Friday, October 15, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 14: Clan of Xymox "She"

Goth it up with Clan of Xymox, still going strong 40 years on.



31 Days of Halloween 2021 Day 14: It's Horror Heaven in 'Paperbacks From Hell'

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

Let’s face it, I am exactly the target audience for this book. I grew up in the seventies and eighties, loving the horror genre in all its formats. Movies were my favorite way to get a fright fix, but horror novels were a close second. And man were there a lot of them during those two decades, calling out to me from the shelves of my local bookstore with their lurid covers and enticing taglines.

 

Thanks to Grady Hendrix and his hugely enjoyable book ‘Paperbacks From Hell’, it’s now possible to enjoy the best parts of the literature in question – the aforementioned covers and basic synopses of the batshit crazy plots – without having to invest the time it would take to read in their entirety what were, if we’re being totally honest, mostly mediocre books.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 13: Shannon and the Clams "Midnight Wine"

Maybe not quite horror, but this new song from Shannon and the Clams definitely has a dark and creepy vibe. 
 

 

31 Days of Halloween 2021 Day 13: Explore the Roots of a Psycho in 'Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?'

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

If you know your serial killers, then you’re probably already aware that grave robber and murderer (and possible cannibal) Ed Gein served as an inspiration for PSYCHO, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. But his own story is just as interesting as any fictionalized horror film.

 

Writer Harold Schechter has previously told Ed’s story in his book 'Deviant' (1998). Now he has teamed up with one of my favorite comic book artists, Eric Powell, to tell the story in graphic novel form. The results are a bit mixed, but ultimately worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

31 Days of Halloween 2021 Day 12: Spend a Night in 'Muppets Haunted Mansion'

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

The Muppets have always embraced their scary side, with various monsters making up a respectable percentage of the cast going back to their TV variety show from the seventies and early eighties, and even further back if you count Sesame Street, where Kermit the Frog got his start. And of course, two of the my favorite episodes of the original Muppet Show were the ones hosted by Vincent Price and Alice Cooper.

 

Now that The Muppets, like nearly everything else in the world of entertainment, are owned by Disney, a crossover with Disney’s Haunted Mansion seems like not a terrible idea. But given the uneven track record of the Muppets since the Mouse House acquired them, one could also be reasonably skeptical.

 

Thankfully, MUPPETS HAUNTED MANSION turns out to be spooky fun for all ages.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 11: Ghost "Hunter's Moon"

Who better to write a new song that sounds like something an eighties metal band would have contributed to the soundtrack of the latest slasher movie sequel than Ghost, who did this song for the HALLOWEEN KILLS soundtrack.

 

31 Days of Halloween 2021 Day 11: The Last Matinee Grabs Viewers by the Eyeballs

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

The distinctive Italian horror/murder mystery hybrid known as the Giallo film has always been more about style than logical storytelling. Director Maximiliano Contenti and his screenwriting partner Manuel Facal definitely get that part right. Their film, like the ones that inspired it, is a glossy, brightly colored bauble in which barely defined characters get offed in gleefully gory set pieces by a black-gloved killer with half-baked motivations. 

 

And let's not forget the eye violence that Italian horror films seem to revel in. Man is there some nasty eye violence in this one.

 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 10: Powerwolf "Dancing With the Dead"

The undisputed kings of German werewolf metal return. 

 


 

31 Days of Halloween Day 10: 'WNUF Halloween Special' Captures the Spirit of the 80s and Halloween

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

This one flew under my radar when it was originally released, but it caught my eye while scrolling through the content available on Shudder. The conceit behind the WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL is that it’s a local TV newscast from Halloween night 1987 that someone recorded on a VHS tape, commercials at all.

 

The film feels authentic, even if the commercials for made up TV shows, movies, and products occasionally spoil the illusion. Not that they don’t feel believable, mind you, it’s just that anyone who knows the era knows the commercials aren’t for real things that actually existed. Younger viewers might not know that, though.

 

Saturday, October 09, 2021

31 Days of Halloween Day 9: Rewind to the nineties with 'V/H/S 94'

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

After a 7-year hiatus, the found footage anthology franchise V/H/S returns with its latest installment, V/H/S 94. Streaming exclusively on Shudder, it’s a grisly but fun collection of bite-size horrors from multiple filmmakers that capture the essence of the era in which they are set (1994, natch) while also tapping into the fears of our present.

 

The framing sequence, Jennifer Reeder’s “Holy Hell”, involves a SWAT raiding the compound of a religious cult involved in distributing an especially nasty narcotic that causes its users to gouge out their own eyes while watching videos. This of course offers up the excuse for watching the other short films.

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 9: Kill the Hippies "Howl-A-Balloo"

Kent, Ohio's own Kill the Hippies under the pseudonym Vance Midnight and his Swank Bodies turn in this fun sixties style novelty tune. I put together the video, so don't blame them for that.

 


 

Friday, October 08, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 8: Phoebe Bridgers "Halloween"

A little more introspective than what I've posted so far, but still pretty dark. And hell, the song is called "Halloween", so that's enough, isn't it?

 


 

 

 

31 Days of Halloween 2021 Day 8: 'Candyman' Gets Its Hook In You

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 


While I don’t arbitrarily hate all horror remakes and sequels, in general I find most of them to be comfortably familiar, eminently forgettable entertainments at best, and crass cash grabs at worst. But there’s always those exceptions that prove the rule, like John Carpenter’s remake of THE THING, or Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD 2, films that stand on their own as classics of the genre. Nia DaCosta’s CANDYMAN is a welcome addition to that exclusive club.

 

CANDYMAN 2021 is a sequel to Bernard Rose’s 1992 film of the same name, but while I would recommend checking out the original, it’s not necessary. DaCosta gives us all we need to know about the urban legend surrounding its hook-handed killer and the events of the previous film via a nifty little shadow puppet show, just one of the film’s many satisfying stylistic flourishes.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 7: Grave Robber "Zombieland"

Get your daily dose of "Whoah"s courtesy of Indiana's Grave Robber with their song "Zombieland".

 


 

31 Days of Halloween Day 7: A Reenvisioned Classic Comes Off as Cartoonish in 'Night of the Animated Dead'

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

When George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was released in 1968, the distributors inadvertently released it without a copyright notice. This allowed the movie to slip into the public domain. The most obvious ramifications of this situation are that basically anyone can release a copy of the film on home video. But beyond that, it allows for various remakes and spinoffs to use the film’s plot and title, very rarely with satisfying results.

 

The latest film to appropriate Romero’s classic is the aptly titled NIGHT OF THE ANIMATED DEAD, a nearly line for line, shot for shot cartoon version of John Russo’s script directed by Jason Axinn. And honestly, it isn’t a completely horrible idea. As much of a classic as the original is, and as much as I love it, there are aspects that could be improved. Notably, the cast ranges from excellent (Duane Jones in the lead role of Ben) to… not so excellent (Judith Ridley as Judy). And while I personally like the black and white cinematography and minimalist gore and effects, having more modern looking zombies and more blood and gore isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 6: "Iron Boingo" covers "Dead Man's Party"

Members of Protest the Hero, Dethklok, and the usual Two Minutes to Late Night folks take a stab at Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party" in the style of Iron Maiden. I dig it. Hope you do, too.


31 Days of Halloween Day 6: It's Revenge of the Mushroom People in 'Gaia' and 'In The Earth'

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

Louie Schwarzberg’s 2019 documentary FANTASTIC FUNGI walked (or perhaps more accurately, blurred) the line between science and new age woo in its exploration of earth’s fungal lifeforms, and the theory that they may have some sort of interconnected intelligence. Similarly, the late Terrence McKenna wrote several books on his belief that mushrooms and other plant-based hallucinogens were a way to communicate with a metaphysical intelligence he referred to as “the other”.

 

Perhaps that same intelligence reached out to filmmakers Ben Wheatley and Jaco Bouwer, who independently of one another made IN THE EARTH (Wheatley) and GAIA (Bouwer, from a screenplay by Tertius Kapp). Both films deal with the fungal kingdom interacting with humans. But rather than benevolent enlightenment, the protagonists wind up taking decidedly bad trips more akin to Ishiro Honda’s MATANGO, known to American aficionados of psychotronic cinema as ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 5: Blue Oyster Cult "Tainted Blood"

As big of a Blue Oyster Cult fan as I am, I didn't care much for last year's 'The Symbol Remains' album. One of the highlights, though, was this song by relatively new member Richie Castellano. It's not the first time the band has done a song about vampires, and it's not their best (for me that would be "Nosferatu" from their 'Spectres' album), but this is still a pretty solid number.

 


 

31 Days of Halloween 2021 Day 5: The Rural Horrors of 'Honeydew'

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]

 

The setup for HONEYDEW is so familiar, one almost can’t help but feel its main characters deserve whatever horrors befall them. Like, haven’t you guys ever watched THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE? Writer/director Devereux Milburn obviously has.

 

A young metropolitan couple – actor/waiter Sam (Sawyer Spielberg, yes, son of that Spielberg and Kate Capshaw) and botanist Rylie (Malin Barr) – are so busy showing us how much they shouldn’t be together that they miss all the obvious red flags letting them know they’ve stumbled into a hicksploitation horror film.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Halloween Rocks 2021 Day 4: Jeremiah Sand "Message From the Mountain"

After playing cult leader Jeremiah Sand in 2018's cult horror film MANDY, Linus Roche decided to further explore his character by recording an album's worth of music in that persona. It's every bit as weird and wonderful as the movie that inspired it, and while it stands on its own just fine, it also complements the film.