Category Archives: Horror

Seeing RED (audio)


Story by Zenryhao Narration by W. O’Hara

A Short Review of THE PRESTIGE (novel, not film)


The PrestigeThe Prestige by Christopher Priest
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a re-read, actually. I first read the Prestige closer to its original date and remember it fondly as a somewhat slow paced Victorian style novel with lots of thematic flavor. Seeing the 2006 film again recently rekindled my interest in the original novel. The novel Prestige and the film Prestige are fundamentally different stories. The novel is superior to the film in many ways. There are some critical plot hooks here that I refuse to reveal as foreknowledge will ruin both the book and the film for you. So consider this review to be spoiler free. The novel is told in epistolary fashion, with excerpts from the diaries of the two protagonists, Rupert Angier and Alfred Borden (Rupert is “Robert” in the movie for some reason). Both are stage magicians, and both of them have fundamental philosophies of magic that are at odds with the other. Borden is from a working class family, and he emphasizes personal sacrifice and rigorous adherence to his magician’s public persona as the price paid for his performance. Angier is the disinherited son of a noble family, and he favors apparatus and science over substance. Due to a tragic misunderstanding early in both of their careers, Angier suffers injury at Borden’s hands. A feud develops between the two magicians that comes to dominate both of their lives. The lengths both magicians take to hurt each other is the central focus, and entertainment of the novel. The novel has a Rashomon-like quality as we read events first from Alfred’s, then Rupert’s point of view (through diary entries). There is a third correspondent who is revealed very late in the novel, that ties it all together, and an encompassing narrative from a modern day descendant of Borden at the start and finish of the novel that doesn’t do much for the plot but wrap all the diary entries into a neat package.

Summary: I enjoyed it much more the second time– I really didn’t respond to the creepy thrilling elements of the original novel as much the first time. The Prestige has so many great edge of your seat moments written into it. There are many great visuals that (in my mind) would have made a better movie than what Christopher Nolan put on the screen in 2006, and I like that movie.
Nolan did a disservice to the original by combining several supporting characters together and making the two magicians as one-time friends. This is a great story and much better as a novel than a film.

View all my reviews

Watch AMERICAN SCARY on Snagfilms.. right now!


Do the names Vampira, Elvira, Count Gore De Vol, Joe Bob Briggs, Zacharly, Sir Graves Ghastly, and Ghoulardi mean something to you? What? They do? They you probably are part of that slice of Americana that grew up Horror Movie hosts playing on Friday nights on your local UHF channel. I know I did. My favorite was Washington DC’s own Count Gore De Vol, courtesy of local UHF channel 20. The good count (Dick Dyzel) is still active today, albeit on a web broadcast. These were the intrepid guides to the world of bad horror films– the Creature Features, the Midnight Movie shows, etc. that played on most local television stations in most major markets for most of the 70s and 80s on broadcast television. Subsequently, they were banished to the nether hells of basic cable, where they live, and mostly thrive, today.

What delighted me as a kid wasn’t the movies so much– they were all Grade Z and below stuff- safely in the public domain, and thus eligible for broadcast. What I liked was the antics of the host, who was usually someone from daytime who was dragooned into working the horror show gig for some extra cash. There was a nascent art form there, and many local hosts were great at it.

Arguably the first American Horror Show TV host was “Vampira”, aka Finnish actress Maila Nurmi. She was a hostess for a local Los Angeles station for a relatively short period of time (1954-1955) but her impact was enormous, and she spawned many imitators, including (as she maintains)
Elvira, Mistress of the dark.

Television was more fragile then, so a lot of the recordings associated with the early films have dissolved into ruin. There are still a few recordings out there, and SnagFilms just released a historical documentary on the subject, which you can view for free. Just click on Vampira’s face,below.

click to view American Scary

Click to view AMERICAN SCARY on SnagFilms.

HISTORICON 2014 AAR


 

Last weekend, 16-20 July 2014, the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (HMGS) put on their big convention for the year, HISTORICON. This was an anniversary convention– HISTORICON has existed 30 years, depending on whom you ask. HISTORICON, is as you might guess, primarily a convention for playing games with toy soldiers. It is and has always been historically themed and historical based games are usually encouraged over all others, such as SF and Fantasy.  That doesn’t mean that the latter aren’t represented at the convention, as we will discuss in due course.

Tragically (though we didn’t know it at the time), one of the earliest collaborators who created HISTORICON and was a founder of HMGS itself wasn’t going to attend the 30th Anniversary.  Mr. Bob Coggins, famous to many as the co-creator of Napoleon’s Battles, suddenly passed away Wednesday night as he was getting ready to attend HISTORICON. Sad news indeed, and tragically ironic, considering Bob’s past experience with HISTORICON.

Yes, there WAS an anniversary cake; however, it didn’t cost 6 grand, it was free! (Donation from CostCo)

The facility, the Fredericksburg Convention Center, has worked very hard to address problems with the main hall’s oppressive acoustics. Anyone who ran a game in the main hall in 2012 remembers the ear-splitting din on Saturday night. The hall is essentially a great concrete box, with no sound baffling– thus sound has nowhere to go but up, where it ricochets off the ceiling contributing to very loud crowd sounds. Last year HMGS put up draping and cloth area dividers, which helped a lot. THIS year they managed to get the center to put out cheap carpeting, which helps even more with sound abatement (and tired feet). I conducted no analysis on sound levels (not being equipped to measure it correctly), so I can’t say HOW much better it is, but to use an anecdote to illustrate, I was able to hold a normal conversation with Leo Walsh, the GM of the game I was in, on Saturday night during prime time, and I could hear him just fine even with a 40% hearing loss.  Contrast that with two years ago (no room dividers, not carpet) and I had to speak at a high volume just short of shouting in order to be heard at Howard Whitehouse’s Cairo game (20 + players), and I ended up with an ear splitting headache from the din on a Saturday night.  Good job, FCC.  Oh, and the chairs were very nice and accommodating of a gamer’s generous frame this year.

Carpeting didn’t extend ALL the way across the room, it was a money thing. This is the Flea Market area, Wednesday night setting up

Carpeting: not plush or shag, it kept our feet from getting sore and absorbed the din.

This was a good year for community outreach efforts. The City of Fredericksburg is, from all reports, delighted to have HMGS in place in July, as we fill the place up and have a healthy economic impact on the surrounding area, particularly the area restaurants. We saw some quid pro quo arrangements with Price Club (Free Anniversary cake), Krispy Kreme (free doughnuts) and some other vendors. This kind of arrangement can be invaluable in building up a community that supports a convention, and I think we’re making great strides.

Staff meeting, Wednesday Night

I worked staff for HISTORICON, events desk for four days, early shift, and creating Guidebook, which isn’t a staff job at HISTORICON.

Events were pretty “thin” Thursday, as you can see.

I encountered two consistent issues working the events desk this year: for one thing, people were complaining about just how few games were being put on at this event. Most games were already filled up with pre-registrants before anyone set foot in the convention hall. The remaining history games were snapped up very quickly, leaving a familiar hodgepodge of “history-ish” games (pulp, wild west, VSF, etc.) and lots and lots of Battletech.  So, from my 1000 feet up perch, if your game was historically themed, and you brought it to HISTORICON 2014, and you didn’t get any players– you’ve only got yourself to blame.  It was a Seller’s Market to be sure.  Where were all the History Games??

The Games

I have to fess up here. I was a slacker due to illness in the family and work issues. I just didn’t have my act together to run my game, and spent an inordinate amount of time re-writing a confusing rules section for Friday’s game on Thursday! So I won’t belabor you with 1000 pictures of historical miniatures, but I will mention a few that I thought really did a great job.

My game, THE MAD QUEST FOR THE ORB OF POWER, a Big Danged Boats game, did get run and went off very well indeed.  I’m very happy with how everything worked.  I’ve already posted on this elsewhere; take a ticket (click on the picture below) to view the AAR.

Not bad for a non-historical game run in a somewhat hard to find meeting room at the far end of the Convention Hall! Click me to see the AAR.

The Spectacular Martian Front game run as a demo on the reserved table spaces in Exhibit Hall A.  This game was astonishing eye candy, beautifully executed, and well deserving of a PELA, which I heard it received.  Hey, I certainly was encouraged.   You can see more pictures by clicking the Tripods below.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PICTURES FROM THE MARTIAN FRONT

Duncan MacFarlane ran a visually stunning Battle of Arklow (set in the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798) all weekend long.  He admitted to me it was his first event at a HMGS convention ever.

Click to see more pictures from ARKLOW.

Frank Chadwick’s MARS NEEDS STEAM game (a reworking of his great old Soldier’s Companion rules) looks bat-shit steampunk crazy every year.  I think they went above and beyond with the terrain and vehicles this year.

The centerpiece of MARS NEEDS STEAM. CLICK to see more MNS photographs.

Tim Broome and (I think) Bill Rutherford put on a great D-Day game that focused on British Beaches.  The scale was somewhat attenuated but who cares, it was great fun.

Tim Broome’s award winning game. CLICK THE PICTURE to see about a half a dozen pictures from this event.

It really warmed the cockles of my heart to see this game being set up and included in the schedule. Many years ago, I ran a game series that focused on racing conveyances in a VSF universe. It was called LE GRANDE CIRQUE. It’s heartening to see the younger generation running with a similar idea.

VSF Racing game held Wednesday night and another time during the con, both were times when I couldn’t participate. .Dang it. CLICK THIS IMAGE to see more.

 

Bob Giglio appears to be getting interested in the Phillipine American guerrilla war (post Spanish American war) these days. Beautiful setup as always.

A really great mixed land/naval game apparently in nominal 6mm scale (I think, at least the land portion, the ships are too small) . Click to see more.

The games that were put on were the standard range of wonderful, professional layouts to guys putting felt cloth on the table.   As I’ve stated, there was a fair share of big beautiful alt-history games or history-ish games– more so, I think, than history.  Which could explain why the Mars game won our PELA award.  Why not?  It was well deserved.

PELA Awards

The standard boardgame stuff crept into the convention as well, and the crossover games.   All a good thing, I think.. I think of them as stepping stones.

X-Wing Miniatures from Fantasy Flight Games

I THINK this was an adaption of DAWN PATROL (TSR) in 1:72 scale.

As far as events were concerned, the ones that ran were of a decent quality overall and visually appealing.    There did not seem to be a lot of them, in my opinion.

Saturday, 10 AM. Just saying.

The Other Stuff

The hotel I stayed at, the Hampton Inn, was overall just fine to borderline mediocre.  Nothing at all wrong with it except, perhaps, for the wretched breakfast.  The actual phrase “Wretched Breakfast” dropped by to lodge a complaint that the kitchen was making it look bad.  Still, why whine about a complimentary breakfast?  It was what it was.

The bathrooms in the convention hall were less crowded than the first year, but the floor gets truly disgusting.  I’m not sure what can be done about that.  My friend, “Spastic Joe”, apologizes in advance for next year.

The Weather was the big surprise this year.  Meaning, it was lovely.  Last year, I think it might have crested the 100 degree mark.  That made walking even a short distance outside sheer misery– a gasping, sweaty affair.  This year a recent rainstorm had cooled things down somewhat and the temps hovered in the 70s. For the entire weekend.

Food: I ended up skipping said wretched breakfast after the first day and eating (most days) at Wegmans, which was within an easy, n0n-gasping, non-sweat drenched walking distance.

The Obligatory Wednesday Night Greasy Ball of Death at Five Guys proved to be the most unhealthy thing consumed the entire show. And my innards thanked me later.

Most of my meals were quick affairs as I ate by myself mostly.  Even being in an area with dozens of restaurants within easy distance, it proved to be easy enough to eat healthy or quasi-healthy.

If you’ve been reading along, I did the Guidebook app for this convention, and had excellent support from Mr. Bill Rutherford, Ms. Heather Blush, Mr. Dudley Garidel and Mr. Scott Holder.   About one quarter to one third of the attendees used or downloaded guidebook, and then we went over our “free” threshold so Guidebook (the corporation) froze our downloads at the show by Thursday.  It happens.  So if you tried to download and were denied, that’s what happened.

Exhibitors

To be honest, I didn’t buy much, and what I did buy was fueling my Gaming Camp for Kids I’ll be putting on in a few short weeks.  I was severely tempted by Alien Dungeon’s Mars game.  It’s just so wonderfully well thought out from a visual perspective.  I have no idea how it plays, but the toys, they are special (see above for pictures from the big demo game).

My two favorite places to stop at any HISTORICON is On Military Matters (who appears to not be servicing shows in Virginia) and Belle and Blade.  Belle and Blade had a great selection of newer films.  None of which I could afford, but that is as may be.

Hey, Look! It’s Dick Bryant’s grandson!

I did end up buying JUGULA and two of the card decks after finding out what Tomahawk studio’s latest scheme to make money is.  That’s really irritating– the game is virtually unplayable without special 12 dollar (a piece) card decks. that are literally symbiotic  in the rules.. you can’t play the game without them.

Flea Market

Wally’s basement was spacious and not too crowded.  After the initial rush I visited most sessions.  I’m profoundly unimpressed.  Everything that was there I could find for cheaper prices in other venues.  No great bargains for me.

My problem is a lot of this stuff I’ve seen for 5 or 6 shows running.

Summary:

I think it was a very pleasant convention.  Somewhat low in games played but who cares..  a very huge thank you to Paul, Kevin and everyone on the team.

Hey, someone brought an old fashoned “Palm Pilot” to the event. I don’t think Guidebook runs on it!

So until next year, I leave you with this Youtube from someone who dragged a camera round the event.   See you next year.

Photos: This is most of what I shot (about 119 pictures overall) for the whole shooting match, unsorted, which should have some new pictures I haven’t posted in this narrative, visit here.

The Stalker (1979)


Years after SOLARIS, Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovskiy ventured into an almost Lovecraftian mode of storytelling with the little known movie THE STALKER. I just heard about it on Lovecraft Zine. One of the nicer bits about the Youtube boom is that I’m discovering full length movies cropping up now and then (especially ones in foreign languages, which is just ducky with me). Here, then, is Andrey Tarkovskiy’s THE STALKER, in two parts, courtesy of Youtube.

Part 1

Part 2

Enjoy!

reblog: There Will Be Blood (And Tentacles): A Review Of “Arkham Horror”


I personally love playing Arkham Horror and own the base game plus three expansions: Dunwich, Kingsport and the Curse of the Mummy. It can be quite a time commitment to play and thus I don’t see it on the table more than just once in a while, which is a shame.  This post is from the Lovecraft E-zine Blog and I’m reblogging it because I love the game.  

Lovecraft eZine

This post written by Repairer of Reputations.

Vincent Lee’s hand shook as he focused on the gun he was loading.  He gave a shudder when he heard Sister Mary scream.  It was cut off abruptly by a sickening rip the doctor knew to be the tearing of flesh. That was followed by the patter of the nun’s blood raining down on the street.  Lee tried to steel his nerves as he crouched behind the car, but the serpent god Yig let out a roar that made Lee start to tremble violently.  He took a deep breath and thrust out his guns as he stood, unloading both barrels into the Ancient One.  The great snake howled in rage as the bullets struck, leaving a bloody pulp where its eye had been.  Lee saw his opportunity and started to hobble for a nearby doorway.  The beating the monster had already given…

View original post 1,237 more words

Northern Virginia hits the big time at last.


PosterI’m sure many of you readers don’t recall my posts of six years ago, on the subject of Northern Virginia‘s own crazed killer legend, the Bunnyman.  If you feel like catching up, run off and read:

Now that you are caught up, I am pleased to notice that someone, somewhere noticed our little errant serial killer (well, myth of a serial killer) the Bunnyman.  Apparently the visual of a crazed axe wielding murderer in a bunny suit was too hard for the entertainment industry to resist, and they made a movie about him.

Click here for the BUNNYMAN trailer on Youtube. 

(the embedded version was hanging up the browser for some reason)

Of course, the locale looks more like Oregon instead of Northern Virginia.  In every respect, this movie is about as horrific as you would expect out of a low budget scare flick, with distinctive 80’s style horror tropes, including:

  • The gang of stupid young people on a car trip
  • Crazed killer in mask
  • Somebody’s oversexed
  • Somebody’s an insensitive jerk
  • Somebody’s sensible and sensitive, and of course, sympathetic
  • The hillbillies are sullen, hostile and oversexed
  • People walk off by themselves so they are easy to kill
  • Lots and lots of screaming
  • A Chainsaw.. of course
  • A woman is the last one left
  • The Serial Killer listens to classical music on a record player

You know the drill.  It’s poorly lit, poorly shot, the dialogue is terrible, and the action sequences are laughably bad.  There’s some car vs. truck sequences early on in the film, stolen directly from THE DUEL, and they are shot at what appears to be 14 miles an hour.  At one point, one of the stupid people is under the car “fixing” something that inexplicably broke (they cut something out, it’s not quite explained what happened).  The truck drives slowly up and literally taps the bumper, it’s not even dented very hard.  This apparently kills the dude under the car instantly and obviously, as his friends look under, get up and just walk away.  You didn’t even check for a pulse?  Reach for a car jack and try to get his body out?  Really??  The rest of the movie is entirely predictable along these lines, with an attempt at a couple of twists  and very lame jump scares.  It’s not scary, it’s not even particularly in the category of “so bad it’s good”, but it IS based on Northern Virginia’s home boy, so it was worth one viewing.  AND ONLY ONE VIEWING!!! (and only if you are from Northern Virginia).  Friends… can I call you friends?  If you want to watch a movie excellent in every respect that mocks movies like this, seek out the Anti-Gore film, Tucker and Dale versus Evil, which I think is still available for rental on Itunes.  You will not regret it.

The "Bunny Man Bridge", an example o...

The REAL Bunnyman Bridge, located only a few miles from my house. Image via Wikipedia

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Aside

The Silent Land by Graham Joyce My rating: 2 of 5 stars The Silent Land was a decent read, but not a riveting one. Jake and Zoe are caught up in a sudden avalanche while skiing. They emerge from a … Continue reading

Watch Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown Online for free at SnagFilms


SNAG FILMS.com is a website, somewhat like YOUTUBE in concept, where commercial documentaries can find an audience. This is a good mission; documentaries really have very few set distribution channels these days– maybe the aspiring documentary director will get lucky at a film festival and sell it to an arts cable channel like A&E or Sundance, but the odds are against it.  So Snag Films tries to create an “Amazon Style” marketplace with a “Youtube Style” front end.

Most documentaries on SNAG can be viewed in condensed format to give a prospective customer a  preview.  Recently, LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN became available in toto for viewing online only.  Rather nice of the director (Mr. Frank Woodward), I thought.

(2008) 90 min

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is Fear of the Unknown.

“H.P. Lovecraft was the forefather of modern horror fiction having inspired such writers as Stephen King, Robert Bloch and Neil Gaiman. The influence of his Cthulhu mythos can be seen in film (Re-animator, Hellboy, and Alien), games (The Call of Cthulhu role playing enterprise), music (Metallica, Iron Maiden) and pop culture in general.

But what led an Old World, xenophobic gentleman to create one of literature’s most far-reaching mythologies?  What attracts even the minds of the 21st century to these stories of unspeakable abominations and cosmic gods?

LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN is a chronicle of the life, work and mind that created these weird tales as told by many of today’s luminaries of dark fantasy including John Carpenter (The Thing), Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), Neil Gaiman (Coraline), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), Caitlin Kiernan (“Daughter of Hounds”) and Peter Straub (“Ghost Story”).”

Credits

Director

Frank H. Woodward

Writer

Frank H. Woodward

 

Produced by

William Janczewski
James B. Myers
Frank H. Woodward

To view Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, click this link.

Watch Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown | Watch Free Documentaries Online | SnagFilms.

The Spooky Movie Festival Report


Spooky Movie Zombie Night 2009

Spooky Movie Zombie Night 2009

I’ve been attending the SPOOKY MOVIE FESTIVAL, being held at the Cinema Arts Fairfax, VA and AFI Silver theater, Silver Spring, MD. Alas, I couldn’t catch the Herschel Gordon Lewis retrospective on Wednesday and couldn’t do Thursday night either (too hard during the week). I did catch ZOMBIE NIGHT Friday and NIGHT OF HORRORS Saturday. One of the reasons I’m such a fan of film festivals is there really isn’t much of a market for short films except for niche markets like either festivals or a network like AMC TV, or the Sundance Channel. And that goes double for genres like horror during any month of the year except October.

George's Intervention

George's Intervention

Thursday night’s selections were clustered around a theme.  Zombie Night was great fun.

The Shorts

A standout was the short Spanish Romantic comedy “Zombies and Cigarettes“.

Lazarus Taxon was short, murky and quite creepy– the ending is a bit telegraphed, but it does redefine the notion of resurrection.

Closing up the shorts, RISING UP: A STORY OF THE ZOMBIE RIGHTS MOVEMENT was quite amusing, but mostly the odd awkward pauses during the flashback sequences made the movie so funny.

The Features

There were two features: the first one was GEORGE’S INTERVENTION, which was sheer comedic genius. George is among the ranks of the undead, and his party guests keep disappearing mysteriously.  Carlos Larkin, who played

Doctor S Poster

Doctor S Poster

George, was around to take questions from the audience.  Apparently there will be a trilogy of George films, the next one (if it can get made) taking place in a Rehab center of the damned.

Last film of the evening was DOCTOR S BATTLES THE SEX CRAZED REEFER ZOMBIES: THE MOVIE.  This was a black and white Cold War themed comedy about the undead coming back possessed by effects of “Mary Jane”.  With a ton of flashbacks and an odd depth of field coupled by jerky pacing and murky lighting style, I was least impressed with this.

The following night wasn’t themed around any particular niche genre like monsters, vampires or zombies.  Just a collection of oddities.  There were more shorts, and more experimental, less ‘cheap laughs” oriented than the preceding night.

The Shorts

MORE CONTROL was great– an indie band called “The Heist and the Accomplice” cooperated to make a neat little story of a haunted theater that turns the table on the band that came there to film a music video.  As a feller who did his own share of “proudly filming in the Super 8” format back in the day (as was written in MORE CONTROL’s credits) I had some appreciation for More Control’s ability to do more with less.

ALTAR was one of my favorites of the evening.  Every single day is the same for Casper Stipend. He wakes up, he goes to work, he cleans a lonely women’s room at the end of a deserted hallway in an indistinct building of sorts. Every day he cleans, and every day he finds the same filth and bizarre objects clogging his one duty; from dolls to bibles, there is nothing this commode won’t chuck at him. As he becomes more unhinged and disconnected from his own societal realities, he finds a connection in the last place he would’ve looked. I loved the actor playing the Casper Stipend, the Janitor (Andrew Jenner), who has an uncanny ability to deadpan directly towards the camera.

Childhood horrors come true with THE NIGHTMARE, a fantastic little independent shot by (literally) a father and son team.  NIGHTMARE was wonderful, and the ending is fantastic.

BECOMING ROMAN is funnier, and it reminds me of an old Clive Barker story from his Books of Blood era.  The left hand of Roman decides he shall supplant the right hand’s dominance.  An interesting dialogue (and fight) ensues.  Then the left develops loftier intentions, and is surprised with results.  Very clever and minimalist, and also quite funny.

One of the standout hits of the night was PHENOMENA: PROBING THE PARANORMAL, a new series of vids that will be available on the internet. PHENOMENA tells the story of a team of ham-fisted occult ‘specialists’ that can’t seem to do anything right.  This is a local group of filmmakers from Richmond VA, and they were at the festival to answer questions.  Apparently this series will feature the same actors over and over again, parodying those terrible “ghost chaser” style shows cropping up all over cable TV– but in their case, always finding something real (with disastrous results).  I was heartened by the notion that they will be back every week, resurrected like Kenny from South Park.

The Features

AUDIE AND THE WOLF is a larger budget effort from B. Scott O’Malley.  O’Malley takes the classic werewolf story and reverses it.  A gentle, friendly wolf turns into a savage, bloodthirsty MAN by the light of the full moon every month.  A nice twist!  O’Malley is aiming at SHAUN OF THE DEAD territory here, playing violence for laughs.  Sadly, it does drag a bit in the middle.  Still the two leads (Derek Hughes and Tara Price) carry the slow parts nicely.

FINALE was one of the creepiest movies of the night.  A mother comes to grips with her son hanging himself.  Was it the suicide that everyone assumes, or was he enmeshed in the evil designs of a demon worshiping cult that summons “the Collector” from mirrors?  To discover answers to her questions, she must get dragged into the same madness that claimed her son.  Finale drags a bit in the center but has a tremendous bang up ending– and not much of a happy ending either.

So far, the Spooky Movie Festival has been a great time and I really appreciate the work of Mr. C.W. Prather in putting this event together.

<img class=”size-medium wp-image-2770″ title=”Photo_102309_004″ src=”https://misternizz.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/photo_102309_004.jpg?w=300&#8243; alt=”George’s Intervention” width=”300″ height=”225″ />

George's Intervention

RELATED:

Live stream of RISING UP: THE ZOMBIE RIGHTS MOVEMENT on Sony’s Crackle server until 31 OCT
BECOMING ROMAN on Vimeo

Spooky Movie Festival UPDATE… a little viral promotional love for local horror festivals


Click to visit the festival website

Click to visit the festival website

The program guide for Washington D.C.’s very own international horror movie film festival, The Spooky Movie Film Festival, has been released and it is looking splendid. I think the best deal is the all week long pass.

The Spooky Movie Festival will start on October 20th and run through the 29th. I hope to see my fellow horror movie fanatics there.

Related:

The Spooky Movie Festival: Washington D.C.’s own international Horror Film Festival


Nov. 2, 2009

From the Press Release:

(Washington, D.C.) SPOOKY MOVIE: 2009 – THE 4th ANNUAL WASHINGTON, D.C.INTERNATIONAL HORROR FILM FESTIVAL is proud to announce that the Opening Night event this year will be the 45th Anniversary Screening of one of the most influential and controversial films of the last half-century, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! Filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis will help introduce the film as well as provide a lively Q&A session following the screening (perhaps even leading a sing-along of his infamous opening titles song), at the American Film Institute’s AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD, on Wednesday, October 21 at 9:00 p.m.
“We are looking forward to our upcoming collaboration with the Spooky Movie festival,” said Todd Hitchcock, programmer for the AFI Silver Theatre. “And very excited about hosting the Opening Night screening of the cult classic TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! with Herschell Gordon Lewis attending!”

Former literature professor, Herschell Gordon Lewis, took inspiration from the 1947 Lerner and Loewe musical BRIGADOON when he set out to shoot (in less than 15 days on Florida locations that are now part of Disney World) the second installment of what would be known as “The Blood Trilogy.” Mayhem is just below the surface at all times, as the twisted realities of violent and grisly revenge play out in what many consider to be one of the most significant independent horror films of the modern era, and one that still manages to shock and disturb audiences today.

“The reason I am delighted to appear at Spooky Movie,” said filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis “is that the event is a gathering of sophisticated moviegoers who don’t hesitate to provide candid opinions!”

Preceding TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! will be a preview for the 2009 festival, as well as the
outstanding short film PSYCHO HILLBILLY CABIN MASSACRE!, which shows Mr. Lewis’ influence 45
years later with a new generation of independent filmmakers. Admission for Opening Night is $12.00 for the general public, or $9.00 for AFI members; tickets are now available at the AFI Silver box office, or through the website – www.afi.com/silver.
SPOOKY MOVIE: 2009 OPENING NIGHT begins a total of five days and nights showcasing some of
the very best in the exciting and diverse culture of new independent horror cinema.

Related: http://www.thespookymovie.com/

Virginia Creepers Mini-Documentary


Sean Kotz’s VIRGINIA CREEPERS: THE HORROR HOST TRADITION OF THE OLD DOMINION documentary is about ready to hit the market.

This is a promotional mini-documentary cut from the film Virginia Creepers. You can learn more about the film at http://www.virginiacreepersmovie.com, but in the meantime, enjoy this glimpse into an American art form.

Featuring:

Bowman Body
Count Gore De Vol
Dr. Madblood
Dr. Gruesome
Ronald the Ghoul
Shock Theater
Creature Feature
Horror Hosts
Karlos Borloff
Dr. Sarcofiguy

“9” is a runaway 10. A wonderful movie– see on the big screen


Gar and I went to see 9 at my second favorite Northern Virginia theater, the Cinema Arts in Fairfax.  I was astounded and delighted in Shane Aker’s wonderful simple story of technology and the human spirit.  “Human” Spirit?  Quite so, in the literal sense– but I don’t wish to give away too many details.

In the apocalyptic future of an Earth seen through a steampunk lens, 9, a little burlap covered homunculus, awakes to consciousness. As he takes in the devastated world he inhabits, he discovers 5, a being like him, although perhaps more technically inclined. He also discovers The Beast, a technological nightmare left over from an rebellion of machines over man.  The ensuing events leads him into contact with the others of his kind, homunculi built around elements of the human spirit: 1– the High Priest and Authority, 2– the Engineer, 3 &4– the twin keepers of Lore, 5– the Tinkerer and Gentle Spirit, 6- the Mystic, 7- the Warrior, and 8- Brute Force.  9 is clearly the catalyst, and he fulfills his role with gusto.  As a result of 9’s mistakes, an even greater danger than the Beast is awakened from the past.

Shane Aker’s storytelling sense is superb.  The film is lean, tense, action-packed and perfect.  For computer animations, the little homunculus puppets convey a surprising range of emotions.  The visuals are amazing– a mix of Harry Potter, the Golden Compass and City of Lost Children done in computer graphics.  The overall aesthetic is very much “steampunk’ with a plethora of cog and belt-driven Rube Goldberg devices dominating the camera frame throughout.

I trust Mr. Aker’s future in the movie industry is assured after ‘9’.  While you can still see it on the big screen, I would run, not walk, to do so.

Also noted: Postcards are already out for the 2009 THE SPOOKY MOVIE FILM FESTIVAL, put on by C.W. Prather, the guy who brought you Every Other Day is Halloween, the Count Gor De Vol documentary.   This year’s festival takes place 21-25 October 2009, at the Cinema Arts and the AFI Silver Theater, my favorite movie theater in the Maryland ‘burbs.  It’s not too early to get a buzz going for this wonderful local film festival– start spreading the word and blogging about it.  Expect to see more here.

A breath of fresh air into a tired film genre– e.g., a vampire movie that doesn’t suck.


I’m down on vampire genre films. They are becoming a little too formulaic for me. There seemed to be only so many ways to tell the by-now classic story of the noble vampire protagonist (usually played by a handsome, worldly wise male) anxious to let the sassy, beautiful but lonely heroine explore his inner human side with him. In the process, he discovers something new about himself, and humanity ain’t so bad after all… and… and.. (cue orchestral string music)

Lina Leandersson as Eli shows what happens when a vampire walks into a house uninvited

Lina Leandersson as Eli shows what happens when a vampire walks into a house uninvited

Last night, I managed to catch Tomas Alfredson’s LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008), a bittersweet romantic vampire story set in Sweden in the early 1980s. The movie is based closely upon the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who wrote the screenplay.  Oskar is a 12 year old loner routinely bullied by a sadistic group of children at his school. He is an introspective child, nursing secret hatreds and violent fantasies against his tormentors at school, but never doing anything about them.  Oskar lives with a somewhat clueless mother who is divorced from his alcoholic father. a factor that increases his tendency to draw inward. Into the mix comes Eli, a child vampire with a human partner named Hakan, a middle aged man. Eli is a child vampire. She, too, is lonely– she thinks of herself as being “twelve years old.. but for a very long time”.  In the book, she is revealed to be 200 but this is not referred to directly in the film. At first, Eli tries to ignore Oskar and his obvious loneliness, because of the nature of her condition and the risks it entails. Gradually, she warms to him and actively courts his friendship. Oskar manages to assert himself under her tutelage and the film moves along to a startling and rather bloody confrontation with Oskar’s tormentors.

I was astonished and greatly impressed with LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.  At times bittersweet, at times romantic, at times morbid and creepy, this movie has many layers of subtext, including loneliness, despair, social awkwardness, horror, sexuality and even a hint of pedophilia. This is more strongly developed in the book in the relationship between Hakan and Eli. The outstanding performances by the two child actors (Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar and Lina Leandersson as Eli) make this film a very memorable experience. Leandersson, in particular, puts in a virtuoso performance as the little woman in a child’s body– sad, cynical, and very lonely. Alfredson pays tribute to all the great vampire tropes here. His vampires cannot stand sunlight (demonstrated in a spectacular sequence), vampirism is an infestation spread by vampire bite, and in particular, vampires need to be invited in to households– the film draws its central theme (and title) from this notion of “letting someone in”. Both Oskar and Lina “let each other in” into each others lives.

Let the Right One In is a return to a more story-driven vampire movie– minimal special effects, no slow motion, no tight leather suits, techno music, no CGI (or none I could see), no excessive gore to tell the story. Instead, Alfredson relies on his actors to tell their story, and they do not disappoint. There’s blood there, of course, it’s a vampire film.  Yet the camera does not linger on this fact; the violence is often just offscreen or implied in a very elegant fashion.  Let the Right One In is a groundbreaking movie that deserves far more acclaim than it received in the United States. I was ignorant of its existence until I heard about it on a podcast recently. Alfredson appears to be a one-shot horror director, from what I have read, but I hope he continues to make movies. He is a talent.

Related: Let the Right One in (novel)