Horror Movie Podcast Ep. 115: “At Your Mercy” Listeners’ Local Library Horror – Ghost Story (1981) and Society (1989) and Cat People (1942)

AtYourMercy 3

Welcome to HORROR MOVIE PODCAST, where Jay of the Dead is back in the saddle again, dammit! In Episode 115, we bring you Volume 3 of our “At Your Mercy” listener picks show, where Jay, Doc, and The Wolf each bring you a feature review chosen by our listeners: Ghost Story (1981), found by Listener Allyson at her local library in Portland, Society (1989), found by Listener Kagan at his local library in Salt Lake City, and Cat People (1942), found by Listener Chantel at her local library in Regina.

This episode is dedicated to Allyson The Horror Unicorn, Kagan Breitenbach, and Channy Dreadful.

Horror Movie Podcast is a bi-weekly show that’s released every other Friday. If you’d like to support our show, please subscribe to our podcast free in iTunes, and leave us a review! And remember, we love getting your voicemails, so call in with more recommendations and comments at this number: (801) 382-8789 Thanks for listening to Horror Movie Podcast, where we’re Dead Serious About Horror Movies!


I. Introduction
— Jay of the Dead almost dies (again!)
— Thank you to Wolfman Josh for keeping HMP alive this past month

[ 0:05:30 ] II. Trailer Talk: “The Mist” and “It” trailers

[ 0:17:31 ] III. Dr. Shock’s PSA Mini Review: Terror in the Aisles (1984)
Dr. Shock = 6 ( Rental, for those who have already seen the classics. )

[ 0:26:41 ] “At Your Mercy” Format Explanation [Library Edition]

[ 0:29:14 ] IV. At Your Mercy Library Pick: GHOST STORY (1981)Courtesy of The Horror Unicorn, Allyson
Jay of the Dead = 4.5 ( Low-priority Rental )

[ 0:46:18 ] V. At Your Mercy Library Pick: SOCIETY (1989)Courtesy of Kagan
Wolfman Josh = 5 ( High-priority Rental Once )

[ 1:07:43 ] VI. At Your Mercy Library Pick: CAT PEOPLE (1942)Courtesy of Channy Dreadful
Dr. Shock = 9.5 ( Buy it! )

[ 1:22:37 ] VII. Gas Station Bargain Bin: Battledogs (2013)
Wolfman Josh = 3.5 ( Perfect Gas Station Bargain Bin Purchase )

VIII. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending


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Dr. Shock’s links:
Dave writes daily movie review on DVDinfatuation.com
Follow Dave on Twitter @DVDinfatuation
Like Dave’s DVD Infatuation, now on Facebook
Josh covers the Monsters Universe, new and classic, on Universal MonstersCast.com
Dr. Shock also appears on another horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

Dr. Walking Dead’s links:
Order Kyle’s new book! How Zombies Conquered Popular Culture: The Multifarious Walking Dead in the 21st Century
Order Kyle’s previous books American Zombie Gothic and Triumph of The Walking Dead
Follow Kyle on Twitter @DrWalkingDead

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37 thoughts on “Horror Movie Podcast Ep. 115: “At Your Mercy” Listeners’ Local Library Horror – Ghost Story (1981) and Society (1989) and Cat People (1942)

    • Thanks, Brother. I’ve found so many bizarre Horror movies at libraries that I would have never even imagined that they would have heard of — much less purchase for their patrons…

      It just goes to show that sometimes even librarians are Horror fans, too.

      Thanks for writing!


      • You guys actually have me tempted to sign up for a library card for the first time since I was 9 years old. Will it hurt?

    • Cool! I can definitely see you appreciating it. Just don’t expect the social commentary to go very deep. Its pretty flimsy on that front, but the one-note premise is delivered in a fairly fun and completely bizzare way.

  1. About 2/3 of the way through so far and thoroughly entertained. It’s been a decade or so since I saw it, but I feel like you guys are undercutting Ghost Story a bit. It’s not a great film but I am shocked to see how low you are rating it. If nothing else, I remember the cinematography being fantastic and really selling the classic snowy New England, Norman Rockwell-ish vibe. However, I do remember that it was a strange mix of classy and trashy, feeling like it tried to combine the themes and pacing of an old-school classic ghost story with the shameless sex appeal of 1980s horror. Perhaps I should watch it again before questioning anyone else’s ratings.

    Definitely need to check out Society. It sounds wild.

    • I’m with you on Ghost Story, Chris. It’s a flawed movie and definitely has a bit of a tonal dissonance as you described with it being both trashy (to me it has a little bit of an Italian exploitation feel to it) and classy with it’s very deliberate pacing and decidedly old school M.R James-esque vibes but I think it does a wonderful job of conjuring an evocative atmosphere and sense of place. The snowy, small town New England location is the perfect mixture of quaint and eerie. I also think the look of the ghost is mostly pretty effective. I’m a sucker for spectres with that gross decomposing corpse look. It’s well worth a watch for any horror fan who call tolerate a slow burn supernatural film. Probably a 7/10 for me.

      • Are we really surprised that Jay didn’t like a slow-burn supernatural film, though? I wish I’d have seen Ghost Story and Dave had seen Society, for a different perspective.

        • That’s a solid point, Josh. Love Jay, but I wish he wouldn’t always fault slow-burn and/or paranormal movies for being slow-burn and/or paranormal movies and, instead, attribute his dislike of the film to his own preferences. Being a ghost story isn’t a criticism in itself, even if you feel like we are being smothered with them these days. I’ve said it before, but I don’t understand how a horror fan can entirely dismiss the paranormal subgenre, which is so paramount to the genre at large. Though I suppose people all have different tastes and opinions or something like that…

        • Josh, I do feel like both movies might have received higher ratings had that been the case. I was actually pretty surprised that Doc hadn’t already seen Society. If I’d known that previously I’d probably have recommended it to him because it definitely seems like a movie he would have a lot of appreciation for. I think it’s well worth checking out for anyone really interested in the history of cinematic gore/horror SFX or weird cult movies that push the envelope of taste.

        • I almost always agree with Jay except when it comes to paranormal. I love paranormal horror movies because they are the only ones that actually scare me. I also like slow burns but, not as much as in horror movies because unless the slow burns are eerie and you can still feel the horror in it; it takes away from the overall scare and intensity value of the movie. I don’t think that paranormal go well together except in possession movies or in other similar sub-subgenres because you can see the person/other changing into something “purely and simply evil”. When another type of paranormal movie has a slow burn it usually is to develop the characters which is a good thing, but it usually makes the movie much more interesting and much more dramatic (also good things), but these things make the movie more of a drama than a horror. Jay says that he doesn’t like paranormal, but I don’t think that’s true. An example of that is Lights Out which tried to explain the beast and got dramatic at the end which made it much less scary. I think he thinks that he doesn’t like paranormal in general but REALLY he doesn’t like your average paranormal movie that you see in theatres because they are so repetitive and almost always terrible, but there are still plenty of gems that I think he usually appreciates (other than the conjuring which I am prepared to fight him to the death about). I also think Jay has a low bar for scariness for a horror movie fan. I don’t mean that he gets scared super easily, but I do mean that he prefers a movie that will scare you in the moment but won’t stick with you. He likes Lights out which was scary at first but explained the beast, got dramatic and literally 99% of the scares are jumpscares which just gets repetitive and you see it coming. Green room is scary but you don’t feel scared walking home from the theater. I was actually surprised that he liked Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining so much because that movie is really freaky, a slowburn, paranormal and, will mess you up if you watch it in fourth grade (I don’t know what I was doing watching that movie in fourth grade). The reasons I can think up to describe why he likes it is because what makes the movie scary isn’t the paranormal parts (although they add suspense) and you don’t really need them. It is also possession-ian movie which makes the slow burn less boring.

  2. I am cracking up listening to Jay describe that scene in Ghost Story where the chap goes out the window.

    I enjoy that movie, mostly for it’s setting and atmosphere, but that scene never fails to make me laugh. The effect they use when he falls through the frame of the glass roof when he lands is one of the worst I’ve ever seen in a studio movie.

    • I was laughing inside even more than I was on the recording.

      I was cracking-up (inside) when Jay was asking if we’d “ever met a gal…” “A gal? My Grandma was probably referred to as a ‘gal’ at some point, but I’m not sure I’ve met any others.” I don’t know why I thought that was so funny, but I’ve never heard a contemporary use that word.

      As I said on the show, I usually agree with your taste in paranormal films, David, so I will definitely be checking this one out, based on your enthusiasm for it.

      • It’s not a movie that I would specifically have gone out of my way to recommend to you but it’s definitely a movie worth watching at least once for any supernatural horror fan. Particularly if you like old fashioned slow burn ghost stories and wintery New England locales.

        I think Jay was underselling the effectiveness of the spirit in this movie. Sure she’s a beautiful young woman for a lot of her screentime but that beauty juxtaposed with the gross, decomposing thing it becomes makes it all the more disconcerting and effective for me.

        And I definitely think that Jay’s reference points of The Changeling and The Haunting are fairly accurate. This feels a little trashier than The Changeling and not quite as well crafted but it has a very similar mood. I also get a bit of an early Stephen King miniseries feel from it. I know he and Peter Straub are friends and have collaborated in the past but I don’t know if King was a specific influence to the source material or anything but it has that kind of flavour.

  3. I think the buzz the IT trailer is getting settles it: we’re about to enter a new era of mainstream horror. I imagine the box office of IT will be huge, probably breaking opening weekend records for a horror film, and with how well Split and Get Out were received by the masses, I think studios are going to start taking horror more seriously. The indies have been doing great for a long time, and it looks like the mainstream is following suit.

    At the very least, Stephen King adaptations should become a thing again

    • I’m not sure that Stephen King adaptations ever stopped being a thing. Ha ha. That dude’s got a IMDb credits list longer than the US tax code.

      Just off of the top off​ my head we’ve got The Mist, The Dark Tower, Gerald’s Game, Castle Rock, It, and Mr. Mercedes coming in the near future. Definitely a good time to be a fan of King and horror in general.

      • Oh, absolutely. It does feel like there was a bit of a lull there in the 2000s where most King adaptations were straight to video and not the horror juggernauts we were used to in the eighties and nineties, but it would be pretty silly to expect there to be a huge King movie every few years. And you’re right, the adaptations being put together right now sound really exciting. I think Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game is my most anticipated, honestly (but maybe that’s because I’ve never seen the original IT or read the book)

    • I am very curious to see It, both for how faithful it is to the original book and mini series, and for the location. It was shot close to where I live in Oshawa Ontario and a looking to see if I recognize any of the extras. Am curious which King adaptation does stronger at the box office: It or The Darktower…

      • I feel like name recognition and positive buzz are both in It’s favor. Even among die hard King fans The Dark Tower has always had a mixed reception. Personally I’m looking forward to both but I’m sensing a lot more red flags from TDT.

      • The location is going to be great to see. I’m living in Ottawa right now, but I’m familiar with Port Hope.

        I think IT will do at least double what TDT does due to my suspicions that IT will exceed expectations in the box office while TDT will underperform. IT also has less to compete with in September and will probably be #1 for a week or two. TDT was delayed a week to be further away from Spider-Man and Planet of the Apes, but I still think some of that audience will be lingering. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Emoji Movie tops it. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic because of the delays amd subsequent lack of momentum. I mean, IT comes out in September and so many people are talking about it. A lot of people aren’t even sure when TDT is coming out anymore, I’m sure. I got the impression that King has started to distance himself from it a little bit too. Regardless, I’m reading all the dark tower books this summer and I’ll be in the theatre opening weekend to support it

  4. A few thoughts I had while listening to the podcast-

    Terror in the Aisles:

    As a kid just getting into horror films, I always looked forward to “Terror in the Aisles” coming on HBO or Cinemax back in the day because it gave me a list of movies to look for. Most of the films “spoiled” had fairly obvious endings or moments that were already in the pop-culture at that time. Even at 10, I knew that Norman Bates was the killer. I didn’t realize at the time just how spoiled some of the movies would be and I would get so wrapped up in the telling of the story that it didn’t really occur when I was younger.

    Still, it’s not really a “documentary” so much as it’s a clip show. It’s like AMC’s 100 Scariest Movies or something like that.

    Ghost Story:

    Funny Story… missed the first ten minutes of this movie when I was scrolling through the channels one night and I manage to fall on this flick and I start watching it because it seems vaguely familiar. I was about halfway through before it suddenly occurred to me that I had read this story a few years earlier, when I was 12 and going through the library horror selection like a chainsaw. I remember liking the film and remarking that it must have been very much like the book for me to have realized that I had read the story before. I don’t really have a rating for it since I haven’t seen it since I was 16 or so… but it was a fun watch back then.

    High Society:

    I am having a very hard time swallowing and understanding the Wolfman’s take on this film. Part of me thinks he hit it on the head in some of his criticism but the majority of my thoughts are confused as to whether he was being fair with the film. Brian Yuzna is largely a “hit or miss” director for me, with much of his stuff just falling flat with its intentional attempts at humor. Other times, he comes off as a veritable genius in regards to some of the more horrifying moments in his films. High Society may be a great example of this, as I did find much of the general plot and investigation process to be a little boring… until the big pay off at the end. At which point I was looking back at the film in a totally different way, where the paranoia became so much more terrifying. Mainly because it speaks to the actions and relationships of the characters interacting with one another. I also think that Wolfman did not really focus on the elements of consumerism, capitalism, and class warfare evident in the film. He seemed focused on the investigation, which really was kind of secondary to the world building going on around the lead character DURING the investigation and what it all meant. Ultimately, revealing much of these aspects kind of spoils the details of the plot and yet it’s so fundamental to exploring the real HORROR of the film. And it did all of this on a very modest budget during a period of time where every inch of film was very costly.

    I think this is one of those aspects where Josh and I are going to always disagree- I have a strong affinity for “weird” fiction, and Josh prefers his films grounded with a solid reality that’s easy to understand. Weird Fiction is often about coping with the fact that there are no rules and anything can happen to a certain extent.

    Now, I’m not going to say this lightly and this is with a full understanding of Jay’s tastes and opinions regarding horror and comedy- but I do think he would actually enjoy this film far more than Josh. And I think he should give the film a chance, along with Dr. Shock, and maybe get a different opinion on the film for listeners who maybe don’t frequent the boards. It’s a lesser film than some of the other cult classics of the time (Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead) but it’s nowhere near the “schlock” level of other films (Street Trash or any Troma picture). My own opinion is that the film is roughly a 6.5 and is a pretty good third tier body horror film. I also think it’s a strong rental and will be something a lot of people have never seen before.

      • I loved his bit about the actor in Ghost Story’s reaction to finding a naked woman in his bed, though I guess I was confused what Jay thought the normal response should be to that situation. Was Jay trying to say the best response would be “What the hell, there’s a stranger in my room, run!” or B) Was Jay trying to bring out his inner Sean Connery and say that he would gleefully accept the unfolding situation without any questions?

  5. With regards to Jay’s concerns about “It” potentially being a two part endeavour, I really don’t think there’s anything to worry about at all. The book is comprised of two main timelines both of which have satisfying resolutions. Of all the Stephen King novels I’ve read this is probably the one that would best lend itself to a 2 parter and in truth there’s way too much stuff in there to do the story justice in a single movie. And technically you could do it in a way where the storyline featuring the younger cast resolves and that’s the end of it, so I don’t think there’s any issue of it working as a standalone film.

    And I feel like the main failing of the original mini-series adaptation was less the format of it as a two parter and more the fact that the second part was simply inferior to the first. The adult characters were far less charismatic and believable than the kids, almost as though the child actors took it seriously, maybe because the material speaks in such a relatable way to childhood fears and friendships, while their older counterparts just viewed it as a cheesy TV movie and phoned it in. So long as they cast the adults well in the new version the two part format should work just fine.

  6. The Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival ended yesterday and they awarded Safe Neighborhood with their Golden Raven !

    It makes me even more anxious to see it, but the Belgian/Dutch home video market and streaming platforms are failing horribly when it comes to smaller movies …
    Best example is It Follows, one of the best horror movies of the last few years did play in some theaters, but still hasn’t got a DVD or blu-ray release. Luckily I don’t have to pay extra taxes or custom costs whenever I import from Germany or the UK (for now). I also used to order a lot of movies from Amazon US when the euro was high compared to the dollar, but nowadays I would end up paying 30 bucks for a 20$ movie (import fees and shipping costs).

    So more often than I’d like I resort to piracy … not proud of it (I own over 2000 DVD’s and blu-rays, so I’m not some kind of cheapskate), but to see some movies it seems to be my only option …

  7. Cat People is one I’ve been meaning to revisit and after Dave’s review, I did just that. Still a visually striking film and landmark, I was pleased with how well it stands up. A perfect rainy afternoon film in an impactful 80 minutes. The iconic scene with the walk down the street and footsteps has always been to me what horror is. I often find myself thinking about this when looking for an example of great, yet simple storytelling. Curse of the Cat People, if memory serves me correctly is also a pretty good film. I plan on watching it again this week along with The Gorgon, which I haven’t seen yet.

    • I totally agree, Colin, Cat People is great! The scene where Alice is walking home and gets scared is very suspenseful. It’s so simple but relatable as well. Who hasn’t been scared at some point, walking home, alone in the dark? The jump scare with the bus is a great way to end the scene. One of my favorites in horror cinema. The Curse of the Cat People is more of a drama than horror but it’s pretty good. I’m a fan of all the films Val Lewton made for RKO.

  8. Thanks for checking out Society Josh! And great dedication watching it twice!!! Glad you liked it more the second time around.

    I totally see your criticisms, and I don’t completely disagree with them. Most people I recommend this to say they enjoy the finale, but that the journey there is pretty bland.

    I do really want the other listeners to check it out, and I really really DO NOT want people to think Society is strictly a gross out horror comedy. There’s really a lot more going on under the surface of this film even if it is convoluted.

    The truth is that sometimes, I don’t enjoy perfect films as much as I enjoy schlock films or oddities that have moments of greatness. This movie is trying to do some really gross and perverse things, and at times it really pays off in interesting ways. I like how it tries to explore the horror in sex, not to mention incest. That takes balls, and so many horror films are content to just explore pure blood and guts body horror. And again, though it’s convoluted, the message isn’t lost on me that the upper class is eating the lower class. I think that’s all you really need to know.

    If you’re feeling mixed about it after Josh’s review, I recommend you still give it a shot. The film does some pretty brash things in a really creative way.

    • I agree. There’s a lot more than gross out stuff here and I find it a disservice to compare it to something like Street Trash (Which I do love, but it’s not a comparable example).

    • The whole upper class eating the lower class thing is what stuck with me most about this movie. It’s done in a very on the nose way but I think as far socio-political commentaries go in horror films it presents an effectively gruesome and sickening metaphor for what is in truth a really gross and disgusting aspect of capitalism. And it’s as relevant as it’s ever been.

  9. New listener here, just wanted to thank HMP for all your awesome episodes. I don’t have any friends that are horror fans so it’s nice to be able to hear other people’s insights and opinions on horror movies.

    I watched The Wailing and Green Room after hearing about them on your Horror Cinema Awards show and I loved them both so thanks.

    I haven’t listened to all of your previous episodes yet so maybe you guys have already done this, but I’d love to hear a listener’s garage sale picks episode. Most of the good horror movies I saw as a kid were from garage sales and it’s always fun to see what weird things you might find.

  10. Hey guys, awesome episode. Am so glad to hear Jay is well on his way to recovery. I loved the concept to this episode. Was this advertised on twitter that you were looking for input from fans? if so, I am not on twitter and wish it was mentioned on the website/message boards. If it was and I somehow overlooked it, bad on me. I think we can take this concept one step further. How about reviewing the best movies that have been bought at the dollar store (yes, I have bought a few), or how about the a review of a movie bough at a yard sale (also guilty)?
    As for the movies reviewed, I have always had Society on my watch list. This may push me towards watching it as the ending intrigues me. I read the book Ghost Story years ago and actually enjoyed it. It took 100 pages to get in to but I eventually did. I did know of the movie but was hesitant after seeing the cast. I still ma or may not see it. All the weird deaths and excessive nudity intrigues me, lol. Overall, a great episode. I look forward to the next one!

  11. Awesome episode as usual! The only thing that surprised me, was the lack of love for Society! For me this essential viewing for anyone who enjoys the 80s and practical effects. I actually loved the slow buildup to the end, I found it incredibly intriguing. If you’re a fan of Reanimator or From Beyond, this is a must see (in my opinion).

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