Damned by Dawn, 2009 Australian supernatural horror

Country: Australia
Director, writer: Brett Anstey
Horror themes: (filed under Curse horror) banshee, screaming woman, ancient curses and traditions, walking dead/undead, resurrection, corpses, survival
Verdict: 5/10… Average, but with some scary scenes. [Damned by Dawn – Amazon.com]

Damned By Dawn: Official horror movie trailer (YouTube)

Plot summary of Damned by Dawn

Spoken of only in fearful whispers, a supernatural force holds a chilling grip over a remote, primitive farming community where Claire (Renee Wilner) arrives to visit her ailing grandmother. On her deathbed, the old woman warns Claire about the cost of interfering with a powerful spirit coming to claim her soul, and when the rest of the family fails to heed these ancient traditions, the dead are called up from their graves for a bloody night of retribution that leaves carnage and monstrous mayhem in its wake! A riveting rollercoaster of terror in the tradition of The Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell, this acclaimed new vision of horror reveals that there truly are things in the night much more frightening than death!

Thoughts on Damned by Dawn

I decided to watch this horror flick when I saw Damned by Dawn compared to The Evil Dead, despite the fact that the IMDb rating is a 39. I give it 5/10 because I found the first third or perhaps half of the film to contain some pretty creepy imagery. Like so many other horror movies, I felt that the attempt to show some of the supernatural elements via CGI detracted from the film a bit. Perhaps an invisible force would have been more frightening than a flying skull, for instance.

NOTE: More content coming: images, reviews, thoughts…

Resources: Damned by Dawn

The Resurrected, a.k.a. Shatterbrain: 1992 supernatural horror

Country: U.S.
Director: Dan O’BannonIMDb
Horror themes: Corpses, resurrection, occult, witchcraft, black magic, mad scientist, medical experiments, gore, madness/insanity

Synopsis of The Resurrected

movie poster - The Resurrected, 1992 supernatural horror movieCharles Dexter Ward’s (Chris Sarandon) wife, Claire Ward (Sibbett), hires private investigator John Marsh (Terry) to look into Charles’s increasingly bizarre scientific experiments. Charles, a chemical engineer for a cosmetics company, is coming under increasing suspicion from neighbors and local law enforcement officials because of his unusual behavior, the awful smells wafting from his property, as well as deliveries of what appear to be caskets, animal remains, and blood at odd hours. Charles has become obsessed with the occult practices of raising the dead once practiced by his ancestor Joseph Curwen (played by Chris Sarandon
in a dual role). As the investigators dig deeper, they discover that Ward is performing a series of grisly experiments in an effort to actually resurrect his long-dead relative Curwen. The Resurrected is based on the H.P. Lovecraft story The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

Thoughts on The Resurrected

The Resurrected, 1992 supernatural horror movieDan O’Bannon also directed The Return of the Living Dead. The Resurrected is a highly sought-after item for DVD collectors, with recent prices topping $50 for a DVD or even $90 for a VHS copy! Chris Sarandon is perhaps most celebrated in the horror universe for his portrayal of a vampire in Fright Night, the classic 1985 vampire flick. [ Fright Night reviews, DVD, downloads, & more at Amazon ]

Robert Romanus, another actor appearing in The Resurrected, will spark memories of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

The Resurrected, 1992 supernatural horror movieIn some spots the special effects used in The Resurrected are similar to the special effects in The Return of the Living Dead; The Resurrected utilized a limited amount of stop motion animation. The quality of the special effects is rather mixed; some of the still-living resurrection mistakes are truly grotesque. Other effects are just plain bad, particularly the depiction of the large amounts of electrical energy occurring during the reanimation process.

The Resurrected is definitely worth a look for fans of the horror genre; one quality its relative uniqueness, as so many horror movies suffer from a complete lack of originality. The experiences in the dark catacombs under the country house are definitely memorable.

For a lot more information about The Resurrected, check out BadMovies.com. It was a pleasant surprise to find so much detail about a relatively obscure horror movie, including photos, video, trivia, viewer comments, and much more.

Resources: The Resurrected (1992), aka Shatterbrain

last watched Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hellraiser, 1987 horror movie

horror movie - hellraiser, 1987, clive barkerDirected by: Clive Barker
Verdict: 85/100… Great horror movie; a modern classic (fans, a Hellraiser remake is on the way! More info below…)

The Definitive Version of Clive Barker’s Masterpiece – AmazonHellraiser on Amazon

Hellraiser (1987) is a classic horror movie indeed, and I can easily recommend it to horror fans everywhere. It has been years since I’ve seen Hellraiser, and it was fun to watch again!

Hellraiser: The basics

horror movie - hellraiser, 1987, clive barkerHellraiser, the first film in the Hellraiser series, is a 1987 British horror film exploring the themes of sadomasochism, pain as a source of pleasure, infidelity, and morality under duress and fear. Hellraiser and Pinhead, its main antagonist, are based on Clive Barker’s critically acclaimed novella entitled The Hellbound Heart; he also wrote the screenplay for Hellraiser and directed the film. In the U.K., the film was entitled Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. Eight Hellraiser sequels have so far followed, and a remake of the original Hellraiser was announced in 2006. Hellraiser was number 19 on Bravo’s (a cable channel) list of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Definitive Version of Clive Barker’s Masterpiece – AmazonHellraiser on Amazon

DVD cover text

horror movie - hellraiser, 1987, clive barkerIn a place between pleasure and pain, there is a sensual experience beyond limits. And in a world between paradise and purgatory, there is a horror that feeds the souls of evil. Welcome to the singular vision of Clive Barker and his landmark horror opus, Hellraiser.

The Definitive Version of Clive Barker’s Masterpiece: own it!

Now for the first time ever, experience this horror classic in an all-new version, fully re-mastered in state-of-the-art Dolby Digital 5.1 supervised by THX and packed with extras personally compiled by writer/director Clive Barker, this is Hellraiser as you’ve never seen or heard it before. Now there truly are no limits.

Basic plot of Hellraiser

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror film - a CenobiteClive Barker’s feature directing debut graphically depicts the tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature – the man’s half-brother, who is also the woman’s former lover – hiding upstairs. Having lost his earthly body to a trio of sadomasochistic demons called the Cenobites, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor. He soon forces his former mistress to bring him human sacrifices to complete his body… but the Cenobites won’t be happy about this.

The Definitive Version of Clive Barker’s Masterpiece – AmazonHellraiser on Amazon

One of the best horror films of the 1980s, Hellraiser is based on Barker’s novel, The Hellbound Heart, and has been followed by multiple sequels so far; Hellraiser is definitely among the top horror franchises of all time. Horror remakes, as of late 2011: Friday the 13th (12), Halloween (10), Puppetmaster (10), Nightmare on Elm Street (9), Hellraiser (9), Saw (7), Leprechaun (6), Child’s Play (5), Pumpkinhead (5)

Watching Hellraiser (Possible spoilers)

horror movie Hellraiser, 1987, Clive BarkerThe movie at its simplest level is a retelling of a story that goes back to Goethe’s Doctor Faustus and beyond: those who sell their soul to evil forces will probably come to regret it. This time, the story is based primarily around the plight of four main characters: Frank Cotton, the last puzzle owner; his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his wife Julia (Clare Higgins), and their lovely daughter Kirsty, played by Ashley Laurence in her motion picture debut.

Frank Cotton is a despicable, uncaring, jaded man who has grown bored with life – even its most extreme erotic pleasures. When he hears about a mysterious puzzle box which can open the door to a new world of perverse pleasures, he seeks it out. [Buy a real puzzle box!]

horror movie: Hellraiser, 1987, Clive BarkerFrank locates the puzzle box in Morocco and pays a street vendor thousands of dollars for the strange but alluring item. When Frank finally activates the puzzle box by solving it at his London home, the door to hell is opened; the fury and torturous wrath of the sadomasochistic Cenobites is released. Frank learns that one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain: hooks shoot from the puzzle box and literally pull Frank’s flesh apart. Enter Pinhead (Doug Bradley), apparently a Cenobite laeder, who sorts out some of the mess; Pinhead arranges the four or five pieces of flesh which only moments before had comprised Frank’s face – then closes the puzzle box.

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror film

Hellraiser puzzle box on Amazon

Later, while moving into the house, Larry accidentally cuts his hand, unintentionally spilling a little blood about the house. When his brother’s blood makes contact with the wooden floor in the special room, Frank’s body begins a process of regeneration; however, with so little blood to act as fuel, his body can only regenerate so far – and this leaves Frank as a horrid, skinless, zombie-like version of himself. Frank will evidently require a larger amount of blood in order to resume his transformation and fully build back up to his normal body. Frank convinces Julia to procure the needed blood for him. Julia supplies the blood Frank requires by seducing various strangers at local bars and other hangouts, then bringing them home and leading them upstairs.

Why on earth would the prim and proper Julia be willing to not only lead men to their deaths, but to attack them with a hammer? Well, some years ago, shortly before her wedding to current husband Larry, Julia had had a forceful sexual encounter with Frank, Larry’s brother. The truth was that Julia enjoyed the erotic, exciting experience so much that she still fantasizes about it often. Julia is apparently willing to do damn near anything to get Frank fully restored again. It’s all a sex thing.

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmJulia’s relationship with Larry deteriorates; all she does is dwell upon Frank. She covers for Frank when Larry hears noises coming from the attic, all of which add to the darkness of the story. The house is dark shelter during a loud thunderstorm as Larry decides to explore the attic after hearing a noise. After a short but tense exploiration of the attic, he proclaims, “It’s a rat, nothing to be afraid of.” We see Frank slinking in he background.

Whenever Kirsty, Larry’s beautiful daughter, comes to the house to visit and spends the night, she has strange nightmares.

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror film - Frank's body regeneratesAlong the way, Julia demands that Frank let her in on the full story – all the details of how Frank came to be the way he is – and we get to see flashbacks of Pinhead, their conversations, and even the rending of Frank’s flesh as Frank relates these experiences to Julia. Frank and Julia even make plans to run away together soon.

The Definitive Version of Clive Barker’s Masterpiece – AmazonHellraiser on Amazon

Meanwhile, Larry becomes increasingly concerned about the mental health and well-being of Julia, so he encourages Kirsty, movie scene: Kirsty in Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmto drop by the house and do what she can to be friends with her stepmother. When Kirsty drops by unannounced, she is shocked to find Julia leading a strange man inside – apparently she is having affairs. Shortly thereafter, Kirsty hears something she’s not supposed to when the man starts screaming bloody murder, and the standard horror movie plot device kicks into high gear: Kirsty decides to go in and investigate.

In the course of exploring the source of the screams after seeing her stepmother lead a strange man into the house, Kirsty discovers what is going on and manages to get her hands on the puzzle box. The fun truly begins at the hospital when Kirsty is introduced to the Cenobites.

A Hellraiser remake coming in 2013 (Dimension Films)!

This information is dynamic and subject to change, as things can get crazy during a film’s pre-production… Dimension Filmsremake of Hellraiser was announced in November 2006. On October 20, 2010, it was officially announced that Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer would be directing and writing, respectively, the reboot of the Hellraiser franchise. The film’s story will differ from the original film, as Lussier and Farmer did not want to retell the original story out of respect for Clive Barker’s work. The film will instead focus on the world and function of the puzzle box. Production will begin in either late 2011 or sometime in 2012 with a 2013 release date. Clive Barker will serve as producer on the project. Recently, Farmer confirmed that both he and Lussier are no longer attached to the project. (Source: Wikipedia)

Resources: Hellraiser, 1987

Movie reviews: Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser credits

Written and directed by Clive Barker; Produced by Christopher Figg; Starring Doug Bradley, Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, Ashley Laurence; Music by Christopher Young; Cinematography Robin Vidgeon; Editing by Richard Marden, Tony Randel; Distributed by New World Pictures; Release date September 11, 1987; Running time 94 minutes; Country – United Kingdom; Language – English; Budget – $1,000,000 (estimated); Gross revenue £763,412 (UK), $14,564,027 (USA); Followed by Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Related resources

Hellraiser: Movie stills, scenes

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmTitle screen: Hellraiser

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmFrank Cotton

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmLarry Cotton

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmJulia Cotton

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmKirsty Cotton

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmPuzzle box from Hellraiser

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmFrank Cotton performs Satanic ritual

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror film
Frank Cotton with lover Julia

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmFlying cenobite

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmCenobite from hell – minion of Pinhead

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmFrank Cotton in the process of physical regeneration

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror film
Frank Cotton’s face in the process of physical regeneration

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmJulia leading strangers to the attic

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmJulia helps Frank and gets her hands dirty

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmMisc. scene from Hellraiser

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmAnother misc. scene from Hellraiser

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmPath to hell

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmPinhead with Kirsty Cotton

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmPinhead, Cenobite leader

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmScared of what’s going on, and rightly so

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmScreaming

movie scene: Hellraiser, 1987 supernatural horror filmChains of pleasure

On Oct 27 2011, this Hellraiser post ranked #18 on Google for search terms Hellraiser, 1987 horror movie. Since installing the plugin WordPress Popular Posts, I’ve confirmed that this Hellraiser writeup is the most popular post on this Supernatural Horror blog.

This blog gets very little traffic, averaging only 50 pageviews per week for the last few months. However, traffic climbed to just over 100 weekly pageviews this month (October 2011) – mainly for these reasons, I suppose:

  1. Halloween coming up
  2. implementation of standard SEO procedures to attract more traffic (e.g., adding the SEO Ultimate plugin, improving content, adding many more external links, etc.)

Hellraiser puzzle box

Fans can actually purchase replicas of the Chinese puzzle box made famous by the Hellraiser film.

According to comments from Amazon customers, the version of the Hellraiser puzzle box sold on Amazon.com is made of plastic; one customer called it dollar store material.

Higher quality puzzle boxes are available – made of metal, even with moving parts…

This post originally written on Monday, April 20, 2009

Masters of Horror: Haeckel’s Tale, 2006 resurrection horror

horror movie - Haeckel's Tale - Masters of Horror, 2006

Haeckel’s Tale (also known as Clive Barker’s Haeckel’s Tale) is the twelfth episode of the first season of the television series Masters of Horror. It originally aired in North America on January 27, 2006. George A. Romero was originally supposed to direct the episode but was replaced by John McNaughton because of a scheduling problem. The script was based on a Clive Barker short story first published in the “Dark Delicacies: Original Tales of Terror and the Macabre” anthology.

DVD Cover: Haeckel’s Tale (Masters of Horror, John McNaughton)

horror movie - Haeckel's Tale - Masters of Horror, 2006

In a time when the laws of science battled the secrets of magic, medical student Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil) believes the power of life, death and resurrection lay in his arrogant hands. But on a journey to visit his gravely ill father, he finds shelter in the home of an older man and his seductive young wife (Leela Savasta) who cannot be fulfilled by mortal hungers. Somewhere in the darkness of a nearby necropolis, a defiant necromancer (Jon Polito of Barton Fink, Miller’s Crossing) will now summon them all to an orgy of the undead and unleash the ultimate depravity for those who do not heed the warning of Haeckel’s Tale. Directed by John McNaughton in association with horror legend George A. Romero, this startling mix of erotic desire and gut-ripping horror is adapted by series creator/executive producer Mick Garris from the short story by Clive Barker.

Rotten Tomatoes – Synopsis of Haeckel’s Tale

horror movie - Haeckel's Tale - Masters of Horror, 2006

In this chapter of the Masters of Horror series, director John McNaughton presents Haeckel’s Tale, the story of a pompous young med student who thinks that all mysteries can be solved through science. This thinking changes, however, when a trip back home (involving corpses and orgies of the undead) stirs up all kinds of erotic and gruesome desires that cannot be explained by textbooks.

Watching Haeckel’s Tale

Haeckel’s Tale begins with a young man, Edward Ralston, visiting an old woman — Miz Carnation, a necromancer who may be able to revive his deceased wife.
horror movie - Haeckel's Tale - Masters of Horror, 2006

The woman advises him that the process could be dangerous, since she can bring only the body back and not necessarily the accompanying spirit! She insists that Edward listen to the entire story of Haeckel’s experiences to aid in his decision. Thus begins her tale about medical student Ernst Haeckel, a story which takes up most of the show.

“I am a man without God,” Haeckel brags to the older man. The young man is apparently a free thinker.

Ernst Haeckel theatrically removes a white sheet to reveal a cadaver, the body of a young woman who died over a week ago of “consumption”. Haeckel claims to be able to resurrect the girl by directing the power of lightning just right, a la Frankenstein. “Watch this!” he shouts, and pulls the lever, delivering the electrical current to the body and setting it on fire. (What a great way to treat a corpse.) Haeckel extinguishes the flame with a sheet, but only after hideously disfiguring the corpse, burning the body beyond recognition.

”May God forgive you,” the old man said.

Just after the burning of the body, Chester shows up at Haeckel’s place with his beef for sale and recommends consulting with a necromancer – to which Haeckel replies, “I place no faith in the magic and the supernatural. I believe in science, not fairy stories.”

“Well, science and magic seem the same thing to me…we should be careful talking about necromancers.” An argument about science vs. supernatural ensues.

Next we see Haeckel attend a carnival-like show of a performer calling himself “The Great Montesquino – Necromancer”, and thus the show begins: “I am here to tell you that the dead can live again! I now hold the secret, learned from the shaman of Zanzibar, to bring back the dead – a skill I do not use lightly.”

A basket is dragged out from under a small tent. “Behold, death!” A dead dog is displayed; the condition of which – especially the neck and head – demonstrate that the dog is definitely dead. Haeckel is front and center, so he looks at the dog closely and agrees that the dog is dead.

Montesquino closes the basket, chants, pokes the basket with the stick, and the basket starts moving. The dog starts snarling and sounds angry, desperate to get out of the basket. When the top is lifted, we see an angry, zombie version of the retriever. The menace is quickly killed, first with a stick and then with a gunshot.

Haeckel believes the dog’s resurrection is a well-rehearsed trick using puppetry and voice-throwing tactics, and the old man berates him for being closed-minded to magic and the supernatural. He turns down an offer of a bottle of whiskey or wine in exchange for the trick’s secret.

Traveling down a forest road, Haeckel chooses to rest and grab a bite at the worst possible spot. After taking a bite of bread, he smells something and starts looking around. Something gross drops onto his bread still in his hands. He finally looks up to see a rotting body, dead for days, hanging from the tree by the neck, dripping a green substance that probably smells as bad as anything. Who was this dead man? “Pederast,” says a sign attached to the dead man’s body. To nasty effect, some green goo drops from the corpse right onto the lips of Haeckel.

Later, comfortably set up under a tent and a fire in the rain, he squishes a large spider in his hand and says “I shall one day make you live again.” He is then scared by rats and also by a sudden visitor, who apologizes for scaring him and warns him that it would not be wise to stay here tonight. Walter Wolfram then introduces himself and accepts the apology of Ernst, and invites Ernst along for a dry place to spend the night.

At his home, Wolfram introduces Haeckel to his female companion, an incredibly beautiful hot young brunette named Elise. He is obviously trying to set the two up, making comments such as “Isn’t Mr. Haeckel an attractive man, Elise?” The older man soon retires, leaving Haeckel alone with Elise. She soon retires without incident.

Later Wolfram tells Ernst to avoid impure thoughts of Elise because he could not even begin to satisfy her. But then he confides in Haeckel that neither could he, Wolfram, satisfy the woman.

Later Haeckel and someone hear a noise and find it to be the previously dead dog. It is again killed, but the corpse continued to be animated regardless of how hard it was hit, or how crushed and mangled the corpse became as a result of beatings, shootings, and being crushed with a large rock.

The continued animation of previously dead corpses is taken to the extreme in this movie. I read about this being a very shocking and extreme movie, but until the dog showed up a second time, I was not sure exactly in what manner the movie might be considered extreme.

It’s also one of the most explicit Masters of Horror episodes. Elise is engaging in noisy foreplay with a group of zombies. There are topless scenes aplenty, and best of all, the brunette is a knockout.

But for an episode of Masters of Horror that’s shocking, disturbing, and horrific, I believe Imprint may take the lead. To me, Imprint’s visuals were disturbing to the point I decided to get rid of it immediately because I could not imagine wanting to watch it again.

An infant child proves to be very dangerous, even deadly.

Later we are treated to more sex between Elise and the zombies.

Finally, the woman reaches the end of the story and we get back to the original storyline.

Things happen.

Review of the Book Haeckel’s Tale is Based Upon

The script was based on a Clive Barker short story first published in the “Dark Delicacies: Original Tales of Terror and the Macabre” anthology.

The Burbank, California, bookstore Dark Delicacies is world renowned for its singular dedication to horror. Using the bookstore’s reputation to attract both celebrated and lesser-known horror authors, owner Howison and veteran anthologist Gelb have assembled the first collection of original short horror fiction bearing the shop’s imprimatur. The opening tale, by the legendary Ray Bradbury, recounts the fate of a corpse irresistibly pulled from the grave by the call of the living. The final story, by horror master Clive Barker, reports a nineteenth–century scientist’s grisly encounter with zombies. In between those appropriately chilling bookends, such veterans as Ramsey Campbell and Whitley Strieber rub elbows with such relative newcomers as Steve Niles and Rick Pickman. Two standouts, Lisa Morton’s story of a solitary abalone forager stumbling across a mass murderer, and Playboy cartoonist Gahan Wilson’s about a macabre artist whose grim subjects may be all too real, sell the volume all on their own. Indispensable for both horror fans and, of course, Dark Delicacies’ patrons.

Movie Reviews

DVD Active – Review of Masters of Horror Vol. 4
Slant Magazine – Review of Haeckel’s Tale
DVDTalk.com – Review of Haeckel’s Tale
Masters Of Horror: Haeckel’s Tale comes really close to greatness a few times but the flaws in the script keep it from being as good as it could have (and should have) been. The movie looks great and it features some decent performances but without the story there to pull us in, it just doesn’t resonate.
Dread Central – Review of Haeckel’s Tale
The Trades – Review of Haeckel’s Tale
Absolute Horror: The Best in Bad Horror Movies – Review of Haeckel’s Tale
Evil Dread – Review of Haeckel’s Tale

Standard Movie Resources

Amazon.com – Haeckel’s Tale
Wikipedia – Haeckel’s Tale
IMDB – – Haeckel’s Tale (62/100)

Other Movie Resources

Killer Kittens – – Haeckel’s Tale

References, Resources – Other

Necromancer definition – WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. 16 Mar. 2009