The Beholder (1983, Chris Sullivan)

A restaurant scene and a street preacher, in constant states of absurd transformation, first-person camera flying through it all. Sound is field recordings, or a good approximation. Blobby watercolor, with inspired animation, comparable to Bill Plympton. Sullivan made a few shorts then got to work on his 2+ hour feature Consuming Spirits, which was recently on Criterion.


The Fall of the House of Usher (1984, John Schnall)

One problem with reading Poe aloud is that “acute illness” sounds like “a cute illness.” Usher House looks like an American suburban house from outside, but still has a butler. Ol’ Rodrick is worried about his sick sister, whom he maybe buried alive. The musician here can’t match the spoken phrase “the wild improvisations of his guitar.” Calm, soft candle-lit drawings with some good closeups. Schnall turned in the occasional short for the next couple decades, worked on Sesame Street, lives in New Jersey. These were both from the “Animation of the Apocalypse” video.


Hideous (2022, Yann Gonzalez)

Yann stages a talk-show transformation to four songs by The XX, or technically from their singer’s solo album. So it’s a music video EP. We need more stuff like this.


The Telephone Box (1972, Antonio Mercero)

I knew the general premise (man gets trapped in telephone box), but always imagined it as a cheap-looking b/w short, not this eye-popping Prisoner-era color. What seems like a stupid accident escalates when a procession of townsfolk can’t free him from the box, then apparently a phone-box truck arrives to fix the mistake, but nope, they pick up the box with man inside and cart it impersonally to a warehouse full of phone boxes with men trapped in them. Feels like a metaphor for oversized companies that set stupid procedures in place which keep merrily humming along even as they wreck people’s lives, but maybe this Comcast telephone hold music is influencing my thoughts.


Also watched an episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, and need to see the rest.


I feel like horror is underrepresented on the year-end lists, and deserves its own award show, so here are the 2022 SHOCKies nominations:

Best Writing:

Best Directing:

Best Acting:

Best Shocks:

Really does every hotel and rental in Detroit fill up when “there’s a convention in town?” That’s how two strangers, jobseeker Georgina Campbell (Hang the DJ) and jazzman Bill SkarsgĂ„rd (Atomic Blonde), end up in the same airbnb on an abandoned block. Good writing as they assess the situation, but the movie isn’t about their suspicions at being unwilling roommates, it’s about the mole people they discover in the basement, which immediately kill Bill and capture Georgina.

Shock cut to Justin Long, canceled rich guy retreating to the rental house he owns. He will prove at every point to be a despicable person, but after she escapes and the cops are total dicks to her, she still tries to rescue him. Big actiony ending ensues, the basement-bound incest-mom proving surprisingly athletic. Pretty fun but I should’ve given Don’t Breathe 2 a shot instead. Richard Brake (The Munsters‘ Count Orlock) plays the suburban perv who built the catacombs.

I haven’t seen an FPS perspective like this outside a Nintendo 64 game:

Adrienne Barbeau visits swamp scientist Ray Wise, when bad guys attack, wanting the secret formula. I saw Barbeau last week in The Fog, and saw this plot last week in Five Dolls for an August Moon… but in Five Dolls the scientist got dispatched with a rifle, and in this one Ray’s plant-animal-hybrid concoction turns him into Swamp Thing.

S.T. uses his E.T. healing powers on the cool kid who assists Barbeau:

I guess it’s nice how the wide shots emulate photos of bigfoot sightings. Everyone seems to have done the best they could, given low budget and talent. Shapeshifting baddie Arcane also starred in a 1977 Dracula and a haunted mirror movie. His strongman Bruno returned to the swamp for Hell Comes to Frogtown, and the guy in the monster suit would be back in Return of Swamp Thing.

Bruno gets turned into a little beastie, just for fun:

High quality from the start, the rare perfectly-calibrated teen movie, best I’ve seen since Detention. The writers have watched Harold & Maude a couple times, but the teen sisters’ suicide pact and gruesome fake deaths pay off nicely.

Ginger is bitten by a wolf, which drug dealer Sam then runs over with his van, and now outcast Brigitte tries to save her sister’s life while Ginger makes the most of her new supernatural popularity.

Mimi Rogers nails it as their mom. Chris Nolan a big fan, cast both girls in Insomnia the next year – Ginger also did Bones and Freddy vs. Jason, and both returned for the sequels. Drug Dealer Sam is aka Revenge-Seeking Goth Ian from Final Destination 3.

“Death’s a commercial necessity.”

This absurd murder conspiracy movie was the perfect follow-up to a Final Destination sequel. Logical movies are boring, illogical ones are stupid, but movies that follow their own dream logic, where a woman in a busy daylit park can suddenly, while lighting a cigarette, become all alone at twilight, then get chased through a hedge maze, ending up trapped between cobwebbed stone walls… what was I saying?

Drummer and Wife:

Drummer Roberto is being tailed by guy in suit, follows the follower into a theater, but it’s a setup, where he’s photographed killing the suit guy. Paranoid, he tells his blonde wife everything, . Detectives get involved, a terrible gay private eye is hired, the drummer’s cat gets kidnapped, he visits a coffin convention with “God” Godfrey and a wacky Professor. In the middle of all this, a hot cousin stays over and wants to give him a massage in the bath. After the cousin’s incredible death scene, her retinas are scanned to find an image of the last thing she saw, which leads to the drummer’s wife. The drummer and his wife are good in this (some side characters are very dubbed) but the wife’s last-minute psychological backstory keeps reverting to Italian before she fatally flees from the house.

God with his parrot Jerkoff:

Intense filmmaking, this worked better for me than Crystal Plumage or Deep Red. The lead guy was also in a Bea Arthur movie. His wife Mimsy Farmer has a great Italian horror career – Autopsy, Fulci’s Black Cat, The Perfume of the Lady in Black, and something from the Cannibal Holocaust guy. The cousin was in The Disappearance, Stuart Cooper’s followup to Overlord.

The Roller Coaster Sequel. After the big funhouse setpiece, M.E. Winstead (the girl with hair like this) and her late bestie’s bf Kevin (a guy from The Ring Two Remake) survive, along with two goths (I’m about to see him in Ginger Snaps, she was in a Queen Latifah movie), a jock (Texas Battle of Wrong Turn 2), and two girls named Ashley who will soon die in cranked-up tanning beds, leading to a great edit to their coffins. Winstead figures out the pattern just quickly enough to find each person moments before their deaths, while being stalked by a goth, until something happens, I forget what, and they all think they’ve escaped, until a haha coda on an NYC train.

Our heroes, too late to save the jock:

Little sister Julie in front of a Carolyn Mark poster:

Very funny and enjoyable movie, obviously a must-see motion picture, but it loses something – part one was original, and part two carried a previous character forward and developed the idea, but then this is just part one again, almost a remake, the previous movies only existing diegetically in a web search jumbled in with 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Opening with Birth of a Nation seems cool – I’ve been uninterested in ever watching that film, but watching it as a horror would be an idea. Higher priority, I should watch the Blacula movies… less so Def by Temptation.

A real podcast-hangout kind of doc, and not usually in a good way. Contains a blatant promo for Tales from the Hood 2. The doc is leading up to Get Out as the culmination of Black horror art, allowing Jordan Peele to talk about that and the original Candyman (which was problematic, has room for improvement, possibly with a remake?). This could be a blu extra on the Get Out disc, easy.

Ken Foree and Keith David:

Captain Howard Moon dies in hospital speaking the movie’s title (before it got changed to the generic The Cursed for streaming) after having a silver bullet yanked out of him in aftermath of WWI trench warfare.

Thirty-five years earlier, young Howard’s family and neighbors slaughtered all the gypsies, who had forged a set of silver teeth. The children, living in their fancy house with a mass grave in the yard, are having bad dreams, so they find the teeth and go all supernaturally murdery on each other and become tentacle werewolves, Howard surviving only to get killed in the war.

Crappy jump scares, and unforgivably long since it keeps repeating itself. I didn’t care about Anthropoid and this didn’t get great notices – can’t recall why I prioritized it, besides a masochistic urge to watch British movies during SHOCKtober.

Dr. Robert Powell (Ken Russell’s Mahler) arrives at the titular asylum to work for Dr. Starr, but is met by his assistant Patrick Magee instead. Magee says Starr is now a patient, locked safely upstairs with a trusty electrical system controlled by this button (I’ve heard that one before), and challenges Mahler to correctly identify the doctor. Mahler heroically pads the film on the way upstairs, and the orderly (who I correctly/immediately guessed as the doctor) lets him into each room, one at a time… yes, it’s a corny anthology horror, the same year Magee and Cushing and Dr. Orderly appeared in Tales from the Crypt. 1972 would seem to be too late for this kinda thing, but British people such as Edgar Wright think all this is great.

Bonnie (Barbara Parkins of The Mephisto Waltz and A Taste of Evil) isn’t even the murderer in her story – her boyfriend Richard Todd (the least famous person in House of the Long Shadows) chops up his harpy wife (Sylvia Syms, appropriately of Victim) and puts her in the basement freezer, but her butcher-paper-wrapped body parts reanimate, strangling him and attacking the unwitting Bonnie with the hatchet until the police arrive to blame the whole mess on her.

Tailor Bruno (Barry Morse of The Changeling) was brought the Man in the White Suit material by mysterious customer Peter Cushing, who planned on using dark magick to resurrect his dead son with the suit, but the tailor’s wife puts the suit on a mannequin which comes to life instead.

Barbara (young Charlotte Rampling, whoa) seems the most culpable so far. She starts by blaming Lucy (Britt Ekland of Wicker Man) for murdering her brother (James Villiers of Mountains of the Moon) and the nurse (Megs Jenkins of The Innocents), but Lucy might be an invented personality of Barbara’s.

Dr. Byron (Herbert Lom of The Sect) is at least a doctor of something – I don’t know how we’re supposed to imagine that the previous three were actually psychologists based on their stories. But Lom’s specialty is transmitting his consciousness into sub-Puppet Master wind-up dolls. The new visitor must’ve inspired a rampage, since he and Dr. Orderly go on the attack.