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Monday, December 27, 2010

REPOSSESSED


Just in time to miss Christmas, I found this on DVD yesterday (Dec 26) on the Wal-Mart discount movie shelf.

What a treat this was to find – I’d had it on VHS some years back, but it was a “dealer” copy – one that the IVE video company sent out in an effort to entice video store owners to buy rental copies. I don’t exactly remember when I got it, but I do recall that I didn’t purchase it. Good thing, too, because there was a continuous disclaimer at the bottom of the movie as it was playing, telling me that this tape was “Not for Sale”.

What you’ve got to do here before seeing REPOSSESSED is understand that this is a mix-up of AIRPLANE! & THE EXORCIST. This film would absolutely NOT have worked without both Leslie Nielsen and Linda Blair being on board.

As the movie begins in 1973, Nancy (Ms. Blair) is being successfully exorcised as a teen in the pre-credit sequence by Father Jedediah Mayii (Mr. Nielsen). Jump ahead 17 years and Nancy, now married and with two kids, has once again been possessed and Mayii is called from retirement to fight the demon again.

The movie also features Thom Sharp (the Commerce Bank guy in TV commercials) as Nancy’s husband, Ned Beatty and Lana Schwab as Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker-type evangelists and small cameos by Robert Fuller (EMERGENCY!) and Murray Langston (aka, The Unknown Comic of GONG SHOW fame).

Favorite bits of dialogue:

Mayii: Man was made in God’s Image!
Demon: Oh yeah? Then how do you explain Pee Wee Herman?

Demon: And now here’s my impression of comedian Don Adams - Sorry about that Chief!
Mayii: Do not ‘Get Smart’ with me!

Narrowing down all the great sight gags is difficult, but I’d go for the following:

When the Ouija board is asked if Ted Kennedy will ever be President, a toy car moves on its own off the mantle and into the family aquarium.

Mayii puking up green pea soup all over the demon and saying “See how YOU like it!”

This has to be amongst my favorite of Mr. Nielsen’s films. In his 84th year, he left this world over the 2010 Thanksgiving Weekend, but what a great legacy he leaves us.

You simply MUST have this film. Hope you can easily locate it.

Go to www.lionsgatedvd.com to see about ordering it if you can’t find it in stores.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Haunted Boy - The Secret Diary of The Exorcist


First of all let me say that this DVD was quite a bitch to find – none of the retailers I checked had it, nor could they even order it for me. I don’t do the online ordering thing, so when a gentleman by the name of Andrew Black contacted me after having read my Exorcist Investigation blog, he very kindly offered me the loan of his print of the movie. A very BIG thanks goes out to Andrew.

Where do I start? I had some initial dread about this movie because I was afraid that it – like so many others I’ve seen before – was going to treat the exorcism “diary” as fact and not as the misrepresentation that it has been shown to be. As it turns out, I was right – they are using the same diary written by Father Raymond J. Bishop. I was, therefore, prepared to be utterly discouraged. On that point, I was wrong.

The Booth Brothers (Christopher and Philip, who look like Aerosmith roadies) have made some interesting paranormal documentaries before and certainly this one is no different in that it is well-done and intriguing. This is due, no doubt, to their considerable skill as editors, producers and directors.

Christopher and Philip do nothing really to dispel the legend that the diary was found in a locked room in a former asylum to tell/sell this story. In order to believe this story, one first has to believe that the diary is genuine. The first half of the diary is reconstructed by things the boy’s mother and grandmother were telling Father Bishop. Proof? The good Father had to get the info second-hand from someone since there is no indication that he made a trip to Cottage City, Maryland where Edwin, Odell and Ronnie Hunkeler lived, to personally observe any of the alleged phenomena.

I’m reminded of the “discovery” of Hitler’s Diary in some haystack and, later, the finding of Jack The Ripper’s Diary as well. Neither of those turned out to be anything, but it’s interesting to see what people will swallow. Perhaps we ARE a nation of Linda Lovelaces after all.

Let’s look at some facts here:

· Part of Ronald Hunkeler’s 1949 exorcism took place at 8435 Roanoke in Bel-Nor, which is a house in a St. Louis County, Missouri, suburb. The residence belonged at the time to his paternal uncle, Leonard Hunkeler and his family, so Ronnie never LIVED there (as is intimated in the film). The northwest bedroom is said to have been the place where it happened and I’ve come across nothing in my research to contradict that small detail.
· Ronnie became too disruptive in the household and had to be moved before any “casting out” could be completed.
· As such, the Church’s position was that Ronnie was still “possessed” when the final move to the Alexian Brothers Psych Ward took place.
· That being what it is, logic would tell you that no “entity” could have been cast out at 8435 Roanoke.
· Keep in mind that Catholic exorcisms are designed to return a demonic entity from whence it came. I don’t think any entity the boy was reported to have had would’ve taken up residence at 8435 Roanoke after leaving Ronnie’s body. After all, in the unlikely event that we could believe ANYTHING Ronnie had said, the boy related (again, from the psych ward, mind you) that he saw St. Michael cast “the Devil” into the fiery pit. Fanciful flight of imagination there from the Ron-ster. Or perhaps he was just guided to say that by clergy as an act of contrition.

So we have the film-makers and their crew, along with a “psychic” and a ghost hunter, standing in THAT bedroom at 8435 Roanoke trying to conjure up the “demon” that they seem to be convinced has been sub-letting the room. Big mistake for two reasons:

1. There wasn’t one to begin with.
2. If you go looking for “trouble”, you are likely to find it. Even if it’s all in your head.

Two relatives of Ronnie’s are interviewed in short segments on the DVD. They are not identified by name and their faces are “tiled” out. Can’t verify who the younger lady they talk to is (her voice is NOT electronically altered), but I am guessing that the elder lady Christopher is talking to is Leonard Hunkeler’s daughter, Janis (whose voice IS altered).

Janis is approximately 4 or 5 years older than Ronnie, which would put her at 80 years of age or so now. If the initial diary is correct about her, she was the one who notified the clergy at St. Louis University that there was a problem with Ronnie. As such, she was probably the person most responsible for the exorcism in the first place. That’s likely a good thing, because the little puke needed some sort of ass-kicking to help him straighten up. (Note: read my Exorcist Kid blog http://mikesbigblogorainydayfunexorcistkid.blogspot.com/ to learn what Ronnie had to say, via his attorney, about the “possession” in 1998. You will find other tidbits of info there that you probably didn’t know before, including the fact that Ronnie’s old man never bought into the whole “possession” theory.)

In the film we also get to see where Ronnie temporarily stayed at the old St. Vincent’s Asylum in St. Louis, which has since been converted into senior living apartments. Judy Perry, Ex-Manager of the apartment complex, revealed that the fifth floor of the building, where Ronnie’s room is said to have been, is unused and has been empty for many years. She also indicated that there have been complaints from the tenants of strange occurrences there.

Later, Ms. Perry tells the story of a nun, who worked there when it was still an asylum, had told her that they had to take care to keep Ronnie’s nails trimmed because he tended to scratch himself – on the chest. Sound familiar? This lends credibility to the contention that the little brat was doing this to himself.

At one point, mention is made of – now get this – the “haunted furniture” (from the Alexian Brothers’ exorcism room) that was removed prior to the hospital being demolished. A mover named Brad Givens talks about how heavy the bed was and if I’m understanding correctly, he’s saying it could only be lifted and moved by four strong guys. I’m gathering that he’s not believing the bed could move on its own.

The “haunted furniture” was moved to a classified military compound. We do get to see the alleged exterior of this facility. I wonder if the furniture is in with the autopsied alien corpses, UFO debris and Bruce Lee’s cryogenically frozen body?

When I was doing my initial research for my Exorcist blog, I did run across the name of the current owner of the former Leonard Hunkeler residence at 8435 Roanoke. I chose not to use it in the piece, but am changing my mind here because Nick Everly goes on camera in “The Haunted Boy” to explain (as I’d originally theorized) that he bought the house BECAUSE of what happened there and not in SPITE of it. As such, it is hard to work up much sympathy for him when he relates the story of being called by police while at work telling him that they had to chase some guy in a devil outfit off Nick’s front lawn. Gee, who’da ever thought THAT would happen?

Ok, then we get to hear examples of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), recorded in Ronnie’s exorcism room at the house on Roanoke. One of the “voices” is picked up as saying “F—k Me”. Great, now we’ve got a pottymouth entity running (floating?) around. Must have been a sailor in its previous incarnation. Or a former Ozzy Osbourne family member.

An interesting experiment would be to set up EVP equipment at McDonald’s, after hours, and see how many “spirit” voices are recorded asking for “some fries with that”. Or in any abandoned asylum to see if perhaps a long-disembodied voice will say something like “stop eating the phonebooks!”. I don’t trust any recording that can be altered in post-production.

There are three featurettes - “The Haunted Delivery”, “Digging Deeper” and “Behind the Screams”.

In “The Haunted Delivery”, we have the film crew at 8435 Roanoke, accepting the delivery of a whole stack of Domino’s Pizzas. Christopher appears to want to have a little spooky fun with the Pizza Deliveryman and asks him if he’s ever seen the movie “The Exorcist”. The Deliveryman indicates that he has and then Christopher explains that the exorcism took place in this very house asks him if he wants to see the room. The Deliveryman has to overcome some initial trepidation but finally goes upstairs into the room. It’s sort of treated with humor even though the Deliveryman appears just a bit nervous. I’m guessing that this all happens before they do the equipment set-up and filming in the room.

“Digging Deeper” is an exploration of the basement area of St. Vincent’s. It’s in ruins, but the most surreal footage in this segment shows that someone drew a “smiley face” on one of the walls in or near the shock treatment area.

“Behinds The Screams” seems to shows the crew back in Ronnie’s room using something identified as a “Paranormal Puck”. This “Puck” has a computer screen which they are using to make “contact”. An unseen “user” identifies itself as “God” and then “types” in LOL. In the main feature, the “entity” has identified itself as “Angelknot” and also as “Effendi”.

Extras also include an off-camera voice saying that Father Cleary had reversed his position and was now indicating that he thinks the boy was acting up because of being molested. Interestingly, there is mention that his Aunt (Tillie) was molesting him – this has been a theory for years. However, it is more likely that it was his maternal grandmother. At least this was what Ronnie was telling boyhood friends at the time.

One specific thing that really annoyed me about this DVD is that the title seems to have been partially ripped off from Investigative Journalist Mark Opsasnick’s ground-breaking article, “The Haunted Boy of Cottage City”, which smashed all the previously-believed myths about the story behind “The Exorcist”. It was highly influential on me and was one of two pieces I’d read which started me on my own odyssey to see what I could find for myself. Mr. Opsasnick is not given any credit or recognition in “The Haunted Boy” DVD, although it is obvious that his writings on the case helped to inspire this documentary.

There is, however, an acknowledgement made to Chad Garrison, whose Riverfront Times article “Hell of A House” was the other big influence on me and, apparently, on the Booth Brothers as well. They talk with Chad for a minute or so. Chad told me in a reply to my initial e-mail inquiry that he and the photographer walked through the big house at night and did not feel any vibes at all, even though they had “tried”.

Despite a few things I see wrong in the movie, I still highly recommend it. I found it to be well worth the time to watch. Although I wish someone out there would completely “bust” the diary and do the real, REAL story, the Booth Brothers do manage to make a fascinating and entertaining film despite the shaky, unbelievable base upon which it is built.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

JONAH HEX


This may turn out to be a legendary disaster like HEAVEN’S GATE or HOWARD THE DUCK was. When last I checked, this had failed to pull in over 10 Million in box office receipts before it was quietly pulled from theaters.

It was semi-okay, the most interesting element being Jonah’s ability to talk to the dead.

Warner Brothers would have been better off going all-out for the more interesting elements found in Joe R. Lansdale’s Jonah Hex comics. Word of mouth would certainly have been better.

Any sequels to this movie, if they are made, will probably not be with Josh Brolin and more than likely will be a direct-to-DVD venture.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (THE "RE-IMAGINING")

First of all, the term “re-imagining” is bogus; it’s a frickin’ re-make. Hey movie people: at least have the courtesy of recognizing that most people have brains, will ya, and call it what it is: an unnecessary re-make.

Next: Fred Krueger was a douchebag child molester. Yup, even in the original, for all you youngsters out there. But somehow this movie character was catapulted to friggin’ rock star status in the 80s and some genius in the movie community thought it was a good idea to bring him back. The least they could have done was make his crimes different than being a molester. But no, New Line Cinema brings Mr. Charming back with all his cute little peccadilloes intact.

Jackie Earle Haley, the new Freddy, will now no doubt have goth chicks lined up around the block to blow/sleep with him just so they can say they did that Krueger guy. Bet Robert Englund left his DNA with hundreds of babes back in the day as well, eh?

No surprises here, including the negative ending.

Monday, October 4, 2010

ALIEN AUTOPSY (THE MOVIE)


Way back in 1995, FOX television aired a special called “Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?”. It was a documentary program surrounding a film supposedly taken in 1947 at Roswell, New Mexico, concerning the autopsy of an alleged space creature. Uncensored footage later released on home video suggested that the being was clearly female.

This movie is about the two men who concocted this hoax.

Ray Santilli (Declan Donnelly) is a street corner entrepreneur in England who sells pirated videos and other questionable merchandise. His exasperated best friend, Gary Shoefield, (Ant McPartlin), is an legal wannabe in an office job that’s obviously going nowhere.

Through one of Ray’s hair-brained schemes, he and Gary wind up in America looking for early film footage of a young Elvis Presley. One of the people who answer their advertisement is a former military photographer (played by Harry Dean Stanton). This photographer then secretly shows Ray what turns out to be some classified footage he’s had locked away for nearly 50 years of an alien autopsy.

Long story short, the photographer offers to sell the footage to Ray for 30 grand. Ray doesn’t have 30 grand, so he makes contact with an unstable, wealthy UFO nut and procures the money. The problem is that the film footage has seriously degraded in the interim due to its exposure to the air after having been stored away in an airtight film canister lo these many years.

Now Ray has a debt of 30 grand and no useable film to show his investor. The bright idea to make their own footage begins to take shape here.

The “autopsy” footage is shot in Ray’s sister’s kitchen with Ray and Gary as the figures wearing the “hazmat” suits and doing the actual cutting on the “alien” figure. Different animal parts and blood are used in the alien’s interior. Ray’s mom keeps getting into the shots offering everyone cookies and such in her impeccably English-mannered way.

The hoaxed footage is edited and then shown at a museum in order to attract potential buyers. The whole thing blows up in their faces and EVERYONE wants this film. Suddenly Ray and Gary are inundated with more money than they’ve ever seen in their lives and what happens from there really has be seen and not explained here.

Extras include a “making of” documentary hosted by Donnelly and McPartlin, which also features on-camera comments from the real Ray and Gary.

Perhaps because of my scholarly interest in hoaxes such as this and the WAR OF THE WORLDS radio broadcast in 1938, ALIEN AUTOPSY holds a unique fascination for me. Even if you aren’t especially interested in hoaxes, I would still recommend this movie to you because of its capacity to be pure fun to watch.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN


I actually got this movie on Tuesday, August 24th but my better half – who was out of town for the week – forbade me to see it until she returned to watch it with me. The wait was worth it.

It looks like everyone from the first film, THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA, returns for this movie although a couple of them aren’t playing their original characters.

Several years have passed since the events of TLSOC have taken place. Dr. Paul Armstrong (Writer, Director and Star Larry Blamire) has been missing in the jungle for two years. His perpetually cheerful wife, Betty (Fay Masterson), is contacted by a Government agent who talks her into going on an expedition – first to find Paul and then to search for Jerranium 90, an element of national importance.

They are later joined on the expedition by Dr. Peter Fleming (Brian Howe), twin brother of Roger Fleming. Roger had fallen under the evil influence of the Skeleton and was eventually killed in TLSOC. Peter now has the Skull, the only remaining part of the Skeleton of Cadavra. The Skull sparks to life again and takes hypnotic control over Peter and off they go to find and join Dr. Armstrong’s expedition. The Skull needs that Jerranium 90 in order to become a full skeleton again – and then to rule the world.

Mr. Blamire has a real gift for delivering his “yes, I am bitter” lines in a deliberate monotone voice that really brought to mind the wooden performance of Dudley Manlove in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (the cinematic lesson I learned from Dudley was that someone still breathing could walk around looking like rigor mortis had already set in).

Susan McConnell and Andrew Parks return as the friendly aliens Lattis and Kro-bar. Together they have one of the biggest laughs in the movie as they “sing” the name of Fleming over and over. “Fleming! Fleming!” got stuck in my head in the same manner that Anita Ward’s 1979 disco hit “Ring My Bell” just wouldn’t go away – even for months after they quit playing it on the radio. The difference is I can live with “Fleming! Fleming!” rattling around in my brain simply because of the exquisite comic delivery of Ms. McConnell and Mr. Parks.

Special mention must be made here of Alison Martin, who plays Chinfa, leader of the Cantaloupe people. Chinfa’s “Cantaloupe Dance” is hysterical – if it doesn’t catch on as a dance craze, then there’s no justice in this world. Ms. Martin has a bright future playing off-the-wall characters as have actresses like Joyce Jameson and Jennifer Coolidge.

Jennifer Blaire reprises her role – Thank God I say! – as “Animala”, though she christens herself here as “Pammie”. I’m guessing that Ms. Blaire has some real-life dance experience because she has absolutely nailed those feline movements with dignified ease and a statuesque grace. It was a very skilled performance.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the Skull was an on-set diva. It is easy to imagine the Skull acting very much “The Star” while on set; bossing around the extras, preferring not to eat with the rest of the cast and crew, demanding his own trailer, make-up artist, etc. He must have been insufferable. Kudos to everyone there for tolerating the Skull’s “artistic tantrums”. I'm sure that Mr. Blamire has some good stories to tell on this subject.

For those of us who loved those 1950’s creature/”what the hell was THAT?” kind of films predominant at that time period, TLSRA is truly a gift. It’s a loving tribute to the time when Bronson Canyon was used as locations to shoot films like “Robot Monster” and when Richard Carlson never really visibly expressed much surprise at any creature he came across in the movies.

Watching TLSRA was probably the most fun I’ve had (with my clothes on, that is) in a long time. Highly recommended.

Extras include a “making of” documentary and a gag reel. The movie is in both Black & White and Color at two different points.

Available for ordering through “Borders”, “Barnes and Noble” and at shoutfactory.com.

Friday, August 27, 2010

THE AWE-INSPIRING, JAW-DROPPING SPINNING AMITYVILLE HORROR HOUSE


NOW, FOR THIS TO WORK, YOU MUST ENVISION THAT THE AMITYVILLE HORROR HOUSE (ABOVE) IS ACTUALLY SPINNING ON THIS SITE. OTHERWISE, WELL, YOU’RE JUST GONNA BE SHIT OUTTA LUCK!

(WHAT WERE YOU EXPECTING….PROFESSIONAL GRAPHICS THAT I DON'T HAVE?)

Monday, August 23, 2010

FRED TREKKER'S "MY MONSTER MEMORIES" BLOG

One of the pleasures of doing a blog such as this is that many people stumble across your site and are favorably impressed.

Last night I posted a review of Larry Blamire's film "Dark and Stormy Night". After doing so, I wrote of my review on Mr. Blamire's Facebook wall. He sent a very kind reply, which was quite a thrill. People who see Mr. Blamire's Facebook page now know about "The Splatting Nun" and my web counter hits are reflecting a large number of visitors since last night.

One of these visitors, Fred Trekker, left a couple of nice comments about "The Splatting Nun" and indicated that he is linking to it on his own blog, "My Monster Memories".

I will also be linking back to his blog. However, I also like to do a separate posting about things I link to just to draw some extra attention to it.

Please visit Fred's site at http://www.monstermemories.blogspot.com/. If you like comic/magazine posts, movie posters and the like, you will also enjoy his site.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

This movie is a total blast!! It helps if you’ve had some experience in watching some of the old haunted house comedy films with folks like Jack Haley, The Ritz Brothers or Kay Kyser & Ish Kabibble. However, it is still enjoyable even if you are too young to be aware of what’s being parodied.

Larry Blamire, and his wonderful regular troupe of performers hit this one right outta the ballpark. Mr. Blamire, who scripted, produced and directed the movie, has a keen ear for 1930’s film dialogue. His stars, Daniel Roebuck and Jennifer Blaire (the real-life Mrs. Blamire), have absolutely nailed the screwball banter that were prevalent in films of this type way back when. It’s a pleasure to listen to even though you may have to go back several times to the scene before you can catch it all. This really is a tribute to how well they play off each other with the tough guy/tough-as-nails-broad, side-of-the-mouth type of verbal combat.

Surprise appearances are made by Marvin Kaplan and H.M. Wynant, whom I remember from a lot of 1960s TV westerns and mob bosses in crime shows of the same era. Susan McConnell is held back until the climax of the film, but when she cuts loose she’s certainly a wonder to behold. Watch out or you will laugh over her dialogue and miss what she’s saying.

The premise of the movie surrounds the reading of a will and the events that follow over the course of one night. That’s really all you need to know.

It was filmed in black and white, but there is a color version available to see in the extras on the disc.

Without hesitation I recommend this wholeheartedly. It’s family friendly, too; even the outtakes are bleeped, so no worries there.

This movie was released on DVD along with Mr. Blamire’s “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again”, the sequel to “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra”. I don’t have yet TLSRA, even though I ordered both films at the same time, but watch this space for a review of it when I do get it.

Thanks, Larry, for the terrific, fun films you make – long may you continue to do so. And please keep those lovable oddball Blamireplayers as well.

Can be ordered online at shoutfactory.com.

Monday, July 26, 2010

BUM BAR BASTARDS: TUBE BAR 35TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION

Just received notice yesterday that 9/1/2010 is the date to watch for. The Bum Bar Bastards are releasing their 35th Anniversary DVD/CD set of the Tube Bar Phone Calls. I've talked about these guys a lot before especially on the "Brain Sandwich" Radio Show. This is the ultimate edition and I will be talking more about this when the set is out. Check out www.bumbarbastards for pre-ordering info.

Highly recommended!


This 35th Anniversary Collection Includes:
Complete Tube Bar Calls
All 105 Tube Bar Calls in chronological order as they were made.
Two never before heard Tube Bar Calls, including the longest call running over 4:30.
Rare and never before seen video still “pictures” of the Bum Bar Bastards, Tube Bar & Red.
Special 35th Anniversary Bonus
Original Mono Cassette Tape recordings of all 105 calls, raw & unedited in their original form.
Classic Tube Bar “RED” Movie
The cult classic Tube Bar “RED” movie by Chris Gore, staring Lawrence Tierney.
Including music by Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX) (http://www.anthrax.com/)
All New Tube Bar Animation
All new Tube Bar animation shorts by Jim Sweet made exclusively for this DVD.
Music video by the elusive (and rarely heard/seen) John Elmo.
Red’s Xmas Song
The classic “Redwood” Christmas Video by Bob Ryan.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

CRACKED: THE SIMPSON

Good cover, isn't it? Both CRACKED and CRAZY magazines were the strong competitors for MAD. Of the three, only MAD still exists. Guess that says something.