Monday, 3 April 2017

RAW REVIEWS: GETTING SCHOOLED

There has been a real resurgence in nostalgia-tinted, Eighties throwback horror movies as of late.
And when you're talking Eighties Horror, was there any sub-genre more indicative of the time than the slasher movie?
One of the latest movies to join the swelling ranks of retro-slashers is Chuck Norfolk’s Getting Schooled. I was alerted to the film by Circus of the Dead director ‘Bloody’ Bill Pon (did I mention that you can catch CotD on iTunes now and that the DVD/Blu-ray is available for pre-order? Just checking…) and after doing a little research, was pretty hyped to see it.
After voicing my interest, the very cool guys over at Lucky Chucky Productions were kind enough to send a screener my way.
So is this a slasher that's too cool for school?
Or would I have to mark this one an ‘F’?
Read on…


GETTING SCHOOLED (2017)



Dir: Chuck Norfolk
Stars: Mayra Leal, Tom Long, Roland Ruiz, Jake Byrd, Susan Ly, Morgal Tyler, Ron Jeremy, Nick W. Nicholson


SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much here, but continue at your own risk.


The year is 1983 and a ragtag group of High School students are put into Saturday morning detention, including spoiled princess Hillary (Tyler), knife-packing delinquent Rusty (Ruiz), smart nerd Shelly (Ly), strapping jock Mike (Byrd) and social misfit Julie (Leal). When new substitute teacher Mr Roker (Long) enters the classroom, the wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet makes it clear that he’ll take no shit from any of them.
As the group uneasily settle in with each other an accident occurs, rendering the teacher unconscious. The students panic and try to revive the man, however, when Roker comes to he experiences violent flashbacks to his war days and proceeds to attack the teens with ruthless and ferocious abandon.
Barely able to subdue him, they lock Roker in a supply closet and try to work out what to do next.
However, little do they know that Roker is former Black Ops and now, in a state of paranoid delusion, he has mistaken them for Viet Cong adversaries and he is prepared to use every last trick he learned in combat to take each and every one of them down…



THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): When creating a throwback horror movie, one of the most important aspects is nailing the feel of the era. This is something that Getting Schooled manages admirably.
It’s not just in the fashions and soundtrack, the characterisation and dialogue is straight out of some long-lost John Hughes Bratpack movie. This is only fitting for a film that plays out like some kind of bastard offspring of The Breakfast Club and Friday the 13th — with a little Full Metal Jacket thrown in for good measure.
This might sound like a bizarre mix, but it really runs with the premise, delivering a fun and at times frightening product.
The writing by director Norfolk, as well as Steven Scott Norfolk and Tim Norfolk is sharp, clever and, most importantly, feels like a real love-letter to the multitude of slasher flicks that packed the shelves of video stores back in the Eighties.
The dialogue sounds authentic, while the characterisation manages to conjure recognisable genre stereotypes (jocks, badboys and brainiacs among their number), but still make them individuals that you actually care about by the time the blood starts flowing.  
Of course, it helps that the film has collected a fine cast of very good actors, including adult film star Ron Jeremy in a very humorous turn as the school's cynical janitor.
At its core the movie is anchored by a trinity of sterling performances.
First, the very pretty Leal is a perfect fit for her character. She’s likeable and manages to give Julie a fine mix of toughness and vulnerability. She has a number of horror credits to her name already and I’m going to be sure to look up more of this talented actress’ genre work.
Second, Ruiz is clearly having a ball as badboy Rusty, which makes his performance all the more enjoyable for us, the audience. He nails the bravado and swagger of iconic slasher tough guys like A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Rod. It's hard work balancing the dickishness of such a character without just making him utterly unlikeable. To his credit, Ruiz pulls it off.
The final part of this successful and important triumvirate is Long’s barking mad Roker. This is a very tough role as Long is faced with the unenviable task of making a character who is unable to walk seem a legitimate threat to a cast of young characters depicted as being in their physical prime. However, much like the immense Stephen Lang in Don’t Breathe, Long delivers such a ferocious, no-nonsense performance that soon any and all doubts about the danger he might lose are soon dismissed.
He plays the role pre-breakdown like a tough teacher who is clearly not one to take any shit. Post-breakdown he becomes utterly unhinged, a savage, violent monster without mercy or morals.
In short, Long is utterly brilliant.
Of course, the cast are only as good as the material with which they work, and the plot of Getting Schooled, while very simple, delivers a solid, no-frills thriller, with a surprising amount of heart. The set-pieces are pretty nail-biting, while the gory kills are shockingly violent and often particularly gruesome, for those of you who like a horror to boast some splatter (and who doesn’t appreciate a little bloodshed in their slashers?).
It is in each of these scenes that we are also treated to a demonstration of cinematographer John Hale’s skills, as he and Norfolk show some real flair in bringing the horrific to life in a visually striking manner. The colour palette accurately reflects the films of the era to which Getting Schooled so clearly pays homage, but it also creates a captivating look for the movie in its own right, especially during the climactic moments.  
Yet as good as the film looks, I keep returning to its heart. The closing moments of the movie are surprisingly poignant, and may even elicit the odd tear.
I know, genuine emotion in a throwback slasher! Who’d’ve thunk it!?



THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): As great as Getting Schooled looks, it is worth reiterating that this is a lower budget indie movie. If you’re used to slick, polished, Blumhouse-style wide-release horror movies, you may need to adjust your expectations accordingly.
These budgetary constraints, on very rare occasions, affect the production values of the film, hampering some effects shots for example, but they also have a knock-on effect throughout the movie. 
For example, some of the cast are relatively inexperienced, which means that some line delivery can be a little rough around the edges. Take into account that budget restrictions often also come with time constraints and you can see how how some scenes may not hit as hard as others. It’s clear that the cast are all very much invested in their parts, it’s just that sometimes one or two of them slightly misjudge moments. Luckily these moments are few and far between and only add to the throwback Eighties Slasher feel.
However, I do want to add that the team behind Getting Schooled have clearly worked very hard to get this movie as slick as it can possibly be and they have done a pretty damn good job with the movie.
It is that throwback feel that works as both a blessing and a curse to the movie. In short, if you never enjoyed Slasher movies during their heyday, I very much doubt Getting Schooled is going to convert you to the cause. However, if (like me) you are a child of the Eighties (and in particular, a fan of Eighties horror movies) I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.


THE VERDICT: What a pleasant surprise Getting Schooled turned out to be! It manages to be a familiar homage to the slasher classics of yesteryear, while still displaying some imagination of its own. But perhaps more importantly, it’s fun and frightening, with some tremendous performances and real emotional weight and pathos.
Pardon the pun, but Getting Schooled is a real ‘class’ act!

If you want to check the movie out, it’s currently on Amazon Prime here; Vimeo hereVudu here or on Googleplay or iTunes. So what are you waiting for?

You can read more about Getting Schooled over at its official Facebook page here. Give it a like while you're there too, these guys deserve it!

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

DARK WEB: AN ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA PART 32: 1999 – THE TERRIFYING TRUTH

THIS FEATURE FIRST APPEARED AT UK HORROR SCENE HERE. ALL SUBSEQUENT CHAPTERS WILL APPEAR THERE FIRST


Creepypasta exists to horrify and disturb. All horror serves this simple purpose — to provoke a visceral response in its audience.
As such it regularly visits more taboo subject matter, including the physical harm of children.
One of the most famous stories that so perfectly encapsulates this trope, is Giant Engineer’s infamous 1999, a pasta I’ve already covered in this series of features.
As Giant Engineer’s story has unfolded it has been subject to lengthy delays between updates. It was during one of these lengthy breaks that another writer took up the story, penning a spin-off series. That writer was Sabian Lockheart AKA DeviantArt user Sabian002 and his story is 1999 – The Terrifying Truth.




Sabian’s first post was published on 12 August 2014, which you can read here.
It details a series of events that befell Sabian when, after reading the original 1999, he decided to investigate Caledon Local 21 and the sinister Mr Bear.
Sabian’s research uncovers the actual location at which the story is based and, more importantly, the email address from which Elliot (the protagonist of 1999) received communications from Mr Bear. Upon sending a message himself to this address, Sabian receives a reply, purportedly from the deranged antagonist of Giant Engineer’s story.
As the two exchange messages, Sabian unwittingly draws himself – and his own family – to the attention of a potentially dangerous predator.


On 8 April the following year, Sabian followed this post up with another, this time titled 1999 – The Caledon Local 21 Profile. In this post Sabian reveals that he has continued his research into the events of 1999 and the man behind behind the programmes broadcast on Caledon Local 21 and with the help of a fellow researcher, John Mytych, worked out that Mr Bear’s communications may well be emanating from a town VERY close to Sabian’s own home. This story also alludes to the fact that Mr Bear may not be working alone.


Later that same day Sabian published 1999 – I’m Responsible. In this update Sabian and Mytych’s research takes an even darker twist as a Sabian reveals the truth behind a seemingly innocuous image and text file he had received via email from Mr Bear the previous November. It shows a young girl, in make-up. Little does Sabian realise that a follow-up image would be sent, months later… and so, according to Mr Bear, would a mysterious package.


Sabian followed this entry up on 7 September of last year with 1999: A Part of Me. In this blog post Sabian sheds further light on his ongoing investigation, including references to Elliot’s own story about a fake Caledon 21 YouTUbe account. However, when the Channel’s owner posts a rebuttal along with a video that seems to depict the poisoning of two young boys, Sabian is not so sure. The plot thickens when a fellow DeviantArt user, Gavin, based in Canada, reveals that he received a visit from a mysterious man who asked about Sabian by name. However, more shocking still is the reveal that Mr Bear has known Sabian since his own childhood, when he had a friend named Courtney who disappeared under mysterious circumstances…




In 1999: The Hidden Truth, also published on 7 September 2015. Sabian continues his examination of the childhood events at St Lawrence Seaway. In it he tells of an incident during which Sabian’s family, while on holiday, had to be rescued from a burning boat. He also explores Elliot’s latest description of one of Mr Bear’s videos and comes to the chilling realisation that it may well pertain to satanic rituals, and Elliot himself may play a far larger role in the furry antagonist’s plans than even he realises…


The next update to Sabian’s story, Caledon 21: Emergent Dismay was published last year on 20 June. In it Sabian reveals the truth behind an invitation to  a children’s party that he received at his family home, plus the shocking discovery he made at the address the invitation provided.


Fabian’s followed this update with one published in September 2016 and was titled 1999: High Definition. In it Sabian explains a little more about himself, including his nom de plume. However, he also reveals that he may have discovered footage of one of the original episodes of Booby aired on Caledon Local 21, the nightmarish Playing With Scissors, plus another chilling hint that Mr Bear is drawing ever closer.

The story continued on 5 December with 1999: Black Sabbath. This chapter expands on Mr Bear's work linking to that of satanic rituals, including the dates on which they are often committed, while also recounting the events of the time in which Lockhart reported Mr Bear's perceived harassment, not least towards his young daughter, to the police.

The latest update is titled 1999: Local Television and was posted on 18 February. In it we hear about another horrifying video by the sinister Mr Bear, one which comes with a shocking revelation for Sabian...




The expanded 1999 series penned by Lockheart is an excellent accompaniment to Giant Engineer’s original story. Referencing not just Elliot’s story but the assorted web phenomenon surrounding the original story, including the assorted YouTube channels and other ‘spin-off’ stories, it’s very thorough and written to a higher standard than a lot of similar stories. Unfolding as a proper investigation, complete with dead-ends, red herrings and even clues that are yet to play a part, it’s a fascinating read and one that takes all the strengths of the source material and just runs with them.
With the story yet to conclude, Lockheart’s blog remains a must-read in the pasta community.


I was lucky enough to talk to Sabian Lockheart about his story via email, our conversation follows below.


HICKEY'S HOUSE OF HORRORS: Hi Sabian, thank you for agreeing to answer my questions.
A quick query to start – I have seen some theories online that you are Giant Engineer, the original author of 1999. It seems pretty obvious to me that you aren't but can you confirm either way?
SABIAN LOCKHEART: Yes, I can certainly affirm that I am not the original author of 1999. But the notion is flattering, as the writing style and immersive nature of that story’s content so wonderful.
HHoH: Thank you! Now, in your own words, tell us a little about 1999: The Terrifying Truth and your subsequent chapters of the story.
SL: Surely. The original story of 1999 The Terrifying Truth is about what happened when I started to investigate the original story for myself, and what subsequently happened. It ended with more ambiguity than of any certain impending doom, but more or less emphasized utilizing caution when investigating stories of this kind, because so quickly ambiguity can become certainty.
The following story revolved more or less around an email a viewer sent me. He had apparently run an IP tracker on the email address from which I was receiving messages. He honestly had no idea what it meant, because he didn’t live anywhere near this small town the tracker had indicated. But it really scared me, because that little nowhere town is literally only a five-minute drive from my house. This all really happened. It could be a prank or whatever, but I also underscored how the antagonist in 1999 could easily have had help, and likely did. Even if it is just a story, it is certainly written that way, which I also point out and discuss.
All the sequel chapters revolve around real instances regarding interactions on the internet, and more recently, more tangible interactions as well.


HHoH: What served as your inspiration for the story? Why did you choose to tackle 1999, one of the most popular Creepypastas?
SL: My inspiration for writing The Terrifying Truth was obviously the story of 1999 itself. In a way, because my story is a report of real events, I guess didn’t really choose to tackle 1999. In a way, it chose me, if that makes sense.


HHoH: Were you at all nervous adapting such a well-loved story?
SL: Oh yes, I was certainly nervous. I still am. I don’t want to mess with the masterpiece written by the original author, or offend anyone. I always have, and would like to state I do not believe it is the actual protagonist from the original story harassing me.
Rather I believe it to be some form of obsessed fan of that story. I guess, I am sort of supplying a side story that is a result of the original story, which I believe the author has already confirmed as fiction.


HHoH: Would you say you're a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favorite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?
SL: I’m a huge fan of everything horror, especially Creepypasta, because it’s taken on a life of its own, and what it represents. Creepypasta has become something more than the sum of its parts, its evolved into a sub-genre of horror, and is revitalizing radio theater.
But the greatest and more admirable thing about the “Creepypasta” genre’, is that it is fueled by creative collaboration. Anyone who has a story to tell literally adds to it as a whole. It supports young artists, authors, film-makers. the list goes on.
As a Creepypasta narrator, I think its narrating submitted stories that I enjoy the most. To an author, a story is a being that they created, a literal work of art, and being able to assist in cutting through the red tape and posting it right to my channel where it gets them that instant recognition, I think really helps to give them motivation to keep writing. And during this process, I’ve been given the privilege to watch some authors really grow in the past few years.
As for my favorite Creepypasta creators, I’d have to say that Mr. Creepypasta and TheSeekerAlexis are my favorite narrators, and Vincent Cava is my favorite Creepypasta author.


HHoH: Why do you think Creepypasta resonates so well with the fandom?
SL: Creepypasta resonates with the fandom because it is a result of the fandom. Its created by the fans, and reflection of their creations.


HHoH: What do you think the appeal of 1999 is to fans?
SL: This one’s easy – the realism. 1999 is so realistic, people still question whether or not it’s a true story. As an author, real or not, I admire that. That’s like catching lightning in a bottle. Even after an hour of listening to a narration of it, or reading it yourself, it leaves you questioning that. It’s a story the mind has trouble getting away from.


HHoH: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?
SL: I really like Vincent Cava’s work, Michael Whitehouse, H.P. Lovecraft, and Natasha Preston. R.L. Stein and Bachman have some great stuff out there as well.


HHoH: What work of your own are you most proud of?
SL: Now this is a tough question. I really like Soft Flesh, because from the Title on through its total ambiguity. It takes a somewhat controversial topic and totally flips it on its head.
Be My Valentine is another favorite of my own work too, just because of the totality of its implications combined with the ending delivered in literally the final sentence. Also, a new work of mine that will be published by the time this is received is What Twisted Branches Weave. I was listening to a lot of Lovecraft when I wrote this and am just very happy with how it came out. (Listen to it here.)


HHoH: The fans are very passionate about these stories. Are than any examples of fan art that really impresses you?
SL: I love fan-art that gets sent to me. It’s another one of those favorite things about writing and narrating. Most of the fan-art I receive I post as my profile pics or banners for my various social media pages. I can’t draw very well, so all the pictures I use are literally made by others.


HHoH: Will you ever return to the story in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead? Would you consider adapting any other popular pastas?
SL: I most certainly will continue with my 1999 stories as long as my investigative efforts keep revealing more to tell.
As for adapting other Creepypasta stories, I’ve written a few Slenderman stories, a Rake story, a Smile Dog story, an Eyeless Jack story, a Seedeater story, and a Bunnyman story. Also, my co-writer, Doughboy420, has written me Laughing Jack and Jeff the Killer stories. Darkside Nemo has written one as well.
But yes, I plan on continuing to write more stories around popular Creepypasta, as well as some other stories as well.


UKHS: Finally, are there any links to which you'd like me to send my readers to see more of your work?
SL: Absolutely, I’ll provide a few here:
What Twisted Branches Weave: https://youtu.be/sGTIIsFeZGg
With Sabian’s story one of the thousands of accomplished creepy tales unfolding over at DeviantArt, it is a shining example of how this upstart site is fast becoming one of the premier sources for well-written, original creepypastas.
Come back next time when I’ll be writing about another story born over at DeviantArt.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.