The Gargoyles (1972) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

gargoyles 1972 - pic 21

The Gargoyles (1972)

Directed by Bill L. Nortontop 1970's TV horror - small
Cornel Wilde
Jennifer Salt
Grayson Hall
Bernie Casey
Scott Glenn

Can you say Stan Winston? This film is slow paced by today’s standards but I remember being scared when it had first aired on television. I was a youngster and the alpha gargoyle was quite convincing, due to the make-up effects of a young Stan Winston. Combine his incredible make-up work with a powerful voice put through a voice filter and you have a threatening character. The story is simplistic but I still find this watch-able once it get rolling. It has some PG violence which includes smashing through walls and doors, ripping car doors off their hinges and turning over a station wagon. It also uses slo-mo to make the gargoyle beasts seem to have unnatural movement. It is totally obvious but aesthetically pleasing. What I find interesting is similarities found in horror flicks which would follow; the early scene where the farmer has a skeleton in his barn/warehouse reminds me of Jeepers Creepers. Also, the beasts come alive every so-many years then go dormant for a long period. Another early scene has a gargoyle jump on the station wagon roof from behind in a scene filmed quite like a similar scene in Halloween. And, burning the lair of eggs reminded me of a similar scene in Aliens. Love for this film is probably more nostalgic than anything, but it does have cult horror flick status. I still enjoy watching it but I like all those 70’s horror flicks.

gargoyles 1972 - pic 14

Fun Facts:
The entire film was shot with a single camera in 18 days.

Vic Perrin did a voice-over for the head gargoyle in post-production because they didn’t think Bernie Casey’s voice fit the character.

Bill Norton remained an active TV director to date directing episodes of Law and Order, Angel, Medium, The Guardian, and an episode each of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ghost Whisperer.

No doubt this film had some influence in a Halloween costume design I set up some years later: 

mike k - halloween 1991 b

Its a bit fuzzy but I got the horns and fangs, I’m carrying snakes, I have skulls hanging from my “wings”…lotsa’ fun stuff!

The Possession (2012) – movie review

The PossessionThe Possession (2012)
Lions Gate Films

This film is about a demon trapped in a dybbuk box and then accidentally released upon an unsuspecting family. The young lady, Em, is eventually possessed by the spirit as the father investigates the causes of his daughter’s strange behaviors. He is lead to an old Hasidic community where he learns the demon’s name, Abizu, which translates to ‘taker of children’. A young Hasidic agrees to take on the exorcism which takes place in the hospital where Em is being monitored. The back story about three young ladies who accidentally conjure, then capture the demon in this box is interesting. The supposedly true story of what happened with this box in recent times is more believable and consequently scarier than this film. When Em looks into her throat and sees two fingers poking out just reminds me of The Grudge and the demon face in the sonogram was a nice digi-effect but wasn’t anything new. The exorcism was short with a lot of wind, running around the hospital, and Hasidic chanting, but failed to deliver the scares associated with this genre of movie. The Unborn had a creepier Jewish exorcism in it. This film took a fertile idea and made a mediocre horror flick, thick with unconvincing effects and rehashed themes seen a dozen times over. Do yourself a favor and look up the real story of this dybbuk box (there was no exorcism or possession with it). There was a good retelling on one of those Scy-Fy channel ‘true ghost story’ shows.
the possession - pic 1 the possession - pic 2
the possession - pic 3 the possession - pic 4

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) – movie review

Paranormal Activity 4
Paramount Pictures

Katie and Alex are back, not only to ruin this movie but to taint an otherwise decent PA 2. I don’t know where they got all those clips of people being so terrified in the theater, supposedly watching this film – they must have been showing The Exorcist in that theater. The main problem with this film is there is nothing really new about the approach, the scare tactics or the style, that we haven’t seen in the previous, much better films. The one new wrinkle, (and the truth about how the X-box Connect works) looked like a computer animation. The main character, Alex (Kathryn Newton), was likable and engaging but I was never all that frightened for her by Katie walking around in the middle of the night like a zombie. The mom comes off like the mom in Nightmare On Elm Street, only there because, there has to be a mom in the family. The kid, Hunter, was creepy early on but how much of his solemn expressions can we deal with. The one really frightening aspect, Alex levitating in the middle of the night, is swept under the carpet so fast, we hardly have time to be frightened by it – if I saw that clip of me lifting up in the air while I was sleeping, I would freak the f%#k out! The whole storyline and plot was so convoluted that I just didn’t care anymore. With films like these, it is much better to keep it simple (*Blair Witch 101) – we don’t need much of a story, we just need the scares. I am a fan of the series, PA 1 – 3 are fantastic films in my book. This one, you’ll probably watch out of curiosity, but you’ve been forewarned.

Creepy webcam in teenagers room                       Creepy Katie shadow

Creepy kid shadow as seen from creepy webcam   – creepy Katie shadow, again

My mom always had that same bewildered look when she came into my room…
not so creepy.

Rawhead Rex – (1986) – movie review

Rawhead Rex (1986) – movie review

This film is one of my guilty pleasures. Sure, the makeup-fx are not the greatest (the monster looks a bit rubbery in close-ups), the plot is the basic good vs. evil standard, and characters are introduced for the sole purpose of being ripped apart, but still, I like it. Howard Hollenbeck is a historian/archeologist writing a book about Neolithic religious sites in Ireland. He drags his family in tow, under the guise of a vacation, to see a church built upon a pre-Christian site of worship. The stained glass images in the church tell a tale of how to quell the rage of some ancient demon beast.  Meanwhile, on a nearby farm an ancient stone pillar stands in the way of clearing a new field for planting season. The farmer digs up the Stonehenge-like monolith, unwittingly releasing the demon from its eons old resting place.

The beast then goes on a killing spree, a no rhyme or reason rampage of unrelenting, blood-soaked violence, ripping and tearing its way through the countryside. The beast semi-possesses folks to do its bidding and block the efforts of police trying to find the murderous culprit. When Hollenbeck’s own son is taken by the beast, known as Rawhead Rex, it is up to him and his wife to figure out the puzzle of the stained-glass windows and fight the demon head-on.

This film is actually hard to find on DVD and is not on Blu-ray. It took me over a year to find it at a decent price. This was one of Clive Barker’s early film adaptations and would be a great starting point for anyone’s Barker collection. Although I hear that Barker condemns this film and the director for leaving out the more cerebral parts of the script and turning it into a standard monster movie, it is a good monster movie. It’s a plethora of killing and carnage from the hairy cross-eyed monster that is worthy of better acknowledgement. How could you not like a movie with the title, Rawhead Rex.



The Dangers of using a Ouija Board – fact or fiction – part III


Ouija Board – fact or fiction – part III
The Dangers of using a Ouija Board

The biggest danger posed while using the Ouija Board is using it alone. I believe the reason for this is the following: when using it with others, there is always one or two people that are skeptics and that somehow decreases the power of the entity you have contacted, or at least keeps it in check. When using the board alone you become fully trusting of the spirit. Wanting to keep the communication open, you offer yourself, your energy and your belief, totally.

Often, the entity will start out nice and cordial. It may tell you things about its life, how it died and other details that may give you some excitement. Then, it may turn in an instant, become nasty, spiteful, and even begin to use profanity in its language. This is when it has become dangerous. You can never tell for sure if some dark entity has taken over the portal and is pretending to be the first spirit you had contacted or if the dark entity had been the only spirit you had communicated with all along and had gained your trust deceitfully for the very purpose of breaking you down.

After the spirit has gained your trust, it may start to offer suggestions for dealing with your own life and situations. It will give you opinions about your loved ones. Sometimes it will tell you that your family, husband, or wife doesn’t really love you. It will make up lies, telling you your spouse is cheating on you, and your family or business partners are trying to deceive you. The entity will say you were adopted or your father was not really your father, etc, anything that will create misery, conflict, hatred, or discord. It may use vulgarity and tell you vulgar things about yourself or family. This is a demonic entity and it will literally try to destroy your life by attacking your psychological well-being.

Getting rid of a board is not always as easy as it sounds. You will be surprised at the board’s tenacity for reappearing in your home, or being replaced by another board. One time I had discarded my Ouija Board by burying it deep within a trash bag with a bunch of other trash piled on top of it. I watched as the garbage men hauled it away. Case closed, job well done. Two days later a neighbor had left a bag for us, as she often did because we had two young children, with some hand-me-down clothes and games. Within the stack of five or six games we found, you guessed it, another Ouija Board. It had been a different board but we have to assume the same entity would be communicating through it. I did not use it. I did not want to find out.

Even after you have successfully dispatched, discarded, or destroyed a board, the entity that you had communicated with may still be present in your home and in your life. You may have opened a doorway, a portal from the spirit world that will not be closed simply because you have discarded the board. Many different entities can pass in and out through this portal. This portal may be in a physical place such as a basement or backyard or it may be associated with you and follow you to new locations if you were to move or vacation. At this point you may have to seek professional help to close the doorway. It will be important to protect yourself with prayer and good spirituality.

Anything more than casual or occasional use of a Ouija Board will strengthen this doorway and make it more difficult to close.

The traditional Ouija Board is not the only danger associated with contacting the other side. Doing things like, spreading flour on the floor to see if there are any footprints or markings in the morning and/or using a recording device to ask spirits to come forth are both rituals of communication. Having a séance or trying your hand at remote writing can also have negative outcomes. When it comes to these daring little games always remember, it is not a game.


To read part I and part II of this article, click on the ‘Strange but True’ category in the right hand column.

related articles:
The Dangers of using a Ouija Board – part I
The Dangers of using a Ouija Board – part II

The Devil’s Rock – (2012) – movie review

The Devil’s Rock – (2012)

It would be rare to find a movie that has only three characters yet, could intrigue me the way that The Devil’s Rock did. I knew little about the movie. The cover art resembled a Marylyn Manson video. But shortly into the film, I noticed that I was hanging on to every word. It is not a high-action, horror-war movie, or a Nazi-zombie flick. It is an intimate film that engrosses you with tense dialogue and sharp characters.

The film takes place on the day before D-day, during WWII, in 1944. Two British soldiers are assigned to neutralize a German bunker on one of the French Channel Islands. As they approach the bunker they hear the screams of a woman prisoner. Upon entering the complex they discover most of the German soldiers and Nazi’s to be dead. The only surviving officer, Colonel Klaus Meyers, quickly dispatches one of the Brits but captures soldier, Ben Grogan, alive. Grogan discovers that Colonel Meyers is the head of the Nazi division that investigates occult powers for the purpose of using them to win the war. However, it seems that the Colonel’s newly occult conjured guest is a bit unruly and has gotten the better of his team. He now has to convince Grogan to help him perform a ritual, which takes two people, to send the demon back to where it came from. To complicate matters, the chained-up demon takes on the visage of an innocent, British woman, and contradicts everything the Nazi colonel says. The film turns into a screw-turning, three-way battle of wits that keeps you on the edge. (I’ve left a few details out so as not to be a total spoiler).

This is a well-written script with strong characters and exceptional acting. The impressive looking demon is a fine example of what good prosthetics and make-up can do and proves that you do not need overblown CGI or even a large budget to make an effective horror movie. (Scy-fy channel should take a lesson from this film and ‘can’ all the lousy CG). I like that the make-up still retains the features of the character and is not overdone.  This film reminds me a bit of The Exorcist III, with George C. Scott because the plot of this film is driven by dialogue. If you liked that film, and/or House of the Devil, you will most likely enjoy The Devil’s Rock. I was pleasantly surprised.



Ouija boards & Witchboards – fact or fiction – part I


 Ouija Boards – fact or fiction

I recently purchased the movie Witchboard on DVD. It is a ghost/possession movie from 1986 starring, Tawny Kitaen. While the film is decent, though not as good as I had remembered, there was a very interesting element to this DVD; it came with a mini Witch Board insert-sleeve. The glossy cardboard sleeve has the traditional Ouija Board markings and design. Perforated edges can be removed, to make it dimensionally proportioned. One end contains a pop-out planchette to use with the board.

On the opposite side of this Ouija Board is the traditional film info; scene listings, credits, running time, etc. I have no intention of using this novelty. I will not pop-out the planchette or break-off its ends for aesthetic reasons. It is promotional items like this, which become collectible.


There is another reason why I do not pop-out that planchette, lay it upon the board and ask questions of the mystical world beyond. I do not need the movie Witchboard, Paranormal Activity, or The Exorcist to tell me of the potential dangers. I had learned a long time ago that these boards, although some are even manufactured by Hasbro, are not ‘games’ at all. I’ve had experiences with Ouija Boards, myself.

Sure, some of the things that have occurred could be rationalized as overactive imagination or subconscious knowledge coming to the surface of conscious thought. However, there are always a few things that leave a big fat question-mark, long after the Ouija Board is gone. Of those reading this, half of you are scoffing and half of you know exactly what I am talking about. Many people have had experiences with these ‘games’ and none of the experiences have a happy finale. In the end, it is always, “I have to get rid of this damn thing!”


A recurring aspect of Ouija Board phenomenon is the fact that, a board, once attached to a person that uses it, is not so easy to get rid of. It usually takes several attempts to dispose of the game. Somehow, the board always seems to fall out of the garbage pail, and not taken away by the garbage men. It is then returned to the house by another family member or neighbor, who doesn’t even know your original intention was to get rid of the accursed board to begin with. So, it winds up back in your home at the oddest time, sitting there on the kitchen table or bedroom desk, as your jaw goes slack and eyes go wide with terror.

At a later date I will relay a couple of past experiences.

For now, I would like you to indulge me with an experiment. Make sure the room is quiet. Shut off any music and the TV in the background. Make sure you do this at a time when no one will disturb you. Now, look at the computer keyboard you type on. It resembles a Witch board, doesn’t it? The only things missing are Yes/No and Goodbye. What I want you to do is open up a simple word-processing program. ‘Word’ is too complicated. Open up notepad. Click on the white page and set your cursor so it is ready to type. Do not type anything. Looking at the keyboard, place your fingers on the plastic area directly under the keys of the keyboard. Try to get all five fingers touching the plastic. Now, I want you to clear your mind of all thoughts. All worries, appointments, wants and needs, aspirations – clear them all out. Gone. Take a few deep breaths. Relax. Wait a few more moments in meditation.

Now, ask the all important question, “Is anybody out there?”

For the third night in a row, without any clicks of the keys, the word ‘hello’ has appeared on my screen.

Side note: I would suggest shutting down your computer at night, before bed. Another note, the word count in this blog came to 666 words,  strange.
Sleep well, my friends.