From Beyond (1986) – Movie review

from beyond 1986 pic 21

From Beyond (1986)

Directed by Stuart Gordon
Produced by Brian Yuznamy top 10 1980s horror

Jeffrey Combs
Barbara Crampton
Ted Sorel
Ken Foree
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon

(***warning, explicit and graphic images and descriptions below)

Ever since Freddy Kruger uttered his first snarky line at his wincing victim, horror in the 1980’s was headed down a path to morbid humor. Few would take it as far as the Stuart Gordon directed, Brian Yuzna produced, re-imagining of the HP Lovecraft tale, From Beyond. This film is morbid black humor taken to the extremes of sadistic gore and horrific irony. While a majority of fans will pick Reanimator as their favorite Gordon/Yuzna collaboration, I like this one a little better, mostly because of the strange abstract creature that Dr. Pretorius becomes.from beyond 1986 poster

A machine invented by Dr. Pretorius and Dr. Crawford Tillinghast called The (Tillinghast) Resonator is believed to stimulate an unused gland within the human brain. The gland enables a person to see into a parallel dimension. The life forms in this parallel dimension have a penchant for human flesh and anyone who moves within the energy field of the machine is attacked.

Dr Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton), is the psychiatrist assigned to Crawford’s case. He has been in the mental institution since the death of Pretorius. When she brings Crawford to the lab to reconstruct the scene of the crime, they both discover that Pretorius is not dead, just transcended into the beyond. As Crawford and McMichaels become mesmerized under the machine’s influence, Pretorius returns to devour them both. A detective sent to guard them, played by Ken Foree, is eaten alive by the strange creatures. McMichaels acts out some repressed sexual desires, made evident by how her eyes linger on a video of Pretorius performing sadistic sex acts. Crawford’s pineal gland bursts out of the front of his forehead like an eel and demands for Crawford to find new sustenance. He attacks the head psychiatrist, sucks out her eyeball then devours her brain by sucking it out through her eye socket. Yeah, gross! But I can’t look away. I haven’t been this mesmerized by gore since a possessed woman stabbed a number two pencil into a guy’s Achilles tendon in Evil Dead! Crawford goes on to suck out more eyeballs and brains, I giant worm grows in the basement and McMichaels is turned-on by the vibrations of the resonator and goes full tilt S&M.

This gory grind-fest is not for the feint at heart, but if you like Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive, I think you will like this film. It’s absurd violence, a bizarre journey into gory blood-lust entertainment.

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Fun Facts:

The Lovecraft story that this film is adapted from is only 7 pages long.

The house where the lab is located and the experiments take place has an odd address, 666 Benevolent St.

At the mental hospital, automatic doors use the door opening sound from the original Star Trek series.

Here’s some alternate posters and dvd/blu-ray art:

from beyond 1986 alternate artwork

Night Gallery – S2 E3 – My Favorite Horror TV Episodes – Halloween Edition

night gallery pics 015Night Gallery 2-3 Aunt Ada pic 4

Night Gallery – S2 E3

Night Gallery is a series produced by Rod Serling and Jack Laird, that ran from 1970- 73. The Twilight Zone styled, one-hour show hadnight gallery pics 017 a wonderful introductory premise. Each week the host, Rod Serling, would swagger through an art gallery of nightmarish creations and pick one to tell us viewers about. The camera would zoom in on the painting, thus leading into the story. Each 1 hr. episode would have three stories; one main story, one minor story and one very brief tale with a comedic twist. The stories were not as timeless as the stories in The Twilight Zone, but some of the tales stood out as exceptionally creepy.

This episode has one of my favorite stories in the series, Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay, along with two shorter pieces.

Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay
Craig Lowell is a college professor whose wife has welcomed her Aunt Ada into their home. Ada is a gray-haired old woman with a cane who seems docile and innocent around her niece Joanna, wanting to share an afternoon ritual of having tea and talking. However, when Joanna is not around, she likes to challenge Craig’s authority in the home and doesn’t seem feeble at all. When the husband becomes suspicious of the woman he contacts a professor at the University that deals in night gallery pics 005the occult, Professor Porteus, played by Jonathan Harris (better known to most of us as Dr. Smith, from the TV show Lost in Space). The professor provides some valuable information about how a witch can jump from an old used up body into the body of a younger woman, and how to stop her. Craig suspects the ritual is taking place and he battles Aunt Ada in his home to defeat her. In the end he has successfully beaten her. Or has he? Stars James Farentino at Craig Lowell and Michele Lee as his wife Joanna.

With Apologies to Mr. Hyde
Adam West stars in this short vignette playing Dr. Jekyll in a moment of transformation.

The Flip Side of Satan
Arty Johnson plays an angry, washed-up, radio disc jockey starting a new job at a derelict station. Unhappy with the music he has to play he decides to quit but discovers he is locked in the studio and can’t leave.

The Aunt Ada story is the reason to view this episode. It’s a creepy witch story and the actress that plays Ada, Jeanette Nolan, is fantastic as the centuries old, body-jumping witch. The effects consist of camera and film tricks only slightly more creative than what you would see on Bewitched, or I Dream of Jeanie at the time. However, I think the acting and directing in this episode achieve a level of eerie foreboding that raises it above its limited budget.

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The stories in the series range from well-written, 70s style, TV horror, to just downright bland. They don’t have the message and introspect that Twilight Zone episodes had. The best Night Gallery to watch is the TV movie/pilot that started it all, but I’ll review that at a later date. If you are inclined to check out the series, this is one of the best of the bunch. A nasty witch tale always makes for good viewing on Halloween nights!

The Fog (1980) – movie review

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The Fog (1980)

Directed by John Carpenter
Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Adrienne Barbeaumy top 10 1980s horror
Jamie Lee Curtis
Tom Atkins
Janet Leigh
Hal Holbrook

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We all probably know what the story entails in The Fog, but to review it briefly, The town of Antonio Bay is cursed due to the founding father’s destruction of Captain Blake’s ship, the death of his people, and stealing his gold which is invested in the town.  On the 100th year anniversary, the spirits of Blake and his crew come back for revenge and to take back what is rightfully theirs, the crew’s gold which was melted and fashioned into a giant gold cross.

This is a great ghost story movie that begins with creepy poltergeist occurrences piercing a quiet night and builds to a crescendo of horrific The Fog dvd coverdeaths at the hands of the dead spirits. The mood and atmosphere are top notch in this film. Carpenter took a queue from the EC Horror Comics of the 50’s and fashioned it into a classic ghost tale of American Gothic Horror.

One of the creepiest scenes to me is the attack on the fishing boat, when the fishermen come up from below and see stoic figures standing in the fog on the bow of the ship.

The mystery of what these shadowy figures look like, the lack of details, makes it scarier then fully shown ghost images. Quite often the only thing in clear view are the hooks that these ghouls are holding in their shriveled hands. The whole sequence with Mrs. Kobritz, the babysitter at the house was tense, a prime example of Carpenter’s mastery of suspense.

Carpenter once again crafts a wonderful score for the film including the creepy main theme. You can hear it below in the video. I had purchased the film soundtrack and play it often during our Halloween activities.

What most people don’t realize about the film are the multitude of references and homage’s to other horror icons in it. I point out a few in the Fun Facts.

FOG, THE - Silver Ferox Design WEBFun Facts:

Tom Atkins’ character mentions Bodega Bay, which was the setting of The Birds (1963).

On the radio, a search for the lost fishing boat is mentioned – the radio voice names, Waitely Point and Arkham Reef as points being searched. Both are frequently used titles, (one a name, the other a place) in stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

Carpenter and Hill were inspired to write this after a trip to Stonehenge and seeing the ancient ruin shadowed in thick fog. Another strong influence on the story was The Trollenberg Terror (1958).

When water from the ships nameplate spills on the cassette deck at the radio station, the tape says, “like an albatross around the neck,” a quote from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

The coroner in the film is named Dr. Phibes, an obvious nod to the Vincent Price films, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Returns.

The part of Father Malone was originally offered to Christopher Lee, but he was unable to clear his schedule for the shoot.

This film brought mother and daughter horror stars together in a film, Janet Leigh (Psycho) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween). Both owe much of their success to the popularity of the horror films they had stared in.

Carpenter’s Main Theme for The Fog:

This ‘Making of The Fog’ video is about a half hour long:

Long Island Ruins – King Zog’s Castle – Haunted Places

LI ruins King Zogs Castle 4

Long Island Ruins – King Zog’s Castle

Creepy Halloween Hiking

A hike through the trails in one North shore, Long Island preserve will lead you to the ruins of King Zog’s Castle.

walk in the woods LI ruins King Zogs Castle 1

The trails are wooded and dense, running through the quiet nature preserve. Many trails criss-cross, which could easily lead you to being lost. When you come around a bend you run into an eerie sight, the ruins of King Zog’s Castle.

King Zog was an Albanian King in the early 1900’s. He had purchase the property and built the castle on the Long Island Gold Coast. When his monarchy was overthrown, he had to go into hiding and abandoned the castle.

LI ruins King Zogs Castle 5

Now, 100 years later, nature is well on its way to reclaiming the land. Entering the area gives you a creepy feeling. Often times you’ll get the feeling that someone is watching you, but when you turn around, no one is there.

The Ouija Board and Other Fortune Telling Games

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Check out my new article about Ouija Boards at Halloweenforevermore.com

The Ouija Board and Other Fortune Telling Games

A look at the history, use and methods of the Ouija Board and other popular spirit contact games

click the Halloween Forevermore banner or the link below:

halloween-forevermore-logo[1]

 

http://www.halloweenforevermore.com/horrific-words-articles/article-the-ouija-board-and-other-fortune-telling-games

 

Ka-bala game black cat

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Kolchak: The Night Stalker – my favorite horror TV episodes – Halloween edition

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Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Season 1, episode 1

Series 1974/1975 – 20 episodes – following two full-length made for TV movies

Darren McGavinKolchak tv pic 10
Simon Oakland
Jack Grinnage
Ruth McDevitt

Created by Jeff Rice
Directed by Allen Baron

The Ripper – S1 E1

Chicago, May 21st, 3:AM, location: the Boom Boom Room, Dancer Michelle Shiff dances her last number…forever.

A woman screams. A strange man darts from the dressing room leaving behind her mutilated body.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, several women at exotic dance clubs and seedy massage parlors are murdered by a strangely dressed assailant yielding a cane. (The cane pulls out into a sword.) Carl Kolchak, reporter for the Chicago Independent News Service,  arrives at each crime scene often before the police, much to the dismay of the police Captain.

There is a strong similarity in this case to the killing of five women in London, in 1888, by a murderer only known as, Jack the Ripper. Further Kolchak - the night stalker pic 3investigation leads Kolchak to believe that this killer, Jack the Ripper, and the killer in several other similar incidents, were committed by the same man. The killer travels from one city to another, killing five woman at a time, before moving on to the next. Germany, Italy, New York, five women murdered and mutilated through the years, all with the same MO.

The supernatural adversaries in the show were always interesting. They were always like super-villians, throwing police across the sidewalks, getting shot but not stopping, and displaying powers beyond normal humans. In this episode, the Ripper jumps from a four story building to the street, in order to evade police. Vincennzo is stuck between having the timid reporter, Updyke, writing a weak uninteresting story, or Kolchak going overboard with his story about a two hundred year old serial killer. Kolchak and Vincennzo argue and spar about the reports, which adds an exciting element to the hard-boiled reporter’s style.

They sure know how to ramp up the tension in these old shows and this episode sets the bar high for the series. Kolchak discovers the home of the Kolchak the ripper pic 16killer and enters it looking for clues. Naturally, the Ripper comes home while Carl is in the house, and the reporter nearly dies trying to get that elusive photograph.

This is the first episode of the series and although the music and some of the ideas are dated, the show is still entertaining. Much of that is because Darren McGavin plays a convincing role making you want to believe stories that should be relegated to Weekly World News, and tabloids that concentrate on the weird and paranormal. I enjoy his acting and personality whether he’s playing Carl Kolchak, or the father in A Christmas Story. Simon Oakland as Vincenzo is the perfect counter to Carl’s insanity.

Fun Facts:

The Characters and story line were based on novels by Jeff Rice. 

Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson had worked together on the previous made-for-TV-movies, but declined to work on the series.

Darren McGavin declined to renew his contract after 20 episodes because he had taken on the producer’s role in a struggle to make the show better and never received credit for it (or pay). There were 3 scripted but un-filmed episodes at the time of his departure.

Creepshow (1982) – movie review

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Creepshow (1982)

Directed by George Romero
Written by Stephen King
Effects by Tom Savini

Hal Holbrookmy top 10 1980s horror
Adrienne Barbeau
Fritz Weaver
Leslie Nielsen
Ted Danson
E. G. Marshall
Viveca Lindfors

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Creepshow picked up where Amicus Films had left off, honoring the 1950’s horror comics in an anthology format film. Though Creepshow wasn’t a particular horror comic from the past, they did a splendid job at portraying it as such. It opens with a young boy who likes to read horror comics being berated by his father, who takes his latest comic and throws it in the garbage. The cover opens and we are treated to the stories held within its pages. There is some wonderful animation in the beginning titles and at the end of the film, and the comic book style is weaved throughout the film as live action frames turn to comic art frames and visa-versa. There are some comic style narration titles and during certain scenes, the creepshow dvdposterbackgrounds turn colorful, as they would in frames in the pages of the comics. These are some wonderful aspects of the film and added with the tongue-in-cheek, dark humor, the film is genuinely original in its creativity. We are treated to 5 stories here and they are fun horror stories which I think stand the test of time.

Father’s Day
Viveca Lindfors plays a wonderful part in this segment as Bedilia, the great aunt who murdered her nasty old miser Father with a heavy stone ashtray from the mantle. Now it’s many years later and the family is getting together on Father’s Day to celebrate what the old patriarch had left them. However, this year their dead uncle is going to want something from them…his cake. I can only tell you that the question, “Where’s My Cake?!” became a quote used often in my household on any birthday or celebration.

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill
Stephen King himself plays Jordy, a backwoods, country bumpkin who finds a meteor crashed on his property. When he touches it, he becomes infected with “Meteor shit” which springs up into a grassy fungus. The dopey character makes a dozen wrong decisions and actions, the biggest being, jumping in the tub to relieve the itching of a plant. Guess what plants like? Water!

Something to Tide You Over
Leslie Neilson plays a wickedly awful character in this short which finds, Richard, a wealthy businessman, finding out about his cheating wife and her lover while at his beach house. He tricks them, at separate times, into getting buried up to their necks in the sand. He’s not going to cover them over, he’s just going to let the tide come in. Drowning is one of my least preferred ways to die if I had to pick one. This film does a splendid job at creepshow pic 15portraying how nasty and awful it is. Moments before the big wave is about to wash over Harry (Ted Danson) he turns to the closed circuit camera and promises revenge. Later that evening, Richard is confronted by Harry and Becky, now water zombies, in some creepy scenes. The water zombies are brought to life (death?) with excellent make-up effects.

The Crate
Henry (Holbrook), a college professor is constantly berated by his miserable and often drunk wife, Billie (Barbeau). When another professor tells him about the discovery of a Crate from the early 1900’s in the college stairwell, He finds it appropriate to get his wife to come along for a visit. Now if only the hibernating beast inside will wake for another feast on human flesh. It has a voracious appetite. This is probably everyone’s favorite story from the film. The beast creation by Tom Savini is an excellent example of old school practical effects.

They’re Creeping Up on You!
This segment with E.G. Marshall will surely give you the creeps as it was filmed with millions of live cockroaches. A germ-a-phobic, living in his germ-free penthouse is overrun by these pests and engages in a battle he can’t win.

I will also have to mention the perfect moody soundtrack music comprised of Moog Synthesizer sounds and piano melodies by John Harrison. Harrison also did music for Day of the Dead and Tales From the Dark Side TV show (for which he also directed some episodes). Don’t forget to look for a Tom Savini cameo as one of the garbage men that find the Creepshow Comic book at the end of the film. Creepshow is a wonderfully made film with great stories, perfect for Halloween viewing!

creepshow pic 6 creepshow pic 7

Fun Facts:
Creepshow 2 is almost as good as this one so I‘d recommend it. 

but Creepshow 3 left a lot to be desired – not recommended.

They would later release a Creepshow comic book series with stories from the films.