MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Eternal Evil (1985)

Hungarian-born Canadian director George Mihalka is probably better known for My Bloody Valentine than this movie, which also has the title The Blue Man.

Paul Sharpe (Winston Rekert) is a TV producer who meets the mysterious Amelia Lambro (Karen Black and wow, what a mysterious woman to meet) who teaches him how to astral project. The only problem is that when he does that, horrible things happen to other people, like his therapist, whose bones and organs are crushed by psychic power.

Meanwhile, Helen (Joanne Cole) is somehow able to convert Paul’s business partner from homosexuality to heterosexuality because she too is an eternal blue-formed ghost being and her centuries-long partner is Amelia, also known as Janus, and they exist beyond simple things like gender identity and sexual preference. The entire goal has been to destroy Paul’s life by having him kill his therapist, his father-in-law and wife through the powers shown to him so that Janus can take over his body.

Writer Robert Geoffrion also was the man who wrote the equally strange The Surrogate. This one is just as daffy and I say that in the nicest way possible.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally was on the site on January 5, 2020 and the article first appeared in Drive-In Asylum Special Issue #4, which you can buy here. It’s running again because the Another Hole In the Head Film Festival will be playing it during the Warped Dimension VHS Show! at the Roxie Theater on December 3rd at 9 pm.

This performance art hybrid of Live interactive theater and movie screening experience will be hosted by MC Benji, AHITH programmer and host of the underground virtual show Warped Dimension TV. Special guests include award-winning actor Michael Kane and his personal VHS copy of Jaws: The Revenge, which will be screened after a brief Q&A session.

So many people use Jaws: The Revenge as an instantly recognizable reference point for bad movies. If you watch any of those top ten worst film lists on YouTube, inevitably it’s right there on the top of every one of them. But can it really be that bad of a movie?

It’s certainly made by people with talent. Producer/director Joseph Sargent won four Emmys throughout his storied career, as well as helming such well-thought-of movies like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Night That Panicked America, Nightmares, MacArthur and Colossus: The Forbin Project. He even won the Directors Guild of America Award for The Marcus-Nelson Murders, the TV movie pilot for Kojak. In fact, he still leads all DGA members for most nominations for the TV movie category.

Sir Michael Caine is certainly a talented actor. He’s been nominated for an Academy Award in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s, winning two for Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules, with his performance in Educating Rita earning him the BAFTA and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.

So what happened? How can a movie — that one assumes was made with good intentions — turn out to be the touchstone for what constitutes a bomb?

In interviews before the film was even released, Sargent referred to it as “a ticking bomb waiting to go off” and noting that MCA Inc. president — and husband of star Lorraine Gary — Sid Sheinberg “expects a miracle.” There was no script when Sargent was asked to direct. Years later, he’d say that the movie was made out of desperation and that he tried a mystical take in an attempt to give audiences “something interesting enough to sit through.”

Even though this film was to center on Gray’s Ellen Brody character, Roy Scheider was offered a cameo where his Martin Brody character, rather than Sean Brody, would have been killed by the shark in the beginning. This was a wise choice to avoid this opening — murdering the center of the first two films would have put such a bad taste in audiences’ mouths that they may have hated this movie even more than they already did. To his credit, Scheider said, “Satan himself could not get me to do Jaws Part 4.

Lee Fierro also returned as Mrs. Kintner, the mother of Alex in Jaws, along with Amity Town Council member Mrs. Taft, who is again played by Fritzi Jane Courtney. Amity Selectman Mr. Posner (Cyprian R. Dube) is now the mayor, probably because the actor who played Larry Vaughan (Murray Hamilton) is dead.

Otherwise, forget all you knew about Jaws and the previous sequels. Mike no longer works for SeaWorld and he’s no longer played by Dennis Quaid. Instead, Halloween 2 hunk Lance Guest fills in. Following the heart attack death of her husband and great white murder of her son Sean — to the strains of holiday carols no less — Ellen Brody forgets all that she knew as well and leaves for the Bahamas.

There, she falls for Hoagie (Caine), who is a degenerate gambler by night and a pilot by day, but we all know that he runs cocaine. It’s just never said, but we can read between the lines that he’s done some shady things. In fact, scenes involving him being a smuggler were shot, then deleted during post-production, because it took away from the shark scenes.

Right now, Hoagie is having a September September romance with Ellen, trying to get her to forget the past — keep in my her husband died a few months ago and her son a few days hence — with some airplane riding, slow dancing and carnival attending.

Some moments of the film definitely make me understand why people dislike it so — the sepia toned callbacks to the first film, Mario Van Peebles’ forced accent, a shark that is somehow able to swim from an island in New York to the Bahamas in three days, which means he’d had to swim at nearly its full speed of 25 mph non-stop to make it. I mean, sharks never sleep, but that’s ridiculous.

Also, when you watch the ending, you may notice that the shark roars. Underwater, no less. The sound effects guy thought that this was so stupid that he used a sound effect from a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

Speaking of the ending, the one that gets aired on TV and home video isn’t the original. When the film was first released, it ended with JJakebeing devoured, Ellen ramming the shark with Mike’s boat and the shark’s death throes nearly killing everyone. Audiences hated that, so the ending with her stabbing the shark with the bow of the ship was added. Because they didn’t have much budget left, the film ends with the footage of the dying shark from the original.

These reshoots kept Caine from accepting his Oscar. Imagine that.

It could have been much worse. Or better, if you’re someone like me that loves movies packed with inanity and insanity in equal measure.

That’s because in the novelization of the film by Hank Searls, Hoagie is a government agent transporting laundered money. Jake is killed by the shark. And the reason for all this mayhem is because a voodoo witch doctor has a score to settle with the Brody family — which also explains, I guess, why Ellen and the shark have a psychic connection.

While the movie ignores the third film, the book combines all the movies with the Peter Benchley novel, making a reference to Ellen’s affair with Matt Hooper that is eliminated from the Spielberg-directed original film.

In truth, I like this movie. It’s an interesting take on how years of dealing with shark-related mayhem takes its toll on the various characters’ lives. And I really enjoyed how Michael and Carla’s marriage is depicted; she initiates lovemaking as much as him and it just seems honest and real.

Let’s face it. I’ve seen plenty of worse movies than this one. If there’s any tragedy to this movie, it’s that the actress who played Thea — Judith Barsi — died not long after it was released, as she and her mother were the victims of a murder/suicide at the hands of her father. Lance Guest served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

Perhaps the best review of the film comes from Sir Michael Caine himself, who said, “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific. Won an Oscar, built a house and had a great holiday. Not bad for a flop movie.”

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: The Haunting of the Murder House (2022)

Mannequins, Ouija boards, evil clowns, film crews descending into haunted houses to film them…The Haunting of the Murder House is packed with things that yes, we’ve all seen before, but have we seen them like this? Even the synopsis for this movie — “In October, four filmmakers disappeared in a haunted house while live streaming on social media. A year later, their footage was found.” — gave me no hope.

Directed by Brendan Rudnicki, who co-wrote it with Kellan Rudnicki, this film avoids being totally found footage, which is a plus. The Otherside crew — Harper (Sarah Tyson), Kai (Tyler Miller), Dylan (Dylan DeVane) and Kellan (Kellan Rudnicki) — has entered the home of Lester Morgan, a serial killer who kidnapped and murdered half a dozen young women before being shot by the cops, chaining themselves and ready to face whatever happens.

Sure, they discuss faking the evidence — reality television — but soon enough, the terror is real. It’s not wholly the most original terror but if you like haunted house films, this will definitely do the job.

If you don’t watch this at the Another Hole In the Head film festival, you can watch it on Tubi.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

SYNAPSE BLU RAY RELEASE: Creature from Black Lake (1976)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on September 22, 2018. It’s back as Synapse is releasing it on both DVD and blu ray, which you can get from MVD by clicking on each link. Both options have a brand-new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative, audio commentary with author/filmmaker Michael Gingold and film historian Chris Poggiali, a featurette with Director of Photography Dean Cundey, the original theatrical trailer and a radio spot.

If I’ve learned anything from my week of watching Bigfoot movies, it’s that Yankees aren’t wanted in the places where Bigfoot resides. You can also rewrite that sentence to cover city folks aren’t wanted when Bigfoot decides to walk on through Western Pennsylvania or Southeastern Ohio.

This one is all about two dudes: Rives (John David Carson, Empire of the Ants) and Pahoo (Dennis Fimple, House of 1000 Corpses). That’s right, Pahoo. Dennis Fimple was 36 when he played this young twenty-something just back from ‘Nam and looking for something, anything, maybe even Bigfoot. Rives is more concerned with hamburgers, fries and Cokes. And oh yeah, redhead goddesses. Well, everyone gets what they want in Black Lake.

You get a lot of character actors in here, like Western star Dub Taylor as Grandpa Bridges, Bill Thurman whose career stretches from The Last Picture Show to Mountaintop Motel Massacre, and Jack Elam, who is the best part of this film as the tracker Joe Canton.

Elam lost an eye to a sharpened pencil at a Boy Scout meeting as a child (he also literally grew up picking cotton) before serving in WW II, becoming a studio accountant and even managing the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles. A character actor in numerous gangster and Western films, as well as TV, Elam came up with a quote that many have stolen over the years in relation to how Hollywood sees people. He said that casting directors would say this about him:

  • Stage 1: “Who is Jack Elam?”
  • Stage 2: “Get me Jack Elam.”
  • Stage 3: “I want a Jack Elam type.”
  • Stage 4: “I want a younger Jack Elam.”
  • Stage 5: “Who is Jack Elam?”

He shows up in some crazy roles, such as Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing in the Cannonball Run films and in The Norseman, Charles B. Pierce’s bonkers ode to Vikings that stars Lee Majors.

This was re-released theatrically in 1982 as part of a multi-film package called “5 Deranged Features”. Also on the bill were Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) (under the title They’re Coming to Get You so perhaps people went thinking they were about to see the American cut of All the Colors of the Dark), The Wizard of Gore under the name House of Torture, Shriek of the Mutilated and The Corpse Grinders under the title Night of the Howling Beast.

If you’re up for seeing college students try and get laid while eating burgers and hunting Bigfoot, then this is probably the exact movie you’re looking for.

What this movie really has going for it is cinematography by Dean Cundey (HalloweenThe FogWho Framed Roger Rabbit?, Rock ‘n Roll High School and many, many more great movies). There are some interesting shots and it’s not your typical dark swampy seventies affair.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Maciste in Hell (1925)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Maciste, played by Bartolomeo Pagano, was first introduced as a supporting character in the early Italian silent film, Cabiria (1914.) Muscular Pagano (a.k.a. Ernesto Pagani) stole the show and soon, the onetime working-class dock worker found himself earning 750,000 Lire per year as the star of the popular Maciste franchise that lasted over a decade into the 1920s and was later revived in the ‘50s and ‘60s as part of the popular sword and sandal epics of that era. Similar to Hercules in Greek mythology, Maciste is an enormously vigorous champion with an equally powerful sense of morals. In Maciste in Hell, considered the best of 26 films and, our hard-bodied hero travels down to the bowels of Hell. 

Although it runs one hour and 37 minutes, the 2019 tinted restoration scored with the often-used Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz will probably take film buffs and historians almost twice as long to get through given the many opportunities to hit “pause” and study the gorgeous visuals. Everything in this film is worthy of scrutiny. When combined, the costumes and makeup, sets, props and in-camera effects (including facial regeneration) serve not only as an excellent example of what could be accomplished technically in the silent era of Italian cinema, but also as a moody foundation for the weird and wonderful mise-en-scéne seen in future generations of Italian cinema maestros including Margheriti, Bava, Freda and Argento. Not to mention Fellini, who saw this film in his first outing to the cinema as a young boy.

The story is quite complicated, mixing Catholic morality with ancient Roman and Greek mythology. We’ve got King Pluto, his wife and daughter and a bunch of demons in the underworld. There’s a troublesome devil named Barbariccia who comes to earth to cause trouble and capture Maciste, who thwarts him, saves babies and reforms a playboy deadbeat dad named Giorgio and convinces him to go back to the lovely Graziella before finally being dragged to Hell. He’s only allowed to remain for 3 days lest he kiss a woman. Enter Prosperina, Pluto’s wife, to tempt him. Now in a furry devil’s uniform, Maciste has the strength of 10 lesser devils. Something no one considered. He sets about kicking minion ass, traps the treasonous Barbariccia during a coup against Pluto and frees the masses. For his help, Pluto sends him back home. On his to the river Styx to hitch a ride home, Proserpina captures him one final time. Our hero is once again a furry, tied to a mountain. 

A few years later, Graziella and Giorgio’s toddler prays for him (and the Pope) on Christmas night. The boy’s prayer frees Maciste, who finally heads home for the holidays. The film ends with a shot of an angel. There’s also a floating octopus and a dragon ride. I don’t know why but it really doesn’t matter. It’s the kind of film you just have to let wash over you in all its mad brilliance, tentacles, devils, angels and all.

You can watch this on YouTube.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Living With Chucky (2022)

You may have grown up afraid of Chucky but you didn’t live the life of Kyra Elise Gardner, the director and writer (with Jason Strickland) of this documentary, as she’s the daughter of special effects master Tony Gardner, and in her house were the half-built parts of Chucky and Tiffany from the movie Seed of Chucky onward.

She told Entertainment Weekly: “My mom said when I was leaving preschool (one) day, I told my teacher that I couldn’t go home because the bad people were there. My teacher almost called CPS on my parents because she thought that they were hitting me. I didn’t understand that it was dolls. It was scared of Chucky, so it was absolutely frightening.”

Building on the short Dollhouse that she made in college, Gardner has filmed moments with her father, as well as interviews with creator Don Mancini; producer David Kirschner; actors Alex Vincent, Lin Shaye, Marlon Wayans, Abigail Breslin and Jennifer Tilly; Chucky’s voice Brad Dourif and his actress daughter Fiona Dourif (who has been in two Child’s Play movies and the new TV show); and even John Waters, who gleefully recalls having his face burned off by acid in Seed of Chucky.

Beyond serving as a much-needed documentary about this horror series, it’s interesting to get into the shared experiences and family feeling — Fiona Dourif and Gardner bonded over childhoods with often work-absent fathers — that have grown along the way. I’d also love a doc that tries to get to the bottom of how Jennifer Tilly stays so perfect all these years, if anyone would like to make that.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Evil Brain from Outer Space (1965)

About the Author: Paul Andolina is one of my favorite people to talk movies with. If you like his stuff, check out his site Wrestling with Film. This was previously a part of two other Mill Creek months, the first on November 15, 2019 and the second appearance on November 24, 2020.

Evil Brain from Outer Space is a science fiction film from 1965. It happens to be a couple of the Japanese Super Giant films that have been hacked up and spliced together to make one English dubbed film. It’s an odd movie about a group of aliens who send one of their own to earth to stop the brain of the evil mutant Balazar from destroying humanity. 

Special effects films and television shows are big in Japan and they have been since Godzilla roared onto screens. The Super Giant series from the late 50’s is a bunch of stand-alone films that are about the deeds of a man named Giant of Steel or as he is known in EBfOS Star Man. Star Man is a superhero basically and he wears some pretty nifty lycra outfits, he looks like a luchador that forgot his mask at home.

Evil Brain sees Star Man coming to earth to stop a few evil doctor/scientists who are in league with the evil extraterrestrial brain of Balazar. There is a hawk that hangs out with one of these doctors and a one-legged man who serves the other. There are some pretty awesome mutants who fight Star Man in this film as well. One looks like a chupacabra from the black lagoon and has strange tendril-like fingers and makes some weird noises, if I had seen this a child I would have been scared of him immediately. I actually said out loud, “WTF is that?” while watching the movie. He is by far my favorite part of the film. The other mutant is a long-haired demon lady who doesn’t quite know how to put on her lipstick. She jumps around and scratches the air while making demonic cat noises. There are also some generic henchmen mutants as well.

I would love to see the Super Giant serials in Japanese with English subtitles but I’m not sure they can live up to the insanity that is this film. It seems longer than it is because there is too much jibber-jabber. Honestly would love to see Star Man just mess up some mutants and forgo the plot altogether. If you like psychotronic films this is definitely the one for you. I have no idea what they were thinking when they pieced this bad boy together. I’d like to believe there was some acid involved and a whole lotta pot. It is in black and white but it still is a lot of fun. 

If you have any interest in the Tokasatsu trend in Japan and want to see an earlier effort you can’t get much better than Evil Brain from Outer Space.

TUBI picks 25

Better late than never, I guess, when it comes to this week’s Tubi picks.

You can catch up with all of the past weeks on this Letterboxd list.

1.  Midnight: TUBI LINK

Lynn Redgrave is Elvira in a movie made by the director of The Black Room in a murder mystery that has Frank Gorshin and Wolfman Jack.

2. Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters: TUBI LINK

Little Red Riding Hood (Maria Gracia) and Tom Thumb (Cesáreo Quezadas, also known as Pulgarcito) aren’t content to live out the fairy tales that we know them from (or in Tom Thumb’s case, being a member of P.T. Barnum’s circus). No, they seek out and battle the La Reina Bruja — the Queen Witch — who has an army full of monsters. This movie is going to destroy you.

3. Delirium: TUBI LINK

A vet is hired by right-wingers to clean up the streets from crooks and homeless people, but when he starts killing everyone, things get out of hand in this video nasty.

4. The Theater Bizarre: TUBI LINK

A co-production between Severin Films and Metaluna Productions, each director was given the same budget, schedule and narrative directive. Other than that, they were given free rein to create their own story. The results may not be even, but you can tell that this was made by filmmakers who understand that a horror anthology can be a very powerful movie.

5. Santa Claus: TUBI LINK

This movie has so many insane ideas, it’s difficult to summarize them. From learning that demons primarily eat hot coals to the fact that every child that works for Santa must wear a racist costume that denotes their country of origin (all Japanese children wear kimonos, all Americans are cowboys), this is a movie brimming with barely concealed menace. Watch it immediately.

6. Kristy: TUBI LINK

Thanksgiving may be over but this slasher is so good you can watch it any time of the year.

7. A Cat In the Brain: TUBI LINK

Lucio Fulci has made too many movies and has lost his mind, using the effects of the movies he lent his name to illustrate his psychosis. At the January 1996 Fangoria Horror Convention in New York City, he would appear on crutches with a bandaged foot, two months before death, and proclaim that Wes Craven stole this idea. You go, ranting crazy maestro.

8. The Living Dead Girl: TUBI LINK

Jess Franco presents a story of love, blood drinking, setting photographers on fire and mildew-ridden castles, all set in a world where everyone — even you — is on drugs.

9. Godmonster of Indian Flats: TUBI LINK

Frederic Hobbs was an artist who went from the traditional to a whole way of presenting art, creating parade sculptures that took art from the museum to the people. That’s when he figured it out — to get the people to see something as art, you should hide it in a film. He made this movie, Roseland and Alabama’s Ghost; I can definitely say each of those movies are fucking insane.

10. Nightbeast: TUBI LINK

At the same time John Waters was making people puke on one side of Baltimore, Don Doehler was doing the same. One made strange comedies; the other made low budget science fiction and horror. Both loved film. Get into this one!

 

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally was on the site on March 15, 2021.

It’s back because the Another Hole In the Head film festival will be playing it on Friday Dec 2nd, at 7:30 pm at the Roxie Cinema (3117 16th Street, San Francisco).

That said, it’s not just a regulae screening. It’s the world premiere performance of Sleepbomb’s new score for George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead! Experience the terror and tension of the original zombie film that started it all with Sleepbomb’s unique blend of doomy drones and electronics filling the air. You’ll never see the film the same way again! Tickets are $25 and available here.

For almost two decades, Sleepbomb has been bringing innovative and exciting new scores for a wide variety of genre films. Atmospheric and heavy, ranging from doom and drone to electronic textures, Sleepbomb’s scores have re-contextualized films like NosferatuThe Cabinet of Dr. CaligariConan the Barbarian and Metropolis for mesmerized audiences in the Bay Area and beyond. Sleepbomb returns to Another Hole in the Head for the second time after their sold out Conan performance in 2019. 

I’ve debated writing about this film for the site for a long time. It’s beyond a seminal movie and it’s also from right where we call home. There’s probably no modern horror movie as important as this one for so many reasons and so many films have their inspiration right here.

I’ve spent a lifetime in advertising, so I can see how making television commercials and industrial films as part of The Latent Image pushed George Romero, John Russo and Russell Streiner to make their own movie.

And horror movies? Horror movies sell.

Shot between June and December 1967 in Evans City with friends, relatives, local actors and interested locals, this movie was made for around $114,000 but looks like so much more. The crew had been through the ringer — they did the original Calgon “Ancient Chinese Secret” commercial — and they knew how to get the most out of every shot.

You have no idea what it was like as a kid to drive past Evans City nearly every day, knowing that the dead lived there.

The movie was a huge success, obviously. That’s why we’re talking about it here. And yet, there’s so much that makes it a regional film, as it has local people like horror host Bill Cardille in it. And it feels, well, exactly like living in Western Pennsylvania. We’ve been preparing for the zombie uprising since before people knew there was such a thing.

The movie starts with Barbara (Judith O’Dea) and Johnny (Streiner) in a cemetery, arguing over visiting their parents. Their sibling games soon give way to terror when what looks like a homeless man murders Johnny and sends Barbara racing away, finally discovering what seems to be an abandoned farmhouse. There, she meets Ben* (Duane Jones), a black hero saving a white woman in a time that these things just weren’t done. But the true joy of Night of the Living Dead is that unlike modern elevated horror, this is no message movie. These are just the right people to tell the story.

It’s funny because Romero has often cited Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend as his inspiration, but that author has said that this movie was “kind of cornball.” What does he know?

The movie ups the tension when we discover that a married couple, Harry and Helen Cooper, and their daughter Karen have been hiding in the basement, The young girl has been bitten by a ghoul and Harry is obsessed with barricading himself and his family in the house while Ben wants to escape. In truth, no one is right and everyone pays the price. There is no happy ending in Evans City.

Perhaps the most astounding thing to me about Night of the Living Dead is its public domain status. Its original distributor, the Walter Reade Organization, never put a copyright on the prints. There was one under its original title, Night of the Flesh Eaters, but when the name change occurred, Walter Reade also removed that copyright notice.

That’s why when the VHS era started, you could actually buy this movie, as well as why it shows up in so many other movies and in DVD multipacks. There’s also the unfairly maligned Savini remake that this site needs to get to someday, which I love because Barbara is a more capable heroine and also because I saw it in a theater near Zelienople and when they said the name of the town, people lost their minds.

Roger Ebert’s review of this film has always stuck with me: “The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying … It’s hard to remember what sort of effect this movie might have had on you when you were six or seven. But try to remember. At that age, kids take the events on the screen seriously, and they identify fiercely with the hero. When the hero is killed, that’s not an unhappy ending but a tragic one: Nobody got out alive. It’s just over, that’s all.”

That’s probably why I like it so much.

*According to an interview on Homepage of the Dead, Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman said, “Duane Jones was a very well educated man [and he] simply refused to do the role as it was written. As I recall, I believe that Duane himself upgraded his own dialogue to reflect how he felt the character should present himself.”

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Shorts take one

Here’s the first take on shorts at Another Hole In the Head that you should seek out:

7 Minutes In Hell (2022): Justin Reager and Shane Spiegel have worked on a lot of kid-friendly projects like Sci-Fi Test Lab and Junk Drawer Magic. They had to have done all of that to get to this, because this feels like a very passionate short film.

It’s a really basic story — a bunch of teenagers breaks into a vacant house just to play seven minutes in heaven — but the telling and the look of every scene — particularly the sound mixing by Katie Harbin and Carli Plute — just makes this work just right.

This feels like it is inspired by Creepshow while at the same time being way better than the recent reinvention of that show. That’s high praise.

You can learn about 7 Minutes In Hell on its official Facebook page.

Blood of the Dinosaurs (2021): Once, we went to a Mystery Spot and after we walked toward the center of the room, it kept pushing us into the walls and I was young and trying to hold my mother’s hand and it made me cry. Then, we all got on a train and it went through a forest and animatronic dinosaurs appeared and the driver told us to reach under our chairs for guns to kill the rampaging lizards and I yelled and ran up and down the length of the train begging for people to stop and that we needed to study the dinosaurs and not kill them. This was not a dream.

Another story. I was obsessed with dinosaurs and planned on studying them, combining my love of stories of dragons like the Lamprey Worm with real zoology, but then nine-year-old me learned that they were all dead and I had to face mortality at a very young age which meant I laid in bed and contemplated eternity all night and screamed and cried so much I puked. This is also a true story.

The Blood of DInosaurs has Uncle Bobbo (Vincent Stalba) and his assistant Purity (Stella Creel) explain how we got the oil in our cars that choke the planet but first, rubber dinosaurs being bombarded by fireworks and if you think the movie gets boring from here, you’re so wrong.

Can The Beverly Hillbillies become ecstatic religion? Should kids have sex education? Would the children like to learn about body horror and giallo? Is there a show within a show within an interview and which reality is real and why are none of them and all of them both the answer? Did a woman just give birth to the Antichrist on a PBS kids show?

This is all a preview of Joe Badon’s full film The Wheel of Heaven and when I read that he was influenced by the Unarius Cult, my brain climbs out of my nose and dances around before I slowly strain to open my mouth and beg for it to come back inside where it’s wet and safe.

Badon co-wrote this film’s score and screenplay with Jason Kruppa and I honestly can’t wait to see what happens next. Also: this was the Christmas episode of Uncle Bobbo so I can only imagine that this was him being toned down.

Buzzkill (2022): Let me tell you, when you start your animated short off with a logo that says Canon Pictures and looks like Cannon Films, I’m going to love what comes next.

That said, it’s easy to love this movie, which is the story of Becky (Kelly McCormack, who is Jess McCready in the A League of Their Own Series) and Rick (Peter Ahern, also the director and writer), who return to her house after a date and their moment of romance is interrupted by an insect crawling out of her eyeball.

The animation is gorgeous, the story is amusing and I just loved the way that it all pays off. Buzzkill gets in more gross-out and laugh-out-loud moments in its short running time than most movies get in two hours.

Checkpoint (2022): Man, what a ride! I loved this and it made me consider all of the many, many video game characters that I’ve led to grisly deaths over the years.

A man — that’s his name and he’s played by Brett Brooks — must navigate a hostile alien world, learning with each death — which moves him back to the beginning and later to the titular checkpoint — what he needs to do to get to the next level. And then the next. At the end, he realizes that it’s all for Victoria (Erin Ownbey), who he pushed away with his greed. Yet perhaps he’s not the only person — or sin — that has done so.

Directed by Jason Sheedy, who also did the sound, editing, effects and wrote and produced the film with director of photography Matthew Noonan, Checkpoint is filled with tons of gory deaths, as well as a message and heart within. I had an absolute blast watching it — the production design is also incredible — and you should check it out too!

Cruise (2022): I worked in a survey research telemarketing place before I got into advertising and it’s the kind of job that still gives me nightmares. We had a set script that we had to follow, a mysterious room had people listening to us and you didn’t even get to call the number. It would just ring, you’d ask someone if they got their sample of laundry detergent, then they would call you an asshole for ten seconds, then you’d start all over again for ten hours at a time. Often, one of those mystery people would tell you that you were off script and take over and show you how. The worst was if you made a human connection at any point, they would terminate your call. I still wake up thinking that I’m late for my job there, a room of cubicles and no windows and people plugged into headsets as blood for the machine.

Cruise, directed and written by Samuel Rudykoff, finds telemarketer after telemarketer trying to sell a cruise and failure means death.

These days, when scam likely comes up on my phone, I don’t get mad or rude to the people on the other line. I was once them. It was not fun. And, as this movie will show you, you may end up getting them shot right in the head.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.