Feb 28, 2014

BIOLOGICAL OBLIGATION


"If we coexist, we shall dominate you. That is inevitable. Eventually you will try to eliminate us. We are all creatures of the life force. Now it has set us at one another to see who will survive."

Feb 27, 2014

HITCH

Aquatic Hitchcock. Cannes, 1963.

PHANTASM EXHUMED: AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DUSTIN McNEILL


When someone says the word “franchise” or “series” to a horror fan, inevitably that fan will immediately think of Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween. Jason, Freddy, and Michael have been infamous horror genre boogeyman for approaching forty years. They are the next generation’s Dracula, Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster. But they are also, with all due respect, half-ideas and whisper-down-the-alleys. Their imperfectly perfect originals (each film for different reasons) have been fleshed out, explored, expanded upon, and exploited with multitudes of sequels and remakes, none of which had the input from the creative team responsible for bringing the groundbreaking original to screens. Their tangential mythologies have traversed such differing directions that they eventually no longer embodied what their original creators had established.

That cannot be said for the Phantasm series, which has seen the same writer/director on all four films, as well as most of the cast. In 1979, series creator Don Coscarelli unleashed upon the world an absurd and bizarre fever dream called Phantasm. And its main cast of A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, Bill Thornbury, and the immeasurable Angus Scrimm have been along for the ride ever since. (I suppose we can “forgive” the presence of James LeGros as Mike in Phantasm II, but no forgiveness is necessary, as he was great in the role.)

Getting back to those aforementioned horror franchises, they have been lucky enough and beloved enough to receive respectful and definitive retrospectives with an assemblage of books (Crystal Lake Memories; Halloween: The Complete History) and video documentaries (Halloween: 25 Years of Terror; Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy).

Up to this point, beyond special features on DVD releases, no such attention has ever been paid to the Phantasm series, consisting of the original, Phantasm II, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, and Phantasm: Oblivion.
 
Enter Dustin McNeill, owner of the Phantasm Archives, moderator of the Phantasm Community, longtime Phantasm fan (er, phan, as we're often called), and now author, who has penned Phantasm Exhumed: The Unauthorized Companion, which streets late March from Harker Press. In the author's own words, Phantasm Exhumed is "a meticulously researched look at the chronological day-by-day making of the four Phantasm films from script page to world premiere as told through the stories and anecdotes of cast, crew, producers and effects makers. In addition to the four film sections, Phantasm Exhumed contains a Primordium chapter that covers in less detail the making of Don Coscarelli's first two films, Jim the World's Greatest and Kenny & Company...The book also benefits greatly from the inclusion of rare and unpublished journals by Angus Scrimm and Kristen Deem that collectively span all four films."

To quote the book's author, let's do a little more digging...



Tall Man in Desert: Guy Thorpe
The End of Summer (TEOS): At what age did you discover the weird and wild world of Phantasm? Where were you, and which film was your first?

Dustin McNeill (DM): I was fifteen when I happened upon the original at my local video store. I thought it was terrific, but never gave any thought to there being sequels. When I discovered two years later that sequels existed, I very quickly tracked them down and thought they were just as great. Phantasm: Oblivion is my absolute favorite sequel. Parts II and III I dig almost equally, with a slight edge going to Phantasm II.

TEOS: What was it about the Phantasm series that drew you in?

DM: The Tall Man! What a great horror villain! He barely spoke, but when he did I hung on his every word. I immediately recognized that the series wasn't spoon-feeding the audience answers about him or the other weird goings-on. The mythology required that you figure out certain things for yourself. I loved that.

TEOS: I recall reading your excellent Phantasm article in a 2009 issue of HorrorHound Magazine. Was this you testing the waters for a run at a potential Phantasm book? Or did writing the article parlay into the idea that you could potentially write an entire series retrospective?

DM: Thanks for the kind words. It came together very quickly and I would've loved to have had more time on it. In 2009, I was just beginning work on my book when the HorrorHound opportunity presented itself. I wasn't really sure what the focus of my book was yet, though I sensed there was a huge demand for it. That the issue completely sold out and is now only available from collectors reinforced to me that there is a major audience waiting. That doesn't happen to every HorrorHound issue.

TEOS: Though Phantasm isn't as well-known a horror franchise as, say, Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street, phans have had the opportunity over the years to delve into publications like Fangoria, or your HorrorHound, or the expansive documentaries found on special edition DVD releases, to access a wealth of information on the making of the Phantasm films. What will your book be offering that previous sources have not?

DM: Great question. Everything you've read or seen about Phantasm so far has been in a general sense. Everything. My book is going to take a very detailed, chronological look at the making of these four films… meaning I take you back to March 20, 1977, when they shot the Tall Man chasing Mike through Morningside Mortuary for Phantasm. Or January 5, 1987, when they filmed Mike and Reggie raiding the hardware store for supplies for Phantasm II. Or February 23, 1993, when they filmed the Demon Nurse's attack on Mike and Reggie for Phantasm III. Or November 22, 1997, when the Tall Man tried to remove the sphere from Mike's head in Phantasm: Oblivion. Basically, this book is really digging deep with the details.

A huge inspiration for me in taking this direction was J.W. Rinzler's fantastic books on the makings of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Being able to excerpt Angus Scrimm's unpublished Phantasm set journals also help set this book apart from everything that has come before. I think phans are going to really enjoy seeing those.

Liz and the Creature: Mark Shostrom

TEOS: Have you managed to attract previous members of the Phantasm phamily who have never before shared their experiences working on the films?

DM: Yes, very much so. I was surprised to be the first person to interview a number of people associated with the series. Ken Jones, the original sphere victim, has never had the opportunity to speak publicly about Phantasm. There are also people who've shared their experiences before, but not often and not in a long, long time, such as Kevin Connors and Gloria Lynne-Henry (Tim and Rocky from Phantasm III).

TEOS: You've previously shared that series creator Don Coscarelli is not involved with the book. Why did he refrain from participating?

DM: I can only speculate. I know he heard about the project years ago before I approached him, which did not bode well. Prior to the book, my main communication with Don were emails asking that I remove information or videos from my website, the Phantasm Archives, when I was posting news too early or something they wanted to save for a future DVD release. So I was never tight with him like I was the cast. Obviously, it would have been incredible to involve him. I imagine he will eventually read it and I hope he will like it. It is, after all, a warm tribute to his work.

TEOS: Besides Don, were there any other individuals from Phantasm history who proved elusive that you wish you could have interviewed?

DM: Willard Green, father of the original silver sphere! I grabbed a local fortuneteller and attempted a séance in hopes of getting an interview, but nothing came of it. Sadly, Green died before the original Phantasm saw release. He never had the opportunity to see his work on the big screen.

TEOS: Just out of personal curiosity, did you manage to score an interview with Kenneth Tigar, who played Father Meyers in Phantasm 2 ? I love that guy!

DM: Yes, Father Meyers is in here. Kenneth was terrific and had some great things to say about making Phantasm II. Of his character's silver-sphere demise, he said, "It was one of the most interesting things I've ever done in my entire career." I was excited to see him appear in The Avengers shortly after our interview. He played one of the few mortals that ever stood up to Loki!

TEOS: The book will be including rare and never-before-seen photographs from the productions of the Phantasm films. Where did you obtain them?

DM: The crew! A handful of interviews I did ended with someone saying, "Hey, I think I have some photos in storage somewhere if you want them." I wound up collecting more than a thousand unpublished photos from these films. Phantasm Exhumed is set to include more than 200 of them. The great thing is that a majority of these images, such as those from makeup effects creator Mark Shostrom, were digitally scanned in from their original negatives and look fantastic.

Mike Hanging: Guy Thorpe
TEOS:  Will you be delving into the unproduced script by Roger Avery, referred to as Phantasm: 1999?

DM: Yes, the book has an entire section dedicated to just that project. I don't want to say too much here because it's all there on the page - the multiple drafts, the changes, the cast reactions and the different reasons for it ultimately not being made. Exhumed also has sections dedicated to the aborted remake that New Line Cinema attempted and the Phantasm V project from a few years back—the one that generated the infamous cast reading.

TEOS: The trend seems to be, first, publishing the massive retrospective book, and then turning it into a video documentary, as was the case with Crystal Lake Memories, and Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film. Have there been any preliminary discussions about that?

DM: Not at all. I've been so engrossed in the book that I can hardly see anything beyond it. I was happy to have been involved in the Phantasm II blu-ray documentary a year back, but I think that will mark the extent of my documentary contributions to Phantasm. Not that there isn't ample footage/material out there with which to make a new documentary.

TEOS: Being that you maintain a close relationship with the cast, you would be privy to certain details that the general public are not. The possibility of a Phantasm V has existed for going on two decades. While I'm certainly not asking you to spill the beans on anything you may or may not know, instead I am asking, do you think phans will ever be blessed with a Phantasm V? 

DM: Yes, absolutely. You will totally see it. I've been saying on the Phantasm Archives and Phantasm Community that the official Phantasm camp have been filming it since 2008, but no one seems to pay attention to that. Heck, I even debuted the first photo from the project of Reggie on the Archives. It's been a grueling wait, but you will eventually see it. Can't spill any more beans on it than that.

TEOS: Why do you think the Phantasm series endures?  

DM: I think it endures for a number of reasons. So many elements come together to make these films work. You've got endearing performances from a terrific cast, a wonderfully intriguing story, solid direction, dazzling special effects, top-notch makeups, and unforgettable music. This is a franchise that, despite having gone direct-to-video, has yet to compromise itself. Few horror franchises can honestly claim that. There's also a timeless quality to the series in that these films don't really date themselves all that much. It endures for these reasons and more.

Mike and Tall Man: Mark Shostrom



Phantasm Exhumed purchase details are still being worked out, though it will likely be available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, directly from the publisher, and from the usual dotcoms. For the time being, keep an eye on the Phantasm Exhumed site for the latest details. That is, if you've got the...balls? (Yep, I did that.)

Feb 26, 2014

CRAPPYPASTA: VOO DOO DOCTOR

It was a cold winter day I was walking through the forest and I heard screaming. I looked around but nothing was there I just kept walking suddenly I felt dizzy I tried to keep my balance but fell over I looked up and I saw a small toy next to me I ran away from that place I ran to my house and locked the door

The next morning I was sitting in bed I was about to brush my teeth but I looked in the mirror and I saw a lot of scars on my face

I was running to my parents room but they weren’t there

I opened the door and saw two dead bodies on the floor

I fell back and screamed suddenly something stabbed me in the back it was a needle

It was in my hand though

Did I just stab myself

I remember a few days before there death my mom and dad were arguing they would have killed each other I felt like killing myself

I felt madness going through my veins I didn’t fell like the sporty girl that I used to be but know I feel like a mad person

I was walking in the forest because I was trying to run away (or at least see if slenderman would take me) but I had to go back

CURRENT DAY
today the police are seeing who did this they could tell it was a murder but they don’t think it’s possible for them to kill each other

Cop: we’ll we have the fingerprints and it says that it’s you

Me: how is that possible I was asleep the whole time

I was crying

Cop: I’m afraid that you’ll have to go to a mental hospital

Me: this isn’t  fair it wasn’t me

Again I felt rage and madness I suddenly grabbed a kind and stabbed the cop they all had there guns to me I had about three knifes and I threw them all at them

While I was running away from all the dead bodies I tripped over a rock and cut myself

As I was running I saw a note on a tree I just kept running I stabbed every live thing I saw I kept a smile in my face the whole time

Eventually I got tired and at down there was a lot  of blood on my hands this madness in my head wasn’t going to stop I was a monster people feared me I have dolls of everyone including you

And everywhere I go there will be blood


Source.

Feb 24, 2014

HOUSE OF HER NIGHTMARES

All Margaret wanted was a nice home where she could raise her small daughter. An ad for a colonial house seemed like a dream come true, but upon stepping inside, it felt more like a nightmare - a nightmare that didn't quite end when she walked away. This is Margaret's story...
I was living in Houston, Texas, and my daughter was only two years old. I wanted a house very badly, but couldn't afford one. That did not stop me from looking at the Sunday paper, however, and dreaming.

One Sunday, I read an ad for a house for rent: a two-story colonial with a large yard, mature trees, and a garden. The best part was it was only fifty dollars more than I was paying for my apartment. I couldn't resist. I called the number listed and the lady told me that she and her husband owned a plant nursery not far from the house. She said if I drove to the nursery, I could follow her to the house.

I wasted no time in getting dressed and heading over. It was a bright day in June, the sun was shining, the birds singing, the grass was green, and there was just a hint of a breeze. It was the perfect day to find a home.

I arrived at the nursery and met the lady and her husband. They were wonderful people. If I were going to have landlords, these were the people I wanted to have. They told me the house needed some painting, and if I wanted it they would let me pick the colors. Also, if I wanted to do anything to the yard, I could come to the nursery and pick out anything I wanted free of charge. They would also let me have the third month rent free so that I could make some improvements I might want to do.

A BAD FEELING

It seemed too good to be true. I followed the woman to the house. Sure enough, it was a large white colonial with black shutters and gigantic oaks in the front yard. As I climbed out of the car, I caught just a glimpse of what appeared to be a garden gate on the side. There was no grass in the yard, maybe because there was too much shade, but I could overlook that. I had a full nursery where I could choose shade-loving plants.

The woman opened the front door and went inside. I took a step to follow her and froze. A chill ran through me. Goosebumps broke out on my arms and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Even my breath caught in my throat. Everything in me said, Do not go into this house…, but that was ridiculous, wasn't it? I had come all this way. The lady was inside waiting for me. How could I explain it? I had to go in.

I pulled myself together and tried again with the same results. Something deep within me rebelled at the idea of going inside. I realized I was afraid - very afraid. I could hear the lady saying something to me from inside, but I couldn't make out the words. I couldn't just stand here outside the threshold, I had to go in. I didn't want to, but I couldn't come up with a logical reason to leave.

A CONSUMING DARKNESS

I gathered my courage and stepped inside. The first thing I noticed was how dark the house was. Outside it was bright and cheerful, but inside there was no light. I couldn't even see the walls. I could barely make out the vague shape of the woman who had led me here. She knew the house and flicked on some lights, but it hardly made a difference. It was as if the house sucked up all the light, releasing only shadows and dark corners. I couldn't understand it... the windows were huge. Where was the light?

Add to this the feeling of being watched. I felt there was something there quietly watching us. She showed me the living room and the kitchen, for all the good it did. It was as if I were going blind and couldn't force my eyes to adjust. She showed me the backyard, which did have grass and another large tree. I was puzzled. I could see the light outside and couldn't imagine why it did not pierce the darkness inside.

There was a shed in the yard, and she explained to me that the man who lived here before had left unexpectedly without any notice and had left all his clothes and furniture behind. She told me that she and her husband did not know what to do with his things and they didn't want to throw them away in case he returned for them. They had put everything in the shed. She told me not to worry, that they had changed the locks on the house, and if he didn't come back in a couple of months, they would empty the shed.

THE SYMBOLS ON THE FLOOR

She showed me the little gated garden I had glimpsed from the front yard. I liked the garden and could imagine planting it with my daughter, yet I could not see us living here. She led me into the dining room, complaining the entire time that she couldn't understand why anyone would paint the walls black, not only the walls but the windows as well. The former tenant also had drawn some weird symbols on the floor in some sort of luminescent paint. She had no idea what they were.

I did. I have never been a devil worshiper, of course, but I have seen enough movies to know what a pentagram looks like. It was beginning to make a little sense.

She took me upstairs, a bare blub barely brightening the way. It lit perhaps two steps before losing to the darkness. As I followed her up the stairs, I kept looking behind me. I was certain something was there - something that was watching me on its best behavior because it wanted me to move in. Something frightening that was not in the dark, but was the dark.

She showed me two equally dark bedrooms, and when she opened the door to one small room no bigger than a large walk-in closet, I had to blink. It was filled with light! A charming little pink room that could be my daughter's, if not for the fact that I kept imagining the two of us huddled in this room afraid to leave and venture out into the rest of the house. I thought of me clutching her in the middle of the night, staring at the doorknob, watching it turn. The image was a little too real.

I left the house. Needless to say, I didn't rent it, and the story might have ended there as the amusing tale of an active imagination were it not for a dreary rainy day in November five months later.

THE THING IN THE ROAD

I was taking a friend to work at a bar in small suburb just outside Houston. It was a cloudy, drizzly evening shortly before Thanksgiving. The days were getting shorter, and even though it was not quite six-thirty it was already dark. I had dropped him off and I was driving home with the radio playing, planning for the holiday. I was on a little blacktop road that was barely large enough for two cars to pass. This nondescript road connects Houston to this little suburb, so it is very busy during rush hour. The headlights of workers heading home to the burbs rushed toward me like an endless string of pearls. Almost no one was going in my direction.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, something stepped in front of my car with outstretched arms. Something huge. Eight or nine feet tall with glowing red eyes. I swerved to miss it. My worst nightmare is to hit a person while I am driving. My mind told me it couldn't be a person, but I ignored it. It must be a person. I cannot miss it... it is too close.

I closed my eyes for the terrible bone-cracking impact, but there was nothing. I waited for the bump of the wheels bouncing over the body... but again nothing. The tires caught the mud and wet grass on the side of the road and the car spun out of control and was heading for a wide oak tree. I prayed for help and managed to regain control of the car in just enough time to miss the tree by the skin of my teeth.

I got back on the road and turned into a convenience store just up the road. I was shaking. Did I really see what I just saw? It had both arms outstretched, the fingers spread wide. What passed for hair were actually five pointed horns standing out on its head in the same way a child draws the sun. Its eyes were glowing red slits. It couldn't be. It had to be a person, and if it were a person, he could be lying in a ditch on the side of the road.

WHERE IT CAME FROM

I got out of the car in the drizzle and starting walking down the road, retracing the way I had come. It was uncomfortably cold and wet, but I had to check. As I walked, I noticed that none of the cars had slowed. No one was avoiding anything in the road. I looked in the ditch past the wet, drooping leaves. Nothing.

I came to the tree I had nearly hit. I could see the tire tracks in the mud, but no body… no nothing. Confused, I stood there for a moment and was about to head back to my car when I saw, directly across the road from where I had nearly hit the thing I saw, was the house I had seen in June!

Whatever it was had come from that house! It somehow knew that I was there. And since I had not moved in, it had tried one last time to take me. It had tried to kill me! The guy who had lived there had dabbled in some form of Satanism and conjured up something he couldn't get rid of and he had left... or worse, he was still there, somewhere within its walls.

The house was still empty that rainy night. No one had moved it. I fear for anyone who does. I never saw it again. I would never go that way. I told a few people this story, but not many. One asked if I would take him there, but I refused. I told him I'd give him directions, but I would never go there.


Story source.

Feb 23, 2014

REVIEW: BIRDEMIC 2: THE RESURRECTION


Though I am madly in love with the first Birdemic, I did not even attempt a review for it once it hit video – not for inclusion in Shitty Flicks, nor in any kind of general review capacity. There are some films you simply cannot review. Some films need to be experienced instead. A review saying that Birdemic is legitimately and unironically good does not exist. That’s science. The reviews for the film that do exist call it the biggest piece of shit ever made, or the biggest piece of shit ever made that has caused mountain-sized smiles and non-stop gobs of unintentional delight. I rest proudly in that latter camp. Birdemic makes me feel like I can soar, as if I am being held ever-so-gently by Leonardo DiCaprio on the bow of the Titanic. To attempt a review about Birdemic, which would be heaped in painstaking recreations of my favorite parts, would’ve been simply foolish. When I review films for my Shitty Flicks banner, my goal is to amuse you with carefully chosen verbiage as much as I was amused by the actual films. I want you to be as entertained as I was. With Birdemic, I didn’t even bother. It simply just is. And if you haven’t experienced its madness yet, it’s waiting for you.

Writer/director/master of the romantic thrillerTM James Nguyen was likely not expecting the type of response Birdemic received. The director, who famously covered a van in rubber birds and played bird screech noises through a loud speaker as he drove around Utah theaters when his film was not accepted for submission to the Sundance Film Festival, likely did so not because the festival refused to acknowledge his purposely bad, tongue-in-cheek film, but likely because he thought he’d made something great, and the Sundance committee simply did not know what they were missing.

With this, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection, Nguyen is both somehow just as innocent and wide-eyed as he was, but also in on the joke. His direct sequel to his previous film about a flock of birds (specifically eagles and vultures) destroying Half Moon Bay, California, brings those birds back in all their animated .GIF glory. Nearly every person from the previous film returns, either playing his or her original character, or a brand new one. Even Damien Carter, singer/songwriter who serenaded our main characters’ first date, makes another appearance – on the tiniest stage in the world.

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Birdemic 2: The Resurrection is every bit as entertaining as the previous film. The awful plot, awful acting, awful bird effects, awful characters – the awfulness is back in a big way. But also along for the ride this time is Nguyen’s willingness to go along with his film’s “so-bad-it’s-good” reputation and attempt to aid the audience into having even MORE unintentional fun. In an interview with Empire Oline, Nguyen said, “For Birdemic 2 I took what people loved in the first one and delivered it again. It's just my way of building the romance. People seem to like it. Like James Bond or any other franchise, you have to give the people what they want.”


If you enjoy bad movies in the same way I do, then you know this wasn’t the best idea. At several points, Nguyen sends up his own film – he recreates the unending clapping scene, or the numerous scenes in which a character approaches a dead body, examines it, and says, “he’s dead.” There’s a scene where the characters stop to grab some Pepsi product sodas from a vending machine, all so he can insert some purposely bad continuity so they are suddenly consuming Coke products. (Although if he managed to receive sponsorship financing from both Pepsi and Coke, then good for him – he might be the first filmmaker in history to pull that off.) There's even a scene involving fucking cavemen – literally.

Despite my misgivings about the tongue-in-cheek approach, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection is fucking fantastic.

You want more scenes of people swinging hangers (and now camera tripods) at flocking birds?

You got it.

You want more scenes of people walking endlessly?

Here you go!

You want more too-long scenes of people dancing?

Get ready.

You wanted full-frontal nudity this time?

Enjoy!

You wanted to see what that wacky beach scientist has been up to since the first film?

You will.

"Here I am!"

Though Nguyen revisits these mainstays from the first film, luckily he gives us plenty of other brand-new mind-boggling additions to enjoy this time around.

Among the best is a scene featuring a swimmer being attacked by a giant jellyfish, who in reality is an actress plopped in front of a green screen and kicking her legs to feign she were treading water in the ocean, all while a very Pixar-ish jellyfish attacks and rubs its tendrils all over her. Said girl is soon rescued and eventually put into the back of an ambulance, which when driving way, is somehow just as Pixar-ish as the jellyfish. (Could you really not hire an ambulance for a fifteen second shot?)

Look for yourself:


Returning cast members Alan Bagh as Rod and Whitney Moore as Nathalie certainly seem to be in the joke this time, especially the latter, who grins and mugs for the camera at every possible opportunity.


Whitney Moore: Adorable.

Birdemic 2: The Resurrection is every bit a worthy successor to Birdemic, though I guess that depends on how you define "worthy" in this regard. If you enjoyed the first film, you'll enjoy this one. And if you enjoyed this one, you'll likely enjoy...Birdemic 3: Sea Eagles.

Think I'm kidding?

Straight from the director's beak:

"The subtitle for Birdemic 3 is going to be Sea Eagles...The script is being developed right now, but I can tell you that it's going to take place in New York. There are islands there, the Statue of Liberty, Time Square - it's the perfect scene for a birdemic."

Get ready for wonderment.


Feb 20, 2014

MYSTERIOUS STATUE

A mysterious statue placed quietly at a construction site has employees of a New York Library asking a lot of questions, and appealing to the public for help solving the mystery.

The director of the East Hampton Library, Dennis Fabiszak, told Patch that the strange statue was left on an old fountain in the library’s construction area sometime in the wee hours of last weekend, but they haven’t the slightest clue who it could have been or why. It’s fairly light for a statue, weighing in at about 50 lbs, and seems to be made out of red clay that has been painted over. It’s not a particularly new creation either, as at one point a piece had broken off and birds made a nest in the back. It could also be hollow.

But perhaps the most intriguing part of the odd find is the inscription on the back of the statue, a well worn and barely visible cursive scrawling of the words ”My Wife Forever Della Penna”.

The library staff have reached out to the public via their Facebook page in an effort to see if anyone might have any clues about the disembodied gift, and one of the possible answers is certainly an eerie one.

Local man Steven Rothman pointed out that the name Della Penna matches the victim in a grisly murder that occurred just a few hours away in the 70′s, a murder that to this day has not been solved. 

From wikipedia:
Dolores Della Penna (December 13, 1954 – July 1972) was a 17-year-old Philadelphia schoolgirl who was tortured, gang raped, murdered by dismemberment and beheaded in the Kensington neighborhood in July 1972. Della Penna’s torso and arms were later located in Jackson Township, New Jersey, while her legs were found in neighboring Manchester Township near the border with Jackson. 
The young girl’s head is believed to be located within a wall in “Turtles” former home in Tacony and the house has yet to be searched by law enforcement, and no bikers have yet been arrested in the case.
Official police reports state that Miss Della Penna was killed by drug dealers who believed that her boyfriend had stolen some of their drugs, but as the crime has remained unsolved this version of events will not be verified by law enforcement and is hotly contested.
Please note the fact that the girl’s head is still missing. The library might want to go ahead and have that statue x-rayed before they decide to put it up for display. Maybe it’s a stretch, but bodies encased in statues are nothing new.


Story and images source.

Feb 19, 2014

TWO GUYS, ONE QUIP: ZOMBIE LAKE

A joint effort between The End of Summer and Exploitation Movie Review, “Two Guys, One Quip” is a venture to honor the cheesiest, oddest, and most unheralded crop of films we can stand. Some films can be tackled solo and some cannot. Some films are so excruciatingly unusual that multiple parties are needed to catch every single solitary weirdity. "Two Guys, One Quip" is a free-for-all, back-and-forth, "I'm-just-gonna-say-whatever" approach to double-teaming an easy target in the unsexiest way possible. You will find nothing close to actual, legitimate film discussion, but instead sarcasm and douche-bag superiority flying fast and furious. Profanity will be immense, constant, and unyielding. No on-screen target is safe. No incompetence will pass by unmocked. And no punches will be at all pulled. Some films are asking for it. These are some of them.




Exploitation Movie Review (EMR): Most of the time, a troubled production results in a troubled movie and that can be said of 1981's Zombie Lake. After being passed on to director Jean Rollin at very short notice, the binding spell surrounding the dark lord G'rnthark crumbled and he awoke from his thousand year slumber. Dazed, confused and understandably angry, he promptly sharted and deposited Zombie Lake onto the world as if to say, "Dude...I was fucking sleeping."

This movie garnered some criticism for being a cheap knock-off version of Ken Weiderhorn's Shock Waves, a similarly aquatic undead themed movie.


So, lets just get this over and fucking done with...

Zombie Lake starts, almost by way of apology, with tits and a deceptively soft-core, Euro-porn soundtrack. This reasonably attractive chick is getting undressed because she's going for a swim in a lake, which is clearly marked with a sign that says "No Swimming" and "You're going to fucking die," but she just tears that warning sign right outta the ground and starts swimming. But wait! Oh, shit! As soon as the Euro-porn soundtrack cuts out and the foreboding synth soundtrack kicks in, you know something's coming to cause more harm to her than the parasites in that lake could ever do. That's right; Zombies! Lake Zombies! Nazi Lake Zombies! After a brief but violent confrontation where the only thing you'll be thinking is, "Did they shoot this in a fucking swimming pool? I can see the ladders and everything," the action expertly cuts away to a small village cafe.

The End of Summer (TEOS): Since we’re bros, I’ll be polite, but I really think you’re being too hard on this movie. I mean, granted, I know we’re all a little sick of zombie stuff right now, but so far this seems pretty fun. You’ve got Woody Harrelson, who is awesome; you’ve got the hot/ugly Emma Stone, who in this is mostly hot; and you’ve got that dude from The Social Network whom everyone likes to say is trying too hard to be Michael Cera, even though he’s been acting long before Cera adopted the whole “neurotic Woody Allen” act for "Arrested Development."

AND you’ve got...

Oh. Wait a minute. I totally put in the wrong movie.

Ha ha. Sorry. Let me switch over real quick, I think this shit’s on Streaming.

(It's playing)

Aww, there's a swan, so that's nice - and we've got a broad with some nice gams. And, okay, we’ve got the title on screen now, and...

Yeah, I instantly have eye cancer. You know how when you put on a bad movie, you just get that feeling where you KNOW the movie is going to be painful? If you've never experienced it, Zombie Lake is here to help you.

EMR: Yeah, totally. I mean, look at the DVD cover:


And then THIS is what it actually looks like:

"Wait...yeah, totally forgot my wallet."

Shit. Now I know what my mother feels like when we speak on the phone.

TEOS: Speaking of final products, if I were editor Claude Gros, and I was at the cast and crew screening, I'm not sure if I'd be grinning or completely embarrassed that MY name is the one that pops up on the opening credit sequence right on top of a close-up of some French lady's very generous, er...hair-down-there. And his name is Gros, too, which is so perfect that I think that counts as at least seventeen jokes.

Oh, there's that Nazi zombie you mentioned. Even though he's waterlogged, I can still tell his uniform is way over-starched.

Food for thought: Do you think Nazi zombies hate Jewish people, like, extra? Would they even want to eat them? Or is that a joke where if the wrong person at my office somehow reads it, it could get me fired...for being TOO awesome?

EMR: That much I don't know, man. All I know is that this film owes me as much of an apology as the Third Reich owe the rest of the world.

At the mayor's office, Tits McGee's dad (?) is talking about how his daughter (?) hasn't come back yet. I don't know who these sick fuckers are, but they can't even seem to muster up an appropriate emotional response between them.


"I'm afraid she drowned," her father says, with all the passion of an abandoned dishcloth.


Back out at the lake, our zombie pal from before senses that women with wheelbarrows are nearby and leaves the lake to investigate. He attacks the wheelbarrow woman by aggressively kissing her neck. When he pulls his head up to dribble on her face, there are no bite marks or anything, so it's pretty awkward. This is the shittiest fucking zombie I've ever seen.

TEOS: You're right - it really does look like this ghoul is making sweet love to this dame, not feasting on her warm frog flesh. It would actually make me a little aroused, if I weren't already pretty aroused from that earlier scene with the naked broad swimming in neon green slop water.

Anyway, now that this wheelbarrow chick is finito, let's take a moment to stare at the zombie on screen and wonder when it was Stacy Keach snuck into this thing.

Three random men carry the woman's dead body through town as all kinds of upset passersby join the procession. Despite all the tears and forlorn looks, it's still less sad of a parade than the one when they hoist a statue of the Virgin Mary through the streets as everyone throws dollar bills as it.

Also, apparently in this town, it's required to drop off dead bodies outside the mayor's office and just wait for him to come outside. Once that happens, cover the dead's naughty bits, because otherwise the mayor will just pounce that shit, I guess.

"Mr. Mayor, sir? Your two o'clock is waiting for you outside."

EMR: Relax, peasants; sexy, sassy reporter lady is here and she's brought her camera and a copy of Ripley's Believe It Or Not, so the mystery of whoever's kissing these girls to death is as good as solved. She goes to see the mayor to find out why the locals call the lake "The Lake Of Ghosts" or whatever. The mayor tells her a story about the second World War and how the allied forces seemed to be targeting terrible fucking actresses in fields. A German officer saves this girl and then falls over for no reason, so his buddies take him to recuperate at a field hospital. She follows him there and after a pretty short convalescence, they meet up again and bang.


I once stopped a girl getting run down by a car, but I didn't get this kind of treatment.

TEOS: During the non-stop banging scene, I literally got up, used the john, checked the weather forecast (MORE fucking snow), sent a couple texts to plan my weekend, came back, sat down, and the banging was still happening.

I also find it a little odd that these two actors have to be full-naked for an extended period of time, nuzzling every tit and ball sac on screen, yet keep the closed-mouth kissing turned up to 11. I mean, at this point, you might as well get your rocks off. Fucking French people NOT French kissing during sex. What's that about?


EMR: It does seem odd that I now have intimate knowledge of what seems like the entire fucking population of this village past, present, and probably future, but tongue kissing is out of the mix.

Anyway, they have a kid who reappears a little later on (played in this movie by the cold, dead eyes of a living statue who's staring into the future and contemplating the most efficient way to commit suicide). The mom dies shortly after childbirth and the dad dies at the hand of some resistance fighters who gun down him and the rest of his squad in cold blood and dump their bodies in the lake. One of the resistance guys is the mayor, who looks like he kept aging until he was 65 and then just stopped.


Back in the present, the worst women's basketball team in the world turn up in their camper van and start stripping down to their smalls while another jaunty Euro-porn theme plays on in the background. This may be the worst film I've ever seen.

TEOS: So far my favorite part of this movie was before I even put it on and I had finished watching Last of the Mohicans. Day-Lewis is TOPS in that.

But okay, this piece of shit. Even though it was completely unintentional, I am really tickled by the sudden cut to a small girl sitting far off in the corner of a barn or something, but she's sitting in such a way that these huge sacks of grain make it look like she has gigantic fucking giant legs. So now instead of paying attention to this train wreck, I am writing my own movie in my head called Greta: The Girl With Legs So Gigantic She Killed Her Mother During Birth And Kicked All The Nurses Into Triage.

Rated R for Really huge legs.


EMR: After most of the girls basketball team have been butchered, the one remaining survivor stumbles into the village cafe completely topless, screaming about the lake and only the magic of this not being an Italian horror picture prevents her from being gang raped in the eye sockets by horny locals.

TEOS: The last time I was a girl AND naked AND giggling with other naked girls standing around a van, it...did not end well.


EMR: Meanwhile, the mayor is having a conversation with the most relaxed police inspector in Europe and his fucking chess partner, or something. The inspector kind of thinks that the mayor is losing his mind, so he humours him and sends two detectives to the village to bunk off for a while.

TEOS: I sincerely hope you're not talking down on Spitz and Morane. Of ALL the detectives the mayor could have sent to handle this problem, he chose two of the most men who were ever men.


EMR: That's a lot of men, to be fair. So potent is their virility, they could potential bring all the dead women in this village back to life simply by scratching their balls.

Back in the village, our zombie pal from before has spotted the old house where his bang buddy gave birth to their child and goes for a look ‘round. Inside, he finds his daughter who's somehow only 12 years old...


Wait, what fucking year is this supposed to be?

TEOS: 1970-terrible.

So here's the thing. I know we like to "suspend disbelief" and "turn a blind eye" to sometimes fantastic circumstances, all in the name of enjoying a film and having a nice time at the cinema. But come on – a fucking green-faced ghoul covered in blood randomly walks into the room of a little girl, looks at her with an undeniable look of lust, and begins to slowly undo his collar, and this little girl is going to grin like she just saw one of the dudes from One Direction (the one with the awesome hair) blow her a kiss? Is this really what I am seeing?

And is this zombie dude really all that touched to be back in this house? Fucking random emoting zombie. Leave it to the French to pussify the walking dead. Well, them and..."The Walking Dead."


EMR: Dude! I don't know how you dare say something like that about AMC's Andrew Lincoln Looks At The Ground And Mutters!

Anyway, this guy is totally bucking for this film to be renamed My Zombie Dad, but it doesn't star Brian Bonsall and wasn't made in 1994.


TEOS: ...Yet


EMR: Before the detectives even get a chance to ask, "Where were you on the night of the 7th?," they've been fucking eaten by Pond Hitlers. At this point, the Zombie Gang decide to head into the village where they ambush two people making out awkwardly after realising that they have the monopoly on unconvincing necking in this movie.

TEOS: My absolute favorite zomb is all the way on the left, who comes out of the pond doing Jazz Hands.

"They're gonna LOVE me!"


EMR: There's kind of a 'revenge' motif going on here.

Wait a second...is this a really shit version of The Fog?

TEOS: I'm not sure...does it star Tom Welling?

Zing!

Sorry.

You know, if they're going to go out of their way to make these zombies Nazis, they're really missing out on at least having them do that really cool and belligerent Nazi march. You know, the one where their boots make those thunderous boot sounds while an entire nation sobs on their knees?


EMR: Hmm, I don't know man. I'm getting the feeling that this film is kinda trying to make me sympathise with Nazis. I don't think I've ever watched a propaganda movie that was cut with Euro-porn, before. It's not an entirely uncomfortable experience, but I'm feeling a little ambiguous about it because I can't work out if the longing of a father for his daughter’s love or the tits are turning me on the most.

So anyway, now that they're on the march, one of the zombies comes across a woman fiddling with her suspender belt and in trying to help her, accidentally tears the flesh off her thigh. I guess. Fucking zombies are such ham-fisted assholes.

TEOS: I LOVE this one zomb who tears ass into the tavern and startles everyone, all so he can bypass all that throbbing potential man meat feast and turn over the card game table, instead, because he's REALLY anti-gambling, I guess.

And during this, an 80lb girl is just taking it upon herself to take a bath in her back yard in an apple bushel. It's about as sexy as you're thinking it's not. The zomb eats her, but then looks really disappointed since it's like eating wings at the diner – there's just no fucking meat on them at all.


EMR: So now that the zombies have finished randomly attacking the village and have fucked right off back to the lake for whatever reason, the mayor assembles the townsfolk and tells them it's "obvious" that the zombies have declared war on the village, so they decide to ambush them if they decide to come out that night. Maybe they should set a trap for them using a woman who's having difficulty with hosiery.

TEOS: Something else I love? The close-up of blood splattering all over the ground, but with clear camera cuts peppered in between, as if the filmmakers would film the street, drop some blood, shut the camera off, ask, "Is...Is that enough blood?" and then most likely the fucking producer would step up and put away the 1980s version of the Kindle (a book) and say "Needs more blood," so they would turn the camera back on and whip some more paint brushes covered in blood back down at the street. Then some wise-ass would say, "Well, that's all the blood we brought with us today," and someone would high five him and then everyone would really just enjoy living their lives since this is fucking France.


EMR: I know, right? They basically invented putting chocolate into bread. That's fucking incredible. It's like a breakfast a six-year-old would come up with at gunpoint.

The villagers ambush the zombies as they're walking through the town square, but every single one of them is either really nervous around fire-arms or shooting at pigeons in another town square in another fucking country, because not a single bullet or shell is hitting them. One of the villagers gets cornered in a stairwell and shoots Zombie Dad point blank in the stomach. This makes him really angry and you can tell because he starts foaming at the mouth.

TEOS: Jesus Christ, MORE zombies are coming out of this lake. Didn't that flashback only show, like, two soldier corpses being tossed into it? Did those zombies open up a Facebook invite and solicit other dead Nazi zombies to take part in this nonsense? I officially call bullshit on you, Zombie Lake.


EMR: I think they've just added more zombies at this point to up the tension level, because lets face it, this movie has all the tension of wondering how Titanic was going to end (SPOILERS: Kate Winslet gets sick of the 12-year-old kid who's been following her around and totally lets him freeze to death...seriously, that bit of wood she's on would have been big enough for her and Michael Clarke Duncan).

TEOS: RIP.


EMR: Zombie dad goes for a quick reunion with his daughter who still doesn't seem at all phased that her dad, a) smells like stagnant pond shit, b) is green, and c) is dead. He takes her for a walk down by the lake where they're confronted by the rest of his gang. What follows is something I never thought I'd see and/or type in my life:


A Zombie Knife Fight


Fuck. My. Mouth.


Shit. This scene plays like two old people trying to fuck inside a Zoorb.


Disclaimer: This scene is rendered more dramatic if you mute your TV and play the fight music from Star Trek: The Original Series.

"C-c-c-combo breaker!"

TEOS: It's weird you mention that, since once I noticed I didn't have to actually listen to this garbage – only read the subtitles – I've been blasting Rammstein. It not only makes this scene more awesome, but if I didn't know any better, I would just think it was an official Rammstein music video, since those krauts are all out of their goddamned minds. (In case you were wondering, the current song playing was Bück Dich.) (And in case you were still wondering, bück dich means "bend over.")

Needless to say, Zombie Lake made me bück dich tonight and proceeded to ramm my stein.

EMR: I once saw this 'Family Values' tour with Rammstein and Till Lindemann had this prosthetic dick and he started pissing over the crowd...kinda feels like that was a metaphor for this dogshit that I'm watching now instead of Batman: The Animated Series.

TEOS: Yeah Hammill!


EMR: Sassy Reporter Lady is back and the mayor is telling her that the village is pretty much responsible for the zombies. She suggests napalm (duh!) and the mayor acts like she's just worked out how to break the light speed barrier using only elastic bands and Calgon.


The mayor is reasoning with Zombie Daughter by telling her that her dad would want to be properly dead and that reducing him to a pile of ashes is the best gift she could ever give him. In return, I think he's going to pay for all the therapy she's going to need to stop her from giving her future husband an anniversary present of a dead clown covered in gasoline. She asks him to get her some fresh blood to bait them all into the old mill, but then she says she doesn't want to talk about it anymore. She stares into the distance, vacantly. We all die when she reaches maturity.

TEOS: She keeps calling the zombs "ghosts," too, which...no, stupid girl. They are clearly not ghosts. They're not even fucking zombies if you really want to split hairs about it since their mythology is totally fucked here, but god, for the time being, fucking ghosts? You know that scene in Frankenstein where a tiny girl hands Frankenstein's Monster a daisy and he smiles at her and then fucking throws her in the lake and kills her?

Exactly.


EMR: Zombie Daughter leads her Zombie Dad and his gang into the old mill on the promise of fresh blood but no one ever explains where this blood has come from. I guess I'm supposed to believe it's just available on tap or something. Fucking France.


So the villagers burn the zombies and their dummy doubles alive/dead and Zombie Daughter stands by with the mayor and cries. Lesson learned. I think. Wait, what the fuck have I just been watching for the last hour and a half? Bad horror or weird porn?

TEOS: I lied earlier when I made that Mohican crack. Turns out my favorite part of the movie was when I was allowed to turn it off and then play Call of Duty with my brother.

EMR: Yeah. All in all, this movie is as much fun as watching your ex kick a puppy to death.

As in, "My hat is like a shark's--!"



 
Watch the whole fucking movie, ya hunks!



Next on the Two Guys, One Quip chopping block:

Feb 16, 2014

UNKNOWN CHILD

Recently, my town (a city in Northern Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio) started “ghost tours” during the month of October. Until the late 1950s, my city used to be full of gangsters, mafia, and gamblers, so there were plenty of murders, suicides, and other weird happenings going on to ensure a history full of tragedy.

Last month, my wife, my parents and I went on this particular walk that consisted of walking around a few blocks of the city, looking at old buildings and listening to stories that took place at these locations. My parents grew up on one particular street that was included in the walk, so they were able to verify most of the stories for us. When we got in front of the building my mom grew up in, the woman guiding the tour told us a really creepy story that I’ve been trying to verify for over a month now, but I can’t seem to find any information online about it.
 
As the story goes, three or four years ago in the dead of winter (I think it happened on Christmas Eve, but I’m not sure) the police found a young boy around age 10 standing outside the door of the building that used to be my mom’s apartment. A couple of murders have taken place in that building, but that’s another story for another time. Anyway, the young boy that the police found was wearing only a thin pair of shorts and nothing else. No shoes, no shirt, despite there being snow on the ground and temperatures below the freezing mark.

The police tried to ask the boy questions about where he had been, who his parents were, why he was standing there, etc., but the boy either refused to answer or said he couldn’t remember anything.

The police ended up taking him to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and posted police bulletins throughout the county in an attempt to locate the boy’s parents and bring him home. Oddly, no one ever showed up to claim him.

After he was taken to Children’s Hospital, he began to exhibit strange and disturbing behavior and was taken to a psychiatrist where he underwent some form of psychological testing. This is where the story gets even weirder, but being as though I’m not a psychiatrist, I don’t know the exact names for terms, etc. On this particular test that he underwent that diagnosed psychoses, he was found to have scored a level of 7. Our guide then told us that Ted Bundy had undergone the same test and scored a level of only 4.

Despite being in the system now for a few years, the child has never been claimed by anyone, and has in fact begun to exhibit stranger and more disturbing behavior as the years go on. In fact, the tour guide told us that the county who has custody of the now teenager is so disturbed by his behavior that they have recommended keeping him in custody until the age of 18, and afterward transferring him to a secure location because they’re so concerned that when he is released he will harm someone.

Granted, this could have been a great spooky story that was merely intended to scare willing patrons, until a member of our group spoke up and told us that he was a psychology student at the University of Cincinnati, and that his class had been discussing this child’s case.

Last but not least, let me add one more detail. The street that we were on is reported by some paranormal societies to be one of the most “evil” streets in America, due to the number and nature of some of the deaths that have occurred there. Does the fact that this child was found in one of the most “evil” locations in the USA have anything to do with his disturbing mindset?

Story source.

Feb 15, 2014

REVIEW: MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

 

Perhaps I'm not the best person to lend his opinion on a graphic novel. I can't say it's a format in which I've invested myself too much over the years. Except for the occasional Batman adventures a chum insisted I read (and despite my devouring of EC comics in my youth, which, before you slap me, I know do not count), I just never paid that much attention to this mode of artistic expression.

Still, I was given the chance to take a look at the graphic novel version of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and being I am so smitten with those damned kids, I jumped at the chance.

I hope you're not thinking that my confession-like intro is a disclaimer I'm using to segue into complaining for the rest of this review, because I surely have no intentions of doing that. It's just that I likely won't be able to properly praise this new version of the story the way it deserves.

Obviously the biggest change is the prose. Gone are huge, massive chunks of text from author Riggs' original narrative. Well, no shit. That's the nature of the graphic novel. It's the text that drives the story, but it's the images that bring it to life. Yes, I do recall recollecting certain passages from the original text when stumbling upon their drawn-upon counterparts in this new version, sadly seeing its demise in this form, but now it's artist Cassandra Jean doing the heavy lifting and transferring all the novel's emotions into these re-realized characters. It's time for the text, however essential, to take a backseat to this new visualization of the story.

And speaking of, sometimes the most obvious choices are the ones that can still surprise you and bring a smile to your face.

The original offbeat and absurd vintage photographs that peppered Riggs' novel are still here and accounted for; each peculiar child has his or her photograph alongside their first emergence in the text. And though I suppose it was inevitable and likely unavoidable, to see the images of these children then realized again and again throughout the story, painstakingly recreated in ink and color as they appeared in their photos, was surprisingly rewarding. Though Riggs did a fine job of fleshing out his inspired creations in the novel, the consistent visual representation of the kids reinforces your image of them as you reinvest in this new version of the story. (The character of Olive, especially - a tiny urchin with a slight frown in her levitating photo - has been recreated with her same stature and her same outfit, but now bearing that full-blown smile her character must often sport in this make-believe landscape. The nature of her bubbly and idealistic personality nearly defies you to picture the lemon-faced grimace shown in her vintage photo.)


Do I miss some of Riggs' original narrative? Sure, I do. Some of the best suspense comes not from the monstrous wights or hollowgasts, but the burgeoning relationship between Jacob and Emma. But it's the art by Cassandra Jean that's made me see these peculiar children in an all new light.

The book ends with a teaser look at the graphic novel version of Hollow City.

I can't wait.

Feb 13, 2014

HELL GARDEN

Wang Saen Suk, 90 minutes outside of Bangkok on the way to Pattaya, is a garden full of statues depicting what is supposed to be Buddhist hell.

While the garden attracts plenty of families, there are gruesome scenes depicted there. After passing a “Welcome to Hell!” sign, visitors encounter sinners boiled in copper cauldrons, sinners being torn apart by hell’s dogs, and emaciated sinners with protruding ribs. “If you meet the Devil in this life, don’t postpone merit-making which will help you to defeat him in the next life,” a sign in the garden reads. “Donate a little each day and you’ll have a happy life.”

According to the “Traibhumi Phra Ruang,” when a Buddhist dies, he or she goes before four celestial beings who check the dead’s record of good and bad deeds. If your good deeds outweigh the bad, you will go to heaven; if your bad deeds outweigh the good, you will be punished.

Punishment in Buddhist hell varies depending on the sins committed, but every form of punishment is a torture, and many of those are depicted in the garden. Hell has 136 pits, but individuals are able to be reborn from each. Loganta, a special pit reserved for those who have hurt their parents or monks physically, is the only cold pit and those sent there are said to remain until a new Buddha is born.





Story and images source.

Feb 11, 2014

FACT

When you wake up around 2-3 A.M. without any reason, there's an 81% chance that someone is staring at you.

Feb 10, 2014

TEOS RECOMMENDS: THE CANNIBAL: THE CASE OF ALBERT FISH


My unintended marathon reading of true crime books continues with The Cannibal: The Case of Albert Fish. This non-fiction account of Albert Fish's cannibal crimes against his adolescent victims was written by Mel Heimer, a former reporter. The book itself is quite slim 150 pages or so and a breeze to read, technically. However, it does delve into some pretty graphic descriptions of Fish's crimes, using both his own words and those of the author, so it can be difficult to traverse, depending on your own icky scale.

Neighbors, friends, and families of serial killers more often than not describe them as quiet, friendly, unassumingly, and nice. Ed Gein was looked at as a harmless old hermit. John Wayne Gacy was a clown at children's parties. But Albert Fish has the distinction of being among the oldest serial killers ever caught. It was his elderly and distinguished appearance that led so many people to instantly trust him. Though he claimed responsibility for at least a hundred murders, police work and his own confessions totaled a solid number of five lives taken. He was given many nicknames once news of his crimes hit the media, chief among them being the "Werewolf of Wysteria" and "The Grey Man."

The most infamous of Fish's murders was that of Grace Budd, nine-year-old sister of Ed Budd Jr., who had placed an ad in the paper that he was looking for work outside of the city, and to whom Fish was responding when he contacted the Budd family to explain that he owned a farm and was looking for a farmhand to help out with everyday work. He used the pseudonym of Frank Howard, and to further sell his lie regarding his farm, he had brought with him a small jar of cottage cheese, which he claimed derived directly from his farm's resources. (He had in actuality stopped off at a market before arriving at the Budds.) Once there, Budd made nice with the family, sitting down with them and making polite conversation. His original target being Edward Jr., Fish changed his mind upon arriving, deeming the boy "unattractive" for Fish's purposes. Instead he set his sight on young Grace and managed to convince her parents that he knew of a nearby party that he was considering attending and that Grace should accompany him. The Budds instantly trusted Fish due to his almost statesman-like appearance and agreed to let Grace attend the party with him.

Fish then left with Grace. The Budds never saw her again.

The book then recounts Fish's plan, beginning with taking her to an abandoned cottage, and ending with his method for disposing of her body.

Grace was reported missing, and for six long years, the police turned up many clues and followed up on many suspects, none of which or whom proved to be helpful. Soon the case became stagnant, though not altogether dead, and it was a simple piece of stationary that led the police to finally capture the Werewolf of Wysteria.

The poor family had been deluged over the years with all sorts of crank letters and claims, and it got to the point that they stopped reading them and simply delivered them directly to the police. It was on a piece of unique stationary that Fish had anonymously sent the below letter to Grace Budd's mother.
Dear Mrs. Budd:

In 1894 a friend of mine shipped as a deck hand on the Steamer Tacoma, Capt. John Davis. They sailed from San Francisco for Hong Kong, China. On arriving there he and two others went ashore and got drunk. When they returned the boat was gone. At that time there was famine in China. Meat of any kind was from $1–3 per pound. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. You could go in any shop and ask for steak—chops—or stew meat. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it. A boy or girl's behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price. John staid there so long he acquired a taste for human flesh. On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys, one 7 and one 11. Took them to his home stripped them naked tied them in a closet. Then burned everything they had on. Several times every day and night he spanked them – tortured them – to make their meat good and tender. First he killed the 11 year old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. Every part of his body was cooked and eaten except the head—bones and guts. He was roasted in the oven (all of his ass), boiled, broiled, fried and stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way.

At that time, I was living at 409 E 100 St. near—right side. He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it. On Sunday June the 3, 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese—strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her. On the pretense of taking her to a party. You said yes she could go.

I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down the stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick – bite and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms. Cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her tho I could of had I wished.

She died a virgin.


In my previous recommendation of Edward Gein: America's Most Bizarre Murderer, I explained I prefer a true-crime account to be comprised majorly of the subject's own words. In that regard, The Cannibal is equally fascinating, though likely more so. To directly compare, while Gein never seemed quite to know why it was he killed those he did, as well as cannibalized them and even lived with dug-up corpses, it's made quite clear that Fish simply enjoyed everything he did, though he sometimes suggested that he didn't know why he did the things he did. He referred to himself as "queer" (referring to the mid-20th century meaning of the word), and in letters to the few of his children that continued to correspond with him, he often wondered what compelled him to kill and devour.

Once captured for his crimes against Grace Budd, a physical examination of him revealed over 20 needles purposely inserted in his pelvis. His reasons for having done so varied greatly, and soon there were five very distinct explanations he offered, each conflicting with the other.

And it's actually this very random factoid where my only real criticism of the book comes into play: the more unusual facts about the peculiar Albert Fish will stick immediately in your mind, so when this information is repeated later in the text, you'll definitely notice. Several accounts, such as the strange needle story, or the manner in which Fish was finally caught by authorities, appear at least twice  and these are just to examples. It certainly doesn't diminish the reading experience in any way, as you could likely read about a man sticking needles into his pelvis a hundred different ways and never become bored, simply because, god damn, that's fucking weird, but perhaps a more discerning editor would have cut out these reuses so as not to harp on some weird anecdotes in a book already full of them.

Of all the true crime books I've read so far, The Cannibal might so far be the most vicious, and this has to do not only with the age of Fish's victims, but the brutality committed against them. Though he tried to feign confusion and even alarm about himself, he never made it a secret that he enjoyed killing and maiming. "I have had kids in every state," he even once bragged, though it was unknown whether that represented murders or rapes (or both). Still, The Cannibal is terribly interesting in the way true crime is meant to be. The accounts of Fish's crimes are presented objectively, leaving no stones unturned. His own words are especially powerful, and the letter presented above is just one example.