Change of Plans SF13 E55

Can anyone else but Wes make an improvised show look so smooth? Find out tonight. Due to an unexpected cancellation, Wes and co-host Chad Harlan take Wes’ new internet connection for a test drive while they hash out all manner of ad-libbed topics along with special guest Joe Lewis.

Topics on the table include an analysis of Wes’ recent binge viewing of all of the TWILIGHT films, what movie series are overrated, and which movie classics don’t age so well. Full disclosure, there is a small segment that’s audio only but it is a new internet connection so something is bound to go sideways.

Plus, Joe Lewis also slips in a quick segment on two of the films of director Fred Dekker. Don’t recognize the name? That’s alright, you may recognize the movies.


Jake Hates Everything SF13 E54

It’s the show that might break the mold as this week Wes welcomes Jake Godbold, horror expert and agent of Mini C the Unspeakable, for an interesting premise. Jake has requested Wes watch two movies and the challenge is for Wes to guess which movie Jake liked and which one Jake hated. The results are hilarious.

Not only do we get the results on the movie challenge, between CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and SOCIETY, but we also get some passionate commentary on both films and a few lessions on copywrite barriers. Plus Wes gets the lowdown on Jake’s thoughts about virtual conventions.

In our regular features, don’t miss Joe Lewis’ review of the HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR.


Halloween Origins with Stephanie Bingham SF13 E49

We all love it but do we know why we celebrate it? This week Wes welcomes Stephanie Bingham, historian and psychic medium, back to the show to discuss the origins and evolution of that spooky, fantastic holiday called Halloween.

Wes and Stephanie delve into the ancient traditions behind apple bobbing, jack o lanterns, soulcakes and more as they cover the various aspects of Halloween that have woven together from multiple countries of origin and old traditions over the centuries. Plus, if you don’t know what “belsnickeling” is, you’re sure to find out!

In our recurring segments, Joe Lewis goes PG/PG-13, the Week in Horror spotlights puppets and pumpkins, Dick Pinkerton returns with chilling True Crime, and news anchor Cliff Stone brings a new segment to the show. 



Film Review by Brian Stidham

I have begun to see a pattern in my film reviews. I tend to stray more into the gimmick and/or hybrid horror genre. OVERLORD certainly lands right in that pattern, as it is as much an action film as it is a horror film.

OVERLORD tells the story of paratrooper squad during World War II that are being deployed to take out a German radio tower on the eve of D-Day. Things go south when their plane is shot down. The survivors realize they are on their own to take down the radio tower or the invasion at Normandy could be at risk. Along the way, they discover secret Nazi experiments happening in a local French village using a serum that can raise the dead and create an army of violent zombie soldiers.

Nazis creating invincible, undead super soldiers? This almost sounds familiar. Have we seen this before? It is a popular topic. There are two DEAD SNOW movies, another one called BLOOD CREEK, and a trilogy of OUTPOST films (which I haven’t seen) that all deal with the same topic. I’m sure there are others but OVERELORD is the first one I’ve seen that is entirely set during WWII.

I have to admit, I didn’t go into the movie with high expectations but I found myself liking it despite my initial doubt. So what did I like about it?

It was visually appealing and had a lot going for it in the cinematography department. Considering that they had some visual effects provided by Industrial Light and Magic, as well as several other highly respectable FX teams, the visual effects and makeup work were impressive. There is also many practical effects at work, which made the horror seem a tad more visceral.

The cast was decently good. Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell, turns in a decent performance as a demolition expert and de facto leader of the group. Danish actor Pilou Asbaek, known for GAME OF THRONES, hams it up as a nasty SS captain. Jovan Adepo, who plays Private Boyce, really stood out. We experience the movie through Boyce’s eyes and Adepo gave a believable performance, which really helped to convey to the viewers the true terror he was caught up in but at the same time, I felt his character was a trope. We needed a good guy and he fit the bill but sometimes he was TOO good of a guy.

Were there things I didn’t like? Thought you’d never ask…

Even though the movie was pretty intense at times, the pacing was muddled in places. It seemed like it took a while to get to the underlying story. You have this great opening scene of the planes going down, people finding survivors, ect but the horror elements took some time to manifest. Ultimately, there was a big build up to how nasty these experiments were but the payoff seemed underwhelming. Maybe I felt the trailers hinted at more horror.

Also, without giving away spoilers, I felt like the characters did some rash and/or foolish things that were completely plot device elements. For one, there is an awful lot of shooting and screaming done for a group of people on a stealth mission. Plus, they are reckless beyond belief with a sample of the serum that they manage to get ahold of at one point. Just straight up negligent.

However, a good counterpoint is, how often do people in horror movies make consistently wise decisions?

Overall. I felt like it was lacking in the horror aspect. However, that was only one layer of the film. Even though the action sequences were decent, in the end, I felt the movie came out a middle of the road offering that was trying to be a mesh of action with horror and only succeeded reasonably at both. There was a nice offering of gore and a few obligatory jump scares but it never totally crossed into full-blown terror territory and stuck more toward action/adventure. Not necessarily a bad thing, but disappointing.

Still, I feel director Julien Avery made a valiant effort even if the final product was a little lukewarm. Even though it did feel a bit unoriginal and underdone, I didn’t hate watching OVERLORD so I can’t say I was completely disappointed.

I give OVERLORD 3 out of 5 stars. It is available for streaming on Hulu and Netflix.



Author Elizabeth Fields SF13 E47

This week Wes and co-host Coyote Chris host author Elizabeth Fields Bowen for a cozy chat about horror and Halloween. Fun fact: Elizabeth’s mom tried to poison Wes back in 2016. If that doesn’t say interesting interview, what does?

Wes, Chris, and Elizabeth dive into Halloween memories, Elizabeth’s writing process, a few of her personal ghost stories, and her interest in mediumship. Elizabeth is also in the process of getting at least one of her books, DON’T LET THEM IN up on the big screen and she talks about the steps she is taking to get that completed.

In our regular features, Joe Lewis gives the rundown on a serial killer TV series. We also get language lessons from the spooky folks at Wicked World Scaregrounds. This episode has a little bit of everything.


Another Call In Night SF13 E46

It’s that time again, the call in show has returned. Wes and cohost Chad Harlan discuss the shows and movies they are currently watching and what viewer’s might want to consider adding to their watch lists. New suggestions include THE BOYS, NURSE RATCHED, and COBRA KAI.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a call in show without any calls. Wes and Chad hook up with that rascal Jake Godbold to talk about everything from Shudder shows like CREEPSHOW to plans for Halloween to suffering from Norman Reedus fatigue syndrome. Yep, that’s really a thing.

Our regular features bring us Brad Pitt and cult classic transvestites from the Week in Horror and Joe Lewis doubles down with reviews of THE BABYSITTER (2017) and BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN.


Chris Majors SF13 E45

The talk is all about the stars tonight as Wes and co-hoest CC Ann welcome celebrity agent, musician, and memorabilia collector Chris Majors to the show. Chris’ agency, Monster Memorabilia and Entertainment, is chalk full of media stars you’ll recognize plus cool collectibles for all of the superfans.

Chris discusses how the pandemic has affected his agency and what he has done to remain sustainable, how he became a celebrity agent, his feelings on virtual conventions, and all of the numerous other aspects of his job. Along the way he also shares a few celeb stories and even offers some roofing advice. It’s that kind of show!

In our weekly offering Joe Lewis takes a look at a SHUDDER exclusive movie and the Week in Horror gets squishy and brutal. This week also sadly sees the last Scarefest TV offering from our Aussie movie maestro Glenn but what an offering it is.

We’ll miss Glenn on the show but you can always still find him at FakeShemp and Good Movie Monday. G’Day Mate!


Happy Death Day 2U

Movie Review by Brian Stidham

As with many sequels, I’m not sure anyone would say there necessarily needed to be a sequel to HAPPY DEATH DAY. The story was self-contained. There technically weren’t any loose ends with the exception of possibly giving a detailed explanation behind Tree’s mysterious time loop. Was it happenstance? Was it magic? Was it the Necromonicon? The ambiguity of it all was fine with me.

Yet here we are, HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U. With the financial success of the first movie, it wasn’t out of the question that a sequel would follow. As far as sequels go, it follows the mold. More over the top. Bigger stakes and bigger hijinks. More expansive cast. Roughly, the same body count though.

Don’t get me wrong, it is also still a decently fun movie but the most important thing to note for HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U is it strongly embraces the science fiction side more than it does the horror side. Where the first movie was a horror movie flavored with some sci-fi elements, this one flips that equation. There is still a serial killer on the loose but that plays almost as a side story to the main story.

That might be the factor that I think may lose some traditional horror fans.

The movie picks right up at the end of first movie, the day after Tree’s weird time loop. It initially focuses on Ryan, the roommate of Carter, the guy whose room Tree kept waking up in on that crazy day. From Ryan’s view, we see him experience a similar incident where a killer in a Babyface mask stalks him and murders him. Upon his death, he wakes up only to relive the day over again. He and Tree compare notes and it is revealed that an experimental quantum reactor is the cause of the mysterious loops.

Through a crazy happenstance, the reactor is activated causing an explosion. When Tree wakes up she is back in her time loop but things begin to happen in slightly different ways. Tree learns she is now in a parallel universe. Many of things she knew are altered here but there is still a Babyface out there killing people. She eventually works out that she needs to find a way to fix the reactor in order to end the time loop AND send herself back to her home reality. Sadly, her new world has positive aspects that she may have a hard time giving up.

Bonkers, right? They took the crazy factor and cranked it up to eleven here. It is an inventive way for Tree to return to her time loop and still keep the story fresh by adding new elements. The downside is, the horror components get pushed to the back burner more in this story. That left me a bit disappointed but it didn’t ruin the movie. I was just hoping for the mix to stay close to the first movie.

The main gripe I have is the story became more about a search to fix the reactor than dodging the killer. Yes, the killer is still a complicating factor but the focus is Tree living through repeated iterations of the same day to help the physicist team figure out the right algorithms needed to fix the reactor. Again, the day only resets at Tree’s death, so the movie gets its darkest by having her commit various forms of suicide when Babyface is not executing her.

As a side note, some people are affected more by the portrayal of suicide, so be warned that there are several scenes. Mostly they are played for a darkly comic effect but they may be worse for some viewers than the actual slasher parts. The saving grace here is, this film is PG-13 so the deaths are very sanitized.

The question is does this movie stand up well to the first? In some ways it does. It takes some of the secondary characters from the first film and gives them more to do. It adds a few new characters. Some characters from the first movie get a fresh coat of paint in the parallel universe. There is just enough new ingredients to keep the story from being a complete rehash of the first movie.

However, not only are the sci-fi components more prevalent, so is the humor. This movie does take some of the humor to more an absurd level. Parts of the movie can be downright corny. An example is shown in the trailer, where Tree dies skydiving from a plane in just a bikini. This can be a mood killer for a conventional horror fan. It even got a little silly for me at times.

That said, they did tell a decent story. It’s definitely not that scary, like the first movie was very scary even, but they did have a few moments of tension and jump scares to remind us there was a hint of horror in the mix. Again, there is more implied violence than blood and guts however; there is a wood chipper scene that was a nice surprise.

Again, the acting was noteworthy. Jessica Rothe got a chance to do a few things with Tree that she couldn’t in the first movie. Some people may dislike her performance but she is oddly charming to me. The cardboard cutout characters from the first movie are still here but the actors get to flex their chops in bigger parts. Yes, they are a bit ham-fisted and cheesy but no one really stood out to me to be terrible actors.

Strangely, with the ramped up sci-fi quality, I was surprised to see that the writer on the original movie, Scott Lobdell, was not involved. Strange in that, since Lobdell is a comic book writer, this seems more in his wheelhouse than the first movie with its stronger slasher vibe.

Personally, I found this movie a little lacking in what I expected but I enjoyed this movie in a totally different way than I did HAPPY DEATH DAY. Again, it is a fun movie but you have to know that going into it or you may find it more irritating than entertaining.

For those interested these is a mid-credit scene that introduces another, even crazier element to Tree and her friends’ story. This appears to be played more for laughs but, who knows, could there be a HAPPY DEATH DAY 3D in the making? It would stick to the classic trope of leaving things open for future sequels. Stanger things have happened.

Given the wildly different theme for this movie, I would hazard a guess that some people won’t care for it at all. Just know going in that it this not a serious slasher movie so the expectation for horror should be reasonably low.

I would rate it at least 3 out of 5 stars, if nothing else for its clever ambitions of taking the first movie and upping the ante into a bizarre new direction.


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Movie Review by Brian Stidham

Full disclosure, this review was motivated entirely by nostalgia. Not that this movie is an older movie but its original source material is well over 30 years old. It is that source material that is basis of the nostalgia. Strap in, we are taking a walk down memory lane.

The movie is based heavily on a trilogy of children’s short horror story collections written by Alvin Schwartz, two published in the early 80s with the third book appearing in 1991. Each book was a compilation of spooky stories drawn from urban legends and old folklore. What made these books really shine were the utterly terrifying illustrations by a man named Stephen Gammell. Some of them were so unnerving.

I discovered the first two books at a school Book Fair when I was 10 years old and they were a huge building block in forming my fandom of ghost stories and all things spooky. I have always wanted to see these storied visualized on screen.

The film does exactly that. It takes several of the best stories from these books and brings them to impressive life, tied to a framing story set in a small town in the late 1960s. Keep in mind these were children’s books so the horror is still largely family friendly, yet still finds a way to stay slightly disturbing.

The film focuses on a group of small town teens that decide to explore a local urban legend, a house haunted by the ghost of Sarah Bellows, a ghoulish girl that told horror stories and was connected to a wave of child disappearances. There they find Sarah’s book of scary stories and, of course, they take the book. Shortly afterward, the book begins writing new horror stories that include the teens, along with several other kids, causing the victims of the stories to live them out in reality. The surviving teens now have to solve the mystery of Sarah’s storybook or die.

Sounds terrifying, right? If bestowed an R rating, this could have been truly horrific. The concept is there but the filmmakers did decide to appeal to the broader audience with a PG-13 rating, so the gore is practically non-existent and the terror falls a little flat.

Does this mean the movie isn’t scary? For the most part, yes. The scares are tame in comparison to more adult fare. The filmmakers tried to stay true to the ghastly illustrations in the books and the monsters do have a certain eerie vibe but they fall just short of being frightening. The closest they come to truly frightening is Harold, the scarecrow. Well, at least he gave me the willies.

Again, the movie is based off kids’ books so viewers shouldn’t expect the EXORCIST or EVIL DEAD going into it. It does contain some surprisingly sinister elements layered into it such as involuntary cannibalism and child abduction but for the most part, it reminds me of the current supernatural themed network television shows like SUPERNATURAL and SABRINA.

Just to think, these books were considered scandalous and inappropriate for children by many parent and social groups back when they first gained popularity and now I’m referring to the movie based on those stories as tame. Wow, things really change.

Is the movie bad? Not at all. It is beautifully shot and the acting is relatively good considering many of the main characters are all moderately unknown actors. The monster effects do come off a tad too CGI but they’re certainly better some of those godawful effects in those SciFi channel original movies (I’m looking at you SHARKNADO series!!)

Some people may be excited because Guillermo del Toro’s name was attached to this project but he is only a producer on the film but you can see his influence in the film’s style. The director was Andre Ovredal. If you would like to see another, more haunting film by Ovredal, check out a movie called THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE made in 2016.

The great thing about this movie is that you can share this movie with the kids. Maybe not young children but teens should find SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK a good spooky flick. Plus all of us 80s and 90s kids get see some of our classic stories like “The Red Spot”, “Harold”, “Me Tie Dought-ty Walker”, and “The Big Toe” come to grisly life.

Overall, I’d give the movie a 3 out of 5 but the nostalgia kid in me wants to rank it higher, like 5 out of 5, but we all know always seem cooler when we were kids.


Heather Dobson Memoirs of a Future Ghost SF13 E40

It’s a delve into the metaphysical world as Wes and co host Chad Harlan welcome Heather Dobson, author and cofounder of Paranormal Georgia Investigations, to discuss Heather’s book, MEMOIRS OF A FUTURE GHOST, as well as the supernatural in general.

Along the way, Heather explains where the title of her book originated, what led to her interest in the paranormal, equipment preferences, and if she feels her exposure to the paranormal has made her more sensitive or skeptical. Check out her website for more information on Heather and her work.

Our regular features bring us sharks from FakeShemp, vampire and haunting classics from the Week in Horror, and horror comedies from Joe Lewis. Plus, Dick Pinkerton returns with another tale of True Horror.

The big question that remains is, can ghosts REALLY smell when someone is BS’ing?