Tag Archives: horror


santo vs the riders of terrorSANTO VERSUS THE RIDERS OF TERROR (1970) – Called Santo Contra Los Jinetes del Terror in its native Mexico, this is one of my all-time favorite hidden gems among the wacked-out movies about the Mexican wrestler called El Santo.

(Many movies about Santo and other Mexican wrestlers were shown on “the Mexican MST3K” show – A Platicar a Su Casa, reviewed HERE.)    

El Santo – often called “Samson” in English-dubbed versions of his flicks – has battled Martians, vampire women, vampire men, witches, mummies, wax figures come to life and dozens of other monstrosities. This particular flick stands out to me because of its joyously tasteless brand of “monsters” – a horseback riding outlaw gang of lepers.

Yes, LEPERS! In a move even Tod Slaughter might have deemed too crass and exploitative a group of bandits deformed by leprosy are at large and pulling off a series of robberies. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog may remember the obscure horror stories I review during Halloween Month each year. I’ve been asked if I’ll ever review any of the better known, big names in Gothic Horror, so here we go. 

the monkTHE MONK (1796) – Written by Matthew G. Lewis. Though The Monk was preceded by other works of Gothic Horror like The Castle of Otranto (1764) and The Necromancer (1794), Lewis’ novel cranked up the supernatural elements a great deal. It also painted the Catholic clergy in extremely unflattering terms, at least in the initial edition.

After the public outcry over the extreme horror and lascivious conduct of clergy members in the first edition, Lewis softened up the content in future editions. The title character, Ambrosio, breaks his vows by committing murder, rape and sex with a consenting partner, before plumbing new depths. The Prioress, Mother Saint Agatha, is sadistically violent to those in her power, even torturing the heroine Agnes.  

Some of the supernatural characters and elements: Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season


title screen

the iron roseLA ROSE DE FER (1973) – This film’s title was translated into English as The Iron Rose even though The Rose of Iron would be a more literal translation, but that’s just a tiny nitpick. La Rose de Fer was the fifth movie from Jean Rollin, whose horror productions can range from brilliant to So Bad They’re Good level.

The Iron Rose is possibly the greatest example of the “love it or hate it” nature of Rollin’s films. Personally, I love it and consider it one of his best works, but I can certainly understand why some viewers dismiss it as dull, pretentious and self-consciously artsy.

iro roThere IS a body count in The Iron Rose, but there is certainly no blood and gore. As our story begins, a beautiful woman (Francoise Pascal) lounges on the beach and regards an iron rose that has washed in with the tide. After tossing it aside she goes about her business, and before long is on a bicycling date with a young man (Hugues Quester).

Eventually the couple – listed as Le Femme and L’homme in the credits – end up taking a walk through one of those bizarrely scenic European graveyards which were tailor-made for this kind of atmospheric, artsy film. A creepy female clown and a sinister-seeming old woman are among the few other people our main characters encounter in the sprawling cemetery.

Viewers have had a few hints along the way that neither one of these young people are one hundred percent stable, but things soon go to the next level. Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season


For this weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero blog post we’ll do the DC characters called the Creature Commandos.

wwt 93WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #93 (November 1980)

Title: The Creature Commandos

Villains: Nazi soldiers

Synopsis: This story introduced Project M, a fictional 1942 War Department effort to unleash supernatural monsters upon the Axis armies. The members of these Creature Commandos:

*** Warren Griffith, an institutionalized teenager who irrationally thought he was a werewolf, so the scientists of Project M turned him into a real, biological man-wolf who could become his monstrous self at will. 

*** Marine Private Elliot “Lucky” Taylor, who blew away much of his body by stepping on a land mine. Government scientists used patchwork body parts to reassemble him into a huge, yellow-skinned Frankenstein’s Monster figure.

cc 1*** Army Sergeant Vincent Velcro, who was given a choice of 30 years of hard labor for crippling a superior officer or being a human guinea pig for chemical injections derived from bat blood. The injections turned him into a science-spawned vampire.

*** Lieutenant Matthew Shrieve, Army Intelligence, a normal human placed in charge of the Creature Commandos. 

In their first mission, the Commandos are sent into France to attack Castle Conquest, where the Nazis and French collaborators are designing android duplicates of high-level politicians from Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill on down. The plan is to use the nearly completed robots to replace the originals and surrender to the Axis Nations. Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season, Superheroes


art the clown faceWith less than a week to go in Halloween Month, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the controversial new icon of horror cinema: Art the Clown from the Terrifier series. If you’re tired of the endless reboots and retcons involving Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, then check out the assorted films of Damien Leone’s depraved slasher.

I usually find killer clowns boring, but in my opinion Art is far more disturbing than Pennywise or other horror clowns. This “terrifying” character has gone from short films to an anthology movie to a pair of feature films, the second of which was released this year. 

art in actionLeone first presented Art the Clown in his film short The 9th Circle in 2008. That film depicted the deranged, silent and sinister figure, played by Mike Giannelli, striking on Halloween night on behalf of a Satanic Cult.

Art’s second appearance came in 2011 in another Damien Leone horror short, titled Terrifier. Art, still portrayed by Mike Giannelli, struck with uncompromising violence and conveyed his vile, sadistic nature entirely through facial expressions and body acting since the slasher never speaks. Picture Freddy Krueger remaining as silent as Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, and that’s Art. Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season


For this weekend’s escapist superhero post Balladeer’s Blog will take a Halloween Season look at Marvel Comics’ character Lilith, the daughter of Dracula. 

gs chillers 1GIANT-SIZE CHILLERS Vol 1 #1 (June 1974) 

Title: Night of the She-Demon 

Villain: Dracula

NOTE: In the 1970s Marvel Comics launched several horror titles, most of which I have reviewed previously here at Balladeer’s Blog. One of those horror titles dealt with Dracula being on the loose in the present day. Lilith’s tales took place in that same continuity.

Synopsis: In England, Dracula visits one of his human thralls, Lord Henry, to order him to pursue diplomatic immunity for an alias that Drac will adopt. 

The undead count’s presence in England has supernaturally triggered some stirring in a grave outside London. It is the grave of Dracula’s daughter Lilith, who was put there 30 years ago by vampire hunter Quincy Harker, Marvel Comics’ descendant of Jonathan Harker from the 1897 novel Dracula. Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season, Superheroes


Balladeer’s Blog’s recent look at Eight Neglected Monsters for Halloween Season was a big hit with readers, so here are more.

devil-bug picDEVIL-BUG

First Appearance: The Monks of Monk Hall (1844-1845)

Cryptid Category: Malformed Human

Lore: This deformed and depraved man-monster grew up in Monk Hall as the son of one of the Hall’s members and one of the prostitutes enslaved there. He was squat, incredibly strong and grotesquely ugly with one large gaping eye and one small, withered, empty eye socket on his face.

Devil-Bug – the only name he had ever known – worked as a combination doorman, bouncer and executioner in the vile mansion called Monk Hall in Philadelphia. He killed on command and secreted the corpses deep in the sub-basements of the sinister mansion.

The unwholesome figure slept in a chilly dank room with the body of one of his victims lying next to him. Devil-Bug even used coffins – both occupied and unoccupied – as furniture in his room. Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season


nightmare halloweenTHE NIGHTMARE ENDS ON HALLOWEEN (supercut) – Back in 2004 Chris R. Notarile wrote and directed one of the most acclaimed fan films in the horror genre with The Nightmare Ends on Halloween. Following the comparative disappointment of Freddy vs Jason the previous year, Notarile produced a short film pitting Freddy Krueger of Nightmare on Elm Street fame against Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise.

By adding Pinhead the Cenobite from Hellraiser, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, he gave his fan film the feel of monster rally movies like House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein.    

The Story: Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season


gabriel with eyepatchFor this weekend’s escapist superhero post Balladeer’s Blog will go with a Halloween theme and examine the Marvel Comics character Gabriel, often called an exorcist and demon or devil hunter. Agatha Harkness shows up in his adventures.

h of h 2HAUNT OF HORROR Vol 2 #2 (July 1974)

Title: Gabriel: Devil-Hunter

Villain: The demoness Catherine

Synopsis: At Saint Benedict’s Cathedral in Manhattan, Father Lazar realizes that his fellow priest Father Artemis has become possessed and has vandalized the site. When the invading spirit causes Father Artemis to spout blasphemies during his sermon and leap from a height sufficient to break both his legs, Father Lazar (I like to think his first name is Rem) seeks help from an enigmatic, unaffiliated exorcist called Gabriel.

desadiaFather Lazar goes to the Empire State Building and pushes the button for the 13th Floor, which does not really exist but IS the way to enter Gabriel’s other-dimensional office. That office is cluttered with occult tomes on exorcism and once Lazar enters, he is greeted by Gabriel’s sultry assistant Desadia.

She psychically sensed him coming and ushers him in to see Gabriel. Expository dialogue between Father Lazar and our main character makes it clear that Gabriel was once a priest under Lazar’s authority. Father Lazar hires Gabriel to exorcise Father Artemis despite some implied hostility between the pair in the past.

Gabriel and the priest arrive at the chamber where the broken-legged Father Artemis is being confined to his bed, like Regan in The Exorcist. Amid the usual hostile and taunting exchanges between the possessed and the exorcist, Gabriel learns that the invading spirit is Catherine, an old foe of our hero. She is the spirit of a woman burned as a witch in Europe centuries ago.  Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season, Superheroes


machine to killGaston Leroux’s The Machine to Kill was written in NINETEEN TWENTY-FOUR. Many book sites list it as 1935, but that was just the year it was finally translated into English. 

Personally I would use the title The Clockwork Dead Man or The Clockwork Killer because for modern readers The Machine to Kill sounds like a traditional science fiction tale about technology run amok. 

In reality this neglected Gaston Leroux novel is a horror/sci fi hybrid about an android/ cyborg mix whose mechanized body has been outfitted with the brain, eyes and nervous system of a guillotined murderer. The robotic man – called Gabriel – was created by Dr Jacques Cotentin, who needed an absolutely fresh brain, hence having to settle for a just-executed criminal. Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season