Monday, March 31, 2008

Cloverfield Theme Will Get Commercial Release

One of the most memorable things about January's heavily hyped monster extravaganza Cloverfield was the 11-minute musical overture by Michael Giacchino, which played over the closing credits and was the only piece of music in the film.

Intended as an homage to the kind of majestic kaiju-themes Akira Ifukube wrote for the Godzilla movies and other giant monster flicks like Rodan and Varan the Unbelievable in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, the piece has become enormously popular, leading to increasing demand for its release.

In this month's issue of Film Score Monthly Online, there's a downloadable video interview with Giacchino (available to subscribers only) in which the composer indicates that the overture will indeed me made available soon, although he doesn't say in what format. One would assume there would be a download, but a CD soundtrack seems unlikely, since there isn't any other music in the movie. Giacchino also said that if they had any idea there would be such demand for the music, they would've planned a little better.

One of Hollywood's up-and-coming composers, Giacchino did the music for J.J. Abrams' TV series Alias and Lost, as well as Pixar releases The Incredibles and Ratatouille, and the hugely popular Call of Duty videogame series. His newest work is for this summer's Speed Racer, and he will also be scoring Abrams' 2009 Star Trek adaptation.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Written by Ira Sachs and Oren Moverman
Directed by Ira Sachs
Starring: Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Pierce Brosnan and Rachel McAdams

Richard Langley: I always felt marriage was like a mild illness, like the flu or chicken pox.

The biggest problem with MARRIED LIFE, the movie not the state of existence, is the tone set by its title. Before even setting foot in the theatre, your mind is filled with preconceived notions about the likelihoods the film will deliver. You cannot expect a film called MARRIED LIFE to show long term couples just as happy now as they were when they first met. In fact, in these cynical times, you might likely be disappointed if you didn’t see spouses abusing each other, scheming and plotting against the other or, if you want to be old fashioned, just plain cheating on each other. Perhaps to offset these expectations, writer/director, Ira Sachs, sets his story in the 1940’s, a supposedly simpler time when people were married and stayed that way despite their personal unhappiness. Even a setting as delicately composed as this one is not a good enough disguise for its contemporary sensibility. The film’s fate seems sealed as soon as the opening credits begin to roll. Similar in design and manner to television’s “Desperate Housewives”, a show that has built its reputation on couples scheming, they seem to announce Sach’s intention to give us exactly what we expect. Only when the final animated frame settles on a city skyline and you expect the real thing to take its place, Sachs reveals that it is in fact a reflection. With the lens pointing inward now, I wonder if I’ve spoken too soon.

Like the beginning of a marriage, for a while, it is good. The strings of the score swell and sweep you up into the sentiment like a warm wind taking you for a dance in the sky overlooking a quiet family-friendly suburban street. This particular street is home to Harry and Pat Allen (Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson). The two have been married for what might as well be forever and they still cherish and respect each other but whether they still love each other is a question that looms over their lives like a heavy cloud. Harry believes that love is defined by the desire to give constantly to the other person. Pat believes that love is sex. Despite their definitions being categorically on different pages, they are a solid, functional couple. However, Harry has found another woman, Kay (Rachel McAdams in a refreshing return that is more tender and vulnerable than past performances) for whom continuously being doted on is the perfect compliment to her lonely life. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that she is younger and beautiful but Harry conveniently avoids seeing this as the motivating factor for his affection.

And so Harry finds himself in quite the pickle. He doesn’t want to burden his wife with the embarrassment of a divorce but yet he cannot deny that he is no longer in love with her. Harry is a sensible businessman who lives his life with order and reason and is still able to embrace his more romantic sensibility, wanting his life to embody the love he feels. He racks his brain to come up with the tidiest, most logical solution to his dilemma and somehow, the best plan he can come up with is to kill his wife. He rationalizes that this will cause the least amount of pain to all involved, including his children. Is it me or is this the least rational course of action? Essentially, this becomes MARRIED LIFE’s main storyline and as it is ridiculous in concept, it also serves to undermine the intelligence of what was otherwise a fairly engaging film. Even Sachs seems unsure of this whole direction as he throws in a couple of painfully obvious scenes about how death can take away misery rather than add to it. If Sachs isn’t buying it, I’m not sure how he thought anyone else would.

Despite its shortcomings, MARRIED LIFE does plant a few seeds of wisdom in its perfectly tended garden. The banalities of spending every day of your life with the same person are accepted by most of the characters as a perfectly normal piece of the pie. With decades past between their time and ours, have we really changed all that much? There are so many things happening and left unsaid in any marriage with both partners none the wiser. Subsequently, we have fine-tuned an uncanny ability to exist in a state of comfortable misery. We may look elsewhere for distraction but so many never walk away from what they know isn’t working. Applying that same logic makes sitting through MARRIED LIFE entirely acceptable while you wonder what’s playing next door.

It's Official: Zombies Have Jumped the Shark

Now just to clarify, I'm not talking about Lucio Fulci's masterpiece, in which a zombie fought a shark. That was spectacular. No, I'm thinking more about Fonzie on waterskis here. Because it seems to me that zombie movies have finally hit the wall, and the culprit is Steve Miner's direct-to-DVD remake of Day of the Dead, set to come out next month.

To be fair, I should begin by saying it's not as god-awful as I was led to believe by all the preliminary reactions. Actually, I've seen far worse, especially in the direct-to-DVD category. I would even submit that if you forget that it's called Day of the Dead, and put George Romero's films completely out of your mind as if they never existed, it might be possible to derive a small amount of fleeting enjoyment from the picture.

Of course, that begs the question: Why did they bother calling it Day of the Dead? Especially when it bears almost no resemblance to the 1985 original, besides having some characters who happen to have the same names. Certainly, the fan backlash would have been minimized had they just dropped the pretense of remaking Day of the Dead. Well, the reason is simple: the name Day of the Dead is a draw, it gets people to watch the movie based on the reputation of the original. That was definitely the case with me, so I'd have to say that to a certain degree, the strategy worked.

If fast-moving zombies send you into paroxysms of rage, then avoid this movie at all costs. Because these zombies are good enough to join Cirque du Soliel. But again, as I said before, if you put these kind of pre-expectations out of your mind, you might be able to get through it. A scene in which Suvari flees for her life in a ventilation shaft is the film's suspense-filled highlight. And I will say that the gore is some of the most intense I've seen in just about any zombie film made this decade, almost a throwback to the original wave 30 years ago.

Mena Suvari stars as Sarah, and although she's a competent actress, she isn't really given much to do--it's a one-note performance. The overrated Ving Rhames is Capt. Rhodes in name only, and his appearance in the movie is short and forgettable. Nick Cannon as Salazar is a joke--when are studios going to realize that these types of stereotypical "black" roles are almost as bad as the Steppinfetchits of old? And then there's Stark Sands as Bud--that's right, it's not Bub, it's Bud. He starts out human, then becomes a zombie later, but other than his being one of the "good guys", there is almost none of what made that character such an icon. I should mention, however, the one moment which seemed to me to be the movie's most effective tribute to the original, in which Bud, a soldier in life, still responds appropriately to military commands, in a very Bub-like fashion.

Steve Miner, director of Friday the 13th Parts II & III as well as Halloween: H20, does a passable job of putting together a by-the-numbers zombie movie here, but all in all, it's a pretty disposable affair. I'd recommend it for hardcore zombie-lovers only, and maybe those who get a kick out of schlocky direct-to-video releases. But I have to stress--put Romero out of your mind completely. That's the only way to watch this without kicking in your TV screen. This remake is a clear example of how this subgenre has devolved since Uncle George pioneered it all those decades ago. And I, for one, think it's time to give it a rest.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dr. Caligari Never Sounded Like This

All I can say is, I never thought I'd be jealous of people who live in Ohio (sorry Ohioans, you know I love you). But if you happen to be anywhere near the Springfield area, you would do well to get yourself to the State Theater for tonight's one-time-only screening of 1919 German Expressionist classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
with musical accompaniment by the unorthodox trio known as Equinox.

Tickets are only five bucks, and you can't beat that with a bat, to quote the Black Sheep. Equinox has previously accompanied State screenings of two other silent gems, Nosferatu and Metropolis. Next October, they will travel to Dayton for a reprise of Nosferatu, as well as a ballet interpretation of Dracula. When it comes to horror as art, it would appear that the Buckeye State is the place to be.

I realize this is a very localized item, but it captures my imagination simply because it's such a rare treat in the year 2008 to be able to view a silent film the way it was intended to be viewed--with a live score. Hopefully we see more of this kind of thing. I'll never forget attending a similar showing of Nosferatu in NYC about 15 years ago. It was an amazing experience, in spite of a too-hip-for-the-room audience that laughed throughout the picture. Hey, that's New York, folks--you take the good with the bad.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

AICN Reviews Script for World War Z

When, oh when will this project get moved out of developmental hell? Despite the fact that even I have begun to suspect that the zombie sub-genre has petered out (my review of the Day of the Dead remake is soon-to-come), Max Brooks' World War Z is a novel I thoroughly enjoyed, a horror epic that could completely regenerate not just the subgenre, but the entire genre if done properly.

The venerable Moriarty of Ain't It Cool News has posted a review of the script based on the book, which was written by J. Michael Straczynski a year ago--not long after the novel was optioned by Brad Pitt's Plan B production company. Since the completion of the script, not a word has been heard about the project, but the AICN review is most promising. Not sure why they chose to review it now, other than the fact that they've been big Brooks supporters going back to his first work, the bland and vastly inferior Zombie Survival Guide.

Moriarty speculates as to possible directors (Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, etc.), but the fact remains that nothing new is known. However, his review does reveal a lot about how the book's complex story--focusing on a series of testimonials recorded by a reporter from a series of witnesses in the wake of a worldwide Zombie War--would be treated on film. Keep your fingers crossed on this one, as it could be the Citizen Kane of gut-muncher flicks. Could insiders be getting cold feet due to oversaturation of the marketplace? Let's hope not.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Vault Takes You Inside Tribeca

It's my pleasure to announce that The Vault of Horror will be providing behind-the-scenes coverage on the horror films being screened this year at New York's prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. They include:

The Cottage: The most hyped of the bunch, this horror-comedy stars Andy "Gollum" Serkis, and will be screening for the first time outside its native UK.

Dying Breed: An Australian thriller making its world premiere at Tribeca.

From Within: Also making its world premiere, this supernatural tale stars Thomas Dekker of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Rumer Willis (Bruce & Demi's baby girl).

Killer Movie: A biting satire about murderous havoc unleashed on the set of a reality series, directed by Jeff Fisher and inspired, no doubt, by his experiences working on The Simple Life.

Sick Nurses: a.k.a. Suay Laak Sai, this Thai splatterfest export is already causing a buzz overseas.

The Wild Man of the Navidad: Based on real-life journals, this world-premiering flick focuses on a Texas town confronted by a creature inspired by urban legend.

Kirksdale: A short subject making its New York premiere, set in a 1960s Florida mental asylum.

I plan to get to as many as I can (or as many as Tribeca can provide screeners for). And who knows, there might even be a director Q&A here and there as well. And if I really keep my fingers crossed, they might even let me get my hands on Let the Right One In.

So keep your greasy eyeballs peeled for upcoming Tribeca coverage in the days/weeks to come. The Tribeca Film Festival happens from April 23 to May 4. Special thanks to their PR Department for making this possible.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Paprika is a feature length science fiction anime film that is based on the 1953 novel Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsu. The film was directed by Satoshi Kon who's directorial work’s include Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfather and Paranoia Agent to name a few. Paprika premiered in the 2006 Venice international film festival in September of that year and then showed at the Tokyo international film festival in October. After that it made its way across the world showing at other film festivals.

In the not to distant future a revolutionary new treatment in psychotherapy called PT is invented. The device used in this treatment is called the DC mini and it allows the user to view their patient’s dreams. Because this device is still in the trial stage it’s not available to the general public; but Paprika is using this device illegally to help people outside the research facility. Because this outside counselling is not officially sanctioned Paprika has to be very has to be very careful that the press does not get wind of the DC mini or herself. Before the government can authorise the DC mini to be used by anyone outside the research facility three of them are stolen. The inventor of the DC mini Dr. Kosaka Tokita (a morbidly obese child-at-heart genius) has failed to program the safety locks on the DC mini. Because the 3 DC minis were in this unfinished state when they were stolen the user can enter anyone's mind and makes them believe their dreams are reality. The chief of the department Dr. Torataro Shima is one of the first to fall victim when he thinks he is in a parade and jumps through a window almost killing himself. The team that created the DC mini and Paprika have to find out who stole the 3 devices and stop them from wreaking havoc around the city.

This is a very good anime. I loved the eye catching animation and the bright colour throughout the anime. This more then made up for the jumpy storyline. I think that yes, it is a good anime and yes, it does deserve all the praise and awards it got. But it could have been in a whole other class if the storyline was a bit longer. Saying that I would still recommend this anime if you like eye catching animation like Spirited Away because Paprika stands in a crowed of its own.
photos via photobucket

The Horror Comics Inquisition: Revisionist History?

In what is sure to be a fairly unpopular, if not inflammatory piece amongst lovers of horror-themed comic books (I'm talkin' to you, Karswell), The New Yorker has published a review of two new books on the subject of the 1950s Congressional hearings into the comics industry that challenges how the controversy has been viewed for the last half-century.

The review, by Louis Menand, though peppered with cultural snobbery in the grand New Yorker tradition, nevertheless is a fascinating read, which I was drawn to as a lover of both horror and comics. Was Dr. Francis Wertham, author of the infamous Seduction of the Innocent, not really the witch-hunter he's remembered to have been? Was William Gaines, publisher of EC Comics, more to blame for the collapse of his genre than anyone else? And was that collapse actually caused by factors completely unrelated to the 1954 hearings?

The two books being reviewed are David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America and Bart Beaty's Fredric Wertham And the Critique of Mass Culture. In his combined review, Menand jumps full-tilt into the 50-year-old fray, indicating, for example, that an amphetamine-fueled Gaines practically hanged himself in the witness stand with devastatingly ill-conceived testimony. He also points out that Wertham actually opposed the creation of the restrictive comics code that the industry imposed on itself, but rather favored something more akin to a ratings system.

In his appraisal of the two books, the reviewer takes a viewpoint which, while unpopular, is certainly worth a look for anyone interested in the subject. Particularly, he suggests that Gaines was not some first-amendment martyr, but rather a profiteer crafting entertainment for children that may not necessarily have been appropriate for them, especially in 1950s America. Menand points out comic industry insiders hired private investigators to try to dig up dirt on Wertham (below), who, in his words, "was not a philistine, [but] a progressive intellectual" who was anti-censorship but merely concerned with what he saw as racist, sexist and misogynistic representations in children's literature.

The decimation of the comic book industry is also, in Beaty's book, pinned more on the dissolution of chief distributor the American News Company in 1955 rather than the hearings of the previous year.

This is not a black and white issue, to be sure, and Menand also specifically makes mention of the Kangaroo-court atmosphere that characterized the hearings. But instead of simplifying the matter into a good-guy/bad-guy scenario, Menand and the two books he's reviewing take a closer, harder look into the situation than perhaps has ever been taken, pushing aside the mists of nostalgia that have prevailed in post-counterculture America.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rue Morgue Honcho Talks Horror

It's been clear for years now, at least to this humble blogger, that Rue Morgue is the finest horror magazine on newsstands. And I'm not the only Classic Horror Film Board voter who thinks so, since the mag did win a coveted Rondo Hatton award a couple weeks ago.

Firefox News (no connection to the browser, which they dutifully point out) has a really in-depth exclusive interview up with Rue Morgue founder Rodrigo Gudiño, who is apparently quite the deep thinker on all matters horrific. With a guy with this much insight on the genre at the helm, it's no wonder Rue Morgue runs circles around other horror pubs that seem more interested in printing as many gore-dripping photos as possible than anything else.

Gudiño discusses the difference between horror fans and science fiction fans, the perception of horror in the mainstream and what can be done about it, as well as many of the ventures Rue Morgue and its staff are involved in, including motion pictures. Check it out here.

My favorite "Robot" music


Dan Paluska (the other maker is Jeff Lieberman) - they have created the "ABSOLUT QUARTET", an "automated multi-instrumental orchestral machine, a large-scale electromechanical sculpture consisting of three instruments and thousands of parts, working together to create one piece of music. The main timbre is a marimba played by balls shot from a robotic cannon. Other components include a series of wineglasses played by little robotic fingers and an array of robotic percussive instruments.

Lev and Thumpbot play Crazy

ROBOT BAND! LEV the thereminbot and his newly-built pal thumpbot play "Crazy" with help from a 20-year-old MT32 synthesizer. OK, Lev's a bit out of tune, but hey, ROBOTS. A tribute to The Ether & Aether Experiment's marvelous performance.


The KORG DS-10 is a music-creation software for the Nintendo DS that combines the superior interface of the Nintendo DS and the design concept of the famous MS-10 synthesizer.
The sound sources in the KORG DS-10 come from KORG - one of the world's top musical instrument producers - and no effort was spared in creating these ultra-high-quality sounds. The Nintendo DS's dual-screen touch panel is used to the fullest to provide a feel and operability that is unsurpassed, and combined with the sensory input mode at the touch-control screen, this unit can be appreciated by the complete novice as well as the seasoned professional.

Robot Drummer

The Robot Drummer at Gold Coast Big Day Out 2008

Chris Levine the Light Artist

The "Lightness of Being", a show by Chris Levine, the light artist, has just finished in East London. It was quite a breath of fresh air to go see a local exhibition that was more about making you be aware of the show's environment and not just about analysing the Queen's holograhic prints on a wall.

"His distinctive visual language and seemingly effortless control over his technological media has differentiated his work from the main stream. His images have resonant power that is both highly original and super modern. As organic and alive as they are focused and precise, the visual results are always compelling and have a sense of distilled purity."

Thanks for the photos Toshimi!
Quote from Chris Levine's Website.

Canvas the ultimate concept for PC

Canvas is a concept PC design by Kyle Cherry that brings in the laptop and tablet into one sleek design. I really hope someone picks up this design in the near future.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Gore Goes Mainstream: A History of Horror Movies, Part 7

It's ironic that the horror genre would be so quiet at the turn of the 21st century. Ironic, because in the years that followed--the final years of this seven-part history of horror--we have seen scary movies hold mainstream America fascinated to a degree greater than anything witnessed before, or at the very least since the heyday of Universal 75 years ago.

Whereas in the past, horror was treated as the forgotten stepchild of the movie biz, the sordid secret kept hidden away and relegated to midnight showings and niche subcultures, these days it's all around us, accepted like never before by a culture which has perhaps become too cynical and overexposed to real-life horrors to truly be shocked any longer. More on that later.

In recent years, the last true example of cinematic dread we've seen has been the surge of unnerving films that have come out of the Far East. In the Western world, the trend became to remake these films for American audiences, starting with The Ring in 2002. By far the most effective of the bunch, it was followed by the likes of The Grudge (2004), and more recently Shutter and The Eye.

Much of what became hip for the genre this decade has had to with a nostalgia for the films of a generation past. In part, this can be pointed to for the dramatic resurgence of the zombie subgenre--it can also be attributed to the success of videogames like Resident Evil. It was that game that kicked off the undead renaissance with a film adaptation in 2002. That same year saw the release of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, which introduced us to the concept of "fast-moving zombies."

It might not be an exaggeration to say that the past half-decade has seen more flesh-eater flicks than at any point previous. George Romero's Dawn of the Dead got a surprisingly high quality 2004 remake; Romero himself finally got to continue his saga with 2005's Land of the Dead; and Edgar Wright brought us the ingenious Shaun of the Dead (2004), the finest horror comedy this side of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.

The other face of this nostalgia was a throwback to the gritty, over-the-top exploitation horror of the 1970s. After more than a decade of restraining itself, Hollywood was starting to let its hair down again. The result is epitomized by the work of rocker-turned-director Rob Zombie, whose House of 1,000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil's Rejects (2005) exemplify a return to the early work of Tobe Hooper and Wes Craven.

But the logical extension of this would turn out to be a development that has been troubling to some old-school fans, yet exhilirating to a whole new generation just now embracing the genre. It should be said that the major difference between the exploitation flicks of then and now is that now they enjoy the mainstream spotlight. Filmmakers who grew up on this form of entertainment have helped bring it to the fore like never before. And as a result, a natural evolutionary step has occurred.

In direct contrast to the previous decade, in which some of the most bloodless horror films of the modern era were released, the past few years have born witness to an almost unprecedented amount of gore. And this time, it's not hidden away in a rundown grindhouse theater, playing to an isolated subculture of aficionados, or relegated to a few racks in the back of your local video store. This time it's front and center, and right in everybody's face.

Although the first Saw film, released in 2004, was actually quite psychological and contained little graphic violence, it has become the most recognizable touchstone of what is now usually referred to as torture porn, a subgenre of horror that focuses on depicting bodily trauma in unflinching detail. In the later Saw pictures, and even moreso in a movie much more typical of the category, Eli Roth's Hostel (2005), some might even argue that the depiction of torture takes precedence over character and plot.

Never before have movies containing such images played to such a wide audience. They are a part of our pop culture in a way that their predecessors were not, at least in their own time. The reasons for this have been debated endlessly by social commentators both professional and amateur. Are we desensitized as a society? Or worse, have we grown to enjoy such macabre displays, like Romans at a gladiatorial event? Some have argued these points, while others simply say that horror filmmakers are only looking for new ways to disturb us, for new ground to cover.

If it is just all about exploring new territory, that's at least more admirable than the latest trend that has all but taken over the production of horror movies as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century: remakes.

Too timid to try anything original, the majority of those willing to back horror flicks these days are looking to cash in on bankable properties; proven titles that are almost guaranteed to bring in a buck, if only on name recognition alone. The 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre kicked it off for all intents and purposes, and it has only grown more commonplace in the past five years. We've seen Zombie redo Halloween (2007), plus slavish rehashes of classics like House of Wax (2005), The Amityville Horror (2005), The Omen (2006), The Wicker Man (2006), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), When a Stranger Calls (2006), The Hitcher (2007) and many others, with decidedly mixed results.

In the year 2008, horror fans have a veritable legion of upcoming horror redo's to look forward to: Prom Night, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Rosemary's Baby, Hellraiser, Sleepaway Camp, etc., etc. Perhaps it's a commentary on the state of the genre that it seems to be torn between groping to depict more and more horrifying images, and endlessly trying to recreate that which worked in the past.

So where do we go from here? Maybe overseas, where films like the excellent [REC] threaten to steal away America's dominance of the genre. Or maybe the upcoming Wolf Man and the rebirth of Hammer Films signify a return of the classic monsters. Then again, it's most likely a heretofore unseen new development as unimaginable as the likes of Psycho or Night of the Living Dead would've been to pre-1960s audiences.

If it survives this latest cannibalistic phase, the horror film genre can survive anything, and it will almost certainly continue to thrive. From Count Orlock and Erik the Phantom, to Dracula and Frankenstein, to the Gill-Man and Norman Bates, to Leatherface and Jason, to Jigsaw and Captain Spaulding, the cinema of fear has firmly held our imagination in its icy clutches for a hundred years. Ironically, for as long as there exists real horror in this world, we'll always seek the escape of its morbid, yet safely unreal on-screen counterpart.

Other major releases:
  • The Others (2000)
  • Final Destination (2000)
  • Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
  • Wrong Turn (2003)
  • The Descent (2005)
  • Silent Hill (2006)
  • Fido (2007)
  • Hatchet (2007)
  • 28 Weeks Later (2007)
  • Diary of the Dead (2008)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Del Toro Wolf Man Pix Hit the Web

Since first appearing at yesterday, these two images of Benicio Del Toro as Wolf Man Larry Talbot in the upcoming remake have been making the rounds on a bunch of sites, but I couldn't resist the urge to put in my two cents.

To put it simply, Rick Baker is a god among men. I knew he was a major fan of the work of Universal makeup master Jack Pierce, but even I couldn't have dared to dream of such an impressive homage to Pierce's work on Lon Chaney Jr. in the 1941 original. It's refreshing to see they resisted the urge to go CGI. It's also nice to see they're sticking with the more humanoid werewolf variety, rather than the lupine version made popular (by Baker himself, ironically) in An American Werewolf in London. This is good stuff. Consider me officially re-excited for this picture, now 11 months away.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Secret Life of a Space Invader

A great little vid about the life of one of those evil pixelated aliens that tried to take over our world in videogames from the 1980's. See how a family is torn apart by the onset of a war with humans....
Originally made as a music video for Ken Ishii's "Space Invaders 2003" choon.


Zombie AKA Skullboy Tattoo Interview

Mysterious Al kills it again with anoher mind blowing post on the 22 year old "Zombie". A man who has dedicated his body to the genre of horror and gore. He became an internet celebrity when blogs posted about his fully faced skull design and since then, BMEzine has been updating the world whenver he gets a new section done. As evil as he may look, I think he looks sick! A very brave human......

Read the interview HERE.


Supadope Photography

* HandMade *, originally uploaded by SupaDope Photography.

Loving the work on Supadope Photography's Flickr account. The photos are always top-notch and really capture the rich colors of graffiti pieces.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft – A Paean

For as long as this blog allows me to contribute, you will occasionally read statements by me extolling the virtues of H.P. Lovecraft. In fact, I will probably repeat myself many times on the subject. But for now, allow me to begin.

The importance of H.P. Lovecraft to the genres of horror and science fiction cannot be overstated. He is seminal. He is a pillar of all that came after. He was the first of many, and where he was not the first, he was most innovative.

His name – Lovecraft – innocuous sounding enough, is now synonym to both “macabre” and “lurking terror.” Without him there would be no King. No Barker. No Carpenter. No horror as we now know it. [Caveat: there has been a remarkable amount of scholarly writing about H. P. Lovecraft, of which only tidbits I have read. I do not proclaim to be an expert on the man, only that I have come to love his stories and have begun to understand his importance].

And the saddest thing about H.P. L. is that he was completely unappreciated in his lifetime. He was convinced he was a failure. He died penniless. He was forgotten. Yet the list of what was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, even tangentially inspired, is simply vast. There are several board games, a role playing game, video games, and even two Metallica songs inspired by him.

My first exposure to Lovecraft was a paperback collection entitled “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” which was an anthology of several of his stories. I found it while rummaging in the basement at the tender age of about 10, looking for some packed away Lionel train accessories. A basement, dark, musty and cluttered is a rather poignant place to find your first Lovecraft. On the cover was a man in a back tuxedo and cape, similar to what Bela Lugosi’s Dracula was fond of wearing, but with a face not unlike a cross between a Nosferatu and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It scared the bejeezus out of me, and from that point on I associated “Lovecraft” with “scary.” [I was young, and didn’t use big words yet].

I tried to read it, as I liked trying to scare myself [I had already delved into Edgar Allen Poe, the direct precursor of Lovecraft, as well as Stephen King], but I couldn’t get around his dense, spiraling, verbose writing. It was too much vocabulary, too much atmosphere, and not enough action for my young sensibilities. So, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” went back on the shelf.

Now, during the 80’s there were two movies I remember renting from Lynn TV, [the local video store], based on Lovecraft – “From Beyond” and the cult classic “Re-Animator.” I thought both of these movies were great; they were gory, violent, filled with nudity, and at least in the case of “From Beyond,” pretty freaking scary. The IMDB credits H.P. Lovecraft with some 71 films based, one way or another, on his writing. Yet none of these were in critical successes, and although a few were cult classics, most people, [myself included], have not seen them. One future project, “At the Mountains of Madness” is one that all horror fans should be looking forward to. [More on “ATMOM” below]. Therefore, these B movies would be my first official consumption of any H.P.L's material.

Years passed. I grew up, and went to the usual years of schooling. I read many books, and saw countless movies. I collected comics. I developed my tastes, which tend to the fantastical, at times weird, at times dark. I enjoyed visions of the future, both dystopian and utopian, far reaches of outer space, of Mars and Martians, of myths of Earth’s origins, of ancient times and creatures. I read King, Barker, Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Herbert, Tolkien, and others. Then one day, in my late 20’s, I again came across “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and began to read. It was fantastic. I loved it. The first story was “The Colour Out of Space,” a very creepy, yet simple story about what happens to the countryside when a meteorite falls from the sky, written in H.P.L’s anachronistic manner [notice the spelling of “Colour”]. I buried my nose in the book, next trying to get through “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” about a desolate New England town peopled by worshippers of an ancient and malevolent sea god. In the middle I lost the book, and couldn’t find another copy of it in my local used bookstores nor the local Barnes & Noble. Then I got lucky when I found another H.P.L. anthology with “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” in it. I picked it right back up, and devoured the whole thing, and then consumed the rest of the book.

At this point I was ravenous for more. I searched on-line and I found sites with his complete works [I am presently looking for a printed one for my bookshelf]. After-hours at my old office I would print out stories for my ride home on the subway, and in no time I went through them all.

A casual reading of H.P.L. finds that his themes repeat – madness; darkness; lurking; moldering decay; especially dark shadows; backward and decrepit people living in decrepit towns and countryside; orders of ancient and otherworldly beings and gods whose “magic” is more like science we cannot understand. His settings often repeat as well, and are mostly the back country of New England, usually centering on a town called Arkham, the Miskatonic University, and the denizens thereof. This last theme, of otherworldly beings and their super-science, would eventually be named by others the “Cthulu Mythos,” encompassing a series of loosely connected stories about these beings and their worshippers and victims. In my opinion they are the best of H.P.L., and certainly his most influential works.

And in creating this Mythos [though many others contributed to the Mythos, notably Robert Howard - creator of Conan, Solomon Kane, and Kull - and some crossover can be seen in the Conan stories], H.P.L. laid the foundation for modern horror. Unfortunately for him he would not live to see his work find the success he so longed for, due to his untimely demise in 1937.

With the Mythos came the Elder Ones, the Elder Gods, the Outer Gods, the Deep Ones, Cthulu and his Children. We get horrific entities with names like Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Dagon, Shub-Niggurath, Tsathoggua and creatures called shoggoths. We learn that the Elder Ones [another race of alien, interstellar primordial superbeings], Cthulu and his kind, and the Outer Gods vied for the Earth when it was young, and they are still lurking: some sleep below the sea in hidden cities; some dwell in hidden caves under the polar ice; some just beyond the gauzy fabric of this reality.

These things hailed from otherworldly parts known as Leng, R’lyeh, Ulthar, Skai, Kadeth, and Ib in the land of Mnar, and their deeds were memorialized in such volumes as the Necronomicon and the Pnapkotic Manuscripts, not to mention numerous horrific carvings, base reliefs, hieroglyphs, and totems. Pretty rich stuff from a writer making up canon on the fly, without ever working it out into a cohesive system.

Before H.P.L.’s influence took hold, horror was of the Victorian type: Dracula, Frankenstein, and the horror stories of old Europe: vampires, werewolves, and at the core of it, Satan. At times, instead of the devil being at the core, it was the acts of men: Jeckyl and Hyde, as well as the monster of Frankenstein – both examples of men trying to be God and the ramifications thereof. All in all, it was a very structured world, with God on one side, the Devil on the other, man in the middle, and in the end things would shake out. Man’s place in this order was assured.

It is after H.P.L. and the Cthulu Mythos took hold, when the madness and man’s uncertainty as to his place in the natural order, do we truly get modern horror as we know it. With this new paradigm, horror would eventually take new turns. We would encounter the backcountry cannibal families for the first time, waiting in their ramshackle farmhouses. We would experience stories that challenge our sensibilities as to our place in the universe. Killers were motivated [and would not die, or, stay dead] by forces that were wholly unexplained, and not attributable to either God or Satan, but rather unknown alien forces, or at times sheer, simple madness. Men would fall into fearful insanity at their powerlessness to act; at the realization of their insignificance; that the fate of man and the earth are already sealed and it is only a matter of time; that nothing can stop the inexorable march of evil to their doorstep. Man’s place in the universe was not only suspect, it was downright trivial when one became aware of the real forces at work. Some might say that his dreadful vision was influenced by the madness of the mindless slaughter of the First World War.

In my opinion H.P.L.’s magnum opus is the novella “At the Mountains of Madness,” which is probably his longest work. Simply, it’s about an Antarctic expedition [launched by the Miskatonic University] which goes horribly wrong, leading to death and insanity. It is the kind of story that grips you, steadily ratcheting up the tension until you cannot put the story down. It is credited for inspiring the novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, which in turn inspired “The Thing.” In “At the Mountains of Madness” we hear of a tale which ties together much of the Mythos, but leaving more than enough unexplained to fuel further wonder. We find out that our ideas of Earth’s origin, and its ultimate fate, is not what we would expect, or anywhere close to what we hoped for. But no such admonition to “Watch the skies” will ameliorate our collective doom.

H.P.L. can be found everywhere in the horror genre. Movies as disparate as Ghostbusters, The Thing, The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pet Semetary, Hellraiser, Hellboy, The Fog, and Event Horizon all owe H.P.L. a great debt for the groundwork he laid, the concepts he pioneered, and the atmospheres – the general creepiness – he was the master of. The same goes for horror literature, as well as comic books. Hell, Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum came from somewhere. Stephen King is practically his latter day protégé, another New Englander publishing the terrible goings-on in the unseen corners of Massachusetts and Maine.

H.P.L. is, with respect to the genre of horror, almost like Shakespeare to the English language – his influence is so wide, so diffused, so constant, you don’t even notice it. It’s like asking a fish to notice the water he is swimming in. But there it is – he is the dark, creepy, lurking atmosphere we all breathe.

I would like to give a special thanks to the Big AB of the Northern Wastes for his assistance in this endeavor.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This Is Not Your Father's Hammer Films

This has been out there for a while now, so some of you may already know that Britain's legendary Hammer horror studio has been revived and is releasing its first new movie in 30 years. I came across the new trailer earlier today, so I thought I'd share it.

The film is called Beyond the Rave, and unlike earlier Hammer releases which were traditionally period pieces, the movie takes place in the present day, placing blood-sucking vampires amidst Ecstasy-addled ravers.

It's certainly a break from such classics as Horror of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein and Kiss of the Vampire, but Hammer CEO Simon Oakes, who bought the company last year, insists that the studio must change with the times if it expects to get back into the production business.

"We have an opportunity to recalibrate the DNA of Hammer Films for the MySpace generation," said Oakes in a press release. Because, as everyone knows, the 1950s and 60s was the Victorian era.

I'm willing to give the flick the benefit of the doubt, but really, how long can this pandering to an increasingly infantilized demographic continue? It's a vicious, self-sustaining cycle. I'm a member of Generation X, and I'm one of many who grew up loving Hammer movies. What's with all the spoon-feeding that goes on these days?

OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way, I really am interested to see what Hammer 2.0 is capable of. Beyond the Rave will air in five-minute installments on MySpace beginning April 17, and then will be released to DVD. Included in the cast is the once quintessential Hammer babe Ingrid Pitt, who, in a sad commentary on the inexorable march of time, plays the mother of one of the main characters.

Wicked Gifs

Sorry but my earlier posts in March about funny GIFS didn't work. But now I have sorted it out!

I would like to thank Jerome for emailing me this GIF

and a big up to Steve for these two gems!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Funny Jpegs

Every photographer knows that it aint easy to snap that perfect photo of someone being shat on at exactly the right moment. Luckily, a talented photographer was able to catch this pigeon in mid flight pooing his daily poo load on this poor Innocent little kid.. making this photo frigging hilarious! Although, I tend to believe this photo may have been taken in China where they love eating pigeon and this bird was probably just getting his own back.. (that's alot of poo).

As these photos were emailed to us with no reference or source I cant give all the details on exactly where this photo was taken but it needs little explanation as to why many guys would vote to have this in all toilets... remember if you shake more than 3 times, its considered a wank.

I have a friend that can finish a Rubiks cube in less than five minutes on average.. which, to me is pretty damn good. Can any of you beat that? Below is Cube Art using only Rubiks cubes, not bad huh?

I don't blame this cat for thinking that this dude's hair is some kind of dead animal.. maybe he thinks it's his old mate Jack the Cat.. he is probably saying to himself 'hey you pussy, where have you been? You owe me $5 you cheap bitch! Come back here!'

Happy St. Paddy's Day from The Vault of Horror