Teddy Told Me To (2023)
We recently heard from Tom Devlin, the special effects artist responsible for Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum outside of Las Vegas. Tom is currently promoting his new feature film titled Teddy Told Me To (2023). According to the release notes, a couple decides to purchase an old haunted attraction, but this one has a real bloody past. Teddy, a bear masked murder once roamed the halls.
It’s prime time for Teddy to return.
Thanks to Tom, we have an opportunity to check out the screener. We’ll give it a proper review, but in the 5 minutes I spent so far, it’s a brilliant piece of horror parody that should tickle the fancy of real horror fans. Expect fantastic effects and lot’s of tongue in cheek and then a complete non-surgical removal of that cheek. This films crossover from ridiculous, comedic, gory and back again. It’s really a super fun flick and a strong recommend from the Malevolent Dark team.
Rating indie films
More than once we have fielded the question as to why we don’t rate Indie films the same what that we rate everything else. For most films, we rate things based on a 5 star system with the smallest quanta being a half star. The reason is pretty simple. It’s the same reason that we don’t put 6th basketball players up against the Lakers. It’s just not fair. We thought for a while that we could grade the indie films on a curve, but even among the indie films there are tiers.
More than once have we reviewed a film for an aspiring filmmaker that simply wasn’t very good. Rather than dump on a film by giving a [usr .5] rating when graded against John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) we expound on the works strengths and weaknesses. We judge the films within the context in which it’s made and that felt like the right answer for for a while. There probably is a bar in which below would not review, but that bar is set pretty low. That policy has lead us to some good relationships in the community.
As a word of warning to, as this site brings on more and more independent writers (more importantly, volunteer writers) the dynamics might change. It’s difficult to ask a volunteer writer to sacrifice their objectivity. Sometimes it isn’t Shinola.
Vanilla Sky, The Black Mirror before Black Mirror
When first released, the show Black Mirror was the show we all needed. As the world accelerates into a crazy future unknown, Black Mirror uncovered the horrors that technology can unveil. Like a Twilight Zone for the modern man, Black Mirror offers a glimpse into what pay come to pass.
This past weekend I revisited a 2001 movie from Cameron Crowe titled Vanilla Sky. Starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Jason Lee, this one plays out like a two and a half hour Black Mirror episode. It describes a world where our minds never have to die, and computers will allow us to live in our happy place for ever… at least until the company hosting your consciousness gets a ransomware attack.
Anyway, this one really held up well after two decades and might be worth another look.
Speaking of indie films
Not a pet peeve, but rather a point of contention that I continue to bring up is the overuse of ultra-high resolution and high framerates. There are two sides of this conversation. One side that the objectivity (or rather clarity and specificity) of the new technology is the future of cinema. They may also point to the inherent problems with slower framerates as well. Others will long for the days of motion blur and visual ambiguity introduced by slower framerates. Film is art, right? Good art leaves something to interpretation.
I bring this up because we have been reviewing a lot of indie films. One of the biggest turn offs is often the harsh and unforgiving look of ultra-high resolution and high-framerates. It makes low-budget films look cheap despite the fact that it is on the cutting edge of technology. This must be an artistic choice because we also see independent films being released with a bit more attention to classic cinematic technique. Just saying, I am a big fan of the latter approach.
Stanley Elk and the return of Texas State Fair Steer Killing Champion
In December, we got a literal barrage of Indie films to review. We covered everything from Antarctic fishmen to flesh eating monsters living on an island paradise. Quite frankly, it overwhelmed the system and eventually lead to us looking for additional writing assistance (an adventure that I may or may not vent about in the future). The point being, we still aren’t caught up.
Coming soon, we’ll have the story of Stanley Elk, serial killer and reluctant leader of a maniacal cult that worships him. This film is titled He Come to Kill and was produced by a studio called Strange Films, indeed. This one is directed by August Aguilar. According to August, the film was produced on a paltry budget of $2000. The film has some neat kill imagery and some nice bits of humor interpolated into the delivery. Also, the design aesthetic with respect to the posters and movie materials is really cool.
We also are looking forward to Terry Jarrell’s film titles Harlow’s Haunt. Produced by Florida’s Black Dog Filmz, Harlow’s Haunt stars former Texas Chainsaw Massacre actor John Dugan. You may remember John playing Grandpa, the fast sledgehammer in the West.
Why, he did sixty in five minutes once. They say he could’ve done more if the hook and pull gang could’ve gotten the beeves out of the way faster.
— Jim Siedow as Drayton Sawyer
Based on my conversations with the Terry, this one brings together old school creole black magic and wraps it in a tale of betrayal and future implications stemming from sins of the past. Colleagues say that the end is a doozy of a mind-bender.
Now up is the topic of my next editorial column. Tubi, the free with commercials video service has quickly launched to the top of my favorite streaming services. First of all, the commercials are minimally invasive. Second of all, when the do come they aren’t so compressed that my 1995 Infinity speakers don’t blow me through the back of the couch. Finally and most importantly, the catalog of horror content is deep and wide. More conspicuously, they maintain a preponderance of international horror titles. My 10 year old self would have been over the moon to have this piped into my house for free.
Notably, The Eerie Midnight Show otherwise known as also known as L’ossessa, Enter the Devil, The Devil Obsession and Sexorcist! You may remember this one from Paul Lewis’ #NineTenthsOfTheLaw exclusive on Malevolent Dark.
That all being said, I am working through the details of a new editorial column that will pull a choice cut from the Tubi vaults perform a review on them. If you are still asking, “Why Tubi?”
Because Netflix, Hulu and Disney are…