Wednesday, October 31, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #13: Wrong Turn

It's Halloween! Yay! Tonight's movie is "Wrong Turn" starring Eliza
Wrong TurnDushku. Don't be confused by the other movie of the same name that came out a couple of years later. There is a Wrong Turn II also, which is the sequel to this one. As long as you have Eliza you've got the right one, she's on the cover of the DVD box. Also of note is horror veteran Julian Richings who was in "Urban Legends" and Stephen King's "Kingdom Hospital". Speaking of King, note that Eliza's character is named Jessie Burlingame. Cute eh? Also in the cast we have both Lindy Booth and Kevin Zegers who were in the "Dawn of the Dead" remake.

Once again we are graced with a movie bearing special effects by Stan Winston. The three characters he visually created with his designs and makeup effects are spectacular. Now I'm going to tell you my biggest impression of this move. This movie is in many ways what the "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" remake should have been like (I like the remake, don't get me wrong), particularly up until the movie's turning point. In particular is the absolutely stunning scene that is exactly right straight out of your worst nightmare ever. That's right, this has one of the "nightmare moments" I was talking about the other night, and wow, is it nightmarish. You've got to see it! Happy Halloween everyone!

Mood: thrilled.
Music: Halloween by Helloween.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #12: The Gravedancers

Tonight, as promised, I have another movie from After Dark Films
The Gravedancersand their 8 Films to Die For that was a part of the annual independent horror film festival Horrorfest in 2006. The movie is "The Gravedancers" and apparently it is the one (of the eight) with stars in it you may have heard of, starting with Dominic Purcell who can be seen currently in "Prison Break" on TV. Up next is Clare Kramer who you Buffy fans will recognise as Glory/Glorificus from season five. Then we have Josie Maran who was in "Van Helsing". Also, Tchéky Karyo, who played the parapsychologist, is a respected and popular actor in French movies.

When I was seeing the commercials for the 8 Films to Die For there were short bits with one or more pale monstrous looking people--not seen together, don't want to give the wrong impression--that immediately grabbed my attention and made me say I have to see the movie that those flashes of scenes are from, have to. Well when I ordered a pair of the eight movies, and I popped the first one in, I found that movie, and its "The Gravedancers". I was not disappointed, those figures are awesome and this movie rocks. I expected something of a different kind of haunting story than what I got, but the actual difference more than made up for it. Enjoy!

Mood: thrilled.
Music: Halloween by Aqua.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #11: Dead & Buried

Tonight I have a movie for you that I had never heard of until I
Dead And Buriedtripped across it looking around online for new and different horror movies. It's called " Dead & Buried". As the tagline and PR materials point out it is from the writers of "Alien", in particular Dan O'Bannon. What's nice to see, and he's the only nameable actor in it I'm aware of, is a small part played by Robert Englund. The DVD edition I bought was the two disc uncut widescreen from Blue Underground. I haven't listened to them yet but the DVD comes with three commentary tracks. There are also a lot of extras on the second disc. The featurettes all contain bits of one particular scene that had an impact on everyone cast and audience.

This scene involved a special effect by Stan Winston, who did most of the special effects for this movie, with notable exception of the one that no one likes the looks of. Stan's effects are pretty spectacular even aside this haunting one that just grips everyone. You'll know it when you see it, and I won't mention the nickname I've given it for fear of tainting your impression of it. There is also one scene where it turns out the Oscar for acting should go to a dummy, but I doubt anyone can spot it, nor should they try. Besides the cool effects we have an even cooler story in this movie. I've likely said too much already, so go watch and ignore what I've said until the credits roll.

Mood: hurried.
Music: Halloween Theme 2007 by Tyler Bates.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #10: Dark Water

Tonight's movie is the original Japanese version of the movie "Dark
Dark Water (Japanese)Water". I picked it over the American remake only because I've seen the original and not the remake. I fully intend to see the remake because Jennifer Connelly is in it. That isn't really here or there though. The version of "Dark Water" I saw, was I must say not only the Japanese, but it was actually dubbed in English. Yeah I know, I should be that last one to watch a dub, but I did in this case since I wasn’t the one who rented it and had final say. As far as dubs go I have little to nothing to complain about it, other than of course a dub is never actually any better than the subtitled version.

I think I should start with a bit of vetting. I've seen only a small handful of Japanese horror movies outside of horror, and horror-inspired anime--those that have monsters, ghosts, etc, but are focused on other elements like action, comedy, or drama. I've seen the original Japanese version of "Ringu", and the American remake "The Ring". I've seen only "The Grudge" remake with Sarah Michelle Gellar and not the original as yet. Out of the three, Ring, Grudge, and Dark Water well you're reading about the one I picked. This one as far as I'm concerned is the creepiest and has the strongest horror of the pack. I can only imagine that watching it subtitled is even better.

Mood: excited.
Music: Halloween Theme by John Carpenter.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #9: 976-EVIL

Just a reminder, the full list of movies is available at Wraithstop so you can watch along.

Woo boy! Do I have a treat for you tonight with the movie "976-EVIL".
976-EVILThe first reason I have to be so excited about this one is because of Robert Englund. You know him, the man of your nightmares, the one and only man behind the makeup and glove of Freddy Krueger. Wait though, there's more, in a huge twist, Mr. Englund is the director of this movie and is the man behind the camera instead of in front of it. So what does Mr. Englund have in store for us--not to knock the scriptwriters, but who are they? Well one scriptwriter, Brian Helgeland was a writer for "Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master " that came out the year before. The other scriptwriter, Rhet Topham, wrote on "Trick or Treat"

So, back to the movie, just to get it out of your system, I saw some strong parallels between parts of it and parts of "Carrie", but it's only one element so never fear, I didn't think it held any kind of rip-off factor. This was one of those movies that I desperately wanted on DVD and thankfully didn't have to wait too long for it to be released. It's also the kind of movie that makes you think, think about how it is that these actors can step from in front of the camera to behind it, and rock just as hard when they make the millions of directorial decisions as they do when they just take direction and focus on a single character. I don’t know but I'm glad they can do it, and I think Robert Englund did an excellent job.

Mood: even.
Music: This Is Halloween by Danny Elfman

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Friday, October 26, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #8: Unrest

Tonight we delve into the horrors from After Dark Films with their
Unrestmovie "Unrest". After Dark Films is the one responsible for the 8 Films to Die For that was a part of the annual independent horror film festival Horrorfest. Here's a little hint, there's another one of these eight horror movies yet to come. Tonight though, we have something that's a bit different, somewhat unique. That is a really hard thing to find any more, but once you've seen this movie I think you will agree. What is this new thing? Where other recent horror movies involve elements of the current trend toward reality television, this one involves elements of popular crime shows like CSI.

One thing I do want to point out about "Unrest" is something that cropped up in the trailers. The trailer claims that there are real corpses in this movie. I can't say one way or another if there is but it was filmed in a real morgue. I didn't know what to make of this before seeing the movie because sometimes films will do improper things, but rest assured I saw nothing untoward or troubling. The corpse that the story revolves around isn't real because it would take some doing to find the perfect specimen, and one that would look like the live actress in the flashbacks. That out of the way, the movie is interesting, different as I said, and I was greatly pleased with buying it.

Mood: serious.
Music: Hotel California by the Eagles.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #7: Hellraiser: Deader

Tonight we come around a bit of a circle and have a movie that
Hellraiser: Deaderfollows one from a previous night. Tonight's movie is "Hellraiser: Deader" the seventh in the Hellraiser franchise. That's right, I'm skipping the sixth, though I by no means wish to knock that one--it's called Hellseeker. In a really nice change-up we have Pinhead Does Europe. Now that I think about it, I can't say where the other films would be placed geographically. They could have been in Britain, though that could still put this one in Europe proper since Deader starts in London and moves to Romania--in the movie.

One of the high points in horror movies for me and a definite motivator in praise of these films has to be what I call "nightmare moments". These moments are something straight out of a nightmare, or in some cases even better than a nightmare. Deader has a couple of these moments. I just had to sit there shaking my head going wow, now that is just wild, that is something right straight out of someone's worst nightmare. Aside from these moments, how does Deader compare to say Inferno, or the first movie? Well it has all the right spirit. It has the same kind of is this moment real and how real sensibility we saw in Inferno and Hellseeker. At the same time it is also what I could call canon, or in line with the original movie.

Mood: antsy.
Music: Welcome To My Nightmare by Alice Cooper.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #6: Thir13en Ghosts

Tonight we have "Thir13een Ghosts" a remake of a film of the same
Thir13en Ghostsname. The original came from director William Castle and involved special goggles that allowed characters in the movie to see ghosts, and cardboard glasses for the viewing audience to don when people on screen did. The remake comes from Dark Castle Entertainment, just like last night's movie. It also boasts K.N.B. EFX Group on the special effects, and what effects they are! The thirteen ghosts are spectacular, from their histories, to their visual appearances. There are no glasses needed for this remake. I have to say, this movie is a real doozy. Let me tell you a bit about it.

First off on the wow scale we have the set(s) for the bulk of the movie, a big mansion kind of house with all of the walls made of out unbreakable glass. The walls have weird writing all over it when seen through the special glasses that the characters find in scattered rooms. Besides being a nightmare for the filming crew this mansion is a real house of horrors. Then of course we have the ghosts, which I touched on already. Tony Shaloub stars as the new owner of the house and proves there was life before Monk (which I've never really watched). We also have Matthew Lillard as a psychic, and man oh man, if this isn't a perfect role for him and maybe even a better performance than he gave us in Scream. So, what are you waiting for? Watch this movie already!

Mood: hyper.
Music: Killers by Iron Maiden.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #5: Ghost Ship

Tonight's movie is from those grisly horror-meisters at Dark Castle Ghost ShipEntertainment. You've probably heard of them, and of this movie. If you haven't, well boy are you in for a treat. The movie is called "Ghost Ship". Despite rumours it is not a remake of any single film though it may bear some resemblance in spots to similar themed movies and may be an amalgam of classic story types. These guys and gals at Dark Castle know how to rock a horror movie and you can bet money as soon as I see that they're involved in a film it is going on my wish list without so much as a single review or moment's thought to check it out first.

This movie has to have one of the best beginnings of a horror movie ever. It makes me drool just to think about it. K.N.B. EFX Group does an absolutely stupendous job as always on practical special effects. It's hard to believe I never really noticed that group's name on movies until only recently. They're a staple of the horror industry going back years and years. The company has their name on 149 movies in the IMDB for special effects. They range from today back to 1973. Of course they are not the only reason to see this movie. It's always good to see Gabriel Byrne in a movie, and Julianna Margulies was just excellent.

Mood: chillaxin.
Music: Meet the Creeper by Rob Zombie.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #4 Hellraiser: Inferno

Tonight's movie is one that totally blew my socks off. "Hellraiser:
Hellraiser: InfernoInferno" is the fifth film in the Hellraiser franchise following on the heels of Bloodlines. Sequels can be mixed bags. Some people hate them with a passion. Many say that they never live up to the original. I am not one to dismiss sequels, and many of them I like. It is true that few sequels ever compare to the greatness of the first. For that reason you have to look at them as separately as you possibly can, especially watching them for the first time. Inferno is one movie where I must boldly say that I like it almost as much as the first one.

I'd also go a step further and say that to me, visually, I feel this sequel is truer to The Hellbound Heart than the original movie. That's a funny thing to say given that Clive Barker was the scriptwriter and director on the first film. Still I stand by it, and as I specified I mean visually. Inferno has the truest of the Cenobites in it. It also has The Engineer in a much more specific form than that creature that some claim was him in the original. As for the rest of Inferno? Well I couldn't shake the feeling by the end of it that it is maybe one of the most disturbing movies I've seen. It has the excellent mix of seen and unseen, lets you imagine your worst and then shows you the special effects' team's worst, which is their best. So what are you waiting for? If you don't have a copy of this to watch tonight get on it.

Mood: excited.
Music: Haunted by Poe.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #3: Event Horizon

Tonight's movie is a blend of science fiction and horror called "Event
Event HorizonHorizon". The first thing I can do to describe this movie is to call it something that others have called it with a bit of contempt. I consider it a selling point and I also consider it a complement when I call it "Hellraiser in Space", though of course we had for the real in the third of the Hellraiser series. The general idea is not a totally uncommon one though I love the approach that Event Horizon took. As far as the sci-fi bits go I've heard that this movie has one of the most realistic representations of a live human unprotected in space. Though perhaps that realism was based on knowledge at the time the film was made and has been become less correct since.

There is a new DVD edition of Event Horizon out since I bought my copy some years ago. The new one is in the link up above (the image). The edition I have took a little bit of tweaking to maximise the film's use of surround sound. The movie has great surround once your levels are good. I love hearing the storm raging outside of the ship and how it comes from different speakers when they are in different parts of the ship--it's in an atmosphere. Another thing I love about this movie is Sam Neill's part and they way he plays the role. This is also one of those movies that has an absolutely glorious horrific set piece in it--the ship--in particular the drive room. That set was made for horror.

Mood: light.
Music: Haunted by Type O Negative.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #2 Dead Birds

Tonight's movie is the strangely titled "Dead Birds". This movie is
Dead Birdsa horror period piece set in the American Civil War. It stars Henry Thomas, best know for playing Elliott in the movie "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial", with a bunch of other people I didn't recognise and a part played by Isaiah Washington. Even the director isn't a name I know and his credit list is short. Do not, however, let this dissuade you from seeing this movie. Not only is it great to get a movie set in the past, instead of the usual timeless period that could be anything from 1970 to today, but this is a ripping good film too.

As soon as I saw the trailer for this one I immediately wanted to see it. I was not disappointed, and I don't think you will be either. It's good to see a historical horror. It adds a nice flavour and a touch of depth. It brings with it other story elements that can be expressed in just a word or two, or some simple actions. I also like it because in some good ways it adds to the horror. The past, when it's that far back, was a time when so many things were unknown, some of them unfathomable. It is also a time when there is more belief in the supernatural. The characters fear it so much more because they believe in it. They don't dismiss it, and they certainly don't dismiss its power.

Mood: copasetic
Music: Crave by Nuno.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

13 Nights of Halloween:
Night #1 The Monster Club

Hello and welcome to the first of the 13 Nights of Halloween! This year I am serving up a healthy dose of thrills, chills, and deep throbbing horror for you. The full list of movies is available at Wraithstop to make life easy for everyone.

My first selection is "The Monster Club" starring Vincent Price and a
The Monster Clubwhole horrific host of the old school terror celebrities. I first saw this movie as a young lad. It was on TV some afternoon, most likely near to Halloween. It left a permanent indelible mark upon me. It wasn’t my first horror movie; I don't even know what the first would have been. For years and years I wished to see it again but never really did. Once I spotted a hugely expensive VHS copy in some grimy store but it was beyond me to get it then. Finally a few short years ago someone put it out on DVD. It was one of my holy grails of DVD necessity. I waited 20 years or so, I'd guess, to own a copy.

The movie is an anthology of three stories. Each of the stories is tied together by an "over-story" that introduces each piece and forms a cohesive whole out everything. The movie was a 1980 film made in the 60's style. It certainly has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek as well. Grilled cheese lovers unite! This is your movie before our descent into dark stark madness and terrifying shocks. This isn't to say that it doesn't have it moments. I hate to give spoilers or set the mood too much but the first story is particularly stunning and even now in this new century the special effects were still awesome to behold. There is something exceedingly cool on the DVD too. The film's soundtrack is playable on its own.

Mood: relaxed.
Music: Haunted by Evanescence.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2: Human Reactions

Just how would you feel if it were suddenly revealed that psychic powers were real, and they were potent, and used by just anybody who happened to have the capability? Would you first wonder how it had been kept hidden until now, or would you just assume that they were a new development? Would you be afraid of what some people might do with such abilities? Would you be jealous if you knew someone who could do something spectacular or just plain cool?

There would be reactions beyond those that individual people would have over the existence of psychic powers. What would the media do once they found out? Would they create mass hysteria—the traditional kind—or would there be a new class of celebrity quickly emerge? A whole new host of changes to the world would occur if the psychics were found within the ranks of the media. What stories would they print if a reporter could read a sources mind? What would they learn from politicians?

Politics could be a vastly different arena if physics discovered all of the secrets. It would be even further changed if there never were any secrets in the first place. However, let's say that these psychic powers were a new and so far limited phenomena. Just what would the politicians and military higher ups do about them? Find out some of the scenarios when Horror on Hump Day resumes the week following Halloween.

Starting October 19, 2007 look to this blog for our annual 13 Nights of Halloween. Each day there will be a new blog about a movie that is just perfect for the Halloween season. Check us out early, and hit your local video store or download service and watch along each night.

Mood: frisky.
Music: Satellite by Def Leppard and This House Is Haunted by Alice Cooper.

Def Leppard: On Through the Night
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Alice Cooper:Eyes Of Alice Cooper

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #1:
Psychic Powers

In working on my psychic horror game there are several considerations I have had to make, and several more yet to be decided upon. In this first article of how many I do not know, I will start with my first point of necessity, and the considerations that it entailed. Later articles will take a look at these considerations as required.

The first requirement was that it was going to be a horror game. I of course set out to make a game with psychic powers so there was the second game priority. While I am discussing my game these ideas in no way need be relegated to role-playing games, they should work perfectly for any short story, novel, or movie setting within the genre. The limiting factor will be the inclusion of psychic phenomena though by no means will it be inclusive to humans for other people's setting purposes or any other settings I might pursue.

For a horror setting with psychics you first need to set out a list of the powers that you want to see. Next you need to look at how these powers will work. This requires looking at how the powers work in the following ways. First, what cost is there to using the powers? It can be none, it can be some kind of psychic points, it can be physical fatigue, and it can be mental fatigue. Next, are there any downsides to using the powers too much aside from any associated cost? The downsides of fatigue are obvious. Certainly sometime the use of such supernatural power has a negative impact, such as nosebleeds, and headaches if the powers come "naturally".

A psychic not need to be born with the powers or have them flourish on their own at the onset of puberty (a common time in fiction). The powers could be granted by a supernatural entity, or they could be the result of experimentation. These ideas alone open up a lot more vistas of possible exploration in your setting than just having the psychic abilities innately. They also express another important facet of a psychic horror setting, how does the rest of the world react to these phenomena and the people who wield such powers? Something for next time.

Mood: crisp.
Music: You Are all That I Need by Twisted Sister and You're All I Need by Motley Crue.

Twisted Sister: Love is for Suckers
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Motley Crue: Girls Girls Girls

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Real Live Corpses

Beyond the satiric intent of such a title, such an advertisement was made with regard to a new-ish movie that I watched recently. Honestly I don't know what to make of it, if it is true. Given the context of the movie it was in the promotional material for, I wasn't particularly perturbed or admonishing. However in other cases I might frown on the idea or go as far as to avoid it in the manner of denying them any money, or publicity, etc.

This brings me to my main idea. What is acceptable or wanted in special effects, is unacceptable and to be discouraged for real. Here's an example from a documentary in the special features of a DVD. The 2 disc special edition of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (the original actual carries Chain Saw as two words) contains a documentary about Ed Gein, the Butcher of Plainfield. Now Ed Gein is a real person who committed heinous acts earning him the aforementioned title. In the documentary they detail what he did, and they have some crime photos.

As a matter of historical fact this is a fairly interesting documentary, however one particular photo should have been weeded out and certainly not dwelled on as it was. As much as someone should have said no to including it, by the same token had it been a part of a movie, and done with special effects, it would have been fine if not actually cool (if done right). Why is it that if it's done with make up, foam latex, caro syrup, and made by a movie crew we can't get enough of it, but yet it's just plain wrong to be shown the real thing?

I do not know why it is, but I can certainly agree that it is. Let's look at another example. The Faces of Death videos are an example. No one should be watching real fatal accidents for entertainment. Real people deserve respect. Life means something. Certain people will certainly find such comments odd from such a horror aficionado as I claim to be (sometimes). Of course no one should be surprised when I say I outright condemn those foreign cannibal movies that have not only real scenes of death supposedly (as stock footage), but also live filmed animal cruelty. Talk about people that don't deserve respect, or remorse...

Mood: copacetic.
Music: Hearts On Fire by Hammerfall and The Fallen One by Hammerfall.

Hammerfall: Legacy of Kings
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Hammerfall: Crimson Thunder

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