Shocktober: Day 31

The Halloween that Almost Wasn’t (1979)

Like every year I try to end Shocktober on a high note, yet it never seems to happen. This year I had The Amityville Horror grudgingly marked on my calendar for All Hallow’s Eve. Sure, the “based on true events” story of Amityville was probably the biggest horror film of 1979 but it’s a big heaping pile of shit. Instead, I rolled them bones on the obscure 1979 made-for-TV-movie Halloween special “The Halloween that Almost Wasn’t” aka, “The Night Dracula Saved the World”. Was it worth it? Yeah, it kind of was. Not because The Halloween that Almost Wasn’t was good but because it was so shockingly bad that I couldn’t help but enjoy it.

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Stream Police Ep 11: The Twilight Zone

Picture it if you will, two men with the unique obsession to let a machine designate their very fates. Why? All for their own sense of amusement, a chuckle or too, but it’s only a matter of time before Michael and John discover there’s more than fun and games waiting for them on Stream Police. In this special Halloween edition, Michael and John each list their five favorite underrated Twilight Zone episodes and talk about the history of the show. There’s no going back now.

Check out our lists below if you want to know our pics but don’t want the twists spoiled! Happy haunting!

John’s List
5. The After Hours (6/10/1960)
Dir: Douglas Heyes
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Anne Francis, Elizabeth Allen, James Millhollin, John Conwell
Plot: A woman is treated badly by some odd salespeople on an otherwise empty department store floor.

4. Number 12 Looks Just Like You (01/24/1964)
Dir: Abner Biberman
Writer: John Tomerlin, adapted from the short story “The Beautiful People” by Charles Beaumont.
Cast: Collin Wilcox, Suzy Parker, Richard Long, Pam Austin
Plot: In a future society everyone must undergo an operation at age 19 to become beautiful and conform to society. One young woman desperately wants to hold onto her own identity.

3. And When the Sky Was Opened (12/11/1959)
Dir: Douglas Heyes
Writer: Rod Serling, based on the short story by Richard Matheson
Cast: Rod Taylor, Charles Aidman, Jim Hutton
Plot: Three U.S. astronauts blast off from Earth on an initial test flight in an experimental rocket-ship, but during the flight into space the ship disappears from radar, upon return the astronauts find themselves slowly vanishing from existence, one by one.

2. The Hunt (01/26/1962
Dir: Harold Schuster
Writer: Earl Hamner, Jr.
Cast: Arthur Hunnicutt, Jeanette Nolan, Titus Moede, Orville Sherman, Charles Seel, Robert Foulk, Dexter Dupont
Plot: Upon returning from a coon hunt, Hyder Simpson discovers that no one can see or hear him because he has passed on.

1. The Rip Van Winkle Caper (04/21/1961)
Dir: Justus Addiss
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Simon Oakland, Oscar Beregi, Jr., Lew Gallo, John Mitchum
Plot: After successfully stealing a gold shipment, a group of criminals and their scientist accomplice put themselves in suspended animation in a remote desert cave. When they awaken decades later, complications ensue when their truck is destroyed.

Michael’s List
5. The Invaders (01/27/1961
Dir: Douglas Heyes
Writer: Richard Matheson
Cast: Agnes Moorehead
Plot: When a woman investigates a clamor on the roof of her rural house, she discovers a small UFO and little aliens emerging from it. Or so it seems.

4. Five Characters in Search of an Exit (12/11/1961)
Lamont Johnson
Writer: Rod Serling from the short story “The Depository” by Marvin Petal
Cast: William Windom, Murray Matheson, Susan Harrison, Kelton Garwood, Clark Allen
Plot: An army major awakens in a small room with no idea of who he is or how he got there. He finds four other people in the same room, and they all begin to question how they each arrived there, and more importantly, how to escape.

3. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (02/28/1964)
Dir: Robert Enrico
Writer: Robert Enrico, based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce.
Cast: Roger Jacquet, Anne Cornaly, Anker Larsen
Plot: It is the end of the Civil War and Union troops have occupied the South. They are going to execute a Southern resistance fighter.

2. Deaths-Head Revisited (11/10/1961)
Dir: Don Medford
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Oscar Beregi. Jr., Joseph Schildkraut, Karen Verne, Robert Boon, Ben Wright
Plot: A former German SS captain returns to Dachau concentration camp and begins reminiscing on the power he enjoyed there, until he finds himself on trial by those who died at his hands.

1. Once Upon a Time (12/15/1961)
Dir: Norman Z. McLeod and Les Goodwins
Writer: Richard Matheson
Cast: Buster Keaton, Stanley Adams
Plot: Janitor Woodrow Mulligan gets a trip from 1890 to 1962 courtesy of his employer’s time helmet.

Shocktober: Day 30

Tourist Trap (1979)

Well hello there, all you ghosts and gabaghouls.  It appears we’ve almost reached the conclusion of this year’s Shocktober, and this will in fact be the final slice of ’70s horror that I personally will be talking about.  However, I kind of wish I’d planned to go out on something at least a little more interesting, because 1979’s Tourist Trap might be the most ordinary horror movie I’ve ever seen.  Which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, it’s just that apart from it’s relatively unique premise (a guy kills people with his personal museum of mannequins), this is basically the movie you’d conjure up if someone told you to think of the most stereotypical teen slasher flick you could imagine.  Granted, this movie did come out before a lot of subsequent movies about teens getting attacked at cabins in the woods surfaced (including Cabin In The Woods), but I’m not sure any of those movies were influenced by this film, and thus makes Tourist Trap feel even staler than it probably deserves. Continue reading

Shocktober: Day 29

Patrick (1978)

Though I did purposely group my two Shocktober Ozploitation selections together, the fact they were both written by the same person was a complete coincidence. I had no idea that Everett De Roche was apparently the only guy in Australia allowed to write horror films. Not only did De Roche write Patrick and Long Weekend but he was also responsible for the Ozploitation cult classics Road Games and Razorback. What’s crazy to me is that if you were to ask me what I’d consider the top four most notable Ozploitation films, I probably would have gone with the four I just mentioned. What was De Roche’s secret to success? Let’s see if we can find the answer through telekinesis in my brief review of Patrick.

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Shocktober: Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers: Age of Extinction

What do you want out of a movie? I mean seriously, why do you go to the cinema? Sure, sometimes it’s sweltering outside and you just need to be somewhere dark and air conditioned, and sometimes you’re on a first date and really want to see how well you and this other person can sit silently near each other, but those are answers to why you went to a movie, not why do you go to the movies. It’s something worth thinking about. Something that I don’t believe is easy to answer, but a real consideration if you consider yourself any sort of aficionado. And while you’re thinking about that, think about this: Michael Bay is someone who knows exactly what he wants out of a movie.

He wants that camera at a low angle and constantly moving. These are motion pictures! These are a big deal! Look at the grandeur, the sheer epic-ness that is Mark Wahlberg walking around a barn or Kelsey Grammer sitting at a conference table or Thomas Lennon making a phone call. What are you going to do, film badly written conversations as if they are actual dialogues between people? Fuck no! Spin that shit around, blow the colors out, fill the frame with detail – people will pick out whatever bits of exposition they can. And even if they don’t, who cares? This is a ride, baby, and it don’t stop just because you’re not following.

He wants to do the same fights over and over again, hoping that changes in locale or the precise identities of the hunks of metal pummeling each other will make them feel different. Where do the bad transformers keep finding all these disposable grunts? Even if you’re a giant robot, if you’re almost beaten to death, surely it takes some time to recover, right? At a certain point, aren’t cities just leveled? Like, how many skyscrapers are there really? It doesn’t matter, pay absolutely no mind to logistical concerns. As long as there keep being explosions, gun shots, punches, stabs, and fireballs, everybody wins.

He wants these things, and Michael Bay keeps getting them too. Because everyone else wants them. There’s a safety in knowing exactly what to expect, and it’s what’s made Transformers one of the biggest franchises in the world. If anything, this new one, Age of Extinction, is the safest bet yet, because by switching leading men from Shia LaBeouf to Mark Wahlberg, they’ve eliminated the chance for a remarkable performance. What I mean by that is that at least Shia always gave us a central character to hate, a human piece of shit whose terrible behavior could distract us from the hollow spectacle around him. Mark Wahlberg is a great actor, undoubtedly, but he’s not someone who typically elevates material, and as you might expect, he just coasts through this movie like Schrodinger’s actor, simultaneously giving a good and bad performance, just another cog in Michael Bay’s terrible machine.

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Shocktober: Day 28

Long Weekend (1978)

For as long as they’d been chilling down under, Australia’s cinematic efforts went primarily unnoticed until the 1970s. That’s because in the late 60s and early 70s an effort was put forth by the Australian government to support and assist Australian cinema, which in turn gave birth to a movement called “Australian New Wave.” Director’s like Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, and George Miller emerged with films depicting the outback as both a thing of unmatched beauty and unbridled savagery. Though no genre captured the latter as significantly as the popular “Ozploitation” movement. Just like American exploitation films, many Oz films were violent, perverse, and cheap. One film that stands apart from the pack is Long Weekend.

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Shocktober: Day 27

Piranha (1978)

Jaws. After that film came out nobody could get over the fact that Jaws had become a hit considering the kind of film it was. “A movie about a killer shark? I can do that.” Thought every idiot with some camera equipment and a couple grand. As a result we got subpar sequels and endless ripoffs. Piranha separates itself from the pack by being something different, a spoof. “I mean, piranhas? How is that scary?” The answer is it’s not. This film knows what it’s up too and really only exists to provide laughs and entertainment.

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