Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween in Omaha..

Its Here!! Happy Halloween!!

YUCK! How did he get here?

A Pumpkin Head I would like to be if in your arms you would take me... I love it!! Its like a Clive Barker Valentines card. Happiest Horror day everybody! The scariest day of the year and I hope everyone gets good and frightened.

P.S: Check out the awesomeness that is "Kindertrauma" featuring Yao (the Orange Menace) as a participant in the 2nd Annual Halloween Parade!! Father and I are so proud.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Witchy Halloween Purchase...

Have you ever bought something and then became convinced that it is cursed or demonic? Did you get it for a bargain? You know you have. Check out my latest (and last) Halloween purchase:

What the hell is it? I don't know. And I got it for 7 bucks (thanks Lisa.) Witchy isn't it?! If this thing (I call it she and the hubby calls it he) comes alive in the middle of the night and tries to kill me I am going to be right pissed.

One day closer to Halloween!!!

Just a reminder: today is the Boris Karloff-a-thon on TCM. I know Ted Turner is the Devil but he has a nifty little channel and there are no commercials (unlike AMC, whose programmers seem to think that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" qualifies as a horror film.) My DVR is loaded up with horror films, including ANOTHER Coffin Joe flick (thank you IFC.) These are great to watch when the second half of a Warriors game starts and my heart is broken and I am sick of screaming. My Halloween plan for tonight is to watch "Trick r Treat" (which I purchased without watching: hundreds of horror bloggers can't be wrong.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Poe Stamps!

Yeah! My Edgar Allan Poe stamps have arrived (finally!) So all of those expecting Halloween cards-- they are going to be late! But since everyday is Halloween in my heart it doesn't matter. Basketball started last night, so expect more or less posts from me depending on how the Warriors are doing (expect more.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good Advice...

I do! And I worship him! One should always love and fear their Gods. Cthulhu is one bad MoFo, as some wise person from Santa Rosa is trying to warn us. They even spelled it right! Thanks to my friend Dwido for the great pic!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Something that doesn't totally suck from Rob Zombie.....

If you are drunk or stoned there are worse ways to waste your high than watching The Haunted World of El Superbeasto by Mr. Robert Zombie. You can even watch it sober but it is like watching Ren and Stimpy sober: you wish you weren't. I was actually taking notes while watching this but that was pretty stupid. The only things I wrote were "swear words, boobies, oral sex, Nazi Zombies, and Dr. Phibes." It those are your notes that means it is a pretty good movie.

I loved all the horror film references in this film. It reminded me that when Zombie is not making horrible films he is actually a pretty cool horror aficionado. I also loved the profanity. Call me weird but I love it when cartoon characters swear.

I got a fucking rock too chuck.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Penalty (1920)

Another Lon Chaney film with anarchist or communist or socialist undertones!! What was going on in the 1920s? (quite a lot actually.) The Penalty stars Chaney as a double amputee who also happens to be king of the San Francisco Underworld (yeah San Francisco!) Blizzard, as he is known, has two goals: to get revenge on the Doctor who mistakenly amputated his legs as a child (oops!) and to foster an anarchist/communist/and-or socialist revolution in San Francisco by a bunch of immigrants wearing hats. This is very interesting because 14 years after this film was made, San Francisco almost had a revolution of sorts thanks to the Waterfront Strike of 1934. This history lesson brought to you by 7 years of college, thanks to which I know things about Strikes in San Francisco in the 1930s.
Back to this strange, melodramatic film. Blizzard runs a crime syndicate mostly made up of women who make hats. One woman, Rose, is a government agent trying to bring him down. The other femme fatale in this film is Barbara, an aspiring artist who happens to be the daughter of the Doc who maimed poor evil Blizzard. And Blizzard is EVIL! This is the first Chaney character I have seen who doesn't have any redeeming qualities at all! You are not rooting for him in the least. He is so evil he is chosen by Barbara to be the model for a sculpture of Satan.

Blizzard's plan, before the revolution happens, is to have the Doc "graft" new legs onto him. The legs will come from Barbara's jerky boyfriend (he deserves to lose them.) The Doc agrees, but instead of doing as Blizzard asks, he pulls the old leg graft/brain surgery switcharoo. See, Blizzard wasn't really evil. He had a brain contusion thanks to the accident that took his legs. The Doc fixes him all up and it is EVIL BE GONE!! Blizzard marries the agent Rose, who has fallen for him, and Barbara marries her jerky boyfriend. The End. Or so I thought. The movie continues so we are given the typical depressing Lon Chaney ending. Nothing ever works out for this guy!
The reason to see this flick is Chaney. Watch the special features and you will see how he played a double amputee with no camera tricks. Then try to walk around on your knees. Make sure there is someone home with you to pick you up off the floor.
One more cool thing about this flick: the musical accompaniment is really awesome. It as if Nine Inch Nails scored the thing. Very industrial but it works.

Happy Halloween (the pissed off cat edition.)

Yao is thinking "I shall have my revenge!" Not till after we go Trick or Treating!!


Believe it or not, I have never seen Nightbreed, even though two of my horror crushes, Clive Barker and David Cronenberg, are involved in it. Unfortunately, Nightbreed is proof that even with such a horror pedigree, and a pretty cool story, studio interference can ruin just about anything.
Nightbreed tells the story of Aaron Boone, a young man who keeps having nightmares about a place called "Midian." His shrink, Dr. Decker (played by Cronenberg,) informs the young man that he is a murder suspect (a number of families have been brutally butchered.) Boone goes on the run and finds his way to the actual Midian, which is buried under an old cemetery.

Midian is home to a race of monsters, ancient and powerful beings who have banded together to hide from the humans that haunt them. Boone, as it turns out, is one of these monsters, and after he is shot to death he joins them in their underground lair.

All would be going pretty well for him except that his boring human girlfriend tracks him down, and tries to get him to rejoin the human world. Following her is the evil Dr. Decker, who is actually a monster hunter more evil than anything that lives in Midian. This film is based on Barker's novella "Cabal," which I have never read but plan to. It is a very good story, and the intention is that you are supposed to side with the monsters, who are way more interesting than any human character in this film (save for Dr. Decker.) This was the part the studio did not understand and they just butchered the film. In interviews Barker expressed his desire to release a true directors cut, but so far this has not happened. His website gives some good information on how this film should have turned out:
As it is, even though the monsters are cool and its a rare chance to see David Cronenberg act, I can't recommend Nightbreed. The film is too disjointed and rather boring. But, as I said, the story is great- there is a really good film lurking around there somewhere. Let's see it!

Coffin Joe returns!!!

Yeah! I finally got to see This Night I will Posses your Corpse, the sequel to At Midnight I'll take your Soul (thank you IFC.) Both films are directed by and star Jose Mojica Marins, the legendary Brazilian horror icon. Legendary because he created "Coffin Joe," the Brazilian equivalent to the Boogyman. Coffin Joe is an Undertaker with a thing for long nails and a peculiar "Superior Race" philosophy that is just bound to get him in trouble. See, Coffin Joe believes that his spawn will be start of a new, "perfect" race, and through his child he will achieve immortality. This belief, and the desire to have a child, governs everything that Coffin Joe does; which includes kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder. He also likes to get drunk and act like a major asshole.

Part of his plan involves finding the perfect woman to bear his child. She must love creepy guys with bad teeth and long nails, and completely lack any morals. After miraculously "recovering" from the events in the first film, Coffin Joe returns to his small village and proceeds to kidnap a number of young women to find his perfect mate. The villagers suspect him of this crime, but are too afraid of the pervert to do anything about it. I would be afraid of a 5ft guy with a big hat too. Considering the fact the Coffin Joe's philosophical belief system is full of holes, it should come as no surprise that the method he uses to "pick" the perfect woman makes no sense at all (see video below.) It does make for a pretty cool sequence however.

On and on this movie drags until he finds his perfect woman, a brain dead debutante named Laura who will put up with his bullshit. He impregnates her (finally) but soon discovers that he killed a pregnant woman (one of the kidnapped chicks) and begins to lose his mind (already lost it buddy.) See, Coffin Joe, or Ze do Caixao as he is known, holds children in the highest esteem. They are perfect in his twisted mind, and the fact that he killed one brings on the crazy. This manifests itself in an AWESOME Wizard of Oz type dream sequence set in HELL!! This is by far the best part of the film and for some reason it reminded me of hanging out at Chuck E Cheese as a kid. Remember the "Velvet- glow in the dark room?" The hell sequence reminded me of that: I don't know why. Can you believe they had those at Chuck E Cheese? They would never have them today.
Back to the film: Laura dies and takes his perfect child with her. The villagers grow some balls and decide to go after Coffin Joe. Joe kills some guy with his feet (its awesome!) makes everyone listen to his crazy ramblings, denounces God numerous times, and then is finally murdered by skeletons. Really, this is what happens. All in all, this film might be one of the greatest films of all time (if you are drunk or stoned.) If you can find it- watch it!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Bela Lugosi would have been very, very old today. But still cool.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Ace of Hearts (1921)

Ace of Hearts starring our honored guest Lon Chaney is a very strange picture. It is like Wanted without the tattoos. Chaney plays Farallone, a mystery man who belongs to a secret society. The sole purpose of this group is to judge and assassinate those they deem to be "unworthy of life" (like a death panel!) A long simmering romantic triangle between Farallone, Lilith (the only female member of the group) and Mr. Forrest (the youngest member) is brought to a boil when Mr. Forrest is selected to carry out an assassination and Lilith, impressed with his courage and valor, agrees to marry him before the deed is done.

This breaks Farallone's heart- he would have gladly taken Mr. Forrest's place, in both the assassination and Lilith's heart. In a heartbreaking scene Farallone stands outside the newlywed's flat, watching the window all night in the pouring rain. I, of course, fell deep in love with Chaney at this point and I knew that this melodrama was going to bring on the waterworks. And it does, but not before giving you a healthy dose of tension beforehand. See, the member of the group who is to carry out the assassination is chosen at random- whoever is dealt the "Ace of Hearts" must complete the deed. The scene in which this takes place is very well done- I felt my heart racing the whole time.
Farallone, who still loves Lilith, begins to feel his loyalties torn when she comes begging him to save her husband's life. Farallone sees a way to get rid of his rival and have Lilith. Does he take the opportunity? Or does he save Mr. Forrest by sacrificing his own life? I won't tell you but COME ON! It's a Lon Chaney movie! How do you think it will end?!!
This is the first film that I can remember seeing where Chaney does not wear makeup or distort his body in any kind of way. He is still amazing- although he does over-act in some scenes. You get used to watching this sort of thing the more silents you see. Although this is a thriller/melodrama, there is a little gore at the end which is always a nice touch. Interesting fact: the actor who plays Mr. Forrest, John Bowers, did not make the transition into talkies very well. In fact, it killed his career. He ended up committing suicide by throwing himself into a lake. The original A Star is Born is based on his life. You are now ready for "Trivial Pursuit: Silent Film Edition."

Lon Chaney Speaks!

This clip is from The Unholy Three, Chaney's only talkie. It was a remake of the 1925 original directed by Tod Browning. I haven't been able to track down either version but rumor has it the 1930 film plays on TCM once in a blue moon. Speaking of TCM, they are having a Boris Karloff festival on 10/30. Got to get the DVR ready.........

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More thoughts on Paranormal Activity......

I really wanted to wait 24 hours before I wrote about this film, but I also wanted everyone to know how cool I was to go see this as a matinee on a Tuesday afternoon in a theatre full of stoners. Seeing a flick with a bunch of stoners is a mixed bag. If you are not enjoying the film, the constant stoner commentary can be quite amusing. If you are enjoying the film, it can be annoying. Since I have mixed feelings about this film I also have mixed feelings about the stoners who watched it with me. During the boring parts (there are plenty) they were really funny, and during the scary parts (also plenty) I wanted to punch them. They were killing my scared buzz. Long story short: Don't go see a scary movie on a Tuesday afternoon by yourself because your companions will be stoners and the requisite creepy looking dude.
OK- I am not crazy about this film but I did like it. I wanted to love it and be really scared. Good news: it is scary. The last 5 minutes literally gave me chills and who knew ending credits could freak you out. But it is a long build-up to the scary stuff. We really get to know this couple, Micah and Katie, and their really boring decorating tastes. Something funky is happening to them while they sleep, and Micah decides to set up cameras all around to capture some "Paranormal Activity." Turns out Katie is being haunted by something, and it might not be a ghostie. She has been haunted by this thing since she was 8 and she neglected to tell Micah about this. Understandably he is pissed, but being a kind of jerky guy, he doesn't really take it seriously. When shit starts to get real (what movie is that from? I love that phrase!) Micah tries to get rid of the "entity" himself, even bringing in a Ouija Board. Any 13 year girl will tell you that Ouija's are bad mojo.
I guess the thing that kind of bothered me about this film is I didn't believe in the couple. And it is not just because I don't like what they did with their house. They appear to be rich- even though he is a Day Trader and she is a student. He must be good at his job but the problem is: He never works! Neither of them work or leave the house! Small complaint. Didn't sour me on the film and like I said: the ending is scary! But the real test is: Was I scared going to bed that night? See, this film plays on a very primal fear: how vulnerable we are when we sleep. So, after reading a little Clive Barker (to get me in the mood) I turned off the lights and kicked the cat off my lap and waited for the scary to come. It came a little. I thought about the film a little but it didn't prevent me from falling asleep (the last films to do that were The Ring and Blair Witch.) And no nightmares! Not even Zombie ones.
So I don't love this film but I recommend it for the last 5 minutes unless you are a Blair Witch hater. Then don't bother. I think Saw 6 is coming out soon. Go see that.

The She-Beast: not starring Lon Chaney

I know I am supposed to be about Lon Chaney this month, but I must make a detour into the land of The She Beast. This film was directed by Michael Reeves, and I would have devoted a whole month to him had he not died after directing three films. I could devote a weekend to him. Anyway, I fell in love with Reeves after seeing The Witchfinder General and I was very happy to track down The She Beast, which is his first film (as a director, he worked as an assistant on a couple of other films.)

She Beast stars Barbara Steele (not pictured above) and Ian Ogilvy as a newlywed couple honeymooning in Transylvania (I tried to get my husband to take me there for our honeymoon to no avail.) They decide to stop and stay overnight in a cursed village (is there any other kind?) There they met a peeping tom/pervert/rapist Innkeeper, Count van Helsing, the world's worst truck driver, and a WITCH!!! Well, really the ghost of a Witch. Barbara Steele gets possessed by the ghosty Witch and proceeds to kill the descendants of all the villagers that killed her 200 years ago. They killed her by nailing her to a chair and then dunking her in shallow water over and over and over again. This is actually the funniest part of the movie. When they dunk her in the water her head doesn't even go under. She would have died from her wounds thanks to being nailed to the damn chair before she would drown. Why bother with the dunking park?

Anywho- Ian Ogilvy and the descendant of Van Helsing team up to stop the witch and turn her back into Barbara Steele. This involves a really out of place Keystone Cops car chase and, when they do capture the Witch/Barbara Steele, re-doing the dunking business again.
I really enjoyed this film, even through the print I had was so bad it was, at times, unwatchable. I really loved the two leads, Ian Ogilvy and Barbara Steele. I get why people are obsessed with Steele, she is really beautiful in an odd, Angelina Jolie kind of way. The film itself is not "scary" in anyway (most of this stuff isn't) but it has a good story and stays on track (except the weird car chase business- the humor that is sprinkled throughout the film doesn't really work so well. Is the Innkeeper supposed to be a funny pervy kind of guy or a scary rapist? He is both! Yeah, I am confused.)
Now, back to regularly scheduled programming......or maybe a few more thoughts on Paranormal Activity. Talk about having trouble staying on track....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween treat

I was looking for a video of the Poe funeral that took place yesterday in Baltimore, but I found this instead and it made me so happy I just had to post it!! Don't you want to know how it ends?

The Halloween Tree

OK, I have the worst thing to admit: I am not very familiar with the work of Ray Bradbury. I read Fahrenheit 451 in High School, and that is it. I know, bad, bad Jen. So to rectify this situation I read my first non-required Bradbury story called The Halloween Tree!(exclamation added by me.) The Halloween Tree tells the story of young Tom Skelton and his seven friends who go out Trick or Treating on Halloween night. They were expecting their good friend "Pipkin" to join them but he tells them he will meet them later. The boys end up at the local haunted house (as you do) and there they meet the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud and gaze in wonderment at the "Halloween Tree" in the front yard. Moundshroud explains to the boys the meaning of the Halloween Tree and then proceeds to take them on a magical journey through time and space to learn about the orgins of the holiday and to find their missing friend Pipkin. They travel to ancient Egypt and Rome, Pagan England and Ireland, and finally end up in Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Yes, dammit, you learn stuff reading this book! But don't let that scare you off! The story, which is really about friendship and the sacrifices you are willing to make for those you love, is really wonderful. And the visuals that Bradbury paints are extraordinary. I can see why families would make this required reading every Halloween (along, with may I suggest and I will, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.) Rumor has it that there is an animated film floating around out there narrated by Bradbury himself!! I must find it. I can't find it playing on TV any time this month. You know what else I can't find playing on TV? The Charlie Brown Pumpkin business. I am starting to freak out that I missed it- and now I have to go buy it!! I am almost out of Halloween money!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

I love this movie but it makes me cry every single time. Even more so than with The Phantom, Chaney created the sympathetic "monster." Quasimodo is a poor, misunderstood and feared man/child who lives at Notre Dame under the protection of the Archdeacon Dom Claude. Dom Claude's evil brother, Jehan, uses Quasimodo to his own wicked ends. Jehan is in love with Esmeralda, the beautiful gypsy who dances at the "Festival of Fools."

Jehan enlists Quasimodo in an attempt to kidnap Esmeralda, but he is stopped by the dashing Phoebus, a rich rogue whose heart is also captured by the beautiful Esmeralda. So far this sounds like an episode of Gossip Girl.

Quasimodo is captured and punished- whipped in the square for all to see. Esmeralda takes pity on him, the first to do so besides Dom Claude. This is an amazing scene... under all of that makeup--and chained to a wheel, Chaney is still able to convey the emotions of fear, relief, and gratitude. He only has one eye, yet he is able to convey all of these emotions. This may sound strange, but Chaney's performance as the Hunchback is almost joyous. Yes, there is sadness and fear and pain, but he inhabits the character so fully that, during scenes such as the bell-ringing, he is able to convey the simple joy of the one act that brings this character happiness. Really incredible.

OK, long story short (I am not a fan of recounting entire films-watch it!!,) Esmeralda gets set up for attempted murder and is sentenced to die. Quasimodo rescues her and takes her to Notre Dame. The members of the Paris Underworld, led by Esmeralda's creepy foster father Clopin, attempt to storm the Cathedral. This leads to the showdown between Quasimodo and the world that shunned him.
I hope I am not giving anything away by telling you that Quasimodo dies at the end. This is a Lon Chaney movie after all- he dies in almost all of them! The part that gets me about this film, that brings on the waterworks, is when Quasimodo rings his own death bell. The only witnesses to his death are Dom Claude and a Parisian Poet- Esmeralda by this time has left with her lover Phoebus.
This role, along with The Phantom, is really classic Chaney. The Monster with the heart- the idea that both good and evil can exist in the same soul. It would have been really cool to see what he would have done with Frankenstein's Monster.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Get to know Lon Chaney...

I have yet again put off watching Hunchback of Notre Dame because it makes me cry, cry, cry and I really have to be in the mood. Instead last night I watched a documentary on Chaney produced by Turner Classic Movies called Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces. It was pretty cool as it had fans such as Uncle Forry and Ray Bradbury talking about the awesomeness of Chaney (my words, not Bradburys.) The DVD also had the film The Unknown on it. I think I wrote about this some time back... I really need to put labels on these posts. Did you know I am almost to 300 posts? The fact that I had 300 thoughts I felt were important to share with the world astounds me. I can't decide what movie I want to see today but I can write 300 posts.

Anyway, The Unknown co-stars Joan Crawford. Both Crawford and Chaney play circus performers. Chaney, as usual, has a dark secret and an unrequited love for Crawford (falling in love with Joan Crawford is almost always a bad idea.) He goes to extreme (and I mean EXTREME) measures to win her heart, only to get his trampled on. Cue crazy behaviour. It is a great flick.

Doesn't he kind of look like Jack Nicholson? Anyway, this action packed DVD also had a "version" of the lost film London After Midnight, one of 10 films he made with Tod Browning. The "film" is made up of title cards and stills, the closest approximation we have to the original. The last known copy of the film was destroyed by fire in the 1960s. This recreation and Browning's own remake, Mark of the Vampire, give you a pretty good idea about the film. Chaney's makeup, as usual, was astounding. He put wire around his eyes to keep them wide open and had special teeth made. He really is an unusual vampire...

This is Chaney's makeup case. He did all of his own makeup. He would also "manipulate" his own body to achieve certain effects. The most famous example of this is, of course, The Hunchback, but he also went to extreme lengths to change his body in such films as The Penalty from 1920.

He's got no legs!!! Chaney actually had his legs bound behind him in a harness and walked on his knees. He had a special jacket made to hide his legs. No camera tricks were used at all. His feet were bound at his thighs. Ouch.

That is one scary clown. Here are some more interesting facts about Chaney, courtesy of this website: http:// This website is run by his family and also has information of Lon Chaney Jr.
Interesting Facts about Lon Chaney..
Born on April 1st, 1883 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Both parents were Deaf-mute.
His first wife, Cleva Creighton (Jr's Mother) attempted
suicide by swallowing a vile of poison. This destroyed
her singing career and led to the end of the marriage.
Chaney directed 6 films and wrote 2 screenplays
Between 1913-1930 he made over 150 films. Many are now lost.
First and only talking film was a remake of The Unholy Three. This was
also his last film.
He died of a throat hemorrhage in 1930. His grave is unmarked.
I hope you enjoyed today's "Get to know Lon Chaney." Tune in tomorrow for more Chaney madness.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Phantom of the Opera (1925) or: She's not having it.

To start my "get to know Lon Chaney" month I started with one of the biggies: 1925's Phantom of the Opera. I started with this because I own a really, really bad copy (Phantom is a public domain film, so my copy comes from one of those "50 Pack of Horror" collections that I got for 10 bucks. Money well spent actually.)

Based upon the novel by Gaston Leroux (that is a villain's name if I ever heard one..) Phantom of the Opera stars Chaney as the Phantom/Erik, a disfigured music connoisseur who lurks in the old abandoned torture chambers underneath the Paris Opera. The Phantom has taken a shine to Christine (Mary Philbin) a young up and coming singer. Staying hidden, Erik begins to coach Christine, and soon she is good enough to be the understudy for the lead, Carlotta. This is not good enough for Erik however, and he soon plots to eliminate Carlotta so that Christine can be the star.
All goes according to plan and soon Erik plans to take Christine as his wife. Well he would, if it wasn't for that pesky Raoul, an Officer who already owns Christine's heart. Erik kidnaps Christine and makes her promise never to see Raoul again. She promises, to save her life, and promptly arranges to met Raoul at the Masked Ball.........

Scariest Costume EVER........
Erik also attends the Ball, dressed as the Red Death. Heartbroken over Christine's deception, Erik, now truly the Phantom, plots his revenge..
This film is really incredible. The set design of the Paris Opera House is spooky and majestic, the proper setting for this tragic tale. Chaney--well Chaney is amazing. His Phantom is both sympathetic and terrifying. His reaction, upon seeing Christine with Raoul at the Ball, is heartbreaking--and done completely through body language. The scene where Christine unmasks Erik, giving her and us our first glimpse of his deformed face still chills. Chaney, who did his own makeup, achieved the horrifying look by pinning his nose back with a wire. Can you imagine how painful that must have been? Try that Eddie Murphy. You don't have the guts...
Chaney made Phantom after Hunchback, so he was already a well established actor. Phantom solidified his reputation as the "Man of a Thousand Faces" and convinced Universal that Horror was where it's at. We have so much to thank him for!!
Next is Hunchback, which I should have watched first, but I was really in the mood for a musical. HeHe.