Archive for September 30, 2005

Carnival of souls

September 30, 2005

Thanks to Technorati’s Blog Finder and some diligent Google searching of my own, I discovered a whole bunch more horror blogs last night and added them to the big list; really, you should just scroll down and start clicking on anything that’s new to you, because there’s a lot of good stuff out there. If I have time sometime in the near future (unlikely, given my plans for October), I’ll do a “Meet the Horror Blogosphere” series running down some of the best. But for now, I leave it to you as a DIY project. (I’d also like to email the various blogs who don’t know they’re included and give them a head’s-up, but that too is a project for another time. But hey, if you find a new blog through the list, tell ’em Sean sent you!)

As always, I would encourage you to email links to any blogs or sites of note that aren’t already included to me here.

One blog I found last night deserves special mention, though, for reasons that are apparent to regular ADDTF readers: Dumb London, a very well-written zombie blog. At this point I’m no longer surprised to find these, though with Dumb London I at long last found one newer than mine. I haven’t had a chance to really dig into this one yet, but I already appreciate the time the author took to develop what appears to be a zombie hierarchy, or at least a zombie taxonomy.

Finally, from (I’m told) the same contest that produced yesterday’s Shining trailer, here is a balls-out terrific zombie horror trailer assembled from…well, you’re just going to have to see for yourself. Mambo!

Carnival of souls

September 29, 2005

A few days back I asked if any of yall were planning on watching any members of this season’s crop of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Lost!” TV shows. Loyal ADDTF reader Kerry answered thusly:

Hey there! I have posted a few basic reviews on my blog, which you are welcome to check out. I took it upon myself to watch at least one episode of the new shows, and trust me, that was no easy task!

The best of the spooky award goes to Supernatural, so far. Demons, spirits, haints, hags, and other campfire creepies being hunted by two brothers searching for their father, burning ladies on the ceiling … how can you go wrong? [It’s also] X-Files-y in the sense that each episode is self-contained, though there is a running plot as well.

Threshold is more conspiracy-based, all about the futile attempt to keep the lid on some alien invaders, but is also worth watching. It is decidedly creepy, what with the backward-talking and the midget. [Sounds familiar… -Ed.]

I watched Invasion last night, and it was not terrible; Threshold seems to be a superior show, but I’ll continue to give Invasion a chance.

Surface is more family-oriented, but offers some thrilling moments, especially when you realize how MAMMOTH the whatever-it-is IS. [Soooo tempting… -Ed.] The only irksome aspect so far is that some kids found an “egg” and are now raising a baby whatever-it-is in a cooler… I feel that the quality of this show will decline as the “baby” gets bigger and is used as a plot device, but I could be wrong.

Prison Break might just be the best piece of TV drama I have seen since …well, since I don’t know when. Of course, the things that happen on the show would NEVER happen in a real prison, but the script is so compelling you voluntarily suspend your disbelief and just take the ride.

The Night Stalker has not yet premiered; when I see it, you’ll know what I think of it.

And Lost is still the leader of the pack

Now that’s scary

September 29, 2005

You’ve probably already had this emailed to you by your officemates today–I’ve received it from at least two separate groups of people–but what the hey, it’s horror-related and funny as all get-out: The Shining as a feel-good comedy. This is so well done in its mockery of a particular type of uplifting Hollywood pablum that watching it will actually creep you out. The use of “Solsbury Hill” is a particularly nice touch–I now feel about movies that use that in their trailers the same way I feel about ones that use “Takin’ Care of Business” or that song that goes “hey! hey! hey! hey!”

The Kraken’s Kodak Moment

September 28, 2005

Oh my god.

This is a red-letter day for people who love sea monsters, let me tell you:

For the first time, a giant squid has been captured on film in its natural environment!

Photo (c) Reuters.

A pair of Japanese scientists were the lucky fellows who managed to pull this off (somewhat literally–the squid lost a tentacle to the crew during its struggle to free itself from the bait it had snapped up). The discovery was actually made this time last year, but the scientists’ report on it is only now being made public.

For those who are unaware, giant squids have long been known to exist thanks to everything from carcasses washed up on shores or caught in fishing nets to scars on sperm whales. However, actually observing a live one doing its thing in the ocean has up until now been a vision quest not unlike capturing Bigfoot, only all the more frustrating because the giant squid is and was indisputably real.

I’m so damn excited about this I may have to add Surface to my TiVo To Do list.

When she saw him, she screamed and ran

September 27, 2005

I was gonna wait till October before I brought this to your attention–it seemed more appropriate that way, somehow, even if ADDTF is now pretty much a 24/7/365 horror blog–but this post by Kevin Melrose at Dark But Shining forced my hand.

So to speak.

Horror site The Flesh Farm has put together a set of lovely tributes to folklorist Alvin Schwartz and illustrator Stephen Gammell’s infamous Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series. Click on the links below for pictures, stories, and general pluggy goodness for one of the current generation of horror fans and creators’ universal formative influences:

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones

I came across these pages when conducting research a few weeks back for what I hoped would be an interview with Stephen Gammell for Giant Magazine. I found out that Mr. Gammell doesn’t give interviews, so that plan fell through, but any excuse to re-immerse myself in these books is a welcome one. I’m of the mind that Gammell’s work with Schwartz (who passed away several years ago, unfortunately) is one of the great unheralded touchstones of contemporary horror, particularly in comics. Here’s what I said on the topic over at Tom Spurgeon’s ComicsReporter.com site:

I know [the Scary Stories series] isn’t comics per se, but fans of cartooning and illustration are hereby heartily advised to go to their local Borders and pick up the chain’s super-cheap omnibus hardcover collecting all three volumes of this series, which they may remember fondly and fearfully from their childhoods. Schwartz’s economical, just-so prose meshes perfectly with the incredibly bizarre and still-frightening ink-washed illustrations by Stephen Gammell. These books are an unsung influence of contemporary American comics, I’m quite convinced; for example, the work of artist Ben Templesmith, whose collaborations with writer Steve Niles have almost singlehandedly revived the commercial fortunes of the genre, is thoroughly indebted to Gammell’s style.

And when I said “still-frightening,” I meant it: Any of you who (like me) occasionally flip through your copies of the books before laying down to sleep will undoubtedly testify that it makes for a nerve-wracking night. And hey, if the only people the books scared were kids, they wouldn’t have been the 1990s’ most frequently challenged library books.

There’s so much to recommend these books: The astoundingly frightening art, some of which is seared into my brain as deeply as any scene from my favorite horror movies; the all-business prose, written for children but translating as economical and almost documentary-like for adults; the brilliantly worded story and section titles, which when taken as a group are my favorite batch of titles this side of Gang of Four’s first album; the stories themselves, selected from folklore and urban legend across the United States and striking chords you didn’t know you were equipped with. Just wonderful in every way, and an utterly essential addition to every horror fan’s library. Makes a fine Halloween present for the kiddies, too. Provided you don’t mind scaring the daylights out of them.

I wanna take the walls down with you

September 26, 2005

Now this is bad news: D’Angelo was critically injured in an SUV wreck a week ago.

Best known to the general public for his outrageously good physique–in his video for “Untitled” he made Brad Pitt in Fight Club look like Will Ferrell in Old School–D’Angelo is also EASILY the greatest member of that whole “neo-soul” movement from a few years back. His album Voodoo is in my opinion a major funk achievement, and ran neck-and-neck with Kid A for best album of 2000. I hadn’t been paying attention to what has been something of a downward spiral for D’Angelo in the years since, so reading that article and its account of his various substance-abuse-derived legal problems was upsetting. And it also made me lose some sympathy for him, as he’s quite clearly someone who had no business whatsoever behind the wheel of a car (which is where I’m assuming he was during this accident). If he were a defendant on Judge Judy I’d be angry if the audience didn’t clap after he lost his case, let’s put it that way. But he’s a brilliant musician and I hope this doesn’t keep him from making more music.

Carnival of souls

September 22, 2005

Perfectly Frank: Bibi’s Box unearths a metric ton of Frankenstein-related links pertaining to every imaginable permutation and iteration of Mary Shelley’s great creation. I wonder if one day someone will make a version of this monster with the ability really to frighten the contemporary audience. It seems like it’s doable.

Mondo Schlocko links to Cake & Polka Parade’s assortment of mp3s ripped from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I got really excited about this at first because I thought it would be recordings of “Fool for a Blonde”–if you’re as big a fan of Texas Chain Saw as I am you know what I’m talking about–but nope, it’s the sounds of whole segments from the movie. That, of course, is still a wonderful find, and I say that independent of the fact that the post effusively links to my essay on the film.

The other great thing about this post is that it was my first exposure to Cake & Polka Parade in general, and it’s a heckuva find. There are a goodly number of horrorrelated posts and mp3s to be found there in addition to the Texas Chain Saw one, but what really caught my eye is this post and mp3 assortment featuring Godley & Creme. I am hugely in love with G&C’s fluke ’80s hit “Cry,” which I first encountered when Beavis & Butt-Head hilariously mocked it on their show back in the day. I think it’s a very lovely song, in no small part because it boasts the awe-inspiringly slick production of Trevor Horn. (See also “Video Killed the Radio Star,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” “Poison Arrow,” “Relax (Don’t Do It),” and Seal’s entire career.) Ever since discovering the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtracks I’ve been immersing myself in ’80s pop music (though to be fair I was working my way there by way of late-period Roxy Music and Bowie, not to mention Joy Division/New Order), and one of my favorite flavors is “Cry”-style crystal-clear mid-tempo afternoon music. (I could listen to “Taken In” by Mike & the Mechanics for hours on end–godDAMN that is good music!) The tracks Cake & Polka links to aren’t anything like that–they’re from G&C’s more arty, almost glammy period, and they’re really worth a listen. “An Englishman in New York” should be downloaded for the delivery of those lyrics alone.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: One of the great pleasures of maintaining The Horrorblog Update List has been my discovery of The Dark Side, the true-crime blog of writer/journalist Steve Huff. Simply put, I think this is some of the finest Internet-based writing of any kind I’ve ever come across. It is very, very dark–a given, considering the subject matter–but very, very good–considering the subject matter, almost the opposite of a given . Highly recommended.

Final Girl’s Stacie Ponder is back, with a delightful (but spoilery, so be warned) post about horror-movie moments that really and truly scared her. Her single scariest moment is mine too. I honestly don’t know if it can ever be topped.

Finally, my old comics blogosphere compatriot Franklin Harris has called it quits after a long and illustrious genre-blogging career. I’ll miss him. Good luck, Franklin!

I’m a student of the drum

September 22, 2005

I don’t know if this is something every music blog on earth has already linked to, but frankly, nor do I care: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Minnetonka (Minnesota) High School Percussion Ensemble’s near-flawless renditions of DJ Shadow’s “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” and “Changeling,” as arranged by teacher Brian Udelhofen. More info here and here.

You have to hear it and see it to believe it. Best high school band ever.

Carnival of souls

September 21, 2005

I’ve decided that THAT will be my new catch-all link-post title; what with all the blog carnivals that already exist, it seems like a perfect fit, even if I am misusing the term somewhat. (We horror fans are antiestablishment types anyways. Fuck ’em and their law!) This carnival will be of short duration, though.

Bloody Disgusting links to (and, well, reproduces in its entirety) this MTV.com story/interview with Quentin Tarantino, and it’s a veritable cornucopia of information on upcoming projects: Grind House, Sin City 2, Inglorious Bastards, Kill Bill 3, Vega Brothers…really the only thing it doesn’t talk about is the super-duper deluxe edited-together Kill Bill director’s cut DVD and/or theatrical release, but it does imply that this is being worked on. The nice thing is that none of the above-listed projects has been totally shitcanned–even Vega Brothers, the oft-rumored prequel to both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction starring Vic and Vincent Vega (Michael Madsen and John Travolta’s characters from those two films), seems like it stands a decent chance of getting made. Three cheers.

Next, one of my all time favorite stupid-smart rock musician quotes was from Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, from one of MTV’s old “rockumentary” band bio shows, on why Aerosmith’s album Rocks was called Rocks: “‘Cause it is–’cause it does.” With that in mind, gaze upon the wonder that is COOP’s new painting (NSFW, but given that it’s COOP you probably knew that), about which the artist has “paintblogged” extensively: It’s called “Boss” ’cause it is–’cause it does. Extra special bonus tidbit: It was inspired, believe it or not, by the work of Edward Ruscha, who painted the painting my wife and I fell in love in front of, “Oof”! And since we also listened to a lot of Lords of Acid back then, and COOP played more than a small part in that band’s success, I guess the circle is now complete.

Finally, hooray! And a question: Is anyone watching or planning to watch any of the other vaguely paranormal, ostentatiously intricate hour-long dramas with one-word titles that are coming out this season? Threshold, Supernatural, Surface, Invasion? (Not to mention honorary members Prison Break and The Night Stalker.) I guess I’m reasonably curious about some of them, but there’s only so many hours in a day, you know? If you end up biting the bullet, let me know what you think.

Back

September 18, 2005

It was an awful week and a half, thanks for asking, and for more reasons than the obvious one. But I think I’m starting to walk it off.

Here are some links.

Infocult links us to Where London Stood, an academic site examining the literary and artistic trope of the ruined famous city, one with which we’re all too familiar with at this point, I suppose (though fortunately, it seems, not with the body count that usually comes along with it). This page focuses on its use in 20th-century sci-fi. I’ve said before how much I love post-apocalyptic horror, and the link to the ruined-city image is obvious–would 28 Days Later have done nearly as well as it did with both audiences and critics if not for that unforgettable walk through a moribund London?–so if you’re like me, you’ll want to check this out.

Matt Rota is an artist and cartoonist whose work I like. Eerie naturalism. Take a look.

One Louder links us to the Village Voice’s review of Analord, the 11-vinyl-EPs-and-counting analogue-only project by Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin and AFX. As one of the many who found his last album to be a difficult listen, particularly compared to, well, all his other albums (among the most compulsively listenable in my collection), this sounds very promising indeed. However, I am not in the way of buying vinyl, so I will hope and pray that this finds its way onto CD eventually. (Or hell, mp3.)

In Sean-on-dead-tree news, the new issue of Giant features my reviews of Charles Burns’ masterpiece, Black Hole, as well as Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library hardcover. These are not yet reflected on GiantMag.com, but go visit anyway, and while you’re there, subscribe–people, this magazine’s latest issue featured a cast reunion for The Big Lebowski and, for no real reason, a two-page spread consisting of a picture of David Bowie exiting a limo during the post-Station to Station tour of Europe. I don’t know what else to tell you.

The Dark But Shining boys have big things cooking for the month of October, it appears. And I missed it when it happened, but M Valdemar made a barely audible noise of a Lovecraftian nature before resuming radio silence late last month. I guess I’m just gonna have to come up with something big for October…again

Pa-Pa

September 17, 2005

This is what I read at my grandfather’s wake this past weekend.

—–

My mother ended her eulogy for my grandfather by referencing his frequent use of the phrase “men of our talents.” He

9.11.05

September 11, 2005

God bless America
Land that I love
Stand beside her
And guide her
Through the night with a light from above
From the mountains
To the prairies
To the oceans
White with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home

—–
As he followed her inside Mother Abagail’s house he thought it would be better, much better, if they did break down and spread. Postpone organization as long as possible. It was organization that always seemed to cause the problems. When the cells began to clump together and grow dark. You didn’t have to give the cops guns until the cops couldn’t remember the names…the faces…

Fran lit a kerosene lamp and it made a soft yellow glow. Peter looked up at them quietly, already sleepy. He had played hard. Fran slipped him into a nightshirt.

All any of us can buy is time, Stu thought. Peter’s lifetime, his children’s lifetimes, maybe the lifetimes of my great-grandchildren. Until the year 2100, maybe, surely no longer than that. Maybe not that long. Time enough for poor old Mother Earth to recycle herself a little. A season of rest.

“What?” she asked, and he realized he had murmured it aloud.

“A season of rest,” he repeated.

“What does that mean?”

“Everything,” he said, and took her hand.

Looking down at Peter he thought: Maybe if we tell him what happened, he’ll tell his own children. Warn them. Dear children, the toys are death–they’re flashburns and radiation sickness, and black, choking plague. These toys are dangerous; the devil in men’s brains guided the hands of God when they were made. Don’t play with these toys, dear children, please, not ever. Not ever again. Please…please learn the lesson. Let this empty world be your copybook.

“Frannie,” he said, and turned her around so he could look into her eyes.

“What, Stuart?”

“Do you think…do you think people ever learn anything?”

She opened her mouth to speak, hesitated, fell silent. The kerosene lamp flickered. Her eyes seemed very blue.

“I don’t know,” she said at last. She seemed unpleased with her answer; she struggled to say something more; to illuminate her first response; and could only say it again:

I don’t know.

–Stephen King, The Stand

One last thought for the night

September 5, 2005

When Land of the Dead comes out on DVD, you will have to look long and hard to find a write-up that does not reference Hurricane Katrina.

(Please click here for relief links.)

Splish splash

September 5, 2005

How much do I love water monsters?

So much that I almost (almost) TiVo’d Frankenfish, that’s how much.

Skeleton keys

September 5, 2005

Now that the entire region is one giant ghost story* I suppose it would be weird to just now get around to seeing The Skeleton Key. I’ve stayed away from this Kate Hudson-starring voodoo thriller because it’s a recipient of not one but two backlashes amongst the horror cognoscenti, if my trips around the horror blogosphere are any indication: 1) the backlash against horror movies that cast “name” actresses as the lead in order to give the film the veneer of respectability that, presumably, the filmmakers feel horror movies don’t otherwise merit; 2) the backlash against twist endings, a movement that, ever since it was set in motion by The Sixth Sense and Fight Club, has been slowly snowballing (a The Others here, a new Shyamalan flick there) until it’s become endemic across the board–major studio pictures, Euro-horror, indie horror, you name it.

But the movie’s got a few things going for it that intrigue me. First and foremost is the way the trailers use an old phonograph recording of a voodoo ritual. I’m a sucker for the use of recorded media as a locus of horror; its ability not just to record and preserve, but to rewind, relive, rewind, and relive again, speaks of that undeniability that great, transgressive horror moments are made of. I especially like The Skeleton Key‘s combination of scratchy vinyl and old, not-meant-for-modern-ears ritual–hell, something like a castrato can be extremely discomfiting to listen to, and those unfortunates were not summoning dark spirits out of the bayou night.

The movie has also garnered some strong word-of-mouth among certain friends of mine whose endorsement is at least enough to make me curious. It was written by Ehren Kruger, and since I’m the guy who liked The Ring 2–yes, that one guy–his name is not the kiss of death for me that I know it’s become for some people. It’s got Peter Sarsgaard, who was so good in Shattered Glass it made my teeth hurt. And finally, there’s no vomiting in it, which means my emetephobic wife could actually go see it with me; that ups its chances of me actually seeing it significantly. Tomorrow I’m hitting Four Brothers with my brother and his girlfriend, but after that I think The Skeleton Key is next on my “semi-acclaimed genre exercises that make me say ‘what the hey, I’ll give it a shot'” list.

*Please click here for some donation links. PS: My friend Josiah is okay; he and Rose left the veterinary hospital for Maine around midday today, according to her boss there.

The Stand

September 2, 2005

This is not a fiction blog.