Jun 30, 2014


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. 


Nicolas Cage's eyes bug wildly out of his head (his trademark expression) as he spins around, wielding his gun. He is surrounded by a group of angry women, intent on putting bees on his face, breaking his legs, and burning him alive inside the grundle of a large man made of wicker.

You bitches!" he screams as they fall on him, applying bees. "Oh my God, they're in my eye!"

The utter terror he is facing isn't the end. It's only the beginning. They lay his legs out over a large tree-trunk and smash his legs.

"Awww, my legs! My legs!" he screams, letting the audience know his legs are being broken. I want to look away but I can't. I am enthralled by this scene. "Killing me won't bring back your GOD DAMNED HONEY!" he suggests, trying to escape their wrath.

Ms. Summersisle, the queen bee of this pack, sports William Wallace-inspired make up as she replies, "but I know it will!"

Oh. Well then.

It's worth it for tasty honey.

The Wicker Man, just one of the many remakes of famous horror movies bombarding audiences, will go down in history as one of the most baffling films in ages. The film produces more questions than stomach pains caused by Hot Pockets.

What evil forces reside on Summersisle?

How many men have fallen victim to the womens' deceit?

Why does Nicolas Cage over-act in one scene, and then barely act in another?

What's with bee-beard girl?

Is this film supposed to be hilarious?

The questions are numerous. The laughs: even more so. The scares: missing in action.

Neil Labute once saw a horror movie on television: The Addams Family.

He was terrified.

He longed to make a film that scary.

He wrote and directed The Wicker Man, utilizing the same scare tactics. He crafted a film so horrifying, he himself has trouble watching it without squirming. I also find his film terrifying. But for different reasons.

The film begins...and Cage is delved into a question wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma. He is also allergic to bees.


He goes to Bee Island anyway, at the behest of his runaway ex-fiancé, Willow, to help her find their missing daughter, Rowan. Upon arriving at the island, Cage meets a friendly group of oddball natives who stare at him as he talks, clearly perturbed by his presence. The group holds a wriggling sack that drips a rich amount of blood.

“What’s in the bag? A shark?” Cage asks stupidly, he, himself, unsure if he was even joking or not. The natives ignore him and question how he has made it to their beloved island of bad dialogue and bees. The sack wriggles once again and as Cage almost looks interested it, they dare him to look inside. He approaches the sack, and when it wriggles and shrieks, he decides that he doesn’t have to investigate the sack at all, even though he’s a cop. And then the natives laugh at him.

Method acting led to Nicolas Cage trying to teach children
astronomy. Right around after he taught them that space
was, "huge, bigger than Detroit," he was dismissed by
his chaperon.

Cage goes inside a cabin thing and asks for a drink from the bar maid. He receives said drink, but then instantly offends everyone by killing a bee.

“I’m allergic,” he reminds us, and then turns, holds his badge and tells everyone uninterestingly of the missing girl. The patrons, castrated men, stare at him with a look of bemusement. Cage gives up on trying to make an impact and begins his investigation.

He stops by a classroom to inquire about the missing girl. The teacher reacts to him with suspicion and annoyance. He demands to know her name, and when she responds with “Sister Rose,” he turns to the class and says “Rose, of course! Another plant!” as if the students would be amused and sympathetic to his plight.

All the children claim to not know the missing girl, as Cage walks around holding a picture. When Sister Rose claims she was not one of her students, Cage responds by checking the Teacher Book, which reveals the name of the missing girl.

Upon finding her name, he turns to the class of young girls and snarls, "You...little...liars." Then he turns to Sister Rose and states, "and you...you're the biggest liar of them all."

He begins to search the classroom, and upon doing so, releases a crow that was trapped by the students in an open-top desk. “What?” Cage barely manages as it flaps by his face, in the same manner you might say if I tapped you on the shoulder in a super market and told you, "elephant pie is made of chicken beats and my love for dead men."

Cage continues his investigation, which leads him down by the dock. He sits down and suffers through TWO nightmare sequences in a row, which he punctuates with an over-the-top and completely inappropriate “GOD DAMN IT."

"I'm thinking PANCAKES this morning, my lovelies!"

Cage investigates and comes across an old burned doll that was hastily discarded next to some decrepit foundation. He turns to Willow, holds the doll to her and beckons to know: "HOW'D IT GET BURNED?? HOW'D IT GET BURNED HOW'D IT GET BURNED??"

Later, Cage runs across Sister Rose, riding her stupid bike down the path. She taunts him in her stupid bitchy banner, leading Cage to whip out his gun and demand that she “step away from the bike.” Upon relinquishing the bike, Cage takes it from her, and icily retorts: “Take your STUPID mask.”

Cage flips out and begins to storm each cabin, ripping masks off of all young girls, desperately trying to find his missing daughter.

The investigation leads to the inevitable conclusion that foul play was involved in the disappearance of the girl, and this leads to the best the second best scene in recent cinema history: Cage stares at a very mannish woman named Sister Beech, who relishes in his inability to solve the case of the missing child, and then: WHIPASH! Cage lets loose an admirable left jab to her square face, knocking her down for the count.

But the woman beating isn’t over yet.

Leelee Sobieski, also known as Helen Hunt’s better-chested clone, pops up to feign the idea she is capable of doing anything except feeding my desire for pale boobs, before receiving her own helping of Nicolas Cage: kicks, served cold. Cage’s ratatat karate chopping sends her flying back into the wall, shattering all manner of framed photos before depositing her dumpy ass on the hard ground.

As a joke, Nicolas Cage had slipped some ecstasy
into Ellen Burstyn's tea earlier that morning, but by mid-afternoon,
as the crew stood around, burning daylight, no one was laughing.

Cage shakes it off, picks up the beefy woman’s bear costume that she was to wear in the Summersisle Bullshit Parade and exits.

When Cage meets up with Willow during the parade, he amusingly lifts the mouth flap of the bear head and asks, “Why didn’t you wait for me?”

“I had to come,” she blandly retorts, shutting him up pretty easily.

The parade ends at what looks to be a pyre where - AAAAHHHHH!! - his daughter is lashed to a tree and is mere minutes from GETTING BURNED??? GETTING BURNED GETTING BURNED????

Cage, still in full bear regalia, storms this pyre, and in long shot form, applies a glorious right hook to her face, sending her sprawling down the hill.

Cage attempts to escape with Rowan, but alas, it’s no use. Once the paraders locate their location in the woods, Rowan runs to her mother, Willow, who it seems was in on it the whole time. Oh no, Willow. How could you?

Now, this is when things get interesting: depending on which version you are watching, you have the option to being treated to two magnificent endings:


In the PG-13 cut, we see Cage laid out over a large leg-breaking beam, but we then fade to a montage of parade marchers making their way to the titular man of wicker as you hear audio of bones snapping and Cage screaming, "My legs! MY LEGS!"


In the “unrated” cut, we see Cage again laid out over the large leg-breaking beam, only this time we experience the actual leg breaking, which is so ineptly done that it creates its own amusement. Once the leg smashing is complete, a modified and ancient-looking bird cage is placed over Cage’s face. Once it’s secured, a hatch on the top is opened and BEES are poured liberally in, as Cage bellows: “No, not the bees! Oh my God, they’re in my EYE!”

"Oh, come now; we can surely fit one more.
Fish Man came all the way from New Zealand for this."

The bird cage is removed and we move onward to the finale: Cage is shoved in a wicker man and burned alive as he screams.

I eject the disc and I smile, knowing that no matter how bad life gets, that no matter how much bullshit will rear its head and get me down, I can take solace in the fact that Nicolas Cage will always be just an unsnapping DVD case away, on an island full of women, dressed as a bear, and punching like a Greek god.

Some films test the boundaries of human emotion. Some films haunt our inner psyche. Some films aren't about bees. The Wicker Man is none of these. The Wicker Man is something truly unique. The Wicker Man has to be seen to be believed.

Jun 26, 2014



A good documentary can competently present relevant information in a non-biased manner. A great documentary can do all that, but also challenge your preconceived notions on the topic being discussed. A fantastic documentary can present the info, challenge you, but also thrill you and affect you on an emotional level, presenting you with a story so unbelievable that you would bet your life that it was all completely made up on the spot.

The Imposter, which revisits the surreal 1994 case of a missing Austin child who suddenly shows back up three years later and is embraced by the family, but who is also a completely different person, is a fantastic documentary. To use a completely cliched expression, The Imposter is a roller-coaster ride of emotions. When first presented with the family of missing thirteen-year-old Nicholas Barclay, how do you not immediately sympathize for each member as they tearfully recall the events in which the boy went missing? And how, when you're first introduced to "the imposter" Frédéric Bourdin,  who talks about his background of physical abuse and his feelings of helplessness and his longing to reboot his life and start over and who longs for a real shot at happiness, are you not supposed to feel tempted to forgive him before you've heard about how he carried out his plan, or what effect it had on the Barclay family...or what kind of person he really is?

The Imposter is an immensely frustrating experience, and it has nothing to do with how it was executed, but rather everything to do with the complexity of the human brain, and how so easily it can be overridden by our rampant-running emotions. How can you be a mother or a sister or a brother to someone for thirteen years, mourn their loss and probable death when they go missing, celebrate at the news that "he" was found in fucking Spain of all places, be reunited with him, and believe that he is your missing loved one? How do you not know? How do you listen to claims that he was kidnapped by the military and experimented upon (a side-effect being the changing color of his eyes) and buy that? How do you not realize that the boy who claims to be sixteen years old is actually approaching his mid-twenties? It is so very easy for you and me to judge this family and assume they must have been completely empty-minded to have fallen for it...but then again, I have never been in their shoes. I've never had a loved one go missing, and even if I did, I can't even imagine how tempted I would be to believe they've returned to me all those years later, even if they do seem to be an entirely different person. Feelings of mourning and regret and guilt are normal following what is essentially death, but are they powerful enough to cloud everything in your mind?


And your imposter, Frédéric Bourdin, adds to the frustration. His first few interview segments are full-on confessional moments delivered right to the camera. And you silently judge him at the same time you delude yourself into thinking that he seems like such a haunted and genuine "character" that you stupidly believe you'll eventually be served a typical Hollywood happy ending, where the family realizes he is a fake but welcomes him, anyway. But this version of Bourdin soon fades and is replaced by the proud sociopathic habitual liar who cannot help himself. Watch him grin as he recounts what he feels are the more especially clever moments of his ruse. Watch him have the audacity to judge the family that took him in, asking the audience the question, "How could they not know?"

And try to stomach the claim he makes against the family, attempting to explain why they embraced him as easily as they did.

The Imposter ends with questions both answered and unanswered. It ends with revelations, but also ambiguity. It ends with emotions running untempered and a disgusting amount of pride. But one thing is for sure: it hasn't, nor will it ever end, for the Barclay family, and for Frédéric Bourdin. One will continue to mourn, and the other will continue to boast. The Imposter is beyond thrilling and beyond upsetting, and it's entirely, 100% true.

Jun 25, 2014


"His real name is Charles Lee Ray and he's been sent
down from Heaven by Daddy to play with me."

Jun 23, 2014


Rat kings are phenomena said to arise when a number of rats become intertwined at their tails, which become stuck together with blood, dirt, ice, excrement or simply knotted. The animals reputedly grow together while joined at the tails. The numbers of rats that are joined together can vary, but naturally rat kings formed from a larger number of rats are rarer. The phenomenon is particularly associated with Germany, where the majority of instances have been reported. Historically, there are various superstitions surrounding rat kings, and they were often seen as a bad omen, particularly associated with plagues.

Story and image source.

Jun 19, 2014


It was true that the ghastly sounds I had heard through the fog had greatly upset me but far worse was what emanated from and surrounded these things and arose to unsteady me, an atmosphere, a force - I do not exactly know what to call it - of evil and uncleanness, of terror and suffering, of malevolence and bitter anger.

Jun 15, 2014


A village in Indonesia has a bizarre ritual that involves giving decomposed corpses a new look.

Family members of the deceased exhume their ancestors’ bodies and change their clothes as a way of remembering them. They then walk the dead around the village, almost like zombies.

The ritual, called Ma’nene, happens every three years to honour the villagers’ love for the deceased. It is carried out in the Toraja district of Indonesia’s South Sulawesi Province.

Locals believe dead family members are still with them, even if they died hundreds of years ago, a family spokesman said.

The ritual is held once every few years when family members gather to clean the graves and change the clothes of their deceased relatives to honor their spirits.

Story and image source.

Jun 14, 2014


My first ever VHS was the Blockbuster exclusive release of John Carpenter's Halloween. I was in sixth grade, and I had ridden my bike the equivalent of 25 city blocks to my nearest Blockbuster to buy it. It was a defining moment. On that day, I became a collector. And that mindset continued for years.

One of my biggest regrets in life was giving into the changing tide and, box by box, relinquishing my VHS collection, which I had spent over ten years collecting. I had well over a thousand before the VHS era came to a sad, unceremonious end. I held out for as long as I could. I held out until they stopped putting new releases on VHS and switched to DVD (and if I remember correctly, I believe the very unmemorable Mike Figgis film Cold Creek Manor was the very last new release to utilize the VHS format). 

In a way, what could I do? I was a movie collector, and I had a choice: refuse to buy that new release I so desired because it was on a format against which I was silently rebelling, or give in. So I gave in, and since I was going to give in, I might as well begin to upgrade my current collection, tape by tape. 

No one would argue that VHS offers better picture or sound quality over DVD, nor would they argue they enjoy a complete lack of special features over the sometimes-up-to-three extra discs of content. But as far as nostalgia goes? Oh yeah, VHS wins. Hands down. When the last DVD is pressed, the format will never be mentioned again. No one will ever look fondly back on it, because when that happens, everyone will have fully moved onto either blu-ray or digital downloads, which, as far as quality goes, is closer to DVD than DVD was to VHS.

And that's what Adjust Your Tracking, a documentary that presents a collection of sit-down interviews with low-budget film directors and independent video label owners discussing their love of the format and their own VHS collections, is all about: Nostalgia. If you ever were, or are, a collector of the format, nothing they say will surprise you, and everything they say will strike home.

Written and directed by Dan M. Kinem and Levi Peretic, Adjust Your Tracking is essentially sitting around with like-minded collectors and listening to everyone share their memories of visiting mom-and-pop video stories to hunt down the newest titles for their collection. And you can't help but get caught up in the memories of visiting your own mom-and-pop stores and remembering which particular VHS covers captured your attention (definitely I Spit on Your Grave and Deadmate for me).

In Adjust Your Tracking, you won't learn about the inventor of the VCR and the VHS format. You won't learn about its mechanics, and how it was created, and other such typical information. But that's okay, because honestly, I don't care. That's not why I'm here. I'm here to live vicariously through our talking heads as they discuss their undying love for VHS and proudly show off their immense collections. And once the one particular fellow who talks of his 22,000 tape collection ends up in the doc, suddenly my own once-collection seems like small time by comparison. Though I no longer own not a single VHS tape, I can still recall the fondness I had for them. I can still recall how (to sound lame) magical it felt to uncover that one particular VHS at that flea market or thrift store, gaze at its cover art, and get that unmistakable feeling that the movie in your hands has become completely forgotten - a strange relic lost in time. For that reason, VHS felt more special than DVD ever did, and ever could. 

Adjust Your Tracking, lovingly shot on VHS (natch) but available on a 2-disc DVD stacked with special features, is a testament to that.

Jun 12, 2014


Situated halfway between the Philippines and Hawaii, Truk Lagoon was the site of a major battle between the U.S. and Japan in 1944. Around 60 ships and 275 planes sank beneath the waves during a U.S. attack known as Operation Hailstone, and thousands of men went along with them. Human remains litter many of the 69-year-old shipwrecks, but it’s the machines that appear to live on.

Japan’s Hoki Maru ship went down with a cargo full of trucks. Now, divers reportedly hear the sound of engines turning over and starting up, even when there are no boats on the surface. Strange reports also come from the Fuji Kawamaru where grinding noises eminate from the ship’s engine room.

The crew of Destination Truth explored the underwater ruins of Truk Lagoon, and was perplexed to hear an engine idling underwater. They also recorded something that sounded like a human voice, as well as human-like heat signature.
Story and image source.

Jun 10, 2014


Q: Okay, so...:
A: Well, since you asked, the yeti (aka the Abominable Snowman) is a Bigfootish-type monster-man that lives in the Himalayas. He is a popular legend, much like the Loch Ness Monster, the Jersey Devil, or singer/songwriter John (Legend, LOL). In the feature film Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century, a scientist working on behalf of some rich dude travels to a strange foreign land in hopes of finding the legendary creature, and traveling alongside him are the rich dude's grand kids. Obviously, things go very wrong, the creature gets loose, and the scientist must do his best to capture the creature while also protecting the rich dude's grand kids. (Yo, what the fuck, Michael Crichton - do some Yeti-watching whilst you were writing Jurassic Park?)

Q: What does the scientist do to capture the yeti?
A: Actually, nothing. Turns out the creature is already trapped in ice, so all he has to do is hire a bunch of guys to shoot the ice with flame throwers, thus freeing yeti from his icy bed. It's the easiest job a scientist ever had.

Q: What does the yeti look like?
A: Yeti is kinda like the Rorsach test of monsters. Sometimes he looks like Danny McBride, sometimes Benecio Del Toro. I think it all depends on what mood you're in, and what mood yeti is in. 

Q: Why does the rich dude want a yeti in the first place?
A: He has it in his mind that he can use the yeti to act as publicity to sell his various line of Honeycutt Industries products. 

Q: What could possibly go wrong?
A: It would be easier to ask, "What goes right?" That answer? Nothing.

Q: Is the yeti a Jaws-like monster that is a brutal force of nature, or do they pull a King Kong and try to make the yeti sympathetic and misunderstood?
A: Definitely that second one. Yeti, in fact, is pretty much King King from beginning to end: a monster is located in a foreign land, is taken to America and used in a sideshow-esque extravaganza, breaks free and tears shit up, falls in love with a human girl, and climbs a building. And if we're using the Peter Jackson Kong for this comparison, Yeti is about nine hours shorter and much better. ("Boo! He made Hobbit! Boo!") (Shut up.)

Q: This sounds all pretty straightforward, but, Yeti seems to be an Italian production. Because of that, would one feel uncomfortable while watching it?
A: Only temporarily, and this entirely has to do with the yeti's nipples, which inflate and deflate upon contact with an attractive girl's flailing hands. None of that is a lie, by the way. And if you think I'm being a sarcastic blogger guy, then it's clear you actually haven't seen Yeti and maybe you shouldn't act like a total know-it-all.

Q: What's with this musical score?
A: What, the five-notes-away-from-being-In-the-Hall-of-the-Mountain-King score? Who cares? Did you read the thing about the nipples?

Q: Since this movie contains debate about whether or not the yeti is a beast or a human being, does it contain the requisite non-yeti human being who IS evil so that Yeti can be "ironic" and "philosophical," etc.?
A: Oh yeah. That one dude in the yellow members-only jacket is a total a-hole.

Q: Does yeti hate windows?
A: You have no idea. 

Q: Is there a scene where yeti combs a girl's hair with a fish skeleton?
A: Come on, if you've already seen Yeti, stop wasting my time. 

Q: Are Americans losing their shit in exhilaration over the coming of the yeti?
A: YES. It's amazing how excited everyone is about a monstrous ape-man coming to their country. People flash-mob down the street and invade Honeycutt stores for the latest fashions, all of which have absolutely nothing to do with the yeti whatsoever.

Q: Listen, I'm getting tired of this. Is Yeti a good movie?
A: Heavens, no. But it is entertaining. Both Italy and India's film communities have a fascination with Western culture, especially when it extends to Hollywood, and they have offered up some truly bizarre rip-offs of famous American stories and characters for years. Italy, along with Yeti, has given us the ridiculous Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws, while India has done their own completely stupid version of Superman. Yeti even manages to rip off "Lassie," right down to a collie that barks at men, leading them to deduce, "I think he wants us to follow him!"

"He's not the first ape beast I've made erect, but, he is my favorite."

Q: I guess what I should have asked was, "Is it worth watching?"
A: A fondness for "Mystery Science Theater 3000" might be a good litmus test for you - not because of your ability/desire to surround yourself with like-minded friends and mercilessly tear movies new assholes, but because this is exactly a movie Joel/Mike and his team of robots would have watched on the Satellite of Love. And who knows, maybe they did. If only there some kind of Internet to answer that question for me.

Q: Do you have any final thoughts on Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century?

Jun 9, 2014


I must have been six or seven when I lived in Lebanon. The country was ravaged by war at the time, and murders were common and frequent. I remember during a particularly vicious era, when the bombings rarely stopped, I would stay at home sitting in front of my television watching a very, very strange show.

It was a kids’ show that lasted about 30 minutes and contained strange and sinister images. To this day I believe it was a thinly veiled attempt on the part of the media to use scare tactics to keep kids in place, because the moral of every episode revolved around very uptight ideologies: stuff like, “bad kids stay up late,” “bad kids have their hands under the covers when they sleep,” and “bad kids steal food from the fridge at night.”

It was very weird, and in Arabic to top it off. I didn’t understand much of it, but for the most part the images were very graphic and comprehensive. The thing that stuck with me the most, however, was the closing scene. It remained much the same in every episode. The camera would zoom in on an old, rusted, closed door. As it got closer to the door, strange and sometimes even agonizing screams would become more audible. It was extremely frightening, especially for children’s programming. Then a text would appear on the screen in Arabic reading: “That’s where bad kids go.” Eventually both the image and the sound would fade out, and that would be the end of the episode.

About 15 or 16 years later I became a journalistic photographer. That show had been in my mind all my life, popping up in my thoughts sporadically. Eventually I’d had enough, and decided to do some research. I finally managed to uncover the location of the studio where much of that channel’s programming had been recorded. Upon further research and eventually traveling on site, I found out it was now desolate and had been abandoned after the big war ended.

I entered the building with my camera. It was burnt out from the inside. Either a fire had broken out or someone had wanted to incinerate all of the wooden furniture. After few hours of cautiously making my way into the studio and snapping pictures, I found an isolated out-of-the-way room. After having to break through a few old locks and managing to break the heavy door open, I remained frozen in the doorway for several long minutes. Traces of blood, feces, and tiny bone fragments lay scattered across the floor. It was a small room, and an extremely morbid scene.

What truly frightened me, though, what made me turn away and never want to come back, was the bolted, caged microphone hanging from the roof in the middle of the room…

Story source.

Jun 8, 2014


It's been happening for the past couple of months. The tapping, I mean. Every night, just as I'm about to drift off to sleep, there's the tapping. At the front door of my house, there's a small glass window. You know, the kinds that don't serve any purpose because you can't actually see through them? It's one of those. Every night, there's three or four taps at that window.

The first night it happened, I played it off as nothing. The second night, I checked. Nothing was behind the window. The third night, I opened the door and no one was there...only two bare footprints which disappeared the next day. The fourth night, I called the police and they found nothing but the pair of footprints right outside my door.

The first week turned into the second and I started getting scared. I bought a gun. I bought locks. I bought a guard dog. I started on a fence in my front yard. The tapping continued, despite my security.

Eventually, I stopped responding. Nothing was there but a pair of footprints, right? All it does is tap right? Nothing more, right? I got used to it. It became a routine thing. Go to my room, lay on the bed, "tap tap tap," go to sleep. Things began to get worrying after that. I would wake up and the locks lining the side of the front door would all be opened. My pistol mysteriously disappeared without a trace. The dog ran away. The fence was just gone.

It was mocking me, telling me that I'm never safe, no matter what I do. I got tired of it. So many sleepless nights were experienced during this whole ordeal. I wanted to at least trick this thing into thinking I wasn't scared of it. When the tapping came one night, I simply got up, opened the door, and wiped away the footprints as a mocking gesture.

You could say I was challenging it. I felt good about it. I felt like I'd finally defeated the thing. I felt safe from it. It was over, right? Right? The next night came and the tapping came with it. I was seething with anger. I was more irritated by its persistence than I was afraid of the possible threat. Then my blood turned cold when I heard it.

The sound of the front door opening.   

Jun 7, 2014


Floating stage on Lake Constance in Bregenz, Austria. The Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Festival) has become renowned for its unconventional staging of shows. 

Verdi’s opera, “A Masked Ball” in 1999, featured a giant book being read by a skeleton.

Jun 6, 2014


Edgar Switchblade is back with his third storied adventure and his second in book form. With his ever-faithful equine companion, Old Red, by his side, it would seem Edgar has been tasked with taking on and eradicating a zombie threat in the town of Cathedral Hill. The bounty seems easily satisfied, and what's left of the obliterated zombie remains are eaten entirely by the ravenous Red, but as usual in the life of Edgar Switchblade, things have only really just begun.

By now, the character of Edgar Switchblade has been duly established. He is a mankind-hating vegetarian cannibal (figure that one out) blessed by God (or he just thinks he is) who travels the land smiting any number of supernatural threats. He is a mostly irredeemable character that no one in their right mind should root for, but yet, author L. Wyatt knows his audience well enough at this point to be confident that, yeah, of course we're going to root for him. Though Edgar stabs and decapitates innocent people simply for getting in his way, oddly it's exactly this kind of anti-heroically behavior, as well as his undying loyalty for Old Red, that has us rooting for him anyway. In a way, Edgar represents the readers' desires to break free of the everyday and act out the most animalistic and vile things that simmer beneath our brain. The part of us that's "human" should be repulsed by Edgar's wanton disregard for anything the least bit civilized, but yet we find ourselves living vicariously through this rather rogue and rootless life that sees him and Old Red traveling the countryside, drinking to excess some Old Crow, whoring when the desire should so arise, and having the occasional bout with the supernatural. Compare all that to quality control procedures and itemized billing and TPS reports, and yeah, suddenly Edgar Switchblade's unscrupulous and murderous life suddenly seems all the more alluring.

The Dreadful Death of Edgar Switchblade is an improvement over the previous and introductory book of the Edgar Switchblade series, which didn't need all that much improving. While The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switchblade was tasked with telling a cohesive and current story while also dipping back in time to provide some necessary back-story on our titular character, with Book # 2, all that's gone to crow. What we have now is a rather straightforward adventure (or as close as we can get in the world of Edgar Switchblade) that sees Edgar teaming up with Old Red and Reverend Jebediah Hitchcock to take on the demon wizard Solomon Gorath. Along the way our trio meets Mary, who are comprised of both a shapely, fire-headed woman as well as her Persian cat, and together they become perhaps the most randomly compiled group of avengers ever seen.

By now the tone of the series has been handily established and relishes in unrelenting violence, vile disgust, and morbid humor. But really, even though there are moments of obvious humor, if you're not laughing along with the violent and absolutely disgusting acts that pepper this story, you're not doing it right. (For example, a rather sharp object ends up inside an unfortunate person's "anus" more than once - take that, James Patterson - and it's done to make you squirm in your seat and laugh out of sheer disbelief and discomfort.)

The painstaking detail to the physical design of the book - the undersized dime-store pulp novel with pink-stained edges that could be found on the lowest shelf of every drug-store book display in the 1940s/50s - is so-far consistent with the Edgar Switchblade series. It's such a fucking wonderful design that you wonder why more authors aren't doing it. 

As I'm sure I mentioned before in other Switchblade-related reviews, but which bears repeating here, the Edgar Switchblade series is an acquired taste. Very acquired. You have to be a little sick and deranged to enjoy it. Its mere presence on your bookshelf would horrify your mother and have the nearest insane asylum reserving a room for you in the cellar.

You can buy it here, by the way.

Jun 5, 2014


Death: A Picture Album

Disturbing, Macabre and Moving

80 pages, linen hardcover, full color, bookmark ribbon
About This Book
Disturbing, macabre and moving: the images in this book examine our enduring desire to make peace with death. Chosen from the spectacular collection of a death-obsessed print dealer from Chicago, Richard Harris, they include art from an array of time periods, places and traditions. Works by Linda Connor, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Otto Dix and Francisco Goya are shown alongside Renaissance vanitas paintings, Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcuts, photographs of Mexico’s Day of the Dead and eerie snapshots from the 1900s of anonymous sitters posing with skulls and skeletons.

The book is divided into five sections (Contemplating Death, The Dance of Death, Violent Death, Eros & Thanatos, and Commemoration), each accompanied by a short introductory text. In these pages we are presented with some of the many faces of death: violent and cruel, benign and playful; death the friend and death the enemy. The epitome of terrible beauty, this book is a reminder of the end awaiting us all.

I will accept this gift from you.

Jun 4, 2014


There was once a couple who did nothing but bicker with each other. One night, after a particularly big fight, the father accidentally killed his wife. In order to hide the crime he buried her in the backyard and pretended that nothing happened.

The next day their 5-year-old son asked if they could go to a nearby park. The father obliged and played with the child. However, the son kept asking the father why the mother didn’t join them. The father just told him that she was tired.

As they were going home, the father asked his son if he had a great time. The child replied that he had fun, but it would have been better if his mother played with them too. The father repeated that she was too tired.
The son asked, “Oh, is that why you’ve been carrying her on your back all day?”

Story source.

Jun 2, 2014


Perhaps it all began with William Schoell's The Nightmare Never Ends: The Official History of Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street Films, the first modern book to tackle a series in its entirety (at least, at that time) film by film. A loving ode and heavily researched retrospective on a fantastical series, it would be one of many books to come down the pike that celebrated, analyzed, and perhaps even poked fun at the various entries that made up the film franchise being discussed. Following in Schoell's footsteps were Fangoria writer Bill Warren's The Evil Dead Companion, Stefan Jaworzyn's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Companion, Peter Bracke's amazing piece of printed art, Crystal Lake Memories: A Complete History of Friday the 13th, and 2006's quietly released The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy by Paul Kane. With Halloween: The Complete History coming (eventually) from author Justin Beahm, it would seem we've now got at least one series retrospective celebration on every one of our beloved horror movie villains*. That is, until Dustin McNeil came along, knowing that there was still one villainous madman out there who had yet to have his exploits examined with as much detail and devotion - one madman with perhaps the most devious and despicable plan for humanity of all those that came before and after him.

Said madman was also the tallest.

With the still-warm release of Phantasm Exhumed, author McNeil has done the Phantasm phamily and phans more than a service with his excruciatingly researched book. Finally, this series that never had the same marquee value as Jason or Freddy, and whose own successive entry had the power to turn off the casual viewer, instead entrapping those who became madly intrigued by the surreal and the absurd and fucking insane developments that the series would continuously offer over its 35 years in existence, Phantasm has its own slot on every horror aficionado's book shelf. And it honestly could not have been better.

Liz and the Creature: Mark Shostrom

Phantasm Exhumed covers every film in the Phantasm series, including the long-awaited and much-mooted Phantasm: RaVAger**, as well as the first two films in writer/director Don Coscarelli's career, Jim the World's Greatest and Kenny & Company. Prominent players from every film are on hand to share their recollections and experiences with the author, some with great fondness, some with bemusement, but all of them agreeing on one thing: that Don Coscarelli was a hell of a good guy, a kind-hearted professional, and destined to be making films. Chief among these participants are the hilarious A. Michael Baldwin (Mike), soft-spoken and humble Bill Thornbury (Jody), lovable Reggie Bannister (Reggie), and the absolutely eloquent Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man). Their voices join those of other familiar names, along with some not-so-familiar ones, to peel back their Phantasm curtain and let us phans in on the full story, much of it being shared for the first time. (On a personal note, I was also happy to see coverage of Jim the World's Greatest, as that remains a mythical part of Coscarelli's past. Once owned by Universal Studios, the film rights have since reverted back to the original production company, which no longer seems to exist. The film has never been released on any kind of home video format; the damned thing hasn't even leaked to Youtube or the torrent world [and believe me, I've been looking]. If this the closest I can ever get, I'd consider the matter at the very least satisfied.)

Considering myself a seasoned phan, I went into the book confident that I'd know a fair amount of the info to come - the three-hour cut of the first film; the cabin-fever setting where Don wrote the script; his original inspiration for making a horror film coming from a haunted-garage scene in Kenny & Company - but I was also confident I'd be learning stuff I hadn't previously known, being that I'm not that up my own ass. But I couldn't have prepared myself for how much I simply did not know about Phantasm and its phamily. Phantasm's original title was Morningside? Coscarelli originally tried to direct the eventual adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes before refashioning that concept into the Morningside script? Fucking Bill Thornbury met with George Lucas about possibly playing Luke Skywalker?

Holy shit!

And if you think I'm giving away all the non-common stuff, I haven't even scratched the surface of what Phantasm Exhumed has on display. Boasting interviews with every key player and crew member from the entire Phantasm series (though Coscarelli, as well as Phantasm II alumni James Le Gros and Paula Irvine, sadly declined involvement), and rare never-before-seen photos taken by the people who were there and experienced it first-hand, no kind of Phantasm retrospective will ever be as definitive. Prior to this, the Phantasmagoria documentary available only on the Anchor Bay UK Phantasm box set had been the ultimate phan experience.

Phantasm Exhumed now claims that honor. And all it took was a little digging.

The book is available now.

* It's time for someone to announce Chucky Unassembled: The Complete Child's Play History.
** Confession: I glossed over the section featuring Phantasm: RaVager, as I am trying to refrain from learning about the film as much as I can between now and its eventual release date.