Saturday, March 24, 2018

schlocky horror pajama jammy jam (YouTube edition)

Oh where have I been lately? Well...I'll just say that I do miss this blog (even as I cringe looking back at a few semi-recent posts) and have been keeping myself busy, mostly, tinkering here and there, working out a few kinks in the machinery—still living and breathing—so there's no reason why the show can't go on.  And I certainly still watch and enjoy movies, so this is the part where I mention a few that I've seen recently, all available in their entirety on YouTubein their best available iterationsin the links provided below (*pajamas not included).

The Uncanny (1977, d. Denis Heroux)

The worldwide kitty cat conspiracy is real, and only author Peter Cushing knows the godawful truth. This horror anthology is unique in that it's all about killer, possibly evil domesticated cats and the havoc they wreak. Its three short tales are framed by the story of a fidgety novelist (Cushing) visiting his publisher (Ray Milland) to find out the fate of his new book (all about said international feline conspiracy).

And these cats aren't just messing around, they're agents of Satan (or something), so there's lots of sinister meowing and many scenes of cuddly kitties hovering ominously in the backdrop, waiting to pounce. There's also plenty of scratching, hissing, biting, and otherwise normal feline behavior. Seeming to contradict Cushing's contention that they're evil and the Devil's minions, these cats primarily attack people who deserve it (although in one of the tales, a pet cat actually turns an unfortunate young girl on to witchcraft and Devil worship in order to vanquish a bully).

Once Cushing's sputtered his way through a rather shoddy attempt to defend the veracity of his purportedly earnest claims from publisher, Milland (whom rightfully thinks he's bonkers), it's time to venture back out into the night—and everyone knows cats rule the night.  Oh, and Donald Pleasance, Samantha Eggar and John Vernon also star.  Boundlessly silly and preposterous (and a bit of a mixed bag, as anthologies often go), and yet if this sounds like fun to you, it probably will be.

Full length movie, here:

The Children (1980, d. Max Kalmanowicz)

Speaking of silly and preposterous, straight outta 1980's indefatigable b-horror movie pile-on, it's The Children. Now, I know what you're thinking—another festering turkey about killer rugrats, how original...

Well, did I mention these kids were infected by an irradiated toxic gas cloud (which turns their fingernails black) and when they hug their victims, they burn (and, in turn, melt!)?  That's right—several scenes of these little buggers calling for mommy and daddy, who naturally comply with their demands for hugs, and in turn are reduced to sizzling, second-rate atomic sludge (but not before screaming their freaking heads off as they're nuked).  Starring Martin Shakar (John Travolta's priest brother from Saturday Night Fever) and featuring the music of Harry Manfredini—who essentially recycles much of his infamous violin score from Friday the 13th—The Children remains one of the most memorably strange and funny low-budget horror movies of the eighties.

And here you have it:

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972, d. Charles B. Pierce)

And last (but certainly not least), I give you a veritable classic of the American drive-in, producer-director Charles B. Pierce's one-of-a-kind pseudo-documentary about the infamous Fouke monster and the real-life citizens of the Fouke, Arkansas swampy backwoods (playing themselves or their relatives in interviews and re-enactments), who've claimed terrifying run-ins with a large, hairy, mysterious creature. If you haven't seen The Legend of Boggy Creek, there's really no way to prepare you for the experience.  These people really do believe in the Fouke monster, and director Pierce believes in them, and so what we have here are re-enactments of each and every recorded incident involving the bigfoot-like fiend, presented matter-of-fact by a soothing, folksy narrator throughout (who at one point quips, “I often wonder how the creature must feel”), with plenty of gentle, swamp monster-inspired folk music to keep things bewilderingly off-kilter.  To say it's an unusual monster movie doesn't even begin to cut it.  In other words, you haven't quite lived until you've encountered The Legend of Boggy Creek.

“The beauty of the bogs under soft moonlight transforms into dark, menacing danger, and the shadows of the night triggers your imagination into being places where possibly...the creature is lurking. Because you know he's out there, somewhere.”—actual quote from the narrator.

Update:  Alas, the full length Legend of Boggy Creek has since been deleted from YouTube (I highly recommend that you find a copy).  

If you're still unconvinced, just listen:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

midway to eternity

“Perchance to Dream”, The Twilight Zone (originally aired 11-27-59)

While I'm now convinced that one more dream will mean the end for me, a part of my brain—the part that snapped some time ago—doesn't really mind at all. After four days of sweat and jitters and a stomach in knots, of popping bennies and playing the nightmare over and over in my head, I'm a goner either way.  If my bad ticker doesn't get me, Maya will.

You see, my dreams, they come in chapters like one of those old serials. I used to dream like this as a boy, strange as it may sound. Each night brought a new episode picking up where the last had left off. Then I just stopped dreaming altogether for quite some time. Until last week, that is. That's when she came into my life.

Boy, I'll tell you, doc—I'm almost afraid to go on. You just might have me committed before we're through here. But I've got to tell someone, because I don't think I have very much time left.  

I guess I ought to start out with a little background. I've always had what you might call an active imagination. When I was a boy we had this poster of a sailship in our living room, and my mother had told me that if I stared at it too long, it would begin to move. Well, I stared and stared at that poster and sure enough, it did move. So much so that I couldn't get it to stop. I'd actually get a bit of motion sickness whenever it caught my eye too long. I know, I know—children imagine a lot of things.  

When I was fifteen I developed a rheumatic heart. They said I'd never really get well. No strenuous exercise, no long walks; I'd have to take it easy from now on. And no scares or shocks—avoid any kind of shock, they say. They forget about my imagination.

Three years ago a woman was killed by a man who was hiding in the back seat of her car. You may have read about it—I did.  Well, something about that story got me started. I have a long drive home every night through the Laurel Canyon, and my mind began to linger in the shadows behind me, wondering who might be crouching back there. 

Here's the important part, doctor: I knew that I was alone. But I also knew that my imagination would make me see something if I thought about it long enough. And that was the first time I saw her.

Of course there was no one else in the car—it was all in my mind—but I crashed anyway. The shock could have killed me. I couldn't survive another one, the doctor said—I could be sure of that.

For the longest time, I didn't dream at all. Then a week ago it started. I'd gone to bed early even though I wasn't particularly tired, because my heart needed the rest. I don't know when I fell asleep, but all the sudden I wasn't at home anymore. I was at an amusement park—this dark, desolate midway that filled me with an instant dread. It was the kind of place you only see in nightmares—everything warped and twisted out of shape. But it was real, too. Very real.

"And now, to give you a little demonstration of what you're going to see on the inside, Maya the Cat Girl!"

Those eyes...those dark, cat's eyes.  I'd seen them before. Right before...

I was terrified—I knew what she wanted. And yet something was pulling me toward her. It took everything I had to break away and run from that tent.  

“Why did you do that?”
“Do what?”
“Run away.”

“Come with me. You want to, don't you Edward?” “How do you know my name?” “Oh, I know a lot of things—I'm Maya.”

“Don't be afraid...”
“I'm not.”
“You are afraid.”

There was something in those eyes that delighted in my trepidation.  It seemed the more terror I felt, the more animated and excited she became. And yet I knew it was just a dream...and she was so hard to resist. And so I was led me by the hand toward that funhouse.

“Take me in there, Edward. It's dark inside. Soft and cool and dark.  Please.”
“How can I argue with a dream?”

“We've been expecting you, Mr. Hall.”
“You can kiss me now.”
“What if I don't want to?”
“Oh, you want to...”

That's when I absolutely knew, doc.  She's trying to kill me.

“And you woke up then, huh?”

Yes. My heart was beating fast. I had to lie still for an hour waiting for it to settle down. The doctor said I'd almost had it.  The next night I put off sleep until nearly one o'clock, but it didn't matter. The dream was out of control. I was back at the amusement park.  I was running...

“Edward? Edward!”

“Get away from me.”
“There's nothing to be afraid of, Edward, it's only a dream.”

“I've got a heart condition—I can't stand all this excitement!”

“You're at home, asleep in your bed. Now you can do all the things you can't do when you're awake.”
“That's not true, the doctor said...”

“Look, Edward, look!"

“Come on, Edward—it's fun!”

I didn't want to go anywhere near that rollercoaster, but I couldn't help myself. I had to follow her. Even though I knew exactly what it would mean, I had to follow her.

“Jump, Edward! Jump!”

“And is that it?”

Yeah, that's it. If I go to sleep again, I'll go right back to the rollercoaster.  And that'll be the end of me. On the other hand, if I stay awake any longer, the strain will be too much for my heart. Heads you win, tails I lose. That's quite a choice, doctor.

Boy, if I could just close my eyes and wake up anew. And someone lovely and caring will tell me everything's fine, that I just overslept. We'll laugh about it all over breakfast as I realize Maya is just a face I saw on television. And that dark, cool spot she wants to take me—it isn't a real place at all. And this psychiatrist's office, maybe it's all a big put-on as well—just some elaborate, over-indulgent piece of a nightmare. Yes...imagine that.