V/H/S 94, Cult of Chucky, Nosferatu in Venice, and The Angry Red Planet
Horror Bulletin Weekly Issue 140
Episode 140 Summary
This week, we’ll be watching some more classics. We’ll watch four more horror films, including “The Angry Red Planet” from 1959, “Cult of Chucky” from 2017, “Nosferatu in Venice” from 1988, and “V/H/S 94” from 2021.
Here. We. Go!
The Angry Red Planet (1959)
· Directed by Ib Melchior
· Written by Ib Melchior, Sidney W. Pink
· Stars Gerald Mohr, Nora Hayden, Les Tremayne
· Run Time: 1 Hour, 23 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s way more sci-fi than horror, but the monsters are really well done for the time period. It doesn’t get boring, although the “Cinemagic” effect gets old pretty quickly. Overall, if you like classic sci-fi, this is a good one.
Serious-looking men enter the Pentagon. Colonel Treegar is in charge. The space ship that’s been missing for so long has been found, but they are assuming it’s dead. It entered Mars orbit two months ago, and they had believed it crashed, but it didn’t. Now it’s time to go get that ship, as it contains priceless data from Mars. They decide there’s no time to lose in mounting a recovery operation. There could even be someone alive on the ship, but it’s not likely.
They do their remote control thing, and the Mars rocket ship is going to land in Nevada tonight. Colonel Tom O’Bannon, Dr. Iris Ryan, Prof. Theodore Gettel, and Sam Jacobs are the crew that left on the rocket. Have any of them survived?
The door of the ship opens, and there is someone aboard! Two survivors. The recordings from the ship are all blank. What happened to the crew? Dr. Iris Ryan is sedated, but the unnamed man behind the curtain has some kind of weird growth that is rapidly spreading. They finally wake up Iris and ask her what happened. We get the flashback...
The four are flying the spaceship and on their way to Mars. Everything is going really well. Tom and Iris are getting close after seventeen days. There is a montage of them doing engineering and science stuff to pass the time, and we get to know them all a little more. Forty-seven days in, they’re finally orbiting Mars. They go through the pre-landing check and land on the surface.
The oxygen is too thin to breathe, but there’s enough oxygen there to sustain some kind of life. Still, they don’t see anything moving out among the vegetation. They all decide to go outside to see what’s up. Iris sees a three-eyed creature outside the window and screams.
Back in the hospital, Iris needs to rest, and the doctors say she has a mental block about something. The doctor explains that drugs will keep her going, but there’s a risk of a complete mental breakdown if they force the memories from her. Iris insists on the drugs-- she needs to remember to save the life of the infected man. Soon, the drugs take effect, and she remembers it all...
The three men on the ship don’t really believe Iris saw something at the window. They step outside, and literally everything is red (The Cinemagic effect touted in the preview and publicity). Sam has an ultrasonic freeze gun, but Tom carries a regular pistol. They see many strange plants as they walk through the red jungle. Iris says some of the plants have what appears to be a nervous system. A giant, carnivorous tentacled plant grabs Iris and tries to eat her. The men fight it off, and they go back to the ship.
The Professor has a feeling that something is watching them from afar. There may be some kind of hyper-intelligent community mind like that of the ants on Earth. They find that they can’t communicate with home, their radio signals just bounce back.
The next day, they go out again and wake up a forty-foot tall Batratspidercrab that lumbers after them. The sonic freeze gun doesn’t work; it’s too big, but they do manage to drive it off eventually. They continue on and find an ocean or lake that extends to the horizon. As they return to the ship, the three-eyed creature follows them.
They decide the place is more dangerous than expected, so they’re going to take off. The professor still thinks there’s a controlling force organizing the life forms there, and it concerns him. They launch, but the angry red planet chooses to not let them go. They’re in some kind of force field.
They can’t leave, so they decide to see what’s on the other side of the lake. Luckily they brought an inflatable raft. They see an advanced city in the distance. Before they can get there, a giant sea monster surfaces and chases them. They run back to the ship, but the monster eats Sam. It also touches Tom on his skin and seems to have infected him.
Iris says the thing is essentially a giant amoeba. Tom thinks they can electrify the outer hull, which is insulated from the inner hull. They work hard, rewiring everything. They turn on the generators, and the creature does back off. Unfortunately Gettel has chest pains from the stress.
The radio comes on, and it’s a warning to the men of Earth from Mars. They all black out and find themselves launched and back in space. Gettel is dead from the takeoff G-forces, and Tom’s infection is accelerating. Alone on the ship, Iris didn’t know how to rewire the ship back for normal control.
Back in the hospital, the doctors want to know what the voice said. What was the warning? She doesn’t remember, and the tapes don’t help. They do learn enough from her story that they manage to slow the progression of Tom’s infection. Iris goes to the lab and figures out that they can trick the amoeba into leaving Tom by using small voltages of electricity. They plan to “scare” it out of him.
Tom’s better. They finally found the warning on the final tape. They have been watching us for centuries. “Do not return to Mars. Do not come here.”
They make really good use of what looks like space program and military stock footage, but it all looks about right and fits very well with the narration. There’s a lot of 1950s science fiction here before the monsters appear, but it’s all good, fun stuff. There’s lots of retro-classic tech in this, which is usually fun. All those buttons and dials and gauges and switches.
The present day stuff flashing back to the trip to Mars keeps the story from getting boring. The creature effects are interesting, creative, and pretty effective for the year it was made. As silly as the batratspidercrab was in concept, it looked pretty cool. We never do see what’s in that city.
The film used something called the Cinemagic Effect on Mars. Everything is awash in a bright red outside the ship. Which was probably intended to make the hand-drawn two-dimensional scenery, fake plants, and live actors blend together better on a low budget. The success of it is mixed, but it does give the film a distinctive and unique look.
Cult of Chucky (2017)
· Directed by Don Mancini
· Written by Don Mancini
· Stars Allison Dawn Doiron, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif
· Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
There’s a new Chucky gimmick in this one, and it’s a lot of fun. The special effects are good and mostly practical rather than CGI. The acting is fine, and we see most of our favorite characters from past films here. We liked it.
Andy is on a date, and his girlfriend thinks he’s a gun fanatic because he owns one. He wants to be able to protect himself, but he’s vague about what. She Googled him and knows the whole story. We get a few flashbacks to what happened in earlier films, and the girlfriend dumps Andy.
Andy goes home, and we see that he doesn’t own a gun; he has a whole arsenal. He opens the safe, and he has Chucky’s still-living head in there. He takes off the gag and talks to it. “I guess it’s just me and you again tonight, pal,” he says. Andy tortures his “best friend” on a regular basis. Credits roll.
Nica is in the hospital getting electroshock treatment. She still has nightmares about Chucky. Dr. Foley explains that Nica was the one who killed those people, and she only imagined a killer doll. He’s having her transferred to a medium-security institution.
Nica starts to get settled in at the new hospital, which looks like a Soviet prison on the outside, but is reasonably nice on the inside. She meets Michael, gives him some chewing gun, and then they have sex. Angela thinks she’s a ghost, and she says Chucky told her that he will be coming for Nica. Dr. Foley pulls out a Chucky doll that he bought at Hot Topic. Madeline, one of the other patients, grabs the doll and claims it as her baby. She finds out that Michael has multiple personalities; they’re all crazy there. Well, it is an asylum.
Tiffany comes to visit Nica; she’s her niece, Alice’s, guardian. “You look exactly like Jennifer Tilly.” “Yeah, I get that a lot.” Alice is dead. She also brings a Chucky doll; Alice used it in her therapy. When left alone, this doll blinks. Within seconds, he’s armed with a scalpel and stalking the halls of the asylum.
Chucky sneaks into Nica’s room, and she’s already cut her wrist open in a suicide attempt. Next morning, she wakes up and sees a message in blood “not so fast.” Chucky has sewn her arm up. Angela the ghost-lady, however, is very dead in the same way. “Chucky did it” is written in that blood puddle.
Andy watches a video of him demonstrating Chucky’s living head to Dr. Foley, who says it’s a great trick. The real Chucky laughs at the video and taunts Andy, “Maybe this really is all in your head.”
Meanwhile, at the hospital, we get a whole bunch of is it real, or are they just crazy, scenes. Foley thinks it’s mass hysteria, which seems logical up to a point. Chucky kills Claire next. We see that now Chucky can be in more than one place at a time somehow.
Andy reads about the deaths in the newspaper and wonders how this could be possible, since he has Chucky on his desk. Nica thinks Chucky has replicated himself into other dolls. We also see that Dr. Foley isn’t particularly ethical or altruistic. Chucky tries to temp Nica into killing Foley, but she doesn’t.
Michael has acquired a new alias; now he’s “Charles,” and he seems a lot creepier. Andy is making his way to the asylum, but Tiffany calls and tells him that the cult is growing all the time. Andy arrives and has himself committed.
Dr. Foley gets a package, and guess what’s inside? Another Chucky doll. Who sent that? Don’t know. Meanwhile, Madeline is killed by “her baby.” Nica warns Foley that Chucky is going to kill him too, but he ignores her. Before long, Nica finds herself surrounded by three Chuckys, and he explains the whole thing. They have a gruesome party with one of the orderlies.
Tiffany shows up and kills the security guard. Chucky calls on Demballa to give him the power, and before you know it, Nica is up and walking around for the first time - now possessed by Charles Lee Ray. We see a dead doll laying next to the doctor on the floor. This time, Foley doesn’t survive.
Nica-Charles confronts Michael/Mark/Charles and calls him out on his being a “poser.”
Finally, Chucky goes after Andy, who actually knows what he’s doing now. Nica, Tiffany, and the Alice doll drive away for another “happy ending.” Leaving Andy locked in a cell.
I don’t think Andy’s instantaneously getting committed works like that. Then again, this isn’t a completely legitimate mental hospital, so —whatever.
I really, really prefer this practical-effect Chucky over the newer CGI versions. He isn’t supposed to look real, after all, he’s a toy. His plasticity is supposed to look like that. Too much reality doesn’t help in this case. The gore shots are really well done and over the top, and of course, the jokes are— well, it’s Chucky.
The only thing better than Chucky is three Chucky’s (Chuckies?) working together. The Tiffany/Alice doll is there, but she doesn’t really do anything. They almost, almost try to do too much for a single film, but as one installment in a series, it’s really good.
Short Film: No Thank You (2020)
· Director: Rachael Drummond
· Writer: Nina Concepción
· Stars: Nina Concepción, MeLissa Gavarrette
· Run Time: 6 Minutes
· Link: https://filmshortage.com/dailyshortpicks/no-thank-you/
The world is ending and one roommate wants to leave and the other wants to stay behind. “They aren’t here yet, but they will be soon,” says the smart one.
Where are they really going to go? What happens when they have their periods? What happens when she can’t refill her Zoloft? “I’m a cozy girl, not a camper!”
“It’s gonna suck out there so bad. We’re gonna sleep in nasty places, and we can’t even deal with ants in the bathroom!”
We quickly learn which of the two is correct.
This one proves that the world is simply doomed. The pandemic has proven we as a species can’t deal with change, but this film takes it to a whole new level, but this time it’s with zombies.
Nosferatu in Venice (1988)
· aka “Vampires in Venice”
· Directed by Augusto Caminito, Klaus Kinski
· Written by Alberto Alfieri, Leandro Lucchetti, Augusto Caminito
· Stars Klaus Kinski, Barbara De Rossi, Yorgo Voyagis, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasance
· Run Time: 1 Hour, 37 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
It’s creepy, adds some neat things to movie vampire lore, is much more fast-paced and less artsy-fartsy than the original. If you could tolerate the first film, this is a much more straightforward vampire story. With Klaus Kinski again nicely adding his strange touch to the role.
Note: I am fully aware that, “Nosferatu” is simply another word for “Vampire,” but since he’s never named here, that’s the name I’m using for his character. He’s not Dracula; he’s not Orlock, he’s just “Nosferatu.”
As credits roll, we see hunters in the field shooting at ducks. One of the men shoots a vampire bat by mistake, but that’s OK, as they are cursed.
Professor Catalano narrates that story; explaining that he’s devoted his life to the study of Nosferatu and his disappearance during the great plague.
The priest Don Alvise is with the Princess, a creepy old woman who says Catalano has come to destroy the peace of the village. Catalano mentions that he expects to die very soon. Catalano is the leading expert on vampirism. “Vampires are everywhere,” he tells Una and Dr. Barneval over dinner.
Maria takes Catalano into the catacombs thirty feet beneath the great canal of Venice. There’s a crypt down there with a locked coffin. It’s sealed with iron bands. She says Nosferatu is in the tomb, buried during the plague hundreds of years ago. She wants to open the tomb and set him free. He explains that this is a very, very bad idea.
That night, Catalano goes snooping, and the princess knocks him out with her cane. Next morning, the princess explains the family curse to him.
We flash back to a priest and a couple of helpers doing an exorcism in that very building long ago. They open the door, and Nosferatu is in there. Nosferatu uses his magic to bring up a wind that blows all three of the clergy out the window to be impaled on the fence below. Nosferatu disappeared shortly thereafter, not to be heard of again.
The princess calls for a medium to come, but Alvise doesn’t approve. Catalano explains all the ways a person can become a vampire; there should be a lot of them. Alvise leaves as the seance begins. She calls on Nosferatu, and we see him rise from a coffin and climb up the steps, although it’s not the sealed coffin we saw earlier.
Helietta is one of Nosferatu’s descendants, and she calls to him from the seance; he hears her. She passes out, and the seance is over. Catalano and Barneval run downstairs to check on the sealed coffin, which is still sealed.
Nosferatu must have been somewhere else all along, but he’s awake now. He stumbles along the beach until he runs into a gypsy beach party. They know he can make them immortal, but he wants to know who summoned him. The gypsy woman pulls out a crystal ball and shows him who called. He drinks from the woman and her daughter, and he is recharged. Apparently, these gypsies had been watching over his crypt for 200 years.
It’s carnival time, and there are fireworks and everyone is wearing strange and creepy ornamental masks. Nosferatu comes home and runs into the Princess, who recognizes him right away. She then “falls” out the window and onto the spiked fence below.
Catalano opens the crypt in the basement, and the woman inside sits up, but then immediately decomposes. Catalano finds mercury in the tomb, which is the only metal that can truly kill a vampire.
Meanwhile, Nosferatu tracks down Helietta at the ball, and she looks just like the woman in the painting that the Princess had. She also resembles the woman that dissolved in the crypt. He follows her home. He comes into her room after bedtime and does things to her.
She explains what happened to Catalano in the morning. Nosferatu, in the meantime, viciously attacks Uta Barneval. Catalano and Barneval set an ambush for the vampire, but he comes in behind them instead. They shoot a great big hole right through him but it instantly heals. He grabs the shotgun and bends it like a toy. This is one powerful vampire!
Catalano does whole “Get back!” Spiel, but Nosferatu just makes the cross burn. Helietta offers herself to him willingly, but the strange sister, Maria, follows them up into the church tower and jumps to her death. Except Nosferatu flies by and grabs her before she hits the ground.
Catalano, Alvise, and Barneval figure out that he’s probably hiding in the old plague cemetery. Alvise yells at Catalano, who gives up hope and kills himself.
Nosferatu says only Maria can help him attain death, which is what he really wants. She wants to help him get that too, because she loves him. We were told that true, innocent love can cause his immortality to end.
Barneval and his friends come to the island where Nosferatu lives. They have shotgun shells filled with mercury this time. They find three coffins: one for the gypsy girl, one for Helietta, and one for Nosferatu himself. They stake him, and he turns into Una, who was disguised with magic. The real Nosferatu is off having sex with Maria.
The men break in shoot them both, but neither dies right away. Barneval runs into Helietta, who is really Nosferatu in disguise. He’s killed messily. Maria wants Nosferatu to turn her into a being like him, but he doesn’t want to do that to her because he loves her as well. They walk off into the fog together. What will happen?
Who knew Venice was so foggy? This is one of those vampire movies that takes place entirely at night, but all the outdoor scenes look like they were hot in bright daylight with a hazy filter. It makes following the passage of time difficult.
There probably should have been some indication that the vampire after being locked in a box for 200 years would have a little trouble adapting to 1988 Italy. They have electricity, motorboats, recorded music, and lots of other things he had never experienced. He doesn’t show any confusion or curiosity at all.
It’s much less tedious than the first film. It still has some excellent locations and sets, but it doesn’t dwell on them for ridiculous lengths of time. It adds some fun things to vampire lore: he only sleeps 24 hours every 24 days. He can only really be killed with mercury. He can be seen in a mirror if he wants to work at it. Even his ability to withstand the daylight comes into question.
Still, it’s a bit long, and the music is very dated. I definitely liked it better than the first one, which tried to be weird for the sake of being weird. This one at least had a good story behind it.
V/H/S 94 (2021)
· Directed by Simon Barrett, Steven Kostanski. Chloe Okumo
· Written by Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okumo, Simon Barrett
· Stars Anna Hopkins, Christian Potenza, Brian Paul
· Run Time: 1 Hour, 43 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
It’s a five-part anthology, all based on a found-VHS-footage gimmick (like the previous three films in the series). Three of the five are really good, and they all come at the beginning, so you can tune out early if you want.
We watch some creepy old VHS footage where we see a bloody girl counting down from ten. The first segment begins…
A bunch of S.W.A.T. cops and camera people roll out and raid a building. It seems to be some kind of cult housed inside an airplane hangar. They find the owner of a video store who apparently plucked his own eyes out. They find the rest of the cultists, all sitting in front of a bunch of TVs.
We focus on a newscast, where they talk about an alleged “Ratman” in the sewers. They interview several nut jobs in their search. The reporter goes into the tunnel to report. She hears something behind her and has to go again. They investigate further and find someone’s camp in the sewer. They run into Bill, who says he is not the ratman. What they find is a lot stranger than expected.
Best newscast ever! It’s followed by a commercial for a “Veggie Masher.”
The S.W.A.T. team continues to explore the building, and they find a church full of bodies, mannequins, and eyeballs. There’s a big screen TV in there that shows…
It’s a funeral at the funeral parlor. The family of the deceased is said to be a little weird. Hayley is there to record the wake. No one shows up for a very long time, but she plays the funeral music and records the empty room anyway.
It starts to storm, and the lights blink on and off. She hears the occasional thumping from the coffin, and that creeps her out. Then the power goes off altogether. She goes out to grab some candles, and then when she comes back, the coffin is sitting on the stand crooked. It wasn’t before.
She calls her boss, who tells her to open up the casket and calm her mind about the body’s condition. Before she can do that, one man shows up for the wake. The mas talks to the casket for a minute and then leaves. A friend calls and tells Hayley that the corpse was a mass murderer who was all over the news. One thing leads to another, and then the tornado siren goes off. This is not going to be a good night for poor Hayley.
Back to the cops in the building, and now the find a toy room with toys, bodies, and one small TV. Some of the cops have stopped checking in, which might be problematic.
We see a show about a human head on a mechanical spider body. It burns, and the doctor explains that the experiment is a failure.
He starts another tape, and this time, he’s doing some kind of brain surgery on two “donors.” Eventually, the subject wakes up, and he says it’s a success! He has combined human and machine. We watch the rest of the video recorded from the subject’s eyes.
The doctor continues to graft parts onto human bodies. The subject see herself on the news as a missing person. They fight, and the police come to the door. The police break in and kill the doctor. The police think it’s a mercy to kill the subject, but she runs off. It seems the old doctor had made… alternate arrangements.
As the cops start to notice there is a problem. One cop stares at a burry video screen.
A group of armed men go into a bunker of some kind. They find a chained man and shoot him in the head. There are crosses and garlic all over the walls. “America is plagued by a black cancer,” we are told. These men are going to take back America. They are insurrectionists, ready to bring the corrupt America to its knees.
The next day, they execute that same man again - removing all doubt that they aren’t just completely deluded goobers; one shot to the head (again). They get a new weapon and test it on the man the next day. This time, they drain his blood.
They inject some blood into a rabbit. The sun comes up, the rabbit explodes like a bomb. A large bomb. Each day, they drain more blood from their vampire. They are going to use animals as living weapons.
They all get drunk and high the night before their big attack, and two of the guys decide it’s a good idea to go in the cell and mess with the monster. It is not a good idea.
It seems every one of the cops who has watched a video has died and pulled out their own eyeballs. Two girls come out and explain to Slater, the last cop, that they are a hardcore VHS nasties fetish group. They beat Slater to death with a camera to make a new film of their own.
The creature and gore effects are surpassingly good. The rat man, the man at the wake, the “subject” are particularly good.
I’m not sure if “Terror” is just a bad parody of preppers, survivalists, and fanatics, or if it’s just bad. I suspect it’s just so cringe-inducing because it’s so realistic. (Kevin says: Yes, I think it was a good parody of militia extremists with vampires as the target of their over-the-top patriotic zeal.)
Overall, I think they saved the weakest segment for last, and the wraparound story wasn’t much of anything at all. The first three full segments are definitely worth watching though.
And that’s our show. Thanks for joining us. Stop in during the week at our website, HorrorMovieGuys.com for news and horror updates, to comment on this podcast, or to contact us.
Get ready for next week, where we’ll be watching some more classics. We’ll watch four more horror films, including “Absentia” from 2011, “Phantasm III” from 1994, “It Conquered the World,” from 1956, and “Underwater” from 2020.
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