Unless otherwise noted in the post title, these are not
reviews, per se. They are articles for people who have already seen the film or read the book in question--meaning that there will be spoilers. If you're already familiar with the material being covered, or don't mind the plot being spoiled, please read on and leave a comment.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Review: The American Dreamer (1971)

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These days, Dennis Hopper is remembered primarily as a great actor. This is true, even if there are a number of questionable films on his résumé. In the 1970s, though, he was considered more than just an actor. He was an artist, and beyond that, he was a countercultural icon.

Hopper had started acting in the 1950s, and appeared in two of James Dean’s three films—REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) and GIANT (1956). His 1961 foray into the genre film, NIGHT TIDE, has a small audience, as does 1966’s QUEEN OF BLOOD, but it wasn't until 1967 that he started to appear in the types of films that would make him famous. That year saw him in a supporting role in the hit film COOL HAND LUKE, but more importantly for our purposes, larger roles in the biker flick THE GLORY STOMPERS and the drugsploitation film THE TRIP. It was the latter that teamed Hopper up with costar Peter Fonda and screenwriter Jack Nicholson, setting the scene for their immortal collaboration EASY RIDER in 1969.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

[Genophobia] Case of the Smiling Stiffs (1973)

Stunning red head Emma, in her barely-there shorts and tight tee shirts, should have no problem
Case of the Smiling Stiffs - Poster Image
Poster Image
keeping a man, but apparently she does. According to her roommate Carolyn, it's because she only goes down on them once a month. What Carolyn doesn't know is that Emma's acts of fellatio always line up with the full moon, and the reason she can't keep a boyfriend is because they tend to die afterwards.

Emma is some vampire variation, whose choice of ingestible body fluid isn't blood. She doesn't wear a black cape or sprout fangs or any of that, but she does occasionally transform into a ridiculous rubber bat, just so that we'll know what's really going on here.

Two bumbling cops, Joe and Frank, do their best DRAGNET impressions while investigating the deaths plaguing the city—seemingly healthy men with giant erections and ecstatic rictus grins who have succumbed to severe dehydration. It's a tough case to crack, but luckily these coppers aren't afraid to get their hands—among other things—dirty in the pursuit of justice.

Friday, July 31, 2015

[Genophobia] Nymphomaniac (2013)

With NYMPHOMANIAC, writer-director Lars Van Trier draws to a close his so-called Depression
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Trilogy—an unofficial trilogy, as they share common themes, traits and leading ladies, but do not share characters or a storyline. Unlike the first two entries, ANTICHRIST (2009) and MELANCHOLIA (2011), this film was such an epic endeavor that for distribution, it had to be broken into two volumes. However, I viewed them back to back as a single film, and will be covering them as such. And I will warn you now, there will be spoilers.

One winter night, aging bachelor Seligman finds a woman, Joe, beaten and semi-conscious in an alleyway.  She refuses medical assistance and doesn't want the police involved.  When asked what she does want, she admits that a cup of tea would be nice.  Seligman helps her to his house, tucks her into bed, tends to her wounds, and then offers her the tea.  Finally, he asks Joe what had happened to her to leave her in such a state.  She warns him that it is a long story, and that in order for him to fully understand, she will have to start at the beginning.

"I discovered my c*nt as a two year old..." 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: Scenic Route (2013)

Two friends, Mitchell (Josh DuHamel) and Carter (Dan Fogler), are on a roadtrip through the desert
Theatrical Poster
when the truck breaks down. Carter has taken them so far off the beaten path that Mitchell can't even get a signal on his cellphone, and the road is so rarely traveled that they haven't seen another vehicle in hours. With nothing to do but wait, and tensions between them already running high, their friendly conversation quickly turns to a heated argument, and eventually a brutal physical confrontation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[Genophobia] Love Object (2003)

Kenneth is young and awkward, but he is also meticulously organized. His morning routine consists
Love Object - Poster Image
Poster Image
of waking up before the alarm, working out, showering and shaving, and dressing from his carefully categorized closet. The opening scenes that depict this routine not only go a long way in explaining why he is so good at his job as a technical writer, but they also immediately call to mind images of Patrick Bateman from AMERICAN PSYCHO, and while Kenneth may not reach those same heights of pathology, he still wobbles quite a bit off his rocker.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Comic Review: Freddy Krueger's Nightmare on Elm Street (Marvel Comics)

Dreamstalker was a two-part storyline that filled up the entirety of both issues of this title, revolving around two heroines who are forced to face off against Freddy Krueger—the first is Allison Hayes, a teenage girl with innate dream powers that make her the perfect foil for Krueger; and the second is Juliann Quinn, a young psychologist who has trained to develop her dream powers, making her the perfect mentor for Allison. With Allison in custody at Springwood Medical, and later the Westin Hills Psychiatric Institute, Juliann has to navigate hospital politics in order to get her patient the best care, and buy the time needed to prepare her for a final showdown against the man who has been haunting both of their dreams.

There are the expected surrealistic nightmare sequences, some of which are a gruesome delight. As far as the actual plot goes, though, there’s nothing too far out of the ordinary here. Much of it is a rehash of themes that were introduced in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987) and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)—Westin Hills, the dream-suppressant drug Hypnocil, and learning to use your dreams against Freddy had all been dealt with before. However, there are few minor diversions here that actually expand on the Elm Street mythos significantly.

Nearly one-third of the first issue was dedicated to an overview of Krueger’s backstory, beginning with a more detailed depiction of his unholy conception than previously seen and ending with his career as the Springwood Slasher (pre-death). Some of the particulars might not line up exactly with everything that has come before and everything that has come since, but it wouldn't take a lot of imagination to deftly insert this into official canon.

The second issue has a sequence in which Allison recounts her first encounter with Freddy after accidentally stumbling into his dream world by taking a wrong turn at a crossroads in her dream. There are hints of Lewis Carroll here, with Allison playing Alice, though the Wonderland she falls into is a much darker place than the Cheshire Cat would tend to frequent. Here, Krueger fraternizes with all manner of other freaks and monsters during his downtime. What this place is, and who these other creatures are, is never explained but is wide open for further exploration. It may come off as something of a silly peek behind the curtain, but if the creators were going to part them, they may as well have thrown them wide open.

Perhaps they would have if the series had lasted more than two issues.

Interestingly enough, the series wasn't cancelled because of poor sales--it was actually the top seller in Marvel’s magazine line. At the time these issues were published, the horror genre was under heavy fire from concerned parents and panicked public interest groups, and although Marvel was not the recipient of any undue pressure, they still shut down the title out of fear of bad publicity as something of a preemptive strike.

Both issues were written by the legendary Steve Gerber and remains consistent throughout, even if it isn't his most imaginative plotting. The artwork was done by Rich Buckler, Tony DeZuniga, and Alfredo Alcala and is typically pretty solid, though Buckler’s work in the first half of the first issue surpasses DeZuniga’s work, which is great when at its best, but simply isn't as consistent.

Overall, an entertaining read that likely would have been better as a piece of a larger whole than it is as a whole all by itself. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

B-Movie Mystery Solved: Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968)

Theatrical Poster
Virginia Marcus is rich and beautiful. Unfortunately, she’s also terribly deranged and looking for something more exciting out of life than the safari that her brother Anderson has invited her on. Instead, she opts to stay home and cook up a little hunt of her own.

She lures three men to her home—professional wrestler Rocco, washed-up stage actor Charles Freeman, and street hustling drug addict Buddy—and offers them each a deal of a lifetime: $100,000 in cold hard cash, no strings attached. All they have to do is stay alive in Manhattan for 24 hours while she hunts them down like the filthy animals they are.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Heart Attack! The Early Pulse Pounding Cinema of Kelly Hughes (2012)

In 1991, aspiring filmmaker Kelly Hughes began production on his very own horror-suspense anthology series entitled HEART ATTACK THEATRE, which aired on Seattle’s public access television. The schedule was a rushed one, from script-to-broadcast in one week’s time, and the budgets were decidedly limited. What was not limited, however, was the passion and dedication needed to crank out a new mini-movie week after week. Shot on VHS and utilizing a rotating roster of local performers, the themes ranged from drugged-up freak-outs to psychotic breaks, but each one was down and dirty exploitation. If John Waters was Rod Serling, then this would be THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Hughes also went on to direct a couple of feature films—TWIN CHEEKS: WHO KILLED THE HOMECOMING KING (1994) and LA CAGE AUX ZOMBIES (1995), the latter of which featured Russ Meyer starlet Kitten Natividad as an obscenely large-busted victim that unwillingly supplied a pair of cross-dressing zombies with breast milk. That’s a sentence that pretty much sums up the nuttiness that runs rampant in Hughes’s work.

HEART ATTACK! THE EARLY PULSE POUNDING CINEMA OF KELLY HUGHES functions as both a documentary and a retrospective of the man’s filmography. Composed almost equally of talking-head interviews with those in the know and clips from his films, this was an utterly fascinating look into a side of moviemaking that rarely gets attention: not the Major Studios like Universal or Sony; not the Major Minors like Full Moon or Troma; but the real minors, the true independent that exists solely because the creative force behind it is simply too determined to quit.

Full disclosure: I had never heard of Kelly Hughes before watching this doc, and I had certainly never seen any of his movies. But now? Now I want to see every single one of them, so I would have to say that this was a success. HEART ATTACK! was fascinating, entertaining, and more than a little inspirational. This was truly one of the most special films I have seen in a long time.

If you’re a fan of cult, horror, exploitation, or micro-budget cinema—and especially if you hope to someday create your own—this is the best piece  of advice that I can offer you:

Watch. This. Movie.

Visit Kelly Hughes's webpage by clicking HERE, and rent/purchase a digital copy of the documentary HERE.

(Special thanks to Kelly Hughes for the screener) 


Friday, April 3, 2015

[Genophobia] Lila (1968)

Lila (sexploitation starlet Susan Stewart), a stripper at one of the many burlesque houses in town, has a tendency to pick one member of the male viewing audience and take them out for a night that they won't ever forget. She takes them to an abandoned warehouse (assuring them that "This is where it's at!"), puts on a private show, and then get down to business.

The first man that we see her do this with is a vintage sleazeball-hipster hybrid with an absurd
Lila (Mantis in Lace) - Poster Image
Poster Image
dangling ear ring. Unfortunately for him, he introduces some LSD into Lila's time-tested tradition, and she starts to freak out. The business at hand may begin with a little casual sex, but it ultimately ends with his murder.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

[Genophobia] Evil Come, Evil Go (1972)

Sarah Jane Butler (Cleo O'Hara) is something of a religious nut. When she's not preaching on street corners and condemning strangers to hell, she's allowing herself to be seduced by random men. Following coitus, she then murders them, occasionally leaving some cryptic, Christian-esque message behind at the crime scene.

Don't worry about the murders. You see, Sarah had herself a vision in which God spoke to her and placed her in charge of killing anyone (especially men) who has sex for the sake of pleasure. She's doing the Lord's work, which is why she sings hymns all the while.

Evil Come, Evil Go - Poster Image
Poster Image
This makes for some truly bizarre character interactions that I can't imagine are to be found anywhere else. "What kind of a freak are you!?", one paramour asks. "Why are you singing hymns while I'm trying to give you head?" When she continues, he switches tactics. "Why don't you give me some head? That way your mouth will be full and I won't have to listen to your yapping."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

[Genophobia] Contracted (2013)

Contracted - Poster Image
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Young nouveau-lesbian Samantha (Najarra Townsend) is going through some relationship problems with her girlfriend Nikki (Katie Stegeman), so she attends a party and allows her gal pal Alice (Alice Macdonald) to wash her woes away with booze. Once fully intoxicated, she lets her guard down long enough to be given a drink by a stranger calling himself B.J. (Simon Barrett), and the next thing she knows, they're having sex in his car. She asks him to stop, but he doesn't.

The next morning, she wakes up badly hungover, most everything from the night before a blur. Almost right away, it is evident that something is wrong with Sam. It begins innocuously enough—she's got a case of the chills—and she could just as likely be coming down with a cold or the flu. But soon enough, other symptoms begin manifesting.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Satanophobia is Now Available to Download...FREE!

The SATANOPHOBIA 'zine is now available to download for absolutely free, simply by clicking HERE!

Satanophobia - The Fear of Satan - Cover Image
Satanophobia: The Fear of Satan

Friday, February 27, 2015

[Satanophobia] Lords of Salem (2012)

Lords of Salem - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
In modern day Salem, recovering heroin addict and late night radio DJ Heidi LaRoc (one-third of WQIZ's The Big H team) receives an unusual package at the station—a wooden box containing a vinyl record album by a group calling themselves the Lords. When she and her co-host/would-be lover Whitey play the record at Heidi's apartment, the droning and repetitive tones are almost too much for her to bear. Whitey, though, has the bright idea of playing the album on the air the following night.

When they do, select female members of the listening audience seem to fall into a trance, a standing catatonic state that ends at the same time the record does.

Back at the studio, though, the current guest—Francis Mathias, author of Satan's Last Stand: The Truth About the Salem Witch Trials—is, in his words, "upset" by the music. Both it, and the name Lords of Salem, seem naggingly familiar to him, and quickly become something of an obsession.

A bit of research uncovers the musical notes from the song inscribed in the journal of Jonathan Hawthorne, a pious man who hundreds of years ago hunted local witch Margaret Morgan and her coven...a coven who, not so coincidentally, called themselves the Lords of Salem.

When Hawthorne and his band of merry men burned the coven at the stake, Margaret spat a curse upon the women of Salem ("the forever deaths of daughters' daughters") and Hawthorne's bloodline ("the vessel by which the devil's child will inherit the earth"). Heidi LaRoc's real name is Heidi Hawthorne, and now, all these years later, the chickens have come home to roost.

Every time Heidi hears the music, her mental state (already fragile) worsens and she slips deeper and deeper into psychosis. She suffers from visions that may be construed as hallucinations or nightmares, but as the viewers are privy to a few sights that Heidi doesn't see—the images of naked witches appearing in her apartment, for instance—that can mean only one thing: the Lords of Salem are coming.

Quite literally. The radio station announces that the band The Lords are going to be performing a free
Lords of Salem - The Record Box
The Record Box
concert for the citizens of Salem, and the Big H team will be there to report on the event. The first track on the set list, of course, is the one that has been droning across the airwaves for a few days now, and that doesn't prove good for anybody, as the centuries-old curses finally come to fruition.

The finale may prove a bit confusing for some viewers...but then again, the rest of the film might have confused them already. Like many of the movies that writer-director Rob Zombie is riffing on here, the plot is light, and the visuals are heavy—but they are also sumptuous. His influences are obvious, stemming not so much from individual titles but the subgenre's collective consciousness as a whole, and they are lovingly assembled together into something that can only be called a unique pastiche. Zombie is, in my opinion, the Quentin Tarantino of horror films, crafting his own voice by borrowing the syllables of others. If this had been made in the 1970s by some obscure European director, it would probably be heralded as a lost classic by horror fans today.

Like Tarantino, music always plays an important role in Zombie's films, and there is typically a scene therein that changes the way that I hear one particular centerpiece tune forever. THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005) had “Free Bird”, HALLOWEEN II (2009) had “Knights in White Satin”, and LORDS OF SALEM has “All Tomorrow's Parties”. Though expertly inserted into the narrative (and it's always a treat to hear Lou Reed and his cohorts), I didn't initially believe that the film had affected my listening of this song in the same manner, primarily because the Velvet Underground had already been a major component of my own personal soundtrack for the better part of my life. And yet, after having now seen the flick a couple of times, I started up the track and was surprised to find that I couldn't help but picture the witches resplendently gazing upon their ascending Virgin Mary of Hell.

Lords of Salem - Virgin Mary of Hell
Virgin Mary of Hell
So, score one for Rob Zombie.

Also like Tarantino, the careful casting of occasionally-overlooked genre actors is a staple of Zombie's films. Here, he makes use of Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD, 1978), Meg Foster (THEY LIVE, 1988), Bruce Davison (WILLARD, 1971), Patricia Quinn (THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, 1975), Dee Wallace (CUJO, 1983), and many others.

Although this movie is not going to be to everyone's liking, I believe it is Zombie's most mature work to date, and shows his growth as a director (that being said, it isn't my favorite of his films—that goes to THE DEVIL'S REJECTS). His ever-present and always-beautiful wife Sheri Moon Zombie plays the lead role of Hedi, and this is by far her best role to date, hopefully landing her work outside of her husband's films sometime in the near future. And for the hormonally-driven male viewer, yes, Sheri does bare her bottom on a few occasions, and it is delightful as ever.

Heidi's apartment offers a few other glories to behold, as well, with a blown-up still from Georges Melies' 1902 film A TRIP TO THE MOON adorning the wall above her bed (meaning that, while she's sleeping nude, Moon is mooning the camera beneath a moon), and a decidedly Warhol-esque print of the titular character in KING OF THE ROCKET MEN (1949) hangs in the bathroom. One's home is the physical manifestation of their mind—it is filled with things that we like, and the photographs, books, movies, etc. that we keep can offer an amazing insight into who we are—so Heidi's apartment, which starts off as neat and organized, becomes more and more disheveled as she becomes unbalanced.

The hallucinatory sequences are truly something to behold, all the more impressive in light of the fact that they were all done practically with no digital effects. There are Halloween masks and neon crosses that offer a low-rent, Vegas glimpse of Heidi's descent, but there are also enormous, gorgeous cathedrals that bring things to a fantastic visual crescendo.

One of the final sequences offers up a manic montage of bizarre imagery, coming across more like a music
Lords of Salem - Neon Crosses
Neon Crosses
video with its quick cuts and MTV edits than anything else. While it's true that this goes against the more subdued pacing of the rest of the film, I believe it's fitting for Heidi's character. She's a rocker girl, and as these are her warped perceptions of a freshly-warped reality, why wouldn't they be attuned specifically to her? Hell, and the devil, are very personal matters.

Zombie's interpretation of Satan is not your typical cloven-hoofed beast. Here, the devil is seen as a short, pudgy, deformed little dwarf that impregnates Heidi not through the normal means, but, unbelievably, via intestine-like appendages that he releases from his distended belly. And when she gives birth, it is not to a humanoid of any sort, but rather some obscured crustacean-type creature that is, presumably, a Lovecraftian vision of the newborn anti-Christ. Bizarre does not even begin to describe it.

There have been complaints online about the sacrilegious themes that are prevalent in the film, and specifically some of the anti-Christian sentiments expressed by the witches. Suffice it to say, if you're offended by Satanic cinema, and yet you willingly watch a movie that is quite openly about a coven of evil Satan worshipping witches, then your delicate sensibilities deserve the vicious thrashing that they receive.

In March 2013, one month before the film began its limited release to theaters, a novelization by Zombie and co-author B.K. Evenson hit the shelves. As it was based on the original script, and much of the script was altered on the fly while shooting, there are a number of differences between the two. Among them, there is a minor subplot involving demonic possession and murder, and a pair of unholy nuns that lurk around the edges but don't really add anything to the story. Also, there is an interesting aspect in that the record by the Lords plays backwards (tying cleverly into the now-faded backmasking controversy), which would have been a fun gimmick to see on film.

Lords of Salem: The Novel - Cover Image
Lords of Salem: The Novel
Unfortunately, the writing here is serviceable at its best, and painfully generic at its worst. It comes across more like fan fiction than actual fiction as Zombie fills page after page with repetitive, over-the-top scenes of weird creatures and strange occurrences that serve mostly as filler. It's a blessing that time and money constraints required the production to be scaled down to what it would later become.

Overall, the movie is a far more interesting take on the same story, and the novelization was a disservice to the tale. Those who were confused by the film, but still interested, may want to read the book regardless, as together they will offer up a more complete version of Zombie's original vision.

Strange as it may sound, one of the things that I've learned over the course of working on Satanophobia is how to watch these sorts of films. You have to view them with a mind that is untethered to the strictures of reality, and simply accept the things that happen, no matter how unlikely they seem, without ever asking "Why?" or "How?" When Jason Voorhees returns to life for the eighth time, we don't question how it happened; we just accept that it has happened. We've seen it happen so many times before, it no longer seems strange to us. So why should Satanic films be any different? Why should we spend so much time and effort questioning why Andy doesn't remember wearing the uniform in SATAN'S BLOOD, or how it could be possible for Carol to dream the whole film before it happens in BLACK CANDLES? Especially when we have the greatest scapegoat ever to blame it on.

To quote Flip Wilson, "The devil made me do it."


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

[Satanophobia] Midnight (1982)

Teenager Nancy Johnson (Melanie Verlin) has been thwarting the unwanted advances of her drunken
Midnight - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
stepfather Bert for far too long. His groping and demands for "smooches" are disturbing enough (made even more so by the fact that she takes it playfully in stride, and continues to call him "daddy"), but when he eventually tries to rape her, she decides that enough is enough. She conks him over the head with her 1980s boom box, packs a bag full of 1980s clothes, and runs away like a 1980s teenager.

Life on the road is difficult, as Nancy learns in about five minutes. It seems that everybody who is willing to drive an underage runaway girl across state lines is actually looking for something more than the warm glow you get in the cockles of your heart after doing a good deed.  Who would’ve guessed? The old bumper sticker adage definitely rings true: Cash, Grass or Ass...Nobody Rides For Free.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

[Satanophobia] Satan's Children (1975)

Fed up with being bossed around by his stepfather and teased by his seductive stepsister, teenager Bobby
Satan's Children - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
bids his family a less-than-fond farewell ("Go to hell!"). Popping his biggest and best butterfly collar, with nothing in tow but a bag of grass, he hits the desolate streets like a born hustler, ready to take this world by storm.

Stopping off at an all-night diner for a bottomless cup of coffee, he is hit on by an older man, until a kindly biker intervenes. Thankful for the help, Bobby offers to share his marijuana with his new pal, and they head back to the biker's apartment to get high.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

[Satanophobia] Alucarda (1977)

Young Justine (Susana Kamini) arrives at the orphanage shortly after the deaths of her parents, and is given
Alucarda - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
lodgings with Alucarda (Tina Romero), another girl of the same age. The two hit it off and become fast friends, frolicking through the countryside together in search of innocent adolescent adventure. On one of these quests, they happen upon an old crypt that they decide to enter. They accidentally unleash an ancient evil force, and in short order, the girls find themselves under a dark and demonic influence.

The nuns who run the orphanage first believe the girls to be ill, but as their behavior becomes more and more outrageous—they interrupt worship services to publicly denounce God, for instance—they are forced to deal with the fact that these innocents have been invaded by Satan.

An exorcism is obviously the next step, but these girls are not going down without a fight.

There are a few monks on hand to assist with the heavy lifting, but they are mostly silent background figures and nothing more. The true forces of good here are the nuns—though they're not quite like the nuns that we are used to. They do not sport the traditional black-and-white habits, but are attired in unusual garb that makes them look almost like mummies, and they flagellate themselves with whips in religious ceremony. Perhaps their bandage-like attire is due to the wounds from their self-flagellation. And as for how "good" they actually are, that is all dependent upon your viewpoint, as their cure for the girls' spiritual ailment was dependent upon their deaths.

The sisters are assisted by the local doctor, Dr. Oszek (Claudio Brook) who is initially skeptical of and outraged at the exorcism treatment, but has to quickly reevaluate his belief system when a deceased Justine returns to life. It is remarked that "The devil moved her limbs! She was dead but the forces of evil have not abandoned her!" She has become merely hell's marionette.

Alucarda - The Devil's Daughter?
Alucarda: The Devil's Daughter?
While Justine appears to have been a victim of circumstance in these proceedings, Alucarda was destined for this from the very beginning. The opening scene shows her being birthed, and immediately ushered away from her mother before "He" can get to her. "He" is certainly Satan, and after the baby is removed from the premises, some unseen force attacks the mother, resulting in her death. Alucarda is unaware, but it is her own mother's tomb that she disturbs, unleashing the evil that was residing within. No mention is ever made of the girl's father, and it is conceivable that her daddy is the devil himself.

Having such a tainted bloodline would account for Alucarda's strange behavior from the start. When we first see her as a teenager, she emerges from the shadows behind Justine, almost as if by magic. She is at home there in the darkness, hiding from the light, and yet she is instantly drawn toward Justine, an innocent. Evil loves to corrupt.

When the girls arrive at the tomb—a strange building strung with red vestments—Justine wants to leave. Alucarda, though, finds it beautiful and insists that they go inside. Being surrounded by death and earthly remains puts most people in a somber mood, but it has the opposite effect on Alucarda. As she was goth long before The Cure came along and made it cool, Alucarda chooses this place to declare her love for Justine, and they make a solemn pact: "If we ever depart from this life, we shall do it together."

Further evidence that Alucarda was harboring at least a tinge of evil from the start actually comes at her end. When the possessed Justine was finally defeated, she melted away into grue and bones. However when Alucarda was defeated, she disappeared into nothingness, leaving behind no more than a few motes of dust.

The relationship between the girls only hints at lesbianism at first, but it is shown more blatantly later on. In order to seal their bond, Justine and Alucarda consume the blood from each other's breasts (sliced open with a ceremonial knife bestowed upon them by a malevolent gypsy fellow), and then follow this up with a kiss. If there were any hope for Justine, it is lost following this encounter as Alucarda's tainted blood has now intermingled with her own.

Poor Justine. With her soul promised to God, her heart promised to Alucarda, and her body taken over by Satan, there's not much left for herself.

For a movie whose primary characters are nuns and underage girls, there is an awful lot of nudity. This is
Alucarda - Bloody Justine
Bloody Justine
probably why some refer to it as a nunsploitation film...though I don't really feel that it falls into those parameters. Taboo as it may appear on the surface, it's worth noting that the two actresses playing our leads were both in their twenties during filming—though that does little to alter the feeling of exploitation that comes with that element of the story.

ALUCARDA, imported from Mexico, was reportedly based on the novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu, though the more overt acts of vampirism have been replaced with a different breed of evil. The screenplay was written by Alexis Arroyo and the film's director Juan López Moctezuma. It was Arroyo's one and only screenwriting credit.

Moctezuma was a friend and contemporary of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, and even produced two of the man's masterworks: FANDO AND LIS (1968), and EL TOPO (1970). The rest of Moctezuma's filmography is sadly brief, consisting of the Edgar Allan Poe adaptation THE MANSION OF MADNESS (1973); vampire artist film MARY, MARY, BLOODY MARY (1975); the thriller TO KILL A STRANGER (1987), with the impressive cast of Dean Stockwell, Donald Pleasance and Aldo Ray; and EL ALIMENTO DEL MIEDO (1994), which was left unfinished at the time of his death in 1995.

Fans of this film should definitely seek out the rest of the man’s work.  It’s just a shame that there is so little of it to go around.


Monday, February 16, 2015

[Satanophobia] Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Sign of Satan (1964)

When talent agent Dave Connor returns from a trip overseas, he comes bearing a gift for director Max Rubini: a highlight reel, of sorts, featuring three scenes from a little-known film starring European actor Karl Jorla. The scenes depict some sort of satanic ritual, and Jorla's portrayal of the cult member is so captivating that Rubini knows he has found the star for his next horror movie.

Alfred Hitchcock Hour - The Sign of Satan
Title Screen
A few phone calls are made, and Jorla arrives at the studio after a long flight. The press is there, but Jorla is camera shy, adamant in his refusal of publicity. He doesn't want anyone to know where he is, he says, as a matter of personal safety.

Friday, February 13, 2015

[Satanophobia] Satan's Blood (1978)

Andy (José María Guillén) and his pregnant wife Annie (Mariana Karr) are spending a lazy weekend afternoon home alone. Boredom eventually begins to wear on them, and, unable to reach any of their friends, decide to pack up their beloved pooch Blackie and strike out on a drive through the city. While on the road, they are approached by another vehicle containing couple Bruno (Angel Aranda) and Mary (Sandra Alberti). Bruno insists that he and Andy attended school together, though Andy doesn't remember him at all.
Satan's Blood - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster

Bruno knows enough about Andy to make him think that maybe he's right, but enough of the facts are wrong to make him think that maybe he's mistaken. Boredom must override the Stranger Danger fear that is instilled in us at school, as Andy and Annie accept an invitation back to their home for wine, cheese, and conversation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

[Satanophobia] Mister Ed: Satan's Favorite Horse?

In the 1980s, there was a significant amount of Satanic Panic in which rock and heavy metal musicians came under fire, not only because of their outrageous appearances but also because of the hidden Satanic messages that were rumored to be backmasked on their albums.  Acts like KISS and Ozzy Osbourne were easy targets, as their stock and trade were demonic imagery used for shock and artistic effect.  But in April 1986, a far more unlikely subject was targeted.

Jim Brown and Greg Hudson, preachers from a religious group in South Point, Ohio called Psalms 150, were hosting a "Music Awareness" seminar at the First Church of the Nazarene in the town of Ironton.  Their audience, consisting mostly of local teenagers, had brought along stacks of record albums for the big bonfire that would surely follow.  They had likely anticipated that modern day rockers were going to be put to task by Brown and Hudson, but it's unlikely that they were expecting this.

Monday, February 9, 2015

[Satanophobia] Satan's Slave (1976)

Catherine Yorke and her parents are traveling to the countryside to visit her uncle, a physician who has, up until now, been strangely absent from her life. Literally the moment that they pull into the property, though, they are involved in a freak car accident that claims the lives of both her parents.

Catherine suddenly finds herself in the hands of three total strangers: her uncle Alexander, her cousin
Satan's Slave - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
Stephen, and Alexander's secretary/Stephen's jilted lover Frances. Under their care and guidance, Catherine works through her grief remarkably fast. In fact, at times she hardly seems fazed by the whole thing. The only roadblocks on her road to recovery are all of the gory psychic visions that she has to endure. Alexander insists that they are just hallucinations brought on by the trauma, but there's actually a far more sinister reason behind them. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

[Satanophobia] Black Candles (1982)

After the sudden death of her brother, Carol (Vanessa Hidalgo) and her boyfriend Robert (Mauro Rivera)
Black Candles - Original Theatrical Poster
Original Theatrical Poster
travel to a village outside London to settle his estate and visit with his widow, the eccentric but enigmatic Fiona (Helga Liné). When they arrive at the estate, it is in the midst of a great storm that has taken the power out. Never fear, Fiona has an ample supply of the titular black candles that she uses to illuminate the household in circumstances such as these.

Robert, a former man of the cloth turned scholar, is immediately taken with the interesting lithographs hanging on Fiona's walls. They represent various aspects of demonology, and these, coupled with the black candles are enough to give Carol pause about their hostess. Carol and Robert retire to their bedroom to gossip, strip naked, and have some hot, sweaty sex. And why not? We all grieve in different ways. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Aquaphobia is Now Available to Download...FREE!

The AQUAPHOBIA 'zine is now available to download for absolutely free, simply by clicking HERE!

Aquaphobia Zine - The Fear of Water - Cover Image
Aquaphobia: The Fear of Water and What Lies Beneath

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

[Aquaphobia] Alligator (1980)

This film opens up at a roadside tourist attraction, where audience members watch in glee and horror as an alligator wrestler is mauled by his reptilian opponent. Amazingly, young Marisa isn't emotionally scarred, and she still talks her mother into purchasing her a baby 'gator which she affectionately names Ramon. Her father is none too thrilled about the new house pet, though, and he flushes it down the toilet as soon as Marisa goes to school the next morning.

Alligator - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
We flash forward twelve years, and homicide detective David Madison is out shopping for a new canine companion. It seems that his last one mysteriously disappeared recently, something that has been occurring around town with a disturbing frequency—or so says sleazy pet shop owner Gutchell.

Another thing happening with disturbing frequency is the appearance of severed human limbs in the sewage treatment plant. That's two cases that Detective Madison finds himself involved in right off the bat—one large, one small—but things being what they are in horror movies, they're actually two parts of a greater whole.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

[Aquaphobia] Piranha 2: The Spawning (1981)

Piranha II: The Spawning - VHS Cover Image
VHS Cover Image
This sequel starts off the way that most great films do—with erectile dysfunction. After a husband can't get sufficiently aroused in the hotel, on the beach, or out at sea, he and his wife don diving gear and attempt to make the Beast With Two Backs on the ocean floor. Unfortunately, their sexual shenanigans land them too close to an old shipwreck, where some decidedly dangerous fish have taken up residence. Before you can say crimson tide, the water is awash with blood and bits.

The next day, would-be-marine-biologist Annie Kimbrough is leading a diving class at the exclusive and all-inclusive Club Elysium, where she works. She forbids her students from venturing into the shipwreck, but there's one rebel in every group, and this one wanders away from the others and enters the forbidden zone. Annie chases after him, only to find his half-eaten corpse.

This attack brings on an investigation by Annie's estranged husband Steve, a local police officer. Knowing her marine life, she is sure that no local animal could have made those bite marks, so she launches an investigation of her own. Tagging along for the ride is one of her students, Tyler Sherman, who knows more than he is letting on.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

[Aquaphobia] Piranha (1978)

Two hiking teenagers stumble upon an abandoned military facility and decide to break in. Upon finding a manmade lake, they do what anybody else would do: immediately strip naked and jump into the murky, stagnant water. Normally, this would be an invitation for a nasty bacterial infection, but as this is a horror movie, it is actually much worse. They are immediately devoured by a school of hungry, genetically-engineered piranha.

Piranha - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
A short time later, skip tracer Maggie McKeown has been dispatched to the area in search of the missing kids. Knowing that their last known whereabouts were along the river, she knocks on the cabin door of local recluse Paul Grogan, who knows nothing but still gets roped into helping. Their investigation leads them to the same military facility, where they drain the lake in search of remains. They don't find any—there isn't anything left to find—but they do learn that when they drained the lake, they accidentally released the piranha into the river. And now the fish are headed for the ocean, devouring everyone who gets in their way.

Monday, January 19, 2015

[Aquaphobia] Orca (1977)

Captain Nolan and his crew are prowling the waters in search of a great white shark to capture and sell to an aquarium, but when this ultimate predator that they are preying upon is attacked and ultimately defeated, they turn their sights on the only creature that could so easily humiliate the great white: the orca...a killer whale.

Orca - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
Nolan later captures a pregnant female orca, but once she is on board, she quickly suffers a miscarriage. Disgusted, Nolan uses a firehose to wash the unformed fetus from the deck, while the male orca watches on in horror. He proceeds to attack the ship, seeking the release of his mate. Fearing for the safety of his crew, Nolan eventually releases her (losing one of his own, Novak, in the process), but it is too late. She dies from trauma and the injuries sustained during capture.

Of all the interesting facts about killer whales that are bandied about in this film, there are two that are most important to the plot. Killer whales are a monogamous species, and they remain with their mate for life. Also, they tend to hold a grudge and have a penchant for seeking revenge.

So when Nolan accidentally brought about the death of the female orca and her unborn child, the surviving whale didn't just lose two members of his species. He lost his entire family. It's no wonder that he took it personally and pursued a vendetta against the captain. Unfortunately for him, Nolan and his crew made it back to shore—though his vessel was more than a little beat up—before vengeance could be taken. The orca then had to begin a systematic method of torment in order to coax Nolan back out to sea.

Friday, January 16, 2015

[Aquaphobia] Humanoids From The Deep (1980)

Humanoids From The Deep - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
In the modest coastal town of Noyo, a small group of fishermen think they've wrangled the catch of the day when they net something of a pretty substantial size. This isn't a school of salmon, though, but rather something else entirely that murders a child when he falls overboard. Sent into a panic, the crew scrambles to help, but a poorly aimed emergency flare ignites a puddle of gasoline on the deck, ensuring that there are no survivors left to tell the tale.

Local tough-but-nice-guy angler and family man Jim Hill witnesses the explosion, and the next morning he and his wife Carol find their dog dead. In fact, a vast majority of the dogs along the shoreline have been killed. The bigoted Slatterly is fairly certain that the Native American Johnny Eagle is to blame, so he kills Eagle's dog in return.

A short time later, horny teenagers Peggy and Jerry are cavorting in the ocean, when Jerry is dragged beneath the surf, half of his face torn away. The monster, who we see clearly for the first time, then abducts Peggy, takes her into the sand dunes, and rapes her.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

[Aquaphobia] Creepshow 2: The Raft (1987)

Creepshow 2 - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
The horror anthology film CREEPSHOW was released in 1982, written by Stephen King and directed by George Romero, with special makeup effects by Tom Savini. With a hard-hitting crew like that, it's no surprise that it quickly became a fan favorite, and CREEPSHOW 2 entered the scene in 1987.

Responsibilities were shifted for this sequel, though. King was responsible for the stories that the segments were based on, but King himself did not write the script. Instead, Romero took on the position of screenwriter and passed directorial duties onto Michael Gornick, who was the cinematographer the first time around. Savini plays "the Creep" in the prologue scene (though, interestingly, he doesn't supply the voice of the same character in the animated bumper sequences), and the special effects were provided by Ed French and Greg Nicotero. It seems as if everyone took a sidestep for this production, which may not have benefited the film as a whole, but at least it works quite well for the second segment, THE RAFT, which is the only one that is important for our purposes here. Moreover, it is the one that most people fondly remember, like the Zuni fetish doll episode of Dan Curtis's TRILOGY OF TERROR.

Friday, January 9, 2015

[Aquaphobia] The Horror Of Party Beach (1964)

Some unscrupulous fellows ditch a barrel of radioactive waste into the ocean, and literally the second it strikes the bottom, it begins to leak its contents. The waste drifts over to a mysterious human skull forgotten on the ocean floor, and the skull begins to regenerate flesh—once again, immediately. No time to waste here, folks! The regeneration process is a painstakingly slow one, though, and looks like a scene from some French surrealist film.

The Horror of Party Beach - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
What eventually emerges is a humanoid monster derived of mutant water plants and decomposed human tissue (or something like that), and where there's one, there's another...and another...and another...

Monday, January 5, 2015

[Aquaphobia] The Beach Girls And The Monster (1965)

Young surfer chick Bunny, who seems slightly preoccupied with feeding sand to her hunky beau, wanders off from the pack and is attacked by a silly looking monster that murders her and then apparently returns to the sea. The next morning, the newspapers carry headlines like SURF BEAUTY CLAWED TO DEATH, and IS SURF KILLER MANIAC OR MONSTER?

The Beach Girls and the Monster - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
The sheriff isn't too sure, either, so he visits famed oceanographer Otto Lindsay, who posits that it may be the work of a mutated South American Fantigua fish...or one of those no good surfer kids, who he sees as a bunch of loafers and tramps, capable of anything including murder. So basically Dr. Lindsay doesn't know anything more than the yellow journalists over at the Hollywood Star Gazette.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

MUSOPHOBIA is Now Available to Download...FREE!

The MUSOPHOBIA 'zine is now available to download for absolutely free, simply by clicking HERE!

Musophobia: The Fear of Rats and Mice