28/03/2010

Inside The Slaughtered Lamb 2010

Much excitement was had over the weekend when, on a rare trip from Igloo-Land, I went for a rather nice meal in a country pub. I opted for Pork Belly on stir-fried Cabbage, topped with Mustard Mash and washed down with a light and fruity Beaujolais. It was fantastic, it really was:



PS I almost forgot, the pub in question was The Black Swan in Effingham, Surrey, a key landmark in horror film history as it was the interior of The Slaughtered Lamb pub which Jack and David had the misfortune to stumble into in, of course, An American Werewolf in London.

It's now almost unrecognisable unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately come to think of it) and there were no weird goings-on to be reported. Although at one point, I could have sworn my Guinness magically refilled itself...

Also rather aptly, the nearby hotel I stayed in was called The Talbot Inn.

Here's some professionally taken photographs:

A shot of the bar itself



The door where Jack and David walked in (and out) and sat down to the left of. It's no longer a functioning entrance (or exit) to the pub, so go round the back.



Excuse me but what's that star on the... oh, it's gone...



Bit of history to finish with.

25/03/2010

Bras of Horror #12



Claire Gordon as Sandra Banks in Konga (1961). Hands off you beast!

Becoming...

“Enjoy your exile, murderer!” shouted the pilot and co-pilot in unison as they threw me out the plane. “Don’t I get a parachute?” I replied, not unreasonably I thought. But it was too late, and I was already plummeting to the icy wastes below...

Luckily I landed on some soft snow and some talking penguins sheltered and fed me. Until I realised I was hallucinating, and they left on a magic carpet.

And so I found myself wandering. Lost, half-mad and half-dead, all hope gone. Then I saw the igloo.

Something uncanny about it, I remember thinking. Maybe it was the supernatural glow that seemed to emanate deep from within it. Maybe it was the sense of destiny that I felt as I stumbled towards it. Maybe it was the large wooden sign saying ‘Igloo of the Uncanny’ nailed above the door…

It was warm inside. The old man said nothing as he handed me a hot drink. I gulped it down greedily and fell into a deep sleep. Such strange dreams… glaring hospital lights... blue pills and bibles... and when I awoke the old man had gone. But when my eyes fell upon his dirty old shaving mirror, I saw his face staring back at me.


Maybe I’ve always been him.

Maybe I’ve always been here.

24/03/2010

Illumination

"Wakey, wakey asshole!" a voice says.

I slowly open my eyes to glaring light that makes me wince.



Two people I don't recognise are seated on either side of my bed. On the left, a young skinny guy with a white coat and a name badge. The guy on the right isn't young or skinny (he's old and chubby) and is looking at me - glaring really - with pure hate. There's so much hate in his eyes that I almost want to laugh.

"Piece of shit." he says almost inaudibly, as if to himself.

"I'm Doctor Mark Howard, Sean."
Says the white coat on the left.

"Sean?"
I say, "I'm not Sean..."

"Oh well you got nothin' to worry about then, eh Seany?" says the chubby guy, with a cruel smile that shows too many teeth.

"Where's Doctor Carlyle?"
I ask.

Doctor Howard (If he is who he says he is) ignores this question and asks, "Do you know what year it is?"

"Sure..."
I say. But I need a moment to think. "It's... 1920."

"And can I ask you how you reached that conclusion?"

"Well... I met Doctor Carlyle in 1912, spent 6 years training under him in college... then I must have been in the igloo for a year or so? Which would make it 1920. Or 1920-ish, look is this is some kind of joke?"

This too gets ignored by Doctor Howard. "Let's just talk about the films. These horror films that you watch in the igloo."

"Well, they come up on a TV. In the corner..." I can feel myself getting tired now. I don't want to speak to Doctor Howard any more. I'm starting to feel that it might not be a good idea.

"Okay. It's 1920, and you're watching these films. Let me just name a few just to make sure we're on the same wavelength, right? So we've got... let's see now..." he looks down at a clipboard resting on his knee, "Piranha. Horror Express. Duel. Black Christmas. It's Alive. Twins of Evil... and quite a few more. These ARE some of the films that you've seen right?"

"Sure..."

"So let's just think about this for a second... because all these films are from the 70's. The 1970s. Which means that your story of watching TV in this igloo, and it being the 1920's simply does not make any sense. You do see that now don't you? I mean, colour TV wasn't even invented until the 1940's..."

"Okay. I mean, I suppose so. I just never thought..."


"And the less said about the force-field the better... listen to me very carefully now, I need to be sure that you understand exactly what I'm saying. Your name is Sean Berman and you are a patient - my patient - here in Boston Memorial Hospital."



"It is March 2010. You've been in a coma for six months. And it appears you've spent this time constructing an elaborate... well, perhaps not quite elaborate, perhaps more of a lazily, ill thought out... fantasy of being an igloo-keeper in a place called, believe it or not, Igloo-Land."


I look at Doctor Howard's face. It's not unkind. Like he's almost sympathising.

"Sean, this er, this gentleman beside me is Detective Stark Bellows of the Boston Police Department. When you're feeling better he'll be asking you some questions, but only under my supervision and only when you're quite, quite well, okay."


"What questions? What for?"
I ask Dr Howard.

"Allow me to answer this one Doc." Says the Detective, sounding like a man used to getting his own way.

He leans forward, looks me directly in the eyes and lowers his voice to a mean growl, "Because I want to see you die, asshole. I want to see you fry on the chair, okay? I want to see your brain melt and your eyeballs pop. You can cry all you want to, to doctor bleeding heart here, or you can confess everything to the local neighbourhood priest, telling them all about the terrible upbringing you had and how daddy used to beat mommy until mommy killed daddy... but let me assure you that you are going to pay for what you did. And it will be soon, and I will be there enjoying every all-too-brief minute of your agonising death."

He looks as if he's going to continue for a second, but just turns to Doctor Howard and says, "Now if you'll excuse me doc, I must go and let some interested parties know that our friend Sean Berman is fit and healthy and back with us again. Don't leave town will you Seany, huh?" he finishes with a final glance in my direction. The same cruel smile as before showing the same teeth.

Doctor Armstrong speaks as soon as the Detective has left the room. "I'm sorry you had to go through all that Sean, but Detective Bellows seems to have been given certain ah... privileges that I'm none too happy with. Old friends with the Mayor you know. Probably brothers in some secret cult I shouldn't imagine..."

"He really does hate me, doesn't he? What did I ever do to him?"

"Well, you have had several run-ins with him in the past..."

"Like what?"

"Well, with his wife..."

"I had an affair with his wife?"

"Ah, not quite, no..."

"Thank God for that."

"...you killed her..."

"...?"

"...and his two young children. Tortured them beforehand by all accounts..."

"Jesus..."

"And you also killed his partner, a Detective Greenly..."

"I did all this? Me?"

"Oh absolutely. Then you kidnapped the Lieutenant himself, tortured him for 12 days and castrated him. Somehow he escaped. Shot you twice, once in the back and once in the head. It's a miracle you survived actually."

"I still don't see..."

"Enough small-talk, Ben, there's not much time. Lieutenant Bellows is at this very moment making his way to City Hall to speak to his friend the Mayor, who will overturn a State Collateral Review which postponed your Death Sentence due to you being in a permanent vegetative state. As soon as he does this he'll set the wheels of justice in motion and as long as you're conscious and fit to plead, your execution will go ahead. This could happen as early as tomorrow."

"Did I really do all those things you just said, Doc? I thought I was dreaming about being a psychopath, a madman... "

"If you were dreaming about such things, then those dreams were based very much in reality. Have you ever heard of The Tennessee Torturer? The Ramsgate Ripper? The Sidwell Strangler? The Manhattan Mincer?"

"No, can't say I have..."

"The Sadistic Surgeon of South Swindon? The Butcher of Boston? They're all YOU, Ben. All nicknames that the press have given to your various killing sprees through the years. Apart from the last one, when you really were just a butcher... oh, and The Cop Castrator, I almost forgot that one.I wouldn't mention in front of Detective Bellows If I were you."

"So what you're saying is... maybe Detective Bellows has a point?"

"Well, he did have until you chopped it off..."

"No, I mean maybe... was that meant to be a joke? I mean maybe... maybe it's time for me to face up to whatever I've done. If I'm guilty of all these horrible things then maybe I should admit to everything and get it over with..."

"Perhaps. Or perhaps there is another way. You won't remember this Ben but we go back, you and I. We were best buddies as kids. Let' see, you were 6 and fearless, I was 5 but small for my age. You saved me from drowning once. We'd built a raft and took it out on the Charles River one summer's day... I lost my balance and fell in... couldn't swim of course, and just when I was beginning to lose hope you dragged me out. You used every bit of strength in your 6-year old arms to haul me out and save my life. And now I can repay the favour. It's not much, but..."



It's a little blue pill. He hands it to me.

"It's called an Aput Nootropic..."

"A what?"

"An Aput Nootropic..."

"Shit name for a drug."

"Well, I didn't make it up Ben. It's a cognitive enhancer..."

"A what?"

"Look, let's not get hung up on names, okay? It's just a very clever way of protecting you and your brain. All you need to do is swallow it, and within a matter of minutes your coma will be re-triggered. Your memory will revert to its previous state within that coma, and you will return to the fantasy land you created. You'll go back to the very first day in Igloo-Land. You can spend another 6 months or so there, until the Mayor gets replaced or the Lieutenant has that coronary he's been heading for... 6 months, 6 years, who knows? It beats the Electric Chair though, surely..."

"You know, I've just had a strange thought, Doc. What if YOU'RE the fantasy and the Igloo-Land is real? What if I've slipped and fell down a crevasse, knocked myself out and I'm in a coma now?"


Doctor Howard thinks about this for a moment then gives me a strange half-smile.

"It's possible I suppose, Ben. But if I am your fantasy, then I'm probably not the best person to ask whether I'm a fantasy or not, am I? You're going to have to decide for yourself. You have the pill, it's up to you. I'll say good night now. Press your buzzer if you need anything."



The little blue pill. I place it gently on the bedside table next to a book. It's a Bible. A Bible with a bookmark. I pick it up and open it at the marked page. There's an underlined passage, Job 37: 9-10. I start reading it, but find myself unable to keep my eyes open. God I'm tired...

Women of Horror that we need to see more of #23 - Lisa Houle

If you’ve seen Pontypool – and you really must – then you’ll be in love with Lisa Houle and her beautifully judged, multi-layered performance which manages to be incredibly moving yet bloody funny at the same time.



And you’ll probably be in love with her as a person too. Which I hope co-star Stephen McHattie is, because he’s married to her. Here's a pic from their wedding day album:



Incredibly she’s hardly acted on-screen if those reliable people at IMDB are to be trusted:

# "Pontypool" .... Sydney Briar (2008)
# "Emily of New Moon" .... Eve Kinch / ... (7 episodes, 1998-2000)
# "Due South"
.... Madeline Carnes (1 episode, 1996)
# "Seinfeld" .... Cheryl (1 episode, 1993)
# "Scene of the Crime" (1991) TV series (various episodes)

Of course, it may be that she doesn’t particularly want to act and has other things going on in her life, which is fine. Except it’s not because it affects me. Let’s see Lori in lot’s more films from now on - McHattie, do some house-sitting!

12/03/2010

EVIL DEAD - REMAKE

In Claymation. In 60 seconds.

Evil Dead done in 60 seconds with CLAY - 2010 from Lee Hardcastle on Vimeo.



... just one of the nominations for the Jameson Empire 'Done in 60 Seconds 'Awards 2010. You can view the rest of the nominations here, including Avatar, Predator and Nightmare on Elm Street...

11/03/2010

ZOLTAN, HOUND OF DRACULA (1978)



There doesn't seem to be much love around for Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (US title 'Dracula's Dog'). It's always held fond memories for me though, and I remember being genuinely spooked by it as youngster.

I like Zoltan. Okay, so he’s a horrifying hellish hound and a vicious bugger, but he is obedient, faithful and a bit of a cutie.




I can’t help but feel if he attacked me all I’d need to do was give his chin a stroke and we’d be best friends forever.

Not the ideal way to think about the main villain when settling down to watch a horror film you might think. But Zoltan isn’t the scariest dude in this film. Here's Reggie Nalder as the diabolical Veidt Smith:



Here's a quick shot of Reggie without any make-up:



Veidt Smith then, is Dracula's recently resurrected henchman who, with the help of his beloved Zoltan, goes off in search of his dead master's descendant; family man Michael Drake, happily residing in the good old US of A and about to set off on his yearly camping trip with his sickeningly nice wife and kids. He's also bringing along Samson and Annie, his two cute dogs, and their little puppies. Something's going to happen to the puppies, isn't it?

Yes. One mysteriously drowns. Then that night, the family is attacked by Zoltan and a couple of his newly vamped-up canine accomplices. Shaken and upset, the family decide to head off home the next day.

Until up drives the wonderful Jose Ferrer...



... playing Inspector Branco, the Van Helsing-like character who has followed Schmidt all the way from Romania and has a plan to stop him! He explains everything to Michael Drake and quickly wins his trust.

"You leave in the caravan with the kids love, I'm going to stay in a fisherman's hut for the rest of the weekend with this old guy who I've just met." Michael explains to his strangely understanding wife, who packs up and drives off with the kids, never to reappear. This is unfair - I don’t think you should be allowed to just leave and head off home half way through a horror film. How disappointing would 'The Hills Have Eyes' or 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' have been if the potential victims were allowed to say "Sod this, I'm going home. This place is beginning to annoy me"...?

Anyway, the Inspector's plan is for Michael to be 'bait', and for the two of them to hole up in a nearby fisherman's hut and await the attack. The rest of the plan is unclear...in fact, I’m going to stop even referring to it as a ‘plan’ because it patently wasn’t. Making someone ‘bait’ to lure attackers is only PART of a plan. The bit that happens when the attackers attack is the OTHER part - most would say the most important part.

But when the Zoltan and co. attack that night what does the Inspector do? Basically just shrugs his shoulders and gives Michael a look that says ‘sorry, I didn’t actually expect them to attack.' Thanks Inspector, thanks a lot. So the pair simply wait in the shack, huddling together while the three dogs try and make their way in. Eventually Zoltan comes crashing through the roof and lands on top of the planless pair, knocking them both unconscious.



Zoltan couldn’t have aimed better if he’d tried, although they did make it a bit easy for him, huddled together in the dead centre of the shack like that.

Zoltan's about to vamp up Drake but would you believe it - here comes dawn! And so the devilish dobermann is forced to beat a hasty retreat.

For some strange reason it appears not to have dawned (no pun intended) on the Inspector or Michael that the dogs have anything to do with Veidt Smith. The fact that there were 'two coffins' though is beginning to register with the Inspector but bloody hell it's not difficult is it?

The Inspector's next 'plan' is to head back to the original camping ground. "I have a feeling that something will happen there." He says, which once again, isn't a plan in my book. Nevertheless, Michael agrees, and the two head back.

Not long left to the film now, which Veidt Smith underlines by reminding Zoltan that they "cannot survive without a master another night". This leads to a rather rushed and unsatisfying ending and it's over all too soon - an extra ten or fifteen minutes running time and another plot twist could have made all the difference. What about 'turns out that the wife and kids didn’t manage to escape but have been kidnapped by Smith, who has them holed up in a nearby abandoned spooky old house?'. That would have worked for me. “I don’t remember this abandoned spooky old house being here before.” Michael could say to the Inspector as they enter for an exciting final showdown.



But no, all that happens is that the Inspector finds Smith and after a quick fight, gives him a good staking. In the meantime Zoltan and his doggy disciples attack Michael, who takes refuge in the Inspector's car. But damn! It's a convertible, so the roof has to shut before he's safe. The fact that it's the slowest closing roof that I've ever seen in a car really racks up the tension. Maybe they could have made it even slower and added ten minutes to the film that way.

Michael notices his beloved dog Samson rushing to rescue him and lets him into the car. Big mistake, as Samson's eyes glow a hellish vampiric glow and he attacks!

All this is happening as the inspector and a couple of friendly hunters reappear. Much dog-fighting and dog-staking ensues. Michael kills Zoltan by flashing at him (with his crucifix). Zoltan backs off and falls over a cliff that appears from nowhere behind him. He lands on a fence spike. Game over.

It's the end to another successful night's dog killing, and everyone laughs, slaps each other's backs, packs up and heads off home. We just have time for the camera to pan slowly across the ground... to eventually reach Michael's lost pup, alone in the middle of the forest... with fangs and glowing eyes!



Zoiks! THE END. Or is it?



10/03/2010

LOST BOYS (1987)

A classic clip:

08/03/2010

Intermission

Day #477

Same old routine today, no doubt. Same cold, same ice, same snow…



Same surgery lights buzzing noisily. Same wires sticking out of my head and chest, connected to a shiny yet strangely antiquated looking machine with numerous dials and flashing buttons… hang on, this isn’t part of the usual igloo routine?

A familiar looking face appeared. “Morning, Carlisle.” It said.

Memories. So far away. Memories surfacing slowly and hazily, as if through a sheet of Arctic ice…

“Dr. Bertorelli?” I heard myself ask. And yes, I remembered. Dr. Bertorelli was my tutor. More of a father figure actually because my own father was… and I am… was… am… Edmund Carlisle! That’s my name! Edmund Carlisle, Medical Student in the Royal College of Surgery, Pall Mall! Yes, it’s all coming back to me…

“Good lad, ” Dr. Bertorelli replied “still got control of all your faculties, eh? I suppose you’re curious about how you got here?”

“I dreamt of an igloo,” I started “and of falling down a long flight…”

“No dream, lad. No dream.” Interjected Dr. Bertorelli. “Let me start at the very beginning. You came to me in the Summer of 1912, remember? Keen as mustard, you were. Eager to learn. And my instincts about you were for the most part correct, as you became one of my best students. Quite brilliant, with a mind as razor sharp as your scalpel. What a disappointment when I discovered that some of your ah, extra-curricular activities involved…”

“Why am I here, doctor?”

“Buggery, ma boy! Buggery most horrid! Bestiality to boot. More arson than you could shake a match at. Rape. Murder. More Buggery. And the drugs! Lithium, Opium, Laudanum, Cocaine, Hashish... oh, and all manner of strange and outlandish concoctions... you and that equally no good friend of yours Henry Jekyll (despite him having every guarantee of an honourable and distinguished future) constantly trying to outdo each other in your potion-making...”

“I prefer the term cocktails, actually Doctor. But...”

“Hush, Edmund!" Said Dr. Bertorelli. "Look at the time! I’ve conversed for far too long already. You need to rest and I need to partake of lunch - it’s twenty past the hour and Mrs. Braithwaite is very particular about punctuality. But not for you ma boy, not yet! You’ve got a 24-inch rod stuck in your spine and an even longer tube up your old chap, so no moving from your bed today! I’ll try and return for a chin wag later, what? If you get bored, we’ve got your old TV in the corner. I’ll switch it on for you now if you want…”


COMING SOON: ZOLTAN, HOUND OF DRACULA (1978)


07/03/2010

BEST WORST MOVIE (2010)

Best Worst Movie, the feature-length documentary about the legendary Troll 2, now has a theatrical release! Check out their website www.bestworstmovie.com for details.

Here's the trailer:



And here's a reminder of how great Troll 2 and indeed, Justin Timberlake, are:

05/03/2010

THE ORPHAN (2009)

Day #445

Today brought a stark reminder that this place can be truly treacherous. Got carried away with excitement, I did, by a rare successful spell of herring fishing at one of my favourite ice holes - blissfully unaware that the weather had turned until an icy blast hit my gonads and I discovered that my visibility was less than 6 foot in front of me.

How I managed to get back to the igloo, god or The Devil only knows, but it was only after many hours of fruitless searching and stumbling into crevasses that I saw the neon flashing sign saying 'Igloo of the Uncanny - 100 yards on the left!' that I knew I was safe.

In the warmth and light of the igloo, I took stock of my faculties and noticed that my left snow shoe had gone missing. This discovery led me to take to my bed for 3 days, howling and screaming in anguish and misery. If you think that was an over-reaction let me explain - my foot was inside that snow shoe, and is also missing. This place really is beginning to annoy me.

The Orphan (2009)




I’ve read some really good reviews of this film (they were delivered to me anonymously down the igloo chimney one night). I can’t quite agree with them though. The Orphans is a very average, very cliché-ridden horror thriller. Compared with all the other really bad modern horror films that are around, I guess that makes it a good horror film hence the favourable reviews. I think.

Put it this way, you can probably guess the plot from the title. And if you haven’t guessed the plot from the title, within 2 minutes of watching the film, when you discover the mother is a recovering alcoholic, you’ve got all the information you need.

The Omen (45%) + The Shining (15%) + The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (40%) = The Orphan

Kate Coleman, played by Vera Farmiga who has a face that really annoys me...



... is a recovering alcoholic and grieving mom who adopts an orphan from an orphanage (it’s the best place to find orphans apparently) run by nuns who obviously have no interest in paperwork or background checks.


Horror Hints #45 – Never adopt a child from a nun.


Oh, but she’s a lovely child! Bright, intelligent and courteous! A delight!

The End

Hang on, I forgot a bit – it turns out that the orphan (they call her Esther rather than ‘the orphan’ in the film, which I think makes sense) can be a right little madam at times.



A right little madam that uses hammers, guns, knives and whatever else she can get her strangely aged looking hands on to murder, maim and cause general mayhem.

Horror Hints #36 – Never become a recovering alcoholic. When someone tries to kill you, nobody will believe you.



All this murderous behaviour means that Lee Remick, sorry, Kate Coleman soon grows to hate and fear Esther. But because she’s a recovering alcoholic nobody believes her. When she speaks about her fears with her husband and psychiatrist they basically just laugh, pull faces and mimic someone swigging from a bottle behind her back.

Thank god then that a bit of internet research by Kate (she Googled 'horror film plot evil children') uncovers a phone number for an Estonian mental hospital...



... resulting in a phone conversation with a nice Estonian with a beard who reveals an okay-ish plot twist along with the information that Esther is a psycho killer. To be fair, the film from this point on does get quite exciting in an obvious sort of way, as Kate rushes back to the family home in a bid to save her husband and daughter from the malevolent mock-minor.



Horror Hints #34 – If you manage to knock out a psycho killer with a gun, take the gun and shoot them in the head. Just to make sure.

And that’s it. Go in with low expectations and you might just find that The Orphan is worth it. And to end on a positive note, the performance by young Isabelle Fuhrman is very, very good. Oh, I almost forgot one...

Horror Hints #82 – If you have children, don’t live in a house right next to an icy lake.

Actually, that probably is genuinely good advice. Take it from me, ice can be dangerous... (hops off into the sunset)

03/03/2010

THE WICKER MAN (2006)

You know, here in the Igloo I have gradually grown to have a genuine love of horror films. And I know how easy it is to mock bad examples of the genre. It’s not big and it’s not clever so from now on, I'm refusing to do it.

Anyway, here’s some selected quotes from other people who have watched The Wicker Man:


1. “The minute your hero comes to the rescue dressed as a bear, you should know something has gone horribly awry."

2. “I found the fictional island of Summerisle quite similar to certain parts of North Norfolk, particularly that every thing you ask is received with a blank expression.”

3. “Nicholas cage is just so funny! He should do more comedy!”

4. “He punched 3 females, so what? It was required for the scene. Get over it.”


For some reason this one is my favourite, because a) it’s not trying to be funny and b) the image it manages to create:

5. “After the cinema, my boyfriend was so mad he couldn’t speak about it”

Here are some more words of wisdom:



And finally, "Judo Chop!"