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    ALL NIGHT HORROR MARATHON: “THE OUTING” (Scream Factory DVD Review)

    In the early 80s, the slasher was king. So much so that studios were barely making any other kinds of horror movies.  But as with all trends, it died out thanks to the resurgence of monster and supernaturally-tinged movies that offered big budget, state of the art FX, and leaving producers without the money to compete with the likes of THE FLY and The LOST BOYS little choice but to stick to the (cheaper) slasher movie template.  But in many of these mid/late 80s cases, such as THE OUTING (aka THE LAMP, more on that soon), they would toss in a monster or some sort of possession angle to stick out a bit and avoid being just another “outdated” slasher movie, even while sticking rigidly to its formula: a bunch of kids being picked off one by one, leaving the smartest girl to face off and defeat the villain. 

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    “NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR” (DVD Review)

    Within its opening three minutes, the 1985 bizarro horror anthology film NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR segues from a choreographed New Wave dance number—think the FLASHDANCE wardrobe department projectile vomiting across the set of a 1980s LOVERBOY video—to a grandiloquent debate over human freewill between a Count Dracula-ish Satan and a God so ridiculously archetypal he makes George Burns’ turn in OH, GOD! look like Linda Blair in THE EXORCIST.

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    “CURSE OF CHUCKY” (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

    When CURSE OF CHUCKY had its world premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia festival this past summer, it passed a crucial test for a disc-bound feature: It felt right at home on the big screen. The movie was shrewdly tailored for its lower budget by writer/director Don Mancini, who also reverts the central Good Guy back to scary bad guy status.

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    “AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN, Bitchcraft” (TV Review)

    Whatever batshittery the rest of COVEN entails (and the door is left wide open for such), that which is contained in its premiere episode “Bitchcraft”—along with an already stellar ensemble, plus the work of breakout director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon—makes for one of the best, and maybe most definitive, hours AMERICAN HORROR STORY has ever seen.

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    Fango Flashback: “THE BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW” (1970)

    We are perhaps inherently sympathetic to witches on film. They are, after all, creatures and characters of folklore and horror with the most significant and legitimate real-life counterparts. Those counterparts, aside from putting their faith in something seemingly older and wiser than most all, have been the unjustified targets of horrifying religious and gender-based persecution throughout history—most notoriously in the 17th Century. This weighs on the viewer, informing even films and tales in which witches are practicing magick in the name of some larger darkness, most especially in the type of Tigon British Film Productions pictures dubbed “Folk Horror” where more often than not, those charged with stopping pagan deeds are real bastards. For example: the harrowing, cruel Matthew Hopkins in perhaps the best “Folk Horror” film, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, or even the intensely stuffy Sergeant Howie in Robin Hardy’s classic THE WICKER MAN.

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    “THE DEMON’S ROOK” (Screamfest Movie Review)

    THE DEMON’S ROOK is exactly the kind of psychotronic gem we search for in no-budget/backyard/DIY horror. Director James Sizemore—wearing a vast array of horns and hats on the film including writer, star, producer and special makeup FX—is positively charged with realizing his entirely warped vision (is that what’s missing from so many movies?) of demons, netherworlds, surf rock barn parties and a bearded savior at all, and despite no, costs. Which is to say, in the already niche world of genre film, THE DEMON’S ROOK will occupy a special place in the hearts of a select few.

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    “DARIO ARGENTO’S DRACULA” (Movie Review)

    In the opening scene of DARIO ARGENTO’S DRACULA, a peasant woman warns her voluptuous daughter against going out on this particular evening. “Walpurgis Night…I know,” the girl sighs, sounding bored of the subject. The malaise is catching; it drips from every frame of this new low in the career of one of horror’s once-great directors.

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    “THE AMITYVILLE HORROR TRILOGY” (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)

    For a movie that spawned at least eight sequels and a remake, 1979′s THE AMITYVILLE HORROR should be better. To be fair, I’m not the biggest fan of haunted house films, but I know a good one when I see it (POLTERGEIST, THE HAUNTING, etc.), and the film has a few issues that just can’t be overcome.  And at just a hair under two hours, it can’t even be considered ideal seasonal viewing; you can get in a better haunted house movie with time leftover for an episode of TALES FROM THE CRYPT or TWILIGHT ZONE.  However, for its fans (or those with more time to kill), Scream Factory has you covered, bringing the original film and its first two sequels to Blu-ray for the first time, with some new bonus features to sweeten the deal.

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    Horror From The BBC: “IN THE FLESH” and “THE SECRET OF CRICKLEY HALL” (TV Review)

    The ever-dependable English seem to always deliver quality when it comes to filmed drama—it’s in their blood, after all—and that goes for their unique, atmospheric brand of horror as well. We’ll save you the history lesson, but suffice to say that the British sensibility is so steeped in darkness, in grey, brooding, foreboding gloom and spectral skin chilling, that their genre product is almost always a cut above any other culture’s; two new small screen sculpted releases out October 8th from BBC Home Entertainment exemplify that plain truth.

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