Wednesday, October 16, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: This House Possessed (1981)

I can't honestly recall if I have ever seen this movie or not.  I am still trying to track down my elusive TV horror movie and I pretty much knew this one was not it.  BUT, it has all the hallmarks of what would have gotten my attention back then, creepy house, weird state of the art technology, and Lisa Eilbacher who I thought was good looking back then (spoiler alert, she was and still is!)
It also featured early 80s TV mainstay Parker Stevenson and Slim Pickens playing...well, the same character he usually played.

The premise is solid. A house doesn't want anyone to live in it but it's beloved Margaret who moved away at age 7.  But before we get to that we get the REAL HORROR of this movie! Singing by Parker Stevenson!!  I give him grief; I like Parker Stevenson, I thought he was a good actor and his shows the Hardy Boys and Probe were a lot of fun.  So he plays a "rock star" who has a nervous breakdown and needs a living nurse, Lisa Eilbacher as  Sheila, to help him.  They find this old house and strange murders begin to happen.

I realized this was not the movie I was looking for very soon, but I was hooked into the story. I know.

I want to say I have seen this to be honest. Like I said it hits all my interests as an 11-year-old, but I watched it without really any sense of recognition.   I was half-tempted to mark it down as "watched" but I am going with "first-time view" on this one.

The search continues.

Watched: 21
New: 15



Halloween Sales at DrivethruRPG

It's that time of year again!  DrivethruRPG is holding its annual Halloween Sales!


I have a few books up for the Spookiest Season!  And I have Witches, Vampires, Demons, Werewolves, and Ghosts!



One of my newest books, The Classical Witch Tradition for Basic-era Games.



It's companion the Mara Witch Tradition.


My pride and joy, Ghosts of Albion!


Another "Basic Era" book, this time Werewolves as a Playable Race/Class.




And for those that love Swords & Wizardry White Box, The White Witch Tradition.

Check these and many other titles out till Halloween!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Total "attack of opportunity" tonight.  Bram Stoker's Dracula was on BBCAmerica and I honestly could not say no.

I have seen this movie a few dozen times I am sure.  It is still a great cinematic marvel.  Gary Oldman chews up scenery like no one.  Wynona Ryder and Sadie Frost are so young in this.   Keanu Reeves is not even Keanu Reeves yet in this.  Anthony Hopkins, of course, is great.

The story stills cleaves closer to the Stoker novel than any other outing and it is still a very fun flick.
SAdly the BBCAmerica version is still bit edited and chopped up.

Looking back on it now you can see how much movies after it borrow from it much in the same way it borrowed from Nosferatu.   Pretty much every vampire TV show and movie since.




Watched: 20
New: 14



Anita

Anita Thompson is a witch.  Not an ancient, cantankerous witch (that would be her Gran) but a young witch ready to make her mark on the world.  I just don't think the world, in this case, late 1960s England is ready for her. 

"Anita" by Keith Roberts has been on my TBR pile for some time. The first edition of the book in the 1970s collected all the Anita stories that had appeared in the pages of Science Fantasy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  She became the prototype for many teen witches to follow.

Anita is a thoroughly modern witch in a world of supermarkets, televisions, and sports cars.  But she is still a witch and can whip up a spell-raising with the best, or worst, of them.   But she is also generally a good girl who falls in love with whatever handsome boy or pretty girl (or mermaid) that crosses her path.

I picked up the most recent audiobook version from "Neil Gaiman Presents" with a wonderful introduction by Neil himself.  I agree with him that Nicola Barber was a fantastic choice to give voice not only to Anita but her old Gran as well.  It is a treat to hear her do Gran's voice.
This version is based on the 1990 edition with edited text, mostly to bring the stories in line with each other, and adds a new story of Anita in the 1980s.  It seems though, like many witches, Anita ages slower than humans.

The whole series is quite a treat and Anita is easily a likable character.  She is sweet, fun and even she is not being particularly nice she is still fun.   Don't get me wrong, these are not saccharine exploits of a teen girl who happens to have powers ala the first Sabrina the Teenage Witch series.  The undertone is closer to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, including Anita knowing her soul is already damned.  In one story a girl Anita falls in love with kills herself over a boy so Anita animates the corpse and terrorizes the entire suburb that the girl was from.

The book is a forgotten gem really and I would have loved to have heard more exploits of Anita.  Does she ever settle down (doubt it!), is she still working as a veterinary assistant to Dr. MacGregor? (I can see that).  Did she ever have sex with Dr. MacGregor?  (Hard to say!) and so on.

I will admit that while I was listening to this book I was also binging both seasons of Fleabag.  I kept thinking that a mid-30-year old Anita would be like Phoebe Waller-Bridge's character Fleabag.  Complete with the drinking, smoking, promiscuity and the "occasional sodomy".  Maybe even with Fleabag's sadness too.  Anita always seemed to be losing someone.   This also made me cast Andrew Scott (aka "The Hot Priest") as MacGregor, and the reason why Anita's charms never worked on him was that he was gay.  If that were true then I could see Anita trying to set him up with any number of men she found attractive.

The D&D Connections

Even though the Anita stories do not appear in any version of the "Appendix N" there are spell names here that predate their D&D counterparts.  Enough that I have a strong belief that Gygax and Co at least had a passing familiarity with these stories.

So. Anita is a perfect witch then to try out for Night Shift.

Now Anita for Night Shift might actually be a Supernatural creature.  As a witch she is distinctly different than humans (or "Oomans" as Granny Thompson would say).  But not enough to really merit the extra expenditure of XP.   So instead I am going to say that Anita is part of a world where witches just age slower than humans.

Anita Thompson
Str +1 Dex +1 Con +0 Int +1 Wis +1 Cha +3
XP: 151,000 (Level 7)
Hit Dice: 7d4 Hit Points: 18 AC: 8  Attack Bonus: +1 Check Bonus: +3 (Primary) +2 (Secondary) +1 (Tertiary)
Armor: none
Saves: +5 vs. spells and magical effects
Class Abilities: Arcana 85%, Spellcasting 85%
Other Special Abilities: Enhanced Senses (Anita has 9 senses), Telepathic Transmission

Spells: 1st level charm person, cure light wounds, minor illusion, speak to animals  2nd-level animal summoning, esp, phantasmal image, 3rd-level animate dead, dispel magic 4th-level polymorph self

Gear: Has an amulet of Widdershins Dance.

The 1990 version also had art by Stephen Fabian, familiar to many AD&D Mystara and Ravenloft lovers.






Edited to add: Now available, Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars.
You can get the PDF from DriveThruRPG and both the standard and special edition hardcovers from Elf Lair Games.

Monday, October 14, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Lina Romay Night

Female Vampire (1973/4)
A re-watch for me, but after watching Lorna last night and wanting to see something Carmilla related.  Except I couldn't find my copy.  I have it on BluRay somewhere but no idea where.  A quick search on the old smart TV and I found it and another flick.
Female Vampire is still mostly a sexploitation film but there are enough horror elements and at least name service to one of the most famous vampires in print.
I was hoping for some deep insight this time around, but while the horror elements are there, this is still just shy of porn.

Die Marquise von Sade / The Portrait of Doriana Grey (1976)
One could be excused if you were watching this movie and thought you were still watching Female Vampire.  Lina Romay plays an immortal (check) countess (check) who prefers women (check) seems to get some sort of life-sustaining essence from the act of oral sex (check) and her twin sister feels all the pleasure she herself can't feel...wait what?
Very similar in look and feel really though Romay is more animated in this movie.  Again in this Romay's character seems to need these lovers to stay young and beautiful.  The Dorian Grey part seems to come in with her twin sister keeping her young or as the receptacle of her feelings.

Combining these last three Lina Romay movies I could see a spell, curse or something in a horror game called "The Succubus' Gift".  It keeps you forever young but you have to have sex with numerous victims, their life essence powers your immortality.  Not a bad deal, but you have to do it forever and you could end up killing a lot of people.





Watched: 21
New: 15




Monstrous Mondays: Zugarramurdi Brujas for Basic era Games AND Night Shift

A while back I featured a monster I was quite happy with, the Zugarramurdi Bruja, a mix of hag, vampire, and undead witch.  Since then I have read more about these witches and want to use them more.

So here they are, again for Labyrinth Lord, other Basic-era games, and for Night Shift.



Zugarramurdi Brujas

The Zugarramurdi Brujas are undead witches that are believed to have come from the village of Zugarramurdi, Spain.  Zugarramurdi was the scene of a huge witch trail in the 17th century.  It was believed that these witches sold their souls to a devil named Akerbeltz, he gave them magical powers, silver and a toad familiar.  When alive they had power of animals and members of the opposite sex.  It was believed that these witches could also spit poison.  To maintain their power they had to sacrifice children on the night of the Summer Solstice.
Some of the accused died before they saw trail, but many of the witches were tried and executed.  Their remains, which could not be buried in hallowed ground, were tossed into a cave where the witches used to meet; Cuevas de las Brujas ("Cave of the Witches").
It is said they returned from the dead on the next Summer Solstice.

The term now is used to refer to any witch that comes back from the dead due to improper burial.  As an undead creature, they are more powerful than they were in life, though most of their spellcasting ability is diminished.
They attack with a claw/claw/bite routine as their primary form of attack.  On a successful critical hit (natural 20) on any attack, they also drain 1 point of Wisdom and 1 point of Charisma from their victims.  Any victim reduced to 0 in either ability will become a zombie under control of the Zugarramurdi Bruja who killed it.

They also are surprised only on a 1 in 6.
They also cast the following spells as a 10th level witch: Bewitch III, Charm, ESP, Eyebite, Greater Command, Shriek, Withering Touch, and Undead Enslavement.

Zugarramurdi Brujas are vulnerable to silver, magic weapons and holy items.  Holy water does 1d8 hp of damage to them. They can be turned by a good cleric as if they were vampires.  A lawful witch can also turn these creatures as if she were a cleric of the same level, such is their abomination of all things the lawful witch holds sacred.   Like a vampire, these creatures cannot enter into a personal dwelling unless they are granted permission nor can they ever enter hallowed ground, such as a place of lawful worship or a graveyard.  Doing so causes them 1d8 hp damage per round.

Zugarramurdi Brujas
(Labyrinth Lord, Pumpkin Spice Editon)
No. Enc.: 1 (3)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 30' (90')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 10+5*** (50 hp)
Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite)
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d6
Special: Wisdom & Charisma drain
Save: Witch 10
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XVII
XP: 2,600

Zugarramurdi Brujas
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 2
HD: 10d8+5
Move: 30
Attacks: 2 claw (1d6-1 x2), 1 bite (1d6) + Wisdom & Charisma drain
Alignment: Chaotic
Treasure:
XP: 2,600

Zugarramurdi Brujas
(Old-School Essentials)
AC 2 [17], HD 10 (50hp), Att 2 claw (1d6-1 x2), 1 bite (1d6) + Wisdom & Charisma drain, THAC0 17 [+2], MV 90’ (30’), SV D11 W12 P11 B14 S12 (10), ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP 2,600, NA 1 (1-3), TT None
 Wisdom & Charisma drain: Natural 20 hit drains one-point of each.
 Vulnerability: Vulnerable to silver, magic weapons and holy items.  Holy water does 1d8 hp of damage to them. Cannot enter hallowed ground.
 Undead: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, disease, and similar effects. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.

Zugarramurdi Brujas
(Night Shift)
No. Appearing: 1-3
AC: 2
Move: 40ft.
Hit Dice: 10
Special: 3 attacks (2 claw, bite), wisdom drain, witch spells.
Weakness: Vulnerable to silver, magic weapons and holy items.  Holy water does 1d6+1 hp of damage to them. Cannot enter hallowed ground.

Zugarramurdi Brujas exist to the modern-day, their last known encounter was in 2013.



This is my 1st Entry for the RPG Blog Carnival for this month.   Hosted by of Dice and Dragons.
This month features From beyond the grave.  Perfect my blog and October!



Edited to add: Now available, Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars.
You can get the PDF from DriveThruRPG and both the standard and special edition hardcovers from Elf Lair Games.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Satanic Saturday

Staying in all day. Let's have a Satanic Sunday!

Jaws of Satan (1981)
Druids, Witches, Cursed Priests, and Satan.  It sounds like a great mix. And a young Christiana Applegate and her real-life mother to boot!  Well... the movie is not great, but for 1981 it is not bad.

Satan comes to terrorize a small town in the form of a snake.  Not a giant snake, just a regular-sized snake. But I guess it does some strange things to the corpses and moves really fast, so that is something right?

Well, the Devil-as-a-Snake controls all the other snakes in the area so that is kinda fun.  This is more of a snake movie than a Satanic one.  Though I am not sure what is worse though, the snake or the casual misogyny and racism.  Well, this is the danger I knew I would run when I decided to go through every horror movie in the "Basic Era" (1977-1981).

The priest does have a nice "magical" battle with the Satan Snake, so that is cool.  Something I would have loved my cleric to have done back in the days of Basic D&D.

Monster Idea: Demonic Snakes.

Demonoid (1980)
A mine in Mexico uncovers a Satanic cult long buried. The soundtrack is pure 70s, but the movie stands up to be honest.  Again, if you don't mind the casual racism and sexism (are nurses supposed to show that much cleavage?). The movie is not great mind you, but the basic premise is solid.   The movie doesn't really pick up until about a third of the way in.  At no point, however, do the events depicted in the poster actually occur in the movie itself.

Though I expected a little more emotion from the protagonist.  She takes the death of her husband and then him getting up and walking from his grave in stride.

I could not help but think about how this would be a good set up for any sort of evil hand-like artifact focused adventure.  The hand gives up strange powers but at a cost.  Combine it with a bit of the Doctor Who serial "Hand of Fear" and the Hand of Vecna.

Monster/Plot Idea:  Demonic Hands.

Evilspeak (1981 or 1982)
An evil priest,  Father Estaban (an almost unrecognizable Richard Moll), is excommunicated by other priests in Middle Ages Spain.  Estaban shows how evil he is by cutting off the head of a perfectly nice Spanish girl.
We come to the modern age where we meet Stanley Coopersmith, an orphan in a military-like school played by B-Movie stalwart Clint Howard.  Coopersmith is picked on by everyone, the other kids, the teachers, even the priest.  While cleaning the chapel he finds Estaban's diary.  The diary, of course, is full of Satanic fun.  Coopersmith in true early 80s fashion types it all into a computer and it translates it automatically.  He begins to put more information into his schools' Apple 2e and soon he has the power.  Not sure if this is first mix of Satanic rites and computer technology but I am hard-pressed to name something that would have scared the Religious Right of the 1980s more.  I do love the Atari 2600 sound effects though.

This movie follows a cliched formula of the odd kid getting picked on and the kid turning to evil to get revenge.  We saw this to better effect in "Fade to Black" and the trope turned completely around in the Harry Potter books and movies.

The ending though is really fun with Coopersmith getting revenge on everyone by summoning up undead pigs from hell.  Interestingly enough, in the end, Coopersmith was admitted to the Sunnydale Asylum.   I have to admit this one was a lot of fun.

Monster Idea: Devil Swine

Lorna the Exorcist (1974)
Ok, this one is fairly notorious even by Jesús Franco's normal standards.  When I did my Franco October series a while back I had heard about it, but could not find a copy.  This year I did and saved it for tonight.  After all, if  Hall of the Nephilim can make Succubus Sundays a thing, I can contribute.
So right out of the gate.  "Lorna" is not an Exorcist. Nor are there any exorcists in this movie.  I can only assume that the English name was used to capitalize on the recent "The Exorcist" movie.  The original title in French is "Les possédées du diable" or roughly "Possessed by the Devil".  That's a better title really.
There is another bit to get over too.  There are two versions of this movie, an 81 minutes NR version and a 99 minute X rated one.  The X rated one features some rather graphic scenes featuring Lorna (Pamela Stanford) and Linda (a very young Lina Romay).

The plot is basically Rumplestilskin with demons.  Patrick Mariel is an out of his luck man who makes a deal with a woman named Lorna. She will make Patrick wealthy, but in 18 years he must give her his daughter.   He doesn't believe her but becomes wealthy all the same.  Nearly 18 years later his daughter Linda is a wild teen and Lorna has come back to make her claim on the girl.
Lorna can only really be described as a succubus (that would also explain the green eye makeup).  She seems to invade Linda's dreams where the two have some fairly graphic sex.  Likely these are the part of the edited out 18 mins.  There are also a few other scenes that are fairly notorious like the crabs' scene and one between Linda and her father Patrick.  The most notorious has to be the one where Lorna finally claims Linda as her own.

There are plenty of Franco hallmarks in this. Gratuitous nudity, jazzy soundtrack, casinos, weird almost psychedelic cinematography, and Franco himself making a cameo appearance.   He once talked about how much he loved seeing Lina Romay (aka the future Mrs. Franco) in all these scenes and how much she enjoyed them herself.  I will give her credit in this one. She actually is putting forward a good performance.  There is a marked difference in Linda before and after Lorna.  It also seems to me that Lorna turned Linda into a succubus herself.
There is also a bit with a madwoman, who I took to be a former lover of Lorna who still seems connected to her.
Franco is hit or miss, and mostly miss, to be honest, but this is one of the better ones I have watched.

Monster Idea: Succubus

Watched: 19
New: 14



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