Demon Slayer – USA, 2004

‘Some places are born evil. Five troubled teens are destined to fight it.’

Demon Slayer is a 2004 American supernatural horror feature film directed by James Cotten from a screenplay by Tristan Thai, based on a story by Michael B. Druxman. The movie stars Michelle Acuna, Howard Williams Jr. and Adam Huss.

Plot:

Five delinquent teenagers are assigned the task of converting a long-abandoned mental hospital in South Central Los Angeles into a community center. Little do they know that the hospital is the site of centuries of supernatural mayhem and murder. Plagued by terrors beyond belief, the teenagers must fight to survive a battle where the division between the living and the dead is shattered.

Reviews:

“Perhaps Cotton was hoping to milk some humor from the hackneyed plot and action, but with the possible exception of the scene in which the exorcist priest tries to dispel demons by calling on “the name of God and Frida Kahlo and [etc]”, Demon Slayer instigates less smiles or laughter than it does derisive raspberries. ” A Wasted Life

Demon Slayer might’ve been interesting if any demons actually showed up in the first hour or so, especially considering the film clocks in at less than 80 minutes. Instead, we get a bunch of bickering and people just “seeing things” for a mind-numbing stretch of time. To its credit, the movie tries to spice things up with some humor…” Black Horror Movies

“There is a little bit of demon action at the end but not nearly enough. “Demon Slayer” relies on the actors to bring the drama. Bad call. They weren’t bad actors but Lord they weren’t good. There should have been more demons and less drama.” Dr. Gore’s Movie Reviews

“The sad part is it had potential…..it’s not original, but what is? It just didn’t follow up on its premise at all and hell, no one watches a movie named Demon Slayer without wanting to see cheap scares, bloody deaths and well, demons. You won’t get that here.” Have a Cold One!

Choice dialogue:

Mr. Cobb: “I don’t need no pansies rollin’ around in god damned man love.”

Tamara: “That’s a problem I have with organised religion. God ain’t like that.”

Cast and characters:

  • Michelle Acuna … Alicia / Elodia
  • Howard Williams Jr. … Tyson
  • Adam Huss … Phillip
  • Hanna Lee … Claudia
  • Monique Deville … Tamara
  • Robert Eaton … Father Patricio
  • Joaquín Garrido … Father Enrique
  • Layon Gray … Mr. Cobb
  • Deitre Courchesne … Judge Vickers
  • Gretchen Kammerer … 19th Century Brothel Girl
  • Colleen Butler … 19th Century Brother Girl
  • Erica Cordova … 19th Century Brothel Girl
  • Heidi Abures … 19th Century Brothel Girl
  • Sarah Trost … 19th Century Brothel Girl
  • Lucy Howng … 19th Century Brothel Girl

Trivia:

The German title is Evil Scream

The original title was Day of the Dead

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Zombie Cheerleading Camp – USA, 2007

Zombie Cheerleading Camp is a 2007 American comedy horror feature film written, produced, edited and directed by Jon Fabris. The JAF Productions movie stars Jamie Anne Brown, Chris White and Nicole Lewis.

Plot:

When teenage boys stumble upon a nearby cheerleading camp, they think their wildest dreams have come true. What could be better than a group of beautiful girls who are bored, stuck in the woods, and ready to party? But something mysterious is changing the cheerleaders, one by one…

Reviews:

“This is the debut directorial from writer / director Jon Fabris who seems to have gotten a lot of his talent and shots from the small town of Raleigh, North Carolina… most of the actors are first timers or come from small resume backgrounds… however the film as a whole works for what it is. Part horror / part comedy Zombie Cheerleader Camp is a fun independent release.” Horror News

“When the highlight of your movie is a ridiculous two-minute fist-fight between a man and a non-animated, stuffed squirrel you may want to rethink your plans. Completionist genre fans with absolutely no other choices  might want to give this a try. Everybody else should steer clear.” More Brains

“I was shocked at how well directed the film proved to be and I’ve noticed this trend in the last few indie horrors I’ve reviewed. Whatever these movies lack in polish and scriptwriting, they make up for in using what they have on hand to entertain. The comedy is acceptable with a few laugh out loud scenes…” Brett H, Oh, the Horror!

Cast and characters:

  • Jamie Anne Brown … Ashley
  • Chris White … Cotton
  • Nicole Lewis … Britney
  • Jason Greene … Randy
  • Brandy Blackmon … Nikki
  • Daniel Check … Mikey
  • Terry Chandeline Nicole Westfall  … Coach Sullivan
  • Micah Shane Ballinger … Tyler
  • Jaqueline Martini … Mindy
  • Elyse Rodriguez … Bailey
  • Abby MacDonald [as Abby McFadyen] … Kitty
  • Katie Pate … Kelly
  • Pudge Phillips … Ed
  • Brittany Forbes … Charlotte
  • Lindsey Kruichak … Rebel Cheerleader

Trivia:

The original title was Zombie Cheerleader Camp

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James Karen – actor

James Karen – November 28, 1923 to October 23, 2018 – was an American character actor. He was best known by horror/fantasy fans, and probably by the wider public too, for his roles in Poltergeist (1982), The Return of the Living Dead (1985) and Invaders from Mars (1986). He died, aged ninety-four, having appeared in over two hundred TV and movies roles including a cameo appearance in 2018 comedy horror Cynthia.

Karen was born Jacob Karnofsky in Wilkes-Barre, in northeastern Pennsylvania, the son of Russian-born Jewish immigrants Mae (née Freed) and Joseph H. Karnofsky, a produce trader. As a young man, Karen was recruited into a production at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre. He later attended the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York.

His big break came when he was asked to understudy Karl Malden in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Beyond theatrical roles, Karen went on to play numerous characters on popular TV shows such as Starsky and Hutch, The Bionic Woman and The Rockford Files. He once remarked: “People don’t know my name, but they know my face because I’ve done so damn much work.”

 

His first notable film role, billed as Jim Karen, was in 1965 in the low-budget Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster playing Dr. Adam Steele. Often cited as one of the worst movies of all-time, Robert Gaffney’s sci-fi pic is undeniably great fun for fans of trash cinema.

As previously mentioned, one of Karen’s best-known roles were in the low-budget horror comedy The Return of the Living Dead, in which he starred as the manager of a medical warehouse who inadvertently releases a military gas that re-animates the dead. Karen and Thom Matthews proved so popular with audiences, they both returned for the sequel in 1987, playing different roles because their characters were both killed in the first movie.

In the original 1982 Poltergeist he played Mr. Teague the greedy real-estate developer who built the Californian community of Cuesta Verde on the site of a former cemetery.

In a 2006 interview about The Return of the Living Dead (1985), Karen said that he helped write most scenes of his character: “It was the deal where he figures out he’s becoming a zombie and decides to incinerate himself in the crematorium…He kisses his wedding ring as he goes in. It was a very emotional scene, but it also got me out of being one of the rain-drenched zombies milling around outside the place at the end of the film. I didn’t really want to do all that muddy stuff”

Selected filmography:

Cynthia (2018)

Bender (2016)

America’s Most Haunted (2013)

Dark and Stormy Night (2009)

Trail of the Screaming Forehead (2007)

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Piranha (1995)

Congo (1995)

Future Shock (1994)

The Unborn (1991)

The Willies (1990)

Girlfriend from Hell (1989)

Return of the Living Dead Part II (1987)

Invaders from Mars (1986)

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Jagged Edge (1985)

Time Walker (1982)

Poltergeist (1982)

The China Syndrome (1979)

Capricorn One (1977)

The Bionic Woman (TV series, 1976)

The Invisible Man (TV series, 1975)

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)

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Kuntilanak aka The Chanting – Indonesia, 2006

‘Her laugh will be the last thing you’ll ever hear.’

Kuntilanak is a 2006 Indonesian supernatural horror film directed by Rizal Mantovani (Tembang Lingsir; The Uninvited; Wewe; et al) from a screenplay co-written with Ve Handojo. The movie stars Julie Estelle, Evan Sanders and Ratu Felisha.

The English title is “The Chanting”, although this is not a direct translation as a kuntilanak or pontianak is a type of ghost in Indonesian (and wider Malay) folklore.

The film was followed by two sequels, Kuntilanak 2 and Kuntilanak 3, setting up a trilogy with Mantovani returning as director. In 2018, the director rebooted the franchise, making the protagonists a group of children. This latest incarnation is currently available on Netflix.

Plot:

Samantha “Sam” is an orphaned young woman who moves to an isolated boarding house in North Jakarta, trying to avoid the advances of her lecherous stepfather. The landlady of the house, Yanti, tells her that the second floor is locked up with no one allowed inside.

While listing other restrictions, including about a chair in front of a Javanese mirror in Sam’s room, Yanti chants durmo, a Javanese poem said to be able to summon Kuntilanak, a female ghost with half the body of a horse rumoured to be living in a weeping fig in front of the house….

Reviews:

“Many of the scenes with the kuntilanak were suspenseful, and there were plenty of frightening sequences to keep you happy (past the first 45 minutes, that is). The ending was a decent one, though not wholly unsurprising. Kuntilanak wasn’t an overly spectacular film, but it held up well given its deficits.” Beyond the Darkened Door

“The whole visual art of the movie adds to the spooky feeling and the haunted boardinghouse is nicely shot as well. The acting, while not stellar is above average […] The gore is low key and while not entirely original, Kuntilanak is one of the best Indonesian horror movie I’ve seen so far.” Daily Dose of Horror

Kuntilanak is a very creepy movie with quite a few jump out of your seat moments and a soundtrack ‘Lingsir Wengi’. Each and every appearance by the Kuntilanak managed to raise some hair on the back of my skin.” Zainal A, Letterboxd

Cast and characters:

  • Julie Estelle as Samantha – Macabre
  • Evan Sanders as Agung
  • Ratu Felisha as Dinda
  • Alice Iskak as Raden Ayu Sri Sukmarahimi Mangkoedjiwo
  • Lita Soewardi as Yanti
  • Ibnu Jamil as Iwank

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Infested – USA, 2002

Infested is a 2002 American science fiction horror feature film written and directed by Josh Olson (writer of animated Batman: Gotham Knight and David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence). The movie stars Zach Galligan, Lisa Ann Hadley, Daniel Jenkins and Amy Jo Johnson.

After the funeral of an old friend, a group of New York yuppies gather upstate for a weekend of emotional reflection. However, it all starts to go horribly wrong when they are attacked by an infestation of mutant flies…

Reviews:

” …a story about (magic?) flies, zombies, a thirty something reunion, eighties tunes and some of the most stupid situations ever in a horror flick. The overriding problem is that flies are not scary. There is nothing remotely scary about a fly. Even mass quantities of them don’t bring fear.” Dr. Gore’s Movie Reviews

“Gorehounds will find one or two worthwhile moments (an extended sequence involving a bathroom and someone’s horrifically injured leg is suitably goopy) amidst the tiresome antics, but if you’re enough of a horror freak to give this one a spin – odds are you’ll lose all patience with Infested long before the minute moments of interest pop onto the screen.” Scott Weinberg, e-FilmCritic

“This thing is a steaming pile filled with the worst CG bugs ever and lacks any originality. There’s one pretty lackluster gore effect involving a leg and a pair of nail clippers. You want all of the characters to die after the first five minutes of them being introduced.” One Man’s Garbage

“This entire thing is pretty silly and gets outright ridiculous in the finale; but it still manages to be a mildly amusing timewaster due to its unserious tone and some gooey gore effects (like a pleasing moment where one of the possessed friends gets a crowbar to the head) – just don’t expect much sense.” The Video Graveyard

“The acting, dialog, plot development, (most of the) special effects and anything that must be good to make a half-way professional film are for the most part missing or fifth-rate, and therein lies the joy of the film. Don’t watch Infested expecting quality, watch it for the piece of shit it is and you just might find that it is pretty enjoyable…” A Wasted Life

Cast and characters:

  • Zach Galligan … Warren – American Bigfoot; The Chair; Hatchet III; Legion of the DeadWaxworkGremlins and Gremlins 2; et al
  • Lisa Ann Hadley … Ellen
  • Daniel Jenkins … Steven
  • Amy Jo Johnson … Jesse
  • Nahanni Johnstone … Mindy
  • Robert Duncan McNeill … Eric
  • Jack Mulcahy … Bob
  • David Packer … Elliot
  • Camilla Overbye Roos … Robin
  • Tuc Watkins … Carl
  • Mark Margolis … Father Morning

 

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I Sell the Dead – USA, 2008

I sell the dead

‘Never trust a corpse’

I Sell the Dead is a 2008 American comedy horror feature film about grave-robbing written, edited and directed by Irish-born Glenn McQuaid (V/H/S). The Glass Eye Pix movie stars Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Larry Fessenden and Angus Scrimm.

I sell the dead 2

Plot:

18th century justice has finally caught up with grave robbers Arthur Blake and Willie Grimes. With the spectre of the guillotine looming over him, young Blake confides in visiting clergyman Father Duffy, recounting fifteen years of adventure in the resurrection trade.

Blake’s tale leads from humble beginnings as a young boy stealing trinkets from corpses, to a partnership with seasoned ghoul Willie Grimes as they hunt creatures unwilling to accept their place in the ground…

I sell the dead 5

Reviews:

I Sell the Dead is not only one of the few horror comedies to really work, but also a fittingly tongue in cheek Hammer tribute. McQuaid shows himself to be a genuine genre talent, and it is rewarding indeed to see a director really put effort into recreating, rather than simply referencing some of the classics of old.” James Mudge, Beyond Hollywood.com

“The gothic horror film has become somewhat of a lost art, so it’s nice to see someone trying to resurrect it (so to speak). And while McQuaid pays homage to the classic movies with his shrouded moors and grave-robbers, the movie simply falls short.” Mike Long, DVD Sleuth

I sell the dead blu

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

“If I have one criticism of the film it’s that I wished the two, when tussling with the undead, had a few more action scenes, but I assume that budget limitations killed the chances of this happening. This tale of buddy body-snatching is warm and witty and deserves high praise…” Darren Amner, Eye for Film

“As it stands, this delightful bit of gallows humor has its high points. It also suffers from occasional stumbles. Still, in a genre that sees more misfires than masterworks, I Sell the Dead is an excellent minor example of the latter. While it could have possibly been better, fans know it could be a whole helluva lot worse.” Bill Gibron, Pop Matters

“As far as the horror elements of the story are concerned they are centered around some of the stronger comedic moments of the film and do provide the bigger laughs. And there were some great laugh loud moments […] But I Sell the Dead is not without strong horror scenes and a good amount of blood letting.” Andrew Mack, Screen Anarchy

I-Sell-the-Dead-DVD

Instant Video | DVD | Blu-ray from Amazon.com

“You’ve basically got it all here. There’s genuine scares and genuine laughs. The makeup work on the monsters is quite impressive and frightening, and there’s even some bits of zombie gore to enjoy. The script is smart and clever, and filled with intentional anachronisms that only serve to make the film more unique than it already is.” B-Sol, The Vault of Horror

“First-time director Glenn McQuaid is especially enthusiastic about the duo’s rivals (a Burton-esque family of rogues dubbed “The House of Murphy”), but the editing rushes through the best bits and trips up Arthur and Willie’s partnership. Supporting hobbit turned Lost axiom Monaghan is too reserved anyway, and even Fessenden holds back from hork-in-yer-top-hat unsavoriness.” Nicolas Rapold, The Village Voice

Cast and characters:

  • Dominic Monaghan … Arthur Blake
  • Larry Fessenden … Willy Grimes – Wendigo; Beneath; et al
  • Angus Scrimm … Dr. Quint – Phantasm franchise
  • Ron Perlman … Father Duffy – Season of the Witch; Pacific RimHellboy and Hellboy 2; Cronos
  • Brenda Cooney … Fanny Briers
  • John Speredakos … Cornelius Murphy
  • Daniel Manche … Young Arthur
  • Eileen Colgan … Maisey O’Connell
  • James Godwin … Old Man
  • Joel Marsh Garland … Ronnie
  • Aidan Redmond … Jack Flood
  • Alisdair Stewart … Bulger
  • Heather Bullock … Valentine Kelly
  • Chris Shaw … Executioner
  • Martin Pfefferkorn … Howling Man

Technical details:

85 minutes | 2.35:1

Filming locations:

Staten Island and East Village, New York

Related:

The Unsubtle Art of Body Snatching – article

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Hobgoblins 2 – USA, 2009

‘Don’t say we didn’t warn you!’

Hobgoblins 2 is a 2009 American science fiction horror feature film written and directed by Rick Sloane (Blood Theatre). The movie stars Josh Mills, Sabrina Bolin, Jason Buuck, Jordana Berliner, Josh Green and Chanel Ryan.

A belated sequel to Sloane’s 1988, Hobgoblins, it was made to look identical to the original film, utilising 35mm film and composite effects, look-alike actors, some of the original costumes and the same puppets.

McCreedy has been locked in a psychiatric hospital after blowing up the film studio to destroy the Hobgoblins, which occurred at the end of the first film. Kevin and his friends are now in college, and their Professor introduces them to McCreedy, who warns them that it is still possible to be attacked by Hobgoblins.

Despite McCreedy’s warning, Kevin and his friends re-encounter the Hobgoblins and must fight against them and their own greatest fears, in order to save their lives…

Reviews:

“It’s a self-aware movie with bad jokes. At first, I thought maybe the director just had a misguided sense of humor and that things were going to at least be charmingly inept throughout. But then the bad jokes kept coming and I started to feel uncomfortable, then annoyed, then cranky.” I Got Here Late

“There’s no point in describing the plot here, as if you’ve seen the first one, you’ve pretty much seen this. Oh the hobgoblins pray on peoples’ fears instead of their fantasies and it’s set a bit later then the first, but otherwise it’s the same thing. Only somewhere worse because the movie’s self-aware how bad it is the time out.” Movieman Kev

Cast and characters:

  • Josh Mills … Kevin
  • Chanel Ryan … Fantazia
  • Sabrina Bolin … Amy
  • Jason Buuck … Nick
  • Josh Green … Kyle
  • Jordana Berliner … Daphne
  • Ashley Ausburn … Buffy
  • Joy Villa … Candy Striper

Running time:

92 minutes

Release:

Hobgoblins 2 was released on DVD by Shout! Factory on June 23, 2009. A DVD bonus feature, ‘Hobgoblins 2, What Were They Thinking?’, features the original cast of Hobgoblins critiquing the new actors who re-created their roles. Director Rick Sloane discusses how this film was originally planned to go into production two years after the original, and instead, twenty years later, it was shot using the same script.

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Celeste Yarnall – actress

Celeste Yarnall – 26 July 1944 to 7 October 2018 – was an American actress who started her career on television before moving to the big screen.

Celeste’s TV appearances included Bewitched (1966), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1966), the Star Trek episode ‘The Apple’ (1967) and Land of the Giants (1968).

She made a brief early movie appearance in the Jerry Lewis Jekyll and Hyde-themed comedy The Nutty Professor but horror aficionados will best remember her in Beast of Blood (1970) and as the distinctive Diane LeFanu in Stephanie Rothman’s hippie horror flick The Velvet Vampire (1971).

 

Celeste’s later genre cameo appearances were in urban vampire tale Midnight Kiss (1993) and Skinwalker: Curse of the Shaman (2005).

Image credits: Alan Mercer

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