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Blood Hook, Half Dead Fred, The Void, Willy’s Wonderland, Night of the Comet, and On the Trail of Bigfoot: Land of the Missing
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 240
We’ll start with a ridiculous Troma film from 1986, “Blood Hook” (Ouch!). We’ll then watch a film made right here in the town where we reside, “Half Dead Fred,” which just released this year.
After that terrifying experience, we’ll take a trip to the hospital and end in “The Void” from 2016. To relax after, we’ll stop in and have some fun at “Willy’s Wonderland” (2021).
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For our newsletter-exclusive bonus films this week, we’ll also watch:
“Night of the Comet” which may be the ultimate in 80s films (1984)
The documentary film “On the Trail of Bigfoot: Land of the Missing” (2023)
Check out all our books with one easy link:
Here. We. Go!
Blood Hook (1986)
Directed by Jim Mallon
Written by Larry Edgerton, John Galligan, David Herbert
Stars Mark Jacobs, Lisa Jane Todd, Patrick Danz, Sara Hauser
Run Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This wasn’t as wild and crazy as some Troma productions are. There’s a mysterious killer that we don’t see picking people off at a lake, and we wonder, along with the shrinking number of survivors, who the killer is. Brian was more forgiving of this than Kevin, who thought it was just a mediocre attempt at mimicry or satire or something of the original “Friday the 13th”/“Sleepaway Camp” type of slasher movie.
We open on a man fishing and waving to his little grandson Peter. The old man is listening to an old-style reel-to-reel tape recorder. He makes it play really high-pitched, and something responds with a hook. The man grabs his face and falls into the water, never to be seen again.
Seventeen years later, a bunch of teenagers drive through the woods. They’re heading to the place Peter inherited; his family has avoided it since his grandfather’s mysterious death many years ago. A Winnebago stops at a bait shop, and the driver complains about a lack of signage pointing to the campground. The bait man gives the boy a magnetic stud finder and some minnows. He warns them about treating the lake with respect.
It’s “Muskie Madness” at the fairgrounds, and it’s quite a show. We see casting contests and other fishing ridiculousness. Bev says she likes Finner’s pole. They even go inside a huge muskie and take a look while standing in its mouth. They arrive at the cabin and meet Evelyn Duerst, the military-minded caretaker. Evelyn’s father is Wayne, and he’s a grouchy old fart.
Ann goes inside and finds a bunch of old records. She plays one about… fishing. Peter has a flashback about his grandfather, and he’s very weirded out.
They all go out to dinner at the local restaurant, and we see the weird family from the bait shop earlier. They’re the Swains. Sheila Swain is into doing loon calls, so she goes out to the dock to try some. Suddenly, we see some rod and reel action, and Sheila is pulled off the dock into the water. Peter sees the whole thing– or did he?
Elsewhere, Denny talks to his home-raised muskie fish that he intends to use to cheat in the big contest tomorrow. Wayne Durst sneaks in and releases Denny’s fish. Back at the cabin, Ann nags at Peter for being unwilling to talk about what bothers him. Kiersten, on the other hand, wants to make music with Peter.
The next morning, Rodney and Finner go fishing. Finner catches a big one, but then Bev jogs up and invites them to breakfast. It’s all fun and games until she mentions her husband.
Rodney brags about Finner’s huge muskie to Wayne Duerst. Rodney’s getting into this whole silly fishing thing, so he goes to see Leroy Leudke, the bait man from earlier. Leroy tells stories about the violence that often occurred during the Muskie Madness contests of the past. People take it very seriously. Leroy gives him some hints about where to get the big ones. Rodney goes out on his boat, and we see a giant fish hook come out of nowhere and hook him in the— ouch! It pulls him right overboard.
The sheriff finds the boat adrift, but there’s no body. Peter thinks Evelyn Duerst did it, since there are bullets in the boat. Actually, Leroy gave Rodney a bullet to make an earring out of it. Evelyn has an M16, but it’s only a toy.
Kiersten freaks out at hearing that Rodney may be dead and runs off. She floats out on the lake on an inflatable raft, and we see that someone is trying to hook her. Meanwhile, Dinner and Bev get close, and later, he sees her with Evelyn.
Wayne tells Peter the story of how he shot Peter’s grandfather in the back by accident. The old man recovered and even gave him a job afterward. Ann and Peter profess their love for each other.
Mr. Swain is out on a boat on the lake, and it won’t start. He honks a horn to get attention, but no one responds. He’s soon… hooked. Bev has a fight with Evelyn and then goes for a nighttime swim. She gets the hook too.
Back at the contest, Denny gets caught cheating again. Peter and Ann come to the conclusion that Finner is the killer.
Then we see what’s really going on. Finner plays his music too loud, which drives Leroy insane. Leroy grabs his big hook and rubs the bullet in his skull. Finner loses an ear before Leroy whacks him with his hook. Leroy then runs a rope through Finner’s jaw, just like a fish on a line. He drags the body inside and saws it apart before running it through a meat grinder. We see that he’s got a whole string of corpses stashed under his dock.
Kiersten returns to Peter. She actually swam away from the killer and escaped. Peter finds Finner’s ear on the boat. Peter remembers the incident with his grandfather and remembers the cicadas; they were big that year too. He’s kind of a musical expert and decides that the audio resonance of the cicadas might set off the killer. Evelyn calls it the “Devils Trilogy.”
Little Irving Swain says he used the stud finder on Leroy, so it’s probably the metal plate in his head. Cicadas only appear every seventeen years, so maybe he did kill Peter’s grandfather. Peter and Evelyn decide to go after Leroy.
Ann goes outside to meditate on the dock with her boombox. We see Leroy rowing up to her. She gets hooked in the hand, but she pulls it off and ties it to the dock. She can’t get away because the elevator up the hill is really slow, so he gets her. Peter soon finds out that Ann is missing.
Peter and Evelyn tell Wayne everything. Old man Wayne doesn’t really believe the story, but he does have a gun. When Evelyn shows him Bev’s wedding ring, he’s convinced. They make a plan.
Peter goes out into a boat with Ann’s boombox as bait. Inside Leroy’s cabin, Ann bargains for her life. Leroy ignores Peter completely.
Wayne confronts Leroy right in the middle of the prize award for the Muskie Madness contest, but the sheriff drags Wayne off, thinking he’s overreacting. He returns to Peter, who now wants to kill Leroy with his own methods– by hooking him.
Peter returns to Leroy’s shack that same night and plays annoying music. It has the intended effect. He hooks Peter, but Peter hooks him right back. Leroy pulls his hook out and captures Peter. Peter wakes up inside the shack next to his boombox, which he switches on. He finds Ann in there as well, but then the sheriff finally arrives, and Leroy runs away.
The next day, Peter, Ann, and Kiersten leave town. Wayne agrees to help the sheriff look for Leroy, who can’t last long hiding in the woods bleeding as much as he is. We cut to Leroy, screaming at the cicadas in the woods…
What’s with all the rude teenagers playing loud music outside? They all deserve to die painfully! Even without the resonance thing, that’s enough to set me off!
We watched the extended cut, which had 17 extra minutes of stuff. It was all fine; nothing particularly felt like filler. Still, the ending was very abrupt and didn’t feel quite finished.
It’s well made, the sets look good, the acting is “typical Troma,” and it never got boring. If you’re into fishing, it’s a must-see; otherwise, stay on the hook…
Half Dead Fred (2023)
Directed by Bron Theron
Written by Bron Theron
Stars Jason London, Corin Nemec, Tiffany Shepis, Jordan Christopher Michael
Run Time: 1 Hour, 38 minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This has an indie vibe, and it was a well-done one. It’s pretty fun and entertaining overall. The script could have been tightened up a little here and there with a few points that dragged, but it’s a good paranormal mystery. The cast all did a decent job, the makeup was good, and we liked it far more than disliked it.
A family sits around a TV and watches a horror movie. They’ve just moved into a new house, and none of them are comfortable there yet. The mother hears strange noises upstairs that night, but nothing’s there. Then she sees something out the window and screams– credits roll.
Freddy Nash gets a phone call and wakes up. He’s a private detective, and his assistant is JY. Nash has a “power” that lets him see the dead. He goes to see the family from earlier. He hears the mother mention that she had a drink before she saw the thing last night, and he gets really skeptical. She mentions that there had been a murder in the house, and that’s why she bought the place so cheaply. He picks up the scent of Xanax on her used glass and suggests that her children drugged her and snuck out last night. The kids admit they were trying to scare their mother.
Freddy and JY drive to Freddy’s old house. We get a flashback to Freddy and his son going for ice cream. A car accident derails their plans, and his son is killed. Since then, he’s been trying to use his powers for good.
We cut to Flint, Michigan, where a woman hears whispering in her house. The electricity blinks; all the usual haunting stuff. Something kills her.
The next morning, Nash gets another call and heads there to investigate. Nash talks about Flint and how he likes to visit there. He meets up with Roberta; she’s the one who called him when her maid was murdered. She explains that the police have no leads, and the dead woman had no enemies.
Roberta shows Nash a video-will from her dead father. He says he’s hidden a treasure, and there are cryptic clues. Roberta says probably the whole town knows about the treasure hunt by now, but she doesn’t know where in the house it could be. Everyone also knows that the house is haunted; their neighbor even wrote a book on the subject.
Nash goes up to the old man’s room and definitely feels something. Ghostly things start happening in the room almost immediately, so he’s not doubtful that this one is real. The neighbor, James, comes over and talks about the people who died in the house.
Nash decides to interview the various family members to see if any of them have a motive for the murder. They go to a motel, and Nash sees a ghost there as well.
They go to see Debbie, who talks about the treasure. Maybe the maid found it, and that's why she was killed. She tells him about her brother Jake, who used to “urban explore” abandoned buildings in the area. Jake has issues with nearly everyone.
We cut to the bar, and we see Jake being a drunken idiot. After a brief scuffle with JY handling things and shots being fired, Jake tells Nash everything he knows. We then get a flashback that demonstrates JY’s skills. Roberta doesn’t think anyone in her family killed the maid; it must be the ghosts in the house.
That evening, Nash finally spends some time in the “haunted” house. Yeah, it’s haunted, and he talks to old Mr. Dalton. One of the ghosts knocks Nash out. They go out to the cemetery to dig up Mr. Dalton’s “Ex,” along with a box of stock options.
Roberta talks to Jake and Debbie about the situation. She hopes that Nash will find the treasure and solve the murder. Nash and YP catch another detective following them and stash him in the trunk of their car.
They suspect that Roberta’s husband, Matthew was having an affair with the dead maid. They find Matthew, Roberta’s husband, hanging in the old house, so they go to the police, who mock him.
Nash gets a call that his ex-wife is in the hospital, and he wants to leave immediately. JY simply rolls a joint and gives him some sage advice. He makes a whole speech about living in the present. Nash decides to go ahead and finish the case.
The owner of the bar that got shot up tracks down Nash and JY’s motel room. He catches up with JY outside the haunted house and hears the other detective banging from the trunk of the car. He opens the trunk, and the two pull guns on each other.
Nash goes back to the haunted house until he hears gunshots outside. Apparently, both guys fired at each other, and it was a tie. JY puts both bodies in the trunk for now.
JY and Roberta come in, and Nash has solved the whole plot. He tells her that he found the treasure in Dalton’s ex’s grave. Jake comes in and wants to split the treasure. Nash reveals that both Lynn the maid and Debbie were having affairs with Matthew. Jake’s friend Bill comes in with a gun to take the treasure, but it turns out that the stock certificates are from the Flint City Motor Company and are worthless.
Bill admits that he killed the maid. He’s got the drop on the whole group, but then the ghosts appear to distract him. The police come and take Bill and the whole family away.
We then get a little twist that shows us that Nash has been confined to a wheelchair all the time. He keeps the stock certificates, which are still worth something to collectors.
Paranormal detectives are super common in books, but not so much with films, so this is a nice change.
It was filmed in Flint, and they mention that several times during the film. There are digs at the real estate market, the local police response times, and a few other things. We recognized several of the settings since we live in Flint. The character James, who talks about writing a book on the topic, is played by Joe Schipani, who actually did write a book on the topic.
Nash tracks down a lot of leads, which is probably fine in a detective novel, but it’s less interesting on film. The segment where he questions Debbie and Jake is just interminably long. The pacing is a little draggy in other places as well.
I’m not sure about the wheelchair twist in the end; I did notice it was odd that he didn’t knock on doors himself and things, but it was just so out of the blue that it didn’t phase me much. Horror guy Kevin thought that was a cool twist and was impressed with it; As I watched, I thought the character was needlessly quirky, but it all made sense in the end.
Still, there’s a lot of humor and offbeat characters here. My only real complaint is that it could have been fifteen minutes shorter by compressing a few over-talky scenes.
Short Film: Culling (2023)
Directed by Matty Crawford
Written by Matty Crawford, Paul Carey
Stars Jack Hartley, Logan Spooner, Jake Hayes, Nick Cornwall
Run Time: 13:21
A boy sits in a chair as someone puts a blindfold over his eyes. He’s then driven somewhere in the back of a truck and left there with a small box of things. He’s been abandoned.
The boy walks through the windy field, but he leaves the blindfold on until another boy finds him and leads him home with a leash. Elsewhere, a man chops logs and talks to a cow until the cow starts to glow. The man’s father comes into the kitchen and insists that the cow belongs outside. Meanwhile, the weather outside is getting more and more severe…
Sometimes a cow is not a cow.
Well, that was intense!
The big mystery here is what’s really going on and why they don’t take the blindfold off. The black-and-white visuals are sharp but distinctly odd. Nothing here feels quite normal, and it all looks good. The talking cow immediately brings to mind the goat from “The Witch” while the visuals are very reminiscent of “The Lighthouse,” which are both by Robert Eggers.
The Void (2016)
Directed by Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Written by Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Stars Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe
Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
There’s lots of action that never really lets up. Things just get weirder and worse as the movie goes along. The acting is fine, the script is interesting, and the practical effects were excellent. We both liked it even more seeing it for the second time this round.
There are gunshots in a house, and two men drag a person outside and set them on fire. Another person runs off into the fields. “They won’t get far,” says one of the men. We cut to someone in a white robe with a black triangle where the face ought to be. Credits roll.
Sheriff Danny is napping in his car in the woods. He gets a call on the radio that nothing is happening. He turns on the light and sees someone crawling alongside the road. The man is clearly injured, so the sheriff takes him to the nearest hospital. The old hospital is in the process of shutting down, but he calls ahead, and they can take the guy.
There are still patients and people in the hospital, including pregnant Maggie and her father. Dr. Powell says the baby may be on the way, and he’s stayed late to help. The stranger’s name is James, and the doctor says he’s probably just on drugs. Nursing assistant Kim doesn’t want to be there, but she’s busy putting files in boxes. Allison is Danyn’s ex, and she’s still coming to terms with losing their child.
Danny checks in on Nurse Beverly who is in the process of cutting off her own face after stabbing a patient in the eye. She comes at him with a knife so he shoots her. Danny gets upset and faints, but then he has a weird vision of a pyramid. When he wakes up, State Police Officer Mitchell is there; he’s come for James, who killed a bunch of people up north. He’s a jerk, and he takes Danny’s gun.
Danny tries to call in the shooting, but the phones are all out. He goes outside to try his radio, and his radio outside doesn’t work either. Then he sees the white-hooded cultist out there who jumps on him with a dagger. There are a bunch of cultists, and Danny runs back inside the hospital. The doctor and the nurses immediately get to work on his stab wound, and he has another dream about the weird place.
Mitchell reports that cultists have the hospital surrounded. The patient James starts screaming, and the two cops see a monster in the room with him. The two men from the burning we saw earlier come in and hold everyone at gunpoint. James stabs the doctor in the neck, and he dies very quickly. In the confusion, the monster grabs Mitchell and drags him away. The monster morphs and mutates right in front of them as the men shoot it and hack it with axes. They finally appear to kill the thing.
The two armed men, Father and Son, still want James. They don’t know who the cultists are, and they aren’t willing to explain much. Maggie goes into labor, so the medical people are all distracted. Then they notice that the dead doctor’s body is gone; Danny soon gets a phone call from the dead doctor, who may not have been as innocent as he let on– he has photos of the cultists on his desk.
They interrogate James with a hammer, and he says he killed the doctor as a favor to them, but he doesn’t know why the doctor got up again. He talks about what the cult made him do and watch. “They made people change.”
The men go down into the basement, where the fire happened. This is why the hospital is being demolished. They find a basement beneath the basement, but that’s not supposed to be there.
Allison wakes up on an operating table, and she talks to Dr. Powell, who is cutting himself apart. He lost his daughter years ago, and this is all his solution. He says that some of his earlier experiments are still down there; they were the ones who caused the fire. He pulls away the blanket, and Allison sees that something inside her is pulsating.
Danny’s group finds a triangular symbol on the floor, and both James and the Father recognize it from the cultist’s house.
Upstairs, Kim works on pregnant Maggie while her grandfather assists, but neither of them knows what they’re doing. Maggie finally gets tired of them whining and takes care of things herself. She goes off with the cultists.
Downstairs, Danny’s group runs into all kinds of mutant monstrosities. Before long, Danny’s the only one left. He eventually finds Allison, who is suddenly very pregnant– with a monster. He hacks her apart with his ax.
A triangle lights up behind Danny, and Dr. Powell talks to him. Maggie and the cultists come in and stab Danny in the back. Maggie approaches the triangle and Powell. The triangle becomes a doorway, and we see the big pyramid on the other side. The “baby” rips herself out of Maggie, and it’s quite something.
Out of nowhere, the Father and the Son come in, shotguns blazing, and start shooting the new monster. The Father douses himself in gasoline, and the Son sets him on fire to burn the creature as well. The Son then climbs out through the air vents. Danny stands up enough to hack Powell with his Ax, but that doesn’t stop him. Danny grabs Powell and they both go through the portal.
The son runs through the basement, pursued by one remaining monster as the walls squeeze shut. He gets out, back into the hospital. He runs into Kim, who’s been hiding safely in a closet all this time.
Danny and Allison look up at the alien sky. The giant, floating pyramid is there. They’re on the other side. Now what?
This is mostly done with practical effects, and you can tell. The creatures look really good. This was my second viewing of this, and I liked it a lot more this time around.
The monsters and the cultists both remind the viewer of two old John Carpenter films, “The Thing” and “Prince of Darkness” and there are many other similarities as well. There’s also a lot of Lovecraftian imagery and themes involved behind the cultists, although we never get an explanation about that.
The sets are really good, and the acting is fine. I’d have liked a bit more explanation from the characters that did know what was happening; as it was, there were too many secrets to be realistic. Someone needed to pause for just one minute and talk this all out.
It’s very atmospheric and weird. Nice!
Willy’s Wonderland (2021)
Directed by Kevin Lewis
Written by G. O. Parsons
Stars Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz
Run Time: 1 Hour, 28 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was entertaining and strange, with Nicolas Cage playing a strong, very silent type. He doesn’t say a word throughout the whole movie. The practical effects are great with lots of gore, the story is decent, and we’d recommend it.
We get old video clips of animatronic creatures as a couple, covered in blood, runs from something terrifying. Something kills them both with a lot of blood. Credits roll as we watch a car driving too fast and get four flat tires all at once from running over a trap in the road. The tow truck driver says it was a kids’ prank as they drive into the small town of Hayes.
We cut to a girl about to set fire to Willy’s Wonderland, but just before she lights it, the sheriff shows up. She’s Liv, and when she sees the stranger with the flat tire, she likes him. The tow truck guy says it’ll be $1000 cash in advance to fix the car, but his credit card machines are down. He knows a guy that’ll give him a job that pays cash.
Tex is the owner of the long-closed Willy’s Wonderland, and he offers to pay for the car to be fixed if the man stays inside and cleans overnight. It’s really obviously a sketchy deal, but the new “Janitor” doesn’t have much choice. Tex plays a video demonstrating what Willy’s used to be like. It’s essentially Chuck E. Cheese. The place was shut down due to lawsuits from kids crawling on the animatronics and getting hurt. Tex then leaves, padlocking the janitor inside.
Liv’s friends come to free her from the sheriff’s handcuffs, and Kathy picks the lock. She wants to “do what’s right” and burn Willy’s to the ground, but she wonders about that guy that Tex suckered into staying inside. Her “gang” wants revenge for all the missing people and dead kids.
At Willy’s the janitor starts cleaning and tidying up the long-abandoned mess. We see some of the animatronic creatures moving behind him, but only a little. Then, the mechanical Ozzie the Ostrich says “I’m gonna feed on your face” and bites him. There’s a ridiculous battle as the janitor beats it to death and pulls its mechanical spine out. He tries to take it out to the trash, and that’s when he realizes he’s locked in. He’s got a timer on his watch that goes off every hour reminding him to drink his “Punch Pop” energy drink.
The janitor gets back to work cleaning the restrooms when all the animatronics activate and start singing “It’s Your Birthday.” Gus the Gorilla attacks, and the janitor kills him with a plunger. He takes a long, hard look at the other characters before stopping for another energy drink and getting back to work cleaning.
Liv and her people arrive outside Willy’s Wonderland, and they pour gas all around the outside of the building. They’re ready to light the place up, but Liv insists that they let the man inside out. She crawls in through the air ducts, which seem to be the only clean place in the building. She’s pursued by Arty the Alligator and Siren Sara. Liv tells the janitor that he needs to leave, but he just walks away. The roof collapses, and all Liv’s friends fall inside too.
Liv explains to the janitor that he’s here to be a human sacrifice, and the trick with the flat tires is a regular thing. The place was built by a serial killer who lured and killed entire families there. The owner and his serial killer friends did a Satanic ritual to transfer their souls into the animatronic animals.
Willy the Weasel sings a song as Knighty Knight stabs Aaron. The janitor drinks more Power Punch and plays pinball as things get dangerous with the others. Kathy and Bob separate from the others, and they start having sex. Chris calls the sheriff and tells her what’s going on; she hangs up on him. “People made their beds; they gotta lie in them.” She relents and takes Deputy Evan to Willy’s.
The janitor stops playing pinball long enough to wreck Knighty Knight. In the next room, Arty the Alligator kills Bob and Kathy while Siren Sara finishes off Dan. The janitor breaks down the door and tears Arty’s face off. Cammy the Chameleon talks to Chris, trying to convince him that she’s not like the others. She’s not different from the others.
The sheriff tells Evan about Willy, and he thinks she’s joking. She tells him the history of the cursed place. The machines were getting out killing people, even children, randomly around town. They cut a deal and started offering them morally questionable people and travelers to eat if they would leave the townsfolk alone. This has been going on for a long time. Liv was one of the few who survived a night in the building as a very small child and the sheriff took her in.
The janitor is just about to kill Cammy the Chameleon, but he has to stop for another Punch Pop drink, so he just leaves Liv to deal with it. After a drink and a go at pinball, he comes back to continue the job.
The sheriff arrives, and she points her gun at the janitor. She orders Evan to handcuff the janitor and then they, along with Liv, leave him inside. Liv works on talking to Evan in the car about going back. Evan decides to go back, but he’s attacked by Tito the Turtle. Liv beats him to death with an unloaded shotgun.
Cammy and Sara walk in, and they’re ready to finish off the janitor. The handcuffs don’t slow him down much. He then goes back to work cleaning after disposing of the mechanical and human bodies. Only Willy himself is left on the stage. The sheriff returns and complains about how they had a good thing going, and the janitor notices that Willy’s not on the stage anymore. Willy shows up and violently kills the sheriff.
Willy turns against the janitor and claws him up pretty well before dumping him into the ball pit. The janitor isn’t about to give up that easily. He packs up his remaining Power Punch cans in a bag as a weapon and goes after the bug weasel. The epic music plays as the two do battle: claws versus a bag of sodas. The janitor eventually rips off Willy’s head.
Tex and the tow truck driver bring the janitor’s car to the parking lot. We see a heavily damaged Siren Sara crawling out of the dumpster. Inside, the janitor has the place looking clean and good as new. The janitor takes his keys from Tex, who looks astounded. Liv meets the janitor outside the car and gets in with him.
Tex and the tow truck driver come out, glad that their problems are over. “It’s actually over!” They get into Tex’s car– which Sara immediately blows up.
The janitor and Liv drive away. He gives her a can of his drink, and they run down Tito the Turtle on the way out of town.
Nic Cage doesn’t say a word throughout. I gotta wonder what the story behind that was. His weird behavior and addiction to Punch Pops is really weird and fun. Each time he kills a monster, he puts on a clean uniform, which is hilarious.
It’s supposedly not an adaptation of “Five Nights at Freddy's,” but it’s pretty close to the same basic idea. It’s also strikingly similar to the “Banana Splits” Movie.
It’s good. It’s weird. It’s funny in all the right places.
Night of the Comet (1984)
Directed by Thom Eberhardt
Written by Thom Eberhardt
Stars Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Beltran, Kelli Maroney
Run Time: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes
Spoiler-free Judgment Zone
This is classic 80s in every way. It’s strangely lighthearted for such a massive body count, but no one says the end of the world can’t be a little fun. It still held up for entertainment value, and we both liked it quite a bit.
We get an ominous voiceover describing a comet that approaches the Earth. Credits roll.
We cut to a giant “comet party” where people hold up signs and play music to celebrate the arrival of the comet. Regina is too busy playing video games to do her job at the movie theater, so her boss, Mel, gets annoyed. The people in the theater have to work all night, so they’re going to miss seeing the comet outside. She calls Samantha and tells her to lie to Doris about not coming home tonight. Doris and Samantha get into a fistfight over family drama.
Meanwhile, the TV announcer mentions that they’ve lost communications with the countries where the comet has already been seen. The comet arrives over the town, and the party gets wild as everyone is outside looking at it. The sky's alight with flashes and colors. We see Doris getting itchy. Larry and Regina spend the night in the steel-walled projection room.
The next morning, the sky is hazy red, and there’s red dust everywhere. The roads are surprisingly deserted. We see piles of clothes lying on the road with red dust all over. Everyone who saw the comet turned to dust. No, not everybody– some have turned into zombies! One of them kills Larry as he leaves the theater.
Regina leaves the theater and gets locked out accidentally. She runs into the zombie who killed Larry, but she gets away from him on Larry’s motorcycle. As she rides through town, she figures out that things aren’t quite right. She goes home and finds Samantha in her room, but she doesn’t know what happened. Samantha spent the night hiding in a metal shed. Regina shows Samatha what’s left of Doris and Chuck and everyone else; just dust.
They still hear the guy on the radio, so they decide to go find him. They get there and find out that the station is completely automated. They run into Hector, who has a gun and wants to see their eyes. The zombies have weird eyes and are sensitive to light, so it’s the only way to be sure.
Samantha gets on the radio and plays records while Regina and Hector talk about what’s been going on and where to get weapons. She wants to go get some automatic weapons. We cut to a bunch of scientists talking about the people they heard on the radio. Dr. Carter is in charge. One of the scientists calls Samantha on the request and warns that some people got lower exposure to the comet, and they’re drying up like the others, just a lot slower.
There’s a lot of talking and drama and fake-out nightmares for a while as everyone talks while hiding at the radio station. Hector wants to go to San Diego to check on his family. Later, they all go outside to learn how to use automatic weapons.
Hector does go home to his mother’s house and finds a zombified kid there who attacks him. Hector doesn’t want to shoot a kid, so he runs away.
Meanwhile, at the science base, Audrey finds that her memory is failing. Carter orders her to go to L.A. and get blood samples from the teenagers.
Samantha’s getting a rash, so Regina takes her “shopping” at the mall. As they try on clothes, someone is watching them on the security cameras. It’s a gang of armed thugs, so Samantha throws high heels at them. Apparently, shoe displays are exceptionally bulletproof. Eventually, the armed guys capture Samantha, so Regina has to surrender. Willy admits that they were just stockboys at the mall a few days ago. We also see that Willy’s turning into a monster himself.
The scientists arrive outside and immediately figure out that teenagers would be at the mall. They come in and kill the girls’ tormentors. Regina goes back with the scientists, but they think that Samantha is probably infected, so Audrey keeps her behind, supposedly to wait for Hector. Audrey injects Samantha with poison to end her suffering, but then she lies to Oscar about it. Then she shoots Oscar, not wanting to go back with him.
Hector comes back to town and stops at the radio station where he finds Audrey instead. Audrey’s not herself anymore and doesn’t quite remember why she’s here. But she wrote everything down for Hector. She laments that the scientists were in a bunker but left the air ducts open like dummies and are slowly drying up. She then injects herself with poison and dies.
At the science base, Carter asks Regina about her medical history. We see that the scientists aren’t going to be particularly gentle with the survivors they’ve found; they need blood to develop a serum. Carter tells Regina that her sister is dead, so she soon beats one of the doctors over the head and gets loose. She’s soon recaptured.
Hector arrives outside the compound after reading Audrey’s note. He shows the guard Samantha, who isn’t dead at all, as a distraction. He wires dynamite into the guards’ trucks. Suddenly, the power goes out, and the life support systems for the test subjects stop working, and they all die.
Regina escapes again and frees two children before running into Samantha, who admits she turned the power off. They all take an elevator upstairs and get into Hector’s car. The scientists follow them upstairs and climb into their cars, which promptly explode.
Then it rains, and all the red dust washes away. Samantha is feeling left out, but then a guy drives up, and she thinks he’s cute. Everyone is happy!
I didn’t remember this taking place at Christmas time. Why isn’t this a traditional show like Rudolph and Charlie Brown?
The baddies here aren’t really zombies; they’re just slowly dehydrating people who have lost their minds. Their bite isn’t contagious since it’s not a virus.
It’s a very 80’s film, with Valley Girls, high school drama, and all the music. It does a lot of the usual zombie tropes and some of the end-of-the-world staples as well. It’s not a comedy, but they’re clearly making fun of a lot of the horror movie staples. The ending is way more happy and upbeat than the end of the world should be.
On the Trail of Bigfoot: Land of the Missing (2023)
Directed by Seth Breedlove
Written by Seth Breedlove
Stars Various Interviewees
Run Time: 1 Hour, 17 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
There isn’t a plot to spoil here since it’s a documentary that talks about the possibility of Bigfoot in Alaska. It moves briskly with historical facts combined with legends, stories, and some first-hand accounts. Sadly, any evidence is lacking, but it’s still interesting to ponder.
We start off with director Seth Breedlove talking about his love for the outdoors and the rugged landscapes of Alaska. Now, he’s been looking for sightings of Bigfoot in the woods and mountains of Alaska. He rented a cabin, hung up trail cams, and put out peanut butter as bait. Other than hearing something like a baby crying, he didn’t see anything. Credits roll.
They search around the site of Chris McCandless’s disappearance because Seth likes that story. He’s heard many weird stories about the region. Stories of hairy men coming out of the mountains go way back to the earliest white settlers. He talks about how many TV shows focus on the “Killer Bigfoot” angle, but that he’s not afraid of them at all.
He does, however, talk about the extreme number of “missing persons” every year in Alaska. Some of them could have gone missing due to Sasquatch. We spend quite a bit of time as interviewees talk about people who have gone missing mysteriously in the woods. We then get lots of stories and legends from indigenous people.
There’s a segment on what happened in Port Chatham, where most of the town was simply abandoned, supposedly because Sasquatches were killing people in the woods over a period of fifteen years. The “Hairy Man of Port Chatham” is still a big deal today.
The discussion changes to talk about the “small people” of the Alaskan woods, which are known to be much more aggressive than Bigfoots are known to be. Some people also say alien abductions could account for some of the disappearances. The possibility of a military coverup is always an option as well since there are many military bases in the mountains.
Is it real, or perhaps a mountain ape of some kind? It seems like there should be some hard evidence and photo documentation by now, but Alaska is mighty big with lots of empty space.
It’s another really well-put-together documentary. It looks good; the images, animations, and reconstructions are all quite nice, although we obviously don’t get any real Sasquatch footage. The interviewees are interesting and believable, and the pacing is nice- it moves fast enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
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