Wicked Wednesday: Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

For last year’s Women in Horror Month, I watched Slumber Party Massacre, the first in a series of films that were directed exclusively by female directors.

I watch a lot of 80’s slashers, so I found it slightly difficult to recall the first movie without having to look up the synopsis online. But never fear, Slumber Party Massacre II is a film that will never leave my memory.

Written and directed by Deborah Brock, this sequel is more ridiculous and zany than it’s predecessor. It’s also quite a bit more fun. And why? Well, it still has a driller killer as with the first one. But this drill? This drill is on the end of a guitar! A GUITAR! No explanation needed!

(I’m only saying that because we don’t get one anyway.)

Young Courtney is no longer young. Her older sister Valerie is now in a mental hospital after the horrors the two faced years ago at the first slumber party massacre. Courtney has nightmares about that night. Nightmares about scenes she wasn’t even in. Freaky.

But Courtney has developed a life away from that. She’s in a kickin’ band with her pals, and her crush, Matt, is interested in her. Under her friend Shelia’s insistence, Courtney invites Matt to Shelia’s dad’s new condo over the weekend. It is, after all, Shelia’s birthday.

A slumber party in an out-of-the-way condo? What could go wrong? Well, Courtney’s mom certainly doesn’t want her to go. But her daughter pulls the water works and cries that she doesn’t want to spend her birthday in a mental hospital. Fair enough. Her mother cracks and allows her daughter to do.

The band head off to the condo together, and all seems to be well. While at a stop, Courtney falls asleep where she dreams of a man warning her to not go “all the way”. In her dream he drills through Valerie, who’s on her bed in the mental hospital, with his guitar-drill thing. Courtney wakes up, and assumes that it was just that: a dream.

But the girls arrive at the condo, which means Courtney can’t be bothered to worry about her stupid sister’s fate. The girls get settled, have a pillow fight and strip off (as ladies do). Meanwhile, boys TJ and Jeff arrive to build the sexual tension.

That night while Shelia has sex with one of the boys (I think it’s TJ. Lord knows.), Courtney falls asleep to another nightmare of the Driller Killer. The nightmare tires her out, and in the morning, she’s barely registering anything. The day gets progressively gets worse for her as she begins to have more visions.

But the visions come to a head when Courtney has her own Nightmare on Elm Street bath filled with blood. She screams for help, and her friend Sally arrives in the bathroom, but sees nothing. When Sally tries speaking Courtney, Courtney sees the pimple on Sally’s face grow and eventually melt her entire face (or something).

Courtney runs out of the bathroom to get helps from the others, but they can’t find Sally anywhere. Hours later, they assume something has happened to her and they call the police. The police believe the kids are making things up (especially Courtney, who does herself no favours be describing what happened literally instead of making up stuff that sounds real).

But Sally waltzes back into the house like nothing happened, saying that she went to the shop. The police are then pretty convinced that they never need to believe these kids again…despite the fact that Sally had been missing for hours. But whatever.

Since Matt arrived at the condo earlier that day, he and Courtney now have their time alone. And in what has to be one of the more incredible scenes of the film, the couple have their own Sixteen Candles moment and it is fucking hilarious. Matt brings her a cake that looks like it has been set on fire, and they make out over it.

As the two get busy, Courtney starts to think about the Driller Killer again. And just when things get intimate, Matt gets drilled through the back. The Driller Killer, now out of Courtney’s dreams and into her car, is officially there to terrorise the kids.

As Courtney rushes downstairs, her tries to tell her friends what happened. They all try to split, but no one goes in the same direction. Shelia and TJ go off alone while Courtney, Jeff and Amy head in the opposite direction.

Sally gets killed off first, but she deserved it for being an asshole earlier.

But it hardly matters anyway, as the guitar/drill-wielding dancing killer gets them all in very quick succession. It takes no time at all, and it’s down to Amy and Courtney.

The two girls try to escape the killer through building sites, but Amy eventually falls to her death. When Courtney is finally cornered by the Driller Killer, she’s able to escape him by setting him on fire. This seemingly ends things, but in yet another Nightmare on Elm Street moment, Courtney wakes up from a dream and finds herself in a room in a mental hospital.

It’s great. It’s really great.

The scenes where the Driller Killer peruses the kids are fucking great. While many slashers really tend to drag in the final chase, Slumber Party Massacre II really keeps things (hilariously) interesting.  I like the scenes that are send ups of John Hughes films and the little nods to other horror films.

Do I get what any of this means? Hell no! But it’s certainly something that’s bonkers enough that you need to make all your friends watch it just so you can talk about it.

One of the biggest mistakes the movie made was making these girls likable. Sure, they’re a bit much. But they all feel real and fleshed out. Plus they love Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, and they’re all super terrible dancers!

There’s actually a lot of familiar faces in this one. Heidi Kozak from Society and Friday the 13th pt VII and Juliet Cummins from Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. 

The music is pretty great, too. The band Wednesday Week provided the music for the girls’ band. They were a part of the Paisley Underground scene, which explains why the songs are so Bangles-esque. But the highlight has to be “Tokyo Convertible” by First Born.

I loved Slumber Party Massacre II for all of its insanity. It probably won’t work for everyone, but it certainly made itself memorable. Props to writer and director Deborah Brock. You owned it, lady. Whatever it was that you were trying to do.

I just want to add that Women in Horror Month has been fantastic these first two weeks. The most fun I’ve had watching films in a long time.


Riverdale Ep. 26 recap “Chapter Twenty-Six: The Tell-Tale Heart”

There is nothing better than a villain you love to hate. And Chic, I’m on to you. You skeezy creep.

This week’s episode of Riverdale gave us all plenty of reasons to hate on the evil-doers of Riverdale.

Last week, we were left watching Alice Cooper cleaning up the blood surrounding the corpse on her living room rug. She explains to Betty that Chic killed the man. Betty wants to call the police, thinking it was self-defence, but Alice ignores her.

While Chic sits alone ‘crying’ like an idiot, the Cooper women work together to clean up his mess. They bleach the house and then take the corpse to Alice’s “secret place” – a lonely sewer pipe.

Unsurprisingly, Betty doesn’t handle this well. She barely sleeps, doesn’t tell Jughead she loves him, and when Kevin tells the group about the death of Papa Poutine, she goes into the bathroom and is sick with nerves.

Not able to forget about the corpse, Betty returns to the body and takes the phone that was left on the man. She goes through his messages and calls and realises that the man was there to deliver drugs to Chic. Suddenly Chic’s great defender isn’t so happy with him anymore. But despite learning this, Alice seems completely fine pretending like nothing has happened (because she’s being MASSIVELY manipulated by that little creep ‘son’ of hers).

Meanwhile, Archie continues to tango with the FBI agent. He becomes less more resistant to work with them, and isn’t willing to betray the Lodges. But one night when he gets home, he sees the agent speaking to Fred. Archie’s dad later tells him that he’s being investigated for hiring illegal workers from Canada.

Archie still sticks to his guns and refuses to break, he instead goes to Hiram and admits everything about the agent. Hiram agrees to help Archie and his dad get out of their mess.

But Hiram’s week isn’t so easy. When Veronica learns about the death of Papa Poutine, she suspects that her father is involved. Archie encourages her to be open with her dad, and when she asks Hiram, he says he’s clear of any involvement.

This, rightly, doesn’t satisfy Veronica. But she and her dad have other things to sort out, like their mess on the South Side. The two Lodges meet with FP and Jughead to talk about the closing of the trailer park. They come to an agreement that Hiram will pay everyone’s back rent in return that Jughead doesn’t mention Hiram in his expose about the South Side.

After learning about the deal, Mayor McCoy becomes nervous. She’s been threatened to be exposed by Jughead, and is desperate to get the Lodges to stop their work until she’s re-elected, in case Jughead’s article comes out and she loses the election. But the Lodges, unwilling to wait with their masterplan for the South Side, decide to blackmail the mayor about her affair to make her compliant.

Upon hearing this, Veronica goes to Mayor McCoy and tells them about her parents’ plan for her. The mayor takes the opportunity to step down before anything is exposed. When Hiram asks if Veronica was involved, she gives him a smile and tells him no.

But there’s still that body.

Unable to handle the anxiety alone, Betty tells Jughead about the murder. While discussing actions, the parking enforcement woman stops by and inquires about the car that has been sitting outside the Cooper’s house for a few days. Together, Betty and Jughead realise that the car belongs to the drug dealer.

They hotwire the car, and together dispose of it a la Psycho by pushing it into a bog.

Betty’s troubles only get worse when Cheryl approaches her with news. Penelope Blossom (being a lady of the night now) has been spending a lot of time with Hal Cooper, who has been kicked out of the house. When Cheryl told her mom to stop, Penelope tells Cheryl that Hal is not a client but the real deal.

Probably because he’s the only male Blossom left in town, I guess. But when Betty learns of the affair, she uses it as leverage against he father to make him leave, and to stop him from being suspicious about what the family was hiding from him.

Alice and Betty later learn that Jughead told FP about the body. While Alice is dismayed, FP helps them by disposing of the body for them. “Taking care of their own” or whatever. It’s sweet. And this is all definitely opening doors for FP and Alice to get together which I am all for.

One night, Archie is picked up by the Lodge’s driver, Andre and is told that “the boss” wants to talk to him. Instead of driving to the Pembrooke, Archie is driven to a cliff high above Sweet Water River. But when he goes to meet the boss, it’s not Hiram who is waiting there for him, but Hermione.

She tells him that the agent was hired by her to ascertain if Archie would be loyal to them and Veronica. He passed her little test when he went to Hiram to tell him about the agent and the bug. But while Archie should look relieved, he looks like someone just crushed his dog Vegas with a steamroller.

While that’s a lame reveal, it’s strangely comforting to know that this ridiculous plotline with the FBI was as constructed as it seemed. Maybe for all of my complaining about this show, I just needed to be patient.

But I am really excited to see Chic get his ass kicked or whatever. He’s my new favourite character to despise. Bring on more of that, and let the payoff be sweet.

There won’t be a new Riverdale episode now until March. Looking forward to some well-deserved drama next month!

Wicked Wednesday: A Visit From the Incubus (2001)

Happy Women in Horror Month! Where our realities are terrifying, and the movies just reflect that!

And what better way to start the celebration than with a short film that was written, produced, directed, edited by the woman who also starred in the film as well did the costumes, sets and score. (And I’m pretty certain she sang her parts in the musical as well. Who says a woman can’t have it all?)

Anna Biller’s A Visit from the Incubus is a western horror musical that is as good as it sounds. Biller’s style has to be one of the most visually recognizable contemporary filmmakers. It’s in full effect here.

Young Lucy (Biller) is a woman in the wild west. Each night she is haunted by an incubus, who torments her by raping in her sleep. She goes to seek advice from her friend Madeleine, who admits she used to be haunted by the incubus as well. But Madeleine tells Lucy that she was able to get rid of her demon.

Despite the offer of refuge at Madeleine’s, Lucy goes home alone. That night, she’s visited by the incubus again. Only in the morning, Lucy doesn’t feel like taking the incubus’s shit anymore. In fact, she feels like a woman.

Taking her new confidence out for a spin, Lucy goes to the local saloon to ask for work – “that kind of work”.

That night, Lucy appears in her first show at the saloon. But her opening act is none other the incubus himself, trying to steal her limelight from her. The two begin their ultimate showdown the only way possible: with song and dance.

The incubus takes the stage and is booed off not once, but twice. And when Lucy hits the stage, she’s an instant success. She becomes the star of the saloon, and is immediately offered a new contract for $100 a week by the saloon manager. Lucy’s victory is her own.

It’s obvious what the message is here, but A Visit from the Incubus never feels heavy-handed. In fact, it also manages to elevate the genre it emulates, something a lot of similar writers and directors often fail to do. There’s a touch of The Harvey Girls with just enough Satanic fun. It’s amazing to see a character have a full story arc (with development!) in under a half hour.

This short was everything. It was smart, funny, provocative, and it can original songs! I’m a sucker for it all.

Women in Horror Month is an initiative to promote the work of women filmmakers throughout the month of February (and all year!). Whether that be behind or in front of the screen, it’s a celebration of a bad-ass group that’s largely underrepresented in the film industry. This month I’ll be highlighting female-directed movies, and I’m really excited about every single one of them.

Visit Women in Horror Month‘s website to learn more about their cause! If you’re a creator, it’s a great space to meet with others in the community.

Riverdale Ep. 25 recap “Chapter Twenty-Five: The Wicked and the Divine”

What do you do with a show that no longer has a big mystery to solve? Throw the mob in!

Actually, just throw everything in as we try to remember what Riverdale is and try to figure out where it’s going. But “Chapter Twenty-Five” did at least seem like a small shuffle in the right direction.

Poor Archie, as per last week’s episode, strengthens his ties with the Lodge family by offering to help Hiram. Helping, apparently, means being an errand boy for Hiram. Though the kid’s work pays off when Hiram asks Archie to work his poker game before Veronica’s confirmation.

Archie is, of course, still mixed up with the FBI. Or the rogue FBI agent. I’m still not convinced this guy is professional. When Archie tells him about working the poker game, the agent is adamant that Archie spies for him. While Archie agrees, he refuses to wear a wire at the game.

But again, poor Archie. He’s a bit delusional just because Veronica is his ‘one true love’ or whatever (you’re sixteen, boy). Getting himself wrapped more tightly around her finger is hands-down the dumbest thing the fool could do.

At the poker game at Pop’s, Archie listens in on the conversations with Hiram and his ‘colleagues’. The men are from various areas of business, but Papa Poutine from Canada is hands-down the most vocal.

After realising that Archie is the son of the man who had an affair with Hermione, Papa Poutine starts to throw his power around. When he goes outside for air, Archie overhears him talking to another man, talking about their chance to ‘remove’ Hiram.

Meanwhile, Bughead are reunited after Jughead is informed that everyone in his mobile home park is being evicted. He goes to Mayor McCoy, but learns that she’s refusing to do anything.

With the head of the Colonel Pickens still missing, the Serpents are bearing the brunt of the blame. Jughead asks Betty for her help trying to solve the mystery and save the park.

Only Jughead has one big problem: the return of Penny Peabody.

Ms. Peabody is back to help the Serpents out of their trouble. After she tells everyone about how Jughead forcibly removed her tattoo, no one is on the boy’s side. Especially FP. Penny suggests a vote: either it’s her or Jughead.

The kids all head to Veronica’s pointless confirmation (I guess this is the show’s way of pushing the weird mob angle). After, Jughead and Betty get a call about the head, thanks to the fliers they put up all over town.

The man at the junkyard who called said he saw the head – and the man who left the head. He describes a man in a Serpent jacket who is also tall – aka Tall Boy.

Jughead, FP and Betty are able to stop the vote that has pitted Jughead and Penny against each other. They bring their evidence forward, and Tall Boy easily admits that he took the head. He said Hiram Lodge told him to do it, and he did it because he simply hates Jughead.

With another mystery solved, Betty and Jughead get together again. Which hopefully this sticks for at least a few episodes. There’s only so much back-and-forth we can do. I think I have whiplash.

Back at Ronnie’s party, the confirmed girl (that’s a thing now – I’ve deemed it so) asks her father not to involve Archie anymore. But Archie himself gets deeper into the mess by telling Hiram what he overheard the night before.

Hiram makes a phone call, and Archie later learns that Papa Poutine has been found dead. Shot in the head after leaving Veronica’s party. Despite the opportunity to tell the FBI about this, Archie doesn’t because ARCHIE IS STUPID.

Thanks to her parents’ silly meddling, Veronica receives one more gift: the head of General Pickens. So was it Betty or Jughead that sent the little gift? It doesn’t seem in character for either, but who the hell knows these characters anymore?

Our last cliffhanger comes when Betty returns home after her time with Jughead. While she’s all glow-y and beam-y she quickly realises that something is wrong. When she walks into her living room, she sees Alice cleaning up the blood around the head of an unknown man. A man who was there to see Chic.

I usually love the little twists thrown in at the end of Riverdale episodes, but this week I was not as “shook” as a lot of people on the internet. I mean, hello? This guy is 101% creep. Of course bodies are going to pile up around him!

Unless we’re dished a good twist (I really hope Hal killed the unknown man, because don’t forget: this fucker is the real Black Hood!), I’m not interested. This has all the potential to turn into a cliched “we buried a body in our backyard and the police stop by for zany antics” plotline.

With Cheryl Blossom notably absent from this week’s episode, I really hope something big is planned for her for the rest of the season. We need a bit of spice here. I’m not buying into the lame mafia twist. Let’s wrap this up, folks.

One last, lingering question. How easy is it to behead a statue? Asking for a friend.

Wicked Wednesday: The Exorcist at the Phoenix Theatre

Thanks to a friend who has seemingly endless connections and belongs to something mysteriously referred to only as “The Club,” I’ve been able to see a lot of West End shows for free. I’ve never been a theatre person, but London is filled with oddities that I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of experiencing. This week’s show brought me into home territory with The Exorcist, based on William Peter Blatty’s novel and film of the same name.

Seeing The Exorcist performed on stage marked my first horror play. The show was okay, but largely forgettable with strange pacing and inconsistent acting. Not that I’m any sort of expert on the subject (I’m not an expert at anything, but that’s besides the point). But one thing that did stand out to me was the practical effects.

Making a good horror movie is not easy. Even if it is “successful,” you’d be faced with one very large problem: nothing scares everyone. Making people suspend their belief takes a true skill, one that I would imagine is even more difficult when you’re on a stage.

The original 1973 film had a lot going for it. It had a wealth of locations and an absolutely fabulous cast. But it was shocking at the time. Filthy and uncomfortable.

My mom told me stories of how when she saw The Exorcist in cinemas for the first time, she had to leave to be sick.

Once something sets the standard, it can be impossible to replicate the feeling years later. While I think the original Exorcist film holds up incredibly well, many people don’t. And it’s for the same reason: the special effects. Regan, the young girl possessed by demon Pazuzu, has that iconic pea soup vomit and vibrant red blood.

The stage adaptation at the Phoenix was much more subdued. White vomit and an increasingly large wig to convey that the young girl was increasingly becoming more ill. I imagine it takes a great deal of stage magic to produce what this show did. At one point Regan tries to cut herself with a knife, and no blood is seen. She tries desperately to cut into her bone, but nothing happens.

But perhaps the most convincing effect was when the face of Father Damien Karras’ mother was superimposed over that of Regan’s. It was the time I felt the most “thrilled” by what was happening on stage.

It’s clearly not an easy story to bring to the stage. Many of the visual effects done electronically were missed because we just had really crap seats. But I still feel like the staging was fantastic.

Scaring a crowd of jaded viewers has to be difficult. But there were plenty of moments that The Exorcist truly creeped me out. It’s certainly a different feeling to watching it on screen, but it was definitely worth the experience.

Riverdale Ep. 24 recap “Chapter Twenty-Four: The Wrestler”

Good god, Riverdale. How is it that you are managing to get everything so wrong?

This week’s episode revolves around Pickens Day, a day to celebrate General Augustus Pickens, the man who won a battle for the land that is now Riverdale.

To celebrate more (and to profit from), the Lodges and Fred Andrews approach the Mayor with the idea to host a festival to properly celebrate the day. Supposedly to get the North and Southside to get along better. With frictions continually getting worse, it sounds like a good idea on paper, but since the Lodges are behind it – it’s purely for selfish reasons.

Archie’s weird FBI agent wants him to get closer to Hiram. Knowing that Hiram hates his guts, he asks Veronica for advice. How to do that? Wrestling, of course!

Much of the episode revolves around Hiram and Archie’s relationship, or rather lack of it. Hiram, being a former wrestling god, partakes in the wrestling try-outs. While Archie has never wrestled before, he tries out anyway just to get closer to Hiram. It’s weirdly uninteresting as much of the episode just drives home what we already know:

Hiram really hates Archie for dating his daughter.

Archie gets humiliated a number of times by Hiram during the try-outs, but Archie persists. Hiram warms Archie away. They try to out run each other. It builds nothing to the story.

At the end, though, Archie decides to take on an “internship” with Hiram. Seemingly this stops Archie’s contact with the FBI. I guess Archie making the wrestling team was worth it after-all?

But even more boring than Hiram is his daughter. Veronica serves no purpose here other than to sing Duran Duran and get slighted by Josie when Josie backs out of their Pickens Day number. Hermione and Mayor McCoy increasingly dislike each other, and pit their daughters against one another. As every good mother does.

There’s also a weird subplot about white privilege. Told through the lens of a white male! One who is so hellbent on thinking he’s getting the short end of every single fucking stick.

I’m looking at you, Jughead.

During his history project, Juggie interviews Toni’s father, who is a member of the fictional Uktena tribe (uktena is the name for a horned serpent in Cherokee mythology). But while the tribe is not real, it is very much based on America’s very tragic history. Toni’s gradfather tells Jughead that General Pickens was paid by a Blossom to slaughter the Uktena people for their land.

It’s a piece of Riverdale’s history that is mostly forgotten. Toni’s grandfather started the Southside Serpents to be able to hold the remainders of his family together.

Fired up by Thomas Topaz’s story, Jughead takes this story to the Blue and Gold. Only his story, rightly pointed out by Toni, is all about Jughead’s issues with the Northside, and not about her grandfather (with the great line, “It’s not your story to tell.”). He eventually goes to apologise.

During the Pickens Day celebration, the Serpents arrive in peaceful protest. Toni gets her moment to make a statement, but before she can get anywhere, Hiram interrupts and steals away her voice.

So fuck Hiram!

The following morning, the Mayor, Sheriff Keller and the Lodges find the Pickens statue beheaded and bloodied. They all agree to blame the Serpents, without any scrap of evidence. This will certainly cement the hatred that the North and Southside feel for each other. Shame no one really cares.

In the continually boring plotline that is Chic, Betty learns from Kevin that her brother is infact a webcam boy. In an olive branch, Betty gives Chic her old laptop so he can continue his work. As his things from his hostel have been stolen, to agrees to take it.

Betty, in exchange, asks for help coming to terms with her dark side (blegh). This, of course, means a “dark education” in being a camgirl! FUCKING YAY. Only it’s not. And let’s stop sexually exploiting a minor. Also this darkness shit didn’t work in season one, and it’s even less interesting now. Go back to super sleuth Betty.

Best thing about this episode is Mrs Blossom approaching Hal for “some company.” Season 2 of Riverdale is sorely lacking in parental drama. Bring it all back, please.

Again, Riverdale fails to really do anything interesting. It’s lost is spark and personality, and it slowly sliding into a lull. I fully blame the 22-episode season format. But mostly, it doesn’t seem like Riverdale knows where it wants to go. With all four of its central characters just sliding around, it feels really hard to root for any of them anymore.

On the bright side, it was excellent to have icon Graham Greene on the show playing Thomas Topaz. Shame the show made him do things like “nod sagely” at things the entire episode.

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 38: The Monster of Phantom Lake (2006)

Over the past couple months, a friend and I have been in a bit of a battle to find the best/most interesting horror films to stream. The search has been rather hit or miss. But thanks to my aggressive searching one night, this little indie film fell onto my lap.

When I initially saw the poster for The Monster of Phantom Lake, I thought I had found Roger Corman’s Creature from the Haunted Sea. Upon noticing the difference, I was absolutely chuffed to see that I found an indie film set in Mukwonago, Wisconsin.

I don’t know how I missed this movie the first time round (my last WWW was in 2016), but the movies gods must have been smiling down upon me. The film was made, though, in Minnesota, and directed by Christopher R. Mihm. So while this isn’t “technically” Wisconsin, I will welcome you with Midwestern arms anyway.

Like Corman’s Creature From the Haunted Sea, Mihm’s movie parodies 1950’s monster flicks. Set in the “Present Day” of the 1950s, The Monster of Phantom Lake centres around a toxic lake in a quiet Wisconsin town.

A professor and his young student, Stephanie, arrive at the lake to conduct research. They also bring cases full of double entendres and sexual tension.

Nearby in the woods, a group of young students are celebrating their high school graduation. The kids gather around a bonfire to tell scary stories. One boy, Jonathan, tells the tale of Michael Kaiser, an army veteran who served with his father. Jonathan tells his friends about how Michael went mad and murdered his wife, whom he thought was a Nazi spy.

Jonathan then tells his friends that Michael Kaiser lives in the very woods they were camping in. And while his friends don’t believe him, they should. Michael Kaiser lurks in the woods nearby.

Men from a local plant are tasked with dumping vats of atomic waste into a nearby lake. When Michael hears them, he waits in the woods and watches. As the men work, one of their hats falls into the lake. Michael jumps in after, but he falls into the lake and isn’t seen rising from the water.

The scientists and the kids eventually meet up together for some science-exploration shenanigans. When the kids tell the Professor about a strange algae they find, he realises that it isn’t quite normal. It doesn’t help that the algae is in the form of a frog-man hand.

After studying the algae, Stephanie discovers that the algae contains traces of “something human”. The Professor doesn’t believe her findings, and the kids go off on their separate ways. Unbeknownst to everyone, a glorious creature has emerged from the lake, ready to kill them all.

That night, the kids are slowly picked off by the creature. Eventually, only Elizabeth is left. Poor Elizabeth is described by her ‘friends’ in the movie as a “square”. Which she is. She most definitely is.

She goes to get help from the scientists when the monster approached them at the camp. The monster, however, goes away when it sees Elizabeth. As it leaves, it takes with it Michael Kaiser’s dog tags that were found at this abandoned camp. Despite the monster, the Professor doesn’t believe that Elizabeth’s friends are dead.

The scientists eventually realise that the monster is a genetically-modified Michael Kaiser. Elizabeth, being the spitting image of Kaiser’s dead wife, was left alone. The Professor accepts Elizabeth’s story, and together they try to take down the Monster of Phantom lake.

Mihm’s love of the genre is blatantly clear throughout the film. He even has a “Mihmiverse” – several films all loosely connected to each other. All of them based on various b-movie genres. You have to love the enthusiasm of someone so passionate.

It’s great to look at the tropes those films through a modern lens. The Cold War suspicions and the casual sexism is abound in this film, with a tongue-in-cheek touch. The bits of nonsensical science is genius. The film’s dialogue even caught my husband’s attention. That would be the first time since watching Dead Weight nearly three years ago.

Parts of The Monster of Phantom Lake do drag, but I do think that is due to the fact that it tries so hard to faithful to the genre. Thankfully, this didn’t have twenty minutes of someone running through a woods. This was thankfully shaved down for viewers like me.

I’m looking forward to checking out more of the Mihmiverse in the future. It might not have been filmed in Wisconsin, but the movie had enough charm and passion for me to forgive it.