Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Under The Dome, Season 2: Review

Under The Dome and my DVR are now officially split up. Season 1 was quite rocky, and in the unforgivable tradition of Lost, brought up more questions than answers then veered into absurdity. Unfortunately, Season 2 has slipped further down that hole. The dialogue is so unnatural, and the highly uneven cast struggles to make any sense (what I call the "I!ACT!NOW!" method). While I like the quirky/hissy new science teacher (because the show apparently needs more characters), her sudden appearance and rise to the head of the class reemphasis that the show has surpassed the plausible. Other examples: The DJ is now a cop, in full uniform! It's raining blood (how biblical)! The diner is open for casual dining and folks look quite relaxed, even when a character stumbles in and declares the main waitress/protagonist has been murdered! Oh, there's now an ax murder! And only the Microsoft Surface that everyone suddenly owns gets internet access! Suspension of disbelief is already working overtime on the invisible dome, cows cut in half, and the lack of government involvement on the other side of the dome.

By contrast, in Stephen King's book it takes exactly one week from the dome coming down for the town to go b@tsh!t crazy. The evil people get more evil, the crazy people get more crazy, and the religious fanatics get more fanatical. (It's a classic read that fans must take on.) I didn't think the concept would work as an ongoing series and sure enough, it doesn't. The weight of the improbable elements, new characters, and the lack of urgency/momentum are killing this show. It was never designed to be a series, and kudos to the production team to trying to expand the universe of the book. It just doesn't work. Four episodes in, I stopped in mid-episode and deleted the series. There's more compelling genre shows out there.



The picture below perfectly captures the problem with the series: let's throw everything AND the kitchen sink at the dome and see what sticks. Maybe some will find it amusing and Mysterious, although really, we just have a big, dumb mess on our hands. 



Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Day of the Dead Skeleton Head

I've completed David Everett's class Making a Day of the Dead Skeleton, offered through Artful Gathering's Online Art Retreat (read my first post here). What fun class! David's instruction was clear, educational, and quite entertaining, and the site included access to comment boards where you could post in-progress pictures to get advice, feedback, and support. Although the second session is now closed, get on their mailing list for next year's retreat and make some Halloween art!

That said, I don't consider myself "an artist" and find it difficult to draw even a straight line. I took this class because I love David's whimsical Halloween creations (see them at Chicken Lips), and wanted to learn how to work with paper clay. It's definitely much easier to work with than other mediums, and plan to use it for making props for my Halloween village, and maybe even a few ornaments for my Halloween tree.

A BIG thank you to David for showing our class the secrets behind his wonderful creations! Here is what I created: SeƱor Lengua, a reanimated Dia de los Muertos skull in search of BrAiNs!!



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Upcoming Scary Movies ~ Must See Trailers!

In case you haven't been keeping up with our Facebook page (why don't you Like Us?), here are some the trailers for scary movies recently posted. Looking forward to a great late-Summer/Autumn!

Annabelle
Last year's The Conjuring opened with a lengthy prelude that included a creepy doll. This is the prequel that explains how that doll got to be so evil.
October 3, 2014 (wide)


YouTube Link



Dracula Untold
Luke Evans plays the title role of Vlad the Impaler in this epic origin story.
October 3, 2014 (wide)

YouTube Link



Ouija
Based on the Hasbro game, this originally was going to be a Jumanji-like action adventure with kids. Looks like they went in a different direction.
October 24, 2014 (wide)

YouTube Link




Into the Storm
Mother nature proves to be the scariest monster of all in this incredibly destructive trailer, like Twister on steroids.
August 8, 2014 (wide)


YouTube Link



Horns
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) continues with his love of horror movies with this mysterious film from director Alexandre Aja (High Tension, Piranha 3D).
October 31 U.K. (USA: TBA)


YouTube Link



The Green Inferno
Eli Roth directs this tale of activists who travel to the Amazon to save the forest and find a native tribe seeking nourishment. So Roth is back to torture porn? Advance reviews have been positive. Hmm.


YouTube Link



Witching & Bitching (Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi)
This Spanish horror-comedy from Alex de la Iglesia won 8 Goya Awards (Spain's equivalent of The Oscars) and looks the like the lovechild of Pedro Almodovar and Sam Raimi.
June 13, 2014 (Limited)

YouTube Link

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Great Horror Campout ~ Summer Tour 2014

Those who are not satisfied by simply seeing horror films can finally experience one first hand. Making its way across the West Coast this summer is The Great Horror Campout, a 12-hour, overnight extreme adventure where campers can chose either a Low Octane or High Octane (more extreme) experience. Activities include the standard camping fare (bonfires, singalongs, roasting marshmallows) but then the Hell Hunt begins as creatures/psychos descend upon the camp to chase, bleed on, cage up, bury, or otherwise terrorize campers – all night long. If things get too intense, there's even a safe word and the horror subsides. For more timid campers there's also a "Chicken Zone" where you can safely observe the shenanigans without actually partaking in the terror. At the end of the event, the Camp Headmaster crowns one Hellmaster as the winner.

This sound terrifyingly AWESOME!?! Here are the upcoming dates:

July 11 & 12 – San Francisco, CA (Dang it! I missed it!)
July 18 & 19 – Sacramento, CA
July 25 & 26 – Seattle, WA
August 1 & 2 – Portland, OR
August 15 & 16 – San Diego, CA
August 22 & 23 – San Bernardino, CA

Tickets range from $99 to $139 per person for shared tents of 4 people. For more information, visit The Great Horror Campout site.

(Editor's Note: If any readers have attended this event, please email me. I want to hear about your experience!)

Thanks to Terror Troy for the great tip on this fun sounding event! We're on for next year and there will be NO Chicken Zone for us!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Halloween at Pier 1 Imports

Pier 1 Imports has debuted their Halloween collection on their site. The products fall into the craft fair/whimsical category with a focus on home decor (and even features a Day of the Dead section). It arrives in stores on or around August 4th but you can see it online now: Pier 1 Imports Halloween.










Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Salem: Season 1 Review

For those whose dark witch interests where not satiated with American Horror Story: Coven, WGN's Salem is a welcome surprise. Instead of style trumping story, this series remained focused on a straightforward narrative loosely based on the Salem witch trials of 1692, plucking many actual names from history. 

Two things immediately stood out: the thick layer of supernatural hokum, and the period setting. The sets, costumes, and even lighting were exquisite and painted a very crisp picture of early Colonial life. The dialogue however often tested even the most forgiving fan and came across as modernly stiff rather than antiquated and flowery. (By contrast, every line Ichabod Crane utters on Fox's Sleepy Hollow seems completely genuine and out of place.) This is mainly due to the uneven cast who were not all up for the very difficult challenge of acting in a period piece. And there were many loooooong and Important monologues given by characters alone on the screen that might be better suited for a theater stage – it's just not a normal convention for a dramatic TV show! 

Nothing on this show is subtle or nuanced and perhaps that's the greatest achievement. It was bloody, full of sex early on, and then along comes the religious zealot Increase Mather and his implements of torture seemingly designed solely for women's lady parts (see below). The series is oddly compelling in a very entertaining way, and each week brought at least one moment of sheer audacity/outlandish brilliance from a horror perspective. Even though the story stalled towards the end, and the reveal was mundane at best, Season 2 premiering in April 2015 will be eagerly anticipated. 






Saturday, July 12, 2014

Yankee Candle Halloween Preview Party 2014

Yankee Candle will hold it's annual Halloween Preview Party in three weeks! Details are scarce but sources tell me Boney Bunch is back (of course). As for their candles, their new Fall Fragrances left much to be desired although I liked both the Silver Birch (woodsy and bright) and the Ginger Pumpkin (sophisticated and warm).

Sign up for their email newsletter to receive coupons, and line up early to get your hands on The Boney Bunch 2014 Collection because they do sell out. Last year Yankee Candle replenished their stock a month after the preview party to extend availability to their more casual customers who shop later in the season (see previous post). Who in their right mind would shop for Halloween stuff in October?!







Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pottery Barn Halloween 2014

Pottery Barn continues to impress with their incredible (and incredibly pricy) Halloween collection. This year seems to be dedicated to dragons and medieval themes! If you like hosting Halloween parties (and have an unlimited bank account), this is the site you'll want to check often over the next few weeks as it take them a while to unveil the entire collection. And if you are so inclined, order early since they sell out fast. Take a look!











Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Halloween Retail Season Starts Today!

The embers from last night's fireworks may still be warm, but the Halloween season is now upon us. July 5th is the unofficial start of the Halloween retail season. With Christmas hogging store aisles from October to December, Halloween merchandise begins to sneak into stores as early as July, with September being the high season (though most marketing is delayed until after the Back-to-School blitz in August). In 2013, 158 million consumers celebrated Halloween, spending nearly $7 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Here's a couple of comparisons from the 2013 survey:
Decorations:
70% of consumers planned on buying Halloween decorations   <- Winner 
69% of consumers planned on buying Christmas decorations

Candy:
95% of consumers planned on buying Halloween candy   <- Winner 
91% of consumers  planned on buying Easter candy 
Halloween is a consumer juggernaut! Take a look at the infographic below for an interesting overview of the the 2013 Halloween retail season. 



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sam Haynes Has Ghost Stories To Tell

Musician Sam Haynes has created two fantastic Halloween albums, and just released his most eerie collection yet, called Ghost Stories, available to purchase at Hauntmusic.co.uk, Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon. Sam was kind enough to share his thoughts on the album and its inspiration, including his own personal encounters with the supernatural! Read on, if you dare!

Q: Ghost Stories features some of the your darkest compositions to date. Did you approach this album differently from the others? 

A: Hi, firstly thanks for your kind words about the music, very kind if you. Each CD I do has a different theme, the last one, Welcome to the Horror Show, takes iconic horror subjects and creates a piece of music themed around it. For this one I wanted to write some music that deals with ghosts and the paranormal so each track is based on a theme or atmosphere related to ghosts. It's quite a dark album compared to the previous two, which was deliberate because of the theme. When I'm writing I usually start with a theme or title and I experiment with sounds 'til I get something close to the feeling I am going for.


Q: Choosing amongst your children is impossible, but do you have a favorite track on the album?

A: I would have to pick "Ghost Stories", it's one of the more complex tracks on the album, and I really liked the beats on it, there's a lot going on in the mix on that one.


Limited Edition package
Q: This album is called Ghost Stories. So what is your ghost story?

A: I grew up in a haunted house so have always been fascinated by ghosts. There was quite a lot of poltergeist activity and we had a black shadow person that would appear sometimes. Lots of people saw it. I took up ghost hunting for a couple of years back in 2008 and saw lots of strange things. The cover photo of ghost stories was taken on one of the ghost hunts.


Q: Towards the end of the Ghost Stories you thematically veer slightly into a carnival theme. Why do think carnivals with their jovial music sound downright menacing? 

A: I always find them really creepy and atmospheric. Especially the travelling ones that pop up for a week then disappear. It's probably to do with Something Wicked This Way Comes, the Ray Bradbury novel and Disney movie which I loved. It was a big influence. Films like Clownhouse and The Funhouse too.


Q: Your music seems to be echo a love of horror movies from the 80s, especially with some of the more fun and energetic tracks like "Midnight Show". What are some of your major influences?

A: John carpenter for sure. I loved the soundtracks to Halloween III: Season of the Witch and The Fog. I really liked the 80s Italian horror sounds too, Fabio Frizzi and Goblin, for example. I wanted to bring some of that electronic style back with my music. I've been working with the guys at graveyard calling horror records who just put out a pumpkin orange cassette of the last album. They put out lots of great horror music on tapes which is great because of the 80s inspired sounds in some of the music.



Sam Haynes
Q: “Midnight Gets Closer” and “13” are probably some of the most disturbing tracks in this collection with their hushed, patient and eerily sinister insistence that seems to creep under your skin. I have a hard time listening to this album after nightfall. Do you like scaring others?

A: Yes, scaring is great fun, as any haunter will tell you. I have scared myself quite a few times writing the songs as I usually do it alone in the studio at night. The only thing in it for me really is to bring something a little different to the genre, remind people of how great the 70s and 80s horror music was and to contribute to the haunt/horror scene. It's something I wanted to do for a long time! I have been really suprised at the amount of people that enjoy the music. The haunt and horror community are great and they really support independent producers. Everyone I have met through the music have been great people and are hugely passionate about the genre. Last halloween I went to a theme park that were using the music as a soundtrack and it worked really well, that was a great moment for me. The idea of people walking though haunts on halloween night to one of these songs and getting scared is what keeps me making the music!


A big thank you to Sam Haynes!