Monday, October 29, 2018

Fresh Picks: 13 Newly-Added Horror Movies on Prime (Halloween-curated Marathon Festival for Lost Causes and Autumnal Catalepsies)

Halloween is here! And out east things are autumnal like they never were last year - it feels like it actually is Halloween and I'm excited to... well, sit around and watch tons of horror films, because here in NYC there's too many screaming kids during the day and vomiting amateurs at night. But luckily Amazon's got our number. For horror films alone, Amazon Prime RULEZ.

Especially now that Filmstruck is going to be shut down (to either make bigger Xmases bonuses for their top execs or because they hate art, because art reminds them too much of how swinish and short-sighted they are), Amazon Prime is more essential than ever. Prime doesn't have Criterion or a lot of of older bigger studio films but they have some (like THE AWFUL TRUTH and WIZARD OF OZ) and if they don't have something now, they'll have it tomorrow. The other day I was reading about INITIATION OF SARAH, the CARRIE-inspired 1971 TV movie starring Kay Lenz. I was thinking hmmm - I'd like to check it out, but it wasn't on Prime and I don't dig watching films on youtube (too blurry). I debated options and then literally the next day there, viola! There it is in a brand new beautiful restoration on Prime, just for me, like Prime heard I was interested via some Siri interconnected listening device (or noting I did a search for it). More and more crazy great stuff keeps coming like that, every week more and more and more. Prime hears me! It hears us all! Praise Prime!

"bad weird, like Trenton" (from Return of the Living Dead)
As I always preface, though traipsing down Prime's vast alleyways can be addictive, beware! The amount of new independent shot-on-video horror film nowheresville nonsense is almost incomprehensible. If it was a video store, Amazon Prime's streaming horror collection alone would be the size of Trenton, and, like Trenton itself, mostly the wrong kind if scary. Trust your guide and don't make eye contact with anything shot on video unless you're actually in the film, or I tell you different. Stick with me, man, and hold on tight. Things is gonna get weird. But not bad weird, not like Trenton. Or misogynist, like Camden. Good weird, like Scarfolk.

(PS - As always, all images are screenshots taken from Prime for quality assurance.) Many Halloween favorites that are listed as seeable on Prime--City of the Dead, Horror Express, The Terror, Messiah of Evil--are actually in awful formats, taken from blurry video source material; others, like Seven Deaths in a Cat's Eye and Phenomena are from fine sources but the transfer is jumpy. The ones listed here are all bonny to the quick so fear not in that. Fear not... in that.

(1984) Dir. Neil Jordan 
*** / Amazon Image - A

A weird hybrid of "Red Riding" variations and Freudian-feminist horror, written by Angela Carter (author of the classic feminist Bluebeard revision, "The Bloody Chamber"), with the basic original fairy tale plot being meta-abstracted through more consciously menstrual filters into a series of stories-within-stories, dreamed by Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) about a wolf beset village a long time ago, in which a series of Red Riding variations are experienced or told as fairy tales by her, her older sister (Georgia Slowe), her father (David Warner) and her kindly grandmother (Angela Lansbury). Wolf girls come out of wells, severed paws turn into human hands, and through it all Rosaleen comes to power by using her womanly warmth and wiles to get the better of predatory male sexuality. All the exteriors are shot on a vast indoor soundstage and hauntingly lit and filmed, for maximum ethereal/earthy fairy tale mystique. Huge gnarled old growth tree roots rap around jagged rocks and twisted paths lead through all sorts of hazards where wolves and handsome foreign dandies with long teeth may be lie in wait to charm poor Rosaleen as she travels to and from grandma's remote but cozy cabin.  Stephen Rea cameos in a rather lumbering story-within-the-story involving a pregnant spurned gypsy girl crashing the wedding of her upper class lover and turning everyone into wolves (its feminist vengeance angle is soon subsumed in transformation make-up overkill) and--though I don't remember him it at all--Terence Stamp has a cameo as 'the devil.'

The real Halloween selling point for my money isn't the wolf transformations, which go on far too long, and then end with a bunch of actual dogs running around, but the brilliant sun-dappled old growth atmosphere of the sets, all giant gnarled tree roots, jagged rocks and other strange little impasses that make travel a matter of a kind of Jungian deep penetration into the unknown of the self, where every trip beyond the borders of the village means you may or may not find your way back, either in one piece, or ever. And the Amazon streaming quality is first rate, capturing a cozy amount of film grain in the image that makes it all feel alive on a movie screen midnight show full of strange little beings and forest mist.

Cons: The curly-haired local boy (Shane Johnstone) who follows Rosaleen around, like a lovesick townie woodsman: I confess I have an irrational loathing for curly-haired boys, especially those who pester the young hottie childhood sweetheart, now grown cool and sophisticated, and so clearly destined for things way beyond his narrow townie ken. I get that go-nowhere hometown school exes are a part of any cute woman's maturation, as is dealing with the unpleasant task of ditching them and moving onto better prospects. Unfortunately we spend way too much screen time with this one, like we're somehow supposed to root for his dopey stalker 'sincerity' rather than the dashing and destructive wolves about. 

(1971) Directed by John Hough
**1/2 / Amazon Image - A

Their Draculas and Frankensteins aren't on Prime, but we got a few beautifully transferred early 70s side dishes from Catsle Karnstein, i.e. sex and violence-streaked Carmilla-ish vamp films like Twins of Evil. My problem with Hammer, and so many British films, is often that use way too many exterior countryside scenes, and the stillness, wan sky and muddy fields of the British countryside looks mighty depressing even when the colors aren't faded to muddiness. Now, finely transferred to HD, the old growth forest is dappled with thin rays of light through the mist betwixt the old growth and tombs and girls in nightshirts scampering hither and yon, and the HD deep blacks of the cobwebbed crypt recesses... man, this is what Halloween is all about, whether they have it in England or not. Here Peter Cushing stars as a repressed pastor who likes burning corrupted peasant girls at the stake rather than daring risk the king's displeasure by doing the same to the real evil in the village, the local lord, Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas), who always has an eye out for any local lovelies willing to leave the banal daytime exteriors behind and join his vampy coven. Cushing's borderline-perverse over-protectiveness towards his sexy twin nieces (Playboy playmates Madeline and Mary Collinson) drives one to run away and join Karnstein's kinky vampire club. The other daughter is 'good' which means she obeys the patriarchy and clutches crosses (a habit that later saves her life). Kathleen (Sister Ruth!) Byron is the twins' devoted nanny; David Warbeck is the music teacher at the local girls' school, fighting to keep the 'Brotherhood' from burning up all his students.

The real star though is the lavish Satanic atmosphere, including some very impressive Gothic sets, spookily lit and cobwebbed) and the twins are sexy in a fresh, American kind of way, gifted with the usual crisp upper crust voices that makes every Hammer heroine seem so capable, sultry, imperiously intellectual and swaggericious (were they dubbed? Hammer won't tell). So if you've a yen to get into the era when Hammer was taking advantage of looser censorship but hadn't yet given up on solid writing, acting and vivid Gothic atmosphere, know that 1971 was the magic lesbian-vampire year, and Twins is one of the two best of Hammer's non-Drac vamp films. May it compel you to seek out the other of the year's entrants in Hammer's Karnstein/Carmilla trilogy, The Vampire Lovers. And then, backtracking to 1960, the best of all the Hammers (even though Dracula does not appear), The Brides of Dracula. (Neither is on Prime streaming, but Vampire Circus is, and recommended though the transfer quality is very uneven).

(2012) Dir. James Watkins 
*** (Amazon Image- A)

My one main caveat with Corman's Poe films is that the sets were never dark enough to be scary. You could see every corner as if AIP feared that --unless every patch of screen was filled--viewers might want their money back. It was the same with early Hammer films. In fact Halloween and Friday the 13th were the first films in awhile to show how extra-creepy it is having darkness seem to swallow the characters from all sides. And now, he's a new Hammer film, offering interesting proof how truly effective pitch blackness can be in spooking up old mansions. Suddenly all the portentous gloom hinted at in gothic texts read in the dead of night to feeble illumination, comes slamming home. It all makes sense. Here we get that as our hero, a young lawyer sent to catalogue a recently deceased widow's estate, stays alone in a vast dark mansion, with only a single candle for company, zipping back and forth from strange sound to strange sound, the flickering candles every swallowed on all sides by the imposing inky dark.

 Though heavily indebted to The Ring as far as the old "unravel the mystery and give her missing corpse a burial and maybe the killings will stop before they get to your doorstep" storyline, what counts here is that--despite the immense attention to Edwardian period detail--enough to suffocate any ordinary picture--is that Woman in Black is never stuffy and really rather ripping in its moody, familiar way (making excellent use of that modern advancement, the motor car, as a key plot hinge). Daniel Radcliffe is surprisingly solid as the junior solicitor and the setting- a dark decaying mansion perched in the midst of a thick mucky tarn, in a remote, fearful hamlet where kids are dying like flies--is vividly, unforgettably etched. There's a great metaphysical shocker ending involving a speeding train, and the woman in black turns out to be a vindictive wraith like Eva Graps and her ghost daughter. She's a genuine fright, albeit one with the bad habit of opening her mouth far too wide too fast when she starts screaming, as if that was somehow scarier than her just quietly smiling or very... slowly.. creeping forward... or slowly beckoning one out into the tarn to be sucked under, or a dozen other possibilities rather than the old 'freakishly super wide open / loud scream' trick which is by now so played out it's a bummer Watkins didn't trust the already strong sense of Lewtonian less-is-more genuine creepiness he was getting from the darkness alone. That said, it's easy to forgive, because the darkness is so all-consuming.

This is especially due to a ripping extended sequence wherein Radcliffe is alone in the house trying to sort through the estate papers, ever distracted by strange noises, never sure if he's imagining it, if its the wind (in one broken window, a crow got in and started a nest on the bed). You get the eerie feeling in this stretch that you usually only get when you're alone for a long time in a very empty quiet house and suddenly you realize night has fallen and all the lights are off. Radcliffe feels totally alone in these moments, we don't even feel like we are there. The darkness never lifts beyond a thin gray, and Watkins wisely refrains from using any music in this whole stretch, so that the silence and the little noises in it gradually swell in our brains and we see faces in the dim reflections of the wallpaper and shadows; we feel Radcliffe's mounting fear as he runs from one weird noise to the next. And when he finally gets an ally in the darkness-shrouded town (Ciarán Hinds) with whom to have glass of whiskey, it's only then that the darkness begins, ever so slightly, to lift. Screenplay is by Jane Goldman, based on a novel by Susan Hill! And it's not long.

(1978) Dir. Gus Trikonis
*1/2 (bad movie rating: ***1/2) - Amazon Image - B

An undersung New World bad movie gem from 1978, The Evil is clearly meant to ride the late-70s obsession with Jay Anson's 1977 runaway bestseller The Amityville Horror (beating the movie version into theaters by a year). A tale of a big Civil War-era mansion sitting on the trapdoor to Hell, Richard Crenna stars as an off-center youth center therapist planning on opening a school/halfway house there, bringing in some of his counsellors to help clean it up (which seems very uncool of him). Things go wrong early on as the boiler incinerates the drunk caretaker (Ed Bakey), and soon everyone else is rolling around pretending to be rocked by malevolent house quakes, or given freak electrical shocks (pin scratches on the celluloid), and--because it's New World--there's an attempted ghost rape of a girl (Lynne Moody) trying to take a nap on the upstairs cot.

As the Crenna's girlfriend and fellow counsellor, Joanna Petit (right)-- rocking some of the grooviest clothes, hair and two-shaded lipstick of the entire 70s decade--is open enough to the spirit realm that she bothers to read the ancient journal that spells out what's going on (and has an accompanying 'good' ghost to guide her), but Crenna won't believe her or even entertain the idea. He's too busy mansplaining reality and, eventually, like Pandouchebag's box, opening the locked door in the basement floor. Wind rushes up, the Satanic laughter echoes, all the doors and windows lock shut, and Crenna has to think fast to explain it all aways as wind gusts. Fan favorite Andrew Pine--that quintessentially 70s laid-back lanky hipster (Grizzly)--is one of the more pro-active counsellors who tries to facilitate an escape over the side of the third floor balcony once it's clear Crenna has led them all into a locked box of doom yet still can't quite accept who's actually behind it (prefix a the letter 'D' if you're at all confused what 'the evil' is).

Sure, it's not a good film and it take a few beats too long to get started (old Bakey seems to wander around that old building, taking a gallon of slugs from his half-pint hip flask, through lengthy opening credits) but-- once that trapdoor opens-- the action just keeps getting faster, wilder and weirder until you're shrieking with delight (I refuse to give away the totally out-there ending, so you'll just have to trust me). In other words, it's the best kind of bad there is, and so 70s you can set your watch by it. The Amazon print is fine, if a little faded but hey, aren't we all? (If you want to find more of the 'possessed mansion killing guests one-by-one' movies that were all the rage in 1978, might I be so bold as to recommend The Legacy).

(1957) Dir. Edward L. Cahn
** / Amazon Image - C-

In case you don't know, this was once a TV perennial much liked by we kids (it even had our beloved Riddler, Frank Gorshin), then it disappeared into the legal twilight never to be heard from on VHS or DVD ever. Not unlike Corman's The Undead and Bert I. Gordon's Amazing Colossal Man it appeared only occasionally on AMC back in the 90s, when they still showed older movies. And Now - viola! Here it is, on Prime. You may not know it, but baby, it's a miracle!

The bad news: it turns out that, unlike Night of TerrorSaucer Men isn't very good after all. Most of it is spent with not terribly charismatic "teenagers" trying to convince the adults of their hick town that little green men are running amok in the cow pastures they trespass on for use as a lover's lane (must smell so romantic). While the military tries to cover it up (and to break into the saucer using blowtorches), these genius aliens kill teenagers by injecting them with alcohol through retractible hypodermic fingernails and are adept at hiding the evidence of their crimes to make it look like the work of drunk teens. Also, their hands detach and crawl around on their own, (with eyeballs on the top).  A bull has a blast though when he runs into one, but for the audience it gets old pretty quick watching as they try and explain all this to the cops (we spend way too much with a charismatically-challenged young couple who take it on themselves to good samaritan their way into official military business, and not nearly enough time with the aliens.)

It's too bad, since the aliens are actually pretty effective, especially from a distance as they bobble around in the dark (filmed at night rather than day-for-night, which makes a huge difference). Looking not unlike what the real greys have been described as (child-size, with bulbous heads -above right), seeing them all bobbing around in a group in the middle of the field lit only be headlights is pretty creepy, like if you've been abducted and had your memory wiped, maybe it would trigger total recall. The whole angle of the military covering it all up is on point too. Was this movie made with government assistance as disinformation, to make anyone who sees little green men seem crazy? Officer, why won't you believe me? Bruce Rux, he knows! 

Seen through my adult eyes, today, that "why won't you believe me??" nagging at cops and parents gets really old and tired, but as a kid who loved this film I remember I really related to their frustration and desperation. Still, I never understood why people who see aliens and UFOs call the cops. What are the cops gonna do, arrest a gaggle of hyper-advanced aliens with detachable crawling hands and retracting hypodermic needle fingernails? They probably don't have fingerprints. The cops can't enforce crimes that don't exist. Either way, existence or not, good or bad, dull or dynamic, I'm glad it's finally back from the void.

(2001) Dir. Victor Salva
*** / Amazon Image - A

I know this one's pretty well-known, but I wanted to give it a little shout anyway, as it doesn't quite get the respect it should as modern pastiche classic that offers one of the more pleasantly scary slow-burn opening stretches in recent horror movie memory. It all starts innocently during a long car ride down a single lane highway through the South to (or from college), a brother and sister (Gina Phillips and Justin Long) bicker like any normal pair of siblings who've practiced the same time-killing license plate-naming games over and over on shared long car rides since they were kids; casually running razzing and nerve-grating gags on each other while obliquely discussing personal events like mom's depression and big sister's break-up (his made-up on-the-spot country song about her boyfriend is hilarious). The writing and acting is so good, the real-time tick-tockality so well-orchestrated, we feel like we're kickin' it in the backseat, staring out the window, half-listening, half-guessing what hick stretch of almost totally-deserted one lane highway they happen to be on. Then... they drive past some scary looking guy grabbing what looks like a human body wrapped in a bloody sheet out the back of his truck. From then on.... the tension and weirdness starts accruing, but so well-measured over what feels like real-time that we're never not 'in' it with these two kids.

So many memorable moments and details: the grinding of the car gears; the tied-down trunk; the sudden wing erupting from the roadkill demon; the head landing on the hood; Justin beholding the vast amount of missing persons notices on the police bulletin board; the termite attention paid to the precinct's cops and denizens, and the eccentric locals: the people at the diner; a surprise cameo from Eileen Brennan as the shotgun-toting cat lady; the sad-eyed psychic with her strangely calming terror; the tracking shot along the jail where they do the head count "show me some skin" (the bird being flipped just gets a fine "Thank you, I love you too" from the good-natured cop); the way enough shit happens in front of them that the cops can't dismiss the siblings' wild claims (thus avoiding that tiresome 'the adults won't believe us!' plot point).

The ultimate in Texas Chainsaw Massacre x The Terminator combos, Jeepers also benefits from one of the great stealth talents of his generation, Justing Long. You can taste his fear after being run off the road by the crazy killer's car, his glaze of sweat and frenzied yelling, the metallic tang of it. Sssshssshiss. There's a vividness to his plight made all made the weirder when considering the personal history of its director, whose proclivities perhaps find the perfect artistic sublimation subject in the saga of a monster obsessed with certain bits of a young man's anatomy (the sister naively assumes any self-respecting demon would prefer her royal hotness to her yucky brother). Yikes. Whatever, Salvo did his time; maybe he's still a monster at least now it's all sublimated nice and proper onscreen, making this a blast from start to shortly before the finish (for it ends on quite the downer note - be warned!)

(1985) Dir. Dan O'Bannon
***1/2 (Amazon Image - A)

The realm of post-Romero zombie movies is unaccountably vast -- thankfully it's now dying out, so to speak-- but in the midst of the "shoot 'em in the head"-rules morass stands this mighty exception--a mythos all its own (where nothing kills them)-- directed by Romero's co-writer on the original 1968 classic, Dan O'Bannon (who also wrote Lifeforce, below). The recently-departed and much beloved James Karen has one of his best roles as a medical supply company clerk who--on the first day of training amiable punk rocker Freddy (Thom Mathews)--tries to freak him out by telling him the movie Night of the Living Dead was based on a real, hushed-up event and that--in a typical military blunder-- the dead were put in holding containers and shipped to this very medical supply company where they still are... Meanwhile, Freddy's punk rock friends wait for him to get off work in the nearby cemetery; Linnea Quigley's death-obsessed party-naked punk chick strips on a gravestone (a fanboy highlight) and fantasizes about being ripped apart by a bunch of old, dirty men, a bad thing to express early on in a zombie film.

As if this couldn't get any better, there are also ace comic turns between Clu Gallagher as the supply company owner and Don Calfa as the funeral parlor owner next door. Together with James Karen, these three adults somehow manage to be way cooler, funnier, and more punk rock than the punk kids without even trying. And it's scary while being so funny: in addition to its elimination of the 'one shot to the head' rule; this is the one where they talk and shout "more brains!" but it's more than just some mindless metaphor, language brings it all into the realm of addiction/withdrawal. In other words, there's no escape, not even in language. The metaphor for addiction becomes all consuming. You've been wasting your life if you've never seen it, and if you haven't seen it again, now's the chance - it holds up like grey matter splatter on sticky wallpaper.

(For more Groovy Punk Rock 80s horror comedy on Prime - see TERRORVISION and LIQUID SKY)

(1985) Dir. Tobe Hooper
*** / Amazon Image - A

Make it a Dan O'Bannon double feature! Thanks to Cannon Films and Tobe Hooper, his script for this stupid-brilliant film gets full gonzo wings to fly fly fly. A full roster of capable British male thespians like Peter Firth, Michael Gothard, Patrick Stewart, Frank Finlay, and Aubrey Morris scream, scream and scream in terror at the presence of gorgeous, naked Mathilda May, a soul energy-vampire whose ship travels in the tail of Halley's comet (it was passing around this time, and sci-fi films like this and Night of the Comet were making the most of it). Raiding planets as they pass, storing up souls for the winter, the lead vampire girl uses Jung's concept of the archetypal unconscious anima (the female ego of the masculine unconscious) to take her luscious form. Steve Railsback is the Yank astronaut from whose mind she takes her idealized shape (though really, she could be taken from the unconscious desires of any straight male in the audience). Without her hot Mathilda May make-up comes off, so to speak, she's a giant Basil Woolverton-style bat monster, but what are ya gonna do? Just stay drunk, Steve! It's a pretty intriguing idea (the vampire myth originates from the past visits of Halley's comet) from a novel by Colin Wilson and featuring knowing nods to an array of movies like SHE and THE BLACK CAT (as per her blue ray aura above). It's easily the best film in Cannon's short-lived but memorably crass and entertaining oeuvre, and the Amazon print is sublime, though I'm not sure if it's the longer, better British cut or not. Either way, it's a hilarious three AM must. (See Ten Reasons)

(for more cult sci-fi horror so recommended it's great if not good, on Prime - Galaxy of Horror)

(1965) Dir. Roger Corman
**** / Amazon Image - A+

You'd be a fool not to make this a Halloween perennial, for Vincent Price alone --when he's clearly having a blast making a movie, it's impossible not to have one too. Add Peter Lorre, Karloff and Jack Nicholson, plus Hazel Court as the buxom Lenore--they all vibe together tremendously well-- and some beautiful massive art direction, with sprawling atmospheric Gothic sets, and there you are, the best AIP Gothic horror comedy of all time. I was trying to just focus on lesser-known works for this list, but who's to say who's seen what anymore? The canon is too sprawled out, and no one watches the same thing at the same time like we did back in the 70s, man, when this was on afternoon TV with some regularity, to every kid's flipper-flapping couch somersault delight. The Mickey Mouse-ing score by Les Baxter may get a little too pleased with itself in spots, but it does certainly cast a mood when it wants to and Lorre, Nicholson and Price especially invent all sorts of funny weird little bits of business as they go. Watch it again and feel yourself at the delightful center of Halloween ground zero, the ultimate in cool spooky parties. (See: Mephisto from Missouri)

(1974) Dir. Paul Maslansky
*** (Amazon Image - A)

This dusty AIP gem from 1974 is a wry, clever blaxploitation New Orleans zombie urban revenge film that knows how to take it easy and enjoy itself, arranging voodoo deaths for deserving honkie mobsters with a refreshing lack of scruples. Marki Bey stars as a sweet, sexy, witty fashion photographer Sugar Hill. Her voodoo-themed nightclub-owning boyfriend won't sell out to a bunch of syndicate thugs (led by Count Yorga-star, Robert Quarry) so he's beaten to death in his own parking lot, giving her motive to return to her ancestral swamp homestead and see about getting some old-school voodoo revenge with the help of her conjure woman grandmother, Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully) and the heartily-laughing Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley), who then shows up in different stereotype-satirizing disguises during the elaborate juju sting operations. Great touches, like the zombies being still-shackled 19th century Africans rising from the bayou, having died on their way to America and been dumped there by slave ships. With their silver ping-pong ball eyes, a dusting of gold glitter and cobwebs, and brandishing machetes and big evil grins, these monsters aren't necessarily convincing or 'realistic' or whatever that means, but who the fuck cares, they're awesome. More than most, it's just great to see black on white violence so freely and joyously celebrated. The deeper they go into their cake walk style display of how genteel black folks ought behave while luring the clueless mobsters to their doom, the more relish they seem to feel when they laugh at their deserving thug victim's inevitable display of raw terror, and the deeper our own sense of macabre catharsis.

I love any movie that trusts us to not be narcs or prudes and just to ride with a confident heroine into the moral abyss, especially if she's smart and badass enough that I don't have to worry about her getting beat up, sexually assaulted, imprisoned, outsmarted, or turning soft at the last minute, etc. (i.e. "there's been enough killing, today!" throwing down of guns, letting the villain live, et al.) None of that for Sugar Hill, a stone fox who puts on an endearing Morticia Adams-style thrill in her voice when lunging for the kill, as if having a blast making fun of how white people talk almost to the point she's cracking herself up. Yes, it's great to be able to root for a murderous voodoo priestess and not have to worry she's going to develop a conscience thanks to burgeoning love for a dashing black homicide cop so naive he genuinely can't understand why the African-American local community would hesitate helping him, even though the murdered mobsters have been terrorizing them for years. But don't worry about that cop, or how crude the production values may be --Mama, Sugar and the Baron don't need fancy props and sets to work their dark miracles and no handsome cop's going to foil Sugar's game. So take Blacula back with ya; I'm ridin' Sugar's shotgun 'til the doll's enflamed! (full)

Sugar Hill, with her zombie

(1933) Dir. Ben Stoloff
*** / Amazon Prime Image - B-

A long-unavailable old dark house swirl of a thriller with proto-slasher movie signatures, Night of Terror is violent pre-code melodrama highlighted not only by an unusually florid Bela Lugosi performance but by an unusually lurid string of murders, all committed by a knife-wielding madman, who grins impishly from the bushes with knife raised, prowling unmolested in and around a rolling, fog-enshrouded estate, ramping up a body count in the double-digits. From the opening double murder of a necking couple in a convertible down in Lover's Lane, it plays more like a 70s-80s slasher movie collided with a hoary old 30s mystery. Weirder even than that is a a dotty scientist (George Meeker) planing to uses test his new 'suspended animation' death-duplicating drug by burying himself alive. Even weirder still: he has inexplicably earned a fiancee (Sally Blaine) the rich heiress endangered by a tontine-style will of her kooky, clearly delusional (and murdered) father. She's so passive she even lets herself be pawed by Wallace Ford as--what else?--a nosy reporter. The mysterious Hindu servant Degar (Lugosi) and his spirit medium-housekeeper wife (Mary Frey) --who sees death in the future!--are also in for a share of the dead man's fortune, so they're either in danger too, or the murderers. The black chauffeur (Oscar Smith) alone is smart enough to want to skedaddle.

This rare Columbia B-movie gem was one that, as a dyed-in-the-purple Bela Lugosi fan, I'd been looking for since forever. Oh, ever so long I waited. Suddenly it's on Prime in a decent if fuzzy SD print after never being on VHS, DVD or local TV. That I'm actually not disappointed after all that expectation (35+ years of waiting) says a lot. What sets this apart from so many other old dark houses is the wild pace and the abundance of little macabre touches and the way the killings just tumble along one after the other, the killer mugging to the audience like some insane off-Broadway ham. (Full review here)

(1933) Dir. T. Hayes Hunter
*** / Amazon Image - B

To be a classic horror fan is to get excited at any movie that features both Karloff and Ernest Thesiger (they co-starred in two James Whale classics: Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein). Here they're home in England, at Gaumont, but with Universal horror in their wind. Karloff stars but gets almost no lines as an eccentric, dying Egyptologist living in the eerie, fog-enshrouded ever-dark English countryside. Most of his remaining fortune has been spent on a huge mystical emerald which he thinks will bring him back from the dead... if its buried bandaged in his hand (and not stolen at the last minute by any quick-thinking pallbearer). After he dies, and his eerie Egyptian-style procession to the strains of Wagner's immortal "Siegfried's Funeral March" is concluded, the real show begins. The first person to break in finds the gem already missing, thanks to nervous but well-meaning butler (Thesiger) but there's also Ralph Richardson as an overly-friendly parson; Cedrick Hardwicke as a grumpy Dickensian lawyer; the great Harold Huth is Aga Ben Dragore, the art dealer who sold Karloff the jewel --after stealing it. Dorothy Hyson and Anthony Bushell are legal inheritors, cousins who bicker over old grievances, but then stand "shoulder to shoulder" against the spooky goings on.  Kathleen Harrison provides the comic relief as Hyson's pal who comes along for moral support and ends up swooning over Dragore's tales of whipping slave girls for miles across the desert on his camel. It all takes place over a single, wild night (my favorite kind of movie). Naturally Karloff come back from the dead and skulks about the mansion search of his expensive emerald. The bit where he carves an ankh symbol on his chest has been restored! 

Long just a streaky duped public domain blur, available only on second-hand dupes, The Ghoul as since been spiffed up and now is a personal favorite that's just oozing with delicious spooky Universal-does-Edgar Wallace atmosphere (with dabs of The Mummy). As with all the best horror movies, there are no daytime exteriors. It mostly takes place over a single long foggy night. Pure 30s horror / old dark house mood it is, with enough fog to carry it through to the giddy end. And if you lose track of who has the jewel, or where it's hid, or where everyone else is relative to everyone else on the grounds, don't worry, just vibe on the old dark house glory of it all, and watch it again later. It gets better, and easier to understand, with every viewing... now that you can see what's going on, kind of, in the fog. 

(1957) Dir. Ronnie Ashcroft
**1/2 (Amazon Image - B-)

One of my new old Ed Wood-school insta-favorites, this kidnappers-vs.-alien in the deep woods saga was never on UHF late night/early morning TV in the 70s the way its confederates like Plan Nine and Bride of the Monster were, and I didn't have it on tape during my drinking years, god knows why not. Lord knows I've tried, in recent years, to fill the gap, recently pushing my number of viewings into the double-digits. I would have loved this, also, when I was drinking in the 90s. It would have fit perfectly between The Thing that Wouldn't Die and Cat Women of the Moon if there was room. So many wasted hours wasted! Oh well, it's here now, on Prime. So are Thing, the Ed Woods, Cat Women of the Moon and Mesa of the Lost Women. They don't tumble one after the other like one of my auld 6-hour tapes, so you have to choose them of your own free will. But that would be foolish. Anyway, there they are, waiting, a click away. Do you dare? 

The Astounding story riffs along the old crooks on the lam hole up in a mountain cabin and reluctantly ally with the resident to tangle with monster route, but is great anyway as it occurs mainly almost in real time over a single night, has both Kenne Duncan and Robert Clarke, and has a great monster. With her extreme eyebrows and glittery body stocking adorned with big beatnik medallion, glowing in the dark as if the lens is wet from her awesomeness, Shirley Kilpatrick evokes everyone from Ann Francis to Divine (when she's on the rampage at the end of Multiple Maniacs), Shirley Stoler (The Honeymoon Killers) and Tura Satana (Pussycat). Her whole attack style is to just slowly advance towards people to try and kill them with a radioactive touch. (She also polishes off various wildlife stock footage). Duncan's alcoholic moll (Jeanne Tatum) polishes off one whole bottle and is eager for the next during the course of the film (my kinda gal - man I wish I'd been drinking to this movie). Their blonde heiress hostage (Marilyn Harvey) sports the sexiest blonde hair / black eyebrow combination since Jean Harlow in Hell's Angels. The same soaring, eerie but Wagnerian library cue music Ed Wood used for Plan Nine soars ominously and repetitively. Clarke's cute collie (Egan!) deserves better than to, as always, get zapped early. Don't all dogs suffer cruelly in horror movies? Aren't they the real heroes? Even kidnapper Kenne is nice to Egan because he "likes dogs as much as the next guy." So why, Ronnie Ashcroft? Why not let Egan live! 

The Amazon image is just OK but then again, you should really see this with bleary eyes to get the full effect - i.e. be as drink as Jeanne Tatum's moll. Either way, it's short so afterwads, find Mesa of Lost Women, Cat Women of the Moon, The Thing That Wouldn't Die and Plan Nine from Outer Space (not the colorized one), all now on Prime, and two of them at least lookin' pretty good. See 'em all back-to-back. You can't possibly go righter. 

That's all for now, kids. Don't watch these all at once - unless you're the Man who Fell to Earth
More Weird and Spooky PRIME Picks:

These might not all still be on there, but honey, you're bound to find something... or some... thing waiting just for you to open its dusty case and set it free to lope... and slither...

More of EK's Obscure/Cool Halloween Recommendations:

New and Old Favorite Horrors:
Bitches' Sabbath: Alex di la Iglesia's WITCHING AND BITCHING (2011)

+ Audio, Books, TV etc:
HAUNTOLOGY for a De-New America (2015)


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Acid Etched Damascus: MANDY

In MANDY, Nicolas Cage proves his levels of fearless crazy have no bottom (or top), and Canada's Panos Cosmatos proves his debut film BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW was no psychedelically-distilled Ativan one-off, like his next film would be a saga of a family coping with senility or something. Instead, he brings in the big guns: Nic Cage. The result is like pouring Godzilla's piss onto the blazing oil fire-for both Cage and Cosmotos have proven in their separate films that high art and foam-mouthed insanity needn't be exclusive. MANDY is the door-kicking explosion of cool we need right now. With its slowed-down sound, psychedelic movement trails, pineal-buzzing drones, rock and roll violence, and fantasy paperback chapter intertitles, MANDY pulses with a mix of what a lot of us would describe as heaven (a warm, mellow super-cool chick, lovely house deep in the old growth woods with a still small lake out back, cool lighting and music and art everywhere). And Hell as his ultimate destination. As Red, a woodsman (aka lumberjack, for the chainsaw hath replaced yonder axe), Cage starts out soft and intimate, deeply attuned to his lady faire and full of gentle weird jokes but over the course of the film he descends/ascends to the Cage we know and love. With his gut out, his butt lit, his eyes covered with shades instead of goggles when he uses his garage forge to hammer out a massive weird gleaming sword, guzzling his shower vodka in his underwear and pouring it over his open wounds, howling in a way that's totally new even for him, and like nothing cinema has ever heard the like of. It's not nasal and hysterical but deep, tragic and genuinely scary. He rides a demonic ATV through the wild north woods in the dead of night; he fights chainsaw duels; he burns churches. He does every drug in sight. Crushing skulls, losing his shit over a demon ripping his favorite shirt, saying wild shit like "a psychotic drowns where a mystic swims" (a Joseph Campbell quote) and telling super-cool Bill Duke he needs his crossbow back because he's hunting "Jesus freaks" (spoilers why). To paraphrase Mrs. Crummles in Nicholas Nickleby, he's  too... tremendous!

And so is the Mandy. It's saturated with a pleasing palette of deep reds and blacks, and propelled by Jóhann Jóhannsson's score, a bed of murky drones and synths both thumberling and quiscubescent (two words I just invented). King Crimson's "Starless and Bible Black" slithering like syrupy warm serpents down the river lane of the opening credits. Jóhannsson's score isn't quite as instantly riveting and tripped out as Sinoa Caves' for Rainbow, it's more varied, moving from romantic minor key Eno-ish dalliances to thunder god forge burbling, eerie droning. But when old Nic preps for war, joint or cigarette in mouth, goggles on, gut out, in flow pulse-quickening synth cycles that sound like an old flying saucer getting kick-started deep in the woods with no ears to hear it. We finally learn what that quiscubescent sound freels lorick! (New words for new sensations).

The plot finds us in--as the first chapter title explains 'the Shadow Mountains - 1983 A.D. That AD is a key right there, for this is a story that could be told in the wild west of 1883 or some Middle Ages Belgian schwarzwald (where it was films), aside from its one Piscean foot being in the world of Mandy's current fantasy novel, and her interest in the planet Jupiter. The Shadow Mountains are the kind of place so deep dwell only truckers, loggers, drug manufacturers, and the assorted good and evil forces and businesses they engender. It's a kind of old growth paradise, shot through with hazy lavender and pink sunlight streams which bathe the life and pad of Red and his artist wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) in haunting lights. Every frame of their existence is rooted but floating in the absolving caress of timeless space. Happy as could be, they live as any of us would at the time--if we could--with great sound editing capturing their intimate whispers as they natter on about Galactus, Erik Estrada, Jupiter, birds...  With her glasses and crow's feet proudly un-Botoxed, her Bette Davis x Peter Lorre eyes staring right into him across the water (they live "out on Crystal Lake") or their backyard campfire, distant howls or human moans too abstract to investigate, Jóhannsson droning over them all Vangelis Blade Runner "Love Theme"-ish dreamy, it's a new kind of paradise, all the sweeter because we can feel the glimmer of the nightmare nipping at their toes. We're deep in it with them, with Nic, staring at Mandy through the flames at the laid-back cool old lady of his come-true dreams.

Her mind alive to the infinite, taking weird Antichrist-style sojurns into the chthonic woods both real and figurative, reading a novel about serpents eyes and red skies, working on fantastic drawings, Mandy is perhaps open enough to the oceanic currents that her curious stare into the window of a passing van gets ensnared in the neural network of Manson/ Papa Jupiter (!)-ish cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roche) who takes it as divine right that he should have her as part of his 'flock' (They are called, as we find out in a chapter title, 'the Children of the New Dawn'). Soon he shall use the long the horn of Abraxas to summon a gang of evil demon bikers (somewhere between the Cenobites and the radio active ash-blackened New Mexican derelicts in the new Twin Peaks: The Return). And well, that's when it gets really interesting, because one thinks they have this movie all figured out as some variation on any of Nic's angry cult-busting, child or bride-rescuing/avenging adrenalin junkets, like Drive Angry--but the left turns start coming, we veer into the realm of deep dark Nordic and samurai myth. Red walks 'the demon path' like Lone Wolf, sans Baby Cart, the spirit of pure violence of some viking berserker possessing him like it did Dustin Hoffman in the last chunk of Straw Dogs, Shauna Macdonald in the last chunk of The Descent as well as, of course Max von Sydow in the last chunk of Virgin Spring. The side that didn't want war always takes the first hit--they never even see it coming, but the sting of the slap wakes their fury, and nothing's scarier than a civilized human who suddenly has nothing left to lose. That can be cliche or it can be the mythic frame solid enough to support even the most far-out of fictions. In short, Mandy is far out. 

Cosmatos' fantastic feature debut, 2010's  Beyond the Black Rainbow, built its trippy towers on the foundations of classic Canadian sci-fi horror films like Scanners, The Brood, and Blue Sunshine, here the influences seem to Valhalla Rising, The Virgin Spring, and the Canadian animated film Heavy Metal, but the style and mood harkens back to Rainbow alone. It's now the Cosmatos style: a slow druggy deep woodsiness where people seem to swim through the LSD atmosphere. And the Cosmatos theme: that  the difference between unbearable prolonged pain and euphoric timeless peace is largely a matter of dosage. No matter how happy and secure you feel, the gates of archaic demonic madness can open at the drop of a hat, or on the tongue or in the eye. And for Mandy we get a new Cosmatos concept: that fictions are always a reflection of your life in the moment:. Elements right out of Mandy's novel: the Loc-nar-evoking "Serpent's Eye jewel"; the 'Horn of Abraxas" that summons "the Black Skulls," the "tainted blade of the pale night, straight from the abyssal lair," monstrous demons slavering while they talk in rumbly inhuman voices, their ATVs roaring like otherworldly hellhounds, their LEDs beaming like the eyes of dragons, manifesting in the woods like Mandy is the gatekeeper of reality, the dream of the dreamer turned nightmare. Starlings smashed in sacks or set ablaze, all horrors doubling back along the Moebius ouroboros. Immersion in a druggy slow motion bizarro world, awash in deep ASMR whispery intimacy, creates space for both the stars, the page, and the woods to merge into one. 

Such reality bending and warping match the perceptions of the totally tripped out, take it from me. I was there. For every peak, a valley... and some of the valleys are so dark it takes getting even darker to find the light again.

Saturated in dark red and blacks, with all sorts of deep dish manipulations of light and sound, Cosmatos creates a magical zone where idealism has crashed into the trees and Canadian and US indie horror and sci-fi films from the 70s all find their sequel, a zero sum flashpoint. Just as Tarantino turns to the Shaw Brothers, New World's 70s-era drive-in Pictures, and 60s Italian westerns for his pastiche palette, Cosmatos turns to the wilds of Canada and NYC: Cronenberg, Lieberman, Barker, De Palma, Bakshi, Cohen; he also turns to Frazetta and prog rock album covers and to what Terence McKenna would call the 'heroic measure' of psychedelics for his inspiration. The wild fumes of 20x salvia divinorum and the LSD - ecstasy - amphetamine concoctions of trans-dimensional Berkeley chemists. The sort of stuff where you take it on Friday and by the following Wednesday your wife's wild mystical artwork is still moving on the paper, the wild willowing branches of the endless tree that becomes tentacles and tendrils reaching for the inner light. You wish you could sleep but the trails makes that impossible. In the meanwhile you make Gandalf seem like Gob Bluth. It might take a month to totally fade... but by then you've taken other things, kept the ball rolling...

Nic, powering up for battle (i.e. guzzling bathroom vodka and screaming).

These aren't your average hackwork stepped-on ecstasy capsules or weak-ass doses. These are special variants (like DOM, Roybal, and Ethyl) super-charged by Berkley chemistry majors going down a way more psychedelic rabbit hole than your profit-hungry meth cookers. Of course, many of use who went down that rabbit hole wound up lost in the woods, spinning like Susan Strasberg suddenly able to hear again at the end of Psych-Out--- 'til the right cult found them (Manson on the dark end, the Rainbow Family on the other). When I was doing DOM in the mid-90s, even Burning Man was still just an insular Wickery cult rather than today's midlife crisis tourist spot. The few who rode the snake all the way and--resisting the temptation to stay egoless in the ecstasy of blind guru-worship, joining the flower people, or 'the Children of the New Dawn' and following a failed acid folkie into oblivion-- climbed out of even the ego trip of egolessness and became themselves again, only shinier -- the gunk of the moment's residue cleared away by the acid bath. In Rainbow, Cosmatos shows the previous decade's deep dish mid-60s LSD experiencers--seeking to use consciousness to make inroads into western medicine--had by the early 80s lapsed into babbling junkies. In Mandy, we see how mystics and seers with their joyous followers in the 70s devolved into delusional cult members, too passive and fucked-up to question the ease with which some pitch-shifted LSD-spiked light show won their soul over to a charismatic psychopath. That was what acid users often weren't prepared for--the suggestibility that made them easy marks. There was a reason the CIA used it in mind control experiments. It left an unsuspecting person's hard drive decrypted and wide open for hacking.  If drugs didn't open their mind enough to see that it was their own mind opening, on its own, it was too easy to let a scammer take credit. I saw them all the time at Dead Shows in the 80s... only there in a more benevolent, large-scale way. The music dissipated the Satanic darkness the music engendered. It wasn't hard to see the power that band had, the way so many people were willing to be subsumed in the larger ego --a nice way to live if you're able to surrender fully, until you're exploited, which, how can you not be? Be it groupies letting themselves by horribly abused by Led Zeppelin up in the Edgewater, misled German boys charging into Belarus all amped up on Pervatin, or Manson's women singing at their own trial--total belief in false gods provides the ultimate in permissive highs, obliterating all traces of empathy, self-regard, and sanity in a giddy headlong rush.

No, my children, it's not Richard Lynch

Mandy's LSD-quaffing cult leader villain, Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roche) is reminiscent of Richard Lynch in God Told Me To more than he resembles Manson, or anyone else whose charisma is enough that their psychoses rubs off on their followers, giving people a feeling of 'permission' for their darkest violent impulses. Roche has some very chilling moments facing a mirror, where he goes from a kind of panicky infantile shame (we sense, as with Manson, a very rough abusive childhood) to a dead-eyed sociopathy that's truly chilling, as are some Mansoneque vocal cadences (in the sound mixing his voice seems to echo along several dimensions--slightly doubled and delayed--the way his movements give off trails. Some of the best druggy effects in recent memory occur when Mandy wakes from her abduction to find a solid dose of acid going into her system via forced eye drop and then a sting-- soaked in bizarre honey-style psychedelic honey--from a gigantic hornet, placed against her jugular ("the cherry on top"). It's so trippy that Laura Palmer's drugged excursions with Leo and Jacques north of the border in Twin Peaks seem like Normal Rockwell paintings. It's part of the reason Jeremiah's weird combination of seduction, initiation, brain-wash, flashing and insecure first date resume-recounting (playing his songs for her like an insecure weed dealer - hear his album on Spotify - Amulet of the Weeping Maze!) as he trues to lure Mandy into the fold, is so disturbing. This act has clearly worked before. But Many can see that--with all that influence over his weak-minded throng--he's still just a pathetic guy craving sex and adoration. His turning from semi-optimistic to darker than midnight is a riveting example of the way blind faith leads to atrocities, a psychopath allowing his flock entry into a dream state of us vs. them permissive violence, reminiscent not just of Manson but Naziism.

99% of all great horror/genre films remember people
watch TV, and they keep their sets on all the time.
The few non-cultists met on the journey include the still badass Bill Duke as a trucker friend of Red's who reports word coming down from "the big rigs", and the attuned-to-cosmic-purposes and wavelengths LSD manufacturer (Richard Brake), who sets Lizzy the tiger free in a scene that's open-eyed and openly acted in and around a hint of slow motion as to attune one to a whole weird electric plane. With the addition of the 'Cheddar Goblin' on TV (If I learned anything from Terence and Phillip it's that Canadians love their Kraft Dinner), the tiger, Night Beast on the TV, grizzly hallucinations, Jupiter, deep, dark mountainous tunnels, the Pagan Nordic warrior vs. the onset of Christianity original death cult, this dark fairy tale becomes part Mad Max in addition to Robert E. Howard, and every fairy tale wherein the remote isolation and woods absorb the screams and buzz of chainsaws; where planets and skies change colors and size, and thus wild outlaws can run around pillaging and destroying in the lord's name without a soul to stop them--except one man, made insane with rage and loss, who might fashion a Norse God-style weapon, retrieve his crossbow from Bill Duke, and ride into battle. Even then, mind reeling with blood loss and agony, he can still stop and stare mindlessly at a Cheddar Goblin commercial, repeating the slogan as if a mantra (2). 

Grief and suffering heat a man to a cherry red blade ready for an oil quench and a sharpness test. As on TV's Forged in Fire, it's not what the blade does to this railroad spike, it's what this railroad spike does to this blade. But forged in the anguish of murderous Jesus freaks, that spike is going down.

Though filmed in the wilds of Belgium, presumably the black forest region where Hansel and Gretl were chased by Suspiria witches, it's clear this is a film with the wild depths of the Canadian provinces in its heart - dark forest lands that maps can't do justice to, as if our entire USA is engulfed in old growth and chilly salmon-stoked streams, wilderness where meth and LSD labs and wild ATV-riding nightmares run amok. We forget how vast empty country is, our minds pull towns closer together like a wormhole. But if you've ever driven across country, in the North, Highway 80 or 90, you've seen it - the vastness, the emptiness, like it's a whole separate dimension. That vastness coupled to the deep old growth forest vibe is what makes dark Nordic folktales spring to life when enough residents are high as hell or have done enough astral voyaging in their lives that they can shrug off massive doses of the 'good stuff' and laugh mercilessly at the penis of their insane captor. And yet they are no different than people you probably know, that cool couple (4) who exist casually in that gulf between blue collar outdoors jobs and white collar education, the couple who love all the things they do and are humble and just out for the same things the rest of us are. The self-imposed dream exile of the Jesus freaks and Black Skulls, these makers of dark myth, are the real losers. Doomed and misled by baser impulses, peer pressure, and cheap meth.

That may be the highest auric ray inherent in the glow of Mandy, the idea that if the average dude with his 9-5 outdoor job, who just likes kicking back with his old lady on weekends, not starting any trouble, might feel outgunned, out-"lived," by all the wild and polyamorous maniacs out there, maybe it's really the reverse. The 9-5 job-working couples eating dinner in front of the TV are more mythically dense, loom larger on the horizon of glory, than all the murderous acid-addled hippie freaks out there, combined. If we 'normals' can slow our roll down, bring our Iron John larger-than-lifeness to even the smallest detail in our daily life (instead of letting it just evaporate in a boozy haze), if we can live so minutely that just taking out the trash can reverberate with druggy slow-tempo grinding, the analog synth score in our headphones filling each woodland shadow with dragonly menace, then maybe the glowing green gem we somehow lost during the 90s via Bjork, Portishead, DJ Shadow, Moby and Massive A.- all that spinal fluid-draining MDMA heartbreak (3) will turn up at last. Maybe the warm amniotic fuzzy completion that lies even beyond duality and total union with the OMmmm was just waiting out in the backyard for us to finish dinner, so we can race back outside and resume the game before it gets too dark to see the ball.

Maybe, deep inside some shrieking hippie's gut pocket, that ball is still waiting --back there in 1983 AD--back when we were still reading paperbacks and watching arial TV, still rocking to guitar solos on warm analog LPs and eight tracks, still smoking brown, seedy weed, and riding through deep forest canopy full of insect life; still made art on paper and canvas. Cut open that hippie dragon and pull that gem out, Nic Cage!

He has.

Always kind of half-assed around the edges, and hammy, as if he was fumbling around on a car radio dial of insanity looking for his 'One True Signal' - something deeper and wilder than anyone had ever tuned to before--never picking a station 'til he found it--he could drive the backseat passengers crazy. Well, here he found it- here he's busted through all that white noise at last. This is no longer a manic Crispin Glover kind of crazy or a method-worked crazy, but a crazy from the masculine diaphragm, laughing and hollering and roaring in the face of dragons like Blue Babe and Bunyan. From steel first softened via the Iron John nascent Men's Movement of the late 80s, hammered in the Forged in Fire of the anvil-ringing now, the Iron John wildman archetype Nic now embodies passes every strength and sharpness test, slicing through carcasses of false prophets and rows of gossipy phantasm apples. It's not what the man will do the world, it's what the world will do to the man. And Nic's edge isn't even dulled after a brutal leg chain chop.  He will cut. He will kill. The serpent's eye is lifted from the abyssal lair in the belly of the beast. Strange and eternal, Mandy of Jupiter ascends.

Dad, if only I ever got to see you working.


1. See SHINING Examples: Pupils in the Bathroom Mirror (10/11/11)
2. The Cheddar Goblin commercial is very gross (he vomits mac and cheese on lucky kids' heads, but makes a great counterpoint to Red's horrible loss, and is made by the genius behind the beloved Too Many Cooks.
3. It took me ten years of mourning to accept that warm 'first night' rush would never come back. Craig got it all down so beautifully I cry to this
4. See also: The Devil's Candy (2015)

The Acidemic Nic Cage Reader (Knowing, Kick-Ass, Drive Angry, Bad Lieutenant, Vampire's Kiss) 
Tales from the Benway Pharmacy (Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Machine)
Manson Poppins: The Deathmaster
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