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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #395 (Vol. 8, No. 42) This edition is for the week of October 15--21, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review for October  by Nolan Canova, Terence Nuzum, Chris Passinault and Chris Woods
"Gone Baby Gone"  by Mike Smith
Terror in Orlando haunted house, Hallows Point premiere  by Andy Lalino
Getting Started  by Corey Castellano
Tell Me Again Why I Want A Bigscreen TV?  by Lisa Ciurro
“I Was a Teenage Blood Slave! - The Tricia Anderson Story”  by ED Tucker
Passing On Part 1 .... Passing On Part 2: So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersien... .... Too Bad He's Still Alive .... Welcome To The Hall .... Movie Notes .... Nobody Had To Tell Me .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 31: Armand Assante by Mike Smith
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Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Terror in Orlando haunted house, Hallows Point premiere

Orlando Horror/Halloween Weekend Pt. 2: Terror in Orlando

After enjoying Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, the following night my wife Sandy and I decided to cruise down International Drive in Orlando in search of any new horror/Halloween attractions that may have sprung up since our last visit, and also to pay respects to those that had met a sad demise.

I have some good news, and some bad. Bad first.

For those who have not yet heard, Orlando's Skull Kingdom is no more. For those lucky to have visited, Skull Kingdom was a year-round haunted house attraction across from Wet-N-Wild. You couldn't miss it; as the name suggests, the Kingdom featured a gigantic skull that towered over International Drive, complete with occasional plumes of molten fire that shot up from overhead . We had patronized Skull Kingdom many times in the past; making every excuse to check out the attraction for new scares. We also had a personal connection; one of the actors in our short horror film Filthy, Chris ("Leonard") Brooks, previously worked there.

Now Skull Kingdom is nothing but a barren wasteland behind a turquoise-topped IHOP. Not even bones remain - how sad. We shall miss the thrills and chills Skull Kingdom always provided. Now, it joins the Haunted Mansion (not Disney's, but an independent) and Terror on Church Street in the grand halls of cherished Florida haunted house attractions.

The good news is that in July, an all-new, year-round haunted house recently filled the void left by Skull Kingdom: Terror in Orlando. We happened by the sign while driving down a soggy International Drive. We were committed to visiting the night after Halloween Horror Nights.

Terror in Orlando is not far from the site where Skull Kingdom once stood. Located just south of the intersection of Kirkman Road and International Drive, Terror in Orlando sports two - count 'em - two haunted houses at one location: Mayhem Manor and 3DFunhouse. We braved both, which was a fun - and scary - experience!

Before entering, I took a few photos of the outdoor sign as my wife Sandy shook her head at my weird eccentricities. I then ventured inside, encountering a ghostly nurse (played by an actress named Faith) who looks like she had a run-in with Jason Voorhes' machete. She was surrounded by a small but ghastly gift shop featuring maggots in jelly and horror-themed music CD's.

Faith persuaded us into purchasing a combo ticket (not that I wasn't sold already), and we summoned up the bravura to tackle our first house: Mayhem Manor. We were asked to step into a foyer area (complete with flickering chandelier, fireplace, and spooky paintings), where we were greeted by Dr.Morpheus Mayhem himself, a scientist studying the effects of fear. We were instructed not to touch anything lest they touch us, and we agreed with a nervous laugh. It dawned on me at the time that I somehow recognized Dr. Mayhem, but being that he was not in make-up, I couldn't yet identify him.

Then, we were left on our own.

Mayhem Manor was a great house. LOTS of scares, effects, surprises, and wonderful actors who made the experience quite chilling and real. Highlights include: phantasmagoric portraits that watch your every movement and deep, dark corridors with lethal scares around every bend. It was a terror-tastic experience!

Our next challenge was the 3D Funhouse. Now, keep in mind that we had just visited Halloween Horror Nights, and we were surprised at the similarity between 3D Funhouse, and "Jack's Funhouse: Clown-O-Vision" at Universal. I was later informed that 3D Funhouse preceded Universal's concept, and is a superior horror experience.

3D Funhouse is nonstop horrors and fun. You're asked to don 3D glasses and enter a phosphorescent clown world where dimensions and perspective are turned topsy-turvy. Scary clowns pop out around every corner when you least expect them. The decor is a whimsically frightening, with splashy clown colors and polka-dot designs. If you have a fear of clowns, this haunted funhouse is your worst nightmare! Perhaps the best effect is an incredible 3-D strobe with falling "suds" floating down from above. Believe it or not, it looks wicked wild and is quite the visual treat. There's also a portion Sandy dubbed the "birth canal" - where you're transported into a claustrophobic netherworld of inflated black fabrics which I found to be very unsettling! Even if you survive and manage to exit the house, the scares don't end there. You'll shriek as a cavalcade of clowns continue to caterwaul and claw at you just when you think you're safe!

Well, we finally made it into the exclusive Terror in Orlando survivor's club, and later managed to chat with a few of the employees. Turns out that my instincts were correct, I had met Dr. Morpheus Mayhem several times before - his alter ego is the popular Lon Madnight - horror host! If you've seen Lon at a personal appearance or at a Florida horror/comic convention, you would have been devilishly delighted at his puns and antics. On his DVDs, Lon accentuates the fright films he showcases with old school horror host charm blended with a fresh style. For fans of Dr. Paul Bearer, Zacherle, Elvira, etc., Lon is one of the new generation hosts aiming for a show on late-night TV - something we all miss. Let's wish him well and hope that an eventual Lon Madnight show will air in our markets!

I also spent time chatting with Asst. Manager Dan Nichols, a veteran of the fondly-remembered Terror on Church Street (as was Lon). He was excited about the public reaction to Terror in Orlando, and invited all Tampa Bay residents to stop on by and check it out. Now is the perfect time with Screamfest, Orlando's largest horror convention, coming up this weekend!

Terror in Orlando
7316 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819

(407) 351-4164


Hallows Point Premiere: Horror Film Shot in St. Petersburg

Fresh off our excursion from the horrors of O-town, the following Tuesday I reserved for the world premiere of a new horror film that was shot entirely in the Tampa Bay area: Hallows Point. The big event took place at the Seminole 8 Theaters, an independent movie house in Seminole, FL.

As I arrived and prepped my digital camera, a small crew was rolling out a red carpet for the cast. I was early, so I had the opportunity to chat it up with a few fans and local journalists. Running about and ensuring everything ran smoothly was Production Manager/Actress Kris Kranjec. There were several familiar faces, most notably Tom Linkiewicz, who served as Editor. Tom and I are lifelong friends (growing up on the same block in St. Pete.) and it was Tom who also edited our short horror film Filthy. In addition to running Illusion Films, a growing business serving mostly commercial video clients, Tom graduated to feature films when asked to edit Hallows Point, and the project couldn't have been in better hands.

Stalking the red carpet was the film's signature bad guy: Nathanial Raber, in a full, hideous make-up suit. Raber, as displayed in the movie poster, is a charred corpse in dark glasses and a burnt overcoat. Rumors abounded concerning the true identity of the monster: could it be director Jeffrey Lynn Ward in disguise?

Also enjoying the spotlight was popular actor Tom (The Punisher) Nowicki, who I worked with on the yet-to-be-released feature horror film Belly of the Beast. Tom relished the juicy role of Raber, the nebbish teacher-turned-gruesome (and bloodthirsty) villain.

Briefly, Hallows Point is the story of a group of students from the town Hallows Point, who lock themselves in an abandoned high school as part of a Halloween dare. The site is cursed, from bloody murders inflicted by the aforementioned Nathanial Raber, a teacher who went crazy and killed the students that teased him in class. As a prank, the students summon up Raber's spirit from an ancient book, and all hell - quite literally - breaks loose. Hallows Point also stars Christa Campbell (2001 Maniacs), American Werewolf in London's David Naughton , and Belly of the Beast creator Jim Fitzpatrick. Other Belly... vets who starred were: Angela Austin and Dale McKeel, both of who are excellent.

Hallows Point was introduced by Executive Producer Buddy Winsett, who was evidently pleased at the turnout. The crowd, mostly consisting of family and friends of the cast/crew, seemed to have a bloody good time. Also in attendance were the following: audio demigod Eddie Sturgeon, filmmakers Jill Probeyahn and Jesse McClane, St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission Manager Guy Balson, artist/writer Patti Ross, graphic artist Michelle Garcia-Alatorre and her husband Lou.

Congrats to the hard-working cast and crew who scored another great production for the Tampa Bay area!



"Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.