17FEB2022 – Dunwich Complainer

Last night I attended the monthly meeting of the Dunwich Republican Committee or as we call it “The Pentaveret.”  The meeting was sparsely attended as many are recovering from a winter bout of Dunwich demonic possession.  First Selectman Cthulhu was under the weather after having eaten some bad “seafood,” which is what he calls people living on the coastline.  So he wasn’t in attendance, which was kind of a relief.  He is a big personality and what with stepping on people and drooling all over the place and dribbling bits of man-flesh when he speaks it is a distraction.

The agenda included a report from the Treasurer that showed a net liability of about ten thousand dollars in the account.  The explanation for this was the cost of repairs to the “old Bishop place” after an interdimensional portal opened up in the kitchen and swallowed up the newly renovated appliances.  And the cook.  Apparently the First Selectman’s cousin Dagon got the address mixed up in his GPS and instead of arriving at the all you can eat buffet at the Dunwich Red Lobster, he materialized in the Bishop place and ate the cook and the contents of the refrigerator.  Luckily the cook was a Democrat and an illegal alien to boot, so after a little hand waving by the First Selectman with the State Police and a fifty-dollar “gratuity,” things were smoothed over.  It really helps to have a way with the common people.

During the Q&A I stood up and asked whether the COVID restrictions mandated by the state legislature and other unpopular decisions by the Democrats would provide a chance for the Republicans to make gains in the legislature this year.  Our State Representative happened to be at the meeting.  He was there to beg us to set up a fundraiser and meet and greet with his constituents.  He fielded this question saying that earlier in February most politicians had agreed that the Republicans would make significant gains this year.  There was even talk of the Governor’s mansion being in reach.

But last week Yog Sothoth was quoted in the larger circulation papers in Arkham stating that if the Republicans retook the legislature and the Governor’s mansion that he would be appointed attorney general and he intended to dispense with all criminal justice functions and immediately round up the democratic voters and have a luau.  He figured the Great Old Ones, once assembled for the feast could eat their way through the Evil Party in about forty-eight hours.

For whatever reason this seemed to spook the voting populace.  The consensus opinion was described as, “Yes the Democrats are inhumanly cruel and a terrible governing elite, but they’ve never clearly stated that they intend to eat their opponents alive.”  When Yog heard about this reaction, he complained that he had been taken out of context.  The Committee agreed that it was most regrettable that Yog had couched his answer quite so specifically.  Leaving a little wiggle room when talking about eating people alive is probably a good idea when dealing with those unfamiliar with the Cthulhu clan.  Well Yog is known for his honesty and candid speaking style.  I’m sure he can win over the crowd in time.

The final order of business was the Green Energy Initiative.  The town had been provided with $600,000 by the state and federal governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Dunwich.  The Republican Committee had been approached by the First Selectman to create a team to draft a proposal for the town.  He told us to make sure we stayed within the budget but he encouraged “creative solutions.”  As an example, he mentioned that his cousin Azathoth owed him a favor and for almost no cost he could rearrange the very fabric of space-time so that only elements below carbon in the periodic table could still exist in our space-time continuum.  When the Republican Chair mentioned that all life as we know it not to mention all solid planets would cease to exist the First Selectman was heard to say, “That kind of nit-picking isn’t going to get you anywhere in this town.”  So, we’re still fielding ideas.  The committee is thinking maybe some solar panels on the abandoned church.

02DEC2021 – Dunwich Complainer – Local COVID Actions

Here in Dunwich as everywhere in America, COVID has been a scourge.  Of course, the spread and the symptoms in Dunwich are atypical and highly disturbing (as is everything here).  The disease is completely restricted to a one-mile radius around the historic home of Zebadiah Cobblestoner the legendary Whaling Fleet Magnate.

Zebadiah was known in the early nineteenth century as the whale prostate king.  His company sold pickled whale prostate throughout the New England region where its healing properties were much in demand.  And with the proceeds of this lucrative trade Zebadiah built a magnificent mansion in his native town Dunwich.  And there he lived in great opulence until the great whale prostate crash of 1841.  In that year the medical profession actually investigated the “healing effects” of whale prostate and discovered that its only effect on humans was to imbue its users with a decidedly bright blue coloration around their private parts.

Needless to say, Zebadiah’s fortunes fell on hard times.  In addition, a local witch named Hepzibah Goodbody was so outraged at the coloration she had contracted that she put a curse on Cobblestoner that not only killed him but rendered his mansion a nexus of contagion and miasma ever after.  At first this miasma was restricted to anyone foolhardy enough to inhabit Zebadiah’s mansion.  But over the years the contagion grew until now it had reached out to all the inhabitants of the formerly prestigious Toenail Hill area.  The malady starts out as general abdominal discomfort but in its terminal stage it presents as an exaggerated swelling of the lower abdomen followed by detonation of the prostate which usually leaves only the legs and upper body of the victim intact.  Surprisingly both males and females are equally afflicted in this syndrome.

Now you may be asking yourself how a nineteenth century witch’s spell that causes people to explode could be diagnosed as COVID.  Well, it turns out that the federal and state governments have provided, let us say, inducements to local governments for finding COVID cases in their areas.  And let’s face it, it’s not cheap cleaning up the biohazard when someone’s pelvic region explodes so First Selectman Cthulhu worked it out with the Dunwich Department of Health to sort of roll the Cobblestoner Curse victims in with the COVID census.

But with the recent state budget cuts the “subsidy” for the COVID cases has dried up and so the Board decided something should be done to clean up this problem.  I was contracted to do it.  And it was stressed that I could employ all means necessary.

Using satellite imagery, I was able to triangulate the source of the miasma to a corner of the Cobblestoner estate.  In fact, it turned out to be centered around Zebadiah Cobblestoner’s private cemetery.  I brought along one hundred tanker trucks, each loaded with 6,000 gallons of aqua regia which is a combination of saturated hydrochloric acid and fuming nitric acid.  My team excavated down to one hundred feet where we started to uncover a stone-like mass of enormous size finally we could see its shape was spherical with a diameter of over a thousand feet.  When we reached the bottom of this structure, we saw with horror that it was attached to the centuries dead but normal sized corpse of Zebadiah Cobblestoner.  We had uncovered his decidedly malign hypertrophied prostate bulging out of his body!

We climbed out of the excavation in a panicked rout but before following my team in a sprint for the hills I slammed the valve actuator that released the veritable lake of hyper-corrosive acid into the pit.  As I panted from the effort of escaping the scene, clouds of acrid fumes spread along the ground.  Earth tremors made it difficult to keep my legs under me but I finally reached a ridge about a mile off from the pit.  And there I witnessed a sight that has shaken my sanity and left me a shell of the man I was.

The ground around the pit convulsed and swelled.  The prostate swelled up to ten times its size and glowed a bright yellow.  Then the prostate shrank down and disappeared below ground.  But suddenly the corpse of Cobblestoner took its place swelling up to the size of the prostate and even larger.  Its face was distorted with pain and rage and I feared something truly horrible was about to occur.  All at once an enormous flatulence erupted from the nether regions of Cobblestoner.  A hurricane of unbelievably foul air stormed past me.  But almost as soon as it arrived it passed and a look of angelic peace suffused Cobblestoner’s face and then he slowly shrank back into the pit.

After a safe period of time had elapsed, I dared to return to the top of the pit.  There was no sign at all of Cobblestoner or his cursed prostate.  The area had been miraculously cleansed by the potent acids and the miasma was gone!  There are signs in the last few days that Toenail Hill is once again a healthy place.  I’ve notice that Zillow has quadrupled the value of all the local real estate and speculators have snatched up all the likeliest properties including the Cobblestoner mansion and gravel pit.

One other salubrious result of the exorcism is that for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic not a single COVID victim has exploded.  That means I’ll probably get paid for my efforts by the Town of Dunwich.  And I call that a win.

Thanksgiving in Dunwich

I’ve been so busy with my own personal Thanksgiving plans that I lost track of what the town of Dunwich was planning for the holiday.  Last year the COVID lockdown put a damper on this but this year First Selectman Cthulhu and the rest of the Board were determined to get things back to normal.  So, to get the ball rolling Cthulhu invited fifty of the wealthiest and most influential Dunwichians to his house on Monday for a sumptuous dinner.

Of course, there was a misunderstanding.  The guests assumed they were going to eat instead of being eaten but you can hardly fault the First Selectman for that.  He was specific that the menu would come directly from his favorite cookbook, “To Serve Man.”  When I spoke to him, he was still recovering from overindulging but after a couple of barrels of Alka Seltzer he was feeling much better.  He told me his favorite moment was when the guests walked through a doorway and after failing to find any light switches on the walls used their phone lights to determine that they were inside their host’s mouth.  Their screams of terror made the meal all that much more enjoyable.  Oh, that First Selectman, he’s incorrigible!

I read an advertisement in the Dunwich Complainer that a town fair was going to take place on Wednesday.  There would be the usual pie contests and a silent auction for the various crafts that the townspeople would donate.  There were also supposed to be games.  The one that interested me the most was the sack race.  In most towns this is a pretty straight forward affair but the twist that is employed in Dunwich is that Cthulhu alters the geometry of space in the playing field.  This makes moving in a straight line rather tricky.  Three years ago, Josiah Bishop ended up falling through a portal and landed inside of Azathoth’s gallbladder.  He reappeared three weeks later in pretty horrendous condition.  His ears had pretty much melted off and his hair was orange.  When asked what happened he said, “Outside the ordered universe is that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.”  A lot of people just assumed Josiah had just stomped off because he’s a sore loser and because Jenkin Brown took the prize and they’ve never gotten along.

But by far the oddest story I’ve heard this week was from Arthur Birdsong.  He was walking through some of the more overgrown areas of the northern hills of Dunwich when he was caught in one of the frequent thunderstorms.  Searching for cover he saw a very dilapidated house and ran to it.  The door wasn’t locked so he let himself in.  Finding a fire in the living room he warmed himself and then looked around at his surroundings.  There was a very old book open on a table and he saw that the book was describing cannibalism among certain tribes in Africa and an illustration showed a butcher’s shop with human body parts for sale.  Arms, legs and organs were grouped on tables.  Suddenly he heard a door open above and a white-haired man in 17th century garb walked down the staircase.  The man saw that Arthur had been interested in the book and he began a long meandering tale, the gist of which was that he had come to the notion that feeding on human flesh would enormously extend the human lifespan.  Just then a drop of blood from the ceiling splashed down in between the two men and Arthur looked up and saw an enormous spot of blood on the ceiling and realized that the horrid old man was a cannibal and had just been butchering of one of his victims upstairs.

At first Arthur was hoping that a bolt of lightning would burn the house and the cannibal in the righteous fire of heaven.  But when that failed to happen, he asked the old man what time was dinner.

Arthur had to admit that human pot pie wasn’t bad.  A little gamey and fatty but no worse than mutton.  And the old fellow even threw in some pretty decent hard cider.  So, they became pretty chummy and after dinner they stayed up late chatting and Arthur discovered that they had both gone to the same prep school.  So, they sang school songs and Arthur invited his new friend over for Thanksgiving dinner.  He had been planning to serve a turkey dinner but in light of his new perspective on health food he decided to invite his least favorite blue-haired feminist wine-auntie over and serve her up instead.  I told Arthur that was splendid and I hoped it became a family tradition.  He sadly informed me that he only had three wine-aunties so it would be a short-lived tradition.  I told him to cheer up.  I have dozens of relatives that need eating.  I told him I’d donate one of mine every Thanksgiving for the foreseeable future.  Well, this brought tears to Arthur’s eyes and he declared it a “Thanksgiving Miracle.”  I said, “Nonsense, it is always better to give than to receive.”

So, you can see we here in Dunwich have a lot to be thankful for; friends, family and meat tenderizer.  Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving allows you to enjoy your family as much as we intend to enjoy (parts of) ours.

Nosferatu (1922) – Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) – A Science Fiction & Fantasy Movie Review

Last night I watched both Nosferatu movies.  I believe they are best reviewed together since Herzog’s remake of the silent film is in many ways an homage.  Almost all of the “dialog” of the silent film is reused word for word.  The appearance of the Dracula character and even the sets have been constructed to mimic the look of the originals.  Mercifully, the science of motion picture imaging had progressed tremendously between 1922 and 1979 so the picture quality of the latter film has none of the pioneering qualities of its predecessor.  Night scenes weren’t shot during the day and there is sound so the actors can restrain their pantomime gesturing.  But that being said it is essentially the same story.

In this version of Dracula, Renfield is a “land agent,” sort of a nineteenth century realtor and he employs Jonathon Harker to go to Transylvania to sign papers to buy a house in Bremen, Germany.  Jonathon leaves his wife Nina behind fretting about his safety.  When he gets to the environs of Castle Dracula the townsfolk warn him about spooky stuff but he goes anyway.  Dracula meets him and signs the papers and then feeds off of Harker for a few days, packs his dirt boxes and drives off with horse and wagon.  Harker escapes from the castle, and after recuperating for some time in the village heads for home by horse.

Dracula takes the slow boat across the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the North Sea to Bremen.  Enroute, he sucks the life out of the crew so that the boat drifts into Bremen with only the captain’s lifeless body tied to the ship’s wheel.  Somehow Dracula sneaks off the boat and takes up residence in the house across the street from the Harkers.  Dracula also brings a goodly supply of plague rats with him and the town starts dying off of the bubonic plague in droves.

While Dracula was enroute by ship Renfield is somehow driven mad and starts eating flies and biting animals and people to get blood.  He is cast into a mad house but eventually escapes and capers around town awaiting “the master” and acting like a gibbering idiot.

All this time Nina has been suffering mentally from the strain of worrying about Jonathon and because she seems to be a clinically depressed heroine.  When he arrives, she reads this book on vampires that Jonathon has specifically told her not to read.  This disobedience seemed the most realistic detail of the movie.  Nina reads that a pure spirited woman who offers her blood freely to the vampire can keeps him drinking until dawn.  And at that point the sun will destroy him.  Nina feigns illness and sends Jonathon to get a doctor.  She invites Dracula to her home and he falls for the trick and is evaporated in a puff of smoke.  Jonathon and the Doctor arrive just in time for Nina to greet Jonathon and expire from exsanguination.

In the 1979 version the ending is less positive.  When Nina expires Jonathon, who has been slowly becoming a vampire for the last few days goes full Nosferatu and escapes the town on horseback to start his own reign of death somewhere else.

So, what about these movies?  The silent version is a product of German Expressionism and uses bizarre and unreal imagery to evoke the sense of fear and dread.  The Dracula character is a cartoonish figure.  He is exaggeratedly tall and gaunt, has a dead white skin color, an elongated hairless head, protruding front teeth and ridiculously long and curved fingernails.  The sets at Castle Dracula showcase bizarre architectural details like the odd shaped doors and the monolithic walls in the crypt.  Everything is unnatural and bizarre.  I would say for a silent film this is a successful visual representation of a horror story.  But remember, it’s a silent film.  That means the acting is painfully exaggerated to pantomime the meaning.  Both of the Harkers are always gesticulating and grimacing to let you know they are emoting something or other.  I think very few modern viewers can get past the staginess of silent films to enjoy the story as a story.  So, it’s a successful silent horror film but I couldn’t recommend it to the general audience.

As for Werner Herzog’s 1979 homage, that’s more of something we can discuss in normal movie terms.  I’d call it an art film.  It goes a long way to provide good cinematography, good (if odd) acting and a rationale for the actions of the primary characters.  Dracula even gets to tell of his ennui and his envy for those who can die.  And he invests the characters with a reasonable level of personality above what was provided in the silent film.  There is even a small amount of humor thrown in, primarily around the character of Renfield but what struck me as funniest was a scene at the very end of the movie.  Dr. Van Helsing is holding a bloody stake that he has used to permanently kill Dracula.  Two town officials arrive on the scene and Jonathon denounces Van Helsing to them stating that the doctor has murdered good old Count Dracula.  The magistrate orders his underling to have Van Helsing arrested and jailed for murder but the subordinate argues with him that there are no police left to arrest him, no jailors left to imprison him and no town officials left to charge and try him.

Herzog has succeeded in making an atmospheric, artistic horror film.  It’s not particularly frightening but it attempts to adhere to the spirit of the original Dracula story, a sort of late nineteenth century gothic fairy tale.  So, my recommendation is restricted to people who enjoy art films.  And it wouldn’t kill a horror fan to watch it.  It just might not be completely what he would be hoping for.  So, there’s my Halloween day horror review that I promised.

30OCT2021 – OCF Update

Today I spent a good chunk of the day on fiction writing.  And it was very productive and I think successful.  But the trade off is no time for web site work.  I’m going to have to get much more efficient at splitting my time between the two tasks.  Tonight I am employed watching the 1922 and 1979 versions of Nosferatu.  The original is a silent film that is without a doubt a puzzling experience for the modern audience.  The film quality is terrible, the special effects are non-existent and the acting is highly stylized if I want to put it politely.  The 1979 version is titled Nosferatu the Vampyre and was directed by Werner Herzog.  I just started it but it looks like it could be okay.  I hope to have the review out tonight.

 

28OCT2021 – OCF Update

Finally up to snuff.  So I’ve been catching up on my chores.  Fixing a fence, stowing some gardening equipment, some prep for some larger tasks.  But ti’s good to be back in the land of the living.  As I was walking by a hill I could hear one lonely cricket still chirping slow and low.  I couldn’t help saying to him, “Hang in there brother.”

I look around today at the headlines; economy tanking, inflation running amok, Biden sucks; same old, same old.

But on the home front lots of good stuff going on.  Halloween will be a real thing this year.  They’ve taken the plastic wrap off the kids and they can go out and beg for grubby candy.  We’ve got a grandson’s birthday coming up here and we’ve also wrangled the rights to hosting Thanksgiving for all the grandkids this year.  So whatever else Dementia Joe destroys he may be too late to destroy Thanksgiving.  And I say that knowing that there may be no turkeys or pumpkin pie because of “supply chain” foul ups.  But for whatever reason hope is in the air.

I looked at TCM’s line-up of horror movies for Halloween and they really are pathetic.  They’ve ignored almost all the Universal Classic Monster movies and they’ve back-filled with a lot of shlocky 1950’s and 1960’s Vincent Price junk.  I could understand if they had decided to go for more modern fare but then they could have had Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, maybe some of the really gruesome stuff from the 1990’s.  But apparently they’ve lost interest.  I’m looking around to review at least one good horror movie for Halloween.  If anyone has a suggestion that I haven’t already reviewed feel free to leave it in the comments.

I noticed that the poll takers, Reuters and Harris and the rest haven’t tried too hard to boost Biden’s poll numbers over the last couple of weeks.  Or if they have it hasn’t helped.  He’s been at approximately -10 (40 up, 50 down) for a while.  I’m curious to see if it can go much below that.  If it got to -20 (30/60) I bet even Dementia Joe’s puppet master will consider trying to repair some of the damage done to the economy by shutting off the petroleum supplies.  But then again they are true believers.  Maybe nothing will stop them from trying to destroy the US economy and us.

I’m going back into some older pictures for my Photo of the Day.  It’s stuff I took with my Sony A-850 DSLR.  Some of it is more than ten years ago.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the great quality of a lot of the files.  And it’s been a nostalgic experience seeing some of the people and places that were around back then.

Well, that’s enough rambling for now.  More organized posting to follow.

Carnival of Souls (1962) – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Review

The “Carnival of Souls” is a low budget horror movie that consists of the life of a woman named Mary Henry after she is in a car accident.  She and two other women crash their car off a bridge into a river.  The car disappears into the muddy river and is given up for lost but after three hours Mary Henry crawls out of the water and claims that she has no memory of the crash or her escape.  She decides to take a job out of state as a church organist in a town next to the Great Salt Lake in Utah.  Along the way she is haunted by the apparition of a man who looks like the animated corpse of a drowning victim.  She is strangely attracted to an abandoned pavilion on the lakefront that had served as a carnival at one point.  Her interactions with her minister employer, her landlady and the neighbor who attempts to interest her romantically are awkward and extremely detached on her part.  And several times during her first few days in the new town she suddenly finds herself detached from the world around her.  Specifically, no one seems able to see or hear her.  Also, she cannot hear any sounds from her surroundings.  Eventually she starts seeing visions of dead people rising out of the lake and dancing in the pavilion.  These visions cause her to lose her job when the minister senses her morbid soul in her organ music.  She turns to the young neighbor to try and ground her in reality but even his clumsy advances cannot spark any strong response from her.  Eventually she is drawn to the pavilion and the drowned dead.  She watches them dancing in the pavilion ballroom and finally they come so close to her that she panics and runs away.  But they chase her onto the beach and finally catch her when she stumbles on the sand.  They surround her and the scene changes to the next morning where a search party including the minister and a policeman look at some footprints on the sand and nothing more.  She has completely vanished leaving just her car.  In the next scene we are back in her home town and the crashed car has finally been located in the river and the bodies of the two women and Mary Henry are all in the car (and strangely not decomposed after all the time under water).  The End.

There are a lot of things wrong with this movie.  It was made on a very low budget without professional actors and it shows.  I guess it would be called cinema verité.  But the amateurish quality of the cinematography and the flat recital of the lines makes you wonder why you would watch such a cheesy offering.  But the nature of the scene at the end of the movie with the dance of the drowned corpses is the very essence of horror.  It is almost iconic and I think it has inspired some later works that are recognized as successful, specifically I think the haunted house in Stephen King’s “The Shining” owes something to this movie.  And there is at least one episode of the Twilight Zone that seems to borrow heavily from this story.

So, there you have it.  This is a cheesy amateurish film from 1962 that also contains an image that I think is authentically evocative of what we call horror in film.  You’ll have to decide if that makes it worth seeing.

10JUN2021 – OCF Update

Today is a disrupted day due to errands and visits.  But also I have to watch the Nick Cage movie of the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Color Out of Space.”  Tyler Cook of the Portly Politico and I have agreed to each watch this stinkeroo and then review it to the best of our abilities.  He has watched it and assures me it’s awful.  So today I will bite the bullet and watch it before Camera Girl gets back from weekly shopping.  I am dreading the experience already.  The things I do for my art.

The Dunwich Horror (1970) – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Move Review

(War Pig loves really bad sf&f movies.  This one’s for you War Pig.)

This movie is so monumentally bad that I feel compelled to dissect its awfulness so that we can learn something from it.  First of all, look at the date.  1970 is something of a low water mark in American cinema.  Now granted this was produced by American International Pictures and they only ever made really cheap and schlocky movies.  But that sets the stage for how this movie became what it was.  Next, the story is an old H.P. Lovecraft story so the cost of buying the movie rights must have been pretty close to zero.

Next take a look at the actors.  Sam Jaffe and Ed Begley were actual actors at one time but their careers were coming to an end and they probably really needed the money.  Dean Stockwell was a young guy whose career had begun as a child actor in the big studio system but with that system now a thing of the past he would earn his daily bread working in schlock and it suited him.  Sandra Dee was a product of the post war teen movies of the late fifties and early sixties.  She had played all the Gidget and Tammy parts and was now too old to be the girl next door.  This was what was next on her ride to oblivion.  It’s also funny to see that before she got some big screen parts in movies like the Godfather and Rocky, Talia Shire had a small role in this stinker.  So, there are some actual actors in this movie.  But what can they do with this thing?

And finally, what is the plot?  Well, in the original Lovecraft story Wilbur Whateley, played by Dean Stockwell, and his monstrous twin are the product of some kind of bizarre ritualistic impregnation of their mother by one of the Great Old Ones, Yog-Sothoth.  The book chronicles the attempt by Wilbur to use the Necronomicon to allow Yog-Sothoth to break through from his own dimension and conquer Earth and eat all the humans for lunch.

But the geniuses at American International Pictures decided that what Wilbur wanted was to go for another generation of Yog-Sothoth baby making and Sandra Dee would be the baby mama.  The monster brother is still in the plot but it seems like a sort of dangling appendage that nobody knows what to do with.

Ed Begley is Dr. Henry Armitage, a university professor who has a copy of the Necronomicon and is Sandra Dee’s boss.  He will try to save her life and foil Whateley’s diabolical plan.  And to round out the cast Sam Jaffe is “Old Whateley,” Wilbur’s grandfather who seems to have inexplicably changed his mind about being an evil servant of the Great Old Ones and now just runs around warning everyone about how dangerous everything is.  Comically they’ve painted thick black eyebrows on his face.  He sort of looks like Groucho Marx in that sense.

Well, before you know it Wilbur convinces Sandra Dee to come to his groovy farmhouse and drink some tea and after he pulls the distributor cap off her car’s motor, she has to spend the night.  She has dreams that look like they were filmed with my kid brother’s super 8 movie camera.  Semi-naked hippies who look like rejects from the Manson family hopped up on hair tonic and looking for love chase her around.  It’s quite ridiculous.  When she wakes up, she shares these dreams with Wilbur and we can see that it’s all having the hoped-for result.  She’s looking for some Yog-Sothoth action.  So, Wilbur brings her up to an oceanside cliff with an altar where she will wear some kind of poncho-like garment that allows the cameraman to show us the side of her leg and butt for what seems like hours.  And Wilbur spreads her legs apart and props the Necronomicon against her groin while he reads passages to Yog-Sothoth.

At some point Wilbur’s brother breaks out of his room and eats about five people including Talia Shire.  We never really get a good look at him.  He’s got tentacles and eyes and I don’t know what else.  He makes guttural noises and he has problems with his adenoids for sure.

Finally, Ed Begley shows up at the cliff and he and Wilbur posture and spout meaningless syllables at each other.  Begley’s babbling proves to be the stronger and Wilbur’s head bursts into flames and he jumps off the cliff.  We briefly see what might be Yog-Sothoth appear as a cartoon character suspended over Sandra Dee’s groin before he disappears.  Then Ed Begley helps her off the altar and the movie ends but as it ends, we see an image of a fetus near Sandra Dee’s belly.  Yog-Sothoth scored again!

So, there it is.  It’s embarrassing to admit I even made it to the end of this awful waste of time.  As far as I know Talia Shire is the only living victim of this terrible thing.  I imagine it still haunts her.  Maybe her rich brother Francis Ford Coppola can buy the rights to the movie and destroy every copy so their family’s shame can end.  I’ve never been a big fan of Lovecraft’s prose.  His imagination was fertile and the images he came up with were vivid.  But his prose style was lackluster.  But even he deserves better than this.  The Dunwich Horror was one of his better stories.  Maybe someday someone will do a decent job of making a movie of it.  This was not that movie.

The Haunting (1963) – A Horror Movie Review

There is a place called Hill House built in the 1870s in New England that has caused the death of all those who have owned it and lived in it.  A researcher in the paranormal, Dr. John Markway, has gotten permission from the present absentee owner to stay in the house and investigate its behavior.  Markway hires two women, Theodora, a psychic and Eleanor, a neurotic woman who attracts supernatural activity, to help him detect the supernatural activity there.  In addition, the owner has designated her nephew Luke Sanderson to be present as her representative.

Eleanor is more or less the protagonist of the movie.  She has led a tortured existence having spent eleven years as the caregiver for her invalid mother.  Becoming involved in the paranormal research seems like her chance to escape from her dreary existence and strike out on her own.

Theodora is a lesbian and she takes an immediate interest in Eleanor.  But it’s obvious that her attentions annoy Eleanor.  Eleanor on the other hand seems attracted to Markway who unbeknownst to her is married.  Luke is the scoffing skeptic who finds the whole idea of a haunted house laughable.

During the first day nothing notable happens but during the night the two women hear very loud and frightening pounding on the walls and at one point the doorknob in the room they’re in starts to turn.  The men had been outside chasing a dog that seemed somehow to get in the house on its own and had heard nothing.  On the second day Eleanor has several sensations caused by supernatural presences.  She is especially overcome by a horrible smell coming from the library where, as it turns out, one of the owners had hanged herself.  That night more noises and voices are heard.

Next day, Dr. Markway’s wife Grace shows up.  Eleanor is crushed when she realizes that the man she’s been interested in is married.  Grace announces that she will sleep in the nursery, the room where the eeriest happenings were known to have been centered.  While she is upstairs in her room the rest of the party is downstairs when the pounding starts again.  But this time things get out of hand.  Whatever is making the booming noise is also able to push against a thick wooden door and bow it in as if some inconceivable weight or pressure was being brought to bear.  As soon as it ends Dr. Markway runs upstairs to find how his wife is, but she’s gone.

Meanwhile Eleanor runs into the library and climbs an extremely dangerous metal spiral staircase to the top of the forty-foot tall room with the intention of throwing herself down in order to become a permanent part of the ghost community.  Markway risks his life climbing up the tottering staircase to stop her.  Rather than go back down the stairs they open a trap door to the attic to escape their predicament.  And at that moment Grace Markway sticks her face down the trap door from above and scares Eleanor into a fit.

In the next scene Markway has decided that the whole experiment is a mistake and orders Eleanor to leave.  He will continue to search from Grace who has somehow eluded them again.  Eleanor begs desperately not to be sent away.  She feels she belongs in the house.  But Markway is adamant and he is sending Luke with her to make sure she returns home.  But at the last second Eleanor drives away without him and heads down the long driveway.  But some force takes control of her car and eventually she crashes the car into a tree and dies.  The others reach her car and find her dead.  Grace has been wandering around and happened to be right at the scene of the crash.  The consensus is that Eleanor got her wish and will stay with the house.

In the last scene we’re shown a nighttime view of the house while Eleanor’s voice talks about being part of the ghost community there.

As far as haunted house movies go this is probably the best one until The Shining was made in 1980.  That’s not to say that the film and the characters aren’t extremely annoying, because they are.  Eleanor is a thoroughly neurotic and unpleasant personality.  The others are tolerably less annoying than Eleanor but none of them is going to win any personality contests.

All that being said, the movie does have an atmosphere of foreboding about it and the sights and sounds do produce the desired effect of creepiness.  Without a doubt the spectacle of frightened isolated women does effect a movie audience powerfully.  If you’re looking for a good haunted house movie it’s this or The Shining.