Thursday, 31 October 2013

5 Halloween Cartoon Specials

 **Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

When I was a kid, I loved the week before Halloween because they would play all the Halloween specials.  Unlike today, where you can go to youtube or order them from amazon, when I was a kid,  these shows would only show up once a year, if we were lucky, and if you missed them, then you'd have to wait another year to see them.  So I thought for Halloween, I'd make a list of some of my favourites and you can probably find on the interweb, somewhere if your so inclined. 

Here are 5 Halloween Cartoon Specials 

5. Halloween is Grinch Night (1977) - Eleven years after he tried to destroy Christmas, the Grinch has returned in a bad mood and he has created his own holiday, Grinch Night.  No one explains how Grinch Night works, with the exception that the Grinch dances alone in a bar like your Uncle Tim but the Grinch harness old Max with a trail of horrors and heads down to Whoville to cause a ruckus.  Luckily, there is one little boy, who wants to stand up to the Grinch and he heads out to stop him, while the other Whos quake in their pants.
  This is a strange one for sure and although it has a lot of the same elements as the Christmas special, it seems to have a darker tone to it.  The songs aren't as up beat and some scenes make the Grinch seem cruel, instead of cartoonishly evil.  Also, Boris Karloff is not in this and replaced by Hans Conried, whose voice you'll recognize as Captian Hook, from Disney's Peter Pan.  Still it's a fun treat from the mind of Dr. Suess and if you can get past that there really a reason why the Grinch is pissed, then you should be able to enjoy the campyness of show.

4. The Devil and Daniel Mouse (1978) - After clearing the bar with there hippie folk music, Jan and Daniel Mouse are fired from their gig and thrown into the cold streets.  The pair wander into the forest(?) and contemplate how they're going to get money for food.  Daniel decides to sell his guitar and walks back to the city, while Jan waits in the forest and cries because she isn't a rock star.  The Devil hears her moans and offers her a music contract in return for her soul.  She signs the contract, ditches Daniel and becomes the biggest music star in 1978!  However, when the devil comes to collects, she scurries back to Daniel and together, they try to stop the Devil from taking Jan's soul.
  They only aired this a few times, from what I remember but I really loved this show.  I didn't realize back then that it was a was a Canadian production and that inspired a later film from Nelvana, Rock & Rule.  This is your basic Devil and Daniel Webster story, but with animated mice and rock.  John Sebastian and Laurel Runn perform the songs, which there are plenty and for a kids cartoon, they're pretty catchy.  It's a fun cartoon totally worth checking out, if you like rock n roll or cartoon devils. 

3. Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side (1994) - This is hard to explain, it's basically a collection of Far Side cartoon but animated.  There are some seriously disturbing but fun clips in this and Larson likes to tie some portions of the vingettes to others.  It's really masterful and there are some good laughs.  There is even a second one, which I didn't know about.

2. Garfield's Halloween Adventure (1985) - America's favourite feline, Garfield and his friend Odie dress up as pirates and head out to go trick or treating.  Garfield, trying to collect the most candy he can steals a rowboat to hit more houses on the other side of the lake.  Unfortunately, they end up stranded on an mysterious island surrounded by pirate ghosts.
  That's pretty much it and this is one of my favourite Halloween specials of all time.  In the 80's, 'merica had a huge love for Garfield and they were spitting out specials left, right and center.  I think Peanuts, were the only cartoon that may have had more cartoon specials than Garfield.  Anyway, this was great because they Garfield and Odie do run into a few terrifying spooks and there are some catchy song on this that you don't want to miss.  If you like lasagna, hate Mondays and really like candy than you should watch this.   

1. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949) - School master Ichabod Crane moves to the small town of Sleepy Hollow and although he is a bit awkward, in the way he looks and walks, he is taken in lovingly by the town, especially the single women.  However, Ichabod falls in love with Katrina van Tassel and he has to square off against town bully, Brom Bones to win her affection.
  That fall, Ichabod is invited by Katrina to her father harvest party and when he arrives he charms Miss van Tassel with his wit and his excellent dancing skills.  This infuriates, Brom and after dinner, knowing that Ichabod is very superstitious, he tells a terrifying tale of a headless horseman in the area, who collects heads during the witching hour!  When Ichabod leaves, he encounters the horseman and tries to escape with his head!
  This has to be the original slow burner for horror films and I love it!  Most of the story revolves around the love triangle and then at the end they throw in this supernatural horror, which I still terrifying to watch.  This originally came out as a double feature for Disney with The Wind and the Willows but has become a Halloween staple for Disney and it usually ties up any spooky special they've put together.  Bing Crosby (White Christmas, Holiday Inn) narrates brilliantly and does the voices for both Crane and Bones and they're are a number of memorable tunes on this that you can hum too while you trick or treat.  If you like classic Disney animation and headless horrors, than this is for you!

BOOOOO! Blogger won't let me put the clip on the site, so click here to see a clip

It's nice to see these shows again and nowadays you can watch them anytime.  So be safe this Halloween and check your candy because you never know what kind of horror lurks behind those closed doors.

Monday, 28 October 2013

5 Horror Movies Where Scientists Go Bad

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

I love scientists in horror movies, especially the ones during the 50's and 60's, when the world was open to any knew idea and anybody in a lab coat and glasses could make an atomic monster, keep a head or a talking brain alive or could work toward seeing into another dimension with just some bubbling test tubes, a Tesla machine and aanother machine that goes bing.  Most of these scientists were working for the betterment of mankind, but sometimes accidents happen and experiments go wrong.  Then these noble men of science, usually became monsters and tried to destroy the people and society that they once tried to help. 

Here are 5 Horror Movies where Scientists Go Bad

5. X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963) - Dr. James Xavier is a scientist developing eye drops that will change the world!  These eye drops will change the range of the visual spectrum and allow people to see beyond the normal spectrum and into the ultraviolet, the x-ray and beyond and will help doctors and scientists every where!  Unfortunately, his grant is under review and he is told by his new assistant and lady friend, Dr. Fairfax that the board will likely pass on his project.  So in an attempt to prove to the board that his eye drops work, James starts using the untested eye drops on himself.  His experiment is a success and James can see through paper, pencils and clothing!  Meow, Dr. Fairfax!  Unfortunately, the eye drops are so powerful that the side effects make him sick and can't go to the hearing for his project.  He sends Dr. Fairfax and his best friend, Dr. Brant and they lose the funding for his project.
  He is asked to stay at the hospital, even though his project has been terminated and to help assist on a surgery.  The night before, he visits the patient and with the use of his new and improved x-ray eyes, discovers that the doctor is operating on the wrong part of the heart.  He pleads with the surgeon to change the surgery but no dice, it will go as planned.  The next day at the surgery, James takes over by slashing the surgeon and doing the operation his way.  After the surgery, there is talk about James being sued for malpractice and in a rage, James accidentally knocks his best friend, Dr. Brant out the window.  Now wanted for murder and addicted to the evil eye drops, James hits the road and tries to survive the only way a man with X-ray eyes can!
  I really enjoyed this Corman classic but it's a different kind of horror.  It is more sci-fi drama than an out right horror, which doesn't make it bad but there just isn't a lot of blood or deaths.  Writer Stephen King (Christine, The Dead Zone) has noted that this film has a Lovecraftian element too it, when James starts to go mad when he cannot comprend the godlike creatures he begins to see in the center of the universe.
  Ray Milland (Dial M for Murder, Frogs) is excellent in this and he creates a character that you feel a deep sympathy for.  His character is trying to do the right thing but he has gone out of control.  Surprisingly, Don Rickles (Innocent Blood, Casino) is very good in this as a shifty sideshow barker/manager, which is a nice change for Rickles.  The ending is great and ties things up nicely with a really graphic scene at the end.  If your looking for more of an emotional roller coaster with some weird sci-fi in it, this horror tale might be for you.  

4. The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) - Dr. Henry Jekyll is a reclusive scientist, in a loveless marriage with his philandering wife, Kitty, who happens to be dating his best friend, Paul Allen, who comes to Henry when he needs help paying his gambling debts.  While all that is going on, Henry is trying to prove that the human mind has two distinct sides, an evil side and a good side and concocts a serum, which he decides to test on himself.  The serum turns this bearded sad sack, Dr. Jekyll into a dashing, vibrant and very violent young man, Mr. Hyde.  Mr. Hyde hits the streets of London and soon discovers his/Jekyll's wife in the arms of Paul Allen in a seedy dance bar.  Down but not out, he puts together a plan to destroy Paul and win back his wife.  He introduces himself to them as Hyde and becomes best of friends with Paul.  Hyde then makes a deal with Paul, that he will pay his debts if he takes him to see the underbelly of London.  Paul agrees and the two spend the week exploring bars, houses of ill repute, opium dens and really seeing what kind of taboos they can break.  Unfortunately, Henry is still inside the mind of Hyde and is battling to return but he only seems to come back shortly because the Hyde's personality is too powerful.  Can Henry defeat Hyde and reclaim his body and soul or is his personality going to be buried alive forever in the mind of madman Hyde!?!?
  This film was not quite as well received as some of the other Hammer films but I still found it to be very enjoyable.  Paul Massie (Call Me Genius, The Naked Eye) is very good in the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde.  Also, Christopher Lee (Sleepy Hollow, Dracula Today) is superb  as the smarmy best friend, Paul Allen and just happens to be sporting some pretty dope sideburns in this film.  The story is an interesting take on the Robert Louis Stevens story and well navigated by one of my favourite regular Hammer directors Terence Fisher (Horror of Dracula, The Mummy).  Again, there is a lot of blood and violence, it becomes a more human horror with Hyde trying to win back his wife's love and Jekyll trying to defeat the monster that lives inside him.  It's an interesting film that I'm sure any fan of Hammer horror will enjoy.   

3. The Fly (1958) - Andre Delambre is scientist who works from home, which he shares with his wife, Helene and his son Philippe, creating inventions for his company that he owns with his brother, Francois.  His newest invention is a teleportation machine, which he tells Helene, will change the transportation industry forever. No shit sherlock.  Unfortunately, there is one problem, it can't transport living things.  After a disastrous attempt, that sent a monkey into the nether world, Andre locks himself into his lab to work on this matter.  After a few days, Helene goes to check on Andre and discovers him hiding his face with a cloth over his head and a mutated hand.  Andre explains that something went wrong with the experiment and his molecules have been meshed with a common house fly! Bet you didn't see that coming!  Can Andre with the help of Helene reverse this awful mutation or is Andre left for all eternity to be buzzing around the fruit bowl?   
  Vincent Price (Comedy of Terrors, Beach Party), who plays Francois, first comes to mind when one thinks of this title, the truth is Mr. Price isn't the star nor is he really in it that much.  Andre is actually played by David Hedison (The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Lost World), who gives a stellar performance, even though a half of the time he has his head cover in a cloth or giant fly mask.  Along with Patricia Owens (Ghost Ship, Sayonara), who plays Helene, they give an outstanding performance that is both convincing and terrifying.  Your heart breaks for these characters and you want them to find a way to fix the problem before it's too late.  Although the film doesn't have the budget or the gory effects that the David Cronenberg remake did, director Kurt Neumann tells a horrifying story with an ending you will not forget.   

2. The Invisible Man (1933) - On a dark snowy night, a mysterious man wrapped in bandages comes to the Lion's Head inn and demands a room.  He is shown his way to his room and he tells the innkeepers wife that he wants his luggage he brought from the train station tomorrow and that he does not want to be disturbed.
  At the same time, Flora Cranley pines over the "disappearance" of her boyfriend, Dr. Jack Griffin.  He was a chemist, that worked with her father, Dr. Cranley on some scientific matters while working on his own secret project in his spare time.  Luckily or unluckly for Flora, her father's other assistant the moustachioed lothario Kemp,  is happy to be her new boyfriend.  This of course brings tears to eyes, like many other women before her.
  After a few weeks, the staff and patrons at the inn have had quite enough of their ill tempered guest and try to throw the bandaged bastard out.  The stranger takes off his bandages and to everyone's shock, he's naked! I mean invisible! And he assaults a police officer and a few patrons and high tails it out of the inn.  The stranger is Dr. Griffin and he heads to Kemp's house to ask for his assistance in helping him take over the world.  Can anything stop the Invisible man from taking over the world or can the police bring him down to his invisible knees?
  Claude Rains (Notorious, Casablanca) is awesome in this movie and like the Fly, you rarely see him.  Most of the time, he's either bandaged up or it's just his voice heard.  James Whale (Frankenstein, The Old Dark House) once again takes another classic horror novel and adapts it perfectly for the big screen.  There isn't a lot of blood and gore but there is a surprisingly large body count due to the insanity of the invisible man.  He thinks big and in volume.  If you like classic horror this is one that you need to see.

1. From Beyond (1986) - Dr. Edward Pretorius, like Dr. James Xavier, wants to see more of what's going on in the world and believes that if he enlarges his pineal gland then he will be able to see into another dimension.  With the help of his assistant, Crawford Tillinghast, Pretorius has built a machine, The Resonator that will do just that and it's ready for it's first run.  Unfortunately, it works a little too well and Pretorius and Crawford open up a new realm, which is fantastic but then a creature appears and devours Pretorius's head.  Terrified, Crawford attacks the machine with an axe and gets the fuck outta dodge, only to be picked up by the police and thrown into a mental institution because of his wild descriptions of the nights events.
  Luckily, Dr. Katherine McMichaels, a sexy mental health professional wants to help Crawford to get better and makes a deal with the police to go with Crawford to the Pretorius's house and he can show her what happens.  So Crawford, Katherine and a police escort named Bubba, go back to the house to recreate that night's terrifying events.  Crawford reluctantly gets the machine up and running and Katherine and Bubba can't believe what they're seeing or feeling.  My pineal gland has never felt this get before!  And then a mutated Pretorius appears and tries to grab Crawford and the Katherine shuts the whole thing down.  Bubba and Crawford are good too go and happy that they have the proof to keep Crawford out of the looney bin but Katherine wants to stay, and like Dr. Pretorius expand her pineal gland to see what is beyond.  Will Crawford and friends survive another night with the Resonator or will they be sucked into the other realm and be eaten by creatures from beyond?
  I love this movie and I think it's one of the better H.P Lovecraft adaptations to come out.  There is such a killer team of people working behind the camera on this film, like director/writer Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, Pit and the Pendulum), producer/writer Brian Yuzna (Society, Necronomicon), writer Brian Paoli (Dagon, Castle Freak) and producer Charles Band (Puppet Master, Tourist Trap) who want to create the most terrifying experience that they can.  Then in front of the camera, add in a minimal cast but a superb one, like Jeffery Coombs (Re-Animator, Robot Jox), Barbara Crampton (Body Double, Chopping Mall) Ted Sorel (Without a Trace, Network) and Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead (1978), Devil's Rejects) and how can you go wrong.
  This movie has everything, weird shit that comes from another dimension, mentally unstable characters and there is even some S & M shit, if you like the kinky stuff.  The special effects team is awesome and come out with some outrageous creatures.  There are so some serious flesh eating scenes that you won't soon forget.  This is a must see or own for any horror fan out there.

So after seeing these films, I have a terrifying new respect for science and wonder if any terrible tales have been hidden away of real scientific horror.  Has someone gone mad from looking into a new reality, has someone meshed there DNA or are there killer tomatoes that are ready to attack mankind at any time? Who knows, only time will tell.

Monday, 14 October 2013

5 Horror Movies involving Native American Ghosts, Demons or Monsters, oh my!

 **Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

I love the darker sides of religious culture, finding interesting boogeymen and women from around the world, and this week I thought I'd stay closer to home and venture into the ghosts, demons and monsters that haunt the Native American myths.  Spirits like the Wendigo, which could possess or take form of a person and had cannibalistic tendencies or Skinwalkers, who were like shape shifters and could change themselves into animals, are part of these fantastic legends that could be built onto make great horror movies.
So, here are 5 Horror Movies involving Native American Ghosts, Demons or Monsters

5. Eyes of Fire (1983) - It's 1750 and there's a mob of colonial Americans out to hang preacher, Will Smythe on the grounds of adultery and polygamy.  He is accused of sleeping with trapper, Marion Dalton's wife, Eloise and living with an insane woman, Leah.  Just has Smythe drops in the makeshift gallow, Leah saves the preacher with magical powers, and a group of "believers" tie the mob up in the barn.  Will, Marion and the "believers" then rob the town, WTF and get away on a raft.  On the river, they are attack and they end up losing one of the "believers".  They land the raft and start searching for a new place to live in the forest.
  Coincidently, Marion Dalton finally arrives home from many years of trapping and is told about his wife, the preacher and all the hoopla.  He packs his horse and heads out to find his wife and rescue his daughter, Fanny.  Being a bush man, he quickly tracks them down and saves them from being killed by some bandits.  Also, some members of the Shawnee tribe arrive to help and let Marion know that there is a village in a valley that they should avoid because it's haunted.  Marion thanks them and Shawnee head out.  The group then awkwardly moves on following Will Smythe.
  Eventually, they come across an abandon village and Smythe decides to set up shop there.  Marion warns him about what the Shawnee tribes men told him to be wary of this village but Smythe doesn't care.  Even Smythe's witch friend Leah doesn't like the juju going on there but Smythe tells them that god as sent them there for a reason.  Maybe to die.  Shortly after arriving, things go to hell and people start dying and others are seeing ghosts and there is a tree creature that eats people.  Can this group of "Christians" survive this valley or will the disappear into the ground like so many others before them.   
  This film was a little bit all over the place and terribly dull.  I think the script had too many magic things going on and it got annoying because none of them did anything.  The spirit in the tree, somehow captured people, there were ghosts that nobody saw, a possessed Indian girl that never did anything and the person who was going to save them all from these things was an insane witch, who didn't talk and was feral?  It was such a waste.  The trapper should have collected his daughter, when he got there and left.  The acting was terrible and the special effect were just as bad.  The only thing that was half decent was the make up for the tree demon witch.  The ending was forgettable and impossible because it was being narrated by a survivor who wasn't there when those things were happening.  This one needs to be thrown in the fire if you want a real gleam in your eye.

4. Scalps (1983) - Professor Machen is pretty jazzed because he is getting out of his stuffy office at the college and is going to spend the weekend with 6 students digging up Indian artifacts out in the desert.  Unfortunately on the way out, he is stopped by a secretary that reminds him that it is illegal to dig up artifacts on the reservation that he is going to and he has a tremendous amount of paperwork that needs to be done by Tuesday.  Dammit it!  Broken hearted, he goes downstairs and tells his crew of students that he will meet up with them in a couple of days and sends them to their death, I mean on their way to dig up them bones.
  The students head out to the desert with the secret map that Professor Machen gave them but on the way, the radiator over heats and they have to stop at a gas station.  While they wait, they run into a old native man, Billy Ironwing, who warns them about that area and tells them to stay away from the black trees because they have evil spirits surrounding them.  The gang thanks him for his advice and get back on the road.  They decide that the should find these black trees and dig there because everybody else is afraid too dig there and some awesome artifacts should be waiting for them. Good thinking!
  They find the black trees and start digging, but the hippie girl, D.J. suddenly realizes that not only what their doing is wrong but decides that archeology is evil and her whole major in college is a waste of time.  Luckily, Randy the jock, finds a medallion while D.J. has this moment of clarity and the group focuses on the great find.  Unfortunately, the medallion unleashes a Indian demon, called Black Claw, that we don't hear about until maybe 20 minutes before the end of the movie.  Anyway, Black Claw takes over Randy's body and starts killing people in the group.  Can the rest of the gang survive or are they doomed to be artifacts when Professor Machen arrives?
  This is one title that makes it clear why director Fred Olen Ray (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Hybrid) was called the "Ed Wood Jr. of the 80's".  Although, there isn't as many day for night shots, you can tell right away that this was shot on a very low budget.  The acting is bad and the music is thrown into scenes that don't groove with what's going on.  Nothing really scary happens in the story until the end of the movie with the exception of a hideous ghost face flashy around.  However, there is a few unintentional laughs that give this film a bit of charm and there are some bloody scenes at the end, if you can get there without turning the movie off.  All around, it isn't the worst movie but it may be better left buried in the plains.

3. The Cellar (1989) - A long time ago, during the battles against the white man, the Comanche Indians created an evil beast that was a mixture of a whole bunch of animals to help them defeat the white man. Unfortunately, the beast killed, instead of killing just white people, it  killed whatever was in it's path, so the Comanche trapped the beast in the ground and with a spear and magic locked the creature into the ground.  So time later, when a father and his young son move onto the land to dig for oil, the boy finds the spear and plays with it.  A native man retrieve the spear and places it back into the ground to contain the beast.  However, the boy has stolen a rabbits foot from the spear, unknowingly weakening the spell, I suppose and allowing the creature gain it's power (?).
  Cuz, let's say 50 years later, the boy, T.C. Van Houten is all grown up and is reluctantly selling the place because he knows it's evil to a family looking for a fresh start.  He meets with Mance (is that a name?) and his new wife, Emily and their baby daughter, April and they go over the evil place.  Of course, it has all the modern amenities like a pump handle water tap in the kitchen and a loud ominous raven squawk every time someone new comes inside, how could you not love it.  Emily convinces Mance to buy it and once they do, while renovating they find the door to the cellar behind an old china cabinet.  It's locked up tight and covered with Indian protective symbols and artifacts, which doesn't seem to concern Mance or Emily at all.
  Willie, Mance's first child comes to visit for the summer.  At first he loves the place but shortly after he notices some peculiar things, like a creature that is trying to break through the floorboards into his bedroom at night, something in the cellar ate his pet and the almost being eaten by a vicious creature at the old watering hole.  He tries to tell his dad but Mance thinks that it's just his imagination and gets very very angry at him.   The only people who believe him are the town drunk and former owner of his residence, T.C. Van Houten and local Comanche Chief, Sam John.  They explain the whole Comanche creature thing but sadly tell him that he's on his own.  Can ten year old Willie stop this evil spirit/creature that lives in his cellar or is he destined to be it's next meal?
  This movie is pretty ridiculous and I can understand why Mance's first wife left him.  He has to be the worst father of all time and Willie's step mom is no better.  There are scenes with Willie setting bear traps in the basement and another with Willie walking around with a flame thrower in the house.  Emily, Willie's step mom, is a stay at home mom, how can she not know what he's doing!  Also, at one point in the movie, Willie catches the creature in a bear trap and doesn't tell anybody.  WTF! It so course escapes and continues to eat people.  And this place must be sound proof as fuck or they're all deaf because nobody can here the shit going on downstairs in the cellar.
  The beast is alright looking but it looks more like the giant rat.  Also, why doesn't anyone talk to T.C. about the cellar?  He's still in town and is creepily spending alone time with your son, Mance.  He may have some insight to all the things going on.  Anyway, the end battle is alright and again Emily leaves the baby on the table while the fight ensues. This movie is so bad it's funny and had me laughing out loud once I focused on how bad a parent Mance was.  This is one title that director Kevin Tenney (Witchboard, Night of the Demons) should leave in the basement forever.

2. Frostbiter: Wrath of the Wendigo (1995) - An old man narrates about how he battled the Wendigo and defeated him.  He explains how he buried the Wendigo and created a circle of skulls to keep the spirit of the Wendigo from escaping.  He explains that as long as he circle remains unbroken and he remains in the circle, the world will be safe from this demon. 
   Many many years later, Gary and his buddy are hunting, but mostly drinking and come across a Do Not Trespass sign on a fence.  Fuck that fence and they climb over and find a shitty cabin surrounded by skulls.  An old man comes out of the cabin and begs them to leave but Gary's drunk and starts shooting at the skulls and telling the old man that he's not the boss of him.  In the shooting melee, not only does Gary break the sacred skull circle, (remember above) but he also kills the old man.  Gary and his buddy bring the old man into the cabin but it's too late, he's dead and there is a ton of crazy supernatural shit going on, that ends up killing Gary's buddy.  Gary sobers up fast and gets the fuck out of dodge and high tails it into the woods.
  On the other side of this island, a group of friends are having a hunting party and are excited to get out in the woods tomorrow and do some shooting.  One of the guys puts on some chili but it becomes demon chili and attacks them!  Luckily, they have seen Evil Dead 2, cuz there's a poster on the wall and they know how to handle demons and they are able stop the chili demon for the moment.  Gary winds up a their cabin telling them the story of how he accidentally released the Wendigo.  Can this group of friends stop the power of the Wendigo before it gets too powerful or will this wind whispering beast destroy not only the island but the world?
  This movie was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be.  Sure, the acting is terrible, sure the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese and fine, most of the film is shot in this one cabin location but... I think it accomplished what it intended to do.  Which was create a funny Evil Dead rip off.  For what the budget was for this, it's pretty awesome.  They have some incredible gory scenes, some pretty good stop animation  and their make department was pretty fantastic, again for the budget.    So, if you like low budget Troma film, with tons of blood and has Ron Asheton from the Stooges in it, then this one's for you.

1. The Manitou (1978) - Karen Tandy discovers that she has a fetus growing on her shoulder.  The best surgeons in America, Dr. Jack Hughes and Dr. McEvoy try and remove it but are thwarted by an evil spirit that wrecks the operating room and cuts Dr. Hughes hand.  The next day, Karen visits her old boyfriend, tarot card reader and all around charlatan, Harry Erskine and tries to get him to help her with this magical problem.  He tries to convince her that she is blowing this all out of proportion and everything will be fine and then they get reacquainted, if you know what I mean.  Unable to get her to leave afterwards, he hears her saying the words, Panawitchy Salatoo, while she is sleeping.  He thinks nothing of it, till the next day  when a elderly client of his goes into a trance for no reason and floats down the hall, then throws herself down a set of stairs.  This is more serious than Harry thought.
  Karen is now hospitalized because the growth is getting too big and they're going to try surgery again.  Meanwhile, Harry has visited more psychics friends that he knows and they have a seance, which invokes the spirit of a medicine man.  They search out medicine man information at the library and end up visiting an anthropologist named Dr. Snow, who tells them they either need to go see a psychiatrist or find their own medicine man to battle the one growing on the neck of Karen and wants to be reborn.
  The second surgery goes worse than the first and the medicine man reveals himself through Karen and threatens to kill anyone who tries to remove him from her.  Can Harry find a medicine man in time to save Karen or is she doomed to having two men inside of her?
  I don't even know where to begin with this movie.  The ending to this movie is insane!  It is not even crazy violence, it's like out of you mind, 70's Dr. Who, outer space weird.  The story is strange but acceptable, a 400 year old medicine man growing on the shoulder of a woman but I don't know if I really believe that the character Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot, The Defiant Ones) plays, Harry Erskine would care that much about a former assistant.  The guy rips off old people reading Tarot cards and doesn't believe in the supernatural, why would he believe this?  The most compelling character is Dr. Snow, played by Burgess Meredith in the best goatee/moustache combo ever, who thinks that Harry and his friends are crazy.
  When the medicine man is finally born, he does look pretty creepy and that's when the special effects budget nightmare begins!  Also, at the end of the film, using a slate they let you know a boy in Asia grew a fetus on his stomach, which then makes this movie all the more plausible and terrifying right. This isn't a good movie but like a car crash on the side of the highway, one cannot turn away.  If you like bizarre films than this is for you but you need the patience to get to the end.

Most of these films were fun but a little disappointing when looking for a good scare. Fortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg though and there are a number films with Native American Mythos attached to them that could be more terrifying.  Who knows maybe after smoking a peace pipe these films could seem a whole lot better.   

Monday, 7 October 2013

5 Witch Hunter Movies

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

  During the middle ages, it was tough being a witch.  What was tougher was not being a witch but having some douche bag Witch hunter accuse you of being a witch because you were old and ugly, you were a young and pretty, the church wanted your land or some other reason that you pissed someone off in your village and they thought you were a real bitch, I mean witch.  The only way to prove that you weren't a witch was to die by drowning or by some other inhumane of torture.  And if you somehow survived the torture, then it meant that you were a witch and you had to be either burned at the stake or hung until you were dead.  Good times. 
  During the course of the middle ages, I've read that over 8 million men, women and children were killed for being a witch or warlock.  That number may be a little high but I'm sure there were many that were many people wronley burned, hanged or were killed while being tortured because someone in the church or  politician wasn't getting their due.  So, this one is for them, the falsely accused and films about the evil witch finder.

Here are 5 Witch Hunter films:

5. Twins of Evil (1971) - In 19th century Europe, Gustav Weil likes to go out at night, hang out with his puritan friends in "The Brotherhood" and find women to call witches and burn them.  Fun guy.  Unfortunately, he's now been saddled with twin teen nieces, Freida and Mary, that have just moved from Venice to Karnstein and appear to not hold the Lord in the same esteem that he does. But then again nobody does.
  After the first day of their arrival, Freida is fed up with her uncle's sternness and decides that she is going to run away and live with Count Karnstein because her uncle has forbade it and everyone in town thinks he's so wicked.  So, one evening she leaves, after her uncle has gone on another "Witch Hunt" and Mary chooses to stay to cover for her sister in case he comes home.  When she arrives at Count Karnstein's castle, she has dinner with Count Karnstein, his lady friend, Gerta and his manager/friend Dietrich.  As the night wears on, Dietrich leaves and Count Karnstein decides to make Freida a vampire, but she has to kill Gerta and which she does no questions asked.  Now Freida's a vampire, her uncle's murdering helpless women and Mary's getting the whippings for Freida's behavior, can anything stop the madness?
  This film is a stretch for this blog subject but there aren't that many films that I can find that demonstrate evil witch hunters.  Anyway, Peter Cushing (I, Dracula, The Vampire Lovers) brillantly plays Gustav Weil, who with his "Brotherhood" chases women down for no other reason than they live alone and refuse to get married.  This "Brotherhood" is despised for their murders, just as much as Count Karnstein by the town and neither are held accountable because of their ties to either the church or the government.
  The film eventually turns into a loose vampire tale that is the third and last entry in Hammer's Karnstein series.  This was also the last film for Collinson twins (Groupie Twins, The Love Machine) who portray Frieda and Mary, to perform together but their voices didn't make the cut and  were dubbed over.  Something reminded me of the film "Vampire Circus" when I was watching this and thought it may have been Damien Thomas (Pirates, Never Let Me Go) who plays the Count but it was actually the castle sets that were "borrowed" for the film.  The script is ok but you can tell director John Hough (The Legend of Hell House, Escape from Witch Mountain) is having a tricky time bringing both angles of this film together, which he eventually does with an ending that should be satisfying.  For this blog article, I wish the focus was more on the evils of witch hunting but it was a fun film that shows the darker side of religious men.

4. Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) - Benjamin Christensen puts together an amazing documentary on the history of Withccraft in four parts.  In the first part, he uses pictures, paintings and woodcuts to examine how demons and devils may have been created to explain nature and how people thought the solar system worked during those earlier times.  In the second part, he demonstrates medieval superstition and beliefs using short vignettes. Here he shows the devil tempting women, witches selling love spells to people and chasing monks around.  In the third section, they show how the church retaliated against these "witches" by using tools and lies to make them confess to preposterous notions.  In the last section, Christensen takes a comparative look at today, being 1922, and how some people with a  mental or social illness, like sleep walking or kleptomania could have been considered under a devil's spell or witches in earlier times.
  This is the first film that I've repeated but I feel it necessary to recommend it in this list context.  This is an incredible silent film that was quite before it's time.  Christensen researched this project for two years after finding a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum in a bookstore and created a truly defining film on medieval witchcraft.  The cinematography is excellent and so far ahead of it's time that directors like Jacques Tourneur, used his methods in some of his films.  Also, the make up work on the devils and creatures is awesome and far better than some that you see nearly 100 years later.  There isn't a lot of blood or killing but it is a sad but fascinating piece of horror history that can be enjoyed by everybody.

3. Mark of the Devil (1970) - Set in the 18th century, local witch hunter, Albino is pissed that Lord Cumberland is coming to take over and handle all the witch hunting activities.  So, the tries to rape a barmaid, while at work in a back room but she escapes and when he accuses her of being a witch, she is protected by none other than Count Christian von Meruh, who happens to be Lord Cumberland's assistant and live in friend.  Christian tells Albino to get lost and leave the girl alone, then invites the girl to his place for dinner.
  The next morning, she leaves and just in time too because Lord Cumberland has arrived, so it's time to torture and kill some witches.  After a while though, all the torture and burning of people, Christian isn't feeling this whole witch hunt thang anymore but he does notice some other unholy things going on in Lord Cumberland's house.  Like one witch has land that the church wants but he won't sell it to them, also a family is brought in and locked up for having puppets and then he watches Lord Cumberland strangle someone for calling in impotent.  That's not very Christian is it, Christian?  Finally, his bar wench girlfriend, who he has fallen in love with has been imprisoned again for witchcraft.  Now that Christian sees the hypocrisy in what he and Lord Cumberland are doing, can he save himself, his girl and maybe the rest of the town or is he destined to be sentenced and burned like so many others.
  I like that this film was "Rated V for Violent", as well as the being called by Hallmark Releasing Corp, "Positively the most horrifying film ever made" and the audience were given sick bags. I wish I had one, as a souvenir.  The movie is pretty violent and there are a number of good torture scenes in this film but I wouldn't say it's the worst I've seen.  The story is terrific and I really enjoyed watching Udo Kier's (Suspira, Spermula) character, Christian realize what they were doing was wrong and turn against his mentor(?) and live in companion, Lord Cumberland, played brilliantly by Herbert Lom (Asylum, Count Dracula).  There are some slow spots but it's pretty solid through out.  The ending is good and stays true to the story but it is a little disappointing at the same time.  Still this is a great movie, if your looking for some medieval torture scenes and seeing how bad witch finders can get.  

2. Black Death (2010) - It's 1348 and the bubonic plague is running rampant everywhere! A young monk, Osmund sends his lady friend, Averill away and promises to meet her in the forest in a fortnight.  She leaves and Osmund is torn between the vows that he made to God and his cock, so he prays to God and asks for an answer.  The next day, that was fast, a group of soldiers sent by the bishop need a guide, which happens to be Osmund's old stomping ground and he volunteers to lead them.  This group lead by Ulrich has heard of a village that has been untouched by the plague and the church believes that it may be the cause of witchcraft and the devil.  So, instead of finding out what their secret is, Ulrich and his men are to capture this witch, bring him or her back and to the bishop to be killed.  Good thinking.
  On the way, Osmund stops to save a poor woman from being burned because the town thinks that she is a witch.  Ulrich stops the burning, then murders the woman anyway and warns Osmund not to stop again.  The next morning, Osmund leaves the camp to find his true love, Averill in the forest and finds that her horse has been killed and some bloody clothes.  He assumes that she is dead and becomes quite depressed.  He leads, Ulrich's team to the village and they find that the village has dodged the plague and they begin asking questions of their new tour guide, Hob about how this has happened.  Hob avoids their questions and invites them to dinner at the hall, which they agree to.  Before dinner, the say grace to a stunned hall of non Christians and then the festivities commence.  As the Ulrich and his men drink, Osmund is asked to come outside, by a beautiful medicine woman, Langiva, who brings the young monk to a small ceremony.  She leaves him to watch and performs a ritual that brings his one true love, Averill back from the "dead".  Shocked he runs back to the village to warn his friends but it's too late, Ulrich and his men have been drugged and Osmund gets knocked the fuck out.  When Osmund wakes up, he and his men are now the towns prisoners and they are ready to hang them.  Looks like the shoe is on the other foot.  Can Osmund and his friends escape this witchery or are the doomed to the same torture they inflict on so many others.
  This is a fantastic film with so many good twists and turns.  Sean Bean (Goldeneye, Silent Hill) gives an outstanding performance as Ulrich, the head witch hunter.  He is complemented by a very strong supporting cast with Eddie Redmayne (Hick, My Week with Marilyn) as Osmund, Tim McInnerny (Black Adder, Severance) as Hob and John Lynch (Alien Hunter, Night Wolf), who plays Ulrich's right hand man.  This is a great script with another character, Osmund who doesn't know where his beliefs lie and sees both sides on his travel.  There are some terrific medieval fight scenes and plenty of gruesome deaths for any gorehounds.  The ending is quite enjoyable and unforgettable.  This is great up to date, "Game of Thrones" type of witch hunt that shouldn't be missed.

1. Witchfinder General (aka The Conquer Worm) (1968) - During the English Civil War in 1645,  Richard Marshall has taken leave of this troop to visit his true love, Sara.  She lives with her uncle the village priest John Lowes and when Richard arrives he asks Lowes if he can wed his niece.  Lowes agrees to it but only if Richard can marry her soon and get her out of Brandeston.  He has heard that there is some troubling tales and wants her to be out of harm's way.  Richard agrees and they tell Sara the good news.  She is ecstatic and after supper, her and Richard have sex!  That's how excited she was.  Anyway the next day, Richard tells her that she's been great and heads back to his platoon.  On the way, he runs into Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne and they're looking for directions to Brandeston.  Richard points them in the right direction and goes on his merry way.
  Unfortunately, Matthew Hopkins is a witch finder and he and his assistant John Stearne have come to Brandeston to find a witch or witches, one of them being Sara's uncle John Lowes! Dun Dun Dun!  So Stearne starts to rough Lowes up into confessing and Hopkins starts giving Sara a look over.  He tells her that if she answers some of his questions this evening, things might go easier for her uncle.  Reluctantly, she agrees and after her uncle has been imprisoned and Stearne is at the having after dinner drinks at the pub, Hopkins goes back to Sara's house to "interrogate" her.  The next day, the guard at the jail is told not to torture Lowes any longer.  Stearne finds this odd and starts keeping tabs on Hopkins and notices that he leaves that night to do some more "interrogating" with Sara.  The following morning, Hopkins leaves the village to run an errand and Stearne filled with jealousy and lust goes to Sara's home.  However, Sara refuses, so Stearne rapes her.  Hopkins returns and Stearne tells him about his tryst with Sara.  This enrages Hopkins and Lowes and the other witches are executed the next day.  Hopkins and Stearne get their money and leave to the next town.
  Meanwhile, Richard hears that his uncle-in-law has been executed and rushes back to the Brandeston to find out about Sara. He finds her and she tells him what happened.  Richard marries her immediately and vows to get revenge on Hopkins and Stearne!  Can Richard find these two "witch hunters" and exact his revenge or will he fall pray to their trap and be judged a witch himself?    
  This is a great film and one of my favourite Vincent Price movies of all time.  Price (Laura, The Fly) plays Hopkins, who wasn't director Michael Reeves (The Sorcerers, She-Beast) first choice because of the campier work that Price had done with American International Pictures. However, Price plays the character, dead serious and puts on one of his best performances ever.  Ian Ogilvy (Death Becomes Her, Puppet Master 5) is also great as Richard, who was an old friend of Reeves and starred in his two earlier films.
  This is a bit of a slow burner as well.  There is a few good torture scenes and some witch burnings but nothing to excessive.  I think Price is real reason to watch this.  His character is so methodical and evil, that it's mesmerizing.  Excellent script, loosely based on a real the real witch hunting duo and fortunately this film has a much better and deserving ending than the real Matthew Hopkins.  Great film and a must see for any fans of witches, warlocks and that ilk. 

These films show another dark chapter in the history of superstition and religion.  Like the crusades, the inquisition or the Salem Witch Trials, which the methods of finding, trying and executing witches were based from Matthew Hopkins book are sad reminders that even the church is fallible.  Fortunately, those days are past and with the aid of science we save some folks from the accusations of witchcraft and maybe keep some people from being burned.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Spinning a web of Terror! 5 Spider Horror Movies

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

  I realized that I don't do enough creature features, which is weird because I really enjoy a good monster movie and the more ridiculous the thing is, the better.  So, I thought I would kick it off with one of everybody's favourite creepy crawlers, the spider!  These arachnids have gotten a bad wrap for a long time and have had a number of films devoted to them.  Just because they have eight legs, can be hairy and have a face only a mother spider can love, doesn't mean there all bad, right?

Here are 5 Spider Horror films:

5. Horrors of Spider Island (aka Body in the Web) (1960) - On a trip to Singapore, the plane that Gary Webster and his group of dancing girls are on crash somewhere over the Pacific ocean.  Of course, they are the only survivors and after a few days they paddle themselves to a nearby island.  The next morning, they find some clean drinking water and explore the island.  They soon discover a "cabin in the woods" and when they go in, to their horror, find a dead man trapped in a gigantic spider web.  Gary cuts the man down and they toss his old decrepit carcass outside somewhere.  The girls come in and start cleaning up and Gary finds the dead man's diary.  Apparently, he was a professor of science and he was terrified of something in the woods, what a pussy.  After cleaning up the cabin, they find that with proper rationing they have enough food to last them a month.  That night, Gary gets caught messing around with one of the dancers and leaves in a huff.  He gets attacked by a giant spider and is bitten but luckily he is able to kill the spider before it's too late.  Or is it, the bite from the Spider turns him into a "Spider-man" or a "ManSpider" and the next day he kills one of the girls while they are searching for him.  This of course terrifies the girls, but not that much because the girl that was killed was kind of a bitch.  Man, woman can be catty.
  28 days later, the girls are getting worried but not worried enough to not frolic naked in the water.  Out of the blue, the professor's research team, which consist of two men, arrive with more supplies.  The girls are ecstatic, so they throw a party and then we spend 20 twenties watching people dance and having drunk relationship issues.  Will the story ever come back to horror movie that I started to watch, with a mutant spiderman killing beautiful dancing girls or am I to suffer through shitty melodrama about island romance?
  This is a very Cormanesque type of picture that starts off really well and then veers into oblivion.  The beginning is fun and what makes me laugh are the leapts of knowledge by the Gary character, which are astounding, like when they find a hammer next to a tree and he concludes that someone is mining uranium on the island.  Also, on Spider Island, there seems to be one spider, that's it, one fricken spider throughout the whole picture and it's a creepy fake spider, so really there are no spiders on Spider Island!
  It's really strange because once Gary, played by Alexander D'Arcy (Blood of Dracula's Castle, How To Marry a Millionaire) has been turned into a "Spidercreature", the film changes to it's real focus, showing good looking girls hanging out in their underwear, dancing and cat fighting with each other over clothes.  I'm not complaining but it's not what I was expecting and the film spends at least 20 minutes on relationship nonsense when the new guys show up to rescue them.  I don't give a fuck if Gladys can't trust men or if this the first time Joe has fallen in love.  I want to see a spider monster eat some people.
  Anyway, the monster makeup is cheap looking and it's most of the time you only see the claw hand trying to grab the girls.  There are so few deaths, which is a shame, especially since you have 8 girls and 4 guys on this deserted island.  However the campyness saves this from being a total waste of time and there are quite of few unintentional laughs.  Check it out if you love B-Movie/Drive Inn stuff.

4. Spiders (2013) - Debris filled with mutant spiders from a Soviet space station crashes into the tunnels of the New York subway system.  Subway station engineer, Jason and his ex wife, Rachel, who works for the Health department go down to investigate.  They discover that the corpse of a co-worker with giant spider eggs inside of him and then find that giant spiders have taken over the unused areas of the New York transit system.  That is a shitty day.  Can these two put away there differences and stop these Russian spiders before it's too late or will they be wrapped in a new web of terror?
  This was made in 3D or available in 3D but I only watched the HD version.  From director Tibor Takacs, who did "The Gate", which I loved,  comes this almost disappointing Spider movie.  You can tell that this team had a limited budget and put most of the money into the CGI spiders, which look good but not great.  From far away the spiders look awesome but when they get closer, they don't look real at all, which is a drag.  The script is all over the place and I lost interest in the characters shortly after starting the film.  They're not realistic at all and it's just another day in the life for soap actor Patrick Muldoon (Stigmata, Ice Spiders), who plays Jason and Christa Campbell (2001 Maniacs, Erotic Confessions) who plays his ex-wife, Rachel as they pass through their scenes of  trying to sort out this spider thing and rescue their daughter.
  There is a subplot with the Russian scientist and an American general that I didn't think got resolved and I don't think the army would allow a transit guy to access to some top secret areas.  Maybe I'm wrong, but once shit like that hit's ground level, the government locks the shit down.  I was surprised to see that this wasn't done by Syfy or Asylum because that's what it reminded me of, however it does have better production values.  With that said, the spider violence is alright and there are some funny ridiculous moments that might make you chuckle.  It might be better in 3D but I doubt it.

3. Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) - After a mysterious death of a cow, local vet "Rack" Hansen enlists gorgeous arachnologist, Diane Ashley help him uncover a number of dirt piles filled with spiders.  Unfortunately, after burning the first hill, the spiders decide to fight back and give the town a story to spin for ages.  Can "Rack" and Diane stop this horde of spiders in time for the local harvest festival or will the spiders destroy this small farm community?
  William Shatner (Visiting Hours, The Devil's Rain) stars as "Rack" Hansen and he battles those spiders like he's fighting the toughest Klingon.  The script is pretty good and Shatner has not one but two ladies who dig him, one of happened to be his real life wife Marcy Lafferty (Impulse, Star Trek: The Motion Picture).
  This is the only film on the list that the spiders don't mutate and it's actually refreshing to see regular spider cause this much terror.  This was made in the 70's, so they used hundreds and hundreds of real spiders, which they threw on the cast.  My favourite scene is when the town goes apeshit and are trying to escape.  One of the best panicky town scenes ever.  There is a surprisingly large body count and no one is left alone.  Women, children and the elderly are all mauled by these tiny predators, which is also a nice change.  The end is not so great and I guess the writers ran out of ideas but getting there was pretty fun.  This film gets a lot of flack but it is a really enjoyable spider flick and a must see for any Shatner fan or horror buff.

2.Tarantula (1955) - Dr. Matt Hastings is asked to come to the mortuary to identify and determine the cause of death of a disfigured pajama wearing man found in the desert.  To everyone's disbelief, they discover that it is Eric Jacobs, local scientist and pajama aficionado, who as been working in conjunction with Professor Deemer on some secret experiments.  Matt tells the sheriff and the mortician that it looks like acromegaly, which is a rare pituitary gland disorder that increases growth in random body parts but it would take years to have grown this badly and he had just seen him last week and Jacobs looked fine.  Professor Deemer arrives shortly afterwards and identifies Jacobs and leaves in huff because Hastings is argueing with him and old people don't like that.
  Back at home where he is king, Professor Deemers walks through his laboratory and admires his abnormal creatures that he has grown with his serum.  He has a Guinea Pig, the size of a police dog, a very large rabbit and an incredibly large tarantula all caged up in his room.  Unfortunately, Dr. Deemers has not only been experimenting on animals but secretly with people as well because he is attack by his mutated lab assistant and injected with the serum.  They fight in the laboratory, breaking a number of cages and starting a fire, which gives the big tarantula a chance to escape.  The lab assistant, too weak from his mutation dies in the melee and Dr. Deemer buries him in the backyard, next to his oversized gerbil, Fluffy.
  Luckily, college student/lab assistant, Stephanie "Steve" Clayton arrives the next day to replace Dr. Deemer's mutated one but she has no way of getting to his far away lab from the city.  Good thing Dr. Matt Hasting is there and offers to give her a ride up to the old Deemers place.  After he drops her off and gets back to town, the sheriff asks him to take a ride out to a farm to look at some mighty peculiar cow deaths.  Eventually, they discover that a giant tarantula is devouring livestock and people!  Can Dr. Matt and "Steve" stop this giant Spider before it eats this delightful town or will this spider want to stay and lay a thousand new creepy residents in the town?
  This movie was a ton of fun to watch.  I love these 1950's atomic monster stuff, like Them! and The Beast from 20, 000 Fathoms.  Director Jack Arnold (Creature From The Black Lagoon, It Came From Outer Space) does a fantastic job bringing this spider story to life and even though the special effects in this film are somewhat simple, compared to things made today, they still holds up very well and are scarier than stuff today.  The script is well done and as some good nuances, but it does take a little while for the giant spider to show up.  John Agar (Nightbreed, The Brain from Planet Arous), who plays Matt Hastings, is your standard 50's hero, not afraid of the unknown, has an open mind and can be very charming to Mara Corday (The Black Scorpion, Sudden Impact), who plays Stephanie Clayton.  Also, Alfred Hitchcock regular, Leo G. Carroll (North By Northwest, Spellbound) plays the villainous, Dr. Deemer and he makes him extra evil.  Clint Eastwood is uncredited but he is one of the airforce pilots sent out to stop the monster.  This is a great monster movie and a must see for any one who loves big monsters.   


1. Eight Legged Freaks (2002) - So, a barrel of toxic waste falls off a truck and into a creek in Prosperity, Arizona.  At the same time, local boy Mike visits his much much older friend Josh, an exotic spider farmer.  Josh shows him his trap door spiders, his jumping spiders and variety of other deadly insects, including his female orb weaver, named Consuela.  Late for school, Mike takes off and Josh is bitten by one of his spiders.  While trashing in pain, Josh knocks over all of the cages and releases the spiders upon the unsuspecting town.
  A week later, the police find the barrel and while removing it from the creek, Sheriff Samantha Parker discovers that her son Mike is on his way to check on his old friend Josh, who he hasn't heard from in a week.  She reminds Mike that he isn't allowed to play with creepy middle aged men and puts him in the back seat of her cruiser, then heads for heads for home.  On the way, a group of teen dirt bikers come screaming down the highway and when she pulls them over, she finds her daughter, Ashley with this preppy but motley crew of trouble makers.  Now with both kids in the back seat of her cruiser, she heads home, unsuspecting of the real terror that awaits.  Meanwhile local boy, Chris McCormick returns home to search his family's mine for gold and find his true love again, who happens to be Samantha Parker.  He returns after a 16 year hiatus after he left because of a fight with her cheating boyfriend.  Only a day back and he gets arrested at a town meeting for slugging the mayor.  I think Chris McCormick has anger issues.  Anyway, this reunites Samantha and Chris and they decide to go for coffee some time.  Way to pick'em, Sam!
  Another week goes by and Mike still hasn't heard from his older man friend, so he goes to visit him.  There he discovers the place is in shambles and finds a mutated spider leg on the ground.  He hitches a ride back to town and is picked up by local miscreant and his mother's new love interest, Chris McCormick.  Mike tries to explainn to Chris about the giant spider leg but Chris thinks the kid is making up stories and drops him off at home.  When Chris arrives home, he finds that his Aunt has gone into the mine tunnel that is behind their basement wall(?) and discovers another giant spider leg.  Chris freaks out and goes to warn Mike, Samantha and the whole town but it's too late.  Giant spiders have started to attack the town.  Can Chris and Samantha stop this spider take over or will their small mining town get laid to waste?  
  Although pretty silly, this was a good film.  Ellory Elkayem (ROTLD: Necropolis, ROTLD:Rave to the Grave) really captured the spirit of the B-movie, big creature theme and created something fun.  Lots of notable people in this, like David Arquette (Scream, Ravenous ) who plays Chris McCormick, Kari Wuhrer (Thinner, Anaconda) who plays Samantha and a young Scarlett Johansson (Home Alone 3, My Brother the Pig) who's career seem exploded after being in this movie, potraying the teenage daughter, Ashley.  The script is good and pretty light but my only issue is that every building in the town seems to have a entrance connecting to the mines, which is really weird.  Also, Doug E. Doug (Cool Runnings, Dr. Giggles), who plays a paranoid DJ gets really annoying after a while.
 The special effects are done well and they use a good combination of real spider shots and CGI, as well as manufactured spider legs that they use to attack the actors with.  Although this is a horror/comedy, there still is an enormous body count and there are some terrifying spider attack scenes.  The ending is good and it's nothing I wouldn't expect for any other B-move.  This is a fun popcorn movie that is worth a second watch.

So, the next time you see one of these creatures creeping across the floor or feel a set of hairy legs crawling up your arms, remember that there may be more behind the wall and with just a little radiation, you never know how big they can get!