Monday, December 14, 2015

Horror Flick of the Week: Gremlins (1984)

Fresh from the theaters after giving Krampus a go, I was reminded why I liked Gremlins. First things first, I would like to say I did not hate Krampus at all. There may have been points where it seemed to drag, or I just didn't like the choices made by the writers, it was definitely a visual feast with some awesome combinations of physical and digital effects...which is a very difficult line to straddle. didn't capture what Gremlins did back in 84. I don't really blame Krampus for this. I blame Gremlins...for being just that awesome. Gremlins captures the seasonal spirit of Christmas without becoming bitter. It has no message about families losing their sight of what really matters. It's just a story about evil little creatures that terrorize a small, but charming town on Christmas. And...that's kind of all I want to watch this year. I won't be foregoing my traditional viewing of Black Christmas, but...I just love Gremlins so much. Even the sequel.

It's got a great cast, a charming soundtrack, fantastic physical effects, and a sweet storyline...but it's still creepy enough to be classified as a comedy horror. What's more, it's something you can actually enjoy with kids, rather than certain other Christmas classics such as 'Silent Night, Deadly Night', or 'Treevenge'.

If you somehow have managed to avoid seeing Gremlins, because television is a relatively new discovery in your region of the world, or if you just...avoided it...or even have seen it, but not in quite some time. Do yourself a favor. Give Gremlins a shot this month. And don't feed them after midnight, trust me, I'm still cleaning up the green sludge in the kitchen.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Spooky Radio: My Favorite Stories

Often, I find myself listening to old-time radio in-between podcasts when I drive to/from work. Because if there's a way to squeeze more horror into my day, I'll figure it out. There's plenty of them that were so unremarkable, that I'll be halfway through listening to one and then remember I'd already heard it a year ago...but there are also some that have always stuck with me. The following is a short list of my favorite old-time radio episodes I suggest for any avid fan of spooky sounds. Most can be found searching on Itunes or even through my links.

Theater 5 – The Talkers

This series ran in the early 60s, and a vast majority of the episodes were science fiction-themed (which in my opinion, often borders the light between fantasy and horror.) This story in particular is a simple conversation between two men after a horrific event caused by humankind has led people to start...changing...into bug-like creatures. The more they breathe, the worse it gets.

Dimension X – Marrionettes Inc.

Hosted in 1950 by NBC, this show only lasted a year. Another Science Fiction show, with  couple of quite gruesome episodes. This one intrigues me because it has an interesting twist on the idea of a human-like robot servant. A man learns he can use a robot to fool his wife so he can take a much-needed vacation...unfortunately, the robots in question don't want to give up their places when their owners return.

Lights Out – It Happened

This show was a little more prolific than the others, running well near 15 years. It hopped station to station, and even spawned an actual tv show. It's also one of the earlier horror shows on the radio, so quite historically important in it's own right. Sometimes, when I look back at this episode in my memory, I get a chill just imagining how awful it would be to go through what the young girl in this one had to...trying to run away for a bit of fun, being trapped in a sewer, and forced into servitude to make 'jewelry' for a maniac.

Mysterious Traveler – The Good Die Young

Mysterious Traveler had it's life in both radio and print, and in various different genres. The Good Die Young is an excellent little morsel about an evil little girl. What's more, I wouldn't be surprised if The Bad Seed heavily borrowed from it, because that's all I could think about when I first heard this show.

Lights Out – Cat Wife

Yet another episode from Lights Out. Cat Wife makes you wonder what is truly worse...marrying a beautiful but hateful woman, or loving a man-eating cat?

The Price of Fear – Cat's Cradle

I mentioned this one in an episode of my podcast, once upon a time. Suffice it to say, the whole series was voiced by...Vincent Price. So it's incredible, of course. Cat's Cradle in particular is interesting, because I'm always worried whether or not a spiteful cat has it out for me.

Nightfall – Guest of Honor

A bit newer than the others, this one was hosted by CBC in the early 80s. A dark story, but not quite as grim as most of the others I've recommended. It's about a high-class woman who has simply seen too much in life, and has become so bored that she decides to invite death to a party...death accepts.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Podcast, Episode 14 - Friday the 13th pt. 1 (also, Happy Halloween)

We've made it guys! 31 straight days of posts, ranging from films to fun, books to bogeys, and everything in-between. Since you've been such fantastic followers, I think it's about time I host another episode of the Hallowholics Anonymous podcast! This episode will be all about the first 7 films of Friday the 13th, hosted with none other than Jazlaan himself. So sit back, enjoy, hide the machete from your neighbor...and have a happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Horror Flick of the Week: Dracula (1931)

Cliche? Perhaps. I just went to the theatre this week and watched the English-Spanish double feature TCM is featuring nationwide, and had a blast. But...there were only 5 people in the theatre (including myself and two friends) during the first film, and only us when the Spanish version aired. Which leads me to believe not enough people truly appreciate this movie.

I will not say it's Lugosi's greatest performance, even though it's spectacular. Honestly, I think he doesn't get enough attention for the many other excellent roles he has played in horror. Sure...there were a few bad ones...but I really never fault his performance. Even Plan 9, the few frames he was actually present, I wouldn't say Lugosi was what made that movie bad. But this isn't an article about Bela, it's a recommendation for any and all who haven't Seen Universal's Dracula to do so as quickly as possible, and follow it up with the Spanish one too.

Renfield was not a huge character in the novel, and only cinema has made him dynamic. Specifically this movie is what started watch Dwight Frye (english) and Pablo Alvarez Rubio (spanish) closely. They're absolutely incredible. In fact, I'd say they're my favorite characters in both movies. Keep in mind that the pacing is slow, because this was during the infancy of talkies, but also keep in mind that Todd Browning was nothing if not a master of making silence work for him rather than against. IF you have put Universal's Dracula off for any reason, this is the year to finally give it a good watch. You won't regret it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Vintage Comics - Black Magic, Issue #1: The Idol, When You Were Alive, My Dolly Is The Devil (32-End)

Right before Halloween, we come to the end of our current issue. The first story today features an antique...Krishna-Buddha fusion statue? I'm not sure. I've never heard of Buddha having 6 arms...but it doesn't really matter. Such a short story, I was actually surprised by the ending. It's honestly one of my favorites I've read in the comics I've shared so far. But I love bitter irony.

The second story is a unique twist on an age-old urban legend, of a young girl trying to get home...but never makes it, and always leaves whatever innocent driver who decided to give her a lift with a chill down his spine. Enjoyable, short, and one of the better versions of the story I've read.

Finally, our last vaguely reminiscent of a classic Twilight Zone episode, with a much creepier looking doll.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Featured Fear: Nyctophobia (fear of the dark)

Darkness. All-consuming black ink, pervading the night...something mankind has fought through the ages so desperately, that the last true darkness can only be found in the most obscure of places, or underground beyond where any man can reach.

Even in the 1963 adaptation of Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House, the eeriest element of the movie itself is darkness...shadows creeping in at the edge of every frame, threatening to consume Eleanor (along with her slight mental instability and the evilness of the house itself.)

Darkness is terrifying, because the unknown dangers of the world are that much more powerful. It's terrifying, because it deprives many of us of the sense we rely on the most. Sight.

The majority of Nyctophobics are either children, or very old. So, I suppose you'd say this fear strikes those who are most vulnerable. The origins of the phobia tend to be trauma of some sort, which makes quite a lot of sense. After all, night is the main time when children can no longer be watched over by their parents as vigilantly, so it's also the period of one's life where people learn to look after themselves.
The best treatment seems to be what a majority of the phobias I've mentioned is, and that's exposure therapy. Desensitizing the victim to their fears...and medication.

In honor of Nyctophobia, I'd like to share a video I've posted once before in a list of creepy shorts, which characterizes exactly what many children seem to fear the most about darkness...sleep.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October Treats

Oh no. Halloween is almost've got a party planned, and just about everything ready to go...except...what the heck are you guys gonna eat? Ordering out is too boring, and you can't just throw regular party foods together with the word 'boo!' scrawled on the  need something cool...something spooky. Well, thanks to some  talented people on youtube, you might just be able to pull off that party without a hitch.

As always, remember to check out the other videos on these people's channels if you enjoyed what they had to offer, because there's much more delicious stuff to find.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Tribute to Wes Craven

“You don't enter the theater and pay your money to be afraid. You enter the theater and pay your money to have the fears that are already in you when you go into a theater dealt with and put into a narrative. Stories and narratives are one of the most powerful things in humanity. They're devices for dealing with the chaotic danger of existence. “

The day I knew I was officially growing up was the day I got to pick out a Nightmare on Elm Street movie off of the rental shelf for my Friday selection, and my mom didn't bat an eye. I was 11, and I was in for the ride of my life.

Over the years, I always find myself going back to the NOES series, which wouldn't have been possible without one man. No, not Robert Englund...though he was pretty important...I'm talking about Wes Craven. The man who made my birthday a little more somber this year by dying the day before it.

Looking at the man's genuine smile, it's hard to believe he could come up with the visions of 'The Last House on the Left' or 'The Hills Have Eyes'. Two modern classics of Gorror (gore-horror). I won't say everything he ever made was a masterpiece, but I will say that even if I didn't like some of his work...I can appreciate his characters. He was a good writer/director, and he knew something very important: make your heroes sympathetic, or people won't care if they die.

He didn't come from a family who loved film. They didn't seem to into it, honestly, and that may have been why he ended up getting his Masters in Philosophy and Writing. He ended up becoming a teacher, before moving on to film...though he didn't start from the top, or even the middle. Mr. Craven started from the bottom, as a messenger.

His first real movie was 'The Last House on the Left', which I believe ended up on the video nasties list for quite some time. He was the Spielberg of horror, in my mind. Of all the people I admire in the industry, Wes Craven is one man I would have loved to have a cup of coffee with.

People often compare Carpenter and Craven, failing to recognize that you can actually appreciate them both as separate artists with their own styles. They had no rivalry. They respected each other. So I thought...what better way to remember Wes, than to share a clip of Carpenter praising him?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Book(s) of the Week: Monster of the Year

As a kid, when I wanted a spooky book at the school library, I'll admit I judged everything by the cover. In early elementary school, I adored the card catalogue (I'm sure some of you remember those huge filing cabinets with 'key words' scrawled in .2 size font.) I knew that without fail, Bruce Coville always had books with the best covers. I still remember the day I found this book based on the key word 'monster'.

It was cute, it was fun, and it was perfect for a kid like myself...who enjoyed nothing more than putting as many monsters together in one story as possible. It's basically about a boy who gets a gift from his dad: a billboard. He can do anything he wants with that little bit of ad he decides to make something fun. A piece of art for a 'monster contest'. What he doesn't expect, however, is monsters from around the world showing up to take part. Who knew roadside ads were so effective?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Vintage Comics - Black Magic, Issue #1: His Father's Footsteps, Don't Look Now (20-31)

The apple doesn't far from the tree, and the something gruesome doesn't...I don't know. I was trying to come up with an appropriate pun to describe the first story in this post, but I failed miserably. I don't know how you let me rope you into it...yeah, that one was pretty bad. I guess you don't hit them out of the park every time. I absolutely adore the first page of the second story, however, as the colors remind me of the best sort of Tales From the Crypt art. The story itself...hopefully won't leave you watching over your shoulder every so often in fear.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Horror Flick of the Week: The Witch's Mirror AKA El Espejo De La Bruja (1962)

Spanish is a beautiful language, no matter the dialect. Mexican Spanish in particular is the one I'm accustomed to hearing the most (being from Texas.) I love the husky quality of a slow speech in a Mexican film, especially when you combine it with the crackle of old cinema, and the eery atmosphere of shadows created in a black-and-white picture. Combine that with angry witches, curses,'ve got yourself an incredible picture.

On a dark night, preferably a rainy one too, watch this one by candlelight. Keep your phone off. Don't let anything distract you...and soak it in like a bath. It's how all true horror should be experienced, especially dark classics like 'The Witch's Mirror', which tells the story of a witch...obviously...who tried to protect her god-daughter, but failed...and seeks vengeance on the young woman's husband who murdered her through the power of the same magic she had tried using for good.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Tribute to Christopher Lee

This year has not been a good one for horror fans. It has been one of mourning. We've lost many iconic figures in the past few months, and one that immediately comes to mind for me is Christopher Lee. He was the last horror icon of his generation, and now he is no more. Of course he was more than that, as his acting range was quite extensive. I suppose it's a consequence of his being British. Either that, or the much more boring explanation: he was theatrically trained, he was intelligent, and he cared about what he did.

Often, it seems, his lineage is referenced whenever anyone speaks of his life. His mother was a contessa, his ancestor the great Charlemagne himself...which doesn't surprise me. I can kind of see the family resemblance...

When he was a child, he met Rasputin's assassins. As a teenager, he witnessed the final public execution by guillotine in France. During WW2, he was an intelligence officer. He was also multi-lingual, which doesn't surprise me. His French was lovely in 'Dracula's Son'...and if the movie had been a little better, it might be one of my favorite performances of his.

Of course...he wasn't only Dracula. After all, he was a Hammer actor. He played the monster in one of their earliest horror flicks, Frankenstein. A  movie that truly helped put Hammer on the map to American audiences. He also played the mummy. Having seen both movies, I can say he did quite a lot with very silent characters...considering the power of Mr. Lee's voice, this is only a testament to his acting skills. His speech may have been beautiful, rich, and dark...but he didn't need it to steal the scene. Mr. Lee's mere presence was quite enough.

The man worked until he died, and I can honestly say every role I ever witness of his...was amazing. He was a singer, an actor, a soldier, likely a spy, a scholar, and ultimately a man who lived his life well. Even if he may have been 93 when he passed, I was shocked. I had begun to believe he would live forever. But, in his own words: 'the thing I have always tried to do is surprise people, to present them with something they didn't expect.'

Rest well, Mr. Lee. You've earned it. In light of your passing, I think I'll listen to your reading of 'The Raven'...once more...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Drive-in Trailers: Road Tripping

It's been ages since we've had a drive-in trailer entry, so here goes. Next week (Halloween),
I'll be road-tripping with a couple of friends to a convention in Galveston. In honor of said trip,
let's explore the horrific events that might occur, if we take a detour, pick up a hitch-hiker, or decide to make a pit stop...

Note: The Manos one is a fan-made trailer...but it's so perfect...I had to include it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Featured Fear: Aichmophobia (fear of sharp objects)

We all remember the famous scene in Psycho, where the innocent Janet Leigh jumps into a shower expecting to wash off the day's grime...only to find herself the victim of a crazed killer, stabbing madly through the curtains, clearly unaware of the term 'personal space'...and if we don't, here's a reminder...

And of course, there's also a little scene from F13, when Bacon gets the shaft...

But what's my point? Other than the literal one? Well...these two scenes (and many others) have something in common. A very disturbing something, in objects. Knives specifically, but they're still sharp in general. All slasher flicks capitalize on sharp things, actually. Giallo movies too, when people aren't being strangled. makes sense that there's a specific fear of sharp objects, when you get right down to it. My point being that this is one of the few phobias I'm featuring that I actually have. And who wouldn't? Just look at these spiky plant things! They're terrifying!

Most aichmophobes tend to experience a general sinking feeling or panic when they come into close contact with their fear, and this tends to count for other phobias as well. Causes tend to be either traumatic, or a simple instinct response (fight or flight.) Funnily enough, aichmophobia can even accompany iatrophobia (fear of doctors) as well...which makes sense. All those needles and things always littered about everywhere. It's generally treated with exposure therapy, which...just gives me the shivers thinking about it, but fortunately aichmophobia is generally a fairly simple phobia. The only thing they really should worry about, if nobody's holding the sharp object in question, is perhaps an angry poltergeist.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Spooky Story Cards

Jazlaan (whom some of you may remember as one of my regular podcast guest hosts) and I used to draw a lot of comics together back in high school. Before he moved back to Japan this year, we even came up with a new writing exercise game for 24-hour comics, which are essentially entire comic stories written and drawn in the course of one day. With a bit of tweaking, I decided the same game could be used wonderfully for anyone looking to have a scary story night this October.

Each person draws 2 cards from each pile (Nouns, Settings, Motivations). They discard 3 cards of their choosing, and use the remaining cards in their hand to make their story. You can of course come up with whatever you like, but I've also taken the liberty of drawing up these quick cards for you to print out. Please enjoy, and let me know just how spooky your scary storytelling turns out. I've included a blank slate if you'd like to use the same pattern for your own ideas.





Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book of the Week - Body Snatchers: Doctors, Graverobbers and the Law

Back as a sophomore in college, I'd been given an assignment in an English class. Write a research paper on ANY topic you want. A 20-page research paper. I was beyond excited to explore the world of cannibalism or body-snatching. I ended up not being able to find enough sources for the body-snatching topic, so I ended up with cannibalism...which in hindsight wasn't such a great idea, because as it turned out...he'd said 2 pages...not 20. So when I turned in my assignment, I think he was a little more than disturbed. This book was one of the sources I explored when I'd thought of grave robbing, and it was so good...I didn't just stop with a few passages. I read cover to cover in 2 days.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Vintage Comics - Black Magic, Issue #1: Last Second of Life, The Woman in the Mirror (Cover-16)

My first impression when I looked at the Black Magic series was 'wow'. The art style is frankly excellent. Super Hero comic quality, in fact. I decided to do a little looking, and it turns out the series was made by Joe Simon and Jack no wonder the quality is so good. Seeing as the series started in the 50s, too, it's a bit later than most of the comics I've featured so far. In fact, reading this, I grew a little irritated just thinking about how difficult it can be to find good (old) horror comics at the shops I've been to. Usually you'll find gems like this tucked into the back of a 'Misc.' box, or beneath a stack of comics nobody has bothered to sort yet.

The stories in Black Magic are classic ones, the kind we've seen in many forms for decades on shows and in books. The first one features a man with little respect for death, and even less for the dying. He decides to seek the knowledge of things beyond life best left unknown. The second story proves a point I made in yesterday's article...that mirrors are downright evil, and old ones are even worse.