Friday, November 21, 2014

Movie Review: Puppet Master (1989)

I have sometimes suffered greatly for this little blog. I put my faith in the Wishmaster series, only to be thoroughly crushed with each inept installment. I slogged through all of the Howling sequels - though that was sometimes fun. And now I will attempt to tackle another series that I am not quite familiar with: Puppet Master! I picked up a DVD pack with all the films (except the last one) for just 99 cents at my last convention, so hopefully the only thing I will be wasting is time if they end up sucking.

The first film opens with the Puppet Master himself, Andre Toulon hiding away his puppets in the wall of a hotel before two assassins can get to him. Why they are there to assassinate him is never really explained, but he ends up killing himself first anyway. I found out later that they were Nazis, which opens a whole other bag of questions that I hope gets explained later on... Anyway, in the present day, a group of psychics gather at the hotel and are one by one slaughtered by the puppets, who are controlled by a colleague of theirs who discovered Toulon's secret for eternal life.

I'm sure that I've seen at least one of the Puppet Master films... or perhaps it was the Demonic Toys crossover film... Either way, you're going to have bear with me as I go through these films, because I've not seen them before, and I've heard that the timeline of the series is all kinds of jumbled up. So far, my impression of this first film is not really that great.

The main thing is that the movie is quite boring. I don't recall any of the Puppet Master films ever being described as overly gory or anything like that, but one would think that movies with puppets who are alive would be a bit more entertaining than this. It takes the movie almost a good thirty minutes to get to what is really the meat of the plot with all the psychics and stuff. I did actually like this part of the story - that all these people had similar, yet different, gifts that bonded them together. This is what makes them targets of their colleague, Neil Gallagher, so that he will be the only one who knows Toulon's secret magic. Apparently, he wants Toulon's puppets to kill them all because they will be able to read his mind - even though none of them have gotten any kind of inkling of his plan thus far. It's a shaky plot point at best, but let's just go with it because we have to.

At the very least, Puppet Master can boast that it is the film that introduces some very interesting and deadly little toys to audiences. The leader of the pack is Blade, the white-faced, black trench coat wearing puppet with a hook for one hand and a knife for the other. Barbie's worst nightmare is Leech Girl, a sweet little female doll who is able to vomit up huge leeches out of her mouth. Jester is the puppet that Toulon is working on at the beginning of the film, although he apparently doesn't get his actual jester hat until later. Pinhead (not that one) is an interesting little dude with a tiny head and huge, human-sized hands, and Tunneler has a large cone-shaped drill coming out the top of his head. There are a couple others that are not featured as much, so maybe we'll get to see them in future installments.

The film rightly has a dose of comedy in it, but it is careful about not going too far. There are a lot of exaggerated or comedic sound effects having to do with the puppets and the sounds they make. None of them actually talk, but they do make funny little grunting and squeaking noises - plus there was that part where the little "plop" sound effect was used when Pinhead's head was removed. The deaths that the puppets inflict are equally gross and funny, too, so that keeps up the comedic undertone. But that's sadly the only thing interesting about any of the death scenes, because they are pretty tame, and most of them are not even shown.

As for the human characters who are the victims of these boring deaths... well, they suck. They're all either really annoying or really uninteresting, and the acting isn't that much better either. And since no one would watch a Puppet Master movie for the riveting character drama anyway, we can just leave it at that.

It's not a particularly stellar start to the Puppet Master series, but I do still have hope that these pint-sized freaks will eventually bring me something truly entertaining in future installments. One down, nine to go... let's do this!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Movie Review: Rabies (2010)

A random group of characters and a series of unfortunate events make up the first horror movie to ever come out of Israel. In my review of Big Bad Wolves, Israel's hugely successful film from last year, fellow blogger Elwood Jones reminded me of Rabies and I am so grateful to him for that. Be warned, though: Rabies is most definitely not what I would call your typical horror film.

The movie opens on an adult brother and sister pair who have run away from home and end up in the woods on a fox reserve, where the sister has fallen into a trap. When the brother goes for help, he runs into a group of travelling young people, who in turn run afoul of two cops. These intertwining lives get even more tangled as things go downhill for everyone.

That's about the best I can do on a plot description for a movie that basically has no plot. Usually that doesn't mean anything good for a movie, but for Rabies, the fact that it has no real plot is the movie's gold. It works, and I don't understand how the filmmakers made it work, as that takes some real talent. Rabies was actually the debut film of the same writing and directing team that knocked my socks off with the aforementioned Big Bad Wolves, and I only hope that they continue making movies like this because they are obviously good at it. Like, really fucking good at it.

With no main character, the movie jumps around between all the random people that show up in this one area of isolated woods - and they all represent the epitome of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, just for different reasons and in different ways. The humorous events in the film would almost be slapstick if it weren't for the horrific undertones. Comedic scenes sometimes end with a punch of horror - like the untimely death of a character (it's a horror movie, that's not a spoiler!) - which really manages to keep the audience on their toes. With this kind of tone, you never know where the movie is going to go, and with the kind of surprises that Rabies has in store for you, this is actually a wonderful thing. It's all so confusing, uncomfortable, intense, and yet light at the same time - such a jumbled mess of emotions, but I love it!

One of the greatest techniques utilized in Rabies is when the filmmakers actually choose not to show the audience specific scenes. I found this to be a bit of a delightful disappointment, as odd as that sounds. There are a couple of scenes - specifically, the bear trap scene and the standoff with the molester cop scene - where a lot of tension is built up for what is going to happen before the scene cuts to something different. When we come back, the exciting thing has happened off-camera.  Though you're disappointed that you didn't get to see it, you're also sort of gleefully impressed at the film's ability to fuck with you.

All of this is brought to life not only by the talented writers and directors, but also by the actors. Lior Ashkenazi, who played funny cop Micki in Big Bad Wolves, is a cop here again but a much different one. One of the uncomfortable elements of the story is the encounter the two girls have with the two cops - Lior is the nervous, adorable one who wants to reconnect with his wife, and his partner is the complete opposite. Seizing the opportunity of being out in the middle of nowhere with two hot chicks in tennis outfits, Lior's partner starts molesting one of the girls and actually implies raping them later (and that he's also probably raped before). The other girl gets pissed and takes the cop's gun and things escalate from there. This scenario is just one of several crazy ones interlaced in this story, and is a great example how they take a horrific situation and keep it light, even ending it with something that is hilariously satisfying... but still horrible. Everything else you'll just have to experience for yourself, because there is way too much going on in Rabies for me to talk about here.

I bet pretty much everybody who watches this movie is left wondering one thing. Well, they're probably left wondering a hundred things, but the biggest question I had is, Why the hell is the movie called 'Rabies'? I've thought about this long and hard, and... I have no clue. If you ever find out, please tell me. Until then, I'll just take Rabies for what it is - a brilliantly written and executed film by some very talented artists. Highly recommended movie.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Find Me at!

Hey there, blog buddies! Just wanted to take a quick minute here to let you all know that in addition to this here blog, I will also be writing about horror stuff on the website Wicked Horror - you will also find the writings of Zena, the Real Queen of Horror on there as well!

It's a great little website with horror news, advanced reviews, retrospective reviews, and random top ten/five lists from some wonderful and enthusiastic writers.

See that? That's my review of Hangar 10! So please, if you have a spare couple of minutes, head on over there and take a gander at what we have to offer. Register or follow us and get your horror fix every day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Movie Review: Fantasm (2013)

As some of you may know, I am sort of a newbie to the horror convention scene, having only just attended my second con earlier this year. But I knew just after the first one that I would do my damnedest every year to make it to this event so that I could experience all the amazing feelings I had there again. It truly is an amazing place for horror fans to gather.

Horror fan Kyle Kuchta went to his first convention at 15 years old, and had to take a hiatus from going while attending college. He decided to make a documentary about the convention circuit and the community it creates in order to understand just what it is about these gatherings that keeps fans coming back for years and years.

Over the course of two years, Kutcha attended five conventions, including Monster-Mania, Rock and Shock, Spooky Empire, and HorrorHound Weekend. He procured interviews with vendors who attend several conventions a year; convention volunteers; and even with some amazing convention guests - Tom Atkins, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Tuesday Knight (obviously an Elm Street reunion going on there), and Richard Johnson. With his camera, Kutcha manages to capture all those great convention moments that makes the experience so special for all those who attend, and really captures the essence of what a con is - a huge crowd of people who are all there to share their same love of horror films.

Indeed, some of the interviewees took the words right out of my mouth when they were talking about why fans love going to these events. They hit on all the ideas of a sense of family and community that regular convention-goers have, and the sense of belonging they feel there that they may not have in their everyday life. The importance of social media was also good to include, as it definitely helps keep convention friends closer together in between con weekends. The best quote, though, was from Jack Bennett, who said that cons are great just because it gives fans a chance to finally talk to other people about what they love. If any of you have ever tried to talk horror to someone who is not a horror fan, you know the importance of this. To be able to say something or make a reference and be understood, and to not be looked at like you are weird - that's truly a beautiful and welcome thing.

A part of me sort of has to like Fantasm because the subject matter is close to my heart, but I have to be honest and say that I was a bit disappointed at how unfinished the documentary feels. Yes, Kutcha did an amazing job at getting great interviews, and his subjects gave great answers, but there is so much untapped territory here. Why didn't he interview the people who put on the conventions? All of the interviews are also either with guests or vendors - why not any of the thousands of attendees that were available, especially since they are basically what the documentary is about? I was beyond confused at that huge oversight.

There were also many parts where the doc could be jazzed up a lot. Kutcha got some great shots of all the different goings-on that happen at conventions, but there is nothing to accompany them, not even any music. I understand that this was a doc that was made for no money and is being self-distributed by Kutcha, but some basic Google research doesn't cost anything, nor does it cost anything to add in a layer of text to some shots with simple convention facts or figures. Show the growth and popularity of these cons with the number of attendees to different shows; talk about how much money is spent to put the shows on and how much vendors make at the shows - do something to continuously educate and entertain your audience, that's what a good doc does. With Fantasm short runtime (it clocks in at about 55 minutes), there was absolutely enough time to add in these little tidbits that would have made the piece that much more engaging and important.

Fantasm has a lot of heart, but it still remains only the beginning of what a documentary about conventions should be. Perhaps if enough word gets around about Fantasm, it will get a nice backing and give Kutcha the opportunity to really make it the definitive convention documentary.

Fantasm is available for purchase at

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Book Review: "The Grand Hotel" by Scott Kenemore

Stepping away from the world of the zombie apocalypse for the moment, author Scott Kenemore tackles an entirely different subject with his newest novel, The Grand Hotel. With it Kenemore goes the short story route, using a truly intriguing wraparound story to connect them all in a way that you probably won't see coming.

At the old ramshackle Grand Hotel, a nameless desk clerk leads his latest group of visitors on a tour of the building. The visitors don't seem to know why they are doing it, but they follow the desk clerk deeper and deeper into the hotel, becoming increasingly fascinated by the people who permanently reside at The Grand Hotel and the interesting stories they have to tell.

All in all, there are twelve stories to be told within The Grand Hotel (if you include that of the desk clerk and his visitors) and each is titled with the name of the person telling the story. The stories get a little longer and more involved at the novel goes on, but they are all wonderful on their own, while being completely unique and different from each other. They also tackle a wide assortment of subjects - from a basic revenge tale, to time travelling, to a dramatic ordeal in space. The different characters that are presented go from being shady and unlikable to very empathetic, though you could probably argue their motivations and actions either way.

Although it was really hard to pick favorites, I would have to say that the two stand-out stories for me personally would have to be those of "Chef Dunnally" and "Father Cyning." The chef's tale is a bit of a parody on both reality cooking shows and ghost-hunting shows, as the titular Chef Dunnally encounters a horrifying demon while filming an episode of his show "Ghost Chef." I loved the satirical tone of this story, as I am not a fan of either of those kinds of reality shows, and that Kenemore was able to balance that tone with a genuinely cool and interesting yarn about a Scottish castle that has been haunted for years by a demon. The ending to this one, though gruesome, put a smile on my face.

I also loved Father Cyning's story because it reminded me so much of some of those classic haunted house sagas where the mysteries of the people inside are more intriguing than the supposed ghosts. This saga is about Father Cyning investigating a supposed charlatan ghostbuster at the mansion of one of his parishioners, and finding out that there is much more to the story than meets the eye. I'm a huge fan of both ghost stories and mysteries because the two are so often intertwined. I just think there's a lot to be said for really well-crafted and twisted tale that comes to a satisfying conclusion, which is what Father Cyning's story offers.

An honorable mention also goes to the story of "Doctor DeKooning," simply because the idea is so cool, and has so much more potential beyond the short story format. It deals with a modern medical doctor who finds out that the well on his family's property is a portal that takes him to the 1400's. Really fascinating, I loved it.

Going back to the wraparound story, this was fun one to try to figure out. While the desk clerk's macabre attitude towards his visitors definitely leads the reader to believe that he is actually someone very sinister - the back cover of the book flat out suggests that he may be the devil himself - it was wonderfully frustrating trying to discover his true intentions for the hotel guests, the visitors, and especially for the mysterious red-haired girl on the tour.

Though I absolutely love Kenemore's previous Zombie State novels, The Grand Hotel is quite possibly the best thing he's written so far. Perfectly framed within the ancient morals of good and evil, and right and wrong, is a delicious blend of the bizarre, the sad, the funny, and the scary that lies in all of us. Whose story will speak to you, and what will you learn from it? You'll have to visit The Grand Hotel yourself to find out.

The Grand Hotel is now available for purchase here!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Movie Roundup: Scenic Route (2013), The Other (1972), and The Tortured (2010)

Scenic Route (2013)
As one of those random Netflix watches, Scenic Route turned out to be pretty badass. It stars Josh Duhamel (whom I kinda like, so that's probably why I watched it in the first place) and Dan Fogler as two friends who get stranded together on an isolated desert road. Of course, the heat and stress and lack of hydration causes all kinds of drama between the two as they attack each other (sometimes literally) for how they've chosen to live their lives. Duhamel and Fogler act well, and act well together, so these scenes were completely believable and interesting, despite being a bit predictable and cliché. Also a bit annoying was when the characters just miss being rescued - like four or five times. It got really ridiculous at one point but I guess there wouldn't be much of a plot if they got rescued too early. What most impressed me about the plot was the ending they chose. I loved the way the truth was revealed to the audience, and that they didn't sell out and gave us a realistic ending. I'm biased about these types of small cast, one location films but Scenic Route is truly a good one that moves fast and keeps things interesting even when there's not really much going on. Also, desert settings are freaking beautiful and I love them.

The Other (1972)
I really wanted to be so shocked and surprised by The Other because I heard that it was a thriller with a great twist ending. I just wish I hadn't figured out what that twist was 10 minutes into the movie! Seriously, though, they make it WAY too obvious if you're even paying a little bit of attention! That's not to say that The Other isn't a very interesting and engaging film. The twins Niles and Holland are great little actors  and there are lots of little mysteries to figure out with the plot as you go along with it - the kidnapped baby, the boys' father's ring, etc. I wasn't so sure what to think about "the game" that Niles plays with his grandmother, though. She has basically taught him how to astral project himself so that he can see what is going on in places where he is not. Perhaps grandmother Ada feels that because she taught Niles the game, she has contributed to what is revealed at the end - maybe there is such a thing as too much imagination. Very cool little movie, I'm glad I saw it.

The Tortured (2010)
This was a movie that ended up being somewhat similar to The Other in that it had a big "twist" ending that was also way too easy to figure out. The Tortured is about a young couple whose only son is kidnapped from their front yard and murdered by a sadistic serial killer. He is caught and brought to justice, but the only kind of justice the parents want to see is the man killed, so they kidnap him from police custody, and take him to a vacant house for a little torture. What really got me about this movie was how badly they messed up the surprise ending, and I just have to mention why so that's your spoiler alert. The killer is played by Bill Moseley - an actor that is very well-known by those of us in the horror world. I would say that one thing he is known for is his distinctive voice. The man that the couple kidnaps has a pretty messed up face caused by the car accident that allowed them to capture him, but he can still talk. And it's definitely not Bill Moseley's voice. So again, the big shock moment that they have been torturing the wrong guy was ruined, but frankly, the whole movie wasn't really that original or interesting to begin with. You're not missing anything here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Rules Review: Halloween (2007)

It always looks to me like there's a huge dichotomy amongst horror fans when it comes to Rob Zombie. Maybe some of the dissenters were okay with him when he was doing his own stuff with House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects; but when he took on the remake of one of the biggest horror classics of all time? Understandably, there was much scrutiny involved. As a general fan of Zombie's feature work, my opinion of the Halloween remake has always been favorable, with only the tiniest bit of nitpicks.

Zombie's movie follows the basic storyline that Carpenter's gave us, with the young Michael Myers murdering his sister on Halloween night and being sent to an institution under the care of Dr. Loomis. He escapes many years later, again on Halloween, in pursuit of his now teenaged sister Laurie and her friends.

What Zombie adds to the story is an attempt at an explanation for Michael's actions, mostly stemming the possibility that he was a just a born sociopath, exacerbated by a dysfunctional home life and his time at Smith's Grove. The audience is given a look at just what this life was like with a stripper mother, a bitchy older sister, and a disgusting stepfather. This is the part where Zombie loses me just a little bit - I'm not particularly fond of the overly crude language in the first scenes of the film. And I don't mean that in a snooty or prudish way, either. The original Halloween has retained a certain level of respect and dignity over the years, and what Zombie did to the story is admittedly quite jarring at first. Eventually, you learn to get used to it and accept it - really, you have to, because it doesn't go away for the rest of the movie.

Where Zombie gets the biggest points from me is his artistic style. I saw it and loved it in The Devil's Rejects and was glad that he brought it back for Halloween. I'm very fond of his handheld work, and the way he frames his shots - putting the camera in strange angles and often shooting through objects in the frame. He's not afraid of using close-ups, and lots of them, to bring the action and violence right to the audience's face. He has an eye for what looks beautiful and cinematic, not static and boring like some other films. The use of color is perfect for the fall setting, which gradually becomes darker and more bluish in tone as the film approaches its violent climax. Most appreciated is how Halloween's theme music is used at just the right spots throughout the film to keep the spirit alive.

Watching the film again, I always forget just how long it takes to move on to the main plot of the original Halloween. Laurie Strode and company do not show up until the 54 minute mark - at least in the director's cut version, which is the one I own and the one I know the best. But is too much time spent on Michael's backstory? Did fans really want a backstory in the first place? Would people have complained more if it was just another pointless shot-for-shot remake? The story works either way for me, even though I don't think the Michael that Carpenter created had the backstory that Zombie created. The little bits that Zombie did with how Michael requisitioned the mask, knife, and coveralls was different from the original but made more sense to me.

Of course there's a whole slew of cast members to talk about with Halloween - both from the two main sets of characters and several cameo or one-scene appearances. Some of them seem like they are only there because they were in previous Zombie films (Sid Haig and Ken Foree), but some of them are brilliant casting decisions. Malcolm McDowell taking on the role of Dr. Samuel Loomis was the best of these, as I think he has the same distinctive look, voice, and acting style that Donald Pleasance gave. Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode was an interesting choice because she was relatively unknown at the time, but she's great. While she plays the coy and innocent side of Laurie well, she also gave her more life and spunk so that she's not so dull and unrelatable.

The Laurie-Lynda-Annie friendship in the original always bothered me a bit, frankly because of how bitchy Annie and Lynda were towards Laurie. Compton, Kristina Klebe, and Danielle Harris play their respective versions of these characters more believably to me. They're all different people with distinctive personalities, but they could all easily be good friends also. I loved that Laurie's (adoptive) parents also made it into this story not only because I love Dee Wallace, but also because it added more heart and more sympathy to Laurie's character. Brad Dourif is always a good choice in my book for pretty much anything, and here he is just perfect as Sheriff Brackett.

The truth is, it's really hard for me to fault Zombie at all about Halloween because I know that it means just as much to him as it does to the fans. The references he has made in his music career have more than proven himself as a big fan of the horror genre, so he obviously meant no disrespect. Zombie just has his own style, and was even told by John Carpenter to "make it [his] own" movie. He did just that and more, combining and adding in some of the most important parts of the story into this one movie. I love it and support it... although I definitely cannot say the same for Halloween II.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween for Halloween

They may be a day early, but a local theater was kind enough to provide me (and its other patrons, but mostly me, I think) with a truly sweet treat this Halloween - a chance to see John Carpenter's classic film about the holiday on the big screen!

Ah, what an amazing experience! Seeing a film in a theater - even a film you've already seen a dozen times over - is really something totally different, especially with Halloween. The opening credits was probably my favorite part, because that pumpkin that gets closer and closer to the camera has never looked more awesome. Definitely meant to be seen on the big screen.
(Yes, I took sneaky pictures of the screen.)
There were times when the score was playing that I closed my eyes and just concentrated on the music for a few seconds. And I absolutely loved seeing my favorite sequences played larger than life before me.
 Like this one...

And this one...
 And Donald Pleasance rules as always.

I'm so glad I found out about this. Apparently this theater does "Retro Night" on Thursdays and I never knew about it - a horror girl needs to be told these things. Anyway, all I'm trying to say is that celebrating Halloween by watching Halloween in the theater is such a very cool thing to do. And this Halloween will only get better with theater experiences because I'm also going to catch the re-release of the first Saw film either tomorrow or Saturday night. SO. FREAKING. AWESOME.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Short and Sweet: Dog Food (2014)

Totally loved this delicious (pun intended) short film from writer/director Brian Crano - "Dog Food." It's always hard for me to review short films without unduly giving anything away, so let me just say that the film is about a lonely butcher who loses his beloved dog Ralphie and... stuff happens. That's the best I can do. It looks beautiful, it's got some great actors - I love Amanda Seyfried - and it's got a great story with a twist that could be interpreted a couple different ways. Watch it, you won't regret it!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Movie Roundup: Basket Case (1982), Cold Prey (2006), and The Cat O' Nine Tails (1971)

Basket Case (1982)
Oh, I waited too long to watch Basket Case. What a joyous little bundle of weirdness and strange creativity! I actually had a bit of apprehensiveness going into this movie because it was one that, for some reason, I really wanted to like but was afraid that I wouldn't be receptive to it. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Basket Case is no doubt a very absurd movie but it is also one that is put together surprisingly well, and actually has some decent acting and effects. Even the story is not that bad! It's completely implausible, for sure, but I dug it for the moment and was totally willing to go along with the fact a couple of doctors would perform a difficult operation on someone's kitchen table. I definitely rooted for Duane and Belial in this story because of their plight and the "connection" that they had. It was even kind of sweet the way Duane took care of Belial and talked to him like he wasn't a freakish deformed mass. The hotel tenants were also pretty awesome. The sequels are coming from Netflix soon - can't wait!

Cold Prey (2006)
Christine Hadden from Fascination with Fear is one of my favorites bloggers, and I think she and I have very similar tastes when it comes to our beloved horror movies. I seem to remember her praising both Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2, a pair of wintry Norwegian slasher films, and given the region's recent reputation in the horror genre (very good!), I knew I had to see what this one had to offer. Cold Prey is simple, if not a bit cliché with the story of a group of traveling young adults who run afoul of a masked killer. But sometimes simple is the right way to go, and though Cold Prey offers no big surprises or anything, it works. I love the snowy setting, and therefore how massive and mysterious the killer looks all covered and bundled up. I was a little disappointed that it was not at all difficult to figure out who the final survivor would be or the origin of the killer, but not enough to make me give the movie bad marks. The characters are likable and there are some wonderfully well crafted sequences - especially the final encounter with the killer. Just like Basket Case, I can't wait to see the sequel! Coming soon.

The Cat O' Nine Tails (1971)
Okay, I need stop saying that every new Dario Argento film I see is my favorite one until I've seen all of them. Even ones that aren't all that exciting or bloody are still appealing simply because they are just really good, really well put together films. Maybe this is why Argento himself isn't as fond of this one as some of his other films, but I would have to respectfully disagree. The Cat O' Nine Tails is a beautifully classic murder mystery that gets a little twisted, though not so much that you can't follow along. There are a lot of good individual scenes that make up for the times when the movie can't seem to decide just what kind of movie it wants to be - a serious mystery or a comedy, even though I think the comedy works a lot in the movie's favor. Actually, I would almost give the movie high praise simply for the unexpectedly hilarious barbershop shaving sequence. The Cat O' Nine Tails also boasts some of my favorite acting in an Argento movie. Ex-detective Franco Arno and his young niece Lori are an adorable pair, and I absolutely loved their scenes together. Carlo and Anna are also standouts, but Franco is really the star of the show. So far, I've been the biggest fan of Argento's earlier movies and think that they are some of the best giallos out there. He's a true talent, that's for sure.