The Pit (1981)

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This is a weird little movie.  A 12 year old boy named Jamie Benjamin has recently moved into a new town with his mom and dad and is instantly made an outcast by the townsfolk.  Poor kid can’t catch a break as we see him ridiculed and bullied by pretty much everyone around him.  Add to this, Jamie is just discovering girls and his attentions to them are becoming a bit deviant to say the least.  And oh yeah, he found a pit in the woods full of what he calls “tra-la-logs”, and what we’d call cave trolls (or troglodytes). Continue reading

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Night Train to Terror (1985)

Somehow this little gem slipped under the VHS radar for me back in the Mom & Pop era.  Thankfully, I have the internet to fill these little holes in my life and I recently learned of this film when Vinegar Syndrome re-released the soundtrack and film last Fall.  The artwork on the album cover was amazing and old school; I knew I had to see this film.  Then I read some of the reviews of the movie and found out that its one of the worst films ever, and so I put seeing it out of my mind.  However, I stumbled upon Night Train To Terror on YouTube yesterday and gave it a watch.  I was afraid it’d be insufferably dull like some horror films from the VHS era can be.  I was pleasantly surprised. Continue reading

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

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So in 1990, I had seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 more than a few times.  Then one day while at the movies (I forgot what movie it was) I saw one of the most amazing previews of all time.  What looks to be a new film about Camelot comes on.  A man stands by a lake while a narrator tells us “Some tales are told and then soon forgotten.  But a legend is forever.”  Cue a hand rising from the lake to throw the man a mythical weapon:  a huge shining chainsaw.  The man catches the saw, holds it to the sky and it is struck by lighting before immediately cranking.  The man turns around to reveal himself to be LEATHERFACE!  Cue title card:  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Continue reading

“The Familiar vol. 1: One Rainy Day in May” by Mark Z. Danielewski

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As a big fan of House of Leaves, I’ve been looking forward to this new series for quite a while. I just finished this first volume and I have some mixed feelings about it. The biggest problem with this book is that it seemed to lack a clear narrative focus. Granted, this is the “pilot” episode of a twenty-seven book series. The book focuses mainly on Xanther, a little girl frail and sickly with ADHD whose parents are scrambling to reach her, and decide on a pet. But fate takes a different course. This is the thorough line of the novel. Along the way we meet a few other people from across the globe. For each character, Danielewski narrates their tale from their perspective in a different form. For Xanther, it’s more straight forward because she’s a pre-teen girl, for her father Anwar the prose mirrors a mathematical equation because he’s a programmer, for the gangster Luther it’s a hard edged snappy street style, for the police detective it’s a noir type. And of course, each one has their own corresponding font to go along with. Mid-way through the novel an explanation is given as to why both those things are and you can tell Daneilewski is having a lot of fun with narrative. But as I said, the biggest problem I had was that it seemed to lack focus. There are clues as to what ties some of these characters together, but not enough to tie it all together. Of course, this will change in other volumes of the book as the story progresses. Another issue is the way Danielewski writes the Singapore parts of the book. The “Engrish” and very ambiguous descriptions made it difficult to tell exactly what was happening, which is also the point as that character is a drug addict. Continue reading

The Savage South: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

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“Strange things happen to a man on the road / Strange things happen to man whose alone.  Back home you gotta solid life / That life don’t mean a thing out here…..”  — Stewart Copeland, “Strange Things Happen”.

As I said in my review of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I actually viewed this film before the first.  My neighbor had three nephews that lived an hour or so away.  Each summer when I was a kid, she’d have one over each week, and sometimes if she was particularly brave she’d have all three at the same time.  They introduced me to this film and some how we conned my mom into renting it for us (thanks Mom!). Continue reading

Dr. Loomis: A Quick Appreciation

deathWhat sets Halloween above and beyond all other slasher films is the pivotal character of Dr. Loomis (the creepy Donald Pleasence).  Other than Phantasm, Halloween is the only horror series to maintain the narrative consistency of it’s “Dr. Ahab” character.  Sam Loomis has always been an intriguing character to me, but as I get older I start to understand where he’s coming from a bit more, especially in the first film.  At the opening of the first film, especially, when he is so worn down and tired, strapped with a responsibility he’s learned he can not do because his hands are tied by a bureaucracy that will not listen to him. Continue reading