Sally Kirkland Scared And Smoking

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Back in the early nineties I saw a made for TV movie that creeped me out so bad I didn’t sleep for a year and even today as an adult, scenes from that silly dramatization of supposed true events still gives me the shivers. Thanks for the nightmares, Sally Kirkland, you sexy high-pant wearing beauty.

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This little gem from 1991 is based on a true story about an ordinary family that has to deal with extraordinary events. With an over abundance of paranormal movies, Discovery Channel documentaries and ghost hunting shows today, it’s easy to pass this movie off as lame and outdated but it couldn’t be furthest from. This has some genuinely creepy scenes that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. So let me tell you in 3,000 words what it’s about. If you don’t want to read it let me sum it up: evil spirits in a house and Sally Kirkland chain smokes.

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I love films that begin with a quick blurb explaining how it’s more than just ghost story but a well documented true story. Very “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in the way it sets up the film and provides a creepy atmosphere. Shit, this movie could be about growing carrots and if it started this way, I would turn on the closet light.

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Starring the great Sally Kirkland as Janet Smurl, we begin the story as the family moves into a duplex in West Pittson, Pennsylvania and the future looks bright. With two kids and their parents living in the other side of the duplex, this is a happy family and they quickly became active members in the community and their Catholic church. But there are strange happenings afoot and soon they will be in a battle with forces from the beyond.

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Holy cats! I completely forgot that Jeffery DeMunn (Dale from The Walking Dead) was Jack Smurl and his personality is the exact same. I venture to guess that Jeffery is the same person as the characters he portrays. It seems that most male roles in a haunted house story are pretty similar; the guy doesn’t believe it, forced to finally confront the situation and then tries to throw a rock at a ghost. Keep reading.

Little things start to happen as they settle in and begin to renovate the house like tools disappearing and then reappearing, stains on the walls that bleed through the paint even though they had put thirty coats on it already, scotch tape found in the fridge, toaster fires, ect… Over all, not malicious but more mischievous in nature and just enough to have them believing they might be a little nuts. The proverbial shit doesn’t hit the fan until years later. Years later and male rape. What?

Now, this whole story is told in first person by Janet (Sally Kirkland) and as bizarre events begin to happen she is the only one who notices. Things come to a head when she is doing laundry in the basement. It is, in my book, one of the creepiest scenes that I can think of. While she is doing laundry her mother from next door calls her from the top of the stairs. Well, she thinks it’s her mother. As she responds and walks upstairs the same mimic-ed voice calls her name again. FROM BEHIND HER! 

When she ran upstairs and to the other side of the duplex she was met by her mother and pissed off father, believing they overheard Janet and Jack sharing extreme profanity. Confused, Janet explained her husband is at work and she could not have possibly heard them talking.

I don’t know why, but that whole scene gives me the chills. It’s the little things that get me.

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This is when Janet begins to fall apart and the stock for Virginia Slims skyrocketed. Her husband can’t understand why she looks like a victim in an episode of “Cops: Crazy Bitches of the Midwest” and her requests to move because of ghosts were met with a “no way, José”. She was alone with some pretty spooky happenings. But, the rest of the family was about to join the party.

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Soon the malicious spirit gets bored enough with Janet to start picking on her mom. When they both acknowledge that a pig-snorting vaporous black mass has been hanging out in their living rooms, a sense of relief comes over Janet. That’s good news but the tough sell will be the husbands. The men are always the problem, am I right girls?

Janet needs not to worry because one of the…the…you know what? I am just going to get say it. Jack gets raped by the demon. I am serious. It’s a male rape scene that defies my understanding of mechanics. If he wasn’t into it, I don’t think it would have happened. Especially the morphing fat-girl trick the demon seemed to pull on him. Jack might have issues.

At their wits end, Janet and Jack finally seek help through the church and invites their local pastor to come bless their house. Much like Amityville Horror, the priest gets a brutal brush with the devil and he quickly decides that being a complete pussy is the answer. He leaves and later when asked to return he pretends to be a Walmart greeter.

With little help and their family under attack, Janet seeks out demonologists to investigate their problems. Which is pretty funny because all they did was confirm that they have a problem with ghosts. Another day and another paycheck in the life of a demonologist, I suppose.

With screams and flashing lights, cabinet doors slamming and beds flipping, the family needed a break. They went camping. No shit, they are facing extreme life threatening circumstances from unseen evil forces but taking a break to make s’mores and sing songs by the campfire seemed like the right thing to do.

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You know what? Ghosts like to go camping too! While they are enjoying their fire and NOT TELLING GHOST STORIES an unexpected guest floats up. Jack did the only thing he could.

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Jack threatens to throw a rock at the specter. I guess shit always seems to happen when you don’t have a proton pack, right? Rocks are the logical second choice.

Meanwhile, the scene cuts to their house going bat-shit crazy and the neighbors seem concern. I don’t know why, but that also sticks in my mind from years ago and has severely creeped me out. Something about a house that’s suppose to be vacant and…not? I don’t know. It’s a me thing.

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Finally they get a priest to exorcise the house. Not really sure why they didn’t do this to begin with but then again, this would be a short movie. And it seemed to work! For a while.

Actually, it didn’t do anything but make it worse. With no other option and already Jack raped, it was time to go to the media. Because when you go to the press saying you have ghosts, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

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Yeah, you turn into a pariah. I don’t know why they decided to do that but long story short, it wasn’t the ghosts who finally drove them from their home but the constant harassment from media and ghost enthusiasts. They moved and yet again there was hope that life would return to normal sans the evil entities.

We end the movie with the family leaving their town and the house that was built on satanic worshipping ground. They move into a non-haunted house this time and everyone seems to be just swell. And then…

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The damn ghost follows them and pulls the ol’ “pretend to be mom” move that creeped me out from before. We fade to black as Sally Kirkland stares in disbelief and sounds of pig growls lead us to believe that they are forever screwed might as well get used to having an invisible father-raping ghost that hides scotch tape in the fridge.

I know this was a terrible review of a surprisingly good made for TV movie from the early nineties. It has some genuinely creepy scenes that will stay in your head especially when you have to pee at 3am. It’s late and I finally am not concerned about letting people know about The Haunted. The whole movie is available on YouTube so I highly recommend giving it a whirl. You’ll lurv it.

I give it four pants out of five.

👖👖👖👖

Where Did You Go? Part 17: Return of the Living Dead

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Holy cats! It’s been a bit since I have done one of these and to be honest, I kind of miss searching out obscure actors that only matter to me and seeing what they are up to today? I hope no one has died since I have been writing these though. I hate editing, as you can tell from hundreds of poorly written posts. So lets light some fires and kick some poodles, it’s time for another fun ride on the ever lasting blog of…

As you can see I am trying to be more creative with my look. Is it working for you? Oh…be quiet.

I am going to start this little gem off with Miguel A. Nunez Jr. because he has always been one of my favorites and whenever I am flipping through the five million channels and I see him, I stop. Even if it happens to be Juwanna Mann. 

Miguel has been in a lot of movies and television shows since the early eighties. And when I say a lot, I mean he rivals the IMDb list of guest appearances on Murder She Wrote. But of all these television shows and movies, Miguel had mostly minor roles or at best a secondary character that made only a few episodes as “tough guy #2” or “rough punk” so it seemed he had a bit of a type cast issue until, really, his three-year running with the Vietnam War series, Tour of Duty in the mid-eighties as SGT Marcus Taylor and his starring role as Juwanna Mann in the movie Juwanna Mann. But of all these minor roles he will always be Demon in Friday the 13th: Part 5 and Spider in the ever famous and personal favorite, Return of the Living Dead.

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So what is Miguel up to nowadays? To be honest, it looks like he is doing the same thing he has been doing for the past thirty years and that is cranking out roles and minor appearances in television shows with the latest one in 20012. What can you say? The guy’s a pro and clearly one of my all time favorites. Miguel has also produced a few films like Homeboys In Outer Space (not to be confused with his role in leprechaun 4: In Space which he was in too) and even directed a film. Like I said, he’s a pro!

I will say there is no actor out there with a better list of character names. Here are a few:

JoJo, Biscuit, Blackie, Demon, Spider, Sticks, Royal Jackson, Juwanna Man, Chico, C, Delicious, Tiger, Mo Bitches, Maxey Sparks, Goldie, and Jammin’.

While we are on a theme involving Return of the Living Dead, why not include an actor who has helped me annoy anyone around when I watch a ridiculous movie that is “based on a true story” because I tend to yell “YOU MEAN THE MOVIE LIED?!?!”. Thanks to this guy, Thom Mathews, I have had a plenty of guacamole tossed my way.

Thom is an American born actor who I believe was intended to be named Tom but is appears his parents had a lisp. Thom grew up in LA and it seemed natural that a good-looking kid would end up in the Hollywood trade and he had some pretty amazing roles. And by amazing that means I think they are amazing. I also thing hanging tomato gardens are amazing so take that with a grain of salt.

Thom will always be Freddy, the kid who is poisoned with noxious military gas that turns most anything into a brain-craving zombie in the film,  Return of the Living Dead and also as an adult Tommy Garvis who is tormented by Jason in Friday the 13th: Part 6. Both roles make him a legend to me. But after that he seemed to just have minor roles like Miguel Nunez Jr through the rest of the eighties, nineties and his latest role was in 2009.

Don’t you dare laugh

Thom is a lot like many horror actors of twenty to thirty years ago and that he appears in horror cons and sci-fi cons, keeping one foot in Hollywood and the other in his private life. In the real world he is the owner of a construction company in California. His looks are still there though a bit more debonair because we guys can age well. (That last sentence was a filler) I am curious to see if he is still best buddies with George Clooney that is boasted on most data sites about him. It seems George is the kind of guy that would forget the people who were there on the way up. Either that or it’s just me hating him.

You know what? Fuck it. Let’s run with this theme since there are soooo many awesome people in Return of the Living Dead. Linnea Quigley is absolutely wonderful for many reasons. The most notable one is her character Trash who fantasizes about being felt-up to death by old men and finally strips into a full nude scene in ROTLD. (Sorry, that became repetitive to type). Little did Trash know that is exactly what would happen to her. It’s an awesome character who annoys her boyfriend, Suicide, into stating another great line, “you think this is a fucking costume? This is a way of life!”. But Linnea had other great characters besides Trash and went on to become quite the “scream queen” of that 80’s horror genre.

Growing up in Davenport, Iowa, she moved to LA in the late 1970’s and quickly started into her sexploitation role by becoming a Playboy Flasher Girl and blending into a horror scream queen character starting with Silent Night, Deadly Night and then ROTLD. After that it seemed her path was clear and some of her films after that were Sorority Babes in the Slimerball Bowl-O-Rama, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Night of the Demons, Blood Church, and Spring Break Massacre. One of my personal favorites is a horror workout video from 1990 and wouldn’t you know it, it’s available on YouTube but I have to warn you it is NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!! BE WARNED. But it is awesome.

Well what is the Scream Queen of my dreams up to today?

Well, Quigley is still being awesome and acting as a scream queen. I love that ! In fact she has three films in post-production right now that should be released in DVD format this year (2013). It’s so refreshing to see someone love what they do and still do it well, even though it has been thirty years of screaming and being slashed by chainsaw wielding zombies. It’s truly what I consider a master of their craft. I think I’m in love.

So the green hand is pointing to the great actor, John Philbin, whose character is the nerdy hipster, Chuck, who couldn’t get laid in a female prison with a fist full of pardons. Growing up his role was easily over-looked with so many other prominent characters but as I learn about him as a grownup (take that lightly) I see he was also a pro surfer and I believe on the set he was anything but a nerd.

His list of movie roles are much like the others which are not really a main character but as a co-starring character. ROTLD was not his first horror movie but his second with Children of the Corn coming in just a year before. Fast forward a couple of years later and John got to imitate real life as a surfer in films like North Shore and Point Break. He also was a cowboy in a personal favorite of mine, Tombstone. I think he is killed in the OK Corral shootout but I could be wrong. Wait, or was he hit over the head with a pistol handle by Sam Elliott? Either way, that’s a pretty cool resume boost.

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John still acts from time to time and if you pay attention you might see him in a random Law and Order show or an episode of SVU…what ever that means. But the coolest thing is John lives in Pacific Palisades California today and runs a surfing school. He’s doing exactly what he loves and does it well. Oh, and when he was at UC Santa Barbra he was on their surf team. THEY HAVE SURF TEAMS IN COLLEGE??? WHY DID I GO TO MARYLAND?!?!

I think I will end this on a high but low note. Suicide is an iconic punk character in ROTLD and everyone loves him. With classic lines like “You think this is a fuckin’ costume? This is a way of life.” and “Hey, fuck you, ballbuster!”, how can one not? Played by actor Mark Venturini, he was like the missing member of the Misfits. He also, like Thom Mathews, was in Friday the 13th: Part 6 as some psycho who was chopping wood but ends up chopping up a retarded fat kid over a chocolate bar. I really liked that scene. Maybe a bit too much?

Kind of a bummer but there are no current pictures or information about Mark because at the age of 35 he passed away from Leukemia. Way too soon for such a great talent. I hate finding out the death of such a great actor that I have been quoting since I was in high school but that is part of writing “where did they go?”. Sometimes you find out sad news.

Thanks for reading part 17 that ended up having a Return of the Living Dead theme. It wasn’t planned but that’s the way the cookie crumbled. Now go watch it! I am.