Tuesday, August 15, 2017

mother!

Darren Aronofsky, the director of Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream, is back with what looks like a full-on horror film. The terrific cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and – YES – Michelle Pfeiffer. It's called mother! and opens on September 15. Take a look at the tension-filled trailer:



https://youtu.be/XpICoc65uh0

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Home Depot Wins Halloween, Again

The Home Depot stepped into the Halloween arena last year with a fantastic selection of Halloween decor. Who can forget last year's full-size skeleton horse? They have once again out done themselves for 2017. Giant dinosaurs! Giant spiders and bugs! Dragons!  Okay – some of these are rightfully debatable inflatables BUT they seem to be moving in the right direction. With some good lighting (not what's inside them) and dressing you might have something very scary. Visit homedepot.com and have these giant things shipped free to the store (for you to pick-up) and get free shipping on other orders of $45 or more.

8-foot T-Rex and Baby T-Rex
10-foot Preying Mantis
9-foot Posable Spider


11-foot Two Headed Dragon

16-foot Colossal Serpent
Rat Chewing Zombie Head
Spider Phone


Screamy Fortune Teller Tombstone?!





Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fright Like a Girl

Fright Like a Girl. I absolutely LOVE today's tee at TeeVillain.com – available only for 24 hrs (8/10/17 EST).



Monday, August 7, 2017

MyScaryHalloween.com Relaunched

MyScaryHalloween.com has relaunched for the season – now 113% more mobile friendly – BUT I'm still exorcising all the buggy little demons. It was rebuilt from scratch on a new platform, reorganized for easier navigation, and with a new hosting provider since the last one jacked up my prices 400% (after being with them for 9 years, jerks).

Take a look around and contact me if you spot anything... unusual.



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Midsummer Scream 2017

I made it out to Midsummer Scream 2017 in Long Beach, CA this past weekend and it was a fantastic Halloween festival! Here are some of my highlights. Two panel discussions stood out: "Beyond the 5th Dimension: Creating the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" with the original creators of the Disneyworld ride and the voice of Rod Sterling, Mark Silverman.

The Winchester Mystery House presentation on Sunday afternoon gave all attendees free tickets to their new Explore More Tour, a newly commissioned print (which I can't display yet), and info on the upcoming movie which opens February 23, 2018. Unfortunately, CBS Films didn't have any footage to show us but revealed a good overview about the story, the cast, and some behind the scenes filming at the actual site – spirits be damned.

Celebrity sightings included Cassandra Peterson who unfortunately did not don her signature Elvira costume but was stunning just the same. The line to get an autograph stretched almost the length of the convention center. And of course, Mr. Jason Vorhees himself, Kane Hodder was there looking frighteningly kind as ever, and I also got to meet some of the faces behind my favorite site, Dread Central.

My favorite classes included the "Designing Immersive Environments" from the directors of The Nest, "Ouija: an Introduction to Necromancy & Spirit Communication" from the folks at the Mystic Museum, wonderful historical overview in "Halloween Decorations: A History" by Mike Gills of AtmosFX, the leading digital decorating company.

As far as performances, the Fallen Saints: Dia de los Muertos teaser by the Forces of Nature Productions was breathtaking and visceral, and I'm planning to return to Burbank, CA for the full performance this October.

The showfloor was packed with vendors and artists including some old and new favorites including Chick Lips, Bone Yard Effects (who turned people into zombies all weekend), Haunted Manor Boutique, Little Shop of Gore, Hilary's Vanity, Trick or Treat Studios, Calaveras y Diablitos, Bloodbath Products, Hayes Haunt, The Best Little Horrorhouse, 7 Hells, and Fiendish Thingies. The list goes on and on and will be adding them to the Sinister Shops on MyScaryHalloween.com.

And don't even get me started on the Hall of Shadows mini-haunts, film shorts, haunted attraction presentations, and the many insanely wonderful costumes which brought October scares to July. WHOOHOO! There was no way to see it all but I will definitely try again next year, and I would highly recommend putting this on your calendar now.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Halloween 2017 Begins

It's never to early to start working on Halloween. All in favor say "Eye".


American Horror Story: Cult

It's official. The seventh season of American Horror Story is titled "Cult" as revealed at San Diego Comic-Con. So far the teaser imagery includes swaying clowns, honeycombs, bee swarms, and American flags. Fan favorites Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Frances Conroy are returning, and joining them are series newcomers Billy Eichner, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Colton Hayes and yes, Lena Dunham (for one episode). The election-themed season will premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 10/9c and will run for 11 episodes. Here's a preview of some of the horrors we'll face, plus sign up at AHS7.com for exclusive content.

https://youtu.be/6v0ISjTugh4








Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Rest in Peace


George A. Romero  1940-2017

Thank you for a lifetime of horror and nightmares. Rest in peace. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Blumhouse & The Hauntist Blogs

The highly successful Blumhouse Productions has churned out hit after hit.... Get Out, Split, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, The Purge, Insidious, and Paranormal Activity, has been running what is easily the most entertaining horror site on the internet. I know it sounds odd but instead of filling their site with fluff about their films (movie posters, press releases, blah blah blah), they've dedicated the space to "the celebration of all things scary." This includes the best horror shorts, news, behind the scenes, hilarious posts (like the cannibal doll from Mattel), Creepy Pasta highlights, real paranormal stories, and even a podcast that's quite entertaining. This site is now a daily stop for me. Make sure to subscribe to their newsletter, follow them on social media, or RSS feed (for the two readers out there who use RSS feeds). Check it out: blumhouse.com.



For those few who have not cut the cord and still have cable, the Destination: America channel has become the authority for all things paranormal with a roster of the best shows: My Haunted House, Paranormal Witness, A Haunting and everything else Ghost Asylum, Mountain Monsters, Paranormal Lockdown, Paranormal Survivor, Ghost Brothers, Haunted Collector, on and on. On their exceptionally clunky website, they feature a cool blog called "The Hauntist" that features weird, creepy and spooky stories from around the country. The blog is split up into categories such as Hauntings, Ghosts, Aliens, Bigfoot, Paranormal 101, etc. Unfortunately, it looks like it's still a work in progress as there are some bugs (don't shrink the browser screen to much or it all goes black), terrible navigation, and obtrusive ads but don't let that dissuade you from exploring it's riches. Visit destinationamerica.com/thehauntist



Friday, July 7, 2017

The Mist ~ Early Review

After three episodes of Spike TV's adaptation of the The Mist it's clear this is a very different beast from the one Stephen King wrote. In fact, only a few plot points are the same: the fog, a military installation, and sequestered folks. The characters run from bland to blander (although I love Frances Conroy), and the non-action is split into two locations, a church and a mall (is that supposed to be an allegory?). And unfortunately, it doesn't appear that we will get any of the fantastical monsters from the novella (and brilliant 2007 movie) as I fear that the mist itself is "the monster" as some sort of ecological terror.

The mystery seems less interesting this time probably because so far not much has happened. I'm not certain that this particular story lends itself to episodic and compelling storytelling, and the format is making it crawl along at a snail's pace. Already I see the strain of the Under The Dome curse (taking a singular incident and prolonging it regardless of how little sense it all makes). But to its advantage this story is more open ended. I can see the mist traveling to different locations with different casts each season. Of course, how do keep it from being repetitive? (Maybe for season two, the mist could descend onto a convent and a strip bar?)

Clearly the biggest hurdle is getting over the expectations of what came before and allowing this incarnation to develop its own identity. It's a sticking point for me to remake a story for the sake of using a well known name and not improve or expand upon the original. What's the point then? Also, it doesn't have compelling characters you can empathize with which is needed for terror/dramas to work. And the pace has to pick up – the fog cannot be the fastest moving thing on the screen. Right now the mist is most captivating character since it appears to be like the judgy smoke monster from LOST.



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Twilight Zone Marathon

Before the fireworks this Fourth of July, tune into SYFY for their all-day TWILIGHT ZONE marathon!


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle: Creation looks absolutely terrifying. It's from the director of Lights Out and is a prequel to The Conjuring's spinoff, Annabelle. I can barely keep it straight. Could period prequel sequels be horror's next obsession? Ouija: Origin of Evil was leagues better than the first one.

https://youtu.be/EjZkJa6Z-SY

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Void ~ Review

If you get down to the nitty gritty, there's two things I love in a horror movie: wild ideas and a respectable execution, with extra credit if it attempts a 70s or 80s pastiche. The Void is unhinged, unabashedly weird, and audaciously retro. While it's not a screaming success across the board, there's so much great stuff here that fans of John Carpenter's early work, Stephen King, and H.P. Lovecraft should run to find this. It's easily one of the best horror films this year.

For starters, understand The Void is an indie with no-name actors (unfortunately only one or two notable performances) and while it's a low-budget film, it makes the most of every aspect. Every dollar of it's budget ends up on the screen. This is a hardcore 80s throwback with a deliberate slow pace, solemn tone, and epic cosmic horror that echo classic films like The Thing, From Beyond, and Hellraiser. It is also a messy, gory film with horrific monsters done with practical effects (almost unheard of in the digital age) that evoke Lovecraft's minions.

The film starts in the lazy outskirts of a small town, then escalates quickly with some monstrous action in a nearly abandoned hospital, then shifts again into an unraveling mystery that seems familiar yet the dread keeps building, and then there's just utter madness in the third act. Ultimately, this movie is all about the trip and not the destination, and like much of Lovecraft's work, is more about the feelings the movie evokes and the big ideas at the periphery. It won't please everyone, but given the right frame of mind, this is one will move you. Where it moves you is beyond explanation.






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Now THIS is the spirit of Halloween!

A young boy with a terrible disease got a birthday to remember when his family and neighborhood celebrated his favorite holiday five months early. Thank you to the Castaic, CA community for making sure this boy didn’t miss Halloween! (Read more at ABC News)




Sunday, May 21, 2017

Alien: Covenant ~ Review

The Alien universe continues to confound. I was on the side of loving the big ideas of Prometheus and its last minute reveal that puts it firmly in the canon. However, I'm not really sure what to make of Alien: Covenant. It's much less ambitious and more of a middling effort that adds little to the lore... but is more gory and has more monsters (yay)... but has little story or character development (ney). I wish I had cared more about these characters and felt greater sympathy for their truly chilling screaming death fits. It's more of a plodding horror film (like Alien) that has some fleeting terrifying moments, when it's not backsliding into being overtly contemplative or slow moving (like Prometheus). Looking at it plainly, Covenant is more of a "spin-off" with a cast of unknowns and its own story than a true sequel or prequel. And finally, if you're going to have a "twist ending" make sure the audience doesn't see it coming an hour before the reveal. I was entertained and temporarily satiated, but this diehard Alien fan wanted either more significance, more substance, OR more horror. I dare not ask for all three at this point.




Side Notes:

1. There's a fully produced short-film called The Crossing and that reveals what happened to Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the synthetic David (Michael Fassbender) immediately after the events of Prometheus. It bridges the two films and is much better opening that what we got in the Covenant film.


2. Director Ridley Scott revealed in an interview that the next film is called Alien: Awakening and it takes place between Prometheus and Covenant. Oh, boy. Here we go again with what might be the first ever prequel sequel prequel.







Sunday, April 30, 2017

Halfway to Halloween!

We're halfway there! Time to start thinking about your yard haunting, eerie parties, costume builds and all the wicked wonders that will behold Halloween 2017!



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Helen Mirren in WINCHESTER

People has posted the first look at Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester, the haunted woman who built a sprawling, crazed mansion in San Jose. The movie WINCHESTER is filming now in Australia and moves on site to the actual Winchester Mystery House in May (where I will be sneaking onto the set). The movie opens in spring 2018.



http://people.com/movies/helen-mirren-winchester-movie-first-look/

A Goodbye to Bates Motel



Bates Motel has closed up shop with a killer Season Five that focused on the strongest element of the series: Norman and his mother. This season brought with it the greatest shadow of Hitchcock as the series intersected with the classic movie. They dared to tackle Hitchcock's infamous shower scene with Marion Crane and recreated an almost shot-for-shot remake, yet framed it around a somewhat different story. And it worked! Then we moved past the end of the classic movie to find a fitting and surprisingly emotional end to the Bates Motel.

Across the board, performances from Freddie Highmore as the deranged Norman and Vera Farmiga bolstered the series. After the shocking end of season four, Norma spent most of this season dead in a freezer(!) and yet Vera Farmiga gave the most delightful and offbeat performance as Norman's Norma, as he envisioned her in his mind. Her character had been so emotionally grim and desperate over the previous seasons so it was a relief to see such a carefree and funny Norma. Thank you for unravelling Norman and allowing this unexpected and surprising turn.

Season Five is easily the best, most nuanced, and ultimately tragic season of the entire run and cemented this as a must-watch. It was clever and inspired, and though I never fully appreciated it, I will miss Bates Motel.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Haunting of Hill House Series Coming to Netflix

I try not to post anything that overly premature but this has got me very excited. On April 10, 2017, Variety reported the following:

Netflix is in the early stages of developing a series based on the Shirley Jackson horror novel “The Haunting of Hill House,” Variety has learned. 
The series is described as a modern re-imagining of Jackson’s novel. The novel, which has been praised as one of the best horror stories of the 20th century, follows four people as they spend a summer in a rented mansion. They soon begin to experience a wide range of supernatural phenomena. It was previously adapted into a feature film in both 1963 and 1999. 
The planned 10-episode series come from writer-director Mike Flanagan, who is no stranger to the horror genre. His previous credits include horror films “Hush,” “Oculus,” and the sequel “Ouija: Origin of Evil.” Flanagan will executive produce along with Trevor Macy, Justin Falvey, and Darryl Frank. Amblin TV and Paramount TV will produce.

Director Mike Flanagan knows exactly how to build dread and atmosphere as demonstrated in Oculus, which happens to be one of my favorites. My sense is that the series will play out like a really long movie (much like Stranger Things) rather than episodic arcs, and the source material begs for a modern makeover. The most recent theatrical adaptation, 1999's The Haunting, starred Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and a terrifying shape shifting house. No word yet on when the series may hit Netflix.

Art by Paul Buckley


Friday, March 31, 2017

The Year of Stephen King

Maybe every year is a Stephen King year but 2017 is bringing two major adaptions previously stuck in development hell: IT and THE DARK TOWER. The trailer for IT was released this week and it's absolutely terrifying (and also set a record for most online views in a single day). Perhaps I was too quick to judge that antediluvian clown costume? Even the teaser poster is terrifying (Need help finding the child-eating clown? Look in the balloon.) The movie, like the book, is divided into two parts, although the sequel has not been officially confirmed. Part one hits theaters on September 8 (why not in October?).

https://youtu.be/QnUwUCbwJy4




Over in Mid-World, THE DARK TOWER adaption keeps getting pushed back (now being released on August 4, 2017) but it's mostly in the can and starring Iris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Early reports say it's both an amalgamation of series (there are 8 books in total), a complete departure, and a sequel to them. Oh boy. The clever poster features the dark tower itself in the white space (squint when looking at the poster below).




Over on the television, CASTLE ROCK, a 10-episode series co-produced by J.J. Abrams is coming to Hulu and said to be a psychological-thriller weaving various beloved stories from the King canon. Based on the teaser trailer, I'm thinking it's going for that Penny Dreadful smorgasbord approach? Hmm.


https://youtu.be/UGHupqE1LCI


THE MIST is getting a 10-episode series on Spike TV debuting on June 22. Although the short novella was excellently adapted to the big screen in 2007, we're headed back to the small town enshrouded in a creepy fog filled with grotesque monsters. The initial reports about the reworking of the classic material is a bit troubling.




MR. MERCEDES is headed towards a 10-episode run on the Audience Network (DirectTV/AT&T U-verse) and no one will get to watch it until it gets onto a more available platform.

GERALD'S GAME has been adapted as a film for Netflix, directed by Mike Flanagan (who directed last year's Ouija: Origin of Evil and Hush). An innocent game leaves a woman handcuffed to a bed after her husband suffers a heart attack leaving her to deal with the demons in her head and a rabid dog outside their remote cabin.


Autumn wouldn't be the same without a terrifying Stephen King book, and September 26 brings the new book SLEEPING BEAUTIES co-written with his son Owen King (not be confused with his other son Joe Hill, also a writer (of the fantastic books NOS4A2 and THE FIREMAN). The book is about strange plague that covers all women in cocoons – except one – leaving the men behind to figure it out (now that IS scary).





Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Devil's Candy ~ Review

It's been 7 years since director Sean Byrne's polarizing debut feature film, The Loved Ones and he's come back with another winner. The Devil's Candy is a disturbing trip into heavy metal, art and mental illness or possibly satanic possession.

Jesse Hellman (get the pun?) is a painter who just moved his family into an affordable house in rural Texas. The catch is that an older couple recently died in the house, and their estranged son (a standout Pruitt Taylor Vince) just can't stay away, mostly because demonic voices are constantly murmuring in his ear. To solve this problem he plays loud licks on his amplified guitar! Then Jesse starts hearing the murmuring himself and his painting goes from butterflies to screaming children engulfed in flames. Yikes.

The rest is admittedly underdeveloped and adds little to the sub-genre of demonic serial thrillers, BUT it is well acted (including an unrecognizable Ethan Embry, and Kiara Glasco as his angsty but authentic daughter) and incredibly stylish. You don't expect this kind of polish for horror movies but it's clear the director cares about the art of filmmaking. Every splash of light, color, and sound are purposeful and creates an atmosphere of dread, unease, and unpredictability (which is ideal for horror movies). Ultimately, this is a story of the father-daughter bond, a rumination on the artistic soul, and the truest nature of evil. It also has a deep emotional depth that many movies never quite seem to capture. Overall it's a very satisfying yet disturbing film.




The boring US streaming artwork
The festival circuit poster
that seems too Deathgasm.



The German version of
the poster is easily the best.
The more interesting
but satanic US poster

Friday, March 17, 2017

Pixar's COCO

The first teaser trailer and poster for Pixar's COCO has been released and it is DAZZLING! It's based on the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, rumored to be Pixar's first "musical", and directed by Academy Award Winner Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3). Opening in theaters (in 3D) on November 22 (Thanksgiving weekend).


https://youtu.be/zNCz4mQzfEI