Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stephen King Says:

I actually read this article in Entertainment Weekly in the July 11, 2008 edition and I could not agree with Stephen King. He basically explains why ‘small is scary,’ and looking back on things… The smallest things, with the exception of The Blob or The Thing, usually scared me. I understand that Blair Witch is a little dated and not as big as it was but back then, it was terrifying even though you don’t see anything. I don’t think you need big budget effects to make a good horror movie bur rather an understanding of the genre and small fears of people. I guess that’s why I loved Paranormal Activity so much. Although here is the Stephen King quote.

"One thing that seems clear to me, looking back at the 10 or a dozen films that truly scared me, is that most really good horror films are low-budget affairs with special effects cooked up in someone’s basement or garage. Among those that truly work are Carnival of Souls, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, and The Blair Witch Project. All cost almost nothing to make and earned millions, while their sequels and remakes were crap (Dawn of the Dead in both its incarnations being the exception that proves the rule). Horror is an intimate experience, something that occurs mostly with oneself, and when it works, the screams of a sold-out house are almost intrusive. Studio execs, who not only live behind the curve but seem to have built mansions there, don’t seem to understand that most moviegoers recognize all the bluescreens and computer graphics of big-budget films and flick them aside. Those movies blast our emotions and imaginations, instead of caressing them with a knife edge."
- Stephen King

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Horror Blogger Meme

Horror Blog friend Pax Romano of Billy Loves Stu has created a very interesting thing over at his site called The First Ever Billy Loves Stu Meme for Horror Bloggers. Now, I have to admit that it looks really fun and I always love answering these kinds of questions so I decided to give it a spin. That way, if the meme ever takes off… I can confidently say that I helped in the process. What exactly is this meme, I’ll let Pax handle that:

“I thought it might be a nifty idea, if I created a Meme for horror bloggers to complete so that the next time someone stumbles across the electronic journal of a burgeoning Pauline Kael, or Stephen King-wanna-be; the reader might get a better idea of where this bloody blogger is coming from.”

1: In Ten Words or Less, Describe Your Blog:
A twisted, pointless, intellectual journey through a horror fan’s mind.

2: During What Cinematic Era Where you Born?
A: The Classic Horror Era (late 30's to 40's)

B: The Atomic Monster/Nuclear Angst Era (the late 40's through 50's)

C: The Psycho Era ( Early 60's)

D: The Rosemary's Baby Era (Mid to Late 60's)

E: The Exorcism Era (Early to mid 70's)

F: The Halloween Era (Late 70's to Early 80's)

G: The Slasher Era (Mid to late 80's)

H: The Self Referential/Post Modern Era (1990 to 1999)

I was born in the Post Modern Era in 1990 although there are times in which I wish I were born in the Slasher Era or even the Halloween Era. The films of the 90s weren’t bad but because a lot of them were so cliché ridden, it paved the way for the Remake Era.

3: The Carrie Compatibility Question:
(gay men and straight women - make your choice from section A)

A: Billy Nolan or Tommy Ross, who would you take to the prom?

(straight guys and lesbians - make your choice from section B)

B: Sue Snell or Chris Hargensen, who would you take to the prom?

This is a very tough question because I would want to take Chris Hargensen just because she is a blonde although, knowing me, I would probably end up with Sue Snell. Which isn’t bad… I guess but I would totally want Chris over Sue. Sue is a bitch.

4: You have been given an ungodly amount of money, and total control of a major motion picture studio - what would your dream Horror project be?
I would hopefully be in control of Universal Pictures but my dream horror project would be to adapt Terror Vision and They Live into a 80s throwback film. It would be sort of a tribute to 80s horror in which the money would go towards creating practical effects and matte paintings. It would be filmed on real film and it would have a message pertaining to the 80s MTV/yuppie culture.

5: What horror film "franchise" that others have embraced, left you cold?
Probably Saw. I loved the first one and I found the second one to be good but the rest left me confused, laughing my ass off and face-palming myself. It’s as if the writers were trying to play Catch Up with their own plot because it got so damn ridiculous.

6: Is Michael Bay the Antichrist?
No. He is a douche and a Hollywood genius. Aside from the remakes, I found all of his films to be very entertaining and very action-packed. But in terms of the remakes, he understands that today’s generation is willing to pay a lot of money to see these shitty remakes so why not dish more of them out. He is comfortable with demons though.

7: Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Frankenstein Monster - which one of these classic villains scares you, and why?
Probably The Wolf Man because as a child, we lived across from a forest preserve that would get pretty foggy at night. I would always imagine some large Wolf Man bolting out of the forest and into my house. It was one of my biggest fear.

8: Tell me about a scene from a NON HORROR Film that scares the crap out of you:
The most vivid memory of a non-horror movie scaring the shit out of me had to have come from Toy Story. It was the scene in which all of Sid’s toys rebel against him and then Woody’s head turns all the way around and talks to him. It was horrifying.

9: Baby Jane Hudson invites you over to her house for lunch. What do you bring?
Probably a dead rat. Although I would prepare my dead rat a little more elegantly then Jane did.

10: So, between you and me, do you have any ulterior motives for blogging? Come, on you can tell me, it will be our little secret, I won't tell a soul.
To be honest, the biggest reason why I blog is because I was bored and I needed something to do. Other than that, I just love writing ever since I can remember… or since Stephen King has pushed me into that direction.

11: What would you have brought to Rosemary Woodhouse's baby shower?
Holy water and probably a mobile consisting of upside down crucifixes, smiling devils and pitchforks.

12: Godzilla vs The Cloverfield Monster, who wins?
As a die-hard Cloverfield fan I have to say that Godzilla would probably win. Not necessarily because of strength or height but because Godzilla has the ability to breath fire. Now, since Clover is just a baby and he’s about the same height as Godzilla, if the match were between Godzilla and Clover’s mother… I’d have to say Clover’s mother.

13: If you found out that Rob Zombie was reading your blog, what would you post in hopes that he read it?
“Rob, you are a decent director who created a name for yourself in the horror industry. Please, please, please, for the love of all things good and holy, go back to making original redneck horror movies and leave the classic films alone. You don’t have the ability to direct a good remake. Your not #1 fan – Rick”

14: What is your favorite NON HORROR FILM, and why?
Titanic. It was the first movie that I pointed at and said, “I want to make movies like that.” Since then, I studied the way films were made and Titanic was sort of my bridge to becoming a filmmaker.

15: If blogging technology did not exist, what would you be doing?
I would probably just end up writing reviews and posting them to forums and IMDb. Also, I would probably just keep a journal of some kind where I would jot down my thoughts.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Paradise Profiles: Tim Jacobus - Illustrator of the Goosebumps Books

A day or so ago I decided to take you back to the wondrous 90’s when Goosebumps, both the books and the TV show, were popular. As you can tell, both mediums heavily inspired me as a kid and sort of was the precursor to watching and reading more adult themed horror. However, as I stated before, the best thing about the Goosebumps books was the artwork by Tim Jacobus and that’s because I was once an artist back then. As a kid growing up on Goosebumps, I would constantly mock and copy the artwork on the cover and in a way Tim sort of molded me into sketch artist but I never really pursued that career. Well, the other day I contacted Tim and asked him to do an interview and to my surprise he responded, “sure!” My heart stopped.

Never in my life did I ever expect to email interview one of my childhood idols. The questions are a little more diverse and I didn’t want to ask him the ‘standard’ questions so if you want to know more about Tim… please read his bio here. Or purchase his book “It Came From New Jersey.”

Why did you take up the artist profession?

When I was in High School, I took a commercial art class at another school. It was the first time art was presented to me as a business rather than a hobby or as fine art. I knew this was for me.

Who was your influence when it came to art?

My art teacher who ran the commercial art class – his name was Frank Nuebaugher. He was a Korean War, Marine vet… not your typical “art guy”. He was tough and he worked us hard. I got a lot out of everything he taught. As a fan, I love Roger Dean. He’s a fantasy artist who did many album covers in the 70’s and 80’s. He was way ahead of his time.

What were goals that you wanted to accomplish in becoming an artist?

Not starve.

I know a lot of artists paint to express or discover themselves. While painting in your free time, what did you learn about yourself?

Being an illustrator is less about being inspired and more about getting the job done. You are given specific variables of subject matter, time restraints and budget. Then, you give it 100% and see what comes out the other side. I enjoy the process of painting - whether traditionally or digitally. I don’t paint much in my free time. I do most everything else - get outside, hang out with my son, Jack, multiple sports, almost anything other than painting. I will eventually paint for myself. Lately, I have thoughts to work large… 5’ x 10’! I’ve only done a couple of larger pieces in my life and I had a blast doing them.

Before you got big, you took a number of diverse labor jobs. What was the most physically demanding job that you took and did it influence your life?

I have had a few tough ones. I gained a great deal of respect for the folks who do it day in and day out. One of the worst I had, was in Alaska. My wife, Laura and I went to Kodiak, Alaska when we were still in art school. We worked in a herring canning plant. We worked on the herring roe line. For 14 hours a day, we took a stick and shoved it up a dead herrings ass, popped it’s belly open and removed the roe… Sounds like fun, huh?

What was your big break and how did it come about?

Getting my first paperback cover was my first break. It was for Daw publishing and the title was “The Fugitive in Transit”. Back in the day, if you walked around to enough publishers and knocked on enough doors, you could get a break.

How were you chosen for the Goosebumps books?

Luck. I had done some other covers for Scholastic books and the thought my style would fit. When Goosebumps was first presented, no one thought it would be a hit. Most expected it to die quickly.

Where you a fan of the horror genre and if so, did anything from the genre inspire your paintings?

I was more of a sci-fi / fantasy guy then a horror guy. Although, I did love Stephen King.

How did you and R.L. Stine collaborate on the illustrations?

R.L. was and is the most prolific writer ever. The amount of pages the guy can crank out is amazing. R.L. was writing the books at the same time I was doing the covers. He would give me just a short description of the story. Generally, one paragraph was enough to get me going. We just clicked.

Tell us a little about the Converse All-Star cameos you put in the illustrations.

The art directors liked the reoccurring theme in the illustrations and encouraged the use of the sneaks. Cons were what my friends and I wore back in school. They were the only decent sneaker you could buy. The Chuck Taylor high tops have remained popular forever. My mother complained about me wearing torn up sneakers. And she would ask what I would do when I had to “grow up” and get a job. I never had to grow up. I may have grown older but I still have my cons. The best part was when a new GBS cover came out. I would buy a copy and give it to her. If the cons were part of the cover, she would roll her eyes and say “ And there are your stinking sneakers”… Truly, the real reason the converse sneakers made so many appearances – It bugged my mom!

Between the first series of Goosebumps and the 2000 series, was there a difference in terms of your illustrations?

Yes, fans wrote R.L. and I often. The thing they began to ask for was scarier stories. Along with scarier stories comes an edgier cover. In the original series, we could not have red blood. We had monster blood, but that was green. Werewolf in the Living Room had skin and fur that looked awful, blood red and sore. The 2000 series was Goosebumps on steroids.

Your other work is also very surreal but is there a difference between that and the Goosebumps books in terms of detail, composition or style?

Goosebumps was unique. The colors were very bold. Even the shadow areas, which normally could be blacks and grays, were full of blues and purples. The big difference was the distorted perspective. Weird twist in floor tiles and ceiling panels. There wasn’t a straight line anywhere.

Is there a specific book that you look back on and say, "I could have done better?"

Time was my biggest enemy. “A Night in Terror Tower” was one that was pushed hard. Normally, I would have the luxury of 5 days to do a painting. Other times, I needed to work with what I had. Terror Tower was painted in one day and delivered the following morning - with no sleep. There are areas that I could have worked better. Although, for a one day painting it could have come out way worse!

What was your favorite book Goosebumps book that you read?

I liked “Stay Out of the Basement”. I had done many covers before I went back and read a completed Goosebumps. After reading it, I got it. I understood what was so great about the books. The structure, the pacing, the hooks were real genius.

What were your thoughts on the Goosebumps TV series?

I didn’t watch many episodes. I didn’t think they caught the real magic of the books. R.L. and Tim Burton had talked of working together. Now, THAT would have been something awesome.

How does it feel that at one point, you were sort of an icon when it came to young horror fans and young readers alike?

It was great. I had been painting for years. Very few people knew my work. I would talk about it when people seemed interested. It was very one sided. When Goosebumps was rockin’, I could talk to kids about my art and they were digging it as much as I was and they knew more about my art than I did! I still hear from some of the old fans. There is nothing cooler.

Aside from painting, is there any other ways that you relax?

I love sports. Youth football starts August 1st. I coach. It is something that I enjoy. And I get to do it with Jack. No one knows or cares about Goosebumps on the field. I’m just an old guy with a big mouth! I love that too.

Is there anything that you would like to say to those who fans of the books as well as your artwork?

Yes, Thank you. It was a really fun ride!

I would like to thank Tim for taking time to answer my questions and I would like to say thank you for everything and all the memories. You truly are an inspiration to me as well as others.

Visit Tim's website: Better Than A Poke In The Eye

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Thing From Another Closet (1999)

I am actually really pleased to present to you this video. It was a home movie that I made back in December of 1999 and it’s pretty much the first video/movie that I ever made. I took the original footage and added in some effects, sound effects and music to try put you into my mind as a kid. As I taped this, I would imagine the sound effects and music but never had the proper equipment to add it in.

The plot, from what I can remember and gather from the video footage, is this: a young boy who is innocently showing the audience around his grandparent’s apartment until he becomes the victim of the ghosts and monsters that live in the closet. While they occasionally torture him, he is still the dedicated documentarian and believes that the show must go on. So, I give you… The Thing From Another Closet.

Note: look for the reference to The Thing and the running joke of how many times I hit the camera lens.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Viewer Beware, You're In For A Scare

One of the biggest things that us horror fans remember from the 90s, especially those who grew up in the decade, was Eerie Indiana, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and Goosebumps. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of Eerie Indiana and though I enjoyed Are You Afraid of the Dark… it didn’t hit home for me like with Goosebumps. Goosebumps debuted in 1995 and it adapted R.L. Stine’s books into a 30 minute long TV show. Fans of the books were thrilled and it was one of the things that we looked forward to every Saturday and Sunday mornings on Fox Kids. The show took off until its airtime was run out on 1998. However, the memory of a great TV show for kids will always stick with us and it’s one of those cornerstones in many of our lives.

I’ve talked about the show many times before and how it has a lot of adult situations despite its aim towards children. No, I’m not talking about those situations but rather situations like seeing a man scientist slit his wrists open to poor out green blood or seeing your naked Aunt and Uncle drape werewolf skin over their bodies. It’s a point that I love bringing up because Are You Afraid of the Dark was geared towards an older crowd of kids but Goosebumps was on right after a whole bunch of little kid shows like Space Goofs, Toonsylvania and Animaniacs. As a kid, some of the frightening imagery from the show has stuck with me. I’ll never forget how creeped out I was when I saw that horrid monster eating insects from The Girl Who Cried Monster, or that frightening tractor scene in The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight. Even to this day I can’t safely say that these episodes are kid friendly.

The one thing that I always loved about the Goosebumps series was the way they were filmed. Not necessarily the special effects or the editing but rather the lighting the cinematography of each episode. There were certain scenes that I remember that had weird filters and weird angles that enhanced each story. Close-ups were of people made them look more bloated and more surreal, swooping shots of the monsters eating bugs and sometimes the camera would get right into the way of the monster and made kids jump in fear. It was almost as if each episode was sort of experimental or directed by Terry Gilliam and David Lynch, they just has this campy dream-like presents about them.

If you want to know the magnitude of which Goosebumps had on me, my favorite color has been green since the mid 90s because in all of the Goosebumps episodes green was somehow incorporated. Whether the eerie light was green, or the bushes in the background were greener or the monster was green; green was the color of Goosebumps. Also, when I was 7-9 years old, I strategically place suits and clothes in a pile on the ground to make it look like whomever was wearing it just disappeared but left their clothes instead. I thought this was because I loved The Langoliers as a kid but it turned out that it was Goosebumps all along. I took the idea from Welcome to Dead House. The series had probably the biggest impact on me then any other TV show out there.

And now, a little blast from the past:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Give Yourself Goosebumps Again

For young horror fans there was always one book that would cease to entertain us and in turn, lead us to a whole new realm of horror. For some it scared us, for others it led them to modern horror books, and in other cases they were the closest things to pure horror we can get to. These were the Goosebumps books and they debuted in 1992 and stopped in 1997. Back then, they were the best things that ever happened to us and now we see them as a cornerstone in pop horror culture as well as pop culture of the 1990s. Personally, they were the mile marker in my life and they would eventually be the gateway to books written by Stephen King, Dean Kootnz or Michael Crichton.

The first Goosebumps book was entitled ‘Welcome to Dead House’ andsince then they caught on fast. Guiness Book of World Records says that Goosebumps was the largest selling children’s series in history. The books are precursors to other great horror novels and it was very evident that R.L. Stine (author of the series) borrowed from other great stories to create his. So in a way, we were introduced to vampires before we knew what a vampire was. The books were also very morbid for kids and at times they were also very violent. Titles such as ‘Don’t Go Into the Basement,’ ‘Werewolf Skin’ and ‘The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight’ are all great examples of books that ended up being extremely dark and rather frightening. Titles such as, ‘Vampire Breath’ and ‘The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb’ are examples of ‘Dracula’ and ‘The Mummy’… light. Several of the books had twist endings so it was sort of like reading The Twilight Zone for kids, which is something that would stick with me.

Soon after Goosebumps became a hit, Stine delivered is 2000 Series appropriately titled Goosebumps: Series 2000. These books were sort of like the big boy Goosebumps books since I remember them being slightly more terrifying then the original series. These stories included more original stories and had more frightening endings and at times I remember them being a little more descriptive on the books monster or ghost. I also remember them being a little more science fiction than most of the original series books. Titles such as ‘Brain Juice,’ ‘Invasion of the Body Squeezers,’ and ‘Creature Teacher’ was sort of tributes to the classic sci-fi era of the 1950s and 1960s and introduced us to those films. The 2000 Series also gave us sequels to the big hit books from the original Goosebumps such as ‘Return to HorrorLand’ and ‘Bride of the Living Deummy.’ Even the pictures on the front cover of the 2000 Series grew more detail and more frightening.

Shortly after the 2000 Series began to run it’s course, Stine gave us the last good series in the Goosebumps saga. These were called Give Yourself Goosebumps with the tagline “Reader beware… you choose the scare.” This was the cherry on the sundae that would eventually be devoured over time. Stine delivered us the same terrifying and original stories found in the 2000 series but added a twist; we as the reader got to choose which direction the story would go. At the end of each page or each scenario the book would ask us questions like, “should Mike go into the closet or should he walks away and confront the monster under the bed?” If you choose wrongfully you ended up dead or something worse. That’s the thing with these books, the endings didn’t always leave to death but rather something more morbid and Stine liked to jab at us with how disturbing his books could be. These books literally made us readers feel as though we were a part of the book and they really made us become more imaginative.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the entire Goosebumps run was the amazing artwork by Tim Jacobus. They were so incredibly detailed and they enhanced the imagery of the Goosebumps. Each painting had it’s own world that it belonged to and for us kids, they felt almost real because of the amount of detail that was in each one. What I noticed about each of the paintings was that they had a certain kind of mood lighting, Jacobus blended in colors like blue, orange and red to give the monsters a frightening tone. Also, for us hardcore Goosebumps fans, you’ll notice that in almost all of his paintings he incorporates Converse All-Star… a shoe that has really stuck with me throughout my childhood.

Looking back on them, the Goosebumps books were really horror food for us kids and they did at times scare us but also entertained us. If I read them now they wouldn’t do anything for me, of course, but they would trigger lots of memories of me hiding under my covers wanting to know what happens to the characters. They were a gateway into other horror fiction and non-fiction and they really impacted my life… more than I could ever say. It’s a shame that I had to sell all my books but someday I will get them back. Hell, I haven’t even mentioned the TV show.

Reader beware, you’re in for a scare… indeed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Ghost of Johnny Barlett

I’ve always enjoyed The Frighteners, even as a little kid. Everything about the film was great; the dark comedy, the effects, the performances by Busey and Combs, the hospital flashbacks and that here were some pretty scary scenes in the film. However, one thing has always stuck with me about this movie and as far back as I can remember I used to draw pictures of it. I’m talking about Bartlett’s ghost and his Grim Reaper disguise. I did find it interesting that he took on the persona of the Grim Reaper and that Jackson’s vision of this Death icon is pretty unique, the one thing that always captured by eye was the way that Bartlett’s ghost appeared before the end of the film.

Up until Frank finally ‘derobes’ Bartlett from his Grim Reaper disguise, Bartlett appears as this giant humanoid monster like ghost that comes out of the walls but he doesn’t do it the traditional way. This is where I think Jackson really did something different that I haven’t seen before. When Bartlett comes out of the wall or the ground or even a rug, he pushes the wall with him so that it molds around his body. This gives him this demonic and almost frightening look to his ghostly character. It also takes away his facial expressions, his eyes and his mouth rendering him to look like some otherworldly demon.

It comes as no surprise as to why I enjoyed those scenes so much; when I was 9 or 10 I had watched Nightmare on Elm Street and I became fascinated with the way Krueger peered down at Nancy as she slept in her bed. These scenes, whether they were inspired or ripped off from, sort of reflect that style and I think that’s why I enjoyed them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Calling All Zombie Writers!

Fellow writers and those who want to get some of their stories out there; this post is directed towards you! Yes, you! Fellow book reviewer, Lyle Perez of Buy Zombie, is putting together a zombie anthology book for charity. It’s going to be Christmas themed so that should go over quite well in the imaginations of us zombie fans. If you are interested in contributing a zombie short story, please read the press release below:

Calling for Submissions

The Undead That Saved Christmas

Anthology edited and compiled by Lyle Perez-Tinics

Send submissions to Contact@UndeadintheHead.com (Please attach a .Doc or .PDF file containing your story. The first page of your story must contain your contact information and word count.)

Deadline is Aug. 20, 2010

Target release date Oct. 1, 2010

The Undead That Saved Christmas is a charity anthology of short-stories. all proceeds will go to the Hugs Foster Family Agency (www.hugsffa.org) to help them give their foster children gifts this holiday season.

I am seeking Christmas/holiday themed short-stories ranging from 3000-10,000 words. The stories should have strong holiday themes and must contain zombies. Other then that it is all up to you. Be as gruesome as you'd like but keep in mind, the big kids at Hugs Foster might find a copy of this anthology in their stockings. Original stories only, please to reprints. Multiple submissions are find up to three stories.

This anthology is for charity. There will be no payments and no contributor copies. This project is for exposure only, and to help the foster kids at Hugs Foster Family Agency have a joyful holiday season this year.

In order to accumulate the most funds possible this anthology will be self-published. I am working on finding the best route possible. If anyone has information or suggestions on this please feel free to contact me at the email above.

Everyone is welcome to submit a story. If you have any question or would like more information please feel free to contact me at the e-mail above. Thank you so much for taking the time and I hope you consider this charity opportunity.

Remember: this could be your big start in the publishing profession and you could use this on a resume and it's for a good cause. I know I'll be participating in this and I hope you take this opportunity to do as well.

Source: Buy Zombie

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Ending to Signs was Fine

I want to discuss something that has always bothered me and it seemed to have gained much publicity ever since Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water. It’s the complete bashing of the ending of Signs and why a lot of people think that the ending is a huge cop out and somehow ruined the entire film. It seems as though ever since Lady in the Water tanked and The Village left people bare and cold, horror fans are jumping on the Shyamalan hate bandwagon and looking for things to nit-pick about all his films. Sure, Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense are masterpieces but I also loved Signs and The Village. On people’s recent hit list is the ending to Signs, which I never understood the hate towards.

In the film, we learn that the alien’s weakness is in fact water and some claim that this was the ‘twist’ in the movie and it wasn’t satisfactory. What makes this ‘twist’ different from the rest of Shyamalan’s work is that this twist was hinted several times before the end of the film, whereas most of his twists leave extremely subtle clues before it happens. This makes me argue that the ‘twist’ is not really a twist at all. The whole movie revolves around the idea that things happen for a reason and the story focuses pretty heavily on Bo’s problem with water. Hell, Shyamalan’s character in the movie even states that the aliens hate water. But why do we consider this a twist? It’s because we overlook the not-so-subtle hints in the movie so when we finally do realize that the aliens melt in water, it comes off as a shocker. This is why I have trouble classifying the ending as a twist.

With The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, The Village and even The Happening… there are hints but they are so subtle that you’d have to watch the movie a second time to get the clues.

However, the biggest thing that everybody has against Signs (or at least one of the biggest things) is that fact that water kills the aliens. All over the Internet people scratch their heads and ask or even yell out, “water kills them! How stupid can you get?” or “Why of all things does it have to be water?” I guess people are forgetting that in H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds the single cell bacteria kills them; bacteria so simple and so small that we as human beings have grown immune to but the aliens have not. Why is it okay for the aliens in War of the Worlds to die of bacteria in the air but it’s not okay for aliens to die of water? It’s the exact same concept. I find the ending to Signs a tribute to the War of the Worlds novel. Both have a simple, overlooked object that ends up playing an important role in the story and that’s what one of the main themes is in the film. Oh, and to those who give the argument that the aliens should have known that there was waster on our planet and that it would kill them, if give them this passage from War of the Worlds:

“At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”

You can make the same argument against War of the Worlds. How can such an intelligent race, who have ‘regarded Earth with envious eyes,’ not realize that there is bacteria in our air… especially bacteria that can kill them? Again, this is a mere defense of the ending, I know there are a few more flaws in Signs but to say the ending was a twist and that it was a let down to the whole movie is pushing it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review - Lethal Obsession (2010)

It seems as though that the indie horror community is moving away from you typical slasher genre, focusing more on the characters, the plot and having a killer that isn’t just some mindless guy in a mask killing for fun. The only problem is that because they are indie and most of them are first-timers, it’s hard to direct somebody without any kind of experience. However, some movies do a good job at doing so and I recently saw Lethal Obsession, which unfortunately wasn’t a diamond in the rough but it certainly wasn’t an awful movie. The film is about a small community that is being terrorized by a masked female-like killer who only appears to be murdering ‘cam girls.’

I want to first state that I enjoyed the production of the movie and that the director and his producers set out to make a slasher movie and they succeeded. They seemed to have a really good cast who looked like they really enjoyed each others company. There were a lot of good-looking girls in the movie and shockingly there was also a lot of gore, and the special effects made me cringe a little. You have to admire indie directors because they make something out of nothing and this is one of those films that show exactly that. They created a mood to the film that really reflects the eroticism of the killer’s passion in killing.

Lethal Obsession felt as though I was watching a poor man’s Dressed to Kill and that’s not necessarily a bad thing because there are plenty of films that are like that are good. (Romancing the Stone is a poor man’s Indiana Jones but it’s still good). When comparing it to this, you can isolate some of the problems that the film had and most of it had to deal with the script and the performances. There was a lot of filler dialogue that I could tell right away that didn’t need to be there and if there had to be filler dialogue… it should reveal the intentions of the characters or the personality of the characters.

Also, I think having a killer talk, on camera, should be avoided because it does make the movie look a little corny but it didn’t take me out of the story it just felt really weird. Now, I can’t really complain about the acting that much because indie directors usually gather people who don’t have acting abilities but I will say that at points, the acting got a little hammy.

However, despite a couple problems here and there, I was fairly entertained by it. I really wanted to see more of the killer because it seems as though he has a purpose and that he is insane for a reason. It felt as though this film could have gone in the direction of either Silence of the Lambs or Seven and that tells you that the director knows his craft but that he needs practice translating it from thought to paper to movie. I think there is potential in this script and I know there is potential for Dark Rider Studios.

Visit the website for more info.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Top 10 Willy Inducing Moments

Well, I figured that I would do what I said that I would do and make my own Top 10 Willy Inducing Moments. The post was originally created over at The Horror Digest and I commented with my response but it was so quick and I never really thought of the concept. So I figured that I would sit down and go through a list of all my favorite horror movies and pick out which scenes gave me the willies. As most of you already know that The Thing and The Blob easily take my top 2 places so I decided, for this exercise, to leave them out and see what I get. So, I present to you my top 10 willy inducing moments.

Note: I couldn’t find some of the clips on YouTube so they are just paragraphs. Second, for one of the moments I could only find the Spanish dub of the scene so pardon the dub.

10: Halloween – Michael stares down Laurie
In this scene, Laurie gets the feeling that somebody is watching her so she cautiously approaches the window and sees Michael Meyers staring at her from the ground. I guess what gave me the willies in this scene is the fact that Michael is standing between clothes lines as the white linen is blowing in the wind. Michael as that dead, cold, lifeless mask and he’s just staring at Laurie contemplating. It makes him look less human and I got chills. I didn’t want to stare out my window for a while.

9: The Omen – Digging up Damien’s mom
Here, Robert and Keith travel to a cemetery to uncover Damien’s alleged real mom since the prophecy states that his mother was a Jackal. When they dig up the coffin and open it, they find the skeleton of a jackal. It freaked me out. The mere thought, and now tangible proof, that the boy’s mother was that of a wild animal. It scared me. If you, given the circumstances, had to dig up somebody’s mother and found out she was an animal… it would make you sick to your stomach and that’s what it did. It was probably one of the most psychologically disturbing points in the film.

8: It – The photo album
This series always scared me and I had to pick the right scene that really affected me. The reason why this scene was so scary and surreal because as a kid, when I looked at an old photo, I would always imagine looking at the picture while it’s in motion. It was sort of like flashback for myself. Well, I hated to see a monstrous clown roar at me from afar then lunge his hand right into my face. It made me jump back and it was almost like the film tapped into my subconscious.

7: The Shining: - The bedroom ghosts
A lot of people were confused by this scene but if you didn’t read the book, you’d never know who or what those people were doing. Well, knowing the story behind the characters and to see them just flash in one jump-out moment felt random and even more surreal. The scene also taps into a deeper meaning; it goes into latent homosexual feelings and I think with all these elements at work and that drastic zoom, it just made me feel so uncomfortable.

6: The Fog – The captain’s ghost story
I’ve always loved ghost stories and I was always the one to tell ghost stories as a kid and I think this scene really hit home. Accompanied with the score and the way the captain told the story kept me captivated but it sent chills down my spine. I’ve always been one for the kinds of stories in which a tragedy happened in the past but it never had closure. The score really makes the chills because it adds to the mystic legend that is being told, and with that somber lighting… it makes me feel like I really am in that scene listening to the story and smelling the firewood.

5: Jaws – Quint’s story
Much like the captain’s story in The Fog, this is a chilling tale of survival. It’s a real life story of horror and the idea that you waited there, waiting to see who gets picked off in a deadly game of Russian roulette. What made the scene even more chilling was Shaw’s performance and the way he delivers it. There is no music and it makes the scene even more realistic but the way Shaw smiles throughout the story, you can tell that you’re looking into his psyche… what’s he’s thinking. It was just as scary as a ghost story.

4: Signs – Aliens in the cornfield
It was hard for me to pick the scenes in this film because every scene was very Hitchcockian and there were a lot of scenes that scared me. I wanted to use the birthday party scene but I think this scene is a perfect example of the less you see the better. There is no music until the end and you know something is out there in the field but when light finally touches the alien… all you see is the foot. It made me jump back in my seat.

3: Poltergeist – The tree attack
Much like Spielberg’s experience, I used to have this really creepy tree in our backyard that casted a huge shadow in my room. I always pictured that tree coming to life and grabbing me and after I got done watching Poltergeist, it terrified me. I was yelling at the screen while closing my eyes. Accompanied with that tree attack was a tornado so it was like my worst nightmare rolled into one scene. I could remember the strobe lights flickering as I saw the tree carry away the boy and I ended up staying awake for a while just to make sure the tree in our yard didn’t attack me.

2: The Fly – The maggot birth
Talk about one of the most disgusting, disturbing and grotesque scenes imaginable. I saw this film for the first time after I had to see a live birth in our health class, and even then I was a little disgusted by it. So you can imagine how I felt seeing one of the slimiest living things in entomology force it’s way out of somebody’s birth canal. It was vile, it was ghastly and it made me scream ‘Oh!!” Looking back at it, I would argue that it was an homage to It’s Alive and thank God it was all a dream cause I could not imagine if that thing was alive.

1: Arachnophobia – Spiders in the shower
As light as this may be and as funny as the scene was, I remember screaming like a girl when I saw the spider glide down her body and then pulling my legs up from the ground and shaking. But why does this scene give me the shakes of death? It’s because I have arachnophobia and I am literally scared to death of spiders. Its very plausible for a spider to be in your shower since I saw an earwig in my bathtub at one point. I could not stand this scene it made me double look before I got into the shower. As funny as the movie is, it’s the only movie that still scares me.

So, I ask you my horror friends (that haven’t already participated in this) to give me your top 10 willy inducing moments.

Also, I gotta thank Andre for making me almost piss my pants for the title she gave to her post banner. The piece name is simply named "Willies!"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th Recommendation

With everybody celebrating our Independence from Britain years, and years, and years ago it’s a great time to dish out the hot dogs, hamburgers, lemonade, watermelon and chips. It’s also a great day to kick back and watch some real shitty movies. Yes, for you horror fans I would like to recommend a very special and very shitty movie for your entertainment. It’s a movie that has been with me since I was about 9-years-old and even then I thought it was a movie that shouldn’t be made. I recommend this movie:

This movie finds a recently deceased war vet rising from the grave, dressing up as Uncle Sam and killing and slaughtering unpatriotic townsfolk. What more can you want in this true American movie that really goes the extra mile and prompts pure patriotism to our wonderful country? So make sure you do your taxes, avoid any flag burnings, slap those dogs on the grill and kick back to watch this steaming pile of red, white and blue carnage.

Remember, Uncle Sam wants you… dead!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Natural and the Unatural Killer Spiders

If you are someone like me, who has a morbid fear of spiders, than any kind of killer spider movie no matter how low budget or funny it is will make you squirm. Yes, it’s funny… I have arachnophobia yet I still subject myself to watching movies with killer spiders in it. The question that many will ask is, “why?” The answer is simple: because they are the only movies that really terrify me nowadays. Although there is a certain type of killer spider movie that really hits home and it’s a sort of film that there isn’t a lot of. When we think about killer spiders we think about mutated monsters or genetically engineered spiders but it’s the ‘natural’ spiders that freak me out; the ones that are not mutated but do just as much damage.

Specifically I am talking about Arachnophobia. You see, unlike most killer spider movies these spiders are not genetically altered or mutated or super insect. The film was made to be a serious movie, from what I heard, and it became a cult classic as well as an unintentional comedy. I find it funny that a comedy makes me cringe and squirm while a movie like Hostel makes me smile. The spiders in the film are South American; therefore they are probably more poisonous and slightly bigger than your average house spider. It mates with a field spider and creates a slew of toxic spiders. Here, the spiders are not oversized due to mutation so you would think that humans would have the upper hand, right? Also, they are not super arachnids that have the ability to coat an entire town in their webs so another advantage for humans, right? Wrong! These tiny little monsters have the element of extreme toxic venom and the element of surprise. They are sneaky and there are a lot of them so that’s why they’re frightening. Numbers out-beat size.

But what about Kingdom of the Spiders? Yes, here the spiders are ‘natural’ and not mutated by chemicals or space bacteria but they are super arachnids. This term means that they somehow managed to spin the entire town in their steel-like webbing in under a few hours. The spiders in Arachnophobia spin webs but it’s not nearly as grand as the ones in this film. However, Kingdom of the Spiders is one of those movies that made me squirm because aside from the web spinning they are small and rely on their numbers and secrecy to attack and it’s frightening. It’s more close to reality and it’s very possible for a colony of spiders to attack and kill people and I think that’s why it’s so frightening as opposed to mutated spiders. Spider attacks happen all the time, but how many of those times are the spiders mutated?

Films like Ice Spiders, Spiders, The Giant Spider Invasion, Tarantula, Arachnid and Eights were scary to me and they made me uncomfortable… but deep down inside I knew it would never happen. For arachnophobic folks like me, giant mutated spiders are still scary but the films that have them are executed as though they were b-movies or campy horror flicks. The films that have small spiders that are not mutated are executed as serious movies or in Arachnophobia’s case… tried to be a serious movie. However, with giant spiders you get great scenes that are either extremely gory or they have people getting eaten and spun into webs. Either way, it’s fairly entertaining but takes away from the squirm factor.

The bottom line is, and I reiterate it, that while mutated spiders are usually scarier because it’s bigger and it has eight legs, the small natural spiders hit closer to home because the situation is very plausible. When we see those tiny or regular sized spiders we can’t help but squirm and feel that tingle up our spine because we’ve all had that freak out experience. How many of us will encounter a giant mutant Wolf Spider? None. How many of us will encounter a swarm or even a single Brown Spider? Many of us.