THREE FREAKY FILMS FOR THIS HALLOWEEN

This piece was originally published October 15th, 2012.

Coffin Joe Post Icon TemplateIt’s that fun time of the year again.

A time when the shadows get a little darker, the wind howls a bit more mournfully, and those creeps that have been lurking and glaring at you from around corners get a bit creepier.

Halloween is a special time of the year not only for the Trick or Treat kiddies on the alert waiting for their special day, but it’s also a great time for adults who are able to enjoy the entire month with a mindset filled with desire for all things spooky and scary.

So what better a way to pass your leisure hours than to bask in the warm glow of your friendly viewing screen and watch a few movies or TV shows that go well with the season.


For myself, I am typically not so enamored of the usual slick, CGI film re-make of the moment, and nothing reeks of dull for me as much as most of the re-made horror movies that tumble out of Hollywood.

I grew up with drive-in double and triple bill schlock and exploitation films from around the world.

For me these NOT critically acclaimed works are filled with ineptitude, low budgets, Swiss cheese scripts, and often questionable acting, thankfully! They are also often the work of single minded, visionary auteurs (albeit with a tweaked vision) and were made with far fewer cooks in the kitchen making decisions by committee, something that ruins many Hollywood films.

To use a term coined by the great Michael Weldon, these Psychotronic Films are a few of my favorite things.

Here then is a fun Mystery Box triple bill Halloween film recommendation for you to enjoy this month.
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VIDEO WATCHDOG: 150th Issue Celebration Interview with Tim & Donna Lucas!

This piece was originally published July 27th, 2009

Fang Monster IconThis week celebrates the 150th issue of Video Watchdog!

For anyone who is yet to be a fan, the magazine is a monthly digest sized gem that is edited/published and designed by Tim and Donna Lucas, began life in 1990, and features a host of superb regular contributors for what is simply the finest in critical and extremely detailed writing, interviews and reviews of genre films.

As well as publishing the magazine, Tim and Donna also published the stunningly beautiful (and gigantic at 12 pounds!) definitive book on the great Italian director Mario Bava, entitled Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark in 2007.

As a celebration of Video Watchdog, I had the honor of interviewing Tim and Donna Lucas and my very special thanks goes out to them for this interview. Their recollections on publishing VW, thoughts about looking forward toward VW’s future, and insightful comments regarding print media, the internet and fave films, easily place this among my favorite pieces that I have done for The Mystery Box.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

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Tim and Donna: From #1 to #150

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JAWS WEEK: A Tribute to the Scare of ’75

This piece was originally published June 15th, 2009

Jaws IconJAWS.

The mere mention still brings me back to the days of 1975 when it was the scariest film of the year.

The film was the first true summer blockbuster, and a cultural giant of a movie about giant of a shark that radically changed and forever crushed our innocent view of a happy day at the beach.

As a kid I grew up by a beach and spent much of my outdoor time swimming in its water and goofing around on the sand. It was the days of carefree (and legal!) bonfires, diggin’ up cool “stuff” and consistently being amazed at the hundreds of primitive monster-like horseshoe crabs that would wash ashore each year.

Little did I know that the most amazing of all monsters of the sea was soon to be unleashed upon us all.

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Sam Raimi’s Stooges: Celebrating The Director’s Earliest Films

This piece was originally published June 1st, 2009

Shemp IconEverything in life always comes back to The Three Stooges…

We all know how much Sam Raimi loves a good, old fashioned, ancient and horrible curse. The type that has been unleashed by some unsuspecting chump.

Nothing like a good curse plot to wrap a film around. Curses seem to bring out some of the best in Raimi’s work, from his early first feature, Within The Woods, through all of the Evil Dead masterpieces, to his newest film Drag Me To Hell.

The other major influence on Raimi’s work has always been the ultra violent Columbia comedy shorts of The Three Stooges: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, and who can forget that most underrated of all Stooges, Shemp Howard.

The release of a new Sam Raimi directed film is usually a cause for celebration.

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MONKS: THE TRANSATLANTIC FEEDBACK—Not Your Everyday Monk Rockers

This piece was originally published April 27th, 2009

Half Blue Girl IconHow could 5 American GI’s, stationed on a military base in the middle of 1961’s Cold War immersed Germany, in a few years become one of the most out there, avant garde, experimental garage rock and roll art bands to ever come along in pop music’s history?

Well, it doesn’t hurt if you have an electric banjo, are called MONKS and dress like…Monks.

For over ten years, Directors Dietmar Post and Lucia Palacios have been working to bring the little known tale of one of the wildest, most strikingly different bands of the sixties to the screen. This unlikely story is a superbly engaging film called Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback.

For those uninitiated to the Monks’ story, music or visual image, this film tells a thoroughly head scratching tale: they were a group of GI’s who originally set out to primarily have some fun and meet some girls through making beat music and covering Chuck Berry tunes under the name The Torquays in 1964 while performing for their fellow servicemen also stationed in Germany. They soon hooked up with “a pair of loopy existentialist visionaries,” namely two German art student/producers who helped use their own experimental ideas about art, noise, society, politics and generally how to create an in your face image—best seen to be believed—to shape the band into an altogether different kind of pop act.

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