Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #9

Grabbers (2012) is an old fashioned ‘monster from outer space’ movie from Ireland with a heavy emphasis on comedy and romance… and drinking. The capable cast of TV veterans injects the script with tons of personality and heart and I really enjoyed the movie’s genteel, almost naive tone. Neat looking creatures too.

A perfect choice for when you want a monster flick that’s more concerned with fun than it is visceral horror.

Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #8

The British countryside gore horror of Inbred (2011) draws on some classic influences including the original Wicker Man and especially Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The filmmakers dream up a few inventive new ways to hurt people and Seamus O’Neill delivers a great performance as the main baddie. There is a heavy strain of black humor running throughout the proceedings and I was impressed with the movie’s commitment to stick with the merrily depraved tone throughout. There are some neat costumes and locations too.

All that said, I didn’t have much fun watching this one. Even with the humor, it just felt like torture porn at certain points and that’s not really what I want out of genre entertainment these days. It’s a decently made film for its type, but just not my thing.

Stills from The Red Queen Kills Seven Times. More images and a review here.

Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #7

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (La dama rossa uccide sette volte, 1972) is a frustrating giallo, in that it has a lot going for it, but still doesn’t entirely work for me.

The film is well shot, boasts an attractive cast and features an absolutely terrific score from Bruno Nicolai. It also has a unique, creepy looking killer, beautiful locations,a groovy but very short dream sequence, and a wonderfully gothic dungeon set.

What I don’t like about the movie is that the spooky strengths are downplayed in favor of a very talky investigative element, as well as lots of ‘office politics’ stuff at the clothing company where all the characters work. The stalk and slash scenes are suitably frenzied but very brief and lacking in tension and the mystery element is actually pretty easy to figure out. Despite all that emphasis on character interaction, the script isn’t very good at establishing red herrings.

I was also bothered by a gratuitous (strongly suggested, but off-camera) rape scene that is immediately forgotten and has no further impact on the plot or the characters involved. They could have removed this two minute sequence from the film and no one would have ever noticed.

I used the word frustrating for this one because I really, really like the aesthetics of it but wish the script more fully embraced the psychedelic and gothic elements. It’s a solid film that could have been an amazing one.

Director Emilio Miraglia also did The Night That Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, which I recall being more satisfied with overall. I will have to revisit that one soon too.

More stills here.

The cover and several pages from Ghost Manor #57 (1981) by Pete Morisi, Steve Ditko, and Wally Wood.

This actually appears to be a reprint of Ghost Manor #7, which was published nearly ten years prior. The stories are pretty light and breezy, but the art from these heavy hitters is sure nice to look at. I’m not familiar with Pete Morisi at all, but he has an interesting, sort of European-influenced style that seems like a rare sight in these Bronze Age anthology books, at least in my limited experience with them.

Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #6

The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (1974) is a seemingly rather obscure, supernaturally tinged giallo about a group of bickering rich jerks who are locked inside an old theater overnight and start getting killed off one by one. They spend an awful lot of time arguing about who might be responsible for the deaths but make very little effort to do anything about their predicament, which is kind of silly, but you can’t really get mad at a giallo for having an illogical script.

I did get mad at the pacing, however. It takes this movie about 45 minutes to get interesting. The first half is just unrepentantly boring chit chat that gives us back story on the relationships between all these characters and how they all hate each other. I guess this is to bolster the ‘whodunit’ element, but it really could have been done in a more economic and elegant fashion.

Once things finally get moving, the film turns into a surprisingly lurid and nasty affair. There is lots of nudity, a couple of mean spirited and sexually disturbing murders, some very questionably timed naked dancing and even a bit of incest as icing on the rotten cake.

The movie also has a decently shadowy atmosphere, though I don’t think they use the location to its full potential. I also liked the killer’s bizarre mask.

Seasoned giallo fans will probably get a kick out of the audacious perversity in this one, but man does it ever take a long time to get to there.

Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #5

When I saw that Stage Fright (2014) was actually a full blown musical, I was compelled to turn it off. I don’t have anything against the genre per se, but it’s typically not my thing. I’m glad I stuck with the film though, as it proved to be a fun mix of song and dance and stalk and slash. The lyrics are always amusing, and the show within a show within a movie dynamic is cleverly constructed.

Most of the action is reserved for the crazy final act, but I was never bored thanks to the funny script and the engaging lead performance of Allie MacDonald. There are a handful of inventive murder sequences including a light bulb electrocution, a deadly scalding, and more, but the violence is played with an irreverent wink and doesn’t strive to be too visceral or punishing.

I don’t think I’d rank Stage Fright with the very best horror comedies, but it should make for a fun rental or instant watch for those in the mood for something bloody yet deliberately camp and relatively light.

Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #4

You’re Next (2011) is just ok, really. I like that it takes the home invasion routine into new territory, the baddies’ masks are cool, and there are some blackly comic moments, but it’s not really funny or incisive enough to work as satire or tense enough to excel as a thriller. I thought there was an opportunity to really dig into the upper middle class jerks that populate the film, but the script keeps things superficial. It’s a mildly engaging bit of mayhem, but nothing I’d be compelled to revisit.

Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #3

City of the Living Dead (aka Gates of Hell, 1980) is one of my favorite Lucio Fulci films. It’s got a subtly apocalyptic atmosphere, a hypnotic Fabio Frizzi score, and a cavalcade of bizarre and bloody images and sequences. These include a storm of maggots, teleporting worm-faced zombies, a girl vomiting up her own guts, people crying tears of blood, and a very convincing drill through the head gag. Perhaps my favorite visual is a shot of blood dripping into a glass of milk - a life giving fluid perverted by death.

The movie does drag a little in spots and doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense but it’s a proper nightmare on film so sense be damned! One of Fulci’s weirdest, creepiest offerings. I’d rank it right alongside The Beyond and Zombi as one of his very best films.


Album Cover Art by Francesco Francavilla

Revealed to the public this past weekend at MondoCon (which, btw, was one of the COOLEST shows I’ve been ever!), I can finally announce - and show off - my very first album/vinyl cover: TRICK ‘R TREAT soundtrack, to be released by Waxwork this October!

Can’t say enough how much fun it was to work on this: Mike Dougherty's movie is a modern classic of horror so I was honored to be asked to design and draw the cover for this soundtrack. Sam, the main character in the movie, had to take the main stage, helped by the creepy. spooky kids from the school bus accident. Add some pumpkins (movie is set during Halloween after all) and you get the above cover and inner gatefolds :)

As mentioned, I designed the whole thing, including typing in all the text and hand-drawing main titles and other cover dress elements. The whole nine yards, in a few words. There is still more to be revealed about this release, but for now here’s a sneak peek at the cover art and the inner spread, which includes liners from director and composer Douglas Pipes.


Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #2

With a script by the guys who wrote Alien and some gnarly special effects by Stan Winston, it’s a bit surprising that Dead & Buried (1981) isn’t talked about more than it is. It’s a genre-bending combo of  slasher, zombie, and small town conspiracy tropes with some unique kills, creepy imagery, an eerie atmosphere, and a twisty story. I’m not sure the plot actually makes any sense at all, but that only adds to the nightmarish feel. An oddball little gem that deserves more fans.

Countdown to Halloween 2014 - Movie #1

Open Grave (2013) centers on a group of people who wake up in an isolated forest compound with very little idea of who they are and how they got there, or why there are dead bodies strung up in the trees outside. As their memories slowly return and the true horror of the situation reveals itself, they try to figure out who can be trusted and who’s out to get them.

I don’t want to say too much in the way of specifics with this and run the risk of spoiling its few meager charms. The movie has a neat premise and does a good job teasing out the central mystery, a least for a little while. But in the final act, a lot of truths are just kinda artlessly dumped out at us and the big revelations hit with less impact than they should.

Speaking of impact, the filmmakers turn away from nearly every opportunity for true tension or visceral horror and we’re left with a cliched, paranoid gabfest that skimps on action.

I’ll give Open Grave points for trying something new with a very tired genre, but I was ultimately disappointed with the clumsy writing and lack of thrills.


June Havoc gets a little spooked! c.1941 


(via goregirlsdungeon)