Saturday, February 17, 2018

Unusual Decor for Your Halloween Village

It's only February and I'm already thinking about my Halloween village. I was at Petsmart looking for stuff my black cat demands, and walked through the fish section. I stumbled across this awesome aquarium decor and thought some of these pieces would be interesting accents for my village. I ended up choosing the octopus because the scale was perfect for the ghost ship I already own. The pieces are expensive because they are non-toxic and stand up to being submerged in water (but still less expensive that usual Department 56 pieces). I really loved the many rock formations and gnarled tree limbs too. Some of the plants are even blacklight reactive if you wanted to have a really surreal effect. Check them out at Petsmart.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Be My Scary Valentine

For those who love the bloody horror of love but didn't make it to Hellmark store, here are some ecards to share! Tip: send immediately.

Monday, February 5, 2018

TurboTax Horror Ads Are the Best

It's tax season and like many Americans I am terrified. TurboTax is here to save the day and assure us there's nothing to be afraid of. Their new campaign features a series of horror ads that start creepy but end cute. SEE–Taxes aren't so scary! Brava/Bravo to the Wieden + Kennedy, the Portland-based agency behind these fun ads.

"The Noise in the Attic"

"The Dark"

"The Thing in the Woods"

"The Thing Under the Bed"



Saturday, February 3, 2018

"Happy!" Is the Cure for Winter Doldrums

We can talk about HAPPY! all day but let's make one thing clear: this twisted, crazy show deserves some serious love. It's based on a 2012 four-issue comic book that combines elements of crime, comedy, drama, with some very divergent things. I know I know. The premise sounds ridiculous: a former cop on the verge of suicide is befriended by – an imaginary friend! – an animated unicorn who needs help rescuing an adorable young girl. The girl was abducted by a deranged and frightening Santa Claus who seems to be collecting kids for some nefarious reason. From there things get very twisted with a sadistic torture specialist, a mob family, an odd kids TV show personality, really big bugs, and mom who dives head first into the absurd to find her missing daughter.

Christopher Meloni as Nick Sax is at his most grimiest and unhinged as a pill-popping, boozing, general lowlife and he is hysterical. However, the star of the show is Happy, blue unicorn with a dazzling pink horn. Voiced by Patton Oswalt, his disarming and charming naivety is quickly challenged by the real life on the streets of New York. Being partnered with Nick to solve this crime erodes his innocence (and ours).

As for the production, the camera work is dazzling. The characters, plot and writing are fantastic, and for those out there who like gore, there is plenty of splattered brain meat to go around. Be warned that this is a boundary pushing show with plenty of mucky, offensive, filthy unpleasantness. Yet it's remarkably watchable, absolutely fun to watch, and shocking to see this quality on SYFY.

The season ended on Wednesday but all eight episodes are available OnDemand from SYFY. The best gift of all is that SYFY has renewed it for a Season2!

Friday, February 2, 2018

"Winchester" is a Worthwhile Visit

I lived in San Jose, California for five years and when I drove to the grocery store I would see the Winchester Mystery House. This infamous house with its history of ghosts and madness stood just a few blocks from my house! I've been on the tours many times, walking the weird corridors, dark rooms, and even the cold basement – and love taking visitors there, especially for the candlelit tours in complete darkness. Naturally when I heard there was a movie starring Helen Mirren, I was positively giddy.

Thankfully, WINCHESTER did not completely disappoint me. It melded the house's historical elements (as told by the docent's carefully crafted scripts) with an (another?) original story that conjures up some pretty solid scares. The first act gets straight to the point with ghosts but panders to the audience with one too many jump scares. Once the movie settles into the second act, it shifts gears and slows to build the greater mysteries. Then the third act amps up the action but stumbles a bit instead of hitting us with both barrels. Much like the house itself, the posturing is classic and ornate but yields few terrifying surprises, and at the very center is a message that seems to contradict itself in the last few moments (the remedy for violence is more violence). Regardless, I still found it eerily entertaining, beautifully realized with a rich, jeweled atmosphere, and substantial without being pretentious.

Truth be told, I would have preferred a more sophisticated take on the Winchester house but realize there's an intended audience here. At the center of this movie is Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester who commands every second of screen time (even though we don't dig deeper into her psyche). Jason Clarke does a marvelous job of holding his own as the drug-addled doctor sent to assess Sarah's mental health. Both add needed gravitas to the film and show how good actors can elevate simple material. I could have easily watched Helen talk about windows treatments and her choice of doorknobs for another half-hour.

For those unfamiliar with the charm and perplexing history of the Winchester house, the movie may be an appetizing morsel but not thoroughly satisfying (which may lead to more people visiting the house). I also wonder if it will even resonate with viewers who don't have an emotional attachment to the house like I do. Still, one of the strangest things about the house (and even the movie!) is that once inside its walls, you don't want to leave.

by Daniel Danger