ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: The Curse (A Praga) (1967, 2022)

Coffin Joe may be dead and yet he lives. How else do we have a new film that he hosts? Yes, through the fire and the flames, he comes back to us, warning us about making a joke of the unknown world. Perhaps he would also do well to warn us that if you see a witch in the countryside, there’s really no reason to take her photo.

José Mojica Marins, the human repository for the evil being known as Coffin Joe, originally filmed The Curse for his Brazilian TV show in 1967, but it was lost when a fire burned down the station two years later. In 1980, he started a second version, but production was halted due to financial issues. The existing footage went missing until 2007 when producer Eugenio Puppo rediscovered it while preparing a retrospective of the work of Marins.

Years of intensive restoration later — including shooting new scenes and recovering the lost dialogue with the assistance of a lip-reader — The Curse is making its U.S. debut along with a making of documentary The Last Curse of Mojica.

Based on a story in the graphic novel series O Estranho Mundo de Zé do Caixão, this near-hour-long story has Juvenal (Felipe Von Rhine) and his girlfriend Mariana (Silvia Gless) meeting that witch we discussed above (Wanda Kosmo) and deciding that it’s not only a good idea to take that photo but also to be rude to her. He’s soon left with a gaping and festering wound in his side that demands raw meat at all times or it will destroy him. Of course, his lover would make the perfect meal to stop that insatiable hunger, right?

How magical is it that we can find this film as part of our lives? All hail Coffin Joe. You shall never die.

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: Cryptid (2022)

A mysterious animal is destroying the people of a small town in Maine, yet the officials seem to quickly write it off as a bear attack. Freelance journalist Max Frome (Nicholas Baroudi) suspects it might be something more. This could be his ticket back to the big time and big city — instead of writing about high school sports — or it could be the last story he ever writes.

Director and writer Brad Rego does it right: rainy and foggy darkness, small town mystery, a cop named Sheriff Murdoch (Chopper Bernet) who seems to be on Max’s side, Max’s photojournalist coworker Harriet (Ellen Adair) who comes into the heart of cryptid darkness and — most importantly —  practical effects and knowing how to showcase the monster for maximum effectiveness.

Also: any movie that has a lizard man that walks on two legs and eats humans — and animals — before hibernating instead of going with something easy like Bigfoot wins my heart. It’s a little talky in places and could be trimmed somewhat, but for a low budget shot in Massachutesettes horror movie, it’s pretty darn good.

These guys are going for a 70s or 80s monster movie and that makes me super happy.

Learn more at the official site.

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 Creeping (2022)

Due to a traumatic childhood experience — look, I feel like I say this every time in the way of giving advice to horror movie characters and I feel like a broken record, but please please please never ever forever go back home again and set things straight — Anna (Riann Steele) hasn’t been back home in years. She makes the next cardinal modern horror mistake: she takes care of her dementia-suffering grandmother Lucy (Jane Lowe) — The Taking of Deborah Logan has been such a big influence in the near-decade since it was released — but soon realizes that a dark family secret remains and that only her murky childhood memories may hold the key to surviving.

The first full-length movie from director Jamie Hooper after a series of shorts, this movie was written by first-time screenwriter Helen Miles. Even from the start of the story, the old English cottage is quite a foreboding place, as we see a young Anna go from being read a ghost story by her father to being chased under the covers by something she can’t see but has it to be real.

Unlike so many modern ghost stories that descend into herky jerky motions and dark whispered dialogue alternating with strobing light to show us hauntings, The Creeping settles for what has always worked, appearing closer to a traditional and classic ghost story than what we’ve had to take in modern films. It’s quite welcome.

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: Bundy Manor (2022)

The Penrod family moves to a small town where they soon find an extreme haunted house run by a charming retired surgeon. Sure, things seem great at first, but then they learn that he’s the kind of person that just keeps pushing things down a darker and more evil path.

Directed and written by Alexander Boyd Watson, I wanted to write this off originally as Jorgenson’s followers wear masks that look right out of The Purge while there are also found footage-style moments and asides of other torture moments throughout the town, but I stuck with it and was rewarded. I loved the end of this which keeps twisting and turning and changing and becoming darker and more sinister with each passing second.

There have been quite a few “extreme haunt” films in the last few years, such as The Houses October BuiltHaunt and Hell Fest yet Bundy Manor earns its place at the head of them through its devotion to telling an emotional and personal story about how difficult keeping a family — even one of devoted followers — together can be.

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: Brightwood (2022)

Dan (Max Woertendyke) and Jen (Dana Berger) are in the type of relationship where you start to wonder what it would be like without the other person. He’s embarrassed her yet again and as she runs to clear her head, he tries to follow her. The only problem? It feels like they keep going around again and again, around the same path, going through the same motions, the paranormal version of what it’s like to be with each other.

They’re not alone, as the trail around the pond has others who are trapped and doomed to wander in circles as well. Can they escape?

Based on director and writer Dane Elcar’s short film The Pond, this is a dark story that progressively gets grimmer. Some couples are like that, endlessly going through the motion, one trying to stay ahead of the other, both realizing that they are trapped.

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.

Alien Danger 2! With Raven Van Slender (2021)

Much like Alien Danger! With Raven Van Slender, this was directed by James Balsamo, who co-wrote it with Bill Victor Arucan and Sephdok Ramone. All three of these men appear in multiple roles in this film, along with cameos from Beefcake the Mighty from Gwar, Rob Halford, Doug Bradley voicing the nefarious General Legs, Sgt. Slaughter, Barry Darsow (Smash from Demolition), The Barbarian, The Warlord, John Landis, Lanny Poffo and Vernon Wells as The Shadow Knight.

This movie has everything from Sherwood Forest to an Egyptian Martian mummy, an intergalactic Ouija board and some of the worst puns you’ve heard since grade school and I say that with complete affection. Imagine if Star Trek had a worse budget and used extensive green screen but Guardians of the Galaxy came before it and you’ll have an idea of what this is all about. That said, I’m not sure if you can even quantify just how much fun it is to watch.

You can buy this directly from the filmmakers at this site.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Alien Danger! With Raven Van Slender (2021)

Directed by James Balsamo — who has directed over fifty movies and also co-wrote this with Sephdok Ramone and Bill Victor Arucan, who plays the hero Raven Can Slender and the villain Overlord Eni, Alien Danger! is a wild ride. It feels like a slightly naughty science fiction comedy yet it also has the feel of a show for kids, which is a strange and pretty fun cocktail.

The cast for this is wild. Tuesday Knight (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master), Tommy Chong, Rob Halford, Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Jos Estevez…it’s like going to a convention without leaving your La-Z-Boy.

There’s also tons of facepaint and plenty of muppets. So yeah, the budget is way low, but the joy is way way high. I had a blast watching this and if I was a kid, I’d be drawing these characters in my notebook the entire next month of school instead of paying attention.

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.

THANKSGIVING TERROR: Kristy (2014)

Justine (Haley Bennett) is going to college on a scholarship and can’t afford to fly home for the Thanksgiving break. Instead, she’s all alone, as even her boyfriend Aaron (Lucas Till) and roommate Nicole (Erica Ash) have both gone home. Of course, she’ll be safe, because the security team — Wayne (Matthew St. Patrick), Dave (Al Vicente) and Scott (James Ransone) are there. That night, she meets the pierced and hooded Violet (Ashley Greene, leaving behind Twilight to be a really intense villain) in a convenience store, a strange woman who keeps calling her Kristy. It’s unsettling, but things grow worse once that same face shows up on her laptop, along with snuff footage of her leading a group of masked killers as they obliterate young women. Now, she is their target, a woman who they see as a pure, beautiful and privileged follower of God.

Directed by Oliver Blackburn and written by Anthony Jaswinski, this was originally called Satanic and Random. The title doesn’t matter. What does is that this is that rarest of film: a slasher that actually is good after the 1980s. Unlike so many modern slashers that don’t have the stalking moments that are packed with tension, this film has Justine on the run for the entire running time. Like The Strangers with anti-religious zealots trying to destroy young women — and succeeding across our nation — this works way better than it should, blasting out under ninety minutes of taut suspense along with a heroine who by the end of the film has gone from final girl to capable killing machine who is totally fine with leading aluminum foil-masked maniacs to their doom while still shedding tears for what they’ve made her do.

Also — a Red Room Dark Web movie!

It also really feels like this wasn’t a throwaway film for the filmmakers who just wanted to make something that was elevated from horror. They also find some ways to make it weird, with strange camera angles, odd speeds of the film, off-sound design and just plain smart moments where we hear instead of see things happen. Yet it’s not ashamed to be a big dumb slasher and give you moments to just yell at the screen. Wow. I’m an evangelist for this one. Watch it!

You can check Kristy out on Tubi.

THANKSGIVING TERROR: Blood Harvest (1987)

Herbert Buckingham Khaury was better known as Tiny Tim. To most of the general public, he’s been forgotten. But at one point, he was the hottest celebrity in the country.

He started his stage career under a series of names like Texarkana Tex, Judas K. Foxglove, Vernon Castle and Emmett Swink, growing out his hair and wearing pale face paint. His mother thought he was insane and nearly committed him Bellevue Hospital.

He persevered, becoming Larry Love, the Singing Canary at the also now forgotten Hubert’s Museum and Live Flea Circus in New York City’s Times Square. He was soon playing six nights a week throughout Greenwich Village as Darry Dover and finally settled on the stage name Sir Timothy Timms.

After an appearance in Jack Smith’s Normal Love and on the ultra hip show Laugh-In (by his third appearance he would arrive and depart surrounded by a procession of hangers-on), Tim began making appearances on The Tonight Show. On December 17, 1969, he married his first wife Miss Vicki on a set decorated with 10,000 tulips from Holland, with 40 million people as guests watching on television. This event was second to only the moon landing when it comes to TV ratings in the 1960’s.

So what was it that made the public fall in love with a strange man who sang old standards with a high falsetto while playing a ukelele? Maybe he just hit the pop conscious at the right time, seemingly aware and unaware of the joke.

The only movie that Tiny Tim ever starred in was 1987’s Blood Harvest. To say that this is an incredibly odd film should surprise no one.

Jill Robinson, returns to her peaceful hometown to discover her childhood home defaced, her parents missing and every single person hating her father, whose bank has foreclosed on all of their farms. Only one man — Marvelous Mervo the Clown (yes, Tiny Tim) — is happy to see her. Almost too happy.

Why is Mervo a clown all the time? Why does his clown suit have a plaid dress shirt as part of it? Why do people allow this to happen?

Mervo’s brother tries to win back Jennifer as everyone around her is killed in the barn, turned upside down and allowed to bleed out like animals. Who is the man with the stocking on his head, killing everyone? I mean, this movie starts out with a silly clown and ends up as brutal and demented as any giallo, including a scene where someone who we believe could be the hero gets fully naked and just stares at the final girl while she sleeps. There’s also way more nudity than you’d expect. And this is a slasher. So you expect plenty.

Unlike most slashers, this movie feels like real maniacs made it. It feels you’re a voyeur even watching it. And having Tiny Tim comment on the action by having scenes where he tearfully sings songs that seem to comment on the action only push this further into true art. Why is this movie not more celebrated? Where is the high end blu ray re-release?

Keep in mind that this isn’t post-modern goofiness or Troma look how silly this all is strangeness. This movie is the kind of strange that makes you wonder if people were really murdered as it was created. That’s high praise.

How did Tiny Tim get into this? Well, at a personal appearance at a beer carnival in Lincoln County, Wisconsin, he met local filmmaker Bill Rebane. Rebane had an idea for a film, wanted to know if Tim wanted to be in it and that’s how this got made.

Rebane was also responsible for films like Monster a Go-GoThe Giant Spider InvasionThe Alpha Incident and Demons of Ludlow. All of those films are strange and worth exploring, but they can’t hold a candle to the pure bonkers nature of this one.

Sadly, Tiny Tim would have a heart attack on stage while performing his most famous song, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” Today, people know it as the scary song from Insidious. But once, it meant so much more.

THANKSGIVING TERROR: Son of Kong (1933)

Released nine months after the original — perfect timing for the son of King Kong to spend in the womb, when you think about it — this sequel ran every Thanksgiving on WOR and by the end, I was emotionally devastated. I still have difficulty watching it in my late 40’s and have no idea how young Sam made it out of repeated watches of this without permanently drying his tear ducts.

Scriptwriter Ruth Rose — who Ann Darrow was based on — made no attempt to make a serious film because she felt that there was no way that a sequel could be better than the first movie. She said, “If you can’t make it bigger, make it funnier.”

She has a funny sense of humor.

This film had a tight budget and an even tighter shooting schedule, which meant that the original ending — in which audiences would have seen a dinosaur stampede during the weather-related chaos that sinks Skull Island. Instead, they were left with the emotionally crippled conclusion.

It’s director by Ernest B. Schoedsack, who also made Mighty Joe YoungThe Monkey’s PawDr. CyclopsThe Most Dangerous Game and was the uncredited director for the actors on the first film, with Marian C. Cooper taking the credit.

No, I am not overstating the hyperbole.

A month after Kong destroyed New York City, filmmaker Carl Denham and Captain Englehorn leave behind the lawsuits and prosecution waiting for them by going to the Dutch port of Dakang, where Denham again falls for a lady, this time a singer named Hilda Petersen.

Of course, he’s also willing to buy a map to Skull Island from the man who kills her father in a drunken argument over monkeys, so there’s that.

Things don’t get any better on the ship — a mutiny forces everyone in the main cast into a lifeboat — or on the Island, where the natives blame Denham for everything that’s gone wrong since he left, including the destruction of their village and the many prehistoric animals that now run free in the absence of Kong.

By the end, a flood takes over the island and despite Denham being more on the bad side of the equation, the young Kong saves him again and again, eventually ending the movie by sacrificing his life to ensure that the humans make it. Damn dirty humans.

This didn’t do anywhere near as great at the box office as the original, so RKO stayed away from apes until 1949’s Mighty Joe Young, another WOR turkey day regular.

There’s an even worse tragedy than the end of this movie and it’s a real-life one. During the making of Son of Kong, Kong animator Willis O’Brien lived through his wife killing their two sons and their committing suicide. He finished the film, but refused to ever discuss it, even with his student Ray Harryhausen. The memories were just too painful to relive and one wonders of the poignant end of this film was the true result of O’Brien trying to process such a horrific life event.