Monday, October 28, 2013


Recently, Yahoo published an article asking young people if they found the 1978 film Halloween scary.

First of all, you shouldn't ask people their opinion, because they'll often give it to you, and you probably won't like the answer you get. It'll be ill-informed and probably misspelled, even if it's verbal. Second, you shouldn't ask young people things. They text when they drive and listen to the music fabricated for pop sensation Miley Cyrus, so their judgment can't really be trusted.

Young people are dumb, and you really need some age and wisdom in order to be taken seriously.

Third, you're going to be hard pressed to find something that's scary in a horror film after any length of time. Everything in Halloween has been done since, to greater or lesser degrees. It's become so familiar it's almost passe.

Sure, the dialogue in Halloween hasn't aged well. The 30-year old actors-playing-teenagers' forced, wooden dialogue didn't even ring true when it was released. However, Halloween is well-paced and effectively shot in near darkness. Michael Myers spends the majority of the movie hiding ominously in the shadows or lurking semi-obscured by hedges, ramping up the tension. John Carpenter has created a suburban Halloween where the night is ruled by the young, filled with the promise of sex, drugs and rock & roll. It's a night where adults are foolish, absent or ineffective. His urgent, ominous score is still nightmare fuel. While naive compared to some modern horror films, Halloween generates a few thrills.

I Sell The Dead

A grave-robber facing the guillotine recounts his adventures with corpses, vampires, and zombies in this wry British horror-comedy. Many horror films glamorize grave-robbing. According to the Frankenstein legend, all you do is dig a hole, haul out a coffin, throw it aboard a horse-drawn cart, and create your monster.

In old movies, there is no stench. You won't be covered in filth or rancid liquids. Grave-robbing is no sweat. So I enjoyed the refreshing take on grave-robbing dramatized in I Sell the Dead, and the matter-of-fact stumbling upon undead creatures. Of course you'll dig up the occasional vampire. Duh.


The reclusive author is examined in this speculative, lurid documentary. Filmed over several years, Salinger features many interviews of past partners and associates, but besmirches the late author's legacy at the end, pitches the film-maker's book, and teases with the all-too-familiar promise of new works from the cranky, eccentric, less-than-prolifically-published writer. Oops, spoiler alert.

Being a cranky, eccentric recluse, I take offense at the stalking of Salinger by his fans and the media. Having said that, I also understand how savvy Salinger was in the understanding of his own image, the anti-marketing of his product, and his manipulation of the public that needed to know more about him. Secrets are interesting, and they sell.

The Innkeepers

Unappealing amateur ghost-hunting hotel employees eat sandwiches wrapped in aluminum foil and drink Schlitz beer in this dreary thriller. Some sort of vague tragedy happened in a not-especially-old-looking hotel many years ago, but it's unclear exactly what that was. It doesn't matter really. There are some creepy moments, but often the cool stuff is interrupted by the irritatingly vapid thumbnail-sketch characters. Anyway, some vaguely plot-like stuff happens, but it's usually seen-it-coming-a-mile-a-way jump scares. Was the old guy the ghost's fiancee? Who knows? Someone forgot to tell us.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Band Called Death

I've been busier than usual, and it's because Mrs. Deathrage bought me a new video game, and by "bought me a new video game" I really mean, "bought herself a new video game which I get to use occasionally". It's called Rocksmith, and you use an actual guitar to play the game. Meanwhile, you learn to play your guitar better, or at least that's the idea.

I have been a novice guitar player for years, being able to strum a handful chords and never really progressing. Mrs. Deathrage does not play guitar. However, she has been picking along impressively to the likes of Radiohead, Muse, and the Shins for the past 5 days, and she's kicking my sorry ass at this game. I am having the most difficult time mastering skills I was fairly certain I already had and creating an awful racket. Growing increasingly frustrated with my hammer-ons and pull-offs, I have plateaued; and by "plateaued" I really mean "screaming hysterically and hurling approximately a dozen guitars off the penthouse balcony in an absurd rage, while chunks of splintered wood, necks, strings, and pickups are piling up in the alley 42 stories below".

It's fine.

Using interviews and family photos, the story of a Detroit band called Death unfolds. Touching and bittersweet, the story really gets exciting when Death's records are literally rediscovered after the master tapes sat in an attic for over 30 years. I enjoyed the film A Band Called Death, but Rocksmith may be the death of me.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stabford Deathrage's Top Ten Haunted House Movies

I had the night off, so I decided to have a mini-marathon of haunted house movies, and by "mini-marathon" I really mean "drag out a bunch of DVDs and then only watch two of them because I started them late and spent more time eating boxes of Tastykakes and Instagramming scary movie clips than actually watching movies". A friend of mine (yes, I have a couple of friends) said I should make a list of the haunted house movies I would watch in a marathon, and here they are.

I'm kind of a stickler about the term "haunted house movie", and assembling this list was remarkably difficult. As much as I love old, dark, spooky houses, to be included in this list the house must have at least one ghost haunting it, so The Old Dark House is out. I am not including films that involve ghosts but where the dwelling is not the main event or where the ghosts don't seem to be attached to one particular dwelling, so The Sixth Sense and The Eye are out. I am not listing movies about haunted things, just haunted houses, so Ringu is out. I am not including comedies, and if it's a horror comedy it should be more horrific than comedic, so Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, and Abbott and Costello's Hold That Ghost are out. And again, the film has to have at least one ghost in it and not something paranormal that has ghost-like qualities, so The Amityville Horror, House, The Evil Dead and The Entity are out. And lastly, the ghost can't be a living person pretending to be a ghost, so The House On Haunted Hill or any episode of Scooby Doo is also out. There are no remakes on this list. You should still watch all the ghost movies in this paragraph I left out, because they're all great. Yes, even Scooby Doo, but just the first season.

I'm listing them in alphabetical order, because I don't like math; but I do like lists and creating posts just so people will click on my blog and view them, and people seem to click on Top Ten lists. Don't expect any big surprises. There's a reason these movies end up on lots of Top Ten lists, and it's because they're pretty great.

My own criteria often got the best of me. You'll be just fine.

I'm not going in depth reviewing each one. It's just a list. Relax already.

Stabford Deathrage's Top Ten Haunted House Movies By Stabford Deathrage

The Changeling

I've always liked this George C. Scott film where a composer moves into a haunted house. I'm a sucker for things that moves around on their own, a creepy attic, and EVPs. 

The Devil's Backbone

An orphan sees ghosts during the Spanish Civil War in this early Guillermo Del Toro film. There are too many great ghostly moments to list in this beautifully-shot, complex and terrifying film, so just watch it.

The Haunting

The granddaddy of all haunted house movies, The Haunting still holds up after 30 or 40 viewings. Primarily using sound effects to scare, it's still remarkably effective.

The Innocents

Probably my favorite haunted house film, Deborah Kerr stars as a governess who moves into a haunted estate to babysit two creepy children. Even after more than a dozen viewings, I still get goose-bumps from this film.


OK, so I broke one of my many rules. Kwaidan doesn't occur in a stereotypical haunted house, and it isn't mentioned very often in lists of ghost movies. That's a shame, but I guess 3-hour long Japanese ghost stories aren't very popular. That's also a shame, because Kwaidan is very lovely and you can see where the current style of J-horror ghosts with long black hair originated from.

The Others

Nicole Kidman waits for her husband with her two children in this chilling film. There's a twist, and it's great.


A suburban family has things go bump in the night, during the day, and out in the swimming pool in this Steven Spielberg produced film. I once dressed my children up as the clown from Poltergeist, and had them hand out candy one year for Halloween. We didn't give out much candy that year.

The Shining

A jerk becomes the caretaker of a haunted hotel in this meditative film by Stanley Kubrick. I recently watched the documentary Room 237 hoping to get some new insight into this enigmatic film, but that didn't work at all. In fact, I nearly left this film off my list, as the ghosts seem to take a backseat to the mental unravelling of the Jack Nicholson character. 

The Uninvited

Siblings move into a haunted house near a cliff in this melodramatic ghost story. The Uninvited hasn't aged as well as the other films on this list, but I still like it.

and finally...

 The Woman In Black

Children die upon seeing the Woman In Black in this gothic British television movie. There doesn't seem to be a trailer, but here's a clip that's the least spoileriffic.

Sorry, but I didn't care for Paranormal Activity or Ju-On. If you like them so much, put them on your own list.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


A man purchases a Rubik's Cube which reunites him with a lost love and some old friends in this gooey romantic drama. I'm sorry, but this kind of overly sentimental film that oozes and drips with soft-focus lovey-dovey leaves me cold. I just have no interest in watching those old cliches where a couple moves into a house and start doing renovations, and then someone's old love interest shows up which throws their relationship in a spin, and then they have to invite some folks over wearing leather and rubber to liven stuff up, and then everyone learns a valuable 1980s-shoulder-pad-based lesson in the end. If I wanted to watch Lifetime, I'd turn my cable back on.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I realize that I said at the beginning of October that I was only going to watch horror films, but that plan has definitely gone out the window. Mrs. Deathrage and I went to the theatre and saw Gravity in 3D. It was spectacular, but I don't think I would ever watch it again. There's just too much junk spinning around in it. It gave me a slight case of vertigo. I've only been to space a few times, like that time I battled giant robots on the Moon, and I don't remember ever having twirled around like everything does in Gravity. Sure, I understand that there were extenuating circumstances causing Sandra Bullock to spin around like a top, and the little home-made rocket-ship I "borrowed" from my arch-nemesis Robot Monster wasn't crashed into by the International Space Station.

Robot Monster fashioned out his rocket of cardboard, vacuum cleaner hoses and Mason Jars, and I piloted it to the Moon just to get on his nerves. Anyway, I could've vomited up my Junior Mints watching Sandra Bullock somersault for 45 minutes. Flying to the moon isn't rocket science, for crying out loud. You just point the nose of the rocket at the Moon, press the big red Go button, and fly. I mean, you hardly even have to fiddle with the rocket's levers that very well might have once been on a child's Green Machine. You don't even have to turn.

No big whoop. Anyway, you know that old saying, "The shortest distance between the Earth and the Moon in a stolen rocket-ship is a straight line"? Well, if your trajectory isn't littered with trillions of dollars in chunks of spacecraft debris, it is.

Evil Dead II

I fell asleep watching Evil Dead II. I know! Evil Dead II is filled with puppets and things screaming for 90 minutes, and I slept through it.

What has me very concerned is the fact that I remained wide awake later when I accidentally watched an episode of The New Girl.

And by "I accidentally watched an episode of The New Girl" I really mean "I purposefully watched an entire season of The New Girl and I don't know what's wrong with me or how I've lost control of my life".

I'll admit it, I like The New Girl. It's cute and absurd, but it's taken over my life, and I want my life back.

Dragon Crusaders

Unconvincing Knights Templars board a unconvincingly cursed ship as unconvincing pirates rise from the unconvincing dead and unconvincing dragons unconvincingly attack in this helicopter-free Asylum film. There's unconvincing CGI gargoyles, dragons, and sorcery in this strangely bloodless movie, and I wish I could break down the plot for you but it doesn't make a lot of sense. You can tell the pirates have risen from the dead because they have a case of the Crazy-Eyes, but nothing else would really give you a clue. People speak in unconvincing gibberish, unconvincingly look at things in the distance and scream, and unconvincingly transform into gargoyles, which is odd because this movies is supposed to be about dragons. Just when you think these Welsh sort-of-dragony high-jinks couldn't become sillier, someone invents the Holy Hand Grenade Of Antioch and you almost expect someone to bang coconut shells together.

They don't, unfortunately. However, swords clank together, people do somersaults, and wear relatively useless chain-mail; so there's that. Dragon Crusaders is the Birdemic of 12th century Knights Templar gargoyle movies.

Our Idiot Brother

Unlikeable people do unlikeable things in this unlikeable, laugh-free comedy. Paul Rudd plays a stick-figure of a character who is the catalyst for unpleasant changes in his narcissistic family's life, and he affably wanders about like a zen, tie-dyed Post-It note. I cringed throughout this film wondering when the nearly-always-funny Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Steve Coogan would be funny. It didn't happen. Here's the trailer:

I know. Even the trailer is a chore to watch. I'm sorry I posted it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bride Of Frankenstein

If I had a nickel for every time I was chased through the countryside by torch-wielding villagers, I'd have 65 cents.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


A man moves into his grandmother's spooky rent-controlled apartment on the Upper West Side for 12 days in this plot-hole ridden thriller, and by "spooky" I mean "3500 square feet near Central Park for $650 a month". I mean seriously, for $650 a month an apartment that great would have to have all the ghosts of Poltergeist and The Haunting plus the serial killers Freddy Kruger and Michael Myers and the xenomorph from Alien all sleeping on a fold-out couch to deter me from living there. I'm not sure what the writer of Occupant finds frightening about a plastic bag filled with women's shoes, but I'm not going to ask because that just opens up a whole big can of worms about this movie. Is there something ill-defined, not-thoroughly-fleshed-out, and paranormal happening in this apartment? Heck if I know, but I sure in the heck would be upset if my overly attached doorman who likes to buy me groceries while I'm unable to leave my enormous New York apartment brought me some gosh-darned Hungry Man dinners when the Popover Cafe is 6 blocks away. I'd be hot mad if Doorman Joe Who Calls Me Baby brought me microwavable entrees when he could have brought me an order of vegetable samosas from Swagat which is literally around the corner. Who even does that? Did Doorman Joe think to himself, "Why, there's hundreds of restaurants nearby. I'm gonna show my BFF that I love him the only sensible way, which is though the power of the Lean Cuisine. Here you go, baby. Eat up."? If so, he gets no tip.

By the way, the grandma who lived in this apartment is a bad ass since because she seemingly held out since New York was called New Amsterdam, and her wimpy grandson couldn't hack it for 12 measly days. Weak.

White Zombie

So I started watching White Zombie for the millionth time last night, and Mrs. Deathrage said to me, "Hey, can we watch a movie?" I said, "Well, we're watching one." She said, "No we're not, and we're not watching this." Because I'm apparently not the boss, even though I run a billion-dollar multi-national brimstone-something-or-other business, I stopped watching White Zombie, and it was right at the part where Bela Lugosi plays Bela Lugosi which is all the time.

I wanted to go to the theatre all summer and watch Pacific Rim, because it's not every day that movies about giant monsters wrestling giant robots play at the 3D googolplex theatre, but Mrs. Deathrage wouldn't allow it. It's now available to buy for the completely unreasonable price of $19.95 at the I-Tunes Store. I said, "You wouldn't allow me to go see it in the theatre, so I'm going to buy it now." She vetoed that plan, which I should have seen coming.

She said, "Let's rent something from the Top Movies." So I started skimming through the completely unacceptable list of movies available to rent, because this is October and I said that I was going to only watch horror movies this month but there weren't many horror films and Mrs. Deathrage would refuse to watch them anwyay and I didn't want to go through the aggravation but I was already aggravated. I saw that This Is The End was available, so not giving Mrs. Deathrage an opportunity to veto it, I immediately rented it. She said, "Wait, what is this movie?", and I gave her a brief synopsis. She said, "The Apocalypse? Why, that's my favorite holiday!" which is why I married her in spite of her bossiness.

This Is The End started playing, and Mrs. Deathrage said, "We can't watch it now. I'm not ready.", and she puttered around the house for another 20 minutes with my laptop, so that I have no computer to pass the time and the movie I rented is about 2 minutes in and the TV is paused with Seth Rogan's affable face glowing in the semi-darkness.

I am totally annoyed, so I say, "Honey, can we watch this movie now? I've started two movies and I'm watching neither". She says, "I like you better when you're at work", which is probably why we've remained married for nearly a century.

This Is The End

Celebrities have an all-male sleepover and cookout in this documentary. I would think with all the money James Franco has, he would have been able to afford more than one Milky Way. I'm pretty sure they have a Costco in Los Angeles, so he could have bought a case or two in case of a Milky Way emergency. I'm not one to tell celebrities how to live their lives, but he shouldn't recklessly spend all his money on art, and should try and keep more Capri Suns in the house for Michael Cera. That guy seems awfully thirsty. Plus, you never can tell when an air-conditioning unit will fall on the clerk at the convenience store, so you should stock up in case strange things like that happen. He lives in Los Angeles, after all, and odd things happen there all the time.

Daughters Of Satan

Tom Selleck's mustache stars in this horror film about a guy that buys a painting of a coven of witches being burned at the stake and one of the witches looks like his wife. So Tom Selleck's mustache buys artwork, drives a convertible, and is often shirtless in pajama bottoms, which is pretty much what it did when it played Magnum PI's mustache on television in the 80s.

Hey, did you know the director of Daughters of Satan, Hollingsworth Morse, directed episodes of the Pufnstuf, Flipper, Dukes Of Hazzard, and Shazam? He did! I had to look it up because I thought with an outlandish name like Hollingsworth Morse it just had to be made up. Turns out, it isn't.

Ghost Bird

October is finally here, and I'm going to try my best to only watch horror movies. I think it's going to work out just fine.

I was really itching to watch a horror film about a paranormal bird, so I watched Ghost Bird on Netflix. Unfortunately, Ghost Bird is about an ordinary bird, not a spectral one. Well, it is kind of spectral bird, because it's about the seemingly extinct ivory-billed woodpecker. But I thought it was going to be about some horrifying bird that rises from the tomb to exact its bloodthirsty revenge on the townspeople that never understood it, or maybe about a zombie bird that roams the urban landscape eating brains. Actually, Ghost Bird does have an awful lot of bird corpses in it, but not the fun kind that shuffles around killing people. Just the regular old dead kind, except they're 100 years old and kept in special bird-corpse drawers in a museum, and that's not especially frightening.