Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Moebius: Monster Scenes


MOEBIUS: MONSTER SCENES MODEL KITS

Long gone model company AURORA made quite a name for themselves with these horror kits in the early 1970's, with a line that included great looking dinosaurs, classic Universal Studios monsters, and a fairly decent Godzilla and Mothra. They were THE great model company of the day. Based in West Hempstead NY, right here on Long Island, the buildings that once housed the models has since been destroyed, but the geniuses over at Dencomm & Moebius Models decided to re-release the kits for nerds like us!

The pieces, plastic and made to snap together, are reproduced to be EXACTLY like the originals (which you can still find on Ebay but they will cost you an arm and a leg - they retailed for about $1.30 when they first came out). The new re-issues go for under $30.00, with especially cool designs like Dr. Deadly and The Hanging Cage.

The tagline "Rated X for Excitement!" and the focus on scenes of torture made these kits extremely controversial for their time, when American families thought violent films were turning their kids into serial killers. Religious groups and newspapers protested against the products, claiming they promoted sex and sadism to children. As a response to the controversy, Aurora stopped production in 1971 and the products were removed from the shelves - but now, over three decades later, you too can own a piece of horror history!

Being born in 1979, I didn't get to experience the original Monster Scenes. But you can bet I have at least two of these kits on my Christmas list this year. I heard there are only about 5,000 of them made, so grab them while you can.

Visit the Moebius Models website for info on these kits, the upcoming Chamber of Horrors series, and to order the new Monster Scenes:



Sunday, November 30, 2008

Movie Review # 32: The Funhouse

THE FUNHOUSE (1981)

Seven years after Tobe Hooper changed the face of horror with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), he gave us a mediocre teen thriller called The Funhouse. Two young couples spend the night in a fun house at the local fair and witness a murder by a disfigured man in a Frankenstein mask. There's not too much to say about this one, but if you like carnival horror and bypass the cotton candy in search of a haunted house at the local carnvial like I do, then this one's for you. I always enjoyed spending $2 to sit in a little car and spin around in the dark for less than a minute, getting cheap scares from props and fake monsters inside the fun house. This movie plays out like one of those rides - cheap and quick with few scares. The only real interesting aspect of the film is the setting -- we really get a feel for the carnival atmosphere as we are introduced to the freak show, fortune teller, and all the other freaky sideshows that come with the territory. It's almost hard to believe that this film is by the same director was responsible for one of the most famous horror films of all time, but I guess every dog has its day. Nonetheless, The Funhouse is still an entertaining part of the 80's slasher genre, so step right up and give it a shot!

The Funhouse on IMDB:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Movie Review # 31: The Deadly Spawn

THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983)
Directed by Douglas McKeown

My second selection from the Rue Morgue Top 50, The Deadly Spawn, gets right down to business, so quickly that I thought I started the movie in the middle by mistake. Before the intro credits even roll a meteor crashes in a field, letting loose deadly alien parasites that claim 2 victims within 10 minutes.

We're then taken into the early morning hours in a suburban home, where a couple awakes for the day in a terrible rainstorm. The husband goes down into the basement to find out why there is no hot water and waiting for him downstairs is - you guessed it - the deadly spawn! With very little build-up we are introduced to the monster, which looks like a gorier version of Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors (basically a huge mouth with teeth and lots of smaller sperm-like creatures surrounding it). The monster quickly consumes the husband with blood splattering all over the basement which is now flooded with water. The wife of course goes downstairs to investigate and becomes breakfast for the spawn.

Another couple awakes, presumably in another house, and goes next door to visit the now deceased couple. We never really find out how the spawn got there, and why these people are connected. But the next couple proceeds to have breakfast in the house, the electrician shows up to fix a power outage, and a young boy obsessed with monsters decides to take a peek in the cellar and meets the spawn face to face, who is eating his dead mother's decapitated head (notice the boy's Famous Monsters magazine product placement at the breakfast table). Total chaos ensues as old women at brunch are attacked by the mini-spawns who crawl into the salad bowl and then latch onto their legs.

I kind of lost interest towards the end, probably because the monsters were shown so many times that it just became comical, but there were definitely some cool gore effects when people got eaten. Eventually the survivors destroy the evil and good prevails - blah blah blah. Some cool sci-fi and horror elements here, but overall a very weak plot with few climaxes. I give it 2 toes, but apparently it's a classic, now available in special edition DVD. It really is like watching the Little Shop of Horrors as an R-rated feature.

Check out the website here:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Movie Review # 30: Entrails of a Virgin

ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN (1986)
Directed by Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu

So the latest issue of Rue Morgue has a feature on the Top 50 goriest films of all time. I added as many as I could find to my Netflix queue (excluding the ones I've already seen), and the first one to arrive at my house was Entrails of a Virgin (or Shojo no harawata in Japanese).

I was expecting a non-stop gore fest, but instead what I got was an Asian soft-core porno disguised as a horror film. A group of photographers and their naked sex slave models are doing a shoot in the mountains and get lost on the way home. They arrive at an abandoned cabin the woods. After some drinking and naked wrestling (the pile driver was my favorite move), they start having sex with each other while a mud-covered murderer with a huge penis stalks them from outside the house. One by one they are picked off, the first kill by a hammer to the face which causes the victim's eyeballs to pop out in all their low-budget glory. The plot is riddled with repeated sex scenes; most of the time the girls look like they are being raped but enjoying it. Some classic scenes like the "standing up upside-down 69 ending in a pile driver" are quite memorable. Or the shower scene when the killer gives new meaning to the sexual act of "fisting."

Entrails of a Virgin was not quite what I was expecting, but a lot of fun regardless. There are so many unexplained scenes, such as the girl making out with a beheaded corpse or more importantly, who the killer is and why he is naked and covered in mud? I'm still giving it 4 toes because it is chock full of sex and all the elements of weird Asian horror. I would have given it 5 but it just made no sense and left too many loose ends. If you're a first timer you'll definitely enjoy the film (no pun intended).

Check it out on IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0222817/


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Movie Review # 29: The Last House in the Woods

THE LAST HOUSE IN THE WOODS (2008)
Directed by Gabriele Albanesi

When I heard that Sam Raimi's Ghost House partnership with Mandate Pictures was finally coming to a head back in 2004 (with the remake of The Grudge), I was excited for a slew of inventive horror films to hit the shelves over the next few years. It took awhile for the project to get off the ground however, and after a few letdowns (The Grudge 2, The Messengers, Boogeyman) we were finally blessed with 30 Days of Night and now, a line of films under the umbrella of Ghost House Underground.


The first pick for me was The Last House in the Woods. The story begins with a couple who has a car accident with their young boy in the back seat, and the husband is killed. The mother exits the car and is killed by a passer-by on the road, who bashes her head in with a stone. The boy witnesses the murder, and flees to a nearby house in the woods.


We are then introduced to a young couple who goes for a drive and a little sexy time off the side of the road. They encounter a trio of bullies who beat the shit out of the guy and attempt to rape the girl. A couple pulls over to help, and scares the 3 men away at gunpoint, taking the couple back to their house for refuge. What appears to be an act of kindness quickly turns into a nightmare. The couple has a son in serious need of a dental visit, and our lead female Aurora (played by Daniela Virgilio) tries to escape the grasp of the husband, Antonio (played by Gennaro Diana) when he produces a syringe. She wakes up in the living room, now covered in plastic, with her boyfriend Rino (Daniele Grassetti) at her side. Both of them are tied up, and we notice that Rino's leg has been hacked off, which the son is feasting on at the dinner table alongside his 2 deformed brothers, one of which has a huge pulsating growth on his neck. A gruesome dinner scene that pays homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, we are given some great gore effects here, especially when one of the brothers revs up a chainsaw and mutilates Rino's arm, splattering Aurora with dark thick blood.


The bullies end up at the house by coincidence after hearing the screams, with a plan to "fuck the girls and steal all the DVD players." The English dubs are absolutely terrible throughout the entire film, which gives it a B-movie feel. The lighting effects are well-done, creating eerie illuminations on the faces of the family. The bullies go head to head against the family, and one of my favorite scenes is when one of the bullies squeezes the brother's growth until it squirts bright yellow goo all over his face. One of the bullies is opened up with a chainsaw, his intestines spilling out with great attention to detail in the effects department.


The story line is rather weak, and we are given little insight into why the family has gone mad. Towards the end of the film it all goes haywire, when we discover the young boy from the opening car crash scene is locked in the basement, propped up on a pedestal with no arms or legs. We learn that the other son is a cannibal, feeding off the victims his mother and father kill as an act of love.


All in all the movie is fun, gory, and moves at a steady pace. Hopefully the rest of the Ghost House Underground films are this fun. I give The Last House in the Woods 4 toes.


Check out Ghost House Pictures here:


http://www.ghosthousepictures.com/ghost-house-underground/lionsgate-home-video/the-last-house-in-the-woods/




Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Movie Review # 28: The Strangers

THE STRANGERS (2008)
Written & Directed by Bryan Bertino

Movies that are "inspired by true events" are usually major disappointments that lure in viewers by making them feel like what they are seeing actually happened - with that said, The Strangers falls right in line with such hoaxes. The intro narration sounds eerily similar to the opening voice of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), which ran a few chills down my spine and made me think I might actually be proven wrong about the film being a flop. But the movie moves at the pace of a 90 year old turtle on vicodin. In other words - really fucking slow.


It starts off with some potential, however, when a couple on the fritz end up alone in a house in the middle of the woods. There is a loud knock at the door from a mysterious woman in the middle of the night, right when the panties come off and the couple are about to get freaky (shame they couldn't get a few pumps in before they get murdered). There is one particular scene in which the lead female role of Kristen (played by Liv Tyler) is standing in the kitchen with a masked man in the background watching her. She feels his presence, but he slips back into the shadows before she spots him. The Strangers have entered the house, and it's all downhill from here.


The terror peaks about 20 minutes into the film but never achieves that same level of fear throughout. After awhile the knocks and sound effects no longer frighten, but are instead kind of boring. Most of the film you're waiting for something to happen, but it never actually does. The intent was obviously to build up suspense rather than use gore & horror to terrify, but a lack of character development makes the film just plain dull. Even when a friend arrives and almost saves the couple we hardly feel any real connection with his character, even when his face gets blown off by a shotgun. For example, Inside (2007, reviewed a few months back in The Big Toe Blog) does an outstanding job of leaving you on the edge of your seat while each of the potential rescuers are picked off by the killer, just as they are about to save our female lead. Part of the fun of a horror film is hoping the good guys will triumph, but in this case you want the main characters to be killed, because they were stupid enough to stay in the house in the first place.


However, I would always rather watch a weak horror film than any other genre, so I guess it wasn't a total loss. I will often times dissect a bad movie looking for a few good moments, and with The Strangers I only found one: when the killers break into the house and cause the turntable to skip, a sound effect that creates a spooky repetition and was the highlight of the trailer. The Strangers gets 2 toes and gives masked killers with potato sacks on their heads a bad rep. Even the kid with bag mask in The Orphanage was creepier.

If you still want to see this check it out on IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0482606/


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Movie Review #27: Quarantine

QUARANTINE (2008)
Directed by John Erick Dowdle

Hand-held camera horror was all the hype after Blair Witch Project. Cloverfield came through for horror fans like a first-hand 9-11 themed Godzilla film. Even the legendary George Romero gave it a go with Diary of the Dead. But no film has done it quite like Quarantine. I've been trying to get my hands on the original (REC) but haven't had much luck. So we'll start with the American remake . . .

The film starts off very slow, with Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter's sister on the hit Showtime series) playing the role of a news reporter shadowing a team of Los Angeles firemen for the evening. The beginning is playful and innocent, until an emergency call comes in and the men respond. Upon arrival at an apartment building, the firemen with cameraman in tow knock on the door of an old female resident. Once inside, she is found trembling in a nightgown covered in blood. She then attacks one of the fireman and madness ensues. Residents are found throughout the building pale and drooling, feeding off the other residents. The victims are hunted down one by one throughout the film, which is mostly presented in long shots and lots of shaky camera work that literally leave you on the edge of your seat the entire film.

The film succeeds in a number of ways by making you feel like you are there in the building. The terror is very real, the darkness consumes the characters and creates a feeling of unrest without any sound effects or ominous musical tones. The horror comes from the unknown - what could possibly be lurking around each corner or behind the door of one of the apartments. The most terrifying aspect of the film is that help is right outside, with helicopter lights circling the perimeter and shining through the windows. The police seal off the area and claim that all the residents have been evacuated, leaving the unaffected to fight for their lives amongst the infected.

A fresh take in the zombie horror category, Quarantine stands out as one of the best horror films of 2008. I'm sure REC is twice as good, but this film has restored my faith in remakes. There's nothing better than a horror film without a happy ending. Just go to the theater and see for yourself. 5 toes all around from the Big Toe Blog!

Visit the film's website at:

http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/quarantine/


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Movie Review #26: The Gate

THE GATE (1987)
Directed by Tibor Tak√°cs

Finding The Gate on Ebay for under $50.00 wasn't easy. After a few weeks of bidding on the DVD, I finally secured a purchase for $25.00, which isn't bad considering the film was discontinued and extremely rare. I finally settled in to watch the film with my girlfriend, who was terrified of the movie as a child. But there is nothing scary about the film in 2008 - as a matter of fact the monsters are hysterical, like mini-Godzillas that multipy.

Of course the parents take off on a 3 day vacation, leaving the kids to fend for themselves against the powers of evil. Stephen Dorff (playing the lead role of Glen) unleashes demons from Hell through a portal in his backyard, by way of a hole left by an uprooted tree that once held their tree house. The boys find several stones with glowing crystals near the hole, which turn out to be the least of their worries once the pint-sized demons are loose. When the family dog dies and a friend buries him in the hole, the demons have the sacrifice they need and the gate is opened. Glen's best friend Terry (played by Louis Tripp) discovers the secrets of The Gate while listening to a heavy metal album, in which the rituals are explained when the record is played backwards. You gotta love the 80's - we blamed everything on heavy metal music.

The only scary moment of the film is when a decayed corpse breaks out of the living room wall, the first human sacrifice for The Gate. The corpse drags Terry inside the walls and Glen & his sister knock out the zombie, who then smashes into a dozen little demons when he hits the floor - a pretty cool visual effect even for 1987. All in all the film is a fun watch to reminsice about the 1980's and you will definitely get a laugh out of the demons who are obviously actors in bad alien masks. I give The Gate 3 toes and recommend digging for it (no pun intended). You won't even find it on Netflix, so Ebay is your best bet.

The Gate on IMDB:



Sunday, September 21, 2008

TV Review #1: True Blood

TRUE BLOOD (2008)

I never watch television. I'm content with watching nothing but horror films on DVD and taking advantage of my unlimited Netflix capabilities. But every so often a show airs that makes me suck up (no pun intended) the $9.95 a month and order HBO or Showtime On Demand. Of course I cancel it after the season because I'm broke. I was never a huge fan of Sopranos. For me it all started with Six Feet Under. I watched the show religiously and finally understood what people mean when they say they feel like they know the characters personally.

The next show to grab my attention was Dexter, which also featured Michael C. Hall from Six Feet Under, blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Metro PD by day, neat & clean serial killer by night. Season 3 starts soon and that will complete my week with 2 riveting TV series.

The other show that has claimed one hour of my life at 9pm every Sunday is True Blood, from the creators of Six Feet Under - an HBO series that is only 3 episodes deep. I am absolutely hooked on this show. Any mainstream drama that has the nerve to show this much blood, sex, violence (and of course vampires), gets The Big Toe Blog's stamp of approval.

The season kicks off by introducing us to a synthetic Japanese beverage called "Tru Blood," sold in stores down in Louisiana, in a present-day world where vampires not only live among Americans but feed off them in the town of Bon Temps. Religious and government officials have sided with the vampires, and our lead character Sookie Stackhouse takes a similar interest in one Bill Compton who lives up the street. She also has the special gift to read people's minds, but cannot read vampires. This sets the stage for a dark romance between Bill & Sookie that is surrounded by sex & murder, keeping you on the edge of your seat each episode. This is no Buffy - the show is well-written, action-packed, and makes real observations about our current world we live in, difficulties in life and love, and of course . . . death.

True Blood airs every Sunday night at 9:00pm EST on HBO.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Album Review #1: Eaten Back to Life

CANNIBAL CORPSE - EATEN BACK TO LIFE (1990)
Metal Blade Records

The gore metal album that started it all for me. I remember being 11 years old and shopping with my Mom at the local outdoor flea market, gravitating toward the music stand where I could browse through the latest cassettes. I pulled Eaten Back to Life from the bin because the cover art caught my eye (which I would discover in later life was by the brilliant horror artist Vince Locke). The guy at the stand was hesitant to sell me the tape and told me the album probably "wasn't for me," but I had to have it. My Mom gave me enough money for two cassettes, and I left that day with NIN Pretty Hate Machine (1989) and of course, Eaten Back to Life.

Unitl then I had bands like Motley Crue and Poison on heavy rotation. The closest I got to horror music was Michael Jackson's Thriller. Cannibal Corpse was unlike anything I had ever heard - they had everything a kid could want - heavy double bass petals, speed metal riffs, muddy bass, and a decomposing zombie ripping out his organs in a cemetery on the front cover. I remember sitting in my room with my headphones on (I was afraid my Mom would hear) and reading along to the lyrics of Shredded Humans, the opening track, about a family mutilated in a car crash and their guts spread out across the highway. The band had an uncanny ability to paint a gruesome and violent picture through sound, transmitted by the gutteral vocals of Chris Barnes. The lyrics read like a horror story. Take this excerpt from Edible Autopsy for example:

Guts and blood, bones are broken. As they eat your pancreas. Human liver, for their dinner. Or maybe soup with eyes. Cause of death, still unknown. Gnawing meat, from your bones. Bone saw binding in your skull. Brains are oozing a human stump. Needles injected, through your eyes. Puiling off flesh, skinned alive.

Too young to rent R-rated horror films on my own, I relied on bands like Cannibal Corpse and my daily dose of Tales From The Crypt comics for my horror fix. After that day I spent a good bit of my life searching for the heaviest, most brutal music I could get my hands on. I later discovered death metal bands like Carcass and Death (Heartwork and Scream Bloody Gore still hold a special place in my heart) and thrash/grindcore bands like Napalm Death. While Cannibal Corpse drew its influences from death metal bands of the 80's, no band could top their disturbing and gory cover art. They took extreme music to the extreme, and continued to push the envelope with every release. Butchered at Birth showed two zombies chopping up babies on a butcher's block, with the carcasses of children hanging behind them on meat hooks. Tomb of the Mutilated showed a male zombie performing oral sex on a gutted woman. These images will be forever scarred in my memory.

The band changed singers in 1995 after releasing a few albums, bringing George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher on board to replace Barnes. Even after changing their front man, the band's popularity was unaffected and they gained a loyal cult following over the years, releasing 10 studio albums and changing the face of American death metal forever. They continue to tour and have remained true to their horror roots. Check out the band's website at:








Monday, September 8, 2008

Movie Review #25: Sleepaway Camp

SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)
Directed by Robert Hiltzik

When slasher films were in their prime in the 80's, Hiltzik brought us Sleepaway Camp, a movie that many horror fans still claim has one of the most shocking endings. Our main character, Angela Baker, supposedly loses her father and brother in a boating accident and is forced to live with her deranged Aunt. After attending Camp Arawack one summer with her cousin Ricky, people start to die in the most bizarre ways (my personal favorite is when the pedophile cook falls into a vat of boiling hot water after trying to molest Angela).

I just can't seem to get enough of horror movies that take place at camp. Friday the 13th is definitely one of the most fun. All these camp horror films seem to share alot of the same elements that never get old for me - teenagers doing drugs, skinny dipping, playing pranks on each other, walking in the woods at night, etc. And the directors seem to be in some sort of competition to create the most creative kills, which keeps us all coming back for more.

Speaking of coming back for more, Sleepaway Camp saw several sequels, none of which I liked very much but the Survival Kit (which includes all 3 films with some great packaging) is definitely a cool addition to your collection. In the first film, Angela is last seen on the beach completely nude, dick and balls out in all their glory, holding the decapitated head of her camp crush. Thats right, Angela is really a boy. Sorry to spoil the movie but if you're reading this blog chances are you've seen the film already. And if you haven't you can't really call yourself a horror fan anyway! Matter of fact, as a friend of mine pointed out the other night when we watched this one again, there is entirely too much cock in this film. All the male counselors are wearing really tight shorts rockin non-stop bulge for the full film. In light of all the packages, I still give 4 toes for this one.

Rumor has it a new Sleepaway Camp is slated for a Fall 2008 release, titled Return to Sleepaway Camp. Check it out on Amazon for pre-order here:

Movie Review #24: Cannibal Campout

CANNIBAL CAMPOUT (1988)
Directed by Jon McBride

Cannibal Campout is everything a low-budget 80's horror film should be. Four friends camping in the New Jersey woods are interrupted by three insane bloodthirsty mountain men. There are about a million hints that the group shouldn't be camping in the woods, but of course they don't heed a single warning, not even when they are attacked on the road by two of the men before even arriving at the campsite. With barely any camping supplies, the group set up shop in the woods and soon become lunch for the local cannibals. A ridiculously simple concept, chock full of some of the worst acting you've ever seen, with some great gore effects thrown in for good measure, and you have yourself a recipe for a classic. All the gore is drawn out and shot in one long take, so we get to watch the men feast on the campers and crack terrible jokes the whole time. There's nothing scary about the killers - one of them wears a motorcycle helmet. Ohhhhhh scaaarrryyy . . .

The film was shot on weekends when the actors' schedules would permit, with zero budget. This is what makes the movie so great - it proves that anyone with enough will-power can make a movie, especially horror. From Camp Motion Pictures, the same crazy production company that brought us such classics as Video Violence and Zombie Bloodbath, we are treated to cult 80's horror at its best. Highly recommended and I give this film 3 toes (the acting is so bad I had to take off 2 toes). Sorry such a short review but there isn't much to say here - kids go camping, kids get eaten.

Check out Camp Motion Pictures: http://campmotionpictures.com/



Monday, September 1, 2008

Movie Review #23: Schizo



SCHIZO (1970)
Directed by Pete Walker

A famous ice skater named Samantha (played by Lynne Frederick) announces her upcoming wedding in the local paper, sparking the interest of one William Haskins (her late-mother's ex-lover), who travels to London to stalk her. After shacking up in a local Welfare Hostel he begins leaving frightening clues to reveal his presence and stir violent memories of her past (namely flashbacks of a naked woman being brutally stabbed). At her wedding ceremony a bloody machete turns up when its time to cut the cake, but no one believes Samantha's suspicions of the madman until bodies start turning up - her pyschiatrist, her housekeeper's daughter to name a few. Samantha is accused of being neurotic and delusional by everyone including her husband, but even with all the unanswered mysteries it all seems to make sense in her favor.


Director Pete Walker does an excellent job of blurring the lines between reality and hallucination, leading us to believe that Haskins is the killer all along, until the final confrontation with Sam, a bloody climax that blends the past with the present to reveal her as the real murderer (the fitting tag line for the film pokes fun at schizophrenia: "when the left hand doesn't know who the right hand is killing"). Her spilt personality causes her to conveniently forget the murders, creating an un-likely villain who we can't help but sympathize with, even after we discover that as a child she stabbed her own mother to death and Haskins did time for the crime.


Schizo is a classic psychological thriller, and falls right in line with one of my favorite British horror films of all time - Horror Hospital (1973). I give it 4 toes.


Schizo at IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076670/

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pigeons from Hell #2-4




PIGEONS FROM HELL #2, 3, 4
Dark Horse Comics

When I first covered Pigeons from Hell #1 in this blog, we left off with a pile of dead pigeons and a group of friends who stumble upon the Blassenville Mansion's strange power. Little is revealed in that first issue, but the following comics tell the gruesome tale of a long-standing curse that resides within the house, and a violent history of slavery and murder.

After several of our characters are killed and become zombies, a local lawman on horseback meets the kids to help get to the bottom of it. We soon discover the grounds are haunted by souls of deceased slaves, shape-shifting shadow creatures that are unable to actually harm the humans but are condemned to the land forever. The sheriff brings the 2 surviving Blassenville sisters (Claire and Janet) to an old man named Alcebee who resides in the same swamp - he is over 100 years old and has the knowledge they seek. He grew up as a slave to the Blassenville family and is now trapped in his home, within a circle of safety that the spirits cannot penetrate.

Alcebee explains that the spirit is actually the soul of a Blassenville daughter, who drowned an illegitimate slave child and haunts the house ever since. Her heart, removed from her body by a voodoo curse, is the source of the house's strength. In order to put an end to the chaos the sisters must first stun the spirit by revealing it's reflection in Alcebee's mirror, and then destroying the heart. The souls of the slaves will then be free.

This modern adaptation of the Robert E. Howard classic is perfectly executed by Joe Lansdale (writer) and Nathan Fox (illustration). The two are a dynamic duo - Lansdale often leaves out text alltogether, allowing Fox's art to tell the story. Fox's choppy but sharp drawings have an edginess that makes the gore and violence come to life before our eyes, leaving alot up to the imagination and in turn creating one of the most exciting horror comics of the new milennium. I can only hope that this short 4-comic mini-series be made into a feature film. Until then, make sure you grab all 4 chilling issues and enter the Blassenville Mansion if you dare. Thanks again, Dark Horse!

Purchase Pigeons from Hell at the Dark Horse website:


Monday, August 25, 2008

Movie Review #22: Zombie Town

ZOMBIE TOWN (2007)
Directed by Damon Lemay

There are two things that I will never get sick of in horror films, past and present: hillbillies and zombies. Zombie Town has both, with zombie hillbillies to boot! Before the opening credits even roll we have a body count of 4 and some cool cannibal gore effects. Heavy metal music quickly breaks into a knee-slappin country soundtrack; throw in some terrible acting, a backwoods town infected by parasites, and you have yourself the typical recipe for an an all-out amateur gorefest.

Two brothers, Jake & Denton, are struggling to maintain business at the local mechanic garage. While responding to a breakdown call, they bump into Jake's redhead ex (Alex) who is conducting water testing for the town and coincidentally fails to notice a decaying corpse floating in the lake. The call then leads them to a run-down house in the woods; Denton is immediately attacked and of course Jake leaves his brother on site to go get help. Denton soon becomes a zombie and the local sheriff makes the brilliant decision to let him rot behind bars.

The real fun begins when slimy parasites crawl out of Denton's body, infest the police station and make their way into the sheriff's toilet. The sheriff takes his last shit and then rises from the dead (later on we spot him limping through town with his pants still down around his ankles haha). Alex and Jake arrive at the jail and quickly bottle up a parasite to sample in the lab, later discovering that salt kills the parasites.

Alex is quite the scientist, and concludes that the parasites are injecting fluids into the spine of its victims, causing violent zombie-like behavior. The entire town becomes zombies, hence the name, and our characters take it upon themselves to blast and sprinkle their way through the streets using shotguns and bags of salt, picking zombies off one by one in classic Dawn of the Dead fashion. The best scene of the film is when an old bag named Ms. Mahoney turns into a zombie at the local Bingo hall and eats the winner. Randy and Jake show up with a shotgun and declare the scene is "like a god damn grandma massacre in here!" Pure genius. I give this movie 4 toes - total entertainment from start to finish!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Movie Review #21: Wizard of Gore (re-make)


WIZARD OF GORE (2007)

The horror re-makes of the past few years have been, for lack of a better word, boring. Granted almost everything in horror has been done, so any new film is indirectly paying homage to some horror film of the past whether it claims to or not. Seriously though - how many different ways can you kill someone? How many times can the victim fall down while running away? Is it possible that the genre itself has finally become oversaturated with cliches and cookie cutter plot development? Well just when you thought modern American horror was doomed, in steps The Wizard of Gore.

Attempting to re-create a film by the gore master Herschell Gordon Lewis is indeed a tricky task. But in this case, director Jeremy Kasten does the original film (1970) justice by not only keeping the gore intact but re-working the story into a modern hallucinogenic terror experience. Set in present day Los Angeles, a writer named Edmund Bigelow (played by Kip Pardue) and his girlfriend (Bijou Phillips) frequent a local magic show. The magician, Montag The Magnificent, is played astonishingly well here by Crispin Glover (Willard, 2003), who has come a long way since Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985). The Suicide Girls make several appearances and are, of course, completely naked. Hand-picked by Montag from the audience, the girls are slain on stage behind a sheet of smoky glass, sending the audience into a frenzy only to be shocked that the girls leave the stage without a scratch. The real terror begins when the same girls start turning up dead after the show with the same wounds.

Edmund is determined to reveal Montag as the murderer, but the viewer is mislead by various hallucinations in which Edmund himself appears to be the killer. A mind-control drug referred to as tetrodotoxin (found in puffer fish) is used by Montag on the audience and show participants to create his gory illusion - as a result the viewer loses all sense of reality, allowing Kasten to really let loose his vision. This is not the kind of film you can watch once and understand - a second or third viewing is advised. The plot is all over the place, and the action is very confusing. One thing is certain - Kasten used the original film as a foundation, but creates something brand new and surprisingly original. I give The Wizard of Gore 5 toes - this is one of the best horror films I have seen this year. It just came out straight to DVD on Tuesday so go pick up a copy immediately.




Monday, August 11, 2008

Movie Review #20: Hell's Ground

HELL'S GROUND (2007)

The American title for the Pakistani slasher "Zibahkhana," directed by Omar Khan, borrows its plot structure from American horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but succeeds in creating its own unique niche in international horror cinema - quite an achievement from a country who hasn't produced a scary title since the 1970's.

Your typical crew of victims, 5 young Pakistani teens with conflicting personalities, sneak out to attend a rock concert but, of course, never actually make it there. They pile into a rented van and drive out to the forest, taking a shortcut and running into mutated zombies along the way. After a visit to the local medicine man, who warns them that they are on Hell's Ground, one of the teens eats a deadly dose of hallucinogens and they are picked off one by one by a burqa-clad killer waving a spiked ball and chain. As if there weren't enough blatant Western horror cliches staring us in the face, the main characters just never seem to learn in the horror genre, even in Pakistan - the killer never dies after the first try. Our lead female nearly escapes after smacking the killer with a barbed wire stick. She then does what any determined woman would - returns to the body and plunges a stake through his chest dozens of times and leaves spattered with blood, only to run into her friend-turned-zombie for a climactic finish that leaves plenty of room for a sequel. I say bring it on!

Khan seems torn between shooting a zombie movie and a slasher, developing a back story that goes nowhere about people who mutate and feast on blood after being poisoned by the local water supply. The picture quality is terrible, which adds to the feel of the film, but the gore and effects are great. I give this film 4 toes - a fresh take on a genre that has become so repetitive and predictable. And the Bollywood soundtrack makes for a belly dancing good time as well . . .


Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie Review #19: The Monster Squad

THE MONSTER SQUAD (1987 / 2007)

The release of Monster Squad to DVD in 2007 was a treat for 80's horror fans worldwide. Utilizing friendly versions of the Universal Monsters, director Fred Dekker created a timeless comedic horror adventure similar to its predecessor the Goonies in 1985, but with a few more ghouls thrown in for good measure. Seeing the film on the shelf brought back memories, and made me want to start my own Monster Club all over again. Besides, what could be more rewarding than sitting up in your treehouse, spying on the girl next door while she removes her top, and discussing various methods of killing a werewolf?

When Dracula returns to present-day society to possess Van Helsings diary & amulet so evil can rule the world, it's up to a group of local teenage monster fans to stop him. Alongside his grisly gang of our favorite monster faces, including the Mummy, Creature, Werewolf, and of course, Frankenstein, we are treated to a family film with absolutely no gore and plenty of kiddie fun. Hardly a horror movie by any stretch, Monster Squad is mentioned here solely for its nostalgic value - a movie like this would never make money in 2008. But for its time it was a pre-pubescent thrill-ride and watching it again almost 20 years later, I was reminded of how fun horror could be in the 80's. Grab a copy and keep the memory alive!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

TALES OF TERROR

TALES OF TERROR (Eclipse Comics, 1985 - 1987)

Eclipse Comics was an American comic book publisher in the 1980's responsible for a series called Tales of Terror (in the same vein as Pacific Comic's Twisted Tales that ran from 1982-84). Eclipse released the final 2 issues of Twisted Tales when Pacific went bankrupt, and also published one of the first ever graphic novels. Some of my favorite writers like Bruce Jones contributed stories to both, and the brilliantly gory cover art is definitely worth checking out. Tales of Terror are extremely hard to find, and unlike the EC comics, were never re-printed. However, I got lucky on Ebay last week and scooped up all 13 issues in perfect condition!

Check out the Comic Databse below for all titles:

http://comicbookdb.com/title.php?ID=8420




Monday, June 30, 2008

Eerie Publications

EERIE PUBLICATIONS (1970's)

Eerie Publications (no relation to Eerie magazine, by Harris Publications, Inc) printed a series of horror magazines in the late 1960's and 70's with titles such as "Terror Tales," "Tales of Voodoo," and my personal favorite, "Weird." The cover art was nothing short of amazing, and the stories inside reinforced the ghastly scenes depicted on each front in chilling black & white, or, as the authors claimed: "chilling picto-fiction." These are some of the best works of horror art ever set to print. Fun fact: artist and illustrator Dick Ayers, major contributor to Eerie Pubs and creator of the classic story "The Dead Demons," also inked the first 20 issues of Marvel's "Fantastic Four!"

The Claw website has an awesome archive of all the Eerie Publications covers. Check them out here: http://www.empire-of-the-claw.com/Eeriepubs_html/covers.htm



Monday, June 2, 2008

Inside: Movie Review #18

INSIDE (2007)

Ever since I saw Session 9 for the first time back in the Fall, I have been waiting for another film to creep up and disturb me the way that did. I want a movie to make me feel uneasy even in the comfort of my own home. That is power; that is good cinema.

After reading the Rue Morgue cover story about the film, I stored the title in the “movies-to-see” side of my brain and went about my day. During a weekend getaway to an old-fashioned bed & breakfast in Bristol, CT this past weekend, my girlfriend and I decided to cozy up in our huge king sized bed surrounded by furniture from the early 1900’s and portraits that seemed to follow you, to watch a scary movie. We grabbed the only copy of Inside from Blockbuster and got into our PJ's.

I have always admired a director who “goes there,” touching on taboo topics and challenging the viewer to explore darker areas of their psyche. Inside is a perfect example – no American horror director dares touch the main topic of this film: terrorizing a pregnant woman. French Writer and director Alexandre Bustillo definitely “goes there.”

A pregnant woman named Sarah from a car crash in the opening scene is later visited by a stranger on Christmas Eve, who comes to the door asking for help and apparently knows more about Sarah than we think. Known to the viewer only as La Femme, she starts the nightmare by breaking in and watching Sarah sleep, slithering on and off the screen, outlined in silhouettes, and clad in a long black gown with long black hair. With the exception of a few films (most notably the first Friday the 13th where Mrs. Voorhees does all the killing in honor of her son Jason), Americans have become accustomed to male killers. La Femme is a refreshing break from the norm and a perfect villain – dark, manic, and determined to get her revenge.

95% of the film takes place in Sarah’s home, which by the end of the film is completely splattered with blood. One by one, Sarah’s potential rescuers are murdered by La Femme, starting with the victim’s mother. The suspense of the film revolves around the fact that at any point in the film, our main character could go into labor. La Femme hunts her down in every room of the house, armed with a pair of scissors to cut the baby from her womb. The film is an 83 minute bloodbath that leaves you with a haunting final image that no American director would dare conclude a film with. We are left to feel just as helpless as Sarah, a feeling which transcends the screen and creates a real human sense of unrest and fear.

Gory, disturbing, and down-right revolutionary in its subject matter and imagery, Inside is probably one of the most deranged films I have ever seen. 5 toes for sure and should be #1 on your hit-list if you haven’t seen it already.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

EERIE Comics

EERIE COMICS (1966 - 1983)

Eerie was a magazine of horror comics introduced in 1966 by Warren Publishing. Stories were introduced by the host character, Cousin Eerie (who was drawn by Tales From The Crypt artist Jack Davis) and its sister publications were Creepy and Vampirella. The cover art stood out from other horror comics because of its great detail, fusing elements of horror and sci-fi over the course of the comic's 17 year lifespan.

The first issue in 1966 was black & white and produced over-night, hitting newsstands in limited numbers at only 35 cents a copy (color stories would not appear until 1974). Contrary to rumor, the comic was created not to rival Creepy, but rather to be its adversary. Unlike other comics of the time, Eerie was driven by reoccurring series, rather than a collection of short stories. The series went on to publish 139 issues, finally calling it quits in 1983 when Warren Publishing filed for bankruptcy. Art from the Eerie comics, inspired by EC's Tales From The Crypt comics printed in the 1950's, is some of my favorite horror work of all time, as it laid the foundation for all other horror publications to come.

Check out Eerie covers #1-31 here.

Horror Hospital: Movie Review #17

HORROR HOSPITAL (1973)

Brittlehouse Manor is more than just a health resort for young people - it is the laboratory of the deranged Doctor Storm, whose experiments in brain surgery create an army of household zombie slaves. Unsuspecting visitors arrive at the Manor through the recommendation of a travel agent, and they soon fall victim to Storm's scalpel. Played by Michael Gough (The Legend of Hell House 1973; more recently, Corpse Bride, 2005) the Doctor drives around with his sidekick, a midget named Frederick, decapitating escapees with a long blade that extends from the driver's side of his car and catches the head in a potato sack. No more needs to be said - watch this movie immediately. I give Horror Hospital 5 toes.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Drive Thru: Movie Review #16


DRIVE THRU (2007)

Hungry for a killer meal? Drive Thru is another roller coaster of a killer clown movie and one of my personal faves since Killer Klownz From Outer Space. The film opens in Orange County CA with a crew of white wanna-be gangsters craving HellaBurger, and when they roll up to a dark drive thru joint that resembles Jack in the Box, all "hell" literally breaks loose. Our villain Horny The Clown appears within the first 3 minutes with very little buildup or suspense, fully decked out in a Hot Topic evil clown get-up to wreak havoc on the hip-hoppers, killing all of them before the credits even roll (notable here is the "face in the deep frier" kill scene).

The lead role of Mackenzie Carpenter (played by Leighton Meester, your typical 20 year old playing 17, who later strips down to her black underwear and made me feel like a pedophile for smiling) kicks off the film by turning down her boyfriend who wants sex, claiming that she'll be "18 next week." Classic! At a rockin high-school house party, Mackenzie and a bunch of kids play with a Ouija board, asking what will happen to their boring lives. After receiving a creepy message from the board that tells the license plate of the now-dead white boys, they are later haunted by even creepier messages from a magic 8-ball, of all things!

Mackenzie then works late in the yearbook office and hangs with Lenny the Janitor (the best character in the film) who claims he has to "pull a brown gator thats cloggin up the staff shitter." After an uncomfortable encounter with Lenny she develops her film, revealing images of Horny committing the previous murders. She is chased down by the clown and ends up in the school gym, where Horny blows up her girlfriend's head in a microwave. The kill scenes are great in this film and Wikipedia did a great job of outlining them for us:

Tony - face burned by Deep Fryer
Brandon Meeks - slashed in the stomach off-screen
Brittany - axed in the head
Tiffa - killed off-screen
Val - face placed in microwave and head explodes
Lenny - hanged from the bathroom ceiling
Chad Baldwin - head decapitated
Tina McCandless - slashed numerous of time off-screen
Spany - axed in the head
Chuck Taylor - head bashed by an axe
Starfire - hand and head decapitation
Van - sliced in half by a machete
Detective Crockers - axed through the windshield of his car

The Town of Blanca Carne is soon under siege by Horny, who drops a series of terrible one-liners over noisy death metal before wielding his obviously rubber hatchet. Mackenzie's Mom is the genius that puts two and two together - remembering how her and her friends killed Archie Benjamin, the face of HellaBurger, when they were young. Archie, now resurrected as Horny, seeks revenge on the children of these guilty parents. Wow, how original . . .

The movie makes up for its awful acting and poor plot with some great humor - after discovering that Horny The Clown is really a killer, the kids claim "it's like finding out Captain Kangaroo's got pieces of Mr. Green Jeans in his freezer." And I love the TV commercials from HellaBurger that show sexy girls eating chicken wings! There's also a great cameo from Morgan Spurlock (creator of Super Size Me) who plays a HellaBurger employee. The movie is definitely in my top ten worst clown horrors of all time, and I give Drive Thru 4 toes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Creature From The Black Lagoon: Movie Review #15


CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)

The Universal Monsters of the 1950's were the foundation for all of our modern day horrors. I remember watching this film as a boy, fascinated by the Creature who lived underwater. Watching the movie 20 years later, I couldn't help but find the man in the fish suit somewhat ridiculous. Something so scary as a child had no affect on me as a grown man. However, this film and this particular monster was the inspiration for my alias on The Big Toe Blog, so I guess I have indeed been affected by the film even today. Just the word "creature" raises the hair on my arms, a term I find identity with, a simple word that embodies all that I enjoy. Horror and monsters have always been an obsession for me, and I owe a great deal of that to the Creature and this film.

It's quite amazing how simple and straight-forward horror was in the 1950's. Creature From The Black Lagoon was shot in black and white in the supposed Amazon, where a team of archaeologists uncover the bones of a creature's hand. They gather a larger crew and financial backing to take the dig even further, hoping to discover a new species. The expedition takes them to the Black Lagoon, which men have entered but never returned according to legend. One by one, the team is soon terrorized by the Creature, a blueprint for the plot of the horror genre for years to come.

The underwater camerawork is impressive for such primitive times in cinema, and several close calls beneath the surface are the main sources of suspense and tension in the film. When our lovely leading lady Julia Adams is swimming in the lagoon (in a sexy one piece white suit, I might add) the Creature treads water beneath her, inches from her heels. Every time the Creature appears on screen we are bombarded with an intense orchestra sound, which is kind of like his on-screen entrance theme. Much like our present killers in horror films, the Creature takes a lickin and keeps on tickin. Throughout the film he is shot with harpoons, the lagoon water is drugged, he is taken captive by the crew, set on fire, but keeps on truckin. The team, determined to document their find, go up against the Creature above and below the surface, cumulating in several intense underwater battles. The Creature supposedly falls in love with Adams' character (Kay), kidnapping her to his cave, where she is of course eventually rescued and the Creature escapes back into the depths . . . or does he?

Rent this movie and get educated. It's a timeless film and entertaining from start to finish, if you can bear with the fish costume. Of course I give Creature From The Black Lagoon 5 toes!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Killer Klownz From Outer Space: Movie Review #14

KILLER KLOWNZ FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)

This is the movie that started it all. I remember watching it on cable over and over as a kid, and it still remains one of my favorite horror flicks of all time. Taking the common fear of clowns to a whole new level, The Chiodo Brothers used creepy clown puppets to craft a story that has become a classic in B movie horror. The storyline is ridiculous - a UFO-like circus tent lands in a field in the middle of nowhere, signalling the attack of balloon-twisting pyschos from another dimension. The clowns terrorize the town, turning their victims into cotton candy cocoons and drinking their blood through twisty straws. The Chiodo Brothers went on to create puppets for movies like Critters (1986) and Team America (2006), but Killer Klownz is, in my opinion, their best work. Many have tried to imitate the film, but none have succeeded in outdoing it. I give the film 5 toes and it still holds the number 1 spot in my top ten horror movies involving clowns.

Cryptic Art by Unkle Pigors

CRYPTIC ART (2008)
The latest book of art from the sick and demented mind of Unkle Pigors is now available courtesy of Baby Tattoo Books. Filled with disturbing cartoon-like images in vivid color, every page is splattered with his signature style. Pigors himself encourages you to "pick your new tattoo from this book" and I must say, I'm tempted to do an entire sleeve of this guy's work. He's got a pretty neat website too, with all kinda of cool merchandise, my favorite being the Spookhouse DVD. Click here to view the trailer.

Video Violence: Movie Review #13

VIDEO VIOLENCE 1 & 2 (1987)

When renting is not enough!

The 80's were wonderful! Not only did we get to see slasher films at their peak, but there is a wealth of really awful low budget films to dig up from this decade. Video Violence come to us from Little Zach Productions, a small film company responsible for only 1 other film. These are two of the worst movies I have ever seen, and I mean that in a good way (worth mentioning is that both films are on the same DVD, released in 2007 at the bargain price of only $13).

In the first film a couple open a video store in a small town, only to find that their customers exclusively rent horror and porn (what else is there really?). It all goes downhill when an unmarked tape gets returned to the store, showing the local postman being butchered on camera by two local murderers, Howard and Eli. Part 1 is rather boring, but the sequel comes through on all fronts.

In Part 2 Howard and Eli broadcast their own pirate TV show from an undisclosed location, gathering a cult following of splatter fans who submit their own homemade snuff films. It's like a twisted America's Funniest Home Videos, where the two killers introduce the video submissions all while slicing and dicing a naked woman on the set for the entire film. Videos are submitted by a husband and wife who electrocute a man in their basement, using a homemade electric chair. A trio of half naked college girls order a pizza and hack the delivery boy to pieces after getting him stoned and drunk. A hysterical commercial break about a pet named Wilbur, who parents can buy at the local pet shop to "do their dirty work" (aka kill their children). The movie is maniacal, the gore is low budget and over the top, the acting will make you cringe, and the music is completely ridiculous. I give Video Violence 4 toes.

http://www.amazon.com/Video-Violence-1-2/dp/B000MRNWFG