GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by Katie Marie: The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree

TV Movie — 1993 — Not Rated — 1 hour 9 minutes
Director: Mario Piluso
Writer: Ray Bradbury
Stars: Ray Bradbury (narrator), Leonard Nimoy (Mr Moundshroud)

Four children learn the origins of Halloween customs while trying to save the life of their friend.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays.

These days I love decorating, getting dressed up and giving out sweets to the small monsters that come to my door.

When I was little, I loved going Trick-or-Treating, but I also loved making my own costumes, reading scary books (Goosebumps were a favorite) and watching spooky films.

My absolute favorite of these was The Halloween Tree, and it’s this film that I want to talk to you about today.

Beware spoilers below.

The Halloween Tree was released in 1993 on ABC before being released on VHS and making its way across the pond to the UK where I found it on the shelf of my local rental store. It is based on the 1972 book of the same name by Ray Bradbury and while there are some changes, mostly the animated film stays true to the book.

Ray Bradbury voices the narrator and the film even boasts voice talents of Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Moundshroud.

Plot Summary
The film opens with the narrator describing a small towns Halloween preparation and we meet our main characters, Jenny, Ralph, Wally and Tom. The small group plan to meet their friend Joe (known as Pip). But when they go to meet him at his house, they see him being loaded into an ambulance, the poor lad has appendicitis.

They decide to visit him at the hospital and take a shortcut through the woods but they see a ghost-like vision of Pip running away from them and are convinced this whole thing is a hoax. They follow Pip all the way into a spooky mansion.

Inside the mansion they meet Mr. Moundshroud who is saddened by the fact that none of the children understand the deeper meaning behind their respective costumes, mummy, witch, monster and skeleton. He also reveals that Pip has pinched a pumpkin with his face carved into it from Mr. Moundshroud’s tree of jack-o-lanterns and Mr. Moundshroud is now pursuing him.

Tom begs for the group to be allowed to go with Mr. Moundshroud to retrieve Pip’s ghost. They are initially refused but eventually the old man relents and the group is challenged to retrieve the pumpkin and learn about their costumes in order to get Pip back.

The group goes on marvelous adventures to ancient Egypt, Stonehenge, Notre Dame Cathedral and lastly, Mexico to witness Día De Los Muertos. During these adventures the group comes within a hair’s breath of catching Pip but he always escapes until Tom finds him in Mexico and apologizes. Tom had wished for something bad to happen to Pip so he could be in charge of the group for once, Pip forgives him but crumbles to dust.

Mr. Moundshroud announces the children failed and Pip now belongs to him. But each of the children offer up a year of their lives to Mr. Moundshroud in exchange for Pip, Mr. Moundshroud agrees and they seal the contract with candy. The children are returned home and see Pip has come home from the hospital.

The film ends with Mr. Moundshroud and the jack-o-lantern tree turning to smoke, all except Pip’s pumpkin which his friends rescued with their sacrifice.

My Thoughts
This was a favorite of mine when I was young and even as an adult, I enjoy watching it. I feel films like this paved the way for other stories such as Over the Garden Wall which is wonderfully creepy.

This is a classic horror story, with very real stakes and very real consequences for our characters. But it also has real heart, and shows a strength of friendship and love that resonates with us even as adults. All of Pip’s friends care about him so deeply that they are willing to exchange their own mortal time to keep him alive and safe.

It is also delightfully informative without feeling like you’re being lectured at. It exposed my young and infinitely curious mind to a whole host of cultures, history and information I would have otherwise been ignorant to.

Overall, this is a classic movie with well-established stakes, highly motivated and compelling characters, told with heart and style. A must see for small and big kids alike.

Boo-graphy:
Katie Marie is a horror enthusiast and writer from Norfolk, England.

She has been published in several anthologies and magazines, and her Novella, A Man in Winter, was recently released by Brigids Gate Press.

Katie started writing while studying at Aberystwyth University in the early 2000’s and several years later she has received a Masters Degree and published many short stories, a novel and novella.

Website
Facebook

Arthur, whose life was devastated by the brutal murder of his wife, must come to terms with his diagnosis of dementia. He moves into a new home at a retirement community, and shortly after, has his life turned upside down again when his wife’s ghost visits him and sends him on a quest to find her killer so her spirit can move on. With his family and his doctor concerned that his dementia is advancing, will he be able to solve the murder before his independence is permanently restricted?

A Man in Winter examines the horrors of isolation, dementia, loss, and the ghosts that come back to haunt us.

GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by Thomas R. Clark: Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom: Let There Be Carnage
2021 – PG13 – 1 hour 37 minutes

Director: Andy Serkis
Screenplay Writer: Kelly Marcel
Story Writer: Tom Hardy

Stars:
Tom Hardy
Woody Harrelson
Michelle Williams

Eddie Brock attempts to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady, who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution.


Why VENOM LET THERE BE CARNAGE is the Cosmic Horror Super Hero Movie We Needed This Halloween Season

I love cosmic horror and all things related, complete with tentacles. The science fiction aspects of the horror genre are gateways to twisted aliens, elder gods, death cults, abominations, and a whole lot of insanity. I’m fascinated at how cosmic horror’s tropes can weave their nefarious tendrils into non-science fiction properties. It meshes well with folk horror, for example. THE RITUAL, Adam Nevill’s excellent novel and subsequent film adaptation, is a great example of this mash-up. Comic Books, and superheroes in particular, are also riddled with cosmic horror elements.

The Marvel multiverse is filled with Cosmic Horror, and the current Phase 4 appears to be going all sorts of Lovecraftian. There have been a few attempts to translate these horror elements in the past, and not all of them have been successful. Going back as far as HOWARD THE DUCK, (YES – I invoked HOWARD THE DUCK) in which the “Dark Overlords of the Universe (aka ELDER GODS) want a piece of the earth, we’ve seen a cosmic horror element in Marvel properties on film. Most recently, Josh Boone tried (and failed) to bring the horror of mutants into a then FOX film, with THE NEW MUTANTS.

With the creation of the Multiverse, it only makes sense some of Marvel’s true Cosmic Horror entities make their way to the forefront. Take the alien symbiote, VENOM, for example. You cannot deny the cosmic horror origins of the character. His first film outting was in Spider-Man 3, the overbooked and underwritten finale of Sam Raimi’s trilogy. SONY’s decision to bring a revamped incarnation, the anti-hero Venom has become in the decade since, proved to be wise. The 2018 film, albeit flawed, made a mint in the pre-pandemic world. Tom Hardy’s reimagined Eddie Brock is the perfect likeable sad sack. And his dual role as the brain eating symbiote lured viewers in and promised a sequel featuring a showdown with one of Venom’s greatest adversaries: Carnage.

And we were all ready to get it in 2020… until the Pandemic hit. We were forced to wait an entire year, with the date getting pushed back and forth as studios tried to adapt to the difficulties of the pandemic. The date of 10/1/21 turned out to be more perfect than we could have imagined. Why, you ask? Because it’s the start of Halloween Movie season for many horror fans. And what could be better than shape morphing aliens chomping off peoples’ heads?

Oh yes, VENOM LET THERE BE CARNAGE, although mostly bloodless, is a PG-13 superhero cosmic horror delite. After a seriously scary prologue featuring teenage Cletus Kasady in a mental institution, the new movie moves to where the last film ended, with Eddie being summoned as the chronicler of serial killer Kasady’s final statements before being put to death. The homages to Silence of the Lambs are not forgotten, and used as catalysts to move the plot forward.

Yes, I said plot.

You see, unlike the previous VENOM entry, this movie actually has a story and a plot. At a brisk 96 minutes, director Andy Serkis wastes no time getting down to business. Kelly Marcel, co-writer of the first Venom, brings a solo screenplay full of chills, thrills and laughs. But in the end, it’s Woody Harrelson, doing his best Nicholas Cage overacting, and Tom Hardy’s charisma that make this movie leaps and tendrils better than the 2018 film. There are plenty of heads eaten by bad guys and anti-heroes, and more than enough one-liners to make you giggle like a 5th grader.

I hope we get an R-rated home release with some blood and gore in it at some point. You see, on a written page, the VENOM films would be extreme cosmic horror novels, complete with as many mind fucks and brains sucked out as any book from the genre. I’m a believer the more extreme aspects of horror can be mainstream, it’s in the manner you present them. And doing so through a superhero property is an easy way to do it. Godless has seen great success with their Splatter punk anti-hero line, GODLESS LEAGUE, which includes characters as diverse as John Baltisberger’s vengeful Rabbi, STABBERGER, and Drew Stepek’s head squishing buzz topped DOZE.

The only thing I didn’t care for was the mid-credits scene. It felt like a shoehorned cop-out, but I digress in my search to find something in the movie that didn’t work. Make no mistake about it, VENOM LET THERE BE CARNAGE is a horror film. It’s the perfect start for your Halloween and a welcome entry into the modern era of the Marvel Multiverse and superhero movies.


Boo-graphy:
Thomas R Clark is a musician, writer, and podcast producer & engineer. He is the author of the 2021 Splatterpunk Award Nominated BELLA’S BOYS, GOOD BOY, and THE DEATH LIST – published through Stitched Smile Publications, and the forthcoming THE GOD PROVIDES, from St. Rooster Books. His short fiction collection, A BOOK OF LIGHT AND SHADOW is available through his personal imprint, Nightswan Press. Tom’s journalism has appeared in Rue Morgue, This Is Infamous, and House of Stitched Magazine. He lives in Central New York with his wife and a trio of Jack Russell terrier companions.

The God Provides
The foothills of Upstate New York are alive with something terrifying. It hunts, it tempts, it traps, and there’s no escape. Thomas R Clark re-invents Irish Mythology and takes you on a bloody, emotional, and horrific journey back through time with the tale of the McEntire clan, and the devastating secrets they hold. The author of the Splatterpunk Awards nominated Bella’s Boys: A Tale of Cosmic Horror has crafted a story that’s part The Wicker Man and part Cycle of the Werewolf, but at the same time like nothing you’ve read before.

GUEST POST: Matthew R. Davis

13 Fun Fright Flicks for Halloween

Halloween is as much about fun as it is frights, so here’s a list of films to get you cackling through the chaos. I’ve avoided the obvious choices, so no Shaun of the Dead, Scream, Trick ‘r Treat, etc. (even if Shaun is one of the best films of all time, hands down). Here, you’ll find a baker’s dozen of rollicking romps and silly shocks, all dressed in the finest Halloween regalia, and I’ve even included some streaming options if that’s your thing… but I should warn you, Halloween itself plays almost no part in these films. Themes are hard, man! Here’s your effing lot.

DEMONS (1985)
Lamberto Bava’s Demons lays on the cheese thick and fast, taking everything we’d come to expect from producer/co-writer Dario Argento’s oeuvre and amping the ridiculous action up to 11. A group of unsuspecting folk enter the Metropol for a free screening of a new horror flick, only to find the nightmare bursting off the celluloid to run amok in the theatre. Cue special effects that range from laughably daft to outright eerie, a soundtrack that cuts between a very ‘80s synth score by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti and rockers like Mötley Crüe’s “Save Our Souls” and Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, and outlandish elements such as a working dirt bike in the cinema lobby and an unexplained final-act helicopter crash in the amphitheatre. A perfect beer and pizza flick!

Stream Demons on Shudder

NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986)
Featuring a standout turn from Tom Atkins as the endlessly quotable Detective Ray Cameron, Night of the Creeps delivers a fun 1980s update of 1950s SF/horror larks that never knowingly takes itself seriously. A college hazing prank gone wrong looses alien brain parasites upon a small town, turning the infected into murderous zombies whose rampage leads to college girls accessorising their prom dresses with flamethrowers. Writer/director Fred Dekker channels youthful joy into an enjoyable romp that throws in B&W ‘50s flashbacks, Hawaiian dream sequences, a disabled best friend who brings both laughs and pathos, and exploding heads by the dozen. If you don’t answer the phone with the words “thrill me” after watching this, you’re doing it all wrong.

Stream Night of the Creeps on Shudder

TRICK OR TREAT (1986)
We’ll be moving on from the ‘80s in due course, but first, here’s a treat (or trick) for fans of cheesy heavy metal. Sneering hairspray rocker Sammi Curr dies before the release of his new album Songs in the Key of Death, but his biggest fan soon realises the gig he had planned for the local high school’s Halloween dance will be going ahead regardless – and Curr’s set is going to kill. Featuring cameos from Gene Simmons as rock DJ Nuke and Ozzy Osbourne as a fundamentalist preacher set on abolishing rock n’ roll, Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat brings a knowing wit to its cheap pyrotechnics as it follows many a disgruntled teen’s arc from investing whole-heartedly in rebel music to eventually discarding it for the trappings of maturity. Don’t believe that hype, though – metal is forever!

THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM (1988)
Ken Russell’s delirious adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1911 novel is as outrageous and enjoyable as you’d expect, contrasting venomous visions of Romans ravishing nuns amidst blood and fire with the bucolic sleepiness of a small English village. When a giant serpentine skull is unearthed at an archaeological gig, the appetites of ancient worm deity Dionin accelerate to envelop humble innkeeper and rich gentry alike. A fresh-faced Peter Capaldi (twenty-five years away from headlining Doctor Who) brings the modest heroism, Hugh Grant plays his charming, dapper-but-practical toff to the hilt, and Amanda Donohoe is having such a blast as the seductive villainess Miss Marsh that her sharp turns into sheer snake-eyed terror are all the more disturbing. The Lair of the White Worm is a fever dream from which you’ll wake laughing… in a pool of cold sweat.

Stream The Lair of the White Worm on Shudder

FRANKENHOOKER (1990)
You won’t find any frights here, but you will laugh your head off – and if you’re unlucky, someone will come along to sew it back on the wrong body. After an horrific lawnmower accident leaves his fiancée in pieces, a backyard scientist resolves to build her a new body, and what follows is an orgy of homemade super-crack, exploding sex workers, relaxation techniques involving trepanation by power drill, and a patchwork prostitute tottering around on stacked heels looking for fatal “dates”. Frank Henenlotter’s ludicrous body-horror is a welcome shock of lightning for those seeking bad-taste titillation on Halloween. Also, I just can’t help myself, so here’s a crap joke: Frankenhooker; or, the Modern Promiscuous.

Stream Frankenhooker on Shudder

BRAINDEAD (1992)
If you’re only familiar with Peter Jackson through his epic Tolkien adaptations, watching his early films must be like discovering your favourite classical composer used to be in a smutty grindcore band. After she’s bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey, downtrodden Lionel finds his nasty mother taking a turn for the worse and must go to extreme lengths to keep her and her ever-increasing horde of zombie victims under wraps, even if it means strapping a lawnmower to his chest to cut swathes through the undead or stabbing his way free from a monstrous womb. Jackson masterfully steers this flick from a comedy of manners set in 1950s New Zealand to a hilariously over-the-top rampage that soaks the screen in more red stuff than any movie before or since. This is splatter that matters.

Stream Dead Alive (aka Braindead) on Vudu

SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND (1998)
When it comes to spooky fun, how can you go past the family-animation gateway to horror that is Scooby-Doo? The gang reunite to shoot some footage for Daphne’s TV show in New Orleans, only to find themselves up against a threat that, for once, proves to be much more than a small business owner trying to scare off competition by skulking around in a monster suit – this time, the creeps are real. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is highly regarded amongst fans for its (slightly) darker tone, which prefigures the show’s future exploration of more layered and “adult” plots in the excellent Mystery Incorporated. Jeepers, jinkies, and zoinks, oh my!

Stream Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island on Roku

CUT (2000)
Time for some tongue-in-cheek slasher hijinks, and you can keep your Scream franchise and subsequent knock-offs – Cut may not be better, but it’s at least a flavour you might not have tried before. An Australian film crew decides to finish shooting the incomplete horror feature Hot Blooded!, which has long been regarded as cursed, and naturally, slaughter ensues as the movie’s masked killer returns to wreak havoc on the set. If you’re not sufficiently intrigued by the casting of Molly Ringwald as a bullish diva looking to reignite her career, perhaps you’d be interested in watching Kylie Minogue meet a gruesome death – and this was all shot by Kimble Rendall here in my home state of South Australia. Frights, camera – slashin’!

Stream Cut on Vimeo

GHOSTS OF MARS (2001)
That’s right, my friends, we’re going there – I consider Ghosts of Mars to be an underrated and highly enjoyable horror flick, not a patch on John Carpenter’s prior classics but easily worth ninety minutes of your time. When a mining crew unleashes a horde of ravenous spirits on Mars, it’s up to Natasha Henstridge’s team to save the day, and if nothing else, it’s a whole lot of fun watching Pam Grier, Ice Cube, and a pre-fame Jason Statham chew the scenery like catering had taken the day off. Carpenter throws a bunch of intriguing ideas at the screen – a subtly matriarchal society, the use of illegal narcotics providing unexpected salvation for one character – as well as a whole lot of severed heads and tribal scarification. If you’ve heard about the toxic reception but haven’t tried it yourself, you might find that, like me, you disagree with the critical consensus.

Stream Ghosts of Mars on Hulu

THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO (2009)
If you’re in the mood for something crass and entirely lacking in socially redeeming features, look no further than Rob Zombie’s outrageous adventure in animated sleaze. Celebrity luchador lunkhead El Superbeasto follows his lust for super-stripper Velvet Von Black (and anything else with boobs and a pulse) into the path of Doctor Satan’s clumsy quest to gain all the sudsy powers of Hell, with his sexy spy stepsister Suzi-X riding shotgun to pull his irons out of the fire. Packed full of horror references, silly songs, and game-for-anything celebrity voices, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto threatens to throttle good taste at every turn. All together now: “Zombie Nazis, f**kin’ up my day now…”

Stream The Haunted World of El Superbeasto on Roku

DETENTION (2011)
Why be just one thing when you can be everything – that seems to be the driving thought behind Detention, Joseph Kahn’s sensory overload of a film. A grotesque serial killer called Cinderhella is on the loose, but that’s merely a distraction from time-travel shenanigans involving a stuffed bear, personality swaps, wardrobe malfunctions, and a character once teasingly nicknamed TV Hand. More of a teen comedy on steroids and hallucinogens than a horror flick, Detention throws so much at the viewer that they might end up wishing they too could time-travel, if only to make sense of the increasingly convoluted plot. Kinetic, crazy, and a whole lot of fun.

Stream Detention on Shudder

HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017)
Here’s a slasher that proves more interested in character development and even – gasp! – a dash of pathos than outright slaughter. Self-centred college student Tree Gelbman wakes up in a boy’s dorm-room bed and takes a walk of shame that ends in her murder at the hands of a killer in a baby-face mask, only to begin the same deadly day again and again until she works out how to use her knowledge of events to combat her murderer, experiencing some much-needed personal growth along the way. Christopher Landon’s horror-comedy charms more than one expects, and for those who want to know more, there’s a sequel that flips everything on its head. Fun fact: this is one of those rare films that features a bong as a murder weapon.

Stream Happy Death Day on Netflix

SCARE ME (2020)
Telling scary stories is an integral part of Halloween, and here’s a film that builds upon that tradition in a most amusing fashion. When struggling writer/actor Fred finds himself trapped by a thunderstorm in a cabin with successful horror author Fanny, the two try to frighten each other by making up terror tales – but the biggest threat may lie in Fred’s frustration with Fanny’s acerbic nature and his own feelings of failure and entitlement. Writer/director/actor Josh Ruben’s Scare Me relies upon the rapid wordplay of its lead actors, and while he acquits himself well, it’s Aya Cash (Stormfront from The Boys) who carries the film with her vibrant performance of the acidic Fanny. Add an unexpected sting in the tail, and you have a funny and satisfying addition to the horror-comedy canon.

Stream Scare Me on Shudder

BONUS FLICK:
THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW (1949)
This animated segment – one half of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad – was something I saw a few times in my childhood, and it never failed to provide me with much amusement and a little healthy fear. Lanky bookworm Ichabod Crane vies for the hand of Katrina von Tassel, so his rival Brom Bones regales him with the tale of the Headless Horseman… and later that night, he discovers for himself just how much truth is held in the tale. The only selection here suitable for a family audience, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow comes highly recommended for anyone looking to pique their children’s budding interest in spooky fun.

Stream The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad on Disney+


Boo-graphy:
Matthew R. Davis is an author and musician based in Adelaide, South Australia, whose novelette “Heritage Hill” (found in Outback Horrors Down Under: An Anthology of Antipodean Terrors, edited by Steve Dillon, published by Things in the Well Publications) was shortlisted for a 2020 Shirley Jackson Award and the WSFA Small Press Award. His books are the horror collection If Only Tonight We Could Sleep (Things in the Well, 2020) and the novel Midnight in the Chapel of Love (JournalStone, 2021). Find out more at his website.

Midnight in the Chapel of Love
THE MAN: Jonny Trotter has spent the last fifteen years running from tragic memories of the country town where he grew up—but the black envelopes pushed under his door won’t let him forget, and now that his father has died, he can run no more.

THE TOWN: Returning to Waterwich for the funeral and wake with his partner Sloane, Jonny must confront old resentments, his estranged best friends Brendan and Coralie, a strange, veiled woman the locals call the White Widow…and the mystery surrounding the fate of his first lover, Jessica Grzelak.

THE GIRL: A morbid and reckless city girl banished to the country to live with her aunt, Jessica loved to push the limits and explore the shadows—and no one has seen her since the night of her high school formal, the night she and Jonny went looking for the Chapel.

THE CHAPEL: Rumored to be found in the woods outside Waterwich, mentioned in playground rhymes about local lovebirds Billy and Poppy and their killing spree in 1964, the Chapel is said to be an ancient, sacred place that can only be entered by lovers—a test that can only be passed if their bond is pure and true.

THE TRUTH: Before he can move on to a future with Sloane, Jonny must first face the terrible truth of his past—and if he can’t bring it out into the light at last, it might just pull him and everything he loves down into the dark forever.

GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by Steve L. Clark: Hell House LLC

Hell House LLC:
A Halloween Attraction You Shouldn’t Miss
A Review by Steve L. Clark

Hell House LLC (2015)
Not Rated
1 hour 33 minutes

Director: Stephen Cognetti
Writer: Stephen Cognetti

Stars:
Gore Abrams
Alice Bahlke
Danny Bellini

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened.


I admit it. I am a found footage fanatic. The Blair Witch Project captured my imagination. I saw it in a packed theater with my brother when I was 16 years old, and it blew me away. It wasn’t the first found footage film, but it launched the subgenre to new heights and unleashed a wave of new content. The good, the bad, and the ugly—I was there for all of it.

As I got older and started a family, there got to be less time for movies, and I started missing releases. Then a couple years ago, scrolling through the Shudder app, I came across a 2015 found footage movie/mockumentary I had never heard of called Hell House LLC. The description told of a documentary crew investigation of an unexplained malfunction at a Halloween haunted attraction five years previously, resulting in the death of 15 tour goers and staff. I was intrigued and pressed play. What followed was one of the creepiest and most unsettling movies I have ever seen.

The film opens with interview clips from a journalist, witness, and an author weaved between footage of the documentary crew at the now abandoned hotel. They set the scene perfectly, instantly identifying the Abbadon Hotel as a place of mystery and unease. A short time later, the documentary crew gets in touch with the one surviving staff member from that fateful night. She turns over a bag of video footage from the weeks leading up to opening night of Hell House which is where the movie really takes off.

We meet the group of twenty-somethings who run Hell House. This Halloween they are moving the attraction from the city to a more rural area and the vacant Abbadon Hotel, documenting the entire process on film. We watch as the team spends weeks turning the already spooky hotel into a haunted attraction. It isn’t long before strange things begin to occur. No spoilers, but Hell House is filled with high tension, genuinely creepy scenes. Very few times in my adult life has a movie put me on the edge. Hell House LLC is one of those movies.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the found footage trope, Hell House is so well acted and directed that I still give it the highest recommendations. If you’re like me and love found footage, this movie is an absolute must watch. The two sequels don’t quite capture the magic of the original, but are still great movies. When I talk to people about great horror movies in the last decade, Hell House LLC is the first title out of my mouth. Stream it for free on Shudder (along with both sequels) or Amazon Prime (which also features an extended director’s cut version). You won’t forget your stay at the Abbadon Hotel.


Boo-graphy:
Steve L Clark is a horror author from southwest Ohio where he lives with his wife and three children. His publication debut was the short story Cold-Blooded in the anthology Dark Words: Stories of Urban Legends and Folklore. He followed that up with his own short story collection The Collapse of Ordinary featuring twelve horror stories ranging across supernatural, demonic, monsters, and human horror. He is currently working on his debut novella.

Both Dark Words and The Collapse of Ordinary are available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Dark Words
Horror hides everywhere! That abandoned house down your street, the woods nearby, even your own home. They all have old stories and legends of ghouls, demons and monsters. Throughout time, their stories were handed down around campfires and during sleepovers. Today, those stories will have a fresh take, but with the same Dark Words.

The Collapse of Ordinary
What happens when horror and madness collide with reality?

For most of us, life is a routine of the same chores and responsibilities. We are ordinary people doing ordinary things, unaware of the chaos closing in.

A hotel auditor gets more than he bargained for from a scary story podcast

A trip to the casino turns sinister with more on the line than money

A graveside funeral service spirals into a web of mind shattering revelations

These horrors and more await you within. Cast aside your doubts, open your mind, and embrace the insanity.

Walk with me into the Collapse of Ordinary

GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by S.C. Mendes:

I’m Just Fucking with You
(Can be found on Hulu)

Director: Adam Mason
Year: 2019
Rating: TVMA
Genre: Thriller, Horror

Starring:
Keir O’Donnell
Hayes MacArthur
Jessica McNamee

A young man and his sister endure a night of increasingly frightening practical jokes while spending the night at a secluded motel.


S.C. Mendes’ Review

Troll
a)     a dwarf or giant in Scandinavian folklore inhabiting caves or hills
b)      to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content

Larry is a Troll of the internet variety. A small, weak man in the real world, but a smack-talker online. As the movie unfolds, we learn more about his sad backstory… But he’s also a jerk, so it’s hard to feel bad for him.

On his way to break up a wedding—wait until you find out who is marrying Larry’s ex—he stops at the Pink Motel to spend the night and gets a taste of his own medicine when he meets the late-night manager.

Chester has a juvenile and twisted sense of humor. From the minute Larry walks in, Chester starts fucking with him. Annoying, but relatively harmless and all in good fun of course. Like making Larry pay for the room in cash for a cheaper deal, then ten minutes later saying Larry never paid. An awkward pause ensues before the punchline. That type of tension starts off strong and Chester creates a genuinely disturbing atmosphere for Larry and the viewer. Image if Heath Ledger’s Joker owned a motel.

Blumhouse has a great set up here. I was expecting this to have a brilliant twist and secure a spot as one of my new favorites in the hotel genre. Psycho. Identity. No Vacancy. I’m Just fucking With You.

But no. The punchline of this joke lost me. I can admit that I don’t have a better resolution—in fact, I loved the final scene which I won’t spoil here—but the twist of the film felt very generic. Maybe I went in expecting something the movie wasn’t intended to be. But I felt it didn’t add anything new to the genre and that’s what I was looking for.That said, it was an updated version that most horror fans will enjoy.

Overall, it’s definitely worth a viewing for Hayes MacArthur’s portrayal of Chester. Oh, and the polaroid of a large phallus. Or maybe there is no polaroid. Only one way to find out if I’m fucking with you….


Boo-graphy:
Learn to appreciate the darkest moments of your life. It is those moments that make our time in the light even more beautiful. S.C. Mendes is the author of numerous short stories and a fan of pen names. The anonymity helps maintain his day job as an indoctrinator of children for the state. THE CITY is the beginning of the Max Elliot saga.