Hellblazers, Last Radio Call, Howling III, and Horror Express
Horror Bulletin Newsletter Week 163
This week, we’ll watch a wild collection of films, from the new raid-the-retirement-home horror film, “Hellblazers” to a neat take on found footage with “Last Radio Call” both from 2022. We’ll also watch the classic “Horror Express” from 1972 and “Howling III: The Marsupials” from 1987.
For more fun reviews check out our newsletter at
where this week, we cover:
● “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth” from 1992
● “The Lair of the White Worm” from 1988
Next week, we’ll be back with a little less screaming!
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The Horror Guys Guide to:
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1972 Horror Express
• Directed by Eugenio Martin
• Written by Arnaud d’Usseau, Julian Zimet
• Stars Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Telly Savalas, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 28 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s a good and fun horror film, helped a great deal by the performances from Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Telly Savalas - as well as an overall good cast. It’s one you don’t want to think about too deeply though, there are some plot holes and bad science and a pretty abrupt ending. All in all though, we still give it a thumbs up.
We begin in China in 1906. Sir Alexander Saxton narrates his failed expedition. He and his men explore a cave system up in the snow-covered mountains. He finds an old mummy frozen in the ice. They pack it up and carry it down to civilization, where it’s loaded onto a train bound for Russia. It turns out that was the easy part.
Dr. Wells meets up with him as he boards the train. Saxton isn’t particularly happy to see him. While they argue about the tickets, a local thief tries to break into the package and dies in the attempt. Father Pujardov - a guy who seems to be channeling Rasputin - calls it “the work of the devil.” The box is very obviously sealed with a chain and strong padlock. The train finally departs. Sexten tells Wells that his fossil inside is more than two million years old.
Natasha asks Sexton about the box, but he’s vague about the contents. She’s from Polcand and finds English people fascinating. Wells pays one of the porters to drill a hole in the box after dark to see what’s inside. Saxton and Wells turn up to be unexpected roommates. Natasha demands to stay in their room, as she can’t afford her own ticket. She also admits that she’s an international spy.
The porter drills the hole in the box as instructed. As soon as he leaves for other things, the mummy reaches out and picks the lock with a bent nail. His eyes glow red and the porter dies. The mummy seems to like to whistle a little tune.
The Count and Countess talk to Father Pujardov, whom they have brought along as a guest and spiritual advisor. The inspector calls Sexton and Wells about the missing baggage man, and Sexton is ordered to open the box. Sexton throws the key out the window, so they break into the box. Inside, they find the baggage man’s body. Sexton says his two-million-year-old monkey-man hybrid mummy is alive on the train. For some reason, the inspector chooses not to believe this.
The inspector asks Wells to do an autopsy on the dead baggage man. He saws open the dead man’s head with a hacksaw. The man’s brain has no wrinkles, which he says means the man’s memories have been drained away. Natasha asks Sexton if his fossil killed the man, and he says “Probably.” in a very matter of fact way. He doesn’t really care. A little later, Natasha goes to the freight car to open her safe, and the mummy kills her as well.
Wells and the inspector encounter the mummy, and the inspector shoots it dead… before he passes out himself. The autopsy on Natasha shows a smooth brain as well. Sexton thinks the mummy was able to absorb other people’s minds and memories, including their education. They find out that they can see the creature’s own memories by looking at his eyes under a microscope. The creature seems to have come from outer space in the time of the dinosaurs.
Father Pujardov confronts the inspector, and he acts like he knows something. The inspector has been acting a little strangely since his encounter with the now-dead mummy.
Pujardov calls it “the eye of Satan” and steals the mummy’s eye. He hides in the freight car, where he sees the inspector steal Mrs. Jones’ mind just like the mummy had been doing. The inspector is the mummy! Pujardov offers the eye to the inspector, who simply burns it. Pujardov offers to serve the inspector as his servant.
Sexton and Wells start to examine all the passengers’ eyes, but that doesn’t turn up anything. The inspector asks the engineer about overcoming gravity, and since it’s 1906, the engineer says they can’t do much right now. The inspector sucks out the engineer’s knowledge.
Captain Kazan is waiting at the next train station. We see that he’s… weird. But very good at his job.
Sexton explains his theory to the inspector that the alien was only using the mummy as a host, and now has moved on to someone else. Kazan and his soldiers board the train to find out who the killer is. Kazan whips Pujardov until he passes out. Both Kazan and Sexton start to suspect the inspector is the creature. There’s a quick battle, and the inspector is killed. The creature then goes into Pujardov.
Somehow, Pujardov gets behind the soldiers and kills them all, Kazan included. The passengers panic, but Sexton and Wells grab a gun and go after the monster themselves.
Pujardov confronts the Count and kills him. Sexton comes in, and the creature explains everything; he was accidentally left behind before there was even life on Earth. He offers to teach humanity how to end disease and hunger if only Sexton will let him go.
Elsewhere on the train, all the dead bodies get up; he can control them like zombies. Sexton and the Countess fight them off and run to the rear of the train. They disconnect their car from the rest of the train, which leaves them behind as they coast free. The front of the train falls off a cliff, because someone in Moscow knew what was happening and ordered the track to be switched to the side track that goes right off a cliff. Because that’s a thing that all trains should have. The car with all the passengers coasts to a stop just inches from the cliff. Happy ending for the survivors!
How does a two-million-year-old mummy know how to pick a lock? He’s probably never even seen metal before.
The external shots of the train show four passenger cars and one freight car at the end. Some shots show more; some less– they aren’t all the same train. We see a bunch of interiors, however, so this train may be bigger on the inside.
There are decent performances from both Lee and Cushing, and oh boy, can Telly Savalas chew the scenery.
The ending though. How did Moscow have any idea what was happening on board the train? Why was the railroad built to allow a train to drive off a cliff? Yeah, that ending was very rushed and out of the blue, but overall, it’s a good, fun horror film.
1987 Howling III
• Directed by Philip Mora
• Written by Gary Brandner, Phillipe Mora
• Stars Barry Otto, Max Fairchild, Imogen Annesley
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It says “The terror continues” but this could really be a standalone movie. There’s no connection to the first two. It’s Australian werewolves this time instead of American and European, a different species that evolved separately as they very scientifically explain. There’s lots of medicine and bad science in this one. But it’s a dumb kind of ntertaining that moves pretty well.
In 1905 Australia, we see the natives poking a strange animal that they have killed. In Siberia, a man is killed.
Today, at the National Intelligence Agency, they are tracking a monster that killed three people. “We ain’t here to track werewolves in Russia!” one guy whines.
Professor Beckmeyer gives a lecture about the ultra-realistic wolf mask seen in the Australian film we saw earlier. This time, we get to see them stabbing the wolf-faced creature while it was still alive. He flies to Washington and tells the President that werewolves exist. We can’t do anything about the Russian werewolves, but Beckmeyer says they also have them in Australia, and those would be much easier to study.
Beckmeyer goes to Australia for more evidence; just so you're sure, they show us the Sydney Opera House in four different shots. He meets up with Professor Sharp, a local expert.
A bunch of dirty people in rags attack a girl named Jerboa who runs away from home. Apparently a lot of the werewolves in Australia still live in the stone age. Later that night, we see that she is some kind of werewolf. The next morning, Donny, a casting agent, literally chases her across town to offer her a role in his shapeshifter movie. When he takes her to the movie set, we soon see that Australians of the 80s were very, very, very strange people.
Jerboa looks at the “werewolf” actors on-set and says that’s not what they really look like. “I’ll show you later,” she promises. She tells Donny later, during sex, that the full moon doesn’t have anything to do with the change. He notices that she has a big horizontal scar on her belly.
Three nuns come to town, and they’re obviously wolves in disguise. Beckmeyer wants to track down the aboriginal werewolf, and his friend points out that a Russian ballerina recently defected there. Because there are werewolves in Russia, it’s only logical that she should know all about them, right?
The three were-nuns come to the director’s party that night, but Jerboa has already run off. Jerboa runs away from Donny and gets hit by a car. They take her to the hospital, and the doctor thinks she might be an alien. Beckmeyer is alerted, and he comes to the hospital; this is exactly what he was waiting for.
Beckmeyer and Sharp examine her, and that scar is actually a pouch, like on a kangaroo. They also think she might be pregnant. The nuns wait outside the hospital until Beckmeyer and Sharp leave. When the nuns come in, all the doctors and hospital staff are killed. We see that the military is listening in on all this.
Jerboa and the nuns return to the small Mad-Max-like town that she came from originally.
Remember the brief mention of the ballerina? Olga the ballerina is worried about changing during her performance. Her manager seems to be telepathic, leading her to a drawing of Thylo, the man in charge of Mad-Max land. Beckmeyer and Sharp are in the audience for their rehearsal. She does, in fact, change into a werewolf right in the middle of the dance. The doctors take her into custody just like they did with Jerboa; that goes badly too.
Donny and the other main characters all come to the small town of Flow out in the outback. This is where Jerboa told Donny she was from. Jerboa goes into the barn and gives birth to a little mousy-looking thing that crawls into her pouch and hides there. Meanwhile, Olga and Thylo finally get together; they are soulmates or something, since she knew she had to find him.
Jerboa finds Donny and shows him the mouse-thing, and he’s fine with that. The military attacks Thylo’s camp and captures the whole group, including Olga. Beckmeyer questions her and wants to know why they do what they do, and she replies that they are being hunted. Beckmeyer hypnotizes Olga and tells him everything. Thylo fills in a few blanks as well. Olga is a straight-up werewolf, while Thylo is a were-marsupial; this is some kind of genetic-diversity pairing.
Jerboa’s baby has grown and now looks like a cross between E.T. and a monkey.
In the lab, the doctors force Thylo to change into a werewolf. Beckmeyer is bitten. From Thylo’s stripes, they identify him as a Tasmanian Wolf, a nearly-extinct species. The military wants to exterminate them, but Beckmeyer thinks they should be nurtured. They were believed to all be wiped out back in 1910.
Beckmeyer releases Olga and Thylo; it’s a jailbreak. They head to the outback; Jerboa, Donny, and the baby are already out there. A bunch of hunters try to track them all down; they get picked off surprisingly quickly. We see two special government-issued military hunters are on the case, but one of them gets bitten. Thylo calls on The Phantom, the great spirit that makes them what they are. The soldiers don’t last long. Sharp goes to the President and asks him to call off the hunt.
Olga and Beckmeyer fall in love, completely forgetting about Thylo. Time passes. Next thing we see, she’s pregnant as well. More time passes, and Jerboa’s baby now looks to be about ten while Olga’s baby is walking. They seem to age very quickly. Jerboa and Donny go back to civilization while Beckmeyer and Olga stay on the homestead.
Fifteen years pass, and Sharp comes for a visit. Beckmeyer’s daughter is now full-grown by this time. He tells them that it’s safe now for them to come back to civilization. The Pope intervened and got the President to stop hunting lycanthropes.
Another eight years pass, and Jerboa is a Hollywood actress with a different name. Beckmeyer still hasn’t found Jerboa and Donny. He’s back to teaching at the university, and Jerboa’s son is one of his students. Everyone watches the Academy Awards, and Jerboa wins Best Actress. The flashbulbs make her change on-camera.
If this film is to be believed, it would appear that Australia is the sweatiest place on Earth, but only if you’re young and attractive. It’s a very selective heat. Maybe the hardest thing to believe was that they thought “Dame Edna” would still be a thing twenty-something years in the future.
There’s no ties here to the first two films other than the existence of werewolves. None of the characters or places established before appear here.
This is dumb. Really, really dumb. But it’s a fun kind of dumb that doesn’t drag and has reasonably high production values. The monster masks and makeup aren’t particularly good, but most everything else looks good. A whole bunch of things make absolutely no sense, but if you just roll with it, it’s at least entertaining.
2022 Short Film: Pains
• Directed by Justin Brooks
• Written by Justin Brooks
• Stars Emily Bennett
• Run Time: 8:37
• Watch It:
Scarlett wakes up with a nosebleed. She panics and cries. It seems that this is something she’s experienced before, as she appears to be sickly. Then she reaches into her mouth and pulls out a tooth. That seems to be new for her. She gets a concerned call from her mother, and things spiral out of control from there.
It’s good. Just one actor, in a situation that is both common and supernatural. It’s not really quite clear what’s going on until the end, but there signs that point in a certain direction that do pay off at the end.
• Directed by Justin Lee
• Written by Justin Lee
• Stars Ed Morrone, Crash Buist, Tony Todd
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 24 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
They raided the “Horror Actors Retirement Home” for the cast of this film, and the old stars are the main draw here; it’s like a 1980s horror film reunion. On the other hand, once you get past that gimmick, there’s not too much to the story itself. It’s pretty good, pretty entertaining, but not really great.
This takes place in the 1980s (probably only so there’s no cell phones to deal with), and 85-year-old Bruce Dern is wearing a Vietnam veteran’s cap and talking about, “I seen some shit in the war”; he must’ve been around 70 in that war.
Time flies, I guess, even for actors. Courtney Gains, the hillbilly-looking kid from “Children of the Corn” and “The Burbs” is now playing a grumpy old man who can’t keep his dog on a leash. I guess that all really was forty-ish years ago.
Tony Todd, Adrienne Barbeau, Billy Zane, Meg Foster, Bruce Dern, John Kassir, and others stop by for their quick cameo paychecks. Really, the whole thing seems to be a patchwork of scenes involving various old-timers stitched together with the common element of Sheriff Joe investigating the cultists – Ed Morrone has a history of distinct roles, and he’s good in this one. This kind of thing has been done before, but this movie is better than most attempts.
The acting is fine for this type of not-quite-serious-but-not-really-a-parody film, although the pacing does drag a bit toward the end when we run out of guest stars to kill. It becomes a little repetitious fighting the cultists who all look alike. Which makes them pretty uninteresting really, even though there seems to be an infinite number of them. The monster has hints of greatness, but doesn’t really do enough. And we couldn’t decide if they simply forgot about Adrienne Barbeau’s character or if she died offscreen for some reason.
It’s the 1980s.
A group of cultists stand around a fire and start a ritual as Joshua leads the group and sacrifices a man. Old Bill Unger is visiting his long-dead wife’s grave and hears the sacrifice the group is doing… on his property! They all watch as the demon beast crawls out of the fire and towers above Joshua, who reads from the book. Joshua’s surprised the whole thing works while Bill tells his dead wife that they’ve got a big problem.
Joe Anderson’s the town’s new sheriff, here from the big city to enjoy the quiet. The deputies discuss rabid animals and bats. Deputy Teddy has a crush on Deanna, who works at the diner. Harry comes into the diner and wants to know about the new sheriff.
Bill comes into the sheriff’s office and complains about the cultists trespassing on his property. He describes the ritual in long, slow, excruciating detail, including the monster. Sheriff Joe takes some aspirin and wishes he’d stayed home today and just can’t quite keep a straight face.
Sheriff Joe goes to see Georgia, the local radio station’s DJ. She stays on top of all the local news, and she mentions that some guy went missing last night outside of town. Teddy goes out looking for Bernard’s lost dog and sees cultists in the fields that vanish when he looks away.
Elsewhere, Charlie and Eleanor are killed by the demon. Old Bill confronts some cultists, but he’s got booby traps and landmines. Boom!
The monster, hiding in a barn somewhere, mutates and grows big horns. All the phones in town go dead. All the car batteries in town are gone as well.
Sheriff Joe and Deputy Liz go to Bill’s place and find body parts all over amongst the land mines. Back in town, Deanna and Teddy battle cultists. Harry shows up just in time to get stabbed repeatedly. The survivors gather at Deanna’s diner. They watch the surviving cultists drag the dead ones away to feed the monster.
Back at the diner, Bobby gets stabbed and they duct tape him back together, but that doesn’t stick. Sheriff Joe finally makes it back to town and kills a few more cultists on the way to the big beast, who is hiding in the Christmas tree farm. Joe shoots it with a rocket launcher confiscated from Bill years before.
Joe, Teddy, Deanna, and Cindy limp out of town heading for safety, completely forgetting about Georgia, who was back in the diner waiting for them to come back, I guess.
We flash over to the next town over, where Joshua stops in for breakfast. He hadn’t appeared at all since the very first scene, but it looks like he’s scouting out a place to make a fresh start.
2022 Last Radio Call
• Directed by Isaac Rodriguez
• Written by Isaac Rodriguez
• Stars Sarah Froehlich, Jason Scarbrough, June Griffin Garcia
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 16 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
On June 30th, 2018, Officer David Serling went missing inside an undisclosed abandoned hospital. Using his recovered body cam footage, his wife attempts to piece together what happened to him on that horrible night. It’s not a horror movie after all, it’s a documentary (wink, wink).
We see and hear recordings from Police Officer David Sterling and his partner as they go into the abandoned hospital on a call. He and Officer Giles Ali split up and search different corridors. David goes into a chapel and there’s a coffin in the middle of the floor. Giles hears screams and gunfire. Credits roll.
David’s wife, Sarah, talks to us about David. She contacted the filmmakers one year after his disappearance. She wants to talk about the unsolved missing-persons case. They never found a body. David went into Yorktown Hospital, where he vanished. Officer Ali was found unharmed but with no memory. David’s bodycam footage was found but cut off early, not showing anything useful.
Sarah goes to talk with David’s supervisor, who resigned a month after the disappearance. He tells her to leave and get therapy. Next, she goes to see Giles Ali, who is more cooperative, but doesn’t really remember anything after a certain point. More than that, he’s basically lost his mind. The woman lives in the area, and she recorded an inhuman scream from that hospital at 3 a.m.
Sarah goes to the hospital at 3 a.m. just to see if she and the cameraman can hear anything. They try to go inside, but the security guard runs them off. She gets a ticket for trespassing and a $2000 fine. She decides to quit the project.
Two weeks later, another video takeninside the hospital leaks online. The woman in the video, who is not Sarah, stands in a cell and screams. Sarah calls the filmmaker back and wants to continue the project after seeing the video.
Officer Giles calls her and says he has some things that might help. She arrives to find Giles’ almost dead and a box containing David’s radio, a diary, and an audio recording. We listen to the recording, which has some really weird stuff on it. She calls a man who works for the archival storage for the police department, and he wants to meet too. He gives her thousands of hours of raw video from David’s bodycam.
We see on the video that three days before the incident at the hospital, David encountered some Satanists doing a ritual, which he interrupted. Although we saw David shoot the man, it was reported as a murder-suicide. There’s a symbol on his victim in the video that matches one painted on the hospital wall. She looks up the dead man online and calls his brother for a meeting. Benny is a light shaman, but his brother was into the darker stuff. He explains that this whole town has been built on hexed land. He explains, “Yorktown has always been a hotbed of evil, unnatural activity.” He recognizes the sign of the Red Sister, a Native-American ghost-witch that feeds on the blood of humans. He wants her to meet him tomorrow night to find some answers. He also gives her a videotape to watch concerning the Red Sister.
The next night, Sarah goes to the White Shaman Preserve. Benny does some stereotypical Indian shaman ritual things. The Red Witch show up, something starts to crawl out of Benny’s mouth, and Sarah and the cameraman nope right outta there. Sarah hears David’s voice on his police radio, but only for a second.
Sarah and the cameraman decide to try to get inside the hospital again, and this time, the door is standing wide open. It’s almost 3 a.m. again, and they go inside. They find an audio tape with Sarah’s name on it and play it. The voice says that Sarah has never been married before; she never had a husband. Sarah denies that it’s her voice on the tape.
Three o’clock arrives, and David’s radio starts making noise. Suddenly, they hear another radio from inside the hospital. They find David hiding in a closet, covered in blood. He warns her to leave now because “she’s coming.” The Red Witch chases Sarah around the hospital as the cameraman escapes.
Three days pass, and the cameraman returns in the daytime. It’s much cleaner and cheerful looking in the day. Sarah was never heard from again. The camera crew finally found David’s final bodycam footage from the night he went missing. Yep—he found the Red Witch too.
It’s not exactly a found-footage film, but it does incorporate some found footage gimmicks. It’s more of a documentary-style story. It has some really nice sets, but the acting, especially from Sarah, is not great. (Kevin chimes in and says that she did a mighty fine job in that role. Stretched thin at the end of her rope, not sure if she should mourn, not really able to have any kind of closure.) It’s a little slow getting started, but it’s pretty entertaining once it gets going.
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