Category Archives: Blog

Does Whatever a Spider Can

Review by Jay Michaels

Spider Baby shouldn’t be good. It’s filmed like a early TV series in bland-style clack and white; the script is weird and sometimes makes no sense; the special effects are like you might find in a college thesis project – a bad one; and the best parts of it are overtly predictable.

So why is it a classic?

First, Lon Chaney Jr.

One of his final roles, Mr. Chaney plays the caretaker to a family that is comically murderous. In another actor’s hands, this role would have little impact, but watching Chaney – even at this latter time in his career – is like a master class of macabre characterization. Smiling but eyes darting with distrust or disbelief; man-with-the-plan calm marinated in what-if anxiety, Chaney commands every scene he inhabits. Beverly Washburn and Jill Banner play two psychotic girls under Chaney’s care. Somehow, the young actresses innately knew how in fuse humor with an almost overwhelming creep-factor with a bit of sexuality to make improbably murderous children into enjoyable characters. Their brother, an animalistic creature, could – again – be invisible like the appearance of two more monsters at the end of the film – but in the hands of the underappreciated actor Sid Haig, we can’t help but follow this dialogue-less character throughout the film. Haig didn’t get the recognition he richly deserved until toward the end of this life, but if you watch this film with a knowing eye you understand the brilliance.

The supporting characters – members of the “family” come to steal the inheritance  (there’s always an inheritance when you have a creepy mansion) are terrible. Overplayed, overdressed, overdone. BUT … taking their over-the-top portrayals as a form of parable, then you are forced to ask “who really are the murders” the savage children and Chaney or the greedy disinterested-till-$$ relatives. One might pen an entire report about how insanity when in the accepted majority is consider accepted and even popular and the ostracized normal can easily be altered by scorn, derision, and general polarization.

Spider Baby bears all the earmarks of a laughable monster film done on the cheap, but when you dig just a bit under the surface you see a deep character study and the forerunner of countless classic genre films especially Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Something Wicked This Way Filmed

Review by Bob Greene

Shakespeare has been modernized time and time again. The trick is to find a place where the Bard’s tales can fit. Edward Gusts found just the place for the savage Macbeth – where savagery is still allowed. That’s right, the boardroom. STAINED takes us into the offices of John Macbeth.

Simple and realistic, STAINED tells the story of underappreciated executive John Macbeth and his wife, Jane, who hides the actual extent to which she is grieving over the loss of her child. The first fright is how easily the Sahkespeaqren tale of the soldier who gets help from hell to be king can fit in the modern corporate american world. The next is how logical writer Gusts and director Joston Theney translate demon-driven cravings into business ambition. The rest belongs to clever performances.

Writer Gusts takes on the lead role as a brilliant but timid businessman pushed aside for promotion after promotion only to [accidentally?] terminate his boss, Greg Duncan, played with ultra-vigor by director Theney. Their eventual powerful and truly frightening confrontation almost comes out of nowhere but leads to a series of events that are as unnerviong as they are realistic.

Interesting touches like instead of killing MacDuff’s child, the Macbeths take him for their own and lady Jane M’s madness seems to be a bi-polar condition thats ends her into fits of murder and erotism. Gaunbt and bug-eyed, fellow writer, Ariel Braxhefield, plays the Mrs. with so much realistic agony that one might feel sorry for her – even when a killing spree (usually leading to sex) gets the better of her.

While one might smirk and see this as a “family affair” with the writers and directors handling the leads, one cannot help but feel how this internal touch allows the plot and characters to be crystal clear and the deep understanding of the source material was – like any board mkeeting discussion – a majority vote.

Keeping the original names of the characters (Mr & Mrs. Macbeth; boss Duncan; Detective MacDuff; business colleague Maggie Banquo; and that lovely couple, the Seytons) allows Sahskepare aficionados to chuckle lightly and get into the piece quickly while those unaware just think the script writers were imaginative.

If you’re looking for a good slasher film, go watch one of the Friday, the 13ths. If you’re looking for a psychological thriller that goes the extra mile, get STAINED.

Bob Greene, a former writer at Newsday, retired to a life of reviewing Off & Off-Off Broadway, but until they return he is feeding a secret passion for genre films.

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Recently Added Titles

The Madness Within

How Long Can It Last? Russ Washington is a successful businessman on top of the world. But when addiction, secrets, and faulty relationships send him spiraling down the rabbit hole, will he continue to plummet or find the strength to carry on?

Genres / Categories: Recently AddedThriller / Suspense

Spider Baby

A caretaker devotes himself to three demented siblings after their father’s death.

Director: Jack Hill
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Night of the Naked Dead

Sometimes the Dead have Unfinished Business. The Dead bring their unfinished business of lust and revenge to the door of a romance writer and her new handyman. Veronica arrives naked. Coby has blood on him. Then the Others come. Sex and murder, lust and revenge will make this a night that the writer and her new friend will never forget.

Director: Junius Podrug
Genres / Categories: Recently AddedThriller / Suspense

Millennial Angst vs. the Undead (A Review of Dracula the Impaler)

by Natasha Dawsen

Indie-Pictures-Blog, for the duration of the quarantine, will review the catalog of the new indie horror/suspense channel, Terror TV. https://www.terrortv.com

As we meander through the 21st century, we crave a particular kind of cinematic sustenance. Yes, sure we want “new” things, but we also are looking for the reimagining; the new version of telling an old tale; basically, the familiar with an unfamiliar twist.

Dracula, the Impaler handles that for us.

Here the plot – a bunch of young folks decide they want to buck a legend and take their vacation in Dracula’s castle. Yup. Whatever you are thinking … that’s what happens.

But here’s the new thing…

The impetuous 20-somethigns are millennials. In some cases, they play the stereotype of being such a generation. It makes you ask yourself… who/what is right and wrong? Who is the hero/villain? And even some might ask “who’s the monster?”

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL REVIEW

Monster Mash (A Review of Creature Feature)

Indie-Pictures-Blog, for the duration of the quarantine, will review the catalog of the new indie horror/suspense channel, Terror TV. https://www.terrortv.com

by Natasha Dawsen

The famed slasher film has gone through three levels since Hershel Gordon Lewis created it and the 80s perfected it.

  1. OMG! The level of blood, gore, sex, and innovation in ways of destruction were not seen on film … ever. We entered the cinema white-knuckled as we did not expect to see such a level of visceral drama.
  2. “It’s an art film:” Adding unreal color as in Dario Argento or a haze over the breasts and a psychological reason for the death came next – as to legitimize the subgenre. Finally, it’s where we are now
  3. “It’s a Slasher Film:” the name reflects what it is as simply as the sun begets the morning … or maybe the moon begets the night is more apropos.

Creature Features comes under #3 perfectly.

The premise is part of the pantheon: an anthology of stories told by horny youths at a party to titillate (yup – I went there) a group of eerily erotic girls on Halloween. It salads up all the familiar imagery for such a thing:

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Haunted Haunters (A Review of The House)

Indie-Pictures-Blog, for the duration of the quarantine, will review the catalog of the new indie horror/suspense channel, Terror TV. https://www.terrortv.com

Review by Amy M. Frateo

I don’t watch a lot of horror movies. They err on the side of gratuitous sex, violence, and bad language to get a point across. So, I came to this assignment with a strong level of trepidation. I was happily surprised.  The House is not a “what’s behind that door” type of haunted house/ghost movie. Here, the ghosts are the haunted ones.

Wall Street investment banker, Jean (played with appropriate millennial angst by Natalie Skye) quits her $$$ job and goes on a worldwide vacation of soul searching. Considering whether to go back to her old ways, she encounters a house filled with tormented spirits. A cynical college professor, played with academic aplomb by Alex Zahara; his bitter-over-life sister and her loving husband (great chemistry between Emilie Ullerup and David Richmond-Peck), a remorseful cabbie whose plot could be a parable for every immigrant. Zahf Paroo knew how to supply the right level of gravity for this role and (ready?) a drifter who ends up being her love interest. Zak Santiago gave us an excellent blend of tormented soul and ne’er-do-well for our money.

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Angels are Demons (A Review of My Guardian Angel)


Indie-Pictures-Blog, for the duration of the quarantine, will review the catalog of the new indie horror/suspense channel, Terror TV. https://www.terrortv.com

Review by Bob Greene

The legendary Hammer Films is present in MY GUARDIAN ANGEL, currently playing on Terror TV. Mixing the dark edge of fairy tale with the get-to-the-point scares of the 80s TV show, Hammer’s House of Horrors, writer/director Mumtaz Yildirimlar along with fellow screenwriters Deanna Dewey and Jane Alexandra Foster have created a story that supplies the same level of over-the-top chills as many vintage Hammer Films.”

But look deep, it also packs a powerful message about a timely topic.

Twin sisters Hannah and Angel, abused to epic proportions by their sadistic parents, try to escape their grip. Their escape plan involves darker forces than even the parents. Angel is killed in the initial process but returns to help Hannah, rendered incapable of speaking due to the trauma, finish their plan.

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Meet TERROR TV’s Creepy Critic – A ‘Clinton Road’ Review

Terror TV began its broadcast [after]life in a real horror movie setting – COVID 19. So to premiere a story based on fact seems apropos. CLINTON ROAD, based on accounts documented along a haunted stretch of highway in rural New Jersey, involves a widowed firefighter seeking closure after his wife goes missing on that haunted road. He must unlock the road’s secret if he wants to get out alive. Directed by TV icon, Richard Grieco and screenwriter Steve Stanulis the guest cast features Ice-T and Vincent Pastore as club owners, with Ace Young, Erin O’Brien, Cody Calafiore, Katie Morrison, Lauren LaVera, James DeBello, and Sarah Pribis as the unlucky bunch that go into the woods at night.

Grieco and Stanulis aimed for real in this taught thriller. The gritty night club setting was a great preamble for the dark secluded road and forest that our young stars are forced to venture into. The irony of the characters played by Ice-T and Pastore give us the feel that we are going back in time. This was a subtle way of getting us into the mood of a place out of reach, time used surreal, and characters that have “come back” or at least never left.

The dialogue, camera angles, and characterizations were all quite customary but here, they were cleverly played “real.” Right now, the world is quarantined, living a horror movie for real, just as this film takes the customary elements of horror and plays them as fact. There are creatures that live in those woods and they are shot as real/not real, all bathed in the eerie light of a camp fire or flash-or-headlights, Don’t think about how a ghost from a lavish film might be depicted (complete will CGI), but what might that ghost look like if it were really out there. THAT’s what you find on Clinton Road.

Ace Young, Erin O’Brien, Cody Calafiore, Katie Morrison, Lauren LaVera, James DeBello (excellent as the psychic), and Sarah Pribis must have really been scared filming in the woods overnight as the looks of terror – and there were many opportunities – were genuine and added to the visceral creepiness quite well.

The monsters – and there must be some in a film like this – could easily become iconic. Derek Ross Mackay as a sneariung Jason type “iron-worker” was frightening by himself but when you put him with the demon child (yup, there’s one of those too) played oh so creepily by Samantha Mackay Alcantra you have a sequel worthy combination.

Technical hiccups can be seen here and there – a scene too dark, the sound too strong but for a good old fashioned killer ghost horror movie, this certainly fits the bill.

Terror TV’s Creeping Critic gives it 4 out of 5 SKULLS