Category Archives: Halloween Season

ZUMA (1985) AND DAUGHTER OF ZUMA (1987)

Halloween month rolls along with Balladeer’s Blog’s salute to Zuma, the king of Philippine horror movies, and his sequel film Daughter of Zuma.

ZUMA (1985) – Category: Enjoyably bad movie elevated by its obscurity value      

There’s an old saying that goes “Once you have a big green bald guy with pythons growing out of his neck you never go back.” Or something to that effect. This monstrous figure is Zuma  himself, the Freddy Krueger of the Philippines in the 1980s. Big, muscular and green like the Hulk, bald like Mr Clean and with pythons growing out of his neck like the late Michael Jackson. (Disclaimer: The preceding remark is probably not true)

Originally a comic book character in the Philippines, Zuma took the film industry of the islands by storm with his debut film in 1985 and a sequel in 1987. Copies of these films have been Continue reading

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MUSICAL MUTINY (1970): IRON BUTTERFLY, A GHOSTLY PIRATE AND A MAD SCIENTIST

musical mutinyMUSICAL MUTINY (1970) – Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a Barry Mahon movie that’s more frighteningly bad than it is frightening. I’ve recently become obsessed with this made in Florida wonder that features the ghost of a long-dead pirate, the deskbound narrator from Blood Freak and a mad scientist intent on taking over the world with his new beverage which gets drinkers higher than marijuana. There are also three on-stage performances by Iron Butterfly (yes, really), including the full-length version of In A Gadda Da Vida.

pirates worldPerhaps most importantly for me and my fellow Bad Movie geeks, this is the earliest movie release done as a promotional piece for Pirate’s World, the long-defunct Florida amusement park featured in notorious Grade Z films like Jack and the Beanstalk, Thumbelina plus Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (reviewed in 2010 here at Balladeer’s Blog). In fact, Musical Mutiny is so obscure that as of this writing there are only five user reviews at IMDb. Continue reading

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YEGOR’S PORTRAIT (1897) AND GEORGE DOBSON’S EXPEDITION TO HELL (1828)

Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with two more overlooked tales.

george hepworthYEGOR’S PORTRAIT (1897) – Written by George Hepworth.  A well to do Russian named Yegor was killed in a horse riding accident. A portrait of the man haunts those who remember him. By night the Yegor of the portrait emerges from the work of art.

Stephan, Yegor’s cousin and closest friend in life befriends the apparition from the painting. As the pair spend a night drinking and gambling together, Yegor admits to Stephan that the reason his essence is bound to the material world is because he left behind him an illegitimate child with no financial support. Continue reading

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MARVEL’S SIMON GARTH ZOMBIE: MOST HALLOWEENISH COVERS

As Halloween Month continues to unfold, Balladeer’s Blog takes a one-week break from the ongoing review of 1970s Spider-Man stories to do something more seasonal – a look at the Simon Garth zombie covers from Marvel Comics. 

tales of zombie 1TALES OF THE ZOMBIE Vol 1 #1 (July 1973)

Title: Altar of the Damned

Comment: The first Silver Age appearance of the Marvel Comics horror character Simon Garth, a brutal coffee plantation owner who was killed and brought back to life as a zombie by his Haitian workers.

Garth was not your typical mindless zombie wanting to feed on human beings all the time. His stories provided insight into the still-functioning mind of the man trapped in this horrific fate as he battled assorted supernatural menaces, some drawn from VooDoo lore, others created by Marvel.

Simon Garth could be used against his will at times by people in possession of the Amulet of Damballah which controlled him. Continue reading

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HORROR FILM: THE NEST OF THE CUCKOO BIRDS (1965)

nest of the cuckoo birdsTHE NEST OF THE CUCKOO BIRDS (1965) – Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a review of this low-budget, black & white bomb which played a few theaters in 1965 then was considered lost until 2017. Florida’s Bert Williams produced, wrote, directed and starred in this very strange film which strives for “Psycho Meets Tennessee Williams” levels but falls more into territory occupied by the likes of Spider Baby and Manos, The Hands of Fate.

Williams’ wife Peggy sang the title song, which inspired a later version by the Cramps, believe it or not. Peggy also sang the closing song Lisa.

Our auteur Bert Williams plays Johnson, a Liquor Control Department Agent aka “Revenuer” in the slang of deep south moonshiners. He is sent on an assignment into the Everglades to infiltrate and bring down a violent gang of moonshiners who make their own bootleg whiskey via their still on one of the scattered pieces of solid land found in the swamps of the Florida Everglades.

After an absurdly irrelevant recollection to his chief about a lost love of his from long ago, Agent Johnson departs on his mission. 

masked killer from cuckoosJohnson’s cover is blown, and he flees into the swamplands to escape the bootleggers, who are led by their murderous boss called Doc. Half wading and half swimming, our exhausted protagonist arrives after dark at another isolated and uncharted little “island” amid the Everglades. He is nearly stabbed to death by a naked woman wearing a wig and a bizarre mask, a woman he at first mistakes for a statue.

The Revenue Agent manages to outfight and escape the woman in an utterly ridiculous fast-motion scene which could use the Benny Hill Theme as accompaniment. Johnson stumbles upon the tiny island’s lone structure – a dilapidated hotel called the Cuckoo Bird Inn, run by some of the strangest people this side of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Eaten Alive. Needless to say, the hilarity horror is just beginning. Continue reading

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THE COFFIN (2000) – HALLOWEEN SUPERHERO

Balladeer’s Blog’s 31 Days of Halloween continues with this neglected horror hero.

CoffinTHE COFFIN (2000) – Written by Phil Hester and drawn by Mike Huddleston, The Coffin was originally a four-part serial before being collected into graphic novel format. I’ll provide details below but right up front let me point out that the horrific but intriguing premise is that the Coffin is a dead scientist whose soul is trapped within a polymer techno-suit of his own creation.

Dr Ashar Ahmad, the brilliant scientist in question, is employed by Heller Technologies, whose eponymous owner is a vile and amoral tycoon. Heller himself is a figure straight out of a horror film.

He’s incredibly old and his withered, wrinkled body is still functioning only because of all of the legal and illegal organ transplants he has had. His body is a battleground of scars from all that surgery. Obviously immortality is what our power-mad plutocrat longs for.

Coffin bAnd so Heller Technologies recruited Dr Ahmad to devise strong, lightweight polymers for medical purposes. To that end Ashar has developed polymers that can be used to form an artificial membrane that is perfectly impermeable and incredibly durable.

Extensions of that technology result in masses of polymers – literally thousands of layers – some of them only a few molecules thick. Dr Ahmad has managed to make it so that these polymers react to electronic pulses like the kind from a human brain to its body’s muscles, making the polymer “skin” or membrane expand or contract in response to those electronic pulses. Continue reading

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TWO OVERLOOKED HORROR STORIES FROM JULIAN HAWTHORNE

As Halloween Month rolls along, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at two horror stories written by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s son, Julian.

mummiesTHE UNSEEN MAN’S STORY (1893) – A needlessly neglected mummy tale. At age twenty-eight, a Frenchman named Carigliano arrives in Egypt on assignment from the French government. He has studied Egyptology and is thrilled with his placement.

Gradually, dreams and waking visions propel him to investigate around Thebes. Once there, he discovers the previously unviolated tomb of Queen Amunuhet. Throughout the tomb’s halls and chambers he encounters reanimated mummies which stalk him, intent on killing him. Continue reading

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MONSTER CEREALS FOR HALLOWEEN

monster crunch gameHalloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with this nostalgic look at the Big Five monster-themed cereals from General Mills.

In a world that has seen an Emoji movie I have no idea why there’s no animated monster rally movie featuring this quintet. Or at the very least maybe some new monster cereals like Vanilla Witch or Grape Goblin or something.  

count choculaCOUNT CHOCULA

First Appearance: 1971

Voiced like Bela Lugosi, this cartoon vampire preferred his own chocolate-flavored, marshmallow-sprinkled cereal treat over sucking the blood of his victims. “I vunt to eat your cereal!” was, in fact, his tagline in contrast to the cliched vampire declaration “I vunt to suck your blood!”

Count Chocula cereal is still in stores seasonally – September and October.

The cartoon character’s imitation Bela Lugosi voice was a nice nostalgic nod to fans of classic horror films, especially in regard to the Count’s rivalry with another General Mills Monster Cereal Mascot. Continue reading

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FAUST (1987): THE PRE-SPAWN VERSION OF SPAWN

faustFAUST: LOVE OF THE DAMNED (1987) – Written by David Quinn with artwork by Tim Vigil. Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with this review of the 1987-2012 “adult” comic book series Faust. This series included very graphic and very unusual sex and violence while offering a twisted update on the story of Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles. The year 2000 Brian Yuzna (’nuff said) movie version of Faust: Love of the Damned is pretty bad but does capture the blood-soaked, anarchic WTF air of the series.  

Before I get into plot details I’ll point out that, despite the criticism that Quinn and Vigil get for providing stories featuring extreme sex and gore in a purely sensational manner they never sold out their indy comic vision by watering down either the sex or the violence just for wider distribution and more money. Continue reading

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14 NEGLECTED GOTHIC HORROR STORIES

Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at some of the neglected literary horror tales I’ve reviewed.

ensouled violin picTHE ENSOULED VIOLIN (1880) – Written by THE Madame Blavatsky. A gifted Austrian violin player named Franz Stenio is drawn to occult studies while away at college. Hearing dark legends about how Niccolo Paganini supposedly acquired his otherworldly skill with the violin, Franz carries out some of the rumored rituals in real life, to bloody and deadly effect. The fallout is horrific. CLICK HERE.  

CITY OF VAMPIRES (1867) – Written by Paul Feval. This criminally neglected story depicts a fictionalized young version of the Gothic horror writer Ann Radcliffe when she was still Ann Ward. To try to save some friends she trails them to the Belgrade city of vampires called Selene as well as the Sepulchre. In that perpetually gloomy and overcast village Ann and company must deal with vampires of varied abilities from back in the era before vampire lore was as set in stone as it later became. CLICK HERE

werwolvesTHE WERWOLVES (1898) – Written by Honore Beaugrand. A pack of werewolves prey upon victims in Canada. Plenty of unusual takes on lycanthrope lore with a north of the border touch. These particular werewolves are of Iroquois extraction which, along with the cold and snowy backdrop, helps to make this Canadian horror tale stand out from the rest. CLICK HERE. Continue reading

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