#NGHW Winner of Commercial Spoof: Timothy Huguenin

And the winner of the commercial spoof challenge….

SPOOF 6 MONSTERMATCH.COM by Timothy Huguenin

Crickets and other night noises can be heard in the background

WOMAN: What a nice evening for a walk.

MONSTER: Uuungh!

WOMAN: Those websites usually set me up with stuffy rich dates. I can’t get to know someone when I’m constantly worrying about how to to hold my fork. But this is nice, the open night air. We can really get to know each other, no superficial things in the way.

MONSTER: Uuungh!

WOMAN: I’m sorry, I can’t understand a word you say through that hood. Here, let me help you… Wait… you’re… you’re…

MONSTER: UUUUNGH!

WOMAN: [Runs away screaming]

ANNOUNCER: Are you tired of dating websites always matching you up with the wrong type?

MONSTER: [sadly] Uh-hungh!

ANNOUNCER: Well now your love problems are solved, with MonsterMatch.com!

MONSTER: [intrigued] Uungh?

ANNOUNCER: It’s true! We use a comprehensive 300-point questionnaire covering all the important things, from hobbies, to religion! Scales, skin, or fur! Even your blood type! With MonsterMatch.com, you can be sure to be matched with a date that won’t run away screaming—unless you’re into that sort of thing!

MONSTER: [excited] Uungh!

ANNOUNCER: MonsterMatch.com—Beauty is in the eye… or antennae… or tentacle… of the beholder!


Listen to the contestants battle for points this season on HorrorAddicts.net

Kbatz: The Munsters Season One

 

The Munsters Debut remains Macabre Good Fun

by Kristin Battestella

 

Meet the lovable and naive Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) – a 150 year old green skinned Frankenstein’s monster – and his vampire housewife Lily (Yvonne De Carlo) along with their Grandpa Count (Al Lewis), unfortunately normal niece Marilyn (Beverly Owen, Pat Priest), and young werewolf son Eddie (Butch Patrick) in the 1964-65 Season One debut of The Munsters. Though often derivative, gimmicky, and of its time, The Munsters jam packs these first thirty-eight episodes with gags, wit, and slapstick brimming with Halloween mood. 
Fittingly, “Munster Masquerade” begins The Munsters with young romance and cross culture social clashes. These high society dames are worried about misspelling “Munster as Monster,” but the titular kin think an uppity masquerade party complete with King Arthur and Little Bo Peep costumes is horrifying! The Munsters establishes its series tone and now familiar tricks early, however, such gags and reverse quips – we weren’t dug up last night, put the color back in your cheeks, not letting the lack of rain spoil the evening – are part of the spooky, for the laughs charm. One might not expect much in these short twenty-five minutes or less run times, but the horror tropes, sci-fi humor, and lighthearted morals are surprisingly well balanced. The Munsters may not realize what they are, yet they make a point of being kind because they know what creeps regular folks may be. As a redo of the previous two test pilots, “My Fair Munster” is almost a bottle episode of mean neighbors despite that Munster friendliness alongside rectifying Marilyn’s old maid status with Grandpa’s mistaken love potion. “Rock-A-Bye Munster” adds self-awareness with a trick television and mini Frankenstein’s monster toys, leading to a witty case of mistaken pregnancy and the birth of the Munster Koach. The robot is hokey and the clash with truant officers remains unrealistic, yet “Tin Can Man” provides great funeral jokes and fatal quips before Herman falls asleep in the backseat as their car is stolen for a bank heist getaway in “The Midnight Ride of Herman Munster.” His innocence ups the zany plot twists, as he is surprised they want to go to the bank at dawn – it’s too early to be open – and he won’t speed in a 25 miles per hour zone when they leave. Likewise “The Sleeping Cutie” piles on the hypnosis humor, a pill that turns water into gasoline, sleeping potions, and a suitor named “prince.” What could possibly go wrong? Instead of a night picnic in the cemetery, the family braves the fresh air so Eddie can camp like the other boys in “Grandpa’s Call of the Wild.” Naturally, the trip spells disaster for Grandpa – who brings his electric chair outdoors and almost ends up in the zoo. The clan teamwork continues in “All-Star Munster” when Herman is mistaken for a basketball star by redneck visitors misunderstanding the comparably well to do Munsters, and “Bats of a Feather” fully introduces the family pets – Kitty with its lion’s roar, Spot the dragon under the stairs, and that “spoiled bat” Igor. Hey, why isn’t their temperamental raven in the cuckoo clock considered for the pet fair? I protest.

 

Herman’s detective school moonlighting and fun disguises raise Lily’s jealous suspicions in “Follow That Munster,” and the lighthearted marital discord carries over in “Love Locked Out” when Herman is sleeping on the couch until both separately go to a marriage counselor for inadvertently competing advice. Eddie finally has a friend over in “Come Back, Little Googie” but he’s an insulting, nasty boy trying to trick everybody, providing for The Munsters special brand of cruel versus kind lessons. Relocating to Buffalo for Herman’s promotion in “Munsters on the Move” wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t scare away potential home buyers – literally! Unfortunately, life insurance crooks are trying to kill Herman with on set accidents in “Movie Star Munster,” but such stunts don’t hurt him, forcing them to up their risks. Granted, there are scams like this practically every other episode on The Munsters – Herman always signs some kind of terrible contract in a quest for fame and fortune. However, the escalating trappings here are mad fun, and although diva Herman may be dumb enough not to read the fine print, but I’ll be darn he isn’t doing a scene if he doesn’t feel the character’s motivation! Fashion shows faux pas, a disastrous golf course, and snooty club members give everyone their moment in “Country Club Munsters” – complete with hatred and veiled statements reminding The Munsters how such bigoted people aren’t up to their kindly standards. “Love Comes to Mockingbird Heights” sees the family working both for and against a cad banker making moves on Marilyn just for the Munster gold, and say hey, Uncle Creature from the Black Lagoon pays a visit before a hilarious museum excursion leaves Herman locked in a sarcophagus for “Mummy Munster.” Women in the workplace jealousy anchors “Lily Munster, Girl Model,” and ridiculously fun Nutcracker spins and pirouettes have the whole family in on the magic act for “Munster the Magnificent.” Herman making friends and helping a little boy in “Yes, Galen, There Is a Herman” accents The Munsters with slightly serious Frankenstein movie parallels, and the eponymous boy’s disbelieving family takes him to a psychiatrist. Sure, today it is creepy the way Uncle Herman picks up a boy on the street and takes him back to his dungeon to watch Grandpa’s home movies, but the wink within a wink embracing fantasy versus destructive reality makes for a fine little finale on The Munsters debut.

Of course with so many episodes, The Munsters certainly has a few clunkers including the bickering couple using The Munsters for their own gain in Pike’s Pique” and the shocking townsfolk reactions and presumed to be celebrating Halloween excuses in “Family Portrait.” The harp and phonograph of “Far Out Munsters” are fun, as is the irony of The Munsters liking The Beatles despite being initially too old fashioned for rock n roll – “You know, they’re almost as good as Kate Smith!” However, although the Beatniks invading Mockingbird Heights accept The Munsters as all right, the capitalizing Fab Four covers miss the mark along with the ham radio and mistaken aliens of “If a Martian Answers, Hang Up.” Too many stunt episodes in a row like “Herman the Rookie” complete with Dodgers guest stars and get rich quick schemes like the desolate timeshare of “Herman’s Happy Valley” feel like we’ve seen this same old already. You don’t have to watch The Munsters in order, but when one tunes in for every episode, you know what you’re going to get. With so many one trick ponies, it’s somewhat amazing The Munsters lasted as long as it did, and the series also has numerous inconsistencies. The make up stylings are redesigned in the earlier episodes, and even the credits change halfway through this first season with Fred Gwynne moving from his last “and” billing to first. The juvenile crank speed running away in horror exits get old fast, and bungling cop jokes suggest more than a hint of Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis’ prior series Car 54, Where are You? The vampires on The Munsters adhere to no traditional undead rules, and how do a vampy wife and a monster man end up with a werewolf son, anyway? Throwaway dates, locations, and relations change from episode to episode with no clear show bible logistics. It’s no fun seeing so called regular folks trying to swindle the family, yet The Munsters relies on too many of these scam sitcom scripts when that contrast isn’t necessary compared to the titular topsy turvy perspective. Fifty years on, some jokes and pop culture references may not be understood by today’s audiences, and it is unfortunately very surprising to hear terms like wetback and gyp or Romani jokes alongside woeful Asian stereotypes in what is such a beloved and otherwise family friendly show. Honestly, I’m surprised these rare but jarring moments weren’t edited out for the video release.

 

Sure he works at a funeral parlor, however Herman Munster is a normal guy who wants his idyllic mid century family to be safe. So what if he’s a dunce at his might and stomps his foot when he doesn’t get his way. “Fiddlesticks!” is Herman’s go to exclaim, especially when he’s late for the carpool that picks him up in the back of the parlor’s Hearst – and he’s ticklish, too. Herman may crack the mirror – literallybut he’s more worried about his bills than being mistaken for the misspelled monster in the headlines crook of “A Walk on the Mild Side.” Always concerned about money, Herman tries a disastrous laundromat job in “Herman’s Raise” as well as wrestling on the weekends for extra cash in “Herman the Great.” However, he’s simply too sweet to be ruthless against the cheating competition. Herman won’t disobey a “Don’t Walk” sign but blows up the signal when he presses the button! Gwynne excels in solo physical humor scenes with few words as in “Dance With Me, Herman,” and he plays a suave lookalike in “Knock Wood, Here Comes Charlie” complete with a British accent and monocle. Fearful, finger pointing mobs may be played for laughs on The Munsters, but Herman makes sure his kin isn’t involved with the nasty folks in town, and more looking through the window Mary Shelley motifs are made humorous when Herman tries dieting at Thanksgiving in “Low-Cal Munster.” Herman and his wife Lily sit on the couch together and read, rock on the porch together during a storm, have a beach date on a rainy day, and – gasp – sleep in the same bed! Lily’s pussycat is more handsome than that unfortunate Cary Grant in her eyes. Although the family fears her wrath and she does get annoyed at his bungling when Herman and Grandpa are mistaken for burglars in Halloween masks in “Don’t Bank on Herman,” Lily easily forgives. She’s a good mom, too – sewing Eddie’s doll and raising Marilyn despite her niece’s “flaws.” Lily cleans nine rooms and a dungeon, vacuums with a vacuum set to exhaust the dust, and cooks oatmeal, pancakes, and Herman’s favorite cream of vulture soup. She plays the harp, sleeps with her namesake flower, and in “Herman’s Rival,” the 137 years young nee Dracula does palm readings at the local tea room. Although her white hair streaks and make up design varies at times, Yvonne De Carlo (The Ten Commandments) is always delightful thanks to bat necklaces, a werewolf stole, tiaras, iconic gowns, sparkling taffeta coffin capes, and “Chanel No. 13.”

Likewise, Al Lewis is all in good fun as that charming 400 year old widower Grandpa. The Count – known to turn into a wolf himself – has a werewolf son named Lester and still loves him some ladies despite having had over one hundred wives and falling for a mail order bride scam in “Autumn Croakus.” Occasionally, Lewis breaks the fourth wall, and these talking to himself asides or sight gags add self-aware wit. Grandpa hangs upside down in the living room, takes his eggs night side up, and roots against the Angels. Yes, there are a lot of hammy Dracula cliches on The Munsters – Grandpa’s cape and widow’s peak alone – but there is always a lovable quip or two to match his cool basement laboratory, potions, wacky inventions, and the latest money making scheme up his sleeve. Grandpa watches television and soap operas are his favorite comedy, but he has a naughty streak, too – tempting Herman with trick pens or food when he can’t eat. Unfortunately, their bemusing bromance does suffer in “Grandpa Leaves Home” when the feeling unloved Count runs off to perform in an ill-received magic club act. Grandpa’s tricks aren’t as good as they used to be, and such endeavors always have hair-brained results on The Munsters. Child star Butch Patrick’s Eddie hangs with his Grandpa the most, helping him in the dungeon when he’s not howling at the moon or playing in the fireplace, that is. Wolf look and all, “Edward Wolfgang Munster” is a gosh darn cute little boy with his little short pants, knee socks, pointed ears, and Woof Woof doll. He’s so tiny beside the seven foot Herman and no bigger than the golf bag when he caddies for his dad! Fortunately, his small stature means Eddie can hide in the cabinet or other fun places, and he has a pet door where one can deliver his bedtime glass of milk. Although he plays baseball with the other kids, they often don’t believe his stories about the Munster household – which unfortunately seem to happen mostly without Eddie. I’m glad The Munsters isn’t Eddie-focused in a Beaver Cleaver gone Halloween fashion, and the series was in fact envisioned as a parody on Leave it to Beaver by producers Joe Donnelly and Bob Mosher. However, Patrick often only has one scene even when the episode’s premise starts with him, and he’s most often seen with his back to the camera at the family table. Eddie’s Nickname” is his only centric episode, but we do get to see his room in detail alongside nice father and son time and some moral lessons. Besides, today he would have a far worse nickname then “Shorty.”

 

She’s supposed to be Lily’s sister’s daughter, yet Marilyn’s mother is never mentioned by Lily or Grandpa, and her last name is still somehow Munster. Yeah. It’s somewhat sad that The Munsters’ normal blonde niece is so underdeveloped that the Beverly Owens to Pat Priest casting change in Episode 14 is almost completely unnoticeable. The Munsters does at least make good use of Marilyn’s repeatedly scaring away dates right from the start, and each unsuitable suitor gone is for the better as far as her Aunt Lily and Uncle Herman are concerned. The family pities her for being so “ugly” or “hopeless” and think she looks better with the bags under her eyes when she can’t sleep. They insist she stay in school and get an education because she’s only going to get a boy to like her for her brain! Marilyn does get a kiss in “Love Comes to Mockingbird Heights” – where we see her girly bedroom inside the left gable of the Munster Mansion complete with floral wallpaper, a canopy bed, and dainty furniture which Herman finds “distasteful.” Though never shown having plots or hobbies of her own and mentioned as being off studying when not included, Marilyn is briefly seen playing the organ and being Herman’s talent show magician’s assistant. She doesn’t desperately fall for every wolf on the make, either, and can tell when someone is suspicious. Most of Marilyn’s scenes, however, are with Lily, and it’s apparent the character really only exists as a soundboard for the wife at home. Like Eddie, Marilyn has one scene and few lines per episode. On the rare occasion they are alone onscreen, the cousins are still talking about others rather than having stories of their own. Marilyn has one shtick and one shtick alone, but it is a fun one, and the would-be con artists who knock on The Munsters’ door deserve to find this innocent and demure decoy. For sure, The Munsters has its fair share of famous and recognizable guests including postman John Fielder (The Bob Newhart Show) and Bewitched’s Paul Lynde in several episodes as Dr. Dudley. Batman’s Commissioner Gordon Neil Hamilton is here, too, with Bill Mummy (Lost in Space), Pat Buttram (Green Acres), Barbara Babcock (Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman), Harvey Korman (The Carol Burnett Show), Don Rickles, and more. I must say, I would have certainly watched a spinoff featuring John Carradine as Herman’s undertaker boss Mr. Gateman!

Although the drag racing creation of the Dragula roadster in “Hot Rod Herman” will conflict with the later Munster, Go Home movie plots and a regular car driven by an unseen ghost is seen only once early on, the aforementioned Munster Koach is always good fun. Likewise, the cowabunga theme music remains as memorable as the always recognizable Munster Mansion – a great television house that has appeared in other films and television shows such as The ‘Burbs and Desperate Housewives yet continues to inspire builders who want to live at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Sure, the kitchen is kind of drab. The décor is too derelict trashy and hellllooo dust mites rather than fancy Gothic sophistication – at Halloween one always strives for the latter and ends up with the former! However, that candlestick phone in the indoor coffin phone booth is yes please, and let’s throw in some nostalgic bells and whistles such as that $2 with a 50 cent tip taxi cab fee for good measure. Secret passages, creaking doors, and cobwebs spook up The Munsters as do phonographs, candelabras, cool spell books, and creepy potion ingredients. I wish the series had been in color – if The Munsters had lasted for a third year on CBS in the 1966-67 season, it could not have remained black and white. Thankfully, the smoke, fog, bubbling cauldrons, poofs of dust, and objects moving by themselves benefit from the eerie grayscale palette while setting the spooky Halloween funhouse atmosphere. Although the uneven sound is perhaps understandable, the laugh track and cutesy music effects feel like an intrusive insecurity today. The Munsters is a funny show, and the audience gets the puns a minute without the canned response – and we prefer our own spontaneous chuckles to being told we are too dumb to know good comedy when we see it. The pet jokes are much more fun on The Munsters thanks to some surprisingly not bad special effects. Not only are those opening stairs cool, but Spot’s flames and pyrotechnic gags, Kitty’s lion roar, wolf or animal filming, and bemusing bat work accent the horror humor. As to that grouchy cuckoo clock raven voiced by Mel Blanc…want!

All the mid-century so-called fantasy sitcoms have their gimmicks, and The Munsters is at once of its time with simplistic plots, stock character tropes, and lighthearted happy family motifs in costumed dressings. Too many episodes in a row can be tiring or annoying when every half hour seems the same. Fortunately, the very affordable Complete Series DVDs add to the fun with actor spotlights, behind the scenes features, unaired pilots and color versions – treats not available on current retro channel airings or streaming options. The Munsters uses every trick at its disposal to crank out its weekly humorous horror wheelhouse, and ironically, any derivative hang ups also make this debut easy to marathon for a weekend. Viewers can pay attention or casually tune in for the best gags or leave Herman, Lily, and the gang on to occupy the kids. Let the delightful family frights of The Munsters Season One play for a harmless party or Halloween mood any time of year.

David’s Haunted Library: Obfuscate

David's Haunted Library

 

obfuscate-final-cover

You might think that Cheyenne O’ Cuinn has an easy life but nothing can be further from the truth. She may be beautiful, have a successful career as a computer programmer and her own virtual reality game that she designed but she is also a vampire. Not too long ago she found out that mythological creatures were real and many of them were playing her game, ExsanguiNation. Since she found this out, her life has changed drastically and now she has three tasks ahead of her.

She has to Rescue her sister from cannibalistic vampires, eliminate the villain who threatens her family and hunt down the man who tried to kill her. You think you have it rough? Think again.   Luckily she’s not alone, she has a vampire, a werewolf and a dragon along to help her. This may seem like a situation out of her video game but the threat is real and she can’t get a do over if she fails.

Obfuscate by Killion Slade is like a supernatural pulp fiction monster mash-up on steroids. Dragons, vampires, werewolves, wendigos, black-eyed children and merfolk, Obfuscate has all these and more. This is the second book in the World Of Blood series but it does work as a stand alone novel. When you start to read this book, the best thing to do is to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The story moves along at a frantic pace and goes back and forth from being scary and serious to being ridiculous and bizarre. Which is a good combination to have in an action packed story. One scene towards the beginning of the book was a total surprise to me.

What I liked most about the book is the amount of mythical creatures that are in it and are presented as real. There is one scene in a hospital where a character describes the island where a rescue attempt took place as Lord Of The Rings because of all the trolls and elves on it. The fact that you know that anything is possible in Obfuscate makes it a more entertaining read. Another thing I liked was that all the main characters were a different creature, they all take on human forms at different times and they all work well together. I think it would be fun to see a stand alone story with Torchy the dragon. World Of Blood is a universe where lots of good stories can be told. Also on a smaller note I liked that this book has a reference section at the end that lists songs, videos, movies and places that inspired the book.

Obfuscate has a little bit of everything: “Romance, action and more mythological creatures then I’ve seen in any other novel, this is one fun thrill ride. I loved how it opens on an island of cannibalistic vampires and goes to several other locations before it’s done. Obfuscate is like a video game in book form. This book isn’t meant to make you think, its meant to be a fun read and it is just that.It’s a lot of fun with some memorable characters thrown in and I’m already looking forward to the next installment in this series.

Press Release: The House That Dripped Gore

(Slightly) New Horror Novel Released By Author and Independent Horror Film Maker, Dan West — The House That Dripped Gore

 

San Francisco-based horror author and independent film maker Dan West (Monsturd, RetarDEAD) is pleased to announce the release of his (slightly) new horror novel, The House That Dripped Gore

18492232    Welcome to the infamous Hull Family Mansion: a disgusting, squirming cesspool of horrific paranormal activity and murderous intrigue. The old rumors of the horrid house weave a salacious and sordid tale of demon worship, human sacrifice, cannibalism and Satanic sex orgies; just the sort of juicy material needed to entice an unethical, down-on-his-luck, paranormal investigator seeking a career-making case. Enter Stanley Matheson: parapsychologist and occult writer: a man referred to in his own professional circles as, “The mentally-defective ghost detective.”

Hired to lead the investigation of the awful, otherworldly activities taking place at the Hull Mansion, Matheson hastily assembles a team of fellow researchers whose strange eccentricities nearly rival his own. Reluctantly joining forces, this squad of bickering, mismatched ghost busters must unravel the murderous mysteries of the macabre mansion before each of them falls prey to the poisonous influence of the gruesome house of horrors.

Book Details:

The House That Dripped Gore

by Dan West

Published 12/01/2014

ISBN: 9781105641183

Pages: 185

Illustrated by the author

Genre: Horror/Humor

About the Author:

Dan West is a San Francisco-based comedy writer and comedy/horror filmmaker. He is the co-writer and co-director of the bottom-of-the-barrel exploitation films: Monsturd and RetarDEAD. The House That Dripped Gore is the very first of the Stanley Matheson Chronicles series, which also includes the chilling sequel And They All Died Screaming.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dwesthorrorcom

Print: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/danwesthatesyou

Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/House-That-Dripped-Gore-ebook/dp/B00DK0HD5C/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438658276&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=the+house+that+dripped+gore

Notable press quotes:

 “The House That Dripped Gore, spoofs The Haunting of Hill House and H.P. Lovecraft with a mix of reverence and full-steam-ahead insanity, aided by a hefty sprinkling of surreal tangents, dirty jokes, and obscure pop-culture references. You’ll laugh! You’ll cringe! You’ll wonder exactly what a ‘farting Ouija board’ might sound like!” (Cheryl Eddy) SF Bay Guardian

 “The House That Dripped Gore deserves to sit alongside the year’s best, like King’s, Joyland, Hill’s, NOS4A2 and Adams’, Deadbeat. It’s a remarkably entertaining piece of fiction that immediately yanks you right into the fold. It’s hard to escape.” (Matt Molgaard) – Horror Novel Reviews

 “Oh yeah … there’s also porn-loving corpses, demon-summoning secret societies, black magic cults, anally inserted puppets, metal reinforced bowler hats, and even Elton John. And Guess What? It all works beautifully and comes together in a really rich and layered story.”  (Scott Shoyer)—Anything Horror

Kbatz: Teen Witch

 

I Just Love Teen Witch!

By Kristin Battestella

 

I can’t help myself- I think I have the 1989 family friendly spookfest Teen Witch memorized.  Though seriously dated and trapped in the eighties time warp, there’s still plenty of enchanting fun here for young and old.

Soon to be sixteen, frumpy teen Louise Miller (Robyn Lively) doesn’t fit in with the popular crowd at school.  Her parents (Caren Kaye and Dick Sargent) are clueless, little brother Richie (Joshua Miller) is an annoying slob, and her big crush Brad (Dan Gauthier) doesn’t know she exists.  After a bicycle accident, however, Louise encounters Madame Serena (Zelda Rubenstein) and learns her true calling as a reincarnated witch.  With Serena’s help, Louise realizes her new found powers and casts spells to be the most beautiful and popular girl in school-but will there be consequences to these magical ways?

 

As if we haven’t seen the fantastical teen powers metaphor before, Teen Witch is for girls what Teen Wolf is for boys.  We begin with a bad music video dream sequence and it only gets more eighties bad greatness from there!  Director Dorian Walker (Making the Grade) keeps the comedy relatively innocent by today’s standards and Robin Menken (Young Lust) and Vernon Zimmerman’s (The Unholy Rollers) story is a fun, if typical plot.  The relatable scenarios and likeable cast create multiple layers of charm and wit with the sassy script.  Innocence and eighties stylings may hamper our fast paced, technological and violent or profane sensibilities, but this simplicity and youth also make Teen Witch’s memorable scenes all the more fun.

Despite recognizing her in plenty of other shows, Robyn Lively (Savannah, Chicago Hope, Twin Peaks) will always be known as the girl from Teen Witch, I don’t care what you say.  Her fun charm and comedic delivery establishes the heart of the film perfectly. Dan Gauthier also always recalls ‘Hey, the guy from Teen Witch!’ every time I see his guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It’s not easy to be the popular guy without being a jerk. These characters are fun and likeable, and the romance is reasonable despite the supporting eighties saxophone.   Lively is naturally lovely, and Gauthier has just enough of that eighties handsome to keep everyone looking pretty; but Amanda Ingber (Cheers) as Louise’s unhip best friend Polly is also a lot of fun.  She keeps it real when all Louise’s spells get out of hand.  I could however, do without her ‘Top That’ rap.  Oiy!

 

Maybe we are just really silly, but my sister and I can quote Joshua Miller’s (The Mao Game, Near Dark) Richie in casual conversation.  His pudgy and youthful appearance mixed with a sardonic, acerbic delivery and love of messy foods creates the perfect evil little brother on whom to cast spells. Of course, we can’t help but love the late Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist, Sixteen Candles) and her adorable Madame Serena.  She uses the young witch for her own gains, but she’s just too dang cute for it to be an issue.  Casting spells to make twenties and turn frogs into handsome men, we can forgive her those!  The rest of the teens, however, all look 30 and have some strange names- Randa and Kikki, anyone?  Lisa Fuller (Freshman Dorm) is the usual buxom blonde, and Megan Gallivan (Married People) and Tina Caspary (Can’t Buy Me Love) round out the bitchy eighties trio in proper fashion.

Sadly, Caren Kaye (It’s Your Move, The Betty White Show) and Dick Sargent as Louise’s parents Margaret and Frank don’t have a whole lot to do-or rather as much as I might have liked.  Nevertheless, they are a cute, yuppie, and oblivious couple who make the most of their scenes.  I mean, it’s the second Darrin from Bewitched!  Shelley Berman (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Boston Legal) is juicy and love to hate worthy as Mr. Weaver, and his nasty style and ruthlessness towards Louise is made all the more fun when he gets his hysterical comeuppance thanks to a voodoo doll.  Marcia Wallace (The Simpsons, The Bob Newhart Show) is also a delight as the flighty theatre teacher Ms. Malloy

 

Unfortunately, the music wasn’t super then; and to some, perhaps it’s worse now-although that makes the guilty pleasure of Teen Witch all the better, too.  ‘Never Gonna Be’ and ‘Finest Hour’ are still eighties catchy, yeah, but the hit here is ‘Popular Girl’. Maybe I’ve just heard these songs so many times that I’m used to the sound by now. I know some of the dance routines, too-that’s all I’m saying.  The early rap and beat box songs are, however, so sad. Maybe the super dated and niche styles of Teen Witch are an acquired taste to those who didn’t see it back in the day, but the nostalgia and time capsule here is still a lot of fun.  Do you need a big dance-off finale or musical montage or two? Teen Witch has ‘em!

Oh me oh my, even what’s supposed to be the hip look in Teen Witch is woefully eighties: the fluorescent colors, ruffles, layers of skirts with leggings, hideous patterns everywhere, too much denim with lots of glitter and rhinestones, and double slouchy socks with high heels!  Goodness me, the styles look way too old for high schoolers, and the frumpy look for Louise looks like the grandma section of the old Sears catalog. What was deemed sleazy onscreen is beyond tame to us now- a full coverage sweater and a skirt to the knees! What ever happened to that kind of modesty? And why do they all wear purple bodysuits for gym? The hair is just as bad, too.  Again, the feathered, over-sprayed high bangs of the popular girls no longer looks pretty.  Louise’s seemingly plain, wavy, and pulled back hair is actually more becoming than the styled tresses that come with her magical transformation.  This is why I don’t like to see too much popular fashion in recent films.  You know modern styles are going to seem just as hokey in a few years’ time. Even the sets, couches, and sports cars suffer here in Teen Witch. Just check out that wallpaper!

 

For being so dated, Teen Witch still has plenty of rewatchablity.  Unfortunately, the bare bones DVD is dang tough to find.  It took forever to come from Netflix, but cable airings are often found around Halloween.  There is one funny sex education scene dealing with condoms and a make out scene that looks like an old Obsession commercial that might make parents feel iffy, but otherwise Teen Witch sticks to its PG rating.  Magical girls will especially enjoy, but any family audience can spend the night with Teen Witch. I can’t believe there’s remake talk of this one when a proper video edition isn’t even readily available.  Yes, it’s horribly of its time, but Teen Witch still has a lot of charm to give the witchy folks of today’s generation.  Take in a virgin viewing or revisit the eighties with Teen Witch ASAP.

Suicide Forest and Shadeylight

23570089It’s hard to explain the human mind. Why are we drawn to places that have a history of death and that people say is cursed. Why would anyone want to go camping in a place called Suicide Forest? Perhaps it’s for a thrill or just to see a place that most people are terrified to go to. Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates is a psychological horror story that looks at people’s fascination with death, why people commit suicide, the hardships of life, friendship and love.

The story is fairly simple, it follows a group of five people on their way to climb Mount Fuji in Japan. Their trip gets rained out, they meet two other hikers and decide to camp in Suicide Forest instead. Suicide Forest is a real place where hundreds of Japanese citizens go each year to commit suicide. The forest has a dark history, the area is considered cursed and is associated with demons in Japanese mythology. The place contains rocky caverns, trees twisted into strange formations and is absent of wildlife. The seven campers are hoping to see a ghost or perhaps a body but they get far more than they bargained for.

The thing I admired about Suicide Forest was that this is a book that didn’t have a lot of action until the end but still managed to keep me interested. I found the characters so intriguing that I couldn’t put it down. Even the characters that aren’t in the book long have fascinating back stories. This is a psychological horror story which explores some deep subjects in a horrific setting. As dark as it is it actually has some funny moments as well, such as when the campers talk about the quickest ways to die. It’s a heavy topic but even in a hard situation I felt this scene added realism because even in a life threatening situation you would make light of it to deal with the horror all around you.

This book is light on action but big on suspense. The reader is constantly left with a feeling of unease because you’re not quite sure what’s happening until the end. The only thing you know for sure is that entering the forest was a bad idea and all the characters seem to turn on each other at one point. This book made me think of The Blair Witch Project with the exception being that this takes place in what is believed to be a real haunted setting.

There were several things I loved about this book.  I liked how it looks at Japanese culture and how the setting is described. From reading this book I felt like I had visited the Suicide Forest myself. I also liked the discussions in this book on why people commit suicide, with some saying they understand it and others saying they don’t. I also loved when one of the minor characters makes a revelation about death that’s hard to disagree with. This is also reflected well in the end of the book when you see that two of the main characters are forever changed by the experience they had with one feeling one way and the other being at the opposite end of the spectrum. If you want to know what I mean read the book and find out, you won’t be disappointed.

24549934Another book I want to talk about is Shadeylight:Vella The Virgin Vegan Vampire by J.K. Elemenopy  with a little help from Kimberly Steele. This book answers the question of what would happen if 50 Shades Of Grey and Twilight were able to mate and have a love child. Shadeylight is the answer to that question and a very good parody of both best-selling books. This is a story that’s all told from a first person viewpoint of a self obsessed college age girl who wants nothing more than to protect her no no and promote the vegan lifestyle.

Vella is a proud virgin and the subject of many men’s fantasies. She attends the local community college and wants to be a writer. Everything changes when she meets billionaire Xavier Cash who just happens to be part unicorn/part vampire. Vella is not your average girl though, she has a secret that she is not fully aware of and also has split personalities. Vella constantly has to deal with her perverted inner goddess and overbearing vegan subconscious. To make matters even more complicated she has another man who is interested in her named  Jean-Pierre La Fine.

This is the kind of book that you don’t get because the story looks good, this is the kind of book you get because you think that with a title like that it has to be entertaining. Shadeylight is a pretty funny read and this is coming from a person who would never dream of reading Twilight or 50 Shades Of Grey. Despite not knowing the source material, I’ve heard enough about both books where I got all the references and all the gags.

Nothing is off-limits in this book, it makes fun of everything including a scene where one of the characters makes fun of the author of the book. It makes fun of self obsessed writers, bad writing and it looks at how hypocritical people can be. My favorite scene was when Vella and Xavier go to a  Hotties Anonymous meeting. Who knew that people who are beautiful get discriminated against because of the chronic condition of being hot. Shadeylight also has some strange sex scenes that would make 50 Shades Of Grey look like a G rated movie.

Shadeylight is more than just a goofy parody though. This is a story that is using humor to put forth a message about going vegan while showing how silly some books that are considered popular can be. At the same time it still doesn’t take itself seriously. Who can resist a book that has Bacon trolls, sex with Cthulu and a vampire with serious mommy issues. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Shadeylight is one bizarre read that you don’t want to miss.

 

Press Release: Turning Face: A Tale Of Horror, Comedy & Wrestling

turningface copyTurning Face, a new novella by Terry M. West, is the story of Tojo Smith, an undercover hate demon whose job involves creating hatred in the fans of a local wrestling promotion near Fort Worth, Texas. Portraying the masked heel known as the Crimson Demon, Tojo’s job is suddenly endangered when the fans begin to cheer his devilish antics. Soon after, Hell intercedes and Tojo finds himself on a mission to restore this imbalance before he faces the wrath of Satan himself!

“This is a story that has been knocking around in my head for a long time,” Terry revealed. “Wrestling was a fixture in my youth. I grew up in Texas and I watched a ton of World Class Championship Wrestling in the Fort Worth area. My heroes were the Von Erichs but I always had a soft spot for the heels (bad guys). The Freebirds, Macho Man Randy Savage, Ravishing Rick Rude… these guys entertained the hell out of me. They were the most interesting characters I had ever encountered. They did all of the hard work and had excellent mic skills. I think it is hard to make people despise you on that kind of level.”

And though Tojo Smith is a demon, West insists that he may be the most sympathetic character he has ever given life to. “Tojo is referred to as Eden-born. What this means is that he was born on earth. His parents are two pit demons, disguised as humans, who conceived Tojo topside. As a result, Tojo feels very alienated. He is just a lonely spectator, trying to figure humans out. But he also has no connection to Hell. He is an orphan, caught between two worlds and it is very difficult for him.”

Turning Face has its moments of humanity, but it is definitely a horror tale with a gory finale that defies description. “There is a lot going on with this novella,” West explains. “There’s humor, but not the slapstick kind. There is a lot of wrestling. The tale builds to a pretty gruesome third act. But I will say that Turning Face is the most original thing I have ever created. It is a love letter to old school wrestling and horror/comedies of the 80s.”

Turning Face: A Tale of Horror, Comedy and Wrestling! will be available FridayJune 12th as a Kindle e-Book with a paperback edition to follow shortly after. Here is a universal book link where you can reserve a copy: myBook.to/babyface