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Knock at the Cabin, Shivers, Cub, Friday the 13th The Final Chapter, Night of the Living Dead, and The Velvet Vampire
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 219
We’ll hear a “Knock at the Cabin” and then have some “Shivers.” We’ll camp out with the “Cub” on “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.” As a bonus this week over at horrorbulletin.com, we’ll look at two more oldies:
• The original “Night of the Living Dead” (1968)
• and “The Velvet Vampire” (1971)
We’ve got two announcements this week pertaining to our books:
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1. NEW! “The Horror Guys Guide to the Films of Peter Cushing” is available now at all the usual places, including our web store: https://brianschell.com/b/cushing. This is one of our biggest books yet, looking at all fifty of Cushing’s horror films and eight of his other influential movies.
2. FREE! ”The Horror Guys Guide To The Halloween Films” is available now, exclusively at our web store, https://brianschell.com/b/halloween. The eBook version is completely free. Enjoy! Note that it’s also available as a paperback, but that one’s obviously not free. Also note, that there are a couple of other free books on the site as well!
Check out all our books!
The Horror Guys Guide to:
Here. We. Go!
Knock at the Cabin (2023)
• Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
• Written by Paul Tremblay, M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond
• Stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s pretty easy to guess what’s happening early on, but that doesn’t lessen it. It’s an interesting story and situation. The acting is great, and the character reactions are believable. All in all, we really enjoyed it.
Little girl Wen catches some bugs in a jar. She names them and writes stuff about them in her book. She sees a large man walking toward her through the woods. He politely introduces himself as Leonard. He offers to help her catch grasshoppers. She mentions that she has two dads, Eric and Andrew. Something is off, and Leonard keeps looking in the direction that he came from. He says his heart is breaking over what he must do today…
Others are coming. “The four of us have a very important job to do. In fact, it might be the most important job in the history of the world.” Leonard tells Wen that she and her dads will soon have to make tough decisions.
Wen goes inside and warns Eric and Andrew, but they don’t take her seriously. Leonard knocks and asks them to open the door. Wen’s clearly upset, so they don’t let him in. He, along with Sabrina, Adriana, and Redmond would like to come in and talk. They try to call the police, but there’s no dial tone. “We need to talk. We don’t have a choice.”
Eric and Andrew barricade the doors and lock the windows, but from the look of the place, that won’t slow people down for long. Eric gets knocked out as the group makes their way inside. It soon becomes obvious that the four intruders have control of the situation. But they also seem reluctant about the violence.
We flashback to Eric and Andrew having dinner with Andrew’s parents. They are not supportive of the couple.
Eric and Andrew are now tied up, and Sabrina patches up Eric’s head wound. Leonard tries to explain, but the whole home invasion thing makes him a little hard to believe. He says they had no choice, and the attack has nothing to do with them being a same-sex couple.
Sabrina explains that she’s a nurse who lives in California. She spent most of her life savings on this trip to talk to them. Leonard is a second-grade teacher from Chicago. Redmond works for a gas company in Massachusetts. Adriane is a cook at a Mexican restaurant, and she has two cats.
Leonard tells them, “The four of us are here to prevent the apocalypse. We can stop it with your help. Whether the world ends or not is entirely up to you three. Your family must decide to sacrifice one of the three of you to avert the apocalypse. If you fail to choose or follow through with the sacrifice, the world will end. You haven’t done anything wrong; you’re just the family chosen to decide for us at this time.”
The four have all had very specific visions which led them to each other and to this cabin. They don’t know why. Andrew says he sounds like every apocalyptic doomsayer there ever was.
Redmond gets on his knees and puts a mask over his head. The other three kill him in front of their prisoners. We flashback to Eric and Andrew in China, when they came to adopt Wen. In the present the three kidnappers react badly to killing Redmond.
Leonard turns on the TV, and they’re talking about a huge earthquake and a tsunami warning. He says that Redmond’s death will release a plague of destruction. Except they report no deaths or injuries. Suddenly, there’s a second massive catastrophic earthquake that has caused a massive tsunami washing into parts of the Western United States. The three intruders say they all saw this in their vision. Yeah, it’s a BBIIGG one.
Leonard tells them that they will have to choose tomorrow morning, or there’ll be another huge disaster. Andrew says that everyone in the world can die for all he cares, but Eric, who’s got a mild concussion, seems more certain.
Sabrina talks to Eric about her visions; she hasn’t been to church in decades, so it’s not a religious thing. At some point, Wen runs off into the woods and hides from Leonard, but he soon finds her. Andrew remembers that Redmond “is that man from the bar.” Andrew mentioned that he served some time, and Andrew says it’s because of gay bashing. Leonard and Adriane say that none of that matters.
Andrew says the three are having a group delusion that has been made worse by posting on a message board. Morning comes, and Leonard says it’s time to choose. Adriane says they’re her last hope because she’s next. She begs them to make it stop. Andrew is still hostile, but Eric wants to know what they saw. She gets down on her knees and puts on a mask. She’s soon killed just like Redmond was.
“We’ve unleashed a second plague. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to die. Turn on the news.” They get a report of a new virus that attacks children explicitly. It’s a brand-new deadly flu. Andrew says the news reports were pre-programmed and that Leonard and Sabrina knew these things were going to happen.
The guys have been working on their ropes. When Wen makes a distraction, Andrew runs outside for his gun in the car. Sabrina starts to break in the window as he tries to open the gun safe. He runs her off into the woods, but she comes back to the cabin, where he shoots her.
Leonard asks them one more time if they’re willing to make a sacrifice, and when they refuse, he hacks up Sabina. Andrew goes outside to find Redmond’s wallet; he definitely is the guy who broke beer bottles over his head years ago. He comes back inside and locks Leonard in the bathroom. Leonard tricks them into letting him out.
Eric turns on the TV, and they watch all the airplanes fall from the sky, just as Leonard predicted yesterday. Andrew is still in denial; he thinks its terrorists. Leonard quotes the newscaster before she even says it.
Andrew wants to get in the intruder’s car and leave; Eric believes it all now. Deep down, Andrew believes it too. Leonard insists that they all go outside for his own death. “When I’m gone, you’ll only have minutes to stop everything,” he says. “The worst thing about the visions was the screaming. I knew the screaming would just go on and on.” He once again begs them to make a choice and save the world. Then he cuts his own throat.
The sky turns dark, and thunder begins. Lightning starts blasting in the woods outside. Eric says they only have a few minutes and knows he saw something when Redmond died. “Maybe this is how it’s always been. Maybe families have always been making decisions like this.” Eric says those were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Eric hands Andrew the gun and begs him to kill him. He believes it all now. He talks about seeing Andrew and Wen in the future, and then the gun goes off.
Andrew finds Wen in the treehouse, and she asks if he saved everyone. Outside, the cabin burns to the ground. They walk down the road to Leonard’s truck and get inside. “Did we stop it in time?” Wen asks.
They stop at a diner and watch the TV in there. Suddenly, the floods have receded, the plague deaths have stopped, the planes stopped falling, and the sudden lightning strikes have ceased as well. When they get back in the car, he finds the four intruders' ID cards and belongings; they were all who they claimed to be.
Yes, they did save the world.
Can you imagine having Dave Bautista as your second-grade teacher? That’d be terrifying!
We immediately figured out the Four Horsemen connection as the four introduced themselves. It’s an interesting story and situation, but it’s also somewhat similar to other “Revelations” kinds of stories.
It’s a weird movie with great characters. Leonard is calm and sensible throughout, even though his story is insane. The acting here is good throughout, and everyone acts believably considering what’s going on.
And the best part is, it’s an M. Night Shyamalan film that DOESN’T have a twist ending.
It’s actually very good.
• Directed by David Cronenberg
• Written by David Cronenberg
• Stars Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 27 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s strange and combines the erotic with horror. Some of the effects are dated looking, but overall, it was entertaining and still worth the watch.
We begin with a commercial for Starliner Apartments, a new high-rise development near Montreal. They have a golf course and pool; every apartment has cable TV on this little island paradise.
A young couple, the Svibens, comes to see an apartment while an older man beats up a young girl upstairs. The old man chokes the girl and then takes her clothes off. He cuts her open with a knife and pours in some acid. Then he cuts his own throat and dies.
Elsewhere, Nick Tudor has weird pains in his belly. Nick tells his wife that he’s going to work but instead goes to the top floor of the building, where he opens the door to Annabelle’s place. He finds the dead bodies of the girl and the old man inside. Then Nick goes to work.
Dr. Roger St. Luc, the building’s doctor, is called to the penthouse by the police to look at the bodies. Roger says he’s the one who found the bodies. The dead man, Dr. Hobbes, was one of Roger’s instructors at medical school, and he called Roger this morning to go to lunch.
Roger goes to see Dr. Hobbes’s partner, Rollo Linsky, who says they are working on a new kind of organ transplant using a “useful parasite” that can take over a human organ's function. Rollo asks Roger to join him on the project.
Nick’s secretary finds him in his office drooling blood; There’s clearly something seriously wrong with him, but he says he’s fine. He’ll just go home. Nick’s wife Janine worries about Nick’s pains, and her friend Betts advises her to go see Dr. Roger St. Luc downstairs. Nick comes home from work early, has a seizure on the floor, and pukes in the bathtub. He next goes outside onto the balcony and pukes blood on some old people below. Luckily, she had an umbrella.
A woman enters the basement laundry room, and there’s blood coming out of one of the ventilation shafts. When she opens one of the washing machines, something jumps out and kills her. It looks like a tongue. That wasn’t blood; it was some kind of trail.
An old man comes to see Roger as a patient and has strange belly pains too. He has a connection to the young woman who was murdered earlier.
Janine comes home from Betts’s place and finds Nick passed out by the refrigerator. There’s one of those bloody trails there too. He refuses to go to the doctor, and she cries. Nick says “Come on, boy! Come on, fella,” and a lump in his belly starts to move around. He talks to it. “Atta boy!”
Rollo calls Roger. He was reading Hobbes’s notes. Hobbes came up with a parasite that was a combination of aphrodisiac and venereal disease to turn the world into one big orgy. Annabelle was used as a Guinea pig, and she went berserk. He put the acid in her to burn up the special organs. Roger says that Hobbes was too late; Annabelle was really popular with some of the men in the building.
Betts decides to take a bath. The little penis-shaped parasite comes up out of the drain and crawls inside her with much screaming. Elsewhere, an old woman knocks down and drags a caterer into her apartment, “I’m hungry—hungry for LOVE!”
Roger talks to Nurse Forsythe, his girlfriend/assistant. She goes home and starts cooking dinner. There’s a knock at the door, and a man barges in and starts to rape her. She stabs him with a cooking fork. She catches Roger in the hallway, and he enters the apartment, looking for the man. He finds the bloody fork on the floor and takes a blood sample.
Things start getting out of control throughout the apartment building as parasites and infected horny people start roaming the hallways. Nick wants to make love with Janine, but she’s freaked out by his lumpy belly. One of the parasites crawls out of his mouth. She runs downstairs to Betts’s place, and Betts wants to make love to her—which goes badly for her.
Someone cuts the phone lines for the entire building. Roger tells the apartment manager to call the police, but the manager is already under the control of the parasites. Sex-crazed zombie people are now swarming the halls and breaking into peoples’ apartments.
Roger and his girlfriend try to leave the apartment but are attacked by a man who destroys their car. He thinks the police are on the way, so they just find a place to hide and wait. It doesn’t take long before he notices that she’s been infected. He knocks her out and ties a bandana over her mouth to keep the worm inside.
Meanwhile, Rollo comes to the building with some documents and looks for Roger. He’s surprised to find Roger’s office all torn up and ransacked. There’s no one around but Nick, who looks dead. Nick’s parasites attack Rollo, who pulls them off his face with a pipe wrench.
Roger runs from one group of infected people to another, encountering murder and mayhem all along the way. He eventually arrives in the big room with the pool and finds Betts and Janine in there. He goes outside finally and finds dozens of people who are already infected—it’s not just inside the building!
Roger runs back inside and is pulled into the pool as a hundred or so sex zombies break in. He’s eventually infected as dozens of people swarm around him.
Later, we see a whole caravan of cars driving out of the garage as all the residents disperse to infect other people in other places…
Dr. Hobbes thought “a combination of aphrodisiac and venereal disease to turn the world into one big orgy” was a great idea. Maybe not so much.
This was David Cronenberg's first feature film. It became the most profitable Canadian film ever made at the time. It was also so controversial that Canada's Parliament debated its social and artistic value and effect upon society. Did the government really want to finance this trash? It set off a whole debate over censorship issues.
It’s a bizarre film, very dated in the special effects, but it’s still a lot of fun.
Short Film: Stuck (2023)
• Directed by Arturo David Roncone
• Written by Arturo David Roncone
• Stars Ianua Coeli Linhart, Emanuele Di Simone
• Run Time: 8:37
Sophia is moving into her cool new place. Adele texts her and asks to be picked up, but the bus should be there any minute. Sophia responds that she’s stuck in the house for now. They both have doubts about the creepy old house, but it’s the best they can afford.
As she waits, Sophia finds a very large, locked trunk. The only thing is it’s got a great big chain sealing it shut. Naturally, she looks for a way to open it…
Sophia makes every mistake possible— has she never seen a horror movie before?
This has excellent lighting and music. The creature effects are way beyond most short films and would look right at home in a feature film.
• AKA “Welp”
• Directed by Jonas Govaerts
• Written by Roel Mondelaers, Jonas Govaerts
• Stars Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 24 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Without knowing anything about it ahead of time, this one is unexpected. It’s strange and interesting and very entertaining. Don’t be put off by having to read subtitles. It’s worth it.
A girl runs through the forest, since this is a horror movie, she falls down. Then a werewolf approaches and growls at her. She runs for the bright lights that look like cars on a roadway, but that’s no road…. Credits roll.
The Cub Scout meeting is about to start, and the two leaders start a countdown. Sam is late again, so he must do fifty pushups. He makes it to twelve before they make him stop. Kris, the leader, says he’s not sure if they will be able to go camping as planned since a boy is turning into a werewolf in that area. Some campers have gone missing. They can only go camping at their own risk. Should they go? The kids all yell, ”Yes!”
They all hop in the truck and head to the campsite. They almost run over a girl in the road; It’s Jasmine, their camp cook. They arrive at the campsite to find skinheads on a buggy there. There’s soon a fistfight between the scout leaders, Kris and Peter, and the two goons, Marc and Vincent. The scout truck moves on to find another place, and the goons yell after them not to go that way!
They drive across a river, and they drive over some kind of alarm that goes off in a bunker. (What?) They find a spot that looks promising and decide to just stay where they are.
The policeman on the tiny little moped tells Marc and Vincent to behave, and then he drives over a booby-trap sensor as well that dumps a load of logs behind him, blocking the road. The policeman warns Kris that when the old factory went broke, a lot of the unemployed workers hung themselves from these trees, but they’re welcome to camp there if they want to. Also, some of the locals are still salty about the plant shutting down, so avoid them too.
Sam gets to dig the latrine, and he sees Kai the wolf boy in the woods. Peter says, “I told you we should have left Sam at home.” The policeman finds the logs in the road and takes a detour down a different path. He finds several abandoned cars parked down the path, but he doesn’t see the man standing behind him…
It gets dark, and all the campers go to their tents. The adults talk about Sam after the kids are in bed. Peter calls him a nutjob, and Jasmine doesn’t understand why. At some point in the night, Kai comes into the big tent and looks at all the kids. He steals Sam’s knife.
In the morning, the leaders yell about someone messing with their stuff last night; one of the boys left the tent last night. Things have gone missing, including Jasmine’s bracelet, a flashlight, a Playboy magazine, and the dog’s food. Sam thinks Kai did it, but he doesn’t say anything this time.
Sam found what he thought was Kai’s lair yesterday, but today he climbs up to see what’s there. He finds the missing stuff there. We soon see that Peter really doesn’t like Sam to the point of being abusive.
Marc and Vincent run out of gas in their buggy, and Marc takes a gas can into the woods. He spots the policeman’s moped on the ground, and Kai jumps out and steals his keys. He finds the keys and picks them up, setting off a Rube Goldberg trap involving a bow and arrow and a beehive.
Sam steals a can of food and takes it to Kai’s place, but he finds the boy this time. He’s just a feral-looking boy in a mask, not a werewolf.
Elsewhere, in the bunker or whatever it is we find a man dragging Marc’s body inside. He drops it down into a deep well.
Back at camp, the kids all chase after Kris, who is dressed in a werewolf costume. They all chase him through the woods in the dark. When Kris catches a kid, they must return to the starting point. Sam is caught early. He spots Peter and Jasmine having sex, and that causes some trouble when Peter’s dog bites Sam. Kai sees all this as he growls in the dark.
Kai captures the dog that night. He then wakes up Sam to come help kill it, which he does. Peter runs up just after the dog is killed, but he only sees Sam there. He attacks Sam, but Kris shows up just in time to stop him. Jasmine confesses what Sam caught them doing and that the dog bit Sam.
Peter tells Jasmine about Sam’s history. He was a foster child with a traumatic and violent past. He thinks violent kids like Sam belong in a madhouse, not in the Cub Scouts. Sam insists it was Kai who killed the dog, but Kris doesn’t believe him.
Sam runs off into the woods, and Kris follows. Kris soon finds Kai’s treehouse and climbs up there. He, too, finds all the stolen stuff, including the dead policeman’s phone. Jasmine hears a baby crying in the woods and follows the sound to another tent. It’s not a baby, it’s another trap!
Sam finds the abandoned cars where we last saw the policeman and finds a secret tunnel inside the trunk of one. He climbs down there, and we see that it’s the bunker we saw earlier. It’s got electricity and everything. As the trap goes off for Jasmine, an alarm goes off in the bunker, and Sam sees the man and Kai come out. He then finds a whole train car full of dead people.
The man chases Sam until he’s interrupted by Kris, who doesn’t survive the experience. Elsewhere, Kai cuts down Jasmine.
Peter beats up Sam badly when he returns to camp. The man also comes to camp and steals their truck. He runs right over the tent full of bullies. Some of the kids puncture the truck’s gas tank and set it afire; the truck explodes and kills the man.
Peter runs through the woods and sets off yet another trap, crushing both his legs. He hears Sam running through the woods and calls him for help. “Help me, you freak!” That only sets off the second trap, which finishes the job.
Kai has taken Jasmine to the bunker. She’s tied up, but Sam hears her screaming. Sam and Kai fight over a knife, but Kai gets thrown into the well far below.
Sam cuts down Jasmine, and they leave the bunker—except the now-badly burned man from the truck is there waiting for them. Whack!
When Sam wakes up, the man unties him and hands the knife to him. The man wants Sam to kill Jasmine. She wakes up and kicks him into the well! Kai’s still alive down there, and the two fight. The man watches them fighting as Jasmine works on her ropes. One of the boys dies down there.
Kai climbs up, and the man tells him to chase down Jasmine, who just escapes. She trips a trap wire and sees lights ahead—it’s a busy road! She’s the fleeing girl we saw at the beginning of the movie. She runs to the road and finds it’s a decoy as the man gets her from behind and impales her.
The man hands the knife to Kai who advances on Jasmine. She tears his mask off and sees that it’s Sam wearing Kai’s mask. He stabs her to death. He’s the new wolf-boy now. The man and the boy walk through the woods as the sun comes up.
Sam could have taken the adults to Kai’s treehouse at any time to stay out of trouble, but he didn’t.
What started out about a feral kid in the woods sure went off the rails quickly. It’s got a surprisingly high body count, and the ending is a little vague. But it’s unpredictable, interesting, and really cool!
Friday the 13th The Final Chapter (1984)
• Directed by Joseph Zito
• Written by Victor Miller, Ron Kurz, Martin Kitrosser
• Stars Erich Anderson, Judie Aronson, Peter Barton
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Spoiler: this wasn’t really the final chapter. The budget was bigger, and the popularity was growing. This is another continuation right after the events of the first three films, and Jason does more of his thing to a number of hapless victims. There are lots of stunts and action and all-around entertainment.
We get a clip of the counselors in the previous film telling the story of Mrs. Vorhees, Jason, Alice, and everything else we’ve seen so far. Credits roll, this time showing us the hockey mask.
Ambulances cart away the bodies of the previous film as we start where part 3 ended. The police find Jason’s body, still in the hockey mask, and they put a sheet over his corpse. The paramedics don’t like dealing with Jason, but he’s dead, so whatever. They load him into the back of an ambulance and drive off. They hand him over to Axel, the morgue attendant at the hospital. The attendant and the nurse start to get it on in the body storage room, but even dead, Jason can break that up. Axel eventually rolls Jason into the cold storage drawer.
Oh wait, surprise, Jason’s not dead! But Axel and the nurse soon are.
Tommy and his sister Trish talk about the new neighbors; six young people are moving in. We cut to a car with six 1980’s teen stereotypes. They get lost and park right in front of the grave of Pamela Voorhees. A nearby hitchhiker is murdered moments later. Samantha and Sara talk about how many boys they’ve had sex with. Tommy watches Samantha get undressed from his bedroom window.
The young people run into a set of twins, Tina, and Teri, and they’re all going to Crystal Lake for the afternoon. Sara decides to head home on her own but backs into a jump scare instead. Everyone goes skinny dipping as little Tommy arrives to see many naked butts. Trisha grabs him to go home, but their car breaks down on the road.
Rob, a hiker, comes out of the woods and helps with Trish’s car. They take him home so Tommy can show him all the Halloween masks that Tommy makes. Some of his stuff is straight out of the props department of a horror film.
Over at the party house, everyone dances. Next door, Trisha says goodbye to Rob, who is getting back on the road. Ted and Jimmy bicker about girls, and why neither of them is getting any action. One girl goes out and lays on an inflatable boat until Jason runs her through—all the way through. Her boyfriend Paul swims out to the little boat, finds the body, and then gets speared in the groin.
Rob, camping nearby, hears Paul’s screams and goes out with his machete looking for trouble. When he returns, his shotgun, map, and stuff have been vandalized.
In the house, Tina wants to leave, but Teri’s in the middle of sex with Jimmy. Tina goes out in the rain to go home. While Ted and the gang watch some ancient 8mm porn, Teri gets stabbed in the barn. Sara and Doug have an awkward I’m-a-good-girl-so-no-sex-for-you talk.
Tommy’s mom returns home, but the power is off. Trisha and Tommy come home too and find their mother is not at home. Trisha goes off looking and finds Rob’s deserted, wrecked tent. She runs into him and gets scared by his machete.
Jimmy goes downstairs for wine and finds a corkscrew—the hard way. Teri soon goes for a flying leap.
Rob tells Trisha about Jason, the killer who killed his sister in one of the previous films. He knows that Jason’s body disappeared from the morgue. That’s what he’s really here to hunt.
Ted gets knifed. Sara changes her mind about the no-sex rule and gets it on with Doug in the shower. Doug gets… a crush, but Sara gets the ax.
Rob and Trish stop by to look for her missing mother, and they just walk right in. She finds Doug’s corpse and flips out, calling for Rob, who finds Jason more quickly than he intended. As Trish runs away, she finds all the other bodies.
She runs home and tells Tommy to lock the doors and windows. Jason throws Rob’s body through the window and grabs Tommy. Trisha smacks him good with the machete, and the sister and brother run upstairs and barricade themselves into his bedroom.
Jason gets an ax and cuts his way inside. She hits him over the head with a TV, which shocks him out for a bit. They have to tiptoe past Jason to get out, and that goes about how you’d expect. The chase is back on!
Trish runs back into the murder house next door and falls out the upstairs window. Tommy reads Rob’s newspaper accounts of Jason and sees a picture of him. He goes into the bathroom and starts shaving his head….
Jason catches Trish and starts to kill her until Tommy comes downstairs and calls his name. He’s bald and looks like young Jason did, which confuses and distracts him. Trish hacks his mask off with the machete, and then Tommy runs Jason’s whole head through with the machete. Yeah, he’s not sitting up from that one! Actually, Jason does start to twitch his fingers, but Tommy finishes the job with about fifty more hacks with the machete.
In the hospital, the doctor says Tommy is going to be just fine; he’ll outgrow it all. Tommy gives us a look that says he isn’t going to be fine.
It’s got Crispin Glover, Corey Feldman, and a host of other familiar faces from the period, so the cast is pretty good. It’s got a lot of stunts and action sets, so it’s clear they had a higher budget than before. It was still super profitable, so “The Final Chapter” may have been a poor choice for a title.
The group of teens look out of place in that house. The furnishings look like they belong to an old lady. The discovery of antique porn seemed to be accidental, so it’s not theirs.
All these people read in the newspaper about the colossal mass murder that happened just last night, and still, they all decide to go play in the woods. Would the police not be out in full force? Rob knew that Jason had escaped from the morgue, so the police would have to be aware as well.
There are too many teenagers, most of whom are never named on-screen. Nothing new is really added to the lore here, I suspect they really did think this was going to be the end, so they simply wrapped up all the loose ends from the previous films.
It was good, but it wasn’t the end.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
• Directed by George A. Romero
• Written by John A. Russo, George A. Romero
• Stars Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 36 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
They aren’t ever referred to as zombies here, but that’s what they are, and this is an influential movie that led to much more in the genre. It’s dated, but in a good time capsule kind of way, and it’s still entertaining. It’s a classic that horror fans should see all the way through.
As credits roll, we watch a car drive through the countryside. The car eventually stops in a cemetery and Barbra and her brother Johnny get out. They’ve come to visit their father’s grave, and they complain about the long drive. They walk through the tombstones and put new flowers on the grave.
Johnny watches a strange man staggering around the cemetery behind them. He makes fun of her for being scared when she was little, “They’re coming to get you Barbra.” Then suddenly, the weird man attacks her, and Johnny jumps in to defend his sister. The man kills Johnny and starts coming for Barbra, who runs away and falls down several times before getting in the car. The man picks up a brick and smashes the window to get to her. She doesn’t have keys, but the car is on a hill, so she coasts away from him.
She eventually ends up on foot again, running down the road towards a farmhouse. She locks herself inside the empty house. She tries to call for help, but the phone isn’t working. That strange man is still outside, and he’s been joined by two more who move just like he does. Barbra goes upstairs and finds a half-eaten corpse. She runs out and encounters Ben, a black man who seems to know what’s going on. He says his truck is out of gas. There's a pump outside, but it’s locked.
Ben beats a couple of the zombies to death with a tire iron, but more shuffle onto the scene. It doesn’t take long before there’s a big crowd outside, probably from the nearby cemetery. Ben tries to calm Barbra down and get her to help him fortify the house. She’s in shock and isn’t much use, but he boards up the doors and windows. They eventually tell each other their stories, and she calms down a bit.
Barbra passes out, and Ben spends some time listening to the radio news, which reports mass murder everywhere, but no one can explain why. He sets a chair on fire in the front yard– they don’t like fire. Ben finds a shotgun in a closet.
Ben goes upstairs, and Barbra watches a door open in the wall. Several people who had been hiding in the basement come up. Harry and Tom have been down there with Harry’s wife Helen, and his daughter, who is sick, and Judy, Tom’s girlfriend. Harry argues that the basement only has one door to defend; Tom argues that there’s no way out of the basement. There are at least a dozen zombies outside by this point.
Harry goes to the basement with his family, while Tom and Judy stay upstairs with Ben and Barbra, who is still mostly catatonic. Harry and Helen argue about his need to be in charge and to be right. She doesn’t much like her husband, and that becomes really obvious.
They turn on the TV. The newsman reports that the problem is in the Eastern part of the USA, but not everywhere. They repeat the fact that the dead are being eaten and that people who have recently died are returning to life as murderers. They announce several rescue centers which are safe places to go. Ben mentions the gas pump outside, but that he can’t break the lock. It may have something to do with a returning satellite from Venus that was carrying strange radiation on it.
They find the key to the gas pump and decide to make Molotov cocktails to keep the zombies at bay. Once they fill up Ben’s truck, they can drive to the aid station.
Ben, Tom, and Judy run outside. Tom and Judy get in the truck as Ben rides on top with a torch. They drive to the gas pump and start to refuel the truck. Tom is sloppy with the gas, and the truck is soon engulfed in flame. The truck explodes with Tom and Judy inside it.
Harry locks the door and won’t let Ben inside, which causes a fistfight when Ben finally does get back in. Helen and Harry mention that one of those things bit their daughter, who’s been unconscious since then.
The TV reports the space radiation is spreading, and so are the mass attacks. Some people are starting to organize to fight back and clear out “the marauding ghouls” that can be killed by destroying the creature’s brains. They interview the local sheriff, who thinks it’ll take a day or two to get things under control.
Then the power goes out, so the TV stops. The zombies attack en masse, so Harry and Helen run to the basement and board themselves in, but not before Harry gets shot. Harry staggers down the steps to his ailing daughter and collapses. Helen runs down as well, encountering little Karen, who is now dead and very hungry. The little girl kills her with a trowel.
Ben and Barbra try to hold the door shut, but there are just too many of them. Dead-Johnny is outside, and he pulls Barbra outside to eat her. Dead little Karen comes up, but Ben fights her off. Then Ben barricades himself in the basement. Dead-Harry and Dead-Helen get up, but Ben shoots them. He waits in the now-safe basement.
The next morning, the sheriff and his men arrive, killing zombies easily with their guns. The reporters say, “everything is under control.” Ben wakes up and hears the men upstairs shooting. He goes upstairs, unbolts the door, and one of the hunters shoots him. “That’s another one for the fire,” says the sheriff.
They never actually use the word “zombie” in the film. These zombies use tools– rocks and clubs, not just their hands and teeth. A lot of the creepiest parts are simply described on the TV and radio– there wasn’t enough budget to show us everything they wanted.
I don’t know that I’d call it the best horror movie of all time, but it’s certainly one of the most influential. It basically created the modern zombie genre, as well as being the first to show a lot of gore. The ending was especially shocking at the time as well– literally all the characters die.
The Velvet Vampire (1971)
• Directed by Stephanie Rothman
• Written by Maurice Jules, Charles S. Swartz, Stephanie Rothman
• Stars Michael Blodgett, Sherry E. DeBoer, Celeste Yarnall
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 20 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is a vampire movie that focuses on the erotic, hypnotic, and sensual powers rather than the monstrous factors. It’s low on blood and gore but was still interesting and entertaining. A little different take on vampire lore.
We open on a busy city street in front of a megachurch. A woman walks alone as ominous music plays. A man grabs her from behind. He climbs on top of her to rape her, but she grabs him back and stabs him to death. We don’t see what follows, but she washes the blood from her hands in the nearby fountain.
She then proceeds to “The Stoker Gallery.” Lee is inside trying to pick up Susan. Carl is the owner of the gallery. We see the woman from earlier, and she’s introduced as Diane. Diane invites the whole group to her house in the desert.
Lee and Susan drive out there the next morning, and it’s way out in the desert. They go a long way, have a fight at a gas station, and then their car breaks down. Diane picks them up in her dune buggy not long after. It’s still daylight. The cook, Juan, makes them steak tartare, but Susan doesn’t like raw meat.
Juan tells Diane, “Your young man is here.” It’s the mechanic that Lee and Susan argued with at the gas station. She starts to kiss him, but then he pulls away. “If you don’t like me, maybe you’ll like him,” she warns. Juan, wearing black, comes out of nowhere and backs the mechanic into a pitchfork.
We see a two-way mirror in Lee’s room, and Diane watches them have sex from the other side. They sleep and dream of having sex in a bed out in the desert as Diane watches. Diane pulls Lee out of bed, and then they wake up. Susan tells Lee about the dream, and he says he had the same dream.
In the morning, Diane takes them for a dune buggy ride in the desert, and they all have a good time. They stop at an old, abandoned mine. The place was closed a hundred years ago when some workers started dying from large gashes in their throats.
The trio goes into the mine. They almost immediately lose Diane, and Lee says he’ll go look for her. Alone, Susan hears someone whispering her name, and then she’s attacked by a bat. Diane returns and leads them outside; she says she found a bloodstone inside.
For their next stop, they stop at a ghost town. Diane and Lee go off to explore while Susan gets undressed for sunbathing. While Diane and Lee make out in the saloon, a rattlesnake approaches the sleeping Susan. She’s bitten, and Diane says she’ll have to cut the puncture open and suck out the blood. They go home, and Diane says it’s not severe; Juan taught her to deal with things like that.
Lee offers to take Susan home right now. “No! I’m beginning to like it here,” she smiles. A girl comes to the door looking for Cliff, the mechanic, who was supposed to have come around last night. Juan says no one came here last night.
Diane and Lee go to the cemetery. She says she hates the desert and the sun but hangs around because her husband is buried here.
Cliff’s girlfriend confronts them there, and Diane denies he came over last night. The girl spots a new grave in the cemetery and comes back later with a shovel. Yes, it’s Cliff alright. Juan grabs her from behind while Diane bites her in the neck. Problem solved!
They all go home and go to bed. They have that same dream again. Lee gets up after the dream and goes looking for Diane. He catches her eating raw liver, which he thinks is strange. Susan wakes up and heads downstairs, catching the pair having sex.
The following day, Susan smiles and says she’s not hurrying to leave. Lee admits what he did last night, but she’s surprisingly OK with it.
Diane visits her husband’s grave, and we see he died in 1876. The grave is just a coffin in a hole with boards covering it up. Juan asks Diane why she killed her husband a hundred years ago. He won’t leave, and she says she needs more and more nourishment. He suggests that he can bring some of his people. She pulls him down and eats him.
Lee and Susan return to the cemetery and find Juan’s dead body in Diane’s husband’s grave. Diane thinks Juan’s people may have killed him, as they’re so brutal. She also rationalizes why her husband’s grave doesn’t have dirt in it. Lee doesn’t believe a word of it.
They have the same dream again that night, but this time, Diane comes for Susan as Lee watches. They wake up, and Susan says, “This was my dream!”
In the morning, Lee calls the mechanic’s place to check on the part that Diane ordered. He says he hasn’t even started it since “the lady” told him to wait for her approval. Lee decides to leave, but now Susan wants “her turn” with Diane. Diane “talks” to Lee and convinces him to stay.
Susan goes exploring and finds the room that looks through the mirror into her bedroom. She also finds Juan’s body in there. She runs to find Lee, but he’s gone into town. Diane’s bed is just like the one in her dreams. Diane pulls Susan into bed with her. Susan hears a thump and finds Lee’s dead body behind a curtain.
Diane chases Susan but gets stabbed in the hand. Susan starts running across the desert in her tiny bikini until she gets stopped by Amos from the gas station. “You’re traveling light,” he says. Somehow, she gets money for a Greyhound ticket but spots Diane sitting behind her on the bus.
Susan makes it all the way back to the bus station in L.A. and tells a cop about Diane. She calls Carl from the gallery to come and pick her up. She tells him that Diane is a vampire and that she needs help. He agrees to pick her up in a few minutes.
Diane then chases Susan through the crowded bus terminal. The chase stops when Susan stands under a huge cross, and Diane can’t come any closer. Suddenly, a whole crowd of people with crosses comes out of nowhere and surrounds Diane. They take off her cape and expose her to the bright sun. Diane turns old and burns to dust.
Susan tells the story to Carl that night. He says the police found Lee and some of Diane’s other victims. Carl says Diane was “just a customer, but she’d tell me a few things.” Diane had a rare blood disease. He seems really skeptical about the cross and sunlight business.
Susan picks up a sharp knife and cuts herself. Carl licks at the blood. Yep, he’s one as well!
It’s a vampire movie, but it’s also a heavily erotic (for the 70s) love triangle story. There’s not much violence and almost no gore, but it’s different enough plot-wise from most other vampire films that it’s still interesting.
Diane can walk in the daylight whenever she wants. She eats raw meat as well as blood.
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