Showing posts with label October Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label October Challenge. Show all posts

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Updates: Wasted Lands, Gen Con, AI, and more!

 Wow. What a month. I have been heads down playtesting The Wasted Lands all month. The Kickstarter was funded and was completed just about 2 hours ago. 

All the documents are ready. Now comes the layout and buying the last bits of art. It has been a wild ride, really. I can't wait to get my copies.

Wasted Lands core mock up
Wasted Lands core rules mock-up

Gen Con & AI

Sadly I am not headed to Gen Con this year despite being invited by a couple of publishers I have worked with in the past year.  Honestly, prep for the Fall term is kicking my ass and despite the volume of posts here, most have been pre-written days ahead.  In addition to my normal course load (ok, it is actually more this year) I am also part of the team that is working on finding ways to prevent students from using AI for plagiarism. I have never felt more akin to Sisyphus in my life, to be honest. But I do what the Gods command. So I have been eyeballs deep in all sorts of AI tools (and brushing up on my Python) since December just to keep up. I have all these cool AI tools to play with, but the goal is to figure out how to keep students from using them OR how they can use them in ethical ways. One thing though is abundantly clear, these tools are not going away.

So, no Gen Con for me this year. Looks like I'll be at Gary Con again in 2024. Not a bad place to be to celebrate 50 years of D&D.

Monster Mash II

I released Monster Mash II to only a little fanfare. I really need to talk about it more. I am rather happy with it and the art is AMAZING!

Looking Ahead to October

Again I'll be hosting the RPG Blog Carnival in October. My theme is "Gods and Monsters." I hope to talk more about Gods, demons, and monsters. It should be a lot of fun.

Since the beginning of the year, I have also been taking Spanish, so I am going to try my hand at watching nothing but Spanish-language horror movies. Part of my "continuous improvement" this year. I have lost 40 lbs, brought my A1C down to normal for six straight months, and will be off my high-blood pressure meds! Not too bad, really.

Sinéad O'Connor

I can't let the day pass without some mention of Sinéad O'Connor. I am planning a tribute post tomorrow. To say she had an impact on my life is a massive understatement. 

Ok. Have a course to finish up today and I promised a colleague that I would read over theirs before tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

100 Days of Halloween and October Movie Challenge, Visual Guides

Today has been a day of collecting pages of notes, half-jotted ideas, and plans. What are those plans? Oh so many, enough that I am calling 2023 The Year of the Monster now. More on that later.

But before I go forward, one last look back.  Here are some visual guides to both my 100 Days of Halloween and October Movie Challenge thanks to Pinterest.

100 Days of Halloween

Follow Timothy's board Witch Books on Pinterest.

October Movie Challenge

Follow Timothy's board October Horror Movie Challenge on Pinterest.

Wow I guess that puts me at nearly 460 Horror movies. I should pass 500 next year.  I should really an go back a rewatch ones I enjoyed and not on these lists for a full and proper record.  Something to consider.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween Hangover 2022

Witches Gather
Well, here we are at the end of another Halloween season. 

Let's look at some numbers.

I had a total of 85 posts for October. Not my highest, but certainly a lot.

I watched 48 horror movies, 37 of which were brand new to me. 

I pulled off my 100 Days of Halloween posting a review of a horror, witch or Halloween-flavored product every day since July 23rd.  I sometimes did multiple products in one day so in the end that was 126 products not counting all my Monstrous Mondays.

As fun as that was I am not likely to do that one again anytime soon.

November will be much lighter in posting as I try to wrap up some projects and gear up for a new one I want to do in 2023.

I hope your Halloween was wonderful! My was. Though now I have to take down all my Halloween decorations. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Documentary Night

I do like to have at least one night of documentaries.

Understanding the Witch Trials (2018)

Understanding the Witch Trials (2018)

This was a good one. I found it on Kanopy and it is part of the Great Courses series. Not a lot of new data here but it was all very well represented. I will need to find the rest of this series.  

Aside: Kanopy is a great service. All you need is a public library or University library card to get access. 

War on Witches (2011)

Fairly obscure one. I only found it on Tubi. It covers England and Scotland's witch trials, arguably some of the most famous. It's fluffy and not a lot new material. 

Witches: Masters of Time and Space (2021)

Ok, this one does cover material I have seen before but it also covers stories and histories from other parts of the world that I have seen only a few times before. So quite good really.

War on WitchesWitches: Masters of Time and Space (2021)

The Witches of Hollywood (2020)

This one covers how witches are depicted in Hollywood (and before). It features commentary from Peg Aloi, Heather Green, Pam Grossman, Kristen J. Sollée, and Dianca London. I am familiar with most of them.

It covers a lot of history very quickly to focus on Hollywood. They start with Snow White and Wizard of Oz and moves on to The Witch.  We get some history on why Margaret Hamilton has green skin.  There are some interesting thoughts on the ruby slippers but totally ignores the fact they are silver in the book and red because that shows up better in Technicolor. Other movies covered are Carrie, Rosemary's Baby, I Married a Witch, and more. 

They cover television as well including one of my favorites, "Bewitched" and "Charmed." 

There is a lot of great commentaries also on witches vs. the Patriarchy which is great, to be honest. This documentary reminds me how much I like Peg Aloi's and Pam Grossman's work.  

The Witches of Hollywood (2020)

I have a few more on my list but I am running out of juice here. So I am calling it.


October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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First Time Views: 37

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Sunday, October 30, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Cursed (2021)

The Cursed
A surprise one tonight while browsing Hulu. A neat werewolf movie.

The Cursed (2021)

During the Battle of the Somme, a French captain is wounded. He is taken to the hospital tent and he had three bullets removed from him. A fourth is also found but it is different than the rest, larger and made of silver.

Thirty-five years earlier a group of Romani makes a claim to some land in the French countryside in the 1880s.  They melt down some silver coins and fashion a set of fangs that look like a wolf's but are set in a human skull. 

The landowners, not wanting to lose their land the landowners have the Romani all killed. Their old witch is buried alive with the silver fangs.  

Soon everyone in town is having the same nightmare. The kids of the landowner and the tenants go out to where the old woman is buried and dig up the fangs. One of them puts them into his mouth and bites Edward, the landowner's son. Edward falls into a fever and is bedridden. But soon he runs out of the house into the nearby woods.

A pathologist, John McBride (Boyd Holbrook) arrives. He has been following the Romani. Soon people start dying from "animal" attacks. We learn that John has seen this all before in Gévaudan.  He collects clues and determines it is the curse of the teeth that has turned Edward into a beast and anyone he attacks. 

Few more deaths till the final battle in the church.  John manages to shoot Edward with his silver bullet but hits Isabell, Edward's mother, as well.  

John takes Edward and Charlotte to live with him since their mother and father are now dead and their manor burned down. Charlotte gives John the three unused silver bullets.  We see that the captain from beginning is an adult Edward. Edward dies on the operating table and we see a older Charlotte giving and bed ridden elderly John the last bullett.


So yeah this one was fun. Recovering from a bad migrane this morning (and I just told my doctor on Wednesday it had been months since I had one and I might need anymore Sumatriptan.) So I am calling it a night.  But I really should work up the Beast of Gévaudan.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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First Time Views: 33

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Saturday, October 29, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Prey (2022)

Prey (2022)
I have been wanting to see this one since it came out. Glad I got a chance to finally see it.

Prey (2022)

Naru (played by the amazing Amber Midthunder) is a Comanche woman who is trained as a healer but wants to be a hunter.  While out hunting with her brother she sees the effects of the cloaked Predator spaceship. She sees this as the Thunderbird and takes this as a sign that she can begin her own hunt.

She joins her brother on a hunt where they discover a lion attacked one of their own. Naru is able to heal him but she wants to go with her brother Taabe to hunt the line. While out she sees signs that something else other than a bear could be hunting them.  Naru is waiting in a tree for the lion when she is attacked by it, she manages to wound it but it knocks her out of the tree. Taabe brings her home and goes back out to kill the lion.

Convinced there is still something else out there Naru heads out to hunt on her own.  Well, her dog Sarii goes with her.  While hunting Naru sees a bunch of slaughtered and skinned bison. She comes upon the bear and it tries to kill her, but the Predator kills it instead with Naru watching. 

She is found by a hunting party sent by her brother, but the Predatory kills them all but Naru manages to escape. She runs and get stuck in a trap set by French trappers. They have also seen the Predator and want to know what she knows.  They also have her brother Taabe and decide to use them as bait.  The Predator though is not interested in bait and kills all the French.

They get to the French explorers' camp, where Naru kills a few more of the French, and the Predator attacks. They fight but the Predator kills Taabe. 

There is a final battle between the Predator and Naru when she deftly shows what she spent the whole movie learning about her prey.

She manages to kill the Predator and takes its head back to her home.


So yeah, this one was really fun. Great addition to the franchise.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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First Time Views: 32

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Friday, October 28, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Häxan (1922, 2016)

I have watched Häxan before. Many times in fact and honestly it never gets old.

Häxan (1922, 2016)

This is the new version is from the Criterion Collection BluRay. It looks so good too. There is also a 32 page guide book to go along with it.

This new version is gorgeous. The devils seem more lurid, the priests more vile, and the witches...oh they have never looked better.

I got this one for my birthday back in June and I have been waiting to watch it now for the 100th Anniversay.

I will have to check, but I don't think there is anything here that isn't also on my DVD, save for the upscaling. 

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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First Time Views: 31

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Thursday, October 27, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Bell Witch Movies

A couple of Bell Witch movies tonight. They both pretty much follow the same formula.

The Bell Witch Haunting (2013)The Mark of the Bell Witch (2020)

The Bell Witch Haunting (2013)

Take the legend of the Bell Witch, mix in bits of Paranormal Activity and the Blair Witch Project and you could get something good. BUT this is The Asylum doing the mixing so we get mixed results. There is some gratuitous nudity, some sub-par acting, and sometimes some fun scares. 

None of the actors or characters are even remotely memorable, but there are some fun scenes usually involving the witch.  The bit at the end where "Dana is currently in a private Asylum on the East Coast" was funny I admit.

The Mark of the Bell Witch (2020)

This is much better and has a few good scares in it too. It follows the story of the Bell Witch closer than the 2013 one above. This one actually takes place in the 1800s.  If I had known this I would have watched this one first.  Nah, it was better this way. It would have made the Asylum movie look even worse.

Kinda tired, so that's enough for one night.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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First Time Views: 31

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Bulbbul (2020)

Bulbbul (2020)
I have not watched many films from India despite my enjoyment of many of their action films. So tonight was another choice by my wife (who also loves the all-singing and all-dancing Bollywood movies). 

Bulbbul (2020)

Bulbbul is a child bride in the Bengal Presidency, India in 1881. She thinks her husband-to-be is Satya, but instead it is his much older brother Indranil. Over the next 20 years they grow up Bulbbul becomes much closer to Satya.  So close that Indranil arranges to send Satya to London.  

Much of the movie is given in various flashbacks. We see Satya telling Bulbbul a story about a demon-woman witch (a Churel or Chudail) who lives in the trees and kills men. Her most notable feature is her feet; they are on backward. They spend the next few years writing the story out. Satya leaves for London early causing Bulbbul to get upset and burn her story. Her husband finds the partially burn book but only sees "Satya and Bulbbul" not realizing that it was both their names as authors.  Indranil goes to Bulbbul who is bathing, he pulls her out of the tub where he beats her with a fireplace poker. We don't see anything but blood.

He beats so bad that her legs are broken and her feet are deformed.  While she is in bed with her legs trussed up to heal. Shamed, Indranil leaves the manor and leaves his twin's wife Binodini in charge. His twin, Mahendra, is also mentally challenged.  While essentially tied down Mahendra comes to her room and rapes her.  Later Binodini cleaning Bulbbul up tells her that she is in a very rich family and she should just keep quiet and everything will be fine.

Back to the present Satya has returned home to discover that Mahendra is dead, Binodini is living in one of the smaller houses on the manor property and previously shy Bulbbul is the undisputed Lady of the house.  Meanwhile men in the local village are all being killed. Satya thinks it is some sort of animal, the villagers say it is the Witch.

Satya decides, because he went to Law School in London I guess, to investigate on his own.  After he finds the body of a man in a tree he decides that it must be a man doing the killing. When asked by Bulbbul "why not a woman?" he laughs her off. 

Satya begins to suspect Dr. Sudip who has been at every man's home recently.  He takes him at gunpoint to arrest him. Sudip isn't worried and is quite blasé about it. Satya says the only way he will be seen as innocent if there really is a witch. At that point, there is a thud, and the carriage stops.  Satya finds the driver dead. Satya tells the Doctor he is innocent because the witch is real and he is going to kill the witch. The Doctor tries to stop him (knowing who the witch is). Satya and the Doctor fight and in the process start a fire with their torches.  Satya runs into the forest, following the same paths he and Bulbbul did as children and he realizes that it is Bulbbul doing all the killings.

We now see (here and in flashbacks) that it is Bulbbul killing all the men. Each one had done something to harm a woman; the husband who broke his wife's bones, the husband who took a younger second wife and the first killed herself, the older man raping little girls and also Mahendra. She uses her mutilated feet to run in the treetops like the Churel in the stories. By now the fire has engulfed the forest and Bulbbul is trapped up a tree. Staya leaves.

Sometime later Indranil returns to his now deserted manor. He is lying in bed alone when he sees a cloud of smoke. The smoke solidifies into a burning figure that becomes Bulbbul.


Ok! This one was a lot of fun and completely unexpected. Great choice.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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First Time Views: 29

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Night of the Werewolf (1980)

It would not be an October Horror Movie Challenge unless I did a Paul Naschy movie. And it wouldn't a proper October without an Elizabeth Bathory movie too. So about a double-shot movie? 

Night of the Werewolf (1980)

We start this one with the trial of Elizabeth Bathory. She is condemned to be buried alive. Her servants are burned at the stake and her main servant Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy) is condemned as a werewolf. A mask of shame is placed on him, and a silver cross is hammered into his heart.

Fast forward to the modern day and three college girls are working on their thesis on the occult and Bathory in particular. They are planning a trip to the Carpathian mountains to visit Bathory's tomb. One of the girls, Erika, though wants to go a step further and bring Bathory back to life. While this happening two grave robbers beat them to it and ending freeing Daninsky by pulling the silver cross out of his heart. The moon is full and he kills them both in werewolf form.

The girls get to the Carpathian but are attacked by a group of men.  From the woods, someone shoots the men with a crossbow and kills them.  The girls find Bathory's tome and Erika hear the Countess' voice convincing her to kill the others and drain their blood for her.  They discover a woman with her face half-burned. 

Next thing we know the girls are now the guests of Waldemar Daninsky in his castle. The woman with the burned face is his servant. 

Erika starts killing people and brings Bathory back to life. Daninsky turns into a werewolf and kills people. Everyone is dying.

Daninsky learns that Bathory is alive and he decides she must die. They fight, Vampire and Werewolf (ha take that White Wolf and Sony!). Bathory is killed by Daninsky, but then he tries to kill his lover while in werewolf form, but she kills him with the silver knife. 

Well, it's not great, but still fun. 

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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First Time Views: 28

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Monday, October 24, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Witchcraft (1988)

Witchcraft (1988)
Here is one that has been on my list forever it seems. I had dismissed it because the later entries into this series were barely more than soft-core.

Witchcraft (1988)

Grace (Anat Topol) is a new mother. During her delivery she has visions of two witches, a man and woman, getting burned at the stake.  Her baby, William is fine and to help her out her husband John (Gary Sloan) suggests they move in with his mother Elizabeth (the impossibly named Mary Shelley). Grace already suspects something strange about Elizabeth. She keeps having bad dreams and Elizabeth keeps pushing this tea onto her.

Grace asks her priest, who took care of her after her father killed her mother and himself when she was a child.  But when he gets to the home he sees visions of Hell. When we see him next his face is covered in boils. 

John is avoiding Grace, and spending more time with his mom. Grace finds a secret room with a weird mirror that shows her the same vision she saw before but now the man and woman are seen to be John and Elizabeth. 

She tries to leave but learns her home has burned down, she reaches out to her priest, but he hangs himself, and she gets her friend to come over to help her, but she gets beheaded.

We learn that John and Elizabeth are the reincarnations of the witches burned and her baby is the baby Elizabeth was pregnant with when she was burned.   Grace is about to sacrifice to Satan when their butler stabs John and Elizabeth kills the butler (with a great practical effect). Grace kills Elizabeth and leaves with her baby.

The movie is not great, but it has good points. Ok not a lot, but given what I know about the sequels it does put them in a better light.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Sunday, October 23, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Godzilla Night

Godzilla vs. Hedorah
I do love getting a few Godzilla or Kaiju movies in. I thought why not three different versions of the King of Monsters, Godzilla.

Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)

Also known as Godzilla vs the Smog Monster this movie is what you get when the writers of Godzilla start to worry about pollution. Now Godzilla has always been social commentary, but this one seems a bet heavy-handed, and the monster...well Hedorah is just silly.  Still, I had good memories of this one as a kid and the battles for the most part hold up.

The teens in this one seem like some sort of nihilist hippies. Thinking the world will end due to pollution (we will burn ourselves up first!) and deciding to have one last party on Mt. Fuji. Plus we get a rare spotting of Godzilla's ability to telepathically communicate with children. 

No, it is not good, even by cheesy late 1960s, early 1970s Toho standards. But it is still fun.

I still can't get that "Save the Earth" song out of my head from the English dubbed version. I watched the subbed version and it has the equally ear-wormy original version, "Return the Sun."

Shin Godzilla (2016)

This is the 3rd reboot of the Godzilla franchise. This one reminded me a lot of the original Gojira from 1954. Godzilla in this one looks really freaky, going through three different forms is really cool. I am not 100% sure about him firing lasers out of his tail.  Speaking of tails, I am also not sure about the budding of other monsters of his tail. I do like how weird and creepy it is. I rather enjoyed it to be honest.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

The American Godzilla, but at least this series is better than the old Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich version from 1998. This one pits the King of Monsters against the...King of Monsters. This is the 4th movie in Legendary Films Monsterverse and was inspired by the 1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla. This one deals with using Kong to find an opening to the Hollow Earth. Kong and Godzilla are natural enemies and once Kong is off of Skull Island Godzill hunts him down. 

While this is going on an evil corporation is taking what is left of Ghidorah to build a Mecha-Godzilla. This is good, because now we don't have to figure out who would win between Kong and Godzilla. 

All three have been great all for different reasons.

Shin Godzilla (2016) Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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First Time Views: 26

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Saturday, October 22, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Demon Night

Hellraiser (2022)
My wife, who never watches horror, has expressed a desire to see some demon movies. "Something like the Exorcist, but not as scary." Not a problem, most movies are not as scary as the Exorcist.  "But good." Damn. She got me there. Well, we found some for an afternoon and evening of watching movies.

Hellraiser (2022)

This is the new one and was much easier to get her to watch. Every year there is a movie that everyone in the October Challenge watches. This was one of those (the other so far appears to be Halloween Ends).

This is a reboot, revision, of the Hellbound Heart novella from Clive Barker.  This one stars Goran Visnjic as rich hedonist Voight, the current owner of the Lament Configuration or the puzzle box.  Odessa A’zion stars as Riley, a recovering drug addict who finds the box and starts to open it. And we get Jamie Clayton who is taking a turn as the Hell Priest, more commonly known as Pinhead. Clayton was given a lot of grief online a little because she is not Doug Bradley, the friend of Clive Barker who played Pinhead in all but 2 of the original 10 Hellraiser movies. But mostly it was due to the fact she was a trans woman I feel. 

Watching her in this she was an AMAZING Hell Preist. Going by Barker's own words in the Hellbound Heart.

Its voice, unlike that of its companion, was light and breathy-the voice of an excited girl. Every inch of its head had been tattooed with an intricate grid, and at every intersection of horizontal and vertical axes a jeweled pin driven through to the bone. Its tongue was similarly decorated.

— The Hellbound Heart, Clive Barker, ch. 1

This fits with Clayton's portrayal. The story, if the plot, is familiar. People mess with the box, Cenobites are summoned, and people die. Often in horrible ways. 

Riley manages to escape with her brother's boyfriend, but Voight is given a new "reward" in the end.

The movie is quite good really, and a sequel seems likely.

Errementari (2017)
Errementari (2017)

This movie is based on an ancient European folk tale of a blacksmith and the devil.  The one I remember was about a tinkerer and the devil and was an Irish tale. This one deals with a blacksmith who has captured a demon. The villagers avoid his home, except for the orphaned Usue (played by the amazing Uma Bracaglia) who is unafraid. The local children call her "witch child" and tease her.  She goes to the blacksmith's home where she is trying to find her doll; a local boy tossed the head onto to property. 

Here she discovers the blacksmith has captured a demon, Sartael, and keeps it chained up.  Meanwhile, a local magistrate is investigating the blacksmith claiming he was an army deserter who turns out to be a demon lord, Alastor, and the lord of the chained-up demon.  

To stop the unleashed mayhem of two demos, Usue asks Alastor to be taken to her mother. They disappear and go to Hell.  The blacksmith is being hounded by the villagers but manages to get free. He convinces Sartael to take him to Hell to save the girl. He goes, sending the girl back with Sartael (who tells the scared villagers that "this girl is a Saint and Hell rejected her. You better treat her well or I will eat your thumbs!" 

The final scenes are of the blacksmith swinging his giant hammer, and fighting devils.

The movie has a real fairy tale quality to it. There is comedy, some scares and good story.

Jennifer's Body (2009)
Jennifer's Body (2009)

Believe it or not, I have never seen this one. Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Anita "Needy" (Amanda Seyfried) are unlikely best friends. They do everything together including going to see this indie band Jennifer has "been stalking on MySpace."  They go see them and the bar catches on fire killing a lot of people.  In shock Jennifer goes with the band, much to complaining of Needy. They ask Jennifer if she is a virgin (spoiler, she isn't and hasn't been since Jr. High), but she tells them yes. So they decide to sacrifice her to Satan so they can be as big as Maroon 5. 

Next thing we know Jennifer is back at Needy's home where she is acting very strange. Like coughing up a bucket of black blood.

While everyone is sad about the deaths at the bar, Jennifer is elated. She has never looked and felt better. Though Needy knows something is wrong.

Jennifer is not only acting strange, she is eating high school boys.  Needy soon discovers this and hears Jennifer's story. She did die in the sacrifice, but because she was not pure the demon took over her body making her a succubus. 

Needy tries to get her to stop, or finally trying to stop her, and Jennifer just continues to eat boys including Needy's own boyfriend.

Needy and Jenifer fight, Jen bites Needy and Needy manages to kill Jen. Jen's mom sees this and now we see why Needy is in prison.  But we also learn that Needy has gained some of Jen's demon powers so she is strong and can levitate.

The movie's credits roll as we learn that Needy has killed the members of the band that had sacrificed Jennifer to start with.

It was a fun movie and honestly, I totally bought into Needy's nad Jennifer's friendship. They did seem like they need each other.

Ok getting tired tonight. I had one more, but that might need to go tomorrow night.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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October Horror Movie Challenge 2022


Friday, October 21, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Hex (2017)

Hex (2017)
I was not expecting a Cavaliers and Roundheads movie tonight, but here we go. 

Hex (2017)

This movie belongs to a genre that I am starting to call "The Real Monsters are Humans" which of course if you read any horror, or even just watch Scooby-Doo, you will realize is actually a lot of horror. But movies want to have a monster, whether that monster is a literal one like Godzilla, a transformed one like Freddie, or a metaphorical one, like the Babadook. This movie sets up one monster but really it is the one in front of us the whole time.

Set during the English Civil War (1642–1651) we have a Parliamentarian, Thomas (played by William Young) and a Royalist, Richard (Daniel Oldroyd). They encounter each other in the woods after a long and bloody battle. Thomas is obviously religious, taking time to pray. Richard though is extremely loyal to the King. When they meet Thomas suggests they don't have to fit, but Richard decides the best way to do that is to kill Thomas quickly.

These two chase each other through the woods and there is very little to no dialog for several stretches of minutes. Richard obviously wants to kill Thomas much more than the other way around.  The whole time they are playing this cat-and-mouse game (including Thomas hiding in an old churchyard) you get the feeling there is something sinister here. Both soldiers catch glimpses of a hooded figure just outside of sight.

Eventually, Thomas stumbles onto a camp and arms himself with a rifle. When Richard finds the camp their stand-off is changed. Thomas tells Richard he needs him alive to fight the evil in this forest, an evil they have both felt. Thomas at this point declares it is a witch.

The two reluctantly work together and keep seeing things. Are they real, are they dreams or visions?

Finally, they decide to reconsecrate the church to force the witch out.  Here it is learned that Richard may have killed Thomas' brother, and they fight some more, but now Richard seems to be the level-headed one while Thomas is unhinged. 

They do find the witch (played by Suzie Frances Garton), but she turns out to be an old woman that is just trying to scare them from her woods. They corner her in a cave and she tells them of a life where she had basically been brutalized for as long as she could remember. Richard puts away his sword and wants to talk, and offers a quick and painless death.  Thomas is not having that. He pushes her out of the cave where she falls and hits her head. She tries to crawl away, but Thomas (in the name of God no less) gets on her back and stabs her repeatedly while she screams.

The cast is quite good and if these were less capable actors then this would have been pretty dull. Thomas' turn from seemingly innocent bystander in this war to a blood-thirsty monster is only eclipsed by Richard's man of unflinching, and unthinking duty, to one that tries to understand his place in this war. 

Of course, the "witch" is no monster, but Richard and Thomas are. 

This film was reportedly made for just about £1,000.00. I don't know if that included the actors' pay of not, but it does show you can do an effective movie without a big budget.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Thursday, October 20, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Sorceress (1995)

Sorceress (1995)
I should lose my horror street cred for this one. In my defense, it meets some good horror elements. It has Linda Blair. It has witches in it. There is mayhem, magic, and murder, and I am sure another "M" word will come up. Also, it does have a pentagram on the cover, so it makes this year's cut.

Sorceress (1995)

Where even to begin on this one? Well in the first few frames we treated to a full frontal of Julie Strain (as Erica) performing some sort of magic ritual. She stabs a picture of Howard Reynolds (Edward Albert). Howard is driving home talking to his wife Amelia (Linda Blair) on the phone. Amelia gets some sort of psychic warning and tells Howard to pull over now!  He gets out of the car before it crashes and explodes! Maybe she should have told him not to carry so many explosives in his car.

Anyway, Larry Barnes (Larry Poindexter), a partner in Howard's law firm comes home and his wife is Erica! He catches her casting the spell and next thing we know she is taking a dive off of the second story and is dead on the pavement below. Wow. We have not even rolled the credits yet and Julie Strain is dead. Oh and for *reasons* Toni Naples as Maria leaves with them. 

Later on Larry is getting over Erica's death. He talks about her as if she had cast some sort of spell on him. We get flashbacks of them having sex in the living room, them having sex in the bedroom, them having a threesome with Maria. Meanwhile Howard is at home still recovering and telling his boss John Geiger (played by none other than William "Blacula" Marshall!) he isn't going back to work and the promotion he got can go to someone else. Guess who gets it? Yup. Larry, who is probably remembering a time he and Eric had sex at a 7-Eleven. Ok that is not in the movie.

Larry does start dating fellow lawyer Carol (Rochelle Swanson). He tells her about the threesome, to which she immediately says she won't do that. They fall asleep and Amelia uses her evil altar to invade Carol's dreams. She has her in a threesome with Erica and Maria. 

Amelia is using magic to make Carol act more like Erica including dying her hair brunette. She tells her husband she doing this out of revenge for what Erica did to him. She just about has Carol killing everyone when Howard shoots and kills Amelia and frees Carol. 

THEN Larry sits up in bed in shock and sees Erica standing there asking if he had a bad dream!  Well, I guess they needed her for the sequel.

Ok. So. This is not a great movie, but entertaining in the same way a Russ Meyer film is. You don't go into looking for a plot. There is one here and I will get to that in a bit.

One of the things I noticed while I was looking people up for this is how many of the stars are now dead. Yeah, it is a 27-year-old movie, but still. Julie Strain, William Marshall, Edward Albert, Michael Parks, all gone.

For Use in NIGHT SHIFT and War of the Witch Queens

Oh. I'll make lemonade from this one. The basic plot here are two witches, Erica and Amelia, both fighting a magic war with each other using their men as proxies.  It becomes obvious really fast that while Larry and Howard are the ones bringing in the money, the real power lies with their wives.

For War of Witch Queens, I take this as the default approach. Once the High Witch Queen is dead then the gloves come off and the pointy hats go on. This is what has everyone so afraid. 

For NIGHT SHIFT, well it can kind of work as-is really. The threesomes are up to you and your group.  Elf Lair Games makes no guarantee that playing NIGHT SHIFT will increase the number of threesomes in your life.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Witches of Blackwood (2020)

Witches of Blackwood (2020)
Is anyone up for Australian Witches? Sure, let's give it a go!

Witches of Blackwood (2020)

Originally released as The Unlit in Australia.  

Claire Nash (played by Cassandra Magrath) is having trouble. We know right away she is on leave for the police force and it has something to do with Luke and her fellow officers think she had something to do with it. Either way, she is depressed and feels guilty.

While she is under investigation she hears from her uncle that her father has died and she should return home to clear up his affairs. Leaving her boyfriend at home she drives to the idyllic town of Blackwood.  She begins to notice right away that the town seems empty. All she finds are listless, hollow-eyed women. No men. No children.

After talking to her uncle she goes to the local police station, but no one is there. She goes to the local bar and sees that there are only women there.  Walking out she meets up with an old high school friend who seems in a daze while pushing a baby stroller. They talk, but Claire notices that there is only a stick in the stroller. Her friend tells her that "She" took her son, but the trade was worth it.  There is a subtle hint that the "She" might be Claire's long-dead mother.

We get flashbacks to Claire's childhood. Her mother was likely a little crazy (something later confirmed by her uncle) and there were Pagan overtones to her upbringing.  She also has flashbacks to the time when she found Luke getting ready to kill himself.

Claire begins to see things in the woods, thinking it is her mother. There is some sort of meeting of all the women in town that she feels drawn too where the only cop left in town is sacrificed.

Her pasts and present all get mixed up. She ends up talking to her mother's ghost who appears all evil. Then to the ghost of Luke who is happy she "killed" him.   Though we see the scene where he does kill himself in flashbacks, it looks almost like Claire has him talked down and he is going to go back then a force possesses Clair making her look and sound all evil and demonic. She then convinces Luke that he should die and he has been asking for it for a while.

It is all rather slow going until the last 20 minutes when it really turns up the horrors. Claire's mom is alive, but has been hiding out. There is some sort of malevolent force and the only way to stop is for Claire's mom, the witch with the force in her, to kill herself by burning. This will stop it from going into Claire. 

We end six (or so) years later. Claire has a new daughter (no husband in sight) and it looks like she is free of the force, but we are not 100% sure her daughter is.

So not a bad movie really. A bit of folk horror and a southern (WAY southern) gothic feel to it all. 

It's not a scare-fest, but certainly a slow burn. So slow though that I almost gave up on it a couple of times, but it did pay off in the end. 

This is another pick from my list of "movies with a pentagram on the cover" though I will admit the original poster is much cooler.

The Unlit (2020)

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Return to the Witchouse

Witchouse II: Blood Coven
I already covered Witchouse* and it was...well not great. I went into Witchouse 2 with low expectations.  Did it live down to them? What about the hard-to-find Witchouse 3? 

Witchouse 2: Blood Coven (2000)

So this one has a couple of things working for it. Ariauna Albright is back as Lilith, this time in the flesh, not just a voice. Horror mainstay (and frequent Trek actor) Andrew Prine stars as both Sheriff Jake Harmon and Angus Westmore (it makes sense in the movie) and is easily the best actor in this lot. Yet I never felt like he was "Slumming it" he gave this one the same level of professionalism I see in all his movies.

The plot is simple. A university professor and her grad students are sent to this old house where bodies are discovered. The city wants to tear down the old house to make way for a new shopping mall and the city can't wait. So when the bodies are found and deemed to be too old for a cold case they bring in the archeologist and her students. 

Right away you can see the effect The Blair Witch Files had on this movie with all of the "first person video" shots. It is not effective here.

The bodies are dug up and soon the professor is processed by the ghost of Lilith and so are her students with the ghosts of her coven. Only the willing sacrifice of an innocent can stop Lilith, but Andrew Prine goes along as well after being wounded.

Good bits: For an RPG guy and former grad student like me the good bits are showing all the different avenues of research the students go though to get all their data information. 

Bad bits: most of the acting is not great. The "interviews" with the locals (while likely fun to make) was dull and rather pointless. 

*I noticed I had watched Witchouse (1999) back in 2015 and completely forgot it. Since I counted it this year as an "FTV" I am going to count this one as a rewatch, even though it is new to me to balance my tally.

Witchouse 3: Demon Fire
Witchouse 3: Demon Fire

Annie (Tanya Dempsey) is in an abusive relationship with Burke (Paul Darrigo). Three minutes in and I already want the guy dead. She goes to see her friends Stevie (Debbie Rochon) and Rose (Tina Krause) and stays at their place. Stevie and Rose are filming a witchcraft ritual when she comes in. They tell her she can stay with them as long as she likes.  

Stevie has a grant to film a witchcraft documentary. Which they have to discuss in the hot tub of course. After a night of drinking Stevie convinces them to try one of the rituals she found curiously enough in an antique store in Covington County, MA, the location of the other movies. 

They start the ritual and summon Lilith LeFey. But it turns out the book was something that Stevie got at gag shop and all the pages are blank. She made up the ritual on the fly. 

The next day they all wake up hung-over, except for Stevie who is excited about filming some wiccan at a festival. Soon they all begin to see things in the house. It is Lilith, this time played by horror icon Brinke Stevens.

Annie and Rose are all freaked out about the video. Stevie tells them they are overreacting. Soon even Stevie is seeing things. Soon Lilith is talking to both Stevie and Rose, but doesn't let them see her.

Stevie runs into Burke and he tells her Stevie is crazy. He never hit her and she was the one writing "Witches Burn" on her mirror. We later see Burke in a car watching the house and someone, presumably Lilith, films him while his car fills with exhaust fumes. Coming home Rose and Annie see a "Play Me" sign on the TV and watch it.

Rose and Annie run out, but Rose goes back into the house and is attacked by an unseen assailant. Annie returns to the house to see Stevie crying over Rose's bloody body.  

There is a video of Rose getting killed. Stevie and Annie watch it and it revealed that Annie was the killer all along (shocked I know), BUT she actually WAS possessed by Lilith.  Turns out Annie wanted revenge because Rose and Stevie both slept with Burke. 

Angry at the death of Rose, Stevie does the most un-horror movie thing I have seen in a while. She beats the living shit out of Annie.  Lilith is impressed and offers her a deal.

Not sure what happened but Stevie is no long worried about getting caught for Burke and Rose (assuming she is leaving Annie to take the fall) and now she is in league with Lilith.

Ok. The acting is not great here, but it is better and this is a much better movie. Debbie Rochon had some good moments. While it was no shock that the killer was Annie, the procession by Lilith was a good switch-up.

For use in NIGHT SHIFT and War of the Witch Queens

Now, more than ever I need to work on an adventure where one of the evil witches from the War of the Witch Queens comes back to plague the characters of NIGHT SHIFT.

Just gotta figure out who and how.

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Monday, October 17, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Burnt Offerings (1976)

Burnt Offerings (1976)
Tonight's is an "attack of opportunity" the movie I wanted to watch was flaking out on me. This is one of those movies that is a candidate for my "Mystery Movie" one I vaguely remember from the late 70s or early 80s. 

This is all I can recall about it: 

  • There is a very memorable scene near the end of the movie where a group of "Satanists" are each placing a blood stain/drop on a woman's forehead prior to her sacrifice. I don't think they made it to the sacrifice.
  • It aired on TV in the late 70s or early 80s. I *believe* it was the movie of the week or something like that for ABC or NBC. It was right around Halloween. I remember this because I didn't want to go out trick or treating, I wanted to watch this movie. This was prior to cable TV as we know it today, so only 13 total channels.
  • There is a scene where our hero and maybe the girl above (or another woman) are going up a spiral staircase. I believe the woman above was at the top (or bottom) of the stairs.

And that is all I have.

I have tried for years to find it, but no luck. I even stumped Reddit

I thought that tonight's movie might be it.  It is a rewatch, but I wanted to try.

Burnt Offerings (1976)

This one has an amazing cast. Robert Reed, Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, and Bette Davis. Marian Rolf (Karen Black) and Ben Rolf (Oliver Reed) along with their son Davey (Lee H. Montgomery) and Ben's aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis), move into an old house to take care of its owner, Mrs. Allardyce, and elder woman who never leaves her room. The rent for this huge house is $900 for the whole summer; a good deal even in 1976. They are given instructions from her children Arnold (Burgess Meredith) and Roz (Eileen Heckart).

The Rolfs spend the first week fixing up the house, which needs a lot of attention. It appears on the surface to be a classic haunted house movie, but there is a really fun twist.  The house is making everyone a little crazy.  Marian becomes obsessed with the house and Mrs. Allardyce in particular, even though we never see her. And she becomes more and more distant from her family. Ben and Davey start noticing all sorts of odd things going on. For example, anytime an accident happens something in the house is repaired. Ben starts seeing a smiling creepy looking hearse driver, the same from his mother's funeral decades ago. 

Then people start to die. First, it is aunt Elizabeth and Marian does not go to the funeral. Ben confronts her on this and discovers she is in the room of Mrs. Allardyce and is now older. Ben is thrown out of the window and lands on the car three stories below. Davey seeing this runs to the house and is killed when the chimney collapses on him.

The Allardyce siblings return to a completely renovated house. We see Mrs. Allardyce, now Marian, in her room and there are pictures of Ben, Davey, and Elizabeth have now been added to the mantle. 

It is a nice creepy story with slow-burn horror. Great for an alternative to the haunted house story. 

Sadly, and I was pretty sure of this, it is not the movie I have been looking for. 

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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Sunday, October 16, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Pagan Night

Midsommar (2019)
I love tales of the struggle of Pagans against Christianity and the resulting Folk Horror that would later grow up in the aftermath. So tonight are two different movies from two different points of view on the same topic.

Midsommar (2019)

Believe it or not, I had not seen this one yet. I had heard a lot about it, both good and bad, from a lot of people whose opinions I trust, so that was my hesitation. I also wanted to save it for a night my wife and I could watch it. We had been watching a lot of "Vikings" so I thought she might like this. 

The basic plot I think is pretty well known by this point and I really don't want to spoil it. I just want to say that Florence Pugh is amazing in this. She was wonderful both when her character was low (and there is a lot of that, poor Dani) and especially at her highs. The movie reminded me a lot of the original Wicker Man in a good way.

I am also one of the ones that loved the ending. Dani smiling at the end was all about her release from all the toxic relationships she had been in; her sister, her boyfriend, her friends.

I am really, really getting to love the movies from A24. 

Black Death (2010)
Black Death (2010)

During the first round of the bubonic plague in England and Sean Bean needs Eddie Redmayne to help find a village that is protecting a "necromancer" and does not suffer from the plague.

Redmayne plays young monk Osmund who is secretly in love with a local girl. They plan to run off together as soon he can get free, but he wants her out of their village now to protect her.  They plan to meet at a shrine in the woods.  She leaves and Bean, looking every bit like Boromir and Ned Stark, plays Ulrich a man charged by the Bishop to seek out and kill this Necromancer.  Osmund volunteers.

We meet Ulrich's men, a band of cutthroats and killers, who are charged with hunting witches.

They travel through the land with Osmund as their guide. Osmund sneaks off one morning to find Averill but only find her bloody clothes and local bandits.  The bandits chase him back to the camp where they all fight. They manage to kill most of them but the last two make off with their horses.

The band enters the village where no one is dying from the plague.  They are greeted by Hob (Tim McInnerny) and Langiva (Carice van Houten) and then it becomes a game of "Spot the Game of Thrones actor." 

Langiva has all the men drugged while she takes Osmund to see her villagers in full pagan get up raise Averill from the dead. Osmund cries out in terror. Next thing we see is Osmund, Ulrich and the rest all in a pit full of water tied up. Langiva tells them they can go free if they renounce god. Unwilling she starts having them killed one by one. She allows Osmund to see Averill while they tie Ulrich up to horses.  Osmund finds Averill alive, but feeling she is in Purgatory he kills her to free her soul.

Langiva seeing this tells her village this is Christian love and they should have no part of it. She has Ulrich drawn and quartered, but before he dies he reveals to Osmund he has the plague and has brought death to this village. He is killed and in the chaos two of his men escape and pretty much kill everyone.  Osmund chases Langiva into the marsh where she tells him that Averill had only been drugged, she had been alive all this time and it was he Osmund who killed her.  She escapes.

Osmund and the remaining witchhunter return to the monastery and we learn later Osmund left the brotherhood to become a witchhunter on his own and a particularly cruel and violent one.

This one was also pretty good. Carice van Houten was nearly unrecognizable as a blonde but once she began to speak you knew it was her. Eddie Redmayne was great in both aspects of his role, the innocent but fallen monk and the vengeful, hard hearted witchhunter. And as always Sean Bean dies in the end.


It's been a full Pagan and Folk Horror weekend really. This solidifies my desire to maybe do a Coda for the War of the Witch Queens in NIGHT SHIFT.  I might to drink some of my mead to think about it.

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Saturday, October 15, 2022

October Horror Movie Challenge: Daughters of The Craft

The Coven (2015)
Over the years I have noticed a trend in movies to try to recreate that was in the movie The Craft. AKA the move that made a thousand teen witches in the 90s. I have taken to call these movies Daughters of the Craft since that is what they obviously desire to be. 

Here are a few I watched starting on Friday till tonight.

The Coven (2015)

Take the Craft (sorta) and put them in an English boarding school. No not Hogwarts, but they do name-drop Margaret Murray, Robert Cochrane, and Gerald Gardner (though they call him Joe) so that is something. 

There is a new teacher, Mrs. Belial, who takes over the class and teaches them about Uri Clef (an anagram for Lucifer). We see her eating raw meat later on. 

The girls head out to Queens Woods where Robert Cochrane used to meet with his Wiccan group. They are joined by two boys, Eddie and Louie, the five girls and two boys realize their first names all spell out Lucifer. Now strange things start to happen. They are joined by the at first uninvited Eve (who has been at home researching all of this) and soon they are being chased through the woods by the guy on the motorcycle...who might be Eddie? All the names appear including Eve's but not Eddie's and they all get sucked into a burning tree.

Yeah. Ok, that one was rather bad, to be honest. I had such hopes for it in the beginning.

Ouija Craft (2020)
Ouija Craft (2020)

This one is "What if the girls from the Craft were in college with an Ouija board.

And man is this one starting out bad. There are two characters who look like they are some time in the past, running through the woods. The woman uses magic to try to heal the man but it doesn't work. What else that doesn't work is their acting. Cause they are both terrible. Not a great start here. Anyway, there is a demon girl of some sort and an Ouija board.

Fast forward to the present day. Abby, Rory, and Jess are in a barn somewhere practicing magic. Jess is trying to get a spell to work with only a little success, Abby and Rory, along with Abby's boyfriend Sam, are making potions. Abby and Rory are obviously better at magic. Rory drinks a potion and is able to levitate for a bit. Abby decides she wants to mix a temporary immortality potion with a healing potion to live forever. The potion seems to work at first, but soon she is convulsing. I guess she never saw the Potion Miscibility table in the 1st Ed DMG because she rolls a 01% and her whole chest blows up. 

At the wake, Rory and Jess are each dealing with grief in different ways. Jess keeps thinking she hears Abby. Finally, she does and she wants her and Rory to take the Ouija board to the graveyard where she is buried and try to contact her. This is of course breaking the rules of Ouija. Anyway, Abby comes back but needs a real life so she has to kill someone who saw her die, Rory or Jess.  There are some magic battles between the three and in the process, Sam is killed and Abby brings him back. 

They learn from the ghosts from the opener they have to burn the Ouija board. Oh and that Jess is not a witch but a psychic. Jess gets stabbed by Sam, but Rory gives up her life force so she can live. Since Jess didn't see Sam die he falls to dust. Now Jess and Abby fight it out and Jess is able to TK the board into a fire burning it and Abby, but not before Abby stabs Jess. JEss drinks the temporary immortality potion and passes out waiting for the paramedics. 

Months later Jess is still recovering and she sees Abby's ghost who apologizes for everything. She tells Jess that she could become a very powerful psychic, but Jess takes all her books and potions and witchy stuff outside and burns them all.

Ok. Not great and some really terrible acting. I felt though the two leads Jess and Rory, Ivy Rhodes and Lacy Hartselle respectively were actually fairly good and made the movie watchable. 

Akelarre 2020
Coven (2020) 

Also known as Akelarre and Coven of Sisters it is not to be confused with the 2019 movie Coven.

This one just sneaks in with the theme. Maybe Great-Great Grandmothers of the Craft is a better descriptor for this one.

This one is horror, but not for the reasons the first two are.

In 1609 in the Basque Country of Spain five girls are all arrested and charged with witchcraft.  One of their friends tries to rescue them and she is captured too. At first, the girls are afraid but then they begin to joke about it, not believing that this is happening to them.  Then the torture begins.   

It's all rather horrible to be honest.  Worse, because you knew this sort of thing happened all the time. 

Amaia Aberasturi stars as Ana and she is the real stand-out here. She keeps stringing along her accusers to drag out the proceedings to help save the other girls. Ana easily strings along the horny men till the full moon.

The girls decide that in order to delay their execution longer they tell the judge they will re-enact the Black Mass, or the Sabbath, for his records. They do so and get him all involved as Lucifer.  Once they had frightened the men, or turned them on, enough they run into the woods. They are chased by the men and soldiers till they get to the edge of a cliff over the ocean.  The other women, the ones not accused of witchcraft, sing a song about the full moon and the high tide.  Ana, realizing the message, tells the other girls they can jump.

They jump over the side, not knowing if they lived or died. 

I thought this movie was great honestly. Not the typical sort of horror, but also not exactly what I thought it was going to be either. 

Really good to have this one the last of the night to wash the taste out of my mouth from the first one.

Of course, I have heard this word, Akelarre, before and named a witch-focused demon after it.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022
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October Horror Movie Challenge 2022