Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Riffing On Some Goosebumps Commercials

A while ago I had the crazy idea to iRiff on the Goosebumps episode ‘The Haunted Mask,’ but I decided that before I do this I should test a few things out. I needed to test out whether or not my computer mic worked, if I was funny and if the editing would be easy to deal with. The result of all this is me riffing on assorted Goosebumps commercials that I ripped off of YouTube. Below is the video of me harmlessly poking fun at a TV serious that I would always love.

Yes, though it may seem like I hate Goosebumps, I don’t in actuality. They were pretty good for the time they were made but I liked to give them a hard time anyway. I know, the jokes on here may not be funny but I am not Kevin Murphy or Bill Corbett. So please enjoy this exorcise in comedy and in riffing.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue Coverage

The Brothers Mugg Prepare for Battle

I wouldn’t say I followed The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue since I first heard of it but when I did, I was anxious to see it. This was during the time where I explored the horror community of Chicago from on the web so I was bombarded with ads for the upcoming horror/comedy film. That was a year ago and I’m willing to bet that it went on before that time. Well, yesterday night was the long-awaited premiere of the film and I had to go. Of course, I got there early and soon after, the line wrapped all around the Music Box.

The premise of the film is about Marion and Jarmon Mugg, who inherited a brownstone apartment after their mother died. This apartment was of course used as a speakeasy during the Prohibition era. However, many of the tenant’s pets have gone missing and the two landlords find out that it’s a Mole Man that lives under the building. Now it’s up to them to attempt to flush him out and kill him before he starts eating the tenants once the pets are all gone.

Mole Man of Belmont Avenue did have some star-value to it. Most of the horror community will recognize Robert England who played Mr. Confab, a tenant who is sort of an aging swinger. There was also Tim Kazurinsky, who many will know as Sweetchuck from the Police Academy films. In Mole Man of Belmont Avenue, he plays Harold, a down-on-his-luck maid. I also thought Steve Carell was in it too but that was Dave Pasquesi who had numerous roles in other studio made films.

So, I met up with horror blogger Nicki and her friend Richard Diaz and we sat at the very back of the theater and watched the movie. Everybody who worked on the film, everybody who had anything to do with the film as well as family all sat in the center and the rest of us moviegoers had to ‘scratch and claw’ our way on the sides.

John and Robert Englund

My general consensus of the movie: I liked it. It wasn’t the best indie film that I have seen but for a film that was made on nothing and given the dedication everybody had, it was fun to watch with a few laughs here and there. This of course was directed and written by Mike Bradecich (who bares an uncanny resemblance to Seth Rogan) and John LaFlamboy. Everybody did a fantastic job of portraying his or her characters and personally, my favorite character in the whole film was Marion Mugg who is this sarcastic, monotone douche. The special effects were great the movie looked really good. There were a few minor complains and most of it included the humor that was hit or miss with me. The pacing was a little off and during the pot smoking scene there was a girl having sex that just didn’t feel like it belonged in the story. Plus, some of the irrelevant scenes dragged on. However, other than that there wasn’t much to complain about. I liked it and I wish it well in whatever film festival it gets submitted to.

There was a Q&A afterwards where Mike and John revealed how they did some of the things in the movie. One of my favorites was the basement scene was actually part of a church and the caretaker was showing them around and he said, “See, over here somebody buried something… I don’t know what it was. Now this lump over here, I wouldn’t step on it if I were you.” The scene in the movie where the cop tases Marion, they need the sound effect of the taser so they kept pressing it but it also kept sending a signal back to the police station telling them ‘Hey, an officer needs help because they keep tasing this guy and he isn’t going down.’ Among other things like the Animal Rights people, the police situations and general filmmaking trouble, the Q&A was very fun.

The crew.

Overall, it was a pretty good night. I didn’t stay around for the beer and food but I still enjoyed the film.

Visit their site here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ving Rhames Wins an Oscar for Piranha 3D

No this didn’t really happen, partly because the Oscars haven't happened yet, but if Ving Rhames did win the Oscar… it would go down like this:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review - The Last Exorcism (2010)

For some reason when it comes to horror movies that take place in the Deep South I’m always thrilled to see them. I don’t know why but I guess it’s because of the atmosphere and the atmosphere that is associated with the South. There are hardcore Christian evangelicals, exorcist stories, voodoo and other oddities. That’s why when I found out that The Last Exorcism was going to be a movie that takes place in a remote location in Louisiana I was ecstatic. The film is about Cotton Marcus and the documentary crew that he allows to follow him while he performs an exorcism on a little girl. The catch is: he is sort of a con man who only provides a Christian service to make people feel good in the end but little does he know that the girl is really possessed by a demon. Now, for what the movie was… it wasn’t bad but I wanted to see so much more out of this.

I loved Cotton Marcus’s character because I can sort of sympathize with him and I feel that he is a nice guy. The first half of the film spends time tapping into who he is and what his family is like and I enjoyed it. He says a lot of things about the Christian religion that is true and I agreed with him on several points. An example would be, people believe in Christianity because they need to believe in something to explain things and although Cotton doesn’t 100% believe in God, he still acts as a preacher to keep the faith and good spirit in these people. He’s a wonderful and sometimes humorous character. I sort of felt like this movie was like Paper Moon meets The Exorcism of Emily Rose because even though Cotton is a con man, he’s enjoyable to watch.

In terms of the storyline and how it progressed, this is where I have a problem. After we get to the farm where Nell (the girl who is under possession) lives with her father and brother, it gets slow and sort of drags on. I’m fine with this because it builds up tension but some of the scenes where the demon comes out of Nell… they just weren’t as scary as I wanted them to be. Of course, a POV shot of a cat getting killed and creepy baby sounds are fine but the scenes that could have been scary weren’t. When the Nell Demon was throwing a fit in her room, I wanted to see Nell on the wall crawling around as seen in the previews. The exorcism in the barn could have been done better as well. Seeing the body twisted and deformed is fine, it’s scary, but it wasn’t tense or ‘epic’ for lack of a better term. Near the end of the barn exorcism it takes a swan dive into randomness and then they begin talking about ‘blowing jobs.’ Again, I was left puzzled and wanting more.

Speaking of random, a lot of the scenes where Nell goes apeshit felt very random and they didn’t seem linear. When Nell starts drowning a ‘baby’ in the tub and we find out what it really is, I couldn’t help but laugh a little. I didn’t make sense. When Nell attacked Cotton on the porch it goes from intensity to ‘hush sweet baby’ in a mater of seconds. Even the barn scene ended like it was a drama.

A lot of people felt really angered by the ending. I don’t want to spoil too much of anything but lets just say that the people in this movie aren’t all who they appear to be. Consider this to be a **SPOILER ALERT**

Nell is possessed by a demon that violates young women, so you can guess what the ending includes but then that raises the question… why did the people throw the baby into the fire and what the hell happened? Well, from what I remember from Bible school, demons are forged in fire and they are born from it. Nell gave birth to either a demon in human form or the Antichrist. My guess is a demon in baby form. To release this demon from it’s human form, they had to throw it into the fire and that’s what Cotton ran towards with the cross. I felt cold and baffled but I liked the ending. Those who think it was a copout, sure, I agree but I liked it.


Overall, this movie had great characters that could have been given more. The girl who played Nell did a phenomenal job with her role. I wanted more scenes of the demon showing itself then just random snid bits here and there. I think the plot of the movie was great and the location really set the tone and atmosphere of the film but it wasn’t given anything else to expand on. As I stated before, it was decent for what it was but there could have been a lot more to it if they really sat down and thought it over. My friend said, it wasn't scary but if you really sat down and looked at it... it makes a great commercial for Orbit gum.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soundtracks - Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)

If you are one of my followers on Twitter than you’ve obviously heard me talk about this score many times and for those of you who know how crazy I get about soundtracks will think I keep bringing it up. All of it is for good reason because I’ve stated it once before and several times after; this is one of the most beautiful compositions in soundtrack history. I’ll go further to say that it’s one of the best soundtrack cues from the past 10 years. In case you don’t know by now I am referring to John Murphy’s ‘Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor).’ I know it's not horror but it's something that I feel the need to bring up because of how brilliant it is. Since its debut during Sunshine it has been used in countless other places both in film and television and for movie folk… it is regarded as one of the more famous scores in movie trailer history.

Speaking of history, ‘Adagio in D Minor’ was actually composed by both John Murphy and the British electric band Underworld for Sunshine. The term Adagio is derived from the Italian term agio, which is a tempo indication that the music should be played softly and ‘with ease.’ It makes sense because this part of the Sunshine score starts off slowly and progresses to a more tense climax, however it still remains it’s slow sound. It’s easy to hear both John Murphy and Underworld’s influence because the score borrows elements from both cinematic and rock soundscapes. The hard-sounding piano and near the end of the cue, you’ll begin to hear electric drums beating which then ultimately caps off with a grand finale of drums, piano, synthesizers and string instruments.

In Murphy’s other rendition of the same cue called ‘Kanada’s Death Part II (Adagio in D Minor),’ the same sounds are heard only now a heavy industrial guitar solo is thrown into the mix. This sound transitions to total chaos as the guitar, once beautifully played, is played with extravagant force and distortion. It fits well with the techno sounding atmosphere of the film. It seems as though both ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Kanada’s Death Part II’ are the same thing only ‘Kanada’s Death Part II’ is more along the lines of rock ‘n roll. Either way, they are both beautifully composed tracks.

Now, I might be bias when it comes to judging this track because the first time I heard it was during a Cloverfield trailer entitled “Robert.” The trailer utilized the track to make the film seem less about the monster and more about the people that have to fight to survive. It gave it this humanly but grim tone to the film. I was so taken aback by the track they used that I sought out to find it. When I finally found it, I gave it a listen and chills ran down my spine. It’s funny that I heard the track before seeing Sunshine yet I fell in love with it right away. Since I am a huge Cloverfield fan, this track stuck out to me and as strange as it may be… I’ve always associated this track with Cloverfield.

But to prove how this one cue, which its many renditions, took off and changed things… I want to provide some evidence. Below are some trailers and a scene in which this cue is used. It goes to show that it’s considered to be one of the greatest trailer scores that was not made specifically for a trailer. One of the prime examples of this would be Hans Zimmer’s ‘Burn It All’ track from Backdraft. Like that one, I’m sure Adagio in D Minor will take off in no time.

The original clip from Sunshine. Keep in mind, this is 'Kanada's Death Part II.'

Here is the Cloverfield trailer that did it for me:

The trailer for Adjustment Bureau also used the track although they used ‘Sunshine’ and not ‘Kanada’s Death Part II.’ It’s easy to mix the two up.

John Murphy, while composing Kick-Ass, remade his signature score and many people remember it from when Hit Girl tries to save Big Daddy. It is probably one of the sadder scenes in the film. Also, Murphy used the same note during other scenes in the movie so there different renditions of ‘Sunshine’ throughout the film. In this scene, the track is renamed to 'Strobe (Adagio in D Minor).'

There are other places that the track has been used such as the season finale of “Fringe” and “V” but also it was heard, and I saw the coverage but can’t find it online, during one of the interviews of Apolo Ohno at Vancouver. What it boils down to is that this track isn’t just another soundtrack but a brilliant piece of music as well.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Paradise Profiles: Hollywood Is Dead

It’s funny how things work. I was such a fan of Matt Busch’s zombified movie posters that I always wanted to hunt him down and ask him if I could send him a few questions to answer. I enjoyed his Star Wars posters and his Indiana Jones posters and even mentioned him in a previous blog post without ever knowing who he is. Then, wouldn’t you know it; he contacts me personally and asks if I could mention him on my blog. I laughed and said, I’ll do something better… I’ll interview you about your work and mention all your pages after the interview is done. It’s funny how things all work out in the end.

Who is your biggest influence in either film or art?

There are so many, I really try to draw influence from every inspiring thing I see, hear, or feel. A simple answer could be Steven Spielberg for film and Drew Struzan for art, but I get inspired equally by musicians, comedians... Hell, I get inspired by trees and mountains.

What made you want to become an illustrator?

I think the "illustrator" thing came from necessity more than anything else. For a long time, I wanted to be a rock star, but I had a hard time finding a group of cats that were as driven as I was. In a band, you're only as strong as the weakest member. The same thing is true of working on movies and comics. With being a sole illustrator, nothing could interfere with my passion and drive.

What makes hand-drawn posters so special, in your opinion?

I think there's a humanistic quality that really makes it unique. A lot of current posters seem weak and churned out. They all look the same, and have no 'life' to them. That's not to say that a photo or digital art can't be breath-taking, it most certainly can. But current movie posters have totally lost quality in design and craftsmanship.

Do you think Hollywood has become dead in terms of the quality of their films?

I wouldn't say it's become "dead", though a lot of it seems to be stale these days. Probably for much of the same reasons. It's big business churning out product, as opposed to artists making cutting edge films.

Why do you think we are so drawn to zombies?

My opinion on the matter is that we as an audience like to be scared, yet we like to be in the safe zone. We enjoy seeing gore in movies when in the back of our heads, we know it's all fake. It's funny, because some people barely winch at someone being beheaded in a movie, yet if someone cuts their finger in real life, those same people will pass out at the sight of real blood. So I think zombies are the perfect mix of gore while still being in the safe zone.

Do you think there is a connection, be it symbolic or coicidental, between your zombified movie posters and how you saw L.A. after you moved?

Not really. I was shocked experiencing the real Hollywood after dreaming about it in my youth. But Hollywood has been good to me. And what I'm doing with the zombified posters is really more out of respect and for fun than for making a statement or purposely slaughtering these icons.

Why zombies?

Again, zombies are the safe zone. Even kids love zombies.

Is there a deeper meaning to these zombified posters?

Generally not, though many times when putting together a montage, I'm trying to feature what's going on story-wise with the HID poster. Most of these classic posters did such a good job of depicting the mood and story in the single image, so I try to continue that. For example, you can see the growth and decay of characters in through the ZOMBIE WARS saga of posters. In the RAIDERS of the Lost Ark parody that I did, I showed the way that the zombie infection began, which is carried out through the next two posters.

Aside from the Star Wars poster series, is there a reason why you picked the rest of the posters?

It's a mixed bag, some because I love the original poster and wanted to study it, and some because I came up with a funny parody. And some because I felt like if I didn't do it, someone else would.

What is the hardest part in creating these posters?

Probably just the time put into them. And since many of these classic posters have incredible detail and excessive content put into the montages, they can take quite a while. On the flip side, I just completed the poster parody for GHOSTBUSTERS and did the whole thing in like an hour flat.

Out of the ones you've done, which is your biggest accomplishment?

I think the parody for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK seems to get the most response. The original is such a beautiful, romantic poster, and I pretty much ruined it. Everyone seems to enjoy blood vomit, for some reason.

Have you ever imagined what each movie would be if it did have zombies?

Yes, a lot of that thought process goes into the posters in the initial idea phase. The "why" and "how" should be answered in the poster. I do have some short parody videos that will be released showing the original trilogy for ZOMBIE WARS... Stay tunes to Hollywood-is-Dead.com.

Do you think that some people might view these as disrespect to the original films?

Of course, but from the response I've seen, that fraction has been a sliver of a percentile. Even people that aren't into zombies seem to chuckle and 'get it.'

Who has been your audience so far?

It's really been across the board. Older folks who grew up with these iconic posters as I did seem to enjoy them, yet the younger crowd is zombie-obsessed, so they really appreciate them, too. I think the vast range is helped by the fact that I'm doing posters from the 60's up to current. Nothing is safe from my blood-soaked brush.

What do you do to relax?

Believe it or not, this *is* what I do to relax. This has been one of the most rewarding projects I've ever worked on. I really enjoy studying the great cinematic masters, so to see that an audience really appreciates what I'm doing has been extremely gratifying.

Check out Hollywood Is Dead
Follow him on Twitter
Add him on MySpace and Facebook

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Paradise Profiles: True Till Death

This weekend I will be doing two Paradise Profiles for two great illustrators. One of which I met via Twitter and the other contacted me and turned out that I was a fan of his work before he even sought me out. Today’s Profile is for True Until Death, and much like him I too wanted to be an illustrator when I was a kid. I found out that I had a great talent for drawing and sketching but I decided to go the route of photography and filmmaking. Also, much like him I too used to copy covers of comic books and comic cells. It’s uncanny the resemblance that we share. So I present to you, True Till Death.

Where did your site title, 'True Till Death' come from?

That’s a good question lol... I saw it in some tattoo magazines hidden in hardcore themed tattoos etc and I really liked it and I guess it stuck with me, so when I went about re-branding myself and building a new site it just popped into my brain.

Why did you choose to be an illustrator?

Ever since I can remember I was reading comic books and not your normal kiddie Beano and Dandy’s I was reading 2000AD, Batman and Spiderman. I started off copying covers and individual cells I liked and then I moved on to trying to overlay my own superheroes over the intended ones, using them as inspiration so to speak. It was from here I knew I really wanted to be an illustrator; I just fell in love with the whole thing.

Who was your greatest inspiration for illustrating?

My greatest inspirations for illustrating when I was growing up were, again, the 2000AD artists and some fantasy and Sci-Fi artists I discovered along the way. One of them was Chris Achilleos, my dad had his book the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and I used to be obsessed with it. My current inspirations are Tony Moore (Walking Dead / Fear Agent) and Jim Lee (Batman).

I noticed that a lot of your work, including sketches, is zombie themed. Artistically speaking, what draws you to zombies?

I don’t really think it’s artistically to say, but I love zombies, any one that knows me will tell you I love zombies. I just enjoy drawing them and I think they’re a great subject.

A lot of your drawings include a sexual, female protagonist. Is there a certain appeal to that would it be linked to female protagonists within horror?

I think so, I’ve been watching horror since I was about 9 and of course there has always been the busty heroin doing lots of running about wearing next to nothing so I guess that has gotten in-bedded in my brain somewhere. Again I love the female form and enjoy using it in my artwork.

What was the greatest thing you illustrated?

It’s a bit of a snobby answer but I think my greatest work is still yet to come.

What got you into photography?

I got in to photography when I was at college doing an Art Foundation. I wanted to expand my art and I thought naturally photography was the way to go. I was heavily influenced by the work of Lee Higgs, Bob Coulter, and David LaChapelle. Especially with LaChapelle his work is very illustrative yet is not classical illustration, he is brilliant.

In terms of your photography, a lot of it is somewhat erotic. What makes it different from anything else?

When it comes to my photography I always consider the theme and what it requires to make it work but of course I am working with beautiful young ladies so of course they would make any theme erotic, so I think you would first off have to thank them for making it erotic. What makes my work different... I think you can really see that I am passionate about what I am shooting.

Your photography often deals with horror elements and themes, are there any horror icons either cinematically or literary that inspired you?

There are lots and lots that inspire me, so many so, that I still haven’t managed to capture them all. Either through time or through not having the resources to make the shoot work.

What do you do in your spare time and how do you relax?

This may surprise you... In my spare time I like to relax by either watching horror movies, mostly trashy stuff from the 1980’s (my favourite period of horror), by reading comic books, and by hanging out with my fiancé and my best friends.

I do want to thank Jason for taking the time in doing this "interview" of sorts and I wish him luck on his future endeavors.

For more information, please visit his site by clicking here.
Or follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Horror Scholarship

The good folks at Star Costumes have decided to start, as far as we’re concerned, the first horror scholarship for students entering the horror industry. Now I am actually shocked and pleased to see a scholarship for horror and I guess it would make sense that a Halloween costume store would start one.

Eligibility Requirements:

Horror Scholarship candidates must meet the following criteria:

- A student with a 3.0 GPA;

- 18 years or older;

- who's currently studying full-time at a undergraduate or graduate post-secondary institution.

The student must be studying in a field designed to prepare them for work in the horror industry. This could include careers such as:

- Makeup artist

- Special effects artist

- Costume designer

- Set designer

- Lighting designer

- Film sound artist

- VFX/CGI artist

- Postproduction specialist

- Film critic

- Screenwriter

- Cinematographer

- Director

For more information, please visit the scholarship’s main page.

Review - Piranha 3D (2010)

As soon as I saw the previews for Piranha 3D I said that it would be the My Bloody Valentine 3D of the summer, a horror movie that is cheesy fun, gory but fairly entertaining. However, to my dismay it wasn’t. I was not entertained and I felt bored at times while I watched the carnage take place. The story is about a small town called Lake Victoria that is busy handling all the spring break tourism and ignorant college teens. Little do they know, an underwater earthquake occurred that released thousands of prehistoric piranha into the lake. Now, it’s up the sheriff (played by Elizabeth Shue) to try to get a grip of the town and help her son who is stranded on a sinking boat. It sounds like it could be fun, and I wanted to enjoy it but I ended up feeling cold-blooded afterwards.

I’ll probably keep referring to My Bloody Valentine because I saw Piranha 3D as a fun summer movie but had some substance to it. In MBV, the deaths were corny and tacky because it was in 3D and the whole severed heart in a box of chocolates was way over the top but still enjoyable. They gave the movie depth by twisted the original plot around and I was hoping for the same with Piranha 3D. The level of campiness in this film was too much and it made me bored and it was off-putting. Some of the lines delivered in the movie are so tacky that it was horrendous and I’m all for tacky lines but when you over do it, it becomes stupid and not entertaining. I think there is only so much camp that should be allowed in the movie to make it fun and this film overdid it. It would have been different it was unintentional but I feel that they wanted to do it this way… and it failed.

One of the biggest problems that I had with it was the characters and I know it’s supposed to be a campy movie and you’re not supposed to care about the characters but take MBV again; the characters are likeable and I sort of felt for them. They are tragic. In Piranha 3D, Deputy Fallon (played by Ving Rhames) is a policeman who is getting too old for his job so right there could have been something to play around with. Instead, he goes out in the snap of a finger and not in a blaze of glory. It was anticlimactic for a character that could have had a lot of potential. I wanted to see more of Mr. Goodman (ham-handedly but brilliantly played by Christopher Lloyd) who was only in two scenes but could have had more potential. I wanted to see more.

That’s another thing that was strange about this film. It lists an ‘all-star’ cast but if you think about it, most of the actors we care about are only in the movie as quick cameos. Richard Dreyfuss is only in the movie for 5 minutes but I found it funny that he was in it to begin with since the original Piranha was sort of a knock-off to Jaws. Christopher Lloyd was in the movie for two scenes that equal to about 6 or 7 minutes. As I said with Ving Rhames, he was in a couple scenes but didn’t play the badass I wanted to see.

The 3D was awful. Again, going back to MBV, I expect them to use 3D to their pleasing and they did and I had a jaw thrown at me, and a pickaxe right in my face. I wanted to see some clever 3D usage but instead, I got stupid shit like having a hand reach out in front of me, or sign waving in the wind. The only thing that was noteworthy was having a severed dick float right in my face followed by a piranha gobbling it up. It was just stupid. On top of that, the 3D rendition was dreadful. Every time something was in a depth of field my eyes would straddle trying to look at the object/character that is in front but also trying to look at the background. This caused strain on my eyes and I had to take my glasses off several times to get them to adjust right. Bottom line, this didn’t need to be in 3D.

The other major problem that I had with this movie was that 70% of it was pretty much a Girls Gone Wild video in 3D. Now, I’m not saying that seeing T&A in 3D is bad but when it’s overused I feel as though I’m not watching a horror movie but rather a stupid softcore porno. It’s too much of a jump in terms of genre. I get that that’s what spring break is all about but goddamn, I came here to see piranha eat up tourists and not an overwhelming flood of boobs and asses. Again, with MBV, I didn’t remember any nudity but if they did have it… it was minimal because the movie could carry on without it. I felt as though they only had all this nudity was to keep the viewer interested, which is really bad.

Hands down, the best only good part of the movie was the scenes that showed the piranha viciously attack all the tourists during the wet t-shirt contest. It was so satisfying to see all those ignorant teens get maimed and mauled by piranha, run over by boats, electrocuted, sliced in half by cable, diced up by boat propellers and decapitated by speedboats. Some of the scenes actually too me back like when this kid was deliberately running people over with his boat to try to get away from the mayhem. Or when this girl gets her hair caught in the propeller and it rips her entire scalp and face off. Honestly, this movie had some great special effects and gore. The kills get an A+ in my grade book but too bad for the rest of the film.

Again, I expected it to be bad but amusing. I wanted it to be corny but fun. I wanted it to be gimmicky but with some sort of substance. I liked the CGI piranha and the CGI blood because that adds to its corniness. However, I think it’s main problem stems from that either it was rushed out too quickly or there was too much studio control. It’s a shame because I love Aja’s work. His Hills Have Eyes remake was amazing and very well photographed. Here, it was dry and stale and his cinematography was lacking. There is still so much to talk about but I need to cut this review off. If you must see it in theaters, go ahead. I would recommend that you should wait until it ends up on DVD and see in then. All in all, it makes me want to relive the experience I had when I saw My Bloody Valentine in 3D.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gremlins: A Tribute To B-Movie Cinema

As die-hard readers of my blog will know, a long time ago I started a poll that asked readers to send in their favorite Dick Miller cameo. Not to my surprise, Gremlins won and I was supposed to do a Gremlins related post but never did. Well, after I got my hands on a VHS copy of Gremlins I can finally say that the poll/article must go on. So here is my reflection of the movie Gremlins.

I already knew that Gremlins pays tribute to the b-movie but I never knew the extent at which it does. Even though I’m sure most us know what the movie is about, I still feel as though I need to address it for the sake of this article. Simply, the film is about a teen named Billy who gets a Mogwai named Gizmo for a pet but accidentally feeds them after midnight, which is a big no-no. On top of that he got water on his Mogwai causing it to multiply. By feeding them after midnight he unwillingly turned them into demonic gremlins that wreck on the small town. Now it’s up to Billy, his girlfriend and Gizmo to stop the Gremlins from killing everybody in effort to have fun.

Right off the bat the plot is pretty much a tribute to every b-movie, sci-fi, horror flick of the early to late 1950s. A picture perfect, Norman Rockwell-like town is overrun by an unruly force and it’s up to the youths of the town to stop the evil. Pick any b-movie from the day and that’s essentially the plot. That’s why I found it funny that both Billy and Gizmo were watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers, because that’s how half of this movie feels like. Consider this, right after the night they got done watching the pods take over the world in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Mogwai slip into a cocoon like state that looks sort of like the pods in the movie. It’s almost a direct inspiration from the classic Don Siegel film.

Also, lets look at the rest of the plot. Once the shit starts hitting the fan, Billy and his girlfriend try to tell the police what’s going on but they don’t believe him because… well… he’s a kid and who would believe a kid? It sounds just like The Blob of 1958. Sure it also sounds like any other given b-movie from that decade but The Blob really popularized this aspect and made it more famous. I hate to quote Eight Legged Freaks but like Gremlins, it’s also a tribute to giant monster and bug movies.

“No one’s going to believe me, cause I’m a kid, and they never listen to the kid.”

In Gremlins, Billy takes one of the Mogwai that spawned from Gizmo to his science teacher so that he could perform tests on it to see what makes it tick. Although I am not absolutely sure of this but this scene just reminds me of Fiend Without A Face but that’s probably because I always associate a giant killer brain attacking a scientist with Iron Giant. In the movie Iron Giant, Hogarth is watching a sci-fi movie that is a brief little parody of the cheesy sci-fi films of the Atomic Age. Either way, this scene in Gremlins is a tribute.

There are also the little things scattered throughout this film that derives from b-movie cinema. Robbie The Robot from Forbidden Planet makes an appearance at Billy’s dad’s workplace. On the theater marquee the phrase, “Watch The Skies” is plastered to it, which is a direct quote from The Thing From Another World. Billy’s Dad narrates both the beginning and the end of the film, which can be seen as a little homage to War of the Worlds.

Even the actors in the film had there mark in b-movie history. The actor that played the ‘scientist’ in the film was Glynn Turman who made his first mark in Blaxploitation film. Special effects creator Chris Walas makes a cameo and designs the creature effects for the Mogwai and the Gremlins. Most horror fanatics would recognize the name because of his work on Dante’s Piranha. But the grand daddy of all these cameos is of course, Dick Miller, who began his career in b-movie cinema and Roger Corman films. If all these references weren’t enough to convince you, then let Dick Miller seal the deal that this film is the ultimate tribute to b-movie film.

I find it also funny that Joe Dante directed Piranha, which in itself was a rip off to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Then Gremlins came along and Spielberg collaborated with Dante to create one of the greatest ‘family’ movies of all time. Who’d a thunk it? Also, Dante will go on to direct Looney Tunes: Back In Action in which one of the sequences takes place in Area 51B. Here there are more b-movie references to Day of the Triffids, Robot Monster and This Island Earth. I guess when it really boils down to things, Gremlins is literally a tribute to what monster and alien movies once were. The entire cast, crew and production team of this film truly love b-movies and it’s easy to see their affection for it in Gremlins.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


This is a page that is going to change over time and the more and more I edit my home movies. This will be a page that will have all the links to my ‘filmography’ and I think it would be a great way to have all my home videos, video reviews and miscellaneous videos organized. This page is also here for convenience so you don’t have to navigate the Blogger archive list. Below is my filmography thus far.

Home Videos
The Thing From Another Closet (1999)
The Halloween Song (1999)
Scary Stories (1999)
Hellraiser: Birthday Edition Trailer (2008)
28 Legs Later (2008)
The New Goosebumps Theme (2009)


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Telling Horror Stories

I made this home movie out of a video that my dad taped. In the video, I am telling my grandparents assorted horror stories that are either original or retellings. For me, it’s very interesting to see myself as a kid and so interested in telling horror stories to people. In the video I made a point that I always wanted to be a horror author and I think this movie shows it. I hope you enjoy

Monday, August 9, 2010

Above The Pants

Today I shall take a break from the normal horror talk and promote one of my ‘affiliates’ Buy Zombie. A while ago I became an indie reviewer for the site and with that came the dark task of digging up dead bodies to bring to my superior so that he may feast on their flesh and grow more and more stronger, eventually becoming immortal so that he could control the world!!!!!!!!! This, of course, is code for promoting.

Recently, Buy Zombie in association with iScream Productions launched a clothing site called Above The Pants. Though it may seem like they are only zombie related, once the store gets onit’s feet they’ll be selling a wider range of clothing: “From humor, to the macabre, to something naughty for the women, to something you can get away with wearing at work we are planning to bring you a little of everything!”

So there is my plug for the week. With that, I say: cremate your dead so I don’t have to dig them up later, or in other words, visit our site. Thanks!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Images of Body Horror

This past couple of days I was summoned by the great Brittney-Jade of Day of the Woman to participate in fun image-related blog meme. Yes, it seems like there is a lot of blogger memes floating around but this one give me an opportunity to screen capture some of the most grotesque images in modern horror history. The basis of the meme is this: “bloggers are urged to come up with a series of screen grabs, all focusing on a specific theme.” The first instance of this meme came from Checking On My Sausages but the first time it was introduced to the horror blogosphere came from, whom else, The Vault of Horror.

For my theme, I chose to explore body horror. This always fascinated me because I would always cringe or feel sick every time something happened to someone else’s body. Just the mere thought that the body can be twisted, maimed, distorted and manipulated sent painful feelings throughout my body. Also, in modern horror movies… it’s a great way to showcase how far special effects have gone. Note that I didn't use any Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser images because there are too many to choose from. Also notice that they are all practical effects and not CGI. So I present to you Body Horror!

The Thing (1982)

The Blob (1988)

Videodrome (1983)

Planet Terror (2007)

Spiders (2000)

Slither (2006)

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

The Stuff (1985)

The Fly (1986)

Wishmaster (1997)

Thinner (1996)

Poltergeist (1982)

Re-Animator (1985)

And now, I must tag five other blogs and because I did this quite late… the usual suspects have already been named. So, I’ll try to tag blogs that I assume haven’t been tagged before.

1) The WGON Helicopter
2) Deadly Movies
3) Gore Gore Dancer Movie Reviews
4) Flowers of Flesh and Blood
5) …:::Kindertrauma:::…

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Movie Posters: Devil (2010)

I haven’t done this in a while but I figure I should return to something I used to do back when I first started my blog and that is comment on upcoming horror movie posters. With M. Night Shyamalan producing an upcoming horror film Devil, I’ve decided to look at the film’s two awesome teaser posters. I’m not really sure why I am drawn to these posters but I think it has something to do with how they utilized elevator features to make them appear more demonic. Also, I was the first partner of my friend’s production company called Dos Diablos Productions so I guess it’s fitting. Just looking at the posters makes me see how unique they are so I can only hope that the movie is as good as the posters.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things I Learned This Thankskilling

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always learned something from sitting down and having Thanksgiving with my family. I would either be taught family lessons, how to cook, responsibility or the concept of sharing and giving thanks. It has always been a tradition for me to learn from my elders and I’m sure, even after all these years, it will never be broken. However, there was one movie that really hit home for me. It delivered a grand slam right into the windows of our house, landed in the mashed potatoes and burn the turkey. That movie was Thankskilling and I just want to take this time to reflect upon it and tell you what I learned from that movie.

- Apparently, college kids are really stupid.
- Pilgrim women like to show their breasts.
- Backwater country hicks will avenge their dogs if they get killed.
- Brunettes are now idiots.
- If you wife shits in your coffee, she wants a divorce.
- People seem to be quick to get over things.
- College kids scare really, really easy.
- There is such a thing as a Turkeyologist.
- Grown men play on swing sets and east ice cream.
- Turkeys hate to be called ducks.
- A turkey can look like a midget dressed up in a turkey outfit.
- 200 years ago, people wrote spell-books on cardboard.
- Turkeys use small gravy-flavored condoms.
- To kill an evil, murderous, foul-mouthed (har har har), turkey… you burn it at the stake.
- To revive an evil, murderous, foul-mouthed turkey… you drop it into a garbage bin full of radioactive waste.
- Drinking makes you laugh at everything.
- Turkeys are really mean birds.
- Always double kill your turkey.
- Thanksgiving is a very dysfunctional holiday.

Those are the lessons that I learned this Thankskilling, they are very sour moments in time that I will forever and regrettably cherish.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Train Wreck of Cliche

I’m going to first come right out and say that Train sucked. It was exactly what people were saying it was: Hostel on a train but stupider, which I couldn’t believe. If you want to know why this movie sucked I could give you a laundry list of reasons that include: bad acting, improbable actions, overuse of gore to the point of stupidity, stupid characters, bad establishing shots, horrible CGI, a plot that goes all over the place, American stereotypes, European stereotypes and my favorite… overuse of stock sound effects. That’s what I want to talk about.

If anybody knows me, I enjoy hearing some stock movie cliché sound effects here and there, especially if the movie is a comedy. The use of them is sort of a tribute to the Hollywood studio and most of the time the sound effects are muffled over other sound effects or it’s slightly brought down. However, Train does something different because this movie is trying to be a serious horror movie similar to Saw or Hostel, so when I hear one of these sound effects… loud and abrupt as hell… it takes me right out of the movie. The funniest thing is, it didn’t seem like a mistake because they do it not once but twice and thrice. I sat back in my seat and I laughed my ass off because I couldn’t believe what I heard. It was awful.

The first time I almost chocked on my Coke with laughter was when the main heroine, presumably, sees the fat maniac jump out of the burning train window while on fire, to his death on the side of the bridge. What made it funny? He screamed, as loud as you can be, one of the most cliché movie screams called The Howie Scream. It had replay value. I had to make sure that I wasn’t having audio hallucination but I wasn’t. They really went that route.

Below is what the Howie Scream sounds like in a rather funny compilation.

For movie fanatics like me you are familiar with the Wilhelm Scream, which is probably one of the most infamous Hollywood screams in movie history. Right before the fat guy gets run over by a train in the very end of the movie he lets out a shrieking, over the top dub of the Wilhelm Scream.

Below, you can hear the Wilhelm Scream.

This next one, I can’t really remember where in the movie I saw it but I’m sure it had to do with that fat guy again. There is a stock sound effect called Insane Tantrum, which sounds like somebody screaming while being tortured. Since I can’t remember what scene it was all I can do is remember my initial reaction to hearing that sound effect louder than anything else in the movie. It resulted in a swift facepalm to the face.

To listen to Insane Tantrum, click here.

I just find it funny that Train had so many problems with it but the problem that stood out to me was the overuse of stock sound effects. I believe this movie wanted to be serious because it certainly felt that way, so why would you have those sound effects in there and make them louder than ever? Most films, if they have them, are hidden in the background subtly but not this movie, this movie bring them right out in front. If you are wondering why I am nagging so much on this aspect of the film it’s because it’s the only thing that I will ever remember from it and it left a bad taste in my mouth. The film is not just a terrible movie; it’s an exercise in cliché as well.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Halloween Song (1999)

Here is a video I found that my dad recorder back in 1999. I was teaching my grandfather, who is sadly not longer with us, and my grandmother how to sing ‘This Is Halloween’ from A Nightmare Before Christmas. I guess it shows you the influence that film had on my life. Looking back on this movie… I can really see myself sort of morphing into a film director, as I demanded my dad to maneuver around and teaching my grandma to sing. I think in my mind, I felt as though I was directing and writing a big Hollywood movie and it felt like I was at home. Although, I still was a little shy. I named it The Halloween Song because that was what my dad wrote on the VHS-C tape that this movie was on.

Note: Please excuse the ‘venation blind’ distortion of the video. I’m working on trying to get rid of it but if you play it in full screen… it should distort as much.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Suits of Silver Shamrock

I’ve always been fascinated by Halloween III, not just because it’s a movie that many horror folks shun upon but also because it gives a message about corporations. See, film historians have stated that this movie is sort of anti-corporations and it’s one of the main reasons why I love this movie. To me, it’s not just a cheesy b-movie but it says something about the 80s and it’s a film that can be looked at years from now so that people can study that era. However, before I get into the aspect of Halloween III that I like, I first want to briefly discuss what Halloween III means.

Throughout the film Cochran is psychotically obsessed with ‘playing a trick’ on all the kids of America by turning their heads into real Halloween masks. He uses TV to brainwash kids into wanting the Silver Shamrock masks, which can be seen as corporations trying to promote a more technology driven future that would only end in the destruction of the American family. The montages of children flooding stores in order to buy the masks goes further to show a ‘cynical’ outlook on the consumerism that has overwhelmed American cultures. It’s also rather interesting to see Cochran use the very holiday that he hates against itself to destroy children; ironic considering that Halloween is one of the biggest consumer holidays next to Christmas. Although, there was one thing that I always loved about this movie and that was the way Carpenter portrayed the ‘suits’ of Silver Shamrock.

I originally thought they were just your typical hulking henchmen but as the movie progressed, they seemed to be a little more dehumanized and that’s when it was revealed that they were in fact robots. It would explain why they hardly portray any emotions and why they just blindly follow Cochran’s bidding.

It fits perfectly with the rest of the film’s point because it’s basically Carpenter comparing to corporate execs to mindless, emotional drones that only do what their superior says. They are like robots that are programmed to do what they are told and it’s something that is so subtly referenced that I almost passed it up. I also, whether or not this is what Carpenter’s intention was, like how the robots brutally kill and maim the people that get in the way of Silver Shamrock… it’s sort of parodying corporate takeover. It’s also rather funny to see them dress up in gray suits; a color that is so dull and neutral and has no ‘flavor.’