MOVIE MELT Podcast Covers Fangoria’s 1992 Northern Wisconsin Creature Feature: SEVERED TIES!
The latest episode of the Movie Melt podcast is a special one, especially for all of you “cheeseheads” out there-We cover the third Fangoria Films bizarro teen mad scientist monster flick ‘SEVERED TIES’ from 1992! This mostly forgotten gem was filmed in my home state of Wisconsin, way up north in my old stomping grounds-Rhinelander! WTF right? Why in the world would they choose the small town northwoods area to film NOT just Severed Ties but ALL three of their first feature films up there?!
Well the story is truly intriguing and on this episode we bring on special FX artist and native northern Wisconsinite Hank Carlson to tell his wild story of Windsor Lake Studios, the team behind ‘Hellraiser’ who decided to set up shop there. Hank fills us in on how as a small town teen with an unlikely dream of cracking into the biz as a make up artist, he somehow lands his dream job in the late 80s!
We get the scoop on horror history in the making and discuss ‘Severed Ties’ in all of it’s gooey glory! Plus a Wisconsin themed Battle of the bands in this ALL things Wisconsin horror movie mash up..
Who says dreams can’t come true?! Tune in RIGHT HERE to check out the episode and delve head on into one of the strangest horror films of the 1990’s: a practical fx creature feature that’s in desperate need of a fancy blu ray release and a devoted cult following…
The Northwoods of Wisconsin’s 1980s Horror Films & FANGORIA Connection?!
I just visited my old stompin’ grounds up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin & it peaked my interest into a specific window of time in the late 1980s & early 90s when apparently horror movie productions were a hot commodity up there-Fangoria was on the cutting edge of “cheesehead” fright flicks! Who knew? So waaaay up north there’s a cluster of small towns, Eagle River, Three Lakes, Sugar Camp & Rhinelander that were the main staple in filming many of these late 80’s early 90’s horror films. There was a unique studio all the way from the UK that oddly made it’s headquarters somewhere between this little group of cities. My mom currently lives in Three lakes (we had a cottage on a lake there since the 80s, my dad grew up there, my Aunt does too and owns a property in Sugar Camp & my mom also just bough a property in Rhinelander) alas I have spent a LOT of time there throughout my life. In fact I was just up there for an entire month. However I never suspected it was a mini horror mecca until recently. Why? Well let’s find out! Wisconsinite horror fanatics, this one’s for YOU!
Windsor Lake Studios which was based in Eagle River, Wisconsin, (I’ve heard possibly Sugar Camp Wisconsin too?) population 1300, produced a number of films for Fangoria and a few other smaller VHS only companies, though a few actually have made it onto blu ray over the past few years. Oddly only one of the trio of Fangoria Films releases have seen blu ray releases. At the time it was a big deal in the horror community when they started producing their own movies. It’s strange to me how or why a movie studio that produced predominantly horror flicks was open and operational in this tiny region nestled in the thick of the Northwoods and it’s plentiful chain of lakes. It’s definitely NOT Hollywood in the Northwoods-I can fully attest to that! That being said you just might run into a Rhinelander, Hodag (pictured below) in the woods if you’re lucky enough..
Windsor Lake Studio was started in 1987 and attracted the talent of Eagle River native Hank Carlson, only a teen at the time but had ambitions to be the “next Tom Savini”. He went on to become quite an impressive practical fx artist getting his start at Winsdor Lake by being annoyingly persistent, visiting the studio property many times though univited. There’s a great interview with him right here for all of you locals who want the scoop on this regional horror legend. He also gives some excellent perspective in the commentary of the Arrow Video blu ray’s for ‘Trapped Alive’ & ‘The Chill Factor’.
The three owners of the studio were from the UK and producers of major Hollywood hits ‘Heathers’ and more notably ‘Hellraiser’ & ‘Hellraiser II: Hellbound’. Apparently the premiere for ‘Hellraiser’ happened at the Vilas theater in small town Eagle River where Hank Carlson worked. I wish I’d have known that back then dammit!
Movie Review: DARK ENCOUNTER is Top Notch Alien Abduction Family Drama!!
You like classic alien abduction flicks as much as I do? Well the recently released ‘Dark Encounter’ brings to mind movies like ‘Communion’, ‘Fire in the Sky’, ‘Close Encounters’ but also brings some new dramatic plot points to the traditional alien abduction story. Basically we’ve got a small town scenario here where a family’s 8 year old daughter suddenly goes missing one sunny afternoon while home alone. A year passes, with no clues of her whereabouts and the family, along with some close friends gather at their home for a memorial, still trying to come to terms with what happened to her. As the night descends upon their gathering so does a seemingly sinister alien force. Mysterious lights in the sky are seen and soon members of the family begin to go missing in the woods that surrounds the house. It’s not long before the strange lights fill the home and the remaining must try to survive the night while piecing together the very mystery for which they gathered.
It all takes place in the 1980’s and much of it’s imagery is clearly influenced by those classics like ‘E.T’. & ‘Close Encounters’ but it still manages to set those similarities apart by going in unexpected directions. It starts off as the classic extraterrestrial abduction story but ends up with revelations far more disturbing to the family dynamic set up earlier. It looks great too, beautifully shot with plenty of tense scenes set out in the woods while strange colors shine through the trees. They capture a sense of a looming alien presence that’s purely unsettling and mysterious creating some great scenes of raw tension. There’s some great acting here as well, everyone’s quite convincing in their roles which lends tremendously to the mystery of it. As far as those little green men though, people waiting for alien mayhem might walk away a bit disappointed from Dark Encounter. While I ultimately appreciated the movie at it’s end for different reasons I was of course hoping things were going to climax with some human vs E.T. action. I still think someone needs to churn out a bonkers gray alien vs human abduction flick, I know it was attempted by ‘The Vicious Brothers’ with their 2014 film ‘Extraterrestrial’ and again with “Dark Skies” but somehow in my opinion just missed the mark.
That all being said I think Dark Encounter is most definitely worth watching for fans of the “Alien Abduction” film genre. It’s got an intriguing mystery at it’s core and goes in some surprising directions that also land it firmly into the family drama category as well. Hey if I’m going to watch a family drama this is the kind of move I want to do so with. It will leave you with a bittersweet feeling but it’s definitely an interesting encounter with visitors not of this Earth.
Ho-Ho-Holiday Horror Movies You May Have Missed!
It’s December 2016 is a time for some serious holiday celebration! Sure I’ll be watching a ton of the usual classics like Santa Claus: The Movie, Elf, Rudolph, Gremlins etc etc. However I’m going to be busting out the Christmas horror movies again this of course and hopefully here I’ll be able to give you a few ideas of some movies to check out if you’re feeling like mixing it up a bit this year. We all know about the classics like Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night, last years instant classic Krampus. Well here’s a few you may have never heard of but you should definitely seek out this season!
3615 code Pere Noel / AKA ‘Deadly Games’ (1989)
A true lost & forgotten gem of a movie. If you search the net for Christmas Horror movies, you for some crazy reason won’t find this one on any of the lists. However this french film, which I first saw last year, is easily one of the best Christmas horror movies of all time. It’s a rare one and finding a version of it with subtitles can be pretty difficult, I got a copy off of Ioffer.com.
Searching this one out is totally worth it though as it plays out like the ultimate 80’s Amblin style “Home Alone” hybrid of a film. It screams of the 1980’s and features a super cool kid obsessed with action movies who lives in a gigantic castle style mansion. During a snow storm on Christmas eve, he finds himself home alone with his grandfather where the house becomes under siege by a crazed maniac who is convinced he’s Santa Claus & is hell bent on punishing all those who’ve been naughty. This one deserves a proper release and then it rightly deserves to be a new addition on ALL Christmas horror lists.
The Christmas Tale (2005) Continue reading
Two Rare Christmas Fright Flicks You’ve Never Seen Before!
I’ve been trying to find some cool different movies this week for a Christmas horror movie night this weekend and I’ve gotta tell ya’ aside from the go to standards like (Black Christmas, Rare Exports, Silent Night Deadly Night, etc.) the pickin’s are pretty dang slim! There’s a serious shortage of cool weird ass fun Holiday flicks out there (however there are quite few unwatchable messes) but doing the research I’ve found two that I need to see, hopefully before Christmas is upon us this year!
First up is an odd movie way back from 1984 called “Tales of the Third Dimension”. This anthology was apparently released originally in 3-D & from what I gather the third and final story “Visions of Sugar Plums” which just happens to be the Christmas story is the only segment that’s well worth watching.
It involves two kids being dropped off at their Grandma’s house during Christmas the bad news is that Granny’s almost out of meds! So Granny loses her mind and then all sorts of crazy shit goes down, I could only find one clip on Youtube but it’s a damn good one. I’d like to get my hands on this full episode I’ve only seen it for sale on Amazon but it’s got a cool ass movie poster as well. This one could be worth the trouble of hunting down if you’re looking for something new this year!
Second I found a french movie from 1989 that looks pretty amazing called “Deadly Games” or “Game Over” or “3615 Hide and Freak” or it’s original title “3615 code Pere Noel”. This one looks pretty incredible and I actually tracked down a copy online and I’m hoping it gets here before Christmas.
This movie’s pretty unknown here in the USA but many see it as a darker version of “Home Alone” even though this one was filmed and released before. It’s described as a mix between Home Alone and Rambo boasting some dynamic action sequences.
The main character is rich kid who’s mansion home is invaded by an incredibly creepy down on his luck psycho in a Santa costume. The kid gets suited up in his army duds and paints his face all camo as he sets up deadly traps all over and tries to protect his Grandpa from the attacker.
It looks like quite an adventure and I’m always game for a cool 80’s flick done in that old school Amblin style. You can watch the whole thing on You Tube, but unfortunately it’s all in German. Check out this rad trailer!
This Christmas Will Be a Full On Battle of the Krampuses!!
Finally we’ve gotten the official trailer for Michael Dougherty’s upcoming Christmas horror flick simple titled “Krampus” and it looks amazing!!! I’m so stoked for this film this Christmas I’d put it directly behind ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ as the movie I’ve been most excited for in 2015. Dougherty’s the guy responsible for the incredible 2007 Halloween themed movie ‘Trick R Treat’. If you’ve seen that then you know he’s got the skills to give us an incredible holiday horror movie!
Yep I’ve waited it seems my whole life for a proper Krampus horror movie, let’s face it, it’s completely absurd that it’s somehow taken this long to get one. If you’ve yet to see this trailer check it out right now:
But wait! Dougherty’s ‘Krampus’ flick has an opponent this year in the form another movie which features Krampus as one of it’s main antagonists, ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ is also slated for release this year! Not only does this movie feature Krampus, but also features William Shatner and a horde of evil zombie elves who attack Santa Claus! This one also seems to feature, by a split second in the trailer a battle between Santa and muthfukin’ Krampus!! Ahhhh!
This year we’ve got some good ones to look forward to that’s for sure. So I’m a bit torn thus far on which one will be the “definitive” Krampus flick. My gut tells me Dougherty’s is going to be the clear victor as I’m digging the look so far of Krampus in his movie as huge hulking frightening monster while in ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ he looks totally fierce but more of a man beast bodybuilder dude. I’ve also heard Kevin Smith had a Krampus movie in the works (but maybe he decided to jump ship as the competition got fierce) and also that Jim Henson studios were developing one called “Happy Krampus”. My guess is we won’t be seeing these until next year. So what do you think? Which of the two Krampus movies do YOU think will emerge victorious in this year’s battle of the Krampuses?!!