Friday, July 31, 2020

Video Stores in Horror Movies- 92 Days to Halloween

Body Double (1984)
Struggling actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) needs a copy of the movie Holly Does Hollywood and visits Tower Video. This Brian De Palma movie is a great thriller that touches on voyeurism and has a plot that mixes Hitchcock with Italian Giallo films. 

The Lost Boys (1987)
Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam Emerson (Corey Haim) move to the seaside town of Santa Clara, California, and their mom Lucy (Dianne Wiest) gets a job at a video store owned by the friendly owner Max (Ed Herrmann). Joel Schumacher's vampire film is one of the most popular horror movies of the 1980s with its young cast and excellent direction.

Serial Mom (1994)
John Water's Black Comedy Serial Mom has Kathleen Turner playing Beverly Sutphin, a seemingly perfect housewife with a penchant for homicide. Chip (Matthew Lillard) works at a video store where he has a vast knowledge of horror films and suspects his mother may be a killer but decides to make the best of it by having his mom hire a publicist. 

Scream (1996)
In Wes Cravens Meta Horror slasher film, Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is well versed in horror movies. Randy works in a video store and dispenses important horror movie rules that he stresses will help his friends not only find out who the killer is but how to survive. 

I Am Legend (2007)
Based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Will Smith is an Amry virologist trying to find a cure for a plague that has killed most of the population and left millions of infected Darkseekers with vampire-like symptoms. As part of his routine, he visits a video store with mannequins set up, and it is when they are moved he suspects the Darkseekers are tracking him.  

Beyond the Gates (2016)
Two estranged brothers Gordon (Graham Skipper) and John (Chase Williamson) reunite to help clear out their father's video store after he disappeared mysteriously. They discover a VCR horror board game that opens up a portal to an alternate reality hosted by a mysterious beautiful lady (Barbara Crampton) that may reveal their father's fate or trap them as well. 

Blood Fest (2018)
Dax (Robbie Kay) and Sam (Seychelle Gabriel) work in a video store and are eager for the Blood Fest horror festival. His father, Dr. Conway (Tate Donovan) disapproves of his love for horror movies after his mother's death years before by one of his deranged patients. The night proves quite deadly after the guests are attacked by the staff who pursue them through the walled compound.

You Might Be the Killer (2018)
Brett Simmons directed this supernatural meta slasher black comedy that has Sam Wescott (Fran Kranz) waking up at his Summer Camp surrounded by dead bodies and evidence that it might be his work. He contacts his friend Chuck (Alyson Hannigan), who works at a store and is a horror movie enthusiast who guides him through the aftermath to determine if he truly is the killer.   

Scare Package (2019)
A black comedy anthology features seven tales of terror with the owner of a video store Rad Chad (Jeremy King), training his new employee Hawn (Hawn Tran) by showing him random horror themed videos. This meta-horror movie has a wrap-around segment that is a love letter to Joe Bob Briggs and will be right at home for fans of The Last Drive-In.    

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Host (2020)- A Shudder Exclusive

Dir- Rob Savage

One of the challenges with the COVID Pandemic is the inability to make movies due to quarantines and social distancing. With so many people staying at home, we have seen some innovations emerge, most notably the use of chat clients like Zoom to socialize with friends. Director Rob Savage uses this social media client most effectively in Shudder's new film Host.

Host is a 2020 Social Media Horror film with a group of friends meeting one another in a Zoom chat room to hold a seance. What starts as a fun gathering becomes disturbing as each of them encounters unexplained events that menacingly affect each of them. 

The movie is less than an hour-long but does make the best use of the short time and does not waste the tension or anxiety after the events get into full swing. The scares are done using mostly practical effects with the stress and fear seen in the actresses adding to the almost genuine feel this movie has. 

The use of the webcams in films like Unfriended and Cam show that a whole new era of horror is possible utilizing isolation horror with social media. The mostly female cast is quite capable with their natural chemistry. It is this familiarity that adds significantly to the scares as each woman, and their lone male friend finds themselves up against an evil force that attacks them all even amid their quarantine. 

4 Stars out of 5 

Nature Fights Back 1970s Edition- 93 Days to Halloween

Frogs (1972)
Killer Fogs and other critters

Night of the Lepus (1972)
Not the Bunnies

Killer Bees (1974)

Phase IV (1974)
Intelligent Ants

Grizzly (1976)
He was a hairy bear, he was a scary bear

The Food of the Gods (1976)
Giant rodents and insects attack

A*P*E (1976)
Korean Kong Ripoff

Squirm (1976)
Earthworms gone wild

King Kong (1976)
A tale about a girl and her giant ape

Day of the Animals (1977)
Hole in the ozone drives animals crazy

Empire of the Ants (1977)
Joan Collins vs Giant Ants

The  Pack (1977)
Joe Don Baker takes on some bad dogs

Ants (1977)
Suzanne Somers and some killer ants

Barracuda (1978)
Angry fish and locals losing their cool

The Swarm (1978)
Killer Bees are all the rage

Long Weekend (1978)
Always respect Mother Nature

The Bees (1978)
Bees are no match for John Saxon

Prophecy (1979)
Mutations and bare naked bears

Nightwing (1979)
It's like Jaws, but with Bats 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Unique Movie Promotions- 94 Days to Halloween

Bwana Devil (1952) 
First 3D Movie

A US adventure film that was the first full-length color 3D movie. The surprising success of this movie prompted Warner Brothers to produce and release House of Wax in 1953, starring Vincent Price.  

My World Dies Screaming & A Date with Death (1959) 
Subliminal Messages

Psychorama was the process of communicating information using images that flashed quickly onscreen. First used in the film My World Dies Screaming, the film featured a skull, snake, hearts, and letters to elicit a response of fear, hate, or love at crucial moments in the movie. The same technique was used the next year for a film called A Date with Death.  

Snuff (1976) 
Fake Protests

Snuff was an American grindhouse style movie directed by Michael Findlay involving a Manson like cult murdering an actress and her friends in South America. For four years, the film was shelved until another producer had a new ending filmed that claimed to be genuine footage of a woman being murdered. To promote the movie, the distributor hired fake protesters to picket the theaters. Yet after it was exposed as a hoax, it faced genuine protesters and persistent rumors about the film's authenticity.   

The Worm Eaters (1977) 
Eat a Worm, Get a Free Ticket

To draw attention to his low-budget movie writer and director, Herb Robins offered free tickets to anyone willing to eat worms at a screening. 

Polyester (1981) 
Scratch and Sniff Card

Polyester featured Divine playing a woman with a keen sense of smell; John Waters decided to utilize scratch and sniff cards that could be used by the audience in crucial scenes. Waters coined Odorama to describe the cards that offered ten smells, including roses, farts, pizza, skunk, new car smell, and dirty shoes. 

Clue (1985) 
Multiple Endings

Clue was a black comedy that had an ensemble cast trying to discover who murdered blackmailer Mr. Boddy based on the popular board game. In keeping with the game's random nature, the producers released the film with three different endings so that moviegoers could rewatch the movie and generate more ticket sales. The movie was a box office failure but has become a huge cult classic due to the excellent cast, most notably Tim Curry. 

Million Dollar Mystery (1987)
One Million Dollar Prize

An ensemble cast of actors appears in this film that was inspired by the comedy film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The movie featured a treasure hunt that had a tie in with Glad Lock bags. The movie offered a million dollars was to a lucky moviegoer who could guess the clues s to the location of the money. The movie was a flop and even failed to earn one million in the box office.  

Monday, July 27, 2020

Lost and Cursed Movies- 95 Days to Halloween

Videodrome (1983)
A UHF television producer looking for more extreme programing to show learns of a pirate television station that broadcasts scenes of torture and murder. His desire to seek out the source of these mysterious videos will lead him into a surreal living nightmare.    

Thesis (1996)
A Spanish college student researching violence in movies discovers a VHS snuff film in her university film archives. A series of deaths soon occur tied to the VHS tape and a student who disappeared two years prior.  

8 MM (1999)
The widow of a wealthy man hires a private investigator after a movie is found with a young girl murdered in what appears to be a snuff film. His quest to discover the truth will take him into the dark world of underground fetish movies and the dangerous people who produce them.  

Ring (2002)
A reporter learns of an urban legend involving a videotape that, when played, will lead to your death sevens days laters. Curiosity leads her to watch the video and then find a way to break the curse to avoid death for her and her child as she searches for clues about the mysterious girl in the video.  

Cigarette Burns (2005)
A rare film dealer hoping to save his small theater is offered a handsome sum of money to find a lost film that caused a riot and was destroyed during its one screening. The film dealer's search will have him encounter some mysterious figures as he learns the secret of the film.  

V/H/S (2012), V/H/S 2 (2013), & V/H/S: Viral (2014)  
A found footage trilogy about a series of mysterious VHS tapes that are found by different people who as they watch each tape meet a terrible fate. This anthology collection has some genuinely nightmarish segments that will leave viewers disturbed. 

Fury of the Demon (2016)
This mockumentary tells of a short film directed by George Melies that drove its viewers into a rage-filled frenzy. The reports of the film's wake of destruction and being lost are discussed by film critics, historians, and Melies' granddaughter. 

Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made (2018)
A pseudo-documentary film that describes a mysterious cursed movie that, when screened, led to tragedy and death of those who watched it. The cursed movie that is shown has subliminal messages and bizarre symbols thrown in to create a surreal and strangely haunting story.

Warning Do Not Play (2019)
A Korean film student decides to search for a student film that was played once and led to tragedy. After getting a warning from the enigmatic director, she will find that the film is far more dangerous than anticipated.  

Shudders August 2020 Highlights


titles also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK as noted



HOST (premieres Thursday, July 30)

Six friends hire a medium to hold a séance over Zoom during lockdown but get far more than they bargain for as things quickly go wrong. Host was shot remotely during quarantine and features practical scares, stunts, and surprises, all filmed by the actors in their own homes. Director Rob Savage (Dawn of the Deaf) never set foot in the same room as his actors at any point during production and instead directed them remotely. Starring: Haley Bishop (Deep State), Radina Drandova (Dawn of the Deaf), Edward Linard (The Rebels), Jemma Moore (Doom: Annihilation), Caroline Ward (Stalling It) and Emma Louise Webb (The Crown). A SHUDDER ORIGINAL (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK


LA LLORONA (premieres Thursday, August 6)

Winner: Venice Days. Official Selection: TIFF, Sundance Film Festival

Indignant retired general Enrique finally faces trial for the genocidal massacre of thousands of Mayans decades ago. As a horde of angry protestors threatens to invade their opulent home, the women of the house—his haughty wife, conflicted daughter, and precocious granddaughter—weigh their responsibility to shield the erratic, senile Enrique against the devastating truths being publicly revealed and the increasing sense that a wrathful supernatural force is targeting them for his crimes. Meanwhile, much of the family’s domestic staff flees, leaving only loyal housekeeper Valeriana until a mysterious young Indigenous maid arrives. Starring María Mercedes Coroy, Margarita Kénefic, Sabrina de la Hoz and Julio Díaz. Directed by Jaryo Bustamante. (Also available on Shudder Canada and Shudder UK) Trailer: 


RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE (premieres Thursday, August 20)

Official Selection: Fantastic Fest

Comic book creator Todd, his wife, assistant and best friend all embark upon a road trip from Toronto to New York Comic Con, and bad things start to happen: people start getting killed. Is a crazed fan using Todd’s “SLASHERMAN” comic as inspiration for his stylized slaughter? Starring: Jesse Williams (‘Grey’s Anatomy’), Jordana Brewster (Furious 7), Niamh Wilson (Saw series) and Jay Baruchel (This Is the End). Directed by Jay Baruchel. (Also available on Shudder UK) Trailer: 


THE SHED (premieres Thursday, August 27)

Official Selection: Sitges International Film Festival, Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Stan and his best friend Dommer have put up with bullies their entire lives. All of that changes when Stan discovers he has a ravenous vampire living in his shed. Seeing the bloodshed and destruction the monster is capable of, Stan knows he has to find a way to destroy it. But Dommer has a much more sinister plan in mind. Starring Jay Jay Warren, Cody Kostro, Sofia Happonen, Frank Whaley and Timothy Bottoms. Directed by Frank Sabatella. (Also available on Shudder Canada





Fire up the popcorn and slip into your PJs: Joe Bob Briggs, America’s foremost drive-in movie critic, is back for a special summer sleepover double-feature. Joining Joe Bob and Darcy in the trailer park will be director Adam Green (FrozenHatchet series) along with other surprise guests. 




August 1

SQUIRM (Director: Jeff Lieberman)

Beware the crawling terror! A surge from a downed powerline mutates a seemingly endless population of worms into a bloodsucking, man-eating onslaught. Starring Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy, R.A. Dow  (Also available on Shudder Canada)


URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (Director: John Ottman)

A film student's thesis project runs into production problems when her cast and crew members start turning up dead. Starring Jennifer Morrison, Eva Mendes, Anthony Anderson, Joseph Lawrence


August 3

AMITYVILLE 1992: IT’S ABOUT TIME (Director: Tony Randel)

An antique clock brought back from New York brings supernatural terror to a California neighborhood. Starring Stephen Macht, Shawn Weatherly, Megan Ward, Damon Martin


August 6

LA LLORONA (see above for details)


August 10

RING (Director: Hideo Nakata)

RING 2 (Director: Hideo Nakata)

RING 0 (Director: Norio Tsuruta)

In the film that kicked off the franchise as well as a Western surge in interest in so-called J-horror, a group of teenage friends are found dead, their faces twisted in terror, supposed victims of an urban legend about a cursed videotape. One year after the success of his horror classic, director Hideo Nakata returned to the world of viral video to deliver his own follow-up. And in the prequel Ring 0, a journalist tracks a young woman who uses her supernatural powers to kill members of an acting troupe. (Also available on Shudder Canada)


August 14



August 17

JAWBREAKER (Director: Darren Stein)

Teen girls must cover up the accidental murder of a friend in this twisted ‘90s classic. Starring Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Julie Benz, Judy Greer, Chad Christ, Carol Kane, Pam Greer


HELLMASTER (Director: Douglas Schulze)

A mad professor at a rural campus injects students with a drug to make them superhuman mutants. Starring John Saxon, David Emge, Amy Raasch (Also available on Shudder Canada)


UNCAGED (Director: Dick Maas)

A zoo veterinarian is caught up in a grisly adventure as she leads the hunt for a monstrous lion terrorizing Amsterdam. Starring Sophie van Winden, Abbey Hoes,  Mark Frost, Julian Looman  (Also available on Shudder Canada)


August 20

RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE (see above for details)


August 24

THE EVIL (Director: Gus Trikonis)

A psychologist and his wife turn a house of the devil into a drug-rehabilitation center. Starring Richard Crenna, Joanna Pettet, Andrew Prine (Also available on Shudder Canada)


MORTUARY (Director: Howard Avedis)

Christie has been having terrifying nightmares ever since her father drowned, causing her to re-evaluate the circumstances surrounding his death. Starring Mary Beth McDonough, David Wysocki, Bill Paxton, Lynda Day George, Christopher George (Also available on Shudder Canada)


ONE DARK NIGHT (Director: Tom McLoughlin)

As part of an initiation into a club called The Sisters, a young girl must spend the night in a mausoleum. Starring Meg Tilly, Melissa Newman, Robin Evans, Leslie Speights, Donald Hotton  (Also available on Shudder Canada)


30 MILES FROM NOWHERE (Director: Caitlin Koller)

When five college pals return home for their estranged friend's funeral, what begins as an uneasy reunion becomes a terrifying fight for survival. Starring Carrie Preston, Rob Benedict, Birgundi Baker (Also available on Shudder Canada)


August 27

THE SHED (see above for details)


It Was Almost Called What?- 96 Days to Halloween

These movies all started out with a script that had a different title, here are the movies with a few fan-made fake posters featuring the original name. 

Alien (Star Beast)
When working on the original script for the movie Alien, Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett had the title Star Beast as part of a story that would have set the events in WW2 and outer space. O'Bannon rejected the title for the much better sounding Alien.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Head Cheese)
The original script for the movie that would become The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, written by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel, went through a couple of names, including Leatherface and Head Cheese.

Halloween (The Babysitter Murders)
Producer Irwin Yablans thought up the concept for Halloween on an airplane ride. Since he wanted to keep it low budget, the idea of a babysitter being stalked by a madman seemed like a great idea. When he pitched the concept to John Carpenter, he used the very 1970s sounding title The Babysitter Murders. 

Scream (Scary Movie)
Screenwriter Kevin Williamson came up with the idea for Scream after being inspired by the Gainesville Ripper murders. The 18-page script was titled Scary Movie and included the infamous murder used in the opening movie moments.

Childs Play (Batteries Not Included)
When writing the screenplay for Childs Play, Don Mancini used the name Batteries Not Included; this was changed because Steven Spielberg had released a sci-fi movie with the same name in 1987. Mancini also considered Bloody Buddy before settling on Childs Play for the 1988 slasher movie.

Final Destination (Flight 180)
Jeffrey Reddick wrote a spec script titled Flight 180, hoping to get an agent to pitch it as an episode of The X-Files. The script was expanded as a feature film idea was accepted by X-Files writing partners James Wong and Glen Morgan, who rewrote the script with Wong directing. The film would be released as Final Destination.

Snakes on a Plane (Pacific Air Flight 121)
The script for Snakes on a plane by David Dalessandro was at one point called Vemon. After it was given the working title Snakes on a Plane, it began to get the attention of trade papers with Samuel L Jackson signing on. The film's name was changed to Pacific Air Flight Flight 121 to avoid the B movie sound of its working title, but Jackson insisted the film be released as Snakes on a Plane.

Predator (Hunter)
Screenwriters Jim and John Thomas came up with the idea for Predator after a joke was made that Rocky would have to fight an alien if another Rocky film was made. The script for Hunter centered on an alien looking for the most dangerous creature to match up with and going to South America to fight human soldiers.

Friday the 13th (A Long Night at Camp Blood)
Screenwriter Victor Miller came up with the title A Long Night at Camp Blood for a slasher movie set at a summer camp. The name Camp Blood was also considered for the film until director Sean Cunningham suggested Friday the 13th to give their film an iconic name. 

Cloverfield (Slusho/Greyshot)
JJ Abrams-produced monster movie benefitted from one of the best uses of social media to generate interest in the film. The name Cloverfield was used early on but changed to Slusho and Cheese to hide his project from fans. The movie also considered the title Greyshot before going back to Cloverfield.

Dead Ringer (Twins)
Based on the lives of real-life gynecologists Stewart and Cyril Marcus. David Cronenberg based his screenplay on the novel Twins, which was a highly fictionalized account of the tragic death of the two brothers. The movie's title was changed to Dead Ringers to avoid confusion with a comedy that was released the same year with the name Twins.