Monday, November 8, 2010

Propnomicon

Man, do I love me some H.P. Lovecraft. And I also dig custom propmakers and the extremely cool stuff talented amateurs create. So I was delighted to find Propnomicon Can't say that I know much about the blogger in question, but I am highly impressed with his creations and the things he has dredged up from teh interwebz. If you're a big fan of cosmic horror, creepy props or esoteric things MAN WAS NOT MEANT TO KNOW, check it out.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin

Nicholas Close is a haunted man. Haunted by the very visual ghosts of the victims of violent deaths. Haunted by the sudden loss of his young wife and the possibility that he may have inadvertantly caused it. Haunted by the murder of his best friend as a child and the idea that he was meant to die instead.

Nicholas is the protagonist of Stephen M. Irwin's first novel, The Dead Path. Following the death of his wife, Nicholas quits his job and flees London to the small town in Australia where he grew up. But Nicholas is not just running from a life suddenly shattered by tragedy; he has also begun to see terrifying visions of people dying in bloody violent ways. He hopes to reunite with his estranged family and begin a new life, burying unhappy memories and nightmarish visions alike.

But very quickly events and disquieting feelings overtake Nicholas, forcing him to confront the unholy force he senses in a dark and forlorn grove of woods near his childhood home. As clues and circumstances arise, Nicholas realizes the malavoent darkness of the woods is more powerful, more evil and more ancient than he can believe.

I really enjoyed The Dead Path. For a first novel, Mr. Irwin has crafted an eerie tale that the accomplished masters of the genre would be proud of. His characters resonate beautifully and the reader can't help but be drawn into the novel. The complex relationship between Nicholas' mother and her children, in particular, was very artfully contstructed.

Mr. Irwin admirably uses the language to depict his scenes and action. I was often charmed by the similes he uses. Spare and poetic, I think Mr. Irwin's style reminds me very much of Peter Straub. His themes, character construction and tone, however, reminded me very much of Stephen King.

And therein lies my only qualm with The Dead Path. Genre readers will find no new ground broken in the novel. I feel that I must point out that I was (perhaps unfairly) reminded of King's It by The Dead Path. However similar the stories may be, The Dead Path is definitely not It relocated to Australia. It is rather a genuinely creepy story with a kindred leitmotif. I liked King's It very much. I was gripped by The Dead Path just as well.

In sum, if The Dead Path is the caliber of novels I can expect from Mr. Irwin, then I look forward to his next as soon as published.

The Dead Path was previously published in the UK and Australia as The Darkening. It is now available in the US from Doubleday.

Toolshed rating: 9 of 10 bloody talismans.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Contest Winnah!

Congratulations to the winner of our Cinema Fave Gush contest: iZombie aka Jeremy from Born Again Zombie! Jeremy will recieve a copy of The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin courtesy of Random House Publishing.

Still in the midst of reading The Dead Path myself but a review is on the way. If you'd like to read an excerpt see yesterday's post.

Thanks again, everyone for entering. This has been a lot of fun for me and hopefully we'll have another one soon. Congrats again Jeremy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Excerpt from "The Dead Path"


Our innaugural contest is moving right along but we still have two days left to enter, folks! On Thursday, 28 October around 6:00 pm Central, I'll announce the winner. Please remember to leave your email so I can get in touch with you if you win. Good luck!

By the by, I recieved my reviewer's copy of "The Dead Path" and will be posting my review soon. If you'd like to read an excerpt, you can find it at Stephen Irwin's Facebook page. Here's a
link guys.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Toolshed's Innaugural Contest!

This is it, fiendish folks! Our first Toolshed giveaway! I have (courtesy of Random House Publishing) one copy of The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin free to the winner of The Toolshed's Cinema Fave Gush contest.

I have not, as of yet, recieved a reviewers copy but the publicist's info sheet describes The Dead Path thusly:

"Nicholas Close has always had an uncanny intuition, but after the death of his wife he becomes haunted, literally, by ghosts doomed to repeat their final violent moments in a chilling and endless loop. Torn by guilt and fearing for his sanity, Nicholas returns to his childhood home and is soon entangled in a dis turbing series of disappearances and murders—both as a suspect and as the next victim of the malignant evil lurking in the heart of the woods."


Simply put, send me a comment on this post and tell me in 30 words or less your favorite horror flick and why you love it. On October 27th I'll put all entrants names in my Mystery Murder bag and the lovely Mrs. Toolshed will pull a winner forth!

Winner will be announced on October 29th on The Toolshed. Good luck to all!

It Rises!

Hello again fear fans. Sorry for the incredibly long disappearance from the blog but I've had all to much on my plate for the last six months or so. But the Toolshed is open for business again! And to innaugurate this august event, the Toolshed will soon have it's first product giveaway contest!

Details soon!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scary Shorts! Zombiemania (2008)

zombiemania

Zombiemania is a 2008 Starz! documentary directed by Donna Davies. Featuring interviews with many of the legends of the horror genre, Zombiemania is a great introduction to the field to non-horror fans. However, many undead enthusiasts will be puzzled by the focus on American directors, actors and authors and the total exclusion ( except for Shaun of the Dead) of Fulci or any foreign influences on the field. Additionally, Zombiemania skips entirely any mention of such great films as Return of the Living Dead or Zombie Holocaust or many others. In fact, outside of George Romero's works, not a lot of films are highlighted.

I did appreciate interviews with Max Brooks, author of World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide, and Tom Savini and Gregory Nicotero. Some great coverage of "Zombie walks" are shown and horror video games are mentioned almost in passing.

Basically, Zombiemania is about half of a fantastic documentary. Toolshed verdict: 7 out of 10 viscious vipers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Entity (1981)

theentity2

BE WARNED! SPOILERS LURKING BELOW!

Carla Moran (Barbara Hershey) has a tough life. Poor, raising a family of three by herself and trying to put memories of abusive men (including her father) behind her, Carla finds her sanity itself being threatened by an unseen force in her home. The Entity is genuinely gripping but founders in the third act.

After telling a friend about the merits of Paranormal Activity (which I'll write about another time), he recommended The Entity, which I'd never viewed before. I can't really compare the two; they are very different films with similar subject matter. However, I couldn't help but be reminded of Speilberg's Poltergeist, filmed slightly later than The Entity.

The Entity can almost be seen as a much darker version Poltergeist. In both films, we're told the story of a family suddenly being assaulted by unseen, malavolent forces in an otherwise normal suburban setting. In The Entity, the attacks are centered on Hershey's Carla. Repeatedly raped, beaten and attacked by the evil force in her home, Carla begins to question her sanity and the nature of her reality. Eventually, she convinces a group of doctors to believe her incredible story and to help her.

theentity

Director Sidney J. Furie depicts Carla Moran as a tough, independant woman struggling to make a better life for herself and her family. Hershey's Carla is fully alive. I found myself pulling for Carla and empathizing with her bizarre plight. I enjoyed The Entity chiefly because of the caliber of the actors involved. Ron Silver (Dr. Phil Sneiderman) also turned in a noteworthy performance as Carla's psychiatrist. Sneiderman is initially torn between his earnest desire to help Carla and his knee-jerk reaction to dismiss her story. Complicating matters is his growing feelings for Carla (although that may be just my interpretation).

The Entity has the dubious distinction of it's traumatic assault scenes. These were disturbing on a visceral level and I found them almost unwatchable. Like the rape scene of Last House on the Left though, they were necessary to advance the plot. Be warned, sensitive viewers will be troubled. The "musical sting" that accompanies the entities attacks were really frightening, punctuating the terror depicted.

So, what was all that about falling apart at the end? Just that; The Entity outstays it's welcome and the scenes of the scientists attempting to trap the entity just didn't ring true. And, of course, the requisite "Hollywood" ending felt like a letdown.

Other than that, The Entity is a great film, sort of a psychological thriller with paranormal terrors.

Toolshed verdict? 8/10 mysterious noises under the house.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dead Snow (2009)

dead snow

They're Zombies! They're Nazis! They're Nazi-Zombies! Yes my blood-thirsty bretheren Dead Snow delivers!

I'm not really sure where I heard of Dead Snow (probably Freddy in Space) but I was hooked at once. Oh sure, there have been Nazi-Zombie movies before, i.e. Shockwaves, Night of the Zombies, Oasis of the Zombies. And there have been Nazi-Zombie books (The Night Boat-Robert R. McCammon) and even Nazi-Zombie video games (Call of Duty: World at War) but that's just not enough of a great concept, is it?

Anywho, I put Dead Snow on my Netflix list at once. I was pretty psyched over it but not quite enough to bump it to #1. And then, lo and behold, Dead Snow gets released to instant view! Thank the Maker! But, is it worth watching, once you look past the (admittedly) super-awesome-funtime Nazi Zombies?

Yup, sure is. Dead Snow is a goofy, funny,gorey, scary rush from director/writer Tommy Wirkola and writer Stig Frode Henriksen. This movie abounds in winks to the horror fan base. Everything from t-shirts, casual remarks and Evil Dead-style "arming up" is in there, kids.

The plot? Seven college kids spend the weekend at a remote, snow-bound cabin yada yada yada. You guys know the score. Anywho,a crusty, crazy mountaineer shows up to warn the victims-to-be about the legendary platoon of blood-thirsty Nazis that made life a living hell for the local Norwegians during Occupation sixty years before. Finally having enough of the beatings, torture and what not, the locals rose up and drove what few Nazis they didn't kill into the mountains. Whereupon, the Nazis(presumably) froze to death. Of course they did but of course, that's not the end of the story. The gang finds hidden loot the Nazi stole from the locals and I'm pretty sure you know what happens next.

I ususally have a tough time getting into foreign films. Sadly, I get too distracted trying to read subtitles when I should be digging the movie. However, Dead Snow was so familiar and campy, I mostly just ignored the dialogue and watched the disembowelings. And, my weren't there lotsa disembowelings? And enough blood to almost fill ten minutes worth of Brain Dead.

So, what else is there to recommend in Dead Snow? The cinematography was gorgeous; lotsa lovely shots of Norwegian fjords and mountains. A good looking cast that seemed to be having a loads of fun.

Anything wrong with Dead Snow? Well, it was just a little too derivative of Sean of the Dead. That was a small hiccup though. I can't see how anyone could write a horror-comedy featuring zombies that won't strongly remind you of Sean.

Toolshed verdict? 9/10 deomonic goosestepping Obersturmfurhers

dead snow 2

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fi' Dolla' Show! Severed (2005)

severed

Ah, man, where to begin? Severed starts off promising and quickly fizzles, dragging along about 3 times longer than was welcome. Bad, just bad.

I gotta tell you, at first I was intrigued with the creative spin on the slow zombie genre. Severed is set in an isolated logging camp in the Pacific Northwest. It seems that the big bad multinational logging concern was sponsoring genetic engineering on the forest in the hope of increasing yields. Instead, the trees begin developing a mutagenic sap that turns people into mindless 28 Days Later style zombies when introduced into the blood stream. Bad news for the loggers in said camp. Bad news for the hippy protesters chaining themselves to trees. Bad news for the CEO's son, who shows up to find out why production has ceased. Initially, Severed hits the ground running.

Then the sour notes began to hit. Terrible CGI? Oh, you betcha! Gorehounds beware; the bloodsplatters are particularly unconvincing. No one expects topshelf gore effects in low budget films like this but Severed looks like they used MS Paint to draw blood flying around. Speaking of blood, when you completely coat your characters faces in blood, it's tough to tell them apart! Especially with lifeless, one-dimensional characters as presented in Severed.

Action sequences are likewise unconvincing. When battling the zombies, the actors just seemed to be attempting to avoid hurting themselves.

Corny dialogue? Hell yes, corn by the truckload. Every other line made me wince a little. I just had absolutely NO chance to immerse myself in this movie.

Well, I could go on like this for hours but I just don't have it in myself to beat this particular dead horse.

Can I say anything nice about Severed? Well, it's not the worst horror movie I've ever seen. Severed promised a neat original hook but completely choked. Look, no one expects much from a flick that was part of a $10 multipack from Best Buy. So I can't say my expectations were too high. Severed lived right down to them.

Toolshed verdict? 1/10 blood-splattered plaid shirts.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Interwebs box!

Hello ghouls! Got a new computer but too tired to post anything today. So sorry! For the record gonna be checking out Severed (2005) for Fi' Dolla' Shows. Promise to bestow my thoughts tomorrow.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fi' Dolla' Show! Night of the Living Dead (1990)

,night90

Greetings, ghouls. Today I'm introducing a new feature here at the Toolshed. Fi' Dolla' Shows! Cheapy-cheap DVDs I found at Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, etc. First up: Night of the Living Dead (1990) directed by Tom Savini.

Regular readers of the Toolshed (both of you) know I'm not averse to remakes in general. Advances in filmaking tech or the chance to introduce a classic staple of the horror genre to a new generation are worthy reasons to film remakes. If done with respect to the original, I say bring 'em on. My chief peeve with the rash of remakes Hollywood is generating ad nauseum these days is that they're simply trying to generate cash while exploiting a license languishing in their vaults. Happily, Night of the Living Dead '90 (hereafter known as NOTLD 90)falls into the first category.

NOTLD 90 took a crictical thrashing when released but has garnered more respect over the years. As well it should. I think most critics were espcially harsh simply because Mr. Savini had the audacity to be remaking a classic. What seems to be overlooked is that Savini was no iconoclast; his remake honors the original without being a shot-for-shot refilming.

Director Savini is famous for his brilliant makeup effects and practical effects as well as occasional turns in front of the camera. Mr. Savini knows the genre and genuine affection shows in his directorial debut. NOTLD 90 features a familiar cast of horror favorites, including Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and most everything Rob Zombie puts on film) and Tony Todd (of Candyman fame) as the iconic Ben. I was also very impressed with Patricia Tallman's Barbara. Possibly the best feature of NOTLD 90 was the re-imagining of Barbara as an alpha-female personality.
Ms. Tallman ably goes from shocked and bewildered to can-do over the course of the film. I may be cursed by the horror fanbase at large for saying this but Judith O'Dea's Barbara in the original bored me to tears. She was a one-note character.

Of course, anything associated with Tom Savini is going to have top-notch makeup effects and though NOTLD 90 has been eclipsed by twenty years of innovations, the zombies are still grody enough to pass muster. I was a little surprised by the restraint on the gore quotient, however. I would've thought a Savini-helmed Night would feature blood by the buckets.

The supporting cast, for the most part, turned in a competent though not stellar performance. Tom Towles, for example, as the sleazy Harry Cooper seemed to fall short of being sleazy enough. William Butler (Tommy) and Katie Finneran (Judy Rose) were earnest and well meaning but just not ENOUGH. To be blunt, I didn't care all that much when they were killed when I was supposed to be shocked.

And that is NOTLD 90's failing. Mr. Savini's remake is competent but didn't really reach for the notoriety of the original. Of course, it's harder to shock us these days, and who doesn't know the well-worn plot Mr. Savini tried to tell the story with? Simply put, if you're going to remake a classic, you gotta give us something new to be amazed over. NOTLD 90 doesn't give us anything that George Romero or Lucio Fulci hasn't shown us already. Hell, even Dan O'Briens Return of the Living Dead gave us fast zombies.

Still, Tom Savini's directorial debut shouldn't have been as lambasted as it was. NOTLD 90 has it's heart in the right place, if nothing else and it was fun viewing. Although I couldn't say that I was emotionally invested in any of the characters it was still worth the $5 I gave Wal-Mart.

Final verdict? NOTLD 90 has some great zombies and is a fun, if overly familiar, flick. Nothing special but deserves a viewing or two.

Toolshed gives it 6.5/10 shrieking bonesaws.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lo (2009)

lo

Quick! Go to your Netflix account and find Lo on instant viewing! What? You don't have a Netflix account? Grrrrrr! Okay, go get a trial account and watch Lo. Then come back and see me.

Okay, done? Wasn't that AWESOME?

I've noticed Lo for awhile but the little plot-sketch didn't blow my skirts up. Despite cool artwork on the cover, Netflix describes Lo as:

"Lovelorn Justin (Ward Roberts) sees his life change for the better when quirky April (Sarah Lassez) lands in the middle of it. When she's abruptly kidnapped by a band of demons, Justin sets out to rescue her, with the help of the hellion Lo (Jeremiah Birkett), who has an agenda of his own. Hell, musical demons and oversized rats complicate the path to love in writer-director Travis Betz's horror-comedy hybrid.

A musical horror romantic comedy? No thank you. I only have room in my life for one and that's Rocky Horror. Still, despite much misgivings I was bored so I bit. So glad I did.

Lo opens with Justin calling forth the demon Lo using a mysterious book (which looks pretty familiar to horror fans) belonging to girlfriend April. I've gotta tell you I lost all doubts after Lo's creepy appearance.

To put it mildly, Lo isn't too interested in helping Justin rescue April. In fact, he begins to refer to Justin as "Dinner" as soon as he shows up. Nonetheless, the power of the summoning spell obliges Lo to help. It just doesn't make him any easier to deal with. Malice oozes from Lo's every word.

WARNING! Major Spoiler Ahead! Although if you haven't watched Lo yet, despite my entreaties above, let it be on your head!

In a series of vignettes drawn from Justin's memory, Lo introduces the viewer to Justin's "quirky" girlfriend, April. And quirky she certainly is. Mysterious, paranoid and ignorant of almost every facet of human society would also describe April. It didn't take me long to realize just why April is so "quirky".

Yes, she's a demon. A special demon with a human heart. Or at least a partly human heart. And therein hangs the tale.

To reveal any more really would ruin the movie but I do have a few viewpoints I'd like to throw out.

Lo is written and performed as though it were a "bare-stage" play. I'd really love to see Lo performed on stage and I think, with a few tweaks, it easily could. Writer/Director Travis Betz obviously worked with a miniscule budget but spent the money where it counted: accomplished actors and effective makeup. Jerimiah Birkett's turn as the demon was wicked, malicious and ultimately poignant.

So, was there anything I didn't like about Lo? Honestly, the musical interludes were lost on me. I did appreciate the whimsical touch of a demon advancing the plot as part of a diabolical '50s rockabilly song, but it seemed a bit overlong.

But, other than that minor peeve, I was cheerfully surprised by Lo. See it!

Toolshed verdict? 9/10 gore-smeared pitchforks.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Albino Farm (2009)

albino farm2

Okay, stop me if you've heard this one before. A group of college students/Abercrombie & Fitch models, whilst researching for a paper on rural culture, run afoul of a clan of inbred cannibalistic hillbilly mutants. One by one, they're picked off until only the most likeable of the women are left. Of course, she's driven crazy by the experience.

Now I realize that I've spoiled the ending of Albino Farm for you but no self-respecting horror fan of note couldn't spot that ending a mile away. Hell, I knew who would die and in what order ten minutes in. We've all seen this movie before, the characters and plot-beats as familiar to us as family. With that caveat in mind, is Albino Farm a bad movie? And is it so bad it's good? Or is it just meh?

Albino Farm has it's bright spots. First and foremost, the makeup effects by Industrial Monster and Props/Jason Barnett are inventive and disturbing. Looking for the next generation's Savini or Baker? Look no further. I give you exhibit A:

albino farm 2

Of course, this is the tip of the iceberg. Fans of creative monster design will LOVE this film.

So is there anything else? I was abashed to discover wrestler Chris Jericho ("Levi") could turn in such a creditable performance. So call me a snob, I assumed he was cast as a novelty. Honestly, though, Jericho's sordid, twitching hillbilly was so realistic I began to wonder about his personal life. (Just kidding, Mr. Jericho, please don't beat me to a pulp.)

Aside from these gems, that's about all to recommend Albino Farm. The well-worn plot was directed in a distinctly workmanlike way by the directing team of Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen. The balance of the cast were forgettable and the dialogue was pretty hacky. I was also very distracted by the choppy editing in the last act. Rushing to make a release date, Albino Farm? Gore quotient was fairly restrained and skin shots were almost non-existent (with the exception of one lingering topless shot of the beta female's body double).

Having said all that, I can't find it within myself to completely condemn Albino Farm. For all it's faults, Albino Farm is not the worst example of "backwoods mutants terrorize pretty people" out there (>cough,cough, Wrong Turn 3, cough<). Folks, if you are seriously jonesing for great makeup effects and have 90 minutes to kill, you could do a lot worse.

Toolshed verdict? 4/10 hayseed chromosomes.

Brighter and better things next time, fear fans. Check out Lo (2009) and wait for me to gush about it next time!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mr. Andy, why you no post?

Hello blood fiends! Just want to set ya'll straight (both of you) on the score. Pretty much the past week or so has been the perfect storm o' crap. Firstly, my computer died and I'm living on my laptop (made by the good folks at the Etchasketch corporation). Secondly, I'm working different hours at work, which while that's cool and all, comes with a lot of overtime both voluntary and involuntary. And lastly, I just haven't had time to catch any new flicks or book-type thingys. Oh, sure, I saw The Other Side (kickass!) and Altered (kickass!) and re-read From a Buick 8 (sorta, kinda kickass, of the semi-lame variety), but I also saw Carnage the Destroyer, which has deeply damaged my faith in the universe.

So, until my real internets box is back up and running and I catch up on some zzzz's I'm gonna be out for a bits. Not to fret homies, if I have to resort to this lame-o laptop, that's what I'll have to do!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Motel Hell (1980)

motel hell Pictures, Images and Photos

Ah, what can we say about Motel Hell that hasn't been said a million times by a million other blood-fiends? Probably not much but that hasn't stopped me so far. Released in 1980, Motel Hell kicked off the decade with a wicked bang. Like that of a beartrap, bursting a tire. But before we get ahead of ourselves, a little synopsis for the uninitiated.



"Sometimes I wonder about the karmic implications of these actions." Right you should, Farmer Vincent. It seems Farmer Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun) is famous in local parts for his fine smoked meats made from the best select cuts he can find. And where does he find them? Why, they're just victims of the highway accidents he causes nightly.

Vincent and his sister Ida (Nancy Parsons) are rural psychopath cannibals in the time-hallowed tradition of B-cinema. But Vincent isn't all kill-crazy entrepeneur. In fact, as the movie opens, he finds a warm spot for Terry (Nina Axelrod), his latest victim. Dazed by the "accident", Terry is taken in by Vincent and Ida. As time passes, she finds herself attracted to Vincent's gentle charm.

Of course, she hasn't seen Vincent's "secret garden". In order to prepare his "animals" (read "captives") for slaughter, Vincent slices their vocal cords and buries them in the ground up to their necks! Look for John Rattzeberger as one of Vincent's cutlets-to-be. Wolfman Jack also has a too brief role, mostly wasted, as a greedy, horny televangelist.

Motel Hell's heart is in the right place but I can't recommend it too highly. A semi-spoof of slashers, the gore quotient is actually pretty low. There are a few nude scenes but are pretty quickly gone. The humor strikes the right chord but is aimed specifically at horror fans. Viewers without an appreciation of B-cinema will probably miss the point entirely.

Still, Motel Hell is definitely worth dragging out and dusting off on occasion. Toolshed verdict? 6 1/2 meat-cleavers, dripping Vincent's "secret spices"!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spider Baby (1968)

spider baby

Spider Baby (aka Cannibal Orgy or the Maddest Story Ever Told) is a classic of black-comedy cinema! Writer/Director Jack Hill's 1963 low-budget film is something of an "Addams Family"/Psycho/Rocky Horror with a touch of Lovecraft. But before we dig in to Spider Baby, first a synopsis.

Pity the poor Merrye Clan. Due to a degenerative brain disease brought on by inbreeding, the unfortunate members of the family gradually regress down the evolutionary ladder during puberty. Eventually, the disease causes the afflicted to become raving cannibals.The trio of remaining siblings dwell in the ancient homestead, lovingly cared for by Bruno (LON CHANEY freakin' JR!) the family chaffeur. The eldest of the trio is Ralph, mute and borderline functional as played by none other than SID freakin' HAIG! Younger sister Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn) relishes her role as the domineering sibling. And lastly we have Virginia (Jill Banner), the "spider baby" of the title. Seductive, curious, homicidal and quite mad, she adores arachnids though this doesn't stop her from occasionally eating one.

Into the Merrye's parlour come creeping two distant relatives, "Uncle" Peter (Quinn Redeker) and "Aunt" Emily (Carol Ohmart), eager to banish poor Bruno and claim the ancestral manse (and attendant wealth) "for the good of the children". Also in tow are Emily's lawyer, the boorish Schlocker (Karl Schanzer) and secretary Ann (Mary Mitchel). Although repulsed by the children and the state of the mansion, Emily and Schlocker quickly impose on Bruno and the children and invite themselves to dinner. And what a dinner it is!

To go any further would be to give too much away. You'll simply have to see this film for yourselves. Horror film fiends will not be disappointed.

Made for about $65000 and shot over a week, Spider Baby is still wonderfully rewarding. There are simply too many good points to list with this film. Even the opening credits have a lovely wicked theme sung by Mr. Chaney! All of the actors seem to have had huge fun performing and it shows. But Miss Banner will simply blow you away with her performance.

spider baby 2

Jack Hill is one of Roger Corman's many protoges and went on to direct several classic explotation films of the 1970's inclucing Coffy, Foxy Brown and Switchblade Sisters. Apparently, legal troubles prevented him from releasing Spider Baby for five years after filming and poor marketing kept in from becoming more recognized than it has been.

Obviously, Spider Baby has given me a warm fuzzy and I'm very glad I found this film on Netflix instant viewing. Trust me, I'll be checking Amazon or E-Bay for a copy.

Toolshed verdict? It's a TEN baby! Ten wrapped up bugs in a wonderfully creepy web!

Monday, February 1, 2010

[REC] 2007

[rec]

Young TV reporter Angela (cutie-pie Manuela Velasco) and her unseen cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso) spend the night with a Barcelona fire station, filming for their show "While You Are Asleep". While responding to a call at an apartment building, two firefighters, Angela and Pablo find the police trying to speak to an elderly woman inside. The woman attacks a policeman and one of the firefighters, badly wounding them before she is shot and killed. As the remaining policeman trys to calm down the building's residents, the entire building is suddenly quarantined by the government. No one is allowed out due to an unspecified "biological hazard". When the "dead" old woman and critically injured people turn viciously violent, the remaining people inside find themselves slowly being cornered and slaughtered.

I loved [Rec]. While it is an example of "shaky cam" cinema, I've never had a problem with that. The "suspension of disbelief" comes much easier for me with the hand-cam likes of Cloverfield, Blair Witch and the like. But I think even detractors of those kind of movies will like [Rec].

The movie is a bit slow at the beginning but builds a claustrophobic suspense later. Despite the fantastic premise, I found myself "believing" [Rec]. Clocking in at about 85 minutes, the movie doesn't have much time to develope the characters but I still identified with the terrified residents and wondering how I would deal with the situation.

So, is [Rec] a perfect horror movie? Well, no, not perfect. A few tired old cliches are still dragged out and whle the jump scares were effective, they were still just jump scares. And while the penultimate scene is novel (and the final "monster"-wow!), the last few frames are very predictable.

[Rec] was followed by a sequel, [Rec]2 in 2009. Additionally, an American version, Quarantine, was released in 2008. Quarantine is available on Netflix instant-view

I haven't seen [Rec]2 yet and I have heard it's not even close to the original for scary viewing. Still, I'll probably check it out based on the strength of the original. I can't say much about Quarantine althought I have scanned through it quickly. Seems to be a shot-for-shot remake of [Rec] though I really haven't watched completely. So, until I give it an honest shot, the jury is still out.

Toolshed's verdict? [Rec] recieves 8 1/2 shaky-cams.

Up next? Spider Baby (1968), featuring a very young Sid Haig! Also available on Netflix instant-view, check it out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lovin' Some Lovecraft: H.P. Lovecraft: Complete and Unabridged

lovecraft

This is the biggest chunk of cosmic horror from the master you can get for your buck. I've been a huge fan of Howard Phillips Lovecraft since I was a wee little mutant and I've got several different editions of his works but none surpass this one (except a first-edition Arkham Press, and Andy don't have that kind of cash).

You get it all here folks. Early works as a teenager, Lovecraft in his prime, essays, novellas, poetry, you name it. Hankering for some Necronomicon action? Look no further.

I picked this up on the cheapy-cheap shelves at Barnes and Noble for less than twenty bucks and now it's in heavy rotation as bed-side reading.

So, what's it missing you ask? Ummmmm....illustrations by Bernie Wrightson, the only artist in this blogger's humble opinion that could do Lovecraft justice. Or maybe we shouldn't know what Azathoth looks like. Usually that's bad news for Lovecraft's protagonists.

Toolshed score? 9 shocking sawblades.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's Alive (1974)

Okay, so I haven't watched [Rec] yet but I did manage to catch It's Alive (1974) last night. I was digging it, remembering seeing it as a wee lad on the CBS late movie. Still a pretty scary flick. Man, John Ryan was horror gold back in the day, I tells ya. I was about an hour into the movie when I realized how much he reminded me of Lance Henrikson. Sweaty+intense=John Ryan
john p. ryan

So, a quick plot summary: Frank and Lenore Davis (John Ryan and Sharon Farrell, respectively) are eagerly awaiting the birth of their second child. Sadly, this one turns out to be a blood-thirsty mutant who kills everyone in the delivery room and escapes to terrorize Los Angeles. Lenore goes slightly cuckoo and Frank stalks around glowering,denying paternity and smoking. Demon baby makes with the kill-kill (including one foxy mama in white go-go boots) and wackiness ensues.

Rick Baker's evil baby puppet was pretty horrific especially when considering he was in his early twenties and still counting his production credits on one hand. I made a kid in my early twenties and he wasn't nearly as scary as this.
Photobucket

Anywho, the real star of It's Alive was Guy Stockwell's way-too-short role as Ryan's boss. My man Guy just exudes cheesy 70's hipness. Whether "rapping" with his subordinates, snapping breakfast orders to his secretary or just flaunting the chest mane in a half-open floral print, Guy is definitely too with it to deal with this mutant baby drag and the downer it's causing for his PR firm.

It's Alive spawned two sequels (It Lives Again! and Island of the Alive) and has recently been remade by Josef Rusnak with the shockingly original title of It's Alive.

While I'm on the subject, let me state for the record that while I don't feel that any movie is so epic or genre-defining that it can't be remade, I'm more than a little exasperated by the flood of horror "re-imaginings" Hollywood has foisted upon us for the last few years. Fahcryinoutloud, it's not like there aren't original writers and directors out there with something new to show us! Sure, the occasional retread is cool but for every success (Dawn of the Dead) there are about a dozen crash-n-burns (>cough! cough! Black Christmas).

Thus endeth the sermon. For now.

So, final verdict for It's Alive!: 6 1/2 brain splattered trowels.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Horror Blogger Award

Quick post, just caught http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/ has just released it's nominees for the Horror Blogger award. Please scoot over and vote for your fave (if you're wondering, Stacie Ponder at http://www.finalgirl.blogspot.com/ caught my vote, just edging out Johnny at http://www.freddyinspace.com/ as my personal tops. Sorry, Johnny Boots, next time sir!)

Oh, yeah, gonna try n catch [Rec] (2007) tonight.

Hatchet (2006)

What a great love letter to slasher fans, courtesy of Adam Green! Hatchet had really been hyped to me and for the most part lived up to it. But first, quick summary:

A group of tourists in pre-Katrina New Orleans take a haunted swamp tour and run afoul Victor Crowley. Crowley, a deformed and deranged legend of the swamps takes "no trespassing" very seriously.

So, where to begin? First, the good. Kudos to Mr. Green for casting Joel Moore as the lead. Nothing against Mr. Moore but he's not the typical "pretty" male Hollywood shoves at as ad nauseum. He was an interesting choice.

Also, the cameos! Robert Englund! Tony Todd! Kane Hodder! John Beuchler! And veteran character-actor Richard Riehle.

The gore quotient was just short of over the top, perfect for this flick. I especially dug one semi-decapitation. I can't really describe it without spoiling a neat sequence, so check it out.

Nudity? Hatchet is set during Mardi Gras in pre-Katrina New Orleans. 'Nuff said?

The Bad? Well, some of the acting was very sub-par. I'm looking at you, Mercedes McNab. You've been in enough movies to expect a little better than that. (By the way, just a little strange to see McNab do several topless scenes when I remember her turn as a Girl Scout in The Addams Family very clearly. God, I feel a little creepy for that.)

The Ugly? Nothing springs to mind. Hatchet is a neat little slasher that rewards casual horror buffs as well as hardcore blood fiends.

Toolshed score? 8 out of 10 blood-soaked hedge clippers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Welcome all!

Greetings from the Toolshed of Horror! After a lifetime of loving all things gory n gruesome in pop culture, I finally jumped into the blogosphere with (I hope) a unique perspective into horror movies, novels and whatever I feel like holding forth on.




So, what's in store for you at the Toolshed? Well, I have an extensive library of horror flicks, novels, non-fiction books on the macabre, a very active Netflix account and a for reals drive-in theater about 6 miles from home. Unfortunately, I also have a for reals job and family, so demands on my time are pretty extensive. Let me apologize right up front if I can't blog every day. But let me begin with a movie from a couple years back highly recommended by Johnny at http://www.freddyinspace.com/




Tonight's viewing will be Hatchet (2006) courtesy of Netflix instant viewing. Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts and please let me know what you thought of Hatchet!