Thursday, October 29, 2009

You Wanna Know What's Ruining Horror Movies? I'll Tell You What's Ruining Horror Movies!

Frikkin CELLPHONES, that's what!


This is one of the most entertaining short films I have EVER witnessed: The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon. Holy crap!

It was written and directed by Richard Gale and has gone on to win tons of festival awards, for a good reason. I suggest you not drink anything while watching this, but if you must have a beverage happening, at least pre-cover your monitor in Saran Wrap® (or it's generic equivalent). Yes, my friends, it's that funny...

It's tagline reads:

The epic story of one man's encounter with what could be the most relentless murderer of all time.

Prepare yourself...

Mad Bat Skillz!

Ever wondered what it's REALLY like hanging with The Dark Knight? Thanks to the good people at College Humor, we fnally have some insight...

Interview with THE Vampire!

Here's a greatly entertaining interview with Christopher Lee on CNN, which includes his remarks about where horror is today. Hint: he's not a big fan...


A very fun read.

On the Tenth Night of Halloween, Let's Head to Burbank!

Oh, man, this is awesome! There was this guy, see, named Bob Burns who, along with his wife, Kathy, performed live Halloween shows in the 60s and 70s where they would recreate famous scenes from monster movies. Some good folks have made a documentary about this happy fellow, and are showing it in installments on a cool website, which you NEED TO VISIT! (go ahead, click it, I dare you...)

This is the kind of thing that will bring a gigantic smile to the face of those who have a fondness for October madness...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On the Ninth Night of Halloween, A Guest Writer Saved My Ass!

Thank goodness for Joe Sacksteder, writer and burgeoning film maker/actor/goalie, for jumping in and writing the following Halloweenish essay about scary stuff. Woo Hoo!

These are a few of my scariest things

by Joe Sacksteder

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, and indiscernible evils presented at a great distance from the viewer…

I’ve always maintained that the highest form of humor is seeing humans get hit with objects from far away, especially when you can view the object’s entire trajectory. This makes the classic “kid getting hit with a basketball” the funniest thing I’ve ever seen:

Similarly, the farther away you present your horror movie monster, the scarier I will find it. This reactions seems contrary to logic– as the closer a monster is to you the more likely it will be to eat your brains. Maybe seeing the monster from far away allows me as the viewer to paint more horrific details onto the creature than the best special effects possibly can up close? Maybe I’ve seen monsters up close so many times in movies that seeing them from far away lends an uncanniness to the image? Maybe I’m worried that the creature will move towards me, will start to shorten the distance?

Best example: in It when you see the photograph come alive, and Pennywise approaches the foreground from way down the street. Yeah, It… don’t judge.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, and my favorite cliché of horror films which is the obligatory investigation into the seed or originating locus of a cancerous evil…

The AV Club recently compiled their contributors’ 25 favorite and least favorite film clichés. Hired by the AV Club and asked for my two cents (regarding horror films), I would name my least favorite cliché as mundane sounds made scary merely by their suddenness and amplification (let me add the bathroom mirror sliding back to reveal someone standing behind the subject… ditto with the fridge door).

However, almost without fail – usually about one hour into the horror film – the protagonists sift through history to uncover the germination of whatever evil plagues them. Preferably it is a brisk, cloudy, fall day, and our main characters are dressed like a Land’s End catalogue. They are tired, having been forced to stay up last night making sense of illusive connections, only Dixie cups of fifty cent coffee to keep them awake. Alas – now only period films can use microfiche. 1990s movies are leant a further charm by their attempts to include the burgeoning technology of the intarweb. Frustration is finally relieved by that ghastly Aha! moment when the pieces start to fall together. More than the actual research, I love how this story structure lends to presenting evil as cancerous – with a grotesque locus that the characters must untangle.

Best example: The Ring.

When the dog bites, when the bees sting, when familiar objects are presented in a foreign way, contributing to a feeling of “uncanniness"…

Three illustrative vignettes:

One intoxicated night in college, I participated in the forbidden activity of tunneling. With friends, I climbed over a coal pile at the power plant – this was the only never‑locked entrance into the series of underground tunnels that connected every building on campus. Deep in Minnesota winters, the heat retained in these tunnels melts geometric lines of dead grass in the campus above. We neglected to trail a string behind us, and I began to get worried as chain‑link grates continually caused us to backtrack haphazardly. Deep into our journey – by now hopelessly lost – we came across a plastic chair devoid of function. Even more uncannily, it faced the wall. I guess an amorphous, cannibalistic blob would, in retrospect, have horrified me more at that moment… but since one so seldom encounters such blobs in real life, this lonely chair will have to do.

Minnesota is kind of the granite quarry capital of the world. When an abandoned quarry fills with water, nothing grows in it, and no fish can survive. St. Cloud Penitentiary has the second largest granite wall in the world (behind that one in China), and it was built of the guts from the very quarry its walls delimit. When the workers abandoned it, they left the crane at the bottom.

Going to school at Louisiana State, I encountered a certain chain of fried chicken restaurants. Their mascot – pictured on all their billboards – was a tiger that always unsettled me for a reason I couldn’t pin down. Not that I ever put much thought into it; I was far too busy failing at my course of study. One day I realized what should have been immediately obvious: it wasn’t a tiger, but a dog painted to look like a tiger. For minutes, I couldn’t recall what a tiger actually looked like.

Best example: the empty chairs in Danvers Asylum in Session 9. Okay, maybe it’s just empty chairs that scare me.

For Several of the Nights of Halloween, I Was Really Sick!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On The Third Night of Halloween, We Found a Kick-Ass Crew!

Hello again. It's time for another horror-themed posting for this month-of-month's October 'splosion of scariness. Tonight, we bring you the creations of six disgruntled (or perhaps they are perfectly gruntled-- what do I know?) veterans of big hollywood studios who joined forces to make zillions of short horror films they way THEY wanted to do it, outside of the studio system, without lots of interference from The Man. They banded together and called themselves Fewdio, as in (I guess) a "studio with just a few folks in it". In a relatively short time, MARSHALL CARR, JOHN CRYE, DREW DAYWALT, PAUL HUNGERFORD, DAVID SCHNEIDER, TODD A. SHARP, and KIRK B.R. WOLLER have cranked out a ton of shorts with aplomb-- as producers, writers, directors, editors, etc.

Like many an independent moviemaking entity of nowadays, these kids have hung their collective shingle up over on YouTube, so let's check out a couple of their better offerings, shall we?

First up, The Cellar (directed by Randy Link)

And here's my current favorite of theirs, the extremely short but memorable Vargel Geroth: Monster from Hell (directed by David Schneider and Drew Daywalt)

They have a bazillion movies up on their YouTube channel, so if your curiosity has been piqued, click on over and check them out. I am going to do what I can to see if one of these cats would be willing to submit to an interview here. We'll keep you posted...


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On the Second Night of Halloween, My Humunculus Gave to Me: Self-Help From The Old Ones!

This is a downright AWESOME commercial from some mad geniuses who put their work up over at the YouTubes-- if you like this, check out their other postings.

June Lillie’s Movies And Books That Will Make You Want To Sleep With Your Mama!

She's baaaack...

I ask myself often, how can one enjoy a dreadfully disgusting Halloween without a gut retching movie or a book that practically begs you to pee your pants in fear?

Well, the answer is… One cannot!

I feel sad sometimes… Thinking about all those folks out there in the world who would rather paint their kid’s face than sit down with a frightful tale from beyond. People with their Halloween parties and witch-shaped cookies. Hey I know, let’s bob for apples!

These are the poor bastards I feel the need to reach out to. Of course for me it’s more like punching them in the arm with my bloody stump, but reach out nonetheless.

So, for all of you horror-illiterates out there, feel yourself being saved. I have concocted a short, but sweet list of movies and books that run the horror gamut. Each one of these beauties is easy to come by and should serve up a nice cup-o-eyeball to see you through… THE 12 NIGHTS OF HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or something to that affect.

Here are just a few choice morsels I’ve pulled out of my dungeon for you. To help you make a frightfully fun Halloween!

1. Book of The Dead by John Skip and Craig Spector
This book is truly the holy grail of zombie short story collections. It will surely make your tummy grumble for the next disgusting slab of flesh eating freaks!

2. White and Other Tales of Ruin by Tim Lebbon
Holy crap!!! If anyone can scare a pop-tart right out of your hand, Mr. Lebbon can! I’ve read each story in this book and still get creeped out by them, especially “White”… Truly one of the scariest tales I’ve ever read!

3. Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti
If you took a meat grinder and threw in some Picasso paintings, some razors, and a demon from hell, your end result would look something like Thomas Ligotti’s brain. The man does surreal in a way that creeps up on you, and then smacks you in the back of the head. Seriously, this book will change the way you look at empty windows and crowded streets. It will put a patina of paranoia on everything you see.

4. The Collection by Bentley Little
If the Book of The Dead is the Holy Grail and Tim Lebbon can scare a toaster treat right out of your hand, then Bentley Little is the grisly, rotting cap which we strap to our heads to keep out the signals from outer-space. All I can say about Mr. Little is this; if you enjoy incredibly detailed versions of your worse nightmare smothered in feces, then Mr. Little’s short stories will bring you to a plain of existence you didn’t even know existed. His short stories are very different than his novels. Both are an amazing gift to the horror community.

5. The Missing by Sarah Langan
Sarah Langan has won the horror world’s version of the Pulitzer Prize, by being awarded the Bram Stoker Award for the novel The Missing. Wow! This lady knows her icky-scary stuff! This is not a short story collection. But because of her narrative and detailed characters it reads like one. Ms. Langan sure know’s how to paint a disturbing back-drop allowing for character development, yet never losing sight of what is behind it all. She rocks!

Now on to my list of spooky, creepy, and genuinely scary movies:

1. The Exorcist III (directed by William Peter Blatty)
For anyone who was totally freaked out by The Exorcist, this third installment will kick you while you are down. It stars George C. Scott as Lt William Kinderman., a detective investigating a string of strange decapitations where marks of the Gemini- an executed serial killer- are being left of the victims’ bodies. Strangely enough, we find out that there is a person in a local mental institution who claims he is the Gemini. Now, this may sound overworked and tired, but I guarantee the supernatural aspect of these crimes and creepy images will definitely kick you where it hurts.

2. Session 9 (directed by Brad Anderson)
This movie is set in the Danvers Mental Hospital outside of Boston. The story revolves around The Hazmat Elimination Company, a small company responsible for clearing debris from the old hospital so it can be rehabbed into office space. Unfortunately, for these men, something has been waiting for the right time to make its move. This may start out as a typical “haunted house’ type story, but the twisted ending will leave you shivering!

3. The Boneyard (directed by James Cummins)
Phyllis Diller, a giant mutated man eating poodle, creepy monster children, and an obese psychic…. What more could you ask for? Yes this is a rather silly movie, but surprisingly there are some real scares… And no, it’s not Ms. Diller I’m speaking of!

4. Urban Ghost Story (directed by Genevieve Jolliffe)
Lizzie, a twelve year old girl, dies for three minutes after a horrible car accident that takes the life of her friend. Lizzie returns to live with her single mom and her little brother in their inner-city ghetto apartment. Soon after returning, strange things begin to happen. Strange sounds and furniture rearranging itself. With the back drop of urban decay as horror in itself, adding the possibility of a true haunting makes for a very uncomfortable situation. NOTE: This movie was made in 4 weeks with a budget of $300,000. The creators of this movie, Genevieve Jolliffe and Chris Jones also published The Guerrilla Film-Making Handbook

5. Ravenous (directed by Antonia Bird)
Set in 1847 during the Mexican-American war. Captain John Boyd is sent to Fort Spencer, a remote and freezing stronghold where life is monotonous and dreary. That is, until a stranger appears with a story about settlers and snowstorms and food shortages. Once his story unfolds, the commander at the fort gathers his men to go to the mountains and look for survivors. And oh how they survive!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

On the First Night of Halloween, the Demons Gave to Me...

...a special guest appearance from my very own sister, June! And if ever there was a PERFECT person to act as the greeter to our 12 Nights of Halloween extravaganza, it is her. She's a horror nut-- voracious reader and movie goer, and I have the photos of her children dressed up as zombies to prove it. Without further adieu, I leave you in the capable hands of today's crypt mistress...

Cue the steel grey skies and the cold blowing winds! Leaves are beginning to turn schizophrenic with their color change. The grass is slowing its reach to the pale sun and our fowl friends are making a mass exodus south. Seems like the time to go inside, hunker down, and become anti-social.

Nay I say!

Though there are considerable amount of folks who would gladly trade a crisp, cool fall day for 90 degrees of sweat-inducing, tropical storm-forming, heat wave, there are, strangely enough, quite a few of us (us being the cool kids) that soak up the leaf-burning smells. The wind that blows just the right way to give goose-bumps. The time of year when the darkness falls a little earlier with each passing day.

We are the children of the fall, or more specifically, the children of Halloween. We do not hide this fact, nor do we pretend to not get excited by the aroma of warmed cider, the feel of a large firm pumpkin, or all of the horrendously horrific movies that thrash their way into our hearts and theaters this time of year.

We revel in the ghoulish pranks we have been planning for 11 months. We tremble with delight at the idea of becoming something we are not. Halloween, in other words, represents the culmination of our fantasy-life’s work. And as a bonus, those of us who take the fall season and Halloween seriously, can rest assured that our dastardly deeds will prevail and continue on throughout the Halloween seasons to come!

Grease paint and fake blood. Haunted houses and EVPs. Screw the candy; we want shadow people and ladies in white. We want bumps in the night and strange noises coming from our darkened basements. We want to believe that everything is not what it seems. And what better time of the year to experience the unknown than Halloween!

So, to all my lovely witches and ghouls, monsters and freaks, I wish many happy and grotesque returns to the season we have all fallen in love with.

Best regards and eviscerations,

June Lillie

Friday, October 16, 2009

Last Sunshiney Post Til HALLOWEEN!

Dear Internetateers,

So, in a scant few days we begin the 12 Nights of Halloween Blogatorium countdown, with daily posts about HORROR STUFF and nothing but HORROR STUFF until the 31st, when the fabric between This World and the Other World is weakest and mummies and werewolves take over, etc. Thus, we have to get the last little bit of sunshine and bluebirds out of our system, so that we can go for pure undead gusto.

To that end, we present two covers by the band Pomplamoose, who are an extremely happy and fun musical duo out of California. Thrill as they do bedroom covers of Beyonce and Earth, Wind and Fire! I DARE you to not smile during these. (Also, since they have a bazillion hits on YouTube, prolly you already know about them and I'm showing my lack of web-cred but that's okay because my mom thinks I'm cool at least...).

Anyhoo... Here's Pomplamoose!