctioned and a man's dog sniffed it out.

Sep 4, 2014

SANE, SANE, SANE

“Then she did see it there - just a face, peering through the curtains, hanging in midair like a mask. A head-scarf concealed the hair and the glassy eyes stared inhumanly, but it wasn’t a mask, it couldn’t be. The skin had been powdered dead-white and two hectic spots of rouge centered on the cheekbones. It wasn’t a mask. It was the face of a crazy old woman. Mary started to scream, and then the curtains parted further and a hand appeared, holding a butcher’s knife. It was the knife that, a moment later, cut off her scream. And her head.”

Sep 3, 2014

SURPRISE ROOMMATE

Tokyo Homeless Woman Lived in Stranger's Cupboard for a Year

A homeless woman has been arrested after living undetected for almost a year in a tiny cupboard in a man's house in Japan.

The woman, identified as 58-year-old Tatsuko Horikawa, was found by police searching the home of the man, who believed he lived alone in Fukuoka.

The resident of the house, who has not been named, became suspicious that he was the victim of repeat burglaries after he noticed food was going missing from his refrigerator.

The man decided to install security cameras linked to his mobile phone and on Wednesday caught images of a woman walking around the house while he was out.

Believing he had detected the burglar, the man contacted police and, after an exhaustive search of the property, officers found the woman hiding in the top of a built-in cupboard designed to store bedding and mattresses.

Behind the sliding door, she had laid out a thin futon and had several plastic drinks bottles, police said. There was just enough room for her to lay down, they added.

"We searched the house, checking everywhere that someone could possibly hide," said Hiroki Itakura, a police spokesman. "When we slid open the closet door, there she was, curled up nervously on her side."

Horikawa told police that she had nowhere to live and had first taken up residence in the cupboard, in a room that the man rarely used, about one year previously when the owner of the house had gone out and not locked the door.


Source.