In the Dead of Winter (1993)

20 horror movies for $5; what could possibly go wrong?  Part XVII of XX (ithinkicanithinkicanithinkican).

This is only the 2nd film in this collection wherein I have never seen a single actor in anything else.  This was not a good omen for Teenage Zombies, but at least that had the excuse of being 54 years old and uber-low budget (or is that unter-low budget).  And it still managed to have cover art online.

Part of the problem with this collection — admittedly a small part of the problem — is the transfers.  The quality here is just as bad as with Curtains; and in both cases, the movies had some good qualities that were suffocated by it being such a chore to even look at.  Not to say the movies would have been good if better preserved; but certainly watchable.

The unlikely named G-Jo Reed plays Tucker, a convict getting out of prison today.  He comes out with that great American 2nd chance,  clean slate, never going back, cleaning up his act attitude — dressed in camo, flipping off a prison clerk, being met by some low-life pals driving a flatbed and getting a gat in his hands within 2 minutes of leaving the facility.

inthedead02His pal knows where the first stop will be.  Under the credits, we see some great images of the snowy Utah mountains as they drive.  Not that they are well-photographed, mind you.  It’s just that in certain areas like this or the Grand Canyon, it is so amazing, that it is almost impossible to take a bad picture.  See Adams, Ansel E.

They arrive at the home of Sheriff Steve — seriously, that’s how he credited — just as he is leaving for work.  Tucker puts 2 in the sheriff, causing blood to gush from his mouth.  He straddles the downed sheriff and puts 2 more in him at close range.  This is not going to look good at his parole hearing, especially with Sheriff’s Wife — seriously, that’s how she is credited — standing 2 feet away from him as a witness.

Just an aside — I don’t know if the ol’ “black stuff on the binoculars / telescope gag” has ever been once been pulled in real life, but it will always get a laugh out of me on-screen.

Next they encounter a couple in the classic wrong place at the wrong time whose truck has broken down on the highway.  This has a couple of fun shots of them driving off with the couple’s snowmobiles and leaving them tied up.  Not great, but there is a spark.

A yuppie couple’s ATV breaks down, and they trek to a cabin.  As in all movies, no one answers the door, so they just walk right in.  As in Axed, it turns out that the man has planned the whole thing and has a bottle of wine waiting for them.  Unlike Axed, he does not kill his wife.  However, like Axed, he does use an axe — but to chop wood.


Seriously, Utah in Winter? Wouldn’t this have required a backhoe?

Unfortunately, this was to be the gang’s hide-out.  They barge in and begin roughing up the couple until the man drives a knife through the foot of one of them.  They don’t see the humor and bury him up to his neck in the ground.

The wife manages to grab Tucker’s gun.  In a random act of violence equivalent to Vince Vega’s shooting of Marvin, she causes a snowmobile to run over her husband’s head.  Although, to Vince’s credit, he did not waste 4 bullets doing it.  The wife is distraught and points the pistol in her mouth.  It is admittedly funny when one of them ways, “Honey, don’t make a mortar of yourself.”  She pulls the trigger but those had been the last 4 bullets.  As they wrestle her to the ground, she accidentally falls on her own knife.

The gang takes off on the snowmobiles and quickly get lost.  If only snowmobiles left some sort of track that could be followed back.  As the brain-trust stops to assess the situation, a sniper begins firing at them.  The rest of the movie is the unknown sniper tracking the men across the Utah landscape.  Just as in First Blood or Southern Comfort, the men get picked off one by one.

Turns out the sniper — SPOILER– is the Sheriff who had been wearing a bullet-proof vest in the first scene.  Although I would have thought the blood gushing from his mouth indicated otherwise.  And I guess the off-screen 3rd and 4th shots were not head-shots.

I’m all for these vermin being exterminated, but it seems a little extreme.  He ain’t Josey Wales — they did not kill Sheriff’s Wife or Sheriff’s Son (as he is credited).  But it’s hard for me to care — good riddance. Plus, it was revealed that this guy was in jail for killing a dog.  Is that really motivation to murder the sheriff who busted you?

The ending is basically Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes.  Well, the logical end, not the actual end.  This movie is like Return of the King — it just won’t stop.  It goes on for about 7 minutes after it should have gone dark.

Definitely a low-budget joint, but probably watchable with a clean print.  I’m not going to be rewatching or recommending it to anyone, but it had it’s moments and the acting was not uniformly horrible.


  • Who is the girl snowboarding behind the car during the interminable ending?  It looks like the  yuppie girl, but her jacket is slightly different and that couple was on an ATV not a car.  Plus she is dead, and it is a different guy.  At first I thought it was an outtake, or behind-the-scenes footage, but then the movie continues.  Baffled.

Tales from the Crypt – The Sacrifice (S2E7)

This episode immediately struck fear in my heart as I got a Three’s a Crowd vibe from the music.

Insurance salesman James Reed boards an elevator with a hot babe.  He makes an effort at small talk but doesn’t get far, thus by TV rules guaranteeing she is married to the man he is going to see.  He is meeting client Sebastian Fleming in his penthouse.  Reed figures a $9 million policy will cover his home and contents which include about half a flock of parrots.

Fielding is an boorish, obnoxious dick, and expects a kickback of 30% of Reed’s commission on the policy.  Reed agrees rather than lose it all to a competitor.  As they are shaking hands, the woman walks in.  She turns out to be Gloria Fielding, clearly in it for the money or a lost bet.

The next day, she comes to visit Reed on his houseboat.  He and Gloria end up in the sack and he suggests they might get rid of Mr. Fielding to be together.

tftcsacrifice02That night at Fleming’s penthouse, he suggests they have a glass of champagne to celebrate.  Never has an insurance policy been treated with such festivity — well, the payout, maybe.  Reed throws the obnoxious Fleming off the balcony, which does make me feel a little more festive.

Mrs. Fleming learns that her husband had planned to take out a $10 million life insurance policy, but had not signed the papers.  She and Reed are actually happy about this as it takes away an obvious motive for the murder — because the penthouse which was just established to be worth $9M and his other holdings would certainly not have been a motive.

Then Michael Ironside comes calling, which is never a good sign.  Gloria is not happy to see him and tells him to get the hell out.  He has been obsessed with her and bought a condo right across the street to keep an eye on her.  He also happens to be Reed’s boss who gave him the lead on Fleming, and has pictures of Reed throwing Fleming over the balcony.

He doesn’t want money, he wants to time-share Gloria, taking her from dusk to dawn.  Reed, being a poor negotiator, gets the 12 hours a day she runs her yap.  Ironside moves in immediately, taking her that night.  In the mornings, she stumbles back to Reed.  This goes on for three months.

Soon, she finds Reed on his houseboat where he has overdosed. He wrote a confession letter clearing Gloria.  She burns the letter, strolls down the dock, and gets into a car with Ironside.  They are clearly a happy couple who planned this whole thing.  She tells Ironside she burned Jim’s confession and he says, “Now no one will ever know he was murdered.”  Well yes, with the letter the authorities would have known Fielding was murdered . . . but it would have implicated Reed — wouldn’t that have been beneficial?

tftcsacrifice03Cut to one of Fielding’s parrots squawking, “Hello, Jim.  Help me, Gloria.”  If this is supposed to indicate they will not get away with the murder, it fails.  1) The squawk implicates Reed, and sounds like Fleming was calling to Gloria for help — whether he fell or was pushed off the balcony can’t be determined, 2) The parrot could have picked up this phrase any time in the past 3 months.  It could have been Reed saying, “Gloria, help me open this can of tuna, 3) Birds can’t testify in court — see landmark People v. Toucan-Sam.

This is a strange episode for Tales from the Crypt.  It really would have worked better as an Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  There is no supernatural element.  No one comes back from the dead.  The performances are good, and even the bit with the birds works if you don’t think about it —  although it would have really helped the entire episode if this 5-second bit had been shot and scripted better.  The directing was a little leaden, though, and the score was just deadly.  The melodramatic wailing saxophone does not have a good track record in this series.  What this really needed was a non-director’s cut.


  • This is Richard Greenberg’s only TV directing credit.  It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really fit the tone of the series.
  • Not a lot of star-power here except for Michael Ironside.  The star of the episode is the poor-man’s Puddy, David Kilner from Inside.  Despite a couple of mediocre showcases, I can imagine him being great in the right role.
  • Reed overdoses on Pentobarbital, a drug used in executions.  When the manufacturer heard of this, they were shocked, shocked!  They decided not to sell the drug for use in executions.  Boy, those pharmaceutical companies are just swell!

Outer Limits – Quality of Mercy (S1E13)


Always before a big date!

This episode is rated #1 on IMDb’s notoriously suspect ratings board, and it has the 3rd highest number of votes of any episode.  So I went in tentatively hopeful.

Robert Patrick is hauled into a cell by a huge alien.  As only happens in TV & movies, his roomie is a hot babe named Bree.

Nicole de Boer is a space cadet — literally — who has been held captive for a few months.  She shows Patrick a patch of alien skin that they have grafted onto her.

Really, there is nothing to be gained by going on.  This is a great episode and should not be spoiled.  Watch it.

Update — Hulu has moved this behind the paywall.  Just one more reason to hate them.


Ray Bradbury Theater – The Dwarf (S3E1)

bradbury02I was really torn whether to invest the time in a 3rd season of RBT.  At least they seem to be filming in the USA again, and they are doing A Sound of Thunder this season — so, one more chance.  Although I’ll miss bitching about Europe.

Ralph the bald carny man at the Mirror Maze drags his co-worker Aimee to his place to see Mr. Big.  She is clearly out of his league in looks and also because she has the more manly concession — the pellet guns.  He tells her to hide, for reasons I can’t figure, because Mr. Big is coming.  Turns out that Mr. Big is a midget.  His name is actually revealed later to be Bigalow, but I don’t think Mirror-boy know that.

rbtdwarf02As he does every night, he has come to the Mirror Maze and bought a ticket.  Ralph tells Aimee she ain’t seen nothing yet.  He leads her to spy on Mr. Big checking himself out in the mirror, admiring his tall thin reflection.  Ralph thinks this is quite a hoot.  Maybe if there was a mirror that showed him with hair, he would understand his cruelty.

Mr. Big hears them hiding behind a wall and bolts.  Aimee worries that they have humiliated him and that he might never come back.  But the next night he is there again.  Aimee follows him to a newsstand and discovers he’s a writer of . . . er, short stories.  No, really.  He sees her following him and takes her home with him.  She sees that he lives in a tiny little scaled down house in a warehouse.


Attack of the 5’3″ Woman.

She returns to the Mirror Maze and admires herself in the same stretchy mirror, which makes no sense.  It’s not like she is a dwarf or even fat.  The stretchy mirror just makes her look anorexic.  Aimee catches Ralph staring at her.

Ralph goes in to break the mirror, but has a better idea.  He replaces the stretchy mirror with one that scrunches the midget down even more.  Ralph gets a laugh out of the midget’s anguish.  Aimee smacks him up side his bald noggin.

From somewhere, the midget has gotten a gun and starts deliberately shooting Ralph’s reflections one by one.  When only the real Ralph is left, Aimee stops him, saying Ralph has been dead for years.

I really wanted to like it.  The girl was cute.  The midget being a writer reminded me of The Smoking Man’s literary aspirations.  And quite the snappy dresser.  His tiny house and her peeking in were intriguing.  It just didn’t come together.

As usual, the short story was better especially if you grade it on a 60 year old curve.  The Dwarf was a little more fleshed out on TV, and the ending was more clearly presented.  In the short story, Ralph and Aimee both see Ralph as a small dark monster in one of the mirrors.  There is a gunshot, but whether it is Ralph or the Dwarf being shot is left to the reader.


  • Megan Follows was previously seen in The Outer Limits, and Miguel Fernandes was in Trancers.
  • Really misnamed episode as it features a midget not a dwarf.
  • I’m sure it was some 6 foot tall douche-bag who came up with “Little Person” as the PC word.  Midget was a perfectly respectable word.  Why replace it with a word that specifically points out the person is not a person, he is a little person?
  • Same thing with cripple which was eventually deemed offensive, replaced by handicapped which was also eventually deemed offensive.  Then disabled.  Now I guess it is the absurd handicapable or even worse, differently-abled.  Gee, it’s almost like it isn’t the words that bothers these do-gooders.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents – One for the Road (S2E23)

ahponefor03I’m no expert in pharmacology, but all three characters in this episode must be strung out on the 50’s version of Xanax or be pioneers of medical marijuana.  Their muted reactions to infidelity and murder are so bizarre, they are more like pod-people than human beings.

Charles Hendricks is starting out with his morning coffee into which he dumps 2 spoons of sugar — believe it or not, a critical plot point.  He is heading out of town for work as he frequently does. His wife is clearly devoted to him, tying his tie, packing his bag, watching his diet, opening a fresh pack of cigarettes for him — although those last 2 don’t seen entirely compatible.  She is all smiles and good cheer until she whips out a lighter and suggests it belongs a lady friend.  She seems to accept that he mysteriously picked it up at some unknown office.

It is very strange as he doesn’t seem alarmed by her accusation, and she doesn’t seem too upset by his cheating.  Yet again, after Three’s a Crowd, And So Died Riabouchinska, and The Dead Man, we have spouses that react to infidelity with a yawn. Sure enough, he is soon having a martini with his girlfriend.  AHP really stacks the deck against Mrs. Hendricks by casting a much prettier woman in the role of mistress Beryl.

ahponefor01Upon returning home, his wife accuses him of meeting a girlfriend in Lockton with the initials B.A. as engraved on the lighter she found in his suit pocket.  “So what if I happen to see a woman in Lockton,” he says.  “What of it?”  Charles is certainly a bag of the douche variety, but this is pretty callous.

Hendricks returns to his girlfriend that night,  He tells her of his wife’s suspicions.  When Beryl suggests that maybe they should get married, he says the current arrangement suits him just fine.

Back at home the next — frankly I’m having trouble keeping up with his schedule — his wife says that he is still seeing that woman and there is lipstick is all over his shirt.  He replies, “I’m trying to work it out.  You’ll just have to be patient.”   He says.  To his wife.  What a stud.


Twin beds — this might be part of the problem.

The next day, Mrs. Hendricks drives to Lockton.  Pretending to be collecting clothes for a charity, she enters Beryl’s home. While there, she puts poison in the sugar bowl.  Only after she arrives back home does she get a message that her husband will be late because he has gone to Lockton.  Doh!

Charles tells Beryl it might be a good idea if they took a “break” for a few months.  She is not thrilled at the idea.

The wife rushes back to Lockton to warn Beryl about the poison before her husband has his coffee.  Beryl, as befits the tone of the episode, seems pretty cool with Marcia nearly MURDERING her.  Beryl tells Marcia she didn’t get here in time — that she just watched Charles drink his standard coffee with two spoons of sugar.  She is not too choked up over the attempted murder of her lover, either.  She says he left about an hour ago.

Marcia leaves, intending to confess to the police.  After she leaves, Charles comes strolling out of the bedroom where he had been hiding.   Beryl coldly offers him a cup of coffee — one for the road.

Great story, perfect plot for this series.  Acting was fine except for the odd acceptance of murder.  And refined white sugar.  I rate it a Venti.


  • AHP Proximity Alert:  For crying out loud, Mickey Kuhn was just in the previous episode!
  • AHP Deathwatch:  As mentioned before, Mickey Kuhn (who was in Gone with the Wind) is still alive.  Georgeann Johnson is also hanging in there at 88, probably having finally gotten over her father clearly wanting a boy.  Here she is in Star Trek TNG 32 years post-AHP.