Looks like we made it! Today we wrap up our coverage of the horror cinema of east/southeast Asia with 2016’s Dearest Sister. Directed by Mattie Do, the first female filmmaker in Laos, Dearest Sister is a wonderfully layered tale of worlds colliding.
We are winding down our coverage of the horror of east and southeast Asia with 2014’s Hollow out of Vietnam. We’re on the home stretch! This is the second to last film we’ll be covering for this series. Hollow is an enjoyable (if not a bit unremarkable) ghost story from writer/director Hàm Trần.
Originally, I had not been able to locate any horror films from Brunei but I was recently able to find Bread Dream (2012) and Teluki (2013). Enjoy this little addendum to our Asian Horror Marathon courtesy of Bruneian writer/director/actor Abdul Zainidi!
Once again we find ourselves in the unenviable position of reviewing something so obscure that we’re the first ones to review it. Love Motel (2012) out of China has only 14 ratings on IMDB, 5 ratings on Letterboxd, and 0 reviews on either site. Is it a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered or is it a film that should deservedly languish in obscurity?
Tonight we’re taking a look at 23:59, a supernatural horror film out of Singapore. Will we finally break the Asian Horror Marathon streak of bad films? Listen and find out!
After last week’s episode I was looking for a palate cleanser and hoped that Malaysia’s Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah would be able to provide me with that. This supernatural comedy-horror about a group of villagers warding off ghosts didn’t end up being exactly what I was looking for.
Tonight, we continue our excursion into the horror cinema of east/southeast Asia with 2004’s Nieng Arp out of Cambodia. While the history of Cambodian horror cinema is definitely an interesting one, Nieng Arp is interesting only for how impressively terrible it is. Truly, this is one of the worst films we’ve reviewed so far on C83.
Continuing our deep dive into the horror cinema of East and Southeast Asia, we take a look at our first film out of South Korea, 1998’s Whispering Corridors. This episode pairs well with episode 137 as a lot of the cultural context for what was going on in the South Korean film industry at the time is covered in our discussion of Pulgasari.
Today we travel to Thailand so continue our exploration of Asian horror cinema. Shutter, released in 2004, is all about spooky polaroids and has plenty of scares to spare!
I really don’t know what Adam Wingard was thinking with this one. In today’s episode we give an HONEST review of Godzilla vs. Kong and it ain’t pretty!
Today we continue our survey of Asian horror cinema with our first film out of Indonesia, 1995’s Dangerous Seductress! From the same warped mind that brought us such classics as Lady Terminator and Mystics in Bali, Dangerous Seductress is one you won’t want to miss!
Our journey into the horror cinema of East/Southeast Asia takes us to Taiwan with 1986’s Little Master, a movie featuring hopping vampires, watersports, and a totally-not-illegally-used score by none other than John Carpenter!
This week we’re joined yet again by George, host of The Best Little Horror House in Philly! We’re continuing our exploration of the horror cinema of East/Southeast Asia with the 1985 North Korean kaiju epic, Pulgasari!
Tonight we are wrapping up our coverage of the Guinea Pig franchise with reviews of Mermaid in a Manhole, Android of Notre Dame, and the unofficial 7th film in the series, Lucky Sky Diamond.
Tonight we are kicking off our reviews of the Guinea Pig franchise with reviews of the first four entries into the series: Devil’s Experiment and Flower of Flesh and Blood from 1985, and He Never Dies and Devil Woman Doctor from 1986.
Their reputation precedes them. They’re often mentioned as some of the most depraved films ever committed to tape and you may have even heard stories involving copycat killers, famous Hollywood actors, snuff films, and the FBI. In tonight’s episode we attempt to demystify the bizarre history behind the infamous Guinea Pig films.
Whatcha gonna do when Corpse Mania runs wild on you brother? Whatever you do, be sure not to cross paths with a man who wears his sunglasses at night, it won’t end up well for you. We continue our journey into the horror cinema of East and Southeast Asia with a period piece giallo out of Hong Kong about a necrophiliac murder terrorizing a brothel in Foshan.
We continue our dive into Asian Horror with 1966’s Daimajin, the first kaiju film to be covered on Channel 83. Are kaiju films horror films? Today we try to answer that question and more. One thing is for sure: this oft-overlooked kaiju film about a giant samurai statue come to life is definitely worth your time!
Today we’re covering our first film out of Japan for our Asian horror extravaganza. Toho’s Matango (1963) brings together some legendary talent whose credits include Godzilla, Rodan, Frankenstein vs. Baragon, and The Mysterians, just to name a few. Does this film about an island inhabited by a deadly, sentient fungus live up to its pedigree?
We’re kicking off our dive into Asian horror cinema by taking a look at the 1959 Filipino/American film Terror is a Man. Today’s film is a loose adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau and was co-directed by two legends of Filipino cinema, Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero.
We’re back! Today’s episode is just a quick update on what we have in store for the rest of Season 2 on Channel 83. We’re finally making good on some promises we made nearly a year ago and we’re going to be hitting the ground running with some Asian horror reviews!
It’s that time of year again! Each year at the 7 Golden Vampire Awards, we take a look at all the films we’ve reviewed this year on Channel 83 and hand out some awards for the best and worst ones in different categories. Once again we are joined by a special guest to help us put a stake in the heart of 2020!
This week we’re joined yet again by George, host of The Best Little Horror House in Philly! We’re wrapping up our month of Halloween Hangover with a non-horror movie that terrified George as a child, 1968’s car-come-to-life fantasy musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The Halloween season has passed and just like last year we’re switching things up a bit this week and taking a look at a movie that is decidedly non-horror to help you get over your Halloween Hangover. After 31 days straight of horror we could all do with a bit of a palate cleanser, I think. Our movie this week is Big Wave from 1984.
Hello, videodrones! Thanks for sticking with us through our 31 in 31 marathon! Today we’re bringing you a quick episode wrapping up the month of October before taking a short break!
We did it videodrones, 31 episodes in 31 days! There have been many ups and downs this month but we rose to the occasion and bested the Hooptober challenge. We close out the month with yet another film directed by Tobe Hooper. Much like The Mangler and Djinn, Night Terrors is yet another Hooper film with a troubled production that fails to deliver.
If the Pumpkinhead franchise has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes it’s better to let sleeping demons lie. I only wish that Jeff Burr and co. had heeded that advice before deciding to make Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings.
Tonight we’re reviewing The Mangler 2 from 2002. You may remember that the original Mangler was one of the films that was submitted to us for Shitty September. If there’s one thing that horror fandom has taught me over the years it’s that horror franchise sequels follow the law of diminishing returns, so when your starting point is something as shitty as the original Mangler well… let’s just say I didn’t have high hopes for this one.
Rather than using the Hooptober marathon’s requirement of watching one invisible man film as an opportunity to finally watch Universal’s classic 1933 film The Invisible Man, we at Channel 83 instead decided to do what we always do: go with a much more obscure film that probably no one cares about. Tonight we’re reviewing the 1954 Japanese film, Invisible Man aka The Invisible Avenger.
The original Candyman is one of only two films that I’ve reviewed on this cast that I’ve given a 5-star rating on Letterboxd. I love that movie, I believe it is one of the best, if not the best horror movie of the 1990s. I’ve always considered myself a fan of the sequel as well, although it had been quite some time since I’d seen it. Let’s see if my feelings have changed!
It’s day 26 of our Hooptober marathon we’re getting so damn close to finishing this and tonight’s film, 1979’s Giallo in Venice, is a corker. Released on December 31st, 1979, Giallo in Venice marks the end of the giallo’s heyday in the 1970s both literally and figuratively. By this point the artistry that had become a hallmark of the genre had given way to movies like Giallo in Venice whose main goal is to be the sleaziest, most vile and repugnantly violent film possible.
Anak Ambar is an Indonesian short film directed by Melvin Giovanie and written by Fanny Gunawan. It’s a pretty straightforward film and, like The Oily Maniac, is an adaptation of traditional Malay mythology. Does this low-budget short deliver the horror goods?
Bride of Re-Animator sees the return of Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott to Miskatonic University in Brian Yuzna’s follow-up to the 1985 Lovecraftian classic. With effects from Buechler, Nicotero, and Screaming Mad George, Bride of Re-Animator is everything you want in a goofy horror gorefest. But does it live up to the legacy of the original?
Tonight we’re reviewing our 3rd and final disease-based film for the Hooptober marathon. This one, 1993’s Dark Universe, is brought to us by the same dynamic writer/director duo that gave us 1995’s Jack-O. Throw Joe Estevez and Steve Barkett into the mix and we’ve got ourselves a stew going!
A little over a month ago, we reviewed the first Violent Shit film for our Shitty September marathon. In fact, the first Violent Shit was so bad that it ended up being crowned the winner of Shitty September. Obviously I wasn’t too stoked to watch the sequel being that the first is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, reviewing the first one means that reviewing the rest of the franchise is an inevitability because that’s just how we roll here at Channel 83.
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight was directed by Ernest Dickerson, the same man that graced us with Surviving the Game! Featuring appearances from William Sadler and a very young, very delicious Billy Zane, is Demon Knight the best TFTC movie?
Basket Case 2 is a follow-up to writer/director Frank Henenlotter’s 1982 debut film about the brothers Bradley. Duane and Belial are back and better than ever and although this sequel is a much more polished film than the first, there’s still plenty of gonzo, Henenlotter charm to be found in Basket Case 2.
Tonight we’re joined by friend of the cast Mike Ward. Mike is an all-around cool guy and former writer for Mondo Exploito, so we called upon him to help us dissect 1991’s The Guyver! Mark Hamill, Michael Berryman, David Gale, Jeffrey Combs, Jimmie “JJ” Walker, and Linnea Quigley star in this is great American tokusatsu film directed by effects legends Steve Wang and Screaming Mad George.
It’s day 18 of our Hooptober horror marathon and I stand before you a broken man. We’re a little more than halfway through the month and for the first time so far, I feel like I’m having a rough go of it. Tonight’s film, 1988’s Rejuvenatrix, is the first movie I’ve reviewed where I’ve really had to question my decision to review a film per day.
It creeps and leaps and glides and slides across the floor! It’s the friggin’ Blob! Today we take a quick look at Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.’s 1958 classic. Steve McQueen stars opposite a squishy mass of silicone in this landmark of B-cinema.
Now, if you’re like me, you hear the name Primal Rage and your mind immediately thinks of the 1994 video game about dinosaurs fighting each other but tonight’s film isn’t anything like that. Again, this one goes towards fulfilling the Hooptober requirement of watching 3 disease-based films and this one was a doozy.
Mati Diop’s Atlantics is a beautifully-shot, languid mystery/romance set in Dakar, Senegal. The film received high praise upon its release in 2019, even making then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s list of his favorite movies of 2019. But is it a horror movie?
I had really considered going rogue and skipping the Hooptober “disease-based films” category. I mean, do we really need another reminder of how shitty things are in the world today? But ultimately, I decided that I may as well just play along with the rules and The Carrier made me glad that I did. This one has to be seen to be believed.
Continuing on with our Hooptober marathon, today we take a quick look at the Austrian home invasion film, Funny Games from 1997. Michael Haneke’s polarizing film was famously called “a complete piece of shit” by French filmmaker, Jacques Rivette. Let’s see if he was right.
We’re forging ahead in our 31 in 31 Hooptober challenge with 2015’s Unnatural. James Remar and Sherilyn Fenn battle a genetically enhanced polar bear in this low budget natural horror film directed by Hank Braxtan.
Tonight we continue on with day 11 of our Hooptober marathon with 2018’s animated body-horror film, Violence Voyager. Written and directed by mysterious Japanese artist, Ujicha, Violence Voyager feels like a Golden Books videotape from hell, complete with child murder, cybernetic enhancements, and plenty of bodily fluids.
Continuing our October extravaganza, we bring you a very brief review of the very obscure 1994 German horror short, Verfolger.
If you’re a long-time listener of Channel 83, you’ll remember that we reviewed the first Unnamable way back in episode 16. It is one of the most boring movies that we’ve reviewed so far on this cast and, in fact, it made my wife’s list as one of the Most Forgettable films we watched for the cast last year on our Year in Review Awards back in episode 57. Despite my feelings about the first Unnamable, I was still curious to check this one out.
Tonight we continue on with day 8 of our Hooptober marathon with 1988’s Half Past Midnight. This wasn’t the movie I originally planned on reviewing today but I’m glad I did! Half Past Midnight is a dazy, hazy, slashery, synthy, same-y, hypnotic, piece of weirdness from Dutch auteur, Wim Vink.
It’s our 100th episode! Fittingly enough, today we’re reviewing a horror film that’s over 100 years old. Edison Studios’ Frankenstein from 1910 is the first adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic gothic horror to grace the silver screen. Listen to find out if it still holds up 110 years later!
The tagline for The Snorkel proclaims, “teenage girl vs. killer with a gimmick”. Going solely off the poster, you’d think that The Snorkel is some sort of proto-slasher about a deranged diver stalking women on the beach and drowning them. The reality is quite different and truth be told, much more interesting than that.
More Hooptober movie marathon madness! Today’s film, In Fabric, comes courtesy of up-and-comer Peter Strickland. Cursed dresses, washing machine repairmen, mannequins with merkins!
Tonight’s film came to us in the form of a suggestion from Dan over at TYTD Reviews! Fear. Infidelity. Velvet worms. LSD. Percepto! Vincent Price. These are but a few of the wonder’s to be found in this 1959 film from schlock-slinger extraordinaire, William Castle!
As our Hooptober marathon continues we review what may possibly be the most obscure film reviewed so far on Channel 83 – bold claim, I know. Join us as we take a look at 1997’s Garden Tool Massacre! Ever wonder what a late 90’s British SOV horror film shot by a group of 15-year-olds would be like? Listen and find out!
I first heard about tonight’s film, Rent-A-Pal, a few weeks ago now from a review by Mike at Rotted Reviews. Mike had some really great things to say about this movie so I decided to check it out, and I’m glad that I did because this is one you won’t want to miss!
Tonight we are kicking off Hooptober! One rule that is constant each Hooptober is that there must always be a Tobe Hooper film, so why not begin the month with one? Tonight we’ll be talking about the much-maligned 2013 supernatural horror, Djinn.
On letterboxd.com, there is a yearly challenge that is in its 7th year this year called the Hooptober Challenge. It’s hosted by a fellow named Cinemonster and it’s called Hooptober in honor of horror director Tobe Hooper, whose films are always part of the Hooptober Challenge. This week we kick off the Hooptober Challenge and today we’re going to go through this year’s list to give you guys a preview of what’s in store this month. If you’d rather just read the list, you can find it here.
We’re wrapping up Shitty September by taking a look back at all the movies we’ve watched this month, crowning a winner for the shittiest movie, and giving the person who suggested it to me a special prize. Will it be Hell Fest, Sharknado, Ring of Terror, Violent Shit, or The Mangler? Listen to find out!
You don’t get to be a horror nerd and host of a podcast that nobody listens to without stumbling upon your fair share of stinkers and tonight our Shitty September marathon comes to a close with the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen, 2000’s Da Hip Hop Witch starring Eminem, Ja Rule, Rah Digga, and Vitamin C.
Our Shitty September marathon nears its end. Today’s shitty horror movie suggestion comes from friend of the cast Jim. So here we are, videodrones, giving you the low-down on The Mangler. Is it as bad as Jim remembers it? Is it a “miserable piece of dog fuck”? Well, you’ll just have to listen to find out.
Shitty September continues this week with another stinker, the aptly-titled 1989 SOV horror, Violent Shit. Tonight’s shitty movie was suggested by Mike Ward, friend of the cast, former writer for Mondo Exploito, and all-around cool guy. Will Violent Shit be the film that finally breaks me? Listen and find out!
We’re gonna need a bigger chopper! This shitty horror movie suggestion comes from friend of the cast, G.G. Graham, writer for various genre sites who also runs their own site, Shock, Schlock & Leftover Film Stock. For a long time, I’ve been afraid to watch this one. Let’s find out if my fears were warranted!
You may have noticed that each time we’ve had a guest on this show so far, there has been one question that I’ve been sure to ask our guests each time and that is “what is the worst horror movie you’ve ever seen and why?” Misery loves company and it’s in that spirit that we’re kicking off Shitty September, wherein I watch the horror films that our guests and listeners have identified as “the worst”. Today’s pick comes from George, host of The Best Little Horror House in Philly Podcast, who was a guest on our show last season on episode 81.
Hello videodrones and thanks for tuning back into Channel 83. We are the TV guide for weirdos, the video word made flesh, evangelists of the obscure, and welcome to our second season! We’ve got a lot of great stuff in the works this season for all you videodrones out there. Tomorrow we’ll be kicking of a month of terrible cinema that I like to call Shitty September, where we review the worst horror movies of all time according to our listeners. After that we’ll be hitting our Halloween stride pretty hard right at the beginning of October in an attempt to review 31 movies in 31 days. Then we’ll be switching gears a bit and the theme we’re going to focus on for the remainder of the season is the horror cinema of East and Southeast Asia. Of course, in between all this stuff we’ll be releasing episodes like we always have, random rants, horror oddities, Werewolf Wednesdays, and a few guest appearances along the way. If you’re a new listener of the show, follow us on twitter at @channel83pod, send us some emails at email@example.com or hop on our discord server to chat with us about anything you have on your mind. Thanks for listening and as always LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH.
Hello videodrones and thanks for tuning in to Channel 83 during our first season. We’re taking a break for a few months but I just wanted to leave you with a quick message to let all you guys know that we’re not just disappearing. We’re looking to launch season 2 sometime in late August or early September so you can expect us back around then! In the meantime, follow us on twitter at @channel83pod, send us some emails at firstname.lastname@example.org or hop on our discord server to chat with us about anything you have on your mind. If you’re looking for another show to scratch that horror itch for you in the interim, check out The Best Little Horror House in Philly podcast, check out TYTD Reviews and ROTD Reviews on YouTube, or you can even go into our back catalog and listen to old episodes of Channel83. If the written word is more your speed, check out Shock, Schlock & Leftover Film Stock. Thanks for listening and as always long live the new flesh.
This week we’re joined by Dan, host of TYTD Reviews, to talk about Lance Lindsay’s 1986 Alien rip-off sci-fi “epic”, Star Crystal. We also touch on various other topics including William Castle, Guinea Pig, Poverty Row, video nasties, and more!
It’s our paper anniversary at Channel 83! In this episode, we reflect on some of the hard lessons we’ve learned over the course of our first year and discover that maybe the real hidden gems were the friends we made along the way. Also included are some announcements regarding the future of the ‘cast and some listener email!
It is our 83rd episode of Channel 83 and if I’d had any sort of foresight, now would have been the perfect episode to review Videodrome but I didn’t, so we’re not. Instead, we’re talking about a film that isn’t likely to inspire anyone to do anything other than possibly question what they’re doing with their life. We’re talking Xtro 3: Watch the Skies.
It’s time to Micheal down your Vincents! In this episode of Channel 83, we continue Xploring the Xcellently Xhilarating Xample of cinematic Xcrement that is the Xtro franchise. Prepare to engage duo tangents as we try to Xplain the 1990 Aliens ripoff, Xtro II: The Second Encounter.
This week we’re joined by George, host of The Best Little Horror House in Philly, to talk about Harry Bromley-Davenport’s supremely bizarre 1982 alien flick, Xtro. We also discuss Friday the 13th Part 2, the Star Wars prequels, and Hellfest.
Hello videodrones and thanks for tuning in to Channel 83. We are the TV guide for weirdos, the video word made flesh, evangelists of the obscure, and I just have one question for you – [ya like swans?]. It is Monday, April 27th, 2020, and today we’re covering a 1989 film that may or may not actually be a horror movie. We’ll be discussing Étoile, also known as Ballet.
Not a whole lot going on in Channel 83 or horror news this week. Yesterday we recorded a special guest episode that’ll be coming out for you guys next week. It was a lot of fun and I hope you guys enjoy it. Uhhh, in horror news, well… not a lot going on because of the pandemic; there’s not a lot of movie news in general. One film that has been on my radar for a while, ever since a tweet about it got under my skin a few months back, is a movie called Promising Young Woman starring Carey Mulligan. Now, I’m not sure whether or not it’s actually a horror movie, in fact, answering that question is the main reason that I’ve been anticipating its release because I really want to cover that topic for this show. It was slated to be released on April 16th but that date has come and gone without any word of when it will be released, if it’ll be released straight to VOD, etc. Other than that, I can’t say that I have too much else to talk about so let’s just talk about our movie for the week, Ballet, which likewise features a promising young woman.
Étoile, which I’m just going to refer to from here on out so as not to offend our French listeners any further with my terrible pronunciation, comes from San Francisco-born Italian writer/director Peter Del Monte. Del Monte got his start in Italian television before branching out into feature films. His first production of note is 1981’s Piso Pisello (Sweet Pea in English) about a 13-year-old boy named Cristiano who knocks up an older woman and is forced to raise a child as a single father in Milan. This was followed up by the 1982 French production, Invitation au voyage. It won the prize for Best Artistic Contribution at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival and tells the story of a man named Lucien, who, after his twin sister/lover dies, puts his sister’s body in a trunk on top of his car and travels across France. Just two years before Ballet, Del Monte wrote and directed his most commercially successful film up to that point with 1987’s Julia and Julia, a film about dead lovers, lurid affairs, time travel, and loss of sanity. Suffice it to say that Del Monte’s work prior to Ballet almost reads as a parody of the stereotypes that many people have about the cinema of Southern Europe. Much of it can be placed firmly within the French tradition of fantastique, a genre in which supernatural elements intrude an otherwise realist narrative. Fantastique is not outright fantasy nor horror, but it occupies a space somewhere between purely fantastical and purely realistic and often leaves its supernatural aspects completely unexplained to the audience. It’s similar to magic realism, a genre that will be familiar to most westerners only by way of Guillermo Del Toro, but it’s not exactly the same and describing the nuanced difference between the two goes a bit beyond the purview of this cast.
It seems that with Ballet, Del Monte wished to push further into the fantastique genre. In addition to writer Sandro Petraglia, whom Del Monte had collaborated with previously on Julia and Julia, Del Monte recruited writer Franco Ferrini, best known to horror fans for his writing credits on a slew of Italian horrors including Phenomena, Demons, Demons 2, Opera, La Chiesa, and Trauma. If there’s one group of writers that embody the fantastique axiom of leaving things completely unexplained, it’s gotta be giallo writers of the 70s and 80s because narrative murkiness is a hallmark of Italian genre films of the time.
The cast in Ballet is rather small. We’ve got a young Jennifer Connelly (likely chosen because of her performance in 1986’s Phenomena) playing the part of American ballerina Claire Hamilton. We’ve got legendary actor of stage and screen, Charles Durning, playing the part of Zio Joshua, an art dealer who is assisted by his nephew Jason, played by Gary McCleery who has very few credits to his name – none of them of any significant note. The cast is rounded out by French actor Laurent Terzieff in the part of ballet director Marius Balakin. But, anyways, what is this movie about?
Well, as you can probably guess by the title, it’s about Ballet and as you can probably guess by looking at the poster, it has something to do with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The movie begins with Connelly’s Claire Hamilton arriving in Budapest, Hungary from New York City. She’s come to Europe to audition for a Hungarian ballet company but, wouldn’t you know it, the first person she meets is fellow New Yorker Jason, whom she bumps into in the lobby of the hotel she’s checked into. Claire goes to a ballet tryout but chickens out after she sees a fellow ballerina crying after a failed tryout. Claire wanders through the building and finds a theater that appears to be abandoned. She lets out her frustrations by giving an impromptu performance to what she thought was an empty auditorium. Unbeknownst to Claire, Marius Balakin, the director of the ballet she was auditioning for is sitting in a theater seat observing the whole thing. He calls out to her, using the name Natalie. Claire is startled and runs away. Claire heads back to the hotel where she again bumps into Jason and the two decide to tour the city together. They come upon an abandoned mansion in a park. It’s locked up but Claire instinctively knows where to find the key. After some investigation, they find that the mansion once belonged to a ballerina who loved Swan Lake. Claire and Jason begin to strike up a romance but not long after, Claire begins to experience strange things. People keep calling her Natalie Horvath and it seems as though she is being compelled by some supernatural force. She abruptly checks out of the hotel and Jason believes that she’s gone back to America. Color him surprised when a few weeks later he sees Claire sitting on a bench outside the ballerina mansion. Jason approaches Claire but she does not seem to recognize him. She identifies herself as Natalie Horvath and rebuffs Jason’s advances and basically tells him to fuck off. Jason, in an attempt to get to the bottom of Claire’s sudden change in personality, begins to follow her around Budapest. He follows her one night to an abandoned theater and witnesses her performing rehearsals for Swan Lake under the direction of Marius Balakin. It’s all a bit perplexing to Jason since this theater has not given a performance in years and, the more Jason investigates, the more confusing things become as it becomes apparent that Marius Balakin may be centuries old and that Claire’s upcoming performance of Swan Lake may in fact be an occult ritual to appease an ancient animal god.
A lot of this probably sounds familiar to some of you and I’d be remiss not to point out that a ballerina going through an identity crisis in preparation for an upcoming performance of Swan Lake is the exact plot of Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film, Black Swan. But Ballet isn’t the only film that Black Swan bears a resemblance to. Much has been made about the parallels between Black Swan and Satoshi Kon’s 1997 anime feature, Perfect Blue. There are many that go so far as to say that Black Swan is a shot-for-shot remake and that Black Swan is a complete ripoff of Perfect Blue. That is more than a bit hyperbolic in my opinion but it is impossible to ignore the similarities between the two, especially if you know that Aronofsky purchased the rights to Perfect Blue so that he could replicate a shot from that film in his 2000 film Requiem for a Dream and at one point was even in talks with Satoshi Kon to do a live-action American remake of Perfect Blue. So yes, there are similarities between Black Swan and Perfect Blue and much has been made of it online. Much less has been made of the similarities between Ballet and Black Swan, which are so incredibly similar in some of the plot beats that it’s hard to imagine Aronofsky didn’t take inspiration from Ballet when creating Black Swan. Likely the reason that fewer people have noticed the resemblance between Ballet and Black Swan is that far fewer people have seen Ballet than have seen Perfect Blue. Ballet has just 451 ratings on IMDB compared to Perfect Blue‘s 50,000+ ratings on the same site. This probably has to do with the fact that Ballet did not receive a theatrical release in the US and, in fact, was completely unavailable in the US until a 2017 blu-ray release from Scorpion Releasing. Prior to that the only way to see Ballet in English would have been on a Japanese VHS release, a rather esoteric means of viewing a film that most Americans wouldn’t have even known about in the first place. But it’s likely that an American director who was buying up the rights to a Japanese film that, at the time, would have been pretty obscure to westerners, could have stumbled across a Japanese videotape or two. I’m not saying that Black Swan is a ripoff of Ballet but you also wouldn’t be able to convince me that Aronofsky didn’t pull from this movie. In short, I see Black Swan as neither wholly taken from Perfect Blue nor Ballet; I see it as a bricolage of those two films with plenty of Aronofsky’s own ideas in there to create a distinct piece of cinema. Anyways, that was a really long tangent to go off on but I just feel like I couldn’t gloss over that. So, back to Ballet.
The plot to this film is rather thin – ballerina loses identity, boy chases ballerina, possible nefarious forces at play. That’s about it. Ballet clocks in at 101 minutes, and you’d hope for a bit more than what we’re given. In lieu of plot, Del Monte attempts to build a sort of listless yet dreadful atmosphere in Ballet which, for the most part, he pulls off. Ballet is methodical and deliberately paced. For a movie of its length, there is surprisingly little dialogue in the film, save for the scenes concerning Charles Durning’s character who sticks out as the only part of this film approaching anything near energetic. Ballet isn’t at all sensationalistic but that isn’t to say that it’s boring either.
Perhaps Ballet‘s saving grace is its aesthetic. Set in Hungary (but in actuality filmed in Italy), Ballet is a sampling of but a few of the beautiful baroque old buildings that Rome has to offer. Stunning locales combined with the able guidance of Portuguese cinematographer Acácio de Almeida and some gorgeous chiaroscuro lighting makes for a movie that is visually very pleasing if not a bit light on story. In a way, this makes watching Ballet a bit like watching an actual ballet. Whether or not this was intentional, who’s to say, but I think it mostly worked.
There are, however, a few things about this movie that don’t work. After Claire becomes Natalie, Gary McCleery’s character Jason becomes the main character of the film and I’m sad to say that he just wasn’t up to the task of carrying a film. Jennifer Connelly is both visually alluring and an excellent actress, Gary McCleary always seems to be making a weird face and gives some absolutely overwrought line delivery any time he needs to convey any sort of emotion other than just being alive.
Admittedly, the dialogue in Ballet is a bit poor but Charles Durning and Jennifer Connelly were able to overcome the shortcomings of the script to deliver performances that were – even at their lowest points in the film – at least serviceable. I can’t really say the same for Gary McCleary. I never really cared about Jason, what he was doing, or what would happen to him. Because of this, the fantastique dread that Del Monte was trying to achieve in Ballet is only partially successful. It’s an uphill battle trying to build foreboding and tension around a character the audience doesn’t care about. I’m hesitant to put the blame squarely on McCleary because, as I said, the script didn’t give him much to work with but I’d say that he probably should bears the brunt of criticism for Ballet‘s dramatic shortcomings.
The most enjoyable part of Ballet is the last 20 minutes. Again, mirroring an actual ballet performance, the film ends with a cathartic crescendo. The cross-cuts between Balakin’s new take on Swan Lake with Claire as the prima ballerina and Jason’s battle against an evil force to save Claire’s soul was quite entertaining, especially because the heretofore unreferenced villain that shows up at the end of the film was just flat-out fucking bizarre. In Del Monte’s commentary on the blu-ray, he says that he was unhappy with this part of the film. For me, it is probably the part about Ballet that I will remember most. It’s at the same time creepy, jarring, and comical, so you know I’m all about it.
I said at the top of this episode that Ballet may or may not be a horror movie, and of that I’m still not sure. IMDB has it listed as a fantasy/thriller and that sounds about right, but what is the difference really between a fantasy/thriller and a PG-rated horror movie, especially when you consider that Ballet contains many of the same tropes that you’d see in a horror movie? Whether or not it is a horror movie, who’s to say and I don’t feel like splitting hairs on this topic, at least not today.
Would I recommend you watch Étoile/Ballet? I think so. I wasn’t in love with this movie but there was enough for me to enjoy in this film that by the time the credits began rolling I felt satisfied with my decision to randomly watch a movie I knew nothing about based solely on the excellent poster art. More often than not, that turns out to be a bad decision. If you like meandering, romantic films with great aesthetics and just a touch of fantasy, dread, and the occult, look no further, Ballet is the perfect movie for you in that case and I recommend it. If not, well, probably just skip this one unless you want to form your own opinion on the Étoile / Perfect Blue / Black Swan connection.
Ballet is not available for streaming anywhere.
And that wraps things us for us this week on Channel 83. Tune in next week for our special guest episode.
This week we’re covering the “lost” 1989 Jennifer Connelly film, Ballet. We discuss whether or not this movie is actually a horror and we also discuss the strange connection between Ballet, Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue, and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.
Hello videodrones and thanks for tuning in to Channel 83. We are the TV guide for weirdos, the video word made flesh, evangelists of the obscure, and you wouldn’t like us when we’re angry. It is Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020, and today we’re bringing you another episode of Werewolf Wednesday.
This is probably the only episode we’re gonna be doing this week. I’ve been spending some time getting ready for a special episode that we’ll be doing pretty soon featuring our first guest on the show that isn’t married to me. So, look forward to that, I’m not sure if that one will be coming out next week or the week after but it should be a good one and I’m pretty excited about it and we’re going to try and have more guests on the show in the future; I’ve already reached out to a few people. Other than that, not much to talk about so let’s just get into Werewolf, shall we?
Well, I wasn’t too sure how I was going to do these episodes but after watching a bit of the series, I think I’m just going to do 3 episodes of the show per cast because it just so happens that these 3 episodes sort of make up a nice little arc.
So, after the excellent 90 minute pilot that we reviewed last week in episode 78, the series begins on a cliff hanger. Eric Cord has been turned into a werewolf and he must now track down the werewolf that originated the werewolf bloodline, a boat captain named Janos Skorzeny. Eric needs to kill Skorzeny to lift the curse and that’s where we pick things up in the second episode of the series, titled “Nightwatch”. Like the pilot episode, this one was directed by David Hemmings and written by series creator Frank Lupo. This would be the last episode of Werewolf to be written by Lupo.
This episode begins with Eric hiding out on Skorzeny’s boat waiting for the captain to return so that Eric can kill him with some silver bullets. Skorzeny shows up, words are exchanged, and Skorzeny tells Eric that he has killed Eric’s girlfriend Kelly. Eric unloads a revolver’s worth of silver bullets into Skorzeny’s chest but they seem to have no effect. Right as Skorzeny attacks Eric, Eric wakes up. It was all a dream and thank god because I’d be sad to see Michelle Johnson’s character killed off so soon.
Even though the confrontation between Eric and Skorzeny was all a dream, Eric actually is waiting for Skorzeny on the boat and he actually does have a revolver and some silver bullets. He opens up a journal and begins writing a letter to Kelly explaining how he ended up on Skorzeny’s boat and we’re taken to a flashback of Eric contracting a gunsmith to make some silver bullets. So, this is pretty similar to the pilot episode that began with a monologue from Alamo Joe that occurred at the end of the events of the episode before we’re transported back to the beginning to see what led up to it.
After leaving the gunsmith’s, Eric goes to a bar on the docks to look for Skorzeny. A sailor tells him that Skorzeny is there right now, sitting at the end of the bar. Eric approaches Skorzeny, readying his revolver, but is interrupted by another patron. When Eric looks again at the end of the bar, Skorzeny has left, escaping out the back exit. Eric gives chase in the alley but it turns out he was following the wrong guy and the guy he was following is pissed. The stranger, who identifies himself as Mueller, roughs Eric up a bit before Eric finally gets fed up and pulls his gun out and runs away. After this we get a scene of Alamo Joe hot on Eric’s trail, questioning the gunsmith. Then, we’re taken back to Skorzeny’s boat and the episode now picks back up on the night it began. Eric is asleep in the cabin of Skorzeny’s boat and Skorzeny strolls forebodingly along the dock. Skorzeny is stopped by Mueller and we learn that the two know each other. Mueller tells Skorzeny that there’s a young man with a gun looking for him. He also basically tells Skorzeny to get the hell out of dodge or he’s calling the cops. This, of course, is a mistake and Skorzeny’s eyes go all crazy and he sprouts some wolf fangs and attacks Mueller. Let me just point out that Chuck Connors as Skorzeny looks fucking terrifying with those colored contacts and wolf fangs. Hell, even before that he’s pretty intimidating. He’s a salty old sea captain with an eye patch, so I’m not sure why this dude Mueller thinks he can just roll up on Skorzeny and tell him to kick rocks. But he does, and as a result Eric is awoken by the nearby wolf howl of Skorzeny.
Eric sees the mark of the pentagram on his palm and if you listened to our cast where we covered the pilot episode, you’ll know that this means he’s about to turn into a werewolf. Eric patrols the dock in search of Skorzeny before returning to Skorzeny’s boat to find the young sailor that he had spoken to earlier at the dockside bar. The sailor tells Eric that he knows who Eric is and that there’s been a bounty hunter asking around about him. The sailor, along with an accomplice, attempts to tie Eric up but we all know this isn’t going to work out. Eric turns into a werewolf, slashes the sailor’s throat, and tosses his friend aside like a ragdoll. Just as all this is happening, Alamo Joe shows up and begins to fire at Eric. Eric leaps off the boat and into the water, narrowly escaping Alamo Joe. Alamo Joe is on the boat the next morning talking to the police. The police say that these sorts of attacks have been going on for a month, which piques Alamo Joe’s interest because he knows that Eric has not been in Santa Clara for a whole month. This is the first time that Alamo Joe has any indication that there may be more than one werewolf. The episode ends with Eric washed up naked on the beach while some wailing guitar music plays.
The next episode titled “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf”, is a bit of a change of pace. This one was directed by Larry Shaw. Shaw has mostly directed television shows but he has a few TV movies to his name as well, including a movie from 1996 called The Uninvited. No, not the one about the alien cat and no, not The Uninvited starring Elizabeth Banks, either. Shaw’s film The Uninvited is a boiler-plate made-for-TV haunted house film starring Beau Bridges. Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf” is the first episode to not be written by Frank Lupo. This one was written by Mark Jones who was featured on this show way back in episode 16. He is the writer and director 1995’s Rumpelstiltkin but he will best be known to horror fans as the auteur behind the Leprechaun franchise. This episode of Werewolf came well before Jones’s 1993 directorial debut with the first entry into the Leprechaun series but he had already written for a number of TV shows at this point including A.L.F., Rubik, the Amazing Cube, and the Mister T animated series.
This episode begins with Alamo Joe chasing Eric (who is in full werewolf mode) through some woods somewhere. It’s a bit confusing since when last we saw Eric, he was naked on a beach but it doesn’t really matter all that much I suppose. Alamo Joe manages to shoot Eric, and Eric is discovered by a young boy who lives nearby. The young boy’s name is Davey Harris (played by Danny Cooksey who will best be known from his roles as Budnick on Salute Your Shorts and John Connor’s ginger friend in Terminator 2). Davey lives with his mother Leah who has an abusive boyfriend named Bobby. Davey is obsessed with monsters, so when he finds a wounded werewolf, naturally he leads the werewolf to his treehouse hideout. When Eric comes to the next morning, he finds that he has a bullet lodged in his abdomen and tells the 12-year-old Davey that he’ll have to dig the bullet out. Why? I don’t know, but Davey rides his bike to the local doctor and asks for some medical equipment so that he can dig the bullet out of Eric. The doctor obliges and gives Davey some surgical instruments. Why? I don’t know, but later on Alamo Joe comes sniffing around the doctor’s office and when Joe hears the doctor’s story about a local child performing surgery on a werewolf, the bounty hunter knows he’s hit paydirt. Anyway, the next night the drunken boyfriend Bobby starts beating Davey and his mother. Eric hears this and goes to defend the boy and his mom, getting into a fistfight with the boyfriend. In a scene very reminiscent of The Incredible Hulk TV series, Eric transforms into a werewolf and kills the boyfriend. By the time Alamo Joe shows up to the Harris house, Eric has already left and the episode ends with Eric howling at the moon while some wailing guitar music plays.
The fourth episode, “The Black Ship”, sees the introduction of some new names that end up being pretty prominent in the series. This episode was directed by James Darren, an actor/director/musician who has a pretty large body of work but nothing I really recognized other than some TV shows, many of which have ties to Frank Lupo. This is the first of 8 episodes directed by Darren and considering that there are only 29 episodes overall, that’s a pretty sizable chunk. “The Black Ship” was co-written by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch. Again, their credits consist mostly of work on other Frank Lupo productions but Bunch and Cole would go on to write 11 and 12 episodes of Werewolf, respectively.
The episode begins with Eric Cord returning to Santa Clara and inquiring about the whereabouts of Janos Skorzeny. He goes to a building – I’m not really sure what it is, I guess it’s some sort of sailor’s association or like the association that controls the dock. Not too sure but he goes there and asks the guy at the desk for information on Skorzeny. The clerk looks it up and finds that Skorzeny has no address or phone number listed but that a man named Otto Renfield has been paying Skorzeny’s dues for the last 7 years. Now, if you’re familiar with the story of Dracula, the name Renfield should be familiar to you and you probably know where this episode is going.
Eric finds Renfield at a bar. The old sailor tells Eric that he may have some information on where to find Skorzeny and the two go to the derelict ship that Renfield lives on. Renfield shows Eric some pictures of Skorzeny from 30 years ago. Skorzeny looks exactly the same in those pictures as he does in 1987, so we learn another bit of werewolf lore in this one: apparently werewolves in this universe do not age. Renfield tells a story about his sailing days with Skorzeny. 30 years ago, Renfield and Skorzeny robbed and killed a stranger in Australia. During the altercation, Renfield got stabbed in the leg. The wound became gangrenous and Renfield had to have his leg amputated. He was also apprehended by authorities and spent 5 years in prison as a result. Renfield tells Eric that he has hated Skorzeny ever since and he tells Eric that his papers regarding Skorzeny’s locations are in a chest in the jail cell of the brig. Renfield takes Eric to the brig and double-crosses him, locking Eric up in the jail cell just before Eric transforms into a werewolf. Unlike in the last episode, we actually get to see Eric transform and, again, the makeup and effects are solid. Wolf-Eric doesn’t really do anything though, he bangs on the bars of the cell for a little bit before we cut to the next morning where Eric is naked in the cell.
Renfield explains to Eric that he truly does hate Skorzeny but he wants so badly to be turned into a werewolf that he has spent much of his life cleaning up after Skorzeny’s messes in an attempt to get into his good graces. Renfield drops some hints that Skorzeny is far older than Eric had previously believed, perhaps even a few centuries old, so apparently werewolves in this universe are also immortal and that’s the main reason that Renfield wishes so desperately to become one.
Later that day, Skorzeny shows up, does his skin peel werewolf transformation, and attacks Renfield before making a b-line to the brig. By the time Skorzeny-wolf gets to the jail cell, Eric has already managed to escape, so unfortunately we don’t get another werewolf fight in this episode. Eric returns to the ship later on to find the wounded Renfield. Renfield has finally gotten his wish – Skorzeny has finally turned him into a werewolf – but Renfield realizes now that he doesn’t want any part of this and begs Eric to shoot him. Eric obliges, shooting Renfield in the head, and that’s where this episode leaves us.
Ok, so. These three episodes. I liked each of them but I wasn’t as high on these three as I was on the pilot. At this point Werewolf is a series that’s just finding it’s feet so ya gotta cut it some slack and I get that. My main issue with these three episodes is that they don’t do a whole lot to propel the main plot of the story. We do get little tidbits of info and some added lore in these three but there’s really not a whole lot going on. It’s mostly Eric aimlessly pursuing Skorzeny and Alamo Joe aimlessly pursuing Eric. The principle players are all there but nothing is really moving forward and the narrative is sort of in stasis at this point. From the end of the pilot to the end of the 4th episode, it doesn’t seem like anything has changed. Eric is still after Skorzeny, Alamo Joe is still after Eric. That’s about it. And even though I’m harping on the fact that this mini-arc didn’t propel the plot all that much, ironically the episode I enjoyed the most out of the three was the one with the little kid, which has nothing to do with the main plot and could be deleted from the series entirely without affecting the overall story.
In the upcoming episodes what I’d like to see is Michelle Johnson’s character Kelly popping back up at some point. In general, I’d like to see more recurring characters introduced because, as it stands now, each new character we’ve met only appears in one episode and then they’re gone. Or maybe just some more meaningful interaction between the 3 characters we do have. Alamo Joe basically doesn’t interact with Skorzeny or Eric, I mean, he shoots at Eric and there was one scene in episode 2 towards the end where Joe and Skorzeny exchange a few words but I’d like to see more. Overall, though, I’m still on board. Werewolves and wailing guitar music earn a lot of good will from me and this show has both of those things in spades, which is nice. One thing that I do enjoy about this show and something that makes it stick out from the shows its aping off of, is that Eric – as both a werewolf and a human – kills people pretty often. I think so far he’s killed like 5 people, so there’s more at stake for Eric in this show than there is for David Banner in the Hulk TV series. In that show, the whole thing is that Banner doesn’t want to be found out; he doesn’t want people to know that he’s the Hulk. In this show, of course Eric doesn’t want people to know that he’s a werewolf but there’s the added stress of knowing that he could basically turn at any moment and wreck someone’s shit. I’ve always enjoyed stories like this with a sort of morally gray protagonist, it’s part of why I love volume 2 of the Venom comic books so much and I think it’s an interesting and kind of bold choice to have a murderous werewolf be the protagonist of a late 80s television series.
Thus concludes our second installment of Werewolf Wednesday. If you’d like to follow along and watch the series with me, like I said I’m pretty sure you can find it online but if you can’t find it and you want to watch it, just hit me up and I can point you in the right direction. See ya next week.
This week we bring you our second installment of Werewolf Wednesday, in which we cover the forgotten TV series Werewolf that aired from July of 1987 to August of 1988. In this episode we cover the episodes “Nightwatch”, “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf”, and “Black Ship”.
In our first installment of Werewolf Wednesday, we begin our coverage of the forgotten TV series Werewolf that aired from July of 1987 to August of 1988. We’ll be covering some of the production history of the show as well as giving a review of the pilot episode.
This week we talk franchises, the new Hellraiser movie, and we bring you a quick one-off review of 1992’s Star Time. If you’ve ever wondered what Taxi Driver directed by David Lynch and featuring John P. Ryan quoting Karl Marx would be like, Star Time is just the film for you!
In this episode, we’re playing a game of “horror movie tag” in which we answer 11 questions about our relationship with the horror genre and invite our listeners to give their answers as well! This was inspired by a video from Mike at Rotted Reviews so be sure to show him some love and check that out too.
This week we begin a new series on Channel 83. In each episode of Tubi Tuesday, we’ll be going over some movies to help you sift through the free streaming service’s extensive catalog. This week we’re talking Sudden Fury (1993), DNA (1997), Stalking Laura (1993), and Curse of Demon Mountain (1977).
Yet another topical rant this week on Channel 83. Gatekeeping is most definitely an issue in the horror community but is there a difference between gatekeeping and simply having a difference of opinion? Is criticizing a film inherently exclusionary?
We’re being lazy this week and releasing an episode that has been buried in the Channel 83 vault. The original concept of the show was to have 2 hosts, one an avid horror fan and the other a complete horror noob. Scheduling conflicts prevented this first iteration from getting off the ground but here’s a glimpse into the beginnings of Channel 83, our very first episode ever recorded!
Channel 83 joins George Heftler on The Best Little Horror House in Philly to discuss why Larry Cohen’s 1974 film, It’s Alive, is the best horror movie ever made – according to us at least!
We’re still putting our new studio together at Channel 83, so this week we’re taking a quick look at the short films of Irish filmmaker Ruairi Robinson. We’ll be discussing The House on Dame Street (1999), Fifty Percent Grey (2001), The Silent City (2006), Blinky (2011), The Leviathan (2015), and Corporate Monster (2019).
This week, we bring you another topical rant on a niche subject that you probably don’t care about. This episode we ask the questions, to what extent are collectors of rare media responsible for their preservation? What can the average person do to help ensure that rare, obscure, and out-of-print films don’t disappear entirely?