Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Babadook: Review

What The Shining did for fatherhood, The Babadook will do for motherhood. This Australian import is the first feature film from director Jennifer Kent and it examines both childhood terrors and the terror of parenting. Anguished and weary, Amelia (in a tour de force performance by Essie Davis) is struggling to cope after the death of her husband and the birth of her precocious child who is seemingly afraid of everything and yet increasingly aggressive. Then one night, a mysterious book arrives on a bookshelf and sets into motion a tug of war between mother and son, reality and nightmares, love and murder.

The deliberate pace keeps the chilling atmosphere grounded as the supernatural incidents begin to mount – and then Mr. Babadook shows up in wisps of shadows and silhouettes, appearing like German Expressionist demon straight from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. This is a beautiful film with stylish transitions, an aural soundscape (again echoing The Shining) that send primal shivers down the spine, and shadowy sets painted in every shade of blue ensuring a gloomy  and dark undercurrent. 

Everything works and it's a tense, unsettling ride and while it never crosses into full out terror, it does eschews cheap scares or geysers of blood. It falls into the same category of Insidious, a horror movie that relies on psychological terror, minimal effects, open-ended storytelling that allows the audience to use it's imagination. This ultimately is a surprisingly moving story of loss, coping, and the perils of mental health, and easily the best horror movie of 2014. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Horror Movies for the Thanksgiving Weekend

After the family is done celebrating turkey slaughter day and heads off to the mall, unbutton the pants, grab the pumpkin pie, and queue up a heap of horror movies available now OnDemand. The Babadook from Australia looks like it's this year's Insidious and has received tons of love on the festival circuit. Jessabelle was initially a wide-release film but is now in limited release (with a concurrent VOD release). Also on the radar are sequels to some great films: V/H/S: Viral follows up with some more freaky home videos,  The Pact 2 and Dead Snow 2 look like straight continuations of the original stories – which were both awesome (The Pact) and hilarious (Dead Snow). See the trailers for our top picks below. Happy Thanksgiving!!

The Babadook 
A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home through the pages of a children's book.

A young woman (Sarah Snook) returns to her childhood home to recuperate from a car accident and encounters a long-tormented spirit that refuses to let her escape.

VHS: Viral
A police chase through the streets of Los Angeles inspires dozens of fame-obsessed teens to try to capture the salacious footage, but they are unaware that they will face their own deaths as stars of the next video sensation.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Martin mistakenly thinks things could not get worse after he kills his girlfriend with an ax, cuts off his arm with a chainsaw, and watches his friends be devoured by Nazi zombies.

The Pact 2
A woman plagued by nightmares of a serial killer learns her dreams have a horrifying connection to the real world.

More notable releases:

As Above, So Below
An archaeologist in search of a rare artifact heads underground to the Catacombs of Paris with a documentary crew in tow. As they begin their descent, the team-members have no way of knowing that they are entering their own personal hell.

Malevolent aliens interrupt five collegians' vacation at a remote woodland cabin.

Stonehearst Asylum
A new employee at a mental hospital becomes attracted to one of his colleagues, but he is unaware of a recent, horrifying change in staff.

Night breed: Director’s Cut
Clive Barker’s original vision of his 1990 slasher/fantasy film (based on his bool Cabal) is finally available! Aaron Boone is haunted by terrifying nightmares of a city of monsters. He goes to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Decker (played by David Cronenberg!), for help. But what Boone doesn't know is that Decker is really a serial killer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The History of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the last few days to enjoy the sweet Pumpkin Spice Latte is upon us. Which may not be a bad thing since these sugary drinks are quite the nutritional nightmareFood Network Magazine recently illustrated the history of the PSL and showed us how you can make them at home. It's been just over a decade since the dessert-drink debuted and it single-handedly led the charge of pumpkin-flavored products.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Man Eaten Alive By Anaconda

Discovery Channel will air a special where a human will be eaten by a giant anaconda. Author and naturist Paul Rosolie is the man being swallowed alive in a special protective suit smeared with pig's blood. Whyyyyy? Who knows, but it doesn't seem like a science experiment and more like a stupid human trick. I'm rooting for the snake and hope it isn't harmed like PETA believes it will be. According to Entertainment Weekly, this is not the first time someone has tried this! A special last year titled Manaconda never made it to air presumably because someone or something was harmed.

Tune in this Sunday, December 7th and see who wins.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Wrap-Up

This was the soggiest Halloween EVER! California has been in a record-setting drought all year and our first rain day came to Northern California yesterday! Fate can be such a witch. Thankfully the heavy rain stopped around 4pm and stayed away for most of the evening allowing kids everywhere to celebrate Halloween! We're very fortunate to live in a family dense neighborhood and welcomed 293 trick 'r treaters to our haunted porch! I thought Halloween was ruined but The Great Pumpkin saved the night!

Here's our totals using one of our favorite Halloween apps: GoblinCount. You simply tap or swipe the screen to keep count of the trick 'r treaters – but you need someone who has a good attention to detail to maintain accurate records. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Toxic Spider Attack 2014

My theme for my Halloween porch haunt this year is Toxic Spider Attack, inspired by Stephen King's IT (there's a big spider thing behind Pennywise the clown), the 1950's monster movies like THEM!, and because I've been a fan of The Cure's Lullaby since 1989. I've been wanting to improve upon my previous spider display from 2007, and thanks to Britta Webmistress of the Dark and Ghoulish Glen I have a new interest in prop building with years of experience and ideas on call. I built the big spider with chicken wire, paper mache, and pool noodles (that was Britta's brilliant idea), with webs made from beef netting (thanks to the tips and resources from the amazing Lynne and Shawn Mitchell of How To Haunt Your House)! Thankfully spiders are one of the few insects that don't completely terrify me, although I didn't like looking in my spider's eyes (I literally had it face the corner of the garage). Here's a few pics with a full gallery coming to MyScaryHalloween.com soon.

Have a SCARY Halloween!!!

Terrifying Old-Timey Halloween Photos

Happy Halloween!!! Celebrate the darkest day of the year with something really scary. The IFC FIX blog posted these old-timey Halloween photos a while ago that have terrified me ever since my eyeballs befell on them. Years of horror movies have trained to be suspicious of anything that looks antiquated. Sure, it's supposed to be a gentler, more innocent time, but these depictions are clearly sinister. Take a look and try not to pee your pants. Head over to the FIX to see the entire collection (and sources).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How America Trick-Or-Treats

In the October issue of Food Network Magazine, readers were asked to share their opinions on Halloween candy. The results were somewhat surprising as I always let trick-r-treaters pick their own candy from the bowl, candy corn is 100% amazing, and 26% of Americans are liars because we ALL steal candy from our kids.

Trick-Or-Treat Time Line

Here's a history of Trick-or-Treating as featured in the October issue of the always perky and fun Rachel Ray Magazine. This magazine always reminds me of being at your cool aunt's house – you know the one that cooks fantastic un-gourmet food you want to eat, has a great sense of humor, and always talks about something interesting? Pick up the issue to see a great pin-up photo of Rachel Ray as a witch flying her broomstick!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spooky Prop Crafting

Scary prop building (also called crafting by some people) is a sure sign of Halloween addiction. Once you leave the seasonal and discount stores behind, you can really use your imagination and repurpose other's people's trash into cherished decor. And it typically looks way better, costs less, and you can customize it to your blood heart's delight. As a newbie prop crafter (?) the finesse is something that I hope to develop over time, so I'm starting with smaller projects. Make sure you have a good tool kit, well-stocked supply closet, a crate of spray paints, and time to give attention to all those details. And follow directions! Talented prop crafters have forums and blogs to display their fiendish work and share their techniques – and many will be happy to answer questions. Here are some of the projects I'm attempting:

Spooky Crystal Ball Candlesticks
I love how creepy and classy this particular decoration looks and who doesn't love a crystal ball? Flaming Toes provides the tutorials and templates for these Spooky Crystal Ball Candlesticks. Rummage through Goodwill or yard sales for candlesticks.

Soda Bottle Bell Jars
With apothecary displays being all the rage, why not turn all those bottles of soda into a wicked display. The Soda Bottle Bell Jar tutorial from Planet Hollywood is pretty clever.

Gravestone Chair Covers
Leave no gravestone unturned! If you have a dining room that screams for decoration, why not make these Gravestone Chair Covers. Simple fabric, a little sewing and some stenciling is all that's needed. Not a sewer? No problem. Find a bottle of Fabri-Tac adhesive which bonds fabric, leather and even wood quickly – think of it as a glue gun in a bottle without the heat.

Bat Decals
Bats are must for Halloween and the NeatoShop has these great fabric bats that magically adhere to almost any interior wall, remove easily, and can be reused again and again. I love these!

Pumpkin Lantern
Lowes – yes, Lowes – has a great idea for little pumpkin lanterns. They use real pumpkins but you modify the project using artificial pumpkins and an LED light set. 

Bloody Hand Towels
This is so simple and easy theres no reason NOT to make this great project from The Queen of Halloween. Find her directions on her blog, and for those of you who have crafting aversion, you can always buy it here