October 11, 2015

The Final Girls (2015) - Saved From Writing The Dog Farm's Final Post?

     Though horror has been my lifelong genre of choice, I'm tickled shitless when any movie from any genre is as good as I hope it will be.  It doesn't happen as often as I would like.  I'm more likely to find myself relieved when a movie isn't as bad as I fear it could be, and that's a sad commentary.  Whether that's a sad commentary on what a miserable, jaded bastard I've become or on the general state of modern filmmaking is up for debate.

     More specifically, what most often separates the good movies from the bad for me is whether or not the movie makes me feel something - anything, really.  One of the primary reasons I've always been drawn to horror movies is that the best ones make you feel some of the deepest and most primal of human emotions.  The worst ones make one wonder how filmmakers so frequently fail to recognize the importance of those identifiably human emotions to effective storytelling.  This may come as a surprise given the Dog Farm's pedigree (pun intended), but I love a good cinematic tearjerker as much as a good horror movie - and for precisely the same reasons.

     I've been absent from the Dog Farm for a few months, and I now realize it was at least partially because my enthusiasm had been eroded of late by too many hollow spectacles and too few displays of real human emotion.  I don't think I consciously realized that until tonight, when a new release provided me the nourishment my cinematic diet had been lacking for so long.  Color me surprised that the movie in question was director Todd Strauss-Schulson's new comedy The Final Girls (2015), a very meta (and very funny) riff on slasher movie tropes that has more heart than any movie born of such an emotionally shallow sub-genre has a right to.  The Final Girls gets almost everything right, but it's most crucial success lies in the fact that it has the good sense to realize the importance - even in a goofy horror/comedy - of building on a solid foundation of identifiable human emotion.

     The Final Girls is perfectly cast, cleverly written, and beautifully shot, but its biggest triumph is the mother/daughter relationship at its core.  Taissa Farmiga (Amercian Horror Story) and Malin Ackerman (Cottage Country) make that relationship ring true even amidst all the silliness, and having a beating human heart beneath the levity raises the movie's game on all levels.  Delightful.  Truly delightful.

     I'm not going to thoroughly review The Final Girls here because there are already about a gazillion reviews online, and that's not what this post is really about anyway.  What this post is really about is how I lost my enthusiasm for one of the things I love most, and how one low budget horror/comedy done right restored it.  If you become disenchanted with the movies too, hang in there.  A good one will surface sooner or later that restores your faith, reminding you once again why you loved movies in the first place.  And it probably won't be the one you would expect, either.

July 2, 2015

The Bowman Body Is Back With New Episodes Of Shock Theater On DVD!!!

advertising images for new episodes of Shock Theater 2015 hosted by the Bowman Body

     Most horror movie fans of a certain age have fond memories of staying up late to watch their favorite local horror host.  In particular, the state of Virginia had a wealth of these hosts, and towering above all others was Bill Bowman, aka the Bowman Body.  The Bowman Body was my host.  Bill Bowman portrayed the character onscreen for over a decade and a half in three different markets, starting way back in 1970 with the debut of what would ultimately become Shock Theater on WXEX TV 8.  Sadly, as was often the case with these locally produced programs, virtually nothing remains of the original Shock Theater save for less than twelve minutes of footage and the fond memories of its fans.  It stands as good news of the highest order then that the Bowman Body is about to make good his return with two all new episodes of Shock Theater to be released on DVD in the fall of this year.

     Documentary filmmaker Sean Kotz of Horse Archer Productions is helping to facilitate the triumphant return of Shock Theater, with plans to film the two new episodes this summer for release in October.  The episodes will feature The House On Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price and Horror Hotel (1960) starring Christopher Lee, with the beloved Bill Bowman returning as The Bowman Body to host.  Both episodes are already available for pre-order at www.thebowmanbody.com, either individually or as a pair, with all proceeds going toward financing the production.  Fans can also purchase caps, mugs, and posters featuring The Bowman Body at the website's gift shop, as well as DVD copies of Kotz's Hi There Horror Movie Fans! The Bowman Body Documentary and Virginia Creepers: The Horror Host Tradition Of The Old Dominion.

     Regular readers of the Dog Farm will know that it's unusual for me to actively solicit support for projects, but this one is just too near and dear to my clogged and blackened heart not to do so.  Bill Bowman first appeared to host Shock Theater only two months after I was born, and some of my earliest memories of - well, anything, really - revolve around staying up late at a wildly inappropriate young age to watch the Bowman Body.  Bowman later hosted Cobweb Theater on WVIR in Charlottesville, and it tickles me shitless that one of a very small handful of clips that still exists shows Bowman reading a fan letter from yours truly and then showing a drawing I sent with the letter.  I was all of seven years old at the time.  It was bigger than getting a personal shout out from Santa Claus.

     Pre-orders are funding this project, so order your new Shock Theater episodes now.  If you're unfamiliar with the Bowman Body, you can right that heinous wrong by buying either - or both - of Sean Kotz's documentaries to bring yourself up to speed.  I own both, and they're well worth your time and money.  If you've got youngsters who've never seen a horror host, here's a chance to introduce them to one of the legends.  I guarantee these new episodes of Shock Theater will be the highlight of your family's Pre'Ween viewing this October.  I can hardly wait...

June 2, 2015

Belatedly Wrapping Up Movies At Dog Farm IV In One Tidy Little Package . . .

The Thing (1982)
The Thing (1982) - You've gotta be fuckin' kidding me, right?

       So how does one gauge the success or failure of a movie program?  Now that the Movies At Dog Farm live events have been around for a while, the success or failure of  these events must surely be relative.  Those of us that have attended from the start wax nostalgic about the best screenings from the past, though I wouldn't characterize any of the prior programs as complete and utter failures.  Additionally, I have to keep in mind that the movies are only one element of a larger event that's actually all about photography.  I'm just the geek show, eating light bulbs and biting the heads off chickens.  If I'm lucky, I get a receptive audience that responds to the show as I anticipated.  If not, well...

     As now seems to be tradition, Herb Miller and I made a trip to Timberville Friday night for beer, food, and cigarettes at roughly the same time the movies should have begun.  We were accompanied by Jai McWhorter, Phil's hired help at the Dog Farm who impressed me mightily be being only twenty years old and name dropping The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) on me.  We were only about half way to Timberville when Herb's brake line busted unexpectedly, leaving us unable to make a sharp turn on a country road that then abruptly turned into a plowed field.  No one was hurt, and Herb got the car back on the road and continued on to Timberville sans brakes.  That seemed to make sense at the time.

The Manitou (1978)
The Manitou (1978) - The stunted glory of Misquamacas.
     We got back to the Dog Farm intact roughly an hour later, and no one was there except Phil, who was agitated that attendees who were expected earlier hadn't yet arrived.  Ultimately, everyone arrived safely in two separate carloads coming from different directions.  Tricia and Noodle Newnum arrived with event veteran Josh Kamikaze Buckland in tow, followed by Kelli and Jeff Ramirez shortly thereafter.  I think.  Or maybe it was the other way around.  Someone should have been keeping notes.  Our first movie, The Manitou (1978), finally lit up the screen just shy of midnight.  Sounds like everything's been a bit of a cluster fuck thus far, huh?

     Well I couldn't have asked for a more receptive audience.  There's something truly magical about watching a movie with an audience that's perfectly in tune with what's unfolding on the screen.  The Manitou is a movie that begs a lot of MS3TK style interaction, and that's exactly what happened.  Baggy back flesh and boob lasers carried the day.  Phil even treated us to an impersonation of the movie's vertically challenged Native American shaman afterwards.  We at the Dog Farm are nothing if not politically correct.

Jack Palance in Alone In The Dark (1982)
Alone In The Dark (1982) - Jack Palance saying howdy.
     Owing to how late we got started, we moved on to Alone In The Dark (1982) almost immediately after The Manitou was over.  No brakes, baby.  That seems to have been a theme for the evening.  Everyone was enthusiastic throughout the second feature, as well.  Night one of Movies At Dog Farm IV will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the events' more successful screenings.  We wrapped things up at about three in the morning, at which point I quickly left for home.

     Though other attendees came and went during the day Saturday, the audience for Saturday night's movies ended up being the exact same group of people as Friday night.  That's unusual.  Not at all bad, just unusual.  Generally there's a little more turnover from day to day.  Jeff was good enough to man the grill for us Saturday night, so the movies were improved greatly by the addition of hot dogs and hamburgers served up fresh. Up first for Saturday was Vanishing Point (1971), a movie I'd never seen and didn't select.  Herb had suggested it to me several months ago, so it took the place of the previously announced Rituals (1977).  Truth be told, I had begun to doubt that Rituals would play well to a crowd anyway.

Gratuitous nudity in Vanishing Point
Vanishing Point (1971) - Gratuitous nudity, 70s style.
     Turned out Vanishing Point was pretty damn good, though it didn't really lend itself to the same kind of audience interaction as the previous night's movies.  Still, it did possess the unmistakable vibe of vintage drive-in fodder.  I had threatened to lay the failure of the evening at Herb's feet if Vanishing Point didn't play well to the crowd, so I suppose I'm also obliged to give credit where it's due.  You might get to pick one again some day, Herb.

     Unfortunately, we lost a few viewers to an early bedtime before The Thing (1982) started.  It also began to get almost uncomfortably chilly outside, though that seemed weirdly apropos given The Thing's Antarctic setting.  Those of us that stuck it out enjoyed seeing The Thing on the big screen, but everyone quickly scuttled away to warmth immediately after the movie was over.

     So how does one gauge the success or failure of a movie program?  Relatively speaking, I'd say Movies At Dog Farm IV was a success.  The geek show was rewarded once again with the receptive audience it needs to survive.  The geek thanks you.

May 20, 2015

Movies At Dog Farm Live Events And The Origins Of This Site - A History

forgetful kitty
     I've just celebrated my forty-fifth birthday.  One of the only bits of enduring wisdom I can share with the youngsters is this: write down everything.  Someday you're going to have trouble remembering.  In preparing for the fourth Movies At Dog Farm live event, it occurred to me that I've never really laid down a history of these live events.  I'm already having trouble remembering particulars, so it's time for a little historical preservation.

     Movies At Dog Farm was a mini movie festival well before this site was ever conceived.  My good friend Phil Neff, a professional photographer, had been in the habit of hosting a weekend long gathering for photographers and models once or twice a year at his home in Timberville, VA.  Phil's home also happens to be a dog boarding facility situated on a gorgeous, wooded, and remote property.  Yes, Virginia, there is a real Dog Farm.  First, though, I have to go back a little further to explain how the notion of programming movies for Phil's event first came about.

     I had concocted something I christened the First Annual Drive-In Movie Summer Series for myself and a couple of friends in the summer of 2011.  We met at my house once a week for thirteen weeks and watched one in a series of movies I had selected.  Inside.  On a television.  That name referenced the nature of the movies we watched rather than the mode of presentation.  I tried to do it up right, though.  I even prepared a program that offered bullet points for each movie to provide at least a modicum of historical context and  factual info for each title.  My two "subjects" were not inveterate genre fans, so I was hoping this would be a bit of a learning experience for them.  

     My selections were intended to be a representative sampling of drive-in fare spanning the years 1971 to 1981, which I dubbed the last golden age of the drive-in theater.  "Drive-in movie" is an admittedly non-specific term, but for the purposes of this series I defined it as any movie that possessed a healthy dose of WTF and spent a sizable portion of its theatrical run playing drive-ins.   For the record, the thirteen movies selected were: Zombie (1979), Ilsa, Harem Keeper Of The Oil Sheiks (1976), Private Parts (1972), Squirm (1976), Wolfen (1981), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Shivers (1975), Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974), The Manitou (1978), Mountain Of The Cannibal God (1978), It's Alive (1974), Motel Hell (1980), and The Beyond (1981).

     The First Annual Drive-In Movie Summer Series went off with nary a hitch, and I immediately began to acquire movies for a follow-up provisionally titled Son Of Summer Series.  Unfortunately, it gradually became apparent that Son Of Summer Series wasn't going to happen.  I was already sitting on a stack of new DVDs, though, and I bellyached to Phil about the cruel fate that had befallen my burgeoning B-movie brainchild.  Phil asked if I'd be willing to transmogrify my failed Summer Series into nighttime entertainment for his guests at his next photography event, and I of course accepted.  I sell audio/video equipment for a living, so I knew I'd be able to procure a projector and speakers for the event from my employer.

     That first Movies At Dog Farm live event was still months away at that point, which afforded me plenty of time to decide exactly which titles might find an appreciative audience at Phil's.  I don't care what anyone else may tell you - programming movies for a film festival isn't for the faint of heart.  I really had no idea what might play well to this particular audience, and I chose titles and subsequently discarded my choices with alarming regularity for the next four months.  During that same time period I also created a Movies At Dog Farm group page on Facebook in the hopes of getting to know a little something about my intended audience.  That Facebook page remained active after the first event, and it ultimately became the site you see before you when Phil pointed out that my increasingly lengthy "comments" on Facebook began to read more like blog entries.  

     For anyone who's ever wondered: that Facebook group is why my empire of dust has always been called Movies At Dog Farm rather than Movies At The Dog Farm.  I thought it read better without the article.  Phil said the missing article made it sound like I was employing the Frankenstein monster's mode of expression (Fire bad! Movies At Dog Farm good!) and of course, Phil's remark just guaranteed it remained  Movies At Dog Farm.  I regret nothing.

     I finally nailed down the last of four titles just a few weeks before the event, with the intent of showing one on Friday night and three on Saturday night.  The four movies chosen for the event were Pieces (1982), Contamination (1980), Cemetery Man (1994), and Suspiria (1977).  Phil made a screen to hang up outdoors, and I began to work out the logistics of setting up 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound in the woods surrounding the viewing area.  Obviously, that was overkill for movies this old, but I was personally enamored of the idea of both seeing and hearing Suspiria outside in all it of its bludgeoning auditory glory.  Not surprisingly, it rained the entire weekend, and I ended up spending an inordinate amount of time moving speakers in and out of the rain.

     Pieces was the only movie scheduled for Friday night, and it's worth noting that it was the one title of the four selections about which I had the most reservations.  I knew everyone would either get into the right frame of mind to appreciate its not-so-subtle charms or else the presentation would sink like a stone.  I didn't see the potential for much middle ground there.  Fortunately, it went over like gangbusters.  

     Unfortunately, my inability to stick to a schedule forced me to shelve the planned screening of Contamination on Saturday night in the interest of trying to get everything back on schedule.  Luckily, Cemetery Man was well received, though by the time we got through that we didn't get to screen Suspiria until after midnight.  Only three or four folks stuck it out for that one.  Just before we started Suspiria the rain stopped, the skies cleared, and the moon shone on the woods all around us.  It was glorious.  Owing to how few people saw this screening, I think it's likely that Suspria may be revisited at a future event.

     In the end that first live event was a little rocky, though I learned from my mistakes.  It was at least successful enough to warrant a sequel in October of 2012, the Movies At Dog Farm II Pre'Ween Picture Show.  I'll write a post at some point documenting that event, as well.  Until then, what follows is the text on the flyer I made up for the first event touting the movies I either screened or intended to screen.  The write-up on Pieces was later repurposed for a Gore-A-Thon post here on the site.


Pieces (1982) posterPieces (1982)  
aka Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche

Screened Friday, May 4, 2012

     Pieces is pure freak show exploitation, with an advertising campaign that sells the movie like a huckstering carnival barker.  "You Don't Have To Go To Texas For A Chainsaw Massacre!" screams the tagline, and then the movie's poster even more bluntly promises "It's Exactly What You Think It Is!"  The clear implication is that Pieces offers all the bad dialog, gratuitous nudity, and graphic violence you're looking for, all in one convenient package.

     That package mostly delivers, and it does so with a charming lack of pretense.  Director Juan Piquer Simon knew what he was making here and doesn't let a sense of decorum get in the way.  Legend has it that during filming an actress actually lost control of her bladder during one take when a functioning prop chainsaw strayed dangerously near.  That shot made it into the film's final cut, a testament to the aesthetic of tacky, unrefined showmanship that makes Pieces great.

     Director Simon once stated, "I don't know anyone who says 'I'm going to make a bad movie.'  Nor do I know anyone who says 'I'm going to make a work of art' and makes it."  Somehow, Pieces manages to be both bad movie and work of art at the same time.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre may be the undisputed masterpiece, but Pieces earns its place in the chainsaw movie pantheon by being devoid of delusions of grandeur and simply delivering what it promises.  It truly is exactly what you think it is.

Contamination (1980) posterContamination (1980)  
aka Alien Contamination 

Scheduled for Saturday, May 5, 2012, but ultimately not screened due to scheduling conflicts.

     Italian filmmakers made a veritable cottage industry out of riding the coattails of American made box office successes throughout the 1970s and 80s.  The Exorcist (1973) begat Beyond The Door (1974), Jaws (1975) begat Great White (1980), and Alien (1979) begat Contamination (1980).  Curiously, director Luigi Cozzi perceives Contamination as being a riff on Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, but the distinction is specious.  Contamination was released in the wake of the massive worldwide success of Alien, and it made extensive use in its advertising of its images of pulsating alien eggs.  It's a very real possibility that Cozzi is just being disingenuous.  Either way, Contamination is a hoot.

     Starring Ian McCulloch (Zombie) and featuring a pounding score by Goblin, Contamination starts strong, ends strong, and probably won't completely put you to sleep in the middle.  Even if you do begin to feel groggy, hang in there for the reveal of the cyclopean, paper mache alien overlord at the movie's conclusion.  Only the Italians can make formaggio of this caliber.  Blue Underground's restoration from the original vault negative reinstates the gory, gut-busting FX excised worldwide for Contamination's theatrical releases, making this the definitive cut of the movie. 

Cemetery Man (1994) posterCemetery Man (1994) 
aka Dellamorte Dellamore

Screened Saturday, May 5, 2012

     Cemetery Man, directed by Dario Argento protege Michele Soavi, is one of the finest horror movies of the 90s, foreign or otherwise.  It's also woefully under appreciated, perhaps because it was saddled by American distributors with a groaningly broad title that does little to indicate its blackly comic tone.  Its original title, a bit of Italian wordplay, roughly translates as "Of Death, Of Love", and that's much closer to the mark.  This is a movie with a lot on its mind.  It examines nothing less than the meaning of life itself, and it ultimately seems to decide that life has no meaning without love.  It also has plenty of zombies, gore, and nudity, so don't think it's just a dry, artsy slog through the Big Philosophical Questions.

     A then unknown Rupert Everett (My Best Friend's Wedding) does a fine job mining the script's dark humor as Fracesco Dellamorte, a cemetery watchman with the unenviable task of slaughtering the undead "returners" at Buffalora Cemetery.  It's all in a day's work for Dellamorte until a tryst with a beautiful widow turns tragic, leading him into a tailspin of escalating psychosis.  Is death the ultimate act of love?

     Cemetery Man is a truly unique gem of a horror film, lousy American title notwithstanding.  Thanks to Josh Kamikaze Buckland for suggesting it.

Suspiria (1977) posterSuspiria (1977)

Screened Saturday, May 5, 2012

     Suspiria is Italian director Dario Argento's masterwork, a garish nightmare of over saturated colors and painterly compositions that plays like a fairy tale for adults.  Nominally about a coven of witches and the dance academy for young women they use to conceal their activities, the narrative is really only a framework upon which Argento builds his fever dream of stylish visuals and discordant sound.  Frequent collaborator Goblin provides the nerve-jangling score, easily the band's most effective, and the aural assault is every bit as important to the success of the enterprise as Argento's aggressive visual attack.  The two halves work in tandem to create a perfect storm of deeply disturbing hallucinatory horror.

     Suspiria tells the tale of Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs, and is the first film of Argento's loosely related Three Mothers trilogy, each of which focuses on the story of one of a triumvirate of ancient, evil witches.  Inferno followed in 1980 and told of Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness, the youngest and cruelest of the three.  The Mother Of Tears belatedly concluded the trilogy in 2007 and told of Mater Lachrymarum, the most powerful of the three witches.

     Argento failed to match the delirious heights of Suspiria with either of its follow-ups, but it would have been nearly impossible to do so.  The first was as close to perfection as genre movies get.  Everyone should see Suspiria at least twice:  once to let the malevolent magic wash over you, and once more to marvel at the flawless skill and technique with which Argento casts his cinematic spell.

April 8, 2015

Alone In The Dark (1982) - Dr. Loomis, Grossberger, Howling Mad Murdock, The Sic F*cks, And Two Future Oscar Winners Still Just Paying The Bills

Alone In The Dark (1982) poster
Alone In The Dark (1982)
Currently Out Of Print
Director:  Jack Sholder
Writer:  Jack Sholder, Robert Shaye, and Michael Harrpster
Stars:  Jack Palance, Donald Pleasance, Martin Landau, Dwight Schultz, Erland van Lidth, Deborah Hedwall, Lee Taylor-Allan, Phillip Clark, Elizabeth Ward, Brent Jennings, Gordon Watkins, and Carol Levy

A quartet of murderous psychopaths break out of a mental hospital during a power blackout and lay siege to their doctor's house.

     The movie Alone In The Dark (1982) bears no relation to the long running video game franchise of the same name.  It should not be confused with the godawful Uwe Boll directed movie adaptation of said video game, either.  Alone In The Dark is a splendid little gem of a movie that got lost in the deluge of slasher flicks flooding theaters in 1982, and it ended up largely forgotten outside of genre circles save for its status as one of the "clips no one can quite place" in the 1984 trailer compilation Terror In The Aisles.  It deserves better.

'Preacher' (Martin Landau) approaches Mom's Diner in Alone In The Dark (1982)
Byron 'Preacher' Sutcliffe (Martin Landau) approaches Mom's Diner in the surreal dream sequence preceding the opening credits of director Jack Sholder's 1982 directorial debut Alone In The Dark.
Donald Pleasance in a dream sequence from Alone In The Dark (1982)
Preacher imagines Dr. Leo Bain (Donald Pleasance) as a cleaver wielding short order cook who's about to help him split the tab the hard way...
Martin Landau awakens from a nightmare in Alone In The Dark (1982)
...before he awakens from his nightmare to find himself back at the asylum and (you guessed it) alone in the dark!

     Alone In The Dark was among the first movies produced for Robert Shaye's New Line Cinema just a couple of years before the success of Wes Craven's A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) turned it into The House That Freddy Built.  Shaye's wife Lynn even has a cameo as a receptionist at the Haven, the mental hospital run by the pot smoking Dr. Leo Bain, played by Donald Pleasance.  Pleasance is clearly having a blast in a role that comes across as a parody of his performance as the doom-and-gloom riddled Dr. Loomis in the Halloween franchise.  Dr. Bain subscribes to the notion that no-one is really crazy, that the people society labels as psychotics are only individuals having difficulty adapting to an already psychotic world.  Even the Haven's four most dangerous patients are given considerable free reign.  Paranoid schizophrenic Frank Hawkes (Jack Palance), pyromaniac Byron 'Preacher' Sutcliffe (Martin Landau), hulking pedophile Ronald 'Fatty' Elster (Erland van Lidth), and a homicidal maniac called 'The Bleeder' (Phillip Clark) are contained only by an electric door lock that confines them to their own wing of the hospital at night.  It sure would be a shame if the power went out...

Dwight Schultz and Donald Pleasence in Alone In The Dark (1982)
New hire Dr. Dan Potter (Dwight Schultz) receives an awkwardly enthusiastic welcome from hospital administrator Leo Bain upon arriving for his first day of work at the Haven.
Erland van Lidth in Alone In The Dark (1982)
Dangerous mental patient and pedophile Ronald 'Fatty' Elster (Erland van Lidth) practices his origami, which one presumes must be a big hit with the kids.
Jack Palance in Alone In The Dark (1982)
De facto leader of  the psychos Colonel Frank Hawkes (Jack Palance) in a typically intense moment upon meeting Dr. Potter for the first time.

     As one might imagine, a considerable part of the charm of Alone In The Dark derives from its casting.  Beyond the delightful skewering of new age psychiatry that Pleasance provides, it's hard to deny the thrill of seeing future Oscar winners Jack Palance (Best Supporting Actor, City Slickers, 1991) and Martin Landau (Best Supporting Actor, Ed Wood, 1994) hamming it up to great effect as psychotics in a low budget horror movie.  The two also appeared together two years prior in the low budget sci-fi/horror flick Without Warning (1980), which was only recently rescued from obscurity by a new Scream Factory Blu-ray release.  Many viewers will also likely recognize the late Erland van Lidth, who portrays obese pedophile Ronald 'Fatty' Elster.  Van Lidth had previously made an impression as the hulking prison inmate Grossberger in the popular comedy Stir Crazy (1980), as well as later portraying the opera-singing stalker Dynamo in The Running Man (1987).  If that isn't enough star power to pique your interest, how about we also throw in actor Dwight Schultz as the mild-mannered - and completely sane - Dr. Dan Potter?  Ironically, just a few months later we'd all come to know Schultz primarily as crazed pilot 'Howling Mad' Murdock on the popular TV show The A-Team (1983-87).
The Sic F*cks perform Chop Up Your Mother in Alone In The Dark (1982)
The Sic F*cks perform Chop Up Your Mother just before a citywide blackout brings the show to a halt.
Martin Landau looting during the blackout in Alone In The Dark (1982)
'Preacher' finds just exactly what he's looking for while looting during the blackout...
The Bleeder wearing a hockey mask in Alone In The Dark (1982)
...as does 'The Bleeder' (Phillip Clark), who prefers to keep his identity a secret for now.

     Alone In The Dark was also Jack Sholder's directorial debut.  Sholder later worked with producer Robert Shay again on both A Nightmare On Elm Street 2:  Freddy's Revenge (1985) and the body-jumping alien parasite mini-classic The Hidden (1987) before spending most of the rest of his career working in television.  Contrary to what many fans believe, Sholder did not choose to have The Bleeder don a hockey mask upon escaping the Haven as any kind of homage to the Friday The 13th franchise.  Though released theatrically after the first appearance of Jason's iconic hockey mask in Friday The 13th Part III, Sholder's Alone In The Dark was completed first.  The character of The Bleeder was actually conceived by Shay, who was taken with the idea of a psychopathic killer who keeps his face hidden to facilitate a surprising reveal near the end of the movie.

Martin Landau makes a delivery in Alone In The Dark (1982)
Land Shark!  This screen grab is pretty funny once you know where 'Preacher' got the hat.
Erland van Lidth shares cookies and milk with Elizabeth Ward in Alone In The Dark (1982)
Of course, there's nothing funny about pedophilia - except maybe watching a wise-beyond-her-years little girl (Elizabeth Ward) effortlessly thwart a pedophile's A game while still scoring the cookies and milk.

     Owing largely to its release during the theatrical heyday of the slasher movie, Alone In The Dark is often lumped in with others of the type.  Though it bears obvious cosmetic similarities to the slasher sub-genre, it's ultimately more of a siege movie.  Alone In The Dark goes pretty light on the gratuitous gore, and most of the movie's most suspenseful moments come in the third act after Dr. Potter and his family have been trapped in their home by the trio of psychopaths lurking outside.  Slasher FX superstar Tom Savini does provide one make-up effect in the form of a briefly glimpsed zombie for a dream sequence, but his style of graphic slaughter is otherwise mostly absent.  There is a set piece involving a scantily clad babysitter named Bunky (Carol Levy) and a very big knife that most any slasher movie would be proud to call its own, but even that episode is nearly gore-free.  The appeal of Alone In The Dark, not surprisingly, lies mostly in the strength of its performances and its clever screenplay, two strengths rarely associated with the slasher sub-genre.

Carol Levy thinks there is someone under the bed in Alone In The Dark (1982)
Meanwhile, Bunky the babysitter (Carol Levy) thinks there may be someone under the bed...
A knife through the mattress in Alone In The Dark (1982)
...and there is...
A knife between the legs in Alone In The Dark (1982)
...so maybe it's time for Bunky to get the hell off the bed and consider a less dangerous vocation.

     I intentionally went with relatively few screen caps from the final siege of the Potter household in Alone In The Dark so as not to ruin any of the shocks, and I hope I've been sufficiently vague throughout this post about the specifics of the narrative.  Alone In The Dark is unique amongst horror movies of the era, and it deserves to be seen with its surprises intact.  The original DVD release from Image Entertainment is unfortunately long out of print, though it can still be had for a price.  Alone In The Dark also later appeared in a two disc, four movie Image release alongside Afraid Of The Dark (1991), Relentless 3 (1993), and Relentless 4 (1994), though that release seems to be even harder to track down.  Sadly, it doesn't seem to be currently available on any of the major VOD outlets.  Rumor has it that a high definition master of the movie still exists, so perhaps Scream Factory will someday swoop in to save Alone In The Dark from obscurity just as they did with the previously mentioned Without Warning.

A family under siege in Alone In The Dark (1982)
Dr. Potter and his family prepare to fend off a home invasion...
Outside the house under siege in Alone In The Dark (1982)
... because appearances notwithstanding...
Dr. Potter's family trapped in Alone In The Dark (1982)
...the Potters already know they're not alone in the dark tonight.

     So how, you may ask, might someone go about seeing Alone In The Dark given its current state of release?  Well, if you expect to be anywhere near Timberville, Virginia on Memorial Day Weekend, shoot me an email.  Alone In The Dark is the second confirmed title - alongside the previously announced Rituals (1977) - for the Movies At Dog Farm IV live event this Spring!

April 5, 2015

The Versatile Blogger Award - I'm Not Worthy, But It's An Honor To Be Included In Such Good Company

Versatile Blogger Award
     My compatriots in the blogosphere are far too kind.  I've only been posting sporadically this year, owing mostly to the fact that my inherent laziness has come to the fore.  Even so, Barry at Cinematic Catharsis has been kind enough to nominate me for my first Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you, Barry.  I feel a bit like I'm accepting an Oscar for not making a movie, but that doesn't make it any less of an honor.  I guess it's time for me to quit slacking off and put my nose back to the grindstone.

     In the spirit of recognizing the hard work of my compatriots, following is a list of my own nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award.  All are fine folk whose work I enjoy and appreciate.  Join me in supporting them so they'll be inspired to continue doing what they do.

Isaac Keith Martinez @ Isaac's Haunted Beard
Matt St. Cyr @ Midnight Cinephile
Erin Lashley @ Seven Doors Of Cinema
Giovanni Susina @ At The Mansion Of Madness
Dave J. Wilson @ Cinematic Shocks
Kev D. @ Zombie Hall
Carl Boehm @ Carl Needs To Make A Movie
Bob Smash @ Candy-Coated Razor Blades

     You may have noticed there are only eight nominees listed above rather than the traditional ten.  I'd feel remiss if I didn't offer a tip of the hat to a couple of sites that have sadly chosen to shutter their doors - The Info Zombie and Blood Sucking Geek.  J.D. at Blood Sucking Geek simply decided it was time to call it a day, and Carl moved seamlessly from The Info Zombie to his new concern listed above.  Both The Info Zombie and Blood Sucking Geek live on in archival form, and I stand ready to offer my continued support to whatever the future holds for their respective proprietors.

     I'd close with the traditional "Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me", but I suspect that would be at least nine things more than you'd probably care to know.  Continue visiting the Dog Farm, and all shall be revealed in due time.

     Thanks to everyone for allowing me to be part of this community of talented individuals, and thanks in particular to Barry at Cinematic Catharsis for the nomination.

March 12, 2015

Motivational Growth (2013) - The Mold's Funky Green Wall Teat Is Surprisingly Sweet If You Lick It

Motivational Growth (2013) poster
Motivational Growth (2013)
Currently Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD
Director:  Don Thacker
Writer:  Don Thacker
Stars:  Jeffrey Combs, Adrian DiGiovanni, Danielle Doetsch, and Pete Giovagnoli

Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni), a depressed and reclusive thirty-something, finds himself taking advice from a growth in his bathroom after a failed suicide attempt.  The Mold (Jeffrey Combs), a smooth talking fungus who was born of the filth collecting in a corner of Ian's neglected bathroom, works to win Ian's trust by helping him clean himself up and remodel his lifestyle.

     It takes balls to set an entire movie in one squalid, cruddy location as writer/director Don Thacker has done with Motivational Growth.  It takes even more nerve to have the movie's narrative revolve around a depressive young man and a pile of sentient bathroom filth.  Motivational Growth would seem to have the deck stacked against it from the outset, but it grows on you anyway.  Clearly, Mr. Thacker is not a man with whom to trifle.

The Mold and Ian in Motivational Growth (2013)
The Mold (Jeffrey Combs) and Ian (Adrian DiGiovanni)
     The most obvious lure here is the above-the-title involvement of genre icon Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, From Beyond) as the voice of the aforementioned sentient bathroom filth that calls itself The Mold - and don't you dare omit that article!  Combs instills a generous amount of life into the oozing pile of puppetry representing The Mold, but he is by no means the movie's only selling point.  That fact alone is surprising, but not quite as surprising as the movie's real strength.  Motivational Growth is gross, funny, and disturbing, but it also has a lot of heart.

      Ian Foliver (Adrian DiGiovanni) hasn't left his ratty little apartment for months, and he's also working on a raging case of agoraphobia.  He's surrounded by heaps of trash and detritus, and he spends so much time sitting in front of his old console television - which he affectionately calls Kent - that he's developed bedsores.  He seems a decent enough guy, though, and DiGiovanni's performance makes the character far more interesting and sympathetic than one might expect.  Ian frequently breaks the fourth wall and addresses the viewer directly, one of many stylistic gambits that forges a deep and empathetic connection with the viewer.

Ian preparing to commit suicide in Motivational Growth (2013)
Ian addressing the viewer directly regarding the specifics of his impending suicide attempt

      After a failed attempt at suicide Ian takes a nasty tumble in the bathroom, and when he comes to he discovers he's not alone.  There's a lumpy, green pile of talking fungus in a corner of the bathroom that introduces itself as The Mold and assures Ian - whom he insists upon addressing as Jack - that he has a "plan" for him.  The Mold intends to rehabilitate Ian.  Thanks to The Mold's help, Ian even ultimately meets - in his own doorway, natch - his lovely young neighbor Leah (a sweet and appealing Danielle Doetsch) whom he's been harmlessly stalking via the peephole in his front door.  Of course, there's more to The Mold's "plan" for Ian than is immediately evident, and the moderately rehabilitated Ian begins to question The Mold's motives.  Perhaps The Mold isn't as altruistic as it at first seems?

Leah and Ian getting cozy on the couch in Motivational Growth (2013)
Next door neighbor Leah (Danielle Doetsch) getting cozy with the somewhat rehabilitated Ian

     Motivational Growth almost immediately begs comparison to the darkly comedic and twisted filmography of Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case, Frankenhooker).  In particular, one can't help but be reminded of Henenlotter's thematically similar Brain Damage (1988).  Both movies revolve around a troubled but sympathetic protagonist being manipulated by a "mentor" with questionable motivations, and in both cases, that mentor takes the form of an unnatural visitor depicted onscreen by a latex puppet.  The Mold could easily take its place alongside Aylmer from Brain Damage or Belial from Basket Case in Henenlotter's rogues gallery of  practical FX driven oddities.  Motivational Growth possesses the same grotty grindhouse aesthetic commonly associated with Henenlotter's work, as well.

Pete Giovagnoli as Box the Ox in Motivational Growth (2013)
Ian's landlord Box the Ox (Pete Giovagnoli)
     That's not to say that Motivational Growth isn't a remarkably unique movie in its own right, though.  Thacker litters the movie with colorful and bizarre visitors to Ian's apartment, which is convenient since the narrative never ventures outside of Ian's own surreal environment.  In particular, actor Pete Giovagnoli makes an impression as Ian's cartoonishly aggressive landlord Box the Ox.  It's interesting to note that Giovagnoli is far smaller and less physically imposing than the character he plays.  Thacker details in the movie's commentary how he used forced perspective and a number of other filmmaking tricks to create the illusion of a towering bully.  To Thacker's credit, the viewer almost certainly wouldn't notice the deception without being told, which is a testament to the value of good old-fashioned filmmaking ingenuity.

     Thacker also keeps the camera moving throughout, indulging in a number of odd angles and trick shots to maintain visual interest despite the confined setting.  Motivational Growth never feels small, which is an impressive feat given the claustrophobic nature of the narrative.  Even the seemingly random details of Ian's filthy apartment prove a triumph of deceptively detailed and intricate set design.

Ian suckling The Mold's wall teat in Motivational Growth (2013)
Ian suckles at The Mold's funky green wall teat

     As mentioned previously, though, the real triumph of Motivational Growth is the surprisingly human beating heart at its core.  What seems on the surface to likely be a hacky one-note B-movie predicated on a single gag and above-the-title stunt casting proves to be far more affecting.  Thacker makes it easy to empathize with Ian's struggle to connect meaningfully with another person, and that's a step beyond that many genre movies can't - or perhaps won't - bother to take.  Thacker is a filmmaker to watch, and Motivational Growth is a funny, disturbing, and unique gem.

February 25, 2015

Digging Up The Marrow (2014) And Tusk (2014) Spearhead The Emergence Of A New Fan Driven Sub-Genre

Digging Up The Marrow (2014) poster
Digging Up The Marrow (2014)
Currently Available on VOD and via Limited Theatrical Release
Director:  Adam Green
Writer:  Adam Green
Stars:  Ray Wise, Adam Green, Will Barrett, Rileah Vanderbilt, and Josh Ethier

A documentary exploring genre based monster art takes an odd turn when the filmmakers are contacted by a man who claims he can prove that monsters are indeed real.

Tusk (2014) poster
Tusk (2014)
Currently Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD
Director:  Kevin Smith
Writer:  Kevin Smith
Stars:  Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, and Johnny Depp (credited as Guy Lapointe)

When podcaster Wallace Bryton goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe, his best friend Teddy and girlfriend Allison team with an ex-cop to look for him.

     Digging Up The Marrow (2014) and Tusk (2014) are two recent genre flicks created by talented veteran filmmakers that both play like elaborate in-jokes.  Thanks largely to the democratization of movie release afforded by video-on-demand, it seems as though the notion of established filmmakers making movies targeted to a very specific niche demographic - like, say, their own already thriving fan bases and pretty much no-one else - is now a viable business model.  Sometimes those fans even pay for the productions up front via crowdfunding.  Accordingly, they need not have any significant mainstream crossover potential as long as the budgets stay low.  This relatively new business model is both a blessing and a curse.

Michael Parks and Justin Long in Tusk (2014)
Michael Parks takes a break from turning Justin Long into a walrus in director Kevin Smith's Tusk

       It's a blessing in that it creates an avenue for filmmakers to develop more personal and esoteric productions.  Writer/director Kevin Smith's Tusk was born of a discussion Smith and longtime associate Scott Mosier had on Smith's SModcast about an ad that offered a free living situation provided the lodger was willing to dress as a walrus.  Smith and Mosier riffed on this notion for nearly an hour, with the upshot being a hypothetical story based upon what the particulars of such an arrangement might be.  Smith then asked his fans on Twitter if they'd be interested in seeing this story made into a movie by tweeting either #WalrusYes or #WalrusNo.  Obviously, the #WalrusYes contingent carried the day.  Basically, Tusk is a private joke between Smith and his fans for which Smith was able to secure financial backing.

Ray Wise and Adam Green in Digging Up The Marrow (2014)
Ray Wise and actor/writer/director Adam Green search for monsters in Digging Up The Marrow

       Writer/director/actor Adam Green's Digging Up The Marrow relies upon a similar sort of fan service.  Digging Up The Marrow is loaded throughout with clips of popular genre icons - including Green himself as the movie's protagonist - appearing as themselves in the form of clips filmed for the production of Green's "documentary" about monsters.  Pretty much the only cast member not playing himself is genre stalwart Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Jeepers Creepers II), who instead plays the role of an individual named William Dekker.  Dekker alleges to Green that monsters are real and that he knows where to find them, which of course proves an irresistible notion to Green.

     It seems likely that neither of these oddball premises would have been made ten years ago, mostly because investors - whether it be the filmmakers themselves or others - would have struggled to produce them and then get them into the hands of the intended audience.  It's a very different world now.  In particular, social media makes it far easier to target a particular demo with a harder sell.  That's got to be a good thing, right?  Now the filmmakers can shepherd their more challenging and unusual ideas to the screen and be reasonably sure they will still find an audience.

     This new dynamic is a curse though in that much of the empirical evidence thus far suggests it also fosters sloppy self-indulgence.  The fans are going to love the end product no matter what, and if the mainstream audiences don't get it, who cares?  It wasn't for them anyway.  Both Tusk and Digging Up The Marrow fall prey to this mindset to varying degrees.  For example, both movies present a unique and fascinating scenario and then fail to deliver a satisfying resolution.  One wonders if perhaps both narratives would have been more sturdily constructed and effective if Smith and Green had been aiming a little higher, instead of just making movies for their already loyal constituencies.  That lazy self-indulgence is evident in both movies, and it ultimately keeps either movie from living up to its full potential.

     Unfortunately, I'm admittedly not the best person to be examining this dynamic since I'm already a fan of both filmmakers.  I'm part of the audience for which both movies were intended.  Even so, I can't help feeling a little bit gypped when I can see objectively that both would probably have been better if only a little more discipline had been exercised.  What's there is often very, very good, but both movies had the potential to be great and squandered it.

     Still, though, I have to rank both Tusk and Digging Up The Marrow as two of the best genre movies I've seen in a while, and I'd recommend both.  In particular, each movie features a stellar performance from a veteran character actor that demands to be seen.  Ray Wise effortlessly commands the screen with his intense and often darkly humorous performance as Dekker in Digging Up The Marrow, and Michael Parks (Red State, From Dusk Til Dawn) is a mesmerizing revelation as the quietly psychotic Howard Howe in Tusk.  Both actors clearly relish the opportunity to play the lead, and both movies are worth a watch if only to see these veterans deliver what surely must be a couple of the best performances of their respective careers.

     The walrus transformation in Tusk and the superior monster designs by artist Alex Pardee for Digging Up The Marrow are worthy of note, as well.  In fact, I guarantee those Pardee monsters will have you diving for the remote more than once to rewind and get a second look.  It's intentional that I chose not to ruin the fun by including pics of them here.

     Tusk and Digging Up The Marrow are must see movies for fans of their respective creators.  They're both solid recommendations for genre fans in general, too.  I just wonder if these cinematic in-jokes might have had the potential to reach much larger audiences had Green and Smith been more disciplined in their execution.  A third act that delivers on the promise of the first two should be mandatory, and settling for "good enough" just because the fans will show up regardless is just lazy.  Would more discipline have hampered the unfettered creativity at the core of each project?  Probably not.  It just would have made a couple of good movies great.  You were so close, guys, but as Maxwell Smart would have said...

Maxwell Smart missed it by that much
"Missed It By That Much!"

February 12, 2015

Odium: Vindicta Trailer Debuts Soon, Proper Contact Information On Movies At Dog Farm To Follow . . .

     A member of the team producing the forthcoming web series Odium: Vindicta sent me a very polite email asking if I might share the following press release.  He also pointed out that I had no contact information posted anymore, save for the email address I have listed for take down requests.  I'll correct that error of omission soon.  In the meantime, here's the press release, because a polite request and a useful observation earns a plug.

     The production team at BBL Entertainment is proud to present the screening of the first official trailer of the upcoming web series Odium: Vindicta at 247 Sky Bar, Indianapolis, Indiana on February 21, 2015 at 6:00 pm.

     Saul Harris is a new resident in the idyllic, all American small town of Manesville and with him comes a darkness that will sweep over the unsuspecting community and change it forever. Saul's past is the stuff of nightmares and even though he's been trying to leave it behind, the past has a way of catching up and when it does, the nightmares will be unleashed. But Saul isn't the only one with dark secrets and his actions will cause a ripple effect that brings to light the malevolent things lurking just behind the perfect facade of Manesville's upper echelons.

     The upcoming web series Odium aims to re-invent and re-invigorate the indie horror scene. It combines elements of psychological thriller, slasher cinema and Hitchcockian twists in an original story of epic scale. It will follow Saul's journey to deal with his past and his struggle to calm his troubled, damaged mind and find something resembling peace and normalcy. It will explore the disturbing actions and decisions of some of Manesville's prestigious, wealthy inhabitants, as they are being pushed to the edge by the gruesome murders that start to happen and trap the town in fear and panic. It will observe the police investigators, as they are trying to put the pieces together and understand what is happening in their town. And most of all it will draw the audience into a story where things are not what they seem and where the lines between good and evil are always blurred.

     The trailer will be the centerpiece of the event Artistic Impressions. The purpose of the event is to make the public aware of BBL's artistic endeavors and productions and it will include samples of the work of Indianapolis based paranormal investigators ParaSisters, photographers Vanessa von Rouge and Gary Nelson and Chicago based designer extraordinaire Ramsey J. Prince. Sounds and tunes will be provided for your listening pleasure by local DJ Killa Cam and comedian Thomas McDaniel will MC the event and give guests a sampling of his comedy set. The proceeds of the event will be used to secure funding for the continued production of Odium and to support the local charity A Giving Tree.  Admission to the event is $10 or guests can bring a non perishable food item to donate for a reduced admission of $7 ($3 discount).

Screening Date:  February 21, 2015

Screening Time:  Doors open at 6:00 pm

Screening Location:  247 Sky Bar, 247 South Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46225

Admission:  $10 regular, $7 with food donation.   

     This event is open to the public.

January 29, 2015

Exists (2014) - How Bad Can A Movie Be And Still Score A Recommendation?

Exists (2014)      One of the leads in the new found footage movie Exists (2014) believes he's going to make himself famous by filming a really bad ass video of Bigfoot for YouTube.  Not surprisingly, he's the guy who never puts the camera down.  What is a little surprising is that he's also the most developed character in the movie.  His name escapes me at the moment, but I'm sure that's not important.  I couldn't tell you any of the other characters' names, either.  I spent nearly ninety minutes watching these five people and formed no more of an emotional attachment to them than I would to a mouth breather taking a shot to the nuts in a YouTube video.  That's okay, because Exists pretty much is the bad ass YouTube video old whats-his-name wanted to make, and Bigfoot is the shot to the nuts that we're all here for anyway.  Whose nuts is incidental.

     I'd generally have little positive to say about a movie that skimps on character development, but I just didn't care here.  Sure, Exists would be more effective if I felt empathy for its cast, but I'm just here for some good old fashioned Bigfoot action.  I suspect many who seek out Exists will feel the same way.  My profound lack of identification with any of the monster bait on display actually put me in mind of an old slasher flick.  These five cyphers only exist to be meat for the hairy grinder.  So does Exists at least deliver when we see the big guy in action?

     Even though it's essentially a found footage movie, director Eduardo Sanchez - one half of the directorial team behind The Blair Witch Project - doesn't use the conceit as an excuse to hold back on the money shots.  You see enough of the convincingly low key Mike Elizalde Bigfoot design to get the job done, but not so much that Bigfoot ceases to be the mysterious backwoods threat he's supposed to be.  There are plenty of moments when Sanchez uses the found footage conceit to good effect by providing us with fleeting glimpses of the beast reminiscent of the old 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film.  The Bigfoot in Exists, however, is not just taking a brisk stroll by the river bed.  He's pissed.

Bigfoot peers through a crack in Exists (2014)
Oh shit!  He knows we're down here!
     Sanchez makes effective use of sound design to sell the monster, as well.  It's amazing just how effective it is to only hear Bigfoot's rampage as he ransacks a cabin while the leads cower in the cellar.  The same goes for peering deeply into the darkened woods through the eye of the camera as the eerie wailing of the beast surrounds you.

     Perhaps you've noticed that I've yet to say anything about the narrative, though.  Well, that's because there really isn't one.  I suppose the lack of a compelling narrative goes a long way toward explaining the lack of characterization, but the script by Jaime Nash  (who also scripted Sanchez's superior 2006 alien abduction flick Altered) is really nothing more than a basic framework to get the viewer from one Bigfoot encounter to the next.  Once again, everything else takes a backseat to the monster action.

     Ultimately then, all Exists really has to offer is a rampaging monster and a hollow core.  Thing is, it's an unusually well rendered monster.  Sanchez uses every trick in the book to make each scene involving Bigfoot truly thrilling.  There's a bit with Bigfoot pursuing a victim fleeing on a mountain bike that recalls Sanchez's solid V/H/S/2 segment A Ride In The Park.  The conclusion of Exists, in which Bigfoot tosses an entire camper trailer off the side of a mountain, is similarly bracing.  There are just too many crackerjack scenes like these to dismiss the movie out of hand.

Bigfoot jumping from above in Exists (2014)
It's raining Sasquatch!  Seriously, how can anyone not want to see this? 

     So how bad can a movie be and still score a recommendation from the Dog Farm?  Exists is lacking almost every key component one would expect to find in a traditionally good monster movie save one.  It's got a really good monster.  Nimble editing, clever cinematography, superior sound, and a convincing costume design come together to make this the Bigfoot I always wanted to see in a movie.  It's just a shame that Exists otherwise settles for mediocrity or it could have been something really special.

     Dim the lights, crank up the surround sound, and adjust your expectations accordingly.  Exists still scores that recommendation, because sometimes a little technically proficient brain dead squatchploitation is enough.

January 24, 2015

The Info Zombie Podcast #95 - Am I The Worst Guest Ever? Probably Not, But I'm At Least Part Of The Discussion . . .

Brother Theodore and a flummoxed David Letterman
     The Info Zombie never says die.  Carl invited me back for my third guest shot on The Info Zombie Podcast, even though I forgot to plug in my mic last time.  The jury is still out as to whether or not my comments being intelligible constitutes an improvement.  I also made a conscious effort to breathe quietly, modulate the volume of my speaking voice, and form complete sentences.  It's a good thing Carl is so adept at keeping me on topic.  Does anyone remember back when Brother Theodore used to do guest shots on Late Night With David Letterman?  Just me, huh?  Check out the clip.  It's not easy to keep a grouchy old man on topic.

     We are a little all over the place this time, but it was fun to see where the conversation would take us.  Carl and I talk a bit about old horror movies, new horror movies, found footage movies, unreleased movies, and books about movies.  So...movies, I guess.  
     -- I now realize we were actually pretty focused --

     You can listen to Episode #95 of The Info Zombie Podcast right here, or download the episode on iTunes if you prefer listening on the go.  Be sure to subscribe when you  visit iTunes, and check out all the goodies on display at The Info Zombie website, as well. 

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