Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Times change. The world stays the same.


(Thid drawing originally appeared in December of 1896, in the pages of German arts magazine "Jugend".

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: Ghosts

The Big Night is here... and we're kicking it off with a brief cautionary tale!

Ghosts (2019)
Starring: Anonymous Actors
Director: Seppo
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Monday, October 23, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: Dracula's Bad Day

 Mondays. Even the King of Vampires has to suffer through them.

"Dracula's Bad Day" by Stan!

This cartoon is by Stan!... and he draws them live on his YouTube Channel. Click here to see what he gets up to.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: Open Casket

Open Casket (2023)
Starring: Jonathan Stephens
Director: Vincent Dormani
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

A man unknowingly hangs a cursed painting in his home... and lives to regret it.

Jonathan Stephens in "Open Casket" (2023)


"Open Casket" is another excellent chiller from Vincent Domani. I could mention a few nitpicks about the film, but the good outweighs the bad so heavily that it would be unfair. The only real complaint I can make against this film is that it manages to maintain a creepy atmosphere and then turns outright horrorific at the climax... but then crashes and burns during the last few seconds. It's almost like Dormani was at a loss for how to end the film, so he went with the easiest no matter how nonsensical.

That aside, I still have to give this film the highest possible praise I can -- I want to know more. I want the backstory of the painting, why it is the way it is, and what happens with Stephens' character. Like I said above, despire my disappointment with tbhe ending, the good far outweighs the bad here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: Ouija Wednesday

This is one of the better short films I've come across built around the trope "kids f--- around and find out" with Ouija Boards. It's a slow burn, but the payoff is worth it. In fact, I don't think I've seen a short film of this sub-genre present a more perfect ending. Behind the generic title, awaits an excellent student film! (It's ten years old, so I hope the people involved went onto successful film careers... they certain had talent!)

Ouija Board (2013)
Starring: Mia Vera, Shaun Sutton, and Hannah Halvorson
Director: Carris Lammers
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Monday, October 16, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: Dr. Purge

Dr. Purge may well be the greatest horror movie (or novel, or roleplaying game scenario, or graphic novel) that doesn't exist, but should. Just look at this poster:

Ex-Libris for Dr. Purge, by S. Toth

 That illo is a genuine ex-libris (with some very minor modifications to the featured text) that was commissioned during the early part of the 20th century for the private library of a Hungarian medical doctor who truly was named Purge. From the moment I saw it in the collection at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest, I felt that there was greatness to be brought froth from this turn-of-the-20th-century drawing.

If someone writes an RPG scenario (or even an outline of one) inspired by that picture and featuring a villain named Dr. Purge--I will release it through NUELOW Games!

Friday, October 13, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th (2023)
Starring: Amanda Worley, Sidney Gates, and 
Director: Alex Magana
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

It's not the greatest short film in the world, no. It's just a tribute.

In this two minute short, Alex Magana gives us a taste of the Friday the 13th slasher series, as well as a sampling of his own style... and some of the grisly humor that is often present in his films. I was having a hard time deciding how to observe a Friday the 13th during the 31 Nights of Halloween... and then this premiered on the ACM Official YouTube Channel!

It's just two minutes long, but you'll still get several great moments. Amanda Worley has the best of these, but almost everything here is perfectly timed. Check it out!

It makes sense that a filmmaker who's become something of a fixture during the 31 Nights of Halloween should be the one to provide the perfect tidbit, at just the right time! (Although I am starting to wonder how that parking garage stays open, what with the number of unsolved disappearances and brutal murders that happen there. It has to be the most dangerous place in the Maganaverse...)

And speaking of "Tribute"... after you watch the great Friday the 13th tribute, rock out to the song that the opening lines for this review are a tribute to.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

It's the day before Friday the 13th...

... and witches and warlocks are on their way to spend tomorrow partying on Bald Mountain. (They've not going to have a Day of Rage like the pure evil people who walk among us, but will be having a Day of Rave!)

Witches in Flight by Albert Robida

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: It's Quija Wednesday!

Look for tales of Ouiji Board misadventures in this space, each Wednesday from now until the Big Night is here!

Quija (2022)
Starring: Marielena Rodriguez
Director: Alex Rendon
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

A girl (Rodriquez) learns why it's a bad idea to play with Ouija Boards when you think you alone.

"Ouija" is a decent entry into the "don't mess with Quija Boards" sub-genre of horror films. Sadly, it drops the ball at the end. Or so it seems to be. Take a couple minutes to check out the film and let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree.

This is the first time I've come across the work of Alex Rendon. I will be checking out more of his movies and see if one or two more need to be brought to you during this year's 31 Nights of Halloween. (Say... what is it with people named Alex and horror short films? I seem to be gathering a collection of directors with that name....)

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Tuneful Tuesday with Voltaire

If someone ever makes a Disney-style cartoon centered on Hades and his Underworld, they need to hire Voltaire to write the songs. They should even hire him to do Hades' voice and songs.

You need no further evidence that I am stating as fact that what you'll find in today's offering will get you into the Halloween Spirit! (As an added bonus, the animated video by Daria Cohen turns this into a sequel of sorts to last weeks Tuneful Tuesday feature.

Land of the Dead (2016)
Music Performed By: Voltaire
Directed By: Daria Cohen
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Monday, October 9, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: Wax

Wax (2023)
Starring: Tommi Aleman and Cielo Gomez
Director: Vincent Dormani
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

A woman finds a walled-up, hidden room in her house that's full of life-like wax figures.

Tommi Aleman in "Wax" (2023)

"Wax" is a brand-new release from family-run short film production company Buried Hatchet, and we're certain that you'll find the three or so minutes it'll take to watch it is time well spent. The only quibble I have with it is that I would have liked a wide shot of the secret room, and I would liked to see some profile two-shots of Aleman's character discovering and interacting with the main wax figure.

But my issues with the cinematography are minor when compared to the fact that this film has earned the greatest praise I can give to any short film or short story: I want to know the backstory of the secret room, the wax figures within it. (My desire to know more was made even stronger by the coffee cup Aleman's character examines in the room. Look closely at it and I'm sure you'll understand why.)

Sunday, October 8, 2023

31 Nights of Halloween: The Nun

Filmmaker and writer Alex Magana with his Silver Playbutton
Over the past couple years, filmmaker and writer Alex Magana has become something of a mainstay of the 31 Nights of Halloween celebrations. I'm a tremendous fan of his work, and I hope to feature his work here at least once every week until Halloween. As the title of this one might imply, Sunday is the perfect day to bring this film to you!

The Nun (2023)
Starring: Erin Sunisa, Shaun Holmes, and Eteri Sher
Director: Alex Magana
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

While "The Nun" may not be the best Magana has brought us so far, it's still an excellent little horror film. It's only flaw, in my opinion is that Magana let the film run for one jump scare too many. I feel like he had a chance to give us a perfect and extremely creepy ending, but he blew it. (It's not just my general dislike of jump-scares at play here... it's that this particular jump-scare undermines the film's story.)

That complaint aside, I like everything else about "The Nun", especially the fact that it's a thoroughly modern film, with a couple of YouTubers making content for their channel by testing an urban legend. I also continue to be amused by Magana's blatant product placement in his films by having actors wear shirts with his production company's logo on the front. It reminds me of how many independent filmmakers and even large studios during the early days of silent movies would put their company logos somewhere on the sets of their films in an effort to stop unauthorized distribution and theft of their films through retitling/rebranding. I wonder if something similar is motivating Magana here, what with the way some YouTube channels do nothing but "borrow" from filmmakers and repost their films without so much as a link back to the source.

Maybe I'll drop him a line and ask some day. Although, it's probably a fact that the simple answer is the right answer: Characters wear the ACM-branded shirts because Magana wants to move the stuff for sale in his YouTube channel's merch store.