Titicut Follies (1967)

Titicut Follies (1967)

The year is 1967, and the place is Bridgewater State Hospital For The Criminally Insane in Massachusetts. The documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, with his camera man John Marshall, was allowed to spend 29 days in the institution to film and witness the daily routines with its inmates and workers, filmed in black and white that sets an eerie tone from the first frame. The documentary starts with a light-hearted welcome, with a song number performed by the hospital’s talent show called Titicut Follies, but I guess it didn’t take long before the filmmakers were eternally grateful that they could leave this concrete hell hole at any time and never set their feet there again.

 

The documentary is completely free of narration, and the experience is like witnessing an absurd and sometimes very disturbing fever dream where the images speak for themselves. But this is far from a dream. It’s raw, unfiltered, claustrophobic and not far from a fly-on-the-wall feeling. We see a group of inmates who are constantly being ordered to take off their clothes in one of the gathering rooms. They also have only a small bucket to piss in, and possibly also shit and vomit in, which they have to take with them through a long corridor to empty. Several are stripped of all their clothes and have to stay butt naked in completely empty cells, while the guards humiliate and bully them like they were animals. We get a scene with an older guy named Jim, who makes the strongest impression. He’s in a psychotic episode. He’s probably sick and tired of walking around naked, so who can blame him. It also looks like he has blood around his mouth, judging from that blurry picture quality. Regardless, the guards think it’s funny. And this is just a glimpse of a completely rotten and corrupt industry that has not been much improved over the years, where fair treatment is as difficult to get as winning the lottery. And I think that what we see here is just the tip of the iceberg, and God knows what was going on when the cameras weren’t rolling.

 

Wiseman ended up with 80,000 feet of film, which I guess is several hundreds of hours of footage, and he spent a whole year to edit it down to an 84-minute film. Showing this to the public would not be easy when the bureaucrats (or bureau’rats, if you will) in the government of Massachusetts tried to ban the film for being screened at the New York Film Festival, claiming that it would violate the “privacy and dignity” of the inmates. As if their privacy and dignity wasn’t violated long ago already. It wasn’t until 1991 that the film was officially released to the public, since most of the inmates had passed away and  privacy concerns wasn’t longer an big issue. Little did they  imagine that even fifty years later, the film still feels fresh and manages to provoke as it’s unfortunately still relevant. The DVD is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. And on YouTube.

 

Titicul Follies

 

Director: Frederick Wiseman
Country & year: USA, 1967
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0062374/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEEPHOLE – Short Horror Movie

A man wakes up to his TV-screen that’s showing some bizarre puppet-show with whimsical vintage music playing in the background. Then someone knocks at the door…

 

Peephole is a short horror movie that’s kinda weird and creepy. The ending is a bit cliché, but still a good watch!

 

THE CLAPPER - Horror Short

 

Director: Jaron Henrie-McCrea
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Tim Lueke
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt7932066/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ouija Shark (2020)

Ouija Shark (2020)

So, it’s time to check out one of the newest, fresh releases of shitty shark films that have been spewed out like a never-ending diarrhea during the last two decades. This joke of a film is “directed” by Brett Kelly (who goes under the pseudonym Scott Patrick), who’s made a laundry list of no-budget films since 2001, such as Jurassic Shark, Raiders of the Lost Shark, Attack of the Giant Leeches, Avenging Force: The Scarab, Kingdom of the Vampire, Agent Beetle, and so on. Ouija Shark has no relation to Ghost Shark or Shark Exorcist, for those who would even give a shit.

 

The “plot” can be summed up in one short sentence: A young woman comes across a Ouija board at the local beach, which her and her friends are using to summon a… man-eating ghost shark.

 

Do I really need to say more? I mean, seriously, just take a look at the damn trailer, that speaks for itself. It’s exactly what you think it is. To even call this a “film” is one of the biggest understatements of the year, having a running time of about one hour and ten minutes, with zero budget, talent or script. It looks more like a compilation of gag reels stitched randomly together. Pure cringe from start to finish.

 

The shark itself is pretty funny, though, which is just a layer that wobbles around on the screen, while the actors really struggle to seem at least a little bit terrified as they are being chased in the woods in broad daylight. The shark also roars like a lion, which is actually a thing that goes way back to Shark Attack 2 from 2000. I also like the sound effect when the shark is supposed to eat its victims, which sounds like someone taking two bites of an apple in a videogame to increase the health bar. And you can forget about any blood and gore, the victims just disappear into thin air. The lack of effort is quite astonishing, this is a whole another level of not even trying.

 

One of the cheesiest moments of the film include some scenes featuring a non-convincing fortune teller with a flashing plastic ball, probably bought on the Halloween section at Walmart for under one dollar, while the rest of the budget must have been spent on the fake poster which doesn’t represent the movie in any single way. However, if you know exactly what kind of film this is before pressing the play button, you may at least be in for some good laughs! Because, with the right mindset, low-budget indie horror like this can be an entertaining way to waste a bit of your time.

 

Ouija Shark

 

Director: Brett Kelly
Country & year: Canada, 2020
Actors: Leslie Cserepy, Leslie Cserepy, Kylie Gough, Robin Hodge, Staci Marie Lattery, Kyle Martellacci, John Migliore
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt11650674/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CLAPPER – Horror Short

A woman installs clappers in her home when suddenly the clappers have a mind of their own. Is it the echo, or someone else in the apartment?

 

The Clapper is a simple but good horror short that knows how to build the tension!

 

THE CLAPPER - Horror Short

 

Director: Neil Stevens
Country & year: USA, 2017
Actors: Aubree Bowen, Lindsay Garvey, Erich Kemp, Neil Stevens
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt6711598/

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House by the Cemetery (1981)

We’re in New England where Dr. Norman, Lucy and their son Bob moves to a big old victorian house, which by a coincidence lies right by a cemetery. How cozy. One of the former residents was a surgeon in the Victorian era, who did some really shady experiments in the house’s basement. And on top of that, his last name was Freudstein. Nothing bad could ever happen here, right?

 

Bob starts seeing visions of a mysterious girl with a doll, who says it was a stupid idea to come here, which has to be one of the first The Shining references. His parents do not believe in him (of course they don’t) and his mother is already struggling with her emotional problems while she refuses to take any medicine. After they have entered the house and started unpacking, the babysitter, Ann, comes in, straight from nowhere. A young lady with a menacing stare, ready to trigger Lucio Fulci’s eye fetish to its full maximum. And as soon the door to the basement is open, so is the can of worms.

 

House by the Cemetery is Fulci’s last part of the “Gates of Hell” trilogy, where he mixes zombies with the supernatural. This has a more of a cohesive narrative compared to The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, but is really slow at times with scenes that just seem to drag on forever. We get a long scene with a bat that could have been cut down to ten seconds, where it cuts straight to a guy who starts the scene with a yawn. Talk about timing. The kid who plays Bob has one of the most ridiculously out of place dubbing ever, that unfortunately ruins every scene he’s in, which just adds far more chuckles and eye-rolling than tension. It’s not the actors fault, but the movie would gain a lot just to remove the dub with a better one.

 

It’s not my favorite Fulci film, but far from the worst, and it has some great qualities. The soundtrack is good, in which the intro tunes give some serious Castlevania vibes. The technical aspects are pretty solid, with its thick, moody and sometimes gothic atmosphere, just as the predecessors. And several messy gory scenes, filled with maggots, of course.

 

The House by the Cemetery

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: Quella villa accanto al cimitero
Country & year: Italy, 1981
Actors: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, Dagmar Lassander, Dagmar Lassander, Daniela Doria, Giampaolo Saccarola, Carlo De Mejo, Kenneth A. Olsen, Elmer Johnsson, Ranieri Ferrara
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0082966/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER SIDE OF THE BOX – Horror Short

Late one night, a couple receives a mysterious package from an old friend. Opening it up, the box reveals nothing but a black hole. But soon, that changes..

 

Other Side of the Box is a pretty good horror short that delivers tension and an unsettling atmosphere.

 

OTHER SIDE OF THE BOX - Horror Short

 

Director: Caleb J. Phillips
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Nick Tag, Teagan Rose, Josh Schell, Tyler Pochop
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt8164750/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Side of the Box – Horror Short Film from Caleb Phillips on Vimeo.

 

Pieces (1982)

Pieces (1982)Boston, 1942. The movie doesn’t waste any time and gets straight to the first body count, where a young boy is in his room minding his own business while pinning a pornographic jigsaw puzzle. In comes his strict and unhinged mother, who gives him a few slaps before she throws away that filthy thing. He then picks up an axe, which he happens to be allowed to have in his room for some reason, and chops his mother to death, before he saws off her head while he smiles, and then hides in a closet. When the cops come in, they just assume that the boy was lucky and managed to hide from the unknown killer. Little did they know..

 

Then we jump 40 years later, still in Boston, where the kid we just saw in the opening have grown up to be a serial killer (No, really? Who would’ve guessed). He hunts down young female students at a college, dressed as a classic giallo-style killer with a black coat, gloves and a big hat that hides his face behind its shadows. And speaking of shadows, the look of the killer is actually inspired by the comic book character The Shadow. He has also developed an obsession with pornographic jigsaw puzzles and is fixating to make his own, personal masterpiece(s) with real body parts. The first victim gets her head chopped off under the blue sky as she lies on the lawn outside the campus, studying. The chunky gardener, played by Paul “Bluto” Smith, is the first to be suspected, of course. The killings are being further investigated by Lt. Bracken (Christopher George) who also has a suspicious eye on the socially stunned anatomy teacher Arthur Brown (Jack Taylor), who looks like a reduced Vincent Price with a bad flu.

 

The tagline for Pieces says “You don’t have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre“. It’s probably the best and fitting tagline I’ve ever read for a film like this, and it isn’t an exaggeration either. Pieces is easily one of the goriest slashers from the 1980’s with all the mandatory recipes of Blood, Tits and Gore. The effects really stand out, especially the girl who gets sawed to pieces in the toilet, and some visual highlights like the woman who gets butchered on the water bed. And as bad, wooden and stiff the acting is, which is also the funniest part of the movie, they sure were dedicated enough to deal with gallons of animal blood, fresh from the local slaughterhouse, while organs from dead animals were used as the more gorier effects. Must have smelled just like pure movie magic. There is some really bizarre dialogues here, such as one of the female students saying right of the blue and makes it pretty clear that it’s the middle of the mating season: “the most beautiful thing in the world is to smoke pot and fuck in a waterbed at the same time”. I want a T-shirt with that quote. There’s also a complete random cameo of a Bruce Lee imitator that doesn’t make any sense. But nevertheless, Pieces is a lot of bloody, brainless fun with solid entertainment value that definitely belongs in every gore-hound’s film collection.

 

Pieces

 

Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Original title: Mil gritos tiene la noche
Country & year: Spain | USA | Puerto Rico, 1982
Actors: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Braña, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul L. Smith, Jack Taylor, Gérard Tichy, May Heatherly, Hilda Fuchs, Roxana Nieto, Cristina Cottrelli, Leticia Marfil, Silvia Gambino, Carmen Aguado
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0082748/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POST MORTEM MARY – Horror Short

Mary and her mother run a post-mortem photography business in 1840’s Australia. They arrive at a small farmhouse to find devastated parents grieving over the death of their daughter. As they get to work, Mary’s mother is required to comfort the grieving parent, leaving Mary alone to confront her phobia. She must do all she can to make the dead look alive…

 

Looking up “post portem photography” in Google’s image search can be both fascinating, sad and unsettling. In this creepy horror short, called “Post Mortem Mary“, you get a closer look at the practice of a young girl and her mother who are making a living by taking photos of the recently deceased…

 

POST MORTEM MARY - Horror Short

 

Director: Joshua Long
Country & year: Australia, 2017
Actors: Stella Charrington. Melanie Zanetti, Kathryn Marquet, Edie Vann, David Breen
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt7633674/

 

 

 

 

 

 

SANDMAN – Horror Short

When Sandy awakes from a strange dream she suddenly realises she’s awoken into a very real nightmare.

 

Sandman is a creepy and effective little horror short!

 

SANDMAN - Horror Short

 

Director: Liam Banks
Country & year: UK, 2016
Actors: Matthew Barker, Esmee Matthews
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt6799182/

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLACK ICE – Short Horror Film

A British expedition to Antarctica goes terribly wrong. Carter and Williams must seek shelter in the hull of a ship where dark things are about to happen.

 

Black Ice is a chilling horror short (no pun intended) where two guys on an expedition to Antarctica must seek shelter in the hull of an old ship. When they notice the place has been decorated with wooden crosses, and there’s a dead body inside as well, they realize something bad must have happened there. Still, they have nowhere else to go and must spend the night in that place…

 

BLACK ICE - Short Horror Film

 

Director: Christopher Goodman
Country & year: UK, 2019
Actors: Abe Buckoke, Joe Warner
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt10081446/