Spechtreum X
Draconis Blackthorne's Shadowmantium

Spechtreum V. 10________________________FILM REVIEWS________________________Draconis Blackthoirne

Burnt Offerings | House of Dracula | Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula | The Island of Dr. Moreau | The Omen 666 | The Omen: Legacy | Enter The Ninja | Gamera: Guardian of The Universe | Underworld | Trick or Treat | KISS Meets The Phantom of The Park | Metal: A Headbanger's Journey | Scanners | From Beyond | Krull | Gargoyles | Dolls | The Forbidden Zone | Satan's Children | Nightstalker | Satan's School for Girls | Satan's Cheerleaders

Blackthorne Theatre

Dracomet

Burnt Offerings
{X A.S. Directed by Dan Curtis. Starring Oliver Reed, Karen Black, Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith, Lee Montgomery}

A tale about a family house-sitting a beautiful Victorian home over the remmus months with just a couple of "catches" to it... the mysterious woman in the attic room with her "collection", and the fact that the house is alive. All they have to do is set a tray for her three times a day, and all is well. The vacationing residents were more than welcoming to Ben and Marian Rolf, and their rambunctious young son, David. Aunt Elizabeth {Bette Davis} comes to stay for a few days, and so begins the slow descent into madness...

At first, all seems idyllic, then upon finding a pair of broken spectacles at the bottom of the pool, Mr. Rolf is temporarily possessed by a rage, nearly drowning little David in playful roughhousing gone bad. Contention and animosity build among the family, and Mr. Rolf's nightmares return with increasing frequency and intensity, featuring a ghoulish hearse chauffeur at Rolf's mother's funeral grinning as the seeming personification of The Grim Reaper, terrifying him into petrification.

Marian becomes increasingly obsessed with the history of the house and its shadowy occupant at the top of the stairs, immersing herself with sepia photographs of eras gone by, the music box's haunting tune, and gradually assumes the elegant accoutrement of The Lady of The House.

Poor Aunt Elizabeth falls ill with a strange contorting malady, and is payed a visit by the man in black. A seeming "sacrifice" to the house which thereby begins to rejuvenate itself, in a very vampiric dynamic.

Noticing the acclimation of his wife to The House, Ben finally has enough and decides to leave with David on a tempestuous evening, wherein desperation besets him to ram the car repeatedly into an apparent spontaneous obstacle formed by foliage, and is even accosted by vines while attempting the escape!

Thereafter, Ben suffers a nervous breakdown, and Marian becomes his virtual caretaker until "Davey" again nearly drowns when the forbidden deep end of the pool seemingly draws him in, at which point fatherly instincts take hold of his mind, and he thereby "snaps out" of his stupor, as she also seemingly returns to her common senses, and they all decide to depart together, but not before making sure 'The Old Lady'* is cared for... and it was this final act of concern which spells their doom. Setting foot again inside the blighted house overwhelms Marian, and they all thereby become permanent residents of its enchanted fetters.

The climactic ending scene is quite impressive, and really should be witnessed to be truly appreciated.

I suppose some people just cannot appreciate old-fashioned hospitality, and the inherent charms of such a magnificent dwelling.

This film emanates an eerie, dream-like quality rarely achieved for "Haunted House" movies, retaining a subtle sense of malevolence with a palpable formless presence permeating the entire story. Director Dan Curtis {Dark Shadows, Trilogy of Terror} consistently manages to achieve such banefully grim presentations with pleasantly malefic fluorish. Thoroughly enjoyable with an evocative feel.

5/5.


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* Personally, 'The Old Lady' reminds Me of My very own paternal Grandmother, who grew up in such a home, and displays many similar propensities.



House of Dracula

{1945 c.e. Directed by Erle C. Kenton. Starring Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Martha O' Driscoll, Onslow Stevens, Jane Adams}

Various legendary monsters are summoned by enterprising Dr. Edelman {Onslow Stevens} to develop "cures" for their conditions. Count Dracula arrives late on night as "Baron Latos" {John Carradine}, to undergo transfusion treatments*; and The Wolfman is to be neurologically injected with a wolvesbaine compound. Still, these creatures stay true to their natures, as Dracula seduces lovely blonde nurse Meliza during a moving rendition of Moonlight Sonata {the "music of My world" ~ Dracula}, and The Wolfman takes a suicidal leap off a cliff's edge hoping to end his lunar torment, but instead resides in the caves below the castle where Frankenstein's monster is discovered semi-submerged in the ruins, clutching his creator's skeleton.

After The Wolfman almost kills Dr. Edelman, they find the hidden chambers beneath the castle, and transport Frankenstein's creature back to the laboratory, where after a brief resuscitation attempt, decide against it, based on moralistic admonitions by hunchbacked nurse 'Nina', despite the overwhelming benefits to science and humankind this would engender.

Eventually, Dr. Edelman realizes the folly of inviting these darksome personages to the castle when he witnesses the slow somnambulism of nurse Meliza into Dracula's influence, and erroneously thinks he has been rid of this Prince of Darkness via a deceptive transfusion session, but his revenge is deeply ingrained into flesh and bone, as Edelman's mind is possessed of swirling visions of what he must now do, with Dracula's blood flowing in his veins - seems he himself was justifiably tricked into receiving vampire essence, which transforms him into a very Jeckyl & Hyde / Mad Scientist character, in which he murders a horse-driver and runs rampant at a local village, which causes the classically amusing 'villagers with torches and pitchforks' scene, but he manages to elude capture. He also began the successful resurrection of Frankenstein's creation, who is too quickly dispatched by the flame.

Meliza and a cured Wolfman fall in love, and hunchbacked Nina is de-humped, thus presenting a statuesque brunette beauty. John Carradine made for a curious, though always regal Count, and Frankenstein's monster is very nicely portrayed by Lon Chaney Jr., master monster man.

With shades of 'Mad Monster Party', House of Dracula contains several original monsters from cinematic arcana {with the exception of The Mummy and The Creature from The Black Lagoon} rolled into one film, mixed with an intriguing plot, Noir accoutrement, and gothically elegant environments, which is a most diabolically-pleasing combination.


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* Brings to mind Dr. Hoffman's treatments for Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows infamy.


Dracula: The Dark Prince
{XXXV A.S. Directed by Joe Chapelle. Starring Rudolf Martin, Jane March, Christopher Brand, Peter Weller, Roger Daltrey, Michael Sutton}

This film attempts to portray Vlad Dracul in a more realistic manner, as far as specific events are concerned, such as:

1. Rounding up traitors with the pretext of a drunken celebration, and then when all are pretty well inebriated, lighting the entire edifice aflame, thus ridding himself of possible antagonists to his reign.

2. Dining at The Field of The Impaled, while dipping his bread in a goblet filled with blood and wine. Enemies turning back to their countries fearing the man who is capable of such a fearsome spectacle.

3. The oft-times neglected fact that he also impaled women and children at times, depending upon their offense, in this case, for being "adulterous". In this sense, he was influenced by Judeo-christian moralism.

4. Another truism related that one could veritable leave gold on the streets, and it would not be stolen, for fear of the punishment. Criminals were often seen impaled and immolated on the streets, which acted as a perfect deterrent. He actually displayed elements of Lex Talionis - as a result, crime was just about nil.

5. Driving spikes into the skulls of Muslims who refused to remove their turbans. They should "keep their traditions in their own country".

As far as the characterization is concerned, the mane-haired Vlad Tepesh {Rudolf Martin} is presented herein in a more or less romantic manner, sans mustache, and often wearing leather. 'Mina' as "Lidia" {Jane March} remains sheltered, and goes insane upon her realization of the actual events occurring in the kingdom, who then begins to superstitiously adorn herself with a rosary and calls Vlad a "monster" {"Voevod"}. Upon her suicide, he has all the mirrors in the castle covered, thus the mythological connection with the vampire "unable" to view his own reflection. She is survived by Vlad Jr., who displays great potential for leadership through his own ruthlessness.

He encounters his traitorous younger brother on the battle field, and graciously spares his life instead of dispatching him, which he should have done, as well as his step-father, both of whom eventually prove to be major obstacles, from framing him, which lands him in prison for awhile, to attempts at assassination. Upon regaining the throne, he strikes a deal with Catholic King Janos {Roger Daltrey}, proclaiming that it does not matter to him under what banner he fights, so long as his rule continues, and thus, his own interests prevail.

He seemingly resurrects on a couple of occasions, which lends to the legend of physical Vampiric immortality, whose "soul" is unable to enter heaven or Hell, and is "condemned" to roam the earth in a state of the 'undead'; to which he remains thankful to the murderous priest, who himself meets his end via a heart attack - veritably scared to death. Quite a pleasing concluding scene, instead of the typical stake in the heart.

Because of his indestructibility and military genius, he is accused of being an antichrist by the Orthodox clergy, which seems to amuse him, when all he wanted to accomplish was the glorification of his country and the preservation of his kingdom, both at which he succeeds.

I rather enjoyed this presentation, where Vlad The Impaler relishes in his role as tyrant to his enemies, and savior to his people, who still hail him as a national hero, and expect his symbolic return in some form.

Overall, Dracula: The Dark Prince is an aesthetically-impressive film, as Dracula / Vampiric presentations tend to be quite elegant from environment to accoutrement to deportment, and is probably the closest adaptation to actual events in the life of this remarkable historical figure, certainly an unforgettably mighty warrior. who remains an inspiration.

4/5

The Island of Dr. Moreau
{XII A.S. Directed by Don Taylor. Starring Burt Lancaster, Michael York, Nigel Davenport, Barbara Carrera}

An Englishman named 'Montgomery' is stranded with a lost companion on a deserted tropical island where he is rescued by Dr. Moreau, a genius in genetics, pursuing altruistic medical miracles to alleviate mankind from incurable maladies, although his methods are questioned, but it is maintained that the ends justify the means. He continues to make strides to this effect until perfidiously antagonistic organisms deem to thwart his noble efforts, who eventually become subjects themselves for his experiments, thus contributing far more to his vision rather than merely complaining about it.

Down in the jungle outside of his compound reside some of his genetic creations, man-beasts, veritable 'humanimals' of various species, from a bearman, boarman, to hyenaman, lionman, tigerman, bullman, and a monkeyman who is "The Sayer of The Law"* {small portion follows}:

"Not to go on all fours: this is the law. Are we not men?"

"Not to show our fangs in anger. Are we not men?"

"Not to snarl or roar. That is the Law. Are we not men?"

"What Is The Law? Not to shed the blood of another man. That is the law."

An obvious treatise on civility to temper impulsive feral proclivities. Those beastmen who violate this law are taken to "The House of Pain" for 'correction'... for Moreau elucidates that if this discipline is not enforced, the beastmen would run wild and surely kill their human counterparts. Much like the lion who must not be allowed to overtake the master even in jest, lest he begin to dominate the trainer.

What this film demonstrates is the necessary realization and connection to one's natural animalistic state, lest imbalance transform the denier into a broken creature. Dr. LaVey's infamous quote comes to mind:

"There is a beast in man that should be exercised, not exorcised."

One particularly notable scene depicts the stubbornly independent bullman fighting for his mental freedom, as he denies 'the law' and questions what is so wrong with realizing that one is an animal? Out in the bush, he vanquishes tiger with the obvious shedding of blood, and thereby becomes subject to the punishments of The House of Pain, but would rather run free and even die than suffer that indignity. Sadly for him, the consequence is lethal at the gunpoint of Montgomery, which then begins to raise other questions in the minds of the beastmen, as they slowly begin to realize the double-standards and hypocrisies enacted by the humans, in a likened "do as I say, not as I do" scenario, which does not sit well with them at all, and they begin to revolt. Revolution is the first step to evolution.

Beautiful resident orphan Maria {the gorgeous brunette Barbara Carrera} who was also rescued by Moreau as a child falls in lust with Montgomery, and remains with him through his transformation into manimal at the hands of Moreau, after he displays inclinations towards betrayal, and becomes an experiment, as his senses and instincts sharpen, accelerated pilose generation, legs to haunches, with an incessant desire to kill prey for food, but he remains in control of his civility nonetheless. She helps him escape the cage, the natives from thereon become restless as the mutiny scene develops, the ingrates set the compound aflame, with their maker placed in a suspended supine crucifixion.

Montgomery and Maria finally boat off to modern civilization.

5/5

This review featured on:
The Sinister Screen

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* Also used as a large part of the litany comprising Dr. Anton LaVey's lycanthropic rite "Das Tierdrama" from 'The Satanic Rituals' book. The Island of Dr. Moreau is a LaVeyan recommendation.


The Omen
{XLI A.S. Directed by John Moore. Starring Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Mia Farrow, Liev Shreiber, Julia Stiles, Giovanni Lombardo Radice}

In My opinion, as far as remakes go, this one stands on its own pretty well, with the exception of a couple of small variations which adds it own interesting twists, which relatively made it its own version, instead of replicating the original identically. With very nice scenery {particularly the foggy lake}, camera angles, and current environments. Of note, there are 666's all over this film from addresses to even the wallpaper in Damien's room. The floor in the main foyer in the Thorn house had a three-dimensional effect.

It was also funny to note some of Damien's drawings on the wall, which included the hanged nanny and a black devil with his name scribbled thereon.

It is also interesting to note events which were tied in to prophesies, such as 9/11, the Louisiana tsunami, and the space-shuttle explosion, which were said to precede the emergence of The Antichrist in Judeo-Christian mythology.

Great musical score as well.

Character comparisons:

Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick makes for a great Damien, diabolically cute with deep blue eyes and a bit thinner than the original, but a great characterization nonetheless.

Mia Farrow makes for a great Mrs. Balog, and the fact that she is a recognizable Rosemary Woodhouse made for a really amusing consideration and casting.

Liev Shreiber as Mr. Thorn: Works relatively well. although a bit more subdued than the remarkable portrayal by Gregory Peck.

Julia Stiles as Mrs. Thorn: Attractive, yet a bit too 'modelesque', and child-like. Which is understandable, considering it was Mia Farrow who recommended her for the role.

Bugenheigen is given a briefly minimal role, with the Megiddo daggers not as artistic in design as the originals, which are crucifixes, whereas these are stylized crosses with the "I'm Nailed Right In" acronym on the hilt.

The hellhounds were exceptional, beautiful canines all.

Notable scene differences:

The Zoo: this film displays an indoor zoo, where a gorilla almost breaks through his glass enclosure.

Decapitation scene: Instead of a shard of glass, a metal railing comes loose, swings topsy-turvy, and provides for a graphic scene worthy of the original.

Of note, the priest impalement scene is impressive, with a bit more gore added.

Nanny Hanging Suicide: She does not crash through the window, but instead thuds against the wall, with her fallen shoe providing the shattering glass element.

The Graveyard scene: A huge inverted cross thrust into the earth, essentially creating a dominant mass effect.

Overall, a 'modernized' variation not quite comparable to the original, but again, a stand out remake well done.

4/5

Also on this DVD, the Revelation 666 presentation featuring Reverend Moore, Behind-the-scenes footage, making-of featurettes of the film and the score, director and cast commentary.


I also had the opportunity to pick up the "The Complete Omen Collection (The Omen - 1976/ The Omen - 2006/ Damien: The Omen II/ The Omen III: The Final Conflict/ The Omen IV: The Awakening)", which is very pleasing - I have the VHS 1-4 collection, but now having all these wonderful extras on DVD is a tremendous acquisition, and shall be appreciated often.

As tends to be the case with these films, I see remarkable similarities between Myself and the fictional character of Damien Thorn - all these little nuances and synchronicities which seem to add up to a large question mark. Having spent some of My Draclinghood in Italy, being 'baptized' at The Vatican {even though I repeatedly snuffed out the candle, which I would later use for My own Satanic Baptism, and it went up like a torch!}, thrashed around, etc. Similar clothing {the pre-school uniform which resembles a little suit}, attitude and features, the propensity towards diabolical artistic expression from literature to art to films and later, even music. Of course, the so-called 'Anti-christ' is a mythological bogeyman, but I have been compared to this character nonetheless from time to time, by friends and even relatives, which I find quite amusing.


The Omen Legacy
{30 October, XXXVI A.S. Promethius Entertainment. Produced/Directed by Bent Zacky. Narrated by Jack Palance. Color, 101 minutes}

I was pleasantly surprised while inspecting the special features disc on My recently-acquired Omen Collection {I-IV, special features disc, plus the 6/6/06 remake, also containing the 666 Revelations featurette with Rev. Moore}, the films which I had previously collected on VHS, but having them now on DVD is just splendid. I discovered 'The Omen Legacy' documentary included hereon, which features none other than Our Magistra Blanche Barton commenting from the Satanic perspective on the effects this series has had on culture. Most notably, when asked about the III finale {the DP}, she observes that {paraphrased} "...Well, I suppose it makes people feel better, although it seems rather contrived". Considering the herd's dualistic mentality, it seems true for this entertainment fare, although these are timelessly amusing for what they are.

The Omen Curse

In the curses and coincidences section, the legendary Omen Curse is related, recounting the strange incidents surrounding the production of these films, from a pilot who crashed his plane onto a car containing his wife and children, to two separate planes being struck by lightning, prop malfunctions, near and fatal auto collisions which took the life of a special effects technician's girlfriend {who was decapitated}, health problems, and a constantly pervasive sensation of "evil". There were even christian nuts and weakan protestors {humorously, the latter were called "devil-worshippers" by the media!}, and the suicide of a girl who claimed influence by the movies.

Highlights

Other highlights include behind-the-scenes footage from the sets, greatest moments scenes, personal recollections and experiences, innovative special effects techniques, rare art and photography, and interviews with Magistra Blanche Barton, producers Richard Donner & Mace Neufeld, screenwriter David Seltzer, actors David Warner, Lance Henriksen, Lee Grant, Lisa Harrow, and Michael Lerner.

Also included are commentaries by Catholic Priest and professor of theology Dr. Felix Just, and protestant minister Rev. Doug Posey, who relate the typical christian opinion on the antichrist mythos, claiming The Devil did not want the movie made, stating the ubiquitous "the greatest lie of The Devil is that He doesn't exist..." Well hypothetically, perhaps 'The Gentleman' DID want it made, and just utilized the propaganda to make it all even more interesting...

Throughout the conversations, Omens I -IV are covered in this documentary, as the subsequent Omen 666 had not yet been made. All this wonderful content accompanied by the brooding narration of Jack Palance creates a delightfully nefarious atmosphere framing the series nicely. Highly recommended for Omen fantoms and collectors of Church of Satan interviews.

666 | 666


Enter The Ninja
{XV A.S. Directed by Golan-Globus. Starring Sho Kosugi, Franco Nero, Susan George, Christopher George, Alex Courtney, Will Hare}
"It's a Ninja. Professional soldier. Specializing in espionage & assassination." - Sho Kosugi.

The film begins with a very impressive display of weaponry skills by none other than Sho Kosugi in full Ninja uniform, including sai, shinobi-gatana, tonfa, nunchaku, manriki {bola}, blowgun, shiroken, bow & arrow, and spear-staff. Blend into white ninja {color indicative of novice/apprentice} amidst the wilderness undergoing his final "law of the jungle" test until recognized as full Ninja caliber; he is attacked by several red ninjas on his way back to the dojo, expertly defending himself until facing the Shidoshi himself, shockingly beheading him before entering in for judgement {this was a mere test to decipher whether or not he would be able to assassinate someone familiar to him to fulfill a mission, as many times an enemy would employ such illusionary tactics to distract from the task at hand}; in quite a moving scene, he is admonished by the shidoshi {teacher/"master"} to proclaim the Kuji-Kiri, The Nine Levels of Power while gesticulating the symbolic finger-knitting, which are:

  • 1. Rin - Strength of mind and body.
  • 2. Kyo - Direction of energy.
  • 3. Toh - Harmony with the universe.
  • 4. Sha - Healing of self and others.
  • 5. Kai - Premonition of danger.
  • 6. Jin - Knowing the thoughts of others.
  • 7. Retsu - Mastery of time and space.
  • 8. Zai - Control of the elements of nature.
  • 9. Zen - Enlightenment.

The Ninja is a highly-disciplined "mystic warrior", as it were, a veritable "Assassin Warlock", utilizing the forces of nature to one's benefit, both manipulating and cooperating the Chi-Energy within and without, permeating matter and ether as one. Practicing the multi-levels of mind and body to develop absolute harmony and grace with one's inner and outer nature. Ninjitsu-Ryu, or Ninpo, is a true Martial Art.

Unfortunately, due to ignorance and probably fear, cinematically at least, ninja figures seem to be sometimes erroneously depicted as mere hoodlums or fumbling dime-a-dozen henchmen. Obviously, with some research on the subject, one will realize that this is not the case.

Historically, the Ninja was hired as a private assassin for rival families and rulerships - because of the feudal environment, the Ninja had to be the foremost martial artisan, and was in fact, the most advanced of the kind.

Turns out the white-clad Ninja is an American {an obvious Frank Dux inspiration} named "Cole", who gains the animosity of another student named Hasegawa {Sho Kosugi}, who holds an grudge against westerners learning the ancient secret art. He is a descendant of the original nine Ryu {families}, and feels divulging the art is sort of a sacrilege. Although Cole certainly proved worthy and earned it by merit, which is the sign of superiority. "Merit, not inherit", as a certain Magus so precisely and concisely stated.

Now that he is Ninja of the highest order, Cole departs to the Phillipines where he meets up with old war buddy Frank Landers, and soon learns of the local corruption besetting a village comitted by the resident Mafia, whose rather bratty boss desires the oil-enriched land for profit. A vile little toad of a man named "Siegfried Schultz" with a hook for a hand harasses a local shopkeep who did not "pay on time", and thus begins the contention between that underground organization and the one-man army Cole has become, who dispatches all antagonistic forces geared his way, which angers unscrupulous CEO Charles Venarius, and through a deceitful subordinate, hires his own Ninja from the very same dojo, none other than Hasegawa!

As a side note, Cole eventually attracts the amorous attention of his friend Frank's wife Mary Ann, a sinewy blonde desperate for affection, upon which they indulge in a tryst after she radiates the mating signal through a sheer neglige.

Hasegawa abducts Mary Ann, and Landers meets his end by Hasegawa's shogi blade. Memory sequence includes a couple of memorable quotes (both in Vietnam):

Landers: "Now that the war is over, I'm gonna' find myself a good woman and live 'til I'm a hundred. You?"
Cole: "Find another war."

So, after gaining justice by lethal punishment upon Venarius, Cole and Hasegawa battle to the death with honor, tenacity, and skill.

Liberal uses of smoke bombs, extraordinary acrobatics, stealth and bloody kills. One particularly notable kill was Hasegawa's extermination of a guard using shuko, or the metal claws also used for climbing. Two genital attacks, including Schultz's hook on a thug and Cole's tonfa on a guard.

"Enter The Ninja" was released during the latter part of the martial arts pop-fascination of the 70's and early 80's, and distinguished itself by presenting Ninpo principles such as the afore-mentioned Kuji-Kiri, indigenous weaponry and some techniques, all under the expert supervision of Sho Kosugi {also "The Master" technical advisor}, an actual Ninpo practitioner, who along with Frank Dux, earned some ire from traditionalists in the old country, but did manage to add an enhanced perspective on this enigmatic historical character known as Ninja.

This is the first of the trilogy. The other two are "Revenge of The Ninja", and "Ninja III: The Domination". Also by Golan-Globus, the "American Ninja" trilogy.

5/5

G A M E R A
Guardian of The Universe
{XXX A.S. Directed by Shusuke Kaneko. Starring Yoshinari Yonemori, Naoya Kusangi, Mayumi Nagamine, Asagi Kusanagi}

Mega-turtle Gamera sleeps in the deep and is summoned forth by a girl who retains a sympathetic connection through a comma-shaped rock pendant, to do battle with an old enemy in Gyaos, the monster pterodactyl who feasts on human beings. Gamera's whereabouts are divulged when a team of oceanographers discover an island which conceals a mystical megalith encribed with actual Futhark runes, describing the prophesy of the monsters returning when the world is in perceived environmental peril.*

The little humans are predictably afraid of the monsters, and seek to destroy both of them, despite Gamera's heroic inclinations, but after awhile, they realize Gamera is the only great beast who can battle Gyaos, who has set up nest atop Tokyo Tower in the middle of the city. Instead of luring the giant away, the seemingly idiotic military deem to destroy the pterodactyl right there amidst the metropolitan surroundings. Their battle destroys the city at the cost of only a few human lives {in which Gyaos treats herself to "canned human" as she peels away subway trains, shaking the residents into her mouth}.

With the help of the life-force of the girl, Gamera gathers up enough energy to defeat Gyaos, which takes them from the city to the ocean, and even into outer space. Though Gamera receives some potent blows, thus also effecting the girl, he prevails in the end, with a nod of recognition.

4/5


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This is the constant theme underlying oriental monster mythology, as these "monsters" are an incarnate metaphor for "Nature's Avengers", as it were. This can also be seen most dramatically in the Godzilla films.


Having been a fan of monster movies since Draclinghood, I was pleased to see a well-done resurrection of the genre in this film since the late 70's/early 80's craze.

For those unfamiliar, Gamera is a likable giant turtle with snaggle teeth arising from his lower jaw, can fly in his unique way from biochemical jets within his shell {sometimes spinning}, and emits a deadly nuclear spray from his mouth.



U n d e r w o r l d
{XXXVIII A.S. Directed by Len Wiseman. Starring Kate Beckinsale, Michael Corvin, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighty, Sophia Myles}

UnderworldIn this thriller, Vampires are at war with the Lycans {werewolves}, who were kept as slaves until in a very Romeo and Julet scenario, Elder Vampire "Viktor" slays his own daughter in front of her werewolf lover who goes on to wage a battle to avenge her death. Here, The Vampires are aristocratic libertines presiding in opulent lairs while the Lycans are more or less street thugs residing under the city.

Subsequently, the Lycans formulate a plan to mix vampire and werewolf DNA to create a master warrior who would destroy the vampires once and for all. Lucian, the leader of the Lycans, sets his sights on a mortal named 'Michael' to be transformed into this champion for them. It is seen that this warrior represents the "son" "Lucian" never had, who himself falls in love with 'Selene', an attractive lycan-hunter, which stirs contention with Kraven, lord of the Vampire castle who stands as vampire ruler, whose reign is less than acceptable to Emperor Viktor, once he is awakened by Selene and becomes aware of the potentially dangerous situation brewing with the Lycans, which can effectively end their existence.

Armed with silver nitrate bullets, Selene and a handful of vampires go forth to decimate these werewolves, before they reach them and tear them to pieces. One of the more gorey scenes involves a massacre within a train.

Confused by the changes he is experiencing and impelled by his growing fascination with this shadowy underworld as well as an infatuation for Selene, Michael returns to the castle where he was kept prisoner after being kidnapped by Selene, and eventually is captured by Lucian, wherein his resident geneticist "Singe" begins experimenting to complete the metamorphosis into the Vampire-Werewolf synthesis.

Viktor wages elegantly with the furious amalgamated warrior, and in an unexpected twist, Selene goes sword to sword with Viktor, ending with a most interesting strike.

The film is replete with enjoyable dark environments, leather-clad accoutrement, impressive transmogrification, an original and compelling plot, with constant action-adventure {not horror}, in a general "Buffy"/VanHelsing-like vain, although the premise is superior to those presentations. Feral monsters versus regal creatures, preserving the story within the shadows, devoid of any pretentiously daylight "heroic" characters, which is appreciated.

4/5

Trick or Treat
{XX A.S. Directed by Charles Martin Smith. Starring Tony Fields, Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne, Marc "Skippy" Price.}

Premiering at the height of the SRA hysteria, this film capitalizes on it with much of the urban mythology employed, from the claim that Heavy Metal would lead to ruin and corrupt the minds of its fans, to the invocations to The Devil, backward masking, and possession.

Eddie Weinbauer {Marc "Skippy" Price from Family Ties}, AKA "Ragman", is a High School Metalhead who is picked on by New Wavey-type Jocks until he has enough, and finds an equalizer in his idol Sammi Curr, a recently deceased leather-clad Heavy Metal icon immolated by fire, whose indomitable presence returns through his theretofore unreleased record, whom Eddie uses like a Ouija Board to communicate with eachother from beyond the grave... back-masking "shilgne" comes into play here through his possessed stereo.

Channeled through electricity, Curr eventually manifests on Halloween night, when his post-humous previously unreleased malefik musick is to be broadcast from a local station run by a DJ named 'Nuke' {Gene Simmons}, and causing havoc withersoever he appears. Most notably, at the school prom, where in a scene reminiscent of Carrie, the auditorium erupts in flames after he blasts several audience members with energy bolts from his guitar! While incarnate, Curr decides to have some fun with a jock's girlfriend via a reversed cassette recording of his musickal messages, where the viewer is gratified by some delectible nudity.

Eddie's bedroom walls are arrayed with posters from the likes of Judas Priest {c. British Steel/Defenders of The Faith}, Iron Maiden {c. The Trooper}, Lizzy Borden {c. Give 'Em The Axe}, Motley Crue {c. Shout At The Devil}, Twisted Sister {c. Under The Blade/Stay Hungry}, and Ozzy Osbourne {c. Diary of A Madman}, with records of Possessed {c. Seven Churches; by far the heaviest and blackest of the bunch}, Impaler {c. Rise of The Mutants}, and Megadeth {c. Killing Is My Business...}.

Compared to some of other records released at the time, with the exception of Possessed and that particular Megadeth album, those others are actually rather tame, focusing more on sexuality and in the case of Ozzy Osbourne, horror movie antics, rather than overtly Occult themes - there could have been Venom, Slayer, Celtic Frost, and Mercyful Fate!* Interestingly, the entire soundtrack is comprised of songs by Fastway.

Various other knicknacks include action figures, a skull, a bat, a plastic suction spiderweb, and dinosaur-like monsters - surely, all the tell-tale signs of an evil devil-worshipper! All that was missing was a porcelain black cat, although earlier in the film, a cat is spotted dangerously close to the microwave oven!

Ozzy Osbourne appears briefly from time to time on the tube as a clean-cut evangelical preacher railing against sexual Heavy Metal lyrics and warrior/whore aesthetics in all of its primal glory. In his own way, seems that Osbourse applies a Shibboleth principle in mocking antagonists by assuming their foolish roles, and it is actually pretty well done, and not too far from the truth of how they behave after all.

Of note, Eddie's friend 'Roger', who actually tells it like it is, regarding music executives pushing albums with the whole backward masking gimmick to sell records, and the gullible who took it seriously, with christians only fueling the hellfires of the bands benefitting from it.

Shortly prior to his death, Curr had faced the PMRC countering paranoid claims, which resulted in his suspicious demise the next night. This scene was obviously inspired by Dee Snider's and Frank Zappa's actual addresses to the said organization.

Overall, the Sammi Curr character is an archetype embodying all of the superstitions and fears of "concerned" {translate: frightened, repressed, bored, ignorant; hypocritically passive-aggressive} christians, who project all of their own sublimated and fictitous notions onto those who refuse to walk lock-step with church sheeple.

The DVD is simply packaged, with only chapter selections available. For those who appreciate productions stemming from this musical genre, Trick or Treat just might be that piece of Halloween candy with the razor blade inside.

3/5

_________
* Whose singer King Diamond is an actual Satanist, and a member of The Church of Satan.


Acquired this DVD recently when I unexpectedly spotted a copy along with The Gate. Considering that Magister Paradise had mentioned it on Heavy Metal Memories a couple of times, I decided to pick it up.


KISS Meets The Phantom of The Park
{XII A.S. Directed by Gordon Hessler. Written by Jan Michael Sherman and Don Buday. Starring Gene 'The Demon' Simmons, Paul 'Star Child' Stanley, Ace 'Space Ace' Frehley, Peter 'Cat Man' Criss, Anthony Zerbe, Deborah Ryan}

KISS Meets The Phantom of The ParkTo the strains of "Rock 'n' Roll All Night", the film begins with the members of KISS in various poses and locations, in gigantic proportions playing in the sky, towering over rollercoasters, walking on laser pulses, and riding the track. Switch to concert footage featuring the massive stage show using torches, smoking guitars, sparks, explosions, props, stroboscopic lighting, fog, a rising drum platform, and... fire works!

The Four-Crown Princes of Rock 'n' Roll Hell are being set up by evil super-genius Abner Devereaux, who desires to frame the band by using impersonating robot clones to take over the world using diabolical mind control, to brainwash fans into causing a riot.

First for the framing is Gene, whose robotic double smashes up portions of the park, including bursting through a brick wall, trashing a stand, and roughing up some security guards.

A girl named 'Melissa' {Deborah Ryan} searches for her fiancee', a photographer who falls under the control of Devereaux. She encounters KISS outside the concert, who provide a clairevoyant clue to his whereabouts. She eventually becomes their acquaintance, and attends a private performance with an instrumental rendition of "Beth".

In his malefic menagerie, Devereaux also creates albino wolfmen, spookhouse monsters including Dracula, Frankenstein, and various martial arts villains.

Filmed primarily at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, the quartet battle the albino wolfmen at the Collosus rollercoaster, the movie villains within the Chamber of Horrors, and the martial arts characters at a stadium, all dispatched with sparks and explosions.

KISS preserve their collective emblems within a box in their chamber {all resembling their symbolic characteristics - a dragon for The Demon, a star for The Star Child, a lightning bolt for The Space Man, and a cat head for the Cat Man; which all rather resemble cookies, interestingly enough}. The Demon spouts fire and can roar like a lion {no trademark blood-spitting here}; The Star Child emits a pulse blast from his starry eye which can both destroy and paralyze; Space Ace has the power of dematerialization and laser blasts; The Cat Man is highly dextrous; and all have the ability to fly.

Devereaux sends the zombified photographer to do his henchman work, to blast the emblems with a laser ray, which weakens them enough to capture through vaccum tubes in The Chamber of Horrors. They are imprisoned within an electric cell and witness the crowd's mental manipulation via a small monitor in Devereaux's Chamber. Not to be kept down for long, KISS use their joined mental telekinetic force to retrieve the talisman box and revive their energy. Flying in from the sky, the final battle is waged on stage with the clones, and they are victorious.

KISS became a major cultural influence in the 70's, with omnipresent merchandising from action figures to make-up kits, cartoons, comic books, to clothing, and all manner of conceivable accessories. Essentially party rock, KISS was an alternative to the Disco proliferation occurring at the time, with the creation of these four characters in mime makeup and fantasy-costumes, creating a living Halloween theater spectacular hardly matched to this day, with the possible exception of Venom, who truly brought a literal Hell to the stage, with resplendant displays of Satanic iconography.

To that end, in the 80's KISS actually earned the ire of evangelists during the SRA-obsessed period of American society, were placed on warning lists along with many others, as numbered amongst the musical agents of The Devil, and became thusly presumptuously labelled with the "Knights In Satan's Service" acronym, which of course, the band played to the hilt, as it only added to their showmanship. The double-SS's in the logo were particularly cited as suggesting some far-flung connection to the Nazi SS, which has since been proven irrelevant.

Overall, KISS Meets The Phantom of The Park comes off like a cartoonish "made-for-TV" movie, but is amusing for what it is.

4/5

Personally, as a Dracling, KISS Alive & KISS Alive II were among the first albums I ever acquired, when I saw them one day in a department store near the record section, which is testament to their prevalence at the time. I enjoyed the theatrics of it, and the music was essentially just for fun and entertainment. Of the four, I resonated with 'The Demon' most, even dressing up as the character for Halloween once. I eventually moved on to more serious and applicable musical forms and preferences, but this does serve as an evocation.

In the 90's, I eventually became aware of the following song named "Unholy", which seems to be more to taste from this particular musical genre, and what one would expect "The Demon" to unleash, and probably remains My favorite song from this band:

This review featured on:
KNAC


Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

Metal: A Headbanger's JourneyI just had the opportunity to view this recently, and was pleasantly surprised by most of it. That is to say, most of it contained experiential fact and personally relative observations, although the subject of Satanism is gleaned over far too superficially, with only far too brief commentary by Reverend Baddeley. The presentation is divided into several segments according to categorized designations and tour travels.

The roots of the genre are discussed from bluesy inceptions to its more perfected evolutions with Black Sabbath to Dio to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, under the heading of several catagories with a rather incomplete listing of bands. What particularly interested Myself was the subject of 'Black Metal', citing Venom {who coined the term}, Mercyful Fate {King Diamond's seperate band by his namesake was also brought forth in this period}, Bathory, and Celtic Frost {in My opinion, more could have been added to that list such as Possessed and early Slayer, circa Haunting The Chapel through to Reign In Blood; Running Wild, Destruction, Exorcist, and Infernal Majesty} in the graph - all of whom are still performing, with greater stage shows overseas; and that is another dynamic noticed herein, in that the energy-filled, invigorating, vice-laden way that it used to be like in the states is apparently present in Europe, as displayed in the Wacken Festival in Norway; and all of the earned ire from christians as well, as evidenced with Europe's own recent foray into the Satanic Panic paranoia, to the thrill and eustress of church-burning devil-worshippers and cowering christians alike.

Metal Tree

Just a couple of points of contention:

Possessed is most definitely Black Metal, if that is to be catagorized as relating to The Occult and direct references to Satan, whether or not it is ideologically accurate is another matter altogether. What is imperative in the consideration of musical genres, is the entertainment factor, not whether or not it is expressing actual philosophy. That is what lectures, learning academies, and one's own personal study is for, not concerts and record albums, neither horror movies nor horror-fiction books for that matter. The key words are 'theatrical' and 'entertainment', not 'educational', for the most part.

I also noticed there is an odd listing for so-called "Stoner Metal", which very well could apply to every category, if one is to contemplate the usual activities associated with the types who generally listen to Metal {as seems to be the case with all other genres as well, as it seems to just be a preferred herd proclivity, musical preferance notwithstanding}, but not in some cases. To clarify, Candlemass would definitely fit into the 'Power Metal' category, even though they coined the term "Doom Metal" to describe the band.

Highlights include Sam Dunn's interviews with Ronnie James Dio, Alice Cooper, Dee Snider, Bruce Dickinson, Tony Iommi, Lemmy Kilmeister, Rob Zombie, Tom Araya and Kerry King.

In My estimation, this anthropological documentary captures the underlying sociological elements of this subculture, from the carnal and lusty, to the horror-shock theatrics which always gains attention. Out of its millions of fans, a few commit suicide despite the music, while multitudes besides have actually been prevented through the use of this aggressive and therapeutic form, where frustrations can be shouted into the air to the lyrics, and head-banging, fist-pounding, slam-dancing is a veritable alternative to the such afore-mentioned anti-productive cessation of life. As with the lyrical content, discrimination is necessary, and should not be taken by wrote, but is generally intended for amusement only. It is asserted that Metal can actually be life-affirming in its adrenaline-rush, and as with everything else, a balance is imperative to maintain perspective.

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey is an overview by an actual Metal fan about his own scene and lifestyle, thereby, the 'expert' - and despite some of the innacuracies inasfar as the "lists" and "catagories" go, the film footage and interviews are of worth. So whether or not you appreciate this music, it does provide a real view into the genre for both an anthropological sense, and if so inclined, an evocative one.

4/5

Recommended bibliography sources:

* Lucifer Rising by Gavin Baddeley.
* Lords of Chaos by Michael Moynihan & Diedrick Soderlind.


S c a n n e r s
{XVI A.S. Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Michael Ironside, Jennifer O' Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan}

A top secret government program is installed to develop the psychic powers of a certain breed of special individuals known in the underground as 'scanners', who can be used for espionage as well as super-human weapons; yet there is a rift even here between them. The most potent of these scanners named "Darryl Revok' {Michael Ironside, here displayed with a scar on his forehead where his 'third eye' would be, self-inflicted in an attempt to keep 'the people' out, during his formative development} seeks world domination, and is fully aware of the artificially pharmaceutical origins of these elite mind gods. After forming his own organization, he searches decades for his long-lost younger brother Cameron Vale, whom Revok finally locates in the custody of a Dr. Paul Ruth {"father"}, after being discovered as a vagrant whose powers were spurious at best. With the help of Dr. Ruth, Vale begins developing his abilities to a razor's edge and soon comes into his own meeting with other scanners to find an understanding for his condition.

These scanners are stalked by Revok's goons who dispatch every one they see, so that Revok may finally build that society in which he is lord of all. Vale meets Kim Obrist {Jennifer O' Neill}, and they fall in love by mutual survival. He meets artist Trevellyan who deals with his scanners talents through his wonderfully dark art, but is assassinated - here, Vale defends himself in a most magnificent scene.

Revok and Cameron finally meet in a covert meeting arranged through subterfuge, and even though Revok reveals the truth of those who would keep he and his brother as veritable mind slaves, a psychic war ensues between them which ends in a very surprising manner.

Key scenes include Revok impressively dispatching a scanner at a paranormal convention, in which his victim's head literally explodes. Revok forcing a company enforcer to kill all his accomplices, then comitting suicide so Revok may continue his goal of world domination. And of course the concluding scene in which the two prime scanners battle with an optimum and extreme intensity so as to be awe-inspiring.

I Am reminded of certain independent as well as officially-funded programs underway experimenting with what is now referred to as 'remote viewing' {telepathy & clairevoyance}, actually employed by governments for special military intelligence purposes, by which this film may have been inspired.

To those interested in developing these types of mental abilities {which are largely comprised of that occult 90% of the brain}, just keep practicing, and like exercising the body, there will be steady progress by visualization and sheer force of will, which will lead to greater and greater results. Patience and perserverence are key elements.

5/5


H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond
{XX A.S. Directed by Stuart Gordon. Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree, Ted Sorel}

"Mad scientist" Dr. Edward Pretorius has created a resonator machine which can reveal a parralel dimension by stimulating the pineal gland in the brain which perceives the lurkers beyond who lie in wait. Parasitic creatures swim through the ether attracted by movement and light. It is claimed that the pineal gland in the cerebrum is responsible for sixth sense function, and is essentially the parapsychological bit of grey matter.

When Dr. Katheryn McMichaels discovers Pretorius' assistant Crawford Tillinghast who was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, incarcerated in a mental hospital, she remands him into her custody to recreate the experiment. Together with cop Buford 'Bubba' Brownlee, the dimension is opened and they are greeted by a nude and subsequently malformed Dr. Pretorius who takes a strong liking to Katherine - both to her horror and ecstasy, for it seems the process also enhances sexual sensitivity as well, and she is awakened to her primal self.

Considering the procedure is largely experimental yet, the scientific method of trial and error is employed to disasterous results, as various creatures who range from eel-like beings to huge worm-like monsters are attracted to the massive electro-magnetic vibrations, and eventually overcome the participants. Pretorius is himself a transmutating beast who attempts to absorb Tillinghast and Katherine, until they eventually barely escape with their lives, though Tillinghast is dramatically effected by this encounter as his pineal stem emerges from his forehead like a "third eye", through which his psychic abilities are amplified, but is also afflicted with an insatiable hunger for brains.

Despite becoming a patient herself scheduled for shock therapy at the hands of a sadistic and resentful rival doctor, Katheryn escapes and returns to the attic of the blighted house to destroy the resonator, but is surprisingly met by Tillinghast who restrains her. He struggles to regain control of his mind, but is eventually ingested by Pretorius, creating a hellish struggle from within the bowels of the creature.

She barely emerges from the nightmare with her life, but at the cost of her own sanity.

For those who enjoy the writings of Lovecraft, From Beyond is both a psychological and horror thriller filled with impressive pyrotechnics and FX creations.

5/5


Krull
{XVII A.S. Directed by Peter Yates. Starring Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, Robert Coltrane}

For starters, one witnesses what appears to be a large clump of 2x4's floating out in space, followed by a series of apparent environmental stock-footage with likewise accompanying music.

Krull is an action-adventure fantasy circling around a pentagram-like weapon which is the only instrument that can battle "The Beast", who presides over an army of dark warriors called "Slayers", and a dematerializing black fortress which is never stationed in one place twice.

After his kingdom is overturned, a prince turned king by the death of his father sets out to find his kidnapped bride with the council of a wise man named "Ynyr", which sets him on a trek to find the spiked boomerang {a veritable 'shiroken'} and The Black Fortress. Along the way, he gathers a small army of common thieves, a fumbling "sorcerer", a decrepit 'seer' with his boy-servant, and a cyclopse.

For an action-adventure, this film contains much too much unecessary dialogue, extensive travelling scenes, and a lot of climbing. Since the battle in the first twenty-minutes or so, the film remains rather slow until the last half hour, wherein 'Prince Colwyn' {who looks like Barry Gibb} and shoddy troupe penetrate the fortress and do battle with The Beast, after predictably dispatching a large number of mis-aiming 'slayers'.

In the end, 'Princess Lyssa' is rescued from the clutches of the wonderfully demonic monster, and they re-commence with their previously interrupted wedding by exchanging vows as well as a flame derived from water.

The typical 'good' vs. 'evil' scenario exists here, most commonly displayed in the conclusion wherein in conjunction with the penta-blades, this 'flame of love' overcomes the 'blasts of hatred' emitted from the Beast monster.

This film seems to concentrate on more of a children's faerie-tale type of story, rather than a more mature version of the genre, and could very well have been animated. I suppose it may be more appreciated by Lord of The Rings / D&D -type of fans, yet with the exception of the impressive flying weapon and giant Beast creature, as far as fantasy-action-adventure, the film is unfortunately, a rather rudimentary presentation. This is one of those films that could have been better with such a great premise and villain, but disappointingly does not live up to its full potential.

2/5


Gargoyles
{VII A.S. Directed by Bill L. Norton. Starring Cornel Wilde, Jennifer Salt, Grayson Hall, Bernie Casey}

This film has remained in the recesses of My evocative contemplation since I first saw it some dark and dreary night upon a horror movie showcase, and has remained an occasional viewing pleasure.

Dr. Mercer Boley, an Anthropologist studying Demonology and cryptozoology decides to vacation in the desert of the American Southwest, taking his daughter Diana with him and come upon "Uncle Willie's Desert Museum" set up for tourists, which includes a rattle snake, bull skull, various baubles and indian bric-a-brac, but the real interest is back in the shed, wherein he preserves a supposed gargoyle skeleton excavated by his own hand. Suddenly, the entire shed is shaken apart accompanied by bestial cries, and "Uncle Willie" {played by Woody Chambliss, whom you will recognize as the dottering 'John' from 'The Devil's Rain'} is crushed in the fallout. The shed bursts into flames, as Boley and Diana barely escape the destruction, whereupon travelling to the next destination later that evening, are beset upon by a reptilian creature from out of the darkness. Bit by bit, these demonic creatures reveal themselves in an attempt to retrieve the desecrated remains of their fallen brethren, until finally kidnapping Diana and taking her back to their caverns, where she gains favor and receives the curious advances of the King Gargoyle.

The splendid Grayson Hall {'Dr. Julia Hoffman' from Dark Shadows} plays a 'Mrs. Parks' - motel manager and alcoholic spinster who is too soon literally strung up on a telephone pole by the gargoyles as a warning and decleration of war. Subtle shades of Vlad Tepes there.

With the sloppy aid of some dirt bike riders, the local yokel 'police' attempt to battle these subterranian dwellers, who desire to take over the world of man and make it their own. In the past, they seemingly attempted to co-exist, but humans became too antagonistic and killed off their kind at every opportunity, based on fear and ignorance. So now, with the rebirth of The Gargoyle King, they have remained within labyrinthine dwellings until the time when they were plentiful in number, to rise and conquor. Unfortunately, many precious eggs were immmolated during the battle.

The costumes are impressive, with each character maintaining his or her own seperate identity, from scaled to hairy variations, from beaked to reptilian. I found the main Gargoyle to be quite remarkable, as a veritable Satan archetype even comparable to Legend's 'Lord Darkness'. They also each have personalities and voices, modes of expression and sentiment, which was a delightful turn from the usual sole grunting and hissing, which is only just a part of themselves. One of the female gargoyles actually becomes jealous at the attention Diana is receiving from the King Gargoyle, so she leads Dr. Boley directly to their location.

I would have liked to have seen more from these characters, and would look forward to any reproductions. This film does suprisingly well on such a condensed budget, mostly utilizing the naturally eerie environment and sense of suspense during several well done lambent scenes wherein they emerge from the shadows, with long claws, gleaming fangs, piercing eyes, thrusting horns, and fanged rictus. This film could have just as easily been named "Demons", and remains an all-time favorite.

5/5


D o l l s
{XXI A.S. Directed by Stuart Gordon. Starring Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason, Carrie Lorraine, Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon}

"When in another's Lair, show him respect or else do not go there." - 3rd Satanic Rule of The Earth, Anton LaVey.

A charming tale of a Warlock & Witch residing in an enchanting Victorian Manse in the wilderness, who receive several uninvited guests one dark and stormy night - the "longest night in the world"... consisting of two despicable parents of a precious little girl named "Judy"; and accompanied by two obnoxious English punker girls is a well-meaning man named 'Ralph' who struggles with his eternal dreamchild within. The gracious and polished hosts, Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke, also happen to be doll-makers, and their house is filled with these creations, who like Galatea, contain a life of their own infused by their regal father's Magical hands.

During the course of the evening, the actions of the guests are either rewarded or punished according to their deeds - the first to receive justified correction is one of the rotten punk girls after deeming to rob the place of some its valuables -and the dolls take their due; then later her friend receives lethal castigation at the end of a firing squad of tin soldiers.

Little Judy suffers maltreatement at the hands of her step-mother since the start, when she actually threw her cherished teddy bear into the bushes outside in the storm - so kind Gabriel grants her a new companion in "Mr. Punch" - a jester with a hell of an attitude if roused by antagonistic organisms like Mr. Bower, Judy's father who along with stepmother 'Rosemary', treat Judy like irritating property instead of a daughter. One memorably poignant statement made by Mr. Hartwicke was "Being a parent is a priveledge, not just a right."

Poor confused Ralph is accused by the other guests of murder and perversion, but the man just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and is rather oblivious to some of the circumstaces surrounding him, and eventually has to defend himself against the brutish attacks of Bower, but the dolls protect their own. Earlier, Ralph had a run-in with the dolls who despite his rude behavior, decide that he is a child at heart, and should therefore be spared the fate of the other guests. Judy gains a probable worthy father, and her mother, a potential husband.

This film actually does assert the quotes at the beginning and end of this review quite nicely.

In the end, it is seen that those who visit the house can either appreciate the hospitality and are wished well on their way, or remain a permanent part of 'the collection'.

"If a guest in your Lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy." - 4th Satanic Rule of The Earth, Anton LaVey.
5/5

This film conjures memories of My paternal Grandmother of Spanish/Italian noble stock, who has a collection of ceramic and porcelain dolls which she brought from the old country, whom one could have sworn moved at times, or blinked, or even demonstrated subtle changes of expression.

If you appreciate such classic and beautiful dolls, do peruse Headless Historicals as well as Satanimals for some truly unique creations.



The Forbidden Zone
{XIV A.S. Directed by Richard Elfman. Musical score composed by Danny Elfman. Starring Danny Elfman, Herve Villachaize, Susan Tyrrell, Matthew Bright}

The Forbidden ZoneThe Elfmans really outdid themselves with this wonderfully weird nascent-Boingo {introduced as 'The Mystic Knights of The Oingo Boingo' at the time} film about members of a stereotypical Jewish family who go searching for their sister "Frenchy" {Marie-Pascale Elfman, Richard Elfman's wife} into the Sixth Dimension via a mysterious door opening up in the basement of their home, displaying a hellmouth entrance through which one must travel down an intestinal tract finally exiting the other end...

Little King Fausto {played by Herve Villachaize of Fantasy Island fame} falls in lust with Frenchy to the jealous ire of Evil Queen Doris {Susan Tyrrell}, who was hatched from a "witch's egg" {great song, by the way}, and sets out to torture the combativaly-resistant girl. She realizes this infatuation when Fausto moans her name after intimacy. Chained to a rack, the session ends with a glowing rod inserted in a spot best left to the imagination. I thought it amusing contemplating the suspended human chandelier grasping two candles, which retains its skeletal arousal even after excarnation!

Grampa and Flash Hercules go searching down the twisting entrails to the 6th dimension to find Frenchy and come upon an old Yiddish man operating an information stand exchanging sheckles for clues. Oi Vey! Along the way, they enact dorsal coitus with every female they see, until the criminally-insane Rasputin-lookalike Grampa Hercules wrestles a gorilla to an overkill.

High weirdness typifies "Bim Bam Boom" in which two singing boxers are joined by a strange doughy crooner in a Spanish diddy, about "dark girls in the sun" while wearing, of all things, a Mickey Mouse hat. Bust Rod The Frog joins in dancing with Frenchy... wow...

Amusing scenes include a school house rendition of The Three Stooges' "Swinging the Alphabet" {from 'Violent Is The Word For Curly', circa 1938 c.e.} with various students' performances including The Kipper Kids {as two Heidi-like characters}, Squeezit {gay "Chicken boy" who flaps his bended arms like wings}, a troupe of pimpish negro dancers {who perform, among other things, the "robot", "locking", and "break dancing"}, and a older Jewish gentleman in a propeller hat.

Most notable is "Red Wolf" Danny Elfman as a white-clad Devil performing a modified 'Minnie The Moocher' while striking a deal with Squeezit for sexual gratification with The Princess {Gisele Lindley}. Squeezit is captured by 'Bust Rod' the servant Frog and turned over to The Devil's black robed and faced Minions. On the way to Hades, one of them informs Squeezit "The Master's been dying to stick his pitchfork in that there tomato!", referring to The Princess. He delivers, and saves his friends from certain doom, at the cost of his head, which then begins flying around on angel wings.

Another memorable scene includes the song "Pico and Sepulveda" {performed by Felix Figueroa and his Orchestra, which this writer recalls being played on The Dr. Demento Show a few times}, which is a sarcastic tribute to that Los Angeles intersection, featuring gridlock and pumping smoke stacks with trapezoid towers.

Pico and Sepulveda
Performed by Felix Figueroa and his Orchestra, Composed by Eddie Maxwell and Jule Styne {Ambassador Records, 1947 (b/w "She of the Coffee Brown Eyes")}

(Pico and Sepulveda, 4x)
Doheny... (Pico and Sepulveda, Pico and Sepulveda)
Cahuenga... (Pico and Sepulveda, Pico and Sepulveda)
La Brea... (Pico and Sepulveda, Pico and Sepulveda)
Tar Pits! (Pico and Sepulveda, Tar Pits!)

La Jolla... (Pico and Sepulveda, Pico and Sepulveda)
Sequoia... (Pico and Sepulveda, Pico and Sepulveda)
La Brea... (Pico and Sepulveda, Pico and Sepulveda)
Tar Pits! (Pico and Sepulveda, Tar Pits!)

You can keep Alvarado, Santa Monica, even Beverly Drive.
Vine may be fine, but for mine, I want to feel alive and settle down in my...
La Brea... (Pico and Sepulveda, Pico and Sepulveda)
Tar Pits! (Pico and Sepulveda, Pico and Sepulveda)

Where nobody's dreams come true... (Pico and Sepulveda, 4x)

The former queen comes back for revenge and does battle with Queen Doris, who employs a very surprising distraction, landing the ex-queen, and eventually herself, impaled at the bottom of The Pit. The film concludes with a cast closing number featuring all the delightfully odd characters in a rousing finale.

With avant-garde sets, demented dialogue, hilariously unorthodox loony tunes, playing on stereotypes, dare take an exciting journey into the fun comedic insanity of The Forbidden Zone. In many ways, it seems that this film served as a zietgeist contributing greatly to the 80's aesthetic, in all of its uniquely bizarre glory.

5/5

Caught this evocative film tonight, which comes greatly recommended for all those who appreciate Danny Elfman's ingenious orchestrations and Richard Elfman's exilarating madness. A relatively little-known gem well worth the acquisition.

Satan's Children
IX A.S. Florida International Pictures via Something Weird Video. Directed by Joe Wiezycki. Written by Gary Garrett, Ron Levitt, Joe Wiezycki. Starring Stephen White {Bobby Douglas}, Eldon Mecham {Mr. Douglas}, Joyce Molloy {Janis Douglas}, Kathleen Marie Archer {Sherry),Rosemary Orlando {Monica}, Bob Barbour {Jake}, Robert C. Ray II {Simon}, John Edwards {Joshua}. Genre: Horror Thriller.

Little Bobby Douglas is quite literally the "red-headed step-child", and is seemingly treated as such both by his short-tempered father and libidinous step-sister. Aggressively ordered around by Mr. Douglas to do all the chores while Joyce lays around lazily. The two step-siblings quip at each other liberally, when she begins, shall we say, taking liberties with intimate areas under the table. Finally, when she tattles on his secret tobacco collection, he leaves in a fed-up tantrum, walking the streets all night long until he ventures into a bar, where he meets with sexual predators who take advantage of his naivete.

After a night of painful debauchery, he is disposed of in a park, where he finds himself in a cult's compound. Taken in by the resident 'priestess' where he can recuperate, they become enamored of each other, and thus, enjoy one another's company to the fullest. However, her authority is challenged by another cult member named Joshua, who has his doubts about having an outsider on the grounds. While 'praying' to Lucifer {in the form of the Sabbatic Goat of Mendes flanked by two black candles within a darkened chamber} at the tabernacle, Joshua is taken out to be hanged.

Then 'Simon' returns, a diabolical gentleman of fine tastes, the resident demonic 'High Priest' of the cult. Punishment is due upon the lovely Monica, who has to essentially dig her own pit while being pelted with stones, doused with a sweet fluid, then be eaten by fire ants, and whatever else happens along, while being starved & buried alive.

Unaware of what is happening to her, Simon visits Bobby, assuaging his character on whether or not he will be accepted into the cult. Despite his incapacitation, Bobby flees into the surrounding woods clad only in his underwear, while being pursued by cultists, two who meet with an electrical fence, and others by death in quicksand.

Bobby finally makes it home, and takes no guff from the step-father or sister. Mr. Douglas is dismembered with the remains offered to an impressed Simon, while Janice is tied up and taken to be the next "sacrifice", and crucified. Those who abused him are all dealt with accordingly, while he rescues his beloved from her shallow grave, and takes the ill-fated Joshua's place.

Actually not that bad of a movie, considering the condensed budget. Despite the methods of retribution, Satan's Children is a tale about love & vengeance, where Bobby receives revenge for the wrongs done to him, while getting the girl in the end. ∞

{This film is found as a double-feature with the Asylum of Satan DVD from Something Weird Video}.


Nightstalker
XXXVI A.S. Written & Directed by Chris Fisher. Starring Bret Roberts {The Nightstalker}, Joseph McKelheer {Demon}, Roselyn Sanchez {Gabriella Martinez}, Danny Trejo {Officer Frank Luis}, Roxanne Day {Cherry}, Christine Long {Maria}, Ana Mercedes {Mrs. Riviera}. Genre: Horror, Crime.

Entirely inspired by The Nightstalker case with much artistic license implemented. Ramirez is portrayed here as a real simpleton, completely drug-addled, barely able to speak, except yelling "Say you love Satan!"* to his victims. The actor does not look at all like Ramirez, but actually more like Trent Reznor, if anyone.

Taking place in the midst of the Satanic Panic hysteria during the bloody remmus of '85, music from Deicide permeates the film instead of his favorite band AC/DC. A 'demon' appears to him frequently, in the form of a pale, bald man resembling a muscular Nosferatu, alluding that he is 'possessed'. The modus operandi is that he kills for 'Satan'**... and drugs.

The character herein becomes 'involved' with a lovely female police officer turned homicide investigator on the case, who at one point leaks the suspect sketch to an unscrupulous reporter, who not only publishes the sketch, but her address in the paper! Of course, the Nightstalker goes searching for her residence, lurking about, leaving a bloody pentagram on the door of her mother's room as a 'warning', She later tracks him down to a darkened street where he was in congress with a favorite prostitute. Seems the character is quite a foot fetishist. Her partner is a grizzled cop named Frank Luis played by Danny Trejo, who is dispatched by the serial killer, while the resident Lieutenant nurses spiked coffee from his mug during duty.

During the final scenes in the film, one finds oneself remarking, "That's not at all what happened!". No mention of the Avia shoes, or his trip to San Francisco, or the beating from East LA residents.

In the end, the real story is much better than that cobbled together by this movie. The Nightstalker is portrayed here more like a character in a bad slasher film with 'occult' overtones, than any resemblance to actual events.

In short, if you are looking for factual information on the Richard Ramirez case, or even a semi-factual fictional rendition, it will not be found here. Instead, this film comes off as being another characterization altogether, with general similarities. ∞


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* A phrase also shared by Ricky Kasso.
** or should that be 'Satin', in this case?


[For the record, perhaps it bears repeating, Satanists do not endorse such activities. In fact, it is condemned. Again, for those interested in what Satanists actually do, read The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey, & see Pentagonal Revisionism.]
Satan's School For Girls
{XXXV A.S. Directed by Christopher Leitch. Starring Shannon Doherty, Victoria Sanchez, Julie Benz, Daniel Cosgrove}

Nubile Beth Hammersmith enrolls in an all-female college to investigate her sister's mysterious death. Having been fascinated with The Occult, she pursues her sister's interest in devil-worship until involuntarily inducted as the fifth member a 'coven' known as 'The Five'; powerful and influential daughters of The Devil who go on to achieve wealthy prominance in various fields. Apparently, Satan takes care of his own by providing earthly success and power...

She refuses her legacy and sets off to battle this generation of beautiful and successful witches, using her own psychic abilities, where she apprently aspires for mediocrity and 'normalcy', which she achieves, but is haunted the rest of her days by winged denizens of The Underworld.

Done in a "made-for-TV" manner, this definitely does not measure up to the original, is watered-down, but does provide for some eye-candy. Mediocre dialogue, marginal acting, but with some nice aesthetic value {great pentagram chandelier and floor design}.

Of note, the very lovely Victoria Sanchez clad in goth-fetish attire who at one point is spotted drawing a Baphomet in her notebook! Also incorperates Kate Jackson as the "High Priestess" herein {who also starred in the original}.

It is highly recommended to view the original VIII A.S. version, which does not dissappoint, and remains an OcCult classic.

2/5.

Satan's Cheerleaders
XI. Directed & Written by Greydon Clark, also written by Alvin L. Fast. Starring Yvonne DeCarlo {Emma, High Priestess}, John Ireland {Sheriff B.L. Bubb}, Jack Kruschen {Billy the Janitor}, John Carradine {The Bum}, Sydney Chaplin {Monk}, Jacqueline Cole {Ms. Johnson}, Kerry Sherman {Patti}, Hillary Horan {Chris}, Alisa Powell {Debbie}, Sherry Marks {Sharon}, Lane Caudell {Stevie}, Joseph Carlo {Coach}, Michael Donovan O'Donnell {Farmer}, Robin Greer {Baker Girl}, Dennis West {Gyppo the evil dwarf}

Satan's CheerleadersA group of buxom, nubile, well-curved cheerleaders are off to a competing town to cheer at a rival football game, but when the vehicle driven by the charmingly naive Ms. Johnson breaks down along the way, Billy the janitor picks them up, but with his own personal agenda for some comeuppance in retaliation for their persistent teasing. Seems he made his own little deal with The Devil to possess 'Patti' - but little did he know that she is actually the "chosen one", which is the only reason there was an issue. Unfortunately, despite his desperation, he is struck down for his trouble at the very Tabernacle of Satan.

Satan here is represented as a mighty fearsome Lion* totenkopf upon a pillar overlooking a stone slab, while the cultists wear The Pentacle of The Evil Eye, as well as prominently demonstrated in Emma's private Ritual Chamber. Turns out Sheriff "B.L. Bubb" was merely pretending as presiding High Priest, which earns him an impalement by the apparently resurrected zombie janitor.

The red-robed Officiant leading the black robed congregants through the wilderness is reminiscent of The Devil's Rain, while one of them was being tolerated in the group being a hellariously salacious former monk with a persistent bad habit of gesticulating the signum crucis, and is seemingly preoccupied with "guarding" the maidens, which the appropriately ferocious dobermans 'Lucifer' and 'Diablo' do quite well.

They manage to escape both the house and the barn by the resourcefulness of Patti, "the smart one". The only town dweller not involved with the Cult is the local hobo played by John Carradine, considered too insane to be included, yet amidst brief instances of clarity, does seem to realize the goings-on, then quickly lapses into another mad episode.

It's Evil vs. Evil to witness with devilish delight, DeCarlo {Lily Munster} at The Altar of Satan uttering the Words of Power "Audi Precas Meas, Satana. Blessed Be!"** while attempting to kill Patti. She seems to be the only one that realizes the girl is a dangerous element and does what she can to avert The Devil's wrath. Her words echo across the Ether in diabolical magnificence.

The cultists consider it fortunate happenstance that the girls are in town, and would make for ideal sacrifices for The Black Mass of ancient times, while a virginal maiden is selected for The Prince of Darkness Himself. It is quite unexpected exactly who it is, but due to the sheriff's liberties, compromises her condition, thus accused and combined with pretension, the cheerleader assumes the role as leader.

The cheerleaders do finally make it to the game, and thus with Patti's realized Powers, the team wins in abundance. ∞

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* As in "...be on the alert. Your adversary, The Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8.
** Which translates to "Hear My Prayer, SATAN. Blessed Be." Shemhamforash! Hail Satan!


P.S.: My favorite is Chris.

Also, for a really great treat, and along the general vein, peruse Magister Paradise's "Satan's Cheerleaders" fan site:

Satan's Cheerleaders

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