Director Joe Geddes teams up with Pontypool writer and lead actor Stephen McHattie for visually stunning spooky adventure about a terminally ill grave digger who travels to hell to rescue the beautiful woman he falls in love with.
This highly-stylized CGI endeavor pays homage to 1950’s horror and sci-fi cinema, but lacks the campy fun of any such movies. Truth is this is more of an offbeat fantasy drama than horror and it takes itself quite seriously, which would have been fine if the story had made any sense. Despite the eye-popping visuals, the movie slogs along without actually going anywhere, which is a real shame for Stephen McHattie, who does a fine job playing Charlie Baker, a graveyard caretaker suffering from episodic pran disease (brain clunk). In addition to his head pounding pain, Charlie endures daily harassment from local children and starts to notice some bizarre vandalism happening in the cemetery. Problem is Charlie can’t be sure if this isn’t all an illusion. Charlie is tired of looking after the dead and wants to move to Florida, but after a visit from his employer, Charlie learns he’ll have to delay retirement for reasons not entirely clear and inherits a box with a mysterious map, which he can’t stand more than 10 feet away from. While on an afternoon drive, he meets an alluring woman named Fay, who is running away from an unseen force. The two quickly fall in love and Hell doesn’t seem to like it very much. Fay disappears just as quickly as she showed up.
The movie then introduces a subplot involving a squirrelly policeman on the hunt for two dangerous escaped criminals from the local insane asylum. The copper tells Charlie several small and strange tales of the cemetery’s more notorious residents. These small stories are perhaps the most interesting part of the whole movie. Unfortunately, the escaped criminals storyline goes nowhere fast, and soon after, Charlier Baker uses the mystery map to find his way into Hell, where he battle the forces of evil to win back his beloved Fay.
Unfortunately, the Sin City-style visuals and amazing set design are not enough to carry this one. I didn’t really have any problem with any of the other actors, particularly Julian Richings, who I felt was criminally underused here, but the characters needed more fleshing out and more clarity to their relevance to the main story. The end is one big beautiful muddled mess.
Horror fans won’t find any scares here, but for those who want weirdness and to witness some really cool visuals, this one’s for you.
Unlike most Halloween fans, I do not get immediately sad after Halloween because there’s still so much spookiness going on to carry us through Thanksgiving, through the holidays, all the way into next year. What a fabulous time to be a horror fan because there are some incredible apparel, collectibles, products, and amazing box sets of the greatest films in history out there, and, for the next 5 weekends, I’m going to post my gift-giving guides for your favorite Halloween and Horror fans.
The Bela Lugosi Collection at CreepyCo. ($10-70) https://www.creepycompany.com/collections/bela-lugosi Lugosi Enterprises is dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of the man forever associated as Count Dracula. They’ve been quite savvy, selective, and tenacious about their licensing agreements in recent years and that’s more apparent than ever with their deal at Creepy Co. This holiday, you can find some awesome apparel, including button-up shirts, t-shirts, PJs, socks, enamel pins, and much more.
Custom designed Bedding and Bathwares – There will be Cute at Society 6 ($17-$120) https://society6.com/therewillbecute Artist and illustrator Caley Hicks brings her world-class spooky cute to Society 6 with these Halloween baths and bedding sets. Normally, I’d include Caley’s works in an upcoming Artist gift-giving guide, but I’m in love with the idea of having a Headless Horseman decorated bathroom.
Dead Sled Coffee ($18-$20) https://deadsledcoffee.com/ Why we don’t have coffee bars filled with coffee, horror, and heavy metal music on every corner is beyond me. For the people who don’t care where their coffee comes from, or, at the very least, trust that their favorite musicians and horror icons have lawyers and management that have already scoured Dead Sled’s ethics and ability to produce good-tasting environmentally friendly coffee.
Godzilla Jenga/Godzilla Monopoly ($22-40) https://toywiz.com/godzilla/diecast-microman-miscellaneous-toys-figures/ I don’t talk about Godzilla enough. He is the King of the Monsters after all, which is why I got so excited when I found a Godzilla version of Jenga and Monopoly from USAopoly. Why play Jenga when you can play Godzilla Jenga! Finally, a reason to be excited for family board game night. Just don’t let Grandma play as King Ghidorah.
Elvira Meets Vincent Price Comics (($1.99 and up) https://www.comixology.com/Elvira-Meets-Vincent-Price-1/digital-comic/943748 Dynamite Entertainment brings the Mistress of the Dark together with the Merchant of Menace to save the world from Apocalyptic doom! In a madcap mix of comedy and horror, the Hollywood star spector and horror hostess with the mostess pair go together like peanut butter and jelly. Digital subscriptions start at $1.99, regular comics are $5, but special limited edition variant covers are for collectors only.
Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection ($26-47) https://www.uphe.com/movies/frankenstein-complete-legacy-collection If for some reason the giant 30 film collection of the Universal Monsters Legacy Collection isn’t your jam, then consider getting The Frankenstein Complete Legacy Collection, which, in my opinion, contains all the best films of the Universal Monsters collection. including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
Horror Movie Figure Collectibles from NECA ($39-70) https://necaonline.com/2020/12/12-days-of-downloads-2020-day-9-ultimates-visual-guide/ Start a yearly tradition of giving the gift of a horror movie 7″ scale action figure with accessories, officially licensed, made with high-quality materials, packaged in beautiful boxes. These are not toys, these are collectibles and horror fans should own them all. Well, at least one, your favorite one.
Halloween/Goth Shoes ($45-$120) https://strangecvlt.com/ I’ve heard it said if you’re gonna join a cult, then, join a shoe cult, and there’s no better place to start than Strange Cvlt shoes. From sandals to flats, Mary Janes to platform boots, this is the only socially acceptable fetish a girl can have without getting burned at the stake.
Friday the 13th Blu-ray Collection – Deluxe Edition ($129-159) https://www.amazon.com/Friday-Collection-Blu-ray-Betsy-Palmer/dp/B07GNV288V Bring Jason Vorhees home this holiday! Finally a worthy Blu-ray collection of the most successful, long-running slasher series in film history. All 13 movies, some digitally remastered in 4K and featuring a booklet, behind-the-scenes, commentaries, interviews, and special features in the most incredible packaging I’ve ever seen from Scream Factory.
Season’s Screamings Tickets – December 17-19, Pasadena Convention Center ($30-60-95) https://midsummerscream.org/seasons-screamings/ This one-of-a-kind holiday horror convention promises just as many chills and thrills as its parent-con Midsummer Scream, which was canceled earlier this summer. This is the place to find dark holiday gifts and spooky stocking stuffers. The event includes special ghoulish guests, over 200 exhibitors and vendors, and the Hall of Yuletide Spirits, a “dark showfloor of holiday themed haunts and yard displays, created by Southern Californias most talented haunted house creators.” Did I mention Pasadena is simply lovely this time of year?
Amazing Pre-order Gifts: Every penny is worth the wait!
☆Dying Light II Stay Human – Feb 4, 2022 ($60-80) https://dl2.dyinglightgame.com/ Techland’s sequel to the worldwide phenomenon Dying Light could be the dream of every gamer and zombie fan alike. Trailers and early play-throughs show a creative, technical, and visual feast. The first Dying Light game featured hours of gameplay, multiple DLCs, great customer and technical support, and developed a strong community of fervent players (like me) anxiously awaiting this new gaming adventure.
☆Bela Lugosi as Dracula by Infinite Statue & Sideshow – June 2022 ($300-355) https://www.sideshow.com/collectibles/dracula-bela-lugosi-infinite-statue-909742?var=909743 Sideshow and Infinite Statue teamed up with Kaustic Plastik to give us the Dark Prince himself, Bela Lugosi! This handpainted, incredibly detailed sixth-scale figure features two different sculpted heads, ten poseable hands, fully costumed, accessories, and captures the beauty and essence of the most recognizable horror icon ever created. The Deluxe version features a spooktacular coffin for $355. This is the ultimate tribute to both the character of Count Dracula and the beloved actor who embodied him. A must-have collectible for vampire fans.
On Sundays, we celebrate the Master of Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe
Fun Fact: Readers of the day were so horrified by the story’s violence, they complained to the editor of the Messenger, the first magazine to publish Berenice. Poe himself later removed 4 paragraphs of text, thus, many early publishings are missing the detailed heinous act of Poe’s story.
Poe was angry at being forced to self-censor his own work, believing a story should be judged solely by how many copies it sold.
On Poe Sundays, we celebrate the Master of the Macabre, the grandfather of gothic fiction, writer-poet extraordinaire Edgar Allan Poe.
Fun Fact: Despite that readers the worldover consider the narrator to be male, there is no gender specified in The Tell-Tale Heart, thus, some critics have taken up the point that the narrator may in fact be a woman.
I’ve compiled a list of great holiday horror and Halloween books that your favorite Halloween and horror fan will love this Creepmas. I live in Los Angeles area so some of my suggestions reflect my current location, but free feel to check local bookstores in your area. Happy Holidays!
I know 2020 put a damper on our Halloween celebrations this year, which only means we should come back hard in 2021. This book is full of ideas and DIY designs to help get us ready for the perfect party next year!
This LA Times Bestseller, which topped all the 2019 ‘Best Of’ lists, uncovers the mysterious life of former Disney animator, Milicent Patrick, the only woman in history to create a Hollywood classic movie monster.
I absolutely fell in love with this beautiful, bright, fully-color collection of vintage Hollywood movie posters. It’s a great read for film lovers and filled with the history behind some of Hollywood’s best classic horror and sci-fi movies.
I predict once this pandemic is over, travel will come roaring back to life and 2021 will be the perfect time for a paranormal adventure. This awesome read breaks down what to expect when you visit some of America’s most haunted bars, breweries, wineries and more!
Anyone who follows film, knows the history of 3D is a bit murky. Some people just don’t take to it. During the 80s, 3D made a short-lived comeback with big name franchises such as Friday the 13th Part III, Amityville 3D, and the biggest money-maker of the three, Jaws 3D. All of the films were critically panned and stand out from their predecessors as the campiest of all. I don’t know if you could call them B-movies. Beside the weirdo 3D effects, they were hella expensive and mad glossy, but everything about those stories were heinous. Barf!
This isn’t a best of horror list though, this is a best of 80s horror, and we gotta embrace the fact that for like two hours, 3D was totally gnarly!
Friday the 13th, Part III (1982)
Believe it or not, Friday the 13th was supposed to be a trilogy and this was the movie to end it all. It marked the first time Jason Vorhees appears in his signature hockey goalie mask and for sure that had something to do with the film’s growing popularity, enough to convince studio suits to keep making movies.
As far as 80s connections go, I’ll be honest, the campground setting makes it harder to distinguish the time era, but take one look at those feathered locks and cashmere sweaters, now, you know you’re time traveling.
Amityville 3D (1983)
This movie was sort of an anomaly of the franchise. At the time of filming, a legal dispute between the famed Lutz family and studio producers broke out and the result was the film featured brand new fictional characters and the story didn’t follow either of its predecessors. Also, supposedly, the home owner at the time was totally being a spaz and the studio had to make physical changes to the infamous haunted house.
Sadly, the film was not well-received by fans or critics. The 3D was reportedly bad compared to technology used by other 3D films of the time, and so, it was all just a major bummer. We did get the future America’s sweetheart and Aunt Becky playing with Ouija Boards in jean jackets and feathered hair, conjuring slimy demon creatures from Hell, like, it doesn’t get more 80s than that.
Jaws 3D (1983)
I think Jaws 3D had the toughest sell considering how beloved the first film was to audiences. They did get to keep the fancy disposable cardboard 3D glasses and I pity anyone who didn’t keep those amazing souveniors, cuz they totally still work. Of course, because televisions weren’t equipped with 3D capabilities at the time, thus, the name of Jaws 3D changed to Jaws III once it hit home video and there were no 3D versions until the early 2000s.
Unfortunately, not even the magnificence of Louis Gossett, Jr. and the curiously coked-out Dennis Quaid performance could save Jaws 3D from being anything more than fish food. If you want real scares, stick with the original, Jaws, a magnum opus of horror filmmaking. For frivolous fun, under the sea in 3D shots, a fantastic historical look at Sea World parks before Blackfish backlash killed their business, and great 80s vibes, including water-skiing stunts, this is the movie for you!
I think to truly appreciate the small strides 3D has made over the years, one should watch the even older scary movies, like House of Wax, starring Vincent Price. That was the first feature length 3D film with stereophonic sound. Arguably the most famous 3D movie ever was Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and its 3D spawn, Revenge of the Creature (1955), was the only 3D sequel of a 3D movie of the time. That was major back then. Other notable 3D horror films are It Came from Outer Space (1953), The Mad Magician (1954), The Tingler (1959), House on Haunted Hill (1959), and 13 Ghosts (1960).
What you do think about 3D movies? Hit me up in comments section or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @HalloweenHaiku9 and let me know your thoughts.
Ever wonder how the most popular zombie film of all time, Night of the Living Dead ended up in U.S. public domain? Well, it happened after the original theatrical distributor, Walter Reade Organization, failed to replace a necessary copyight notice on the title card of the print of the film, after changing the movie’s title from Night of the Flesh Eaters to Night of the Living Dead.(1)
As a result of the distribution company’s error, George A. Romero immediately lost the rights to his film, and subsequently, millions of dollars in lost revenue, advertising and merchandising. In fact, up until Night of the Living Dead, zombie movies were about mind-controlled humans through manipulation, sorcery or voodoo. Romero was actually the first to create an undead flesh-eating creature that preys on the living. So, we can pretty much speculate that if Romero had retained the rights to Night of the Living Dead, every zombie book, film, TV and video game would have been controlled by George A. Romero.
Romero often expressed that losing the rights to his first feature film was one of his biggest regrets. The famed horror director passed away in 2017, after watching his creation grow into a monsterous sub-genre of horror. Strangely enough, Night of the Living Dead falling into public domain helped make zombies more popular, inspired creativity across the globe, helped spawn several horror franchises, and even launched the careers of some of today’s best horror directors. The entire zombie industry owes a debt of gratitude for its existence to this man. Maybe the universe knew the power to control zombies was too big a task for one human being.
It all worked out for George A. Romero too. As zombie popularity grew, Romero earned more opportunities to make movies, created projects, wrote books and comics, and even capitalized on his own notoriety as the “king of the zombie films.” In 1999, Night of the Living Dead was added to the U.S. National Film Registry for its historical and cultural significance.
These movies are so painstakingly 80s, they serve as a tubular tribute to both spandex and bloodsplatter.
The Toxic Avenger (1984)
Today is National Cheese Curd Day (10/15) and cheese curd is basically immature cheese that hasn’t gone through any proper process. That’s kinda how I view Troma movies, films shot, cut raw, and served to the masses as unrefined horror. It’s definitely an acquired taste. The Toxic Avenger is a story of a bullied young man who gains superhuman strength after falling into a vat of toxic waste. The new mop-carrying hero promptly sets out to get revenge on those who tried to kill him, but also manages to clean up his small town of Tromaville, by getting rid of the bad guys and corruption along the way.
Directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, who also helped write and produce the film, The Toxic Avenger was panned upon its initial release but gained a strong cult following after being the featured midnight show at a popular movie house in Greenwich Village in 1985. The rest is history. Troma Entertainment went from making campy sex romps to campy horror, building a franchise of Toxic Avenger movies, which spawned five films and even a short-lived cartoon television series.
Armed with a specialized in a brand of satire, Troma effectively exaggerated the issues of the 80s drug-fueled excess, gym craze obsession, raging crime, political corruption, and clear class divisions, while serving up a satisfying revenge fantasy. The Toxic Avenger is campy, it’s gory, it’s silly, and may have played on stereotypes of the time, but once you swim through the bloodsplatter and Aquanet cloud, the Toxic Avenger is just as heartwarming as any of those John Hughes teen comedies of the 80s, and it had a lot to say about teen bullying. The Toxic Avenger isn’t the best-looking superhero on the planet but he sure is the hero the world needs.
These movies are so painstakingly 80s, they serve as a tubular tribute to both spandex and bloodsplatter.
The Chopping Mall (1986)
The fear of machines taking over and destroying mankind was all the rage in 80s, and Chopping Mall delivered feathered hair and killer lasers in spades. One-time protégé of B-movie king Roger Corman, Director Jim Wynorski kicked off a long career of B-horror movies and exploitation films, with this story about of group of mall employees partying after hours, only to find themselves the target of the mall’s new nighttime security system. I’m sure the movie had some meaningful message about not having sex in furniture stores and trusting machines to do a man’s job, but who cares, we came to see robots vs. humans!
These formidable Dalek-looking knock-offs rack up a kill count that could make the Terminator proud. They start by impaling a couple of techs and electrocuting a night-time janitor, played by character actor and Corman alum, Dick Miller, before moving on to our horny co-eds, played by a cast of hot 80s hopefuls, including Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, and the legendary Barbara Crampton, in one of her earliest roles. Our spunky protags fight back with Molotov cocktails, flares and propane tanks, but ya know, bad bots and their neon lasers gotta steal the show.
Honestly, most of the special effects are as cheesy as the gratuitous boob shots, but one death does stands out as unbelievably gory, even by today’s blood-thirsty audience standards. It wasn’t as well done as say, Scanners, but it probably was the highlight of Suzee Slater’s career. All and all, Chopping Mall isn’t the best killer robot movie in the world, but I think true horror fans will appreciate it, besides, once Hollywood figured out how to make heads explode, even bad 80s B-flicks got a little more interesting.
These movies are so painstakingly 80s, they serve as a tubular tribute to both spandex and bloodsplatter.
The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985)
In celebration of the Harvest full moon, we’re kicking off Throwback Thursdays with this 80s classic, chosen over Joe Dante’s brilliant first filmThe Howling because it stars Christopher Lee as aging werewolf hunter, who recruits a young American couple to accompany him to Transylvania, on a hunt for the immortal witchy-werewolf queen Stirba, played by B-movie queen Sybil Danning and all her royal glory! You get the Prince of Darkness himself, cheesy special effects, awful werewolf costumes that were actually ape costumes, bloody carnage, bitchcraft, werewolf menage a trois, werewolf orgy, a catchy theme song on repeat throughout the entire movie, a Czech club full of punk rockers, 80s perma hair, sunglasses at night, the tightest black leather outfit ever stitched together for film, and Sybil Danning’s gigantic scene-stealing breasts. My friends, this is a masterclass in 80s B-movies!