Entries Tagged 'i just love this movie okay' ↓

Chilling Classics Cthursday: THE ALPHA INCIDENT (1978)

At last! This week brings us the first of several Chilling Classics from the multi-pack auteur himself, Wisconsin's own Bill Rebane. To call Rebane an acquired taste is...well, I cannot decide if that's an oversell or an undersell. Let's just call it a sell, shall we? The films of Bill Rebane are, in a word, weird. They're often dull affairs only sporadically livened up by some left-field choices that can only be explained with a "Forget it, Jake. It's Rebane-town (Wisconsin)." The more bonkers moments of his films remind me of William Girdler's The Manitou, but with 98% less budget and 100% more crew members with the last name "Rebane." (Seriously, don't make a drinking game out of this, do not do a shot every time a Rebane family member pops up in the end credits, you will die long before they are over.) To the more--or the way less, I suppose--discerning among us, these movies are home-grown, home-cooked charmers. I'm a big fan of another Chilling Classic that'll be covered whenever RNGesus makes it so, but today's flick, The Alpha Incident, was new to me and reader, it did not disappoint! Except in all the ways it's disappointing. But hey, that's Rebane-town, baby!

A space probe returns from Mars, arriving with a guest: a "disease organism" that leaves scientists baffled but yours truly delighted as this laboratory uses hamsters for some reason? I don't understand the science of this decision but I do understand the cuteness of it.

As they try to figure out what they've got on their hands, vials of the stuff are put on a train bound for Colorado. When the government agent assigned to escort the package (Stafford Morgan) decides to take a nap, a nosy train worker (George "Buck" Flower, last seen in Chilling Classics Cthursday's Drive-In Massacre) messes with a vial and drops it.  He cuts his hand on broken glass and unknowingly gets infected with a mystery...well, no one knows yet.

 George "Buck" Flower, seen here with his frequent co-star Booze

The train stops at a small station in Moose Point to switch engines. The agent and George "Buck" Flower, apparently the only two people on a whole long-ass train, disembark to wait. The agent finds out what George "Buck" Flower done did, and they, along with three train office employees, end up quarantined at the station as the scientists at the lab race to find a "counter-agent." Eventually the survivors are told one thing only: don't fall asleep under any circumstances because...something bad will happen.

Side note, about 25 minutes into the picture, a buzzing began, so loud that it drowned out the dialogue. For a moment I thought it might be a new addition to the film's Casio-flavored sci-fi "soundtrack," but then I realized that it was the disc and that the buzzing may never end so, full disclosure: I watched the rest of it on Tubi. On the downside, I had to suffer through some commercials for diapers and psoriasis medication. On the upside, Tubi has what I assume is the transfer from the Arrow Blu-ray release (can you believe it??), so I got to see it in its correct aspect ratio and in colors that Mill Creek would never allow me to dream up. I felt like Dorothy stepping into Oz when I got a load of the pinks and blues and a whole Skittles' worth of rainbow in the laboratory and the office of Lieutenant General Poor Man's Raymond Burr in Rear Window! (Please note that his official name is "The Official.")


I would also accept "Lieutenant General Poor Man's Roger Ebert"

Now, a movie full of people sitting around talking doesn't sound very exciting, I'll admit ("Unless it's written by Aaron Sorkin!!" -- you, probably haha lmaoooo). But the dialogue, courtesy of screenwriter Ingrid Neumayer, is rife with that patented Bill Rebane weirdness that had me invested in the small-town drama of Moose Point, as centered on its train station office. Give me a Moose Point night soap stat!

The drama centers around a woman named Jenny (Carol Irene Newell) who comes in to "do the books" at the station every Friday. Yes, it is truly a cosmic joke that she is there today of all days, the day when the train full of space stuff is due. 

After she arrives, her co-worker Charlie (Ralph Meeker) watches her pour herself some coffee and we get this shot, accompanied by what can only be described as "floozy music." Not raucous burlesque or nudie film-esque music. Floozy music. It's...quaint. Which is fitting, in my opinion.

I'm not sure if this is "Bill Rebane film" lascivious or strictly "Moose Point" lascivious, mind. But either way, it introduced what would become the true saga of The Alpha Incident; no, it's not about any "disease organism"s from Mars. It's about the sexual politics and love games of the Moose Point Train Station, which I have yet to figure out, quite frankly. I doubt I ever will. 

By the way, Ralph Meeker, who is ostensibly the closest thing The Alpha Incident has to a "name" actor, isn't given much to do or more than a handful of lines of dialogue until the final ten minutes of this thing, when it all goes off the rails (get it?). We'll get to that, of course. The important thing to note now is that through the whole movie he reminded me of Wilford Brimley as Blair in John Carpenter's The Thing.


Okay, but hear me out: Charlie's co-quarantined co-worker Jack is played by John F. Goff, who was Al Williams (aka Mr Janet Leigh) in The Fog. George "Buck" Flower was also in The Fog. Clearly John Carpenter is a fan of The Alpha Incident and did, in fact, model Blair after Ralph Meeker. Right? RIGHT?! 

In further red string conspiracy board news, John F. Goff was also in Drive-In Massacre AND John Carpenter's They Live, both alongside George "Buck" Flower. Maybe it's not so much that John Carpenter is a fan of The Alpha Incident as he is a fan of The Chilling Classics 12-DVD Collection 50 Movie Pack from Mill Creek Entertainment. Right? Or maybe...maybe...I'm John Carpenter? Hmm, I sure do love video games...the evidence grows and grows.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, Moose Point After Dark.

So we've got Charlie ogling Jenny's gams--which go all the way up to here her tasteful knee-length hemline, and Jack incessantly making lewd comments at her. Sometimes she tells him to knock it off, other times she drapes herself all over him. But she insists she's not interested, as she has a big weekend date with Ted Sheffield, a man whom she's been seeing on-and-off. Jack is unbothered and continues to hit on her relentlessly.

For her part, Jenny takes an interest in the government agent, Sorensen, who does not take an interest in her. Not even when she decides to change her clothes and put on makeup! The nerve. The space infection that may or may not be coursing through her veins is bad enough, imagine getting rejected by the man who has been in town for five minutes and is also infected and Jenny, please remember that you are all quarantined and maybe dying?

In light of all of this, she decides to go have sex with Jack in an empty train car. What! It seems that Jenny's phone number is 867-53-OH NO amirite?

She immediately regrets the decision to sleep with Jack, but don't worry, it's not because she feels bad about maybe-cheating on Ted Sheffield. She later reveals that Ted Sheffield doesn't even exist?? He's like a George Glass...? Again I say: WHAT.

See, the Jenny storyline is just part of where the Bill Rebane weirdness comes in.

The quarantined group must stay awake, right? That's part of the whole space infection deal. Well, they can barely pull one single all-nighter before they start coming apart at the seams and Jenny has--or tries to--have sex with most of the men. But no worries: the government very helpfully air drops some amphetamines to them, along with some Slim Jims and plastic bags to poop in. (We don't want the infection seeping into the environment, do we?) It all leads to those final ten minutes I mentioned earlier, ten minutes which are kicked off by poor Charlie starting to doze and...well, let's just say that it's too bad Nancy Thompson hadn't been invented yet, for perhaps she could have reminded him: Don't. Fall. Asleep.



Oh man, that last screenshot really sends me! It's not the end of the sequence, mind you. Trust me when I say that it gets way grosser, but no more realistic. The "Wait...what?" that starts running through your mind won't stop until the whole thing ends on a lousy freeze frame ten minutes later. 

To those of you who are not partial to the character actor-laden cast list or the task of parsing Jenny's sad, small-town love (?) story or Bill Rebane in general, I don't know if those final ten minutes would make sitting through all of The Alpha Incident worth it.  

But as for me, John Carpenter, well. Maybe it's just the "disease organism" talking but I loved it? I can't wait until the next time we get to partake in some Wisconsin weirdness on a Cthursday. I'm a bona fide Rebane-iac and proud of it!

Chilling Classics Cthursday: TRACK OF THE MOON BEAST (1976)

When Track of the Moon Beast's number came up for this week's Chilling Classics, I was surprised by how immediately gotdang pumped I was to watch it again for the first time in about 15 years. It's a terrible movie as far as, you know, movies go, but I don't care. I saw it at some point during my youth--it must have been on Creature Double Feature or something--and it deeply terrified me. I can't imagine it ever terrified anyone else, particularly anyone over the age of "child." But as a result, it's one of...well, I don't want to say it's one of my "favorite" movies, because that doesn't quite feel right. It's more accurate to say simply that it's one of my movies. Corny to say, maybe, but I'll say it: it's special to me, this tale of a dude who got hit in the head with a piece of the moon and subsequently turned into a lizard monster on occasion.

(Say what you will about Track of the Moon Beast, but the poster is lit!)

(Also, I'm not sure if it strictly qualifies as "a poster" because it never got a theatrical release. That's how bad it is! It was shot in 1972 but no one picked it up for distribution; it finally started playing on The Tee Vee in 1976 and has been somewhat ubiquitous ever since.)

Whenever I ask for your favorite horror movies for SHOCKtober, there are a few entries that may seem a bit out of left field. Usually, those are the movies that imprinted upon someone in some major way. Perhaps it was the circumstances it was seen a particular time: a bonding experience with mom or dad, a too-much-sugar sleepover, a first date. More often, it has to do with the film, no matter how cheesy or Z-grade, scaring one silly. We can all talk about how The Exorcist or Jaws or Halloween or Some Other Masterpiece kept us awake at night. But what of the Messterpieces that did the same? 

I think it's cool as heck that at for at least one person, this movie--this two-point-something on imdb, mercilessly roasted on MST3K movie--achieved its intended effect. It hit the right notes, and it worked

Watching it now, I go full gramma-in-a-rocking-chair-on-the-porch, shaking my head fondly and wistfully as I remember all Pepperidge Farms-style. Dare I say, though, it still has some value?...maybe?...as a curio. 

The 1970s saw a lot of films on the earnest end of redspolitation, and Track of the Moon Beast certainly counts among their number. No longer portrayed solely as the savages of 1950s westerns, indigenous characters now served to be wise and noble stewards of the land (crying over pollution in PSAs, for example) or wise and noble advisors to white men who are trying to figure stuff out. It's Frank Redbear teaching our caucasian hero about moldy corn in Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. And it's Johnny Longbow helping the police solve some murders in Track of the Moon Beast by showing them "400 year old" "paintings" of an "Indian legend" where someone also turned into a lizard monster. That's right, it's a 400-year-old painting, and definitely not a quick pencil sketch someone did on a pad they bought at CVS!

It's amusing (?) to watch all the ways Track of the Moon Beast does so wrong by Native Americans by trying to do right. Like our heroine Cathy, who heads to a Reservation to take photos of religious artifacts, only to then take one of the artifacts to use in a practical joke. It's all a bit like that frogurt bit from Treehouse of Horror on The Simpsons, you know?

Also I don't know how many indigenous religious artifacts are made out of tin, but I am not an expert so this could totally look like the real deal!!!! Just like the painting.

Also curious: this movie was co-written by Bill Finger, the man who co-created Batman. If you squint, you can see some shared DNA between Track of the Moon Beast and the formative comics and comic characters of yore. "A guy gets hit in the head with a moon rock ("Moon rock, oh wow" -- Cathy) and transforms into a lizard monster" is a premise that easily could have earned a 24-issue run at DC or Marvel in the 70s under the title Moon Beast. (I mean, Moon Knight's first appearance was in an issue of Werewolf by Night in the 70s, it's really not far-fetched at all.) 

The big show-stopper of the film, undoubtedly, is Albuquerque's own Frank Larrabee performing "California Lady" at a Ramada Inn. I love that it was a Ramada Inn. I love that Larrabee was actually performing there and they just...threw it in the movie. And you know what? Justice for Frank Larrabee! "California Lady" sounds like some discount Don McLean and it would absolutely be right at home on the 1972-1973 CD from Time-Life's Singers and Songwriters series. Sadly for Mr Larrabee, the 70s were chock full of sensitive men playing the acoustic guitar sensitively and singing sensitive songs and he never popped off beyond a 6-song EP. But "California Lady" is really theee thing that people take away from Track of the Moon Beast, which is more than Don McLean could ever boast.


Of course, I take away much more than that from it, despite the fact that it boasts some of the most wooden acting you will ever see, dialogue spoken at what feels like 75% speed, and a climactic "explosion" that looks like this:


I've written (and drawn) more about the movie a couple of times, both here and beyond, and who knows, maybe I'll write about it again in another 10 years. At the least I'm sure I'll give it another watch because although it may be terrible, it is mine, and that's rarer than a moon rock.

Moon rock, oh wow!

Chilling Classics Cthursday: CATHY’S CURSE (1977)

After the disappointment bestowed on me last week, RNGesus did me a real solid this time around, blessing me with an excuse to watch Cathy's Curse (1977) for the gazillionth time. In fact, it was thanks to this very same Mill Creek multi-pack that I saw it for the firstillionth time way back in 2009, and I wrote about it for this very site. The fact that a pull-quote from that review ended up on Severin's Blu-ray release of the film is one of THEE honors of my life, and I am not even kidding!

As always, "film," simultaneously feels like too strong a word for Cathy's Curse and a word that is not nearly strong enough for Cathy's Curse. This is because it transcends not only our mortal concept of what a "film" is, but it transcends our earthly laws entirely. I wrote about this phenomenon a couple of SHOCKtobers past, in the one where I talked about my favorite horror movie characters. 

[...] Cathy's Curse is here to remind you that you know absolutely nothing and you never truly will. Like a member of The Flat Earth Society or a cinematic hardened rogue vigilante cop, Cathy's Curse feels stifled by "the law," be it the law of man or the law of nature. Cathy's Curse operates outside the system, beholden only to the rules of its own world, a world in which the logic of our world simply doesn't apply. Nothing has meaning. Meaning itself has no meaning. It laughs at your struggle as you try to figure it out, as you try to impose order on its chaos--for within this film there is only chaos.

Of course, Cathy's Curse isn't really film, it's more...something you experience. It's something that happens to you. It lingers, clouding your brain, clogging it with thoughts that may not be your own. Time will no longer have meaning. Meaning will no longer have meaning. Your new life will be consumed by Cathy's Curse, as mine was long ago, and your only choices are to adapt or to die. It's the Cathy's Curse curse!

I've written about Cathy's Curse a lot. And I've talked about it even more. If you've never seen beheld it before, please avail yourself of it ASAP. Then you will see why I write and talk about it so much. In fact, I've written and talked about it so much that I don't know what I can say about it now that I haven't already said. It rules! So you could read my original review, or you could read that SHOCKtober post, or you could listen to episode 127 of Gaylords of Darkness ("Waterside Fisting"), or honestly you could just run into me at the grocery store and I will tell you all about it. 

That's because Cathy's Curse has and continues to enrich my life in countless ways. And I want it to do the same for you, because I care!  



Day 15 – "These kids have turned into maniacs, they’re trying to kill my ass!"


Here we are, halfway through SHOCKtober and I'm at long last, I'm starting to feel in the spirit of the season. I finally got me some pumpkin spice coffee. Leaves are doing their Autumn thing. I'm playing the "no, don't turn the heat on yet" game with myself, as if there is some kind of prize for being A Staunch New Englander and enduring the cold longer than necessary. Most importantly, I've now seen theee perfect movie for any and all Halloween gatherings. Or non-Halloween gatherings. Or anytime solo "gatherings." But especially Halloween gatherings! I'm sure you've figured out by now that I'm talking about...


I'm tellin' ya, it's kismet that pushed FleshEater (1988) from languishing on my "I'll get to it one day maybe" list to flourishing in front of my eyeballs, and I'm eternally grateful to the two people who made that happen: the inimitable Alex West (of Faculty of Horror and the finest bookstores everywhere) who told me I should see it because she thought I'd enjoy it, and the single voter who called FleshEater a favorite film back in 2020. Heroes, both, because honestly?


I've been trying to figure out why I'd put off watching this movie for so long--I mean, besides the obvious reasons like "I'm watching Real Housewives" or "I'm playing Starfield" or "I forgot" or "I'm watching literally any other movie" or "I'm staring at a wall" or "I'm staring at a wall, not seeing the wall, looking past the wall, looking at this night, inhumanly patient, waiting for some secret, silent alarm to trigger me off." I think it's because I knew it would be bad, and I didn't want to see it be bad. 

I know that probably earned me an "Uhh, okay weirdo," but let me explain. FleshEater is truly the love child of Night of the Living Dead's Bill Hinzman, who wrote, edited, directed, produced, and stars in it. If it was unwatchable dreck, I wanted to remain in ignorant bliss, because I love NotLD and everyone in it, especially Bill Hinzman. When he died in 2012, I talked a bit about why:
[...]I was standing and talking with John Russo, the man who co-wrote Romero's Night of the Living Dead. He had some pictures--trading cards, maybe?--from Night of the Living Dead and they were in color. I couldn't get over it, seeing all those familiar faces, humans and ghouls alike, like I'd never seen them before. I know there's a colorized version of the film floating around out there, but it's never appealed to me. The behind the scenes stuff, though, I was eating it up.

Then someone came and stood next to me. I figured it was just another fan waiting his or her turn, but then the person leaned over a bit and quietly said, "You know, I was the first zombie." I turned, and it was Bill Hinzman...and let me tell you, it was not at all obnoxious. It sounds as if it might have been, like the equivalent of someone laughing so loudly in that way that lets you know he or she is an actor and they should have your attention, but it wasn't. When I turned, he was just beaming, an adorable old dude in glasses. I'm sure he loved the attention and the "Oh my God, you are the first zombie!" I gave him, but after a moment, when he and Russo and I were talking and then oh, Russ Streiner came over and across the way were Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman and I was suddenly kind of surrounded by horror movie royalty and they were a gang, it felt like, both then and nearly 40 years prior, and it was just the best.

Bill Hinzman's death has affected me more than I could have thought it would. Not that I ever sat around thinking about it much, mind you. But it's made me realize (or possibly just remember) how much Night of the Living Dead means to me as a horror fan. I wrote about it, and Barbra in particular, in this post (spurred on by Arbogast...damn you, man!), and I can't see a reason to try to say it any better than I did then:
Let me say right upfront: I adore this film. [...] Night of the Living Dead is all shock and far gorier than you remember it being. It's all exquisite lighting and camera angles. It's all horror with a bit of rotting meat on its bones, terrifying in its simplicity. Somehow, this film is one of the very few that I can always manage to watch with the mindset of the era in which it was made, and perhaps that's why it's one of my favorites, why it never fails to work for me, why I still get scared.
While Hinzman wasn't really the first zombie, he was totally the first zombie, and even if my adoration-colored glasses at that convention wouldn't let me see a plain old boast as a boast...well, he deserved to boast, dammit. 

Hinzman and Russo both kept on with the zombie stuff in their own endeavors after the gang broke up, and while I say good on ya (mates), FleshEater is truly and famously a Great Value Night of the Living Dead. It's entirely silly, but I just...didn't want that to sort of sully any of my NotLD feelings. I'M SENSITIVE OKAY!!!

But even before I finally decided to give it a chance, I'd come to view FleshEater through the lens of that interaction I had with Hinzman forever ago. That is to say, the dude fucking loved being Cemetery Zombie, as well he should. Maybe I'm just coping here, but FleshEater feels more like a love letter to Night than it does some kind of cash-in or rip-off, or like Bill Hinzman made his own fanfiction dreams come true, maybe. I say this even though his film hits (or tries to hit, anyway) most of the same beats that Romero's film does, and Hinzman certainly doesn't shy away from aping--or, uh, paying homage to certain iconic shots.


  

Again, maybe I'm being generous, but it all felt...adorable?...to me. Night of the Living Dead was famously a local Pittsburgh production, and so is FleshEater. But while the former felt like it was made by people with some experience who would likely rise to even greater heights, the latter has a decidedly community theatre feeling to it. It's Friday the 13th vs Blood Lake, you know?

A group of people (I refuse to call them youths!) take a hay ride to the middle of the Pennsylvania woods to par-tay. A nearby farmer finds an unmarked grave, breaks the seal and lock keeping it closed, and out pops a zombie (Hinzman). Unfortunately for our partiers (and the world, assumedly), the zombie starts going "rarr" and biting everyone he can, which, as you might suspect, leads to more and more people going "rarr" and biting everyone they can. 

Sure, it's derivative much of the time: we get survivors boarding up windows in a farmhouse; we get a posse going zombie hunting, led by a sheriff saying funny things; we get the living mistaken for the undead, and so on. But Hinzman also mixes up the formula from time to time so things might not always progress exactly as you, the discerning and experienced zombie film viewer, might expect.

But ultimately it does just go from set piece to set piece (barn, other barn, other other barn) as people get taken out by shamblers who do quite literally go "rarr" all the time. Sometimes, when we're very lucky, they couple the "rarr" with this pose:


While there is the occasional inventive kill, most of them are sort of slow-motion bites on the neck, complete with delayed reactions on the part of the victims and caution on the part of the zombies, as if they were worried about actually hurting their fellow actors. There is a surprising amount of gore in this, though; sometimes it's very silly, but the effects are pretty damn good considering the budget and, well, the quality of the rest of the production, particularly the acting. I'd call it "amateur," but that's a pretty lofty term to describe anyone's acting in FleshEater

Shout-out, though, to anchorwoman queen...

...and police dispatcher queen, who has her feet up on the desk and could have prevented the zombie apocalypse if she put down her gossip rag for one second and took the threat more seriously!!!

There's also a downright shocking amount of nudity, and it's all...I don't know. Pedestrian? A kind of...workingman's nudity? I don't mean that as a slight on any of the women in the film. It's checklist nudity, that's all, like a woman will appear onscreen and just...get naked. I know that a sizable portion of horror audiences are "any tits in a storm" types, and that's fine, it's simply that the approach in FleshEater is weird and laughable.

That said, I mean, it's called FleshEater, it's not like I was expecting anything tasteful. But I also wasn't expecting this movie to be sleazy, and it sure is. That doesn't make it any less adorable, somehow.

I really really enjoyed my time with this. It's dumb, gory, and fast-paced. The score, such as it is, frequently sounds out of time with itself. (You'll know what I mean when you hear it.) You won't mind the terrible acting because the script is just as bad. But my goodness, FleshEater is charming and fun, and the perfect SHOCKtober treat. It's like you can feel the good time everyone had while making this emanating from the screen, and you feel it the most with Bill Hinzman, who, again, is really (un)living all of his zombie dreams here. He was the first zombie, you know. Rarr!

SHOCKtober Day 13

As big-brained humans, we struggle with the so-called "meaning of life" and all of the big questions raised in our pursuit of said meaning. Why are we here? What is our purpose? What are we to do during our finite years? Is there a point to any of it?

Some folks find solace in their faith, secure in the knowledge that our lives are a part of some God's plan: a plan which includes watching reruns of Touched by an Angel here on Earth and then being granted a heavenly reward when our souls slough off their skin suits and make for the big...uh, place where you watch reruns of Touched by an Angel in the sky.

Others remain unsure about the why of it all but perhaps taking comfort in the simplicity of cogito ergo sum, reassured by Descartes that we do, in fact, exist. That may be an end in and of itself, and reruns of Touched by an Angel are just a bonus.

Regardless of whether one snuggles up to a bosomful of heavenly or earthly delights for comfort, however, humanity's deliberate and subconscious goal is ultimately to impose order on the chaos of life. We are here, life is queer...but if there's some sort of order we can kind of get used to it.

Lest you begin to feel too comfortable tackling those questions that plague mankind, though, Cathy's Curse is here to remind you that you know absolutely nothing and you never truly will. Like a member of The Flat Earth Society or a cinematic hardened rogue vigilante cop, Cathy's Curse feels stifled by "the law," be it the law of man or the law of nature. Cathy's Curse operates outside the system, beholden only to the rules of its own world, a world in which the logic of our world simply doesn't apply. Nothing has meaning. Meaning itself has no meaning. It laughs at your struggle as you try to figure it out, as you try to impose order on its chaos--for within this film there is only chaos.

Of course, Cathy's Curse isn't really film, it's more...something you experience. It's something that happens to you. It lingers, clouding your brain, clogging it with thoughts that may not be your own. Time will no longer have meaning. Meaning will no longer have meaning. Your new life will be consumed by Cathy's Curse, as mine was long ago, and your only choices are to adapt or to die. It's the Cathy's Curse curse!

If the characters in Cathy's Curse were actual humans, none of them would pass the Turing Test, for they do not react to situations or behave in the ways that actual humans do. This makes my job as "character chooser" particularly difficult, and I am tempted to call the film (the "film") in its entirety today's favorite character. But this feels like cheating, and so the honor goes to...

AGATHA THE MEDIUM IN CATHY'S CURSE (1977)

I could simply point to her bitchin' cape as reason enough to crown her. Or I could remind you that mediums are always my favorite characters, especially in horror movies from the 70s. They always go through some shit while they're communing with or channeling the dead, and I love it! Agatha is no exception: when she relives the fiery car crash that claimed the life of a young child during a reading, it's, as you might expect, a terrible experience for her. But Agatha is the only medium who ends a torturous session by saying that "we must do it again sometime." That's hardcore!

When she returns to the house later, Cathy is in the full throes of possession and tossing out incredible evil/annoyed glares.


Using the power of her possessed mind, Cathy confronts Agatha with a vision of herself as a crusty old crone: every woman's worst nightmare, amirite?

Crusty Agatha says "Well, if it isn't the great medium. 'Medium'? I'd say an 'extra-rare piece of shit!'" before the two Agathas face off against each other...

...and it feels as impactful as Father Merrin facing off with the Pazuzu statue at the beginning of The Exorcist, doesn't it?

After Cathy calls Agatha a "filthy female cow"--how many sick burns must Agatha endure??--they scream together, which unfortunately Father Merrin and Pazuzu did not do...although who knows,  maybe William Friedkin will find more unused footage and foist The Exorcist: Yet Another Version You've Never Seen on us at some point.

Then Agatha runs outside, faceplants in the snow, and is never seen again.

Did she faint? Did she die? Was she ever truly alive? Are any of us? Yet again, Cathy's Curse laughs at our struggle as we try to figure it out. Like Agatha, this movie really is an extra-rare piece of shit...and a favorite.

"Ohio"

I tells ya, I don't know how many unfinished posts I have sitting in my drafts, but it surely numbers somewhere around a metric fuckton. Since we last spoke (with our eyes), I have started posts about movies I love, movies I do not love, and movies I have no particularly strong feelings for one way or the other. Every single one of those drafts immediately devolved into what I will generously call pandemic feelings, because how could they not? It is something that everyone in the world is dealing with--even those dum-dums who won't wear a fucking mask--so of course it must be acknowledged. And in case you haven't noticed, in addition to a GD pandemic, the world is on fire in other (vitally important) ways. Hundreds of people are marching every day, even if algorithms and the media have decided not to show us the protests anymore.

See how it happens? Now I have a paragraph of acknowledging the acknowledgments.

I mention all of this not only because it (sort of) explains that I haven't completely forgotten about this place, but because if you're a regular Gaylords of Darkness listener, then you may have noticed we've been absent a couple of weeks. This was a conscious decision, as a podcast talking about horror movies would just be taking up space and diverting from more worthwhile causes. We've been using our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to boost other voices. There's often a dissonance when we talk about politics and the world at large on our show--like, there are literally children in cages at our border, while we sit here chatting about Nail Gun Massacre--and that dissonance has never been as pronounced as it's been lately.

Of course, there are a handful of horror movies that are extremely relevant to the current political climate, and one of those horror movies is Suspiria. You may have heard me mention it around here once or twice or 31 times.


Today, Gaylords of Darkness returns with our fourth episode about this masterpiece...and this time, Anthony and I are joined by Suspiria screenwriter David Kajganich and director Luca Guadagnino.

YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT. YES I AM DEAD.

You can listen to it here, or find Gaylords of Darkness wherever you kids conjure your podcasts--Apple, Spotify, whatever.

To say this opportunity and conversation mean absolutely everything is obviously the hugest of understatements. We chat for about an hour about revolution, representation, Final Girls, lesbian sex covens, and so much more. We talk about the film in ways I've never heard or seen it discussed! There are revelations! Revelations, people!

I don't know where we could possibly go with Gaylords after this (or heck, with Final Girl), but we're going to try. As we mention at the end of this show, we've got a small plan that makes us feel okay about continuing to record and publish episodes as the world rages. Consider following us on one of those social media platforms, because that's where we'll be announcing and updating in the next few days. I'll try to post about it here, too, but you'd probably have to read a paragraph of pandemic feelings to get to the good stuff, and who wants that?

"Ohio"

I tells ya, I don't know how many unfinished posts I have sitting in my drafts, but it surely numbers somewhere around a metric fuckton. Since we last spoke (with our eyes), I have started posts about movies I love, movies I do not love, and movies I have no particularly strong feelings for one way or the other. Every single one of those drafts immediately devolved into what I will generously call pandemic feelings, because how could they not? It is something that everyone in the world is dealing with--even those dum-dums who won't wear a fucking mask--so of course it must be acknowledged. And in case you haven't noticed, in addition to a GD pandemic, the world is on fire in other (vitally important) ways. Hundreds of people are marching every day, even if algorithms and the media have decided not to show us the protests anymore.

See how it happens? Now I have a paragraph of acknowledging the acknowledgments.

I mention all of this not only because it (sort of) explains that I haven't completely forgotten about this place, but because if you're a regular Gaylords of Darkness listener, then you may have noticed we've been absent a couple of weeks. This was a conscious decision, as a podcast talking about horror movies would just be taking up space and diverting from more worthwhile causes. We've been using our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to boost other voices. There's often a dissonance when we talk about politics and the world at large on our show--like, there are literally children in cages at our border, while we sit here chatting about Nail Gun Massacre--and that dissonance has never been as pronounced as it's been lately.

Of course, there are a handful of horror movies that are extremely relevant to the current political climate, and one of those horror movies is Suspiria. You may have heard me mention it around here once or twice or 31 times.


Today, Gaylords of Darkness returns with our fourth episode about this masterpiece...and this time, Anthony and I are joined by Suspiria screenwriter David Kajganich and director Luca Guadagnino.

YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT. YES I AM DEAD.

You can listen to it here, or find Gaylords of Darkness wherever you kids conjure your podcasts--Apple, Spotify, whatever.

To say this opportunity and conversation mean absolutely everything is obviously the hugest of understatements. We chat for about an hour about revolution, representation, Final Girls, lesbian sex covens, and so much more. We talk about the film in ways I've never heard or seen it discussed! There are revelations! Revelations, people!

I don't know where we could possibly go with Gaylords after this (or heck, with Final Girl), but we're going to try. As we mention at the end of this show, we've got a small plan that makes us feel okay about continuing to record and publish episodes as the world rages. Consider following us on one of those social media platforms, because that's where we'll be announcing and updating in the next few days. I'll try to post about it here, too, but you'd probably have to read a paragraph of pandemic feelings to get to the good stuff, and who wants that?

A Tale of Two Caretakers

"I watched you go down, just as I watched her a year ago. Even in the same dress, you couldn't compare."

I felt a strange wave of affection towards the messy 1978 film The Legacy the other night. It's a very strange movie–probably not "good," if you care about that–but every time I watch it, I love it just a little bit more. I mean, it's got the smoldering babe coupling of Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross, wealthy Satanists, so many cats, an evil Frenchman, a sensitive 70s horror movie theme song, a fey Nazi, crossbows, black magic rings, beef jerky fingers...it's really something to behold even when it's not.

This time around I was really struck by the sinister Nurse Adams, the caretaker of the deathly ill, reclusive millionaire Jason Mountolive. If there's a main "villain" in The Legacy, it's her. She's mysterious, she prevents our heroes from going where they please and/or leaving the estate, and when death occurs she always seems to be nearby, whether in human or cat form. (Yes, she can shape-shift into a cat. What, you can't?)

More than anything, however, I was taken aback by the subtextual similarities between Nurse Adams and another sinister cinematic caretaker–possibly the most famous sinister cinematic caretaker of them all–Mrs. Danvers of Rebecca (1940).




(Side note: please forgive any janky-looking screenshots in this post...I have no way to get good captures from a Blu-ray.)

(Another side note: the limited edition Blu-ray of The Legacy from Indicator is stunning and jam-packed with bonus features.)

Mrs. Danvers is perhaps the most memorable thing about Alfred Hitchcock's take on Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca. (Stephen King even named a (benign) housekeeper after her in the "Father's Day" segment of Creepshow.) She haunts Manderley as much as the ghost of Rebecca does, looming over The Second Mrs. de Winter and cruelly pressuring her to kill herself.

There's been miles and miles of column inches devoted to Danvers's motivations and inspired debates over whether or not she's a lesbian. Yes, the film is nearly 80 years old and her sexuality is still a point of contention. Danvers is instantly recognized in a "gooble gobble, we accept her, one of us" kind of way by gay audiences who are accustomed to finding themselves and their stories in the subtext of a film. (If you don't understand or know anything about the concept of queer coding in cinema and you care to learn more, I suggest you give the 1995 documentary The Celluloid Closet a peep. It's a good enough place to start.)

Quite simply, straight people simply have never had to read anything into a movie to see themselves. They're just...there, front and center, and they always have been. Because the need for subtext has never been a concern, they also often can't see it, regardless of how obvious it can sometimes be, and they refuse to be convinced of a character's sexuality (well, more to the point, a character's non-heterosexuality) if it is not blatantly stated and explicitly displayed. Essentially, necessity has spurred evolution, and gays have developed a kind of Predator-vision when it comes to looking at films, know what I mean? Cinephile allies may develop this to a lesser extent, or at least they might not refute a suggested gay outright.

Love doesn't have to be requited in order to exist, and it's obvious that Rebecca de Winter wasn't obsessing with her housemaid the way the housemaid was obsessing with her. Danvers waxes rhapsodic over the dead woman's clothes and beauty and manner of being. She reminisces about all her time spent brushing Rebecca's hair, about Rebecca calling her "Danny." Whatever fantasy she had in her mind about herself and Rebecca is destroyed when the truth about Mrs. de Winter is revealed: she wasn't a paragon of saintliness that maybe felt a connection with Mrs. Danvers...instead, she was sleeping with a lot of men. Danvers sets Manderley on fire and dies in the flames, echoing one of her taunts to The Second Mrs. de Winter: "He never loved you, so why go on living?"


Which brings me, at long last, to Nurse Adams in The Legacy. There's a lot of shared DNA between her and Mrs. Danvers, but their arcs are strikingly different.

In case you have no idea what The Legacy is about, here's what it's about: American couple Maggie and Pete find themselves in dotty old England after a mysterious, lucrative job offer. One motorcycle accident later, Maggie and Pete find themselves stuck in dotty old Mountolive Manor alongside six other folks who reveal themselves to be Satanists. Their patron, Jason Mountolive, is dying and is going to bequeath his legacy–get it??–to one of them. One by one the six die until there is only Maggie, who inherits Jason's super Satan powers and fortune. It's...complicated.

We first meet Adams as she watches Maggie and Pete embrace heterosexually when they arrive at the Manor. Adams and Pete are immediately at odds with each other. Pete wants to skedaddle ASAP, but Adams insists they stay at the Manor overnight, prompting Pete to sarcastically call her a "nice lady." Maggie convinces him they should stay.

How dare they!

A white cat is frequently spotted lurking around the Manor, meant to be a harbinger (if not the direct cause) of evil and death. By the end of the film we know that it's a shape-shifting Adams, and looking back at all of the appearances of this white cat gives us a rather informative glimpse into Adams and her...let's call them "interests."

Here is the cat, hanging out at the pool, watching something intently.


Here is Pete, hanging out at the pool, watching something intently.


What are they both watching with such intent, you ask?


Why. it's just a Lady Satanist, taking a relaxing, sexy dip in the pool.

You see, as "heterosexual" is considered default, it's automatically assumed that Pete is gazing at Lady Satanist with lust. So why can't Nurse Cat do that as well? Perhaps she'd like to gaze as plainly as Pete does, but she can only do so in her feline form. Lest you refuse the notion of queer coding and think sure, and later that Lady Satanist ends up dead in the pool! Nurse Cat was just watching her with a sinister gaze, not a lusty one, I offer a later scene, wherein Maggie is alone in bed and thinks she spies Nurse Adams watching her from the doorway:


When she pulls back the gauzy curtain, however, it's just that innocent ol' white cat again.


Maggie then brings the cat into bed with her, and they spend a lot of time cuddling. I mean, it's a cute cat, I'd cuddle it too.


But that's not just a cat, that's Nurse Adams, and she is literally just there to chill in Maggie's arms. In a stellar performance, that cat actor is really selling the bliss Adams is feeling! You can practically hear kd lang's "Constant Craving" playing softly in the background.


This bliss is viciously shattered when Pete enters the bedroom very heterosexually and clam jams it all to heck. Nurse Cat is immediately outta there, and as she jumps down she gives one of those guttural growls that cats do, you know, where they are royally pissed off and about to fuck shit up.


Near the end of the film, Pete attempts to stop Maggie from claiming her Satanic superpowers, but Nurse Adams blocks him from entering Jason Mountolive's medical chamber. Finally the hatred that's been brewing between the two of them boils over and they have a physical fight over, essentially, Maggie. Though she's in human form, Adams hisses and growls, and it's bonkers and hilarious–even more so when Pete throws her down the stairs and she meows all the way down. But! Nurse Adams is dead, and Pete, the walking personification of pure mustachioed heterosexuality, has won the day.


Or has he? Maggie, imbued with those Satanic superpowers, picks up Adams's lifeless (and once again feline) body and lo, Nurse Cat lives again. Maggie holds onto her, and Pete...well, he is so mad about it you guys.



Maggie is now the head honcho at Mountolive Manor and all of the servants line up to pay their respects. Nurse Adams decides this is the perfect moment to give Maggie a flower, as if they are both nervous 14-year-olds at a cotillion. Pete glowers (of course), but Maggie is into it.



In the film's final moments, all seems to be hunky-dory for Pete and Maggie. She has fully accepted her powers and her place, giving him one of the black magic rings to binds them together. While they sure chuckle about it, Maggie may not have the best of intentions: the ring cannot be taken off. This could mean that someday Pete will inherit Maggie's powers, or it could mean that someday she will kill him. (I told you, this movie is messy.)


Whatever the future holds for Pete, however, Nurse Adams will be there the entire time. Unlike that other sinister cinematic caretaker, when the truth about her mistress/obsession is revealed, Adams doesn't burn down the manor and die in the flames. Instead, she dies at the very heterosexual hands of her mistress's boyfriend...and then her mistress brings her back to life. Move over, Mrs. Danvers. Meow!

A Tale of Two Caretakers

"I watched you go down, just as I watched her a year ago. Even in the same dress, you couldn't compare."

I felt a strange wave of affection towards the messy 1978 film The Legacy the other night. It's a very strange movie–probably not "good," if you care about that–but every time I watch it, I love it just a little bit more. I mean, it's got the smoldering babe coupling of Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross, wealthy Satanists, so many cats, an evil Frenchman, a sensitive 70s horror movie theme song, a fey Nazi, crossbows, black magic rings, beef jerky fingers...it's really something to behold even when it's not.

This time around I was really struck by the sinister Nurse Adams, the caretaker of the deathly ill, reclusive millionaire Jason Mountolive. If there's a main "villain" in The Legacy, it's her. She's mysterious, she prevents our heroes from going where they please and/or leaving the estate, and when death occurs she always seems to be nearby, whether in human or cat form. (Yes, she can shape-shift into a cat. What, you can't?)

More than anything, however, I was taken aback by the subtextual similarities between Nurse Adams and another sinister cinematic caretaker–possibly the most famous sinister cinematic caretaker of them all–Mrs. Danvers of Rebecca (1940).




(Side note: please forgive any janky-looking screenshots in this post...I have no way to get good captures from a Blu-ray.)

(Another side note: the limited edition Blu-ray of The Legacy from Indicator is stunning and jam-packed with bonus features.)

Mrs. Danvers is perhaps the most memorable thing about Alfred Hitchcock's take on Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca. (Stephen King even named a (benign) housekeeper after her in the "Father's Day" segment of Creepshow.) She haunts Manderley as much as the ghost of Rebecca does, looming over The Second Mrs. de Winter and cruelly pressuring her to kill herself.

There's been miles and miles of column inches devoted to Danvers's motivations and inspired debates over whether or not she's a lesbian. Yes, the film is nearly 80 years old and her sexuality is still a point of contention. Danvers is instantly recognized in a "gooble gobble, we accept her, one of us" kind of way by gay audiences who are accustomed to finding themselves and their stories in the subtext of a film. (If you don't understand or know anything about the concept of queer coding in cinema and you care to learn more, I suggest you give the 1995 documentary The Celluloid Closet a peep. It's a good enough place to start.)

Quite simply, straight people simply have never had to read anything into a movie to see themselves. They're just...there, front and center, and they always have been. Because the need for subtext has never been a concern, they also often can't see it, regardless of how obvious it can sometimes be, and they refuse to be convinced of a character's sexuality (well, more to the point, a character's non-heterosexuality) if it is not blatantly stated and explicitly displayed. Essentially, necessity has spurred evolution, and gays have developed a kind of Predator-vision when it comes to looking at films, know what I mean? Cinephile allies may develop this to a lesser extent, or at least they might not refute a suggested gay outright.

Love doesn't have to be requited in order to exist, and it's obvious that Rebecca de Winter wasn't obsessing with her housemaid the way the housemaid was obsessing with her. Danvers waxes rhapsodic over the dead woman's clothes and beauty and manner of being. She reminisces about all her time spent brushing Rebecca's hair, about Rebecca calling her "Danny." Whatever fantasy she had in her mind about herself and Rebecca is destroyed when the truth about Mrs. de Winter is revealed: she wasn't a paragon of saintliness that maybe felt a connection with Mrs. Danvers...instead, she was sleeping with a lot of men. Danvers sets Manderley on fire and dies in the flames, echoing one of her taunts to The Second Mrs. de Winter: "He never loved you, so why go on living?"


Which brings me, at long last, to Nurse Adams in The Legacy. There's a lot of shared DNA between her and Mrs. Danvers, but their arcs are strikingly different.

In case you have no idea what The Legacy is about, here's what it's about: American couple Maggie and Pete find themselves in dotty old England after a mysterious, lucrative job offer. One motorcycle accident later, Maggie and Pete find themselves stuck in dotty old Mountolive Manor alongside six other folks who reveal themselves to be Satanists. Their patron, Jason Mountolive, is dying and is going to bequeath his legacy–get it??–to one of them. One by one the six die until there is only Maggie, who inherits Jason's super Satan powers and fortune. It's...complicated.

We first meet Adams as she watches Maggie and Pete embrace heterosexually when they arrive at the Manor. Adams and Pete are immediately at odds with each other. Pete wants to skedaddle ASAP, but Adams insists they stay at the Manor overnight, prompting Pete to sarcastically call her a "nice lady." Maggie convinces him they should stay.

How dare they!

A white cat is frequently spotted lurking around the Manor, meant to be a harbinger (if not the direct cause) of evil and death. By the end of the film we know that it's a shape-shifting Adams, and looking back at all of the appearances of this white cat gives us a rather informative glimpse into Adams and her...let's call them "interests."

Here is the cat, hanging out at the pool, watching something intently.


Here is Pete, hanging out at the pool, watching something intently.


What are they both watching with such intent, you ask?


Why. it's just a Lady Satanist, taking a relaxing, sexy dip in the pool.

You see, as "heterosexual" is considered default, it's automatically assumed that Pete is gazing at Lady Satanist with lust. So why can't Nurse Cat do that as well? Perhaps she'd like to gaze as plainly as Pete does, but she can only do so in her feline form. Lest you refuse the notion of queer coding and think sure, and later that Lady Satanist ends up dead in the pool! Nurse Cat was just watching her with a sinister gaze, not a lusty one, I offer a later scene, wherein Maggie is alone in bed and thinks she spies Nurse Adams watching her from the doorway:


When she pulls back the gauzy curtain, however, it's just that innocent ol' white cat again.


Maggie then brings the cat into bed with her, and they spend a lot of time cuddling. I mean, it's a cute cat, I'd cuddle it too.


But that's not just a cat, that's Nurse Adams, and she is literally just there to chill in Maggie's arms. In a stellar performance, that cat actor is really selling the bliss Adams is feeling! You can practically hear kd lang's "Constant Craving" playing softly in the background.


This bliss is viciously shattered when Pete enters the bedroom very heterosexually and clam jams it all to heck. Nurse Cat is immediately outta there, and as she jumps down she gives one of those guttural growls that cats do, you know, where they are royally pissed off and about to fuck shit up.


Near the end of the film, Pete attempts to stop Maggie from claiming her Satanic superpowers, but Nurse Adams blocks him from entering Jason Mountolive's medical chamber. Finally the hatred that's been brewing between the two of them boils over and they have a physical fight over, essentially, Maggie. Though she's in human form, Adams hisses and growls, and it's bonkers and hilarious–even more so when Pete throws her down the stairs and she meows all the way down. But! Nurse Adams is dead, and Pete, the walking personification of pure mustachioed heterosexuality, has won the day.


Or has he? Maggie, imbued with those Satanic superpowers, picks up Adams's lifeless (and once again feline) body and lo, Nurse Cat lives again. Maggie holds onto her, and Pete...well, he is so mad about it you guys.



Maggie is now the head honcho at Mountolive Manor and all of the servants line up to pay their respects. Nurse Adams decides this is the perfect moment to give Maggie a flower, as if they are both nervous 14-year-olds at a cotillion. Pete glowers (of course), but Maggie is into it.



In the film's final moments, all seems to be hunky-dory for Pete and Maggie. She has fully accepted her powers and her place, giving him one of the black magic rings to binds them together. While they sure chuckle about it, Maggie may not have the best of intentions: the ring cannot be taken off. This could mean that someday Pete will inherit Maggie's powers, or it could mean that someday she will kill him. (I told you, this movie is messy.)


Whatever the future holds for Pete, however, Nurse Adams will be there the entire time. Unlike that other sinister cinematic caretaker, when the truth about her mistress/obsession is revealed, Adams doesn't burn down the manor and die in the flames. Instead, she dies at the very heterosexual hands of her mistress's boyfriend...and then her mistress brings her back to life. Move over, Mrs. Danvers. Meow!

Every victim in DON’T GO IN THE WOODS…ALONE ranked

This week on Gaylords of Darkness we dissect the rotting corpse of the 1981 slasher flick Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. I reviewed the movie once upon a time–I mean, as much as a "movie" such as it can be reviewed–but it's been playin' in my mind something fierce as of late, so we gave it a go on the show. In fact, it's kicking off our Great Value Slashers event, wherein we're going to tackle non-franchise slashers of varying budgets and quality.

I've come to develop a real fondness for these oft-terrible movies over the years. The way they play by their own rules, eschewing our preconceived notions about what constitutes, you know, "narrative" and "story" and "structure" reveals true maverick "filmmaking." The folks behind these movies looked at the big boy franchises and said "Why not me? I can do that" and they did do that, even though they clearly cannot do that.

Don't Go in the Woods...Alone hits these Great Value hallmarks and many more of them besides. The gore is never convincing, but it is abundant; limbs and too-bright red blood fly liberally. The massive cast comprises crew members, crew friends, and, well, I'm not sure any of them qualify as "actors" beyond the strictest definition. But that's part of the joy of a Great Value Slasher: anyone can be an actor.

More than most horror films I've seen, characters in Don't Go in the Woods...Alone exist solely to be killed. If you thought the victims in the Friday the 13th franchise were shallow, well, you ain't seen nothin' yet. These often unnamed folks rarely speak a word. We don't know who they are or why they are in the woods, alone or otherwise. There is very little, if any, buildup to the murders. They show up on screen, they get killed–and not always in that order. Every one of them is a gift from the bad moviemaking gawds but some of these gifts are gift-ier than the rest, so why not rank 'em?

15. Camper


This guy shows up solely as a dead body hanging from a tree at a ransacked campsite. Oh, you thought the "body gauntlet" trope could only consist of victims we know? Don't Go in the Woods...Alone says guess again, you fool.

14. Hiker


This guy shows up solely to be stabbed by Final Boy Peter, who mistakes the poor fellow for the killer. To his credit, Final Boy Peter apologizes profusely. Then the hiker gets speared by the real killer. Whoopsie!

13. Craig


Craig is ostensibly one of the four main characters, leading a trio of hikers into the woods for some reason. He's a bit of a pill and even his death scene, wherein he is stabbed, is a bit boring.

12. Running Girl


Running Girl, as she is listed in the end credits, is the first death in the movie. She runs, falls in a stream, and then the water turns red. That's it! That's her whole role! I love this movie.

11. Sleeping Bag Man


Sleeping Bag Man is in a sleeping bag (sleeping? we do not know) and then he gets stabbed to death. Again I say: that's it!

10. Sleeping Bag Woman


Sleeping Bag Woman is ranked higher than Sleeping Bag Man because she has some dialogue. Their death scene literally begins with her saying "Where are you going? Don't leave me alone!" To whom is she speaking? We don't know. No one is going anywhere. It doesn't make sense. She says this, then–still in her bag–gets hoisted up a tree and pummelled-n-stabbed to death.

9. Cherry 
and 
8. Dick



The deaths of "sexy" couple Cherry and Dick constitute what is perhaps the closest to an actual "horror movie sequence" this movie has. Cherry is nervous about having sex with her–husband? boyfriend? fwb?–Dick for some reason. Then she sees something outside, or so she says. Dick wanders off to investigate, gets killed, and then their VW bus is rolled over a cliff. Unfortunately, Cherry is still inside! She burns to death when the VW catches on fire for whatever reason.

7. Fisherman


Fisherman is merely another wordless, nameless victim who went in the woods...alone. But! He gets a bear trap in the face, which you must admit is...sure something.

6. Dale


Dale has gone in the woods...not alone to take photos "of the train coming in." Do we see the train? No, of course not. Dale is next to a waterfall and river, in the middle of the woods! Where would there be a train?? I think it's in our hearts. The real train is the friends we made along the way.

5. Birdwatcher


Birdwatcher has no name or dialogue (I mean, that's pretty much par for the course, so why do I keep repeating it?), but he sure does dress snazzy for his sojourn. And he gets an arm whacked off–look at that blood gush! Tom Savini would be proud, wouldn't he? WOULDN'T HE?

4. Dale's Mom


Dale's Mom has an awful death scene, even by this movie's standards: we don't see anything happen to her, then she crawls along the ground moaning as some drops of blood fall from her. We can't really tell where her wounds are because the shot of her crawling is an extreme closeup...we just see a part of her arm and the drips. So why is she ranked so high? Because look at her outfit! A muumuu, several Marge Simpson-style necklaces, those cool-ass shades and that hat. She is a delight. And if her visual appeal weren't enough, trust me: once you hear her shriek-bleat "Dale? DALE!" repeatedly, her shriek-bleating "Dale? DALE!" will echo in your mind forever.

3. Wheelchair Hiker


It takes forever for the Wheelchair Hiker to roll himself up the mountain, which should be a surprise neither to him nor to us. Such hard work! Such a struggle! At one point, he even falls out of his chair, but he is not deterred. In true inspirational fashion, he ever-so-slowly he inches his way to the top. He takes in the view for approximately two seconds before he is decapitated. That's a metaphor for the absurdity of human existence, ain't it? A depressing one, but still.

2. Lady Painter


The enigma of Lady Painter, as she is so named in the end credits, will never end. She has driven to the middle of the woods to engage in some landscape painting, but she does not paint the landscape before her. She brings along her toddler–daughter? sister?–then wraps the child in a sling, then ties the sling to a tree a good distance from where she is painting. She gives the child a jar full of dirty water to drink. She wears high-heeled boots and mirrored aviators. She does not speak a word, not even a "Huh?" or a "Whazzat?" Then, she is killed. She rules my world!

1. Joanne


Like Craig, Joanne is one of the four main characters. Unlike Craig, her death is noteworthy! In fact, it's by far the most brutal in the film and largely the reason became one of the UK's infamous "video nasties." Of course, this is Don't Go in the Woods...Alone, so "brutal" is somewhat relative. Joanne is hacked repeatedly by a machete, but the wounds/impacts aren't explicit. There's a shit ton of blood, but it looks like tempera paint. Her clothes are torn, but there is no nudity. But still, her death counts as "elaborate" for this movie, so of course it's number one.

There you have it, the world's definitive (only) ranking of every victim in Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. They're all perfect. Their only mistake was going (or rolling) in the woods alone! Or with other people.

But! We know that the true queen of this movie is Rollerskates.  She rolls by the sheriff with an "Okay, thanks a lot!" when he tells her to be careful. And you know what? She doesn't get killed at all. She's too fast, look at her go.


Who says you can't hike in rollerskates? See, it's like I said: these Great Value Slashers play by their own rules. We're all going to learn so much during this event.

Every victim in DON’T GO IN THE WOODS…ALONE ranked

This week on Gaylords of Darkness we dissect the rotting corpse of the 1981 slasher flick Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. I reviewed the movie once upon a time–I mean, as much as a "movie" such as it can be reviewed–but it's been playin' in my mind something fierce as of late, so we gave it a go on the show. In fact, it's kicking off our Great Value Slashers event, wherein we're going to tackle non-franchise slashers of varying budgets and quality.

I've come to develop a real fondness for these oft-terrible movies over the years. The way they play by their own rules, eschewing our preconceived notions about what constitutes, you know, "narrative" and "story" and "structure" reveals true maverick "filmmaking." The folks behind these movies looked at the big boy franchises and said "Why not me? I can do that" and they did do that, even though they clearly cannot do that.

Don't Go in the Woods...Alone hits these Great Value hallmarks and many more of them besides. The gore is never convincing, but it is abundant; limbs and too-bright red blood fly liberally. The massive cast comprises crew members, crew friends, and, well, I'm not sure any of them qualify as "actors" beyond the strictest definition. But that's part of the joy of a Great Value Slasher: anyone can be an actor.

More than most horror films I've seen, characters in Don't Go in the Woods...Alone exist solely to be killed. If you thought the victims in the Friday the 13th franchise were shallow, well, you ain't seen nothin' yet. These often unnamed folks rarely speak a word. We don't know who they are or why they are in the woods, alone or otherwise. There is very little, if any, buildup to the murders. They show up on screen, they get killed–and not always in that order. Every one of them is a gift from the bad moviemaking gawds but some of these gifts are gift-ier than the rest, so why not rank 'em?

15. Camper


This guy shows up solely as a dead body hanging from a tree at a ransacked campsite. Oh, you thought the "body gauntlet" trope could only consist of victims we know? Don't Go in the Woods...Alone says guess again, you fool.

14. Hiker


This guy shows up solely to be stabbed by Final Boy Peter, who mistakes the poor fellow for the killer. To his credit, Final Boy Peter apologizes profusely. Then the hiker gets speared by the real killer. Whoopsie!

13. Craig


Craig is ostensibly one of the four main characters, leading a trio of hikers into the woods for some reason. He's a bit of a pill and even his death scene, wherein he is stabbed, is a bit boring.

12. Running Girl


Running Girl, as she is listed in the end credits, is the first death in the movie. She runs, falls in a stream, and then the water turns red. That's it! That's her whole role! I love this movie.

11. Sleeping Bag Man


Sleeping Bag Man is in a sleeping bag (sleeping? we do not know) and then he gets stabbed to death. Again I say: that's it!

10. Sleeping Bag Woman


Sleeping Bag Woman is ranked higher than Sleeping Bag Man because she has some dialogue. Their death scene literally begins with her saying "Where are you going? Don't leave me alone!" To whom is she speaking? We don't know. No one is going anywhere. It doesn't make sense. She says this, then–still in her bag–gets hoisted up a tree and pummelled-n-stabbed to death.

9. Cherry 
and 
8. Dick



The deaths of "sexy" couple Cherry and Dick constitute what is perhaps the closest to an actual "horror movie sequence" this movie has. Cherry is nervous about having sex with her–husband? boyfriend? fwb?–Dick for some reason. Then she sees something outside, or so she says. Dick wanders off to investigate, gets killed, and then their VW bus is rolled over a cliff. Unfortunately, Cherry is still inside! She burns to death when the VW catches on fire for whatever reason.

7. Fisherman


Fisherman is merely another wordless, nameless victim who went in the woods...alone. But! He gets a bear trap in the face, which you must admit is...sure something.

6. Dale


Dale has gone in the woods...not alone to take photos "of the train coming in." Do we see the train? No, of course not. Dale is next to a waterfall and river, in the middle of the woods! Where would there be a train?? I think it's in our hearts. The real train is the friends we made along the way.

5. Birdwatcher


Birdwatcher has no name or dialogue (I mean, that's pretty much par for the course, so why do I keep repeating it?), but he sure does dress snazzy for his sojourn. And he gets an arm whacked off–look at that blood gush! Tom Savini would be proud, wouldn't he? WOULDN'T HE?

4. Dale's Mom


Dale's Mom has an awful death scene, even by this movie's standards: we don't see anything happen to her, then she crawls along the ground moaning as some drops of blood fall from her. We can't really tell where her wounds are because the shot of her crawling is an extreme closeup...we just see a part of her arm and the drips. So why is she ranked so high? Because look at her outfit! A muumuu, several Marge Simpson-style necklaces, those cool-ass shades and that hat. She is a delight. And if her visual appeal weren't enough, trust me: once you hear her shriek-bleat "Dale? DALE!" repeatedly, her shriek-bleating "Dale? DALE!" will echo in your mind forever.

3. Wheelchair Hiker


It takes forever for the Wheelchair Hiker to roll himself up the mountain, which should be a surprise neither to him nor to us. Such hard work! Such a struggle! At one point, he even falls out of his chair, but he is not deterred. In true inspirational fashion, he ever-so-slowly he inches his way to the top. He takes in the view for approximately two seconds before he is decapitated. That's a metaphor for the absurdity of human existence, ain't it? A depressing one, but still.

2. Lady Painter


The enigma of Lady Painter, as she is so named in the end credits, will never end. She has driven to the middle of the woods to engage in some landscape painting, but she does not paint the landscape before her. She brings along her toddler–daughter? sister?–then wraps the child in a sling, then ties the sling to a tree a good distance from where she is painting. She gives the child a jar full of dirty water to drink. She wears high-heeled boots and mirrored aviators. She does not speak a word, not even a "Huh?" or a "Whazzat?" Then, she is killed. She rules my world!

1. Joanne


Like Craig, Joanne is one of the four main characters. Unlike Craig, her death is noteworthy! In fact, it's by far the most brutal in the film and largely the reason became one of the UK's infamous "video nasties." Of course, this is Don't Go in the Woods...Alone, so "brutal" is somewhat relative. Joanne is hacked repeatedly by a machete, but the wounds/impacts aren't explicit. There's a shit ton of blood, but it looks like tempera paint. Her clothes are torn, but there is no nudity. But still, her death counts as "elaborate" for this movie, so of course it's number one.

There you have it, the world's definitive (only) ranking of every victim in Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. They're all perfect. Their only mistake was going (or rolling) in the woods alone! Or with other people.

But! We know that the true queen of this movie is Rollerskates.  She rolls by the sheriff with an "Okay, thanks a lot!" when he tells her to be careful. And you know what? She doesn't get killed at all. She's too fast, look at her go.


Who says you can't hike in rollerskates? See, it's like I said: these Great Value Slashers play by their own rules. We're all going to learn so much during this event.