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ritzTHE CANNED FILM FESTIVAL STARRING LARAINE NEWMAN (1986) – Halloween Month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at a neglected Movie Host show, since Movie Hosts/ Horror Hosts are as associated with Halloween as are monsters and cosplay.

In this post I won’t be covering the entire history of movie hosting and the “So Bad They’re Good” film subculture. For that, there are my many other blog posts covering movie hosting from Vampira and her contemporaries, through Moona Lisa, then Son of Svengoolie, Elvira, and programs like Saturday Night Dead, The Texas 27 Film Vault and MST3K

canned film festival castTHE SHOW: The Canned Film Festival Starring Laraine Newman. From June 21st to September 13th of 1986 this 90 minute syndicated program sponsored largely by Dr Pepper aired on Saturday nights in various time slots around the United States. Elvira’s show Movie Macabre had run from 1981 to 1986 and was winding down. The Texas 27 Film Vault, which had debuted on February 9th, 1985 was still on the air and would run for roughly two and a half years in Texas and Oklahoma.

Along came The Canned Film Festival, which, with a nationally known name like Laraine Newman attached to it, may well have been the reason that one of the attempted syndication deals for T27FV fell through. Be that as it may, Laraine Newman’s show would – like The Texas 27 Film Vault – show more than just lame horror and sci-fi films and would cover the whole spectrum of bad and/ or campy cinema of the past.

laraine as the usheretteTHE HOSTESS: Laraine Newman may be best known for Saturday Night Live and for her character actress work, but she had been a member of The Groundlings improvisational comedy troupe … As had Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira. Newman was also known as an aficionado of horror and fringe cinema. Continue reading

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Grand Valley State5. GRAND VALLEY STATE LAKERS    ###     6. VALDOSTA STATE BLAZERS    ###     7. UNIVERSITY OF WEST ALABAMA TIGERS    ###     8. HARDING UNIVERSITY BISON    ###      Continue reading

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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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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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Charleston Golden Eagles helmet NEWTOPPLING NUMBER SIX – In NCAA Division Two, the UNIVERSITY OF CHARLESTON GOLDEN EAGLES played host to the number 6 team in the nation – the NOTRE DAME COLLEGE FALCONS (School Motto: “No, not THAT Notre Dame”). The Golden Eagles put the Falcons on Upset Alert with a 17-14 Halftime lead and ultimately won the game 38-28.

West Alabama Tigers helmet NEWNUMBER NINE FALLS, TOO – Staying in D2 for a moment, the 23rd ranked UNIVERSITY OF WEST ALABAMA TIGERS took it on the road against the country’s number 9 UNIVERSITY OF WEST GEORGIA WOLVES. A 24-17 lead for the Tigers at the break ended up in a 38-20 Upset victory for them.   

erskine flying fleetHISTORY IN THE NCCAA – The ERSKINE COLLEGE FLYING FLEET, in their very first year of intercollegiate football, notched their first ever victory yesterday. It came against their guests the VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY OF LYNCHBURG DRAGONS. The Flying Fleet were chasing the Dragons 7-3 in the opening Quarter but were on top 24-7 come Halftime. They never looked back on their way to a 59-13 blowout. Continue reading

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Here’s Part Six of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.

spider man 132SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #132 (May 1974)

Title: The Master Plan of the Molten Man

Villain: The Molten Man

Synopsis: With Peter Parker’s Aunt May finally out of the clutches of Doctor Octopus and being taken care of by her new roommate Anna Watson (Mary Jane’s aunt), Peter as Spider-Man is swinging his way around New York City one night a few weeks later.  He comes across a few cops investigating a strange break-in at the Metropolitan Museum.

Clinging to the ceiling and staying out of the way of the investigating officers, Spider-Man goes unnoticed as the investigation reveals that the break-in was committed by a supervillain who could burst through walls as well as melt locks and leave burned-in footprints in the floor. The thief stole meteor fragments from one of the displays then left.

Just as Spider-Man realizes this must have been the work of his old foe Molten Man, whom he fought two times previously, the cops notice him and open fire. At this time our hero is still wanted in regard to a pair of murders – of Captain John Stacy and Norman Osborn. (He won’t be cleared for years.) Continue reading

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Silver John

Silver John

THE OLD GODS WAKEN (1979) – Another Halloween Month begins here at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at the first novel featuring Manly Wade Wellman’s iconic Pulp Hero Silver John. In 2011 I reviewed all of Wellman’s short stories and vignettes about this figure. The Old Gods Waken was the first of five Silver John novels.

For newcomers to these tales I’ll point out that Silver John aka John the Balladeer was a wandering guitar player in the Appalachian Mountain communities of yore. He would do battle with assorted supernatural menaces from mountain folklore like a combination of Kolchak and Orpheus. John’s silver guitar strings and silver coins were powerful repellants against much of the evils he faced down.

For more details on this neglected fictional hero click HERE or HERE or HERE. If you want an easy comparison the Silver John stories were based on the same type of mountain/ country folklore about music and the supernatural that the song The Devil Went Down To Georgia was based on.

silver john another coverThe Old Gods Waken deals with Silver John performing with other musicians at a music festival, then getting drawn into a property line dispute between the Forshay family and two sinister British men calling themselves Brummitt and Hooper Voth. As usual in our hero’s travels there are dark supernatural forces at work behind this boundary dispute – forces ultimately dealing with Pre-Columbian entities and transplanted Druidism.

I enjoy the Silver John short works far more than the novels and this book reflects plenty of reasons why. If The Old Gods Waken is a reader’s first exposure to the wandering balladeer then they might like it much better than I do based on the strength of the character and Manly Wade Wellman’s ear for old mountain dialects. As for me, I’ll explore the reasons why I think this novel embodies all the shortcomings of the (still very good) long form Silver John adventures.    Continue reading

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Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN THE 1850s, CLICK HERE 

PART 59 – Some of the Fool Killer’s targets in the September of 1912 edition of James Larkin Pearson’s publication:

Fool Killer gray*** Child labor, which the U.S. Supreme Court kept upholding in yet another of its series of disgraceful sagas. These attacks were noble, but it has to be said that Pearson’s Fool Killer came nowhere close to Klarenc Wade Mak’s version of the folk figure when it came to attacking the atrocity of child labor. (In America in 1912 over two million children were working in mines, mills and factories.) 

*** People who opposed nationwide voting rights for women.  

*** An unnamed High Society family which held an invitation-only meal for themselves and ninety-nine other bloated rich pigs. The ASS-ociated Press (As Pearson and his Fool Killer always called the AP) breathlessly reported on it the same way the media of today gives groveling coverage to such monumentally vain celebrity affairs.

              The meal cost ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS in 1912, the equivalent of $2,775,000.00 here in 2021. The Fool Killer pointed out how many meals the $100,000.00 could have bought for the starving poor. I’m a bit torn, though, because at least back then bloated rich pigs weren’t constantly talking down to the rest of us about their “causes” while wasting that much money. Hundreds of butterflies and birds were released into the air as part of the festivities.

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Lindsey_Wilson_KYNAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)   1. LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE BLUE RAIDERS (defending national champions)    ###     2. MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE MUSTANGS   ###    3. NORTHWESTERN (IA) COLLEGE RED RAIDERS   ###    4. INDIANA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY WILDCATS   ###   

Southwestern College Moundbuilders NEW5. SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE MOUNDBUILDERS    ###     6. GRAND VIEW UNIVERSITY VIKINGS (should be the Zebras)    ###    7. BAKER UNIVERSITY WILDCATS    ###     8. KANSAS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY COYOTES    ###      Continue reading

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roller bladeROLLER BLADE (1986) – They’re the Cosmic Order of the Roller Blade and they’re female Jedi Knights on roller skates. Well, sort of. Where does one begin when reviewing this film that is so beloved by all of us fans of bad movies? Let’s start with the setting and then tackle the characters as well as Roller Blade’s legendary director Donald G Jackson (R.I.P.). 

This film is set in the future during The Second Dark Age, years after humanity’s “energy weapons” have unleashed an apocalypse which has left the world a ravaged mess of ruined cities yet immaculately maintained roads and highways. Go figure.

Amid the usual tableau of feral gangs and predatory mutants there stands a force for good dedicated to rebuilding the world: a religious order of warrior nuns called the Cosmic Order of the Roller Blade … Even though none of them wear actual roller blades, just regular roller skates. 

skate or die“Skate or Die” is the ugly motto of the survivors in this kill or be killed future. That’s because the filmmakers absurdly pretend that traveling via roller skates or skateboards is the only way to move swiftly enough to have a chance of evading the dangerous gangs and mutants.

If you have any goods or supplies that you are taking with you the only way to transport them is in metal grocery carts that can roll along with you as you skate through the post-apocalyptic landscape. I’m not joking. This grocery cart nonsense is another idiotic element that the movie takes 100% seriously despite how inane it looks. 

Our characters:

Mother SpeedMOTHER SPEED (Katina Garner) – The Mother Superior of the Order of the Roller Blade. She is in a wheelchair yet still wears roller skates on her feet since such skates are part of the Order’s sacred garments. Mother Speed, like all the good guys in Roller Blade, speaks in grandiose faux-Shakespearean littered with “thees” and “thous” and “yea, verilies.” ESPECIALLY “yea, verilies.” 

Making Mother Speed even more fun is the way she speaks with a weird accent that makes her sound like popular 1980s sex therapist Dr Ruth Westheimer. Continue reading

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