Paranormal & Supernatural in Review: Burnt Offerings (1976)
There is something about horror movies of the 1970s that I love. Maybe it’s the pre-social media age. There’re no cell phones, no cable TV, no internet, not even compact discs or home computers. The time is one of simplicity. Or so it would seem. I imagine without all our modern distractions, there is more focus on what lies beneath. It was also a time of mystery. Putting a man on the moon was only something, at the time, that we’d just been able to accomplish. We simply knew less. Religion was much more accepted and widespread. Science was growing but it was still looked at as part fantasy. Less knowledge about how the world and the universe worked meant there was more room for our imaginations to wander in the dark void.
Burnt Offerings is based off a novel with the same name published in 1973 by Robert Marasco. Director/producer Dan Curtis co-wrote the screenplay with author William F. Nolan. Curtis was mostly a TV movie guy but does a wonderful job taking up the big chair for Burnt Offerings. Continue Reading
March 7, 2019 | Categories: Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: blogging, cult classics, film, Glenn Rolfe, guest contributor, Horror, horror movies, movie reviews, paranormal, Reviews, Supernatural | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Chasing Ghosts
The Cobbs were ignorant woods-people that died off and left nothing to fear. Locals in Naples, Maine think they know this story. But are they wrong? Luke Howard and his mom move to Naples and Luke’s eager to make new friends. When Jason and Davey invite him out to the abandoned Cobb place for a game they call “chasing ghosts,” he’s ready and willing. However, the boys will come to discover that some vacant houses are better left to die alone. Meanwhile, a punk band set to play in a rented cabin out of town feel eyes upon them. Somebody’s watching, but not their usual audience. When their lead singer strays too far from the group and disappears, his band mates set out in the darkness to find him. Police Chief Walt Henderson is about to discover that there’s more going on out in the woods of his town than he ever imagined. Chasing ghosts is more than just some children’s game.
Chasing Ghosts according to reviewers:
“Glenn Rolfe has upped his game again with this one. Blood and Rain had blood and guts and gore but this one has much more than that. You get really gritty parts but the suggestive way that it is written makes your mind go into overtime. You can at times literally feel the pain.” – Confessions of a Reviewer
“Chasing Ghosts is one of the scariest books I have read in a while and it may just be Glenn’s darkest work yet…definitely my favorite novella of the year” – The Horror Bookshelf
“With shades of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, Rolfe also summons his inner-Laymon and, in my opinion, outdoes what his predecessor couldn’t do.” – Into the Macabre“This is a fantastic read! I can’t recall how many times I muttered, ‘holy s***’ while reading it, but it happened a lot. Wow.” -Somer Monique Canon
You can get your copy of Chasing Ghosts on Amazon for $2.99
Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness. He’s the author of Blood and Rain, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, Things We Fear, and Slush. He’s already in his dark room scribbling away on his next story. Stay tuned. Find him at: http://www.glennrolfe.com
December 7, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: Amazon, author guest, book boost, book reviews, books, Chasing Ghosts, dark fiction, fiction, ghosts, Glenn Rolfe, Haunting, Horror, horror fiction, Kindle, kindle book, kindle review, novels, Reviews, thriller | Leave a comment
Fright Fest: The Howling (1981)
First things first, The Howling is my favorite werewolf movie. It’s creepy, it’s sometimes bizarre, it’s sexy, and it’s violent. From the tension-filled opening with Karen White and Eddie Quist to the burning –down-the-house attempt to destroy the fine people of The Colony, and the final change before a live televised audience, The Howling brings it. Released back in 1981, The Howling is based on the novel of the same name by Gary Brandner released in 1977 (the year I was born).
“We should never try to deny the best, the animal within us…”
While there are plenty of similarities between the novel and the film, the final screenplay turned in for the movie decided to take the film adaptation in its own direction. The book starts out with the main character getting raped in her apartment and features a similar “cabin in the woods” setting for her and her husband to go to recover and heal. The husband is also pursued and seduced by the local shopkeep/temptress. For the adaptation, screenwriter, John Sayles, a psychology major in college, decided to lean heavily on the psychological angle. In the book, the town, Drago, just so happens to be a town filled with werewolves, whereas the screenplay has it all set up by the doctor (Dr. Waggner). Sayles did something I believe all good writers do when treading familiar ground—borrow what you like and make up the rest! For werewolf folklore, he chose to go with silver bullets and fire to kill his beasts, as well as a bite to pass the curse along but threw out the full moon cycle of the werewolf. Instead, he chose to go shapeshifter with the creatures being able to shift at will, day or night.
“You can’t be afraid of dreams…Turn around, Karen…”
From the psychological standpoint, we get to see Dee Wallace deliver an excellent performance as Karen White. After being attacked by and catching a glimpse of Eddie in his werewolf form, she is sent to The Colony, a “place to recharge her batteries” and run by Dr. George Waggner. The Colony is a place where everyone is known to howl at the moon. It’s there that Karen and her husband, Bill, meet Marsha Quist and a number of others. Karen battles her nightmares of Eddie, reliving the moments with her stalker in her dreams and during her sessions with Dr. Waggner at The Colony.
Her husband, Bill, tries to wait for her to let him touch her again without reliving her attack. Marsha sees her opportunity and sets her sights on him. It doesn’t take long for her “animal magnetism” to lure Bill in. One bite and Bill is all hers. This leads to one hell of a sex scene in the woods between the two. I mentioned the sexy thing in my introduction, right? Well, that is definitely brought on by Elisabeth Brooks in her role as Marsha, aka Marsha the Man-Eater. Her wild mane, perfect body, and relentless sex appeal speak to the beast in us all.
“Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives becomes a werewolf himself.”
The true highlights of the film are the spectacular transformations. Watching the werewolves come to life without the help of today’s special effects crutch (CGI) is a fantastic thing to behold. After killing off Karen’s friend, Eddie comes face-to-face with the object of his desire and we bear witness to the change of all changes as Eddie goes from man to beast before the screen. Watching his eyes alone is amazing. Add that to the work and hours it must have taken to get the snout just right, that’s the good stuff. I can’t imagine how amazing this must have been to see for the first time in 1981. Those of us who were spoiled by the effects of the ‘90’s and the 2000’s have earned a new appreciation for moments in the film like Eddie’s transformation. I think of movies like John Carpenter’s The Thing, And John Landi’s American Werewolf in London (which was also released in 1981), and even Michael Jacksons’s “Thiller” video (also directed by Landis), or even Jeff Goldblum’s wicked evolution from man-to-fly in The Fly. It must have been a thousand times better for actors to stand in front of a tangible creation rather than whatever stand-ins they use today for the CGI monsters.
“You can’t tame what’s meant to be wild…”
The Howling, along with Silver Bullet, forged an unforgettable bond in my mind between me and the werewolf. For older folks, it was probably The Wolf Man (1941) with Lon Chaney, for younger kids maybe it’s something like Dog Soldiers (2002) or the Underworld films (hopefully not Twilight!). In the eighties, my older brother shared these films with me and it was for this reason I dedicated my werewolf novel, Blood, and Rain, to him.
It should also be mentioned that director, Joe Dante, was at the helm of a number of great films that followed, namely, The ‘Burbs (1989) with Tom Hanks, and Gremlins (1984). While both The ‘Burbs and Gremlins contain plenty of humor to go along with the horror, The Howling, for the most part, maintained its dark edge. Although, if you look close enough, you can find spots of Dante’s appreciation for humor between the lines of the film, as well. Next time you watch it, keep your eyes on the televisions in any given scene.
To this day, The Howling remains my favorite werewolf film. The dark, sleazy, psychological aspects in the opening remind me of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1971). It maintains that psychological thriller tone (presented magnificently by screenwriter Sayles) throughout which makes the horror that much deeper. You combine the writing with the special effects, the visual beasts, great direction, and a superb cast of actors and you get the equivalent to a great novel—a full, well-rounded story and presentation.
Final note: Gary Brandner’s novel, The Howling, is also terrific. In fact, film sequel, The Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988), is a more faithful adaptation of the original novel. It is easily my second favorite of the movies that followed in the series. For werewolf flicks that I also love, check out American Werewolf in London, Silver Bullet, Wolf (1994), The Wolfman (2010), and Wolfen (1981). You can go ahead and add Teen Wolf (1985), as well.
Whatever your horror flavor, I hope you’ll make some time for one or more of these excellent films this Halloween season.
Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness. He is the author of Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Boom Town, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear, and the collections, Out if Range, Slush, and Where Nightmares Begin. You can get your paws on Glenn’s work on Amazon.
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October 26, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Reviews | Tags: 1981, Christopher Stone, dark, Dee Wallace, Dennis Dugan, Fantasy, film, Fright Fest, fright fest 2016, Glenn Rolfe, gritty, Guest author, Halloween, Halloween Movie Marathon, Horror, horror reviews, Joe Dante, John Carradine, Kevin McCarthy, movie reviews, Patrick Macnee, review, Reviews, Robert Picardo, Slim Pickens, The Howling, urban horror, werewolf, werewolves | 2 Comments