Saturday, June 30, 2012

Found this while messing around...

What might have been...

Cinemax After Dark - What's Your Pleasure?

I have another current blog post carrying the Cinemax After Dark moniker that had become one of my most popular to date, much to my surprise. Sure it offers titillation, skin, images of simulated sex and such, but it isn't like you can't just up and find the movies somewhere. Anyway, I have started up this one as a result of its success. For those of you who enjoy this kind of material, I hope I provide some interest to you here. Some reviews and such for your perusal.

If you are going to do it, do it right.

I have now finally started watching my dvd of V: The Original Miniseries. No, not that new show on ABC, the show I grew up with in the 80s. In the early 2000s (2001, maybe 2002) I remember Encore airing the miniseries (along with The Final Battle) in parts and revisiting V, I become enthralled right back over again. Well, let me tell you, it is happening again. I see what it going on here: a great visionary mind takes the television format and weaves a phenomenon that deserves credit where credit's due. I will speak proudly for this series even as I'm sure many will watch it again and scoff, throwing around the words, "Cheesy" & "Campy".

There's a relevance here: beware of visitors who wear the guise of friendship, it isn't altogether wrong to question and not fully trust. We have seen movies about how the Nazis invaded Europe, coldbloodedly sending innumerable amounts of Jews to their unspeakable deaths, seemingly polite and not necessarily hostile, but their evil eradication of human lives is still record. So this miniseries, with an old Jewish character who immediately fears the worst because of what he himself witnessed first-hand and is correct, uses the alien invaders (calling themselves visitors, slowly, methodically, and cleverly infiltrating every country, using a "conversion" process to masquerade as human members of political and social power) as a new oppressor, currying favor with certain gullible humans, planting false evidence on some scientists while killing others who threaten to expose their physiological secret, and, most importantly, labeling anyone related to science or the medical field that might prove that behind the mask of humanoid flesh is something quite reptilian, perhaps part of a faux conspiracy.


I will gather my thoughts and add another blog post later, talking about the cast.

Oh, man, I just caught...

...the tail end of American Ninja 5.


  I'm pretty sure there was a lot of awesome badness on display, especially since the ninjas in the movie were more than likely Venezuelan walk-ons in ninja outfits.






I'm pretty sure 1993 was a difficult time for Pat Morita in regards to finding work since the Karate Kid franchise went out with a loud thud. He seems to be moving slowly in the one scene I was able to catch him in at the end. I had went to get the kids some pizza and forgot about this being on Encore Action. Yes, I had actually planned on watching this.

It is kind of a double edge sword, Morita gains rightful fame for his Mr. Miyagi, yet the typecasting would place him in a difficult position. David Bradley was in American Ninja III causing Marjoe Gortner to piss his pants (check out the very end, the ass of his pants is wet; sorry, irresistible stupid joke) and opposite Dudikoff in American Ninja IV, shining examples of bad extras in ninja costumes totally designed to jump into a scene only seconds later kicked or flipped into oblivion.

Chernobyl Diaries

Currently on the horror board, there is a thread about this movie and I have included in this blog posting a few photos and my imdb review.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1991245/reviews-80

I would recommend seeing it if just for the setting. Damn scary place.


When I am writing an imdb review, it is often hard for me to really articulate a film's mood, why the specific location casts an eerie spell. With this blog, I can accentuate what it is to experience a creepy place unvisited by a large number of the population through photograph.


I definitely plan to pick up the dvd when the movie comes out. While the menace resembles a different type of CHUD to me, I look forward to the initial scenes at the place and how the characters react to their surroundings.

Got Power Hammer?

Finishing it, I didn't think it was extraordinary and it follows the formula monster movie closely, but I really enjoyed it for the most part because when it comes to creature features I'm pretty easy to please. The film starts kind of slow, with the intent to provide us with clearly defined monster fodder, but none of the cast save Cha's heroic lover really is all that fascinating. Does well-defined characters bring you to a monster-on-the-rampage flick? I guess in a general sense monster mayhem requires characters that have some sort of appeal to them, either as heroes or unsavory sorts, because giant, slimy predators with enormous mouths that open to reveal a long tongue that attaches to the legs of prey, whisking them into its clutches, out-of-sorts teeth curving in different ways but definitely sharp and long enough to do some damage, can only take you so far. It has a roar--damn ugly bastard--and just won't fucking die. It seems so indestructible I couldn't help but laugh. No amount of firepower seems capable of stopping it as much as simply annoying the beast. Setting it on fire does very little to slow it down; fire basically is like a scratch to this thing. Cha hits it over the head multiple times with a huge wrench, long poles are used to stab it in areas of the torso and inside its mouth, and even explosives barely wind it. It just keeps comin'. Gotta love these movies.
There is a formula to many of these monster movies in regards to human nature. We often see the worst of human nature when it comes to survival and fear causing certain characters to commit acts in cowardice (the amateur captain closes a door, bolting it shut, cutting off access of an escape route for two crew members fleeing the beast) or how greed and desire for monetary gain and power can lead to malevolent behavior (the creature is seen as a possible oil source and a few lives aren't as important as what it could benefit the country the oil rig represents) on the part of a Dr. Frankenstein. There is often a twist regarding a cherished or trusted character with a secret to hide who betrays those who respect and admire him. I was reminded of Burke from Aliens in regards to one character's hidden iniquity revealed, his true colors unveiled, becoming a heel when his ulterior motives are conveyed.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quite a gradual set up thus far

Director Ji-hun Kim methodically develops the characters. The plot, to be honest, is relatively simple. As-of-yet recorded marine lifeforms (that glow), undocumented by science, are truly dangerous, not as cute as they seem, discovered by workers on an oil rig in the middle of JeJu sea. The main star is an edgy, outspoken (maybe a bit too rude and big for her britches), take-charge kind of gal named Cha (Ji-won Ha). Her father is the man at the beginning who vanished in 1985 when he happens upon the marine creatures while deep in the ocean at the floor. It is now 2011 and Cha and her co-workers have dealt with faulty, aged equipment in need of major repairs and an ocean floor that is difficult in regards to the production of oil. Cha is vocal that their "amateur captain" is not dedicated enough, a quitter who has given up too soon. Her Uncle, who once worked on the rig for 10 years, returns, his experience and determination producing immediate results. Getting the power hammer to function again, oil rises forth, bringing along with it the menace of the picture. Cha has a boyfriend who has been emasculated by her fierceness over their tenure on the rig and a fellow woman, an aquatic researcher, is pestered by a dim-witted nuisance who has no reason being there but had hitched a ride, tagging along with his buddies (who even tire of his presence). There's the scene where the entire crew compare the scars of battle on a rig. There's a cable wire that snaps after the feeder is bumped by "something" sending a crew member to his death underwater while helping Cha weld the leaky oil pipeline and a major fall that may not be a suicide leap as first appears.

Sector 7 (2011)

I will be watching this movie about an oil rig in the ocean which could produce some menacing monsters the crew will have to contend with. I plan to post some thoughts on it tonight. I hope this one just gives me some much needed entertainment on a Friday night.

Cage

There's a really funny scene where Cage is riding his fiery bike and he's fighting the demon for supremacy, his face contorting back and forth between his human face and the ghost rider skull, pouring on the "Nicsanity face". You'll know what I mean when you see it. I like this Cage, when he's all in (like Snake Eyes) and free to not tone it down. Relaxed and free Cage, to me, is fun Cage. My favorite performance from Cage of recent memory is in Herzog's Bad Lieutenant New Orleans movie; there is no restraint and he's clearly taking the chance to go any place he sees fit to carry the character. That is sort of the place here. I think he knows exactly what kind of character he has here, someone who made a mistake, owns up to it, wishes to be let go of the burdens that came in this moment of weakness, and be able to live a normal life, not fighting the demon that hungers for souls.

Stunts and Fire

While I admit this movie was fun on a braindead level to me, CGI flames have never quite satisfied me, and I miss those grand days (brought back by Tarantino's Death Proof, as a for instance) where real stunt men (like Road Warrior) got behind cars and flipped those jokers without an assist from computers and visual effects maestros. Plus, I must confess that I prefer Drive Angry if just to actually see Cage kicking people's ass rather than a CGI cartoon character from a comic book with a flaming skull head and charred leather outfit. There is one badass scene where Ghost Rider operates construction equipment and it turns into what looks like a monster harley, eviscerating a construction site and black market weapons dealers and gunmen. I think why I had a blast watching Neil Marshall's Doomsday was that extended chase reminded me of the awesome days of yore when cars flipped and flew in mid air, crashlanding in heaps and explosions, not made on computer screens by software but through the courage and stupidity of stuntmen willing to put all on the line (not to mention, those willing to don special costumes set on fire) to make an action scene rock hard.

Cast

Johnny Whitworth was rocking the Kirk Russell do in this one for a while, portraying a nasty piece of work out to nab "son of Satan" born as half-devil/half-human, a kid named Danny, desired by multiple people, monks with writing on their faces (led by Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert), a French monk who rides a hog, gulps wine, and has glassy eyes (Idris Elba; this dude is just cool), and Satan (CiarĂ¡n Hinds).  Satan enlists Whitworth's Carrigan and his henchmen to find Danny, running with his mom, played by Violante Placido (man, I like these Italian chicks that look like they are Russian). Placido's Nadya was about to die when she allowed Satan to have her womb in exchange for her life, but now those maternal instincts, that protective gene, cause her to try and keep Danny from being a human shell for Satan to thrive. Then Cage is offered by Elba to be released from the demon that lurks within if he helps find Danny (at this point kidnapped by Whitworth), taking the boy to the monks who later reveal their motives to sacrifice the child for the good of mankind. Whitworth is a victim of his own folly--attempting to use black market weapons of war to fight a demon from hell (once an angel of justice). Yet Satan grants him the "power of decay", so whenever Carrigan touches someone they deteriorate into sculptures that look destroyed by centuries of acid rain (a neat, but morbid image, for sure). Anyway, Cage's Johnny Blaze bonds with Danny and, even though his desire to be released from the demon is granted, his need to protect the boy will place him in a difficult predicament: will he be willing to become ghost rider again to save Danny from being Satan's host? I'm always amazed at how Satan has to depend on others to do his dirty work and gets his ass handed to him by a demon he should whoop easily. That said, I liked the idea of one side of Satan's face "crippled" because of the power it took to give Carrigan the "power of decay". This is one of the reasons he wants to join with Danny, so instances like that won't happen. Whitworth has that swagger and don't-give-a-shit attitude, even demanding more greenbacks in exchange for the payload.

Neveldine and Taylor

Yeah, that frenetic style, that "coke frenzy" camera style, electric paddles applied to the forward motion of the plot, it doesn't surprise me that this team behind the Crank movies directed Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. A lot of camera shooting from the ground up towards the characters is implemented here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

“It doesn’t matter how far you run, there are some demons you just cannot escape.”

So far, this has been rather surprisingly entertaining. I just didn't like the first movie at all. It didn't capture my attention in any way and just lacked soul.

I'm at that scene, the Nic Cage wig-out, where his Johnny Blaze is trying to hold "the rider" at bay, the demon inside that is hungry for souls, while attempting to retrieve information from some lowlife in a European club and it's full-bore, let-it-all-hang-out. Some might consider this akin to "the bees, the bees!!!", but I think it actually fits the scene. The visual effects of the empty eye sockets and face "slipping away" kind of contributes well so that Cage's freakout isn't too damning to the film. You know, though, the film kind of has that Drive Angry feel to it where those who made Spirit of Vengeance wanted to make a fun picture that would entertain the target audience. This is what I was hoping for. The directors (I haven't researched this film much as my blog writings come "hot off the press" from my brain to the screen) shoot fast and the camera doesn't catch a breath. I will talk more about the plot (what little there really is to get in the way of the action and visual effects) a little later.
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This "sequel" almost feels like it is completely its own film, not tied to the previously entertainingly bankrupt Ghost Rider very much at all. I couldn't be happier. I'm all for this. The Punisher movies were this way and I have been vocal about my love for the "second try" to get it right. Actually, there were three Punisher movies...sorry, Dolph, didn't mean to leave you out your awesomeness.

I liked this enough: **1/2 out of *****










Embrace the Darkness (1999)


Vampires and sex seem to be affectionate bedfellows. Around 1999, Cinemax erotica was at an all time high, and softcore was thriving. There was a lot of beautiful women coming and leaving the genre within a few movies. “One hit wonders” came and went, either marrying producers or finding themselves wanting to re-attain their souls (I guess). Some tried soap operas or television that didn’t involved getting buck naked and fake fucking partners on screen. I think Embrace the Darkness (1999) is a good example of this. Madison Clark, who really gets into her sex scenes, is such a case of the actress who skipped out on the occupation not long after Embrace. She looks amazing in the buff, and is perfectly cast as the innocent fawn about to be enveloped by wolves in her midst, with the elegant urban backdrop and vampire affluent decadence luring her in.

The film is 2.8 on the imdb I’m guessing because it is chock full of sex scenes and a choice few vampire-centric horror. There’s neck biting, eyes losing color, the ability to “go invisible” and travel from one place to another just by willing it to be so, and preying upon anyone for sex and blood. Soon Clark will drawn and quartered into this world, herself possibly inducted into it to join the fold. This was Clark’s final film (only appearing in four), as her character Jennifer’s innocence is corrupted, with this lust breeding an enthusiasm that embarks her on quite a journey.

Although Clark certainly leaves quite an impression (truly seared in my fantasies), I think Angelia High steals the film as the vampiress, Miranda. This was also Angelia’s last film, and, like Clark, she certainly leaves the profession branding her body and seductive prowess forever into my subconscious. I believe she was the object of a woman’s growing lesbian desire in an episode of Love Street, one of the small number of sex shows on the competitive premium channel, Showtime. Miranda eyes Jennifer, seemingly falling for her while her lover, Galen (Kevin Spirtas), winds up becoming a rival somewhat unexpectedly. Spiritas will be familiar to Friday the 13th fans as the male survivor (and love interest to Lar Park Lincoln) in The New Blood (1988), to Full Moon fans for his Subspecies appearances, and to soap opera fans for Days of Our Lives. He goes all in for this film, fully committed as the ladies who agreeably offer their bodies to him…for sex and eventually their blood. Spiritas was also in Craven’s notorious The Hills Have Eyes Part II, considered by many (not me) to be his worst film. The remaining main lead among the principles is softcore regular, Brad Bartram, the recipient of Miranda’s jovial lovemaking…Miranda moves that petite body quite energetically when faux riding him. Bartram is the human lover of Miranda who gets in the way. He is the potential key to saving her from damnation and could very well pay the price for getting in the middle of warring vampires wanting to claim his woman as their own.














I'll tell you, this is the kind of movie that certainly puts its ladies out there to strut their stuff and remain quite actively uninhibited in their roles. Angelia and Madison both share scenes together, with the main men in the film, and are quite attune with their own presence on screen even when not in bed with a partner. Madison is this performance artist who prances around in the nude when alone in her apartment, a rose in hand, and gets so worked up she starts masturbating herself. Angelia and Spiritas spy on her, and rightfully so: she is captivating. It's cliche but Madison does have that innocent face with a definite naughty side she loses herself to...the actress herself really lets go and gets lost in the character's gradual descent into vampirism, at one point manipulated by Angelia into feeding from a friend!

Don't Go Into the Woods....

...if you know what's best for you. I meant to post a review for this movie on the imdb, but I had trouble just finishing the movie much less writing anything about it. Vincent D'Onfrio portrayed one of my all-time favorite characters on television with Law & Order: Criminal Intent and has certainly performed a wide range of eccentric characters. That said, his "backwoods slasher musical" really left me frustrated. Arty and perhaps meant for a certain type of audience, I was intrigued since his name was attached to the film as director. Sure, there's some violence, but are you willing to withstand all the fucking singing led by lead singer who is motivated with, "let's go to the woods and write some songs, in a pure way without sex, girls, drugs, alcohol, girls, cell phones, and girls"? Is it worth it? I had been planning to try and get through the entire movie since I recorded it when the movie came on The Movie Channel's Splatterday Saturday, but my heart (or stomach) just isn't in for another torture show.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What movie next to watch...hmmm...

I may watch the Ghost Rider sequel, Spirit of Vengeance.





  I read a DreadCentral review that actually claimed it was fun. I had a grand ole time with Drive Angry. Thought about picking up a dvd copy of that one. As far as GR:SoV goes, I have zero expectations. I swear Cage must not have any downtime. I have seen five or so releases on dvd just recently. He is a machine, I tell you, a machine.

Prometheus

For like the last three weeks I have intended on seeing this in 3D at the theater. I hope to see it after work tomorrow. Although,  a few reviews and a lack of real heat after the first weekend have killed that major buzz I had built up. Now, I will be entering the theater (probably by myself) after everything has cooled to a whimper, but that's okay because I still look forward to seeing the movie at the city where I work's Malco Cinema. I have had plenty of opportunities to see movies this year, but, for some reason, I just can't get that energized surge to go to the cinema as I did a few years ago. I have seen a few this year (Lockdown; The Hunger Games; The Avengers; The Chernobyl Diaries), but there were movies I had planned to see that never came to fruition, mainly because word of mouth wasn't that spectacular (Dark Shadows, for instance).

Piranha 3DD (2009)

I might write some more on this later as I collect my thoughts. The review below was just thoughts immediately after the viewing. I will probably have more to say about the movie. Christopher Lloyd returned. Danielle Panabaker gets to be the female heroine of the film. She has two guys desiring her.






There's a homage to the iconic Wes Craven directed Nightmare on Elm Street bathtub scene as Panabaker lies, eyes closed, like Nancy did, her legs wide open (thoughts of my piranha taking a charge did cross my mind for a spell) as little baby piranha drop out of her faucet, is here as well.

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I swore this movie was supposed to be released at theaters. I guess the Weinsteins watched the final product and felt it was not bankable (or it sucked, however you want to label the final product). Anyway, I just finished watching it. It is unfortunate as when I first heard word that there was a follow-up to the 3D remake of Dante's Piranha, I was psyched as I enjoyed Aja's gory take on the 70s drive-in classick. Like Dante's film, Aja's has tongue-firmly-in-cheek which is why it went over so well with me. The CGI--that was a different story.



Not exactly subtle, is it? Ha

This one has the Hoff, so I can't totally say I wholly disliked it. Director John Gulager (the Feast trilogy) directs a much smaller-scale follow-up, but the effects are decent enough, I guess. You get some of the piranha uglies on land, with people unwisely putting their hands near them or getting in a little too close. There are the obvious Jaws moments with the camera underwater. He has CGI versions of the piranha swimming around under water.





The Gulager brand of raunchy humor is here so Feast fans will probably welcome his Piranha film with open arms. Piranha biting down on penis. Piranha up a guy's asshole. Piranha blown away by titanium steel legs (yes, the awesomeness that is Ving Rhames shows up, a "legless stump" now afraid to go near the water (and rightfully so). Piranha biting a kid's head off. A flag line decapitating the heel owner of the water park (yes, Jaws fans he is warned to shut the park down and doesn't do so because of how profits would suffer), his head bouncing into the hands of a bikini stripper with fake, big boobs (his face is held in her hands, between her tits as she jiggles while screaming in terror), then dropped into a blood-drenched pool to be eaten by piranha. Piranha eating Gary Busey and Clu Gulagher in a swamp. A dead cow farting piranha eggs. You get the picture. You even have a baby piranha traveling into a virgin chick's vagina, spending some time in her before exiting out how it came in, attaching to dick, before dude castrates himself. Again, this is what lies in wait for you and will be enough to have many claiming it rocks hard.



I loved the crescendo of bloody gore effects in the Aja film courtesy of Nicotero and company. They delivered the goods in that one. This movie has body parts in abundance and surprisingly keeps the CGI attacks at a minimum (the CGI is mostly confined to the fish, actually), although the severed head gag is a bit too much. The penis gag was quite a scene, though. It will probably make some cringe.
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4/3/2016

Yeah, I guess you could say, this is the kind of marketing campaign that made the feminist movement cringe, and those who still made something like this feel as if the objectification of women was still alive and well. I guess there was some small victory to be considered if realized that this film wasn't a success and managed a minor DVD and VOD run before syfy channel sanitized it for cable and satellite viewers.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oh, one more thing...

I noticed that at the end, West worked a little of Kubrick's The Shining in there with that "Oh shit, time to run like hell and get out of Dodge" score and camera-work, Paxton caught in the fucking basement (smart to go back there when Healy tells you to stay seated in the inn lobby), trying to get to safety with phantoms on her tail, running into a chain-bolted double-doors. I think this will become a standard directorial touch West will be known for because House of the Devil had that same sort of feeling; the heroine is now totally convinced that evil lives, the place she currently inhabits is bad for your health, and an escape route is necessary. Of course, according to however you conceived the ghosts...urrm, spirits, Paxton, even if successful in getting out of the basement, might not have truly fled the haunts.

Epilogue

I have read some bitch about the ending of this movie, although I'm not sure why. I thought it left the resolution to the imagination. I personally believe it was like what Healy said earlier as a warning: don't let what is unreal become real, it just messes with your mind. The manifestation of ghouls that do not exist made real because of one's belief in them. Perhaps you really do believe Madeline and another character who slit his wrists in a bathtub are real, or maybe you feel these images are only figments of a little woman who has given them free reign in her terrified psyche. I think the beauty of it all is you get to choose. I love the idea that this was a real inn, all the decor, it wasn't just dressed sets, but a real place, gives it a resonance with me.

The Inkeepers five

Don't Go in the Basement.











They never learn.

The Innkeepers Four

I'm just here for one last bit of nostalgia.

 This "last guest" has appeared to spend the night as the Inn is about to close. It's funny. He seems like a nice enough fellow, just an older man who has fond memories of a place with a history. Yet, there's a scene where Paxton (I have seen this so many times in other horror movies, but it always seems to work anyway; if a technique is tried and true, why not use it?) is getting sheets and linen for a specific room he's adamant about spending the night in (his honeymoon room), Room 353, and she bends down to pick them up from within the closet (he's there, his body is momentarily blocked by Sarah's face because he's at a distance), he "vanishes" from the place where he was standing--doing this, and the way West shoots him, he has a sinister presence about him that may not even be accurate. He could just be some ordinary old fellar wanting to reminisce and dwell on a time when life was *just right*. But back to the scene where he "disappears":  What I find amusing about this scene is that the man merely moved down a hall a little, it isn't like he's a ghost or anything...right?

The Innkeepers three

Is it sad that instead of thinking of Top Gun, Kelly McGillis (who portrays a former actress who now works as a "healer", carrying a pendulum as a means to contact the spirit world), who is in this movie, I think of her as dino lunch in Dinocroc?

Innkeepers two

I have to admit that I wasn't one of those who fell head over heels for House of the Devil so it wasn't like I had high expectations. I didn't expect Ti West to make another *masterpiece*. Like his other films (I watched The Roost when it showed on The Movie Channel's Splatterday Saturday, so I understood his directorial style of building to a crescendo where the characters are just doing their thing when sinister events catch them off-guard), the pace is methodical, the cinematography capturing as much a possible in any given scene when West isn't interested in the reactions of his stars/cast. I guess, you need to like his characters, or at the very least find some familiarity with them..to know them is to care about their plight. I like little Paxton. I plan to drop a picture of her after the movie is over...one that depicts her eyes up close because that is what I find such beauty in. She's a little woman; I'm attracted to little, itty, bitty women so she is my cup of tea.

Innkeepers one

I just thought I would drop random thoughts as I watch the movie. I was thinking that Ti West's movie is kind of like when you watch Ghosthunters at the very beginning when they are interviewing employees or operators of whatever establishment or house is being paranormally investigated, Sara Paxton and Pat Healey have experiences working at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a place reputed to be haunted by Madeline O'Malley, who committed suicide after being jilted by her fiance. I am at that stage right now where Paxton is hearing strange noises, this happening while performing menial tasks like waiting at the front desk or patrolling Healey's lap top internet. I just made it past her taking out some leaky garbage. I plan to talk a little later here about how I am approaching West's movies.

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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...