TGIF13

Here’s a treat for all you New Englanders who’ve signed up for Newbury Comics’ weekly e-newsletter: You can get a coupon for a free Friday the 13th-themed pint glass with a purchase of ten dollars or more. The offer’s good through February 22nd (while supplies last). You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Don’t worry if you’ve just signed up and didn’t get a copy of this week’s newsletter, as they usually sell leftover glasses on their website and give them away on Record Store Day. Or you could just try contacting Newbury Comics through their website to ask for the coupon. Whatever you end up doing, we here at the GdL hope you have a happy Friday the 13th!

Pieces

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows...

Get this: the movie I reviewed immediately after Winterbeast also has a connection to Massachusetts! This time, it’s a gory horror flick set in Boston called Pieces.

The movie opens in 1942, with a mother catching her son diligently working on a puzzle depicting a naked woman. Furious with her son taking after her lecherous husband, she trashes the room and prepares to burn all of his porn. The boy’s response? Ax murder. Flash forward forty years, the little boy is all grown up and feeling remorseful about the whole “dismembering mom” thing. After a co-ed skateboarding into a sheet of glass reminds him of his mom trashing a mirror, he sets out to recreate his mom using parts from unwilling donors. As the body count at an unnamed college campus keeps rising, Police Lieutenant Bracken and undercover officer/tennis champion Mary Riggs (played by 70’s TV regulars Christopher George and Lynda Day George) take up the case. They also team up with the lover of one of the victims, Kendall James, in order to find out the killer’s identity and end his chainsaw rampage. Is the murderer the nervous comparative anatomy professor, the burly groundskeeper, or some other person?

Originally released in Spain under the title “Mil Gritos tiene la noche” (roughly translated as “One Thousand Cries has the Night”) in 1982, Pieces plays out exactly like an over-the-top stereotype about what a slasher movie is like. In other words, a flimsy plot coupled with wall-to-wall nudity and gore. What separates Pieces from the typical horror film is all the hilarious (and often bizarre) moments randomly distributed throughout the movie. There’s a completely random sex scene, an out of nowhere appearance by Bruceploitation legend Bruce Le, a topless chase sequence, a victim wetting herself, the “who cares if it doesn’t make sense, it’s scary” ending, and so much more. Interestingly enough, the urination wasn’t a special effect. You see, the chainsaw got a little too close for the actress’ liking and the director chose to leave the embarrassing shot in the final product.

Grindhouse Releasing’s two disc set marks the first official American DVD release of Pieces. The widescreen transfer from the original negative blows away all the cropped, VHS-sourced transfers offered by cheap DVD labels. It’s a testament to the quality of the special effects that they still hold up even after the film was digitally remastered. As for the audio, the English and Spanish mono tracks are both clear and problem-free.

I highly recommend watching both the dubbed version and the English subtitled version. This is due to how the Spanish version is edited slightly differently at the beginning and has an original soundtrack, whereas the English version uses stock music that wasn’t prepared for the movie. Also, the English subtitles reveal that there are several differences in dialogue between the original and dubbed version. It seems like the person who put together the English dub’s script inserted humorous material to amuse themselves. The people at Grindhouse Releasing seem to feel the same way about wanting people to see both, since they included a link to the Spanish opening sequence in the “Features” section of disc one.

The other special features on disc one include animated menus, chapter stops with the murder scenes marked in red, and the “Vine Theater Experience.” Selecting that option plays a short film of people at a recent showing of the film and then plays the audience’s reactions along with the movie in 5.1 stereo. Oh, and hitting up when the cursor is on “Play Movie” will lead you to a hidden icon that will play Eli Roth’s (and others’) comments on the film when clicked on.

Moving on to disc two, there are two interviews that clock in just under an hour each. The first one is with director Juan Piquer Simón, who discusses the making of the film and his career. The second features Paul Smith (who played the groundskeeper), who details his life and film career along with a few insights on his role in Pieces. Simón’s interview is subtitled while Smith’s is in English. The “Cast & Crew” section provides filmographies and/or biographies for several people involved in the film. Each entry has bonus content, either in the form of an interview segment or a preview for another film that the person was involved in. The numerous still galleries show production stills, publicity photos, and box art from various video releases. One of the galleries, titled “Juan Piquer’s Still Show,” is actually a video of the director showing off various publicity material, the original puzzle prop, and even the magazine whose cover art he licensed to use in an alternate Spanish poster for Pieces. Rounding out the special features are the numerous previews for current and future releases from Grindhouse. Two Easter eggs, one featuring Paul Smith and the other dealing with nudity and the casting process in Pieces, can also be found on this disc: One can be found by hitting up when the cursor is on the “Main Menu” option in the “Interviews” menu and the other can be found by hitting up when the cursor is on the “Main Menu” option in the “Galleries” menu. Just click the chainsaw icon that appears and you’re all set!

Also worthy of mention are the liner notes, written by Deep Red’s Chas Balun. When unfolded and flipped over, the liner notes form a small reproduction of the film’s American poster. Be warned that the notes, like many of the special features, contain spoilers.

My only real complaint about this otherwise flawless release is how there’s a missing English subtitle about one hour, seventeen minutes, and thirty-four seconds into the Spanish language version of the movie. Thankfully, I (and anyone who took high school Spanish) could tell the unsubtitled line was to the effect of “Get the car, quickly!” and could still enjoy the movie. Some may dislike how the packaging overlaps the DVDs in such a way that you have to remove both discs in order to get to the second disc, but others might just swap it with another DVD case and think nothing more of the issue. To anyone interested in checking the film out, I say this: please do not let these small matters keep you from getting this DVD.

Winterbeast

For once, a film's tagline speaks the truth...

As a fan of hilariously bad horror movies, I have a special fondness for “regional” horror films. Regional films are independent movies made in small cities and towns, often incorporating touches of “local color.” So when I found out that portions of such a movie were filmed in my old stomping grounds (Waltham, Massachusetts), I was ecstatic and vowed to track it down.

Although I succeeded in getting a copy of Winterbeast, I’m still at a loss as how to properly describe it. I’m tempted to just say that it’s like lower budgeted, more insane version of Equinox and leave it at that. But seeing as how that wouldn’t be of any help to anyone who has never heard of that movie:

The plot involves Forest Rangers investigating a series of mysterious murders. As time goes on, it’s discovered that the murders were caused by Native American demons freed from a series of portals. However, their attempts to warn the public and prevent the final portal from opening are constantly hindered by the owner of the Wild Goose Lodge, who wants the killings hushed up so the tourists aren’t scared away.

After semi-obscure 1992 VHS release, Winterbeast is finally back to take its rightful place as the greatest bad movie ever made. Part of the film’s charm stems the sheer variety of monsters in it, including (but not limited to) a cross between Bigfoot and a Sleestak, a living totem pole, a creature I’ve nicknamed “hell chicken,” and the titular Winterbeast. From what I can tell, the Winterbeast originally played a more active role in the film, but most of the footage of it attacking people got misplaced during the editing process. Since the film couldn’t be completed without those scenes, the filmmakers put together new stop-motion monster sequences to replace them. But the problems didn’t end there. For example, the lead actor shaved his mustache off during a lull in filming and had to wear a fake mustache for the rest of the movie. Unfortunately, this resulted in the size and shape of the mustache changing from scene to scene. These, the “homemade” nature of the special effects, the laughable acting, and the other surreal touches sprinkled throughout the film are sure to please b-movie fans.

The transfer used on the DVD is quite acceptable considering the all the horror stories about the film’s production. Unless a millionaire takes a shine to it and pays for a restoration, this is the best Winterbeast will ever look or sound. The special features include a commentary, deleted scenes, a photo gallery, a “Making of” featurette, and a “soap opera” version of the film. You see, there was an attempt to shoot some scenes with a TV crew, but the videotaped footage was deemed unusable. Noticing that the scenes looked like something out of a cheap daytime drama, the people behind the DVD edited them together (and dubbed in some dramatic organ music) to give it the proper soap opera feel. Also, an easter egg of sorts can be found by highlighting a red symbol to the left of the “Soap Opera” icon. Clicking it will play a slideshow of sorts where the film’s composer, Michael Perilstein, discusses the upcoming soundtrack CD and other movies he’s composed the scores for.

The commentary, done by Mark Frizzel (producer) and Chris Thies (director/writer), is equally informative and hilarious. Rather than try to spin the film as being better than it really is, both men are good humored about its reputation and gleefully poke fun at their creation. Not only does the commentary reveal why a movie called “Winterbeast” is set in autumn and has very little snow in it, but it also notes the film’s connections to Nickelodeon and The Corpse Bride!

If you want some more information about the movie, or just want to order the DVD, please visit the official Winterbeast website.

UPDATE: I noticed how the FlickRocket profile for Winterbeast notes how the film is “back to take it’s rightful place as the best bad movie of all time.” It’s been so long that I forget if my comment on how the film was “finally back to take its rightful place as the greatest bad movie ever made” was a play off that line or if they decided to paraphrase my review. It’s hard to say now that the website only exists in incomplete archival form and my contact at Winterbeast Entertainment Group passed away in 2015. May he rest in peace and hopefully his final horror movie Hooked will eventually see release.

Special thanks to Winterbeast Entertainment for the review copy!

Happy Horrordays!

I’m sorry for the lack of updates in November and December. The reason for this is because my computer got infected with a nasty type of malware known as a “krueger.” Yes, as in “Freddy Krueger.” Due to its ability to replicate itself no matter how many times I tried to remove it, I was forced to reformat my computer. Unfortunately, I was in contact with the other members of the GdL, so they were at risk of infection. For obvious reasons, we chose not to do any more posts until we were completely sure that all our computers were uninfected. Here’s hoping that we’ll be able to do more updates in 2009.

As a special gift to our loyal readers, here’s a clip from Christmas Evil:

To anyone wanting to see the rest of the movie, I recommend the director’s cut DVD released by Synapse Films. I’ve also heard that FEARnet is playing the movie this month.

Dead (For Now)

I’ve been nursing a Halloween Hangover for the last two weeks. Weird Jon and Atomic Mystery Monster were good enough to post a few things but we’re going to put the CLOSED sign up for about a week. So, on 11/15, we’ll relaunch this site into something that looks a little better.

Nothing stays dead forever, though. See you in a week.

Political Zombies

What better way to celebrate today’s election than zombified masks of the candidates? So whether you’re supporting Zombama, McBrain, or planning a write-in for Hellary, be sure to actually go out and vote before the polls close.

Happy Birthday Godzilla!

According to a friend’s LiveJournal, Godzilla has turned 54 today. To celebrate, I dug up some videos on Youtube that celebrated the Big G’s birthday in 1985 and 2004. Enjoy!

Halloween Hobnobbin’

I’ve got to make this quick since I have some last-minute Halloween preparations to make. Some of you might be a little baffled as to why I chose to post a video of someone in a silly costume singing a cover of a Frank Zappa song, but I hope that the message at the end makes it all clear.

Happy Halloween!

Sven Update

Quick news – after contacting FuzzyMemories.TV and Svengoolie, the below link to ‘Svengoolie – It Came From Berwyn!!’ is sort-of-okay. Not to cause any trouble, hurt feelings or lawsuits, the link will be up until November 1st. So you have until Halloween to Trick-or-Treat the link. After that, it’ll come down and you’ll just have to egg your computer screen (instead of my house.)

Terror T.R.A.X.

Back in the early 90’s, the company behind “Dungeons & Dragons” created a line of “Choose Your Own Adventure”-type audio CDs called Terror T.R.A.X. The idea behind them was that you were an operative for a secret organization (Trace, Research, Analyze and eXterminate) that investigates 911 calls involving the paranormal and that you’d switch audio tracks on the CD instead of turning pages in a book. According to this site, the concept only lasted for two CDs, a PC game remake of Track of the Vampire, and a proposed (but never made) TV movie. Aside from an unofficial fan-made game called “Track of the Undead,” the series was largely forgotten since then. At least, until Noah “Spoony” Antwiler did some laugh-out-loud hilarious video reviews of Track of the Vampire and Track of the Werewolf:

The reviews had to get split into multiple parts on Youtube, but you can find the original, full length reviews at the review section of his website, The Spoony Experiment. As a special added bonus, here’s the opening movie for the Terror T.R.A.X. PC game:

UPDATE: According to Spoony, the Track of the Mummy and Track of the Creature CDs were advertised, but never made. I have edited the article to reflect this.

It Came from….BERWYN?!!!

(Son of) Svengoolie

WCIU- the U!
Fuzzy Memories.TV

It seemed to lessen a bit, but the Halloween spirit has come back to kick me in the eye socket. With a black eye of live, I’m back to rocking Halloween spirit; seems appropriate, being as we’re two days until the big day. I figured to avoid another orbital fracture, I’d give a treat to those of you who keep coming back here.

[edit Nov.1 – all gone. Happy Halloween! See you next year.]

Taking up the mantle of Svengoolie originally, Jerry Bishop passed the title to Richard Koz who took the name ‘Son of Svengoolie’ during his initial run on Chicago television. After a near-thirty year career, Koz’s character is referred to as Svengoolie. Along with musical partner Doug Graves, Tombstone the talking skull and a barrage of rubber chickens, Svengoolie is still on today despite a period of being off the air (allowing for a spin-off, the “Koz Zone.” ‘Koz’ rhymes with ‘nose.’)

Two years ago, thanks to a random passing-by of an odd YouTube video, I found Svengoolie. Not having the pleasure to grow up in Chicago during the seventies/eighties of the first round, I’m glad that technology allows for access of some of the classic Sven clips. Most of them have left YouTube and gone over to FuzzyMemories, the official home for old Chicago TV.

What the above link, the ‘Trick or Link,’ is to a compilation of audio bits taken from Fuzzy Memories. The sound quality is a bit rancid, I’ll admit, but if you are someone who can listen to pops and crackles on a record player, then you won’t mind. ‘It Came from Berwyn’ features a few songs from the original Svengoolie, since I think they were funny. Hopefully, this won’t be the Mary Jane equivalent of your Halloween downloads; perhaps one of those strange candy skeletons in the oddly colored box, with the candy not tasting all that great but the experience not lessened for it.

This is sexy?

Mondo Schlocko has a great, twopart look at some supposedly “sexy” Halloween costumes for women. There’s actually an even goofier “Sexy Freddy Krueger” costume out there, but I don’t know if it’s available to the general public.

Printable Halloween Décor II

Oh boy, fresh head cheese!

For those of you not satisfied by my previous forays into printable decorations, check these out:

The Monster Maze has several printable warning signs that’d look great in any mad scientist-related display.

On a related note, Warningsigngenerator.com and Safety Sign Builder let you make customized warning signs that you can print out for free. However, Safety Sign Builder seems to require you to sign up on their site before they’ll let you print anything.

Hewlett-Packard’s crafts section has some Halloween decorations for doorbells, along with the usual assortment of printable masks and Halloween cards.

Dadcando.com has an interesting way of making a printable magic wand. However, unlike the other projects shown in this post, this one requires use of a glue gun and some painting.

MadHaus Creative used to have great tutorials about making a head in a jar and a tube full of eyeballs using printouts, but they’ve recently been removed. The reason for this is because some jerk had the nerve to steal stuff from the website, burn it onto a DVD-R, and tried selling it on ebay as if he created it all. I’m planning on writing an email to that site’s webmaster to show my support in the near future and I hope that anyone reading this does the same. Hopefully, this will get him to bring those tutorials back.

UPDATE: Warningsigngenerator.com seems to be down, so you can use Add Letters » Warning Sign Generator instead. I also found an alternate version of the previously missing “Head in a Jar” project from Madhaus. That’s right, Madhaus Creative has put all of his wonderful prop tutorials back online! But for some reason the face printout itself is available on another website.

Creative Commons License

The image illustrating this article was licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. The rest of the article is copyrighted by Gravedigger’s Local 16. Please see the individual terms of each project to verify what license(s) they are available under (if any).

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting or downloading from any links on those sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). Attempt at your own risk.

Halloween How (not) To

Here’s a bizarre, creepy, and definitely NSFW tutorial on making a female troll figure for Halloween. THRILL! at a man smoking and yelling at his dog! CHILL! at repeated use of the phrase “troll titties” and at the thought of what he’ll do with the finished troll!

Back when I first saw this on Halloweenforum.com, there was much debate over whether this was actually serious or if it was just an elaborate parody. Judging from his other videos, this seems to be real. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

From Denmark, with Love: HorrorPops

HorrorPops

Hell Yeah!, Hellcat 2004
Bring It On!, Hellcat 2005
Kiss Kiss Kill Kill, Hellcat 2008

I wrote a review of the Horrorpops release ‘Kiss Kiss Kill Kill’ which came out last February. I said it was an enjoyable record that showed the band’s progression and experimentation with sounds outside their rockabilly origins. The record has aged well in the past months and makes for a nice addition to the everyday play list. Halloween-wise, the HorrorPops have been on the outs with the spooky for a while.

The band is made up of Patricia Day, Kim Nekroman and Niedermeier. Nekroman is the frontman of Nekromantix, one of the bigger psychobilly bands out there. There’s plenty of spooky, on tattooes and in history, so it’s not as if the HorrorPops are SpookyReformed(tm). It’s a case, I think, of not wanting to eat tuna fish every day. Having committed themselves to Spooky enough, the band is willing to branch out, always loyal to their old interests but strong enough to entertain new ones.

What I didn’t mention in the review was that I found out about the Horropops back in 2004 from watching ‘Punk Rock Holocaust,’ bought used during an long afternoon spent at Last Vestige. ‘Punk Rock Holocaust’ is one of those ‘son of Troma’ movies, where young cinematic fanatics, after spending their fledgling periods under the guide of Lloyd Kaufman and co., head out into the unknown, dangerous world of independent cinema. Other films in this category include ‘Killjoy 2,’ ‘Die You Zombie Bastards!’ and the 2002’s ‘Scooby Doo.’

‘Punk Rock Holocaust’ is a nice slasher that introduced me to both the HorrorPops and the Phenomenauts. It also features half of Simple Plan and the Used getting killed off by a masked punk. Lloyd Kaufman has a role in it as Satan. What more could you want?

At first, the HorrorPops didn’t really click with me but over time, and finding both their albums used, I became a reluctant fan. Why should I be hesitant to be a fan of the HorrorPops? I think it’s not just them, but all psychobilly/rockabilly bands. The upright bass is an instrument with presence. It’s hard to form a sound around it. It’s such an all-encompassing instrument, like the steel guitar or the farfisa organ, that it’s quite easy to sound just like any other band while using it. It’s a sound with such a distinct personality that it doesn’t take much for it to override any other aspect of the band.

I remember around 2004/05, the HorrorPops were apologetically ‘not a psychobilly band’ on their website. I think they were prepping their fans who, after becoming enamored by the ‘Hell Yeah’ release, would be in a shock for the deviating themes on ‘Bring It On.’ There was less about zombies, monsters and skulls and more about broken love, getting drunk and the redeeming power of being in a strong friendship. Sure, there was ‘Walk Like a Zombie,’ but I see now that song was more included for it being a do-wop number than a zombie song.

With ‘Kiss Kiss Kill Kill,’ the band progressed far enough away from the rock/psycho campgrounds with songs that were similar to ska, do-wop, 80’s goth-pop (Peter Murphy, Sisters of Mercy, that kind of thing.) There was some rockabilly with the first single, ‘Heading for the Disco,’ but it fit in with the rest of the album as a tribute to the group’s musical influences. In the review, I said it was a display of growth in both music and subject matter, as songs addressed social unrest in the band’s native land of Denmark (“Boot2Boot”) and some of the problems of being a woman in a genre/scene that’s male dominated (“MissFit”).

They’re a popular band – popular meaning that you can probably find their CDs in stores – and I would check them out if they come by.


Munster Mash

According to this site, Alice Cooper is hosting WGN’s 16 episode marathon of The Munsters from 4:00 pm to midnight (Eastern standard time) on Halloween. For those of you on the West coast, the marathon will run from 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm. This will be followed by a half-hour special about the making of Alice Cooper’s “Along Came a Spider” album.

Please check your local listings to see if you get WGN in your area.

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