The original poem read by Mr. Christopher Lee.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
I chanced upon Doug Bradley's Spinechillers series of audio books quite by accident. I was bored listening to my music during my morning walks (my only form of exercise) so I decided to finally become an old person a give audio books a try. I have been listening to all the classics that I was just too lazy to actually read. On iTunes I was looking for works by Charles Dickens, whom I love but when I try to read puts me to sleep faster than a vodka/Excedrin PM cocktail.
Instead of pointing me to Bleak House (snooze) iTunes presented me with Doug Bradley's Spinechillers, produced by Renegade Arts Entertainment. The concept is simple: Bradley, who has one of the most awesome, scary voices this side of Benedict Cumberbatch, reads classic horror from authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, my boy HP Lovecraft, MR James, William Harvey, and Chuck D.
I have read most of these works but nothing beats hearing Bradley read them. It has made my morning walk about 100% more macabre! So far I have only listened to Volume One which features the following tales:
- The Signal Man by Charles Dickens
- August Heat by William Harvey
- The Tell Tale Heart by EA Poe
- The Outsider by Lovecraft
- The Open Window by Saki
- The Beast with Five Fingers by William Harvey
I was in no way paid or gifted to shill here, I just thought these audio books were awesome. Listen to them before you go to sleep to guarantee bad dreams. In case you don't hear from me again before the Holidays, either because we all die next Friday or I have locked myself in my bedroom in an effort to avoid Christmas, may I wish everyone a Happy Holiday!
Thank gawd it's fucking over soon.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
It has been a while since I have seen a horror film that I absolutely fell in love with. Honestly, I have seen so many I was worried that there was nothing new under the sun (for me.) Lo and behold, this British gem finds its way onto my DVR. Village of the Damned. I had never seen it, although I was very familiar with it. I remember the Carpenter remake coming out a few (well, now many) years ago (I haven't seen that either). I knew of the blond creepy kids, and I knew one of my favorite actors, George Sanders, starred (I love Sanders in All About Eve. What a bitch!). Yet, I had not taken the time to watch it. Until now. It was a Christmas miracle! A gift to me from the baby Jesus and the horror Gods!
I love this movie. It is dark, creepy, scary as hell and it has such a great ending! In the small British village of Midwich lives one Professor Gordon Zellaby (George Sanders). Zellaby, along with all the inhabitants of Midwich, experience what becomes known as a "time out". They all lose consciousness for a few hours, and despite the arrival of the Military, no one can figure out why or how. After the time out, all the women in the village who are able find themselves pregnant, including Zellaby's wife Anthea.
These children grow into strange, blood haired creatures who communicate telepathically and possess extreme intelligence. Zellaby's child, David, seems to be the leader. David is played by Martin Stephens, who also starred as Miles in The Innocents. He is offically the creepiest child actor of all time.
Zellaby decides he must destroy the children. I know, it sounds harsh, but the children are quite evil, and they don't hesitate to kill anyone that stands in their way. Zellaby, aware that David can read his mind, hatches a plan and tries to fool the children by thinking of a brick wall, a brick wall, a brick wall.....
Village of the Damned is now my favorite creepy child film. It would make a wonderful pairing with The Innocents and perhaps The Bad Seed. I really wish Martin Stephens had continued acting. Who knows what kind of creepy adult roles he could have played....
I took a break from obsessively watching the Star Trek: Into Darkness trailer to catch the trailer for Pacific Rim...
Looks like Del Toro finally made his Lovecraft movie. With robots. Still to early to tell but I think 2013 is going to be a geek paradise.....
Looks like Del Toro finally made his Lovecraft movie. With robots. Still to early to tell but I think 2013 is going to be a geek paradise.....
Sunday, November 25, 2012
OMG it's been so long. I wonder sometimes if I am losing my mind: I seem to have no sense of time any more. I have been watching so many great horror flicks but can't seem to find the time to write about them. Obviously it's time to find a new "real" job. Real life is cutting into Horror life and that is never a good thing. So now I write about I film I think I saw about a month ago: The Ghoul. Part of TCM's awesome Halloween Horror programing, The Ghoul is one of the great "lost and then found" films. Seriously, it was thought to be lost for 31 years. Maybe there is hope for London after Midnight after all.
The Ghoul stars Boris Karloff as Professor Morlant, and Egyptologist who believes he can beat death by possessing a special Egyptian diamond. Morlant steals the diamond, which sends various Egyptian badies after him.
Not that they are going to have to search long. Professor Morlant dies, presumably from some disease that make you look like a thousand year old Mummy. His servant, played by Ernest Thesiger of Bride of Frankenstein fame, takes the diamond with the (good) intention of giving it to Morlant's heirs, a pair of bickering cousins named Betty and Ralph. As Betty and Ralph try to uncover the mystery surrounding their Uncle, several nefarious characters come out of the woodwork to claim the diamond. Complicating the situation is the return of Professor Morlant, risen from the grave to steal back his diamond.
The conclusion of the film is of the Old Dark House variety, pretty typical of it's time. It was interesting to see such an early British horror film, especially one considered lost for so long. The picture quality is not great, and I wouldn't call The Ghoul scary, but come on! Karloff is in it! That alone makes it worthy enough.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Happy Halloween everyone! I am going to spend most of the day carving pumpkins and turnips and watching horror films. Otherwise known as a perfect day! Started out the day listening to old-timey Halloween music. Made me nostalgic for anything old-timey Halloweenie... so enjoy this spooky classic from the new owners of Lucasfilm (DON'T LET GEORGE ANYWHERE NEAR THE NEW TRILOGY!!!!!!).
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Alright it's that time where I bore with a slide show of my vacation! Don't worry, I didn't take a cruise and there are no pictures of the food I ate (although I did go to Rosco's Chicken and Waffles twice!). I took a horror vacation to Southern California! I tell you, SoCal is where it is at in October. There is so much going on there you could do a Halloween themed activity every night! I only had two nights (this was a very short vacation) so I went to Universal Studios to check out this years Halloween Horror Nights!
I haven't been to Universal Hollywood since I was a kid, and a lot has changed. The Tram Tour is a lot different. One difference is that you now go RIGHT PAST NORMAN BATES HOUSE!! WhoHoo! When I was a kid you passed it, but from very far away. Now the tram takes you right past the Bates Motel and the House. More on this later..
As for the nighttime, I got there at 7:00 and didn't leave until 12:30am. That is how long it takes you to get through everything. I will admit: I skipped Bill and Teds Halloween Adventure. I don't feel bad about it.
I wasn't able to take many pictures during the evening: flash photography is prohibited and trust me: I tried and was shut down every time. Here are a few pictures I took during the day. They have to keep some things set up all day: all the little kiddies there were crying! It was awesome.
The first thing I did at night was get on the Terror Tram invaded by The Walking Dead. Unlike the day time tram, this ride lets you off at the Bates Motel. You actually walk on the porch of the Bates Motel as Walkers chase you!! They chase you right past the Psycho House and through the plane crash set from War of the Worlds. It was pretty awesome. The great thing is that is was so dark you couldn't see the Walkers until they were walking right next to you!!
As for the other mazes my two favorites were of course "The Walking Dead: Dead Inside" which recreates multiple scenes from the show, including the Well Walker, my favorite! Walkers attack you even after you leave the maze, which as also a highlight. My absolute favorite maze, and I am sorry about this Walking Dead, was "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Not only do multiple Leatherfaces jump out at you, the actors they hired look exactly the the people from the film! They even recreate the dinner scene! I felt sorry for the poor actress tied the the chair screaming the whole time!! I hope she got a break!
The "Silent Hill" maze was pretty amazing as well. Nurses, nurses everywhere!! They also chase you once you are out of the maze. "Alice Cooper 3D" was a day glow nightmare! It was the longest line I waited in but totally worth it!
The next day we visited "Hollywood Forever" cemetery. I was happy to visit with Peter Lorre..
And one of my heroes: Mel Blanc.
We also visited The Museum of Death. Again, no pictures inside but well worth the visit.
Among other things, The Museum of Death features a Serial Killer art gallery ( a lot of Gacy), the Guillotined head of the Blue Beard of Paris, various Death Row devices, and a lot of pictures and footage from real life crime scenes. This stuff is hardcore, and if you like your horror only as fiction, don't go here! I loved it, but I admit it was right on the edge of what I could handle. I thought I would have nightmares all night, but luckily I was too exhausted.
Finally, we made it out to Culver City to "Holy Cross Cemetery" for one very special grave..
Many thanks to J.W. Ockers "Odd Things I've Seen" website. I would have never found the grave if it wasn't for him. "Holy Cross" is not the most interesting cemetery. All the headstones are the same. But it is worth the trip. A lot of Hollywood stars are buried there, including Bela in his cape!
That is me and the Freeze-Dried bat I bought at this awesome store called Necromance. You can buy all manner of curio there, including human bones, Ouija Boards, Opium Pipes, whatever. I bought a bat I named Bela. Bela met Bela, it was pretty special.
As a bonus, Sharon Tate is also buried at Holy Cross. Having just seen very graphic photos of her body at The Museum of Death, seeing her grave was very creepy. Next year I hope to spend more time in LA in October. It is a creepy place anyway, even more so during the best month of the year!
I am so lucky to live in a town with a theatre that plays classic movies! This month, the Stanford Theatre is having a Universal Studios festival! Perfect month for it: they are playing all the classic Universal Horror films. I have already written about most of them but one film I caught at the festival I had never seen before: The Mystery of Edwin Drood starring Claude Rains. The Mystery of Edwin Drood was Charles Dickens last, unfinished novel. I have a bit of an obsession with Chuck D, especially after reading Dan Simmons novel Drood, about the last 5 years of Dickens life. And of course, who doesn't love speculating about an unfinished novel by one of the greatest writers of all time! Many have "finished" Edwin Drood, to various degrees of success. This film, directed by Stuart Walker, follows the novel faithfully, and offers a very satisfying conclusion. Although more of a mystery thriller than true horror, The Mystery of Edwin Drood delivers plenty of chills, thanks in part to Claude Rains.
Rains plays John Jasper, a Choirmaster and bachelor who also happens to be an opium addict. Although the word "opium" is never spoken, it is clear that he visits an opium den to "forget." What is he trying to forget? That his Nephew, Edwin Drood (played by Universal Horror fixture David Manners) is about to marry Rosa Bud (Heather Angel), the only woman Jasper has loved. The feeling is not mutual. In fact, Rosa doesn't even want to marry Edwin. They were betrothed as children. When Rosa meets the handsome but hot-tempered Neville Landless (Douglass Montgomery), it is love at first sight. Neville feels the same way, and decides that he hates Edwin, who is rather nonchalant about his upcoming wedding. The two men fight, and Neville, who is a hot-head, pulls a knife on Edwin. All of this is witnessed by John Jasper.
After the fight, Edwin and Rosa decide not to marry. Edwin is actually a very good man, and he wants Rosa to be happy. It is clear that Rosa and Neville are in love, so Edwin gives them his blessing. They decide to keep the news quiet, so as not to spoil the holidays. This means that Jasper has no idea that his Nephew is NOT going to marry Rosa. Unfortunately, Jasper has already set in motion a plan to get rid of Edwin, so that he can have Rosa to himself...
I don't want to spoil any more, but needless to say a lot of melodrama ensues. Again, the performance by Claude Rains is amazing. He is a very, very wicked man, but you can't help but feel sorry for him, especially when he learns about the broken engagement, a little to late...
The "ending" here is very acceptable and perfect for a Hollywood film. It is a happy ending where evil is punished and the innocent live happily ever after. Dickens had laid out the ending of his novel to a friend in a letter, so we actually do know how it was supposed to end, which is slightly different than this version. I really loved this film, although it does drag a bit in the middle. It is very atmospheric and quite romantic. I found the depiction of drug abuse interesting; it is not something that I would expect in a film from this period. And of course, Claude Rains: how could you not love him? Even as a drug addicted obsessive psychopath, he has a special place in my horror heart!
Saturday, October 13, 2012
I finally made it to the theatre to see an actual film! Yeah me! That film was Frankenweenie by Tim Burton. The last few Burton films have been a bit "off". Frankenweenie is Burton's return to form!
Frankenweenie is nostalgic and sweet, without being "overly" sweet! It's funny but doesn't go for cheap laughs. Burton's love of the horror genre is on full display here, making it a "must-see" for any monster kid.
The story is simple. Boy loves dog. Boy loses dog. Boy brings dog back from the dead! Young Victor Frankenstein is a lonely but brilliant kid, whose best friend in the whole world is his dog Sparky. When Sparky dies after being hit by a car, Victor is inconsolable.
Inspired by his science teacher Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by the amazing Martin Landau), Victor goes all Mary Shelley on Sparky and it works! Sparky returns better than ever. The only problem is keeping this secret quiet, which is especially hard when you have creepy kids like Edgar "E" Gore hanging around!
When Edgar learns Victor's secret, he tells all of their schoolmates. Soon, everyone is bringing once beloved pets back from the dead, with disastrous consequences..
No one wants to be chased by a mummy hamster!! Frankenweenie is a perfect October film. It made me feel all warm and cuddly! I don't know anything about children but I think you could take little kids to see this and they would like it. I am not a good judge of such things. At 5 I was watching Last House on the Left so my perspective on what is appropriate for kids MIGHT be a little off....
Back to Amityville II. I was intrigued because Tommy Lee Wallace wrote the script and Rutanya Alda starred as the Mom, Dolores Montelli. Alda also starred in one of my favorite films of all time: Mommie Dearest. She played Carol Ann, the Assistant who picked the drunken Joan Crawford up off the floor. Such an awesome film. Those are pretty weak reasons, I will admit, but I seem to be on a bad sequel run, so it was appropriate.
Here is the story. Amityville II is a prequel of sorts, concentrating on the real life murders that took place in the house before the Lutz family moved in. Instead of the DeFeo family, we have the Montelli family: Dad (Paulie from Rocky), Mom, Sonny (the Ronald DeFeo, Jr. character), daughter Patricia, and two little ones. The family is a mess to begin with. The Dad is abusive, and it is suggested he rapes his wife. Mom is a co-dependant mess. Sonny and Patricia seem pretty normal, at least until they sleep together half way through the film! Yuck. Seriously, this is one of the most horrible “love” scenes I have ever seen. Of course, brother Sonny is by this point possessed by a demon, but that is no excuse for incest! Gross. Before the demon possession, weird things begin to happen around the house. Dad blames everything on his kids, which leads to more beatings. Mom tries to get a Priest to come bless the house, but even he is skeeved out by this family and doesn’t complete the blessing. Later, after Sonny kills his family (they pretty much deserved it), the Priest feels all guilty and tries to prove that Sonny is innocent. "Twas the Demon that killed the family!" What malarkey! (Thanks Joe Biden!)
Amityville II has a few spooky scenes in it and the sequence where Sonny kills his family is truly chilling. But that alone does not make this worth watching!! It is just a weird film and quite honestly, after the family is killed it should have ended. But it goes on and on and on.
In other news, the Amityville house used in the film is apparently for sale. This wasn't the "real" Amityville house where all the shenanigans took place. That house, in Long Island, has been altered and the address changed. I bet it is not too hard to find. I would love to buy that house. I can handle demon pigs with glowing red eyes!