So I haven’t written anything in forever — we’re preparing for our first baby due next month, which is consuming nearly all our free time and is hugely exciting!
I also haven’t read anything in forever — well, I’m halfway through The Happiest Baby on the Block, anyway, and working on 3D Engine Design for Virtual Globes for work, if those count. There are several upcoming releases I’m excited for, though: Nathan Ballingrud’s Wounds, John Langan’s long-awaited Sefira and Other Betrayals, and I believe Matthew M. Bartlett’s limited-edition chapbook If It Bleeds are all coming out very soon.
On the flipside of reading, I am extremely pleased that my short story Crypsis will be appearing in Martian Migraine Press’ forthcoming anthology of camouflage-themed cosmic horror, Monstrous Outlines!
I also have watched relatively few movies, other than a ton of horror movies (most old and cheesy to varying degrees) in October and November of last year. For the sake of writing something, anything, to justify the hosting fees for this place, I now present brief reviews of what I’ve seen in the last few months. Spoiler: Halloween III was the highlight by far.
True Detective, Season 3
I am actually not qualified to comment on this yet, as I still haven’t gotten around to watching the last episode of the season. That being said, up to that point the performances were exceptional (for the most part) and Pizzolatto continued to routinely make the second-best writing choices in any given situation and scene. I will revisit this once I’ve finished it.
Suspiria, dir. Luca Guadagnino
Look. I desperately wanted to like this movie. I tried so hard to see it in theaters, although it never came any close enough, geographically, to make that happen. I was jazzed to see the trailers, the visual direction, the increased focus on dance. Unfortunately, I found this movie to be Bad. It dragged on, it was riddled with unnecessary subplot, the nightmare sequences looked like comically cheesy film-student quality b-roll from the video tape in the American remake of The Ring, and the ending was just… really lame. I was so ready for this movie to be good, and it wasn’t even a case of me overhyping it to myself; it was just straight up unenjoyable to me.
The Shiver of the Vampires, dir. Jean Rollin
I originally thought this was better than Daughters of Darkness, but with more hindsight I’m not sure if I still feel that way. It was reasonably entertaining to have on while I made dinner, though, and was generally pretty serviceable. The vampires were seriously underpowered and frequently got knocked over with a strong shove, which was pretty funny. The two shithead male vampires would have done a good job as the two leads in an adaptation Lovecraft's "The Hound".
The Stuff, dir. Larry Cohen
I heard about this (and several other films I watched around this time) from the Horny 4 Horror podcast, which is pretty damn funny. On the one hand, this is not a good movie. On the other hand, it's got so many fake commercials for The Stuff, it's got Big Ice Cream, it's got Chocolate Chip Charlie, it's got an extremely unlikable protagonist, and it's The Taste That Makes You Hungry For More™. Bonus half-star for generally being insane.
Wishmaster, dir. Robert Kurtzman
Also watched thanks to Horny 4 Horror, this movie is fucking radical. A dude’s skeleton erupts out of his body and walks around in like the first five minutes. Is it incredibly cheesy? Hell yes. Does it have cameos from just about every major horror actor? Yes it does. Is Verne Troyer also in it? Yes he is. With Kurtzman at the helm, the practical effects are as good as any I’ve seen, essentially on the level of The Thing, which is obviously saying something. This is a fantastic movie to drink with/to/about.
Sleepaway Camp, dir. Robert Hiltzik
Hilariously bad but somehow still excellent, this is definitely a movie that could only have been made when it was (1983). I enjoyed the hell out of it, especially with Joe Bob Briggs’ insight and commentary (which, by the way, if you’re not subscribed to Shudder for, is a serious oversight if you enjoy horror).
Daughters of Darkness, dir. Harry Kümel
Another one I saw thanks to Joe Bob’s Last Drive-In. This was definitely more coherent than Vampyros Lesbos, but I’m not really sure that’s a strength. It did kind of wear on, and there’s an awful lot of suspiciously day-bright, blue-gel “night” shots.
Vampyros Lesbos, dir. Jesús Franco
This movie is exactly what you expect it to be from the name. A passing semblance of a plot, a ton of vampire breasts, and some fucking wicked psych-porno-jazz. Also, how weird is it that this, Shiver of the Vampires, and Daughters of Darkness all came out the same year? 1971 was all-in on the erotic vampire movies.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch, dir. Tommy Lee Wallace
The hottest new film in the Halloween franchise is called Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Released in 1982 and having nothing to do with Michael Myers, this movie has *everything*: the mother of all earworm product jingles, commercials for the original Halloween playing on TVs within this film, android men in black, Chekhov's stolen Stonehenge megalith, masks that melt kids' faces and cause bugs and snakes to crawl out and then the snakes bite their parents, early-1980s casual sexual harassment, a concerted effort on the part of the filmmakers to convince us that Tom Atkins is sexy, a villain whose motivation to commit mass child murder appears to be "eh, why not"... what more could you want?
Terrified, dir. Demián Rugna
Pretty decent, definitely entertaining enough and moves along at a pretty good clip. Also fairly cheesy in parts, but not distractingly so. Had some pretty imaginative parts too! My main beef is that the English subtitles were *very* bad (at least on Shudder, where I watched it). Plenty of times where the English was really grammatically wrong, or didn't match what was being said in Spanish, or had bad formatting, etc. I did appreciate that it was less than two hours long, which is hard to find these days! Overall, a decent thing to watch on an October night.
The Haunting of Hill House, dir. Mike Flanagan
This was great, but the ending was way out of sync with the rest of the show and frankly tanked it for me pretty considerably. Which is a shame, because otherwise it was quite good!
Apostle, dir. Gareth Evans
The main younger husband from Downtown Abbey vs. the "REMARKABLE!" guy from Twilight, a dude from Silent Hill, and a meat grinder. Overall pretty good, didn't blow me away but kept me pretty entertained.
The Wailing, dir. Na Hong-jin
Beautifully shot, excellent performances, great use of sound. Overall a totally stellar horror film. Yes, it’s pretty damn long, but it’s worth watching. Really, really good.