2019 Horrorfest Presents: Thirst (1979, Rod Hardy)


Rod Hardy’s Thirst (not to be confused with the modern day vampire movie with the same title) is equal parts Soylent Green and Hammer Films vampire movies put together in one over the top, marvelous package. Chantal Contouri headlines a cast that also includes David Hemmings and Henry Silva as part of a cult that is obsessed with a woman that is descended from Elizabeth Báthory. They want to turn her into a vampire just like Báthory! What you have is rooms full of giant blood vats, an opening that is rather startling, and a conclusion that left me a tad confused. This movie also gave me some David Cronenberg vibes, and I wonder if it further influenced him as much as it was seemingly influenced by him (I was reminded of Rabid quite a bit-which not a bad thing). Anyone who knows me well can attest to my love of cult cinema and strange B-movie oddities, and this movie fits into both categories.

There was parts that did bore me at times, and the fact that Kate keeps trying to escape only to be recaptured became a bit overplayed. However I still liked how the movie never stopped trying to shock her or the audience. The blood shower scene would be at home in any horror movie, and the part where she witnesses the cult members feeding is creepy and very memorable. The cast really helps with some of the thinner material, particularly Hemmings and Silva. Contouri also gives an excellent performance, as she is the movie’s anchor-you sympathize with her while also thinking “Hey she might give into all this madness.” Conformity in society is a powerful thing, and in the hands of the wrong people it can be easily weaponized.

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: The Void (2016, Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie)


Equal parts John Carpenter, David Cronenberg and HP Lovecraft, The Void is a homage to 1980s films while also standing firmly on its own. There are gory freaky moments, some great shots, and a good sense of pacing. However the plot is a bit thin and there is some acting that is bad even for a horror film. I do think my viewing would have been slightly improved had I been able to see The Void on the big screen, as it adds something to not only horror films but most films in general. Netflix just is not the same, despite their good selection and picture quality.

The main setting is at a hospital that is poorly staffed due to a fire that destroyed part of the building. The hero, Dan, swears a lot and has demons that drive some of his intensity. It does not help matters that a group of weirdos are outside, or that unknown terrors lie in the basement. I like that The Void uses practical effects, and there are moments that are freaky and surprising. If you cannot stomach gore and strange monsters this film is not for you.

I wonder if the film’s creators are planning a sequel, based on how this film ended. I also really liked the film’s score, even if it was John Carpenter lite. My favorite thing about The Void was how it explored some of the characters, diving into their connections with each other. It elevated some of the material, and causes one shockingly violent scene to have a tragic meaning in addition to a shocking one. Good pick by Netflix, and a good fall movie, too.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Coma (1978, Michael Crichton)


Okay for a merely very good and entertaining horror thiller from the 197os this movie has a pretty awesome cast. Tom Selleck, Ed Harris and Rip Torn all appear in this film and they aren’t even the stars or major characters. Heading the film are Michael Douglas, Geneviève Bujold, and legendary actor Richard Widmark. Famous Bond girl Lois Chiles also makes an appearance as a woman who suffers misfortune, because well it’s a 70s horror thriller set in a hospital. Nothing good ever happens there.

Susan Wheeler and Mark Bellows (Douglas, Bujold) have trouble in their relationship. They also have trouble at the hospital they work at, Boston Memorial, where normal healthy people are falling into comas for no reason. Susan has her suspicions while Mark is convinced it’s nothing. Desperate, she confides in Dr. George Harris (Widmark), who tries to keep her out of trouble. Things spiral from there of course, and there are many tense and crazy scenes that are well crafted. I particularly loved a freaky moment in a clinic that is straight out of a David Cronenberg movie. Funny considering this was made during his early period, and I have to wonder if it helped inspire Dead Ringers. 

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Furthermore the last act is a bit outlandish if not completely paranoid driven, and yet it works. The movie is largely an exercise in slow burn and the payoff is worth the film’s solid runtime. Douglas and Bujold have great chemistry together, and Crichton actually shows talent as a director. Maybe more writers should make movies, or perhaps just certain ones can direct. Also the film has some interesting commentary on sexual politics (Susan would probably be more easily believed if she was a man or not in the 1970s) and some thoughts on the medical profession.

Widmark’s monologue is fantastic and crazy, a sample of it being: “Our society faces momentous decisions. Decisions about the right to die. About abortion. About terminal illness, prolonged coma, transplantation. Decisions about life and death. But society isn’t deciding. Congress isn’t deciding. The courts aren’t deciding. Religion isn’t deciding. Why? Because society is leaving it up to us, the experts. The doctors.” I guess in all of the madness I forgot that this movie is very well written and has some quality dialogue. Nice.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Nightbreed (1990, Clive Barker)


A good way to tell if you are in a horror movie is that David Cronenberg is your psychologist. Plus you are having recurring nightmares of murders and a place that is not found on any map. If you also encounter a strange man who ends up carving off his own flesh and speaks of a mystical place known as Midian, the very place you have been searching for, well you are most likely in a horror movie. Clive Barker created a cult film in Nightbreed, a twisted yet oddly captivating and moving fantasy horror movie about a man’s search for a place to call home.

Boone is the name of that young man, troubled because he is being framed for crimes he has never committed. Midian happens to be something truly else, a community that is almost out of this world. Only Barker, the creator of so many gruesome and yet intriguing films and books could give birth to something as inspired and fascinating as this film. Lucky for me Netflix had the director’s cut which was released by Scream Factory, and thus I was able to witness Barker’s vision as intended. Studios never care about the artist and what they are trying to accomplish.

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Even after I saw this film I still was not sure what the creatures of Midian were, and I’m not sure if they were really good or not. Compared to a twisted mask wearing serial killer, rednecks and corrupt local law enforcement the beings of Midian are saints. Also its too bad that Craig Sheffer never became a big star, as he’s great in this movie as Boone. Matching him rather well is Anne Bobby as Lori Winston, his girlfriend, who does not understand what is going on with Boone and searches for him despite it clearly not being a good idea. Cronenberg manages to be rather creepy as Boone’s psychologist, Dr. Decker-although I cannot say more about what occurs-and he really should have been in more movies, as he is that rare director who can act.

I also liked how the film uses so many different creature effects, and of course Doug Bradley, who famously played Pinhead, makes an appearance in this movie. I also prefer the alternative ending, which is the one that is used for the Netflix copy of this film since it is the director’s cut. I know of the original ending and it sounds weaker by comparison. Although just like Hellraiser this film falls short of greatness, I still think of both films rather highly and I have so far enjoyed Barker as a director. Its worth noting that both Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions were both meant to be franchises, and yet it was Hellraiser that ended up being the series, for better or for worse.

Favorite Horror Movies


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  1. Night of the Living Dead (1968, George A. Romero)
  2. Gremlins (1984, Joe Dante)
  3. Videodrome (1983, David Cronenberg)
  4. Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)
  5. Night of the Creeps (1986, Fred Dekker)
  6. The Last Man On Earth (1964, Ubaldo Ragona, Sidney Salkow)
  7. The Horror Express (1973, Eugenio Martin)
  8. Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright)
  9. Carnival of Souls (1960, Herk Harvey)
  10. Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)
  11. Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987, Sam Rami)
  12. Scream (1996, Wes Craven)
  13. Tremors (1990, Ron Underwood)
  14. Re-Animator (1985, Stuart Gordon)
  15. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984, Joseph Zito)
  16. Horror of Dracula (1958, Terence Fisher)
  17. Sleepy Hollow (1999, Tim Burton)
  18. Trick ‘r’ Treat (2008, Michael  Dougherty)
  19. The Frighteners (1996, Peter Jackson)
  20. Arachnophobia (1990, Frank Marshall)

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Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Blob (1988, Chuck Russell)


In the 1980s there were a surprisingly high number of quality remakes: John Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly, and Chuck Russell’s The Blob. The Blob was a sharp contrast to its 1950s original, a cheesy sci-fi/horror movie that launched the career of Steve McQueen. In the original the government aids the town in fighting the alien menace, showing that government could be helpful and protective. By the 1980s the government was seen as the problem, and not just because of Reagan America: Watergate, the Vietnam War and the Kennedy murders had soured the American public’s opinion of their public officials. The military that once helped the people in the old film now posed a big threat in the 1980s remake, choosing to cover up the deaths caused by a monster from beyond.

The creature effects are pretty good in this movie too, and of course the death toll gets drastically upped as well. When the Blob gets you it horribly eats you in the grossest, nastiest way possible. This is creepy and ups the tension, adding to the film’s modern take on sci-fi and horror. One of my favorite parts is when a pair of kids become trapped down in the sewers as they attempt to flee from the Blob. For some reason kids being put in serious and terrifying danger has been a staple of modern horror, although in older films such as Night of the Hunter children being threatened was prominent as well. I’m also reminded of Jurassic Park’s kitchen scene, with the dreaded raptors hunting the two kids as they desperately tried to avoid becoming lunch.

Although at times the movie is really cheesy, I still like the film’s cast and how the movie plays out. Its an entertaining thrill ride, a dated 80s movie where Kevin Dillion’s street tough motor bike riding outcast is the hero and Shawnee Smith is the pretty heroine in distress who proves more to be more than just that. I loved the ending despite it being the type of ending that we see in horror movies these days, and how they defeat the Blob is just as great as it was in the 1950s original. We need more good, solid horror remakes like this (or great horror remakes such as The Thing and The Fly), ones that build upon the original and do something different, offering up their own twist on previous material. I would rather have those than another bland sequel.

That Buzzing Sound In Your Ear


Darkness ends. The sun arises, shinning bright rays into my apartment through the busted blinds that I can’t afford to fix. That’s when I hear the noise: slowly growing, echoing in my brain: bzzzzzzzz! Louder and louder, going around in circles, unable to be seen while still being heard. Oh God its growing heavier now, even louder than before. I feel as if I’m going insane by the minute, unable to locate the source of my torment and yet I know its name: fly. FLY. Those little fuckers that never stop coming, always multiplying, overwhelmingly growing until they conquer your living space. My apartment has become invaded by a parasite with wings, a monster that is food for others while existing upon the leftovers of man and whatever else it can get its disgusting feelers on.

Arming myself with a cheap plastic green fly swatter, I hunt my prey, stalking the frustrating creature as it deftly maneuvers around the room, escaping from me each time. I am trapped in a world populated by a breed of monster that spreads disease, annoys the hell out of its victims, and which can deliver painful bites when it strikes. “Man what I wouldn’t kill for a can of Raid right now,” I think to myself, acknowledging the level of frustration that has been building within me. David Cronenberg directed a movie about a man becoming a fly due to a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong, yet he never commented on how annoying the bastards can truly be. I suppose that mutating into something no one likes, even other flies, is more terrifying.

“SMACK!” goes the fly swatter as I sling it in anger and hate, looking quickly to see if I have slaughtered my foe. Alas, it is not dead: choosing instead to struggle on the carpet, endlessly buzzing still, refusing to die. I take the blunt plastic tip of the swatter and stab the fly repeatedly in a pointless effort to finish it off. Taking it into the bathroom, I flush the half dead fiend down the toilet, not wanting dead fly to stink up my trash can. “Victory!” I say to myself, confident that the nightmare is over.

Hah I should be so lucky. There are more of them, and there are even littler ones now, swarming all over the ceiling, mocking my pain and daring me to slaughter them faster than before. Everything has come into focus: I must continue to kill all of them, never stopping, never resting, until all the black coated evil bug bastards are dead. I’m awake, drunk and alone, pondering my current state and wondering “Is this my fate?” I feel defeated already.

Auto-Erotic, Accidents, and Almost Death: A Look At Crash


In 2005, I experienced a car crash that was absolutely brutal and completely life changing, to say the least. I was hit from the side, t-boned as they called it, so I lived while sustaining a concussion. My friend, who was a passenger and who lived while being only slightly injured, had to tell me what happened that day because I don’t remember. A day in my life is gone forever, and all I have left are pictures of a terrible moment that almost killed me. That’s a scary thought, one that I have never forgotten.

Some say your life flashes before your eyes when death approaches, yet that didn’t happen for me. I’m sure there was no white light, or the singing of angels, or anything else. Just that moment where I probably thought to myself “Oh shit, I’m going to die” as the other car rammed into my driver’s side, pushing me off the road and into a small plot of green grass resting next to the strip of hot July asphalt that ran on the far side of town. Next to a Country Kitchen, in fact.

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This is my 1997 Ford Taurus-I took this and other pictures of the aftermath at the local junkyard. The car was completely totaled, and I woke up the next day having spent half the day in the hospital, and the entire rest of the night puking and wondering what the hell had happened to me. Not a good experience.

So with a tad hesitation I viewed David Cronenberg’s Crash (1996), not to be confused with the movie about racism that won Best Picture and which I never bothered to watch. Cronenberg in the 1990s decided that after over two decades of doing body horror he would tackle something new and fresh, and this can actually be considered a cousin to Naked Lunch in that both films tackle the artist and certain weird levels of making and creating something with one’s own hands. In this case with Crash though the art is achieved with car accidents, some staged, others that happened merely viewed and remembered by those obsessed with the horror and the spectacle, with sex involved too.

Which is not surprising, since many of Cronenberg’s movies have deal with sexuality and the human body one way or another. There is even elements of body horror in this film, moments that are quite stark and rather provocative , hence the NC-17 rating that was unfairly earned in my opinion. Why is that violence is so often given a pass, yet sex brings in the censorship police? It’s a tad silly how so many Americans are prudish when it comes to the subject matter of sex, and that’s why I think that Cronenberg included it in so many of his films. Arousal is a weapon even in these movies, especially when it comes to man vs. women sexual politics.

Back in 1996 I’m sure the movie was far shocking to people than it is now, and the fact that films such as Blue Valentine have also displayed sex graphically makes Crash a tad dated. For some reason I felt the film doesn’t go far enough, and maybe that’s because if had gone completely over the edge there is no way that it would have been released. However Crash does a fantastic job overall of giving you the sense of that deer in the headlights, that feeling of Death starring you in the face as you spiral head on into a tangled web of violence and bodies, metal and glass, plastic and rubber.

Not to mention you still get his thoughts on technology-its mutilation of the body, the graphing together of steel and human flesh. Disturbing, sure, powerful absolutely, and completely engaging to the last frame. No one quite makes films like David Cronenberg, and perhaps that’s a good thing because his vision remains unique and absorbing. Perhaps even absolute, a lasting take on modern society and the human psyche.

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