Black Phone and living through that era.

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There are few current movies or tv shows which return me to childhood. Black Phone did this, and it’s not about the clothes, the hair, or the music; it’s about the time feeling.

A lot of missing kids made the news when I was a kid. I won’t mention their names, but if you grew up in Utah in the early 80s, we all respond to one name. There were others, and it seemed a missing kid made the news once a week.

We didn’t have social media, I know we Gen Xers repeat this, but after dinner, we watched the national and local news. It’s the way our family’s worked. It felt like kids disappeared a lot then.

It wasn’t the satanic panic for some of us. It was the missing kids. This scared us. We didn’t accept rides from strangers for this reason.

I did things I shouldn’t have as a kid with all those missing kids. I rode my bike to my friend’s house. He lived what felt like ten miles away. I did it because I was home alone a lot. Another thing Scott Derickson and C. Robert Cargill nailed was that kids were home alone.

I got home from school at 3:15, but my father didn’t get home until 4:30. That’s if he didn’t leave a message on the answering machine that something came up at work. Then he may not come home at all.

I spent a lot of time watching movies on HBO. This was when HBO was good. Late-night horror movies, and if you had Cinemax, you had Skinemax.

We all had that time when we didn’t feel safe. Mine was after getting off the bus, and this car pulled over and asked us where someone lived. We all knew where the person lived. It was at the top of the street. We told this guy that. He asked me to get in the car and show him. Something was off about that interaction. I still feel that way.

Stranger Things comes close, but Black Phone nails it even better.

We grew up differently. We knew someone whose dad beat them. We knew whose parents slept around and with who. You knew these things if you lived in these small towns or on certain streets.

I felt for Fin in this movie because of that person in the car. I could have been Fin. I know it’s weird to say, but that’s how I’ve felt since that moment.

The movie is brilliant in the many ways it brings back those feelings.

Fin’s story and home life are the same as many of us. My father didn’t beat us, but we knew the feeling of it. Words may not be physical, but they hurt just as much.

The imagery of the movie. The basement, the houses, and the interaction with other kids felt genuine. The fights before, during, and after school happened. I didn’t win all the scraps I was in. I remember them, though.

My youngest sister and I are close. That feeling came across well between Fin and Gwen.

I’m unsure what else to put in a review for a movie that came out a few months ago. I loved it and the feeling of it.

Thanks for reading. If you have suggestions for what movies or books I should review, drop a comment below.

What to do, what to do

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As with everything, this space is something I never understood. I don’t know how to write a review for a movie, game, or book, and I’m not sure about doing those things.

But here is what’s going to happen: I will write the articles about horror, whether they’re reviews or not, because I love horror. It’s honestly my favorite thing. My wife and kids don’t get it, hell, sometimes I don’t, but I love it.

I have a big list of books to get through in the coming year and this is one of two blogs I write, so I’ll keep going if you keep reading.

Im currently making y way through, “The Best Horror of the Year”, by Ellen Datlow and The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig. I’m also learning about Norse Paganism for my own purposes.

I’ll post on Tuesday and Thursday something horror related.

House of 1000 Corpses Review

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Before I get too involved with this I have to give a bit of back story for this movie.

:Backstory:

I watched it a long time ago and didn’t care for it. It was trippy, crazy, and I found it to be too weird for my tastes.

But I do have a reason for that. The first time I watched it, my wife was out of town for her brother’s wedding. I was unable and partially unwilling, to attend the wedding.

I had three days alone, yes I had to work, but my kids were young, and my wife had to be there. I believe my mom went up with her to see my sisters on that drive as well, which was great for my mom.

So, I got some liquor, a few flowers and had a solo party. I hadn’t watched the movie and wanted to.

Now, I got pizza, so I ate that, had a few beers, played with the flower, and turned the movie on.

I remember bits and pieces of the movie, and in my alcohol, and flower-addled state, barely remember the movie, which is why I felt I needed to watch it again. I did that this past Friday.

I understand this was Rob Zombie’s first movie, and being a fan of his Halloween remake, I’ll give him a break for some of the weirder camera things, but damn that color-shifting really messed with my head.

:Spoilers For House of 1000 Corpses Follows:

Into the Guts of It

At the opening of the movie, we see the clown, played by the incredible Sid Haig and Michael J. Pollard, who is one of my personal favorite character actors. His character in Scrooged is very loved in our house.

That’s when the chicken at Captain Spaulding’s is no longer on the menu as two people attempt a robbery, it does not go well for them.

While Captain Spaulding is cleaning up or main characters are on the road looking for the backroad stops that dot the outer highways of the United States. As someone who’s traveled on Route 66, there is a lot of these, but the randomness of their locations is part of the charm, as well as the journey along America’s backroads.

As our main characters arrive, the mess is nearly cleaned up, and our “heroes and heroines” are unaware of what they’ve walked into. This is the point where any self-respecting horror fan thinks, “something crazy is going to happen soon.”

Our mains take a run through the Murder Ride. With their ride, they, and the viewer, discover someone we hadn’t heard of, at least for me I’d heard of every one of the killers mentioned except for Doctor Satan. This stuck in my mind the first time, and there are flashes of an operating room in my memory from that long-ago party.

Our main characters leave the Murder Ride, and they’re back on the road, driving in the torrential downpour, looking for more roadside stops.

The House of 1000 Corpses

They come along with a woman standing in the rain and argue about whether to pick her up. Let’s put this another way: They’d ridden the Murder Ride, and Captain Spaulding gives them directions to the tree where Doctor Satan’s body is, and they see a scantily dressed woman standing in the rain. I would think about stopping, but having a preservation instinct, and not residing within a horror movie, I would have passed her. You can say what you want about this, but I wouldn’t have stopped.

The woman leads them down a road and we see someone shoot out their tire. Having driven on wet, dirt roads growing up, the narrowness of something on those roads causing a blowout is remote as hell.

With the damage done, we’re left to watch what, if you’ve seen any horror movie, will play out for us.

While there are glimpses of what’s coming, our first interaction with the house’s inhabitants, namely Baby, who makes advances on one of our main characters, who pushes her off, which visibly frustrates Baby.

The rest of the group joins in and enters the house. All of them are visibly unnerved by the house, most noticeably is Rainn Wilson’s character’s girlfriend who grows impatient with Baby and her advances, finally, after a dinner that’s a call back to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre dinner scene, she’s had enough and attacks Baby. This was the wrong move and maybe the character knows this as all of them flee the house.

Will the Sadist’s Please Step Forward

Their leaving pauses the inevitable. This becomes clear as Rainn Wilson’s “Bill” steps from the car to open the gate, which sat open as they drove through before their tire blew, which leads me to believe, and as we find out later, was intentional.

The beatings commence as two characters we’d seen earlier hop down from their perches.

The following scene few scenes are horrible in their graphic gore, as well as the creativity of Rob Zombie and the special effects and makeup departments for the film.

We see Bill, who is turned into a merman by one of the inhabitants, who is proud of his creation.

The torment and debauchery these characters deal with while in the House is incredible, and now I understand why I blocked so much of this movie.

The next few scenes were difficult to watch.

My biggest gripe about the story is the underlying story of the father. I wish this wouldn’t have been in it. I understand it, there needs to be a sort of hero or the setup for an all is lost scenario, but I didn’t care for it.

It added to the depravity of the situation for the characters, and this as any horror fan knows leads to some of the best parts of these movies.

Like lambs to the slaughter, they’re carried or dragged to the where Doctor Satan is.

As they’re placed, one runs, and Baby gets her blood on. I have never been a fan of Sheri Moon Zombie, and maybe it’s because her portrayal of Baby felt over the top, but her portrayal in Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem was truly incredible and is one of my favorite performances.

We’re shown a tunnel system, which as a horror reader, reviewer, and writer made me think of Brian Keene’s Urban Gothic. I’m not sure if Keene’s book was influenced by House of 1000 Corpses, but I can see it in the darker parts of the movie as well as the book.

Once sacrificed to Doctor Satan, our lone survivor or Final Girl, fights her way out and does exactly that just before the credits roll, but that’s not the end and I won’t spoil it, although I’d like to.

Before I leave today I’m going add a few books to read if you like horror, but especially the Final Girl.

Stephen Graham Jones: The Last Final Girl

Grady Hendrix: The Final Girl Support Group

Stephen Graham Jones: The Only Good Indians

Stephen Graham Jones: My Heart is a Chainsaw

These are books I’ve either read or are on my TBR. I believe Stephen Graham Jones and his grasp of the slasher is above everyone in the genre.

If you liked the review, please leave a comment and thanks for reading.