Tuesday, March 17, 2015

iZombie Premieres Tonight

Do you LOVE zombie shows but can’t stand all that gratuitous gore or depressing drama – and miss Veronica Mars? Then the CW’s new show iZombie is inexplicably perfect for you. It's based loosely on a short-lived comic book of the same name, but gone are the comic's quirkier elements like a 1960s ghost pal and a were-terrier friend.

In the TV show, the main character eats the brains of the recently deceased, gains their memories and uses them to solve crimes. While the original source material sounds more fun, I suppose TV land needs one more crime procedural – this time with a teen cast. The reviews have been generally favorable and cite Rose McIver's performance as the pilot's bright spot but I would brush up on your millennial speak: teeds, yaaas for sure, but mabs ur fomo should myw.  :: /

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Insidious Chapter 3's Teaser Poster

The once promising INSIDIOUS franchise is unleashing Chapter 3 this May and to build suspense, we get this poster with hard-to-read red lettering saying something Important Loudly – and a vent. A VENT! Look at the way it just sits there on that grimy, grey wall... all flat and stuff... with its two stupid screws. So SINISTER!!!

I've made my own movie poster and I think it's just as good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Boo-Boos Bandages

If you are the kind of person who likes display open flesh wounds for fun – and who doesn’t? – this is for you! A brilliant mad scientist (engineer, actually) from Oakland, CA named $hërwøõd Förlêé has a Kickstarter campaign for Boo-Boos Bandages. While it sounds cute, the adhesive bandages are sure to turn any stomach with seriously grotesque and highly graphic bandages to cover up those pesky paper cuts and dull knife kitchen stabbings that happen when making nachos. So why would anyone wear these?
If you don't mind a bit of attention, like having fun, and/or your real boo-boo smarts to such a degree you wish to convey that pain in a conceivable visual manner, then Boo-Boos are suitable for you!
Below is a sampling of 2 of the 5 sickening designs. This is a limited run available only through this project and there's 25 days left to go.

One of Forlee’s other noteable projects include the Anti-Theft Lunch Bag sure to keep those communal fridge fiends at bay. Sadly these are forever out-of-stock on his website sherwoodforlee.com, where you can also check out some of his other inventive projects, novelties, and hilarious concepts.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Salem Season 2 Posters

The posters for Salem, Season 2 are sinister, eerie, and downright breathtaking. Having been raised Catholic, upside down crosses always make me uneasy, but the poster with the upside down village is practically nauseating. Salem, Season 1 was uneven but still one of the best genre shows on tv – and it was actually scary not depressing (ahem, American Horror Story). Looking forward to more witchy horror on April 5th on WGN.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

After the Storm

Typically, I stay away from posting personal anecdotes so look away if you must. The Halloween community is quite supportive of one another and I would bet a severed limb that fellow bloggers and readers do notice when things go too quiet on a blog front.

The truest horror is not serial killers, malevolent entities, or even evil aliens. It's real life problems that take you away from the things you love, like Halloween, watching horror movies, and writing about scary things. Last year, life threw me a curve ball in the form of unemployment – first time ever in my life I'd been without a job. After 13 years at a company, a new boss stepped in and decided that they didn't need our marketing team. Without ever meeting us, we got the boot with very little notice, no gratitude for our years of service, and absolutely no severance. It was a shock.

After struggling for almost six months, juggling mortgage payments and bills, interviewing everywhere and anywhere, and taking odd jobs, things looked really bleak. But then I got a great Christmas present: a fun job in a college marketing department! Over the last 8 weeks I've worked hard, met some great people, and have been having a lot of fun – at work!!  Who could know?!? I finally found the perfect place for me. I even got to spend an evening with one of my idols, Anderson Cooper (the selfie was his idea, really). Looking back, moving on was just what I needed.

After the storm, I'm slowly regaining a state of equilibrium, reassessing my social media, Halloween sites, and blog – and hopefully keeping my scary shenanigans afloat in some form or another. The blog may transition to an occasional or even a seasonal blog (although there are so many scary things to talk about all year long). If you have no aversion to social media, please like MyScaryHalloween's Facebook page
which does get frequent posts.

Here's to a bright, and horribly scary future!

Jerry Diego

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stephen King's Revival ~ Review

Stephen King’s Revival is an odd duck. The book spans over 50 years and is mostly a study of baby-boomer Americana, drugs, rock-n-roll, and religion with some lightning thrown in. It was billed as a return to horror with “the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has every written” (strange since King’s endings tend to be, well, less than ideal).

The book is vividly written but spends most of its time following the uneventful life of Jamie Morton. From the age of 6 when he first meets Reverend Charles Jacobs (the book’s true central character) through decades of petty jobs and bad decisions, there's chapter after chapter of dull meandering. It’s only in the interludes where Morton crosses paths with Jacobs that the book gets interesting – yet the compelling Jacobs and his bizarre shenanigans are constantly kept in the background.

The theme is established early in the book as Reverend Jacobs faces a terrible tragedy and his faith is severely tested. These events set in motion a collision course with God as Jacob’s obsession with electricity, faith healing, and seeking answers from beyond slowly increase the mystery. Yet only in the last few chapters does it truly veer into full-out horror. When it does so, it’s an abrupt tonal shift that goes off the rails delivering an unexpectedly outlandish and hellish ending. It is a very terrifying conclusion after all, but the dull slog to get to it, the bleak and morose tone, and the focus on the wrong character makes this a rather disappointing read for horror fans.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

American Horror Story: Freak Show ~ Season Review

Hit shows have greats odds against them. They have to maintain a fresh appeal, keep fans happy, find new audiences, and explore new territory. American Horror Story reboots each season with a self-contained story and new characters so the fresh part is easy. But dealing with fans is not. Since the brilliant first season viewer expectations seem to have spiraled out of control. It doesn’t help that months of internet speculation, hidden clues in episodes, and unofficial fan art fuel the fire. When it was announced that Season 4 would have a carnival theme, I immediately thought of scary clowns in the sewer, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and the endless haunted carnival attractions at Halloween. I admit that I had a difficult time keeping my own expectations in check, so perhaps that's why Freak Show seems like an overall disappointment. Or maybe it was the hodgepodge approach of throwing everything on the wall to see what sticks. There were so many characters, so many stories, so much going on, and only 13 episodes – the storytelling got lost. And so did the horror. Instead of being scary, thrilling and fun, it was morose, humorless, and depressing. The Pepper episode was the most sorrowful hour of TV in years. From the technical standpoint, the production this season was absolutely astounding: the circus sets were grand, colorful and gorgeous; the costumes and makeup effects were perfect and disgusting; and the digital wizardry that gave one actor two heads was almost mind-bogglingly seamless. Maybe now that the season is over and expectations have been put to rest, this chapter can be put back on the shelf to revisit later. Maybe time will bring a new perspective and reveal details lost in the first viewing. This does seems to be a pattern with AHS. The third season Coven definitely improved after a second viewing. However, one thing is certain: no matter how “disappointing” this season of AHS seemed, it’s still better than most of the genre shows on TV, and is filled with the best actors on TV – regardless of whether they have three breasts, distracting accents, or musical numbers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Favorite Scary Movies of 2014

It's that time of the year to recap my favorite films from 2014. I wouldn't necessarily call this the best "horror" movies of the year, although there's a strong component of frightful stuff. As a fervent fan of the genre, I believe horror resides in many realms from family to science fiction to drama movies. Horror's many sub genres is what makes it so unique as a category and I enjoy reveling in it's many facets. Below is a list of my favorite Scary Movies of 2014. Unfortunately there's always more movies than time, so I've also included a list of some favorites praised throughout the community – and I will see at some point in 2015!

Mr. Babadook fan art from Eemeling!

1. The Babadook
This Australian film has done what few could do: tell an original story in a compelling way with the perfect amount of surprise, tension, and emotional impact. This is a truly frightening film that takes one back to childhood fears of the dark, and parents to the darkest thoughts of childrearing. It has also given rise the best boogeyman since Freddy Krueger. I dread the thought of three sharp knocks – BA-ba DOOK! DOOK! DOOK! – knowing you can never get rid of Mr. Babadook.

2. Snowpiercer
This post-apocalyptic, sci-fi juggernaut was a limited release and one of the best films of the year. Set on a train that circles the globe continuously after an ice age sets in, the survivors of the planet form all elements of society the ill-fated back of the train to the upper crust at the front of the train. The cast including the marvelous Tilda Swinton is top notch, the action is riveting, and it’s an original and inspired thriller. At 2 hours and 6 minutes, the movie does sag in places but the ambitious storytelling and outright audacity more than make up for it.

3. Under The Skin
Hypnotic, bizarre, and ultimately moving film about an alien putting in long days and trying to get food on the table like the rest of us. Along the way she/it discovers humanity. The mindtrippy visuals, unsettling high pitched score that evoke Kubrick, and the repetitive droning tone is not for everyone, but give in and the black mirror-floor room will haunt you for months. 

2Oth Century Fox
4. The Book of Life
The first major motion picture about Dia De Los Muertos turned out to be charmingly romantic, visually stunning, and highly original take on the Mexican folk holiday. It was entertaining from start to finish and though it relied a little too much of pop culture, it set itself apart from most animated films in dealing with death straight on. 

5. Oculus
This movie dripped with dread from scene one and quickly established itself as a horror movie with no rules, to the dismay of many. Letting go and getting lost in it’s absurdity definitely heightens the tension. If you can’t believe what you see, what can you believe. And where did this haunted mirror come from? Many questions are raised, few answered, and yet it’s one of the best rides of the year with a great performance from Karen Gillan. 

6. Godzilla
As a lifelong fan of giant monster movies, Godzilla is the one that rules them all. Part dino, part kick-ass, the Godzilla movie we’ve been waiting for was finally unleashed. Yes, Godzilla is fashionably late to his own film and didn’t get enough screen time but when he’s here, he’s in charge. I watched the destruction in awe, with amazing production values and dark gloss missing from so many other versions.

7. Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi 
(Released in the US as Witching & Bitching)
If acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodovar made a horror movie, this would be it. Outlandish, over-the-top, and zany, this horror comedy is an entertaining battle of the sexes involving a gold heist and a coven of witches up to no good. It's wonderfully weird, gratuitously gross, and subversive filmmaking that Hollywood would never dare to make and often reminded me of the young Peter Jackson/Sam Raimi days. Don't let the subtitles deter you! This is perfect example of VOD releases are saving the horror genre and giving these rough diamonds an audience.

8. The Boxtrolls
Trolls are typically monsters that live under bridges, but these trolls live in boxes and “steal children” at night to the dismay of the townsfolk. Thus sets up the battle between the citizens and the monsters in this touching, visually dazzling, and offbeat film. The English accents may deter some audiences in America but those willing to oversee the thin story and unhurried pace will definitely discover its heart and soul.

9. The Guest
The director of You’re Next turns this drama thriller into a quiet home invasion film that morphs into something else entirely by the end. It’s insane and mesmerizing, especially when you realize the lead actor is Dan Stevens - the former fop/pudgy frump from Downton Abbey. Whoa. This guy has piercing eyes that perfectly convey an unhinged mind. Extra credit for being set during Halloween, featuring the official new scream queen of 2014: Maika Monroe.

10. Killer Legends
This documentary explored four urban legends and their possible origins. From poisoned Halloween candy to killer clowns, this interesting documentary (from the makers of Cropsey) all-to-briefly covers the stuff that our nightmares are made of. Interviews with first hand-witnesses, former detectives, and actual crime scene photos add an air of authenticity and mounting dread that leave the viewers wanting to know more. The narrative style and connection with the viewer also keeps the audience engaged and thoroughly unnerved. 

Honorable Mentions of 2014
Mr. Jones
Starry Eyes
The Sacrament
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead
The Strange Color of your Body's Tears
The Taking of Deborah Logan

Noteworthy in the Horror Community (and in my Queue)
The Houses October Built
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Late Phases
Willow Creek
The Borderlands
The Canal
Cheap Thrills
Big Bad Wolves

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Seth Grahame-Smith on Beetlejuice 2, Gremlins, IT, and more

The January 23 issue of Entertainment Weekly has a great feature on writer Seth Grahame-Smith. If the name is not familiar, he's the author of the brilliant mash-ups Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He's just released a sequel to the Lincoln novel titled The Last Vampire Hunter which follows a rebellious vampire from the first book through 1963. (See the book trailer below.)

Grahame-Smith is also producing, screenwriting and even directing a slate of films sure to interest any scary movie lover. Here's a quick recap:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
On the movie front, his film-adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is in post-production and getting a 2015 release. It's produced by Natalie Portman who was originally slated to star as the formidable Elizabeth Bennet.

Beetlejuice 2
Grahame-Smith first worked with Tim Burton on the screenplay for Dark Shadows and has been tapped to write the screenplay for Beetlejuice 2. Michael Keaton is interested and Winona Ryder will be back.

Something Wicked This Way Comes
Grahame-Smith will make his film directing debut this remake of the classic Ray Bradbury novel about an evil carnival that arrives at a small town to collect souls. His hope is to retain the feel of the original novel but update the setting to the 80s and capture some of Spielberg-like childhood innocence feeling of movies like E.T. and The Goonies. It shoots this fall if all goes well.

Stephen King's IT
Grahame-Smith is also producing a two-film adaptation of King's masterpiece. The book is set up perfectly for two films with the first part focusing on the group of kids' first encounter with Pennywise, and the second having them face Pennywise as adults. The first part is being directed by Cary Fukunaga who is behind 2014's highly-acclaimed True Detective series.

It sounds like the much-rumoured reboot of this horror classic is gratefully/sadly on hold. It will eventually get remade so it's not a matter of "if" but rather "when" and I'd rather see it produced with loving care by Grahame-Smith.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Woman in Black 2: Review

I have a soft spot for period horror movies, especially since they often feature old haunted houses and restless spirits. Add an English accent and it practically earns a free pass. That said, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is a good but not great follow-up to the original film. This is a beautifully filmed, unnerving, and spooky return to Eel Marsh House but unfortunately lacks the gravitas, pace, and a compelling story to satisfy expectations.

The actors are charming and the performances are solid, yet it was difficult to be fully invested in the lead characters plight. The writing left their actions and many unnecessary backstories stranded with too many leaps in reason and direction. Very little made sense including what may have been a reveal in the third act. Ultimately the storytelling ends up being as murky as the waters that fill the causeway.

It was clever to set this film 40 years after the first and use WWII as the backdrop. There was a possibility to explore themes about war, loss, and living in fear although that didn't happen. At one point the action leaves the dreaded house and what could have been a grand opportunity to springboard the story simply fades into the mist. Speaking of action, this story is a real slow burn and not altogether successful in holding the viewers attention. A great horror film knows how to ratchet up the tension and release it at the right moment. Here we are treated to desperate startle scares that cheapen the otherwise perfect ambience and mood it winningly creates.

To their credit, the filmmakers showed some backbone in allowing the woman in black to fulfill her curse without wincing – even the most hardened viewer will find these scenes disturbing. The movie needed more of that kind of audacity, and a willingness to explore the darkness of this malevolent spirit head on. Nonetheless, compared to other horror movie dreck in wide-release this old-fashioned spook show might be a good way to kill a Sunday afternoon – if you keep expectations in check.