Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spooky Patents


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

He by H.P. Lovecraft

by H.P. Lovecraft

Our Nameless Narrator is a New Englander who has moved to New York, only to realize that he has a strong aversion to life in the big city.  While exploring the city at night, hoping to find some long-forgotten and historical hideaways, he makes the acquaintance of an Equally Nameless Character--the titular He.

He, dressed in peculiarly outdated clothes, becomes our narrator's tour guide through the hidden corners of the city, exposing the truth that lies beneath.  And this being a Lovecraft tale, the truth he finds is sure to drive him mad.
"The things we saw were very old and marvelous, or at least they seemed so in the few straggling rays of light by which I viewed them, and I shall never forget the tottering Ionic columns and fluted pilasters and urn-headed iron fenceposts and flaring-linteled windows and decorative fanlights that appeared to grow quainter and stranger the deeper we advanced into this inexhaustible maze of unknown antiquity."
 Some of the themes here are typical of Lovecraft's canon: the anonymous narration, the accidental stumbling into some sort of altered reality, an entity so terrifying it shatters one's sanity.

What's not typical here is the city where this story unfolds, and that the supernatural elements are of a more traditional manner--akin to "This old house was built on an ancient Indian burial ground!"  As with the previous tale, "The Moon Bog", it's more of a ghost story than the horror tales we have come to expect.

Despite the great descriptive prose (most noticeable when detailing the spooky street tour), the story itself was not enough to hold my interest.  To make matters worse, H.P.'s old racist self reappears here in subtle form when talking of New York's immigrant population.
"The throngs of people that seethed through the flume-like streets were squat, swarthy strangers with hardened faces and narrow eyes, shrewd strangers without dreams and without kinship to the scenes about them, who could never mean aught to a blue-eyed man of the old folk, with the love of fair green lanes and white New England village steeples in his heart."
Settle down, Howard.  They're Italians, not Elder Gods.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Case of the Bloody Iris (1971)

Case of the Bloody Iris

Written by Ernesto Gastaldi
Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo

Edwige Fenech .... Jennifer Lansbury
George Hilton .... Andrea Barto
Annabella Incontrera .... Sheila Hendricks
Paola Quattrini .... Marilyn Ricci
Giampiero Albertini .... Inspector Enci

Two women are killed in the same apartment building in the same day. The primary suspect is the unfortunately named Mr. Andrea Barto, who not only had possible ties to both victims but also designed the building and helped usher in Jennifer, a replacement tenant that winds up being the killer's next would-be victim. Jennifer is certain that it couldn't be Andrea, though, because he gets ill at the merest sight of blood. Is it all just a clever ruse and is he really the killer?

Or is it Adam, Jennifer's crazed ex-husband and leader of some sick sex-cult? Or the eccentric college professor who never seems to stop playing his violin? Or his seductive lesbian daughter? Perhaps the disfigured shut-in who lives with his paranoid old mother and spends all his time reading horror comics? The list staggers onward in this film where everyone is a suspect. In true Giallo fashion, the murderer is dressed in black and all you see of him during the death scenes are his gloved hands, until he's unmasked in the finale.

This film is a bit slow at times, but it's actually a lot of fun and it's jam packed with beautiful women so there's always something to look at, be it blood or bombshells. Just don't go in expecting a horror movie but rather a sleazy murder/suspense story and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised. There's nudity and some blood, but not much gore so if that's your kick, go kick somewhere else. There's also a bumbling police detective who offers some weird attempts at humor. Weirder still, it actually works.

Extra features on the Anchor Bay release DVD include the original theatrical trailer, an “alternate stabbing scene” and a director filmography (who is billed here as Anthony Ascott.)

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Clothes painted on; Stamp collector; Bathtub bitchslap; Bouncing black lace; The titular bloody iris; Alphabetic alcohol; Killerman comics; The slut speech; Pastrami sandwiches;

ALSO KNOWN AS: Erotic Blue; What Are Those Strange Drops Of Blood Doing On Jennifer's Body?; Why Are Those Strange Drops Of Blood On The Body Of Jennifer;

94 minutes
Italian (English dubbed)

Just what is so strange about those drops of blood on Jennifer's body, anyway?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Horror at Red Hook by H.P. Lovecraft

The Horror at Red Hook
by H.P. Lovecraft

Police officer Thomas Malone is brought in to investigate the mysterious case of Robert Suydam, a reclusive scholar whose demeanor and physical appearance changes suddenly upon his engagement to a wealthy woman. This also happens to coincide with a rash of local kidnappings.

Malone's investigations uncover a mythological cult and a supernatural conspiracy, both of which run deep beneath the surface of the city.

Strangely, the story is not told in first person, and the narrator does not figure into the tale. Which is unfortunate, as first person narration works so well for detective fiction. But in the end, it may not have mattered. A Lovecraft detective story should be a slam dunk--Cthulu meets Sam Spade--but unfortunately this is just a hot mess. Aimless, meandering, and mean-spirited, it comes across like a crazed political manifesto disguised as a horror tale.

This spiritual cousin to Lovecraft's earlier tale "He" takes place in the Red Hook neighborhood of New York, written during the brief period of time that Lovecraft was living in the area. His racism and xenophobia made it an unpleasant experience, as he was surrounded by foreigners on all sides. These negative emotions polluted his work enough already, but his New York tales are even worse, filled to overflowing with evil immigrants--a whole different kind of malevolent alien force.

To quote Lovecraft scholar Peter Cannon, "racism makes a poor premise for a horror story."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Frankenstein Funnies

Is it just me, or does Ol' Frankie look a little Rat Packy here?
Obviously suffering from rheumatism...
Bizarro indeed.
Unadulterated awesomeness.
Swashbuckling Frankenstein.
Monster orgy in Metropolis.
Frankenstein smash!!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Zombie Buffet

Zombie Buffet: The Tee-Shirt.
Come on.  You know you want it.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blood Mania (1970)

Blood Mania

Written by Peter Carpenter, Tony Crechales & Toby Sacher
Directed by Robert Vincent O'Neill

Dr. Craig Cooper...Peter Carpenter
Victoria Waterman...Maria De Aragon
Gail Waterman...Vicki Peters

Victoria has a love-hate relationship with her father: she hates the man, but she loves his money. Now that he's bedridden with a heart condition, the only thing standing in the way of her getting ahold of all that money is that pesky thing called life. She's also enamored with her father's physician, Dr. Craig Cooper, and once she learns that Dr. Cooper owes $50,000 to a very dangerous man, she uses the promise of her father's money to manipulate him into a sexual relationship.

Now all she's got to do is off the old bastard, and then it's a simple matter of collecting that inheritance.

Or is it? What of Victoria's sister Gail, who, although estranged, has at least never practiced patricide? Wouldn't it only make sense that Daddy throw her a few bones?

First off, let me state that this is barely a horror movie--it's more of an "erotic" "thriller" (and yes, both words do deserve to be imprisoned within Sarcastic Quotes)--and that the title makes very little sense until the final ten minutes of the film.

Although populated with gorgeous retro honeys and gratuitous T&A, Blood Mania moves waaaaaaaay too slow, and contains too much filler material to pad it out to feature length. Long, leisurely walks on the beach and a casual stroll through a renaissance fair? Pure cinematic packing peanuts! And the camera work was atrocious, with entire scenes playing out while the camera is focused on some inappropriate part of the anatomy. I don't care if you went to the Yucca Flats School of Cinematography, I don't need to see two people's waists while they're having a conversation!

It never pretends to be anything more than what it is--impure drive-in exploitation fare--but the problem is that it is never once frightening, and it is simply not sleazy enough to make it interesting.

Or, as Variety may have said back in the day:

Sleazer Cheeser Not A Crowd Pleaser!

Rated R
81 Minutes
United States

"You are a bitch. Come here, bitch."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shadowland by Peter Straub

By Peter Straub

Peter Straub’s Shadowland takes a whole mess of fairy tales and weaves an intricate web of horror around them. It is basically told in two parts, the first of which revolves around a group of young students at Carson, a strict private school that shuns all forms of individuality and creativity. Our protagonists here are Del, who wants desperately to be a great magician like his uncle, and Tom, his unsure sidekick who is literally overflowing with untapped potential. Our antagonists are headmaster Broome and the senior bully with the apt name of Skeleton. Together, the boys must persevere through the hardships and trials of the institution, hopefully coming out with their wits and souls intact.

Toward the end of the year, however, a tragedy changes the face of the school forever. With this weighing on their minds, Del and Tom venture across the country to spend the summer with Del’s uncle, the great Coleman Collins, which brings us to part two.

Coleman’s extravagant estate is the titular Shadowland, which turns out to be just as strict and rigid as Carson. Coleman teaches the boys his special blend of magic and abuses them both emotionally and physically. When Coleman tells Tom that he, and not Del, is to become his successor, Tom realizes that this is no smoke-and-mirrors parlor trickery. This is the real deal, the black arts that nightmares and madmen are made of. He’s forced to choose between the “low road” of normalcy and possibly death, or the mystical path of wealth and damnation. Either way, Coleman is not about to let him go without a fight.

The first part of the book, with its references to bop and jazz legends is the epitome of horror-hip, much like Straub's impeccable short story "Pork-Pie Hat" (which inspired me to look into his novels to begin with). Once the boys venture to Shadowland, the hipsterism diminishes somewhat but the action and scares pick up. Toward the end of the book, the momentum does seem to slow, but leaves you overall satisfied. Straub's style of writing is engaging and rather schizophrenic, and his work is a welcome addition to the genre. Fans of films such as Lord Of Illusions, take note of this book.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Gustave Doré Sampler

Some of the greatest illustrations ever to grace the printed page have been the work of Gustave Doré, dead some 200+ years now. Take a look-see. Dark and creepy stuff indeed...

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Moon Bog by H.P. Lovecraft

The Moon Bog 
by H.P. Lovecraft

Our Nameless Narrator tells us a tell of his old friend Denys Barry, an Irish-American who feels his ancestral homeland a-calling.  He reurns to Ireland and takes up residence in his family home, which he proceeds to return to its former glory.  Part of his master plan involves draining the ancient bog that consumes much of his land.  This notion upsets the superstitious locals for reasons that Barry can not fathom.

Our Narrator visits Barry in an effort to quell his loneliness and raise his spirits, but really he is there to witness the events that unfold and then relay them to us, once Barry drains the bog despite everyone's warnings.

Are you ready to witness what lies beneath?

This simple ghost story was a bit of a disappointment to me, and also a bit of a departure for Lovecraft.  Although there is definitely a supernatural aspect in most (if not all) of the man's work, this is probably his most traditional story yet.  Traditional meaning it has been done many times before, even at the time it was written.  Traditional like there are no surprises at all. 

Traditional like it's relatively boring, at least by Lovecraft standards.  It's by no means a bad story, it's just one you know by heart without ever having to read it.  Like a rerun of Malcolm in the Middle.

With more ghosts.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Genre Film on TCM (09.16.10/09/17.10)

Not quite a genre film, but The Virgin Spring, supposedly the inspiration for the notorious Last House of the Left, is playing on Turner Classic Movies late tonight/early tomorrow morning. Horror Historians may want to give it a look-see.

12:30 AM Virgin Spring, The (1960)
A medieval knight seeks revenge when his daughter is murdered.
Cast: Max von Sydow, Brigitta Pettersson, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom Dir: Ingmar Bergman BW-89 mins, TV-14

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man

Written by Anthony Shaffer
Directed by Robin Hardy

Sergeant Howie...Edward Woodward
Lord Summerisle...Christopher Lee
Willow...Brett Ekland

Sergeant Howie from the Scottish mainland arrives on a strange little island town, much to the chagrin and disdain of the locals, in order to investigate the reported disappearance of a young girl named Rowan Morrison.  The townsfolk aren't exactly cooperative, and they inhibit his investigation with founts of misinformation and superstition.

First off, they deny Rowan's existence.  Then they claim that she's dead.  Howie discovers there is no death certificate, and exhuming her grave brings a strange surprise.  It seems that no one is being quite honest about what happened, and Howie may never learn the truth.

Sergeant Howie is a devout Christian fellow, so he's far from comfortable with the pagan festivities of May Day occurring  all around the island--including public orgies, young girls attempting to become impregnated by the fire god ("It's much too dangerous to jump through fire with your clothes on!"), and doing their little shimmy-shimmy around the May Pole--the phallic symbol that is believed to be the basis for our Christmas tree.  He becomes even more uncomfortable, however, when he discovers that Lord Summerisle and his congregation mean for him to be a direct participant in these rituals.

Strange things abound in this movie--perhaps none quite so strange as the abundance of song and dance numbers, almost like an Andrew Lloyed Webber examination of sex and death.  Witness the awkwardly titillating ass-slapping get-down of Willow, the proverbial inn-keeper's daughter (with her own bawdy themesong, natch!), for a prime example.

Full of symbolism, well-researched rites, and a distinct intellect, this low-key horror may not be ideal for everyone, but the patient and contemplative genre fan will find plenty to marvel at here.  And, if viewed strictly as a psychological thriller, The Wicker Man can be seen as the older and wiser brother of Scorsese's recent Shutter Island.

Definitely a favorite.  And if none of this entices you to try it out, how about this:

Christopher Lee.  In drag.

I rest my case.

Rated R
88 Minutes
United Kingdom

"Here the old gods aren't dead."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Genre Film on TCM (09.15.10)

Okay, maybe calling Lord Love A Duck a genre film is stretching it a bit, but it's one crazy-ass subversive comedy, at the very least. And Turner Classic Movies is playing it this evening!

6:00 PM Lord Love A Duck (1966)
A high-school misfit devotes his life to turning a bubbly blonde into a social success.
Cast: Roddy McDowall, Tuesday Weld, Lola Albright, Martin West Dir: George Axelrod BW-106 mins, TV-PG

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Porky He Ain't: CHAWZ

Received an e-mail a short while ago about an upcoming horror film about (what else!?) a killer pig.  Sounds good to me.  Jonny likes his bacon.

He just couldn't put it down...

Magnet Releasing Takes North American Rights to Killer Pig Flick CHAWZ

New York - September 14, 2010 - The Wagner/CubanCompany's Magnet Releasing, genre arm of Magnolia Pictures announcedtoday that it has acquired North American rights to CHAWZ, a wild andfunny Korean monster movie about a giant, vicious pig terrorizing anidyllic countryside. Directed by Jeong-won Shin, CHAWZ is an affectionate tribute to classing monster movies that boastsfantastically gory special effects of the porcine beast attackinginnocent tourists looking to pick organic vegetables.

"If JAWS was looking to branch out to dry land, without a doubt he'dwant to be CHAWZ," said Magnet SVP Tom Quinn. "Another worthy additionto the Korean monster hall of fame and the Magnet Releasing library."

Youngjoo Suh, CEO of Finecut comments, "I'm delighted to work again withMagnolia who did a brilliant job for the distribution of THE HOST. Wevery much look forward to our collaboration through CHAWZ."

The North American deal was negotiated by Magnet's Quinn and Peter VanSteemberg with Youngjoo Suh and Luna Kim from Finecut.

Dracula Funnies

Dracula, The Mad Monk
Dracula, The Dirty Old Man
Dracula, The VERY Dirty Old Man
You're trying too hard, Drac.
That's right.  Dracula in Times Square.
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
The team-up you never asked for!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Genre Film on TCM (09.13.10)

Only one film of interest playing on Turner Classic Movies today.

6:15 PM Secret Fury, The (1950)
A mysterious figure tries to stop a woman's marriage by driving her mad.
Cast: Claudette Colbert, Robert Ryan, Jane Cowl, Paul Kelly Dir: Mel Ferrer BW-86 mins, TV-PG

The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft

The Outsider 
by H.P. Lovecraft

In this particularly popular outing from HPL, the Nameless Narrator is nameless for a reason.  That is to say that he has no idea who he is.  In fact, he doesn't seem to know much of anything other than that he has been trapped in this oddly isolated castle for as long as he can remember.  He has no recollection of human contact, and knows only of the outside world from the mouldering books he has found within his castle walls.

Desire to see this greater world for himself sends him on a journey that results in his meeting of a vile and beastly creature.  The identity of this creature, and the true nature of the Nameless Narrator, is the big payoff at the finale.

This tale is simple, but deceptively so.  Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that even a simple story can deal with decidely complex issues when there is a deeper mythology running beneath the surface.  And no, I am not talking about the Cthulu Mythos here ("The Outsider" would be peripherally related at best), but rather a dark and lonely view of the Great Hereafter that is only subtly hinted at, but is around every corner of this excellent short story.

Lovecraft's prose shines here as he describes the undescribable:
"I cannot even hint what it was like, for it was a compound of all that is unclean, uncanny, unwelcome, abnormal, and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and dissolution; the putrid, dripping eidolon of unwholesome revelation, the awful baring of that which the merciful earth should always hide. God knows it was not of this world - or no longer of this world - yet to my horror I saw in its eaten-away and bone-revealing outlines a leering, abhorrent travesty on the human shape; and in its mouldy, disintegrating apparel an unspeakable quality that chilled me even more."
To put it bluntly...Badass.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man

Written by R.C. Sherriff
Directed by James Whale
Based on the novel by H.G. Wells

The Invisible Man...Claude Rains
Flora Cranley...Gloria Stuart
Dr. Arthur Kemp...William Harrigan

Scientist Jack Griffin likes to dabble in things “that man should leave alone.” Instead of concentrating on his assignment—helping to prevent botulism—he’s been focusing his attention on a secret experiment that can turn a man invisible. Forget nausea, headaches and insomnia. The only side effects here are the inability to become visible and an ever-so-slight twinge of insanity.

Griffin enlists the help of his frightened co-worker Kemp as he plots a reign of terror the likes of which the world has never seen. And never will see, if you get my drift. But after he murders a policeman, a lynch mob is organized to bring him down.

The horror element is a bit tame by today’s standards, but you can only imagine the audience’s reaction when this film was originally released and Griffin removed his bandages for the first time. They had probably never seen anything like it. The special effects are actually quite astonishing considering the era, especially when the invisible man sparks up a cigarette.

The dialogue, unfortunately, suffers by Griffin’s need to narrate his actions while he’s invisible so that the audience is clued in to what’s going on: “I think I’ll throttle you now” and “I’ll strangle you. I’m strong, you understand?” But the most memorable line has got to be from the police chief as Griffin reveals his invisible visage: “Look! He’s all eaten away.”

It’s also very well thought out, describing the nuances of invisibility. Digesting food can be seen in his stomach, rain and acclimate weather can give away his position, etc. These are, for the most part, discussed and not demonstrated, as they would later be by Chevy Chase in Memoirs of an Invisible Man.

This is one of my favorite Universal classic monster flicks, and a damn good grassroots spookshow.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Screaming Mimi; Mouth off; Beaten by a book; Lion’s head; Invisible Hef; Hotwheels;

Not Rated
71 Minutes
Black & White
United States

"The drugs I took seemed to light up my brain."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Amateur Art Showcase: Klowns (And, Of Course...the Chicken!) installment of old art from my friend Bobby Gonzo. For more, be sure to check out the previous posts...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Genre Films on TCM (09.10.10)

Turner Classic Movies is playing a trio of films tomorrow that you hipsters may be interested in.

6:00 AM Curse of the Cat People, The (1944)
A lonely child creates an imaginary playmate with surprisingly dangerous results.
Cast: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph, Ann Carter Dir: Robert Wise BW-70 mins, TV-PG

7:15 AM Body Snatcher, The (1945)
To continue his medical experiments, a doctor must buy corpses from a grave robber.
Cast: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell, Edith Atwater Dir: Robert Wise BW-78 mins, TV-PG

6:00 PM Haunting, The (1963)
A team of psychic investigators moves into a haunted house that destroys all who live there.
Cast: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn Dir: Robert Wise BW-112 mins, TV-PG

Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer

Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer
 by Jonathan L. Howard

Years ago, scientist Johannes Cabal had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for magical powers of the dead. From that day forth, he was no longer Johannes Cabal, man of science. He was Johannes Cabal, necromancer.

But things have changed, and now Johannes wants his soul back. The devil, though, is never one to give without getting. He is, however, something of a gambling man. Johannes, realizing that a sleight chance is better than no chance at all, agrees, and the wager is set: Johannes has exactly one year to convince one hundred people to sign their souls away.

Operating under the guise of a traveling carnival, Johannes and the motley team he assembles crosses the country, a stack of contracts tucked safely away.

The characters here are all dark and eccentric oddballs. Beyond Johannes and Satan, there is a myriad of hellish underlings, Johanne's vampiric brother Horst, a personal assistant made of (literally) skin and bones, two bumbling zombie cronies, and a sideshow full of freaks, just to name a few. They're colorful enough to draw you into the book, but it's the story that's going to get you through to the end.

Truth be told, the story, though interesting and a lot of fun, is more than a little uneven. It starts off with a Hitchhiker's Guide type sense of humor, full of wacky jokes and asides, but quickly changes its tone for the climax. It becomes a much darker and more somber tale, with a more low-key sense of humor.

The pacing was a little odd as well, taking its sweet time detailing the first few days of the carnival before finally leaping to the final few days, with practically all of the time in between unaccounted for. I understand that not a full year could be detailed, but it would have been nice to see a few more of the souls between number 1 and number 100. Surely something of interest must have happened.

I'm a sucker for horror, dark humor, and for carnivals, so it was quite easy for me to look past these shortcomings and fly through this book with the greatest of ease. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am now greatly looking forward to the sequel.

Johannes Cabal, Detective has recently been released, and the supernatural stylings of this bitter character should blend quite well with the detective genre.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dexter Is Delicious Drops Doday...I Mean, Today!


The fifth installment in the "Dexter" series by author Jeff Lindsay releases TODAY, so get off your jolly asses and make haste to your local book nook.  Here are the product details, ripped from

Dexter Morgan has always lived a happy homicidal life. He keeps his dark urges in check by adhering to one stead­fast rule . . . he only kills very bad people. But now Dexter is experiencing some major life changes—don’t we all?—and they’re mostly wrapped up in the eight-pound curiosity that is his newborn daughter. Family bliss is cut short, however, when Dexter is summoned to investigate the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old girl who has been running with a bizarre group of goths who fancy themselves to be vampires. As Dexter gets closer to the truth of what happened to the missing girl, he realizes they are not really vampires so much as cannibals. And, most disturbing . . . these people have decided they would really like to eat Dexter.

Jeff Lindsay’s bestselling, dark, ironic, and oftentimes laugh-out-loud hilarious novels about the lovable serial killer with no soul (but a redeeming desire to kill only people who deserve it) have gained a legion of fans and assumed a place in our cul­ture.

 If you've only been watching the television series (which I'm a rabid fan of!), you're missing a whole 'nother side of everyone's favorite serial slayer.  So c'mon, crack a book already!


Monday, September 6, 2010

Who IS the King of Trash?

While surfing--okay, doggy-paddling--the internet the other day, I stumbled across the artwork of Toronto artist Michael DeForge.  He's got something of an underground comix aesthetic, and his work is both bizarre and beautiful, just like I like my women.  AND, he seems to be both freak and geek friendly. I wanted to encourage you all to check out his website, King Trash.  Mr. Deforge (can I really refer to someone who is nearly a decade younger than me as Mr.?) was kind enough to allow me to whet your sick, sick appetites with the following images.



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