Thursday, December 12, 2019
By Randy Romero
Roiling waves crashed along the shore like claps of thunder. The sky was a dark canopy riddled with stars, and the moon was barely visible. It was a chilly night and the ocean made it feel ten degrees colder. They were all bundled up, wearing hats and jackets. And the bonfire kept them warm; the alcohol kept them warmer.
This wasn’t exactly how Shirley Bellinger envisioned spending her Halloween. But sitting around a bonfire and drinking beers sure beat those run of the mill costume parties.
The group was small. There was Dylan Sommers, Shirley’s main reason for being there. Joe Cobb, who had supplied most of the booze. Three cases of imported beer from Belgium.
Joe’s girlfriend, Tanya Burke, was with him. Shirley knew her from school but they weren’t exactly best friends. They got along okay, but Shirley didn’t know her well enough to call her a friend. More of a mutual acquaintance.
Dan Carruthers, the school weirdo was also present. Shirley couldn’t understand why Dylan or the others hung around with him. But he did have primo weed, and he wasn’t afraid to share. Maybe that’s why they didn’t mind his company.
Then there was Gil Gerrard and Nicole Stevens. Shirley didn’t mind Nicole, but she never liked Gil. His family was rich and he wasn’t shy about telling you. His pompous attitude made him one of the more detested kids at their school. And Shirley could tell Nicole was only interested in him for money and social status.
They sat on the beach, drinking ice cold beers, with Dan rolling joints and passing them around. Joe and Dylan had a competition going to see who could drink the most beers. Gil bragged about his red sports car, and hung his arm around Nicole like she was a trophy of some kind. Just as Nicole used Gil for his family’s status, Gil used Nicole for her good looks. Even Shirley couldn’t argue that she was one of the prettiest girls in their school.
“Maybe we should sing a song?” Gil joked. “Maybe Kumbaya?”
“I’d sing one if I had my guitar,” Joe said.
“How about a story?” Tanya suggested. “It is Halloween after all.”
“What, like a scary story?” Dylan asked. “Like that urban legend about the guy with a hook for a hand?”
“Ugh, no. That story has been done to death.”
“I’ve got a story,” Dan chimed in.
“Go on,” Gil said. “I’ve gotta hear this one.”
“It happened right here in Brightwater. The Susie Q was a fishing vessel that sank over 25 years ago, before any of us were born. I remember my dad telling me about it as a kid. Nobody really knows how or why it sank. But it went down like a stone and they were trapped at the bottom of the ocean floor, their lungs filling up with salt water. They say it’s pitch black down there. The whole crew, all eight of them were lost. No survivors.
Rumor was that a rival fishing boat was responsible for sabotaging the Susie Q, but nobody could ever prove anything. But that’s not the scary part. For years after the Susie Q sank, people claimed to see the dead fisherman right here along the shore. They claimed they’d walk up right out of the ocean. Usually around this time of the year.”
“Why this time of the year?” Tanya asked.
He waited for some sign of understanding, but got none. “You guys don’t know much about Halloween, do you? You probably think nothing of Halloween outside of kids dressing up in costumes to beg strangers for candy. Halloween used to be called Samhain. In the Druid tradition, it was a festival, a celebration of the dead. And it was the time of year where the barriers between the dead and the living were at their thinnest. And believe what you want to believe about that, but it’s a fact that the Susie Q sank out there 25 years ago. And don’t forget how many people claimed to see those dead fishermen right here on the shore. If we were to see them, this would be the night.”
“Bullshit,” Gil muttered as he pretended to cough.
Dylan chuckled but Shirley wasn’t so amused.
“I remember my parents telling me about the Susie Q,” Joe said.
“Mine too,” Nicole said.
“Yeah, I remember hearing about it. But those sightings were just ghost stories, urban legends. Nobody ever saw any dead fishermen out here. Our parents used to tell us that just to scare us.”
The waves crashed like thunder, and with it, they came. Eight skeletal beings walking out of the sea. Covered in barnacles and tangled in slimy seaweed. Their flesh corroded away. And what little flesh remained was dark blue.
Shirley grabbed Dylan’s hand and Dylan squeezed back.
Dan had a sudden epiphany. It wasn’t just a story his father had told him. It was a confession. Dan’s father had been the captain of the Barbara Ann. He had made his living with that boat. But Dan wasn’t the only one guilty by association.
Joe, Dylan, Tanya, Nicole, and Shirley–all of their dads were local fishermen, and all of them worked on the Barbara Ann around the time that the Susie Q mysteriously sank. Even Gil’s uncle had worked as a mate on Dan’s father’s boat. They were all linked to someone directly responsible for the deaths of eight men.
And now, those men had returned. They lurched forward, making their way up the beach, gaffs and rusty fillet knives in their hands.
The tide came in, extinguishing the bonfire and plunging them into darkness. Their screams, as long as they lasted, carried across the empty beach. There wasn’t a soul around to hear their desperate cries. They wouldn’t be discovered until the next morning. And no trace of the eight fisherman remained. The ghosts of the sea had returned to the ocean they had perished in.
Friday, December 6, 2019
By Randy Romero (Randy Benivegna)
First, it wiped out the power grid.
Then, it wiped out the entire town.
It didn’t take a mathematician to solve the equation. It was basic subtraction. Geoff Banks was the only one left, and he was next.
The streets weren’t safe. Geoff’s car had been in the shop with a bad catalytic converter when this thing had descended upon the town of Ravensville. He didn’t have a vehicle to flee in. He couldn’t make a run for it. He’d only make it a few short blocks before it found him.
Geoff retrieved his shotgun and a box of shells from the garage. He loaded it and pumped the mechanism. Then he locked all the doors and shuttered the windows. He took it a step further by boarding up the windows from the inside and barricading all the entries. Then he chained the cellar doors from the inside.
When he was finished, he sat in the living room under the glow of the kerosene lamps, shotgun nestled in his lap.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Geoff glanced up at the ceiling. The chandelier tinkled as it swayed back and forth.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Outside, gargantuan footsteps reduced the asphalt to rubble. He could hear them down the block. Thump. Thump. Thump. The foundation shook and the chandelier danced above his head. It was coming.
Geoff had secured his house, taken every precaution. But that didn’t stop it from getting in. It came in right through the roof, ripping a massive hole in the center of his house.
Fear overtook him. He held the shotgun but his trembling fingers couldn’t find the trigger. He stared up in horror at the mammoth beast that towered over him. Grotesque, enormous, and starved for flesh.
Friday, November 22, 2019
By Randy Romero (Randy Benivegna)
Trevor Booth had an awful but unbreakable habit of eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. Sometimes it was unavoidable. Dependent on public transportation, Trevor couldn’t help but overhear people’s chitchat. But he also couldn’t deny that listening to these conversations was a guilty pleasure for him.
Maybe it was a way to make up for his own lack of companionship. Trevor was a paradox. He was lonely and he craved conversation, but he typically loathed people. He did have a few friends, but they were few and far between.
That morning on the train, he overheard a heated domestic dispute taking place over a cell phone. The conversation was one-sided since Trevor couldn’t hear on the other end, but it sounded like the woman’s boyfriend was breaking up with her. And judging by her profane remarks, she wasn’t taking the news too well.
He also overheard a man talking to his friend about how his wife left him for her younger, more virile yoga instructor. He overheard two teenagers, who were probably on winter break, gossiping about their classmates and talking about their boyfriends.
In the seat across from him, two strangers argued back and forth. One was a businessman–suit, tie, briefcase in his lap, newspaper rolled up in one hand. The other man was a bit younger, more dressed down. They were heatedly discussing politics, which turned into a debate about climate change, which somehow segued into a debate about vaccinations.
He listened intently to two women gabbing about their husbands and kids. The inane chatter was enough to bore most people to death. But he couldn’t stop himself from listening.
“I told my kids I’m older than Google and they didn’t believe me,” one of the women said. “They think it’s been around forever.”
“Kids have it easy these days,” the other woman said. “We didn’t have Google when we were growing up. We didn’t even have computers.”
“My oldest daughter wants a cell phone for Christmas. I’m putting my foot down. She’s only eleven. She’s too young for a cell phone.”
The rumble of the train ceased and the doors open. A man got on and sat next to Trevor. The man carried a wretched odor. The smell of death. He looked sickly, his eyes were bloodshot. He leaned in, close enough for Trevor to feel his cold, disgusting breath on his cheek.
“We all have it here,” he whispered. “We’re all infected.”
Trevor didn’t respond, just stared straight ahead. He’d dealt with his share of weirdos and creeps on the train, and he knew the best course of action was to ignore them. But that didn’t stop the man’s eerie words from echoing through his mind.
Trevor’s stop was next. He just sat quietly and waited it out.
The train’s brakes screeched as it came to the next stop. The man stood up and Trevor got a better look at his eyes. There was a dark red, almost black color clouding the whites of his eyes.
Trevor got off after him, and looked around. The eyes… Everyone in the train station had the same discoloration and seemed to be walking around in same kind of trance. He ran into the bathroom to get away from everyone and caught a glimpse of his reflection in a mirror, saw that his eyes were turning red too.
“We all have it here,” he repeated the man’s ominous words. “We’re all infected.”
Thursday, November 21, 2019
By Randy Romero
Kayla Wren–a short seven-year-old girl with a pallid complexion and shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair–stood at her parent’s window, staring out at the empty street below. Her eyes shifted back in forth between the desolate street and the cloudless sky.
It was a strikingly sunny day in early May, but Kayla wasn’t surprised to see the neighborhood deserted. Kayla knew something. Something even her parents didn’t know. Something her neighbors never saw coming.
Max and Alyssa Wren woke up just after 10 o’clock. It was a Saturday and Max usually slept in as late as he could on his only day off.
Alyssa was the first to notice Kayla standing at the window.
“Kayla? Are you sleepwalking again?” her mother asked, rubbing sleep dust from her eyes.
But Kayla was wide awake. She looked awfully pale and seemed distant, yet calm, serene. Eerily calm.
Kayla had heard her mother’s voice, but didn’t turn to face her. She just gazed skyward at the blistering sun.
“Today is a beautiful day,” Kayla declared. “We should make the most of it. It will be our last.”
Alyssa gasped, Max sat up straight in bed.
“Kayla! What an awful thing to say,” Alyssa chided. “Why would you say such a terrible thing?”
It wasn’t just what Kayla had said. The frank, matter-of-fact way that Kayla spoke frightened her mother, chilled her to the bone.
“But it’s true,” Kayla said.
“Who told you that?” Max asked.
“Who, sweetie? Who?” Alyssa asked.
“Who are you talking about?”
“The Dark Men. They’re coming to get us. They got Mr. and Mrs. Harper next-door. They got the Sanchez family across the street. Everybody on this block is gone. And we’re next. There’s no stopping them. ”
Max and Alyssa exchanged looks of concern, then turned their attention to Kayla, who still had her back to her parents.
“Today is a beautiful day,” Kayla repeated. “We should make the most of it…”
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction
By Randy Romero
Rust Cogdale was the first to spot the anomalous shapes in the sky. He was standing outside his house on the veranda, puffing his cigar and blowing out rings of smoke.
Rust had never seen anything like it before. They weren’t ordinary aircrafts. They were irregularly shaped and diverse in size. Some were round and disk-shaped. Some looked like giant fighter jets, but with a bizarre, unearthly features. One metallic spacecraft hovered above them all, bigger than a house.
Rust’s neighbor, Sheila Barnes, joined him outside. She gazed in disbelief at the enigmatic space crafts that loomed over them.
“What in God’s name is that?” Sheila cried.
“I don’t think God has anything to do with this,” Rust said, shaking his head.
The otherworldly spaceships blotted out the sun, engulfing the town in darkness. It was three in the afternoon, but it might as well have been midnight.
Other people soon joined them and before Rust knew it, the whole neighborhood was gazing skyward, mystified by these technologically superior space crafts.
Kaitlin Caruso stood on her porch, huddling her children who looked like scared rabbits.
“Government?” Kaitlin asked. “Are they military?”
“No way can the government hide something that big from us,” Rust said. “I served as a Marine for eight years. That sure as hell doesn’t look like military to me.”
Tom Holt shouted from down the street. “It’s not just us! It’s the whole damn city! They’ve got us completely surrounded!”
The situation reminded Rust of those old black-and-white Sci-Fi movies he used to watch as a kid. The idea of an alien invasion used to scare the life out of him. But this was no movie. And Rust had a funny feeling that these aliens didn’t come in peace.
The space crafts cast a terrifying shadow over the whole city. This finally answered the daunting question of whether or not life truly existed on other planets. But the question on Rust’s mind was, “Why are they here? What are their intentions?”
He didn’t have to wait long for his answer as a laser beam from the largest ship reduced the town’s clock tower to ashes.
The first shots had been fired. They had come to declare war.
People rushed inside their houses, seeking shelter. Rust went back inside just in time to see the latest news on TV. The whole city was under attack. Seconds later, the signal was lost and every channel was on standby.
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
By Randy Romero
The cellar was jet black and freezing. Its walls were soundproof. Not like it mattered. The property was secluded, tucked away on the back roads of Westlake. No one was around to hear anything.
The Surgeon’s polished equipment glistened under the dim lights. His patient was splayed out on an operating table that was bolted to the floor.
“All those charlatans. Those sycophantic simpletons. They praise the wicked, the immoral, the corrupt. They worship false idols. And they dare to call me a monster. Foolish parasites. The media calls me The Surgeon because they lack creativity. It’s funny though, they actually got things right for once. Score one for those hate mongering bastards. Should the police ever apprehend me and reveal my true identity to the world, the media can gave themselves a congratulatory pat on the back.
I’m a surgeon by day, and a killer by night. A sinner and a saint. An angel to some, a demon to others. To my patients, I am a God, a savior. To my victims, I am the devil. For every life I save, I take one in return. Confused? I’m sure you are. Why would I dedicate all my energy to saving lives only to take the lives of others? Well, I could give you a load of crap, make up some excuse. But the truth is, there is no reason. I kill simply because I enjoy it. I’m sure they’ll say I’m mad, crazy. But I’m as sane as I’ve ever been. The only feeling better than saving a life is taking one. It gives you a rush like you wouldn’t believe.
I remember Grady Miller. He was my first. I cut him open, took out all the organs, and sewed him back up. No wonder they call me The Surgeon. Grady was the first…of many. If they ever do catch me, I’ll probably be sentenced to death. I wonder what will happen when they execute me. Hell won’t want me. Heaven won’t know what to make of me. But both will be in awe of my work.”
The priest–bound to the operating table–was speechless. He had that helpless look that The Surgeon had seen innumerable times before. He called it the death stare. That look of fear but also acknowledgement as they accepted their death was imminent.
“Well, Padre, thanks for listening to my confession. I don’t expect you to absolve me. I don’t desire redemption or absolution. Now, let’s get this show on the road…”
The Surgeon took a razor-sharp scalpel from the instrument tray and slit his “patient” down the middle, the blood spurting through the air in quick jets. The Surgeon wiped some of the blood from his face and checked his watch.
“Time of death, 12:14 AM.”
Thursday, October 31, 2019
By Randy Romero (With contributions by Dexter Lynch)
In case you’re looking for some new (well, old) horror movie recommendations, I decided to compile a list of twenty hidden gems. Now I understand that some of these may not be considered hidden gems to horror fanatics like myself, but I’m sure some of these titles have been overlooked by many. And don’t expect any long, drawn out reviews. I’m only going to name the titles and share some personal thoughts or give a brief description of each title. Special thanks to Dexter Lynch for helping me put this together. You can find him on Twitter @SonOfSamLoomis.
My Little Eye (2002): If you’re looking for blood and gore, this will disappoint you. This film is a very slow burn, and relies more on mystery and nail biting suspense. The film is about five young adults who are selected to spend six months in an isolated mansion while being filmed at all times. The catch is that none of them can leave. If they last six months, they each walk away with a million dollars. They think they’re part of an internet based reality series, but when a lost computer programmer who spends most of his time on the internet, shows up on their property and doesn’t even recognize them, they begin to suspect otherwise. This film features a small cameo from a young Bradley Cooper, who plays the stranded computer programmer.
Frailty (2001): Underrated is the first word that comes to mind, though underappreciated might be the better term. This is a film about something that truly scares me because it’s very real; fanaticism. Directed by and starring Bill Paxton, the film also stars Matthew McConaughey and Powers Boothe. In the film, McConaughey’s character pays a visit to an FBI agent (Boothe) and unloads an unbelievable tale about his childhood, where his father (Paxton) believed he was being commanded by God to kill demons in disguise. When their father died, McConaughey’s brother picked up where he left off.
Waxwork (1988): A story about a group of teens lured to a wax museum, where they discover the horror exhibits are even realer than they appear. If they get close enough to the displays, they are transported to a different period in time, where they come face to face with a werewolf, Count Dracula, and the Marquis de Sade, among other threats. There was a sequel, which honestly wasn’t very good and I could’ve lived without watching it.
The Borrower (1991): This title blends horror with science fiction. An evil alien is banished to the planet Earth as punishment for his intergalactic crimes. He’s disguised as a human but with one small problem…every few hours, the alien begins to revert to its true form, prompting him to “borrow” heads from helpless victims to continue to live in disguise and evade capture. Twin Peaks fans may spot Madchen Amick in a small role as a rock groupie. Tommy Towles from House of 1000 Corpses and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer also has a role in this enjoyable Sci-Fi horror flick.
The Hidden (1987): Another film that falls under the Sci-Fi/horror genre. This title is about an alien parasite that possesses human bodies, forcing them to commit violent, senseless crimes. Hunting this extraterrestrial criminal is an FBI agent who may have a few secrets of his own (played by Kyle MacLachlan of Twin Peaks fame, a show where he also played an FBI agent). The film is definitely more Sci-Fi and action than it is horror, but it’s still a fun ride. The opening car chase sequence is a great set up. Directed by Jack Sholder, who also directed Nightmare on Elm Street 2.
Madman (1982): A group of campers accidentally summon an axe-wielding killer named Madman Marz. This is a by-the-books slasher that borrowed a tiny bit from its predecessor Friday the 13th, but memorable enough to stand out on its own. Fans of Friday the 13th and similar titles should definitely enjoy this campfire killer story.
Intruder (1989): The crew of a local supermarket are terrorized and killed off one by one by an unseen stalker. Is the check-out girl’s jealous, violent ex-boyfriend behind all this, or is this the gruesome work of somebody else? Written and directed by Scott Spiegel, produced by Sam Raimi, and featuring a cameo by Bruce Campbell. The film was also produced and co-written by Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction). Another fun fact: This is the first film that KNB Effects worked on.
Videdrome (1983): Directed by the brilliant David Cronenberg (The Fly, The Dead Zone, Scanners), this movie follows the president of a small TV station that reels viewers in with everything from hardcore violence to softcore pornography. When Max Renn (James Woods) stumbles onto Videodrome, a pointless, plotless show where people are seemingly tortured and murdered for the viewers “pleasure”, he wants to find out who made it and get it on the air. Once Max is exposed to Videodrome, he experiences bizarre hallucinations that combine sex with violence. Is Max losing his mind? Or is there a power behind these Videodrome transmissions?
Witchboard (1986): I was pleasantly surprised the first time I watched this. I went in not knowing what to expect and was actually quite impressed. A young woman uses a Ouija Board at a party and is promptly terrorized by a spirit that wants to weaken her in order to possess her. This is a creepy and clever little flick that often gets avoided or overlooked. But I think it deserves to be on this list and I hope more people give it a shot.
The Prowler (1981): By the early 80's, the horror genre was booming, with new titles popping up on a weekly basis. One of the adverse effects was the fact that a lot of these slasher titles got overlooked. Such is the case with The Prowler. In 1945, a couple is attacked and murdered by a mysterious prowler dressed in World War II army fatigues. 35 years later, the prowler returns.
The Prince of Darkness (1987): The name John Carpenter is synonymous with horror. The man gave us horror classics like Halloween and The Thing. He terrified us with The Fog. He blew us away with Escape from New York. But I feel like this title always gets overlooked. A priest, played by Donald Pleasence, discovers a mysterious cylinder containing a strange green liquid. The liquid is the embodiment of Satan himself, and those that are exposed to the liquid become possessed. Like most early Carpenter films, this one is tense and carries a classic Carpenter music score.
Eaten Alive (1976): The “forgotten” Tobe Hooper film. Texas Chainsaw fans will rejoice with this film, which retains the same manic, psychotic energy of his seminal film. It also continued Hooper’s brilliant use of sound to enhance the craziness and the suspense. In the film, crazy Judd runs the Starlight and sacrifices his guests to the crocodile that lives in the swamp beside his hotel. The film features an early appearance by Robert Englund, and also stars Marilyn Burns of Texas Chainsaw fame.
Angel Heart (1987): Takes elements of horror and the supernatural, and applies them to a 1950s hardboiled detective story. With Mickey Rourke as its main star, and Robert DeNiro playing the mysterious Louie Cypher, I don’t know if this counts as a hidden gem. But it’s a horror movie that rarely gets mentioned. Harry Angel (Rourke) is a private detective who’s hired to track down a missing musician named Johnny Favorite. His client is bizarre and mysterious, the people he questions start to turn up dead, and horrific visions plague him on his journey to find Johnny Favorite.
Slugs (1988): A movie about killer slugs that were spawned by toxic waste (it’s always toxic waste or nuclear radiation, isn’t it). The film is that simple. It sounds cheesy, and it is. But it’s fun to watch and surprisingly well written. The film maintains a small cult following from horror geeks like myself.
Happy Birthday to Me (1981): Another slasher cult classic that got lost in the fray. I don’t want to spoil anything because this is a film with a twist. But this slasher flick is a step above the rest and very memorable. If you’re a fan of the 80’s slasher genre, you definitely need to check this out.
Curtains (1983): This is not your standard slasher movie. An actress gets herself committed to prove to her director how dedicated she is to her role in his next film. The director is in on it and even helps her get committed. You can imagine how surprised the actress is when she finds out the director is looking to cast a new lead in the film. He invites a few girls up to a secluded mansion to audition for the role. But one of the girls is willing to kill for this role, and that’s exactly what they do. The mask featured in this film is super creepy.
Cutting Class (1989): Featuring Brad Pitt in one of his first major roles. Teachers and students start turning up dead at a high school, and suspicion falls on Brian Woods, a problem teen who was just released from a mental institution not too long ago. But is somebody setting Brian up? Or is he truly guilty? The kills in this slasher are pretty unique, and you could tell by watching this that Brad Pitt was destined to be a star.
Dead and Breakfast (2004): It’s horror. It’s a comedy. It’s a musical? Well, it is in one particular scene. This zombie comedy is a riot and the plot doesn’t follow the standard zombie playbook. A group of friends on their way to a wedding get stranded in the small town of Lovelock. They crash at the bed and breakfast. But when the cook is murdered and the proprietor dies under suspicious circumstances, the stubborn sheriff forbids any of them to leave until he gets answers. The sheriff is played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan of TWD fame. The eccentric owner was in possession of a mysterious box that has the ability to trap and possess souls. Once it ends up in the wrong hands, all hell breaks loose. The special effects are gnarly and the film itself is quite entertaining.
Deep Rising (1998): This film is a guilty pleasure of mine. This has enough gore to classify it as a horror film, but there’s tons of action and plenty of sharp, witty dialogue to make it a joyride. I think Roger Ebert said it best when he said this film is basically Aliens with a fresh paint job. Instead of a spaceship, they’re trapped on an actual ship. Instead of alien creatures, its mutated sea creatures. There’s even a little nod to Aliens when the tentacle creatures open their mouths to reveal a second mouth. The creature effects are quite impressive for its time, when they were just starting to get the hang of CGI and digital effects. The film has a great cast of recognizable actors who all play their parts very well.
Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016): The entire film has this lingering sense of dread and doom. Bravo to the director for pulling that off. I don’t want to spoil too much. It’s better if you just watch it and see how it unfolds. The cops discover a bloody multiple homicide, and make an even more shocking discovery in the basement, when they find a fourth body. A son assists his coroner father in doing the autopsy on the Jane Doe. There are no external visible signs of trauma, but her ankles and wrists are fractured, her tongue has been crudely cut out, her organs scarred and blackened. I don’t know if this title quite belongs on this list, but I’m sure there are some people who have missed out on this film.
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
WORST MOVIES EVER
By Dexter Lynch
Welcome to the first edition of “Worst Movies Ever”. I’m your benevolent (or should I say malevolent) host, Dexter Lynch. You can find me on Twitter @sonofsamloomis (shameless plug).
I don’t know when the next edition will be posted. Probably when I have more free time, which is almost never. But this first entry comes right in time for Halloween. So without any further ado, I’ll be giving you the rundown on some of the worst movies ever, starting with the horror genre. I’ll keep this short, sweet, and to the point. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, track some of these duds down and judge for yourself.
Iced (1988): Chances are you’ve never heard of this one. And if that’s the case, consider yourself lucky. It’s basically a soap opera masquerading as a slasher film. The plot is senseless, the characters are unsympathetic. And it has one of the most ridiculous ending I’ve ever seen in a horror movie, and I’m including the end of Christmas Evil. Watch a real horror movie instead of this tripe. Or if the soap opera element intrigues you, just go and watch Days of our Lives (is that show still on the air?)
The Forest (1982): This is an incoherent mess of a film featuring terrible acting and a mediocre score. Seriously, the scariest thing about this movie is the acting. And the death scenes leave a lot to be desired. Not to mention that the whole ghost children subplot is utterly absurd and feels completely out of place. Avoid this film like a case of the clap.
Night of the Demon (1980): Not to be confused with Night of the Demons (1988). A solid horror score was wasted on this otherwise banal, unremarkable take on the Bigfoot legend. Poor special effects, unconvincing Bigfoot makeup, continuity errors galore; this film has all the red flags of a bad horror movie. My favorite lapse in continuity was the doctor whose face was practically burned off, but when the authorities question him in the hospital, the top half of his face is okay while the rest is hidden under a white sheet. And since when does Bigfoot use an ax or a butcher knife? He’s freaking Bigfoot for crying out loud! The only decent special effect was the “ax through the skull” bit.
A Blade in the Dark (1983): This title falls under the giallo subgenre. The only positive thing I can say about this film is that it has an excellent horror score. The film itself is a tedious, uneventful slasher. Poor effects, little blood, virtually no gore. The slow, plodding story drags out in a futile attempt to create suspense. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t succeed in creating suspense. Avoid this film like your ex.
Psycho Cop (1989): The first Psycho Chop makes a huge mistake by taking itself too seriously. The sequel, Psycho Cop Returns didn’t have that same problem. It knew exactly what it was and it had a lot of fun with that, infusing bloody carnage with over-the-top humor and awful one liners that you can’t help but chuckle at. That’s sadly not the case with the original Psycho Cop. The story follows serial killing cop/devil worshiper Joe Vickers AKA Gary Henley AKA Ted Warnicky. The acting is atrocious to say the very least, and the kills are uninspired. It could’ve been a fun, likable popcorn flick. Instead it was a routine slasher that shares none of the positive qualities of similar titles like Maniac Cop. Don’t watch it unless you’re a glutton for punishment.
Friday, October 11, 2019
BELOW THE SURFACE
By Randy Romero (Randy Benivegna)
Monday, October 7th.
Redfield, New York.
Frank Burke was enjoying his first beer of the evening when in walked Darby Wilkinson, or Wilks as the guys called him down at the plant. He offered to buy Frank a beer, and Frank was never one to turn down a free drink. He was surprised his liver was still going after all these years.
Ridgewood Tavern was virtually empty, but Frank knew the place would be packed by eight o’clock for Monday night football. Ridgewood was Frank’s favorite spot in town. He stopped in every night for a few drinks after his shift.
Frank and Darby worked together at the Redfield Chemical Plant. It wasn’t a dream job for either man, but it paid the bills. But there were always rumors surrounding the plant, and questions that Frank and Darby never dared to ask their superiors.
“How you been, Frank?”
“I can’t complain. How’s the family?”
“Great. Nadine and I are doing well. And we just celebrated Devin’s tenth birthday.”
“They grow up so fast. Well, wish the kid a happy birthday for me, will ya?”
“Sure thing. Hey, did you hear about Crackerjack?” Darby said. Jack Halsey, disparagingly referred to by the guys at the plant as Crackerjack, had worked with Frank and Darby for a period of time. Then he quit to work for the county.
Frank couldn’t remember who started it, but one of their co-workers referred to Halsey as Crackerjack, and the nickname stuck due to his questionable mental state. Halsey was a nice enough guy, but anybody who talked to him could tell he had a few loose screws.
“No, what about Halsey?”
“Kicked the bucket. Heart attack.”
“I wonder if it had anything to do with his little breakdown,” Darby said.
“What do you know about that?” Frank asked.
“Not much. I heard he wigged out at work a month before he died. Why, you know something about it?”
“Only what Halsey told me.”
“And what did he tell you?”
Frank took a big sip of his beer and shook his head. “You wouldn’t even believe me if I told you. I sure as shit didn’t believe him.”
“Tell me anyway. This I’ve got to hear.”
“Well, keep in mind this is Crackerjack Halsey we’re talking about here. But apparently the county was having him repair a busted sewage pipe. The sewers underground here are just a bunch of interconnected tunnels. Very easy to get lost down there if you don’t know the way. Well, according to him, he saw something at the end of one of those tunnels.
Came out looking white as a ghost. That’s when he quit. He wouldn’t talk about it at first. Then one day he told me. I was sitting right here and he came in for a drink, sat down next to me, and he whispered it to me. Said he saw a giant spider, as big as a Great Dane, he claimed. He said it was sitting in a tarp-sized web with raccoons and possums and other tiny animals all wrapped up tightly in silk thread. Said it looked up at him with eight giant eyes and hissed before he ran like the wind.”
“Sounds like something Crackerjack would say.”
“The story itself didn’t scare me. What scared me is how much Halsey seemed to believe it. I mean, who knows what’s really down there, below the surface. And I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors regarding the plant?”
“I try to keep my eyes and ears to myself at work.”
“The Redfield Plant has been accused of dumping chemicals in the past. I know it sounds crazy, but what if they’ve been dumping chemicals into the sewer? And what would happen if something was exposed to that toxic waste?”
“So you’re starting to believe Halsey’s giant spider story?”
“I know one thing, they haven’t sent anybody down into the sewer since Halsey. I’ve got a buddy who works for the county. He says nobody will go down there. And I’m telling you, they’re hiding something from us at the plant. What if they’ve really been dumping chemicals down there like some people say?”
“Giant mutated spiders,” Darby laughed and polished off his beer. Then a hideous thought began to dawn on him.
“Oh, God no…”
“What? What is it?”
“My son wanted a baby alligator. He had it for a few weeks. I told him it died when he was at school one day. But it didn’t really die. My wife was pissed at me for buying it. She didn’t want it in the house. She made me flush it down the toilet…”