Monday, December 31
Our LAST MAN ON EARTH episode aired Saturday evening at 7pm. It went off without a hitch, which made me quite happy! In the past we've had issues with the station playback - but they were right on the money Saturday, as they were the past two shows. Bravo WNAB!!
Not sure yet what the ratings were, but we were opposite the NFL football broadcast of the New England Patriots vs. NY Giants game (which was broadcast on a ridiculous THREE stations!!), so I suspect that ratings suffered accordingly, but we'll see Wednesday when the station is back in operation fully. I did get several emails from viewers who watched the show and enjoyed it. The overwhelming question I've been asked... "How did you eat that FRUITCAKE?!" That's suffering for your art, let me tell you!
Here's wishing you all a safe and happy New Year and a terror-ific 2008!!
STAY MAD, all!!
Thursday, December 27
SEE - The original film version of "I am Legend"
SEE - Vincent Price battle hordes of vampires!
SEE - Dr. Gangrene face a fate worse than death - FRUITCAKES!!
It all happens this Saturday at 7pm on the CW58!
Wednesday, December 26
I got an email from a fan pointing out that the Tennessean newspaper had the wrong movie listed for this Saturday night, and he wanted to make sure that THE LAST MAN ON EARTH was indeed airing this Saturday. I checked the WNAB website, and it is listed correctly there:
So thanks to Jeff for calling my attention to it. It's full steam ahead for some Vincent Price madness Saturday at 7pm. See you all there!!
Sunday, December 23
Wednesday, December 19
Tuesday, December 18
In Elementary school one year we took a field trip to the Children's Theater in downtown Nashville. I remember loading into the buses and riding across town to see the "Bell Witch" play they were performing. Scared the beejezus outta me. They had a blackout toward the end accompanied by a bloodcurdling scream, if I remember correctly. It was so cool! All the kids talked about it for weeks. People held seances to try and conjure the Bell Witch. It was big stuff.
The Bell Witch is a legendary haunting that supposedly took place in the area of Tennessee now known as Adams, Tn. Supposedly the Bell family was beset by a demonic force, a poltergeist which haunted them and terrorized their family. In particular it attacked the daughter, Betsy, slapping her face, pulling her hair, pinching and scratching her. The spirit was witnessed by a number of different people, and well documented. President Andrew Jackson supposedly saw it firsthand, and afterwards said, "I'd rather fight the British than spend the night in the Bell house."
Legend says the spirit attacked the father, John Bell, and eventually drove him to his death. John Bell was struck with an illness which left him with difficulty speaking. His health slowly declined until he eventually died. According to legend John's medicine was switched with a bottle of poison. The witch claimed she had replaced it and poisoned John. Supposedly the spirit disappeared for a while, but returned again years later, to haunt John Bell's son.
On the grounds formerly owned by the Bell family there is a tourist attraction called "The Bell Witch Cave." When I first started my TV show, I shot my second episode there. For Episode One I hosted a friend's movie filmed in nearby Murfreesboro, TN. The very next episode I went to Adams TN and toured the cave, interviewed the owner, and talked about the legend of the Bell Witch!! I couldn't wait to highlight the Bell Witch! It is rumored that strange activities still take place on those grounds to this very day! I have taken several friends there, including fellow horror host Count Gore DeVol when he visited a few years ago.
Needless to say, I have a bit of a personal attachment when it comes to the Bell Witch. That is our legend, a Tennessee tale that we're proud of. So it was with great interest that I finally sat down and watched AN AMERICAN HAUNTING last night.
AN AMERICAN HAUNTING was filmed in 2005 and released in 2006. It was written and directed by Courtney Solomon, who's only previous directorial experience was the 2000 film DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. It was based on the book "The Bell Witch: An American Haunting", by Brent Monohan. It stars Donald Sutherland as John Bell, Sissy Spacek as his wife Lucy, and Rachel Hurd-Ward as Betsy Bell.
WARNING: There's gonna be spoilers from here on out.
This movie starts out in modern times. We see a young girl who wakes from a bad dream. It turns out she has been prowling in the attic, which she is mysteriously forbidden to enter, and has retrieved a few items: a book, manuscript and doll. Her mother, who is divorced, takes these items from the girl, who is readying for a weekend away with her father, and takes them to the next room where she looks them over. Turns out these are the diaries of the Bell family, who we are led to believe are descendants of this family
As the mother begins reading from the journals we flash back to the Bell family in the 1800s and follow their story. Occasionally the film jumps back to present day, to remind us this is a narrative.
John Bell angers a woman named Kate Batts, who is rumored to be a witch. They have a land dispute which is settled in court, but not to Kate's satisfaction. She promises she'll get revenge.
Shortly thereafter the hauntings begin. At first these are fairly harmless: mysterious sounds in the night and covers being yanked off the bed, but later physical attacks begin, mainly upon Betsy. She is drug around the house by her hair, raised off the ground by the hair, slapped, and thrown across the room violently.
Eventually Betsy's school teacher tries to help, staying at the house and at first attempting to explain away the disturbances until he no longer can and becomes a believer. Eventually John Bell becomes sick, on the brink of dying, and the true secret of the manifestations is revealed. John Bell has been molesting his daughter Betsy. When his wife finds out she is grief stricken, and poisons him. He dies and is buried, and shortly thereafter the spirit disappears. We are then told that Lucy suspects it was no spirit after all but a part of Betsy herself she conjured forth as a defense mechanism against her father's advances.
We then cut back to present day, where the girl is leaving for the weekend visit with her father. As the door closes, the mother sees a vision of the ghost of the Betsy Bell and realizes HER daughter is also being molested by her ex-husband, and runs screaming after their car, chasing them down the driveway! End.
I was lying in bad with my wife watching this, and afterwards I turned to her and said, "You know, I think I hate this movie."
The writer/director, Courtney Solomon, is a native Canadian, and that perhaps explains why this was shot on location partly in Canada. But why it was also shot on location in Romania is beyond me. Maybe someone can explain to me why, when you are making a movie about the Bell Witch, a legend of Tennessee folklore, you don't shoot it on location somewhere in the state of Tennessee. I understand that the owners of the Bell Witch cave now refuse to let anyone shoot on their property. Fine. Film it somewhere else. They probably could have gotten any number of locations in the nearby area for free – there are plenty of people who wouldn't mind the Bell Witch movie being shot on their property. I realize this is nit-picking to some degree, but a real opportunity to lend some legitimacy to the film was missed, not to mention a great promotional opportunity.
Instead they shoot it in Canada and Romania, and honestly, it just looks wrong. The trees are obviously not the type we have here, the surroundings look nothing like Tennessee –even the woods are foreign looking. We NEVER get the size snow you see in this movie here in Tennessee. Heck, they close the schools if we get an inch of snow, no joke. It was in the 60s here last week. But all of that is forgivable when compared to the movie itself.
The wrap around story was ridiculously cliché. It was so clumsily handled it was laughable, especially at the end when Betsy's ghost appears and she runs screaming down the driveway. The premise of these books sitting up in the attic for whatever reason is never explained, the connection to the Bell family hinted only through the mother's glances to the framed picture. I could have taken this movie much more seriously without these wrap-around bits.
The movie had some suspenseful moments, and some creepy effects. But these were ruined when the source of the troubles is revealed. It felt like a real cheat, some poor man's M. Night Shyamalan. To quote a recent South Park episode where military leaders consult M. Night Shyamalan for ideas to solve a dire dilemma - "No sir, I'm sorry, those aren't ideas, they're a twist!" I don't know how closely this film follows the book, but the premise of child molestation was just really a cheap shot. Nowhere has there ever been any indication of foul play on the part of John Bell, and the insinuation that Lucy poisoned him is equally undocumented.
To be fair, I realize this isn't the most un-biased review. Hey, you got me. I'm a native Tennessean, born and raised here, and we like our legend. Here's the real basis of the myth: Kate Batts was the Bell Witch, she was angered by John Bell, released a spirit which haunted and tormented the family, ultimately leading to John's death. It was well documented, even seen by Andrew Jackson (of whom there is no mention in this film). THAT is your story. Shoot that, not some BS that belongs on the Springer show. And you know, I think when it's all said and done that is what disappoints me the most about this. There is a really creepy and scary story to be told here, but the filmmakers missed the mark and went the cheap exploitative route instead.
You know what - I hope the ghost of John Bell visits Courtney Solomon and Brent Monohan for slandering his good name. How's THAT for an American Haunting?!
Monday, December 17
The Dolphins get a break and get their first win in overtime! I never thought I'd be so happy for a 1-13 season, but it feels like a weight was just lifted from the backs of this team and it's fans alike. Now if they could somehow go into Foxboro and beat the undefeated Patriots next Sunday that would be a true Christmas gift!! Go Phins!!
Sunday, December 16
For example: The vast majority of film created during the 1920s and 1930s is not commercially available. Because of the CTEA, much of it remains under copyright. Yet because it is often impossible to track down the copyright owners for these films, commercial and noncommercial preservationist and distributors cannot safely restore and distribute these films. And because these films were made from nitrate-based stock, by the time the copyright to these films expire, most of them will have dissolved.
One solution in particular is being spearheaded by folks at the Public Domain Movie Database website. They are asking Congress to consider the Public Domain Enhancement Act. See http://eldred.cc This statute would require American copyright owners to pay a very low fee (for example, $1) fifty years after a copyrighted work was published. If the owner pays the fee, the copyright will continue for whatever duration Congress sets. But if the copyright is not worth even $1 to the owner, then they believe the work should pass into the public domain.
If you haven’t already, please go sign the Reclaim the Public Domain Petition — it only takes a few seconds of your time, is all done online, and is very easy. Momentum is starting to build, and they REALLY need everyone’s support.
Saturday, December 15
In the DVD Company of the Year category, my personal selection is, and has been for several years now, ALPHA VIDEO. Alpha Video is best known for low priced public domain movies. They typically have no (or very few) extras on the discs. Why, you might ask, would I vote for a DVD company like Alpha for best video company when they don't even have extras on their discs? Well, let me tell you...
Alpha Video has done more to keep classic horror alive than most video companies out there. People who are willing purchase expensive films from companies such as Criterion, for instance, are genre fans – they would buy these movies regardless of the price. It’s the non-genre fans who are paid the biggest service from Alpha Video, and that is exactly the way in which Alpha is helping keep classic horror alive.
Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE many of the films that Criterion puts out. They have a really terrific selection of DVDs. I just am not going to spend 30-40 dollars on movies like THE BLOB, or FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, as fond as I am of those movies (and believe me, I really, really like both of them). As much as I might like to buy these, I am a father of three boys, and my discretionary income for DVD purchases is severely limited. I won’t buy a $40 DVD, but I might just pick up a 5 or 6 dollar print of something like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, SHOCK with Vincent Price, REEFER MADNESS, or any of a number of the fun films from their catalog. And I know there are many people out there just like me, folks who might otherwise not even think about buying an old horror movie, but for five bucks, why not?
Alpha has a terrific selection of movies in a variety of categories: Horror, Sci-fi, Exploitation, Serials, Silent Movies, old Television series, and more. Plus they’ve started distributing some newer material such as Mark Redfield’s terrific DR.JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, (which I highly recommend). Their covers are really top notch, and really make these DVDs stand out on the shelves.
And by the way, if anyone wants to get me THE BLOB or FIEND WITHOUT A FACE for Christmas, feel free!!
Friday, December 14
The winners receive a statuette, a miniature version of the giant bust of actor Rondo Hatton seen in the Universal film, HOUSE OF HORRORS. Nominees for the Rondo award are selected from suggestions by horror fans, pros and enthusiasts offered all year at the Classic Horror Film Board. The awards are fan-based, and have no connection to any commercial sponsor. The Rondo Awards were created by David Colton and Kerry Gammill in 2002.
Anyone in fandom can vote or propose nominees. If there are any nominees or films you feel are deserving of recognition in the year 2007, then please, don't hesitate! Go to www.classichorrorfilmboard.com, scroll down to the Rondo Awards heading, and post a suggestion. Doctor's orders!! For more information about the Rondo Awards go to their website at www.rondoaward.com.
More on this in the near future!!
Thursday, December 13
The final dvd will also include a video interview with Sara Karloff, segments from Conor Timmis' Kreating Karloff documentary, as well as segments from Scott Essman's Jack Pierce Tribute from June of 2000.
More info coming soon!
Wednesday, December 12
TALES FROM THE CRYPT was made in 1972 and is on my list of favorite horror movies. I've always said it's one of the movies I'd most like to host. It is the first big screen adaptation of the EC comic Tales from the Crypt, of which I'm a huge fan, and is a real treat to watch. It's an anthology film, from Amicus studios, and features five stories plus a wrap-around segment. All of the stories are excellent, in particular the Peter Cushing story, "Poetic Justice", and the final story, "Blind alleys", staring Nigel Patrick, in which a mistreated group of elderly blind patients exact revenge on their cruel headmaster in true EC fashion.
VAULT OF HORROR is the follow-up to TALES FROM THE CRYPT, made a year later. It is still fun, once again following in the anthology format, but not nearly as strong of a film as it's predecessor. The best story is "Midnight Mess", which is adapted from the "Tales from the Crypt" comic story in issue #35 (written by Al Feldstein and art by Joe Orlando). It concerns a brother tracking down his sister to a small town. He kills her for her inheritance money, and afterwards stops in a quiet restaurant for a late night snack. The main course, however, isn't exactly what he expected…
This story in particular is one of the more disappointing things about this dvd, from reviews I've read. Fox included the edited version of this film, where they use a freeze frame of the gore moment in the climax of this story. I understand this is the "PG" edited version, not the uncut original. Disappointing. The print of "Tales from the Crypt, however, is supposed to be pristine. This alone makes it a good buy for me, as I only have "Tales" on VHS currently - hopefully a complete version of "Vault' will be released on dvd at some point in the near future.
Regardless of the edited print used for VAULT OF HORROR, I still look forward to adding this one to my collection. One neat bit of trivia to look for when you watch these - there was a novelized version of TALES FROM THE CRYPT written, and as an in-joke it appears in VAULT OF HORROR. You can see a character (Micheal Craig) read it in the 4th story, "Bargain in Death."
Monday, December 10
As a kid your favorite team becomes more than just a casual interest - it infuses into your personality and become a part of who you are. I had an entire wardrobe of Miami Dolphins jerseys and clothing, which I wore proudly.
I was friends with an employee at the local library named Kevin who just so happened to be a huge Miami Dolphins fan. Kevin helped me look up Bob Griese's address in a big directory of some sort that they had there at the library, and I mailed him a letter. Months later, after I had forgotten all about it, I received an autographed postcard back. Too cool!
My junior high school days were not the greatest. It was a tough time. I was going through an awkward, nerdy phase - all tall and gangly, uncoordinated, and a bit shy. Needless to say I was not the most popular kid. I didn't have a lot of friends, preferring books and comics to actual people, in most cases. To make matters worse my school wasn't the best, in fact it was terrible. It is tough being a smart kid in a public school. Kids are merciless, and anything they perceive as different is immediately a target of ridicule.
I had, truth be told, moved on to college by this point and was much more concerned with grades, girls and parties than football, but I still followed them somewhat and kept up with what the team was doing when I could.
But the dark days started in 1993. The team was sold to new owner Wayne Huizinga. The original owner, Joe Robbie, passed away and his family sold the team to Huizinga in 1993 (Huizinga actually purchased a 50% share in 1990, and bought the rest in 1993). The first thing he did was pull the Joe Robbie name off the stadium, selling the naming rights to an underwear line - the Dolphins home stadium was then known as Pro Player Stadium. From there, it all went downhill. Here's a few low lights:
1995 - Don Shula retires. Shula said that he "agreed to step aside", leading to speculation that Huizenga fired him. Jimmy Johnson, former head coach of Dallas (the man who replaced legendary coach Tom Landry), is named as head coach. Jimmy would, in 1999, draft convicted felon Cecil Collins with the first pick of the 5th round, who would again break the law in December of that year and is currently serving time in prison.
No, I no longer get upset over it – I just blog about it.
Saturday, December 8
Thanks to my good friend Troy Guinn for this head's up. Deadpit radio dedicated their 11-30-07 podcast to the late Hayden Milligan, a.k.a. horror host I. Zombie. Just go to www.deadpit.com, then scroll down to the past shows and it's available there.
Tuesday, December 4
Now begins the editing phase. I will drop the raw footage off this week to my editor, and then all the pieces will come together. Did a few things different this episode, trying different lighting/sound techniques and equipment, as well as working with some new crew members. Look forward to seeing how it all turns out!
This episode airs Saturday, December 29th @ 7:00pm, on Nashville's CW58.
Sunday, December 2
Looking at her listing on IMDB.com, she only has two films under her belt to date, one of which was a 2005 film called Stealth. She only plays a bit part in it, apparently, but the film stars, interestingly enough, Jessice Biel, who reports now say passed on the role.
Don't know if her acting is up to the task, but she certainly looks like an Amazon warrior princess to me!
Saturday, December 1
What a character. Police dubbed him "Evil Knievel" as a child when he was caught stealing hubcaps. Among his many achievements in life, he also was a star athlete in High School, volunteered to be an army paratrooper in the 1950s (making 30 jumps), and played hockey with the Charlotte Clippers. But it was as a motorcycle daredevil that Evel would rise to fame, capturing the world's attention and becoming one of the biggest attractions of the 1970s. His son Robbie later followed in his footsteps, becoming a stunt cyclist himself.
Evel starred in a 1977 movie called Viva Knievel!, in which he played himself - it also starred Laura Hutton and Leslie Nielson. There was also a 1971 film starring George Hamilton, as well as a made for TV film in 2004, and a failed TV pilot starring Sam Elliott.
Is there any American male who grew up in the 1970s who wasn't inspired by the exploits of Evel? I remember setting up wooden ramps to jump on my bicycle, placing various objects below in my own death defying stunt. I also remember, in true Knievel fashion, wrecking and lying on the ground afterwards staring up at the sky!
I was listening to sports talk on my car radio last night and they had a segment called 4 Questions. Of the 4, only two were sports related - and one of them was, "What was your favorite toy as a kid?"
I thought about it, and my favorite toy growing up was my Evel Knievel stunt cycle. I used to play with that thing for hours in my driveway, cranking the handle furiously to watch Evel ride again and again. I have a scar to prove it, on the knuckle of the first finger of my right hand, where it would scrape the ground as I cranked the launcher, and although it was bloody and hurting I kept on cranking!
Evel definitely wasn't a saint. He was an alcoholic, got caught soliciting an undercover police officer for sex, left his wife of 38 years for a younger woman, was later charged with domestic violence toward this younger woman (whom he did eventually marry), and most recently was involved in a lawsuit with rap artist Kanye West over West's usage of Evel's image in a rap video. Life is so much simpler as a kid - you don't know the details of your heroes, you simply see them as the image they portray. Sometimes it's sad to learn the real person behind the facade. That is the most disappointing thing I've encountered since I started this horror host business.
Below is video footage of two of Evel's most spectacular jumps - look at the size of the ramp in this first one!! Seeing this as an adult it's a wonder he wasn't paralyzed - check out the crew as they get to him. The first thing they do is start yanking on his head and flip him over on his back. Amazing. The second clip is the famous Ceaser's Palace jump. I remember watching this one live on TV. Incredible crash - He was the real life Ghost Rider, suffering multiple crashes that should have killed him. Ride on, Evel. Ride on!