Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yankee Candle Halloween 2015 (featuring the Boney Bunch)

For those Yankee Candle fans out there, the Boney Bunch Love Facebook page posted some scans from this year's Halloween collection. It looks like the Halloween preview sale has been moved back almost a whole month from previous years. Save the date for The Witches Ball on Saturday, August 29th. Take a look and like the Boney Bunch Love page for more news.

I'm loving that Steampunk collection (which will be the first thing to sell out - wait and see)!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cost Plus World Market Halloween 2015

Cost Plus World Market is a great place to find Dia de los Muertos decor (see below), as well as everything pumpkin-flavored you can possibly imagine. I really like the untraditional melding of the iconic black & orange colors with the Dia de los Muertos illustrations. Usually the very vibrant colors of the Mexican holiday decor doesn't quite fit in with any of my other decor. Products don't usually hit their shelves until late in August/early September but their website is now stocked. I wonder what other goodies they'll add over the season.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pottery Barn Halloween 2015

Pottery Barn is off and running with their Halloween line. Here are some of my favorites.

Guests are sure to bleed when they reach in and get snagged on a tooth!

Classy and creepy cocktails for that swanky hoe-down.

This is great (until people want dip and take the cone off). 

These craftsy pumpkins reminds me of Sam from Trick 'r Treat.

Who doesn't like a spooky vintage-inspired table?

Great little village for the mantle. 

How's Your Halloween Season Going?

For some, Halloween is that one weird day in October. For others, it's a season that starts in early summer (July? June? May!) and involves weeks months of tireless work, paper mache, styrofoam carving, black paint, modified light strands, projectors, tubs of glue, scrap wood, and a third of your annual salary.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ash vs. Evil Dead

The long-awaited trailer for the new Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead is finally upon us! Fans of the Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell, geek humor, creepy demons, the Necronomicon, or those who love buckets of blood rejoice! It appropriately premieres on Halloween night. Groovy.

YouTube Link

Sunday, June 28, 2015

10 Notable LGBT Scary Movies

End the landmark week with a notable LGBT horror movie. As usual, my scary movie recommendations range a broad spectrum of sub-genres, some freaky, some cheeky, some new, some old, and some downright foreign. Let's also agree that while LGBT depictions in scary movies historically have been less than favorable, some films do manage to steer clear of mean-spirited offensiveness. It's understood that you can't please everyone. Here's a quick list of notable LGBT Scary Movies:

10. Stage Fright
This campy film is probably the first gay horror musical. Set in a summer theater camp, a blood-thirsty killer is picking off anyone involved in the big musical production. It's way over the top, ridiculous, and hilariously entertaining.

9. Hellbent
Marketed as the first gay horror flick, this slasher film gives equal opportunity to ditzy males eager to show their P&A (pecs & ass). It never quite escapes its low budget thriller status, but it's moody, bloody, and set during a never-ending Halloween party that seems like a great time.

8. Dracula’s Daughter
This direct sequel to the 1931 classic finds Dracula's daughter in London grappling with her own curse. The lesbian-tinged scenes are both subtle, due to the Hays Code which prohibited taboo subjects in film, and omnipresent throughout the film. The film is chastised by some for presenting homosexuality in a negative, predatory light. But vampires are still monsters, right?

7. Stranger by the Lake
This French drama-thriller has won over the critics, earned 8 Cesar Award nominations in 2014, and has been called "the sexiest and most elegant thriller in years." Set in a cruisey lakeside, a man named Franck falls for a mysterious man who might be a murder.

6. The Hunger
Growing up I always remembered it as the lesbian vampire movie. It features the beautiful Catherine Deneuve, the fiery Susan Sarandon, and an always cool David Bowie in a I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Ridley-Scott totally 80's movie (actually directed by his brother Tony Scott).

5. Chuecatown
This little known farce from Spain features the DNA of Pedro Almodovar in a darkly humored look at gentrification. An up-and-coming district in Madrid is slowly becoming the "it" neighborhood for wealthy gays but old, die-hard tenants stand in the way of progress and profitability. Presumably, murder of the elderly ensues.

4. Nine Dead Gay Guys
This cartoonish farce from the UK pits two down on their luck Irish lads who become rent boys to make a living, Unfortunately, they're not very good at it, and leave of trail of accidental death in their wake and a carful of bodies to deal with.

3. Deathtrap
Ira Levin's film adaptation of his Broadway murder mystery features Michael Caine as a washed up playwright, Christopher Reeve as the up-and-coming ingenue, and Dyan Cannon as the witless wife between them and a successful union.

2. Rope
Alfred Hitchcock's controversial psychological thriller deals with two implicitly gay friends who chose to commit the "perfect crime" as an intellectual exercise. At the time, the notorious Hays Code prohibited depiction of "immoral subjects" in film so the character's orientation was not directly addressed. It was however based on true events that were widely reported, and subsequently many theaters chose to ban it completely.

1. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
One of the biggest horror camp classics of all time is chockfull of gay subtext, and apparently this went completely unnoticed by the director and studio. In the documentary Never Sleep Again, the screenwriter admitted the homosexual subtext was all intended and the even the now-out actor who played the protagonist also knew what was going on. (Visit the Decider site for a fully illustrated breakdown of the film's gay attributes.) It wasn't a great film but it did take an unusual direction that retrospectively was pretty cool for a major motion picture.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Insidious: Chapter 3: Review

The Insidious franchise has always felt a little old-fashioned: from the practical effects, to the unhurried pace, to the utmost reliance on atmosphere, lighting and sound effects. Insidious: Chapter 3 is a new story built as a prequel to the first two installments with previous director James Wan stepping down and actor Leigh Whannell (one of the Spectral Sightings goofballs) taking over the reigns. The heart and soul of the franchise remains mostly intact, but the first time director struggles with a plodding and clumsy execution. Gone are the clever shots and shocks milked to maximum effect, and instead beats last a little too long, the reveals are often mistimed, and the uneven script is left rather exposed.

But then the most wonderful thing happens: actress Lin Shaye shows up and saves the film with a harrowing and resonant performance. Shaye plays Elise Rainier who is a psychic force to be reckoned with in the subsequent films, but here we see her brittle and defeated start in this ghost busting business. She is an incredible character actor who brings gravitas to proceedings and elevates everyone around her. The marketing may not reveal it, but this is her story – not the young girl featured on the poster and trailer.

Ultimately, this movie will not win over many new viewers and definitely geared to the hardcore fans of the franchise and only marginally recommended. As sequels go, it does take some risks in the storytelling, reveals more about the character that holds this franchise together, has some unexpected humor, and sets up what could be a very unorthodox fourth chapter.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Poltergeist (2015): Review

The haunted house sub-genre is my favorite kind of horror and 1982’s Poltergeist is one of my favorite films. I approached the remake with the absolute skepticism of a diehard fan who believes someone has trampled on sacred ground. (And seriously, who in their right mind would attempt to remake a Steven Spielberg film? Sure, Tobe Hooper was given the director credit but it was widely known that Spielberg was on set every day calling the shots.) The new Poltergeist maintains much of the storyline, has a terrific cast, and is an entertaining update that surprisingly does not totally suck – but also never truly soars.

There are two major elements missing in this film. The first was the ability to connect to universal terrors and the dreadful feeling of innocence lost. Yes there’s the creepy tree, the sinister clown, and the portal to the other side that abducts a child but none of it truly resonates on a deeper level. Perhaps its the almost instant acceptance of the weird events by the family and the lack of gravitas which points to an issue of tone (fun vs. frightening). I’ve seen more terror in a mother who looses a child at a mall than this family who lost their daughter to something bizarre in a closet. To it’s credit, the movie genuinely captures the disaffected modern family more prone to outbursts about lost phones and jobs than missing children. Perhaps it’s nostalgia but I miss the Amblin years of tight-knit Spielbergian families who loved each other on screen and then faced a threat together.

The second missing element was the absence of a strong antagonist so clearly defined in the original. In horror movies, there are good guys and bad guys, and you can root for only one of them but the stakes have to be clearly laid out. There was no face for the antagonist in the original but you felt it’s presence nonetheless. Here it was much more ambiguous, and the directer opts to keep the action moving swiftly along without lingering to much on anything. The threat is just not clear, and the focus on the ghostly shenanigans shortchanges any emotional payoff.

The film was directed by Gil Kenan who also directed the scarier and more emotionally engaging Monster House, and he is clearly aiming for a tamer PG-13 crowd. I’m not sure Poltergeist was the right film to make safer given that the original’s reputation for being one of the scariest films ever. I’ll give him credit for the smart updates (the ghost hunter with the reality show, the flying drone, the twist at the end when you think everyone is safe). The cast work well together and Sam Rockwell is solid as always. The effects are seamless and really add to the overall spectacle but the movie was much too short (that tacked on epilogue shows they were trying desperately to get to the 90-minute mark). It’s fun popcorn movie that adds little to canon of haunted house movies and like most remakes, is thoroughly superfluous. It’s certainly entertaining, but ultimately it’s just not as scary as it should be.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Scream Queens

Glee + Scream + American Horror Story = the fall's guiltiest pleasure: SCREAM QUEENS. I'm already obsessed with this show and the trailer below proves that Ryan Murphy knows his way around high school kids, horror, and schtick. The tone of the trailer has been off-putting to much of the hardcore horror community, but come on – it all can't be doom and gloom. Although I do share the concern that this is on FOX (rather than FX) so it's full glory (gory?) will not be on display. There's always the unrated DVD set, I suppose. Visit the official site for hysterical GIFs and more,, and tune in this September to see if Jamie Lee Curtis still has it. Spoiler alert: She does!