Happy May Day: The Wicker Man (1973)

(Submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rrorday Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

*Spoilers*


Happy May 1st to all you wicked witches and groovy ghoulies out there! For most, today is known as “May Day,”  and is primarily associated with sweet flowers and baskets full of small delights. To others, it is known as Beltane, a day in which faeries and spirits are uncommonly active. Magick is strong on this day, and protective bonfires are spread. Generally speaking, human beings are not at the literal center of these bonfires. However, if you are on the isle of Summerisle,  it’s entirely possible that things may get a little hot for you or someone you know…
The Wicker Man (1973) is a weird film. “Weird” is a word we have used numerous times on this site, but it’s a word that fits The Wicker Man better than most films. Even other “weird” films fail to be as weird.  For starters, The Wicker Man is not really a horror film until its last twenty minutes. Instead, it is best described as a “musical.” Hardly a traditional musical, mind you, but a musical. That’s not to to say the film is not unnerving, but it does it more with an overwhelming sense of things being off than with something that is obviously creepy.  However, once it reaches its conclusion, it does earn that “horror” label that it is associated with.

The plot concerns police officer Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl from the island Summerisle. Howie is shocked when the island’s population denies the missing girl’s existence. Being a devout Christian of the puritanical sort, Howie is even more perturbed when he learns that the inhabitants are worshipers of a form of Celtic paganism. As the officer continues his investigation, the officer’s unease escalates when he suspects that the girl’s disappearance may be linked to a ghastly public festival.


Anthony “Frenzy” Shaffer’s screenplay is brilliantly crafted, making its finale (which I will get to very shortly) all the more powerful. its weird folk musical sequences and use of Pagan imagery make for a chilling atmosphere that doesn’t resort to crumbling castles, foggy graveyards, thunderstorms, or any of the classic horror tropes. The performances are all aces, especially Christopher Lee as the charismatic Lord Summerisle. Lee, who reportedly did the film for free, often said that Lord Summerisle was one of his favorite roles. While I’m partial to his work with Hammer, it is certainly an impressive performance in a career full of remarkable roles.
The ending is, understandably, the most talked-about part of the film. It has been parodied/referenced by just about everyone, is regularly cited as one of the greatest endings in horror history, and was even included in Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie MomentsUnfortunately, that means that, even if you haven’t seen the film, you have a pretty decent idea of how it goes. Nonetheless, this overexposure can’t really diminish is just how effectively it plays out. No parody, spoiler-filled review, or single image online can capture just how powerfully disturbing it is or how horrifically real the performances seem. That is the ultimate testament to how masterful The Wicker Man is. Even if it isn’t completely unexpected, it still gets under your fingernails.

There isn’t a lot of competition, but The Wicker Man is definitely the greatest May Day/Beltane horror film of all time.  I highly recommend you give this classic shocker a view today. There’s just no better way for a ghoul to celebrate the occasion.

Happy May Day, creeps! MAY your dance around the Maypole be a pleasant one and may your Wicker Man burn bright.

Goon Review: Wishmaster Collection

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

Even though I feel as if the fantasy genre has been more redefined toward films such as Harry Potter-type movies, to me it will always be about sword and sorcery. Movies like Waxwork and yes, even Waxwork II: Lost in Time captured that feeling while mixing and comedy and horror, although not so much with the latter. It must have been around the early 2000s when these kinds of films seemed to have vanished or shifted into something else completely, so what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened. The Wishmaster films happened. Well, I don’t have concrete evidence to back this up and the type of film that I am talking about are still around, but I seem to recall a massive drop off in the genre after the fourth and so far the final Wishmaster movie was in 2002. Sure, it’s purely coincidence, but I feel like the Wishmaster franchise perfectly represents what can go right, but also can go wrong with a franchise. The first film, while overlooked, is great and the second expands upon what the first introduced even if it’s not as good… then you get to the third and fourth films where a different studio is now making the films, totally doesn’t understand the property they have, never takes risks with expanding the lore or characters and just makes pretty, young adult dramas and can’t afford to make the movies. Fortunately, it ends there, unlike the Hellraiser films that just kept going and going.

Before the series quickly dropped in quality (and even some will argue with me on that) the first film was somewhat fanciful, had an interesting story with a very unique character and great special effects, as it should seeing as the film is directed by Special Effects man Robert Kurtzman. You got it, the ‘K’ in KNB. Wishmaster is kinda like Aladdin, a supernatural genie is connected to the person who awoke him and causes all kinds of misinterpreted shenanigans. Only in Wishmaster, the genie’s shenanigans are deadly. Oh, and he’s not called a genie, he’s called Djinn (which to me sounds like a Mortal Kombat character).

Wishmaster opens a couple of hundred of years ago where the Djinn is talking a Prince or King (it’s unclear, but irrelevant) into granting his third wish so that he and his brethren can walk the Earth, basically causing Armageddon. The opening scene boasts some wild and impressive special effects as people are turning into all kinds of reptiles or dying in horrific, body twisting ways. It not only showcases the type of creativity and imagination the film has to offer, but it also displays the overall tone for the movie. Anyway, the Djinn is stopped and encased in a small stone rather than the typical lamp. Cut to present day, or present day 1997 rather, and a rich art collector named Raymond Beaumont (played by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund) is waiting for the latest statue for his collection to be unloaded off a boat. Unfortunately, a drunk dock worker spills his drink all over the controls, squishes Ted Raimi in his quick cameo and the statue smashes all over the ground. A worker cleaning up the mess notices a familiar looking stone and steals it after making sure no one was looking.

Having pawned the stone off, it eventually gets into the hands of an appraiser, Alexandra (Tammy Lauren) and her boss who is played by the rubber faced son of Jack Lemmon, Chris Lemmon and determine that the stone is worth quite a pretty penny. Alex awakens the Djinn by rubbing the stone on her shirt to clean it, which I have to admit is kind of an obvious clever way to do that since you had to have been wondering how they were gonna work the whole rubbing-the-magic-lamp thing into this. Even though the Djinn is awakened, he is not freed, at least not until Alex passes the stone off to her scientist friend who has the hots for her and he accidentally frees the Djinn who then takes the face (literally) of a corpse on the table to assume his human form. Now, this is where the film is its most entertaining, at least when there aren’t cool special effects on screen. The Djinn is played by Andrew Divoff who, when he isn’t buried under makeup and prosthetics, is quite a remarkable character actor. He speaks with a low, gravely, but commanding voice behind a very sinister, Joker-esque grin. Something I didn’t notice til much later in the film is that Andrew Divoff never blinks when he’s in human form and there’s something very unnerving about that. He’s a man who understands his character and really gets into the role. If you watch this movie for anything, it should definitely be for Andrew Divoff’s  performance.

The Djinn is connected to the person who awoken them, so he now has to convince Alex to ask for three wishes, but before doing so, he’s gonna need to charge his batteries for the lack of a better pun. The only way to do that is to grant a person’s single wish in exchange for their soul. Seems like a fair trade to me. Souls are pretty much useless these days. Anyway, this is an easy way for the filmmakers to give the movie a body count, not that I am complaining. Since the Djinn twists his victim’s wishes, this is where Wishmaster gets really creative. Whether it’s tricking Tony Todd into making a wish that traps him in a famous Houdini-esque watery grave or Kane Hodder into glass… oh, that’s right. Candyman and Jason Voorhees also make cameos in this film. That’s one thing I love about it being directed by a really talented special effects guy; all the cameos. It’s actually with Kane Hodder’s character that we learn a very important piece of exposition. At this point in the film, you may be wondering that since the Djinn is all powerful, why doesn’t he just kill people or force Alex to make her three wishes? Well, while trying to enter a building where Alex is, he’s stopped by the security guard who won’t allow him to enter and gives him some trouble about it. He states that it’s frustrating to have all that power and only being able to use it when someone makes a wish. That’s a real smart way to give a being that’s all knowing, all powerful and immortal a serious achilles heel.

By now, Alex realizes that the visions she’s been having are a psychic connection with the Djinn who is tormenting her and she scrambles to stop him. Her story is somewhat uninteresting, but not so much so that you would want to shut off the film. She’s just a rather dull character. The climax of the film is nearly mirrors the opening via Beaumont’s wish, but it’s a little more gory. The special effects remain consistently great throughout the entire film and I should point out that they are so good, that if you pay attention, the little horns or tentacles (whatever they are) that are coming out of the Djinn’s head are always wiggling around. I thought that was a really unique touch and something I hadn’t seen before. Wishmaster takes an old fantasy tale that been watered down by children’s movies for far too long and really turns it on its head, making it a really fun movie to watch.

For Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, they really took it by the horns and got nuts with it. Jack Sholder, who directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, directs this picture and I swear he must’ve lost his mind. Everything is dialed up, way up to the point of ridiculousness and some of it is so incomprehensible, you’ll be sitting there bug eyed, jaw dropped at some of the things you will see. I’ll tell you one, because it’s also somewhat sentimental to me. It was shortly after this started playing on HBO or Showtime, whichever, and my step brother and I tuned in right when a prisoner was telling this cartoonishly smirking jerk that he wishes his lawyer would go fuck himself. Sure enough, that man’s lawyer twists and folds over and begins to literally fuck himself. Do you have any idea how many guys out there wish they could do that? Alright, movie, enough with the hard sell. I’m already sold! And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. That may have to go to the film’s finale that takes place at a casino where a woman playing craps actually craps quarters. Yes, that happens in a movie. Complete with fart sounds and all. But hey, let’s talk a little about how we get here.

Once again, the main characters we are supposed to follow are the most uninteresting. A goth chick, Morgana (Holly Fields) and her boyfriend are robbing the Beaumont’s art gallery when things go south, it turns into a shootout, a bullet cracks open the statue, the stone falls out, Morgana finds it and yeah, you see where I’m going. Her boyfriend is fatally wounded by a security who Morgana kills in return, but seems remorseful about it on and off throughout the film. She never turns herself in, but turns to her ex-lover turned beefy hunk priest, Eric, for advice. It’s a priest, what do you think he’s gonna say? God this and god that, blah, blah, blah, I have feelings for you, but I can’t touch your cute little butt, because god, blah, blah.

Taking the blame for Morgana’s crime, the Djinn is now in prison to collect souls. Trying to expand upon what the first film started, the Djinn now needs a thousand souls in order to grant Morgana’s three wishes. This is not only a great way to take the character and story back just a little step and let the climax build, but also allow for more really great random character deaths! Some of these aren’t nearly as outlandish as the first, but as I told you earlier, some of them are pretty damn absurd. A prison has plenty of fresh souls willing to do anything in exchange for a wish, but not nearly enough. Maybe the filmmakers didn’t quite think out this one thousand souls idea, because the final act of the film at the casino feels like a copout. Not only is there far more souls, but the Djinn is now just granting the greedy wishes he overhears rather than having one on one conversations with people like he has previously. It feels like a plot writing device, because the scripts needs it done and quick and it was the only thing they could think of at the moment.

Nevertheless, our really boring duo of the goth chick trying to solve a supernatural crime, which honestly sounds like a failed CW show, learn of a way to defeat the Djinn, one of which is death. Unfortunately for those doomed souls, we find out that Morgana can’t be killed at the moment as she is being magically protected by the Djinn. Seems rather contrived, but I guess how else would you explain something we’ve all been thinking. Regardless, they head of to the casino for the final showdown that’s pretty amusing, mostly due to all the people running around panicking and an increase in the level of gore. That’s something I didn’t notice until the end is that this film is far less gory than the original. They ramp everything else up except for the gore, which is a rather odd thing to do. Sequels are usually bigger and bloodier and while this one is bigger, gotta say, not as bloody.

You can definitely say that like the original, the human characters are the least interesting, but with Wishmaster 2… boy are they REALLY uninteresting. As cute as Holly Fields is in this film, I just didn’t care what was happening to her or her relationship with that human plank of wood priest as her love interest. They were so boring, I didn’t even notice how bad the acting was in the movie until the very end. Not that any of that really matter, because Andrew Divoff as the Djinn appears in this movie more than he did in the first and he steals every scene that he’s in. He’s the reason you watch these movies. Well, him and the good special effects and interesting death scenes and I gotta admit that this one does have some interesting ones. Aside from the two aforementioned ones, my favorite and probably the best looking was when a man tells the Djinn he wants to walk through the bars of his cell. Bad choice of words, bub.

The Djinn is really brought to life, made both frightening and funny kinda like Freddy Krueger by Andrew Divoff. If you take anything away from the first two films, it will be his performance. He’s an actor that can pull his role off whether he is behind all that makeup or not. With some actor’s performances, you can tell whether or not they are enjoying themselves and Andrew Divoff is clearly having the time of his life and it shows. If not for him, this character wouldn’t work and in retrospect, I wondered why more people haven’t heard of this character or why he’s not as remembered as Freddy or Jason… and then I saw Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell.

And now is where the series not just nose dives, but nose dives and hits the side of a mountain. Hard. We’re talking only a few survivors, but they eat each other to try and stay alive, but the last survivor has gone so mad, that he can no longer return to civilization. Wishmaster 3 is… well, it’s… shit. I have no words for it other than “it’s shit.” Rather than expanding on the previous idea or building a new one in what could perhaps be the Djinn’s mythos, the film decides it would rather be a run of the mill, stale, uninspired slasher film that were coming out a dime by the dozen at that time. And if you’re thinking Andrew Divoff is gonna save you, you’re wrong. He’s been replaced by some wormy, lanky British guy who reeks of being a rejected Buffy the Vampire villain. Come to think of it, that’s the best way to describe this movie; like it’s the worst kind of fantasy/drama that not even the WB would show. It’s like an aborted Buffy or Xena episode. Now I know everything thinks a bad movie somehow equates to good because it’s bad, but some movies are just bad and shouldn’t be watched.

Wishmaster 3 revolves around your typical, cliched group of college kids that you instantly don’t care about and they aren’t relatable. Ok, not off to a good start, but unfortunately they are out leads. The center of which is a non-descript student, Diana, whose professor has an unhealthy obsession with her. Come to find out, he’s kind of a sexual deviant, which seems to always be a staple with these college-kids-partying movies. Well wouldn’t you know it, the pair uncover the stone that contains the Djinn and Diana accidentally frees it and almost immediately assumes the identity of Professor Barash. This is a good time to mention that not only has the whole subplot about the Djinn needing a thousand souls to become more powerful been completely forgotten about, but it’s different actors playing the Djinn, one in makeup and one out. Neither manage to capture the character you’ve come to know and neither even come close to living up to Andrew Divoff’s performance. This makes the entire film a chore to sit through, that nothing is worth mentioning.

As I stated earlier, the film is now a early 2000s paint-by-numbers slasher and the most unwatchable variety. Hell, even most of the victims aren’t friends of Diana’s, but more classmates. They weren’t developed, but they dress kinda slutty, so I guess we are supposed to care? In an attempt to try something different, Diana’s boyfriend becomes possessed with the spirit of Michael, an angle that I guess hunts down the Djinn. Sure, that’s fine and all except the previous films had gone out of their way to say that religion has nothing to do with them. Now I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure magical genies aren’t in the bible. Maybe if the film had anything I cared about, I would be more upset about retconning the most obvious thing, but this comes off as so stupid it would be like making fun of the biggest idiot in your class when he does something stupid. It’s kind of redundant.

Wishmaster 3, for whatever reason, is one of those films that was made for the falsely angst, Hot Topic teen that assumes this movie is both horror and fantasy. Nothing about it sticks out, nothing about is fun, nothing about is any good. Everything from the lighting to the cinematography screams TV drama. Angles are stale and the camera rarely moves and I consider this a problem in horror and fantasy, because your shots and lighting and determine whether or not there is any mood. The special effects are pretty bad this time around. The Djinn looks exactly like what it is; a guy in a rubber suit and since we’re cutting costs, the tentacles no longer wiggle. None of the death scenes were memorable or at least worth mentioning. There’s nothing bloody or over the top violent or even creative. It’s so uninspired and lackluster that I actually had to pop the movie back in and watch some of them to be sure I didn’t miss one worth mentioning. I didn’t.

But all the hatred I feel for the third film is nothing like I feel toward Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled. You would think that this movie killed my family and left me for dead with the way I feel toward it. I was seriously dreading watching this one, knowing that there would be nothing of enjoyment to come out of it. For some reason, I want to hate it more than I hated Wishmaster 3, but I just can’t. Seeing as it was shot back to back with the third film, Wishmaster 4 is the same level of quality, if you want to call it that. My complaints are the same only I feel slightly stronger about them, because absolutely nothing was improved. I know, they were shot at right after each other, so there was no time to learn from mistakes. Both are directed by Chris Angel and I know you are all thinking the Mindfreak guy, but no. This is a guy who primarily directs awful video shorts. Clearly, he’s your candidate for a full length feature that relies heavily on special effects and mythology.

Would you believe that this film actually has worse characters than the ones in the previous film? I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Bland college kids looking to party are the worst characters you could ever put into a movie, but Wishmaster 4 is full of sulking, overly brooding, self pitying characters that it’s impossible to even try and like them. The main two are a couple who seem to be so in love, having great sex and and drawing each other naked (you know, like every good relationship). The boyfriend, Sam, gets into an accident and can no longer walk, so he wheels himself around, drinking and feeling sorry for himself while being a total dick to his girlfriend, Lisa. Lisa also mopes around, but to her credit she at least tries to be caring toward Sam, even if most of the time it seems really spiteful. Their lawyer, Steven, is in love with Lisa and even offers her a gift that he accidentally drops and when it breaks open, wouldn’t you know it… the stone that contains the Djinn! How did it get there from the previous film? An explanation is never even attempted and quite frankly, I don’t care. Writing isn’t this film’s strongest feature.

The Djinn soon steals Steven’s face and if you thought the British guy from the previous movie was bad, hoo-boy. Wait’ll you get a load of this guy. He seems like he wants to emulate Andrew Divoff’s performance, but it comes off as a cheap Halloween discount store imitation. Rather than creepy and tongue in cheek, this performance is rather douchey and smarmy. Once again, he’s twisting people’s wishes and just as the previous film, none of them are memorable and not worth talking about. The only thing this film introduces that could have been really interesting was that Lisa actually makes three wishes, but there’s a catch; her third wish cannot be granted by the Djinn as she believes it’s Steven and wants to fall in love with him, so it’s up to her to grant her own wish. Unfortunately, the film fails at doing anything with this and almost seemingly forgets about it often. They also try to throw in another angelic figure that is now sent to kill Lisa so she can’t grant her third wish, although she already made it. Now, the film tries to be like The Terminator for a few moments as he chases Lisa like the T-1000 and trying to terminate her until he’s killed by the Djinn in a Highlander like sword battle. This film just can’t decide what it wants to be.

I would say it’s up to the viewer to decide, but it’s pretty unanimous that this film is total garbage. Like with the third movie in the series, Wishmaster 4 is unlikable and forgettable. Moments after seeing this you will ask yourself, “huh, did I just watch a movie?” Not to repeat myself, but nothing is memorable or worth mentioning. I could go on about the terrible special effects, but once again, I would just be repeating myself. Everything that made Wishmaster 3 a complete waste of time is present here at the same capacity.

All in all you could say that the Wishmaster Collection from Vestron Video is worth owning for the first two films alone and if you are some kind of masochist, then you can watch the last two. Personally, I have no desire to revisit Wishmaster 3 and 4 ever again, but upon watching the first two films, I had an urge to rewatch them. The first disc, which is all about the first film contains a good chunk of the bonus features that are worth checking out. There’s an audio commentary with the director Robert Kurtzman and writer Peter Atkins and another commentary track with Kurtzman and the Djinn himself, Andrew Divoff. There’s a good number of interviews with the cast and crew, including Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and Robert Englund, as well as a vintage making of featurette, some behind the scenes footage and the classic TV spots, trailers and so on. There’s enough for the first film to make this set worth it, but having Wishmaster 2 and all its bonus features is a plus, even if the bonuses are limited to an audio commentary with Jack Sholder, a trailer and the still gallery. Not that I’m complaining, because really that’s all you need for the second film. If you care, Wishmaster 3 and 4 also include audio commentaries, which may be worth it to hear if it’s delusional praise or to listen to them try and defend those movies.
So the Djinn may not have the staying power or notoriety of Jason of Freddy, but he’s far better than Horace Pinker from Shocker or the Trickster from Brainscan. Whereas the two latter villains were made to be horror movie icons, the Djinn wasn’t. He just turned out to be interesting and played by a talented guy. Wel, the first two movies anyway, which I highly recommend if you are looking for extremely imaginative horror/fantasy flicks and as for the last two films, I’d encase them in a stone and cement them so that they never may be found and curse the poor fool who unearths them, bringing armageddon to the eyes of those who watch it.

Ho-stess’s PS- Wishmaster Rocks!!! 😉 xoxoxo

#SexOnSunday: The Big Winner Edition

(Submitted by our Master o’ Smut, Eric…Thanks, Kinky Ho-mie!!:) xoxo)

Feeling Lucky (2014)

A spunky young woman (Rilynn Rae) saddled with unemployment, financial problems and a poseur boyfriend wins the Powerball lottery. But with economic independence comes all kinds of shady characters looking for a handout – beware!

Supporting Players: Michael Vegas, India Summer, Claire Robbins, Seth Gamble, Mr. Pete and others.


Overview:

An amusing comedy about how becoming wealthy can improve your life and cause you problems, when people just want your $$$. Rilynn Rae is a charming protagonist that does a nice job handling an assortment of characters with good and bad intentions.

You won’t feel richer for watching it, but you can pretend you’re cumming onto a big cardboard check. Worked for me!

Rating  out

Kinky Komic Review: Riverdale #1

(Submitted by Mr. SuperheroScifi himself, Sir Prince Adam of Locksley…Thanks, Super Fiend! 🙂 xoxo)

“From Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the writers of the new CW series Riverdale comes the first issue of the MUST-READ, brand new, ongoing comic series. Set in the universe of the TV series, the Riverdale comic offers a bold, subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica, Josie & the Pussycats and their friends, exploring small-town life and the darkness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade.” (Archie Comics)

Before you read this book, let it be known that spoilers can be found within this review.  I like the wording in the synopsis. “Set in the universe” of the CW TV series of the same name.  That’s so appropriate for the stories told in this issue. We get two stories one that focuses on Archie and one focusing on Betty.  Each story showcases our protagonist during their first week/weeks in their new roles at Riverdale High. For Archie that means being a quarterback on the football team, while for Betty that means joining the cheerleading squad.  As you read the stories, you can’t really tell 100% where it fits in with the television series.  Some scenes are pulled right from certain episodes, like Archie being given the deceased Jason Blossom’s old jersey number. You also see the moment where Betty is urged by Veronica to join the cheerleading squad.  Brand new scenes come from what is called “Hell Week”, which is the pranking/hazing of our newbies on the football team and the cheerleading squad.  I liked that writer’s Will Ewing and Michael Grassi balanced showcasing the harmless side of pranking, such as the football team streaking, or Betty having to walk the halls in a scantily clad cheerleading outfit.  More serious forms of hazing include making Archie swim across the frozen waters of Sweetwater River or Cheryl Blossom making Betty stand at the edge of the roof of the high school, to expose Betty’s fears.  Hazing has made news in recent years, and is a real issue teen’s face when taken too far and I think not only is important to comment on it in a book about teens, but especially more so in this book, because Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jugghead are America’s most popular fictional teens.  I love that the book highlights that Archie feels uncomfortable being a quarterback and he’s not all together good at it either.  The book also highlights Archie’s kindness as he does an extra lap of shame swimming in Sweetwater Lake, to spare another team-member who can’t swim from added torment or ridicule.  In the second story, we see how close the relatively recent BFF’s Betty and Veronica are. Specifically, how Veronica defends Betty from Chery Blossom’s verbal attacks. She also literally stands beside her and holds her hand as Betty confronts her fear of heights, standing on the ledge of the high school roof.  The book doesn’t show the love triangle we are typically used to from Archie, Betty and Veronica. However, neither has the show to this point, though we have been promised it down the line.  While we are introduced to this new emo version of Jugghead and the bitch that is Cheryl Blossom, I like that the books focus is squarely on our classic trinity of characters.

The art duties fall to Joe Eisma.  The art is far more detailed and sleek in appearance than your typical Archie comic book. It is definitely more adult in appearance, in addition to the dialogue.  However, the artist does a good job of retaining the simplistic look of classic Archie stories as well  I have to say that the characters are pretty much all spot on to their television counterparts. Archie, Jugghead and Cheryl look particularly like perfect matches to the actors that play them. Betty and Veronica both look good, but at times in the book, leave a lot to be desired as they come off looking a little wonky.  My favourite pages are split, one from each story. The one from the Archie story titled Bloodsport, is the splash page where Archie looks at himself in the mirror, all decked out in his football uniform, only to see the reflection of the decomposed Jason Blossom looking back at him.  It was quite creepy and reminded me of some of the crossover horror stories that have featured the Archie cast of characters.  My second favorite page comes from the “Bring It On” story featuring Betty.  It features the typically reserved Betty walk in a sexier version of the cheerleading outfit to complete her “Hell Week” challenge. As she walks proudly and confidently through the halls, her school mates, boys and girls alike, look on amazed at the transformation.  It felt like a classic scene out of every teen movie. Very John Hughes like, as a matter of fact.

I thought this book captures the “Ringer meets Archie” vibe that The CW series Riverdale is going for.  I find it to be very respectful of classic Archie, while taking the story and its characters in an edgier direction. If you haven’t watched the series, this serves as an excellent prequel to the pilot episode.   If you have a familiarity with the show, this can be seen as stories that take place in between the first couple episodes.  I enjoy the book and definitely think it’s worth reading.

#FBF: The “All’s Well That Criswell” Edition

(Submitted with all the vintage love by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, freaky fiend! 🙂 xoxo)

Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful record. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places! My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer! Let us punish the guilty! Let us reward the innocent! My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts about The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future?!

I honestly can’t tell you if famed psychic/Plan 9 from Outer Space star The Amazing Criswell was a nutter, a charlatan, or a master showman. Armed with unwavering confidence, a mighty spit-curl, and a sequined suit, Criswell made incredible “predictions” in just about every form of media, but they usually had the same accuracy as a fortune teller machine on a boardwalk. Yes, he did predict that something terrible would stop President Kennedy from running for reelection in 1964… but he also predicted the 1999 “End of the World” by a black rainbow, the 1970 assassination of Castro by “a woman,” mass cannibalism, and the destruction of Denver by an amusement park turned deadly. He was questionable as a psychic, but he sure put on a show. In fact, the only thing I can tell you for certain about Criswell is that he was a highly entertaining personality.

The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future is a fascinating record because it really is just 44 minutes of non-stop predictions. Hearing his booming voice makes it even harder to determine just how sincere Criswell was. Horror fans will likely recognize that his “psychic” delivery is exactly the same as his delivery in the Ed Wood films he appeared in. If he was a carny-like showman, then his tenacity and theatricality should be praised. And If he truly believed he had powers,  he should be admired for honesty and boldness. Either way, Criswell was amazing.
I predict… you will click on the box below to hear The Amazing Criswell! 

Goon Review: Tales from the Hood (1995)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

When I was going through high school in the ‘90s, I remember the whole surge of gang violence that was taking our country by storm. Kids wearing loosely buttoned, colored flannels, the bandanas, both of which were colored to signify what gang you were representing. Hey, they managed to be color coordinated, so that’s something. I also remember the media taking complete advantage of this and making lots and lots of TV and movies about gangs. There’s a good message to send to the youth: Violence is cool! Well, I’m not here to be the moral police, but I wanted to touch on the gang violence of the ‘90s and rise of the urban movies (I really hate calling them that), like Boyz N the Hood, Juice or Menace II Society. All the ones I mentioned are great films and captured the economical troubles and gang wars that plagued black culture while we ignored it and they deserve their place in the spotlight, but one that is often overlooked is 1995’s Tales From the Hood.

At a glance, Tales From the Hood would appear as a Tales From the Crypt knock off to the casual movie goer, mostly because of the anthology format and, of course, the title. Okay, so the title seems like it may be ripping off the popular TV show, but Tales From the Hood is an homage to the old Amicus films that made all those moody ‘70s horror anthologies, including Tales From the Crypt. So, there. Whereas most anthologies fall apart during one of the segments or a paper thin wrap around, Tales From the Hood is solid from start to finish. I’m going to say that it’s one of the better anthologies out there since Creepshow. It has a very dark moral theme that stays persistent throughout the movie even when the segment changes tone, which it does. While one of the segments may be more sinister or dealing with a domestic issue, the next one might be a comedy, but there’s no denying that the film is trying to say something with the underlying oppressive, racial tone.

Being an anthology, the wrap around segment or the overall main arching story revolves around three gang bangers, Stack (Joe Torry), Ball (De’Aundre Bonds) and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe Jr.) looking to buy “the shit” from some old guy who runs a funeral home and claims he found the drugs in an alley. Nope, nothing bad happening here. Immediately, their senses are telling them to flee, but their pride won’t allow them and they are greeted by Mr. Simms, played by The Mod Squad TV show’s Clarence Williams III (who totally steals the show with his performance as the enigmatic and rebarbative funeral home director). He’s quite the character to say the least, with a devilish grin and hair sticking up like he’s some Looney Tunes character that stuck his finger in the light socket. Needless to say, he’s not the kind of guy you’d want to visit at night, much less buy drugs from in the middle of the night. Once inside, he asks the youngsters to help him with the drugs, so now they tour the inside of the place and this gives Mr. Simms the opportunity to talk about some of his “customers,” which act as segways into their stories.

Rogue Cop Revelation is about a rookie cop named Clarence who, on his first day on the job, witnesses a couple of white cops (the most racist of which is played by Wings Hauser) beating a black man who just so happens to be an important public figure, much in the vein of Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Moorehouse. Clarence interjects and the other cops break up the beating and tell him that they will take him to a hospital, but instead murder him. A year passes and Clarence has quit the force and spends his days drinking, haunted by the fact he did nothing to prevent the murder. He begins hearing Martin’s voice commanding Clarence to bring them to him. Martin eventually convinces those cops to visit Martin’s grave where at first you are sure of what’s going to happen, but as they begin pissing on his grave, you aren’t sure. It plays with your expectations a bit until the inevitable happens and then it turns into a supernatural zombie flick. Martin rises from the grave to get his revenge and has super powers that vary depending on what the script calls for in that situation. It’s a bit silly, but it definitely feels like a ‘60s b-movie and has some great gory effects, including one of the cops getting his head ripped off.

The following segment, Boys Do Get Bruised, is probably the most serious and deals with abuse and a monster of sorts as a teacher begins to notice bruises on one of his students, Walter, a quiet and shy kid. He tells his teacher that he’s being attacked by a monster. Oh, and Walter also crumples up a drawing of one of his bullies and the bully immediately succumbs to an accident. (That’s important for later.) His teacher visits Walter’s home to talk to his parents where we meet his stepfather, played by David Alan Grier. You remember him for his comedic roles in movies and TV, right? Well, this is a total departure from that and he really displays what a serious actor he can be, playing both menacing and frightening. This isn’t the David Alan Grier you remember from In Living Color otherwise Walter would probably be in stitches, get it? Anyway, this story has a pretty good effect of a body mangling and contorting in all kinds of directions and Paula Jai Parker (who plays Walter’s mom) is absolutely beautiful.

The third segment, KKK Comeuppance, is probably my favorite segment, because it’s also the most ridiculous, but I think it’s because it sort of rings more true now with what’s going on politically. A racist, ignorant piece of shit politician named Duke Metger, who also happened to be a clansman at one point, decides to set up his office in an old slave plantation. Classy and tasteful. A protester shouts tales of haunted dolls possessed by tortured slaves don’t want him there, and I’m sure you can figure out what happens from here. It’s actually pretty tense and Corbin Bernsen is solo for the last half of the segment, leaving it to just his intensity and rising fear. He does a damn fine job of switching attitudes like a pair of drawers, from cocky to puzzled to angry to frightened. The stop motion with the puppets is pretty damn good as well and the situation escalates as the story nears its end. You really feel like you might be going crazy with Duke, so this particular segment is truly a wild ride.

Finally, Hard-core Convert is more, well, I hesitate to say psychedelic. Maybe psychological. Three gangbangers gun down a rival, Crazy K, who’s saved by the 5-0. How’s that for, um, irony? Is that the word I’m looking for? Crazy K is put into a special government program in an attempt to rehabilitate him. They do this by strapping him to vertical table, shaving his head and forcing him to watch horrible footage like he’s Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange, but the intention of this is to show him he’s just as violent towards his own community as white supremacists. There is a heavy underlying message in this story, but it gets bogged down in glorifying gory images and maybe is cut a little too quick for those to understand. I think what could have been a really strong story gets lost in reveling in violence instead of speaking against it, which is was it was originally trying to do. Not saying it’s bad, because it’s actually good… but it could have been really good.

Well, that was the last story in this movie, so the only thing left to do is wrap up the main story. Our three gangbangers have a connection to that Crazy K fellow in the last segment there, and it has to do with why they are the funeral home. Mr. Simms is acting whackier than ever and seems to be going crazy. The boys wanna bail, but they still need the shit! What’re they to do? I have to admit, it’s an ending that I’m not sure is fitting for the moral, but fitting for the theme of the movie. It’s one that I didn’t see coming the first time I saw it, but after another viewing it becomes pretty obvious.

I have a very strong fondness for this movie. I first discovered it at the video store when I was fourteen or fifteen with my stepbrother. We rented it and thoroughly enjoyed it and I still do to this day. I couldn’t be happier that it finally got a Blu-ray release, especially from a company like Scream Factory. The transfer looks pretty crisp and clean, but doesn’t take away from the ‘90s vibe of lower produced films that Tales From the Hood has. There’s also a new “Making of” featurette called Welcome to Hell: The Making of Tales From the Hood, which includes interviews with Director/Writer Rusty Cundieff, Producer/Writer Darin Scott, actors Corbin Bernsen, Wings Hauser, Anthony Griffith, Special Effects Supervisor Kenneth Hall, and Doll Effects Supervisors Charles Chiodo and Edward Chiodo. There’s also audio commentary from the director and a vintage featurette with your usual still gallery, trailer and TV spots to round it out.

Tales From the Hood is a solid anthology, mostly overlooked because of its theme that has been lampooned to death, especially around that era. It does have some comedy, but for the most part, it’s very dark and very serious, and unlike most of those other films, it has something to say. It’s incredibly well made with lighting that would remind you of the old Amicus films. The performances are incredible to say the least. I know I already mentioned David Alan Grier and Corbin Bernsen, but I really have to hand it to everyone else in the cast and Clarence William III makes for the most bizarre and likable host. Hopefully the film will get more recognition now that it will be more widely available.

#WetWednesday: The April Showers Edition

(Submitted by Smutmaster Eric…Thanks, Kinky Ho-meister! 🙂 xoxo)

Featuring: Kirsten Dunst, Rutger Hauer, Chanel Preston & Bill Bailey.

Spider-Man (2002)

This is best wet T-shirt scene in a PG-13 movie!

Real Wife Stories Vol. 16 (2013)

Chanel’s Dirty Secrets (2012)

It starts with her looking directly into camera and telling us about her unfaithful wife fantasy.

In the scenario she’s driving on a dark and desolate road, being followed by another car. Her voice-over lets us know she’s busy a wife (or just absentminded) so she’s forgotten to put gas in it. Instead of staying inside, she gets out, then calls her husband. Unable to reach him, she leaves a message about going to look for a station.;

Blade Runner (1982)

Roy’s monologue is the greatest of all the moments in it!


Ho-stess’s PS- Here’s a shower snap I don’t believe I ever posted…

Undressed: The Locker Room Edition, Part 4

(Submitted by Smutmaster Eric…Thanks for letting us know about this Carrie parody. Definitely going to check I out…and maybe Karnal Kombat it? 😉 xoxox)

Featuring: Sarah Shevon & Annette O’Toole.

Orgy University (2013)

(A parody of Carrie nominated for 4 AVN Awards)

Cat People (1982)

(Nominated for 2 Golden Globes)


Ho-stess’s PS- I just learned this eXXXists. (I knew TILF was a thing. Just wasn’t aware they repackaged it as a “New Year’s” edition? Miss Kasey is such a goober… 😉 xoxo)

 

#TerrorTuesday Comic Review: The Walking Dead Volume 3

(Submitted by our Superheroic Ho-mie, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Mr. A! 🙂 xoxo)

“This volume follows our band of survivors as they set up a permanent camp inside a prison. Relationships change, characters die, and our team of survivors learn there’s something far more deadly than zombies out there…each other.”


This story picks right up where Volume 2 ended. Our weary group of humans have found an abandoned penitentiary. Well, save for a group of zombies sloshing around the front gate. After dispensing of the zombies, and a little cleanup, Rick and crew believe they have found their new home, the most spacious, and safest yet.  If this sounds at all familiar, it’s reminiscent of last volume when they found the estates.  Much like that story, they found other survivors who gave them food, before also encountering other zombies.  In that story, those people were Tyreese, his daughter and her boyfriend, who are now members of Rick’s zombie hatin’ posse.  In this story, the human survivors found are four inmates, locked safely in the cafeteria.  Sure, they’re convicts, one of which was falsely accused, the other a murderer, another was a drug addict. The final member, was a tax evader.  Still, they seemed very peaceful, reformed and best of all for Rick and company, they have a kitchen full of food, canned and otherwise; enough for a prison full of people. With that in mind, Rick heads to Hershel farm, to get Hershel and the remainder of his children to move into the penitentiary.  Despite the chaos that ensued previously between Hershel’s group and Rick’s survivors, coupled with the fact that Hershel almost shot Rick, I think this gesture is a sign of Rick’s hopefulness and positivity in the face of this hell on Earth.  For the first few issues of this volume, I fell for the false sense of security Rick and Tyreese were feeling.  This is the second volume in a row, where Robert Kirkman played me for a fool. In this case, it’s a mark of great storytelling, so I am not ashamed.

Things start turning sour when Lori begins to worry and express fear about having a murderer and drug addict in their midst.  Rick agrees they should be mindful of potential threats and be cautious, yet remains staunch and optimistic that this new status quo is best for everyone. Tensions are raised higher when Tyreese’s daughter and her boyfriend botch a simultaneous suicide after a night of passionate sex. They planned to shoot each other simultaneously, but Chris accidentally fired too quickly.  When Tyreese discovers what occurs he kills Chris in a fit of anger. I can see both sides of this scenario, On the one hand, the two young lovers know their chances of surviving this zombie apocalypse are slim, so why not go out of this world on their terms, together, and as the Joker says; “If you gotta go, go with a smile.”  It’s very Romeo and Juliet…but with zombies. I understand Tyreese’s actions too, because planned or not, Chris still killed his baby girl. I’d choke the bastard too! I can rationalize both acts from both parties, given the world they inhabit.  These scenes throw an added wrinkle into the story.  What was once human on zombie violence, now has taken on an element of human on human violence.  If that isn’t a twist enough for you, how about the fact that Tyrese’s daughter and her boyfriend turn into zombies after death….without having being bitten!? Holy Plot Twist Batman! I seriously didn’t see that coming.  It’s not explained, as to how it’s possible either. So I wonder, is the zombie gene within every human? Will this ever be answered? It better damn well be because I’m so curious. This plot point leads to a cameo from a character we haven’t seen since the first issue.  If that wasn’t enough proof of the unpredictability of this book, Hershel’s two daughters are murdered and beheaded.  Yes, in the midst of all this, Robert Kirkman had to throw a murder mystery into this story and at no point does this book feel overstuffed or bogged down by it.  Naturally, Team Grimes, specifically Lori, lays blame on either the murder suspect or the former drug addict.  Unsure, the group decides to lock them both in separate cells.  When Andrea is attacked by the criminal who was convicted for tax evasion and her earlobe cut off, Rick loses it, and nearly beats the man to death. Despite protests from his fellow survivors, Rick unilaterally decides that murder will not be tolerated and death will be met with death. So Rick has him thrown outside the gates of the penitentiary, where he is attacked and killed by zombies. The previous suspects are released, but stage a mutiny holding Rick and company at gunpoint, ordering them to leave the penitentiary. Rick finally snapped and the tipping point was Hershel’s daughters being killed. He blames himself for their deaths. However, you can see the events of each volume chipping away at Rick’s calm and sanity.  It continues to affect his relationship with Lori. She’s even getting more snappy with him, though part of that is self admittedly her pregnancy hormones.  One thing I love about this book is that every event counts and affects the next story. Nothing is written as filler. Even if I leave this books for weeks or even months, the preceding storyline stays in the back of my mind, racing to the forefront when I pick up another volume.

Charlie Adlard returns for his second stint on the title.  He definitely seems more comfortable in this world and with these characters. There seems to be more detail in his work.  Last volume, I said the lack of color detracted from the setting of winter.  This time though, it works for the setting.  Inside and outside, the penitentiary looks spacious. There’s a dichotomy with the art on the interior of the Penitentiary.  The kitchen looks plentifully, while the rest of the place looks baron and desolate.  The best two zombie images are the pov shot of Rick and Tyreese peering into the gym seeing a horde of zombies on the other side of the door.  The other standout is when Tyreese is attacked by the zombie horde and they all swarm on top of him.  .  The most gruesome images are the human vs human violence. Tyreese’s dead daughters lying beheaded was disturbing, but the details of Rick dolling out a beating on the murderer is intense.  You can see the welts and bruises on his knuckles, without the aid of coloring.  The best cover of this volume is the one with Rick riding his motorcycle. When in doubt, remember that riding a motorcycle always looks badass!

At this point, I’m not sure if I’m going to watch the TV show.  Too many friends of mine have said it deviates too much from the book and that the storyline has disappointed as the seasons have gone on. One thing is for sure, I’m sticking with the comic book because it keeps getting better and better. I have a long way to go but I’m excited to read more, It’s no wonder this book tops the charts every time a new issue is released each month.

#SuperheroSunday Comic Review: Smallville Season 11 #16-18

(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Fiend! 😉 xoxo)

“Superman battles Batman at Stryker Island prison–and it’s not as one-sided a confrontation as you might think! Meanwhile, Nightwing mixes it up with Green Arrow.” (DC Entertainment)

The book continues Batman’s introduction into the Smallville universe right where last issue left off, with Batman and Superman squaring off.  What I like about this fight is that it breaks away from the mold when dealing with this familiar altercation. This isn’t about Superman reigning in Batman at the request of the government in DKR, or Batman’s paranoia over Superman going rogue being manipulated in BvS.  For Superman the conflict is about Batman manhandling an inmate at Stryker’s Island Penitentiary in unlawful ways.  For Batman, Superman is standing in his way of getting information regarding Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents.  The man who Batman was vetting for this information was Bruno Manheim, who appeared around Season 4. This was one of several callback’s to the show throughout.  The fight was very even in that both heroes got the upper hand. Superman flicks Batman with his finger and sends him flying pretty far! Bryan Q, Miller makes it obvious Superman is holding back. Hell, he even has him say that he doesn’t want to fight.  In a nice rare treat, Batman doesn’t use Kryptonite. Instead the Bat insignia on his armor is rigged to emit red sun radiation, dampening Superman’s power.  That’s damn clever and something rarely employed by Batman during these conflicts. Given Bruce Wayne’s resources, it makes some sort of sense Bruce Wayne would outfit his suit, with such tech. As I said though, Superman wasn’t portrayed as a chump here, clearly giving as good as he got.  Nightwing even remarks that Batman had fractures everywhere.  Bruce seems almost gleeful to have survived his encounter with Superman.  Even Batman is admitting that all things being equal, Superman would have beaten him. I also loved that both Clark and Bruce discover each other’s identity. Turns out, Batman has been tracking the weirdness all the way back to Smallville. The caves, specifically the cave paintings and the Kryptonian symbol burnt in the sky as a result of Zod’s red sun towers from the last couple seasons of the show.  I love that even in the show universe, Batman is ever the detective.  I know the show’s creators wanted to have Bruce Wayne on the show but weren’t able to.  This is a nice way to tie him to the shows past mythology, even if we never saw him.  Superman is far too often played as someone who rushes into a fight, without asking questions, or truly knowing his adversary. Thankfully, Bryan. Q. Miller uses Superman’s reporting skills to good measure.  Clark remembers Bruce Wayne’s voice from a previous conversation.  Despite Batman disguising his voice, Clark’s super hearing detects the delineation.  He also uses deductive reasoning to figure out that Bruce Wayne and Batman being in town at the same time, all the while weaponry from Gotham City has arrived in Metropolis, is no coincidence.

Once Batman tells Superman why he is after Bruno Manheim, to ultimately find his parents killer, Superman agrees to help him.  There’s a great interrogation scene where Superman flies Bruno Manheim into the sky, threatening to drop him, before ultimately dropping him on the hood of the Bat-Wing.  This sequence reminded me of when golden age Superman, used to threaten to drop criminals and female abusers off of building rooftops.  There’s a great exchange where Oliver Queen admits to being jealous of Batman’s “toys” especially the stealth flying Batwing.  Speaking of Oliver Queen, he and Chloe are investigating encrypted emails being sent to him by Lex Luthor.  Lex of course denies the accusation, but we learned that it’s Tess Mercer’s mind/spirit, which is possessing Lex and sending warnings to Oliver. This remains such an intriguing way to keep Tess Mercer around, even though the show killed her off.  In a way, a great element of Smallville was watching Lex’s inner struggle to remain good or embrace evil.  Since he has embraced his true nature of villainy in this book, this Tess split personality/sleep conscience angle, is a fresh way of bringing that internal struggle back to Lex. Though, they’ll have to clarify exactly what this manifestation of Tess is, because it’s getting somewhat confusing.
Jamal Igle picks up art duties for this three issue stint, and overall, I really like what he does.  Much like the other artists who have drawn this book, he draws Chloe and Oliver Queen perfectly. His Lex Luthor is quite strong but other artists on this book have done a better rendition of Michael Rosenbaum.   I will give Jamal Igle credit for to date, drawing the best, most accurate version of Erica Durance as Lois Lane.  The page where she is on the roof using binoculars and conversing with Superman hovering in the sky, really is a great depiction.  However, several volumes in, I’m not happy with how Superman is drawn.  Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where he looks like the actor that played him, then there are moments where the comic book looks nothing like his TV counterpart.  Oh, and what’s with the long hair? I mean seriously, how hard is it to draw Tom Welling? The image of Batman with the red sunlight emitting from his logo reminded me of the heavily armored suit drawn by Alex Ross in his “Justice” maxi-series from a decade ago.   My favorite Superman image is him holding up Bruno Manheim in mid-air threatening to drop him. As I alluded to, it gave me Golden Age goosebumps.  I also love the Smallville flashbacks to the Native American caves and the battle with Zod. It brought me back in time, reminding me how much I miss weekly viewings of Smallville! I’ve got to give credit to Jamal Igle for drawing a BADASS Bat-Wing.  If you look at it, it’s a cross between the Batman 89 version and the Batman V Superman version.

Now more than ever, I love reviewing this book in three issue installments.  It allows me to spend a longer tome enjoying Batman’s introduction into the Smallville universe.  So far, so good. They’ve made their introduction, had their fight, and to end this episode of issues, I can’t wait to see a proper team up between these two icons! Celebrate Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’s recent one year anniversary by experiencing Smallville’s take on this iconic meeting of the World’s Finest!