Author: Krista Culbertson

Wicked Wednesday: The Addams Family S1E1 “Happyester Fester” (1992)

So the official trailer for the new The Addams Family movie was released last week. And, well, it’s about exactly what you’d expect. It doesn’t look particularly great, plus there’s that on-going choice to include a rap/pop version of old theme tunes. It’s an “updating” that we don’t really need, but we’re getting anyway.

But our dear Addams have been through many cartoon and animated iterations since its birth as a comic strip in the 30’s. Inspired by the trailer for the new film, I wanted to watch an episode of the 1973 Hanna-Barbera cartoon. This, apparently, follows the Addams as they travel the country in a camper van. Turns out this show is difficult as all hell to track down. The more readily-available version is the 1992 one. And really, the one I’m more familiar with. Mostly because of that iconic main theme.

The show was developed in the wake of the 1991 Barry Sonnenfeld film. And it shares many traits with it’s other versions. Though I suppose it’s kind of difficult to really ‘branch out’ with these characters.

Episode one “Happyester Fester” gives very little background or introduction to the characters. I suppose at this point it assumes you’re just along for the ride.

Uncle Fester is in hiding after several failed inventions. It takes his first success to drag him from his dungeon. The invention, a new fabric, is cheap to make, making Gomez believe that they can generate a really profit from it.

Gomez takes Fester to see their neighbour Norman Normanmeyer, an underwear maker, to sell the fabric. He agrees to buy it, trying to underhand the Addams. But to insentivise them, he offers Fester the role of Vice President. Only Fester isn’t an easy VP to have. His list of unsual suggestions baffle Norman.

Norman and Fester are both targeted by a a rival underwear company. Though being Addamses, Fester escapes with the help of Wednesday and Pugsly. Fester, feeling he has betrayed Norman with all of his demands, decides to give up his formula. And, as a final twist, it’s revealed that Happyfester is incredibly itchy – just the way Fester wanted it.

It’s certinaly a wacky show. Perfect for the asthetic and style of 90s cartoons. The zany humour still remains. It’s a pretty cute show, even if it isn’t the best Addams there is.

And hopefully, despite what the trailer may be trying to tell us, the new movie will also be true to its predeccesors. If not, there are still 20 more episodes of this show to watch.


Wicked Wednesday: Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes (2012)

As the world is seemingly getting smaller, the mysteries of the world seem a bit sillier. And yet, so many of us love the unknown.

This lingering obsession is seen in shows like Ancient Aliens. But increasingly, people are turning to true crime, the unknown more about what we know: ourselves.

In the found-footage movie Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes, a group of contemporary filmmakers head to Northern California where they plan on speaking to a man who claims to have found the body of a Sasquatch. Their leader, the unlikable Sean, believes that their new documentary will be network gold.

When the group arrive, they struggle to find the home of the man they seek. They find a path, but their van gets stuck in the mud. They eventually come face-to-face with Mr Drybeck (played by Frank Ashmore, who absolutely steals the show). The eccentric man takes the group to his cabin in the woods, which is only powered by a generator.

Some of the filmmakers are more excited than others. On one end of the spectrum is sound buy Kevin, who is as meek as a mouse and believes everything Drybeck tells them. Robin, the producer, is a bit more relaxed. She ‘greets the forest people’ with her shaman skills (or something).

That first night, things immediately go south. Something attacks the group from outside the cabin – much to Sea’s delight. And in the morning, Drybeck drives off in his jeep without the filmmakers. In a panic, Kevin goes off on his own to retrieve the van while wearing a body cam.

The remaining group look at the damage done to the cabin and find large scratch marks and urine on the walls. They later find footprints and a nest. Robin is attacked by an unseen something, but is saved by Drybeck, who has returned.

The attack injures Robin pretty severely, hindering her ability to walk. Sean and cameraman Darryl insist on getting her to a hospital, but when they try to leave, they find every road block by large trees.

Sean agrees to stay at the cabin. Drybeck promises to take the remaining men with him to a sea cave to look at the Sasquatch body he’d found. That leaves Robin all alone.

It’s unsurprising when everything goes south from there. But is it the Sasquatch that are really to blame? Or are they really trying to protect people from the spirit world? Since this is found-footage, you don’t really get a lick of an answer.

So…The Lost Coast Tapes isn’t…great. Though I guess it’s as much as you can hope for from a bigfoot movie. Awkwardly acted, but stronger at other points. Confusing camera use (as per usual with the lesser of this genre). Sometimes entertaining. And surprisingly, very few of those scenes where it’s just the shake-y cam pointed at the ground.

But is there really room in our modern world for this type of found-footage film anymore? I suppose there’s a small slice of the audience who care. We make found-footage movies to be convinced by what’s on (or not on) screen. Going into movies like this is strange because we’re already certain that these creatures don’t exist.


Scares are very difficult to come by here. And I think that’s more the subject’s fault than anything.

Though, if there is a good big foot movie. Please send it my way.

Wicked Wednesday: The Umbrella Factory (2013)

Horror stories have been around for thousands of years. The original Grimms’ Fairy Tales can be shocking and horrifying. The Bible has stories of ghosts and floating hands.

We love to be scared and always have been. Which is why The Umbrella Factory‘s simple storytelling is so effective.

One rainy night, three brothers are visited by a traveller. The cold, wet man has no money to offer the brothers in exchange for their hospitality. But he does have a talisman from India that grants wishes.

The eldest brother, the most unkind, asks for a large sum of money. The next day, the brothers go to the umbrella factory they work. Tragedy strikes when the youngest of them dies. The factory manager offers them money on behalf of the youngest brother.

That night, the second brother wishes that the youngest brother was still alive. The wish is granted, and the mutilated brother returns home. Horrified, the eldest brother wishes that none of the events had ever happened.

So again. One rainy night, three brothers are visited by a traveller.

This is a simple story, inspired by “The Monkey’s Paw” by WW Jacobs. It’s a story that many people are familiar with. And even if they’re not, it’s the ages-old moral: be careful what you wish for.

But the most effective part about The Umbrella Factory is the interesting Victorian-inspired animation. It’s use of black and white with splashes of red give this potentially child-ish story a gruesome twist. For less than four minutes, this short horror film gives you plenty of eye candy to look at.

Wicked Wednesday: More summer horror/thriller reads

There’s heatwave in London this week. Being a born-and-bred Wisconsinite, I can handle -30 but melt at anything above “warm-ish”. And there’s no heat quite like city heat. Plus a lot less lakes and rivers to sit by in London than in ‘sconsin.

And that’s excuse number 108 why it’s way too hot to turn on the TV and watch a movie. Our PlayStation creates a bonfire’s worth of heat just by looking at it, so sitting next to it with pen in hand is just not happening this week.

But do you know what doesn’t create heat? Books!

This week is the annual Reading Rush reading challenge (formerly BookTube-a-thon). As per the definition of a read-a-thon, I’m going to try and read as much as possible this week. I’ve lined up a selection of graphic novels, shorter books and audiobooks (which by the way, if you’re still not using Scribd you’re behind on life) to indulge in.

But the summer has always been about reading a lot. We don’t need a reading challenge for that. And now that summer is reaching the halfway point, it’s time to talk about some recent (and future) horror reads.

1. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Cailtin Doughty

So this non-fiction entry isn’t “horror” per se. But I guess that depends on how much you enjoy talking about cremation, corpses and death plans.

I’m late to the game when it comes to Doughty. This YouTuber/Mortician/death enthusiast/all-around-goddess first came to my attention only a few months ago. And it’s safe to say that in that short amount of time I’ve become thoroughly obsessed.

Doughty’s debut novel Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells the story of Doughty’s first job working in a crematorium. The stories can be sweet, funny, heart-breaking and informative. She certainly gets you thinking about your own mortality and about what really happens to your fats when you burn.

I particularly recommend listening to the audiobook, which Doughty reads herself. Her voice is fantastic. Filled with great inflection and humour.

2. Shadowland by Peter Straub

For years now I’ve wanted to read something by Straub, but his work is pretty intimidating. Poor Ghost Story has been sitting unloved on my shelf for ages now. But when I was in Wisconsin this summer, I was in the mood for something a bit scary. And who better to reach for than a fellow creepy Wisconsinite?

Well, turns out Shadowland isn’t a straight-forward horror story. In fact, there’s a lot of fantasy in the pages. But if anything, this story is unsettling as all hell. Straub creates vivid dream-like scenes that (to me) are simultaneously terrifying and confusing. It’s heavy with metaphors and imagery – and not at all in a bad way.

Shadowland follows two boys over the course a year. We’re introduced to them at the beginning of their school year before they are whisked away to New England where they spend a summer with a magician. As the boys learn more magic, the power they see becomes more dangerous and surreal.

I’ve never read anything like Shadowland before. And I doubt I will ever again. But I’m so glad I took the risk.

3. We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Last summer, I read my first Grady Hendrix novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism. That book ticked all the boxes for me: 80s references, female friendships, demons. So when he released a new novel about a heavy metal band, I knew this one would be for me too.

We Sold Our Souls is about one woman’s desire to recollect her past. Having been thrown out of her semi-famous metal band decades earlier, Kris Pulaski is washed-up. The frontman of her band is immensely famous, but Kris hasn’t seen any royalties. She starts to suspect that he didn’t get his fame and power on his own. Kris decides traverse the country to put the band (and the puzzle pieces) back together. Though it’s a far more dangerous road than she things, there’s more than one demon along the way.

This is another horror novel that isn’t so straight-forward with its thrills. Really, it’s about how horrible humans can really be to each other in selfish pursuits. It’s about our fears and paranoias, and that’s very scary indeed.

Also, bonus for great music references.

4. Jughead: The Hunger vol. 1 by Frank Tieri

When Archie Comics released a one-shot about Jughead as a werewolf, all was magnificent. Only it wasn’t. There wasn’t enough.

Thankfully the people at Archie heard our lycanthropic prayers and made Jughead: The Hunger an ongoing series. I’m only halfway through the first volume, and it hasn’t really lived up to expectations thus far. But I do love how much fun Archie Comics have been having with their characters in recent years. This is a brand to always love.

5. Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe

This book, much like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, transfixed me as a young girl. Particularly that wonderful cover by Alan Daniel. Never have bunnies been more terrifying. Beware, Anya!

I sneaked this book out of my parents’ house to England wanting to reread this obvious masterpiece. And that reread is happening 100% soon…as in probably tonight.

6. The audiobook mystery thrillers

Upon discovering the Scribd app, I’ve gone a bit audiobook mad. Thankfully, because it’s easy to discard a book after starting it, I’ve been able to dabble in many different books I wouldn’t normally read. This has made create both good and bad outcomes.

I went into Riley Sager’s The Last Time I Lied with really high expectations. I’d heard great things about his other books. Unsolved murders at a summer camp? Yes please. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t care about the story. There was a fun little twist at the end, but it certainly was a lot to slog through for little reward.

Speaking of high expectations… From the summary for Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey, I thought this would be literally everything I wanted: magic school, murders, detective noir. But this was one seriously not-for-me book. I have never not finished a murder mystery. Even if I don’t like the story, I always finish. This was one solid exception to the rule. Yikes.

On a brighter note, I listened to two YA mysteries that I enjoyed: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson and Little Monsters by Kara Thomas. I highly, highly recommend Little Monsters, even if you aren’t into YA that much. Plus it’s set in Wisconsin, so…

What will you be reading for the rest of the summer? Are you taking part in the Reading Rush read-a-thon? Hopefully you read some winners this year. I know I certainly have.

Wicked Wednesday: Summer horror movie recommendations

In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky

Ah. The hot and dusty days of summer. When smelly people are everywhere, and we all feel ashamed for not losing a bit more weight before squeezing back into those old shorts.

I’m not a fan of summer. I think that’s what I get extra-excited about Halloween early every year (August the 1st, thank you very much). That being said, I love summer horror movies. Give me summer camps, dying shrubbery and sweaty people running from things. It’s a very satisying asthetic.

So I’ve gathered up a few of my favourites. There’s certainly a lot missing here…and there’s a lot of “stretches” involved. But my blog, my rules.

1. The Funhouse (1981)

This little Tobe Hooper number exists in god knows what time of the year. Sometimes it feels like autumn, sometimes summer. I think we can narrow it down to Indian summer at best.

The Funhouse follows a group of teenagers who go to a seedy carnival in town. When they decide to spend the night in the funhouse, they soon find themselves being stalked and killed by the carnival workers.

I always recommend this movie to people delving deeper into slashers, as it’s a rare gem in the genre: something you can watch all the way through without getting bored. But I love the visuals as well. It reminds me of staying at the state fair late into the night, bewildered by all the strangess around me.

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

This is, for me, the ultimate summer classic. Another one of Hooper’s films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre really needs no introduction. It’s truly a masterpiece.

The heat. The sweatiness… It imagery just reeks of summer. It also has a lot of rotting flesh, so I imagine it reeked of that too. We may all have seen it half-a-million times, but who’s to say we can watch it half-a-million more?

3. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Right. So this is not my favourite Lois Duncan adaptation by a long shot. This movie actually upset Duncan when she saw it, as the violence reminded her of her own daughter’s tragic murder. It was stripped of its story and turned into a straight-forward slasher film (no hook-handed fisherman in the original).

But we couldn’t talk about summer horror without the one where it’s literally in the title. While I’m being a bit harsh on it, this is actually entertaining pop-corn fair. Sarah Michelle Gellar is an absolute gem in this one, so really just watch for her performance.

“I don’t think we’re that powerful, Julie. You’re giving us way too much credit.”

4. Spider Baby (1967)

This Jack Hill probably isn’t the film that immediately comes to most people’s minds when it comes to summer horror. But hear me out. Spider Baby is one of the brightest, sunniest horror movies I’ve ever seen.

When a couple go to see a family mansion, they find a group of mentally-regressing children in the home. The house is always being watched by people shading their eyes. That’s probably due to the fact that it was mostly shot in August and September in sunny California.

But there’s something very brave about a bright horror movie. It doesn’t need to always hide behind shadows in order to be unnerving. Yes eventually we spiral into the darkness of both the night and the family, but I think that makes the contrast all the more powerful.

5. Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro aka Eyeball (1975)

Some movies feel more like a season due to their settings. Is it in Salem? It’s perfect to watch in autumn. Is it Norwegian? Put it on in winter! So when this Italian horror gem puts ‘Americans’ on a tour bus in sunny Spain? It’s a summer movie to me, kids.

Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball is one of my favourite gialli. It’s really bizarre (I mean really). It has a banging theme tune. And there’s that one grinning guy with the bag of oranges. Watching Eyeball for the first time was an absolute blast, and it’s been a pleasure to keep re-watching it ever since.

If this doesn’t get you in the travelling-for-summer mood, then I really don’t know what will.

6. Slumber Party Massacer II (1987)

What’s that? Another chance to plug my favourite horror movie sequel? Well, I’ll take that opportunity. Again.

This (literally) dreamy movie mostly takes place during the school year, but it still has some definite end-of-the-school-year vibes. The girls walk around in shades, sing Paisley Underground songs and hang out in unfinished houses. They also get killed by a drill/guitar-wielding maniac. Really just usual plans that we all pencil into our summer schedules.

I think because I associate this movie with the word “fun” so much, I immediately relate it to summer. Because that’s ultimately why most of these movies are here: what’s really the point of summer but to enjoy yourself?

7. The Summer of 84 (2018)

There are many coming-of-age classics: Stand by MeGoonies, and new-comers like Stranger Things. They’re all rich with nostalgia. We’re a nostalgic type of species.

Which is why Summer of 84 is great. It reminds you why you loved the classics of the 80s. It has a plot line that’s well-worn, but well-loved: the person next door isn’t who you think they are. Think of The People Under the Stairs and The Burbs.

Only this book has an added punch to the gut with it’s jaw-dropping ending. It’s the end of both summer, and of naive innocence.

So what is your favourite horror movie to watch in the summer? I bet it’s Friday the 13th. It is, isn’t it?

Wicked Wednesday: The Nightmare Room ep. 1.4 “Tangled Web”

Whoo-ee. It’s been already been one heck of a week, and we’re only half-way there.

I always set out with the best of intentions with this blog. I want to watch a movie, write about my thoughts, enjoy the feeling of being slightly productive. But increasingly, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find the energy. And in a week like this week, I needed a break.

Many a weeks have I Googled random key words like “scary TV shows” or “spooky stuff for kids”. And weirdly, the second one yielded a television show I never heard of: The Nightmare Room.

This little early-millenium show was rather short lived. Only making 13 episodes, which probably explains why it passed me by (despite the fact that I was probably the target demographic at the time of its original airing). It’s a bit surprising it didn’t last longer, considering it’s based on the series of books by R.L. Stine.

Like many of Stine’s Goosebumps works, The Nightmare Room is filled with lessons for obnoxious children. In the fourth episode, “Tangled Web”, we meet Josh. He’s a serial liar and a complete tool (sorry, kid).

One day, a subsitute teacher (David Carradine) arrives at Josh’s class. He collects the children’s homework, and only Josh doesn’t have anything to turn in. Josh tells the sub that it was accidentally stolen during a robbery at his house the night before. The sub believes the boy saying, “I’m sure if he says something is true, then it must be true.”

Things begin to get strange after that for poor Josh. His lies become realities. He finds himself with a bully of an older brother, is actually robbed by clown-mask-wearing thieves, and eventually has to face a tag team of ninjas.

Josh eventually realises that his persistant lying is causing his problems. He eventually wishes everyone away, but it quite literally gets rid of everyone. Then the fool sets the school on fire. But eventually, the kid reaches his sub, Mr Barber, and finds the solution.

This was a fun little episode. Watching Josh’s lies get increasingly silly was entertaining. The children’s acting was pretty shocking, and it stood out more from the well-delivered roles by the adults. That being said, that is almost always the case with these sorts of shows.

I’m really sure why The Nightmare Room exists. If you told me this was a late-era Goosebumps episode, I’d probably believe you. It’s pretty similar in style and tone to the 90s episodes. Just with a bit more wrestler cameos.

This type of horror-for-children shows really hit their prime in the 90s. “Tangled Web” very much felt like the aftermath of that success. But it was definitely what I needed for a smile and a bit of well-needed brain break.

Wicked Wednesday: Dolly Dearest (1991)

I have to admit straight out: doll horror films don’t scare me*. Don’t get me wrong, I hate scary dolls. One of my sisters used to have a clown doll. Hated it. Chucky? Hate ’em. But there’s something so…silly about them. For one: why the hell can’t anyone kill them?

Well, demons for one.

Dolly Dearest was one of the many scary doll movies to come out after the success of Child’s Play. And in many ways, it rips off many of themes there. But it also rips off a number of other themes from popular horror films.

And yet, it’s strangely very watchable. That’s due to a pretty solid cast, which definitely makes this more than a mere knock-off.

Husband and wife Marilyn and Wade (Denise Crosby and Sam Bottoms) move their young family to Mexico, where Wade believes he can make a fortune manufacurting dolls. But when he arrives at his newly-bought factory, he finds only an archeological dig and a run-down shack that’s his ‘factory’. The seller tells him that it hasn’t been touched since the old doll make who owned it before died.

The family begin to explore the factory when Wade’s young daughter, Jessica, spots one of the woman’s old dolls. She asks for one, and her wish is immediately granted.

Back at their new home, the family’s maid Camilla (Lupa Ontiveros aka THAT BITCH YOLANDA!) asks the house to be blessed. This upsets Jessica, and she becomes upset. Well, less upset and more Damien at church.

Both Camilla and Marilyn become concerned as Jessica increasingly spends time in the dollhouse in th family’s backyard. Jessica acts like a brat, not her usual way. She pushes the maid. She talks back to her mom. She speaks to Camilla in an ancient language. A some-what unusual moodswing.

One night, Jessica sneaks out to do to the doll house. Only Camilla catches her first. As punishment, Jessica’s dolly lures Camilla into the cellar where she meets her death.

Unaware that anything is unusual abou the death, the family try to continue as normal. But Jessica continues to become a pint-sized Regan MacNeil. Jessica’s brother, Jimmy, spends his time scoping out the dig site near the factory. While he originally believes it to be Mayan, he later learns from a university professor (Rip Thorn) that it’s Sanzian.

Through his reading, Jimmy learns that the Sanzians were pretty Satanic people. They tried to make a devil child, and had to destroy their handywork when things spiralled out of control.

By the time Jimmy and Marilyn realise something is seriously wrong with Jessica, the little girl has gone full-on possessed. And “Dolly” has become a twisted, demonic entity.

Now. Dolls are small. Kick them. Dismantle them. Set them on fire. You do NOT need to run away from a doll. Unless it’s going to pushing you in a well and electrocute you. RIP Camilla.

That’s what makes the last act more of a comedy than a horror film. While the dolls look creepy as all hell, it’s sort of difficult to take them seriously. In the end, despite being an ancient spirit or whatever, the dolls are destroy by being blown up. That’s it. It seems simple enough. Jessica gets off scot free and all.

I won’t pretend that Dolly Dearest is a work of art. It really isn’t. But it is fun. Definitely a hidden gem in the scary doll genre. But if you’re already unafraid of dolls, this isn’t the film to change your mind.

*”The Tale of the Dollmarker” will always be the exception to the rule….and Talky Tina. Ok and that thing from Trilogy of Terror.