Under one roof: Some of horror’s greatest scream queens

Dark Delicacies in Burbank is a place where any fan of horror movies, books and collectibles can go crazy. Making things even more interesting is that the store also serves as host for great events. On Sunday, Jan. 26, Dark Delicacies offered The Day of the Scream Queens, and some of the great ones were there.

Not all of the ladies in attendance were actual horror movie screamers. Deanna Lund was invited for her work as Valerie Scott in the television series “Land of the Giants,” which ran for 51 episodes in 1968-70. She was married to co-star Don Matheson, and her daughter Michele Matheson is an actress (“Mr Belvedere” TV series). No longer taking on movie or television roles, Deanna is a happy grandmother and dotes on her cats and dogs.

Although Jamie Lee Curtis is regarded as the scream queen — she was not in attendance Sunday — a trio of actresses have become known as excellent scream queens: Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer, who were present and had many visitors to their tables.

Quigley is best known for her roles in “Night of the Demons” and “The Return of the Living Dead” but has had an active career since 1975. She has starred with Stevens and Bauer in such movies as “Nightmare Sisters,” “Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama” and as recently as 2012 they were in “1313: Cougar Cult,” a made-for-video movie in which Quigley was out sick for much of the principal shooting but whose footage later was added in through the technology of modern editing.

Quigley is currently promoting a film in which she has a role titled “Virginia Obscura,” due for release in late February.

Eileen Dietz is an actress who has had many roles over the years, from soap operas to guest shots in television series to movie roles. But she can claim fame to being a performer a lot of people saw but did not know it. A lot of the scenes in “The Exorcist” in which Regan (Linda Blair) is possessed by the demon Pazuzu actually were Dietz in heavy makeup, making an uncredited appearance in what is regarded by many as the scariest movie of all time. Dietz has recently written an autobiography, “Exorcising My Demons: An Actress’ Journey to ‘The Exorcist’ and Beyond.”

Laurene Landon made her mark in the horror/sci fi and action realm with roles in “Maniac Cop” and Maniac Cop 2″ and in the title role  as “Hundra” in 1983 in what she called a “female version of ‘Conan the Barbarian’.” But she also had a high-profile role as one of the flight attendants on the troubled space shuttle in “Airplane 2: The Sequel” and was featured in “I, the Jury.”

Early in her career she starred in “.. All the Marbles,” a film about female wrestlers, which was the last movie directed by Robert Aldrich (“The Dirty Dozen”), who died in 1983. Landon said she trained for about eight months to learn all the wrestling movies and did all of the wrestling scenes herself. Veteran actor Peter Falk played the role of her manager.

“He was crazy,” she said of Falk. “He was into improvising and would call me and Vicki (Frederick, who played the other lady wrestler) after the day’s shooting and go over upcoming scenes and the next day what we would shoot would be different from the script.” She noted that Aldrich was not a director who tolerated actors straying from the script, and as a young actress she felt compelled to go to Aldrich and apologize after he called them out for the improvising. But the great director assured Landon he was aware that Falk was the culprit in the dialogue alterations.

Other actresses in attendance at Day of the Scream Queens included Trina Parks (Diamonds are Forever” and “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery”), Helene Udy (1313: Frankenqueen” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”), Lisa London (the upcoming “”666: Devilish Charm”), Kristine DeBell (“Meatballs,” “1313: Night of the Widow” and the TV movie “A Halloween Puppy”), Donna Wilkes (“Jaws 2”), Lynn Lowry (“Cat People,” “The Crazies”), Jessica Morris (“Venom” and the upcoming “666: Devilish Charm”), Jean Louise O’Sullivan (“Alien Inhabitant” and “Puppetmaster X: Axis Rising”), Carolyn Purdy-Gordon  and Darcy DeMoss (“Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI”), who had a hockey-masked Jason standing by for photo ops.

‘Lone Survivor’ a punch-in-the-gut retelling of heroism

In all armed conflicts, things can go horribly wrong, either via bad planning, wrong decisions or just plain bad luck — leading to tragic consequences. But even amid these deadly mishaps there are incidences of courage and beating incredibly overwhelming odds against survival — all deserving of recognition.

Writer-director Peter Berg has for years worked on bringing to the screen “Lone Survivor,” the story of a Navy SEALS recon mission in Afghanistan that turned out to be a disaster. The movie is an adaptation of the book written by Marcus Luttrell, the SEAL who barely lived through this horrible incident.

The mission took place in June 2005 and was called Operation Red Wing, with its objective being to capture or kill a Taliban leader named Ahmed Shah. The plan was to drop four Navy SEALS into the rugged terrain of Afghanistan who would do a reconnaissance of the base where Shah was believed to be operating, and if possible take the guy out, or if the base was too well-guarded, to call in more firepower.

The four men chosen for the task were Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt “Axe: Axelson (Ben Foster).

Berg opens the movie with real footage of the rigorous training program for SEALS, showing that many wash out. Then there are the usual pre-mission scenes that set up the characters, their relationships and the camaraderie of these selected, elite few. The mission itself is then laid out by Erik Kristensen (Eric Bana), using a map and models of the helicopters being used.

As usual, these men engage in the usual fooling around but are all-business when the mission commences.

Things go well at first. The SEALS  are dropped several miles from their destination and have to hoof it up rocky terrain. When they arrive at the recon area, they discover that Shah has nearly an army of soldiers around him. In addition, the SEALS are unable to establish communications with their base. The decision is made to lay low until dark, then retreat to higher ground and contact the base with an update on the mission.

Unfortunately, an unforeseen event happens. Three goat herders come up to the area where the SEALS are hunkering down, and one has a mobile phone, indicating a possible link to the Taliban. The SEALS have three choices. They can kill the three goat herders and continue with the mission. They can tie up the herders and retreat, risking that the three may freeze or starve to death before being found. They can set the herders free and hope they do not go to the Taliban encampment and report what happened until the SEALS can return to their extraction zone. Since one of the herders clearly is hostile toward them, the SEALS are pretty sure their presence will be revealed once the herders are set free.

Luttrell argues for releasing the herders, noting the restrictions on rules of engagement employed by the U.S. military and the consequences of bringing harm to unarmed citizens. But it is Murphy who has to make the call, and he orders that the herders be freed and the SEALS pack up and go home.

With communications still down, the SEALS still need to get to a location from where they can send a signal. This slows their retreat and soon they find themselves facing an army of Taliban, and for all their training and sophisticated weaponry they simply cannot fight off these overwhelming numbers without support.

A vicious battle ensues and although the SEALS do kill several Taliban, they take their own beatings with gunshot wounds and explosion shrapnel, and are really messed up when they have to twice tumble down steep, rock-infested terrain.

The movie’s title already reveals the fate of Murphy, Dietz and Axelson, so it is difficult to see these outstanding men die. The message that Berg and Luttrell wanted to convey is yet another reiteration of the code of soldiers — that they fight for each other. Even if the objective is not achieved, if all the men come back alive, the mission to them is a success.

There was an additional tragedy. Murphy sacrifices himself so he can get to a peak point and use a cell phone to call for help. But the two choppers flying in for the extraction do not have support from armed Apache helicopters, which have been summoned to another hot spot, and when one of the choppers is brought down by a portable missile, the other is forced to flee.

People who have read Luttrell’s book have criticized the altered ending. Although Luttrell was rescued by members of the Pashtun tribe, which has a code that they protect any person from an enemy, the chaotic and bloody battle between the Pashtun tribe and Taliban trying to get to Luttrell actually was only just a standoff until Luttrell was rescued by U.S. forces. This was seen as a manufactured gung-ho and emotional ending to this story — apparently done with Luttrell’s blessing.

That aside, the objective of Berg and Luttrell was to give a detailed account of what happened and to recognize and pay tribute to the men who died on that mountain. This is a violent and explicit retelling of this incident, and while it does pull the emotional strings, it also in rich detail shows how these men are willing to give their lives to honor the code of watching out for each other.

For the actors, the physical aspects of the roles had to be more challenging, as there was not much time for deep emotional expository. Most of their dialogue, once the mission starts, is pure military jargon anyway. Still, the four stars present tough, dedicated men. You know these guys are tough.

‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ veers away from the story arc

Let’s face it: The entity that harassed poor Katie (Katie Featherston) in “Paranormal Activity” and turned her into sleep-walking killer who murdered her boyfriend, sister and brother-in-law and abducted her toddler nephew is one heck of a jerk. It started messing with the minds of Katie and sister Kristi when they were little girls and just could not get enough. Thus, “Paranormal Activity” has become almost a perennial event, usually an October movie release in time for Halloween.

Part five, titled “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” takes a break from the increasingly terrifying Katie saga and with it the creepy and nerve-wracking anticipation that came with the point-of-view footage, just waiting for something to happen.

Christopher Landon, who has taken up the reins in this franchise fron Oren Peli, writer and director of the original, delivers his fourth screenplay in this series, with “The Marked Ones” being the first he has directed.

This story centers around Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz), two teens who have just graduated from high school in 2012. Unlike the previous “PA” movies, these two do not live in two-story homes with security cameras and devices. They reside in cramped apartments, presumably in Los Angeles. Jesse uses some of his graduation gift money to buy a camcorder, thus allowing for the point-of-view footage that is the staple of this series.

The result is 80-plus minutes of shaky scenes. There are no breaks from the choppiness of hand-held devices that were offered in the previous movies via views from security cameras and PC cyberlink programs. People prone to motion sickness may find this a queasy experience.

The early part of the movie, like the others, is calm, centering on the youthful shenanigans of Jesse and Hector, along with Jesse’s sister Evette (Noemi Gonzales) and friend Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh).

Residing in an apartment downstairs from Jesse’s family is a creepy older woman, Anna (Gloria Sandoval). She is unfriendly, and weird noises emanate from her unit at night. When the teens use the camcorder to do some voyeuristic peeping in Anna’s place, they witness an exciting but ominous ritual. Adding to the mystery, Oscar (Carlos Pratts), who was valedictorian of Jesse’s and Hector’s graduating class, is seen leaving Anna’s apartment, looking agitated.

One day Jesse wakes up with a mysterious injury on his forearm, and when Anna is murdered in her apartment, Jesse and Hector, drawn by morbid curiosity, break into the apartment to look around, and find all sorts of puzzling things. Jesse starts experiencing changes that at first seem cool and amusing but grow more terrifying. Meanwhile strange things begin to occur and before long, Hector and Marisol are forced to investigate further and take more chances in an effort to save Jesse.

As in “PA” entries 2 through 4, the final moments really escalate in terror and Landon’s story takes us to a place that is sure to spark many discussions as to how this all ties in with Katie and Kristi. And it guarantees yet another “Paranormal Activity” will be forthcoming.

All the young actors in “The Marked Ones” are very convincing, and it is a marvel how filmmakers are able to blend in the special effects into the comcorder point-of-view format. “The Marked Ones” has a different tone than its previous stories. The scares are more of the jump-on-your-seat types than the kind that send chills up the spine. But either way, “Paranormal Activity,” even with its miscues in earlier movies, has the goods to get under your skin.