Episode 58: Podferatu Ded Talk- Cannibalism

Episode 58: Podferatu Ded Talk- Cannibalism Podferatu

In which Jorge and JT tackle a non-movie discussion in their first Ded Talk. Today’s entree: cannibalism.

Albert Fish
Armin Meiwes
Bernd Brandes
Ed Gein
Fore People
The Hills Have Eyes
Issei Sagawa
Long Pig
Sawney Bean
Survival Cannibalism
Sweeney Todd
Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Sci-Fi Horror

Skull logo by Erik Leach
@erikleach_art (Instagram)
Netherworld Shanty, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons:
By Attribution 3.0 License

Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes (2022)

Generally, I try to avoid reviewing on movies that have been covered recently by other bloggers I read. But in the case of Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes, I just had to echo some of Film Miasma’s sentiments. Cuz ugh.

Just. Ugh.

To be fair, I normally take some perverse, impish delight in awful movies. Self-aware awfulness along the lines of Manos: The Hands Of Fate or Sharknado is always welcome here in Castle Blogferatu.

However, the less self-aware a movie is in its awfulness, the better. Y’know, movies like I Eat Your Skin or Mesa Of Lost Women or, I dunno, I’m Thinking Of Ending Things.

Just. Ugh.

And that, true believers, brings us to Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes. First off, do not trust the synopsis on Tubi: “After inheriting a run-down castle, a dispirited woman and her ill-tempered husband decide to spend the night as time and reality shift around them.”

No. That isn’t even close to what happens. Would ’twere. That might have developed into something at least marginally interesting. Not new or anything, but interesting.

Reelgood’s is more accurate: “A couple spend eternity in a castle until their reality starts to shift, as the unknown moves into their lives.”

Okay, it should be “spends eternity.” Moving on. And they don’t since eternity is, y’know, eternal. Moving on. And if you’re spending eternity in a castle, your reality started shifting long ago. Moving on.

Turns out that Eva (Anna Platen) and Gregor (Jeff Wilbusch) are, in fact, spirits trapped in this castle (i.e. big damn house). It’s quickly established that Eva has the artistic eye and is the brains of the outfit. That doesn’t say as much as one might think.

I don’t want to delve any further into the trainwreck intricacies of the plot in deference to those of you what ain’t seen it yet. I will say that the two main male characters are insufferable pricks. Of the two main female characters, Lilith (Luisa Taraz) is, well she’s fine. Ersatz final girl Anna Platen is more or less the strongest feature in the whole shebang. That doesn’t say as much as one might think.

Oh, and there’s a big ol’ party complete with a big ol’ acid trip. I’m not sure what Kopacka was going for here, but I’m confident he didn’t hit the mark. Mainly it comes off as a tedious attempt at a bad Gaspar Noé impersonation. All of this comes to a head, of sorts, with a predictable plot twist that may or may not be a plot twist complete with an ambiguous resolution.

Me, I’m all for ambiguity, but letting your plot fizzle out like a damp sparkler isn’t the same thing. The end of, say, The Swimmer (which I loathe, but still), that’s ambiguity. The ending of Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes (which sounds like a line from Romantic like Byron, but I can’t find it as a quote anywhere), that’s just indecision.

Here’s a couple of quotes which, taken together, reflect how all-over-the-place this movie is:

Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes may not have as much to say as you might hope, but what it does it recites with an enthralling elegance” (Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle). No, it didn’t have as much to say as I hoped, nor anything else for that matter. And I missed the “enthralling elengance.” Whittaker also throws around names like Rollin and Bava, but I’m just not tracing the lineage.

“Cult status beckons for Euro horror homage” (Phuong Le, The Guradian). No. It doesn’t. Le goes on, like Whittaker, to tout the 70s Euro horrorness of Dawn. Again, I’m just not seeing it, certainly not in the same vein as, say, Berberian Sound Studio. Le also tosses in “giallo,” and wowzers is this not anywhere close (well, except for maybe the title with it’s Let’s Scare Jessica To Death font).

I will draw one connection 70s connection, but it’s American and closer to folk horror, and that’s George Barry’s 1977 Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. If Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes has any thread back to the 70s, it’s the spirits trapped in the dwelling place of each movie, and the spirits’ occasional interactions with and observation about their haunts. That’s it, and it’s a reach.

And so, we here in the Castle have to side with Film Miasma on this one.




Episode 57: Possession Movies

Episode 57: Possession Movies Podferatu

In which Jorge and JT are compelled by the power to ponder the properties of some preferred possession pieces.

Allison’s Birthday
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Monster House
Prince Of Darkness
The Shrine
Taking Of Deborah Logan

Podferatu Ded Talk: Cannibals

The Films Of John Carpenter, John Kenneth Muir (regarding Prince Of Darkness and AIDS) https://linktr.ee/podferatu
Skull logo by Erik Leach
@erikleach_art (Instagram)
 Netherworld Shanty, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons:
By Attribution 3.0 License

Sun Choke

sunYeah yeah, I usually post a picture of Frank Zappa someplace today. But here in Castle Blogferatu, I thought I’d dig out an old post about one of the weirdest quasi-mother-daughter relationships I’ve ever encountered: Barbara Crampton and Sarah Hagan in Sun Choke.

Confessions first. Really thought I had this one figured out about fifteen minutes in, and it was with good reason my cinematic hubris was aroused. Sun Choke displays many of the hallmarks of the finest films in the Grande Dame Guignol tradition.

1)  Older (not necessarily elderly) and/or more physically and/or mentally able woman left to care for younger and/or less physically and/or mentally able woman

Check. Irma (horror staple Barbara Crampton) is the therapist and caretaker for Janie (Freaks And Geeks’s Sarah Hagan). Irma is every bit at nurturing as Nurse Ratched, at times flat out torturing Janie. We also see evidence that she has been abusing Janie most of her life.

2) More capable woman tries to make and/or keep the less capable woman insane and/or incapacitated and, therefore, dependent

Check. Irma constantly infantilizes Janie, often referring to her as “little girl,” and has her on some truly bizarro psychological and nutritional regimens. Me personally, seeing Irma hand Janie a smoothie also takes me directly to Rosemary’s Baby. I’m sure that’s no accident.

3) Mysterious backstory

Check. Like the dark pasts in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane, Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte, or Strait-Jacket, we don’t know exactly what Janie’s condition is or what caused it. The difference here is that we never find out. In this case that actually works well.

4) Power struggle in which the victim makes several attempts to assert her independence

Check. Janie takes increasing liberties with the scant freedom she is given, but these meet with dire repercussions.

5) At least one murder

Giant red check, but also where Sun Choke takes a hard left. I was fully prepared to end this review with praise tempered by disappointment: praise over the treatment of these classic Grande Dame Guignol themes, disappointment that no new ground was broken in terms of plot.

I am so happy to admit that I was so wrong.

Without getting too specific, what I expected to happen is exactly what happened, but it was far sooner than I expected. From there, the plot goes into a psychological tailspin. In order to avoid any spoilers, I’ll just stop.

As Janie, Hagan is disconcerting. She has this little girl voice that masks her cunning, violence, and lack of remorse. At the same time, she’s fascinating. We can’t help being on her side, especially after the events of the first fifty minutes of the film.

As for Barbara Crampton, what can I say? I’m a huge fan, from Re-Animator and Chopping Mall to We Are Still Here and Beyond The Gates, I’ve been watching her in horror movies for a good long time and will happily watch any movie she’s in.

As for Sun Choke, she is delightfully evil, perhaps a less aggressively volatile version of Annie Wilkes. There’s nary a scene with Irma in which she appears to harbor anything but resentment and malice for Janie.

This becomes clear only a scant half hour into the film when Irma says, “When your mother died, I made a promise to your father. That promise means I’m going to spend the rest of my life worrying about you and caring for you whether either one of us likes it or not.”


5 Skulls

Episode 56: Happy Death Day/Freaky Double Feature!

Episode 56: Happy Death Day/Freaky Friday Double Feature! Podferatu

In which Jorge and JT mix it up with a couple Blumhouse/Christopher Landon horror comedies.

Possession Movies

Skull logo by Erik Leach
@erikleach_art (Instagram)
 Netherworld Shanty, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons:
By Attribution 3.0 License

Made For TV Horror Movies

So Episode 55 was going to be Our Favorite Made For TV Horror Movies. But early that week, I got a text from Jorge saying he was having some trouble coming up with a list of 5 because he hadn’t seen most of the movies that came up when he did a search for them.

That’s pretty understandable, and no opprobrium whatsoever should be attached to it. For one thing, Jorge is a good 13 years younger than I am and hasn’t wasted nearly as much had as much time on this earth to squander devote to watching as many horror movies as I have.

But fear not, true believers. I’m still going to regale you with a few highlights from my list. Here we go.

Dark Night Of The Scarecrow

We discussed this movie extensively in Episode 21 as a double feature with Dark Night Of The Scarecrow 2: Straweyes. the sequel had just come out, so we decided to sit down, watch it, and then discuss it on the spot (interested parties can click below to listen).

Let me begin by expressing how very much I was looking forward to this. I couldn’t wait to buy the DVD (because Long Live Physical Media!) and get Jorge a copy as well.

What can I say? I’m a giver.

Well, it was bad, and if your misguided sense of curiosity compels you to find out how bad, check out the aforementioned episode of Podferatu. The original, however, retains a special place in the cold, dark pit where my heart should be.

First of all, Charles Durning. No matter what he shows up in, at least everything I’ve ever seen, he brings an air of sleaze to whatever character he’s playing.

Second, Larry Drake (L.A. Law, Darkman, Dr. Giggles) is Bubba, the victim of Charles Durning’s Otis and friends. If you haven’t checked this one out, treat yourself. Some good ol’ fashioned revenge creepiness with supernatural undertones. Surprisingly effective for made-for-TV fare.

Episode 21: Dark Night Of The Scarecrow Double Feature! Podferatu

The Dark Secret Of Harvest Home

This was a 1979 NBC miniseries with a noteworthy cast, not the least of which was Bette Davis. But we also had a very young Rosanna Arquette, René Auberjonois, Norman Lloyd, Joanna Miles, Michael O’Keefe, and a pre-Growing Pains Tracey Gold. Oh and you might recognize a mighty strappin’ John Calvin from his later appearance in Critters 3.

Okay yeah you might not.

First things first. This is relatively track-down-able on DVD. There’s also a $75 VHS on Amazon. I’d recommend the DVD myself as the only streaming version I could find was on The YouTubes, and its quality is less than ideal. Totally watchable, but could be loads better.

That said, at 3 hours 48 minutes, be ready for a slow burn. Things take a bit to start movin’ along, but once they do, the tension and creep factor both continue to pile up layer upon layer. Highly effective for a TV miniseries.

Trilogy Of Terror

Is this the best movie ever made? No. Best horror anthology? Again, no. Best made-for-TV horror movie? Not even that. But one of my very most favorites? Forever and always. It’s a perennial go-to, nay, an all-time classic, nay, a major deity in my pantheon of horror movie gods.

It’s got a lot going for it as made-for-TV flicks go. Let’s see. Karen Black before she became the matriarch of the Firefly clan. Not enough? Okay, directed by Dan “Dark Shadows/Night Stalker” Curtis. Still not satisfied? Put that checkbook away; there’s more. How about all based on stories written by Richard Matheson? Yes please.

This one runs quite the gamut: evil twins, psychosis, predatory women, all played by Karen Black. The highlight, of course, is “Amelia” and that ultracreepazoidonal Zuni fetish doll.

Add to this the fact that I saw this very ad in the trusty ol’ TV Guide as a wee lad back in 1975. Freaked me right the hell out. That thing unnerves me to this day. Cuz dolls.

Always. Creepy.

It’s a rule.

Episode 55: Television Terrors

Episode 55: Television Terrors Podferatu

In which Jorge and JT tune in for some recent and cuh-lassic horror TV shows.

What I Watched In April

4/1 Exam (2009)

This is one of those “How far would you go to obtain/achieve X” stories, in this case, kinda like Office Space meets Cube meets The Belko Group, but largely without the killer traps and homicidal violence. Eight candidates, one job, a blank test paper, and 80 minutes to answer one question (after figuring out what said question is). Full marks for Reservoir Dogs reference.
3 Skulls

4/2 Capsules (2023)

2 students help an elderly man up from the sidewalk and notice a bottle of pills he dropped. Observing the state the man is in, one of the lads decides to keep the bottle since what’s in it must be some heavy shit. They meet up with their other 2 study partners and decide to all try what’s in the bottle. As one does with an unidentified substance one finds in the street. Things go shockingly badly predictably sideways in a hurry. Michael Talbot-Haynes over at Film Threat says Capsules “features performances that will hit your nervous system like a strychnine buzzsaw” and gave it 7.5 out of 10. I don’t.
2 Skulls

4/4 Reversal Of Fortune (1990)

I can’t believe I let this movie go for this long. I loved every minute of it and its tour de force performances by Glenn Close, Ron Silver, and the can’t-not-watch-him Jeremy Irons. And dude got away with it. Damn.
4.5 Skulls

4/5 A Classic Horror Story (2021)

I checked this out at the behest of my podcast partner in crime, Jorge, and good lord & butter, it’s a weird one. Elisa joins a rideshare with 3 other passengers in an RV driven by Fabrizio. All does not go as planned, and there are some very cool folk horror undertones with a few Texas Chainsaw vibes here and there. I don’t wanna go into too much detail because this has serious hidden gem potential. If you’re not familiar, check it out.
3.5 Skulls

4/23 One-armed Boxer (1972)

Ah yes, the glorious house of Golden Harvest, another post for another time. See, contrary to what might seem intuitively obvious to some folks, I don’t watch horror exclusively. Among my other go-to genres are Noir (often an extremely close second to horror), Documentaries, quirky Mysteries (dig me some Elmore Leonard), Westerns (the more spaghetti, the better), and Martial Arts flicks. One-armed Boxer does what it says on the tin. Rival schools, one of which is involved in criminal activity, face off. The losing school recruits a bunch of ringers to seek revenge. This includes killing the master and tearing an arm of the lead student. In the “That didn’t age well department,” there is some racial unfortunateness as well. And I saw a horrifically dubbed version which. I generally don’t like dubs, but in the case of Hong Kong cinema, often makes things more entertaining for me.
4 Skulls

4/24 Hellhole (2022)

If you’re not following Kainan Becker on Ghost Pirate Entertainment, you’re likely missing out on some primo recommendations. I love this guy, and every episode I watch always gives me a few things to add to the ol’ watchlist. Hellhole was no exception. It’s a Polish horror movie set in a Polish monastery where tormented victims awaiting exorcism are housed. Not a buncha folks talking about this movie, and it’s got some nasty little surprises. Again, I don’t wanna give anything away, but it’s well worth a look.
3.5 Skulls

4/26 Old People (2022)

I don’t recall how I came across this one, and as with other movies on this list, I’m not hearing much about it. I was wary going in that, this movie, as so often happens, was going to demonize aging and/or the aged. It kind of still does, but not in the manner I expected. In the process, the movie raises some sympathy for their plight as well as the younger generations they visit their violent rage upon. It’s a squirmy one to watch, but you won’t regret it.
4 Skulls

4/27 The Spore (2021)

Gimme a story where a fungus of some kind runs amok. I’m talkin’ classic William Hope Hodgson stuff like “The Voice In The Night” which became the basis for Matango. Naturally I was very much looking forward to The Spore. I was let down. I mean, it could have been worse, and for me, the first half of the movie is demonstrably better than the second half. There’s one creature in particular in the third act that took me directly out of the story. The credits make mention of George, Wes, and Tobe, and the alert viewer will pick up on many of those references. I’m guessing that’s why I didn’t like that third act critter. Too much of the Wes Craven kinda stuff that I don’t like versus the stuff I do. Overall, I suppose it’s fun enough.
2 Skulls

4/29 Fantastic Fungi (2019)

Speaking of fungi, did you know that under each step you take, you’re walking across about 300 miles of mycelium? And that was just a little throwaway factoid from this documentary. If you haven’t checked this out, do it now. This. Was. Fascinating. And a little disturbing. I already knew that there is an alarming amount about fungi that remains unknown, but wowzers. It’s a mind blowing doc, and not just because they talk about psilocybin. The dark side of this is it makes stuff like “The Voice In The Night” oh so much more believable.
4 Skulls

A Word About Episode 54 And Sleepaway Camp

So one of the movies that didn’t make varsity for Episode 54 was my beloved Sleepaway Camp. It pained me, truly, not to include this movie because I do still genuinely love it. That said, if you’re wasting your time reading this blog, well on one hand, kisses/hugs. On the other, you’re probably aware of Angela’s Big Reveal.

No, that’s not a dick joke. It coulda been. But it’s not.

Almost everyone even remotely associated with the horror community knows by now. It’s wwwaaayyy over the top as well as straight up life-scarring. Ultimately, though, it’s also transphobic as all get-out.

For those unfamiliar, here’s what led to this state of affairs. See, Peter, Angela, and their father were involved in a boating accident that killed Peter and Dad.

Except it didn’t actually kill Peter. It killed his sister, Angela.

Peter ends up in the custody of Aunt Martha, one of those quirky  “crazy aunties” we see so often in horror. Martha quickly realizes that there’s already a boy in the house, her own son Ricky. This of course begs the question, “Who married and had sex with this woman?

Right. Well, Martha figgers that it makes perfect sense to raise Peter as a girl, specifically as Angela, his dead sister. Like ya do.

Okay. As part of my secret identity as a mild-mannered English professor, I teach both Introduction To Literature as well as Mythology. In both of those courses, we spend a bit of time with Greek tragedy. If you know anything about Freud, you know that Uncle Siggy thought Greek tragedy was pretty fucked up, and more than a little.

In that sense, Sleepaway Camp’s family dynamics are in good company. Through the lens of the present, however, this whole thing becomes a fucking mine field in terms of simultaneously demonizing alternate sexualities as well as mental illness.

I did hear one podcast, either Frigay The 13th or Gaylords Of Darkness, suggest that Sleepaway Camp can be looked at as pro-gay. So there’s that. Still, yeah, doesn’t make the cut, as it were.