Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/steve/public_html/cms/wp-settings.php on line 152
The Horror Blog » Roundtable

Archive for the 'Roundtable' Category

Horror Roundtable Week 100

Say your goodbyes.

Dave - Rue Morgue’s The Abbatoir

The problem I’ve often had with the Horror Roundtable questions is that sometimes they feel too broad, that they demand an essay or a top ten to answer appropriately. Ah, such is the excitement of a horror geek.

Steve’s project has been a fantastic forum for passionate genrephiles to good naturedly argue, to shed light on the more obscure corners of The Dark and generally share the love of all things transgressive.

So, I’ll end this last Roundtable contribution with an argument:

“Death Proof” sucks, and will only suck harder in the future. Please stop defending Tarantino’s ham-dicked snore-a-thon, and celebrate the gooey goodness of “Planet Terror”.

By shedding some light:

“The Reflecting Skin”. I don’t think I ever got to talk about this 1990 film, but it’s an amazing prairie gothic tale guaranteed to disturb. Unavailable on DVD here, but rumour has it you can find a nice widescreen laser disc rip on the torrent sites. See it!

And, some love:

I looked forward every week to, if not participate, at least read the entertaining bytes of insight here. Coming up with a 100 questions isn’t easy, so nice work, Wintle, I can’t wait to see what you cook up next. I hope the end of the Roundtable means you’ll finally have time to finish that robotic Sasquatch you’ve been working on for so long, and that the people who mocked your mad science will finally pay for their scorn.

Make them pay, Steve. Make. Them. All. Pay.

GlowStormLion - Happy Horror

The last Roundtable… I remember the very first time the crew of Happy Horror participated (yet I can’t figure out WHICH post it was so just pretend you remember, too, ok?). I remember wondering how long it would go and how entertaining it would be. I found out about SO many blogs I had no clue existed. Sites that helped me broaden my understanding of horror as a genre and horror fans as a community.

Steven’s given us such a terrific opportunity to be able to vent and speak our minds while we connect with each other. He’s a big part of what kept Happy Horror going by sending us visitors even during our leanest months. I never feel very confident with goodbyes and maybe I just secretly hope for a resurrection or change of heart.

Either way, though I didn’t participate as often as I wish I would have, I’ll miss the fun of getting to ponder the questions and respond as intelligently as possible. At least we’ve got the archives, though! :)

And those of you participating here and running a horror blog shouldn’t forget to come over to Happy Horror and not just read our completely subjective reviews, but ask us for a link to your own site, too!

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

Wow, it’s really over, huh? I’ve only been posting on this roundtable for a few months now, but I’m going to seriously miss it. Steve’s questions in the mailbox every Sunday afternoon were sort of like a sign that a new week was about to begin. Not only that, but they were also a handy reminder of why horror movies are my passion, since reading through everyone’s answers every week always served as inspiration to keep up all the work I’ve put into my site.

And since he implored us to plug our own sites, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention to visit bloodygoodhorror.com. We’re a fully functional horror website, with reviews, columns, interviews, blogs… as well as a weekly podcast where we all get together and debate the crap out of each other. If you’re a reader of this blog, hopefully you’ll find something in our rag tag crew that you can identify with. So, hope to see you around! And long live The Horror Blog.

T Van - Tolerated Vandalism

Thanks for the opportunity to participate in a great roundtable. It’s been fun. Now if you’ll excuse me, i have to go fill my freezer with my own blood.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

I’d just like to thank Steven for the opportunity to be a part of the Horror Roundtable. When I started, The Vault of Horror was just getting off the ground. Now, it’s one of the most widely read horror movie blogs on the internet. I’m glad for the chance to share my opinions, and to help my website reach more readers than it would have otherwise. Hope to see you back in action soon, and don’t forget, the invitation to the League of Tana Tea Drinkers remains open!

RedHawk - Happy Horror

I had alot of fun participating in the round table. I know I didn’t post as often as alot of other people did, but it was still fun. Take care, everyone!

Unkle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

I’m really going to miss checking out THE HORROR BLOG every Friday. It’s quite an incredible feat to get so many interesting and different opinions corralled into one space. It’s been a pleasure throwing my 2 cents in the mix for the last couple of weeks and I’m sure I’ll be returning every once in a while to dig through the extensive archives here. At the risk of sounding like a door-to-door salesman or an annoying telemarketer, I can’t pass up this opportunity to invite all the readers and writers here to stop by Kindertrauma.com to share their tales about the films, books and whatever that scared them in their youth. (I know, a site dedicated to ONE question, while the HORROR BLOG has posed exactly ONE HUNDRED. Don’t I feel like an underachiever?) Anyway, we’d love to hear from all of you. In the meantime, long live THE HORROR BLOG, truly a constant source of inspiration!

Nathan - MicroHorror

Honestly, what is there to say? I’m really going to miss this thing. I came in about halfway through the Roundtable’s run, and my only regret is that I wasn’t able to get on board earlier. I’ve learned a lot, found out about great movies I never would have heard of otherwise, and had a marvelous time all around. Thank you, Steven, for creating and helming this wonderful project, and thank you for letting me in despite not being a horror blogger per se. Thanks to the other Roundtablers as well– I’ve found some terrific horror blogs that have become part of my daily reading. I’m going to miss the Roundtable– it was a highlight every week.

But here’s a thought: If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our favorite genre, it’s that it’s awfully hard for things to stay dead. Maybe the Roundtable will come crawling back out of the grave someday. We can only hope.

P.S. Visit MicroHorror.com for the world’s largest online archive of short-short horror fiction. Read hundreds upon hundreds of terrifying stories, each no longer than 666 words. Hey– you did suggest that we plug our sites. :)

Tim - Mondo Schlocko

All I really want to say is that it was a honor being here and I had a blast. It’s a shame to see the roundtable end. Good-bye to all of the fellow roundtable guests and I will continue to check out your blogs as well as this one as well. Stay weird!

Matt - Highway 62

Goodbye? But I just got here.

And kinda played hooky for the last many weeks. My own fault for thinking “I’ll just give it some time to stew and then I’ll get right to it,” and by that time it’s Saturday and I’ve gone and let another one rush past me.

I should push my book, so I will. Strangeways: Murder Moon. Ask for it by name. Western horror like you like it (if you like 70s Warren horror mags and the cramped, dirty atmosphere of the haunted frontier). It’s still relatively fresh; not too many scavengers have gotten to it yet. http://www.highway-62.com/strangeways is the place to go.

Thanks to Sean for turning me on to this place and Steven for letting me play along. And all the commentators out there who gave me something to chew on.

State of the art? I’m the last guy to ask about that. Hell, I had to look up “torture porn” to even follow recent conversations. Pretty clear that the genre is wider than anyone here, which means there’s a lot of room in it yet, a lot of unexplored territories. We’ve been on the map a long time (I certainly didn’t deviate from it much), but now we oughta give some thought to the terrifying blank spaces left, where you go upriver and maybe don’t get to come back.

The best thing about it is, that those places are just around the corner and under your nose, having only to be seen in a slightly skewed light, a momentary insight that lets you understand that this is indeed an uncharted region, and maybe just maybe, there’s someone else out there who’d appreciate that insight. Go uncover those, the stucco ruins of the bright city, where shadowy titans make their true selves manifest. Find daytime horror, that is unafraid to walk in the sunshine, knowing that the piercing light of day can only illuminate its true nature further.

Those blank, soft places are unwritten and undiscovered as of yet. But they can’t stay that way ever.

Curt - Groovy Age of Horror

Thanks for a great run, Steven! I’ve enjoyed a lot of these questions tremendously–both answering them and reading everyone else’s answers. Enjoy your hiatus, but know that your return will be eagerly awaited!

Chick Young - Trash-Aesthetics

“In forgetting they were trying to remember.” W.P. Blatty, The Exorcist

Ah yes, parting is such sweet sorrow. And, as a relative latecomer to The Horror Blog (on the contributing end - not the reading), I don’t have archives of posts to fall back on for plugs, laments, or missed opportunities! I really hope Steven reopens the doors to The Horror Blog sometime in the near future as it has always been a wonderfully stimulating and lively site, thank you Steven.

Well, ya know, horror has always been my thing. I was the kid who had his face stuck in Famous Monsters while the other kids were reading Sports Illustrated. I was the kid who was figuring out how to get that blood bladder to work for my Halloween costume, I was the kid who never put his hands over his eyes during the scary parts, and I was the kid who always chose the evil girl over the nice one (not so much anymore).

I’m not entirely thrilled with the state of the genre (as a professor of film, I expand upon this greatly in writing and in class - of which, neither are appropriate here). Suffice it to say that the state of the genre is also a good barometer for measuring the state of human affairs - which is a bloody mess. The most profoundly philosophical genre - horror is always with us - utterly ubiquitous. In a car, on a plane, on the beach, in a house, in an airplane, in the woods, in the desert, in our minds, etc. - it is not dependent upon a place or a time or a character (unlike other genres). Horror is locatable everywhere and usually is most profoundly found when looking in the mirror. To quote the great Stephen Prince, “The anxiety at the heart of the genre is, indeed, the nature of human being.” I am not thrilled with the climate of the remake, prequel, sequel culture (lazy, mundane, easy), which thrives not on the genuine creative impulses of a writer or director, but typically, more on the distinct ring of the cash register. This business practice and attitude is not new, but it is certainly far more pronounced than it has EVER been. And yet, in the midst of such transparent efforts, we get a modest little film from Spain in 2007 which scared the absolute shit out this 37 year old genre veteran. Yes, “.Rec” is that good - if you have not seen it, do yourself a favor and do so. So, there is hope for the state of the genre, but not because of anything the industry will or could do - there is hope because the diet staples that feed this genre are synchronic with social anxieties, fears, taboos and ideologies. And, dear friends, as long as these remain good and fucked up, we will continue to find repressed monstrosities to feed the machine.

We are a brother and sisterhood of genre fanatics. I’ve been honored to throw in with you on Steve’s notoriously interesting and diverse roundtables. I suggest you stop on by my pad sometime and we can mull it over - over a frothy stein of A negative (www.trash-aesthetics.blogspot.com). I have a good deal of fun there, and, on occasion, may even have something clever or entertaining or even rhetorically sound to say now and again. Cheers.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

I’ll just say that I’ve loved this feature for 99 weeks, and I’m sad to see it go. I was honored to be a part of it while it lasted, but I hope some industrious young horror blogger out there takes up the Roundtable mantle. Thanks for the good times!

Also, I would like to add:

ZOMBIES RULE, VAMPIRES DROOL

Louis - Damaged 2.0

Well, this really sucks. The Horror Roundtable has been something that I’ve looked forward to every Friday, and now what will I have? That’s right. Now I have nothing. I have discovered so many awesome blogs through this exercise, and made a few friends, so at least there is always that. At least. I should pitch my blog, Damaged 2.0 to you at this point, so, if you get the time, try to visit. It’ll never take the place of your dad, and I’m not trying to, but I really love your mom and want to be part of this family. Vaya con Dios, Horror Bloggers.

Corey - Evil On Two Legs

I think this roundtable is a fabulous idea; my only regret is that I didn’t discover it sooner. I hope that it returns in some form in the near future as I will miss reading the responses of so many intelligent writers on a single topic. In any case, thank you for allowing me to participate.

In regards to the state of the genre — I’m very excited about the future of horror. Since the advent of film, horror has been well represented (going all the way back to Edison’s Frankenstein). However, the quality, tone and relevance of horror films fluctuates in a cyclic pattern. Fortunately, I think the last few years show that we’re in the midst of a horror revival. Some may feel there’s been an over-saturation of J-horror, but you can’t deny that The Ring ushered in an unprecedented appreciation for foreign horror, opening the door for films from Japan, Korea, France, Australia and others to be seen by American mainstream audiences. The widespread adoption of unrated DVD releases (as well as the fact that the MPAA is more lenient than they have been in decades) has given horror auteurs more freedom than ever before. It’s a good time to be a horror fan, and I only see that becoming more true in the coming years.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Good times and bad times
Hellos and goodbyes
Just past the joint
And let’s get high

THX HORROR ROUNDTABLE
LYLAB

Arbogast on Film

I came to the Horror Round-Up very late in the game, making me feel a bit like William Smith on the last season of HAWAII FIVE-0. It’s been my honor to rub shoulders with the big wheels of the Blogosphere and to wax thoughtful about our favorite subject. To a continuing world of Gods and Monsters. But mostly Monsters.

JA - My New Plaid Pants

I just want to take this opportunity to thank you Steven, for allowing me to participate, and for introducing me to all of my brilliant fellow Rountablers, and for all of the movies that I’ve been introduced to via the topics and answers that’ve come up over the past 100 weeks. My horror knowledge had been rather limited in scope - I never really realized that I even was a horror geek until well into my 20s, and I’ve had a lot of ground to catch up on, and this forum has been absolutely instrumental in my continuing education. Oh how we’ve laughed and we’ve cried, and lovingly pondered all manner of viscera - this is what family is supposed to be like!

So much for just discussing the state of the genre or plugging your site. I’ve always strived to keep the Roundtable topics easy and accessible, which is why I never put forward one that centres on saying nice things about me. Thanks, everyone. That must have been the toughest Roundtable yet.

My computer broke down last night just as I was getting ready to compile this Roundtable. I started this blog, and the Roundtable, within weeks of buying that computer. I think it’s trying to tell me something, or at least reinforce what I already know.

Before I invited people to the Rountable I sat down for a few hours and typed up over 100 potential topics, just to make sure I could make it that far without running out of steam. I added to the list as topics came to me, and even now I sometimes think of a topic and go to write it down without realizing that it’s over. When I sent out the first batch of emails, I was convinced that no one would reply. Thanks for proving me wrong.

For the last time, from me anyway, thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s Horror Roundtable, as well as all our comrades from Roundtables past. Whether you’re a long-time reader or just joined the party, please take a moment to visit the various blogs and sites of the participants found above. That’s what this whole thing was about, after all.

A wonderful world of Horror awaits you.

Posted in Roundtable on May 23rd, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Nine

Name a piece of horror art or entertainment that you believe changed the genre, and explain how.

Jeff O’Brien

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. I think it ushered in the era of graphic horror even more than the drive in gore flicks that preceded it. It was graphic, dour and realistic. And the zombie rules it established have been so widely copied that it’s a shame George Romero isn’t living fat off the royalties.

Bill - Pulp 2.0

Absolutely one of the most influential pieces of art or body of work which has influenced the horror genre is the work of H.R. Giger.

He melding of tech, flesh, sado-masochism, predator and disease has influenced several major horror/scifi works which directly used his design work (ALIEN, SPECIES) and countless others who imitated his unique, dark vision not only in film but in comics, book covers, album covers, games and other media.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t get enough credit for what it truly did for the genre. Night of the Living Dead came out the same year, and everyone knows how drastically that film changed horror cinema. But Rosemary’s Baby did as well, in another way. Horror flicks had been consigned to B-movie purgatory ever since Universal demoted them in the late 1930s, and Rosemary’s Baby was the first mainstream, “respectable” Hollywood horror movie to come along since that time. It demonstrated that you could do a horror movie with A-list actors, an A-list director, major publicity, etc. Plus, it was nominated for the Academy Award. Movies like The Exorcist, The Omen, Alien, and so many others followed soon after. Although B-horror movies still proliferate, it’s because of Rosemary’s Baby that horror movies can also be more than just exploitation fare–although I fear that the recent “torture porn” trend may wind up forcing horror back into the b-movie closet.

Corey - Evil On Two Legs

I could easily go with Psycho or Halloween for creating the slasher genre or Scream for revitalizing it when the slasher film seemed all but dead… but I think I’ll go a different route and say The Silence of the Lambs. When Hannibal Lecter swept the Oscars, I think it heralded a change in how horror films were perceived and defined for both the general public and for horror fans themselves. Many didn’t define The Silence of the Lambs as a horror film, but that’s only because the genre carried a stigma precluding anything of such quality. Silence is certainly a horror film and not purely a ‘psychological thriller’ (the term usually given to a horror film once it passed a certain threshold of quality) — it was featured on the cover of Fangoria, the plot revolves around a guy killing women to make a suit out of their skin and one of the primary characters is a cannibal. When Silence won the top 5 awards at the Oscars that year, I think it lent some legitimacy to and broadened the definition of the genre (much as The Exorcist had done two decades earlier), reminding people that truly remarkable films can come from any genre, even those generally looked down upon.

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

H.R. Giger’s alien designs for the “Alien” series are still some of the most visually disturbing imagery ever put to film. They’ve influenced science fiction and horror filmmakers going on 30 years now, and probably will continue to do so for another 30.

Chick Young - Trash-Aesthetics

Wow, another tough one. So many achievements in the genre - thematic, aesthetic, and technical (I’m tempted to say Robert Stoker Jr. for his design and development of a the cobweb gun!). So many came to mind - especially with the clear demarcations between specific periods and the transgression boundaries in the postmodern era. But, I’m gonna go with Horrors of the Black Museum (1959). I think that its influence is obvious and very far reaching (well into the 21st century).

Shot in glorious HYPNOVISTA, Horrors really was the first movie to indulge at length in the “creative death” sequences that later became so commonplace in the Slasher sub-genre (and is, essentially the hook for, say, the entire Saw franchise). It also bears the distinguishing feature of being AIP’s first Cinemascope and Eastman color production. Pre-Black Sunday, pre-Psycho, pre-Blood Feast, pre-House of Usher, the only contemporaneous genre film that delights in showing as much unusual death is probably Nakagawa’s Jigoku (1960). Ya gotta love this film! The legendary binocular scene alone is worth this particular roundtable entry!

Tim - Mondo Schlocko

I’m not sure if this counts, but I do believe that GRINDHOUSE ruined the way some current mainstream films and drek from yesteryear are being promoted. Instead of it being a hip subgenre it is instead twisted in a way to market crap films and trick us into playing the role of the sucker who buys into it.

The whole thing stinks of how SCREAM changed films when suddenly every producer and their grandmother thought it would be a great idea to stick teens in every horror flick that is being cranked out today.

Unkle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

PSYCHO and HALLOWEEN deserve all the laurels they get and I’m happy that in the last 10 years BLACK CHRISTMAS has gotten it’s fair shake too, but I don’t think anyone ever takes FRIDAY THE 13TH’s contribution to the genre seriously enough. FRIDAY may owe its existence to HALLOWEEN (it should also buy BAY OF BLOOD and CARRIE a beer sometime too), but what it did with the opportunity HALLOWEEN allowed should not be taken lightly. HALLOWEEN may have opened the gate, but FRIDAY ripped it off its hinges and ran like a mo-fo. So much so, that by the time HALLOWEEN’s sequel came around, it was taking its cues from FRIDAY. I think most slasher movies that live under the umbrella term “HALLOWEEN clones” are in fact “FRIDAY THE 13TH clones.” FRIDAY invented the over-the-top, set-piece kill and conveyer-belt elimination game that any respectable slasher film had to emulate for years. HALLOWEEN does not have that structure; in fact, its focus is on showing as little as possible. HALLOWEEN derives its power from watching someone try to live where FRIDAY gains its power by watching people die. HALLOWEEN is not concerned with the visual aftermath of its deceased either; their bodies are rather neatly stored in cupboards and closets (or propped on a bed). FRIDAY lingers and dares you to look away. It shows death as messy, unpoetic and impossible to return from. Most forget that it’s queasy celebration of the human body’s potential for damage was absolute cutting edge for its time. Many people may not be happy with the mark left by FRIDAY, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Even with its rather obvious impact, you’d be hard pressed to find an actual positive review for the film in many horror reference books. It’s time to recognize that even beyond the elaborate bloody kills, FRIDAY has real atmosphere and tells a pretty damn scary tale too (anyone who grew up watching the edited version on television can attest to that.) It deserves much more than a condescending pat on the head from horror fans and a knee jerk dismissal from critics. I don’t mean to take anything away from HALLOWEEN, which at the end of the day I prefer, but FRIDAY THE 13TH was a lot more original and influential then anyone gives it credit for.

Arbogast on Film

I hate to be a negative Nellie but Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE sliced the balls off the creature in question and beget a generation of sensitive, brooding, mopey emo sluggards more interested in looking Goth than tearing jugulars. The 80s and 90s took the worst of it but we’re still dealing with the infection in TV shows like MOONLIGHT. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE may even have, in a delayed reaction sort of way, played some part in the current vogue for horror backstory, which particularized the crap-ass remakes of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and HALLOWEEN, showing us that the killers at the heart of these stories have reasons for being evil. Ye gods and little fishes, I don’t want excuses, I want unbridled, unblinking, heartless malevolence, I want monsters!

No more interviews!

Nathan - MicroHorror

I have something in mind, but it can’t really be called horror, since the modern notion of genre literature hadn’t really been invented yet. For that matter, neither had the novel. You could call it fantasy, I suppose, or even fan fiction if you wanted to be uncharitable. I’m talking about John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” first published in 1667.

Milton’s epic poem is the first major work to depict Satan as a rounded and arguably sympathetic character. If not for Milton, we never would have had Al Pacino in “The Devil’s Advocate” (Pacino’s character is even NAMED “John Milton,” for Pete’s sake), Christopher Walken in “The Prophecy,” Jack Nicholson in “The Witches of Eastwick,” or any other interesting portrayals of Satan or similar fallen angels– nobody mentioned in Roundtable #66 at all, for that matter.

Milton started it, and we’ve just been playing in his sandbox ever since. I’ll bow out with a quote from the great 18th-century poet William Blake: “The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

This is actually a hard question for me, because I’m so accustomed to (solipsistically?) focusing on how a given work of horror changed me. Frankly that’s more what I’m interested in. That said, I think there’s a pretty clear pre- and post-Psycho line of demarcation in terms of horror films intended to disturb and horrify in addition to “spook”–or at the very least their ability to do so with a contemporary audience.

Ninety-nine weeks of Roundtables; ninety-nine weeks of Sean struggling with the topic and/or answering Hellraiser. Thanks to all of this week’s participants for chiming in, and if you’d like to say your piece, please do so in the comments below. Join us next week for the finale.

Posted in Roundtable on May 16th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Eight

Name your all-time favourite special effect sequence in a horror film.

Jeff O’Brien

Night of the Demons. The lipstick into Linnea Quigley’s nipple.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

This is no doubt getting ridiculous, but my favorite is from Hellraiser: Frank’s grisly rebirth through the floorboards. The combination of that great stop-motion gore and the rapturous Christopher Young score is the perfect distillation of Barker’s conflation of the beautiful and the grotesque.

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than watching Cropsy in “The Burning” snip Fisher Stevens’ fingers off with a pair of garden shears as blood splatters across his face. That whole sequence, choreographed masterfully by director Tony Maylam, contains some of the best work Tom Savini has EVER done.

Mark - Exclamation Mark’s SciFi/Horror Review

I’ve always been fascinated with Kong’s fight with the allosaurus in the original King Kong (1933). I’m still impressed by the way Kong plays with the dead dinosaur’s broken jaw after he wins the fight. Willis O’Brien will always hold a special place in my heart for that scene alone.

GlowStormLion - Happy Horror

Hopefully I’m not straying too far from the question, but there was an episode of the X-Files (a TV series, I know) that featured a guy who’d been born with a tail. I remember this segment very vividly as they held up an infant and the creepy little tail writhed around.

GROSS!

JA - My New Plaid Pants

Easily the scene in The Thing that begins with the defibrillator paddles and ends with the spider-legged head trying to sneak out of the room. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

Chick Young - Trash-Aesthetics

I labored long and hard on this one. So many films immediately came to mind with regard to special effects sequences. From the silent era (Barrymore’s Hyde or Rotwang’s creation of Maria from Metropolis for example) right up to present-day techniques, this became an increasingly difficult question to answer. I found that in the end, my gut was telling me all along what the answer was. It may not be my absolute favorite effect sequence of all time, but it is definitely the first and most impactive that I can remember. In Terence Fisher’s Brides of Dracula (1960), there was an effect that put a watermelon size pit in my stomach. The real rub of the matter is that it was ridiculously simple, and sometimes, the simplest effect is the most EFFECTual.

After Gina has entered The Baron’s “unholy cult”, Marianne waits in the stable with a village laborer (Cushing’s Van Helsing gave strict orders for the body to be kept away from the school) while Gina’s body rests in a coffin which is securely sealed by two stout padlocks. The film is sumptuously rich in mood and atmosphere to begin with and at about sunset when these two padlocks suddenly fall off - IN TACT - I felt there was something especially sly and evil in this supernatural occurrence. The whole scene remains brilliant, but it starts with those old padlocks falling off of the coffin while securely locked. Creepy man. So, I will go with the pad-lock sequence from Brides of Dracula, it’s not a tour-de-force of technical wizardry, but it was damned scary, sadistically simple, and extremely effective. No school like the old school.

Nathan - MicroHorror

I don’t usually admire special effects. I find myself in agreement with Roger Ebert and his belief that if you ever find yourself saying “Wow, look at that special effect!” the effect has failed and thrust you out of the movie instead of drawing you into it. CG and compositing still haven’t quite made the necessary leap that will render them indistinguishable from reality, and I don’t know if they ever will.

I’m no killjoy, though. I admire the effort that goes into effects, especially practical effects, and I admire the expertise involved in turning latex and machinery into a monster. On top of that, I can’t deny my love of over-the-top comedy gore, so I’m going to have to say that my all-time favorite horror effects sequence is the final battle in Peter Jackson’s “Braindead.” The gigantic mutated mother-zombie… what could be better?

RedHawk - Happy Horror

I know I’m probably going to get alot of heat for this, but one of my favorite sequences has to be the shootout scene from the original House of the Dead movie. Sure, there are a few continuity errors in it (switching between shots from a pair of pistols to a shotgun, for one), and my favorite character in the movie gets killed (Rudy, stop flashing back and help her!) during it, but I’ve always enjoyed the combination of the music and the action.

Curt - Groovy Age of Horror

The whole blood-spurting finale of Argento’s TENEBRAE comes to mind. Also, though I wouldn’t want to single out anything in UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION as a “favorite,” I was very impressed at how extensively and effectively they used practical effects rather than CGI for a lot of the most striking scenes of monster mayhem.

Unkle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

I don’t mean to respond to nearly every question with an answer involving the work of JOHN CARPENTER, but really what choice do I have in this instance? ROB BOTTIN’s work in THE THING, as far as I’m concerned, has never been topped. The Norris spider head sequence is the be-all end-all when it comes to special effects and it blows any modern CGI I’ve ever seen out of the water. Like all great art, it not only amazes with what it’s actually showing you but also teaches you to see things in a different way as well.

Louis - Damaged 2.0

I guess that in the annals of horror that, for my all-time favorite special effects sequence I should choose something from THE THING or AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, but, as simple as it probably was to do, my all-time fave has to be this quick 15-second shot from a Freddy movie.

In NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS,there a scene when bad girl Taryn (played by then-hot Jennifer Rubin) is all punked-up and slings some switchblades at Freddy, proclaiming “In my dreams, I’m beautiful…and bad!”, to which Freddy’s fingers become hypodermics and, on Taryn’s arms, these little gasping mouths appears, begging for the drug in Freddy’s vials. That shot with the arms has always been so insanely and nightmarishly creepy that I have never been able to shake it, which is, I believe, the mark of a great special effects sequence.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

I have to say: the “yellow corpse” sequence from the first “Return of the Living Dead” flick.

The corpse effects may not have been the greatest or most convincing effects ever (but still impressive considering that it was all done practically), but the way that Dan O’Bannon structured and shot the scene really made everything work. From the basic unnatural color of the body to the head-sawing and pick-axe impalement, it’s a fantastic scene that just gets continually worse for the characters after every gruesome attempt to stop the zombie fails. Every little effect manages to build a little on the previous one, and the cast keeps everything lively enough to get you overlooking the rubber suit and animatronic head. It’s a great (and hilarious) scene in a great movie.

Arbogast on Film

This question was an unexpected stumper. I’ve seen a lot of special effects in my two-score and six. I’ve seen some of the great cities of the world leveled by water and fire and monsters big and small destroyed and reduced to dust… but the one effect that comes to mind as being particularly impressive is the spider scene in the John Barrymore version of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. Not only is it disturbing to imagine such a thing happening to us but from the character’s perspective the scene satisfies horror’s concern with the truly repulsive. Robert Louis Stevenson’s allegory of body horror was more than a hundred years ahead of Cronenberg and it gets a particularly vivid adaptation with Barrymore, who had his own personal demons and was a genuinely haunted man, may he rest in peace.

Corey - Evil On Two Legs

I can’t think of any sequence more creative or awe-inspiring than the “spider head” scene from John Carpenter’s The Thing. Starting with Norris’ chest opening as a giant mouth and eating Copper’s arms and concluding with the spider-head-thing trying to crawl away, this sequence is all the more impressive given that it’s comprised entirely of physical effects and still holds up against anything from the modern CGI era.

Kimberly - Cinebeats

One of my favorite special effects sequences in any horror film is the splinter in the eyeball scene from Zombi 2. It’s rather simple but it never fails to make me a little queasy and I always get the urge to look away at the last minute. The way Fulci had a killer use a razor blade to slice up a woman in The New York Ripper was also really nasty and memorable as well. I think Italian special effects men like Giovanni Corridori, Gino De Rossi and Germano Natali (who also worked on lots of Argento’s films) really know how to make extremely effective and gory scenes that stick with you long after a movie has ended.

What a fantastic batch of considered responses. We’re really beginning to hit our stride. On a related note, two more weeks to go. Thanks to the overwhelming amount of participants for this Roundtable, and as always, if you’d like to have your say please consider leaving a comment below.

Posted in Roundtable on May 9th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Seven

Name a movie considered by most to be non-horror that you consider more terrifying than most horror films.

Chick Young - Trash-Aesthetics

There’s a good many films that come to mind, but, I think, one in particular stands out for me. I’ll go with A Simple Plan (1998).

A cautionary morality tale reminiscent of Rod Serling’s wisdom fiction, A Simple Plan paints humankind as a biologically predetermined greedy and hopeless race. While watching this neglected masterpiece, one is reminded of Ben Franklin’s quote “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.”

I love this film, but, my God, this narrative takes SO MANY wrong turns. Things just get worse and worse until we are presented with an ending that is not only a supreme downer but on a par with the pathos of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

Delicately directed, supremely acted, hauntingly scored, A Simple Plan is a perfect film; the only thing that I don’t like about A Simple Plan is the utter hopelessness of it. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t find something “good” everyday, life can become depressing mighty quickly. A Simple Plan reminds us that we have been a violent, brutal, and viscous species since before the neolithic revolution and that our so-called “civil” society has been around, in comparison, for about a New York minute. What does it take? A duffle bag with 4.4 million dollars? Is that the price-tag that hangs on happiness? Is it merely our laws that keep brutal acts of violence at bay? Does rampant consumerism and capitalism commit us to transgress these laws? Are we just greedy and hopeless? Upon finding the money, we are presented with this exchange:

Lou: “It’s the American dream in a Goddman gym bag, and you just want to walk away from it?”

Hank: “You work for the American dream, Lou. You don’t steal it.”

Brave talk, but, how quickly Hank’s rapid descent into the maelstrom. This is one mighty bleak and perfectly constructed (I argue, horror) film from a director with humble horror beginnings, Sam Raimi. A Simple Plan interrogates the thin line that separates us from committing unspeakable acts and our rationalizations for them. After a lot of blood has been shed, Jacob, played by Billy Bob Thornton asks his brother Hank, “Do you ever feel evil?” I suggest he’s asking us the audience the very same question. The monster is the one staring back at you in the mirror.

Jeff O’Brien

I would have to say Peter Bogdanovich first film, TARGETS. It was about horror movies but also about real life horror. An aging horror film star played by Boris Karloff is retiring because he thinks his films can’t compete with the Vietnam era horror of real life. It was extremely tense, suspenseful enough that it’s have to believe he didn’t go on to more films in the genre. Some parts of the film are genuine white knuckle moments.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

I’ll have to go with Taxi Diver. That movie is so bleak, so sinister, and presents such an unforgivingly stark view of human nature and society at large. Travis Bickle’s world is a completely amoral one, with no checks and balances of any kind. Manhattan in that film truly is hell on earth. And at the end, when Bickle is hailed as some kind of hero despite being mentally unhinged, we’re left with a sense of the nihilistic hopelessness of life as Martin Scorsese saw it.

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

You know, most people don’t give the original “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” credit for how god damn scary it is. The scene with the clown surgeons destroying Pee Wee’s bike is at the top of the list of things that made me have trouble sleeping when I was a child. It should have been obvious by that film that Burton would go on to be a mad genius. Tequila!

Dave - Rue Morgue’s The Abbatoir

The documentary Jesus Camp scared the hell out of me. It’s about the absolute bat-shit craziest Red State fundamentalists who brainwash their kids at these retreats where they learn about the “lie” of evolution, pay homage to a literal two-dimensional cut-out of George W. Bush and participate in these hysterical, guilt-filled prayer meetings where pre-teens are encouraged to talk in tongues. Few things are more twisted than sanctioned child abuse.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Hmmm. Most of the movies I can think of along these lines, I wouldn’t say that they’re “more terrifying than most horror films,” because I consider them to be horror films themselves: Barton Fink, Lost Highway, Eyes Wide Shut, Eraserhead, Heavenly Creatures…One movie I don’t consider to be a horror film but found very tense and frightening in a horrific fashion (as opposed to a thrill/suspesne fashion) is There Will Be Blood. It had the best promissory title since The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, that’s for sure.

Bill - Pulp 2.0

When Harry Met Sally.

Nathan - MicroHorror

Steven, I’ve been waiting for you to ask this question. You see, there is one movie that I rank as the scariest I’ve ever seen. I watched it when I was young, having no idea what I was in for. After one certain scene, I shut the movie off, terrified to my very core. I suffered from nightmares for years. About a decade later, as a grown man, I watched the movie again. This time, I was able to watch the whole thing, but my god, that one scene is still scarier and more traumatic than any horror movie I’ve ever watched.

The movie, in case you have yet to guess, was Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. The scene, of course, was the saga of Large Marge. Relive it here, if you dare.

Curt - Groovy Age of Horror

I think the conventionalized, often fantastic horrors of horror movies are so different from the more philosophical or real-world concerns a non-horror movie might try to evoke that I see little point in drawing such comparisons. To claim that the latter are “more terrifying” just because they’re realistic is completely to misunderstand the kind of experience so many horror movies aim to deliver.

JA - My New Plaid Pants

Well the first example I thought of was Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For a Dream. Most people, I suppose, don’t consider it a horror movie. Even though Aronofsky’s called it such himself, and I 100% consider it as such.

My second thought was of John Travolta in Hairspray. Scariest thing put on celluloid in 100 plus years. Travolta’s Edna Turnblad would snack on Max Schreck’s Nosferatu as an after-dinner mint.

Unkle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

Gasper Noe’s IRREVERSIBLE kicked my ass, stole my popcorn and chased me home from the theater. The opening credits alone were enough to have me wondering if I should just go home and hide under the bed. I remember reading somewhere that there are subliminal slaughter house pig cries incorporated into the opening music which I find very easy to believe. The whole movie just reeks of concentrated fatalistic dread. It’s brilliant as hell, genius even, but I doubt I will ever watch it again.

Kimberly - Cinebeats

Frederick Wiseman’s 1967 film Titicut Follies. Wiseman’s incredible and deeply disturbing documentary takes viewers into a state run hospital for the criminally insane. It presents a rare view of a terrifying place that most people will never see and never want to see, which explains why it was banned for so long. It’s a horrifying film because it’s real and contrary to popular belief, conditions in state run hospitals have not changed much in the past 40 years.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

I always thought Steve DeJarnatt’s 1988 “Miracle Mile” was pretty indicative of the kind of non-horror horror movie that scared me. It’s about a guy who gets “a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes,” and while he’s desperately trying to get his girl and get out of the city, panic slowly spreads and chaos erupts. Maybe it’s because I live in a city of 8.3 million people, but I’m a sucker for mass hysterica flicks.

Arbogast on Film

When I was a kid a saw a movie at my local drive-in called BLOODY FRIDAY, which was part of a double or triple bill. I still remember the tiny ad that had been in my local paper and the chilly phrase “The survivors would remember it as… BLOODY FRIDAY.” It was one of the first movies I ever saw in which, clearly, all bets were off. The violence in this thing was just horrific and the behavior of the characters (to my 10 year old brain) so inexplicable. The image of a uniformed policeman throwing himself down on top of a hand grenade (to protect a crowd of pedestrians) and being blown up stayed with me for the thirty-odd years before I could catch up with it on video. It turned out the thing was an Italian-West German coproduction and actually called BLUTIGER FREITAG, although the title was changed to VIOLENT OFFENDER when it was released on video. It really is primarily a crime film whose second act is a bank heist gone wrong in the tradition of DOG DAY AFTERNOON (although predating it by a few years) but there’s stuff in there that is beyond the pale, such as the rape of one hostage that is intercut with slaughterhouse stock footage and a downbeat (or not, if you’ve hated the characters all along) climax in which the protagonists go down in a Peckinpah-like slow motion machine gun bullet ballet.

Nope, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

What a great set of recommendations. Show this week’s participants some love by visiting their respective sites, won’t you? And if you have an opinion on this week’s question, please let us know in the comments below.

Posted in Roundtable on May 2nd, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Six

Name the one horror prop you would most want to own.

Jeff O’Brien

The electrical gear from the doctor’s lab in Frankenstein…

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

One of those replica Nightmare on Elm St. gloves. I’ve got one of the cheap New Line plastic ones. And although they do have their own full metal version (seems like a possible liability issue to me) the real mamas are at NightmareGloves.com. Now THAT could kill a man. Which, ultimately, is probably why I shouldn’t have one :)

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

The Box, from Hellraiser. I know, I’m predictable.

Mark - Exclamation Mark’s SciFi/Horror Review

I’m envious of Bob Burns because he possesses the silver-headed wolf cane that Lon Chaney, Jr used to club Bela Lugosi to death in 1941’s The Wolf Man. By the way, it turns out the wolf head isn’t really silver at all, but vulcanized rubber.

Rony

Initially I thought of the wheelchair from The Changling but that would freak me out too much so I’m gonna say any severed zombie head from a Romero movie. They always look awesome!

Red Hawk - Happy Horror

My horror tastes run pretty far, so there are several, but if I had to narrow it down, probably the Blade puppet from the Puppet Master series. That guy was always my favorite in the movies. The good news is, there are Puppet Master action figures out… the bad news is, they’re probably long off the market by now.

Incidentally, a friend of mine would most likely say the puzzle box from Hellraiser. She said she’d love to show the movie to someone, then just bring the box out in the middle and start fiddling with it, play with their minds a little bit.

Unkle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

It is impossible for me to decide between an authentic Crawford Academy scarf from HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME and that giant slab of Stonehenge featured in HALLOWEEN 3 SEASON OF THE WITCH.

T. Van - Tolerated Vandalism

I’d like to take home 2 items from Shaun of the Dead. Neither are really horror related but I’d still like to have the jukebox from the Winchester and the vinyl copy of Second Coming by the Stone Roses. The Stone Roses are one of my favourite bands and I thought it was awesome when they snuck that reference into the film. Why would I want the jukebox? It plays Queen randomly. That’s good enough for me.

Nathan - MicroHorror

I want a Lemarchand box, of course. Doesn’t everyone? I’d settle for a nice replica, though. It’s cheaper that way, and much safer.

Bill - Pulp 2.0

The whirling electrical devices from FRANKENSTEIN.

Curt - Groovy Age of Horror

I think it would be super-cool to own the black gloves from a classic Argento giallo–or maybe the sculpture from TENEBRAE.

Arbogast on Film

It’s at times like this when I part company with a great many members of the horror rank and file. I’m not really a collector and don’t desire to own pieces of my favorite movies. I’m glad Bob Burns has the articulated King Kong skeleton and The Time Machine and all those great movie props - I’m glad there’s a place for them, that they’re safe and protected from oblivion (however much they may be rotting from time and the elements).

If I were to be given something from a horror movie, something to cherish, I think it would have to be small and possibly even insignificant, like the sock that Dwight Frye stops to pull up in FRANKENSTEIN or Bela Lugosi’s DRACULA ring or Leatherface’s necktie or the St. Christopher’s medal from THE EXORCIST.

Another side of me (the one who laughs at me from the mirror) would kill for one of Burt Schoenberg’s creepy family portraits from Corman’s HOUSE OF USHER. (Someone’s got those goddamn things and they will turn up some day, believe you me.) And finally, if the fang that Barbara Shelley swallowed during the filming of DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS were to make its way to me, I would wear it around my neck until my dying day.

JA - My New Plaid Pants

Norman Bates’ stuffed owl (no that isn’t a euphemism). The one that lords over his head when he spies on Janet Leigh in the shower. I’ve always wanted a taxidermy collection of my own, and that’d be its crown jewel.

Louis - Damaged 2.0

Tiffany Shepis.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

Part of me would really like to own the Lament Configuration/Lemarchand Box from Hellraiser, since I’ve always really admired the design and overall look of it; on the other hand, I’ve never really been all that involved with that series, so it would be mostly a matter of aesthetics. Also, having a door to a dimension of endless pain is great for parties.

Really, though, I’ve always wanted lab props from the original Frankenstein. I’m a Universal Monster nut, and while my heart belongs to Wolf-Man, that silver-topped cane doesn’t hold a candle to panels with lots and lots of switches and sparks and stuff. I swear, when I get my hands on some mad scientist props, my kitchen will have the greatest lightswitch of all time.

Michael - The Harrow

The crucifix from THE EXORCIST. I know that there are a few of them in the film, but, you know… THAT crucifix. If only for the theatrics, of course.

Dave - Rue Morgue’s The Abbatoir

Pin! If I could have any horror prop, it would be the creepier-than-creepy life-sized anatomy doll Pin, from the Canadian horror film of the same name. He could sit in a chair at my place and greet guests, ensure me a spot in the car-pool lane and give me all sorts of great life advice. “Why yes, Pin, you’re right, The Horror Blog is cutting into our alone time, maybe I should have very stern talk with Steve…”

Vomit fangs, vague threats and the objectification of women. Only four more Roundtables to go, and I miss it already. Thanks to all the collect gnomes who participated in this orgy of consumerism, and if you have similiar desires, please feel free to jot them down in the comments below.

Posted in Roundtable on April 25th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Five

Name one of your favourite horror movies from when you were a child, and describe how you felt about it then and how you feel about it now.

Jeff O’Brien

The EXORCIST. I recall it played on TV largely uncut and it scared the Hell out of me. To this day it makes me uncomfortable. Demonic possession movies as a rule give me the heebie-jeebies in a way that zombie, slasher flicks etc, never will. I’ve since seen the cut scenes such as the spider-walk and don’t really wish to see it again… the mark of a REALLY scary film…

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

I’ve had many disappointments as an adult, but the one that will forever and always hold up for me is “Monster Squad”. When that finally got a DVD release last summer I hadn’t seen it in YEARS, and I was freaking giddy by the time it was over. Many of my childhood favorites ended up being pretty bad, but I’ll at least have that one.

Rony

The one movie that pops in my head right away is “Silent night, deadly night”(not sure which number it was). I was so afraid of my toys coming to life and trying to kill me that I put them all in a box away from my bed for like a week. I actually saw a few of the movies recently and they made me laugh so hard.Those movies are so awesome. Deadly Santa will scare any kid.

Corey - Evil On Two Legs

I saw my first horror film on 10/25/82, my 7th birthday. The film was Halloween, and I don’t think I slept more than an hour total over the next week until the morning of November 1st, when I was convinced that Michael Myers would go into hiding… at least until next October. For the next five years, until I saw it again, I was convinced there was a scene with Laurie Strode hiding from Michael inside a metal trash can in an alley, occasionally lifting the lid to see if he was there (a la Delicatessen or, I suppose, Oscar the Grouch).

When I was twelve or so I saw Witchboard on HBO at midnight while I was staying home alone. I spent the whole night in the living room with every light in the house on. For years it ranked as one of my scariest movies… at least until last year when it was released on DVD and I saw it again. It’s a fun movie, but horribly dated and campy — hardly the nightmare inducing terror-fest I remember.

Witchboard may be lame in retrospect… but Halloween scares me to this day and remains my favorite film of all time.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Pardon my French, but I was an enormous pussy when it came to horror movies as a kid. At a sleepover when my friends were watching Poltergeist 2 and I Come in Peace, I pretended to be asleep. The video for “Thriller” made me cry. I did however love “monster movies”–the old Universal horror cycle (though I kind of liked reading about them more than watching them), Godzilla movies, The Blob, Jaws: The Revenge, The Monster Squad, the Claude Rains Phantom of the Opera and so on. The big difference between me then and me now is that then I watched these kinds of movies because monsters are cool, not to be scared by them. While they form part of my mental landscape now, they’re not movies I return to. Well, except for The Monster Squad.

Arbogast on Film

Herbert Leder’s THE FROZEN DEAD did a job on me back in the day because it was, to my 8 or 9 year old mind, unclassifiable. There weren’t any vampires or werewolves or monsters of any kind, I didn’t know what Nazis were, I didn’t know that secret Nazi experiments were a bad thing and the most disturbing, haunting, bother-you-in-your-bed-later creature is the film’s most pitiable victim, who winds up shaved bald and decapitated and living this sort of non-existence as a cyanotic lab experiment. Another movie, made later but which I saw around the same time, was a TV movie called THE SCREAMING WOMAN, directed by Jack Smight, in which Olivia de Havilland hears the voice of some woman calling for help in the night. It’s interesting to me now that both of these films, which absolutely terrified me as a kid, localized horror with the victims and not with the evil-doers. You could make a friend of a monster, even a ravening beast like Oliver Reed in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF could be a projection of the force of nature you wish you could be, but some poor soul rasping for their life from a shallow grave or, in the case of THE FROZEN DEAD, pleading to be killed from within a glass jar, is irreconcilable. It is what it is… scary!

I haven’t seen THE FROZEN DEAD since I was a kid, although that’s not a case of me avoiding it so much as it’s just legitimately unavailable. I’d love to see it again. I’m betting it would creep me out just as much.

JA - My New Plaid Pants

There’s a moment in The Amityville Horror (the original, not the Ryan Reynolds be-abbed edition) where a pair of demonish eyes glare in a window from outside that gave me nightmares for weeks when I was a kid. I rewatched the movie a couple of years ago and it looks like a pair of red Christmas tree bulbs that the Lutzes forgot to take down.

Uncle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

When I was little my family moved from the East Coast to California for a couple of years. This was a pretty exciting time for us because California seemed very exotic and different. At some point a television movie called WHERE HAVE ALL THE PEOPLE GONE? was filmed at the grocery store near our house and this became a favorite movie of mine and my siblings. The movie was about solar flares that kill everybody on the planet except a family that happened to be in a cave at the time of the event. The cool thing was that the dead simply turned into piles of ashes inside their clothes. This concept was not so much horrifying to me, but a fantasy come true. Sick as it sounds, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about being the last person alive on the planet and therefore, the rightful owner of everything. A couple years back I got to see the movie again while visiting my parents (my brother had somehow found it on DVD). The film was a bit less convincing then I remembered it and far less exciting, but the thing that really blew my mind was seeing our old neighborhood again circa 1974 which appeared almost like a wild west town with its dirt roads and ochre fields. It was like seeing a world that simply does not exist anymore and damn did it make me feel old as hell.

Nathan - MicroHorror

Thanks to the new DVD release, I was recently able to rewatch “The Monster Squad,” which I hadn’t seen in about fifteen years or more, but watched several times and enjoyed as a youngster. To my pleasant surprise, it held up well. The special effects are dated, and the story has some holes, but the acting is good and the dialogue is well written. The Stan Winston monster designs, especially the Gillman, came as a particular treat. I was actually unaware for a long time that the movie had such a big cult following, and thought I was the only person who had seen it, but I was glad to be proven wrong.

I do, however, regret one thought that occurred to me while watching the DVD. It was during a scene with the swirling portal, and my jaded twenty-first-century eyes saw little but the primitive green-screen compositing. Before I realized what I was doing, I found myself
thinking, “They should really go back and fix that with CGI.” You’ll be pleased to hear that I immediately slapped myself, because I know damn well that if you go back to fix some clumsy compositing, you’re going to start “fixing” other things as well, and before you know it
Greedo is shooting first. We don’t need that.

Kimberly - Cinebeats

I recently watched and reviewed the 1965 Hammer thriller The Nanny, which I hadn’t seen in its entirety since I was a kid. The movie terrified me when I first saw it at around age 11 or 12 on television and somehow I was sure that Bette Davis (who plays the nasty nanny) was shown drowning a little girl in the movie. My memory of the film was completely wrong. Davis never kills a child in the movie but she tries to. I was so frightened by Davis’ character when I was a kid that I had managed to make her into an even bigger monster in my imagination. It’s still a chilling movie but very different from the one I had created in my imagination. I can appreciate the film much more on its own terms now that I’m an adult since a lot of the subtle story elements don’t go over my head anymore.

Tim - Mondo Schlocko

The one that comes to mind is TOURIST TRAP. I was probably in the first grade when I saw that on television and all I could remember was a head rolling on the ground and something about people being turned into mannequins. I didn’t even know what the title of the movie was.

Decades later when it was released on DVD I rented it and sat down to watch it and to my amazement I begun to see that the film playing on my DVD player was in fact the film I barely remembered as a kid.

It’s funny because the first time around I didn’t realize that Chuck Connors had telekinesis and that the mannequins could move. Seeing it as a kid was definitely creepier, but watching it decades later was far more special when I found out what the whole plot was about.

This roundtable was one of my favourites from a few years back, and it still holds up fairly well today. Thanks to all of this week’s participants for their thoughtful responses, and please consider leaving your own answer to this week’s query in the comments below.

Posted in Roundtable on April 18th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Four

Share a favourite horror quote.

Jeff O’Brien

“We’re done, man! Game Over!”

Cpl Hicks, ALIENS.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

For my money there’s no beating “We have such sights to show you…” as said by Pinhead in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. Sums up the whole damn genre. Also, one time a girl said it to me before sexytime, which was fucking awesome.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

“For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you are a wise man, Van Helsing.”

–Dracula (1931)

David Z. - Tomb It May Concern

Oh that is a fun one…

I’ll take Tenebre and the classic “Pervert…filthy slimy pervert.” Of course the character saying that is running around and killing people while the horrid pervert is a pretty lesbian. I’d take lesbians over serial murderers anyday there fella.

Corey - Evil On Two Legs

“I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.”

The Thing (1982)

Uncle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

“As a matter of fact, it was…” Dr. Loomis’s response to Laurie Strode’s question of whether “the shape” was indeed “the boogeyman” in the final scene of HALLOWEEN comes to mind first. In fact, most of John Carpenter’s films are highly quotable and he’s really not given enough credit as a writer of crisp, to the point and still hauntingly lyrical dialogue. His collaborations with Debra Hill especially shine. So, assuming I’m not the only one to jump on that brilliant tone confirming remark by the good doctor, let me throw in for good measure, a little last minute advice from smokey voiced DJ Stevie Wayne (ADRIENNE BARBEAU) from THE FOG, which is a wonderful tribute to THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD’s “Keep watching the skies!”

“I don’t know what happened to Antonio Bay tonight. Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us. In one moment, it vanished. But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don’t wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again. To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog.”

Kevin

“We must destroy the living…”

Garden of the Dead.

JA - My New Plaid Pants

I could list every single line spoken by Piper Laurie in Carrie here (”Red. I might’ve known it would be red.”; “I can see your dirty pillows.”), but I’ll stick with the mother (hardy har) of all of them:

“I should’ve killed myself when he put it in me. After the first time, before we were married, Ralph promised never again. He promised, and I believed him. But sin never dies. Sin never dies. At first, it was all right. We lived sinlessly. We slept in the same bed, but we never did it. And then, that night, I saw him looking down at me that way. We got down on our knees to pray for strength. I smelled the whiskey on his breath. Then he took me. He took me, with the stink of filthy roadhouse whiskey on his breath, and I liked it. I liked it! With all that dirty touching of his hands all over me. I should’ve given you to God when you were born, but I was weak and backsliding, and now the devil has come home. We’ll pray.”

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

Mine’s slightly obscure. But more or less the entirety of “Sleepaway Camp 2″. With the exception of a few slightly offensive ones, my favorite is when the (one) black camper is readying a practical joke to pull on Angela, and as he’s painting red stripes on his hockey mask he says, “Angela will dookie in her pants!”. There is something magical about both his cadence, and the way that he emphasizes “dookie”, that gets me every time.

Nathan - MicroHorror

Skeet Ulrich as Billy Loomis, “Scream” (1996): “Movies don’t create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative.”

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

There are so many great lines in horror that it would take me weeks or months to sift through them all to find just the right one for this occasion. Instead, I’ll offer the very first one to come to mind, from the 1983’s atrocious horror-comedy “Hysterical”:

“The library is closed. All white people must leave.”

Tim - Mondo Schlocko

I still get a kick out of the “Wolfman has nards!” line from MONSTER SQUAD. No exactly thrilling but it has stuck with me whenever I think of watching movies during my years as a youngin’.

Kimberly - Cinebeats

My thoughts went straight to horror film quotes so I hope you weren’t asking for literary quotes or general quotes about horror. A couple of favorites that popped into my head were:

“It’s a dog eat dog world, and from where I sit, there just ain’t enough damn dogs!” - Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

“I find a coffin much more comfortable than a bed” - Dr. Lorenz (Bela Lugosi) in the Corpse Vanishes (1942)

“Monster? We’re British, you know.” - Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing) in Horror Express (1973) in response to the question: “But what if one of you is the monster?”

Arbogast on Film

Does it get any better than “We belong dead”?

Well, does it? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks once again to all of this week’s participants, and until next week, keep your balls in the air, Reg. Keep your balls in the air.

Posted in Roundtable on April 11th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Three

Name one of your favourite pieces of writing on the horror genre.

T Van - Tolerated Vandalism

I think my Danse Macabre by Stephen King was a really great book. I also really enjoyed Adam Rockoff’s recent book on the slasher genre, Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978 to 1986. I highly recommend the book over the accompanying documentary that was made. Rockoff’s book is not particularly thought provoking but it is engaging. It certainly brought back a lot of memories of long forgotten movies. It’s clear that Rockoff is a fan of the genre and that shines through in the book.

Mark - Exclamation Mark’s SciFi/Horror Review

Hands down, Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes (The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews) by Tom Weaver. For old sci-fi/horror fans like me this is hard to beat. Great interviews with the actors, actresses, directors, producers, and writers involved in the making of the wonderful B films of yesteryear, and written by a man with an obvious passion for the genre. Good stuff.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Oh, writing ON the horror genre? I thought I’d get to say “Clive Barker’s Books of Blood” and be done with it. Oh well, in that case I’ll say it’s a toss-up between Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror and H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature. Combine the two and you’ve basically got my own POV on the genre.

Donald May, Jr. - Synapse

My all-time favorite piece of writing about horror/film is Stephen King’s DANSE MACABRE. I wish he’d do an update!

JA - My New Plaid Pants

There was a good long stretch of time in college when I always had my stolen-from-the-library copy of Men, Women and Chainsaws by Carol Clover on me. The sexual politics of the slasher film proved endlessly fascinating to me. Still does, although it’s all become so self-aware these days (thanks to writing like Clover’s) that it’s become tougher to find movies so raw, stripped down to nothing but id, as we used to get. Every so often a movie like Hostel or Haute Tension slips through the cracks though, and I feel myself mentally flipping through Chainsaws again.

Uncle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

Even though it may be a way too obvious answer, I have to go with Stephen King’s Danse Macabre. When I read it as a teenager it really opened up my eyes, not only to the larger history of horror but also to the many possibilities of interpretation. Suddenly the world that I loved didn’t begin and end in Haddonfield, Illinois. I have just recently re-read the book and although I don’t agree with everything he says (particularly his criticism of Kolchak:The Night Stalker! ), I still found it fascinating and its conversational style to be the literary equivalent to sitting around with an old friend and discussing the genre over many beers.

Corey - Evil On Two Legs

The definitive book on my chosen little corner of the horror-verse is Adam Rockoff’s Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978 to 1986. This is the first book I would recommend to anyone interested in horror films… however, after careful consideration, it is not my favorite piece of writing on the horror genre. Somewhat embarrassingly, that honor goes to Peter Bracke’s Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday The 13th. While not as ambitious, academic or as relevant to the horror genre as a whole as Rockoff’s work, my love of Jason Voorhees and his cinematic exploits cannot be denied.

Curt - Groovy Age of Horror

H. P. Lovecraft’s SUPERNATURAL HORROR IN LITERATURE. It’s not just a survey of what he considers the finest horror through the ages; he also articulates a vision of what horror should be that has influenced me a great deal.

Jeff O’Brien

Favorite work of fiction is a tie: GONE SOUTH by Robert R McCammon and the brilliant FADE by Robert Cormier. Non fiction has to be DANSE MADABRE by Stephen King

Nathan - MicroHorror

As a horror editor, I have one and only one book to recommend to anybody who has any aspirations towards writing horror. If you’re a horror writer, it’s likely that you already own a copy, but if not, you have no excuse. Go directly to Amazon or your favorite bookseller and purchase a copy of _On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association_, edited by Mort Castle.

Inside this unassuming tome you will find dozens of essays by experienced horror writers, including some of the biggest and most respected names in the business: Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Landsdale and Jack Ketchum all contribute. You’ll learn the history of horror fiction. You’ll learn the tropes and clichés of the genre, and how to use, avoid and subvert them. You’ll learn what editors want and don’t want. You’ll even learn about writing horror for other media, including film, comics and video games.

Buy this book, study it, and send me submissions.

Arbogast on Film

Good Lord, how did it get to be Friday already?

I don’t know if it’s in fact my favorite piece of genre writing but the first thing this question brought to mind was Jack Kerouac’s essay on NOSFERATU, published originally in The New Yorker Film Society Notes in 1960 but made more widely accessible in the collection of critical writings FOCUS ON: THE HORROR FILM (Prentice-Hall, 1972). The King of the Road and the Lord of the Undead in one 3-page article. Koo-Koo-Crazy-cool!

Kerouac has a folksy, unfussy style whose occasional awkwardness works in his favor to make the piece read like a snatch of folk testimony:

Nosferatu is an evil name suggesting the red letters of hell — the sinister pieces of it like “fer” and “eratu” and “nos” have a red and heinous quality like the picture itself (which throbs with gloom), a masterpiece of nightmare horror photographed fantastically well in the old grainy tones of brown-and-black-and-white.

There was always something childlike about Kerouac’s bop prosdy, informed as it was by the Old World superstitions he got from his mother, and that naive quality is very much in evidence here as he refers to Graf Orlock as a “throat-ogre” who rises up out of his coffin “like a plank.” That is such a perfect description of how Orlock comes to life each night that I’ve never forgotten it. I love how Kerouac obsesses about minor things about the movie, like how Orlock’s coach horses are hooded and about the tile floors of his castle:

The castle has tile floors - somehow there’s more evil in those tile floors than in the dripping dust of later Bela Lugosi castle where women with spiders on their shoulders dragged dead muslin gowns across the stone.

Wouldn’t it be great if more film bloggers aspired to this kind of poetry?

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

Even though I spend tons of time in the horror genre, I actually can’t remember all that much that I’ve read ABOUT the horror genre, aside from the occasional histories and short articles; even then, those are more often than not just a collection of interesting facts rather than anything particularly in-depth or insightful. I’ll probably think of a hundred better examples immediately after I send this in, but the foremost piece of writing that I’ve read on the genre itself was Stephen King’s ‘Danse Macabre,’ and I read that a loooong, long time ago. I won’t be surprised if I’m not the only person with this answer.

Now don’t you feel silly, Retropolitian? Thanks to all the eggheads who contributed to this week’s Roundtable. Why not reward their scholarly pursuits by visiting their respective sites? And if you have anything you’d like to recommend, please do so in the comments below.

Apologies to Kindertrauma and Evil On Two Legs for the mix-up. Consider this your initiation. Help me make it up to them by checking out both their wonderful sites.

Posted in Roundtable on April 4th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-Two

Name your favourite guilty pleasure in horror.

Jeff O’Brien

Lesbian scenes. Gratuitous lesbian scenes. There, I said it and I’m not sorry…

T Van - Tolerated Vandalism

I think guilty pleasures are fantastic. I’m not afraid to admit that I like Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. It’s probably one of the most hated sequels in horror history but I love it anyway. I like everything about it, the music, the tone of the movie, the acting. I may be a glutton for punishment. I also have to admit that I love Deep Rising, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, and Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers [even though I don’t consider it to be a guilty pleasure, it seems like everyone hates the Halloween sequels]. I think that horror fans are accustomed to sitting through a hell of a lot of crap. It’s inevitable that some of these crappy movies will hold a special place in our hearts.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

I hate to be a predictable douchebag, but when it comes to art, if it gives me pleasure, why feel guilty about it?

Arbogast on Film

I suppose my Guilty Pleasure of Choice is the Lesbian Vampire Seduction. Of course, DTV and DIY filmmakers have ruined this for everybody by going whole hog and having saline-implanted, tattooed skags French kissing through their clip-on fangs… the taboo has been so successfully shattered that we’ll never find all the pieces again. Still, we have the classics… Gloria Holden’s mesmerizing of Nan Grey in DRACULA’S DAUGHTER, freshly undead Andree Melly coming on to bosom buddy Yvonne Monlaur (”Put your arms around me, please, I want to kiss you, Marianne. Please be kind to me.”) in THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, wanton bloodsucker Barbara Shelley putting the Sapphic movies on doe-eyed Suzan Farmer (”We don’t need Charles”) in DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS and that great/horrible top/bottom relationship in THE VAMPIRE LOVERS where steely governess Kate O’Mara is at first suspicious and disapproving of Ingrid Pitt’s Mircalla until the vampire’s kiss makes her a complete and pleading slave; O’Mara comes off initially as such a strong character that her utter surrender is as shocking as it is truly erotic. In LEMORA: A CHILD’S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL, the dynamic gets even weirder with Lesly Gilb and Cheryl Smith having this really tangled mentor/mentee, mother/daughter, top/bottom relationship that culminates in Lila Lee assuming the mantle of vampire queen. THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE, DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS and THE VELVET VAMPIRE go this route as well, making full meals of what was previously a mere narrative appetizer. Later stuff like THE HUNGER just doesn’t carry the same charge even though the nudity is more abundant and considerably more than the gloves are off. It’s the pent up, repressed stuff of more innocent times that really gives me a thrill.

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

Easy… It’s a tie between “Pumpkinhead II: Bloodwings”, and “Saturday the 14th”. *hangs head in shame*

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

While I’m not one for feeling guilty about something I enjoy, there is one movie that I tend to watch in private and avoid bringing up in conversation: “Return of the Living Dead Part II.” I know it’s stupid. I know it’s terrible. I know it pisses on the sacred legacy of the first movie. But I will watch anything with James Karen in it and dammit I will enjoy it. Guilt be damned!

Also, the zombie Michael Jackson gag absolutely KILLED me when I was a kid.

Billy

My guilty pleasure is tiny horror. Anything with a small creature that will mess you up for some reason just amuses me to no end. Critters, Ghoulies and Puppet Master are some examples.

Louis - Damaged 2.0

Sci-Fi Channel Originals. Well, at first it started off as a guilty pleasure–”Haha, boy…MANSQUITO was lame, huh guys? Can I be part of the gang now???”, but the more I have watched these things, the more I have absolutely fallen in love with them. I can’t really say they are a “guilty pleasure” anymore, as I tout them on my blog non-stop, but at first, you bet they were.

Tim - Mondo Schlocko

My guilty pleasure is a bit tame, really. It would have to be my fondness for haunted house flicks. The film could be a bucket of slop, but as long as it has a haunted house in it, I’m there.

Nathan - MicroHorror

Some might call it a guilty pleasure, but I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it, so it is with unreserved enthusiasm that I recommend The Creeps (1997), an unabashedly stupid and fun horror-comedy by Charles Band and Full Moon Pictures.

Here’s the premise: A mad scientist has built a machine that will resurrect the great fictional archetypes of horror, namely Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the wolfman and the mummy, and bring them into the real world to serve his plans for global domination. But when he activates the device, something goes wrong, and although the monsters are summoned as planned, they’re only about three-and-a-half feet tall.

Phil Fondacaro chews up the scenery and steals the whole show as Count Dracula, because he plays the role utterly straight. Operating from the very reasonable assumption that there aren’t many opportunities to play Dracula for a three-foot-six actor, Fondacaro becomes one of my all-time favorite screen Dracs. He’s just downright menacing, and you find yourself almost relieved that he’s not taller.

So, yeah, The Creeps is dumb. It’s got a silly premise, and it’s really nothing more than an excuse to dress up little people in monster suits. But damn it, it’s hilarious, and Fondacaro is great. You even get to watch a hot blonde librarian have sex with a book. Go watch it and enjoy it. I absolve you of all guilt.

Matt - Highway 62

Monster movies. Mindless rampages of giant rubber-suited stunt players or CGI-envisioned levelling of major metropolitan areas, whether they be in the US or abroad. Nobody learns anything, nobody grows, and no Hidden Truths are revealed. Just the splintering of balsa-wood and cheap pyrotechnics. Gimme more.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

Lately, I’ve had a weakness for watching every single zombie movie that comes out, no matter how awful. I always loved them, and ever since the “zombie renaissance” started, I’ve been overdosing. I can’t help it. Even the latest remake of Day of the Dead, which I had heard was so terrible. I couldn’t resist–I had to watch it anyway. (It was slightly less than awful).

Kimberly - Cinebeats

Gore. Lots and lots of nasty gore. I can be a real gore hound sometimes and I’ll rewatch brutal murder scenes over and over again if I like they way they’re executed. Some of my favorite moments from horror films are often murder scenes such as the first kill in Suspiria.

Uncle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

I have an unkillable passion for the alleged horror movie THE ATTIC starring Carrie Snodgress and Ray Milland. It’s really a depressing melodrama about an alcoholic spinster librarian who is trapped into caring for her abusive invalid father. There are maudlin soft rock songs throughout, including a real non-barnburner entitled “Who cares?” Louise, Snodgress’ character, also happens to have a strange fascination with monkeys. Being that I have a near Jerri Blank fascination with monkeys myself, the film is a constant source of entertainment. One day Louise’s pal spontaneously buys her a monkey at the local pet shop (!) much to her disapproving Pop’s chagrin. Louise then spends her days imagining the monkey is an ape that beats the crap out of her dad (picture Paul from THE ELECTRIC COMPANY in a rage.) It’s all very difficult to classify though it kinda reminds me of HAROLD AND MAUDE meets WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? A high point of my life (sad) was watching a film called THE KILLING KIND where both characters, Louise AND her father made a cameo (played by different actors). It turns out both films have the same writers. Anyhows, it’s all very uncool and it is the exact opposite of the kind of film they make T-shirts and action figures from.

Dave - Rue Morgue’s The Abbatoir

Ironic viewing pleasures aside, first thing that comes to mind is the first Resident Evil movie. I know it’s pretty crappy but I still like watching it, and I’m not all that sure why. I suspect the combination of decently gross and scary zombies and more than decently hot Milla has something to do with it.

I’ve lost a great deal of respect for some of you, while others are now higher in my estimation. And I’m not saying who is who. Thanks to all this week’s participants for spilling their guts (it’s a figure of speech, Kimberly, please don’t get overexcited), and if you have an unnatural craving you’d like to confess, please do so in the comments below.

Posted in Roundtable on March 28th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety-One

Name your favourite reference to anything horror-related in a non-horror setting.

T Van - Tolerated Vandalism

I always loved the mention of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the 1987 Mark Harmon classic Summer School. How cool would it be to be able to watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre during summer school? I have to admit that the character of Chainsaw always made me laugh. Does this make me a dork? Maybe.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Once upon a time, circa 1995 or something, I came across a picture of trip-hop artist Tricky made up as Pinhead. At the time I simply could not imagine anything cooler. Talk about two great tastes that taste great together!

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

Well, recently the DTV Ad with Kathy Bates in “Misery” really cracked me up. She lifts the hammer to swing and then turns her head towards the screen and starts pimping DirecTV. That was pretty sweet. I just love in general when horror films have become so ubiquitous in culture
that they begin to be referenced like this. Another one that comes to mind was a Family Guy non-sequitur that showed what it was like at Pinhead’s dinner table. (needless to say, not very fun). That was pretty priceless, too.

Jeff O’Brien

Damn, that’s tough… after thinking about it… stumped!!!

Red Hawk - Happy Horror

Personally, I always liked the movie within the movie used in Matinee. John Goodman plays a movie director in the vein of William Castle who is bringing his latest movie, MANT, to Key West during the Cuban Missile Crisis. While the movie as a whole isn’t a horror movie, the MANT film clips we see most definitely fit the bill for the classic B-movie style.

Arbogast on Film

There are so many great examples, like that crack in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE about Raymond Massey’s character looking like Boris Karloff (because Karloff had played the part on Broadway), but the first one that comes to my mind is from the old sitcom BARNEY MILLER. They had a recurring character on there, Bruno Binder, who was a local vigilante, a really loathsome type played to perfection by the late character actor Stanley Brock, who was probably born with a wet cigar butt stuck in the corner of his mouth. In one episode, Binder gets into a conversation with Harris, the black cop played by Ron Glass, who was always a natty dresser and who always fancied himself a sophisticate, and Binder name drops THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE… to which Harris says something haughty like “Let me guess… Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers?” Without catching on that he’s being dissed Binder says “No, no big names… just a helluva good picture.”

I wish I could remember the actual dialogue (and it might even have been NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD that was mentioned - hey, it was over 30 years ago) but what I thought then was cool about the reference was that it was made by a prime time sitcom years before popular entertainment got so intertextual and self-referential.

JA - My New Plaid Pants

Easy as pie! It’s the repeated lyric “This is really happening…” in the Radiohead song “Idioteque” which is, of course, a line from Rosemary’s Baby. Chills every damned time.

Curt - Groovy Age of Horror

Far and away, the Monster Cereals, of course!!!

Nathan - MicroHorror

I love a good fake movie, don’t you? We’d all love to watch “The Bloodening,” and we all know there’s no way that “Thanksgiving” and “Don’t” could ever be as good as their trailers make them seem. But there is one fake movie I wish I could see: 1962’s “MANT,” by Lawrence Woolsey.

“MANT” was the centerpiece of “Matinee,” an underrated 1993 period comedy by Joe Dante that desperately deserves a DVD release. Woolsey, played by John Goodman, is a pitch-perfect tribute/caricature of the great showman William Castle, and he’s come to Key West for an exclusive engagement of his latest horror masterpiece, featuring a dreadful human-ant hybrid creature. (Man + ant = MANT! Get it?) Of course, this is October of 1962, and President Kennedy is having some problems with a bunch of missiles that have just been discovered in Cuba. As a whole, “Matinee” is a charming slice-of-life coming-of-age film and a loving tribute to the golden age of atomic horror film, all under the darkest shadows of the Cold War.

The scenes we get to see from “MANT”… well, it’s Joe Dante doing William Castle, isn’t it? It’s a truly beautiful thing, and it hits all the right notes. I was talking about “Matinee” with a friend the other day, and I remarked on how sad it was that (SPOILER ALERT) we never get to actually see the end of “MANT.” But then I stopped, and realized that it doesn’t matter that the ending is never shown in “Matinee,” because I know how “MANT” ends. It ends with stock footage of an enormous explosion, and as the dust settles, the words “THE END” appear, appended a few seconds later with the fade-in of a menacing question mark. How else could it end?

Uncle Lancifer - Kindertrauma

My mind immediately goes to the 1982-1990 NEWHART sitcom on which it was stated several times that Peter Scolari’s character Michael’s favorite movie was THE BOOGENS! It’s particularly funny when you consider that THE BOOGENS was a relatively recent release at that time. Plus let’s face it, “THE BOOGENS” is just one of the best and funniest titles of all time. It’s particularly great it you haven’t seen the movie because what you imagine is far worse than what they actually turn out to be.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

I think the answer here would be obvious: the trio of Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Booberry. I have long been an opponent of children, so I think that we should inject as much terror as humanly (or inhumanly) possible into their daily balanced breakfasts. Usually that just involves making them eat Special K, but I think it’s even better to include MURDEROUS CREATURES FROM BEYOND THE VEIL OF DEATH. And marshmallows.

Also: The only time I really watch television is during late September/early October, because ad agencies absolutely cannot resist the lure of putting monsters into marketing schemes no matter what the product is. Duracel batteries? Battery-powered Dracula. McDonald’s? Ghost McNuggets. Radio Shack? Teri Hatcher. This is my personal favorite.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

I guess it’s very fresh in mind because I just saw it last night, but I’d have to say it was the inclusion of a scene from The Wizard of Gore and the ensuing horror movie discussion between Jason Bateman and Ellen Page in Juno. Although I didn’t particularly care for the movie for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into for fear of getting off topic, I was tickled by the inclusion of this scene. It was a genuine moment of coolness in a movie that too often tried too hard to be cool, showing two characters in a serious discussion of a genre which is very rarely taken seriously in the mainstream. When’s the last time you heard a debate over the work of Dario Argento in an Oscar-nominated movie?

Kimberly - Cinebeats

I’m not sure if Takashi Miike’s bloody yakuza crime/horror film Ichi the Killer is considered to be a typical horror movie by a lot of horror fans, but I love the film and I think it has plenty of horrific moments. The star of Ichi the Killer is one of my favorite working actors (Tadanobu Asano) and he’s also appeared in many Asian arthouse dramas. One of his best and more recent films was Last Life in the Universe where he plays a timid librarian. In the library where Asano’s character works he casually walks past a movie poster from Ichi the Killer which sort of foreshadows some events in the film in a subtle but very creative way - Takashi Miike later shows up in Last Life in the Universe as a yakuza thug!

I thought this was going to be a tough one, then immediately after sending out the question I came up with dozens of examples. It’s kind of sad. Thanks to all of this week’s contributors, and if you have any horror references you’d like to share with the class, please do so below.

Posted in Roundtable on March 21st, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Ninety

Name your favourite supporting character in Horror.

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

Easily, Dr. Loomis. Even though people think of Donald Pleasance as the star of a lot of those films, he’s really more a secondary character to the teen leads. It’s a testament to the power of the character and of Donald Pleasance’s portrayal that he is so often thought of as the star of the Halloween franchise. If you want to talk about pure comic relief, I have to say that the “Party Man” (played by Giuseppe Andrews) in “Cabin Fever” has some of the best lines in horror history. He cracks me up every time.

Jeff O’Brien

Blade from the Tomb of Dracula comic. Loved the yellow seventies shades he wore and the Vietnam vet jacket. Great character.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Wilford Brimley as Blair in The Thing. “I don’t wanna stay out here anymore. I wanna come back inside.”

T Van - Tolerated Vandalism

My favourite supporting character in a horror film would have to be “Evil” Ed Thompson from Fright Night. The character was portrayed by Stephen Geoffreys who gained notoriety for his post-Fright Night career as a porn star. Not only did he look a little weird, he showed a real flare for comedy in the role. Most fans will remember him for his performance of the line, “You’re so cool, Brewster!”

Billy

The innocent little girl that knows what’s going on, but doesn’t understand it. That always creeps the hell out of me. She knows everyone is going to die, and tells you as much, but everyone ignores it and keeps going and everyone dies. ALWAYS listen to the little girls that give you cryptic messages! It’s like the house that tells you “get out!!!!!”

Arbogast on Film

Yeesh, talk about opening a veritable Pandora’s Box of possibilities.

It’s a daunting task to come up with just one supporting character in all the horror annals… but I’m going to throw caution to the wind and say that my favorite is Sandor, the deliciously evil manservant of Gloria Holden’s tragic Marya Zaleska in DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936). One of the great things about Sandor, who wears a Russian Tea Room tunic and parts his hair straight down the middle like Alfalfa, is that you never really know what he’s in it for. Although he shuns the cross, he doesn’t appear to be a vampire… and yet the guy is vampiric to a T. Is he a ghoul? A werewolf? A necrophiliac? A serial killer? Nothing in the film bears out any of these ideas… it just appears that Sandor is a deeply weird individual who has attached himself to the immortal Marya and wants to keep her undead… perhaps hoping she will bestow upon him the gift of everlasting life. The scene in which Sandor psychs Marya out of her life affirming piano reverie is the perfect illustration of their deeply codependent relationship, ending with Sandor bringing Marya a girl. I always try to imagine what Sandor is doing when Marya puts the bite on her “model”… is he listening through the wall or just standing at the back of the room, breathing heavily through his black lipsticked mouth? What does he do with the body before he dumps it in the river? Does he undress it, make love to it, press his teeth into the cooling flesh? I love the fact that the movie never tries to explain the character or provide him with the kind of backstory that so many movie monsters have foisted on them these days. He remains a mystery until and beyond the end credits and even when he’s dead he’s way scarier than the undead creature he serves.

Nathan - MicroHorror

If I can stretch the definition of “supporting character” this far, and I think I can, then my answer is a three-way tie. My favorite supporting characters in horror are the Crypt Keeper, the Vault Keeper and the Old Witch, EC’s legendary GhouLunatics. Leering at you from the pages of Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear, their monologues dripped from the poison pen of Al Feldstein, they could always be counted on to bring you a delightfully gruesome horror story and wrap it up with a few equally sickening puns. As I’ve mentioned here before, Feldstein is my idol of horror writing, and the GhouLunatics are my inspirations as host of MicroHorror.

I want to be a GhouLunatic when I grow up.

Louis - Damaged 2.0

Griffin Dunne as Jack in AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. It was genius of John Landis to turn this character we barely knew into a wise-cracking, rotting Greek chorus instead of a shuffling, gasping zombie who offers one-word prophecies while pointing.

There are no small Roundtables. Only small Roundtable participants. Thanks to all the bit players who contributed to this week’s Q+A. Please take a peek behind the curtain and check out their respective blogs as linked above. But before you do, leave us your own response in the comments below.

One of the main reasons I began The Horror Roundtable was to introduce readers to new and undiscovered horror blogs. As The Horror Roundtable hurtles toward its conclusion, I’d like to extend an invitation to anyone not already involved who has a horror site they’d like to promote to join us for these End Days. If you’re interested, please email me at steven@thehorrorblog.com. Thanks!

Posted in Roundtable on March 14th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Eighty-Nine

Name your favourite horror locale.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Give me a deep, dark lake with a creature of some kind in it and I’m sound as a pound. Runner-up: Besieged buildings (malls, supermarkets, farmhouses with gas pumps out front, Bodega Bay lakehouses, Helm’s Deep, etc.).

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

I have lots of favorites (summer camp comes to mind), but the one that I love that is underused would have to be the desert. I just saw “Feast” recently, and I think they used the desolation of that environment really well. It would be great to see more films take advantage of that setting.

Stacie - Final Girl

Specifically speaking, there’s no place more frightening to me than Silent Hill. I (somewhat) ashamedly admit to being so scared that I’ve had to turn the games off on more than one occasion; I’m sure if I ever found myself trapped in that nightmare town, I wouldn’t be able to do much more than close my eyes, pee my pants, and sit down, crying until some weirdo effed up monster put me out of my misery.

In general, I find that any abandoned/decaying building (especially hospitals!) or stereotypical “big spooky house” will give me the willies, even if the movie sucks.

Donald May, Jr. - Synapse

Inside people’s dreams… a la A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET!

Bill - Pulp 2.0

I’ve always liked Frankenstein’s Lab (Lair would probably be a better term) in both the Universal and Hammer incarnations. Imagine the secrets that are found within Frankenstein’s journals - the “failed” experiments, the side experiments he didn’t get a chance to follow up on, the number of people he killed to further science, the secrets he stole from others, etc…an entire library of the fantastic and horrific.

All the equipment is there that he had to develop: the electrical / cosmic radiation device used to activate the chemicals within his creation’s dead flesh, the chemicals themselves, the microscopes with power enough to see the cellular processes at work, the surgical instruments, the failed machines, etc…

Then there’s the secret passages to the lab underneath and within the castle. A twisting, turning maze where the wrong turn could lead you to your doom. This of course would keep Frankenstein’s secrets his and discourage any form of espionage.

There’s the pit where he would throw the failed experiments and chemicals. I imagine that some of those experiments - a dog, a monkey, an amalgam of body parts perhaps - might have survived along with the rats and other vermin that feast on the failures. How might they be changed by the genetic manipulations wrought by the good doctor?

Yes, Frankenstein’s castle is a horrific mystery wrapped in an maze-like enigma. His secrets are safe — for now.

Matt - Highway 62

Haunted Vermont with its gnarls of twisted branches, naked and reaching to a sky that is filled with terrors from beyond the stars themselves, that’s the place that first comes to mind. It is monochrome, dirty and in that horrible transition from winter to spring, where it’s too cold for anything to grow, but too warm for snow to blanket the wagon-tracked dirt that has never heard the rumble of an internal combustion engine. It’s a world where superstition and squalor roost even within the bigger townships, where outsiders are regarded with a fish eye at best. Clapboard shacks squat in quiet hollows, harboring families that don’t look like people anymore, and haven’t in years. The woods are old enough to still contain things that were old when man was young, yet are so small and contained as to make bravado a certainty. Civilization may think that it holds sway in this place, but in reality, it’s a state of fear that rules invisibly, skulking in shabby alleyways and meeting halls and the places where the trains and buses don’t ever stop for long.

Exclamation Mark

I’m a big fan of desert motifs. I’m thinking of old sci-fi movies like It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula, Them!, and The Monolith Monsters.

Arbogast on Film

For me it was an immediate toss-up between Old Dark House and Black-and-White Cemetery. I love me a haunted house movie or a murder mystery set within the revolving walls of somebody’s ancestral mansion, be it THE BAT WHISPERS, THE OLD DARK HOUSE, THE CAT AND THE CANARY, THE GHOST BREAKERS, THE HAUNTING and THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE… any place where, no matter what horrific thing has happened the night before, everyone comes down for breakfast the next day in jacket and tie. Those old movies are comforting, with their alternating images of chaos and calm. But even more than I love an old dark house I love a badly landscaped Gothic cemetery like those vaguely Middle European graveyards you see in the Universal monster movies that for some reason have so many Celtic crosses in them. Seeing these fog-shrouded settings makes me want to breach the fourth wall of the television set or cinema screen and go there, from the poorly landscaped boneyard seen in the opening frames of James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN to the bland, comfortless and distinctly foreboding memorial park seen in the opening frames of George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. For the record, I think the ultimate Goth cemetery has to be the one in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN… that place rocks! A close second would be THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE. And who among us would pass up a chance to share some crusty bread and a bottle of Tokay with THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN’s Dr. Pretorious down in the belly of the catacombs?

Nathan - MicroHorror

Hooray for the circus! Hooray for the carnival! The sun is shining, happy families are laughing and chatting. The smells of popcorn, hot dogs and cotton candy waft on the breeze. You hear the cheerful music of a hurdy-gurdy as you watch the clowns cavort and tumble.

And then the sun goes down. The families start to leave, and the once-thronged grounds are barren and empty. The air smells sour and pungent, like old garbage or rotting meat. The hurdy-gurdy starts to go out of tune, and you’re no longer quite so certain that the clowns are wearing makeup.

Hooray for the carnival. Hooray for the circus.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

If you had told me prior to my first viewing of Dawn of the Dead 18 years ago that my favorite horror locale would be a shopping mall, there’s no way I would’ve believed it. After all, what’s so terrifying about a mall? Well, thanks to Mr. George Romero, I understand all too well what’s so terrifying about a shopping mall, and there has not been a single time EVER that I’ve set foot in one since 1990 without thinking of that classic film. What a perfect setting for a modern-day vision of pure horror. That film and its location have long been obsessions of mine, so much so that in 2001 I made a pilgrimage to Monroeville, Pennsylvania to visit the actual mall that was used in the original movie. God bless my newlywed wife for understanding–of course we managed to fit the trip in mere months before our first baby was born, when we knew it would be significantly tougher to do things like jumping in the car and driving for seven hours on a whim to see a shopping mall.

JA - My New Plaid Pants

Why The Bramford of course! Hidden passageways, dead babies in the basement, crackheads throwing themselves (or being thrown?) out of the windows. You can cover the walls with sunny yellow paint all you want to, Rosemary - you’re still gonna have the Devil’s seed inside of you!

Louis - Damaged 2.0

I tend to really enjoy movies set in Mexico or South Texas. I grew up in those rural areas, and while then they never freaked me out, in movies, they always seem to scare me more than any locale. It’s the desolateness, I suppose. Movies like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE work so well because, even if it’s daylight, you can run screaming in the open fields and no one can hear you at all. Or, in the case of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN or FEAST, a bar in the middle of nowhere under attack.

Kimberly - Cinebeats

Venice Italy! Specifically the way Venice is used in horror films and thrillers like Don’t Look Now (1973), Who Saw Her Die? (1972), Nosferatu in Venice (1988) and The Comfort of Strangers (1990). It’s a beautiful city so most of the time directors seem to use it as a romantic backdrop, but I think it’s really effective as a backdrop for horror films due to the cities dark winding streets, unexpected dead ends and bridge covered canals.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

My favorite horror locale is sort of co-owned by the horror and mystery genres: the secluded island manor (that’s usually cut off from the mainland by a storm). I’m a big mystery fan, and starting with Christie’s “Ten Little Indians” I’ve always loved this kind of story. I’m pretty sure that “April Fool’s Day” was the first time I saw it done as more horror than mystery; either that or the abysmal “House of the Long Shadows.” I’m not sure why I find this particular location so striking, since, oh, NINETY-NINE PERCENT of slashers involve remote locations that are cut off from help during some sort of storm — but I swear, island mansions are different somehow.

Maybe it’s just the thought of Deborah Foreman being there.

Tim - Mondo Schlocko

I’ve always been partial to the Lovecraftian locales such as Arkham and Dunwich. Second to that in terms of pop culture would have to be Castle Rock from the Stephen King novels.

Full house this week. Thanks to the architects of terror who made up this week’s Roundtable. Make sure you visit them in their own backyard, via the links above. And if you have someplace you’d like to add to this atlas of fear, please do so in the comments below.

Posted in Roundtable on March 7th, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Eighty-Eight

Name three-to-five directors you would invite to create the ultimate horror anthology film.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Because I’m an eternal optimist, I’m going to limit myself to living directors so that this dream project could actually happen. Maybe I’m just in an Oscar mood, but as I’ve said before, There Will Be Blood really has me wondering what P.T. Anderson would do with a straight-up horror movie, so he’s contributor number one; and as far as I’m concerned the Coen Brothers have already done horror with Barton Fink, but if you’re unpersuaded that they’d be right for our little anthology, may I submit No Country for Old Men’s Anton Chigurh as Exhibit A? So they’re director #2. Next, since they’ve already got pretty solid track records in the genre and since they’re already collaborating on Tintin, I’d bring in Steve Spielberg and Peter Jackson for our third and fourth slots. My final choice is a bit off the beaten track, but as a big fan of Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point, I’d love to see a full-on horror effort from none other than Woody Allen. And there you have it, the ultimate horror anthology film. Or the ultimate compilation of Bud Light commercials, if that’s what they felt like making.

Curt - Groovy Age of Horror

Movies aren’t really my specialty, but if I may stray into books, which I know a little better, Jeffrey Thomas is a pretty exciting author of cyberpunkish Lovecraftiana, and David Wellington, who has a very solid track record with zombies and vampires in my judgment, has expressed an interest in writing something in a Lovecraftian vein. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing those two authors among others in a Mythos anthology!

Gary Wintle

Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers)
Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Totoro)
Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira)

I couldn’t think of many cool horror directors in particular, but I think an awesome horror animated anthology with these three director/ writers would be amazing. Each I think has proven that they got the chops for straight up horror as well. I really love anthology horror flicks by the way. They were always my tops picks in horror as a kid.

I don’t know if I dreamed this, but I think I remember my brother letting me watch something like… Garfield’s 9 Lives? It was both a comic and cartoon (each slightly different). It was an animated anthology that had some completely terrifying moments. Really, did I dream this Garfield thing up? (Editor’s note: Nope, you weren’t dreaming)

Jeff O’Brien

Fred Olen Ray, Don Farmer, Jim Wynorski, Dave DeCoteau and HG Lewis.

Donald May, Jr. - Synapse

GEORGE A. ROMERO
JOE DANTE
WILLIAM FRIEDKIN
DAVID CRONENBERG
STEVEN SPIELBERG

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

Can I say no one? Ha. For some reason, all of the multiple director anthology films that I can think of have not turned out that well. “Grindhouse” I guess is an exception, but that’s not really a true anthology film in any way (it should have been though). When I ponder this question, I just keep coming back to “Two Evil Eyes” with George Romero and Dario Argento… do we really need another one of those floating around the world?

Stacie - Final Girl

I love anthology films! Some of my knee-jerk answers have already contributed to anthology movies: Carpenter, Romero, etc, so I need to dig a little deeper here…hmm. How about Neil Marshall, Guillermo Del Toro, Mary Lambert, David Cronenberg, and William Friedkin. Now that would be a movie!

Bill - Pulp 2.0

Lucky McKee — for the creep factor
Herschell Gordon Lewis — for the gory humor
Mike Mendez — for the frenetic camerawork and attitude
Geoffrey Wright (whose recent Macbeth adaptation is worth renting) — because he needs to break new ground and I think he would do well with a horror movie

Louis - Damaged 2.0

Limiting this to directors who are alive…

1. ROB ZOMBIE
2. PAUL NASCHY
3. JAMES GUNN
4. LLOYD KAUFMAN
5. ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY

+ a wraparound by JOE DANTE starring HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS as the storyteller

JA - My New Plaid Pants

If it weren’t for the Rob Zombie factor, I’d say a Grindhouse 2 involving the directors of the trailers sandwiched into the first Grindhouse would be my call here - I’d love to see if Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving and Edgar Wright’s Don’t could be stretched to feature-length, but I have no interest in Zombie’s SS Werewolves movie (even with that terrific Nic Cage gag). There’s always Robert Rodriguez’s Machete to complete a triple-bill!

I’m not sure that would really constitute an “anthology film” though… maybe Roth and Wright and Rodriguez (oh my) could each do a half-an-hour short (thereby side-stepping complaints about the first Grindhouse’s length) on the same topic. I’m thinking they could each remake a third of the It’s Alive epic saga at half an hour apiece.

I don’t know where that random idea just came from. It’s a scary place inside my brain where it hurts to look.

Arbogast on Film

Do these directors have to be living? I ask because, as phrased, the question is like one of those “Five figures from history you’d have over for fondue.” (And if anyone’s wondering: Jesus Christ, Eve Arden Vlad the Impaler, Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer and Gertrude Stein.). I’m guessing you mean an anthology film to be made now, so my list would run to Michael Almereyda, whose NADJA I (and I alone, it seems) loved; Neil Marshall, as I’m a fan of THE DESCENT; Jaume Balagueró, director of SIN LOS OJOS/THE NAMELESS, who has an incredible eye (and ear) for horror; and finally Mary Lambert, whose SIESTA I liked better than PET SEMETARY (or the hateful PET SEMATARY II) but we really need some estrogen in the horror mix these days and I know the genre is still a going concern for her.

Now where’s my budget?

Tim - Mondo Schlocko

Joe Dante, Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright would be my top three. Especially the last two directors after considering how their fake trailers in GRINDHOUSE were much more brilliant than the actual two flicks shown.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

I think three is a sufficient number of directors for a good anthology; five is probably too many. While I really want to run with three of my most cherished genre stalwarts like Carpenter or Romero, I think I’d actually rather see some non-horror guys take a stab at it. (Especially since my favorite horror directors have been off their game for years as it is.) My thinking is something different: Judd Apatow, Wes Anderson, and Michel Gondry. I guess I’m just looking for a good, weird horror-comedy.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

For the ultimate anthology film, I’d like to mix and much some of the men whose work I think would mesh together to make on hell of a theatrical experience. First, I’d take George Romero, who proved he has the chops with one of the greatest–if not the greatest–horror anthologies ever, Creepshow. Then, I’d take two guys who have proven track records as horror masters, but who’ve strayed from the genre for a while now: Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. I believe both of those guys still have it in them to deliver the goods. And finally, I’d infuse the project with two of today’s most riveting directors: Danny Boyle and Rob Zombie. Of the current crop of genre mavens, I’d predict those two would fit in best with the rest of the bunch.

Kimberly - Cinebeats

My ultimate horror anthology would be an international affair that used the short supernatural stories of M.R. James as the basis of the anthology and I’d ask some of my favorite modern horror directors from around the globe to participate. The five directors would be Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Japan), Robert Morgan (Britain), The Brothers Quay (America), Fabrice Du Welz (Belgium) and Park Ki-hyeong (Korea).

Quite the turnout! Thanks to all of this week’s participating anthologists for their responses. I’m curious; which of the films listed above would you most want to see make it to the screen? Eric excepted. Hater. Please leave your answers in the comments below.

Posted in Roundtable on March 1st, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Eighty-Seven

Name your choices for the best and worst dressed characters in Horror.

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

Not sure about best, but worst is easy, “Jason X”. I never did understand why people in the future wore mesh shirts, bad spandex, and fuzzy purple sweaters. Oh well, I guess that was the least outlandish thing in that film.

Arbogast on Film

Henry David Thoreau once said “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes,” to which I would add “unless your old clothes suck and you are fighting evil.” History has shown us time and again that dressing poorly is a recipe for disaster. Consider the sundry partygoers in Curse of the Crimson Altar, Dracula AD 1972 and Scream Blacula Scream - they look ridiculous in their (respectively) blazers and ascots, bell bottoms and headbands and dashikis and Kente caps. Fighting evil requires a classic approach that defies fashion trends. Consider the priests in The Exorcist, the three-piece suits favored by Dr. Van Helsing, and the SWAT uniforms of the Dawn of the Dead heroes. While I wouldn’t advocate a horror dress code, per se, I will suggest that you can’t go wrong with Georgian or Victorian dress. Everyone looks good in breeches and waistcoats. These fashions favor the ample and the starved equally well and those lines are just classic. How wicked stupid would you look carrying a Gladstone bag full of wooden stakes while wearing Sansabelt slacks?

As for who looks good… anybody whose name includes the title Count or Baron. Dracula, Blacula, Frankenstein, Yorga, Latos, Chocula… they all look fab-u-lous in their cutaways and capes. Vincent Price always favored conservative, JFK style dark suits with thin lapels, complemented by a narrow tie. Forty years later, he looks just as cool, which can’t be said for, say, Roger Perry in his TJ Maxx clearance rack castoffs in Count Yorga, Vampire, William Ellis in his poncey Carnaby Street togs in Dracula AD 1972 or the entire hippy dippy cast of Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (and look what happened to them!) And fuck The Lost Boys… you cannot confront ultimate evil in a mullet.

Nathan - MicroHorror

Who am I, Mr. Blackwell? Ah, well. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly.

For an example of a well-dressed serial killer, look no further than Frederick Charles Krueger. The workboots and khakis are timelessly neutral– and practical– and draw attention to the standout features of the outfit. Mr. Krueger’s sartorial trademark, of course, is his iconic sweater. Not everyone looks good in wide horizontal stripes, but on Krueger the design emphasizes his powerful build and broad shoulders. The sweater’s worn and fraying edges, instead of appearing sloppy, instead serve as an outward symbol of Krueger’s determination: This is a man who will come back from the dead to keep on murdering, and he certainly won’t replace his favorite sweater just to satisfy others. The outfit is accessorized with a broad-brimmed fedora, helping to balance out the width of Krueger’s shoulders. Finally, he dons his self-designed glove, a classic of brutal design in metal and leather, which draws the eye without appearing ostentatious.

A revamp of Krueger’s wardrobe appeared in 1994. Here we see the boots and trousers changed from brown to black, and the entire look is modified with the addition of a long black coat. The sweater, however, has not changed, and maintains its rightful place as the focal point of the outfit. And look closely– the sweater’s stripes are repeated in the lining of the coat itself for a subtle but delicious embracing of personal style. Krueger’s new right hand, though, trades the personal touch of the glove for a sleeker, more biological look, and I fear it doesn’t carry the same weight. Despite this, the outfit as a whole is a respectable and menacing upgrade.

Jason Voorhees, sadly, has not fared as well as Mr. Krueger. Don’t get me wrong; his outfits have been very practical throughout most of his career, and though they may err on the side of caution (read: dullness), they allow more attention to fall on Mr. Voorhees’s hockey mask.

The hockey mask itself, of course, was a wise trade-up from his previous burlap sack.

Now suitably masked, he ditches the overalls in favor of a two-piece. Still simple, still practical, the bland coloring lets the white mask stand out.

Voorhees is not as healthy as he used to be, but he sticks with the outfit that works, and accessorizes with a toolbelt.

He’s even more decomposed now, but the outfit still looks good as a contrast to the mask. So far, so good… but a little while later, Voorhees makes a mistake. A fundamental blunder, if you will, also committed by the Leprechaun and even by Pinhead himself, who should have known better. I refer, of course, to taking a trip to space.

Oy. The cyborg look does not work. Let this be a lesson to all you other icons of horror film. Don’t go to space.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

Best Dressed: Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The Count has always been among horror’s best-dressed gents in almost every incarnation over the years, but nobody did it up like Gary Oldman. As illustrated in the accompanying pic, Oldman’s Dracula is looking sharp as a vampire’s fang–worthy of the Victorian equivalent of G.Q.

Worst Dressed: Tarman. Sure, he’d been stewing in his own undead funk for 17 years by the time Frank accidentally freed him from that trioxin cannister, but that’s really no excuse for such a slovenly ensemble.

Gary Wintle

Louis - Damaged 2.0

1. The worst of all-time is the Trickster from BRAINSCAN. It’s like a studio-head went to a David Bowie/Glass Spider Tour concert, then read an early 90s Vertigo comic and then played Ecco the Dolphin, went to a screenwriter and said “Hey, these kids today love that new wave, spiky-haired, nose-ring fad, so let’s make a movie about a killer who looks like that…ohh, and can we somehow tie this into the new Atari Lynx? Or maybe the Neo-Geo? Make it a horror film! It’s our new franchise!”

2. The best looking? That would be Thor from ROCK AND ROLL NIGHTMARE. A heavy metal angel sent by God to destroy demons, clad only in a metal codpiece? Now that’s a costume!

3. I’m gonna add another category, if I may–hottest costume ever. That would go to Salma Hayek in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. As Satanico Pandemonium, it’s seriously the only time I ever seriously contemplated masturbating in a movie theater.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

Best-Dressed: Gary Oldman in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Sure, he may have had funny Leia-buns on the top of his head in that one scene, but aside from that, tell me that he didn’t look exceptionally dapper? I only wish I could pull off the silver suit and top hat look.

Worst-Dressed: Pretty much anyone in any horror film made between 1967 and 1979. It’s like there was a gap in the collective sense of what was attractive, which is the only way that I can explain how abominably ugly the 1970s were. See Alan Ormsby in “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things.”

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

Best dressed: Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Worst dressed: This douchebag from Terror Train.

Kimberly - Cinebeats

My vote goes to Peter Cushing’s Doctor Frankenstein and Van Helsing characters in the various Hammer films. Cushing was undoubtedly one of the best dressed men in horror films and he always looked flawless in period costumes.

As for the worst, I’m going to have to say Frankenstein’s monster in most of it’s guises. I love the original old Universal Frankenstein films but they set the standard for the monster’s look and those sloppy ill-fighting suits are just ugly. If the Doctor can dress himself so well, why he can’t afford to hire a tailor and get a nice suit made for his monster? I think this is one reason Frankenstein’s monster was pissed all the time. He wanted a better suit!

Dave - Rue Morgue’s The Abbatoir

Best: Vulnavia Wrick in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Although I had to swipe this shot from online because I ran out of time, and it’s not the best outfit to represent her fantastic wardrobe in the film, you get the point. Outlandishly cool.

Worst: Thor in Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare. Although I love Thor, this isn’t his shining moment — although maybe his shiniest… On second thought, this is exactly why I love Thor. And this really is the best codpiece for fighting puppet-demons.

After years on the sidelines, it looks like cock and balls may finally be making their long-anticipated comeback to the runway. Thanks to the followers of horror couture found above for their insight, and please, if you have your own ideas of who has it and who hasn’t this season, share in the comments below. Ciao!

Posted in Roundtable on February 22nd, 2008

Horror Roundtable Week Eighty-Six

Describe a scene in a horror film that brought you to close to tears.

Sean - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

The climax of Heavenly Creatures is one of the most affecting, disturbing, unforgettable sequences in any movie ever.

Retropoliltan - Tales To Astonish

Even though “Real Men” aren’t supposed to be brought to tears by scenes in horror films, I have to say that the first time I remember being really moved by a scene in a genre film was in the original “Dawn of the Dead.” It was the first time I felt truly invested in the characters in a horror picture — maybe any kind of picture. Two scenes in the movie really got to me: first was Roger’s “We whipped ‘em, didn’t we?” scene; the second was the elevator scene at the end with Stephen. Even though I was moved by the ending of “Night,” I didn’t feel as much for those guys as I did for the foursome in “Dawn”; I really felt like I knew them, or at least understood them relative to what they were going through. When Peter started to go a little cuckoo, it was terrifying and sad at the same time; you knew what was in store for him, and had to watch and wait for it to happen. And when Stephen met his fate it, it pretty much killed me. It’s such a great movie, but man, what a downer.

Arbogast on Film

I’m actually a shamefully easy cry at the movies (”Oh why won’t they leave the Alligator People alone?!”) but the first thing that comes to mind is when Father Dyer gives Father Karras last rites at the end of THE EXORCIST. The movie doesn’t get enough credit for the way it understands the distance that yawns between people for all kinds of different reasons (a motif telegraphed with the missed phone calls, the Ouija board, the thwarted conversations where one person pursues another who doesn’t want to talk, the backwards speech, the writing on Regan’s stomach) and the loneliness of the modern age. Yet for all the love that goes down the wrong way in the film, the friendship between Karras and Dyer is very palpable, very local, very real… and it breaks me to pieces to see Dyer weeping* as he blesses his dying friend and Karras’ bloody fingers curling slightly in his hand to show he’s still there and to say, in his extremely diminished capacity, goodbye. You just don’t get that kind of emotional layering in horror movies most of the time.

*Yes, I know director William Friedkin bitch slapped first-time actor William O’Mally before they shot the scene but the moment transcends the trivia.

Eric - Bloody Good Horror

It’s weird, as I think back, I’m realizing that horror films don’t usually bring that type of emotion out of me. I have been moved by films, but they’re usually from other genres. When I try to think of emotional endings, I keep coming back to “The Descent”, and the way the ending that film completely rips your guts out. I speak, of course, of the ACTUAL ending, not the slightly rosier one from the American release. Even then, it’s not as much sadness as it is pure terror.

B-Sol - Vault of Horror

What immediately comes to mind is the blind hermit scene from Bride of Frankenstein. It is truly rare to find such depth of emotion in a horror film, especially one made during the 1930s, an era when much of genre entertainment was considered strictly for kids. By the end of the scene, as the hermit declares his friendship for a teary-eyed monster with Ave Maria playing in the background, I will confess to occasionally getting a little misty myself. It’s scenes like this one that place James Whales’ Frankenstein films head and shoulders above almost anything else in the Universal canon.

Nathan - MicroHorror

I can’t pinpoint one scene, but 2003’s “May” haunts me. Angela Bettis, as the title character, is terrifying, but she’s so beautiful, and so sad. She’s all alone, and all she wants is to find some happiness for herself, but she doesn’t know how. You can’t help but fall in love with her, just a little bit. And as you watch May slide further down towards her inevitable self-destruction, you wonder if maybe, just maybe, you would have been strong enough to rescue her, or if you too would just end up as a couple of extra parts in her collection. In the end, you mourn.

JA - My New Plaid Pants

Close to tears? Hell I cry all the time. Making me cry is hardly a feat. But the first sort of random example that sprung to mind here was the end of Ginger Snaps, a film I seem to love much more than most people I’ve spoken to. I just found the central relationship between the two sisters really effective, and I thought the actresses really sold those final moments, in which Bridget has to come to terms with her sister’s changes, really well.

Louis - Damaged 2.0

What does it say about me when I say the final moments of THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, when the Fireflys are gunned down to the tune of “Free Bird”, actually did make me well up?

Dave - Rue Morgue’s The Abbatoir

All of I Am Legend, particularly the ending and anytime Will Smith was dropping one-liners or talking about how Shrek is his favourite film. The stink lines emanating from that awful movie actually scratched my corneas and brought me to tears.

It’s O.K. Let it all out. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this week’s group hug. if you’d like to share your own sob story, please do so in the comments below. We’re here for you.

Posted in Roundtable on February 15th, 2008