Tuesday, December 24, 2019

On a Christmas Night....

... a young private detective discovered what happens to people who are put on the Naughty List! (Yes-- it's another short film to replace your Christmas Cheer with Christmas Fear!)

On a Christmas Night (2017)
Starring: Jessica Crandall
Director: Josh Quillin
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

It's the Night Before Christmas...

... and if you hear something stirring, it's best you just pull the covers over your head and stay snug in your bed.

Stirring (2018)
Starring: Joni Durian
Director: Enrique Cotou
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

(This film lost a Star on the Ten-star rating scale because of an overabundance of Stupid Character Syndrome, but gained it back because of the chuckle-worthy final shots.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tuneful Tuesday: The Spook Returns

During this year's 31 Nights of Halloween celebration, we featured the terrifying tale of "The Spook" by KSHMR. Now, with Christmas carols drifting through the air... the moment is upon us when "The Spook Returns"!

We hope the great music and video that comes with it will add an extra chill to the December air!

(This video features clips from "Deathly Presents", which we featured in this space, back during the 2015 Christmas Season.)

Monday, December 2, 2019

Spider Baby: Where the 1940s met the 1960s

Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968)
Starring: Jill Banner, Beverly Washburn, Lon Chaney Jr., Joan Keller, Quinn Redeker, Carol Ohmart, Mary Mitchel, Karl Schanzer, Sid Haig, and Mantan Moreland
Director: Jack Hill
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

The last remaining servant of the Merrye family, Bruno (Chaney), has spent his life caring for the three demented children (Banner, Haig, and Washburn) who are heirs to its fortune, keeping their deep psychopathies hidden and controlled. But greedy distant relatives and their lawyer (Mitchel, Ohmart, Redeker, and Schanzer) arrive to take the mansion and the money, Bruno's tentative hold on them slips... with deadly results.

"Spider Baby" is an atmospheric little movie that moves easily from horror to comedy and that amply proves the point that filmmakers don't necessarily need budgets in the hundreds of thousands to make good movies, nor does a film need to be graphic to be sexy or scary. In fact, I don't recall a scene that was more scary and sexy than the "seduction" scene between the homicidal underage vixen and wanna-be human spider Virginia and one of the dipsticks that have come to take her house and caregiver away.

Although the film suffers from uneven pacing, and the would-be explosive ending falls short of what writer/director Hill hoped for due to budget limitations, it is carried by striking performances from its young female stars, Jill Banner and Beverly Washburn, who manage to in turn be funny, sexy and scary; and from Lon Chaney Jr, who in the fading twilight of his career managed to shake off the weight of alcoholism long enough to turn in a performance that reminds viewers of the great performances he turned in during the 1940s and early 1950s. Carol Ohmart is also wonderful as a bitchy gold-digger whom viewers will delight in watching getting her come-uppence, while Mantan Moreland, in a small part, turns in performance that, like Chaney, evokes pleasant memories of the 1940s when he was at the height of his comedic powers (even if he also comes to a very creepy end).

In many ways, the film straddles cinematic time periods. It has the appearance and flavor of a quirky 1960s low-budget drive-in film, but it's not only the presence of a rejuvenated Chaney and Moreland that calls to mind the 1940s; "Spider Baby" has at its core a spirit of craziness reminiscent of Monogram Pictures horror films. The combination adds up to a movie that has a one-of-a-kind quality that more than makes up for any budget- and pacing-related shortcomings. It's a film that any lover of B-movie classics needs to experience.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tuneful Tuesday: Every Breath You Take

Finally! Someone has recorded a version of "Every Breath You Take" that fully captures the essence of the song. Play it, and you'll see why it belongs here at Terror Titans!

By Milo Manara

This cover of "Every Breath You Take" was made by the Melodicka Bros. Visit their Facebook page here!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

'Skinned Alive' will disappoint almost everyone

Skinned Alive (1990)
Starring: Scott Spiegel, Susan Rothacker, Mary Jackson, Floyd Ewing Jr., Lester Clark, and Barbara Katrz-Norrod
Director: John Killough
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

When a family of crazy cannibalistic taxidermists (Jackson, Rothacker, and Spiegel) are stranded over night in a small town, they see no reason to stop their ongoing killing spree.

"Skinned Alive" is a clumsily constructed horror comedy that features a talented cast doing their best with a weak script and a special effects crew that either didn't have enough money or enough skill to stretch the money for decent gore effects. There are only two instances in the film that will have you squirming in your seat due to the splatter/ick factor... and that's entirely too few for what this movie seems to want to be.

And the fact I say "seems to want to be" illustrates the biggest problem with "Skinned Alive", Watching it, I got the sense it wanted to be a cross between "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Spider Baby", but it lacks cohesion, so I'm really sure if that's what writer/director Killough was going for, or if that just my mind trying to bring order to the chaos.

If you're looking for a gory splatter-fest, "Skinned Alive" does not deliver. It doesn't even deliver on the promise of the title, as the only person who comes close to being "Skinned Alive" is a character who inexplicably kept coming back from the dead, in a manner that I couldn't determine whether it was supposed to be a joke or just a symptom of bad continuity. IF you looking for an intense and horrific viewing experience, "Skinned Alive" won't satisfy you either, because it unfolds in an entirely too random fashion, with too many characters being present for no good reason and the pace being too choppy and uneven for any tension to build in the film. The only possible audience for this film who will be satisfied are those looking for a Bad Movie Night experience; that this movie is perfect for.

With the horror falling flat, many of jokes being so lame they can't even be described as un-funny, the overall package of this film is pretty bad, despite the fact that most of the featured actors do a good job in the sense that they are hamming it up big time. Those over-the-top performances make the film more fun to watch than it otherwise might have been... and why it would be a nice addition to a Bad Movie Night. (Producer J.R. Bookwalter would have done everyone a favor if he had made this film part of the "Bad Movie Police" line-up from a few years ago. He might even have found that endeavor to be more successful than it was if he had.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Terror on the Thirteenth: Whistler

When preparing for this year's 31 Nights of Halloween, I found far more films than I could feature. Therefore, instead of letting the blog go completely dormant until Halloween 2020 approaches, I'll be posting a short film on the 13th of every month. I may even post an actual film review or two, and maybe a Saturday Scream Queen post will materialize every now and then. Time will tell!

To get things started, here's a little domestic chiller that keeps the tension up throughout and left me wanting more. (Hey, maybe we can consider it an unofficial crossover to The Whistle series while we wait for another chapter!)

Whistler (2016)
Starring: April Hughes
Director: Simon Berry
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

Thursday, October 31, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: The Last Laugh

We conclude the 5th annual 31 Nights of Halloween with the appropriately titled "The Last Laugh". We hope you enjoy this tale of terror and the just end to the sort of Hollywood figures who appear in the things we cover over at Shades of Gray. (The supposed scenes from the old sit-com could have been better executed, but those are really the only flaws in this otherwise neat film.)

The Last Laugh (2015)
Starring: Jan Munroe, Rob Mathes, and Alexandra Olson
Director: Zeke Pinheiro
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Terror Titans is not quite ready to return to the gave until 2020, however. We'll be back in December with a few Christmas-themed horror shorts (for those who need an antidote for Holiday Cheer)... and who knows? Maybe there'll even be a film review or two, just for old's time sake!

31 Nights of Halloween: Fool Me Once

Here's another tale of someone who's having a worse Halloween than you. Enjoy--and Happy Halloween! (The film's a bit slow in the wind-up and the acting is a bit wooden thoughout... but stick with it, because it's creepy fun!)

Fool Me Once (2017)
Starring: Hayden Hancock, Sanne Johnson Lund, John R. Sabine, and Carol-Anne Fooks
Director: Justin Wiggins
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

31 Nights of Halloween: Peek-a-Boo

The Big Day of Ghosts and Ghouls is upon us... and there's going to be a number of posts today in celebration! Let's get things started right with a well-made little tale of trick-or-treating ghost who jumps straight to the tricks!

Peek-a-Boo (2015)
Starring: Jennifer Lilou
Director: Castet Nicholas
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

(This is the third short film we've featured at Terror Titans that has been titled "Peek-a-Boo". Here's hoping there'll be many more in Octobers to come!)

31 Nights of Halloween: Careless Sister

The big day is here... and we begin this final build-up to the Night of Halloween with song!

This parody cover song stars Jake Bacus (as Michael), Aaron James (on vocals), and Jamie Lee Curtis (as the Careless Sister, Laurie Strode).

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: I Spy

We present tonight's short film as a Public Service Announcement, because we care about the visitors to Terror Titans... and we want you to keep visiting. Please be extra careful when wandering around in the dark for the next couple days, and keep in mind that if you see something strange that it's likely a monster is lurking nearby: Ghosts and ghoulies are out in force as the 31 Nights of Halloween come to a close! Don't be like Avery and Calvin!

I Spy (2018)
Starring: Lakin Mims and Skyler Ferguson
Director: Tarrell
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuneful Tuesday with KSHMR

Part animated, part live action. Part black-and-white, part color. Part this, part that... the video for "The Spook" is creative, cool, and creepy. It tells a neat little horror story with music that will stir the Halloween spirit and get your body moving (or stir you to move the bodies, whichever works for you, as this year's 31 Nights of Halloween draws to its inevitable, horrific end!)

Pet Sematary by The Creepshow

This 2007 cover from The Creepshow is a little bit o' punk, a little bit o' country, a little rock 'n' roll, and a whole lotta cool! It was included as a bonus track on the band's debut CD, Run for Your Life!

That's the final trip to the Pet Sematary for this year! Have a great Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Death Metal

The title of tonight's selection for the 31 Nights of Halloween says it all. It's a straight and to the point tale of a guitar made by Satan himself-- and it's gory and metal as hell! It's a great warm-up for tomorrow's Tuneful Tuesday entry!

Death Metal (2017)
Starring: Michael Dalmon and Kirk Johnson
Director: Chris McInroy
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Sunday, October 27, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: The Whistle 3

During this year's 31 Nights of Halloween, I've brought you the available installments of "The Whistle" series of short films. I thought the first one was creepy, I thought the second one opened up an entire, very interesting world and ended with a thrillingly bewildering twist.

I assumed the third one would continue the threads from the second film, but instead, it's a flashback. It ties into the second entry in the series, but it doesn't really build on anything, nor does it even lay a foundation that any of the other films rest on--except establishing the woods as the place the creature lives. (But then, one wonders, why did it attack the person in the first film?)

Also... did i miss the whistling in this one?

Taken on its own, "The Whistle: Maria" is a well-crafted, moody picture that lovers of gothic horror will enjoy. Taken as part of a series, it's a little lacking. Taken on its own, it's a Seven-star effort, but as part of the series, it only rates a Six.

The Whistle: Maria (aka "The Whistle 3") (2019)
Starring: Vanessa Sacco, Brenda Heilmann, and Marcel Heilmann
Director: Klaus Quirin
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 26, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Photography

A creepy photographer, a star-struck model, and... well, you'll have to watch for yourself, as the shadows descend across the land and we enter the final week of the 31 Nights of Halloween!
Photography (2019)
Starring: Marine Madesclaire and Reid Schmidt
Director: Alexander Henderson
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Friday, October 25, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Unanswered

"Unanswered" is worth checking out, because it has a couple of nice twists, even if the main character has a touch of that ever-present horror movie ailment, Plot-Dictated Stupidity. However, it's also so well acted and filmed that I can't bring myself to make snide comments about the ponytail that's almost on the top of the lead character's head. (Oh... wait... Whoops...)

Enjoy tonight's chiller! The night of ultimate darkness is almost here, as we are entering the final week of this year's 31 Nights of Halloween!

Unanswered (2016)
Starring: Zachary Loewen and Kellen Ray
Director: Nils Kimmel
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Pet Semetary by Hawthorne Heights

Today's version of "Pet Semetary" was recorded in 2015 by Ohio-based rockers Hawthorne Heights. It's a straight-forward version that captures all the essence of the original version from the Ramones without taking too many chance musically. It's still great stuff, though!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Under the Stairs

Sometimes it's your neighbor having a really bad night. Sometimes it's something else... as Devyn LaBella discovers in her second appearance during this year's 31 Nights of Halloween!

Under the Stairs (2017)
Starring: Devyn LaBella
Director: Alex Goyette
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: The Last Seance

It's never a good idea to mistreat your sister... especially not if she's your meal-ticket AND a real psychic. (This is even more true if you don't think she's a real psychic...)

Tonight's fright film is a stylish little picture that has almost every element (save a jack-o-lantern) to get you in the Halloween mood!)

The Last Seance (2019)
Starring: Alisa Levinson, Laura Finley, Alexa Reddy, Brett Gustafson, Nicole Alexandria, and Ryan Denman
Director: Laura Kulik
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Tuneful Tuesday with Beyonce and Rob Cantor

I really like Rob Cantor's song "Ghost", but since it didn't have a video, I couldn't think of an excuse to post it here, during the 31 Nights of Halloween... until I came across Beyonce's video for "Haunted'? I don't like her song as much as I do Cantor's, but the pair still add up to a Tuneful Tuesday Spectral Double Feature! (And there's no denyong that the Beyonce video is creepy as heck!)

Monday, October 21, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: The Whisperer

As Halloween draws near, the whispering voices in the shadows may grow louder... but are those voices real or just a figment of the imagination? That's the question the young woman (played by Casey Fitchner, in her second appearance in this year's mini fright film festival) in tonight's film is facing.

The Whisperer (2016)
Starring: Casey Fichtner
Director: Danny Donahue
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

This film has a great build up, but it kinda fizzles at the end, hence the Six Rating.

Pet Sematary by Backyard Babies

In 2012, the Backyard Babies recorded a cover album in tribute to the Ramones. Among the songs they did was this straight-forward cover of "Pet Sematary" that does Joey and the rest of the boys proud.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Goodbye Old Friend

If you think something is watching you from that deep shadow, you're probably right... because Halloween is rapidly drawing near.

We're offering another short film to help you get in the spirit for the Big Night. This tale of an Imaginary Friend spurned is one of the best ones so far this year. It doesn't quite manage to land the ending perfectly, but everything up to that point is very well done.

Goodbye, Old Friend (2018)
Starring:Corrie Legge and Aaron Dalla Villa
Director:Rafael De Leon Jr.
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 19, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Nightfall

During the 31 Nights of Halloween, you need to always keep your guard up after dark, especially if you're working along; you never know what might be lurking in the shadows...

Nightfall (2019)
Starring: Kyle Denmark
Director: Jordan Wright
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Jim (Denmark) discovers the dangers of working after dark.

Generally, when a short film builds as slowly as this one does, I stop watching a minute or two in... but there's such a sense of something bad lurking just off camera that permeates this picture that I stuck with it. I'm glad I did; I think you will be, too!

Pet Sematary by Michelle Darkness

In 2007, German rocker Michelle Darkness recorded his version of "Pet Sematary" and released a video in support of his debut album "Brand New Drug". It's a solid cover, and the video that goes with it is certainly creepy... but it lacks the quirkly playfulness that the best covers of this song all have.. it's been there since the original Ramones versino, and it makes a perfect counterpoint to the subject of the lyrics.

Friday, October 18, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Comforter

During the 31 Nights of Halloween, the ghosts aren't just wearing our bed sheets... as the young lady in tonight's offering discovers.

Comforter (2018)
Starring: Hatsune Yazaki
Director: Hiroho Mieno
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Thursday, October 17, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Clap Clap

During the 31 Nights of Halloween, even simple things--like house-sitting--can lead to dire consequences, especially if you fail to follow instructions....

Clap Clap (2017)
Starring: Aaron Burt and Andrew Burt
Director: Brandon Piskorik
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

As far as I recall, this is the second short film we've featured here that revolved around "The Clapper" (or similar devices). Click here to see how another filmmaker treated this subject during the 2018 season of the 31 Nights of Halloween.

Pet Sematary by Hatchem Social

This eerie, jazzy version of "Pet Sematary" may be one of the most undeservedly obscure, most creative, best executed, and creepiest renditions out there! It was recorded for a 2014 limited edition EP.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: My New Cellphone

When you get a new cellphone, should you make a clean break, like you do when upgrading from one lover to a new one? Will it be easier when replacing the center of your universe? The young woman in tonight's offering should have asked herself those questions.

My New Cellphone (2018)
Starring: Yoon Joo
Director: Inchun Oh
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

31 Nights of Nights of Halloween: The Slashstreet Boys

We're about halfway to the Big Night of Monsters, so we're celebrating by presenting this song performed by the only super-group that matters during the 31 Nights of Halloween.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tuneful Tuesday with Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is a teen-aged singer/songwriter who burst onto the pop music scene in 2017, and has enjoyed a number of Top 40 Hits over the past couple years. (She first began to grow her following with a song she released on SoundCloud.)

Among her hits is "Bury a Friend", which is a spooky song that has a supremely creepy video directed by horror film director Michael Chaves. If you're looking for something to stir the Halloween Spirits, then this is it! (I give it Eight Out of Ten Stars!)

And it's a sign of how out of touch I am with popular music these days; I hadn't heard of this young lady until I went looking for short films and music videos to showcase during this year's 31 Nights of Halloween celebration. (If you're old ad out of touch like me, you can learn more about Eilish and her debut album--"When We Fall Alseep, Where Do We Go?"--at her website by clicking here.

Monday, October 14, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Dual

While it's the time of year when ghoulies and ghosties wander the land, it is also the time when imaginary friends may manifest themselves. That could be good or bad... depending on where you are on the friend scale. We present tonight's short film as a case study.

Dual (2018)
Starring: Jack Scaggs, Julianna Drajkó, Anthony Rocco Kraft, and Troy Antoine LaFaye
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

(This film is ultimately predictable, but it presents this well-worn subject expertly, and the cast all give great performances. What's even better, the director seemed to understand his budget and technical limitations, so we aren't subjected to bad computer graphics or other lamely executed special effects.)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: The Whistle, Chapter 2

We led into this year's 31 Nights of Halloween short film celebration with the introduction of a mysterious creature and the even more mysterious whistle that is heard when it is near, in The Whistle. Now, the creature returns in a direct sequel... with the mystery deepeing and the story expanding in many different directions. This saga is one that is worthy of telling in the every-deepinging shadows of October, and Chapter 3 will be found in this space on Sunday, October 27. Be sure come back for it!

The Whiste: Chapter 2 (2018)
Starring: Klaus Quirin, Vanessa Sacco, Laura Welter, and Kai Bost
Director: Klaus Quirin
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

One particularly noteworthy thing about the first two Whistle films is that they're essentially silent pictures. (Yes, we get some horror movie sound effects, but I think these would be just as spooky if all we had were the visuals and the music.)

Pet Sematary by Midwinter

I'm not a fan of the speed-/death metal where the lyrics are growled in a fashion that almost always puts me in mind of the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. Nonetheless, Midwinter turned out an excellent cover of "Pet Sematary" and included it on their 2010 CD Between Wisdom and Lunacy.

(I can't really fault a band for their chosen style and genre, but I think that the lead singer of this band has more potential than is heard here. There seems to be a really good voice shining through every now and then.)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Hello

Sometimes, I watch a short film and wish it was just the beginning of a feature. "Hello", a tale of mysterious phone calls and serial killings, was one of those! (And even if you don't find yourself imagining where a story might go if the action continued past the end credits, I'm pretty sure this will help stir the Halloween spirit within you, as the 31 Nights of Halloween continue!)

Hello (2013)
Starring: Claire J. Foy, Hugh Sweeney, and Iggy Roddy
Director: Hugh Sweeney
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Friday, October 11, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: NoEnd House

Haunted House attractions are popular this time of year, and they pop up everywhere; some of you may even attend one or three to enjoy some safe Halloween scares. Just be sure they really are just safe scares, or you may end up the hero of tonight's short film.
While there are a couple missteps in "NoEnd House", it is generally tense and creepy... and great use of sound design, lighting, and some very subtle visual touches crack up the tension as David (Keene) tries to make it through the house's scary rooms.

NoEnd House (2018)
Starring: Connor Keene
Director: Ethan Lindner
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Feature Review Friday: 'The Head'

The Head (1959)
Starring: Horst Frank, Michel Simon, Karin Kernke, and Helmut Schmidt
Director: Victor Trivas
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A mad scientist (Frank) keeps the head of a brilliant doctor (Simon) alive so that the doctor can consult on an operation to transplant the head of Brandt's beloved--a hunchback nurse (Kernke)--onto a sexy body.

Writer/director Victor Trivas's greatest claim to fame is that his directorial debut--"Hell on Earth" (1931) was outlawed and destroyed by the Nazis in 1940, with no copies known to have survived. His second greatest claim to fame was being nominated for an Oscar for the script for Orson Welles' "The Stranger". And then there's "The Head".

"The Head" is an extremely cheezy, intentionally schlocky film that surprised everyone involved (except maybe auteur Triva) by becoming a hit across Europe and in the United States. But for all the melodrama and dodgy scripting and the prerequisite for big-time suspension of disbelief for the film to even work (but if you're not already planning on doing that, you wouldn't be watching this film to begin with), it's got stylish visuals and it delivers its story with a high degree of tension.

Unfortunately, as the film builds toward what should be a weird, over-the-top, insane climax, it starts to sputter and lose steam. It doesn't quite stall out, but the final act drags to a conclusion instead of roaring toward it, giving this otherwise dark and fun ride a slightly disappointing in. It's still worth your while if you like movies with mad scientists doing mad things.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Lilith

Tonight's selection is a sharply focused and spooky tale of a young mother, her baby, and a baby-stealing demon. It's strong effort that, sadly, doesn't end as powerfully as it should. Still... it's well worth the five minutes it will take to watch it.

Lilith (2019)
Starring: Andrea Gilder and Aria Gilder
Director: A.M. Borbón
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Pet Sematary by Helalyn Flowers

In 2013, Helalyn Flowers included a cover of "Pet Sematary" on their White Me In/Black Me Out CD. This Italian rock duo put their original spin on the song while still maintaining the spirit of the Ramones throughout. My only complaint is that the mixing seems off; I wish the lead vocalist was a little clearer.

Still, it's an excellent version that should have you nodding your head to the beat as the October shadows grow darker during this Halloween season...

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Bad Mistake

They say French films are tres magnifique... because they're French films. If they're talking about tonight's excursion into horror, they're right. It may not break any new ground, but it's well acted, well-executed on every technical level, and it doesn't waste a single second of screen time on ineffective "tension building" (which is an all-too-common mistake I find in these short films).

Bad Mistake (aka "Mauvaise Erreur") (2009)
Starring: Anne-Gaelle Ponche, Caroline Previnaire, Laurent Denayer, and Philippe d'Avilla
Director: Xavier Hibon
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

The weekly "scary movie night" with friends gets a little too real for Sophie (Ponche) on her walk home...

(Before anyone writes me: I KNOW this is a film made by Belgians, not Frenchmen. But I rarely get to mock film snobs, so I had to take this opportunity, no matter how weakly motivated it was.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Tuneful Tuesday with Lindsey Stirling

Lindsey Stirling, the Dancing Violinist, performs her original composition "Moon Trance" and attends the biggest zombie dance party since the one Michael Jackson threw in the 1980s...

Every Tuesday from today through Halloween. there's be another fun or spooky music video to help get you in the proper mood, as we once again celebrate the 31 Nights of Halloween here at Terror Titans. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween Double Feature!

There's some thing lurking around deserted parking lots at night... so beware! We're starting this, the second week of  the 31 Nights of Halloween with two cautionary tales. We'd hate for any of our visitors to fall victim to the Moonlight Man!

(These are both really nicely done mini fright films, especially the first one. It's particularly nice the way writer/director Danny Donahue varies the tone of the two shorts.)

The Moonlight Man (2016)
Starring: Casey Fichtner and Philip Kreyche
Director: Danny Donahue
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

The Moonlight Man (2017)
Starring: Bradley J. Herman and Philip Kreyche
Director: Danny Donahue
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Sunday, October 6, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Okay Google...

Tonight's selection for your 31 Nights of Halloween viewing pleasure is another example of how horror always keeps pace with the march of technology. It's a nice little chiller... but I feel like it ends just as it's starting to get good!

Okay Google (2019)
Starring: Calvin Young
Director: Levi Morgan
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 5, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Curtain

There was a time when the only place horror movie characters were safe was in the bathroom... because no-one in Movieland ever went into bathrooms. Those days are long gone, however, as you'll see in tonight's mini fright-film!

Curtain (2019)
Starring: Allison Elaine and Vincent Bombara
Director: Greg Vogt
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

If you're a seasoned horror movie watcher, there isn't anything in "Curtain" that will shock you (or even surprise you), but it's well-acted, features some nice cinematography, and great sound design. It's a well-done little bit of filmmaking.

Friday, October 4, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Scratch

I watched tonight's selection twice, and I still am left wondering what exactly is going on in it. Maybe that's because I've never been a drug-addled 1950s housewife, maybe it's something else... but despite the cartoon question marks floating in the air above my head, this is a perfectly crafted, excellently acted, very creepy, and highly engaging piece of work that's worthy of the 31 Nights of Halloween. Check it out! Tell me what's happening in this film in the comments, please!

Scratch (2016)
Starring: Bel Deliá, Camron Robertson, Kate Avery, and Alexandra Bard
Director: Emma Bell
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Feature Review Friday: 'Night of the Demon'

For old time's sake (reaching all the way back to 2009 - 2012) there will be an actual horror movie review here at Terror Titans every Friday until Halloween arrives!

Night of the Demon (1957) (aka "Curse of the Demon")
Starring: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall McGinnis, Liam Redmond, and Athene Seyler
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

An American (Andrews) travels to England to help investigate a demonic cult, and he finds himself targeted by supernatural forces unleashed by the cult's leader (McGinnis).

"Night of the Demon" is a by-the-numbers horror film where a skeptic is beset by supernatural forces and the only way he can survive is to turn the tables on those who have unleashed them. The fact that it's straight-forward with only one unexpected and shocking moment isn't a strike against it, because the story is expertly paced and structured, and so excellently acted by ever cast member that the predictability of the story becomes irrelevant.

The mood grows increasingly intense as the film unfolds, and the trainyard climax is perhaps one of the best finishes to a horror film I've ever seen. What's better, the film delivers its scares through quality acting, lighting, sparse use of soundtrack music, and perfect pacing; who could have imagined that a piece of paper fluttering away on a breeze could be such a source of suspense? I highly recommend this film to anyone who likes their horror with a minimum of gore.

With all the praise I'm heaping on the film, you may be wondering why I'm only giving it a rating of Eight Stars? It's because of the film's one and only misstep; it establishes right from the beginning that the supernatural powers of the villainious cult leader (played with just the right amount of slimeness and pomposity by the underappreciated character actor Niall McGinnis) are real. While on the one hand, it accelerates the viewer's sense of apprehension for the death-marked hero, it undermines takes away any mystery in the story. We don't even the a startling reveal of the demonic creature, as that, too, is shown to us in the very beginning. It's hard for to judge if the film would have been better with the more standard "is it all a hoax or is it supernatural forces" approach, but I leaning toward thinking it would have. Therefore, I am assigning it a rating of a High Eight.

"Night of the Demon" was released in the United States in 1958 under the title "Curse of the Demon", with a running time that's roughly 7 minutes shorter than the original British version. The most recent DVD release contains both cuts of the film, and I was sure that part of the cut material would be from the opening sequence where we see a character get killed by fire demon. I was wrong; instead, character building bits, and a crucial exposition scene were cut from the film.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Agatha

Bathing is potentially a very dangerous activity for beautiful young women during the 31 Nights of Halloween, as tonight's offering shows. My advice, ladies? Use wash cloths, plenty of deodorant and an extra dash of perfume from now until November 1.

Agatha (2017)
Starring: Devyn LaBella
Director: Alex Goyette
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Pet Sematary by Starcrawler

This cover of the Ramones masterpiece was played during the end credits of the 2019 remake of the "Pet Sematary" movie. It's a great cover, in that Starcrawler has unquestionably made this song their own, but you can still feel the spirit of the Ramones hovering in the background.

FYI, Starcrawler is spending this October touring the American West and Midwest. Click here for their schedule; if they're going to be near you, maybe you should see if there are still tickets to the show!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Suggestion Box

If you live in an apartment or condo, you know how nice it can be to have responsive management and maintainance staff. You also know how annoying it can be to have busybodies who stick their nose in everyone's business. Both of these everyday situations form the foundation of this neat little slice of domestic horror.

Suggestion Box (2016)
Starring: Nikyah Christie and Dale Christie
Director: Tarrell Christie
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Larry

It's the time of year when the Terror Titans blog shambles from the grave to bring you short films to help get in you in the mood for the Big Night of ghosts and creepy-crawlies! Welcome to the 31 Nights of Halloween!

Our first offering will be especially relatable if you work the night shift, alone, and in an isolated spot. It's a nicely staged little horror morsel.

Larry (2017)
Starring: Joe Calarco
Director: Jacob Chase
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Tuneful Tuesday: Pet Sematary by the Ramones

Like a beloved pet put to rest in a cursed Indian Burial Ground, Terror Titans returns frightfully to life every October for the 31 Nights of Halloween. In addition to the daily short films you've come to expect, we'll be featuring a version of "Pet Semetary" for your listening enjoyment every other day.

The original version of "Pet Semetary" was written and performed by the Ramones, and it is one of their greatest, yet most underappreciated, tunes. It was recorded in 1989 and it was inspired by the Stephen King story of the same name, and used to promote the original film adaptation of it. The song had a nice music video--this was during the final days of MTV actually being focused on music--and we're kicking our Pet Semetary marathon series off with that. (The song as ultimately included on the Brain Drain album.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Another 31 Nights of Halloween!

Terror Titans shambles back from the grave tomorrow night for the 5th annual 31 Nights of Halloween short film festival. Stop by every night in October for a morsel of horror designed to get you in the mood for the Big Night on the 31st! (There may also be a few surprise film reviews for old time's sake!)

Every day at 4:44pm (Pacific Time, in the U.S.) there will be at least one new post here until Halloween. Some days, there will be several! And if you want even more Halloweenish content, swing by the Shades of Gray blog for horror line-art every Wednesday, as well as reviews of a spooky film or two.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Getting ready for the 31 Nights of Halloween

The annual month-long Halloween short film celebration is about to kick off here at Terror Titans, and here's a little terror morsel to get you warmed up (even if it's set on a cold, wintery night). There will be a short film appearing here every day from October 1st through October 31st at 4:44pm (Pacific Time), all intended to spread the Halloween Spirits far and wide across the land.

The Whistle (2017)
Starring: Julian Glunz
Director: Klaus Quirin
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

"The Whistle" is the first in a series of short films featuring the same monster. If you do nothing else to get yourself in mood for Halloween this year, you must come back here on the evenings of October 13 and October 27 to see the rest of this saga!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Pet Sematary by Xeros

To get you ready for the 31 Nights of Halloween, here's another great cover of the immortal Ramones song "Pet Sematary", itself inspired by the Stephen King novel and movie of the same name.
In early 2019, Xeros, a Springfield, MO-based hard rock band who incorporates a big, melodic style into their performances, turned their talents to covering the song. Their version captures what was great about the original even as they make "Pet Sematary" their own.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Pet Sematary by Mega5 Mu5ic

Then there was that time Mario buried Bowser in the Pet Sematary...

(It's almost surprising how good this version is... but they were working with some great material! There will be many more covers of the Ramones masterpiece "Pet Sematary" next month during the 31 Nights of Halloween, right here!)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Pet Sematary by Top Cats

I launched my journey through "Pet Sematary" cover tunes in the hopes of finding a swing or a blues version. I have yet to find one, but this rockabilly cover from Top Cats comes close.., and it's pretty spectacular! I really love the guitar work on this one.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Pet Sematary by Bloody Mary

Terror Titans will come fully back to life in October for the annual 31 Nights of Halloween. In addition to the traditional short films, we'll be presenting covers of the great Ramones song Pet Sematary. Here's a the first cover to serve as a warm-up.

This version of 2009 version of "Pet Sematary" from Bloody Mary is somewhat crippled by the lead singer's heavy Italian accent, but otherwise it's a fresh, energetic and worthwhile take on the song. They truly took the song and made it their own.

(But, man, are these guys a goofy looking bunch...)

You can learn more about Bloody Mary at their official website.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tartu: The Original Florida Man?

Death Curse of Tartu (1966)
Starring: Fred Pinero, Babbette Sherrill, Myara Christine and Gary Holtz
Director: William Grefe
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

An undead, shape-shifting Indian shaman takes gory revenge on a group of researchers that has disturbed his underground tomb (located deep in the Everglades swamp).

If you're looking for a movie that gets virtually nothing right, "Death Curse of Tartu" is the film for you. It's got bad actors delivering badly written lines, it's got bland cinematography, pathetic gore effects, some of the worst Foley work you'll see this side of silent movies, and so much inappropriate sound track music that you'll grow numb to it. (The director of the film apparently thought that dramatic music during scenes where nothing happens--such as shots of characters trekking through the bushes or someone making coffee at the campfire--would make the film more exciting). To perfect the awfulness of the film, every character is too dumb to ive, including the survivors of Tartu's wrath and even Tartu himself. There are few films that rely more on "Stupid Character Syndrome" to drag itself to its non-thrilling conclusion this one.

And then there's the fact that Tartu is buried in a bone-dry, sandstone cave that looks like it belongs in the American Southwest rather than a Florida swamp. It makes absolutely no sense and it destroys what little credibility the film had. (Even if such dry caves are possibly in a goopy swamp, it doesn't feel realistic... a thing that's important to achieve in films like this.)

The movie is also deadly dull for the first 35 or so minutes--as it's 12-15 minutes of real material padded with useless film of characters meandering about the swamp--but it picks up a bit when the main group of characters gets to the Everglades. Unfortunately, the padding problem only becomes slightly less severe, causing interesting and even borderline suspenseful parts of the movie to be separated with some of the most boring bits of film you'll ever sit through.

The 2 rating I'm giving "Death Curse of Tartu" is perhaps too generous, but there were glimmers of life in the last 45 minutes of so. If the director and producer had been disciplined enough to make a film 68 minutes instead of 84 minutes, maybe the 2 would be fully deserved. Perhaps this might even be a 3.

"Death Curse of Tartu" was made available for the first time on DVD via a "Something Weird Video" Floria-themed double feature extravaganza. The second half of the double-bill isn't all that good either, but it looks like a masterpiece next to this one.