Tag Archives: Halloween

Creepshow: The Whole Bloody And Macabre Saga Part II

So I’m at the final hurdle of this Creepshow/Halloween special retrospective. It’s been a pretty uneven journey so far. A cracking and iconic first film, followed by a disappointing but still entertaining sequel… the less said about that atrocious third film the better. But at this juncture, I think it’s fair to say that Creepshow has lost it’s way and was dying as a franchise. I was pretty sure that Creepshow 3 would be the nail in the coffin of the anthology storytelling that was Creepshow and it kind of was for a good while too. But before I do get into the new TV show, there is a little Creepshow curio I want to quickly cover.

Creepshow Raw

Creepshow Raw

So this is a bit of an oddity and little known/forgotten about. Creepshow Raw was meant to breathe new life into the ailing franchise. Designed to be a rebirth and broadcast on the interwebs as an online web series. The idea never really took off and only one episode was ever produced, which you can find easily enough with a Google search.

Insomnia

Released in 2009, this little slice of Creepshow told the story of young boy Phillip (Sam Elliot Hafermalz) who suffers from insomnia. His drunken and abusive step father, Barry (Michael Madsen) shows little sympathy toward the youngster’s condition. That night and Barry soon learns just why Philip can’t sleep at night.

Overall

You know what? This was actually not too bad. I mean, it’s not classic Creepshow but a lot better then anything in Creepshow 3. The episode only runs for around eight minutes and was originally shown on the website IGN. This short goes back to roots with the comic book presentation and filters. This is what a Creepshow reboot should’ve been, but nothing ever came of it. With a bit more work and polish, this really could’ve worked. There were a total of ten episodes planned, but only this one was ever made and shown. From what I’ve managed to dig up, the production team behind Creepshow Raw just lost interest and decided not to make any more episodes. It’s a shame because this really was a step in the right direction, a bit rough I admit but it was heading in the right direction, as you can see for yourselves…

 

 

So that was it for anything Creepshow related until just a few weeks ago when the all new Creepshow TV series kicked off. I honestly had no idea it existed until I did a random search on the interwebs for Creepshow. I can’t even remember why I did it at the time, but the search bought up the trailer for the TV series and I found out that the first episode was airing just a few hours later. This really was a shock to me as I thought the franchise was dead. So I watched the trailer and thought it looked pretty decent, certainly the best looking thing with the Creepshow name since the original film thirty seven years ago.

 

So here we are, finally. An almost forty year journey from 1982 to 2019, the entire history of Creepshow ends here, or hopefully begins a new chapter. We’ll have to wait and see just how well this new TV series does.

Now, up to this point, I’ve followed a pattern covering the films and stories. I’ve given you the general gist of the tales and then offered my overall feelings at the end. For the Creepshow TV series, I’m doing it the other way around. I’ll give you my general feelings on the show before looking at the stories. See, the films are pretty old now and (mildly) spoiling them is something I don’t really mind doing due to their age. But this show is brand new, just a few weeks old and a lot of people most probably have not yet seen it. So even though I’m not planning on doing major SPOILERS, I’m still offering a warning and will tell you what I think about the series overall before looking at each tale in case anyone out there wants to go into the show blind. So here are my general thoughts on the show without spoilers…

Overall

This show is great, let’s just get right to it here. Executive prouder and show runner, Greg Nicotero is a name any horror fan should know. He cut his teeth doing horror effects work on flicks like Day of the Dead, Evil Dead II and of course Creepshow 2. A former protégé of horror make-up maestro Tom Savini. Greg went on to have a hugely successful career in movies and TV both in special effects and even directing… and a spot of acting too. Anyway, point is that Greg Nicotero is the real deal, he knows his horror and was a massive fan of the original Creepshow flick. Outside of resurrecting the late, great George A. Romero to head up this show, Greg was the next best thing. The attention to detail in the series is perfect Creepshow. From the comic book presentation to the crazy filters and lighting, this looks and feels like classic Creepshow. The series is also full of great little nods and background details that a true fan can enjoy, for example, you remember that marble ashtray that features in all of the stories in the first film? Well it’s in the TV show too, several times. Honestly, I could write an article just on the references in this series. I had a fear before watching Creepshow (series) that it would be Creepshow 3 bad, it’s not, it’s original Creepshow great. Now, not all the stories are brilliant (more on those later) but most of them are. I don’t think there’s a ‘bad’ story in the whole series, just ones better than others. If you’re a Creepshow fan, then this is a must watch.

An so, with that out of the way, it’s now time to take a look at each episode and every story in the show. So one last warning. I’m not going to give away any of the endings, but I will be looking at each story. So stop reading now if you want to avoid even very mild SPOILERS.

Creepshow

Creepshow TV Show Poster

Showing on the online streaming service Shudder, Creepshow first aired on the 26th of September, 2019. The format is each episode is around forty-odd minutes long with two stories per episode. The run consists of only six episodes, but that does mean a total of ‘twelve terrifying tales of terror’ though the whole series. As previously mentioned, Greg Nicotero is the man man behind the TV show as producer but his effects studio, KNB EFX Group provide the make-up work too. Seeing as this is a TV show and not a movie, each episode and even each story has a different director, Greg being one of them. Also directing stories are David Bruckner, Roxanne Benjamin and even the awesome (and Creepshow original alumni) Tom Savini, among others. The Creep is back, but this is original, silent and rotting corpse Creep, not that annoying pun spouting thing from Creepshow 2. Each story is kind of introduced by The Creep, which, as he doesn’t talk, is done via little snippets of The Creep flicking though Creepshow comic books which he finds in a mysterious crate, the infamous crate from the original film. And so onto the first episode…

Episode 1: Gray Matter

The first story, Gray Matter is based on the Stephen King short of the same name. There have been a spate of missing animals (including some Stephen King references) and people recently in a small, almost dead town. A local general store run by Dixie (Adrienne Barbeau) is almost out of supplies as a bad storm rolls in. A distraught teenager enters the store claiming his father is really sick and needs help. Two patrons of the store, Chief (Tobin Bell) and Doc (Giancarlo Esposito) agree to go and check on the boy’s father while Dixie looks after the youngster in the store. Dixie slowly learns exactly what has happened to the boy’s father and the residents of the town, is it too late for Chief and Doc to be saved?

The House of the Head

The House of the Head is a yarn about a young girl, Evie (Cailey Fleming) and her doll’s house. A small family of dolls live in the house, a father, mother, child and a dog. Evie likes to play with the family and the house everyday. When she returns to play with the doll’s house, Evie finds the doll family have moved around on their own. Not only that, but they also seem to be startled by something, the family and whatever is scaring them only move when the doll house is closed and Evie is not in the room. So Evie closes the doll’s house and leaves them alone, but when she returns later, she finds a toy severed head in one of the rooms and that the family’s numbers are beginning to thin out every time Evie is not watching them.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 1

Overall

The first episode gets off to a great start. Both tales are highly entertaining and everything feels like Creepshow. The stories are very creepy with the right amount of horror and dark humour. Gray Matter certainly feels very Stephen King-ish and fits perfectly with Creepshow for obvious reasons and the return of Adrienne Barbeau to the franchise is a welcome one too. The second tale is my favourite of the episode. The haunted doll house scenario has been done before in films and books over the years, but this one feels kind of fresh. I thought it was going down an obvious path, but it eventually didn’t which was a pleasant surprise. Plus Creepshow fans may want to keep a keen eye out for some of the furniture in the doll house. My only gripe with this one is the cheap jump scare at the very end. The story ends perfectly fine with an ominous resolve that works well… but then it throws in a needless jump scare that just made me roll my eyes.

Episode 2: Bad Wolf Down

The first story is set during World War II. A small group of American soldiers find themselves behind enemy lines. When one of the Yanks kills the only son of a high ranking Nazi officer (Jeffrey Combs), he comes looking for revenge. The soldiers find themselves surrounded by Nazis and trapped inside an old and disused police station. The Nazi officer gives the soldiers the chance to surrender for a quick death or stay inside and die as slowly and painful as he can make it. As the Americans search the police station, they find the badly mutilated bodies of several Nazi soldiers and a woman locked in one of the cells who might just hold the key that could get them out alive… kind of.

The Finger

The Finger is a tale about Clark (DJ Qualls) a down and out kind of guy who finds rubbish on the streets and takes it home to find a use for it. One night, on one of his scavenging walks, he finds a strange, inhuman severed finger and takes it home. The finger begins to grow into an arm and eventually a fully formed horrific creature that Clark names Bob. Bob and Clark form a close bond, so close in fact that the little monster begins to kill anyone that upsets his ‘daddy’.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 2

Overall

So Bad Wolf Down is spin on the classic werewolf story. Have you ever seen the film Dog Soldiers? Well this story is kind of like a lite version of that. Some good effects work and a cheeky, cheap but effective way of showing the werewolf transformations. Seeing horror icon, Jeffrey Combs s always a pleasure. I loved The Finger, a fantastic little tale directed by Greg Nicotero. I really don’t want to say too much about this one as it has a really nice sting in the tail at the end. But it’s full of great little touches like breaking the forth wall and having Clark talking to the viewer as he narrates his own story. This one is perfect Creepshow fodder.

Episode 3: All Hallows Eve

It’s the night of scares and fun, Halloween and a group of teenage friends decide to go trick-or-treating. Every year they follow the exact same route through the neighbourhood and always call in on the exact same houses. Only these friends are getting a little too old for the long and fun custom usually for children and decide that this will be their last trick-or-treat tour. Everyone they call on for treats is genuinely living in fear of the teens, this is no fun game, these teens harbour a dark secret. Trick-or-treating is a very, very serious business with a dark motive.

The Man in the Suitcase

The second yarn follows Justin (Will Kindrachuk) who is at the airport waiting for his luggage to turn up. A black suitcase finally arrives at the carousel, which he believes is his… it’s not. Justin takes the case home and after some food and illegal substances, he opens the suitcase. Inside is a very neatly folded man (Ravi Naidu) and he’s alive. The man in the suitcase tells Justin that people are looking for him as he has a very rewarding secret. As Justin tries to move the man and get him out of the case, his bizarre secret is revealed.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 3.jpg

Overall

All Hallows Eve is a great tale. It’s dark, moody and very atmospheric. It’s not made clear exactly what the intention of the trick-or-treating teenagers is and they come across as very unpleasant and malevolent. But by the time the story comes to an end and all is revealed, the teens obsession and reason for trick-or-treating changes your perception. A very clever tale with a good twist. The second story is pretty decent, but for me, it’s one of the weakest of the show. There’s a bit of a mortality tale told in that distinct macabre Creepshow way. It’s tongue is very firmly planted in it’s cheek and offers some light chuckles over horror. A strange and silly story with an even stranger and sillier resolve.

Episode 4: The Companion

Teenager, Harold (Logan Allen) is picked on and beaten up by his older brother, Billy (Voltaire Council)… pretty sure it’s not THE Billy. Anyway, Harold is chased onto an abandoned farm by his bully brother and pulls out a cane that is embedded in a scarecrow in a field before hiding away in the disused farmhouse. The scarecrow comes to life and Harold soon learns where it came from and why the cane is so important. While bully boy Billy gives up the search of his little brother and goes home, the terrified youngster is hunted down by the scarecrow and becomes trapped inside the farmhouse.

Lydia Layne’s Better Half

When Tom is given a promotion to chief financial officer at work by his boss Lydia (Tricia Helfer), her secret lover, Celia (Danielle Lyn) feels she was more deserving of the job. The lovers have a argument that results is the accidental death of Celia. A distraught Lydia knows that if this death get’s out, no matter how accidental, it would mean the end of her high flying career and life. So she decides to try and cover up the Celia’s demise and get rid of the body. Taking Celia’s bloody corpse into the elevator with the plan to get it out of the building before anyone notices, there is an earthquake that results in a power cut which leaves Lydia and her dead lover trapped. She can’t call for help or her life will be ruined, but she needs to get rid of the body.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 4.jpg

Overall

The Companion is a great little tale. Very creepy, very macabre and feels like it came right out of the original film with a fitting Creepshow ending. The scarecrow itself is a wonderful and scary creature with some great, old school effects work. There’s also a great and subtle nod to the The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill story from the first film and another nod to the opening of the original film too. Cracking story. The second yarn in this episode is also a belter, but in a very different way. For the most part, it’s just two people trapped in a lift, but what is done with such a small and cramped space is really impressive as Lydia tries to work out just how she can get rid of the body before anyone notices. There’s a real sense of suspense and terror along with some pretty good scares. Very much put me in mind of The Hitch-hiker tale from Creepshow 2 as Lydia begins to lose control while a dead body could ruin her life. Overall, this was a fantastic episode, pure Creepshow.

Episode 5: Night of the Paw

After being involved in a car accident a badly injured and wanted criminal, Angela (Hannah Barefoot) finds help at a funeral home run by Whitey (Bruce Davison). Whitey patches up and helps his guest who, at first is none to pleased, but soon learns to appreciate the help. As Whitey makes his visitor feel welcome, she begins to open up about her mysterious past. It seems that maybe fate played a hand in bringing them together as Whitey reveals he owns a magic monkey’s paw that grants three wishes. The paw has been used up and is no use to Whitey anymore… but maybe Angela can find a use for it or Whitey a use for her?

 

Times is Tough in Musky Holler

A small town is overrun by the undead and when it’s none to friendly and corrupt Mayor (Dane Rhodes) makes things even worse, residents of the town take matters into their own hands. Capturing and imprisoning the Mayor along with several of his cohorts, the townsfolk turn the tables on him by giving him a taste of his own medicine. Forcing the Mayor and his entourage into taking part in a sick and twisted ‘sports event’ as revenge.

Creepshow TV Show Episode 5

Overall

I think pretty much every anthology horror franchise has had some form of the magic monkey’s paw story, even The Simpsons have done one in their Halloween specials. You know the story of a paw that can grant wishes and the user misuses them to their eventual horror. Well, Night of the Paw is Creepshow’s version and it’s pretty damn effective and original too. Bruce Davison as Whitey gives a wonderfully creepy and yet charming performance who has more than a few secrets of his own that can rival those of his criminal guest and the story does not go on the direction you may think it will at the end. The second story is a bit disappointing to be honest. Aside from some bloody, gruesome effects work at the end, there’s just not a lot going on here. It’s a bare bones tale with a paper thin revenge motif. I feel the backstory to this story (of which there are snippets shown) would’ve been much more intriguing as to just how and why the town became overrun by the undead and just how the Mayor fucked things up so badly. It just feels like a two minute ending dragged out to twenty minutes. Not a terrible tale, just not a very interesting one… with some great and bloody make up effects in the finale.

Episode 6: Skincrawlers

Dr Herbert Sloan (Chad Michael Collins) discovers a revolutionary weight loss method that doesn’t require dieting or exercise. The method can turn an obese person into a chiseled Olympian God in a matter of minutes. When overweight and donut lover, Henry Quayle (Dana Gould) turns up at Herbert’s impressive weight loss clinic and learns just how the amazing results are achieved using giant leaches that suck out the fat, he backs out of the treatment at the last minute. After crossing paths with a previously obese patient who is now super slim, Henry has a change of heart and not only agrees to the weight loss treatment, but also agrees to have it done live on TV. Meanwhile, a solar eclipse is due to plunge the city into darkness which has an effect on the fat eating leeches and just maybe, things will not work out as they should.

By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain

A mother and her children are living in a small house near a lake. Her abusive and often drunk boyfriend, who sees himself as the man of the house brings nothing but misery to the family. Despite the abuse, the mother stands by her boyfriend after the death of her husband while he was exploring the mysterious lake. One of the children, Rose (Sydney Wease) keeps an old scrapbook, the same scrapbook her father kept before his death, something he used to keep notes about things he discovered at the lake, including the supposed existence of a mythical creature living in the lake. Rose refuses to let her father’s death be in vain and soon learns that the undiscovered monster is real… but it’s dead. But can the creature still be of use?

Creepshow TV Show Episode 6

Overall

The first yarn is pure classic Creepshow. Written by Paul Dini, a name Batman fans should recognise. This one ends in an orgy of blood and gore as the truth behind the weight loss programme is revealed. It bloody brutal and darkly amusing with some amazing OTT and old school effects work. This tale wouldn’t feel out of place in the original film. The second tale is written by Joe Hill/King, son of Stephen and Billy from the first film. It’s also directed by the great Tom Savini. So a reuniting of Creepshow originals. This one is a steadily slow tale with a lot of clichéd tropes, bully-boy stepfather/boyfriend, idiotic mother who puts the abusive boyfriend before her own children, nerdy-type daughter and a very predictable resolve. It has a very obvious Loch Ness Monster influence. Despite it’s paint by numbers approach, this is still an enjoyable story, no real surprises here and you’ll know exactly where the story is heading within two minutes. Plus there is a nice bit of bookending going on as the first episode started with a story written by Stephen King while the last episode ends with one from his son.


And that’s it. Almost forty years of Creepshow covered from the original film to the recent TV show. The franchise as a whole is a very mixed bag. The greatness of the original film still holds up today, it’s slightly weaker and disappointing sequel is entertaining enough. And the third film is a perfect example of how not to make a sequel and how to completely disrespect Creepshow fans.

The Creep 2019.jpg

However, this new TV show shows great potential. Only six episodes and twelve stories, but for me, I feel that’s just the right amount. Seeing as American TV shows tend to go on for far too long and outstay their welcome with seasons running into dozens of episodes, it’s nice to see one that dials things back a bit. Now I’ve seen the whole show, I’m excited for more instead of being bored. I really hope there is a second season next year. Greg Nicotero and everyone involved have done an amazing job putting a smile on this Creepshow fan’s face. If you’re a fan of the original film, then check out the Creepshow TV show, it’s far better then I thought it would be.

Quick update: Great news, Creepshow has been renewed for a second season.

Creepshow Season 2.jpg

Was There A Real Killer In The Exorcist?

I love The Exorcist, it’s my favourite horror flick. I’m such a fan that this is the second article on the film in my bumper, multi-article Halloween celebration for this year. The first one covered the very fictional ‘curse’ the film is said to have, but for this article, I want to cover a real life horror within the greatest horror film ever made.

Released in 1973, The Exorcist is a masterclass on how to make the perfect horror film. Directed by William Friedkin and adapted for the screen by William Peter Blatty from his novel of the same name. The film tells the story of 12 year old Regan (Linda Blair) and her actress mother, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) who are living on location in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. while Chris works on her new film. After using a Ouija board, Regan begins to act strangely. Long story short, it turns out that 12 year old Regan has been possessed by a demon claiming to be the Devil himself. Better call in The Exorcist.

The Exotcist Gif.gif

Anyway there is a scene in the film where Regan is taken to hospital to have various tests as doctors try to work out why she’s been acting so strange (before the revelation that she’s possessed by a demon is made). One of the hospital workers was played by real life radiographer, Paul Bateson who also worked as a medical adviser for the film too. In fact, the particular scene where Regan has an arteriogram (an arterial catheter inserted into her neck) in which Paul appears is often praised by medical professionals for it’s attention to detail and realism. So he did a damn fine job…

The Exotcist Paul Bateson.jpg

Yup, that’s Paul in The Exorcist right there. However, in 1979, six years after the release of the film. Paul Bateson was arrested and convicted of murder.

It was the 14th of September, 1977 when film critic Addison Verrill was found dead in his New York apartment. Addison had been severely beaten and stabbed. There was no evidence of forced entry, which lead the police to believe that Addison knew his killer. An appeal was launched to find the person resposible and that all eventually lead to the arrest of Paul Bateson. After being questioned, Paul confessed to the murder and gave details of the crime that no one else would’ve known about except the investigating police. Paul told how he and Addison met at a gay nightclub, went back to Addison’s apartment, had drinks and cocaine followed by consensual sex. Paul then said that he hit Addison with a skillet incapacitating him before stabbing his victim in the chest. Paul said he then stole money, a credit card and clothing before fleeing the scene. All details that police had not yet made public.

At the time of Paul Bateson’s arrest, trial and conviction, police were investigating a series of other murders in the gay community over the previous two years before the Addison Verrill murder. A total of six bodies were found… or at least what was left of them. The dismembered and decomposed body parts were discovered in plastic bags and dumped in the Hudson River, New York. None of the bodies were officially identified due to the decomposition and dismemberment. No one was ever convicted of the murders either.

The Exotcist Paul Bateson 2.jpg

After his conviction in the late 70s, director of The Exorcist, William Friedkin visited Paul Bateson an interviewed him for a new film he was making. Based on Gerald Walker’s 1970 novel Cruising, a novel about a police officer going undercover in the gay community to find a serial killer. The film was released in 1980 starring Al Pacino and William Friedkin even worked in elements of Paul Bateson’s life and the murder of Addison Verrill into the movie. Anyway, during William’s chat with the incarcerated Paul, he said the police offered him a deal of a reduced sentence if he confessed to the other murders.

It’s not known if Paul actually did commit the other murders or not, but it is strongly believed by many that he did, mainly as the plastic bags used to hold the body parts found in the Hudson River all had tags on them indicating they came from NYU Medical Center… which was where Paul Bateson worked at the time of the killings. But there was never any concrete evidence to officially link him to the murders and no one had ever been convicted of them either.

Paul Bateson was sentenced to twenty five years for the murder of Addison Verrill, of which he served twenty four years and three months before being released in 2003 aged 63. As of writing, it’s not known what happened to Paul. It’s not known where he is or if he’s even still alive, but it had been rumoured he is still alive and living somewhere in upstate New York.

The Netflix true crime show, Mindhunter featured the Paul Bateson story in it’s second season (episode six) earlier this year, where Paul was played by Morgan Kelly.

Paul Bateson Mindhunter.jpg

So yeah, there was a real life killer in the scariest horror film ever made.

Murder of Addison Verrill.jpg

Next up is the finale of my Halloween celebration this year, a two part look at a recently resurrected horror movie franchise that spans almost forty years…

The Exorcist Curse?

As we get closer to the big day, another Halloween article from me. This time, I’m going to be looking at the (in)famous supposed ‘curse’ of The Exorcist. Now just for the record, I’ve done a few film curses articles over the years and I always start them the same way. So I’ll do the same here too…

I personally do not believe in curses. I believe in coincidence, misadventure and accidents. I don’t believe that anything I’m about to write is ‘factual’, that’s to say I don’t think any of the incidents covered here were down to a curse or the Devil, just a series of unfortunate accidents. And with that out of the way, let’s crack on with The Exorcist curse.

Do I need to recap what The Exorcist is about? Okay, just a quick one for context. The film is about Regan (Linda Blair), a 12 year old girl who get’s possessed by a demon claiming the be the Devil. So her mother calls in (the titular) The Exorcist to save her daughter from the ultimate evil. Basically the film is about good vs evil. It doesn’t set out to try and prove that either God or the Devil is real, just to show how good can beat evil. But all that being said, some believe that making a film about the Devil and trying to expose him is a very bad idea and that Beelzebub himself will try to intervene… hence this curse. Famed U.S. televangelist Billy Graham even went so far as to suggest the film was drenched in evil when he said: “There is a power of evil in the film, in the fabric of the film itself.”

The first known incident of The Exorcist came about early in the film’s shoot in 1972. The set used to film most of the scenes set in the home featured in the film caught fire and burned down. A bird had flown into a circuit box used to house the electrics of the set. This caused a small fire that quickly spread through the entire set and destroyed it… all of it except Regan’s room where the exorcism scenes take place. The incident set production back when it only just begun and ended up extending the shoot of the film to just under a year, but with post-production, the film took over 12 months to complete.

The Exotcist Bedroom.jpg

Regan’s mother, Chris is played by Ellen Burstyn in the film. There is a scene where Chris is hit by the possessed Regan and is slung across the room, slamming onto a hard wooden floor. In this scene, Ellen is actually badly hurt and that take is used in the final film too. She landed on her coccyx, the  screams of pain and look on her face during the scene are genuine. It caused a permanent spinal injury that still bothers Ellen to this day.

Two actors in the film, Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros played characters who both die in the film. While the film was in post-production, both Jack and Vasiliki died in real life never to see their work on the big screen. Linda Blair’s grandfather also died while filming and The Exorcist himself Max Von Sydow’s bother also died during Max’s first day of the shoot. There was also a narrow escape with Jason Miller who played Father Damien Karras in the film. Jason’s young son was critically injured and almost died when he was hit by a speeding motorcycle. One of the cameramen working on the film became a father for the first time while the film was being shot, according to actress Ellen Burstyn, the baby died when it was only a few months old. Various statements say that a total of nine people died during the entire production of the film, both directly and indirectly linked to the production.

The Exotcist Cinema.jpg

In the documentary on the film called Fear of God, Jason Miller tells the story of how an elderly priest gave him a silver medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The priest told Jason that if anyone tries to do anything to uncover the Devil, that he will take retribution on those involved. The priest gave Jason the medal as a token of protection. A few days later and that same priest died after giving up his protective medal.

Like her on-screen mother, Linda Blair also suffered a back injury when the rigging broke on a piece of equipment that was holding her in place for one of the exorcism scenes. Also, after the film was released, Linda received numerous death threats from various religious nuts for being in the film as they believed she really was the Devil and she was only 13 years old at the time too. The threats got so severe that the production studio hired bodyguards to escort the teenager for six months until the furore died down.

Mercedes McCambridge, who provided the demonic voice for the film also suffered a terrible tragedy. In November, 1987, her son, John Markle murdered his two daughters, Amy, 13 and Suzanne, 9. He also murdered his wife, Christine, 45 before committing suicide all with the same gun.

The Exotcist Priests

During the film’s 1974 premiere in Rome (a deeply religious place what with it housing Vatican City and all that), a thunderstorm broke out. A torrential downpour of rain and spikes of lighting almost prevented people from attending the screening, including cast and crew. There was also a story that lighting from the storm struck an old church which caused a four hundred year old cross to fall from it’s steeple, close to the cinema where The Exorcist was being shown.

At the same screening, one viewer was so disturbed by what they saw on screen that they fainted. They fell forward and hit their face on the seat in front of him and braking their jaw. The injured person then went on the sue distributors of the film, Warner Brothers for causing the accident.

Finally, Journalist Judy Klemsrud reported in a 1974 article that: “Several people had heart attacks, a guard told me. One woman even had a miscarriage” as this archived article states. Though to be honest, I’ve not managed to find any solid proof of this other than the article.


The Exotcist Demon

So is The Exorcist cursed?
As I said at the beginning of this article (and other cursed film articles I’ve written), I don’t believe in any of it. The film suffered a long production, over a year in fact. So of course given a longer time frame, more incidents will occur. More will happen in the space of a year then say a day or a week for instance. People die, storms cause damage, crazy people send death threats, this kind of thing goes on each and every day. I’m sure that if these exact same incidents had happened in connection to a film that had nothing to do with the Devil, no one would’ve paid them as much attention, they would’ve just been put down to normal incidents, not a curse.

Besides, if the Devil himself really was trying to stop the production of the film… he didn’t do a very good job did he? All that power and evil and that’s the best he could muster? Why not just kill everyone directly involved in the film instead of a very small amount of people who were and an even smaller who were not? Why not destroy the main print of the film before it was duplicated and distributed so it could never be seen? Why are there not more and more incidents from the millions up on millions of people around the globe who have watched the film since it’s original release up to today? I’ve watched the film in it’s various cuts many times over the years (twice this week alone) and I’m okay… so far…

Shit happens and everything that has been connected to The Exorcist is just coincidental.

Now to finish, the original and banned (because it was too scary) trailer for The Exorcist

 

Coming up next, another The Exorcist article, but looking at something very, very real and horrific

Berzerk: The Killer Arcade Game?

So apparently, the classic 80s arcade game, Berzerk can kill people. It’s an urban legend that has been going on for a good few years now. It’s one of many urban legends related to gaming, a bit like the whole Polybius thing, the main difference being that there is no proof that Polybius even existed (it didn’t, it really didn’t). But Berzerk? Yeah it most definitely existed, people played it, lots of people, me included. But has it ever really killed anyone or been the basis for any deaths? Well that is the aim of this article, to explore the urban legend and get to the truth. But before I do get to that, perhaps an explanation as to what Berzerk is and the killer urban legend behind it.

The Game & Urban Legend

Released in 1980, designed and published by Stern Electronics and Atari. Berzerk has you playing as an unnamed human fighting his way though randomly generated mazes overrun with killer robots. The aim is to destroy all robots and move onto the next maze. It was simple enough gameplay, they all were back then. You can’t touch the walls of the maze or you’ll die you can’t touch the robots or you’ll die, you can’t get shot by the robots or you’ll die. The game featured early examples of synthesizer speech during gameplay… oh and it also featured Evil Otto, the source of the urban myth that the game could kill you.

Berzerk Screen

So here we go. Evil Otto is a character in Berzerk who appears when you spend too much time on one maze, deigned to keep you the player moving and the pace of the game high. Evil Otto is the only character in the game who is invincible, so you can’t kill him. He can also move through the walls of the maze, making avoiding him difficult. If you touch him, or more accurately, him you… you die. I mean you die in the game, not in real life. Now the thing about Evil Otto is how cheerful he is. He’s a bright yellow smiley face that bounces around the screen. He’s not scary, he’s a happy chappy. Yet the whole urban legend of Berzerk centres around him. It had been suggested that if you get a high enough score and then get killed in-game by Evil Otto, then you die in real life.

Evil Otto

But is it true? No, of course it’s not. It’s an arcade game, it can’t kill you. But researching this subject has led me down a very interesting path and one I aim to take you down too. I think I’ll need to cover this in three sub-chapters. So here we go, the birth of the Berzerk urban legend and first, it’s most (in)famous kill…

Jeff Daily

Now it has been said that Jeff was the first victim of Berzerk. Often called the ‘666 death’ (here’s a Reddit that covers the death along with mentioning another I’ll cover next). Aged 19, Jeff of Virginia is said to have played the game in his local arcade for many hours where he achieved the high score of 16,660 on the 12th of January of 1981. After playing and getting his high score, it has been reported that Jeff suffered a major heart attack and died right there in the arcade. Several places reported on the Jeff’s now infamous Berzerk death at the time and still mention it today as the first video game known to have been involved in the death of someone. It’s a story that has spread over the years and had been reported on several times by many, many people.

Berzerk Screen 2

But there’s a few things that just don’t add up here. A high score of 16,660 is possible in the game… but it’s not really that high to be honest. Even an average gamer could get a score close to that, a better one could easily obliterate it. So for Jeff Daily to get that score after playing Berzerk (as reported) for many hours and on only one credit too seems unlikely as you could get that kind of score in a few minutes. Plus the 666 in the middle of the score is awfully convenient, not impossible as each robot destroyed in the game gives you 50 points with a bonus of 10 points per robot if all are destroyed in one maze. So with a scoring system like that, a nice round score of 16,660 is mathematically possible, but it’s just very convenient and unlikely to have 666 in the middle when talking about a death related to it.

Then there is another thing I uncovered while researching this story. A Jeff Daily from Virginia did indeed die aged 19 in 1981, that’s true I even looked into it. Using familysearch.org (you need a membership) I found this information…

First Name: Jeffrey
Middle Name: NA
Last Name: Dailey
Name Suffix: NA
Birth Date: 16 January 1962
Social Security Number: 225-94-5973
Place Of Issuance: Virginia
Last Residence: NA
Zip Code Of Last Residence: NA
Death Date: May 1981
Estimated Age At Death: 19

So yeah, there was a Jeff Daily or at least a Jeffrey Dailey aged 19 who died in Virginia just as the urban legend has said for decades now.  But the death date doesn’t match up as Berzerk Jeff Daily was said to have died on the 12th of January, 1981. This Jeffrey Dailey died in May 1981… and this is the only Jeff/Jeffrey Daily/ Dailey from Virginia to die in 1981, I checked and double checked. Oh and Jeffrey Dailey was nowhere near an arcade or Berzerk when he died either, he died in a car crash and is buried in Holly Lawn Cemetery in Suffolk City, Virginia. Again, I checked.

So there is zero evidence to suggest that anyone called Jeff Daily, aged 19 from Virginia died after playing Berzerk. Zero, zilch, nadda, nowt, nothing. I can find nothing to prove the story is true, not even a mention in a local newspaper. So that’s it then, the end of the urban legend with it’s most famous story shot down… only it’s not because at least two people did actually die after playing Berzerk, not fictional made up people with similar names to someone else who died. But real people.

Peter Bukowski

The 3rd of April, 1982, Peter Bukowski aged 18 of South Holland, Illinois went into Friar Tuck’s Game Room to play some video games. Just like most teens caught up in those early days of video games, Peter quickly became a fan. He was instantly drawn to Berzerk and dropped a few coins into the machine. He played a couple of games and got himself a high score too, he put his initials into the game and decided to play another game. Once more, he got a high score and once more he put his initials in. Proud of his gaming achievement, he stepped away from the game, turned around and took a few more steps before collapsing. One of the workers at the arcade rushed over and began to preform CPR while an ambulance was called. Peter was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. It was later revealed that Peter Bukowski suffered from a previously undiagnosed heart condition called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia and he had even suffered a mild, unnoticed heart attack a few weeks previously.

Peter had walked to the arcade after visiting both a couple friends and his girlfriend, a round trip of just over four miles. It had also been snowing which made the walk more difficult. All this excursion is thought to have aggravated his then unknown heart condition. Even friends he was with at the time noticed he was short of breath by the time they all arrived at the arcade. So yeah, that is one death after paying Berzerk, but it wasn’t Evil Otto that killed Peter, it was his unknown heart condition.

Here are a few clippings from various sources who, at time, reported on Peter’s death…

Berzerk Death

Berzerk Death 2

Gaming mag

Edward Clark Jr

Then six years later another Berzerk linked death occurred with a very strange coincidence. It was the 20th of March, 1988 when Edward Clark Jr aged 17 walked into Friar Tuck’s Game Room… the very same arcade that Peter Bukowski was in when he died in 1982. Edward and his friends walked around the arcade looking to find some games to play. They spotted the Berzerk arcade machine… the exact same one that Peter Bukowski played just before he died. Sitting on the cabinet were a few coins that someone seemingly had left there. So Edward took one of the coins and put it into the Berzerk game and played. This was when Pedro Roberts, 16 stepped forward and claimed that the money was his and that Edward now owed him for the coin he had just spent.

Threats were made between the two teens and an argument began before a fight broke out. A staff member had to separate the brawling teenagers and decided to kick them both out to avoid any more trouble. Knowing kicking them both out at the same time would be a bad idea, the staff member told Pedro Roberts to leave first and then waited around ten minuted or so before ordering Edward Clark to leave and telling him to walk the opposite way that Pedro had gone earlier… advice Edward didn’t take.

Edward and his friends walked along the street and though a car park, but they didn’t know that Pedro had been hiding in an alley waiting. As Edward and his friends strolled past, Pedro jumped out from his hiding spot rushed toward his victim and plunged a knife into his chest. Edward Clark was bundled into the back of his friend’s car and driven to the hospital but he died shorty after arrival. Pedro Roberts was convicted of the murder in 1990 and was sentenced to an eleven year prison sentence. I apologise in advance for the poor quality image coming up, it’s the best I could find…

Clark Murder.jpg


Berzerk TShirt

So there you have it, the truth about Berzerk: The Killer Arcade Game. Truth is the game never killed anyone directly. The most famous related death, the one that kick started the whole urban legend didn’t even happen. The other two indirect deaths were linked to a heart condition and a petty fight over a coin. It’s more than safe to play Berzerk, I have many times.

Next in my Halloween special. A look at a supposed film curse

Halloween Is Coming…

I’ve not done much writing for my blog this year as I’ve been busy working on my books and short stories. I’ve done a handful of smaller articles and write ups, but nothing big. No retrospectives, no big celebrations. I love doing more in depth articles but just haven’t had the time this year.

But Halloween is a time of year I really enjoy. I have to do something to help celebrate. So I ceased work on my book(s) for a while to do a big Halloween blow-out spectacular! Coming Halloween week will be four articles, two gaming and two movie ones. There are retrospectives as well as spine tinging topics related to Halloween, scary games and films. My two movie articles actually cover the same film, but different topics relating to it. I even have a fifth Halloween article planned and if the timing works out, it’ll be published too.

Either way, there are most definitely at least four Halloween specials coming this year. So it all you regular readers, those if you following my blog (thanks). I know I’ve been a tad lax with this blog this year as my attention is focused on my books… but there’s a hefty Halloween special coming soon. Stay tuned…