The Dim Light Behind the Crack in the Door



I haven’t written in a while. That much is obvious and true. The bright light in the room where I write has been turned off for several weeks now, the laptop collecting dust behind the closed door.

When I began this site back in March of 2013, I did so with high hopes, energy, eagerness. I wanted to share my vision, my love of all things horror, with the world. At the site’s inception, I set for myself two goals in the first year: 1) get the site up and running and 2) make it a minimal success.

Alas, though the first part took a while, I felt as if I succeeded with that primary goal, especially in the latter half 2014 when, during the month of October, I took a look at 31 horror films I’d never before seen and reviewed them. In addition, I faithfully reviewed The Walking Dead each week as well as other series (The Strain, Penny Dreadful) and a few books.

Any type of even modest success remained elusive throughout the past two years, however, with the site never getting more than 146 views a day (and that was far and away the highest number ever with views somewhere around 30 or 40 on a good day). Most of those views were (and still are) from spam sites which left idiotic comments that have been deleted.

When The Walking Dead went on hiatus, so did I. The lack of anything horror related on TV accompanied by family issues which demanded quite a bit of my time conspired to permit me to take a nice long look at what I hoped to gain from the site going forward.

Admittedly, for a long while, I drew a blank.

It took some time, but I gradually realized that, overall, I don’t really gain much enjoyment writing reviews of ongoing series. Sure, I like The Walking Dead (particularly the past two seasons), but to analyze it and pick it apart on a weekly basis mitigates a huge amount of that enjoyment. On the flip side, shows like The Strain and Penny Dreadful were mediocre to downright awful much of the time and don’t really warrant regular close examination (and, to be honest, I couldn’t see myself watching another full season of either one).

As for the movie reviews? Well, I’ll continue to do them on a semi-regular basis when the mood strikes me. I have a nice backlog of films both on DVR and BluRay to provide me with more than enough material for quite a while so there will be some coming up within the next month or so.

The bottom line, however, is that this site is in no way making any money whatsoever so any time I devote to it is purely voluntary. And I’m kind of tired of volunteering for what might be a lost cause. So, at the end of February, this site, in its current incarnation, won’t exist. This Old Haunted House won’t be a stand alone website anymore as I’ll be exporting all of the material into blog form (same title, just with wordpress address). There’s absolutely no reason to shell out money for hosting a site when the site isn’t generating any revenue (or interest for that matter). However, everything else should remain the same and all those that currently subscribe will continue to receive updates via e-mail.

It’s possible I may even do a little more with the site in terms of original content, maybe tossing in a short story or two or perhaps beginning a longer narrative down the line to get feedback. Who knows?

No matter what, I’ll still be in a room writing in some manner, though (at least on this site) not as prolific as before. On occasion, I’ll provide glimpses of my work. And while the light won’t shine as brightly and the door won’t be completely shut, if you look closely, you’ll still be able to see some semblance of dim light coming from behind that crack in the door.

In the meantime, thank you for your past and, hopefully, continued support.

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Review: The Walking Dead – “Coda” S05,E08


I really wanted to write this last night. I tried, but the words wouldn’t come, at least not how I wanted them to. And, at this point, you’re probably thinking that it was because The Walking Dead killed off a major character and I was upset.

You’d be wrong, of course.

“Coda”, The Walking Dead‘s mid-season finale, was a pretty solid episode, delivering many of the elements that made season five the strongest thus far in the series. In the end, though, it fell flat for me, failing to elicit much emotion whatsoever.

Oh I know. I can hear people crying out now that I’m callous. How can I not be moved by the death of a character we’ve come to know over the last few years? I just wasn’t, mainly because the whole storyline beginning with my least favorite episode of the season, “Slabtown“, was just flat throughout, save for some terrific moments between Beth (Emily Kinney) and Noah (Tyler James Williams).

“Coda” begins well enough with a tense scene featuring Rick (Andrew Lincoln) running down Bob (Maximiliano Hernandez) as he tries to escape and make his way back to the hospital. It’s a well done scene because it displays how Rick has changed, preferring to use violence when necessary to help him and his group survive.

The scenes with Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) making his way back to the church are also executed well, even though I wanted to scream at him for being a complete idiot, endangering the lives of others in the process. The best thing to come out of that church sequence was that we got to see Michonne (Danai Gurira) slice and dice some walkers again as well as much of the group reconnect.


But I think everyone knew from the moment the group hatched a plan to rescue Beth that something would go awry. It was only a matter of time before the group experienced another casualty and a mid-season finale is the second best place to bump someone off (a finale being the most ideal). The only question was which character was going to be sacrificed?


If you’re reading this, you’re fully aware that Beth met her untimely demise at the hands of Dawn (Christine Woods), who reacted instinctively and shot Beth in the head when Beth stabbed her with the pair of scissors she’d tucked away in the cast on her arm. Honestly, when I saw Beth take those scissors, I knew her fate was sealed.

And yes, it is sad that Beth’s dead because Emily Kinney did some really fine work this season. It’s too bad she was saddled with that terrible story filled with stock characters and an overly familiar situation where everyone’s a monstrous human being.

Let’s be honest. The whole hospital storyline was pretty standard and, at the same time, manipulative. It was all designed to show how Beth’s worldview changed because humans that aren’t part of our main group are nothing more than bastards, doing whatever it takes to live. Most, if not all, of the characters in the hospital setting were one note, failing to connect with viewers on any level. That’s not the fault of the actors because I’ve seen Woods in shows like Hello Ladies and she’s talented. Here, it was almost painful to listen to the patented dialogue coming out of her, though she did the best she could with the role.

The writers obviously wanted us to sympathize with Dawn and others in the hospital to some degree but that effort was a resounding failure. There simply wasn’t enough time to establish that setting within the confines of eight episodes (fewer if you consider that “Slabtown” didn’t arrive until the fourth installment this year) and they never seemed more than caricatures, existing only as a plot device to lead to the episode’s final moments.


Both Beth and Emily Kinney deserved better. In fact, it would have been more interesting to explore the dynamic between Beth and Darryl (Norman Reedus) now that she’s changed from the time they’d spent together on the road. Even better, she could have been a loose cannon, spiraling even farther downward and allowing Kinney to push her acting abilities to the limit. It would have been fun to see her paired with either Darryl or Rick and show the contrast (with Darryl) or similarities (with Rick) of becoming more savage, a complete 180 from the innocent girl she used to be.

Instead, the writers took the easy way out, opting to  create a big moment while sacrificing what could have become a strong element to the series.

Where does The Walking Dead go from here? Who knows? Though I applaud The Walking Dead for the self-contained half season, many of the stories they introduced have come to an end with a whimper more than a bang (no pun intended for Beth’s final scene). The trip to DC ended leaving that group with nothing to do and the boring hospital narrative ended in too obvious a manner.


I really wanted to like “Coda”. Again, there were elements about it that maintained the overall strengths the series exhibited this season. But the writers have to learn to tell a compelling long narrative without making it lengthy. The Terminus storyline worked well because we were in and out. It gave the characters a purpose to propel the tale forward and had a satisfactory ending before wearing out its welcome. I’m hoping we see more of that in the future.

Anyway, the series will return in February. I’m not certain as to whether I’ll still be reviewing it on a weekly basis as I’m possibly moving on to other projects but time will tell. Have a great mid-season break everyone!

The Walking Dead – “Coda” grade: B-

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Review: The Walking Dead – “Crossed” S05,E07


“Crossed” isn’t the least effective season five episode of The Walking Dead (that honor still goes to “Slabtown“), but it’s kind of a letdown after last week’s amazing “Consumed“.

The problem with “Crossed” is that it lacks focus, trying too hard to catch us up with our fragmented band of heroes and, as a result, the episode feels too disjointed. There are four different stories going on, but the only one that really gives us any forward momentum features Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his small group executing their plan to rescue Beth (Emily Kinney) and Carol (Melissa McBride).


Rick wants to go in guns blazing, but Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) suggests they take a few officers as hostages so that they can peacefully resolve the situation and trade the lives of the officers for their friends. To Rick’s dismay, everyone agrees with Tyreese. Unfortunately, the best laid plans go awry and a shootout ensues. The group manages to get the upper hand and take three officers hostage, one of which agrees to help them negotiate with Dawn (Christine Woods). But, like most people in the post-apocalyptic world, he’s apparently not as trustworthy as he seems.


Meanwhile, back at the fire truck, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) is still kneeling and reeling after clocking Eugene (Josh McDermitt) in the face, trying to decide if he wants to keep on going. When he looks as if he’s about to lose it, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) puts things back in perspective when she introduces him to the barrel of her gun. Glenn (Steven Yeun), Tara (Alanna Masterson), and Rosita (Christian Serratos) forage for supplies and visit the local fishing hole for some food.

At the hospital, Beth tries to save Carol after Dawn agrees to terminate her life support. However, Dawn gives her an opportunity to save her friend by giving her the key to the drug cabinet and Beth injects some drugs into Carol’s IV. Can Dawn be trusted? Probably not but we’ll see next episode.

Finally, Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) barricade themselves in the church along with the baby and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), the latter of which uses his new machete to pry up floorboards in the office and sneak away underneath the building.


It’s not that any of the stories are bad. It’s just that the episode bounces from one to another rather abruptly for any to be truly effective. The whole DC trip has resolved itself so instead of focusing on that specific group chatting, it would have been wise to get them moving again, doing anything instead of hanging out on the road. I’m not really certain as to why that story was shoehorned into this hour, but it really doesn’t work in terms of the scope of the episode.

The events at the hospital were necessary and might have seemed a little more interesting had that not been broken up by taking us away to the other two stories. The Gabriel story might also have worked but maybe that would have been better applied to the beginning of the mid-season finale.

Anyway, I hope that future episodes that try to work on several stories at once are a little more successful because “Crossed” missed the mark. However, I see this episode as doing little more than putting the necessary pieces into place for something larger next week so a minor misstep can be forgiven.

The Walking Dead – “Crossed” grade: B-

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Review: The Walking Dead – “Consumed” S05,E06


“And at the prison I got to be who I always thought I should be, thought I should have been. And then she got burned away. Everything now just consumes you.”–Carol

“We ain’t ashes.”–Darryl

Who would have thought in its fifth season that The Walking Dead would arguably be the best show on television? At this point in most series’ runs, writers are more or less out of ideas, the fires of their imaginations fueled solely by embers. But with “Consumed”, The Walking Dead seems to be burning brighter than ever.

I use that analogy because “Consumed” was largely about fire and how it consumes and changes whatever it comes into contact with. It doesn’t have to be a literal fire (though flames are a recurring motif throughout); instead, in Carol’s (Melissa McBride) case, fire represents a cleansing of sorts, in ways both good and bad.

As she and Darryl (Norman Reedus) search for Beth, Carol reminisces about her life, first as a battered wife unwilling to change her lot in life in a more permanent manner, then as someone who struggled to adapt to ever changing situations. Every incarnation of her has been “burned away” thus far to the point where she isn’t even certain as to her identity any longer (another important theme in the fifth season which I’ll get back to later).


“Consumed”, like “Self-Help“, is peppered with brief flashbacks, this time centering on Carol. We see what happened to her after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) cast her out of the group, that she hadn’t gone far and was drawn back by the black smoke billowing up from the prison. That’s followed up with Carol burning the bodies of those she killed at the prison, Carol and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) burying the girls, and her approaching Terminus prior to freeing Rick and the rest of the group. All of these serve to illuminate how much Carol has changed since she was the timid wife of an abusive man, that she’s willing to do what needs to be done in order to survive.

The main plot of “Consumed” is a rather simple one: Carol and Darryl search for Beth (Emily Kinney), overcoming walkers, injuries, and assorted hurdles in their journey*. Their discussions revolve around how life in the post-apocalyptic world has irrevocably altered them and will continue to do so with every new threat they face while struggling to survive. Eventually, they are stalked by a mystery man that turns out to be Noah (Tyler James Williams), the man Beth aided in escaping the hospital back in “Slabtown“. He tells them about Beth shortly before Carol is struck by one of the hospital’s cars**.


*In a particularly well executed scene, Carol and Darryl are trapped inside a hospital van teetering over a bridge and besieged by walkers with only one way out. Though the crash stretched a little credibility (in that it most likely would have landed on its roof), the writers and director wisely chose to insert dark humor featuring walkers plopping down onto the roof one by one in a welcome moment of levity.

**Usually, running into a character who’s only appeared once on a series that ends up providing valuable information at an opportune moment would seem a little forced and hokey but since The Walking Dead has brilliantly crafted the episodes out of sequence yet following a strict timeline, it works beautifully.


The most intriguing aspect of both “Consumed” and season five in general is the search for identity both as an individual and in regard to how successfully one fits within the dynamic of “society” (or at least whatever version of it exists for these people). It’s very smart of showrunner Scott Gimple to introduce something like this thematically to rejuvenate the series because by allowing us to get to know the characters better (and even tying in to the history of the show), we’re now more invested as viewers. We’re coming to know the characters as people rather than stereotypes and that’s served the overall story well.

In an already strong season, “Consumed” might just have set the bar for the finest hour thus far, not only for the season, but also the series as a whole. Thanks to an Emmy worthy performance by Melissa McBride (and strong work from Reedus as well), a sparse, yet meaningful script by Matthew Negrete & Corey Reed and tight direction from Seith Mann, The Walking Dead has become nothing short of brilliant, engrossing television.

The Walking Dead – “Consumed” grade: A+

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Review: The Babadook (2014)


Amelia (Essie Davis) is tired. She’s tired of raising her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a precocious six year old with behavioral issues. She’s tired of working to make ends meet after abandoning her writing career. Most of all, Amelia’s tired of Samuel being a constant reminder of her husband who died in a horrific car accident while they were en route to the hospital six years earlier.

She struggles to admit it, but Samuel is a handful. Sure, he has interests like performing magic tricks, but he’s also preoccupied with creating weapons and booby traps to fight monsters. One night, after he insists she read a rather odd children’s book entitled Mister Babadook to him, he increases his efforts to protect both himself and his mother–the latter of whom is displaying signs of descending into madness.

The Babadook is a horror film that’s generated a lot of good word of mouth over the past year and one that I’ve been dying to see.

So why is it that it left me unfulfilled and unimpressed?

The Babadook is an extremely well made horror film. Director Jennifer Kent creates a world in which colors are washed out, rendering the lives of Amelia and Samuel colorless and joyless. There’s almost no hope and things only get worse with the arrival of the titular monster. In the vein of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Kent deftly utilizes Amelia’s inability to sleep to keep the audience off kilter, never knowing whether we’re in a fever dream or a stark, waking nightmare. Is the Babadook a true otherworldly creature or just the invention of an increasingly demented and beleaguered woman’s imagination?

More often than not, The Babadook will send chills up your spine. By using images of the creature on the barrage of ever changing television shows Amelia watches, we never know if she’s just going insane or if the monster is starting to possess her. And does the book really exist? She seems to think so even after attempting to destroy it and it comes back in a much more malevolent form.

The performances by both Davis and Wiseman are phenomenal and you truly believe that they’re at the point of no return, that nothing can possibly save them from the creature invading their already strained lives. Even prior to the introduction of the Babadook, you know that they have a long road ahead of them if they don’t completely break down mentally in the near future.

That said, there was just something that didn’t click with me in regard to The Babadook. I found the Samuel character to be grating (through no fault of Wiseman who expertly morphs from innocence to terror when called upon to do so) and the constant reminder that he has behavioral problems throughout the first half hour was a little too much. We only need to see it once or twice to get the idea. Once you start beating a dead horse by repeating the same information, it disconnects the viewer from the slow burn the film tries hard to create.

For the most part, I don’t need explanations regarding the origins of anything, but it would have been nice to touch upon where the Babadook came from. Why did the Mister Babadook book just appear one day and why to this specific family? And the final fate of the creature makes little sense considering the thin information we’ve been given about it. Sure it remains more or less a supernatural entity, but the inclusion of Amelia’s visit to the basement where the Babadook remains (for a reason I won’t spoil) in the final scenes remove some of the terror surrounding it and instead appear hokey.

I wish I would have enjoyed The Babadook more because it’s a pretty original premise (again, considering some scenes were inspired by elements from A Nightmare on Elm Street and even The Descent in the opening of the film) but, at least for me, the film fell flat with the execution. The pacing and some of the minor plot holes were too much of a distraction from the wonderful performances and aesthetic choices for me to rave about the film as others have.

The Babadook grade: C+

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Review: Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1 – Escape From Riverdale (2014)


Riverdale bad boy Reggie Mantle accidentally hits Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog, with his car, killing him. Distraught, Jughead seeks help in resurrecting him from Sabrina, who, against the wishes of her elders, casts a spell which brings Hot Dog back from the grave.

But he comes back wrong.

Hot Dog has a taste for flesh and the first one he bites is Jughead who eventually becomes a zombie and crashes a school dance looking for victims. One by one, local residents succumb to the zombie plague while Archie and several other characters (Veronica, Betty, Reggie, and a few others) barricade themselves inside the Lodge mansion and prepare to fend off the undead.

This is definitely not the Archie and the rest of the gang from Riverdale you might remember as a kid–and that’s not a bad thing! Comics have to change with the times and the Archie universe I fondly remember reading as a kid is now outdated, a remnant of a simpler time. In Afterlife with Archie, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla create an alternative universe filled with terror and suspense, devoid of the hijinks we’ve come to expect from Archie and his pals.

I didn’t expect to enjoy Afterlife with Archie because, let’s face it, the whole zombie genre has been done to death. However, thanks to Aguirre-Sacasa’s tight plotting and the dark pencils by Francavilla that perfectly complement the story, the trade paperback (which collects the first five issues of the ongoing series) is well worth your time and money. In fact, get it just for the heartbreaking scene featuring Archie’s dog, Vegas. If it doesn’t move you, nothing will.

I’m looking forward to catching up with the rest of the series, if not in the trades, then in the ongoing monthly series because this is one comic that shows a lot of promise if the creative team sticks with it.

Afterlife with Archie grade: A-

Afterlife with Archie (Kindle Edition)

By (author): Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

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Review: The Walking Dead – “Self-Help” S05,E05


“You’re not the person people think you are…and you don’t want them to know who you are.– Maggie

Faithful readers of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic knew exactly who Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) was–or at least claimed to be during the arc of the comic book that’s currently being reflected on the show.

As it turns out, he’s a complete fraud, nothing more than a mere human doing his best to survive by masquerading as a scientist and enlisting others to help him get to a destination that might be safer. When Eugene insists that he’s smarter than everyone else, you can take that at face value because he is (or at least was until his revelation). In the post apocalyptic landscape, you use what you have to in order to stay alive. In Eugene’s case, it was his wits as well as his ability to recognize that people need a reason to move forward.

One of those people is Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). In a smart juxtaposition, Abraham is the brawn to Eugene’s brain, willing to use muscle to complete the mission of getting Eugene safely to Washington, DC. Without admitting it, though, Abraham uses Eugene as much as Eugene used him.

Thanks to a series of brief flashbacks, it’s revealed that Abraham protected his family by beating to death those people that threatened his wife and two children. After waking one morning, Abraham finds a note telling him that they’ve left and that he shouldn’t attempt to follow them. Soon after, he finds their partially devoured corpses strewn across the lawn outside. Just as he’s about to kill himself, he comes across Eugene, begging to be saved from walkers and lying about a mission he has to complete.


“Self-Help” drops clues early on that Eugene is not what he appears to be. Shortly after the bus crashes, Eugene confides to Tara (Alanna Masterson) that he placed glass shards in the fuel line, intending to only stop the bus from getting very far instead of wrecking it. He felt that if he didn’t help save the world that he had no value. Again, he’s intelligent enough to understand the power dynamics of the new world order–if you can’t contribute, you’re nothing more than dead weight.

Later, in his discussion with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), she utters those lines above, even though she more or less chalks Eugene’s aloofness up to his intelligence and inability to use strength to survive rather than him having a terrible secret.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really impressed with the way showrunner Scott Gimple is moving things along quickly. I half expected Eugene’s sham to last at least through the end of the first half of this season (if not longer) but, as in the Terminus storyline, it came to an abrupt end with a pretty satisfactory resolution.

“Self-Help” was a marked improvement over last week’s “Slabtown” because it once again focused on the group struggle rather than just one individual. “Slabtown” failed mainly because it took us away from the characters which we’ve come to care about (I never thought I’d write those words and probably wouldn’t have during the first few seasons) and focused on one (Beth) that had been away for a while as well as a crop of new ones that won’t be around much longer (hopefully, anyway).


“Self-Help” was also instrumental in displaying that neither an abundance of bullheaded might (Abraham) nor arrogant intelligence (Eugene) is solely responsible for survival. Yes, these attributes are helpful but you have to temper them with other things like common sense and empathy. That’s why surrounding yourself with others who have different strengths and weaknesses is essential for protection not only against the undead, but also horrible humans.

While there were a few missteps in the episode (no one gets more than a few scratches in a huge bus crash, for example), “Self-Help” more than redeems itself through its solid storytelling and sharp visuals. And even though I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks, they worked to the episode’s advantage, never telling us more than we need to know but offering vital information just the same.

Thanks to a lively script filled with action and humor (which this show needs on occasion) by Heather Bellson & Seth Hoffman and tight direction from Ernest Dickerson, “Self-Help” is another strong episode in what’s shaping up to be a fantastic comeback season for The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead – “Self-Help” grade: A-

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Review: The Walking Dead – “Slabtown” S05,E04


Though we finally learned what happened to Beth (Emily Kinney), whatever momentum The Walking Dead had going for it through the first three episodes came to a grinding halt with “Slabtown”.

It turns out Beth was “rescued” by a group that’s taken over a major hospital in downtown Atlanta. Dawn (Christine Woods), a police officer, leads a small force that provides security in return for other favors. Some, like Noah (Tyler James Williams) take on custodial and other basic duties. Dr. Steven Edwards (Erik Jensen) is the only physician so he’s protected as long as he’s valuable. Beth is guilted into nursing tasks, though it’s alluded to that she may have to eventually perform other acts to keep the men happy.


Eventually, Beth realizes what psychos her protectors are. The ones in charge maintain force through regular punishments, something Dawn insists upon to keep everyone in line until they’re rescued. Beth lets her know that all her beliefs are wishful thinking, that no one is going to come for them. She plots an escape with Noah which ends up being partially successful. In the end, she realizes that even those who are kind (like the good doctor) do whatever they have to in order to survive. Just as she plans to kill him, she sees Carol (Melissa McBride) being brought in on a gurney, thwarting her idea to off the only medical professional they have.


It’s not that “Slabtown” was a terrible episode, but when an ensemble show decides to devote an entire hour to one character (and one that’s been missing for some time now), you expect it to be a little more exciting. Unfortunately, “Slabtown” has maybe a half hour’s worth of workable material that’s stretched out to a full episode.

The continual run-ins with Dawn and some of the other officers get repetitive after a while as if the writers needed to continually remind us that these are bad people who will stop at nothing to maintain the illusion of order. This theme has already been explored, most recently with the inhabitants of Terminus, so the hospital setting in “Slabtown” offers only a different location with a slight variation on the same idea.

To be honest, even with a few well done scenes, “Slabtown” was on the dull side. The Walking Dead doesn’t have to be wall to wall zombies to be a great show (as evident by the first three episodes of the season), but it does have to successfully create drama using the human characters and Sunday night’s episode just fell flat in that regard.

It looks as if we’ll have to wait a while to find out what happened to Carol. Judging by the previews for the next episode, it will focus on Abraham and his group as they make their way toward DC. I’m not certain if splitting up the group is going to work in the long run. Again, that’s another road we’ve been down already after the prison was destroyed. That worked out well and perhaps this will too.

But if “Slabtown” was indicative of where the rest of the season is going, this show’s going to have some issues.

The Walking Dead – “Slabtown” grade: C-

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My 31 Days of Halloween Retrospective


Each year, I always promised myself that I’d watch a horror movie a day and was never able to get around to it. (I’ve gotten to the age where my goals aren’t as lofty anymore, apparently.) Due to time constraints and other circumstances, the whole plan always fell apart and usually early on in the month (which was nice because then I didn’t have to watch everything go down the drain later on).

This year, I was finally able to complete my task. Not only was I able to watch one a day, but nearly all of them were films I had never seen before–the one lone exception was The Legend of Hell House, something I’d seen years ago, but had never viewed on Blu-Ray with additional special features.

Anyway, here’s the complete list of every film seen and reviewed (the grades I gave each are within the posting at the end of the review). They span nearly 100 years, from 1921 all the way up to 2014. Hopefully, there are a few that will catch your eye and that you’ll enjoy (or despise) as much as I did. Thanks to all of you who read and commented the past month. Who knows, maybe I’ll do it again next year.

Dead Snow (2009)

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

The Sacrament (2013)

The Stepford Wives (1975)

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)

White Zombie (1932)

Dementia 13 (1963)

Zombie Strippers (2008)

Tentacles (1977)

Screamtime (1984)

Hatchet For The Honeymoon (1970)

Happy Birthday To Me (1981)

Blue Sunshine (1978)

The Haunted Dollhouse (aka DevilDolls) (2012)

Stake Land (2010)

The Phantom Carriage (1921)

The Hearse (1980)

Death Bed- The Bed That Eats (1977)

World War Z (2013)

Doc of the Dead (2014)

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

Blacula (1972)

In The Mouth of Madness (1995)

The Psychopath (1966)

13 Sins (2014)

House of the Long Shadows (1983)

Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (1967)

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Scarecrows (1988)

Torture Garden (1967)


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Review: Torture Garden (1967)

Torture Garden


“It will show you nothing but what is in your own heart.”–Dr. Diabolo

When I randomly selected Torture Garden as the final film in my 31 Days of Halloween movie marathon, how could I have known that it would come from the same team that created a movie I saw a week ago today (The Psychopath)?

Director Freddie Francis (Tales From The Crypt), writer Robert Bloch (Psycho), and producer Milton Subotsky (The Monster Club) came together again in 1967 to make the anthology film starring Burgess Meredith (The Twilight Zone, Batman) and Jack Palance (City Slickers, Shane).

Torture Garden follows the same basic structure as other Amicus anthologies such as The Vault of Horror, Tales From The Crypt, and From Beyond the Grave in that a mysterious main character allows several individuals to obtain a glimpse into their very often ominous futures. In this film we meet:

  • A man who finds himself driven to murder by a mesmerizing, man-eating cat
  • A Hollywood actress who will do anything to become one of the top 10 stars
  • A famed pianist whose grand piano holds an evil sway over him
  • An Edgar Allan Poe collector (Palance) who murders another collector (Peter Cushing) to gain access to his items and uncover dark secrets

None of the segments are particularly bad. However, none are particularly memorable either. They’re basically watered down morality tales you might find on TV shows like The Twilight Zone or Thriller (both of which were far better at executing this type of material).

If you’re looking for something to pass the time on a gloomy afternoon, you could do a lot worse than Torture Garden, but I would recommend checking out one of the later Amicus anthologies–they had a bit more flair and the twists were a little more creative. Seek this one out only for a rare villainous turn by Burgess Meredith, a great character actor whose performance always elevated any story.

Torture Garden grade: C

Torture Garden (DVD)

Director: Freddie Francis
Starring: Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith, Beverly Adams, Peter Cushing, Maurice Denham
Rating: NR (Not Rated)

List Price: $9.99 USD
New From: $4.50 USD In Stock
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