And last but not least – the final entry in this year’s SUMMERTIME SCARES! is from my buddy Barry. Like me, he too is a lifelong horror nut and appreciator of all things nostalgic and trashy (and those precious gems that meet somewhere in the middle). So who better to wrap this thing up than him? Barry shows his love for a couple of perfect summertime flicks: a Drew Barrymore one-two punch of Motorama and Far From Home. Without further ado…take it away, Barry! Continue reading SUMMERTIME SCARES! (Barry Foster)
While I didn’t have as many guest submissions this year as I did last, one cool thing was some new Felix Vasquez Jr., who runs Cinema Crazed. It’s a cool blog, and if you dig Camera Viscera, I’m sure you’ll dig plenty of the stuff Felix is putting out over there. For his SUMMERTIME SCARES! submission, he tackles the sweaty, drippy, oozing, uncomfortable Hellraiser franchise, specifically Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.
Admittedly, the first “Hellraiser” film I’ve ever seen was “Hell on Earth,” the 1992 sequel to Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” series that arguably killed all cache the first movies established. It wasn’t until almost twenty years later when I finally sat down to see the superior “Hellraiser” predecessors. When my building was finally wired for cable in 1994, my brother and I sat down to watch “Hellraiser III” on Cinemax late one Saturday night during the summer. For a long time it remained a very vivid and fond memory of horror cinema. It was also my introduction to Doug Bradley as the iconic pinhead.
Anyone who knows a lot about the “Hellraiser” movies, know that the first two Clive Barker movies are complete tales in their own right. “Hellraiser” was a twisted love story about a sordid love affair and the evil Julia Cotton who led men to her house to feed to her undead lover Frank. In the first film, Pinhead only appears in the movie for ten minutes, and the movie is not even about him. But Doug Bradley’s performance is so gargantuan in presence and gravitas that Pinhead became the face of the movie series, despite Julia being the villain of the first two films. Pinhead is a name bestowed upon the character by populace as Clive Barker never really liked the name. Pinhead in the literature is a sexually ambiguous character that Barker called “Hell Priest.”
But with “Hellraiser,” it cemented the direction, allowing for a more Pinhead-centric follow up. Though he appears for a longer duration, he is still only in the film for a small period and Julia Cotton is still the villain. She’s now a cenobite who seduces a sadistic doctor to feed her mental patients in an asylum so she can rebuild her body again. After Clare Higgins dropped out of the movie series, the studios naturally took the film series in the direction they wanted. Pinhead became the true persona of “Hellraiser,” and in “Hell on Earth” he became the primary antagonist who literally wrought pure havoc on Earth, massacring people, and creating his own gimmicky cenobites.
Where the original two films comprised cenobites out of willing subjects with dark sexual desires, Pinhead would take literally any victim and make them in to a twisted foot soldier. “Hell on Earth” is now mostly about Pinhead where he’s essentially the main character, even. After revealing his humanity in “Hellbound,” the studio gives a good excuse to turn Hellraiser in to the pure villain, as he’s been split in to two personas. The human persona battles to maintain his station within Pinhead and is stuck in limbo, while the pure evil Pinhead begins roaming our world using his magic to bathe the streets in blood. The symbolic monolith we saw in the final scene of “Hellraiser II” is turned in to a literal plot device where Pinhead is a part of a writhing pillar bought by a sadistic night club owner.
The pillar now looks like some cheap European art project made in a loft, and it comes to life thanks to Pinhead’s devious hooks that proceed to skin alive a jilted lover of JP Monroe’s. Pinhead’s head, now peeking through the statue like an episode of “Laugh In” demands that JP lure women up to his loft to get sucked up by the statue. With enough lives Pinhead is freed and feels compelled to unleash darkness upon humanity. Where the first two “Hellraiser” films thrived on delivering still iconic imagery and instances of terror, “Hell on Earth” attempts to compensate for its goofy take on Pinhead and convoluted story by delivering its own iconic imagery for Barker fans to chew on.
There’s Pinhead invading a church and presenting Christ symbolism, and his massacring of JP’s night club, which shockingly cuts away when it’s about to get really splatterific. At least Hickox delivers some money shots which involve mostly the conception of his own army of cenobites. “Hellworld” defies the concept of the cenobites and goes full on gimmicky for this outing, delivering a cenobite that shoots fire, has a deadly zoom camera lens in their head, and one that even shoots deadly CD’s for some reason. Back then my brother and I thought it was the coolest thing we’d ever seen. These days it breaks the rules of the first two movies, but is at least some goofy fun.
“Hell on Earth” is unofficially considered the final chapter of the “Hellraiser” saga. It takes an unnecessary glimpse in to Pinhead’s back story and transforms a once enigmatic and mystifying monster in to a silly scowling movie monster for what is a pretty typical nineties B movie that I fondly recall grinning through as a young boy. After finally watching the first two films almost four years ago, I still not quite sure if “Hellworld” turned Barker’s saga in to B movie fodder, or if the “Hellraiser” tale was B movie fodder painted in an arthouse gloss the whole time.
As strange as it sounds, there are cliques among horror (&sci-fi&exploitation&et. al.) blogs. Not in the mean-spirited high school sense of the word, but simply peers who made their entry into the blogosphere at the same time as you. People who began with zero followers and slowly built an audience while you did the same. People who you chat with and share ideas and pointers with. I spot other longer running horror cliques on Twitter and Facebook all the time. And yes, believe it or not, Camera Viscera has many contemporaries, too.
One of them is Horror and Sons. I can’t recall the exact moment we landed on each others radar, but I’ve kept them in my Rolodex ever since. (I’ll probably be adding them to my list of Emergency Contacts soon.) They submitted a great piece for my Drive-In Double Feature last summer, and I am thrilled that they decided to participate in this year’s whatever this is. Check out their piece from last year; I think you’ll notice a theme. Continue reading SUMMERTIME SCARES! (Horror and Sons)
My buddy Jimmy is a real triple threat: he plays drums for the band Sass Dragons, he makes funny videos, and he writes great articles for really popular websites. Case in point: the thing you’re reading right now! He also contributed a piece to last year’s Drive-In Double Feature, because, well, he’s just a swell dude. Check out what he has to say about Shock ‘Em Dead below! Continue reading SUMMERTIME SCARES! (Jimmy Adamson)
As I’ve mentioned before, this Summertime Scares feature was directly inspired by the recurring guest-submitted pieces I ran last summer, a collection which I called Drive-In Double Feature. (Itself, directly inspired by Shit Movie Fest‘s wintertime-themed 25 Days of Shitmas.) I received a decent amount of submissions considering I was relatively new and no one owed me any favors, and I was so elated with the response that I decided then and there to give it another shot.
A handful of the people who submitted last year returned this year, and it’s clear that Summertime Scares wouldn’t be nearly as padded if those people hadn’t, thankfully, come back. (They gotta be some kind of masochists or somethin’.) In fact, if I didn’t have those return writers, I probably would’ve scrapped Summertime Scares entirely.
With all that said, welcome back to the stage Los Angeles comedian Alexa Loftus. After you finish reading her thoughts on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, be sure to check out her Drive-In Double Feature piece on Practical Magic and Suspiria. Thanks again, Alexa!
When the idea of summertime favorites came to mind, I immediately thought of classics like The Sandlot, The Sandlot 2: The Sandlot Continues, and most importantly, The Sandlot 3: Heading Home.
But then I thought about the true meaning of summer. Traveling, hanging with friends, trying new things, and looking for answers in an abandoned hospital. And there’s really only one television show that captures all of that and more: Ghost Adventures.
Yes, this show is bad. But that’s also why it’s good. I hate it, and yet, I love it. Why? Let’s try and investigate.
Ghost Adventures follows host Zak Bagans, a buff dude decked out in Ed Hardy and Oakleys, and his two friends/camera operators who both have goatees. This ain’t your Ed and Lorraine Warren ghost hunting crew — these fearless bros are going to come into whatever place you’re haunting and demand that you tell them what the fuck is going on, or else they are going to be fucking pissed!
And let me tell you: they always find something. Literally every basement/cabin/bar/catacomb they spend a night in, they always have some sort of altercation with a spirit. Now, I’ve ouijied in a lot of places and most of ‘em are a total bust. But I’m not bringing the fierce attitude. The shit talking. In one episode, after taunting the ghost, Zak mysteriously get a scratch on his back and calls the ghost “a piece of shit”. He’s also got the right technology. One device they use is a box that records those hard-to-hear ghost voices and they record one saying to Zak, “Fuck you”. Zak has also been possessed. In the movies, getting possessed generally involves deep voices, maybe an ancient language, and levitating furniture. But apparently in real life, it looks like a fit of roid rage.
Sure, I’ve got questions. In one episode, Zak tries to communicate with a family’s daughter who passed away. They light candles on a birthday cake and hang out in her old bedroom while the ghost voice box (which could potentially be made of cardboard) records a mumble that is subtitled as saying, “Hi Dad.” Somehow, I’m still on board, and I finally start to get skeptical when I see the unphased reaction the parents have to all of this. Are they so used to hearing this ghost that it bores them? Are they actors, too busy thinking about when lunch is? Are they just really tired? I don’t know! That’s part of the mystery! Maybe a spirit should tell Zak to leave these people alone!
Also, when the crew investigates The Clown Motel, all of a sudden Zak reveals he’s “terrified of clowns.” This, coming from the guy who tries to get demons to come up from hell to punch him in the face? Maybe I just don’t understand the clown thing.
Also, every time Zak goes to a new town, they always show people on the street running up to him like he’s a superstar. How large is the viewership for this show? I really thought I was the only one watching it, but apparently everyone who is outside is a major fan.
I wish I knew how much of this show was real. I have a feeling if I ever asked Zak, he would tell me 100% of it, which is just not possible. But even if I knew that it was 100% fake, I would still watch it. So maybe that’s where the answer to my question is. Ghost stories don’t really rely on facts. They just need a compelling narrator. And ideally, one that will call a ghost a piece of shit.
I say this without any pretension: I really have the greatest readers. It’s true! Sure, the number of CV readers may not be as high as some other low-level sites, which will go unmentioned *grumble, grumble* – but what CV lacks in readership volume it more than makes up for in quality readership. They engage, they support, they respond, and they’re ardent when they do so.
This is a long roundabout way for me to say what a crappy website-runner-dude I am. Jeff Wolfe (long time listener, first time caller) submitted this awesome, thorough piece on Bill Lustig’s ’96 schlocker Uncle Sam long before the due date I’d set – but I am just now getting it up. No excuses; I’m just tardy. I explain all this because his piece focuses on the July 4th holiday, so I didn’t want you (faithful, diligent readers) to think Jeff was off his rocker still talking about Independence Day a week into August. With all that cleared up, please enjoy Jeff’s awesome piece on Uncle Sam! Continue reading SUMMERTIME SCARES! (Jeff Wolfe / Secret Transmissions)