Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Countdown to Halloween day 31 – 100 things I love about horror

  1. The Corinthian
  2. Stephen King
  3. Hellraiser
  4. John Carpenter's The Thing
  5. Slither
  6. Fright night
  7. David Cronenberg
  8. Portmanteau movies
  9. "Thanks for the ride, lady"
  10. The Cabin in the Woods
  11. Josh standing in the corner
  12. Anno Dracula
  13. The Gentlemen
  14. Shaun of the Dead
  15. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
  16. Stephen King's The Shining
  17. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
  18. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
  19. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  20. H.P. Lovecraft
  21. Phantasm
  22. Giant animal attacks
  23. Killer dolls
  24. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
  25. Jeffrey Combs
  26. The Silver Shamrock jingle
  27. The Lost Boys
  28. "Nosferatu! Nosferatu!"
  29. American Werewolf in London
  30. Trick'R'Treat
  31. Candyman
  32. Jump scares
  33. Vincent Price
  34. The vampire episode of The X-Files
  35. The original Wicker Man
  36. Laughing at Nick Cage's Wicker Man
  37. House 
  38. The Gate
  39. The Evil Dead trilogy 
  40. Creepy killer kids
  41. The creature design in Relic
  42. "They're coming to get you Barbara"
  43. Roger Corman
  44. Drag Me to Hell
  45. Saga of the Swamp Thing 
  46. Locke and Key
  47. EC comics
  48. Basket Case 
  49. The Stuff
  50. "24 Hour Diner" in The Sandman
  51. Vampire's Kiss
  52. Howling III: The Marsupials
  53. The Rube Goldbergian deaths of Final Destination franchise
  54. Johannes Cabal, Necromancer
  55. Hellboy
  56. Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorparated
  57. Saw
  58. The opening credits of Tales From the Darkside
  59. Poltergeist
  60. Feast
  61. Loup garous
  62. Constantine tricking the devils into curing his cancer
  63. Jeepers Creepers
  64. Scream's meta-commentary
  65. Scream 4's meta-remake-commentary
  66. The Abominable Dr. Phibes
  67. Zombie hoedown in Dead and Breakfast
  68.  Holodeck Camp Crystal Lake campers
  69. Lake Placid
  70. Love Object
  71. Murder Party
  72. Cennobites
  73. "Someone's at the door.  Someone's at the door."
  74. The Company of Wolves
  75. Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
  76. The Winchesters
  77. Vampire Willow
  78. The Mayor of Sunnydale
  79. Death Note
  80. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  81. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
  82. The trailer for Don't!
  83. The insanity that is Xtro
  84. The insanity that is the ending to Sleepaway Camp
  85. Puppetmaster
  86. Haunting of Hill House
  87. Dead Alive
  88. The Reapers from Blade II
  89. Etrigan
  90. G-Men from Hell
  91. Waxwork
  92. Kolchak: The Night Stalker
  93. Little Shop of Horrors
  94.  Heart Shaped Box
  95. Tomb of Dracula
  96. Boneyard
  97. Ludo
  98. Bill Murray's cameo in Zombieland
  99. Face-Off
  100. "Beep beep, Richie."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 30 -- 5 Horror Movies I Saw Way Too Many Times As a Kid

Back in the days before the Internet allowed me to have DVD rentals delivered to me by mail or to stream movies directly onto my TV, I had to rely on local video stores for the bulk of my movie viewing experiences.  Because I grew up in a small town, the video selection could be sparse at times, and I often found myself drawn to the same movies over and over again.  Below are five movies my parents probably got sick of seeing on our TV.

April Fool's Day -- I'm not sure what it was about this slasher flick that put it into my rental rotation more than any others, especially since it's the only movie on this list I haven't watched since I graduated high school; cue me running to Netflix to add to queue so I can refresh my memory.

Troll -- A few years back, The Lovable PigPen, Li'l Random, and I had an 80s movie weekend where we all agreed on three films to watch, and each had one personal pick.  Troll wound up being my personal pick and, well, let's just say it didn't quite live up to my memory.  But when I was a kid, the mystic transformations and strange talking mushroom creature apparently reverberated with me.

House -- Another film from our 80s movie weekend, this one definitely holds up much better, although it's also definitely a product of its time.  A crazy blend of horror and comedy with performances by a trio of 80s TV stars (William Katt, George Wendt, and Richard Moll), the film's mixture of elements entranced my young mind.

Fright Night -- Still one of my favorite vampire movies, Fright Night manages to mix horror and humor much more coherently than House, while also populating it with fully realized characters.  Plus, that theme song.

Lost Boys -- Another of my favorite vampire movies, Lost Boys has three of its protagonists meet in a comic book store and learn most of the vampire lore from a comic book; need I say more? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 29 -- 5 Self-Aware Horror Films

5. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil -- This recent horror-comedy tells the story from two points of view:  a group of college kids who stumble across a pair of creepy looking hillbillies and then start dying off; and the two hillbillies themselves, who are innocent of any wrong-doing but who keep stumbling into situations that make them look like crazed killers.  The humor is largely derived from contrasting the kids' media-savvy expectations against the hillbillies' confusion and consternation. 

4. Scream -- Some self-aware films comment on their genre's tropes in subtle ways; the Scream movies opt for having characters straight up say "We're in a horror film, better watch out for these tropes or we'll die!"  The fact that the film often tries to subvert the tropes even as its lampshading them is a point in its favor.

3. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon -- This faux-documentary about an up-and-coming slasher about to make his first kill treats the world of slashers as real, with the slasher giving behind-the-scenes glimpses into choosing his victim, preparing his cardio for big chases, and rigging the killing location to herd his prey right where he wants them.  Much like with Scream, many of the tropes he waxes philosophic on are turned on their heads later.

2. Shaun of the Dead -- Packed with more zed-word-film-related Easter Eggs, Shaun of the Dead does the least straight-forward verbalizing of its self-aware nature, but even a passing fan of the zombie genre, such as myself, can instantly pick up on its many shout outs to the work of Romero and others. 

1. Cabin in the Woods -- Once again, I don't want to say too much about this so people can go into it fresh; suffice it to say that certain characters in this film are very, very aware of what genre they're living in, and the concordant conventions.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 28 -- 5 Favorite Sci-Fi Horror Flicks

5.  Jason X -- Should not be surprising that this tongue-in-cheek installment in the Friday the 13th series makes my list; I haven't been shy about declaring it my favorite of the films. 

4. Pitch Black -- This Vin Diesel vehicle about the survivors of a spaceship crash trying to escape a planet full of murderous nocturnal creatures while the planet is in an extended eclipse not only has some great effects and monster design, it also manages to ratchet up the "who will survive" tension so effectively that my guess for who would make it out alive was a bit off-base.

3. Slither -- James Gunn's feature length directorial debut about an alien parasite consuming a small town is blessed with a smart, funny script, a solid cast (including Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, and Michael Rooker), inventive creature effects, and some straight up creepy moments. 

2. Alien-- The Alien franchise is infamous for how drastically different each installment is in tone, style, content, etc., and while most of the Alien films feel like more straightforward SF flicks, the original installment is a horror flick through-and-through. 

1. John Carpenter's The Thing -- Another example of a film I praise so often that I probably don't need to go into any more detail here.  The film's building sense of claustrophobia and paranoia, combined with some truly memorable special effects and creature designs, make this a must-see for anyone who even marginally enjoys horror films.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 27 -- 5 Favorite Horror Musicals

5. Cannibal: The Musical -- I've never had the pleasure of seeing a live production of this dark comedy based on the story of real life cannibal Alferd Packer from the creators of South Park, just the film version.  The comedy definitely outweighs the horror here, and most of the songs are relentlessly cheery and upbeat, if nonsensical.

4. Evil Dead: The Musical  -- Li'l Brother and I just went to a prduction of this last night in Grapevine last night; not sure I can say it's a great play, but it was definitely a great experience.  Probably works best for those who are familiar with the whole Evil Dead film trilogy, as it mashes parts of all three together and has a good number of inside jokes.

3. Jekyll & Hyde  -- I saw a production of this in Stillwater many years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. A lot of that depends on the lead's ability to shift from the two sides of his personality.

2. Little Shop of Horrors -- I fell in love with the film in Jr. High, and have gotten to see a couple of stage productions as well, including the touring company with Broadway star Anthony Rapp in the role of Seymour.  Love the show's dark and twisted sense of humor.

1.  Sweeney Todd : The Demon Barber of Fleet Street-- The OSU theater department put on a production of this when I was still working on my undergrad, and I instantly fell in love with it.  While I'm glad the Tim Burton film exposed the musical to people who might not ever have seen it, I hate that his decision to excise the theatrical chorus aspect means they didn't get the full experience.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 26 -- 5 Horror/Supernatural Comic Book Brands/Imprints

Comic book companies will occasionally take a certain theme, genre, or character, and use it as a springboard for creating a special brand or imprint of books.  Here are 5 examples of comic book brands or imprints that focused on Horror/Supernatural themes and characters.

Clive Barker's Razorline -- In the early 90s, well-known horror author Clive Barker teamed with Marvel Comics to create an imprint of comics known as Razorline.  While the plans were to have 8 separate titles in the imprint, only 4 of them saw the light of day before the imprint imploded.  Not all of the published books were horror-themed (Hyperkind was a non-supernatural superhero book, for example), but the fact that the whole line bore Barker's name made sure that they were treated like they were.

DC's Weirdoverse -- Another 90s attempt at a supernatural brand, the Weirdoverse books were all set in the main DC universe, and were only set apart by a focus on the occult.  Three of the books were reboots of pre-existing characters/series (The Book of Fate, Challengers of the Unknown, and Night Force), while the fourth was an original concept (the briefly discussed Scare Tactics).  Outside of a single crossover event, the Weirdoverse books had no real connection to each other.  While this meant they didn't all implode at once, a la Razorline, three of them were finished within a year, while Challengers made it a year and a half.

Claypool Comics' Fear City -- This is an example of a comic book company whose brand encompassed pretty much their entire output.  All of Claypool's Fear City titles were set in the town of Mystic Grove, and featured ghosts (The Phantom of Fear City), vampires (Deadbeats) and miscellaneous other mystical beings (Soulsearchers and Company).

Marvel's Midnight Sons -- The Midnight Sons brand was built to capitalize on the popularity of the 90s reboot of Ghost Rider.  The brand started off with the Rise of the Midnight Sons crossover in 1992, and although the Midnight Sons branding was dropped from the books' covers in late 1994, the Midnight Sons Unlimited anthology did manage to run into 1995.

DC's The Dark -- During DC's recent New 52 marketing ploy, all of their 52 titles were split into sub-categories based either on  core characters or similar themes.  The supernatural/horror books, which included Swamp Thing, Resurrection Man, Demon Knights, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Justice League Dark and I, Vampire, were grouped under the slightly odd label of The Dark.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 25 -- 5 Favorite Horror-Comedy Comic Books

Soulsearchers and Company -- Part of Claypool Comics' "Fear City" books, Soulsearchers actually began its life as a pitch from writer Peter David who was wanting to do a series at Marvel about Daimon Hellstrom and his wife Patsy Walker (formerly the super-heroine Hellcat) as occult detectives.  After the pitch was rejected, David reworked the concept into this humor-laden series. Filled with puns and pop culture references as much of David's work is, the series took shots at all sorts of horror and comic book tropes.

Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre / Supernatural Law  -- This series by Batton Lash follows a couple of lawyers who specialize in cases with a supernatural slant.  Much like Soulsearchers, Supernatural Law referenced a ton of different horror stories, only with a bit less punnage. You can read some of Wolff and Byrd's adventures online for free

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service -- This manga series follows a group of oddballs with a range of unusual skills such as embalming, dowsing for dead bodies, and communicating with the spirits of dead who, having trouble findiing work, start their own company based on finding corpses and then trying to fulfill the dead's last wishes in hopes of it leading to some sort of reward from the living.  There are some moment of real horror sprinkled throughout the series, but the tone leans more heavily towards humor based around the strange members of the crew.

Goon -- Eric Powell's hilarious series about a no-nonsense gang enforcer who constantly finds himself having to fit supernatural creatures such as vampires, zombies, witches, giant squids, and skunk apes, is hard to do justice to with a brief description.  So, instead, check out this proof of concept video for a proposed film

I want this to happen so much

Boneyard --Richard Moore's Boneyard is the story of Michael Paris, a young man who inherits a graveyard inhabited by a wide range of supernatural beings, from Nessie, an oversexed female Creature from the Black Lagoon (with a jealous Frankenstein monster husband),  to Glump, a bumbling demon exiled from Hell for doing something nice who is constantly trying to take over the world but is more Pinky than Brain.   Honestly, Glump is the reason this book is #1 on my list; yes, the rest of the cast is great, but Glump is a non-stop fun-ride. 

Honorable Mention: Blue Devil --If you haven't guessed it yet from the fact that I've managed to work a mention of him into the last 4 days worth of posts, I'm a fan of Blue Devil, or at least the pre-selling-his-soul version of BD.  And while the horror elements in the series were really too sparse to earn it a true spot on the list, I just had to give it one last shout out.  Plus, part-way through the run, long-time DC horror anthology hosts Cain and Abel became partial cast members, after BD moves into The House of Weirdness.