ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Guiltless (2022)

16-year old Samantha (Alison Thornton) is using the fact that her parents are out of town to have a romantic evening with her girlfriend. Yet there’s an uninvited guest named Ron (Alex Zahara) who changes everything and Samantha will never be the same.

Unlike just about every slasher ever, the final girl ends up being the one in charge in director and writer Kevin Schultz’s film. While he doesn’t have a big budget to play with, he does have a talented actress in Thornton who gets to play just about every emotion in the book here and play it well.

While this isn’t perfect, this is a fun ride that proves that Schultz is going to do bigger things in the future. And oh yeah — not all modern slashers have to be horrible. Take notice.

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: Friday the 13th Vengeance 2: Bloodlines (2022)

Even if there’s never a new Friday the 13th movie, director Jason Brooks — who stars as Jason and co-wrote this with Kim Terreson (who was also an assistant director and in charge of props) — have sidestepped the legal battles over who owns the franchise and have made a fan film that is honestly better than anything we’re going to get at this point.

This film and Friday the 13th Vengeance both are direct sequels to Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and add Jason’s father Elias Voorhees (C.J. Graham, who was Jason in that film) to the saga, as he uses his son to attempt to destroy the Jarvis family. Interestingly enough, his henchman Walt is played by Jason Lives‘ director and writer Tom McLaughlin.

His goal is to kill Angelica (Kelly Tappan) and Ashley (Sanae Loutsis), the daughters of Tommy Jarvis (yes, played by Thom Matthews), to bring his dead wife Pamela back from the beyond. Jason, for his part, will just destroy everyone and anyone who is in his way. This movie does not skip the blood and gore at all and if anything pushes way past anything you’ve seen in a Friday the 13th film.

This is packed with plenty of things fans of the series will go crazy for, such as the sack mask from the second film and the look from Jason Lives. The funniest line is when Lauren (Tamara Glynn, who played Samantha Thomas in Halloween 5) claims she’s never heard of Jason because she grew up in Haddonfield. You’ll also see Diana “Darcy” Prince show up for a bit, as well as Nikki (Darcy DeMoss) make her return, plus roles for Paul T. Taylor (Pinhead from Hellraiser: Judgment), Rob Mello (Happy Death Day) and Richie Ramone (who played drums for The Ramones from 1983 to 1987 replacing Marky).

This is the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in some time. Don’t look at the term fan film and look down on it. Be happy that this crew put their time and energy into something that they love and know they basically can’t make money from. People have looked down on slashers and the Friday the 13th series for so long that it’s so awesome to find others that love it this much.

Want to learn more? Check out the official Facebook and YouTube pages for the 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: A Life On the Farm (2022)

Get ready to watch something strange.

Filmmaker Oscar Harding grew up near farmer Charles Carson. Carson would give the family his homemade video tapes, which seem like he was hosting a TV program but he was all by himself. Or he was surrounded by cows giving birth. Or puppeteering his stuffed cats. Or wheeling his dead mother around so she could see the farm one more time before she went into the ground.

Carson was…well, the jury is out. Was he an outside artist? An early adopter of posting videos online before there was the internet? Or maybe someone with some deep mental issues?

Beyond getting to see the actual videos, the film also speaks to Karen Kilgariff (My Favorite Murder), Derrick Beckles (TV Carnage), Everything Is Terrible and Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher from The Found Footage Festival to learn why the videos are artistically important while also, yes, just odd.

“There we are, that’s life on a farm.” Carson says this several times and it makes me think about how he came from a world that is a constant circle of life and also so removed from the city that he may as well be an alien. He would keep giving these tapes, stories about life on the farm to his friends and neighbors. Were they entertained? Shocked? Upset?

Yet this movie never laughs at the man. It points out that he may have had issues, but he also saw death in a different way than we do. Perhaps by looking at it with a sense of humor, he was ahead of us, people who might look down on him and think him uneducated. I see him as a man with no guile, one with a sense of humor that could be surreal but he may have never encountered that art himself. He was, in a sense, a unique island of a man whose video output lived beyond him, made its way to people who could keep it alive and now, miles and decades away from a man long dead, we can appreciate what he left behind, even if it’s a video of him holding up a huge piece of afterbirth.

I got the opportunity to speak with Oscar Harding about this film and I’m excited to share the interview with you.

B&S About Movies: It’s interesting that within the film you had very different reactions to Carson himself, his mental state mostly.

Oscar Harding: I had someone seek me out that works in hospice care. Death positivity is a big angle to this and he was getting really excited and said, “People in my industry need to see this film.” That’s been a big reaction to Charles on that side. People who liked the film — even if they don’t like the documentary — they love him. The reviews say, “The documentary is OK, but I just want to see more of Charles.”

I completely agree, because if we had more footage, it would be a very different film, probably a stronger film. But as I’ve said before, we were interviewing his cousin Charlie who told us, “It’s a shame you didn’t come by a few years ago.” He had 200 of Charles’s tapes. He was moving and he didn’t think anyone wanted the tapes, so he threw them all out hundreds of tapes and they’re all gone. So for all I know, the little bit of footage we found in the film is all that exists of him. And I hope that’s not true. I hope someone in England sees this and realize there’s very clearly an appetite for more of his work and rightly so. I hope we find more because we spent months trying to track down as much as we could. There’s one guy who claimed he had a mixtape. He said, “I think it’s locked away in a shed somewhere.”

So every few days, we go into the shed and there was always an excuse. It was a busy weekend. The padlock is rusty. Call back a few days later. And then he just stopped answering our calls.

B&S: Was Charles literally making each person their own tape?

Oscar: You know, he’s in the middle of nowhere and he doesn’t have resources like you might in a big city. He’s doing all this at an advanced age in that place. But he’s doing it! Like it’s not easy to learn how to do this stuff. And then do custom edits for so many different people! He really took his craft seriously. And that was one of the things that really impressed us about it.

B&S: I’m obsessed with the Shot On Video era because the Cousins brothers who made Slaughter Day were making films beyond their technical abilities because they didn’t know they had those limits.

Oscar: I find that stuff so much more impressive than like a master filmmaker. You know, Scorsese was lucky he had the education. He worked with Corman and went to school but look — these guys are in London like Charles or the Uganda filmmakers that make action films like Who Killed Captain Alex? and people might make fun of the bad CGI of the helicopter crash, but that movie was directly influenced by him living through a civil war and seeing that happen for real. Those filmmakers are the most interesting to me.

B&S: They’re also pure and not in on the joke.

Oscar: It’s like the people who set out to make a bad movie thinking they’re going to make the next The Room. Meanwhile, Tommy Wiseau wasn’t trying to make a joke, he genuinely set out to make a masterpiece and it is raw, unfiltered vision. That’s why people love that. And that’s why a movie like Birdemic, well, it’s in on the joke. It just doesn’t land in the same way. It’s not authentic.

B&S: How much footage did you have to work through to find something great? The Found Footage Festival guys always bring up how much of this kind of stuff used to exist in thrift stores and it was just the work of going through boring footage to find something incredible.

Oscar: We got very lucky. And again, because we had the work of a filmmaker that he edited, he structured it intentionally. He’s got setups to gags and not all of them land. But, you know, once you get past that initial watch, I’ve said it a million times. It’s true. I think everyone who watched this for the first time and in the early section, they’re going to laugh at him and at what he made. It is bizarre and insane and you don’t get the context. But then once you start to learn more about why and how he was making these videos, you are laughing with it. Because you realize there are jokes in there that are intentional, that are meant to land.

This is the kind of filmmaking that won’t be taught in film school. This stuff is every bit as important as the French New Wave. You’ve got to learn about every aspect of filmmaking. Like you know your example. I feel like I would learn more talking to them or watching their stuff than being the millions guy watch Pulp Fiction. But you know, I really like Tarantino. (laughs)

B&S: The guys on The Cannon Canon podcast always say that most film students are going to make low budget genre film anyway. Why not study that? Study how the camera work and editing in Ninja 3: The Domination fakes a helicopter crash and doesn’t show it and you never realize it.

Oscar: We’ve all made our fair share of shit. I certainly have made some horrible stuff. But you know, they always forget to tell you that Scorsese and all these major directors all started out doing low budget crap for Roger Corman. But that’s important. They didn’t just come out of the box as master filmmakers. They made low budget trash.

I always think about the French New Wave. And I get the historical importance of it and the fact that they changed the form. I can respect all that. But I’m sorry, the auteur theory is a bunch of bullshit. Like my name is on the credits. I wasn’t present for at least half of the shoot because the pandemic, I didn’t edit the thing and I didn’t do the score. It’s an obvious humble thing to say of that everyone helps make the movie but it’s true. This is not my film. It’s a film I kind of brought to fruition with my two partners, but it sounds as good as it does and it’s got the empathy that it has because of the crew.

B&S: I love that at face value, you could just have made fun of Charles. Look at this weird farmer trying to make videos. But you allow him to be human and show that he’s actually an artist.

Oscar: We’ve found that the movie plays best at genre and horror festivals. The kind of people who get into trashy stuff and exploitation and horror, I feel they get it more because they’re more sympathetic to the context. It’s a harder sell in a festival with more conventional movies.

This is not like an award season movie. This is not a blockbuster. This is all the outsiders and the weirdos who get it because that you know, Charles is one of them. I’m one of them. You’re one and you know that the horror genre has always been a haven for black storytellers, queer storytellers and people like us It’s more accepting. And you can say more profound stuff, you know, like the political allegory in District Nine. It gets across better than just a conventional apartheid drama. You just do it in a more intelligent way.

B&S: Yet normal people will get upset and say, “They’re making Hellraiser too queer.”

Oscar: Go back and check out who wrote it and directed the first movie. (laughs)

B&S: How did you get all the big names within the found footage world?

Oscar: Back in 2019 when we started filming, we didn’t know Charles’s life story at this point. as we were working on it, COVID happened. It sucked because we sat here for months and couldn’t do anything. I thought, “This is found footage.” Let’s do some research. That’s when we found out there was the Found Footage Festival and Everything Is Terrible!

I met Nick and Joe backstage at a show and showed them footage of Charles and they didn’t know me, but they watched it and became such big supporters, introducing me to people like Karen Kilgariff and Davy Rothbart (FOUND Magazine) and backing the Kickstarter.

Koo Stark took about two years. Understandably, you know, she’s very, very careful about her image because the UK press treated her the same way they treated Princess Diana and Megan Markel. They made her life a living hell. So that took a lot of trust and developing that relationship. She’s wonderful and she got it almost instantly with Charles. She didn’t really understand that she was part of this guy’s story. She just hosted a show he won on. But she was the hardest person to get and the nicest surprise to get her right at the end.

B&S: What directors influence you?

Oscar: Kenneth Branagh, Guillermo del Toro, Edgar Wright — who grew up quite close to Charles — and Danny Boyle. Oh — Terry Gilliam, David Lynch, Sam Raimi, William Friedkin…

B&S: Raimi is the influence for every Shot On Video director I talk to.

Oscar: You know, he’s one of the weirdos who struck gold. I mean, honestly, compare any of the superhero movies now to what he’s doing with those first two Spider-Man movies where they’re just so wonderfully goofy, insincere and shot like a kinetic horror movie. I don’t want to be like yet another guy talking badly about Marvel movies, but I guess I’m just sad that they’re not making comic book movies. I miss the era of Hollywood that was trying to make stuff like The ShadowThe Phantom, Raimi made DarkmanDick Tracy is one of my favorite films of all time. They’re just comic book movies. They’re great.

I don’t like when filmmakers try to directly copy the comic book look. You can try and recreate a panel but you don’t get the exact feel of it right. When you do it frame by frame, panel by panel, it’s an expensive experiment, but I’ll just read the comic book.

B&S: Have you had any extreme reactions or upset reactions to your film?

Oscar: I think once people find out that Charles was a human being behind it all and a family man and realize that he was a lot more profound than you might think, it’s not as shocking when you just watch the footage.

B&S: You don’t sledgehammer people over the head with it though. That’s why I loved the film so much.

Oscar: We had a remarkable editor, Hannah Christensen, who should be editing every film in Hollywood right now.

There was a scene in a British TV show called Cucumber and there’s a death sequence in that show that inspired me. I really wanted to go all out hopeless and relentlessly dark when Charles’ mother dies and when he gets close to death. Hannah came in and said, “He has to find peace at the end. You need like that moment of calm, because otherwise you’re going to lose people. It’s too relentlessly bleak and cruel.”

She was bang on the money. I trusted her. And it worked a lot better the way she edited it.

B&S: That’s awesome that you can give her that credit. I think that’s part of what makes you so talented that you realize that the team can all be creative and it’s their movie, not just yours.

Oscar: Thank you. It’s not even trying to be nicer and to be humble. I mean, it’s true. This is not my film. It is our film. And, you know, my hope is that, especially Sam Paul Toms and Hannah, the next Marvel movie that comes out they’re scoring and editing it.

B&S: Do you think Charles had any influences?

Oscar: I really do think a lot of his work was just pure Charles Carson. He may have watched The Goon Show or known about Monty Python. I couldn’t say that for sure. I just love the fact that this is a guy who didn’t grow up obsessed with film and then discovered it later in life because he’s bringing in life experiences compared to the rest of us who bring in all these pop culture references.

He wasn’t inspired by anyone, like the old Hollywood directors, because he didn’t grow up watching anyone else. I would argue he — a lot of those directors — is stronger because of that. If they’ve got any influences it’s from the theater or literature or radio plays.

B&S: There’s no nostalgia in his work.

Oscar: I think one of the problems right now is that there are incredibly talented creatives. More talented than me for sure. And it’s just this kind of slightly cannibalistic thing of, I grew up on nostalgia, I’m gonna do my take on nostalgia. And then you know, everyone steals and that’s fine. But it’s just I don’t know. I think it’s harder and harder to get like interesting stuff instead of people saying,”Let’s make another Ghostbusters.” Not to sound like an old man like yelling at the cloud. (laughs)

For example, in the new Hellraiser, it’s got its issues, but I really liked it. The smartest thing they did was someone asked at the q&a, “Why isn’t Pinhead wearing leather?” They had a really intelligent response. “Clive Barker was inspired by the BDSM clubs when he was making that and Hellraiser was his thing to start with. Now, we looked at what could be the new version of that and they looked at extreme body transformation and the Cenobites are wearing their own modifications.”

I thought that’s an interesting way to update something. I think that’s how you reinvent stuff and you do it in a clever way now.

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: House of the Dead (1980)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bill Van Ryn is the genius behind Groovy Doom and the zine Drive-In Asylum. This was first on the site on November 28, 2018.

Ultra low budget films really turn me on sometimes, and House of the Dead has another sexy thing going for it: it’s a horror anthology. It’s one of those obscurities that received a very limited theatrical release, and was then relegated to cruising the backwaters of VHS. A recent blu ray resurrection by Vinegar Syndrome is a welcome chance to get acquainted with one of the more imaginative films of its type.

For some reason, the film was packaged theatrically under the misleading title Alien Zone, which says nothing about the actual content of the movie. It’s actually a supernatural film that deals with a man who finds himself lost in a rainstorm. He’s just come from seeing his mistress, and takes a taxi back to his hotel in order to phone his wife. The cab leaves him off in an area that isn’t familiar to him, and it drives off, leaving him stranded down a dark alley. A strange, older man emerges from the darkness and offers our protagonist a chance to get out of the rain, taking him inside the building and giving him coffee. The protagonist soon realizes his host is a mortician, and the old man insists on giving him a tour of the facility. The individual stories emerge as the mortician opens each casket and letting the protagonist look at the bodies.

House of the Dead gives you some bang for your buck, because it has four stories — five if you count the wraparound segment. The tone is definitely that of an old EC comic book, with nasty people doing horrible things and then suffering some kind of karmic justice. The first is about a schoolteacher with a disdain for children who is confronted by monsters, the second deals with a serial killer who lures women to their doom inside of his apartment, the third is about two dueling detectives who set out to murder each other, and the fourth shows an arrogant businessman’s rapid transformation into a derelict after he is trapped and tormented inside a warehouse of torture.

The stories are intriguing, although a few of them are awkwardly realized. Most disappointing is the story about the serial killer, because it starts out so damn good. It’s a found footage short, a collection of private films shot by the killer on a hidden camera. Each one shows him inviting a different woman to the apartment and finding ways to lure them into perfect position so he can murder them in front of the camera. It becomes increasingly disturbing, and you wonder where the story will go, and then suddenly it is over and it went nowhere. It had such an interesting setup, too, with a non-linear timeline and intercut news footage of the subject being attacked by camera-wielding reporters while being arraigned.

The best of the four stories by far is the fourth, which is a damn near brilliant piece of film. Most of it is performed solo by actor Richard Gates, who portrays a cocky businessman with a serious lack of empathy for others. He is confronted by a derelict outside of what he thinks is his office building, and he dismisses the man rudely, yelling after him “Why don’t you get a job?” Once inside the building though, he realizes he has walked into an unfamiliar storefront, with a vacant office space inside. Lured to an open elevator shaft by noises from below, he leans inside too far and falls down into the shaft, landing on his face. It’s a brutal moment that looks terrifyingly real, even though it’s just clever editing. This begins a gradual erosion of his humanity by some unseen antagonist; he is now in a Saw-like chamber of horrors, where he is wordlessly tormented by a falling elevator, a room where a wall of blades threatens him, and ultimately a prison cell where he is fed only bottles of alcohol. A door automatically opens some undetermined length of time later and he emerges into daylight, himself now a drunken man in a dirty suit approaching passersby for help and being rejected.

The film has a distinct visual look, which is often difficult when shooting a low budget movie. It’s not exactly striking, but it does creep into your brain a little by what it *doesn’t* show you. This movie does “anonymous and vacant” extremely well. Alleys are dark and vague, with strategically lit doorways and dark alcoves. That abandoned building is both ordinary looking and totally sinister, with simple but effective traps for its victim, almost like anybody could have set it up. Even the “house” of the title, which is purported to be a funeral home with a mortician’s workshop, is rendered onscreen only as a series of vague hallways and dim areas lit only by carefully directed lamps and bulbs, leaving most of the rooms in shadows.

A lot of the wraparound story is clunky, to say the least, like the awkward way the mortician narrator abruptly disengages from several of the stories, especially the ones with protagonists who don’t end up dead on screen (after all, he’s explaining to someone how these people ended up corpses in a funeral parlor). But the runtime is short (79 minutes), and it contains a few moments that are effectively creepy. It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d hope to find in a budget DVD collection.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Good Against Evil (1977)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on December 5, 2018.

Originally airing on May 22, 1977, this attempt at a weekly series comes from director Paul Wendkos (The Mephisto WaltzSecretsHaunts of the Very Rich) and Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster (The LegacyScream, Pretty PeggyHorror of DraculaThe Revenge of Frankenstein).

I was really excited about the potential of this one, which promises from its Amazon listing that writer Andy Stuart (Dack Rambo) teams up with an exorcist named Father Kemschler (Dan O’Herlihy!) to battle Satan and a group of devil worshipers led by Mr. Rimmin (Richard Lynch!).

Seems like Rimmin has been after a girl named Jessica from the moment she was born, as her mother was drugged and attended to by nuns who took her baby away the moment it was born. Her mom was then killed by a black cat and Jessica is raised by his people, with her origins kept a secret.

When Andy and Jessica hook up and decide to get married, she’s unable to even get near the altar. That’s because she’s been promised to the demon Astaroth and must be kept a virgin until the beast comes back and puts a devil baby in her womb. Now, the cult that has been behind every moment of her life must keep her a virgin by cockblocking Andy at every turn.

I was totally prepared for pure 1970’s Satanic bliss, only to find myself in the midst of a relationship drama for much of the films first half. Sure, there was a flashback where a woman imagined a nearly nude and totally burned up Lynch — he came by those scars the hard way — attacking her. I was thinking — is this the TV movie version of Enter the Devil — only for cruel reality to make me learn differently.

That said, there are some good moments here, like a woman being killed by her own housecats under Rimmin’s command. And Elyssa Davalos as Jessica has plenty of great qualities that make her a wonderful horror heroine in distress. And while she’s top billed when you look this film up, Kim Cattrall makes a short appearance.

I wanted to love this. It has all the elements that you would think would lead to magic. Yet it can’t put them all together. Sometimes when you deal with the devil, you don’t get what you wanted.

BACK IN STOCK – Drive-In Asylum Special #3 from 2018, HOLIDAY HORROR!

The holiday season gets the DIA treatment with an assortment of reviews and ads for films taking place during Thanksgiving, Xmas & New Years. Black Christmas, Home for the Holidays, Silent Night Bloody Night, Rene Cardona’s Santa Claus…. and many, many more! Visit Groovy Doom on Etsy to buy.

While you’re there, you can also get the 1979 Yearbook, Tribute To Horror Hosts, 1981 Yearbook and  back issues containing ads and articles about some of your favorite movies.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Extraneous Matter (2021)

Directed and written by Ken’ichi Ugana, who also made the incredible short Vierailijat, this film takes an image that we associate with the pornographic — sexualized tentacles — and applies it to how being in some relationships is lonelier than being all by yourself, as well as alienation and fear of the unknown, across several episodes.

A young woman (Kaoru Koide) trapped in a loveless and definitely sexless relationship is attacked by an octopus alien that hides in her closet and while at first this is assault, it soon becomes the only thing she looks forward to. By the end, everyone in her life, including her boyfriend, has partaken in the sexual nirvana that this creature can create.

Another tale is about a man attempting to win back an ex-lover while training a creature with sweets. As the aliens multiply across Earth, humanity battles back in the third story, with soldiers gathering and killing them. One of those men finds an injured octopus creature and tries to protect it. Finally, two strangers meet in a bar after the aliens have been driven out.

Extraneous Matter Complete Edition does the opposite of what so many of the stories of alien sex in Japanese culture usually do: the story goes on past the sex. In fact, the tentacles being inside humans is such a small part of the story. It’s what is truly inside, the hidden reasons why we do what we do, that get explored within this film. Whether you can see that through all the glistening tentacles and strange looking eight-limbed soft-bodied monsters is your call.

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: Don’t Fuck In the Woods 2 (2022)

As long as we have movies we will have summer camps filled with boned-up counselors who make the most critical of mistakes: fucking in the woods. It happened in the first movie back in 2016 and it assuredly happens here. Let me tell you, if this came out in the 80s, high schoolers would have been losing their minds. I mean, this movie has wall to wall nudity and then decides to throw blood all over said indecency. Who will think of the children?

Fuck the children.

Pine Hill Camp is nearly open. Gil and Nurse Vanessa are the grown up, while Will, Mason, Tasha and Mason are the counselors who are already exhibiting the sort of behavior that gets you killed at camp before the kids even show up.

That’s when Jane (Brittany Blanton), the final girl from the original, emerges and starts warning everyone about parasitic alien worms that crawl into your orifices are out there and ready to destroy young lovers.

Director Shawn Burkett, who made the first movie and co-wrote this with Cheyenne Gordon, also must really love Inseminoid and you know, that’s reason enough to stick with this one. Actually, there are plenty of reasons because this is dumb without being dumb, which is a hard line to tightrope walk but this movie sure does it.

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: Do Not Disturb (2022)

I had a friend that once said that he knew that if someone, anyone he knew would take pills that he found laying on the ground, it would be me. Well, maybe not after watching this.

Made-in-Florida, shot in Miami, infused with the madness that drugs like bath salts and Krokodil were supposed to unleash on all of us, this is the story of a honeymooning couple — Chloe (Kimberly Laferriere) and Jack (Rogan Christopher) — who are looking at all kinds of experiences to strengthen their relationship, from an abortive attempt at swinging to taking peyote that a near-lunatic blood covered man gives them on the beach before he literally walks into the ocean.

Soon, their not-so-perfect new marriage isn’t their only problem. Whatever the drug that’s in their system, it does more than cause them to dance all night. It awakens a desire for human flesh.

Do Not Disturb is a totally confident film that is as much about eating other human beings as it is about devouring them emotionally through a relationship that should have really run its course. So yeah, unlike all those death of a relationship movies that usually bore me, this one sung right at my heart, because of course some people deserve to be eaten and then the leftovers tossed into the surf.

Don’t miss this one.

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.

NIGHT GALLERY: Pilot episode

There’s never been a better TV anthology — when it’s firing on all gears, that is — than Night Gallery. Sure, The Twilight Zone is a classic, but there are moments on this show that are still terrifying nearly fifty years later.

I remember as a kid I had a book called The TV Guide Book of Lists that I devoured. I kept coming back — and being afraid — of a list by Anton LaVey that inscribed the ten most Satanic TV shows of all time. Night Gallery was all over that list and for good reason. This show lives up to the quasi-religion he set forth on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966.

“Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collector’s item in its own way—not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, suspended in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.”

With those words, host Rod Serling would walk out of a gallery filled with paintings by Thomas J. Wright and Jaroslav “Jerry” Gebr. He created the series along with Jack Laird and one of the reasons why this show isn’t seen in the same light as The Twilight Zone is because Laird loved goofy humor in his horror, so there are “blackout” sketches interspersed throughout the show. Serling hated those scenes with a passion, saying “I thought they distorted the thread of what we were trying to do on Night Gallery. I don’t think one can show Edgar Allan Poe and then come back with Flip Wilson for 34 seconds. I just don’t think they fit.”

The show was part of a rotating anthology series called Four in One. This 1970–1971 television series rotated four separate shows, including McCloud, SFX (San Francisco International Airport) and The Psychiatrist. Only McCloud and Night Gallery were renewed and became full series for the 1971-1972 season.

One of the other reasons why this show isn’t held in higher esteem is because so many people never saw it in its original form. In order to increase the number of episodes that were available for syndication, the 60-minute episodes were re-edited for a 30-minute time slot, with many segments severely cut and changed, along with extended new scenes using cut or stock footage. Then, in an even greater indignity, twenty-five episodes of the Gary Collins-starring series The Sixth Sense were added to the syndicated version with Serling filming newly filmed introductions. That show was also an hour originally, so that means that they were also edited into oblivion.

Premiering on NBC on November 8, 1969, Night Gallery began with three stories and aired as a TV movie. “Eyes” and “The Escape Route” are based upon novellas Rod Serling wrote for the book The Season to Be Wary in 1967.

Serling starts the series by stating “Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collector’s item in its own way—not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare. Our initial offering: a small gothic item in blacks and grays, a piece of the past known as the family crypt. This one we call, simply, “The Cemetery.” Offered to you now, six feet of earth and all that it contains. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Night Gallery…”

Directed by Boris Sagal (who died when he literally walked the wrong way into a helicopter blade while filming the TV miniseries World War III), “The Cemetery” was written by Serling. It stars Roddy McDowell as Jeremy Evans as a man who murders his uncle to inherit his money and also gains the services of that man’s loyal — and now enraged — butler Osmond Portifoy (Ossie Davis). The effective terror within this episode is achieved with a painting of the family grave that keeps changing, along with great cinematography, editing and sound design that tells us that something undead — maybe — is coming for Jeremy.  His last words, “What in God’s name is happening?”, are actually voiced by John Badham in an overdub.

“Eyes” starts with this narration: “Objet d’art number two: a portrait. Its subject, Miss Claudia Menlo, a blind queen who reigns in a carpeted penthouse on Fifth Avenue—an imperious, predatory dowager who will soon find a darkness blacker than blindness. This is her story…”

This was the directorial debut of 22-year-old Steven Spielberg, as well as one of the last acting performances by screen legend Joan Crawford. When she discovered that the young Spielberg would be directing her, Crawford called Sid Sheinberg, vice president of production for Universal Television, to demand that he be replaced but he talked her into taking a chance on him.

Despite her early reservations, the director and star got along well and stayed in touch until her death in 1977.  In fact, before filming, she gave a speech to the crew informing them that she had worked with Spielberg previously and asked them to treat him with the same respect they would garner for an older and more seasoned, director.

Crawford would later say that she loved Rod Serling and his writing, yet remembered that “…his dialogue was the hardest to memorize. There’s a rhythm to his words and if you change one of them, the rhythm is off and you can’t remember.”

She plays Claudia Menlo, a rich woman who has received the eyes of a gambler through loan sharks and has blackmailed Dr. Frank Heatherton (Barry Sullivan) into a surgery that will give her sight for just one day. Surrounded by all of her favorite possessions, she doesn’t realize that a blackout is about to come for New York City.

Finally, “The Escape Route,” directed by Barry Shear, begins with this speech: “And now, the final painting. The last of our exhibit has to do with one Joseph Strobe, a Nazi war criminal hiding in South America—a monster who wanted to be a fisherman. This is his story…”

Richard Kiley is Joseph Strobe, a former German soldier on the run after World War II. He makes his way to a museum much like the night gallery that Serling occupies for the series. He speaks to a concentration camp survivor named Bleum (Sam Jaffe) and soon realizes that he was once in charge of the life and death of Bleum’s friends and family. Strobe finds peace in the museum, pulling himself into a dream of fishing through one of the paintings. The next day, Bleum recognizes Strobe, who kills him and must run again from authorities, finally coming back to the gallery and seeking the fisherman painting only to find his horrible final judgment within a painting of a crucified man.

In case you haven’t picked it up yet, I love this show. Between its strange electronic theme — which is different in the original pilot — and the fact that there’s a painting for each story, this has a look and feel unlike any series. Well, except for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiousities, which is directly influenced by this show.

If you love Night Gallery, without reservation I recommend Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson.

Skelton and Benson also created The Art of Darkness, which collects and speaks on all of the paintings used for the show. Sadly, both books are now out of print and quite expensive.

You can get the best quality version of this series from Kino Lorber, who have blu ray sets available of season 1, season 2 and season 3. I still have the gigantic DVD sets that came out for the show and these are a marked improvement on this already awesome collections.

I’m looking forward to writing about each episode in season one. What’s your favorite episode?