Demon Wind (1990)

Directed by Charles Philip Moore [Other horror films: Dance with Death (1992)]

As far as effort goes, I think Demon Wind has got a lot to show, and there’s a decent amount to enjoy in the film. It started out decently strong, but problematically, it runs on longer than it really needs to, and I really think that if this had been trimmed a bit, it’d pop up as a forgotten cult classic more often.

Definitely the quality of the film is good, and the production level is surprisingly high. There were some fun special effects and creative ideas thrown in here (such as the fog that teleports people, or the ruins of the house that sort of lead to a pocket dimension wherein the house is still standing), and the story, while it does get a bit tired, is certainly different, at times reminding me of both The Evil Dead and Demons.

Few of the faces here were recognizable, but there were plenty of decent performances, such as those given by Eric Larson, Jack Forcinito (Silent Night, Zombie Night), Stephen Quadros, Mark David Fritsche, Francine Lapensée (Hollywood’s New Blood), and Bobby Johnston (also Hollywood’s New Blood). Perhaps none of them were amazing, but Larson was a pretty good lead, especially for an actor who hasn’t done that much.

The special effects did seem pretty top-notch. The multiple demons all looked solid, and had pretty good designs, especially that Boss at the end, hoofed feet and all. There were also some interesting kills, the one that stands out the most being a girl who is turned into a doll, and then said doll explodes. That’s something you don’t see in every movie.

You can tell this was filmed in the late 80’s – it just feels like something you’d see from that time period (such as Night of the Demons, which this also brought to my mind). There’s a bit of humor here, some fun scenes (a guy does a roundhouse kick that decapitates a demon), and just a good sense of what they were trying to accomplish.

Here’s my issue: I think the movie runs way too long. The film is around an hour and 40 minutes, and if they were able to trim some portions from the beginning (there was a decent amount of set-up here, and it took about 45 minutes to really get into things), or perhaps their conflicts with the demons, which widely felt repetitive, I think it could have been smoother. After a while, as decent as the film was, it just got to be too much, and I was legit tired come the finale.

Otherwise, it’s a unique movie that I’ve wanted to see for a long time. I found it mostly an okay experience, but because of the runtime, I can’t imagine Demon Wind is a movie I’d want to go back to all that often, no matter how fun portions of the film were. It’s definitely a movie I think some people would enjoy, though.


Hideaway (1995)

Directed by Brett Leonard [Other horror films: The Dead Pit (1989), The Lawnmower Man (1992), Man-Thing (2005), Feed (2005)]

It’s possible that this movie is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I don’t think Hideaway is a good movie, but I do find it occasionally decent, if only because of Jeff Goldblum’s presence. That said, it’s not a 90’s movie that I see attracting too many people for a plethora of reasons.

Based on a novel by Dean Koontz (though he was apparently quite displeased with the final product, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t that close to the source material), the story here is okay. It has sort of an Eye-vibe, what with Goldblum’s character sharing a telepathic connection with a serial killer. It’s nothing fancy, but given that we do have Jeff Goldblum, that does make it moderately more tolerable.

Which is even more useful when you consider that this movie is around an hour and 45 minutes. Had the central performance come from someone less engaging than Goldblum, I really don’t know if I’d have the will-power to get through this, but just because of him starring, that does add a lot.

Personally, I know Goldblum most from Jurassic Park, a movie I’ve loved since I was a child (and one of the few movies I actually own on Blu-ray), but he’s also known, by the horror community, for films such as The Fly, Mister Frost, and the television film The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. His performance here is pretty solid, and was actually one of the reasons I first went out of my way to see this movie.

As an antagonist, Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn, May, Dead & Breakfast, and Population 436) was pretty solid despite this being a moderately early role for him. He didn’t have that much in terms of agency, but he was suitably sinister. Alfred Molina (Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2) was nice to see, Alicia Silverstone (Batman & Robin, regretfully) had her moments, and though I don’t know her, Christine Lahti was okay.

One thing that’s particularly damning about this film, and this is something that I’ve forgotten since the first time I saw this, was some truly God-awful CGI. While this is mostly restrained to the first 15 minutes and the final ten minutes (not counting the post-credits scene), it was really laughable just how bad the special effects looked. It carried with it an almost hokey charm, but then it lasted longer than it should have. In fact, it reminded me a bit of Ghost in the Machine, another 90’s movie that’s a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, only I tend to enjoy that one a bit more.

I can’t think of a ton of reasons to really watch Hideaway. Sure, if you’re one who wishes to consume a large portion of Goldblum’s output, it’s worth a watch, and perhaps if you groove on subpar psychic-link horror movies, it’s right up your alley, but it’s just not a spectacular movie. I don’t think it’s abysmal, though – it’s watchable, and though maybe a bit longer than it needs to be, still reasonably suitable for a movie night. It’s just not that good.


Castle Freak (1995)

Directed by Stuart Gordon [Other horror films: Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), Dolls (1986), Daughter of Darkness (1990), The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), Dagon (2001), Bunker of Blood: Chapter 5: Psycho Sideshow: Demon Freaks (2018)]

Castle Freak is a movie that I’ve long heard about from friends in the horror community, but didn’t see until October 2017. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and seeing it for the second time, I’m pretty certain this would be in my top 20 horror films from the 1990’s.

Possessing quite a dark atmosphere, complete with tackling topics such as alcoholism, child abuse, the loss of a child, and extreme guilt, Castle Freak isn’t one of those fun and light-hearted horror flicks from the 1980’s. There might be a lighter scene or two, but unlike some of Stuart Gordon’s past films, such as Re-Animator, this has an almost singularly serious aura, and at times feels downright tragic, almost depressingly so.

Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton (both of whom starred in Re-Animator and also From Beyond) were great here, Combs really giving a fantastically dramatic performance. Crampton’s character did bother me at times, but then again, we’re talking about characters who were in quite a difficult position, so I can’t fault them for that. Though she hasn’t done much else, Jessica Dollarhide really pulls everything together as the blind daughter of Combs’ and Cramptons’ characters. She shines beautifully toward the end, and the performances here just work.

But of course, most things here work. The film isn’t too grisly as far as the gore goes, but we do get some disturbing scenes, from a woman beating her son with a whip to sexual assault (including mutitilation, as a woman gets her nipples bitten off). None of this is played lightly – like I said, Castle Freak is a dark and dismal film, which I think works very well in it’s credit.

Also, it’s worth mentioning is that while the film does have a low-fi feel to it (it almost looks like an 80’s movie at times, despite being filmed 1994), the castle looked quite impressive, and the setting in a small Italian village was quite nice (and reminded me a bit of a personal favorite Mario Bava film of mine, being Baron Blood). It was a lower-budget film, to be sure, but never once did that negatively impact anything here.

Castle Freak’s title almost does a disservice to the movie, and may even be why I avoided it for so long. Just by the title, it seemed like a goofy film. There’s nothing goofy about the movie, though; Castle Freak has a quality dark atmosphere with a decent amount of tragedy and suspenseful sequences, and if you’ve not yet seen this one, from one horror fan to another, I’d recommend you do so.


Mahakaal (1994)

Directed by Shyam Ramsay [Other horror films: Andhera (1975), Darwaza (1978), Aur Kaun? (1979), Saboot (1980), Guest House (1980), Dahshat (1981), Sannata (1981), Hotel (1981), Purana Mandir (1984), 3D Saamri (1985), Tahkhana (1986), Om (1986), Veerana (1988), Purani Haveli (1989), Bandh Darwaza (1990), Dhund: The Fog (2003), Ghutan (2007), Bachao – Inside Bhoot Hai… (2010), Neighbours (2014), Gentayangan (2018)] & Tulsi Ramsay [Other horror films: Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche (1972), Andhera (1975), Darwaza (1978), Aur Kaun? (1979), Saboot (1980), Guest House (1980), Dahshat (1981), Sannata (1981), Hotel (1981), Purana Mandir (1984), 3D Saamri (1985), Tahkhana (1986), Om (1986), Veerana (1988), Purani Haveli (1989), Bandh Darwaza (1990)]

For the longest time, I’ve found this film quite the interesting find. It’s not great – at two hours and 13 minutes, there’s little doubt that Mahakaal is overlong. Still, this is an Indian movie I’ve long held appreciation for, and definitely recommend checking out, despite it sometimes being a trying watch.

The reason for this is that it’s an Indian rip-off of A Nightmare on Elm Street. A few elements are changed and added, but for the most part, this follows the first A Nightmare on Elm Street to the dot. Elements of the second (some mild possession in the latter portion of the film), third (digging up the corpse of Indian Freddy, named Shakaal), and fourth (fight with an invisible Shakaal, along with a waterbed sequence) movies exist also, which gives more flavor, but like I said, most of the film is following the events of the first movie.

Also, and this may well be unintentional, during the scene in which Anite (this movie’s Nancy) follows Seema (Tina) in a bodybag, when she finally catches up with Seema, Seema begins laughing exactly like the possessed bodies did in The Evil Dead. It’s that high-pitched giggling, and it definitely gave me some flashbacks. I wouldn’t be surprised if, along with the music and plot of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the directors borrowed from the Evil Dead also.

The original content that they sometimes throw in can be pretty powerful, though. My favorite sequence might be the claw gloves popping out of the floor at the hotel in the first half, and out of a wall in the last twenty minutes. It’s cheap, sure, but it’s such a creepy effect. Related, that aquarium sequence was nice, as so few horror films have aquariums (the only one that comes to mind right now was Night School), and though that scene wasn’t long, I still enjoyed it.

Not all the alterations were great, of course – primarily, Shakaal (who, as I said, replaces Freddy) looks pretty shoddy at times. Also, he lacks personality. Unlike Freddy, who couldn’t shut up past the second movie, Shakaal is entirely mute, though he does chuckle quite often. He can certainly be creepy, and Mahabir Bhullar (credited as Mahaveer Bhullar) did fine with what he had, but Englund brought much more life to the character.

Archana Puran Singh is no Heather Langenkamp, but that’s okay. Singh does just fine, as do most cast-members, from Karan Shah (this movie’s Glen) and Kunika Sadanand (this movie’s Tina) to Kulbhushan Kharbanda (this movie’s John Saxon). I think the biggest problem comes from the comedy relief performance of Johnny Lever, whose character spent most of the time dressed as Michael Jackson, and dancing like him. Also, Dinesh Kaushik (who had no equivalent in A Nightmare on Elm Street) felt pretty pointless at times, and I think the movie would have gone over just as well without his character there.

Though certainly a cheap movie, I will give them props for having some pretty creepy filming locations. Early on, when dealing with Shakaal’s nightmares, these people find themselves in what looks to be an old factory, with chains hanging freely down. The location where Shakaal’s body was buried was also creepy (and we only saw it at day-time – I can’t imagine what it’d look like at night), and again, the aquarium was a nice addition also.

Origin-wise, I did like how here, Shakaal was a dark sorcerer of sorts who kidnapped children for sacrifices in order to gain more power. Adds a quality mystical element to it, and that flashback in which he throws a kid into a pit (which looks like it led to a burning fire) was, as the kids say, neato. It doesn’t quite have the same punch of Freddy’s origin, but it’s an okay facsimile.

One last note, being an Indian movie, there are musical portions. If I recall, there’s only three songs here, and problematically, none of them are really that good (or relevant, for that matter). The second one, involving a picnic, might be the most catchy, but I’ve seen a few Indian movies here and there, and I have to say that the musical bits in Mahakaal are definitely underwhelming. At the very least, just be happy that Shakaal didn’t have his own song.

Mahakaal isn’t a great movie, and I don’t love it, and more so, I don’t have a problem saying that the movie is below average. Even so, if you’re a fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street (and really, how couldn’t you be?), I’d suggest giving this a watch just to see what the same story might look like in a very different culture. It’s not a movie that’s like to amaze you, but at the very least, much like it did me, I do think it could interest people.


Body Melt (1993)

Directed by Philip Brophy [Other horror films: Salt, Saliva, Sperm and Sweat (1988)]

Body Melt is a film that I have a bit of a history with, and by “history,” I mean that I have some odd sense of nostalgia for it, despite not having seen it until I was in my late teens. What is more important, though, is despite that, this Australian movie isn’t one I particularly enjoy or really care that much for whatsoever, despite the potential the plot holds.

Let’s take a trip back to my childhood, though, for a brief moment. For a time, my family lived in a medium-sized house in Northwestern Indiana, and when I was maybe nine or ten, I found an old typewriter in the basement. It still worked, and I remember just copying lists of horror movies from the internet (why, I don’t remember, but it entertained me then, so whateves). Some of these movies, though I’d never seen them, just stuck with me – movies like Jack Frost and Uncle Sam, for instance.

And another one was Body Melt.

When I finally saw this one, I have to admit I was disappointed. Partially this is due to how I hyped this up in my own mind, but another has to be the fact that I hadn’t had many experiences with Australian horror movies, and as anyone who’s seen more than a handful of horror films from that country can attest to, they’re not always normal.

In Body Melt’s case, the movie is an odd horror/science-fiction/comedy mix. It’s not easy for me to tell how intentional some of the comedy was, but suffice it to say that the over-the-top feel this movie sometimes had totally turns me away. A good case-in-point would be the sequences at the gas station with some inbred country folk, sequences which I wholly disliked and just found very hard to get through.

The thing is, the special effects are pretty solid throughout, and there are some really disgusting special effects here. They’re often not pleasant to witness (with a title like Body Melt, though, you should probably know what you’re getting into), but they are done well.

Another thing I have to give immense credit to is the plot, which, while I don’t like the final execution, I enjoy the story well enough. The medical conspiracy elements were interesting, some of the background on why the experiments went wrong decent (such as the gas station guy’s relation to the experiments), and that final tracking shot showing the distributed vitamins, while not surprising, was a fantastic way to end the film.

There’s not really much in the way of great performances here. I think the best would probably be the two police detectives, played by Gerard Kennedy and (?) Andrew Daddo, along with Ian Smith as a doctor involved with the medical testing. None of these three were amazing, but they form an okay backbone of the movie. Regina Gaigalas was suitably sinister, but I just don’t know if we got enough background on her character for her to really make an impact.

Ultimately, Body Melt is a movie that I like the concept of much more than I like the final product. There are some interesting and engaging ideas in the movie that I could get behind, but the way they made this just feels too off-the-wall, and I just don’t find watching this that pleasurable of an experience, underserved nostalgic value or not.


Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996)

Directed by S.S. Wilson [Other horror films: Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004)]

The first Tremors is a fantastic movie that I watched a lot growing up, and the same can be said here. While not quite as good as the first movie, Aftershocks still has a nice blend of humor and horror, and that, combined with Michael Gross, makes for a quality experience.

Kevin Bacon’s absence makes sense, but for what he was, Chris Gartin was a good replacement, and though he didn’t really have the same chemistry with Fred Ward as Bacon did, I think he did admirably. Ward himself was nice to see as a returning face, and he did work well with Helen Shaver (who herself was somewhat weak in comparison to Finn Carter’s character, but she had her moments).

Really, though, it’s Michael Gross who really makes the movie.

Burt has so many great scenes and lines that it’s hard to imagine what this movie would have been like if they couldn’t get him back. Bacon, I think they could afford to lose, but Gross? Forget it. With fantastic dialogue (“I am completely out of ammo,” “You know, as I lie here, I can’t help but notice…,” “I was denied critical, need-to-know, information,” and of course, “It’s gonna be BIG!”) and just an overall fun character, Gross is fantastic here, and really adds a lot to the movie.

Otherwise, while the movie does feel noticeably cheaper than the first film (losing two of the biggest cast names, Bacon and Reba McEntire, and being made as a straight-to-video film can do that), it still possesses a decent amount of fun moments, along with a clever way to invigorate the story.

Having the Graboids produce Shriekers was a clever idea, as it keeps things fresh and allows them to play with new ideas. I’m sure that, had the Graboids remained Graboids, they probably could have made a perfectly fine movie, but instead, like the underground monstrosities, they evolved, and I really appreciate that about this series (the third movie also has a quality evolution).

Special effects are pretty decent here. There’s not much in the way of gore, of course, but there are plenty of Shriekers getting shot or blown up (or in cases of running into Burt, both), and when others run into the carcass of a dead Graboid, it was disgustingly well done.

It’s also pretty well-paced. The film runs an hour and forty minutes, but it never feels like it’s dragging, and there’s a pretty good mixture between the suspenseful sequences and the humor. The finale was pretty fun (from Burt’s powerful gun ruining their escape plans to using a fire extinguisher to hide from the heat-seeking Shriekers), and that final explosion (as Burt said, “it’s gonna be BIG!”) was on point.

Tremors II: Aftershocks may be a step down from the first movie, but people should feel no shame in enjoying this. It’s a pretty well-made movie for the restrictive budget they had to go on, and I really think it holds up well, and given how many times I saw this as a kid, I can truthfully say that this provided a fun time back then, and still does today.


Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990)

Directed by Ron Oliver [Other horror films: Thralls (2005), Black Rain (2009), Mostly Ghostly: One Night in Doom House (2016)] & Peter R. Simpson [Other horror films: N/A]

Following the second movie’s Mary Lou Maloney, Prom Night III: The Last Kiss was an adequate sequel. It was nowhere near as enjoyable as the second film, and in fact, I think it ultimately feels the weakest of the first three Prom Night’s, but if you’re into more comedy-influenced horror, and in the right mood, this might be an okay viewing.

It’s not like Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II didn’t have comedy, but this film is a lot more in-your-face about it, almost to a silly extent (and as soon as something straddles the ‘silly’ line, I’m outtie). There are certainly some rather amusing lines (two which come to mind, both happening in the same scene, are “I don’t want a fucking pie!” and “Alex, it wasn’t a person, it was a guidance counselor”), but sometimes it goes a bit far, especially in regards to some of the kills and those 50’s jingles in the background.

Where I think this movie fails the most is the final twenty minutes, though, which takes place in a Hell-like dimension. I mean, it makes sense as far as the story goes, but I have to say that I didn’t much care for it, especially making some of the victims of Mary Lou more monster than human (such as David Stratton’s character, who was a pretty decent guy overall). The final scene itself was okay, but a lot of the finale didn’t work for me.

Tim Conlon made for a fine lead, if not perhaps sometimes unspectacular. He was pretty well-suited for the style of comedy the movie had, though, so I’d give him props for that. Cynthia Preston (who didn’t get angry, just baked) was solid as Conlon’s girlfriend, and is probably one of the more recognizable faces in the film (as she was also in The Brain and Pin).

Replacing Lisa Schrage as Mary Lou, Courtney Taylor did good, or at least played her part well, given the corny nature of most of her dialogue. Lesley Kelly was funny in her few scenes, and lastly, while not note-worthy in almost any way, Robert Collins appeared somewhere here, and he played the beast Lord High Executioner in the classic Goosebumps two-parter A Night in Terror Tower. Loved that character (and hence, actor) ever since I was knee high to a tadpole, so wanted to give a shout-out.

It’s here I should mention that one of the directors, Ron Oliver, also directed quite a few episodes of Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, The Nightmare Room, and other such kid-oriented entries to horror, which I thought tied in nice with Robert Collins’ appearance. Amusingly, though, while Oliver directed Goosebumps’ episodes such as ‘Werewolf Skin’ and ‘How to Kill a Monster,’ he didn’t directed ‘A Night in Terror Tower.’

Problematically, given the more comedic nature of the film, none of the kills are particularly good. Actually, I think one of the best scenes in the more gory department would be when a character early on accidentally cuts his finger off. Elsewise, you have a guy stabbed with ice cream cones or a woman doused in battery acid. These aren’t terrible, mind, but they don’t really stand out.

Otherwise, though the movie isn’t good, I think most of Prom Night III is largely inoffensive. If you dug the style and vibe of the second movie, it’s probable that, to a certain extent, you’ll enjoy this one also. I didn’t particularly like this movie much, even with some of the choicer pieces of dialogue, but it was an okay watch. I don’t think it’s much more than that, though.


Storm of the Century (1999)

Directed by Craig R. Baxley [Other horror films: Dark Angel (1990), A Family Torn Apart (1993), Rose Red (2002), The Glow (2002), The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (2003)]

This mini-series, written by Stephen King (and mercifully not based on a novel) is perhaps, aside from his book It, one of the finest things he’s ever done, and it stands as my all-time favorite mini-series, and in fact, one of my favorite pieces of television that I’ve ever witnessed.

I can’t say when I first saw this – I doubt it was when it originally aired over three nights, but I do know I was pretty young, and given I would have been around six years old when this came out (I was born 1993), it’s not out of the question I saw pieces of this when my parents watched it. What I do know is that I did see a lot of this when I was quite young, and that only enhances my pleasure of it now.

With a mini-series like this, it’s hard to know where to start. Storm of the Century possesses three episodes and totals 4 hours and 17 minutes. Out of these four hours and 17 minutes, there’s only one thing I don’t care much for. Otherwise, this is outright perfection in a way that no mini-series has ever come close to matching.

There’s virtually nothing I don’t like about this – the story is fantastic. The setting is fantastic. The performances – almost every single one (and this is a big cast) – fantastic. The moral quandary the characters find themselves in, the mystery, the suspense, the music (oh, the music), the opening and closing narratives, the imagery, the atmosphere, the emotional gut-punches – all fantastic.

A mysterious man comes onto an island off the coast of Maine right before a storm (the titular storm of the century) hits hard, and this man, one André Linoge (Colm Feore), kills a woman and starts off a chain of events I daren’t reveal, because if this is a mini-series you haven’t seen yet, it would be a disservice to dig too deep into the story.

What I can say is that the story is fantastic (and given that I’ve already said such, that may be self-apparent), the mystery behind what Linoge wants (for, as he repeats, if he’s given what he wants, he’ll go away) is fantastic, and the atmosphere, which is already great due to the storm and isolated island setting, is quality dread.

I’ve never seen an island setting put to such great use. The whole theme of how island folk look after their own, and more so, known how to keep a secret, is embedded in the viewers from the beginning, and it only solidifies the longer each episode goes on. It’s a great look at island life (or what I imagine island life is like, given I’ve never set foot on an island in my life), and I love it.

There are a lot of great performances here, central among them Colm Feore and Tim Daly. I could watch Colm Feore walk through a crowd of people and pontificate on their dirty deeds all day, and his performance here is just masterful. Same with Daly – his utterly straight-laced attitude works well given he’s the town constable, and more so, he works great as a moral center and the central character, especially toward the somewhat depressing conclusion. Daly was also in both Spellbinder and The Skeptic.

Who else stands out? Well, who doesn’t? There’s Jeffrey DeMunn (The Blob, The Mist, The Green Mile) as the town manager that few people like. There’s Becky Ann Baker (Freaks and Geeks) with her quality accent, and Torri Higginson with an even better one. I absolutely adore Julianne Nicholson as Kat (“She’s your wife, Mike. How would I know where she’s hot?”), and though she got only two scenes of note, Myra Carter as the elderly Cora stole each of them.

An affable counterpart to Daly was Casey Siemaszko as Hatch, and playing Daly’s wife was Debrah Farentino, who did great despite the maddening choices she made toward the end (but really, it’s pretty hard to blame these people given the dire circumstances they were in). Ron Perkins was great as Peter, same with Steve Rankin as Jack. Denis Forest popped up here and then, and he was always a nice face to see (and his secret was one of the most tragic).

Who couldn’t feel bad for Nada Despotovich as she discusses leaving DeMunn’s Robbie or Adam LeFevre running and screaming in fear after finding a dear friend dead. Kathleen Chalfant was great (especially with her back-and-forth with Myra Carter’s irascible character) and most of the child actors and actresses were acceptable.

Once we figure out exactly what Linoge is after, the characters are thrown into quite a fun moral quandary (and of course, I mean fun for us, the audience, and not fun for them), made all-the-better by the fact that while I fully, 100% agreed with Daly’s vote more, given what the townspeople had been to up to that point, I don’t think it’s out of the question for the vast majority to take the opposite choice (and some try to play both sides, such as Daly’s wife).

They never really needed that many special effects aside from the constant storm raging on. The silver wolf cane did look a little janky at times, but I thought the sequence with the kids in flight looked reasonably decent, and even a better example, the dream in which the townspeople walked off a pier into the ocean really came across well.

I mentioned there’s one thing I didn’t care for, though, and now seems a good time to point it out. Every now and again, Linoge growls at the camera, baring vampire-like teeth. He doesn’t do this to anybody in the mini-series – just us, the audience. Now, something like that happens in the final scene of the mini-series, witnessed by an actual character, which was fine, but otherwise, this technique just struck me as somewhat out of place. I get it, they need to cut to commercial, but they can do that without a toothy growl.

Aside from that, though, like I said – perfection.

And speaking of perfection, that score. This video is a little piece of the score. Throughout the mini-series, it really packs a punch, and there’s plenty of atmosphere and emotion resonating from just the score alone, which is impressive, and, on a personal note, it’s not that common that a score is as consistently moving as this one is.

Storm of the Century may seem like quite an undertaking, given it’s over four hours long, but it’s a journey well-worth it, and if you’re one that’s skeptical of King-related mini-series, I can’t say I blame you, but I’d ask you at least give this one a chance, as this most definitely stands out as a solid work.

Born in sin? Come on it, as my pappy always said.


Bordello of Blood (1996)

Directed by Gilbert Adler [Other horror films: N/A]

For a long time, despite quite enjoying Demon Knight, I had a pretty bad feeling about Bordello of Blood. It just looked too goofy and generally didn’t interest me. After finally seeing it, I have to say that I was largely right, but the movie isn’t without a few strong points.

Chief among those strong points is Dennis Miller as private detective Rafe Guttman. Guttman is such a fun character, with so many amusing lines pretty much every time he’s on screen (“You’re reminding me why being married to you drove me to the brink of homosexuality” and the ever-classy “Sorry, Zeke – I’m just not in the mood for a blowjob,”) and I just dug his personality from beginning to end.

Miller was a lot of fun here, which is definitely good, because otherwise, I don’t think the film had a hell of a lot going for it. I mean, the whole vampire-ran brothel idea was done somewhat better in From Dusk Till Dawn, and while the special effects here are decent (save for some hideous mishaps during the “Ballroom Blitz” sequence), most of the story and many of the characters, save Miller’s, didn’t do much of anything for me.

I guess that Erika Eleniak was decent (though I will further say that I didn’t love the conclusion to this movie, and in relation, her character’s story), and Chris Sarandon (Fright Night and Child’s Play) grew on me over time (though his religious nonsense was hard to swallow). The other central performances, though, such as Angie Everhart, Corey Feldman (Gremlins, The Lost Boys), and Aubrey Morris failed to leave me with much in the way of a positive impression.

I think, though, the biggest issue in regards to my failed interest was the story, which was quite light-hearted and pretty ridiculous at times. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind that much when Miller was on screen, but I didn’t much care for the tone at any other point, especially the framing of this movie, what with the Crypt Keeper presenting this as a story while playing a card game with a mummy. I mean, you can expect something campy and corny – look at the end of Demon Knight – but this just felt like too much.

Which is ultimately my problem with the film. It’s just too goofy, which sort of hinders the better portions of the film from fully taking control. And again, I find this quite sad, as I really did enjoy Dennis Miller here, and I feel like this could have been executed better, but as it stands, while watchable if only due to Miller, this wasn’t what I’d call a particularly good time, and it’s not a movie I could see myself going back to that often.


The Stand (1994)

Directed by Mick Garris [Other horror films: Critters 2 (1988), Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990), Sleepwalkers (1992), The Nightmare Begins Again (1993), Quicksilver Highway (1997), The Shining (1997), Riding the Bullet (2004), Desperation (2006), Bag of Bones (2011), Nightmare Cinema (2018, segments ‘The Projectionist’ & ‘Dead’)]

This rather lengthy mini-series (four episodes, clocking in at a total of just over six hours) based on Stephen King’s longest novel is definitely something that you need to invest in, but I find it generally an awarding experience.

It’s also a mini-series that I’ve seen quite often as a child. While this didn’t leave near as much an impression as 1990’s It (also, of course, based on a Stephen King novel), I saw this plenty of times as a kid, and I remember my father requesting this one when we rented the VHS (which came with four tapes, of course) from Blockbuster, so it certainly holds good memories.

That said, until this recent rewatch, it’s been at least ten years since I’ve seen it, so I was curious as to whether it would hold up. What made the question more interesting was that this would be the first time since I’ve seen the mini-series since finally reading the novel, and I was also curious as to how close this adaptation was.

And you know what? For a television production (which is pretty noticeable at times, especially in regards to the special effects), not only does it follow the novel decently well (and certainly better than many, if not most, other King adaptations), it’s also pretty solid, and while I wouldn’t call it great, The Stand is a pretty good time.

Just now, I took a deep breath, and that’s because we need to talk about actors and actresses. And believe it or not, given the mini-series is about six hours long, there’s a lot of them. And what makes it even better, most of the central performances were damn good.

Let’s start with Gary Sinise (who I really don’t know outside of this mini-series, though he did have a long-running role on CSI: NY), who played Stu fantastically. He really felt like that generic all-American man, and Sinise pulled off the role as well as anyone could hope to. With a little more of a complex character, Adam Storke did well as Larry, and by the end, you likely couldn’t help but hope for the best.

Ray Walston (Galaxy of Terror) was one of the top-tier performances as Glen Bateman, though his somewhat more critical look at society (as a sociologist, who could blame him?) from the novel was toned down. Peter Van Norden as Ralph was good too, though like the novel, we’re not given too much insight into his character.

Others that definitely need to be mentioned include Molly Ringwald (Office Killer) as Frannie, who wasn’t great but wasn’t quite as bad as some others make her out to be, Ossie Davis (Bubba Ho-Tep) as the Judge was very solid, and one of the best smaller characters. There’s also Miguel Ferrer (The Night Flier) as Lloyd, who took a little to get there, but ended up a fine character. Corin Nemac as Harold also took time to grow, but his decently complex character turned out decent, I thought.

As the Trashcan Man, Matt Frewer was a sight to behold, especially toward the end with the special effects they had. Being mentally unstable, Frewer didn’t have that much to go on, but again, I definitely thought he did the character justice. Truth be told, Kellie Overby as Dayna is memorable for just a single sequence (her getting caught and brought to Flagg), but she was so badass that I had to at least mention her. Shawnee Smith’s (The Blob, Saw) character was memorably crazy, so there’s that.

Finally, let’s talk some of the most memorable performances.

Rob Lowe (The West Wing and 2004’s Salem’s Lot) did amazingly as Nick, a deaf-mute. Fantastic character and performance, Lowe really made Nick someone worth remembering. Jamey Sheridan as Randall Flagg was a sight to behold, fantastically hammy and always fun. Laura San Giacomo (Pretty Woman) as Nadine was an interesting performance, and I thought she definitely strutted her stuff come the finale of her character.

A lot also has to be said about Bill Fagerbakke’s Tom Cullen. Until this day (3/09/2021 should history ever be concerned), I had no idea that the guy who played Tom was the same guy who voiced Patrick on Spongebob Squarepants, and while I never watched a lot of Spongebob, as a 90’s kid who consumed both that cartoon and this movie, I feel it should have clicked before. Here, he has an amazingly solid performance, and as corny as some of his lines are (“M-O-O-N, that spells deaf and dumb”), he’s definitely a character with feeling.

The best performance overall has got to be, though, Ruby Dee as Mother Abagail. She’s quotable (“mayhap she is, mayhap she ain’t) and wholesome in every way. Now, as an atheist, I can do without her religious mumbo-jumbo (and it’s worse in the book), but even so, she’s just great in pretty much every scene she’s in.

Given that very little was changed, and almost none of it was dreadfully important, it’s hard to criticize this adaptation for leaving things out. Sure, I think the way Flagg was more interacting with some of the characters before his time (such as trolling Lloyd on the telephone pole) was a bit off, but like I said, it doesn’t really negatively impact the story, so I didn’t mind that much (though I do think the overly-dramatic scene about Mother Abagial’s departure – entirely unlike the novel’s approach – was somewhat laughable).

What is probably the biggest hurdle for modern-day audiences are the special effects, which become noticeably aged in the last two episodes (those face shifts of Randall Flagg a good case in point), and as even a fan of the mini-series, those instances of iffy effects do hurt, but I don’t think it’s an overly damning quality.

A few other things that can definitely be appreciated include the mini-series’ approach to horror and the soundtrack. Toward the end of the first episode, there’s a dream sequence in a cornfield with a quality scare. What made that really stand out to me was that there was no rising music to indicate tension – there was just a guy walking through a cornfield, and BOOM, his shoulder is grabbed by a demonic figure. It’s that low-key style that really stuck out to me.

The soundtrack too is good. Sure, it’s nice hearing “Eve of Destruction” and of course, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult made for a fantastically memorable opening, but the rest of the score too really brings back memories, such as the music when Mother Abagail is walking away from the Free Zone. The music isn’t as good as, say, Storm of the Century’s score, but then again, little could be.

For being a television production, and definitely feeling tame in some aspects, I was pretty impressed revisiting this mini-series after reading the book, as they really did keep quite a bit of it as it was in the novel. The performances were pretty great overall (even if you consider Ringwald a weak spot, you have Ferrer, Fagerbakke, and Dee to make up for that), and while it’s not a short watch, I do find the experience worth it (corny Hand of God thing at the end notwithstanding).