Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book(s) of the Week: The Monster at the End of this Book

The Monster at the End of this Book, written by Jon Stone

I know sometimes it's a little funny how I'll go from discussing very adult films and books, and then diving in to suggest some children's stories to my readers. Okay, now that I've addressed that, let's move on to the very simple and yet very classic 'The Monster at the End of this Book'.

Horror? Perhaps not to most of you, unless your parents read to you as kids. This book features as one of the favorite stories my mom pulled off the shelf every other night to read for me, not only because of her excellent voice skills (as you've no doubt heard in my podcast episode intro), but because this was a scary book. For a four-year-old.

It's quite short. And based on how the adult reads to the child, can be either very fast...or very slow. The slower the better, because it's a fantastic introduction for the little ones into the world of tension. Each page turned (of course) brings you closer to 'the monster' at the end of the book, hence the title. And each page, Grover, becomes more and more panicked. Did the premise need to be explained? I certainly hope not, because at this point my blog entry has become longer than the actual story.

So in summary, if you're a mom or a dad, please do your kids a favor and read them 'The Monster at the End of this Book', before they're too old to put 2 and 2 together before figuring out the monster's identity by the end.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Horror Flick of the Week: Witchboard (1986)

Just saw 'It Follows' last night, and will probably mentioning that particular movie when we get around to our next podcast episode (which we will get to), but in the middle of watching It Follows...for some reason, I was reminded of Witchboard. At first I thought 'well...can't feature that movie. I'm pretty sure I already have.' Browsing through the archives...I realized, to my utter shock and horror...that I haven't. So here it is, my selected horror flick of the week...WITCHBOARD!

From what I have read, at their premiere release of Witchboard, audience members were given a glow-in-the dark Ouija board to take home with them. I am not sure if that is true, as the source I read this on years ago is unconfirmed, but I'd like to imagine they did something campy and fun like that. To match the campy and fun atmosphere the movie itself has.

Sometimes I get grumpy when a movie has nothing but jump scares. As a horror nerd, of course you'd expect this elitist view from me...expecting plot and character development, atmosphere, and actual thought. But when I just want to have fun, I do enjoy a movie packed with stupid jump scares. Witchboard is just that kind of movie, though sometimes the music does make your neck hairs rise a bit. There's even a legitimately surprising death scene or two. Witchboard was clearly not a victim of micro-budget, because the cinematography holds up. It was only a victim of the 1980s, and in my mind...that's one of the reasons it's so charming.

If you're looking for a movie to watch with friends, Witchboard is perfect, and the story line is pretty simple: girl meets boy, boy turns out to not really be boy, man hires psychic to talk to boy who isn't a boy, girl finds ring in sink, girl gets possessed by non-boy boy....etcetera etcetera. Be sure to watch it with the lights off, though, and minimal talking. You're sure to get a little bit scared of picking up your next Ouija board.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Vintage Comics: Horrific, Issue #1: The Ghost's Last Laugh, Iron Doom, The Dancer of Death (Pg. 18 - End )

Finishing up the rest of this issue, Horrific appears to be surprisingly short compared to other series issues I've posted. I'd like to start this entry by saying something I think will be on everyone's minds after reading these pages. Pennypacker is the greatest surname ever created. Also, I wonder if the Ghost's Last Laugh partially inspired Neil Jordan when he wrote the screenplay for High Spirits? I actually really liked this one, and in fact would go so far as to say it's just about my favorite written story from any of the comics I posted so far, in it's charming little way. Any time bureaucracy and economics are brought in to deal with the supernatural, it's always worth a good laugh. A lot of these stories, such as Iron Death, also really make me long for the days of horror when spooky castles were employed more regularly. Do you hear me, Hollywood? Bring back the cobwebs and the stone ruins, the iron maidens and the tortured souls. Because there are only so many vintage comics left for me to post!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Book(s) of the Week: The Shadow over Innsmouth and Other Stories of Horror

Ahhhh, H. P. Lovecraft. It's no secret how fond I am of his work. A man claimed by death before he could properly greet the old ones, who many say was only beginning to truly perfect and hone his skills when he died at the relatively young age of 46. It took a bit of soul searching to figure out which of his books to feature, which collection of stories had just the right balance and style to feature for the un-initiated into his world. So I picked the one that started me off, a book my mother almost donated to Goodwill when I was a kid (before I pillaged through the junk boxes and saved both this book, along with another book I've featured, Carmilla.)

Intrepid adventurer, know ye this: step wisely into the written word, and with your imagination sharpened. To read Lovecraft is to read a whole story in one sitting, for each one deserves no less than your full attention. Also, keep in mind that a good deal of his writing reflects the mind-set of the time, as well as a certain style which does turn some people off. To an avid reader, this book is a delight. To someone who doesn't really enjoy reading...well...why are you reading an article about a book of the week in the first place?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Horror Flick of the Week: La Marca del Hombre-Lobo/Frankenstein's Bloody Terror/The Werewolf's Mark/Etc. (1968)

It was about time I got around to featuring a Paul Naschy movie (I might even feature him in the near future), and what better movie to suggest than the first of his many...many...werewolf movies: La Marca del Hombre-lobo, aka (in the USA) Frankenstein's Bloody Terror!

One of the many victims of really crappy dubbing and inappropriate cutting for American audiences, I'd suggest just getting a hold of the original Spanish language version and watching it with subtitles. There isn't even a Frankenstein monster in the movie...until we got our hands on it. Then we threw this little bit in there...solely to attach this movie as a double feature to an actual Frankenstein movie.

Bitching about cinema massacres aside, 'La Marca del Hombre-lobo' is a pretty fun little ride. Dramatic shots with plenty of gaudy lighting. A fancy costume party. Make-up reminiscent of the Wolfman, perhaps if he let his mane grow out...clearly it would influence the designs for Game of Werewolves...I could go on for ages.

Honestly, until I watched this, I thought the twist in the Wolfman remake was a bit...odd. Particularly where the curse originated, but once I saw La Marca, I realized it was a reference to this movie, making Benicio's film a combination of the original Wolfman and essentially the Spanish one.

Bottom line, Naschy is just a fantastic actor. Even if the movies he was in weren't always as good as him, he was great onscreen. That's why this week's featured film is La Marca del Hombre-lobo/Frankenstein's Bloody Terror/The Mark of the Wolfman/The Vampire of Dr. Dracula/The Werewolf's Mark/Les vampires du Dr. Dracula/Hell's Creatures/O horos ton vrykolakon/Le notti de Satana/Etc. Etc. There are so many titles for this movie, by the time you're done reading the list, you forget the plot.