Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bask in the Horror Blogosphere!

Faithful online horror fans may have noticed as of late that something very interesting is happening. Horror bloggers far and wide are uniting in an informal, yet nevertheless exciting confederation. That confederation is known as The League of Tana Tea Drinkers, or LOTT D for short.

In honor of this growing phenomenon (and because I have nothing better to blog about) I've decided to spotlight some interesting things that are happening on some of my fellow LOTT Ders' sites. If you have some minutes to kill, and are looking for some fascinating insight on various matters both gothic and macabre, check them out.

Arbogast on Film: The man named for everyone's favorite ill-fated private investigator takes a compelling look at Frank Darabont's The Mist, colored by his own love/hate relationship with the works of Stephen King.

Frankensteinia: The venerable Pierre Fournier celebrates the birthdays this week of three giants of the genre, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Gospel of the Living Dead: Prof. Kim Paffenroth has published the timeline he's put together on the life of Dante Alighieri, derived from work on his new book, Valley of the Dead. Of particular interest is the period during which the Italian poet's whereabouts were completely unknown.

The Groovy Age of Horror: Curt Purcell begins what is sure to be a gripping series on the history of supernatural horror.

The Horrors of It All: The one and only Karswell takes a peak at the new book, Sex, Drugs and Violence in the Comics. Count me in.

Kindertrauma: You'll never look at Chuck Jones' innocuous little mouse Sniffles quite the same again after reading Unkle Lancifer's chilling review of the 1940 Warner Bros. short Sniffles Takes a Trip.

Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire: The lovely Tenebrous Kate provides essential fashion tips for men, derived from the best of genre cinema. Did you know the codpiece was making a comeback?

Theofantastique: John W. Morehead scowls disapprovingly at A&E's recent revamp of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain.

Unspeakable Horror: If vampire poetry is what you're looking for, Chad Helder has the cure for what ails you.


If there's one place Sheldon enjoys visiting (and spending money), it's New York City. And if there's one show about NYC that Sheldon can watch over and over again, it's LAW & ORDER. I'm just kidding .. It's SEX AND THE CITY! (L&O is a close second though.) So what better way to give away three double passes to the film that can be used throughout its run of engagement (anywhere in Quebec) than combining two of Sheldon's greatest loves?

Below you will find four pictures of Sheldon at various locations in NYC. Read the text below each photograph to see what answer I'm looking for and send your answers to

Three winners will be chosen at random and announced Monday morning.


This is the Angel Bethesda (you might recognize her from phenomenal works like ANGELS IN AMERICA or in less spectacular fare like THE PRODUCERS). You can find her in all her glory somewhere near the center of ...


Sheldon doesn't see a purpose in passing through the Big Apple without taking in a show. This was taken while he waited in line with the rest of the sheep for A CHORUS LINE. What's the name of that stretch where all the shows play again?


This is me and Sheldon hanging in the park where fashion week takes place each year. Being there always reminds me of that line from the Rufus Wainwright song "Is true love a long walk through .... ?"


Sheldon spent the whole day here and was a little creeped out by all the realistic looking representations of some of his fellow animals. He was happy not to run into Ben Stiller though.

Thanks for playing. Sheldon appreciates your attention. While you're here, scroll down and read the full length review for the SEX AND THE CITY movie. Again, winners will be announced Monday. Good luck!

R.I.P. Taku Sato aka Professor Robo

After checking out the Ex-Gokin post in more detail on Toybot's blog, I found out that the designer of this and many other incredible toy robots in the Getter series had passed away suddenly last August. Taku "Professor Robo" Sato & Fewture have produced some of the best die-cast heavy-ass robots there are in existence.
A serious RIP for the brains behind one of the most inspirational mecha designers ever.

You can find a great interview with him HERE.

ExGokin Boss Borot Is Amazing

I'm going to let the pictures do the talking. Heavy, die-cast metal robots that cost a fortune but are worth every penny. Fewture's Ex-Gokin Boss Borot comes with the most insane detailing ever. Check the three pilots out in the following pics! Amazing!!!!!

These images came from the beautiful collection over at the Toybot Studios team HQ.

Delta Show and Interview

Wicked 3D maestro Delta has a show coming up at the Elms Lester Painting Rooms in Central London. Here's what the gallery has to say:

June 6th - 28th 2008
Tuesday - Saturday 12 - 6pm, Thursdays 'til 8pm

The first solo UK show of The Netherland's most exciting contemporary artist, an inspirational pioneer in the European graffiti scene since 1983; BORIS TELLEGEN aka DELTA

Accompanying the exhibition will be a 42 page hard back catalogue with over 60 full colour illustrations and inlcuding an essay by KODWO ESHUN.

DELTA will bein the gallery between 12 - 1.00 on Saturday June 7th to sign catalogues.

Delta - Interview from alex deforce on Vimeo.


Terratag X Tokyo Plastic

Terratag has done a nice collaboration with Tokyo Plastic on these tees. You can nab one from HERE.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Get Your Zombie Hockey Jerseys!

Wouldn't you know it? Just three weeks ago, I reported on Kevin Smith's new movie Zack & Miri Make a Porno being set in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, as well as on the spectacularly awesome "Monreoville Zombies" jerseys worn by the local hockey team in the film. Obviously, it's a tribute to George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, which also took place in Monroeville. Many fans, including myself, wished they could own one. And now, thanks to the enterprising Mr. Smith, we can.

The jerseys are now being sold at the website for Smith's Red Bank, New Jersey comic book store, Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash. It's sure to be the next big thing in slacker culture, so make sure to get ahead of the curve. Thanks to /Film for picking up on this one.

* * * * * * * * * *

Speaking of thanks, I'd like to extend them as well to JA of My New Plaid Pants, who posted my review of Inside on, so that countless others can be infected with my weighty opinions. And while I'm plugging, my League of Tana Tea Drinkers cohort Max at The Drunken Severed Head has scored a very cool interview with David Patrick "Waaarriooors...come out to plaaay-ayy!" Kelly, so be a lamb and check it out.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Written and Directed by Michael Patrick King
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristen Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Chris Noth

Carrie Bradshaw: You know that this is a fairy tale, right sweetheart? Things don’t always work out like this in real life.

It’s important to state right away that I am a devout fan of the “Sex and the City” television series. I have seen the episodes countless times and they still tickle me almost as often as they touch me. Clearly, what you’re going to get out of the SEX AND THE CITY movie depends on what you’re going in with. For anyone who cares as much as I did, and there are more than enough in my boat to sink it, these girls have been sorely missed. It has been four years since the boy who called love, Mr. Big (Chris Noth) found a crumbling Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) in Paris and told her finally that she was the one. Subsequently, it has been just as much time since Carrie foolishly believed him capable of feeling such things and forewent all her single sensibility for a crapshoot she called love. (It figures the one part of the series I would not like would be its conclusion). Who cares though? I still want more. When the lights went down and the sounds of that familiar theme began to rise (albeit just as a sample in some overwrought Fergie song), my romantic heart sped up just a little and an inevitable smile took over my face. But as the credits gave way to a recap of the characters’ arcs whittled down to their barest bones, I couldn’t help but wonder, who does director, Michael Patrick King think is seeing this movie that doesn’t already know all of this as well as the fit of their favorite shoes?

If you were not a fan of the series, this film will do nothing for you but remind you why. If you were a fan, you may feel some varying degree of disappointment but you’ll still likely see it and love it more than once. How could you not? I was mildly disappointed and I still cried at least three times. I missed these girls. They kept me company on so many restless nights. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) taught me how to let go of life long enough to let love in. Charlotte (Kristen Davis) taught me that you might not recognize love when it finally comes to you. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) taught me that old habits eventually need to be left behind if your life is ever to become what it could. And Carrie … oh, Carrie. Carrie taught me about the constant struggle to find happiness in yourself and your own life regardless of whether you’re fortunate enough to be sharing that with another person. So often did her poetic musings give me calm and resolve that the show became a necessary fix whenever I lost hope that love still knew where to find me.

Though the ladies may mean different things to different people, the need for the SEX AND THE CITY movie is palpable within its devoted fan base. The movie itself however creates none of its own urgency and does little to justify its own existence. Yes, I wanted the girls back but it would have been nice if they came back for a reason. Without divulging too much (as I believe the fate for spoiling this film is castration), the good times pick up again four years after we last left the streets of New York City. Miranda’s busy married life with Steve (David Eigenberg) has gotten stagnant; Charlotte lives in bliss with her husband Harry (Evan Handler) and their adopted girl, Lily; Samantha has made a life of monogamy and management with her young stud, Smith (Jason Lewis)in Los Angeles; and Carrie has somehow managed to domesticate Mr. Big, now known as John James Preston. It would even seem that they are headed toward wedded bliss. The big day comes though with expected big disasters and Carrie gets exactly what she should have seen coming all along.

As I was never happy that the quintessential single girl settled for a man who hurt her repeatedly and consistently, it was hard to feel satisfied watching her make the same mistakes on the big screen. On such a grand stage, I wanted to see Carrie blossom into the true state of confidence and individuality that her character was destined to, if only just to remind myself that I have that same capacity. Instead, her small screen magnificence only half fills the new digs and left me feeling rushed and unfinished instead of post-orgasm elation. And with the last round of cosmos now behind us, I got my much needed fix but I can’t tell whether SEX AND THE CITY (the movie) will keep the love flowing far into the future or finally put SEX AND THE CITY (the phenomenon) to rest.

Zombie Mayhem on DVD this Week

Long-time Vault-dwellers know how much I love me some zombie movies. And this week brings not one, not two, but three undead gems to home video. It's quite the smorgasbord of cannibalistic goodness, so let me break it down for you:

Diary of the Dead: This fifth chapter in George Romero's epic saga seriously divided the fan base. Although I thought very highly of it, the balance seems to be tipped a little more in favor of the naysayers. Oh well, fans hated Day of the Dead 23 years ago, and now it's regarded as a classic. And I've even noticed opinion becoming more positive toward Land of the Dead in the past three years. Who knows, the future of horror fandom may be kinder to this one as well.

Night of the Living Dead: For years I've been waiting for a mondo, balls-out special edition of Romero's original public domain masterpiece, and now it's finally here--courtesy of Diary of the Dead-producers the Weinsteins. Aside from a reportedly immaculate digital transfer, there are also two commentaries, a 90-minute documentary, an interview with Romero and the final recorded interview with the late Duane Jones.

Grapes of Death: A highly regarded yet somewhat obscure 1978 French flick. I confess I have yet to see it myself, but have heard and read nothing but positive things about it over the years. Adding it to my Netflix queue as we speak.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hang Drum Solo

Wicked vid of a guy playing the hang-drum in a very Aphex-Twin sounding drum solo.

Vid [VIA]

JR Hits Up Truman Brewery

Streetartist/photographer JR gets a nice spot at the Truman Brewery in East London to show his work. It's actually an enormous piece and needs to be seen in flesh to realise the sheer scale of his paste-ups.

Image [VIA]

DFace gets defaced

I know this old news for all you seasoned Brit bloggers/readers but I am suffering from no internet connection at the mo! Poor D*Face had his website hacked into a couple weeks ago by a couple of "ironic" streetartists/webheads known as Dicky & Smif.
Poor D*Face! Oh well, I guess all publicity is good publicity.......

Inside: Challenging the Definition of Entertainment

It's tough to put into words the combination of reactions that came to me after experiencing the French horror/thriller Inside (a.k.a. À l'intérieur). The tale of a nine-months-pregnant widow being mercilessly tortured and stalked by a crazed woman out to literally steal the baby from her womb, it's certainly not an easy watch.

Directed by Alexandro Bustillo and Julien Maury (recently booted from the Hellraiser remake), Inside is the kind of movie that makes you question why you wanted to see it in the first place. It would be easy to dismiss it as just another depressing and sadistic piece of torture porn, but that's not really what it is. I wouldn't categorize it with garbage like Hostel and Saw III, which truly earn their pornography tag by making titillation through explicit violence their primary goal.

That's not what Inside is all about. It is disturbingly graphic, and shatters horror film taboos left and right, but I can honestly say that many of the depictions of violence were not gratuitous, in that they served a story and a theme that was every bit as unsettling, if not moreso. They are not there for their own sake.

Inside is a very well-made movie, with excellent photography by Laurent Barès, a riveting score by François Eudes (sound designer for the Hills Have Eyes remake), and a constantly building and expertly constructed aura of suspense. It's two main leads, newcomer Alysson Paradis as victim Sarah and tenured French leading lady Béatrice Dalle as the nameless antagonist, both turn in powerful performaces in roles quite rare for films of this kind.

All this quality was enough to distract me from the overall unsavoriness of the movie itself, as well as from some its noteable flaws. There are several gaping holes in logic and lapses in believability. There's also the problem of a paper-thin plot that is supported mainly by the constant influx of fresh victims, much like the classic slasher movie formula. And then there's the sporadic CGI, which, while ambitious, is enough to take you out of the movie in parts.

But as my wife so succinctly said to me as the credits rolled, "There are a lot of people who wouldn't be able to watch this movie." As a parent and someone who has vicariously experienced pregnancy, I perceived that the difficulty I had with it might not be as strong for someone who had not experienced those things. Conversely, for many women of a particularly sensitive nature, I could see this picture provoking nothing but disgust and contempt.

After seeing Inside, I found myself doing what I usually do after seeing a movie that has disturbed me--watching the special features, almost as a way of proving to myself on a subconscious level that it never really happened, that these people are just actors and everyone is fine. And as good a movie as it is, I really question its rewatchability. I, for one, cannot imagine subjecting myself to it again.

Complex reactions for a thematically complex film. At its heart, Inside is a movie about loss and what it can do to us, what we allow it to do to us. It's not fun, and I don't know if I would even use the word "enjoyable". But it is very intriguing, and well worth a look.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kicking Ass for the Lord: 40 Years of the Modern Zombie Movie, Part 3

Ironically, as the 1980s drew near an end and the popularity of horror movies began to wane from what it had been, the zombie subgenre briefly returned to its pre-modern voodoo roots with Wes Craven's The Serpent and the Rainbow (1987). The film was inspired by Haiti's vicious Duvalier dictatorship and the real-life investigator who travelled there to look into the long-standing rumors of zombification practices. Although it abandoned the modern, Romero-esque take on the walking dead, the atmospheric chiller became one of Craven's most critically acclaimed efforts.

Nevertheless, The Serpent and the Rainbow proved to be a brief aberration. The first heyday of zombie movies may have been over, but Romero's influence of the genre was here to stay. As proof of that, in 1990 Columbia Pictures got behind a remake of the seminal classic Night of the Living Dead, penned by George Romero and directed by makeup effects wiz Tom Savini. In part an attempt to cash in on the success of the original to an extent that Romero was unjustly prevented from doing the first time around, the new version was a mixed bag.

Romero was lauded for transforming his female lead Barbara from a traumatized wreck into a strong-willed heroine. The remake featured several interesting new interpretations, but many fans felt it was hamstrung by the large studio involvement and the need to fit within R-rating parameters, something none of the previous films had been required to do.

With the dearth of quality horror films in the 1990s came a dearth of memorable zombie flicks as well. Horror was moving more into the mainstream, resulting in safer, less graphically violent pictures--meaing there was less and less of a place for cinematic flesh-eating.

But there were exceptions, and chief among them came from the other side of the world--New Zealand, to be exact. Maverick filmmaker Peter Jackson, who had previously opened eyes with Bad Taste (1987), created in 1992 what is to this day still considered by many to be the most violent motion picture ever made: Braindead (a.k.a. Dead Alive).

One of the reasons Jackson was able to get away with it was the fact that his movie was a comedy, and thus the violence was so completely and cartoonishly over-the-top that it couldn't possibly be taken seriously--reanimated (and flatulent) digestive tracts, zombie copulation, an entire room of ghouls dispatched with a twirling lawnmower, etc. Braindead became an international cult sensation thanks to home video distribution, and gave the sub-genre a much-needed shot in the arm.

Other major entries of the period that distinctly stood out was 1993's Dellamorte Dellamore (a.k.a. Cemetery Man), an Italian effort that harkened back to the "spaghetti zombie" days of a decade earlier; and Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993), which turned out to be a surprisingly effective installment in an otherwise tired series thanks to a bold move away from comedy in favor of a more serious tone.

But aside from some refreshing exceptions, modern zombie films experienced perhaps the lowest point in their popularity during the 1990s. Ultra low-budget and shot-on-video productions dominated the niche as it went decidedly underground. Yet by the end of the decade and turn of the new century, just as down-and-dirty horror was experiencing a resurgence, so would the cinema of the living dead in particular. The second great zombie movie explosion was at hand.

To Be Continued...

Part 1: They're Coming to Get You
Part 2: No More Room in Hell


Written by David Koepp
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen and Cate Blanchett

Mutt Williams: For an old man, you’re not bad in a fight. What are you? 80?

The latest Indiana Jones installment opens with an impromptu drag race in the middle of the Nevada desert. (It actually opens with a silly, fake gopher making a face at the camera but that is far too bizarre for me to comment on.) A car full of teenagers, looking 50’s fresh, pass a number of army trucks full of troops. When they get to the front of the line, they encourage the army driver across from them to step on the gas and they’re off. In many ways, this opening sequence announces the tone for what’s to come in Steven Spielberg’s INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. The image is crisp; the camera movement is slick; and the thrills are swept up into momentary exhilaration. But then, as the cavalcade turns off the road and the teenagers continue on into the desert, it becomes clear that the entire sequence was speeding toward nothing at all.

It is 1957 and nearly twenty years since Indy’s last adventure, mirroring the same amount of time between the last film and this one. Both Indy and the man who first incarnated him in 1981, Harrison Ford, are in their 60’s now. Still, as Indy hops from towering to teetering crate in an army hanger and swings into a truck with his trusty whip secured against the rafters, it’s clear that his face may be weathered but this old guy’s still pretty spry. Indy has managed to get himself caught by the KGB, led by Cate Blanchett in a razor sharp, black bob as Irina Spalko. She needs his expertise to find a body that she hopes will then lead her to a crystal skull. Legend has it, as it tends to in Indiana movies, that the one who returns the crystal skull to its proper resting place will have infinite knowledge bestowed upon them. This would give this person the ability to know the thoughts of every person on earth and the ability to manipulate these thoughts. I can barely control my own thoughts so I doubt I could handle that kind of responsibility but the Russians seem pretty convinced that they would do just fine.

Indy also has a new adventuring partner, 21-year-old Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf). Casting Shia as the rebel without a cause (I may have swooned every time he unnecessarily ran his comb through his perfect pompadour) may have been an easy decision to ensure a younger crowd or to take some o the stunt pressure off Ford but either way, it works. As usual, Shia brings an unimposing depth to popcorn fare and, in this case, some great chemistry between him and Ford. Bringing in fresh blood or modernizing in general can be tricky when you’re also trying to honour tradition. The dynamic between Indy & Mutt (as well as the return of Karen Allen as Indy’s first squeeze, Marion Ravenwood) allows for the cheesy one-liners to flourish but the loss of Douglas Slocombe as cinematographer (he died in 2004) has practically removed the classical Hollywood style that made some of the more ridiculously implausible Indy moments bearable, if not campily enjoyable. Spielberg’s regular cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, is certainly a genius but the only classical element remaining is a soft focus to keep Indy looking as young as possible. The result is at times breathtaking but fundamentally less authentic.

There is no question that Indiana Jones is a cinematic icon, from his hat and whip to John Williams’s triumphant score. The danger with reviving the character after such a long period is that you run the risk of tarnishing one of Hollywood’s most celebrated action heroes. If you’re going to take that risk, there had better be a good reason. The premise and ultimate conclusion of INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL leave you with some brilliant imagery, wavering levels of excitement and a nagging question as to whether this was the best they could come up with after twenty years. Indy does entertain with relatively little disappointment but while his latest adventure doesn’t kill the franchise, it does nothing for it either. Anyway, Spielberg best not wait another twenty years before the next installment. If he does, Indy will be a lot more likely to be cracking hips than whips.

Tate Modern Afterparty

Was invited on Friday afternoon by Mysterious Al to come and paint with him for the Tate Modern's "StreetArt" Afterparty in East London. Apparently, there was to be a party to get all the artists together for the Saturday and so they needed heads to paint it up a bit the day before.

As you will see, the Brits present (me & Al) at the gig painted some pretty dark shit. (The weather in the UK perhaps?) compared to all the other colorful works around us.

As we had to leave early, i didn't have a chance to get pictures of all the finished pieces but I imagine, it all looked pretty good for the Saturday.
Thanks again Al!