November 30, 2012

The Cult Of Clovis - A Movies At Dog Farm Tribute To The Greatest Horror Cat Of All Time

sparks the cat as clovis from sleepwalkers
Sparks the Cat, American Badass
‎     You can keep General the Cat from Cat's Eye.  Church the Cat from Pet Semetary is a pretender to the throne.  The greatest horror cat of all time is, was, and always will be Sparks the Cat as Clovis from Sleepwalkers.                    
     From his humble beginnings in the pound to the superstardom that accompanied his award worthy performance in Sleepwalkers, Sparks was the epitome of the rags to riches Hollywood success story. Working only for spoonfuls of baby food and a pure love of the craft, Sparks first came to prominence as Lucky on t.v.'s Alf. Although he was only one of five cats that played the role during the four year run of the show, Sparks' professionalism and laid back demeanor guaranteed that he was always the lead Lucky. 

     He parlayed this success to noteworthy turns in both Purina and Fresh Step commercials before his triumph on the big screen as Clovis, surely the pinnacle of his awe-inspiring career. 

     Thanks to for the Clovis hero shot accompanying this post.

November 29, 2012

Movies At Dog Farm Retrospective: Friday The 13th Part II (1981) - Best Of The Friday Franchise?

     The original Friday The 13th (1980) scared the hell out of me when I saw it as an impressionable ten year old at the now long defunct Harrisonburg Drive-In.  It's funny, now, to imagine that I was ever frightened by a Friday, but I had no idea at the time that a movie could be so . . . graphic.  This was the first hard horror movie I'd ever seen, and make-up ace Tom Savini showed me things in great, gory detail that my innocent young mind had never imagined.  The arrow through Kevin Bacon's neck from beneath the bunk haunted me (dammit, I knew something was under my bed), and Jason emerging from the lake at the end (". . . then he's still there. . ." - echo and fade) worked on my brain like the finest campfire tale.

    The next year was a formative one for me.  Despite how terrified I'd been by the murders at Crystal Lake, I began to cajole my mostly obliging parents to take me to every new slasher movie that opened.  That was a lot of movies - this was the height of the early 80's slasher boom, after all.  I'll always be grateful for having discovered contemporary horror at such a pivotal moment in genre history.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the TV ads began running for Friday The 13th Part II (1981).  Oh, happy day!  I never dared dream that the body count would continue.  I'd toughened up in the interceding year, and I was ready to revisit the horror that started it all.  I conned my mother into taking me to the theater on opening weekend.  Lights go down, opening titles blow up, Henry Manfredini's iconic score kicks in, and we're off!

     Friday The 13th Part II always seemed to me to be the scariest of the franchise.  Undoubtedly, the peculiar mix of excitement and dread I carried into the theater with me gave it some added juice, but still . . .  To this day, I expect to find a severed head every time I open the fridge.  It always spooked me that Jason ventured out of the woods to track down and kill the only survivor of Part I, as well.  Think what we now know of Jason.  Premeditation has never really been his strong suit.  Then he takes the boiling tea pot off the burner after killing Alice?  These are the actions of a more deliberate and thoughtful slasher than we came to know later.  Jason had a very specific axe to grind in Part II, and his calculating nature made him a more formidable and frightening threat.  Hell, he'd even run after his victims if the circumstance dictated it. 
     I know I'm in the minority on this point, but I always preferred Jason's The Town That Dreaded Sundown look to the now iconic hockey mask, as well.  This looked like the pick-axe toting hillbilly I wouldn't want to meet in the woods at night.  You just know something awful is going on under that potato sack - who wears a sack over his head otherwise? 

      Best of all, though, Jason begins to give us a clear indication of  his own moral imperatives.  He wouldn't kill a guy in a wheelchair, right?  Mark's machete-in-the-face backward wheelchair ride down a lot of stairs, never tipping over until the chilling freeze frame and fade to white, proves otherwise.     
       Jason's first two-for-one kill of copulating teens - trimmed to avoid an X rating, and very reminiscent of a murder set piece in Mario Bava's Twitch Of The Death Nerve (1971) - also betrays a very puritanical upbringing.  Seriously, imagine what kind of mother Mrs. Vorhees would have been.  The indication of some kind of inner life for Jason that drives his murderous impulses is way scarier than the hockey masked comic book character that came later.  As slapdash as much of Part II is, it gets a lot right.  Jenny's contemplation in the local bar of Jason's psychological state as dictated by the traumas he's endured humanizes him just enough to make him that much scarier.  Now we know he has an agenda.  
      . . . and speaking of things Part II gets right:  Jenny is easily the very best of the Friday Final Girls.  She's likable, smart, engaging, and entirely capable of handling her own pitchfork.  I remember being very disappointed that Jenny didn't at least make a pre-credit appearance in Part 3.  Then I remember watching the rest of Part 3 and realizing that was only the tip of the disappointment iceberg.  So was Friday The 13th Part II the best of the Friday franchise?  Well, The Final Chapter competes, but I believe Part II takes the prize.  Please discuss.

November 26, 2012

Ho-Ho-Horrible Christmas Viewing

Rare Exports - what I'll be watching Christmas day.

     I'm a grinch.  A lack of religious conviction and a lifetime of working in retail just renders the holidays a trial.  If you dig the holidays, great.  Don't let me ruin it for you.  If you're like me, though, and you'd rather just rip December from your calendar, click here for The Most Horrible Christmas Story Ever Told.  It brings an otherwise briskly paced narrative to a screeching halt, and it feels like it was imported in its entirety from an altogether different movie.  I respect the commitment to the gag.  Now that we're all in the holiday spirit, allow me to recommend a few alternative viewing options for the holiday impaired. . .


                        Black Christmas (1974)

     John Carpenter's Halloween gets most of the credit for creating the slasher movie template, but  Black Christmas is the real progenitor of the holiday themed body count movie.  A cast of vaguely familiar faces (John Saxon, Margot Kidder) adds interest for the first-time viewer, and the murderer's sometimes eclectic means of dispatch (death by unicorn!?!) keeps things interesting.  Director Bob Clark was later responsible for A Christmas Story, one of the only "straight" Christmas movies I can stand to watch.  The two movies back-to-back make for a truly schizo double feature.


          Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

     Pulled from theatrical distribution in less than two weeks thanks to a very vocal contingent of concerned mothers, Silent Night, Deadly Night is so unashamedly skeezy that one wonders how the protesters took it seriously enough to get agitated.  A homicidal head case in a Santa suit returns to the orphanage he was raised in with his axe a swingin' to wreak vengeance on the hard-assed nuns who raised him.  Eighties horror movie stalwart Linnea Quigley finds herself on the receiving end of a death by antlers in one notably novel burst of violence.  I'm proud to say I caught this one on the big screen during its brief theatrical run.  You'll want to take a shower after viewing, but that shame won't wash off.
     A very promising loose remake entitled simply Silent Night makes its way to DVD/BD on December 4.  I couldn't embed the trailer, so check the link here.


Jack Frost (1996)

     Speaking of showers . . . a mutant killer snowman rapes Shannon Elizabeth with a carrot - seriously, don't you feel like you need to see that?  Unremittingly dumb and filled with groan inducing one-liners, it's so cheesy that it's impossible to not have fun with it.  The evil Frosty ultimately gets his comeuppance in the guise of a truck bed full of antifreeze.  I can't make this stuff up. 


                              Inside (2007)

     A recently widowed expectant mother finds herself the target of a particularly brutal home invasion on Christmas Eve.  The perpetrator (a stunningly villainous Beatrice Dalle) is determined to take her unborn child from her the hard way.  It's every bit as cheery as it sounds, but if you have the stomach for it, Inside is an undeniably effective French shocker that ranks as one of my favorite genre movies of the last decade.  Be warned, though, this is rough going.  Expectant mothers, in particular, should probably steer clear of this one.  It makes me squirm, and I'm neither sensitive nor pregnant.


     As for me, I'll be watching Rare Exports (2010) this Christmas for the first time.  I hear good things.  If the picture at the top of the post piqued your interest, it's available on both disc and video-on-demand.  If you have any alternative viewing favorites of your own, please share in the Comments section below.  God bless us, every one - even those of us who can't stand the holidays!

November 22, 2012

Pimpin' The Friends Of The Farm

 Virginia Creepers
     Documentary filmmaker Sean Kotz, friend of the Farm and director of both Virginia Creepers: The Horror Host Tradition Of The Old Dominion and "Hi There Horror Movie Fans!": The Bowman Body Documentary succeeded in rebooting the Official Site of The Bowman Body as of November 17.  You can check it out here.  

     Both documentaries are available at the site's store, as well as t-shirts and other fine merchandise.  Maybe we could convince Mr. Kotz to make an appearance at our next Movies At Dog Farm event. . .  It's not the Byrd Theater in Richmond, but old codgers like Phil Neff and myself would have a blast.  I could even try to persuade fellow employee Tom Blalock (who played the Mummy alongside the Bowman Body) to join us, too.  

The Pit is slated to release in January, 2013.
     Actress/model Mel Carver has also been busy.  You can check out her new Facebook page here, her official website here, and pre-order her latest movie The Pit here.  If you pre-order the movie you get a free poster, so be sure to specify that you want one of the two posters featuring Mel. The one she has displayed on her Facebook page is awesome! 
     You can also help the producers of Mel's upcoming project Predatory Moon raise funds and spread awareness.  Click here to find out more.    

An Old Dog Learns A New Trick

Butch and Mandy Greet Visitors
     Welcome to the new Movies At Dog Farm blog!  It's been a steep learning curve for me this last week or so, but I'm pretty proud of the results.  Please take a tour of the new blog, and let me know what you think, either here or at the original Movies At Dog Farm group page on Facebook.  I genuinely want everyone's feedback, both good and bad.  

     Speaking of the original page - don't worry, it's not going anywhere.  This blog is intended to be "in addition too", not "instead of".  I'll be sending a link to each new blog post to the original group page on Facebook, and those who are already members there can continue to use the superior social interactivity of Facebook to discuss content from both here and elsewhere.  I'll also be linking posts to my Twitter account, and you can follow the Dog Farm there by going to Chasing After Birds in the sidebar.  Just below that is Biting The Mailman (to follow by email), and the Dog Farm Pack (to become a member of the blog page itself).  You can even subscribe to a feed at Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) at the bottom of the page.

     It seems Facebook and Google are having some kind of feud, so I was unable to import my contact list from Facebook.  Signing up at the Dog Farm Pack will be especially helpful to me, and appreciated.  You can use pre-existing accounts at Google, Twitter, and Yahoo! (or AIM, Netlog, and OpenID) to join this site with a single click.  I've tried to make everything here as intuitive as possible, so let me know if you experience any difficulties.   By the way, I already know that the Search doesn't work properly.  It will only search the links in Other Dogs' Butts I've SniffedYou'll just have to explore Movies At Dog Farm yourself. . .  


November 21, 2012

Barking At The Vacuum Cleaner

      How 'bout them Walking Dead this season?  An already exceptional show has really begun to hit its stride.  Let's hope it doesn't start going all to hell like True Blood has.  For you gamers out there, the Special Buy at right is a Wal-Mart exclusive on Black Friday, so. . . ask someone else to pick one up for you while they're there.  You don't really want to face the lumbering hordes of zombified Walmart shoppers armed with just a green and orange plastic shotgun, do you?


    Now that you're armed, though, you'll want to make sure you're mowing down the undead properly licensed.  This zombie hunting permit is produced by Big Cat Sticker Shack, and there's one available for whatever state you're hunting in. There are U.S. and international licenses, as well, for the traveling bands of survivors trying to stay one step ahead of the zombie apocalypse.  They're only $3.99 each plus shipping.  Get yours at


     I may well live to rue the day that I said this in a public forum, but I'm cautiously optimistic that the forthcoming Texas Chainsaw 3D isn't going to blow massive monkey nuts. The pre-release stills and one sheets look promising, and I think it took some nerve to put Leatherface on this retro looking poster at right not brandishing his trademark chainsaw.  Elegantly understated, no?

     Also encouraging: this film will ignore all of the sequels, prequels, and remakes since Tobe Hooper's 1974 original and serve as a direct continuation of that original story.  Even better:  "Chainsaw" franchise veterans Bill Moseley, Marilyn Burns, and Gunnar "I'm the real Leatherface, dammit" Hansen will all make appearances.  Only Hansen will be returning to the same role, but who doesn't get chills imagining the original Leatherface on the big screen again, and in 3D?  In what I think was an inspired bit of casting, Bill Moseley (Choptop in TCM 2) will be assuming the role of Drayton "The Cook" Sawyer.  I'm actually going to leave the Cave for this one, so I really hope I'm not disappointed.

     The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the first midnight movie I ever saw, and meeting Gunnar Hansen at DragonCon was one of the happiest moments of my life.  The trailer is a little iffy (check it out here), but I'm staying optimistic.  Texas Chainsaw 3D opens January 4, 2013.

Claycat's The Thing (In 3D!?!)

     I was looking for some movie trailers on YouTube and found this instead.  This was created by a fellow named Lee Hardcastle, and there are plenty more where this came from.  There's an "unlisted" version of this in 3D here: here.  It's old school anaglyph 3D, so check it out if you have red/blue glasses laying around.  I've added Mr. Hardcastle's blog to Other Dogs Barking In The Barn in the sidebar.  It's incredible how labor intensive this form of animation is.  Hats off!

November 20, 2012

The Movies At Dog Farm Manifesto

     Movies At Dog Farm started life as a closed group page on Facebook.  Phil Neff  invited me to program some movies for a photography "meet and greet" he was hosting at his home (a dog boarding facility), and I took it upon myself to start the group page to introduce myself to the confirmed attendees of Phil's event.  It was that simple -- the acorn from which grew a mighty oak, or at least a sturdy seedling with potential.

     Although Facebook will continue to be part of the picture, I've begun to realize that much of what I was trying to do on that group page was beyond what the architects of Facebook had intended.  I've grown more and more frustrated with my ability to compose, store, and disseminate content there.  Not surprisingly, Phil was the first to point this out to me.  He said what I was actually trying to do would be better suited to a blog.  He was right, of course, so what you see before you is my first stab at blogging.

     The Movies At Dog Farm group page on Facebook will remain open and will no longer be a closed group.  The MADF group page (get used to the abbreviation, I'm already tired of typing it) will become a feed for links to new content on the MADF blog.  My friends at Facebook will continue to be able to join in seamlessly, and they can continue to post comments and discussions about the linked content there.  The social aspect is, in fact, the primary reason I put off doing this for so long.  Admittedly, Facebook handles that aspect of the experience well.  In time, I hope to incorporate a more fully featured chat experience here.  The Shoutbox currently at the bottom of this page is a poor substitute for the social interactivity Facebook provides, but it's only temporary.  You can, of course, post comments on content here, as well, and I encourage you to do so.

     I also strongly encourage all who visit here to be as actively involved as possible.  As my friend Herb Miller put it, this is intended to be an "interesting evolution for . . . well . . . whatever this is".  The more my stalwart Movies At Dog Farm friends support this, the more fun it will be for everyone.  Please take a moment to sign up as a follower of this blog using the Dog Farm Pack (Followers) gadget at the bottom of the sideboard.  If you'd prefer to be kept posted via email, use the Biting The Mailman (Follow By Email) gadget above it.  You can also use the Subscribe to: (Posts) Atom gadget if you make use of feeds on your computer's browser.  There are Share gadgets at the bottom of each post, too.

     As for members of the MADF Secret Beta Testing Group (you know who you are), please sign up for all of the above.  You'll be helping me to learn how to share using all of these gadgets, and I'm depending upon your participation and feedback, in particular, to find out specifically how all of these methods of dissemination work.  You're all a crucial part of helping me make this a great experience for everyone.  I won't be rolling out the links feed to the original Movies At Dog Farm group page on Facebook until I've had some time to tinker with things a bit, but please make use of the other methods of connecting.  Post your thoughts and observations on the MADF Secret Beta Testing Group page I've created for solely that purpose and separate from the original group page.  Thanks in advance for taking the time to help.

     Welcome, everyone, to Movies At Dog Farm!  Don't piss on that seedling!

November 19, 2012

Rue Morgue Magazine Stuffs Your Stocking With Horror This X-mas

     I've been a good boy for at least some of the year, so how about someone slaps a bow on one of these and sends it to me via reindeer . . .

  For those not yet familiar with it, Rue Morgue Magazine is probably the finest publication about horror in culture and entertainment currently available. You'll notice Rue Morgue's website link listed in the sidebar. The current issue (#128) has a cover story commemorating the 25th anniversary of John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness (1987) - good stuff. Digital versions of each new issue (as well as one-offs like the one above) are available on their website or at the Apple App Store if you don't want anyone to see you lurking in a Barnes & Noble. I'll be sure to report back here with my thoughts on this upcoming special issue in the not so distant future.                                 



The Dog Farm's First Post - A Legal Disclaimer

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