Category Archives: Just Fun

Tuesday Terror: The Snake Woman (1961)

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In ye bad ole days (early 1900s), a small English town is hit be a wave of deaths via snakebite. Could the local myth of a beautiful but deadly serpent girl be true? Well, duh! This film is about educated medical men finally catching up with local and folk wisdom; it just takes a death or ten for them to figure it out.
As our story opens, we learn that a scientist has been treating his wife with snake venom for an unspecified illness. The woman is afraid this cure is having a detrimental effect on her unborn child. The husband dismisses her concerns.
When the baby is born (the mother doesn’t make it), the midwife knows something is unnatural about the child. The infant is cold and never closes her eyes – traits of a snake. She believes the baby is evil and should be killed.
The scientist/husband and the doctor, however, are fascinated by this and want to keep the baby alive to study it. As the mid-wife rallies the townspeople to action, the men flee with the baby. They almost immediately give it to a stranger to raise.
From here, our were-snake grows up on the outskirts of the village. She attacks people for the hell of it. Luring men and boys close while in human form, she transforms into a giant snake and sinks her teeth into them. We don’t see any of the murders – this is a 1961 film – but reactions from townspeople suggests the deaths are horrible.
Meanwhile, a hip, new man of science in the village. Eventually, he’ll come to realize that the midwife and townsfolk aren’t superstitious fools.
There are so many unanswered questions: why does the snake woman wear clothes? Is she slithering down to the village at night and stealing the latest fashions? Perhaps she’s robs women…is frock-jacking a thing?

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Tip: Sure, follow that sexy, mysterious women into the woods. Make sure your have your affairs in order first.

Tuesday Terror: Graveyard Shift (1990)

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The small town in Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift is way too small. You can’t take two steps out of the house without running into one of your coworkers. The bully that mouths off at you during break is ready more than happy to continue pressing your buttons at the local diner.

And working at the textile factory is terrible. It’s a hard, dangerous job in a dying industry. Whether you are a secretary or a feeding cotton in a machine, you must deal with rats – both the human and animal variety. Warwick, the boss, is mean, petty and vengeful. Embarrass him or turn down his advances and he’ll get even. The problem is that he walks the same rat-infested hallways as his employees. What’s the good of having power if you can’t intimidate people?

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The factory building itself is an inspection away from being condemned. It should be boarded up or burned down. Warwick’s plan to keep the doors open involves assembling a crew to clean out the rat’s nest basement. Honestly, the workers are so accustomed to rats – killing them is child’s play. Those little creatures are the least of their problems.

Now, you may ask yourself how does a textile factory get over-run with rats? What has drawn them there? What are they eating? Well, let’s just say a cemetery is involved.

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The movie is slow in bits but just when you are tempted to turn away there’s a ghastly accident or glimpse of the main monster. It’s also a bit bloody and gory in parts. I can easily see this working as a remake – perhaps set in a factory farm.

If you are mind to do a double feature, I suggest pairing Graveyard Shift with The Mangler. Though one is a creature feature and the other deals with demonic possession, they are both explore themes about industry in small towns.

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Tip:
Don’t be Carmichael, the black guy who is fated to die once he accepts an assignment in the basement. The question is who will make the kill – human or a critter?

Tuesday Terror: The Haunting of Julia (1977)

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(aka Full Circle)

After her young daughter dies, Julia leaves her husband and old life behind. Starting over isn’t easy; Julia has a sense that she’s not alone. Could the disturbances be a manifestation of her guilt? When a seance opens the door to a past mystery, Julia knows she won’t have peace until she solves it.

Mia Farrow is great in this role. She is vulnerable and scared but still determined to have control over her life. Most of the people she interacts with are haunted in some way. There are no standout special effects here; the creepiness and dread emanates from the surroundings and the characters themselves.

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From a modern stand point, the daughter’s death is preventable. The girl begins choking at breakfast. The parents frantically try to save her and try everything except the Heimlich maneuver. I did a little research and discovered that the Heimlich maneuver was first introduced in 1974; however, it didn’t become the 1st course of action for conscious choking victims until 1986.

After trying to dislodge the object with her fingers doesn’t work, Julia picks up and knife and tries an emergency tracheotomy. Would the child have lived if she had waited a few moments for emergency services? Or was the tracheotomy the only chance for survival? This is the guilt and fear that Julia carries on her like a shroud—even when she pretends it isn’t there.

If you are looking for a dark drama were the horror elements creep in, check out The Haunting of Julia.

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Tip:
Deal with your own ghosts.

Tuesday Terror: Day Of The Animals (1977)

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A group nature hike turns deadly when the animals turn into rage machines. Contending with the crazed beasts requires group unity, but ego and pride make that impossible.

This is a man-f*cked-up-the-environment-and-nature-strikes-back movie. It’s a warning for aerosol can spraying heathens to get their lives together:

This motion picture dramatizes what COULD happen
in the near future IF we continue to do nothing to
stop this damage to Nature’s protective shield
for life on this planet.

Here’s the film logic behind the disaster: thanks to the hole in the ozone layer, the levels of ultra violet radiation are rising and driving the animals mad. (I asked a scientist about this possibility and she’d never heard of such a thing.)

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It’s also important to note that the animals don’t attack each other. Rather, different groups coordinate to attack the human intruders. This movie reminds me of The Warriors in a way – as the hikers try to make their way through the mountain, they encounter animal “gangs” – the wolves, the mountain lions, etc.

People in the valley are having a tough time too. There’s a rat attack that is sure to have your skin crawling.

The hiking group is diverse in a way that would please the director of diversity at Apple: a former NFL player referred to as “the cripple”, a Native American (who senses danger before the others), the ranger, an asshole business executive, a mother and her pre-teen son, a new couple, a bitter couple, a professor and a blonde news anchorwoman. Even without the extra radiation, the hiking trip sounds like a bad idea. The original plan was to spend two weeks hiking and camping with no weapons and limited food.

Paul, the business executive, is played by Leslie Neilson. Be warned: he’s not playing a comedic character. He’s the guy who immediately strikes up a conversation with the Native American and starts throwing “kemosabi” around. It’s all jokes until the animals start hunting them down.

Convinced he’s the smartest man around, Paul challenges the guide’s leadership. The group splits in two. Guess who becomes more vicious than the wolves? Once he is in charge, Paul gets to act out his Lord Of The Flies fantasies.

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The other faction is much more cooperative. There are moments of bravery and self-sacrifice. The animals pick a few off from each group, but they don’t have to worry about a human villain.

Heavy drama mixed with savage animal attacks – this movie is a winner.

Tips:
*The racist is a sexist, trust me on this.
*Dogs are just pretending to be goofy and lovable – they hate you. They really,
really hate you.
*House cats are indifferent to your existence no matter the UV levels.

Tuesday Terror: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

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Thanks to a mysterious comet, machines on Earth spring to life and finally take revenge on mankind. Our story centers on a group of people holed up in the Dixie Boy truck stop. They are menaced by a group of trucks that don’t want them to leave. Fighting back only yields momentary victories. Understanding that they are facing a future at the mercy of motor vehicles, the survivors make a dash for freedom. But in a world where man depends on machines, where can they go…

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Though it drags from time to time, Maximum Overdrive is one of those so bad it’s good horror movies. Written and directed by Stephen King, it’s based on his short story “Trucks”. The film would have been more fun if it had been man vs smaller appliances. You get a taste of this in the beginning when an electric knife strikes out against its human oppressor, a waitress. Most of the handheld horror is in glimpses – a corpse struck down by a portable cassette player, a woman who can’t let go of her hairdryer even in death.

The problem with having killer trucks is that you really have to help them kill you by staying still, walking out in front of them or running in a straight line. For a good chunk of the movie, the trucks just circle the gas pumps. They are so helpless that they literally have to call in a military gun thingy – ahem – an M274 Mule. There’s also a montage of humans being forced to fill up the mean machines’ gas tanks. You may want to refresh your snacks during this time.

One great thing about this movie is that it is full of familiar faces and voices. There’s Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Frankie Faison and Yeardley Smith. Before he was Buggin Out in Do The Right Thing, Giancarlo Esposito was videoplayer in Maximum Overdreive. He has the best line in the film: “Yo Mama.”

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Tip:
Shouting, “We created you!” is not a good argument when machines attack.

Tuesday Terror: No End House (Ep 6)

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Channel Zero: No End House
The Hollow Girl (Episode 6)

No End House is over. We don’t know what or why it is – because it doesn’t matter.

In the finale, the villain shifted from No End House to Seth. The house is almost an innocent bystander.

What’s the moral here? Don’t go home with strangers you meet at the bar? Figure out your daddy issues before you start dating?

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I’m guessing the story about a girl who falls for a horrible guy (who leaves a trail of broken women in his wake) was sketched out first. They threw in some extra characters and a subplot or two to pad out the run time. A concept that could have made a decent 2 hour SyFy original movie became a bloated, six hour mini-series.

Seth
How did he manage to build a cage for his fake family?
How long has he been traveling with the house on the hunt for sad girls he can manipulate?
Moving from girl to girl, he moves into their houses. Total leech.

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Jules
A year has passed between episodes 5 & 6. Outside of her scouring the web for news of the latest No End House sighting, do we find out anything about Jules life during this time? Did she ever reconnect with her family? What was that orb all about?
Who cares? Jules’ only purpose is to walk down the street like a bad ass covered in goo to save Margot.
Note how she helps Margot face her enemies (twice!) but she didn’t have any help at all dealing with that thing in the basement.

Margot
Before she found out her boyfriend was a manipulative bum, she wanted to destroy the house. If she had to live in this world, she didn’t want others to unwittingly fall into the same trap.
Once she sees Seth for what he really is, stopping the house is no longer in her top 3 things to do.

In summary:
Margot and Jules walk out of No End House friendship in tact.
Not The Father acted like a real dad.
Seth suffered the same fate as his ex-girlfriends.
No End House is free to lure new thrill seekers inside.
I scrubbed the saved episodes from my dvr.
Happy endings all around.

Tuesday Terror: No End House (Ep 5)

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Channel Zero: No End House
The Damage (Episode 5)

Sigh.

The episode descriptions on cable spoiled me for episodes 5 and 6; I knew that Margot  was going back into No End House and Jules will attempt to save her. The big question: why would Margot go back?

Unfortunately, the show let us down a bit here. I understand why Margot would want to stop Not The Father’s immediate attack on Seth. However, once the danger was over, she could have run away or continued fighting. It feels off that she suddenly lost her will to fight.

Also, since Seth wanted her to go back in, I wouldn’t be surprised if he helped Not The Father escape NEH world. (Since the medicine didn’t kill Not The Father, could it be that the real father died of a different cause?)

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To save Margot, I’m assuming Jules will have to finally face her orb. If it’s not an earth shattering reveal, it will be too little, too late. I’m not optimistic.
Yes, Jules gets to make up for the previous sin of abandoning her friend. Rah Rah friendship and sisterhood whatever. I wish she hadn’t been so willing to abandon herself.

Perhaps in the final episode, we will finally find out…who the heck is this:

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Tuesday Terror: No End House (Ep 4)

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Channel Zero: No End House
The Exit (Episode 4)

Interesting episode, yes?

No End House
-It can’t stop people from leaving, so it “hides”. The longer people are inside, the easier it is to convince them to stay. This makes me think that the house is really a conduit for someone or something else.
-The cornfield of abandoned/desperate creatures was an unexpected nice touch.
-With all of these starving things plenty of people have left or died on the house.
-The other creatures know who is human and who is not.
-All the guys in No End House were horrible this week – except Not The Father (for about 10 seconds)

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Seth
-I knew it! Didn’t I tell you he was dirty?
-He is proof people can slip and out of the house. He could have helped them early on.
-How many people has he lured into NEH?
-The people in the cage are “related” to him somehow.

Dylan
-He had no qualms about kidnapping and traumatizing a person he claimed to love.
-In his need to be in control, tying her down that ultimately led to her death.
-What would he have done to Lacey if they had gone back through the house and she still didn’t remember him? Keep her prisoner? Punishing her for not remembering him?
-And for all of his bravado, he was very easily taken out by Not The Father.
-More than his treatment of Lacey, I hate that the others never had a talk about what Dylan was doing. Even if they ultimately decided to go along with his POV, they should have at least considered the situation – especially after the poor woman desperately tried to escape.

Fake JD
-Proved himself utterly useless.
-When Real JD was around, he didn’t have to “do” anything. It’s easy to be a smooth talking, confident guy when you aren’t the one making decisions/facing consequences.
-He even suffered a similar fate as the Real JD.

Jules
-We only have 2 episodes left, can we get a clue to what’s up with Jules? We got a glowing ball and a bathtub…  (Oh and her room 3 was about a teacher.)
-If any passing creature can’t snack on them, who/what is eating Jules’ memories? Does the glowing ball roll on top of the memories and consume them?
-Good on her for saving Margot from the “teacher”.
-She’s so drained and confused that Jules gets to drive when they get out of the house this time.

Margot
-Needs a new boyfriend.
-Good on her for saving Jules from whatever that thing is.
-Leaving the house doesn’t mean leaving daddy issues behind.

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Tuesday Terror: No End House (Ep 3)

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Channel Zero: No End House
Beware the Cannibals (Episode 3)

I think the house gives you what you want – and steals your memories to feed itself/the creatures it manifests.
Margot wants her father. She gets the father duplicate.
J.D. wants to be an Alpha male – he meets his Alpha self…who kills and replaces him. (He didn’t even resist.)
Who knows what Seth or Jules wants….

No End House
-Good to know that the house has physical limits.
-Can I lay out the theory that’s it’s an alien creature that understand human psychology. Maybe it doesn’t need the memories so much but it eats them so that people will be complacent and happy in its world.

Margot
-Finally got with the “This isn’t my dad, what the f*ck is going on” program.
-So, that story about her dad’s suicide may be legit. That just seems like the strangest, hardest way to go. And to do it knowing she would find him? Is it weird that she doesn’t seem angry at him or the situation?
-Unfortunately, it took Not The Father revealing his true self for her to snap out of it. If he hadn’t allowed himself to be caught, how long would she have been willing to ignore his smaller (less dangerous) quirks.

Not The Father
-First, he gave us Little Shop of Horrors. “Feed Me!” Then, he gave us Jack Torrance (The Shining).
-I wonder if the man he killed was a hollow human.
-Allowing himself to be caught. I think No End House would prefer that you willfully enter into the arrangement – you can have what you want, if you feed me – but has no problem forcing the issue.
-Since we didn’t see him die, I wonder if that hole just transports him to another location.

Fake J.D.
-He may be Alpha in attitude but is he any smarter the original? Burning a body in broad daylight?
-Is he acting like original J.D. or, without the original’s imagination, is he devolving into a Beta boy?
-He’s deteriorating physically, that we know for sure…

Jules
-Jules sees the danger with Margot but not herself. Say what you want about dead fathers showing up, giant orbs that call your name and react to your touch aren’t normal either. Focusing on others to avoid our own issues never works out well.
-Oh Jules. It looks like that ball thingy with the people inside is giving you the thrill that you want. So much so that it’s taking your memories. Why have you been lying about the things you see?
-Saying that Margot was the closest thing she had to a sister means that someone or something has eating sis.
-Here’s to hoping you tell the truth before it’s too late.

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Seth
-Knowing that No End House can make a great carbon copy of a person from memory, it’s possible that the Seth who met up with Jules is a fake. The real one could be off someone staring at a family in a cage.
-He was at the house with Jules; perhaps he ate her sister. Also, there’s the convo he had with fake J.D. “You’re falling apart already?” Seth knows something’s not right with JD but hasn’t blown his cover.
-Do people have condoms in alternative horror-house universes? Do they even work?
-Seth being able to ignore memories may be his superpower.

Dylan / Lacey
-Still don’t trust him. He’s willing to terrify and abuse Lacey “for her own good.” Trash.
-He was mad that an ideal husband had thoroughly replaced him. Even if they do escape and her memories of him do come back, I think he will still be resentful.
-Ideal husband went down so easy – this appears to be a flimsy world.
-I’m irritated that Margot, Jules and the gang just accept Dylan’s word

Tuesday Terror: No End House (Ep 2)

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Channel Zero: No End House (Syfy)
Episode 2: Nice Neighborhood
*Spoilers ahead if you don’t watch the show.

This felt slow. As my grandmother would say, “like watching molasses going uphill in the winter time.”

I think the death of JD was supposed to be a big, shocking deal. However, because the character was a selfish, coward – the death was a surprise but it didn’t have the impact that I think the writers wanted.

The weird thing at the very end – that was a shock but then episode was over. Is it strong enough to carry an audience into a third week?

I almost wish this were a two-hour movie – it would tighten up the story.

Then again, it’s only the 2nd episode; maybe I’ll feel differently next week.

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No End House
-So, if each person must traverse the hell of their own creating and “hell” looks just like the suburbs…weren’t they already in a type of hell to begin with?
-How is there a house “for sale” here? Whose memory is this?

Margot
-She had been waiting to use that “You don’t have a Dad” line on Jules – holding it in her back pocket for the right argument. Jules slipped right back in with an uppercut: “You don’t either.” Best exchange of the night. (TeamJules!)
-Grief can definitely lead people to do foolish things but ignoring that you’re in trouble to pretend with Not The Father is a bit much.
-I knew her story about her dad dying accidentally wasn’t the whole story. However, I don’t think this suicide revelation is the complete truth either. -What was the medication even for?

Not The Father
-If one of the NEH creations touches your head, it can bring forth a physical manifestation of someone you remember—and eat it. Okay…
-So, are the neighbors who are “taking out trash” – just getting rid of the corpses of the “people” they’ve eaten.
-Do you erase the person from the memory – will Margot no longer remember her mother? Will she just not remember her mother at the pool? Or will it have no bearing on her memories at all?
-I’m sure that song he played was a dig at Jules.

JD (note imdb calls this character JD, Syfy recaps call him JT.)
*Poor JD – when you are the thing that you regret most… How could he not know that the Alpha version of himself would despise him? This takes self-hate to a different level.
-If I’m reading imdb correctly, the girl with Alpha JD was hollow girl #6. I suppose this is what happens to you after you succumb to the charms of your personal Room 6.

Jules
-I’m betting that Jules was crying over her own problem – not weeping because of her distance from Margot. Not wanting to be around other people’s pain when you are going through your own isn’t the worst sin in the world.
-At least our girl knows better than to eat food prepared by a dead man.
-Wonder how her family will figure into her story…whenever we get around to more than teases.

Backpack Dude/Dylan
-I don’t trust him. If Lacey, the girl at the very beginning of episode 1 was running from the No End House version of him (her memory of him?)—who knocked her to the ground, etc… What does that say about the “real” him?

Seth
-Maybe week 3 he’ll get some shine. For now, we know he won’t abandon the girls. Cool.
-His outfit matches the house though. It would be interesting if he were working with NEH house – showing up the same day it does and slyly getting targeted people to talk about their fears and nightmares. We shall see.

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