The duo discuss the effective, underseen deep-in-the-woods 1981 slasher film "Just Before Dawn" and all the juicy behind-the-scenes sniping between the writer and the director. Lost snake rituals, deranged slobs, lazy park rangers, and are college kids and rural hillbillies really so different in ways of the heart? Find out!
The duo cover the 1980 psychological horror film Fade to Black, which, while not a slasher film per se, has the structure of a slasher film. It’s slasher-adjacent, let’s say that much. This film follows the misadventures of Eric Binford, aka cinephile Travis Bickle, as he kills those who have wronged him while impersonating his favorite movie characters, kind of a non-supernatural Pennywise with a chip on his shoulder. Derek and J.R. debate the effectiveness of the film, while both agreeing that the misadventures of concerned psychologist Dr. Moriarty, who excuses every murder with an “Oh he’s just a confused kid, movies these days!” is a terrible but hilarious subplot.
The duo kick off Slasher Month with the Pride of Norwegian Horror: the 2006 slasher film Cold Prey. (Do note, though: Norwegians are not a prideful people). In Norway, no matter how deserted an arctic mountain may appear, rest assured that you can always find some creepy abandoned shelter that houses a killer. And if you are really unlucky, that killer might have an extremely mild facial deformity!
The duo basically do a “Hardcore History” on the polarizing film Cthulhu (2007). We assure you, no podcast has ever dedicated this much time to this film. We discuss its origins, its many abandoned subplots, the backstage drama, and how it essentially bankrupted its writer and ruined the nascent Seattle film industry. But strangely, we come not to bury it, but to understand and maybe even appreciate what this ambitious but misguided first feature was trying to do.
We complete our discussion of the rapturously received, 2016 novella “Ballad of Black Tom,” which re-purposes Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” with the social justice, Nation of Islam-inspired “white people be devils” perspective that’s all the rage with the NPR set. Which would all be fine with us, honestly, if the prose style wasn’t so flat, declarative and boring that this novella reads like the SparkNotes to a more interesting book. The last half even manages to make shoot outs boring.
Join us as we begin our discussion on the rapturously received, 2016 novella “Ballad of Black Tom,” which re-purposes Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” with the social justice, Nation of Islam-inspired “white people be devils” perspective that’s all the rage with the NPR set. Which would all be fine with us, honestly. if the prose style wasn’t so flat, declarative and boring that this novella reads like the SparkNotes to a more interesting book. And to our dismay, Cthulhu was not replaced with Yakub.
The duo finish their Mike Flanagan round-up with "Before I Wake," the filmed-in-2013-but-released-in 2018, PG-13 "supernatural drama" about a young boy who can manifest his boring, uninspiring, butterfly-heavy dreams into reality. And you got to love those dated Nintendo Wii references, which was the hot new thing when this movie was filmed back in 2013. This movie's so old that Flanagan's first wife Courtney Bell is still in it, back when they were on speaking terms, although she plays a dying person, which perhaps provided Flanagan the closure he needed to move on to his younger, more conventionally attractive second wife Kate Siegel, who went on to feature in all of his subsequent movies. What a guy!
Our duo return to briefly discuss some movies and books they don't want to dedicate a full episode to. Includes Joe Hill's "Strange Weather," John Darnielle's "Universal Harvester," William Sloane's "To Walk the Night," John Padgett's "The Secret of Ventriloquism," Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City," and the films The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Personal Shopper, The Lure, Dave Made a Maze, Creep, Beyond the Gates, Deathgasm, Train to Busan, and some others. And what would an episode be without a return to J.R.'s favorite topics: depression and futility!
Our Christmas horror movie binge ends with the 2017 Australian horror flick "Red Christmas," a movie that also made us want to end our lives (it's that bad). How inept does a cast of characters have to be that they can be killed one-by-one by a deformed, infirm, hobbled mutant abortion survivor with Down Syndrome? Pretty damn inept. And don't worry, that's not a spoiler since this "twist" is given away in the first 30 seconds. This isn't "so bad it's good": it's '"so bad that I punched a hole in the wall because I spent 5 bucks on this and now the cops are here and I'm spending my Christmas in jail."
The gang covers the 2016, critically acclaimed Australian/American horror/thriller "Better Watch Out." Wonder why we are being so circumspect with our description? Well, we aren't trying to spoil anything: at least not with this blurb, anyway. Come listen and have everything spoiled. Just don't read any reviews first, especially not the dreadful San Francisco Gate review that spoils the movie IN THE HEADLINE.
If Travis Bickle drove a sleigh instead of a taxi, you might have something like Christmas Evil, the 1980 feature that was the first (and last) film written and directed by Lewis Jackson. The gang disagree on the merits of the film, which features a strong performance from Brandon Maggart (aka Fiona Apple's father), some bits of surrealism and some unfortunate 1980s hokiness. Neither of us, however, threw popcorn at the screen in impotent rage, as supposedly happened at the film's test screening.
Come have a listen to our very special guest Chris Lackey, co-host of the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast and Rachel Watches Star Trek, star of many Lovecraftian comedy shorts and author of many graphic novels and films. It's the Chris Lackey you've never heard before, as we go deep in this 1 hour and 20 min+ plus interview. Lackey discusses his hopes, fears, disappointments, ambitions and radical politics while making sure to crack enough jokes to keep your interest. We got a hot one here folks!
The gang discuss Philip Fracassi’s 2016 novella “Altar,” about a family trip to the pool gone-weird. While this story proceeds for the most part as expected, both J.R. and Derek liked it, so take that, all those people out there who say we are unduly negative (you know who you are!). But first, J.R. angrily laments the state of absurd, cliched ridden, over-promising introductions to single-author collections, so his bona fides are an irrationally angry man are secure.
Is that a Jack Skellington tattoo on your neck? Johnny the Homicidal on your inner arm? No? Ok, what is your tolerance for lines like "he will paint a matching work with tragedy and screaming" or "a promise is just a longer lie." Hmmm.....well, are you 14? No? Ok, well still give the 2016 novella Detritus in Love a chance, where the dream of the early 2000's melodramatic emo revival is alive and well. This novella concerns Detritus, his love of the X-eyed Blank, and his battle with The Opposite. Come and have a listen!
Listen in to J.R. having a stroke as the gang discuses Sour Candy, the 2015 novella by Kealan Patrick Burke that probably keeps interminably popping up on your "suggested" list on Amazon. This novella shows how you can take a bunch of interesting elements and combine them into a flavorless mush. It's hilariously silly, filled with one note characters, convoluted mythos, a nonsensical "twist" and a girlfriend whose sole job is "sexual innuendo." Still it isn't all bad. There's fun to be had. Come and have a listen!
The gang interview the lively Grady Hendrix, author of the new nonfiction novel “Paperbacks from Hell: the Twisted History of 70s and 80s Horror Fiction“ and the 2014 novel "Horrorstör" about a haunted IKEA like store, but not actually IKEA for legal reasons. Oh, and he co-founded the New York Asian Film Festival without even being Asian! How does he do it! We cover a ton of different topics, like the crazy feeding frenzy of the 70s/80s paperback boom; the psychological effect of reading so much forgotten horror fiction; how one goes about founding a film festival; the appeal of the “killer kid” and the “haunted Indian graveyard” genres and the sadness of the haunted house; why movie slashers are fun and fiction slashers are so very, very different; why bizarro horror kinda sucks; and which forgotten authors we should read.
May we present to you, the most critically acclaimed... Hasbro-licensed movie of all time! Take that, Jem and the Holograms! Hope you didn't see Ouija (2014), because (1) it sucked and (2) it spoils everything about Mike Flanagan's 2016 prequel, Ouija: Origin of Evil. This is a movie that is better than it has any right to be, but still suffers from third-act problems... so... she's possessed by an evil Nazi doctor?... or... the Polish victim who is himself possessed by the evil dark things? And the family lives in a graveyard and Doris has psychic powers, but they can't hear the ghosts until they buy a Ouija board at an ice cream shop? Anyway, don't think to hard and join us in this land of digital cigarette burns and split diopter shots.
There's definitely some shame in Gerald's Game! We continue our discussion of Mike Flanagan's oeuvre, with the just-released film Gerald's Game, adapted from the 1992 novel by Stephen King. We discuss the origins of the film, pivotal differences from the novel, discuss the method acting of the hungry hound, whether Jessie is the world's biggest Stephen King fan given since she incorporates his work into her hallucinations, and why all men are DOGS, I tell ya.
All good spirals must connect and come to an end, and so to does our discussion of Uzumaki, in our third and final part. And just like the comic we are covering, we end abruptly and make little sense. Enter a Lovecraftian world of light-emitting spirals, insufferable, entitled orphans (as if there were any other kind), bandits who inexplicably think saying "Roger Wilco" is cool, and all the juicy, juicy snail meat you can handle. And finally people throw Kirie's pretentious boyfriend out of a house, something we've wanted to see happen since chapter 1.