Saturday, October 31, 2009

When Halloween Was Simple...

In the days before blow-up animatronic lawn ornaments, a simple carved pumpkin said it all. And a couple of bottles of coke. Happy Halloween, folks!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Another horror re-post for the Halloween season. For my friend Tony's birthday a few months back, we got together with him and a bunch of his painfully cute friends to eat pasta and watch BLOODY BIRTHDAY, a little-known 1981 horror film directed by Ed Hunt. (The director of such gems as UFOs ARE REAL, STARSHIP INVASION and one episode of NBC's GREATEST HEROES OF THE BIBLE). The story begins in 1970, as three babies are born during a total eclipse. Apparently when the sun and moon team up to block Saturn - any infants that a born instantly become "demon seeds" - without a conscience. Good to know.Fast forward to 1980 and the three babies have now blossomed into the brattiest kids in town. As preparations begin for their big 10th birthday party, strange things begin to happen in the town of Meadowdale or Fernwood or whatever. Think VILAGE OF THE DAMNED on a smaller scale.

First a teen-age couple are brutally killed while having poorly-lit sex in a cemetery plot, setting off a string of ghastly random and Rube Goldberg-esque deaths. Then we meet our unsavory trio : Curtis, a young Stephen Colbert lookalike; Debbie, a dead ringer for a child beauty pageant loser; and some quiet, bowl-cut blond kid who takes orders from the other two. These three madcap mini-MacGyvers manage to turn any found object (jump ropes, skateboards, shovels, baseball bats, etc.) into a murder weapon and soon the deaths begin to add up. Debbie is quite the young entrepreneur, as she charges the neighborhood boys a quarter to watch her sister Beverly (Julie Brown - who goes full T & A) dress and undress through a peep hole. Debbie's dad is the local sheriff, but not for long - as he becomes victim number two. Two constant targets of the trio's shenanigans are camel-toe sporting amateur astrologist (and sometimes school teacher) Joyce and her misunderstood little brother Timmy. The whippersnappers try to run Joyce over in a junkyard with a remote-controlled car (thanks to the bespectacled young inventor Curtis), and then try to make her seem crazy and paranoid when four-eyed Curtis makes her believe that he poisoned the birthday cake frosting with ant killer. It looks just like the Skinny & Sweet!

Daughter of acting legend Lee - Susan Strasberg of MANITOU fame- makes a brief appearance as a schoolteacher - who looks just like Andrea Thomas from ISIS, but sadly, she never gets the chance to transform into the Egyptian goddess before she's shot to death by Curtis- with the gun he stole from Debbie's dead dad. He's very clever, cause he wears glasses.There's a few other deaths, including Julie Brown's encounter with the wrong end of a bow & arrow - and another teen sex scene in bad lighting.

Overall, a pretty creepy and somewhat fun example of early 80s low-budget horror. It definitely helps to watch it with a gaggle of attractive young men. On my old scale of 10 "Huhs" - I'd give BLOODY BIRTHDAY a solid 8, just for have the moxie to show 10 year olds killing people with reckless abandon. The child acting is pretty believable, making me wonder about the trio of ten-year olds sitting at the table next to me at the Whole Foods cafe while I write this.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Just in time for Halloween...TROLL 2 (1990 directed by Claudio Fragasso aka Drake Floyd) is one of those rare sequels that requires that you know nothing about the first film because it is, in fact NOT a sequel to TROLL. Not only that, but no actual trolls appear in TROLL 2- only Goblins. One wonders why it wasn't called TROLL 2: RISE OF THE GOBLINS or something to that effect. This film has gained quite a cult following in the past few years and I needed to see why.The plot of this oddball exercise in filmmaking concerns an average suburban family (Mom, Dad, two kids and a dead grandpa), who decide to swap houses with a Amish-like countrified clan from the nearby small "half-empty" town called Nilbog–and the madness that ensues.
We first meet a likable freckle-faced boy named Joshua and his dead grandfather, Seth. Yup - gramps died 6 months earlier but he just can't stop hanging out in Joshua's room, reading him scary bedtime stories. Tonight he's telling the tale of THE GOBLINS - the mischievious vegetarian creatures who trick humans into consuming magical food which will turn them into vegetables–so the goblins can eat them!Meanwhile Joshua's horny sister, Holly- a Jazzercise junkie– is visited by her beau Elliot. She thinks he might be gay because he spends too much time with his male friends. Holly wants Elliot to join her family on vacation in Nilbog–but Holly insists–only if he comes without his buddies. Here's a sample of the snappy dialogue between them:
Elliott: I'm the victim of a nocturnal rapture. I have to release my lowest instincts with a woman.
Holly: [slams Elliott in the balls]
Release your instincts in the bathroom.
Are you nuts? You tryin' to turn me into a homo?
Wouldn't be too hard. If my father discovers you here, he'd cut off your little nuts and eat them. He can't stand you.

Later, in the car, after mom coaxes Joshua to "sing that song I like so much" (aka "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"), Joshua has a feverish nightmare about his family turning into goblins. Granpa Seth appears again, posing as a hitchhiker on the side of the road. Joshua tells his parents to stop the car because he has to puke. Ghostly Seth informs urges him to convince his parents to turn back or else they'll be eaten by goblins in Nilbog! The family coax Joshua back into the car and away from the homeless man. They think that Joshua is making up stories. I have to point out here that the poor actors playing the parents are among the worst I've ever seen - you have to wonder if it's the director's fault.
When they arrive in Nilbog, the townspeople seem a bit odd and aloof, very Stepford. Their doppleganger family has left them a meal that is covered in green cake frosting. Grampa the friendly ghost tells Joshua he must stop his family from eating the food. So, Seth pulls a Hiro from HEROES and freezes time (WTF?) and crafty Joshua whips out his little Joshua and urinates all over the dinner table. I'm not kidding.
Actual dialogue:
Father: You can't piss on hospitality! I WON'T ALLOW IT!
What are you going to do to me, Daddy?
Father: Tightening my belt one loop so that I don't feel hunger pains, and your sister and mother will have to do likewise.

Meanwhile, Elliot and his three "gay" friends have arrived via a RV in search of Nilbog poontang, much to Holly's chagrin. One of the guys goes out for a stroll and comes across a woman who looks like she was attacked with a green cake decorator kit.
The dude and the chick are captured by a young over-acting woman in bad old-woman makeup (she's called Creedence Leonore Gielgud), who forces the duo to drink a cup of smoking, bubbling green brew that paralyses them.
The woman is soon eaten alive by goblins and the dude morphs into a green plant. The goblins' costumes: burlap potato sacks for clothes and latex masks with painted eyes.Later, Grandpa Seth appears to Holly in a mirror and she briefly freaks out. After she and Joshua swap rooms, Gramps reappears and tells Seth tells him he must convince his parents to return home!!! The next day, Joshua and pop go into town to get food that isn't covered in piss. Little Joshua looks into a car side-view mirror hoping to contact Grandpa again, but instead discovers is reflection that "Nilbog" is "Goblin" backwards. Creepy. Not.Before you know it, the friendly townsfolk have Joshua in the Church basement where the local preacher man attempts to force feed him "ice cream". Apparently dairy is still part of the Nilbog diet. Dad shows up just in time!

Another one of Elliot's "gay" friends is sent to buy food, and is offered a ride by the seductive Sheriff, who tricks him into eating a sandwich covered in green shit. The kid gets all queasy but makes his way into the store-and asks for non-veg breakfast foods.
Shopkeeper: Are you crazy, boy? We're vegetarians here in Nilbog. Didn't you know that? Here's some Nilbog milk. Special milk. High in vitamin content. Here, it's free.Somewhere around here is a seduction scene involving Creedence Leonore Gielgud , a corn cob and a teen-age boy who likes popcorn. Nuff said.

Later, Creedence Leonore Gielgud brings a housewarming gift to Joshua's mother. She says its pudding, but it looks like cake with green icing to me. Dad and Joshua return to the house to find that the village have prepared a housewarming celebration to welcome them to town and apologize for earlier misunderstanding earlier. Joshua thinks this is a trap – and runs upstairs where he is attacked by a goblin. Grandpa Seth suddenly appears and chops off the goblin's hand! Turns out the goblin was Creedence Leonore Gielgud! I think. Super Gramps soon hurls a Molotov Cocktail at the townsfolk - and the preacher man catches on fire - as he burns it is revealed that he and all the towns people are goblins!The family runs back inside the house. Now they believe that Joshua was telling the truth and that they need to contact Granpa Seth somehow.
Holly: But how are we going to make grandpa come?
We NEED Grandpa Seth here!
But how do we get him to come? By having a seance maybe?Joshua: You're genius big sister!

So the family (plus Elliot- who seems to have forgotten about his 3 buddies) hold a séance to contact Grandpas, who tells them that he has only ten minutes left in the mortal world. Of course, then the goblins bust into the house and Dad demands that they run upstairs. Somehow Joshua and Seth are now in the church and Joshua needs put his hands on the Magic Stone Henge wall in order to defeat the goblins. Gramps then and gives him a grocery bag and vanishes.Creedence Leonore Gielgud appears (having grown her hand back!) and corners Joshua. He reaches into the the bag and pulls out a double decker baloney sandwich, which he promptly eats. How does it all end? I won't spoil it for you, but as a vegan I find it slightly offensive. Just kidding.

Michael Stephenson, the child actor who played Joshua in TROLL 2, has recently made a feature-length documentary about the film called BEST WORST MOVIE and it was recently announced that TROLL 2: PART 2 is in pre-production. Check all it out here. As for TROLL 2 - WOW - 10 outta 10.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Soupy Sales 1926-2009

I usually don't comment when a celebrity dies, but Soupy Sales always stands out in my mind because about 20 years ago my ex Rob and I went to see the late, great jazz legend Rosemary Clooney perform on New Year's Eve. Rosie was at the top of her game, and it was a sheer delight to be in her presence. Why am I telling you this? Well, Rosie's opening act was, you guessed it–Soupy Sales. I knew who Soupy was mostly from his appearances on THE MATCH GAME and the syndicated daytime version WHAT'S MY LINE? I also seeing clips from his obnoxious daytime kid's show and I never thought he was that funny. Well, seeing him perform live was far from a treat. Soupy's act was pure ham & cheese served on corn bread, and I remember wishing it was over before it even began. His "big number" was a cover of Billy Preston's "Nothing from Nothing". I recall Rob and I looking at each other with mortified faces and beginning to quietly chat "Rosie! Rosie!" to ourselves. Well, Soupy's gone now and all I can say is "Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin' You gotta have somethin' if you wanna be with me". Rest in peace, Mr. Sales.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Regular readers know I usually don't blog about current or recent releases because you can find that kind of stuff all over the internet. But I just finished watching Sam Raimi's 2009 return to horror and just had to say I could not be any more pleasantly surprised.First of all, DRAG ME TO HELL is that rare "box office hit" which actually lives up to it's hype. It's so much fun, and so original and flawless it's hard to believe that it came from today's Hollywood.
The gifted young actress Alison Lohman (from the short-lived FOX soap PASADENA–which died way before it's time) is terrific in the lead and I can't say enough about the wonderful Lorna Raver who plays gypsy madwoman Mrs. Ganush. It's great to see a hard-working character actor get a meaty, memorable role, albeit a grotesque one.
While not bloody, the film hits a 10 on the gross-o-meter with several "ewwwwwww" moments, but it's all in good fun. You may not want to eat while watching this. DRAG ME TO HELL is a twisted, spooky roller coaster ride of a film, just perfect for the Halloween season. 10 outta 10.
The vintage Universal opening logo and end tag are an added bonus for lovers of 1970s flicks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Here's another classic for Halloween...
DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971, directed by Harry Kumel) is the oft-told tale of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, the famous Hungarian countess who is allegedly the most prolific serial killer in recorded history and is known as the "Blood Countess". After her husband's death, she was accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls and young women, with one witness attributing to them over 600 victims, though she was only convicted on 80 counts. She was also accused of witchcraft and pagan practices. She died in 1614. Creepy.
Our cinematic journey begins aboard a train where we see a attractive young couple having sex in beautiful blue light. They finish and then declare their "un-love" for each other. Next they arrive at a majestic hotel, where they appear to be the only guests. We learn that they are on their honeymoon, and she's insisting that he tells his mother about her. Somewhere around here we learn their names are Stefan and Valerie. I do hope mother approves!Two women soon arrive at the hotel, a beautiful young woman named Ilona and an older blonde mystery woman. "Madam" checks in and asks for "the royal suite" and signs in as "Countess Elizabeth Báthory." Turns out that the newlyweds already have booked her favorite room so she settles for the adjoining suite. She comments that the couple are "perfect" and Ilona's already visibly jealous. We notice that Ilona has a slight red bruise on her neck. Meanwhile, Stefan cuts his neck while shaving - and gets miffed at Valerie when she tries to look at the wound. What's up with that, Stef? In bed, Valerie struggles to read the newspaper, but manages to find out about three young girls murdered in Bruges. Bone-chilling!
The next day, the couple having a romantic ride in a canal in Bruges, when they suddenly come upon a crime scene. It's the fourth young woman murdered in a week. A stranger tells Stefan that the girl was found with neck wound - but not a trace of blood! Stefan's interest in the crime scene causes him to violently push Valerie out of the way. On the way back to the hotel, she tells him that she's frightened by his behavior - then she snuggles up to him. We notice that the stranger from the crime scene is on the bus with them. Spooky.
Back at the hotel, it's raining, and Elizabeth is killing time by knitting. Ilona's bored already and wants to leave. Stefan and Val return and Elizabeth greets them and invites them for a drink. She has what appears to be a McDonald's Shamrock Shake, while they have regular drinks. Pierre the concierge tells them that the Countess once stayed that the hotel over 40 years ago -and hasn't aged a bit! The late edition of the local newspaper features a cover photo of Stefan and Val at the crime scene. Alarming.

The guy from the crowd shows up at the hotel, he tells Elizabeth that he's "just passing by" - turns out he's a retired cop - and he rambles on about ghosts, vampires, etc.. Elizabeth declares that he's distasteful and dismisses him as Ilona dumps Elizabeth's green drink so Stefan will freshen it up for her. Eerie.

While Stefan searches for the bar, Elizabeth tells Valerie the story of her ancestor, the original Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who drank the blood of hundreds of virgins to stay young, then Stefan returns (drinkless?) and Elizabeth caresses him as they recount the historical horror story together. Val freaks out and storms out of the room, Ilona spies on her causing her to scream when she sees someone out on the balcony. Blood-curdling.

Next, Ilona is naked leaning over a bidet and Val is hysterical. Elizabeth offers her drugs to help her sleep - but Val just says no, she just wants to be alone with her husband. When Stef and Val start going at it we see red marks and we also see that Elizabeth and Ilona are watching them! Disturbing.

Next, Stefan finally calls his "mother" - who turns out to be an effeminate older man wearing make-up. "Mother" tells Stefan that it's "unrealistic' that he married a woman - Huh? Then Stef starts beating Valerie as a full-blown thunderstorm strikes the hotel. What a creep! They then wake up naked with him holding a belt, while she has strap marks on her back. Valerie wakes up and sneaks out - to the train station. But Elizabeth follows her to convince her to stay at the hotel and with Stefan. Weird.
Meanwhile, Ilona visits Stefan in his room - and then performs oral sex on him. Back at the train station, Elizabeth gives Valerie a palm reading that includes a kiss. At the hotel, Stefan tries to get Ilona to shower with him, but she doesn't like getting wet, causing her to freak out. While lashing about, she accidentally cuts her hand on his razor - and then falls on it, stabbing herself to death! Hair-raising.Elizabeth and Valerie walk in on Stefan naked on top of a bloody, naked Ilona. The Countess immediately takes charge and orders Valerie and Stefan around. They roll Ilona's dead body down a hill to the beach where Stefan digs a grave with his hands. Elizabeth, wearing a smart black cape, kick's the corpse into the grave, on top of Stefan! Thud!Driving back to the hotel, Elizabeth knocks the cop off his bicycle. Oops!Once back, Stefan sleeps alone while the gals get into some blonde-on-blonde action in Liz's suite. Val is now completely under her control. Oh My.

So, now it's Stefan who's packing his bags and leaving. He demands that Val come with him. Elizabeth shows up in her fabulous glitterball gown and insists that they join her for dinner in her room. Stefan then wigs out again and starts beating Valerie. Elizabeth tries to suffocate him with a punch bowl, which splits in two - cutting his wrists - and then they feed on his blood! Terrifying.

SPOLIER ALERT! After throwing Stefan's body from the hotel roof and into a swamp, they drive away in Elizabeth's vintage car. By dawn's early light, Val begins to lose control of the car, which crashes. Elizabeth's body is flung from the car and impaled on a tree branch, and then engulfed in flames. Uncanny.

A few months later, Valerie is shown hand-in-hand with a young newlywed couple...she's become Elizabeth. Menacing.

A great flick. Wonderful cinematography, gorgeous sets and a fantastic score help you overlook the plot holes (like who's "mother"?) and the sometimes wooden international acting. I'll give it a 10 outta 10 and highly recommend it to fans of horror, lesbians and old hotels.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vic Mizzy 1916-2009

The Addams Family by Vic Mizzy

They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky,
The Addams Family.

Their house is a museum
Where people come to see 'em
They really are a scream
The Addams Family.


So get a witches shawl on
A broomstick you can crawl on
We're gonna pay a call on
The Addams Family.
Green Acres by Vic Mizzy

Green Acres is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me.
Land spreadin' out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

New York is where I'd rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue.

...The chores.
...The stores.
...Fresh air.
...Times Square

You are my wife.
Good bye, city life.
Green Acres we are there!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ELVIRA: Mistress of the Dark

While I'm still outta town, enjoy this repeat from last Halloween season.Ever re-watch a movie that you thought you loved and discovered that maybe you didn't love it after all. ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK is that kind of movie. I remember seeing it shortly after it was released in 1988 (directed by James Signorelli) and thinking, "Hey, this is actually better than I thought it would be." 20 years later, I'm thinking, "Hey, this is NOT actually even as good as I thought it would be the first time I saw it, when I thought it was gonna be bad!". Well, having said, it's not terrible. It does have it's comedic moments, mostly supplied by great character actors like Edie McClurg (most famous as Mrs. Poole on THE HOGAN FAMILY) and Pat Crawford Brown (now known as Ida Greenberg on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES).
The story concerns the curvaceous Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), a local TV horror hostess who dreams of playing Vegas. After she is fired from her job, she learns that the casino that she booked needs $50,000 upfront before they'll let her perform. Within minutes, news that her Great Aunt Morgana has died and has possibly left her an inheritance, gives her (and us) hope that she will make it to Vegas.
Buxon beauty Elvira drives cross country in her awesome convertible to Fallwell, MA (tee-hee), the most conservative town this side of Harper Valley. Once there, she meets the locals - all prim, proper and highly bigoted. What follows is an unending series of breast and penis jokes. Our busty goth gal soon discovers that she has a Great Uncle Vincent (which would have been great if Vincent Price played the part), who despises her as well. Turns out, the full-figured Elvira inherits her great aunt's decaying Mansion on the Universal backlot and a mysterious book of "recipes." Uncle Vinnie, who inherits nothing– is not amused.
Her creepy uncle goes to all sorts of extremes to get the book out of Elvira's possession, including hiring sleazy Jeff Conaway and some other goon to abscond it. Various subplots involving bosomy Elvira's crush on the local hunky movie theater owner (could he wear his jeans any tighter-or higher?), her "new wave" makeover of Aunt Morgana's dog Algonquin (poor thing!) and her titillating friendship with the local teens all play out as silly as can be expected. The voluptuous vixen is fun to watch at times, but her wisecracking "valley girl" schtick wears thin pretty quickly. McClurg's Chastity Pariah has a few great lines when a local outdoor fair turns into an orgy thanks to our little chesty witch.
Along the way, our ample heroine learns that she's inherited some magical abilities and can now use them to great effect. The climax of the film is the best part, as she is about to be burned at the stake by the townsfolk. I will not spoil it for those who have not seen it. Suffice to say, she makes it to Vegas in time to performing a Cher-meets-Divine dance number that includes some outrageous pastie twirling. Overall a very mixed bag, but fun to watch if your expectations are very low...low-cut and lowbrow.
Using my old "Huh?" scale - I'd give this one a 5 outta 10.
Cassandra Peterson herself gets a perfect 10 in my book. Her commitment to causes such as gay rights and animal welfare have earned her legions of fans outside of the horror movie world. Playing the same character in all sorts of media (TV, films, radio, music, theme parks, video games, comic books, etc.) for over 25 years, she has created a larger-than-life persona that continues to entertain new audiences internationally and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. Check out her website for her latest appearances.