31 Nights of Horror IX, Night 3: The Babysitter: Killer Queen

31 Nights of Horror IX, Night 3: The Babysitter: Killer Queen

Three sentence review:

Y’all, if you need a movie recommendation for this Saturday night please watch The Babysitter and then watch its BETTER sequel, The Babysitter: Killer Queen (both on Netflix). The sequel is self-aware, sharply funny and really fun. I absolutely loved this sequel and you will too!

31 Nights of Horror IX, Night 2: HOST

31 Nights of Horror IX, Night 2: Host

Three sentence review:

What an absolute treat it is to have any new horror this year, and Host happened to be exceptional! Set during the current pandemic, this excellent horror short is like watching a Zoom meeting go to hell. The scares are effective, the story is solid, and the run time is perfect for watching over and over again – well done!

31 Nights of Horror IX, Night 1: Killer Workout

IT’S OCTOBER. OCTOBER 2020. THERE’S A LOT OF SHIT TO BE SAD/MAD ABOUT. WATCH HORROR, BE HAPPY. CHEERS, WITCHES!

31 Nights of Horror IX, Night 1: Killer Workout

Killer Workout - Wikipedia

Killer Workout (1987) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

Three sentence review:

If you were burned in a freak tanning bed accident and it derailed your future career as a model would you murder everyone in a gym several years later? That’s exactly what happens in 1987’s awesomely bad KILLER WORKOUT aka AEROBI-CIDE. I absolutely loved this 80s stinky cheese classic and need a Rhonda’s Workout sweatshirt like yesterday.

Horror Movie Review: Killer Workout (1987) - Games, Brrraaains & A  Head-Banging Life

Look Beyond the Mirror: A Love Letter to Poltergeist III

Tom Skerritt was the JAM in the 1970s and 1980s. He is an Emmy award winning actor with major roles in blockbuster films like Top Gun and Steel Magnolias. His mustache was iconic. He was also in 1988’s ill-fated Poltergeist III.

When horror fans discuss bad sequels, Poltergeist III comes up a lot. I get it – it’s not the same Reverend Kane, the plot revolving around Carol Anne feels tired after the first two movies, and the tragic death of Heather O’Rourke made the film’s marketing complicated and the intended ending impossible to film. But after watching it 32 years later, I’d argue there’s a lot to love.

The film mostly takes place in a high-rise apartment building, a setting not often effectively used in horror films. Skerritt’s position as the building manager is a fitting representation of the excess and booming economy of the late 1980s. The floor in which the Gardner family resides has a mirrored hallway which look supremely creepy even without the sinister Kane peering from within. Mirrored doors and walls were a big thing in the 70s and 80s; a trend I hope never resurfaces.

Poltergeist 3 | Poltergeist, Fandango, Horror movies

I actually completely forgot about Carol Anne’s school psychiatrist, who is convinced that Carol Anne can manipulate people into a deep hypnosis in order to hallucinate. First of all, in what conspiracy-theory led world would this be an applicable diagnosis to a psychiatrist? But I digress. What it does accomplish though is having someone external to Carol Anne’s family wondering what the hell is wrong with her.

Poltergeist III' (1988): 30 Years of Creating Fears of Mirrors - PopHorror

Let’s talk about Lara Flynn Boyle. Her character’s name is DONNA! In 1988! It’s almost like David Lynch watched the film and was like “that Donna is my Donna”. Horror in the 1980s was all about groups of absent minded teenagers being terrorized by some sort of killer, so I suspect the director created Donna’s character to include that element. I love the pool scene where Donna and her boyfriend fall through the puddle into the other side. Dark puddles are scary. Avoid them. And I mean there’s a lot going on in this sequel. Tangina can use telepathy to talk to Carol Anne a la The Shining. Okay. I’m not hating on my girl Tangina, because she’s amazing.

My Kindertrauma: Poltergeist III (the puddle scene)

What I love most about this sequel, though, is that it’s the only one that really digs into the possibilities and powers of the ghosts on the other side. That they can possess images, manipulate people and capture people to take them into their world. That’s objectively creepy! Reality bending ghosts, y’all. Looking to scoop up your souls. Oh, my heavens.

Heather O’Rourke’s tragic death prevented this sequel from getting a proper release and recognition, and perhaps rightfully so. It was the respectful thing to do not to capitalize on her death, and I get that. But give it another watch. And then tell me if you are or are not freaked out by hallway mirrors!

Revisiting Urban Legends: Final Cut

I’m on a sucky sequel odyssey. I’ve been revisiting horrible sequels, mostly from the 90s and early 2000s, to see if my opinion on them remains the same or changes. I started a few months ago when I re-watched Poltergeist III at 2 am. That movie gets a lot of hate, but the filmmakers had a lot working against them. Most notably the death of Heather O’Rourke before filming ended, but also that Julian Beck (Kane from Poltergeist II: The Other Side) had passed away as well, prior to filming. I moved on to Jaws III (my favorite Jaws sequel), Amityville 1992 (omg), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, and most recently, Urban Legends: Final Cut.

Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000) directed by John Ottman • Reviews ...

I hated Urban Legends: Final Cut when I first saw it sometime in the early 2000s. I felt that it was formulaic, boring, and unnecessary. I was convinced I’d think the same thing when I watched it in 2020. Maybe it was quarantine brain, but something surprising happened instead: I had fun!

World’s greatest campus security guard, Reese, returns as the link to the old film, and I love that. She’s great and I love how her character wraps up in the end as the hero of Amy’s next movie. It’s also completely plausible that the university from the first film would cover up everything that happened and would fire Reese. Universities don’t like negative press. Speaking of the end, the Nurse Bates cameo is also super fun! I miss Rebecca Gayheart. What is she up to? Also I forgot in 2001 that she hit a child who was crossing the street and the kid died. That… really sucks. Anyway.

Same schtick, different campus - Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
Urban Legends: Final Cut | Full Movie | Movies Anywhere

It’s probably best to overlook the plot. It starts out kind of cool and meta, but quickly devolves into a weird psycho film professor narrative that just doesn’t work. Is this what influenced Scream 3? Ugh. The twin brother plot device is still just as awful. Let’s hope no future movies are tempted to do this. Beerfest is the only one that did it well. I actually did like the very beginning scene which introduced the setting as being a film school. But, overlooking the plot, and I know that’s asking a lot… there are some fun characters and scenes.

First of all, Eva Mendes is WAY too hot to be a supporting character in this movie. She is at least fifty times more attractive then every other character and it’s an injustice that she had to star in this film to build her Hollywood resume. I actually thought she would end up being the killer a la Rebecca Gayheart and kind of wish that she was.

Same schtick, different campus - Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

It’s always fun to see Anthony Anderson in a movie and he’s entertaining as a film school nerd side character. Like Eva Mendes, he’s too good for this movie.

Let’s not forget JOEY LAWRENCE (sorry, I mean “Joseph” Lawrence) as the rich kid with a cell phone.

I do love that both Warner and Elle Woods’ sorority sister from Legally Blonde are both in this movie. I wonder if that is why either one of them were cast in Legally Blonde!

Picture of Urban Legends: Final Cut
It's the Booze Talkin'; It's a good time to remake Urban Legend!

Where this movie really lacks is the absence of more urban legend scenes. The only true urban legend included is when the woman wakes up in the bath tub with her kidney missing. The rest of the deaths are just mildly entertaining conventional slasher kills. We could have seen Bloody Mary, chain e-mails which were so popular at that time, alligator in the sewer, and so many others. TOTAL MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

Is this a good movie? No. But did I enjoy it the second time around? Yes! Much more so than the first time watching it. It’s a horrible sequel but I have an affection for it now.

At the time of publishing this post, I’m now watching I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. Never seen it, and it’s already horrible. Wish me luck!

Til the next sucky sequel,

Katie

Category Is: LGBT Horror

But first…Support Black Horror Creators, An Epilogue:

Following my last podcast episode, “Support Black Horror Creators”, I realize I left out two crucial comments. One, I am ITCHING in anticipation for Nia Decosta’s Candyman and I can’t believe I left that out of the episode. And remember, Jordan Peele may be the producer but Nia Decosta is the director. It’s her movie! The most recent trailer, which uses shadow puppets, is awesome and you should check it out immediately. The other point I omitted is my own personal journey in acknowledging my racism as a white person. The episode is not about me, and I do not want to center my feelings in a conversation that needs to be about supporting black creators. But for anyone reading who is white, I want to share how I got here: I have done and said so many vile, racist things. My freshman year of college I used bronzer to darken my face for a Halloween costume that was not just racist, but also just a really bad costume. A lazy stereotype. I didn’t know at the time that this was offensive AF – I thought I was being ironic and funny. And I was NINETEEN. Two years later, I wore my friend’s confederate flag as a dress to a dumb “anything but clothes” party. This was when “hipsterdom” was a burgeoning concept and I thought I was being so *~EdGy~* and ironic. Nope, I was being a dumbass racist. Because I went to the University of South Carolina, I don’t remember anyone calling me out at the time. Maybe someone did, and I didn’t listen. Then I got my first job out of college working for a labor union. It was the first time in my life where my daily experiences in life weren’t surrounded by 99% white people. I met and got to know people who didn’t look like me and didn’t grow up in the privileged environment I did. And so it grew from there. Turns out, listening to experiences that aren’t yours does wonders for broadening your worldview. I am STILL racist and complicit in a racist system. I am trying to do better. Do the work in unlearning. Check out Rachel Cargle on Instagram or Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race”. And if you’re white like me, sit with your shame, guilt and privilege. Feels like shit, right? Now imagine being oppressed every day. Just shut the hell up and listen. But enough about me. It’s not about me.

Okay, on to today’s subject: LGTBQIA Horror!

Happy Pride month, horror fans! This week I watched the new documentary, Disclosure, on Netflix. I highly recommend it. It details the experiences and representation of trans actors and filmmakers in TV and film. As you can imagine, there’s lots of work to do. We are just now at a point where trans actors, non-binary actors and their stories are SLOWLY being shown on TV without centering their gender or impact of that journey as the main plot. They’re just existing like normal humans with real feelings, challenges, celebrations and aspirations. Looking back and seeing interviews by Oprah, Katie Couric, and scenes from Jerry Springer and other talk shows made me cringe. We’ve evolved – a LITTLE bit.

As it relates to horror, queer subtext and LGBTQIA horror creators have existed since pretty much the beginning of the film industry. One prominent early example is The Bride of Frankenstein, directed by a gay man and starring an openly gay actor. I didn’t know that until this week. Maybe you did, and if so you’re a savvier horror fan than I am. And that’s arguably one of the greatest horror sequels of all time! But even before that, horror fiction dating back to the 1790s include queer points of view and stories. At a time where the word “gay” may not have existed, queer writers were inserting their stories in horror fiction. Including Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Unfortunately, while queer themes have been there if you look hard enough, over the years LGBTQIA characters in horror movies have either been cast as monsters/villains, or as dispensable victims or background characters. I have started to see more positive representation in recent years, and hopefully the trend continues.

I highly recommend watching Mark Patton’s documentery, Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street. I talk about this in the Nerdcropolis Podcast, Episode 8. It’s not just a great documentary about a great Nightmare on Elm Street sequel, you also get to hear Mark’s take on the making of the film. He really wears his heart on his sleeve in this one, and should be commended for his bravery in being so vulnerable about a subject that has clearly tormented him for years. I applaud you, Mark! Excellent documentary. Check it out on Shudder!

I have more to add about the film discussed on the podcast this week – Alena. I mention there are some beautiful depictions of queer relationships, and there are. BUT! There’s also a lot of brutality there. *Spoiler alert, and TW: R*pe*: There’s a pretty graphic depiction of lesbian sexual assault in a locker room, and while it’s undoubtedly violent, the assault is not BECAUSE of their sexuality. At all. It’s just because the main bully, Fillipa, just sucks. It definitely has a Carrie vibe in that regard. There’s also such a gnarly, bloody make out scene which I thought was awesome!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the death of director Joel Schumacher. A lot of stories in the media that I’ve seen about him says he’s best known for the Batman movies he made, but we all love him for making Flatliners and The Lost Boys, which is loaded with homoerotic imagery that I LOVE. Read a tribute to him in Advocate: https://www.advocate.com/people/2020/6/22/joel-schumacher-gay-director-lost-boys-st-elmos-fire-has-died

Ok – here is the watch list from this week’s podcast episode:

  1. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
  2. Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama (1988)
  3. High Tension (2003)
  4. Raw (2015)
  5. Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2020)
  6. Alena (2015)
  7. Child’s Play (1988)
  8. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  9. Hellraiser (1987)
  10. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
  11. Ginger Snaps (2000)

Blogs to check out:

  1. Big Gay Horror Fan https://big-gay-horror-fan.com/
  2. Gayly Dreadful: https://www.gaylydreadful.com/

Podcasts:

  1. Gay for Horror
  2. Horror Queers

On MY Watchlist:

  1. Knife + Heart
  2. Lyle
  3. May
  4. Rift
  5. Stranger By the Lake

Underwater Was the Monster Horror I Needed Right Now

Hey, there’s gonna be a few spoilers here for Underwater. So don’t read on if you haven’t seen it. But if you have, or if you just don’t care, proceed with delight!

Kristen Stewart didn’t *need* to have a fantastic haircut to be great in Underwater but it certainly had me internally screaming triumphant cheers for her at the beginning of the film. Likewise, this surreal and chaotic year didn’t *need* to begin with a surprise aquatic horror hit about Cthulhu, but that also has me cheering. I didn’t see Underwater in theaters when it was released, and I regret it. I bet it was a really entertaining watch on the big screen. Will we still have movie theaters after this pandemic life ends? I hope so. We’ll see. But that’s another day and another post.

What I love about horror movies set in or around the ocean is that the ocean is freaking scary for a multitude of reasons. Not just the monsters that live within, but the terror of the environment and our inability to survive. The action begins right away with a huge explosion at the gigantic oil drilling site deep in the ocean. At that point, we have no idea that it’s due to a mythical monster but that doesn’t matter! Explosions are always cool. A small crew of survivors set out to reach a new rig that will supposedly have working escape pods. The only issue is that the majority of these survivors have no idea how to deal with the crushing pressure of being so far underwater. And that is a problem for poor Rodrigo almost immediately. What a horrific way to die. And you’re chumming the waters for who knows what kinds of deep sea beasts!

Shenanigans (seananigans?) continue to ensue as the survivors fight the environment and some creepy looking humanoid monsters that are HANGRY. There were some quality death scenes that really do seem hellish when you think about them. I find TJ Miller to be super obnoxious, which he loves, but he was subdued enough in this one that he didn’t bother me. And I found his stuffed bunny to be kinda freakin endearing. My friend informed me that the bunny was actually supposed to be a live rabbit, but like, logistics, man. But fucking Emily, ugh. She had a journey in this movie. I was so annoyed by her but she ended up being pretty much a bad ass and even offered to sacrifice herself so K. Stew could live. But Kristen gave her solid advice to follow her soulmate, Smith. Speaking of Emily and her love for Smith, did anyone else know that rising horror darling John Gallagher was on Broadway? Yeah, I didn’t either.

I’m going to talk about the ending now. First, I wonder what they would have done if more than three people had survived? Kind of convenient how the number of pods matched the number of survivors, even if one of them was faulty. Second, I do think that Kristen Stewart’s character could have fixed the pod. She was an engineering badass throughout the whole movie. But I get that her sacrifice was necessary as the hangry humanoids were ascending quickly to her friends. Lastly: OH MY GOD IT REALLY WAS CTHULHU. That is so awesome. I read a few articles arguing that Underwater is the movie we needed in the Cloverfield universe. As someone who has only recently seen the first Cloverfield, I agree that it would fit in nicely. TJ Miller even references an oil team drilling too deep and unleashing mythical monsters in Cloverfield. Inspiration, much?

Damn, I know I’m not alone when I say I’m stoked about the rise in popularity of monster movies. Fingers crossed we get to meet some more on screen monster baddies real soon!

Spoilers] 'Underwater' Director Confirms That You Saw What You ...

Scares that Care Weekend

I attended my first horror con over the weekend! The sixth annual Scares that Care Charity Weekend was held in Williamsburg, VA. Simply put: I found my people. I make my living as a professional fundraiser for a nonprofit organization, so going to a horror convention that gives back to charity truly made my heart happy.

If they ever decide to hire people, I will be applying for the Director of Development position. But, they’re proud of the fact that Scares that Care is an all volunteer organization. And they should be proud. They’re doing amazing things for a lot of children and families. In the mean time, I can raise money for them on my own time. Which I plan to do next year!

We drove to Williamsburg on Friday night and after a fancy Taco Bell dinner we made our way to the Double Tree Hotel. After getting over my initial giddiness of seeing a horror themed silent auction, we trekked over to the first stop: the hotel bar. Obviously. They had spooky shooters and scary cocktails! I WAS IN HEAVEN. We ordered two zombies and a booberry shooter and took it to our next destination: HOW REDNECKS SAVED HOLLYWOOD HOSTED BY THE ONE AND ONLY MR. JOE BOB BRIGGS!


Listening to Joe Bob Briggs speak for two hours about the history of rednecks on film and their contributions to Hollywood was an absolute highlight of my year. He is so damn entertaining, knowledgeable and no-frills. I loved that he had no stage theatrics or set decorations. He is the show. All he needs is a podium and a projector screen. I learned so much, most importantly that I am a Sling Blade person and not a Forrest Gump person. My favorite clip was from the Lil Abner musical in 1958, where the town of Dogpatch pokes fun at the fictional confederate general, Jubilation T. Cornpone. A reminder that there was a time when confederate monuments were lampooned.

Joe Bob could talk about anything and we’d all sit there for hours without getting up to use the bathroom or glancing at our phones. He’s that magnetic. Thanks, Joe Bob, for coming to Virginia: where you don’t have to explain “Appalachia” to the audience because we live it. Congrats to Scares that Care for landing such an awesome event. It was fantastic. PS: Darcy was there too and I love her!

On Saturday, we headed back to the convention to check out the huge selection of vendors and the celebrity room. The vendors were so much fun. I picked up an Elivra tank, a Freddy glove necklace, some Predator themed period panties, and two crochet dolls from one of my favorite local horror creators, “Horror Knots”. Then we walked into the celebrity room and Sid Haig was just sitting there with no one in line to talk to him. I couldn’t believe it. I was star struck. Our buddy got an autograph and photo with Tom Noonan, which was awesome. And I got to experience the ins-and-outs of celebrity autograph culture.

I can’t wait to go back next year. I plan to stay at the host hotel and attend more of the conference events, including readings, film screenings, Q&A sessions, and more. For a charity horror convention just 45 min from where I live, it’s well worth an annual trip.

I Love You, Driller Killer

Last night I watched Slumber Party Massacre I and II and I haven’t been the same since. Why did it take me 32 years to watch these brilliant diamonds of 80s horror?

Image result for slumber party massacre

The outfits in part one are SENSATIONAL. The locker room scene makes me want to sprint to my local Forever 21 to buy suspenders and a “Space Baby” t-shirt, and I have no business being in a Forever 21. THERE’S A BASKETBALL SCENE WHERE SOMEHOW THE WOMEN DON’T WEAR BRAS. My boobs hurt just thinking about it.

Then we have the first sequel, which I greatly prefer over part one. For no explainable reason the driller killer is now a heavy metal cast member of West Side Story with a Prince-esque guitar that has a drill attached to it. To which I can only say:

Image result for matt hardy wonderful

The fashion is just as good as part one, plus there’s now a girl gang band and that’s pretty rad if you ask me. Always support your local girl gang.

The undisputed highlight of part two is the sheer absurdity of the driller killer. He has an original song and dance number! HE HAS AN ORIGINAL SONG AND DANCE NUMBER. There’s really nothing else you need to know.

I think that Slumber Party Massacre II is going into my Top 5 list, but what will it replace? Stay tuned.

Great Scenes, Meh Movies

In 2018 horror fans buzzed about a certain pool scene from an otherwise critically panned sequel. I personally loved The Strangers: Prey at Night but many people were underwhelmed. However, everyone seemed to agree that the pool scene was instantly legendary. And I agree.

That pool scene started and ended strongly. It quickly broke a slasher rule and then somehow got even better. The juxtaposition of flashing neon lights, Bonnie Tyler, and the sound of the Man in the Mask’s axe scraping against the concrete is *chef’s kiss*. Director Johannes Roberts had recently finished filming 47 Meters Down and learned a LOT about underwater filming in the process of making that movie. His mastery of this technique is obvious as the camera seamlessly moves above and below water in the now iconic pool scene. I could watch that scene over and over again and cheer the same way I did in the theater when I first saw it.

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Which got me thinking…

What are other exceptional scenes in the last 20 years of horror that are in movies that weren’t overall loved by audiences and critics? The scene itself is memorable, but the movie itself didn’t blow fans away.

Top of mind for me is the Madame Bathory scene in Hostel II. This is another case where I love the movie, but horror fans in general don’t seem to agree. That scene is freaking awesome, though. What I enjoyed about Hostel II is what I wanted from the first one – more information about the members of the Elite Hunting Club. I was awestruck by the idea of a mega rich woman paying to bathe in the blood of an American tourist. The scene is visually arresting and dirty. It feels perverted, like I’m not supposed to be watching it.

Image result for hostel 2 bath

I would put 30 Days of Night in this category as well. Once again, it’s a movie I really enjoy but I have several horror-nerd friends who hate it. They agree that the scene of pure vampire carnage in the town of Barrow, Alaska is top notch. This is the point in the film where literal hell breaks loose and the vampires go ape shit on the town and its residents. Windows are shattered, wives are eaten, and guns aren’t doing a damn thing. There’s a really awesome aerial view of the massacre that nicely highlights the blood spatters on the white snow.

Image result for 30 days of night aerial

Who can forget the opening scene of Ghost Ship? Unless you truly love that movie, do you remember ANYTHING else that happens? Probably not. But you remember that wire severing an entire cruise line of passengers in half. Epic opening. Great scene. The best part is when the little girl looks up at her dance partner and his head falls off. (Hi, welcome to my horror blog where we celebrate decapitations!)

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There are a few others floating around in my brain, but I’m undecided if the movies were actually deemed a stinker by fans or if they are well liked. I think in general people really love the Final Destination series. But is part two really beloved or do people just remember and rave about the log truck scene? Similarly, does any general fan of horror actually remember the plot of Jeepers Creepers 2 or do you just love that it took place on a school bus? Finally, I’m wondering about V/H/S 2. Was the whole film well received or did people just really fucking love the “Safe Haven” segment (as they should, because it’s bat shit crazy bananas awesome).

Image result for final destination log

What other iconic scenes can you think of from the last 20 years, but the movie itself wasn’t really well received?