Friday, September 6, 2013

Blog relocating!

Hi everybody! You may be either excited or totally disinterested to know the blog is moving over to tumblr. The address should update within a few days, but in the mean time: Click here to go to the new place.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Talking about: Great finds

--> Hey, Yikes. You around?

Oh, I'm around.

I haven't seen you in a while. What have you been up to?

Searching. . . searching. . .

Oh yeah? What are you looking for?

For the tormented, crazed, misbegotten and forgotten sons and daughters of the most demented creatures to ever walk this earth!

So some new pals to hang out with?

Exactly. I thought I might pick up some cheap household items, too.

Household. . . ? And where have you been looking exactly?

The most forbidden of pits. The places where only the forgotten damned can be found. Where creeping, broken-down, black hearted cast-aways are left to writhe in the darkness. . .

You're talking about garage sales.

I'm talking about garage sales.

How did that go? Find anything good?

Yeah! And I only had to spend about 10 bucks. Have a video!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Talking About: Motor City Nightmares: 2013!

Alright! This is important information for anyone in the Detroit area, or anyone willing to travel for something awesome. Coming up in just a couple of weeks

Don't tell them what. Tell them when. Just say the date. I want to tell them.

It's already in the title. They've already seen it if they're reading this post.

OKAY. Coming up this April 26th running through the 28th is:

Post the picture!


Wow, you are really excited.

No kidding! All my pals are going to be there. Jason, Pluto, Pinhead, Captain Spaulding, Merle.

I still can't believe they got Michael Rooker from the Walking Dead. You left out quite a few people, though(not to mention their real names). Heather Langenkamp and Amanda Wyss from the original Nightmare on Elm Street will be there Friday and Saturday. Dee Wallace and PJ Soles are back, and a hell of a lot of others. And just for the record, none of those people are your pals, Yikes. I'm not sure you know the definition of the word pals.

Obviously you have never seen the end of Young Guns. There's also going to be live music and a film festival.

That's two rooms worth of film festival.

You suck at giving out information. Tell them the website.

Why did you have to say it like that? Anyone who wants more information, head over to It's taking place at the Sheraton in Novi, Michigan. I think it's safe to say Yikes and I will be taking a look around.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Talking about: The new Evil Dead and franchises

Seeing the new Evil Dead recently got me thinking about its place in the overall Evil Dead franchise. I have had several discussions with people about the movie. Some felt it was an entirely unnecessary retread, like most remakes, while others felt that it brought something wholly new to the series, revitalizing a franchise that has been languishing in stasis since the 90s.

Sure, there have been a few comic series, along with some movies that were in part spiritual successors, such as Drag me to Hell and My Name is Bruce. However, until now, the possibility of getting a brand new Evil Dead film seemed remote at best. Now that the film has been released, and proved itself a success by scoring number 1 at the box office, there are talks about a sequel to it, a possible sequel to Army of Darkness, and even a crossover between the two in the future.

It's hard to say how many, if any, of these movies will ever actually make it to a theater, much less film, but it's hard to deny that the remake has brought the series back to life.  I may sound cynical about the ultimate reality of these films, but at this point you could pitch the idea of Evil Dead 0: The Rise of Henrietta, and I would be pretty excited.

All of this got me thinking, wondering, what is it about franchises that draws me in?

I can remember a while back when The Blair Witch Project was the hot new thing. They had announced there would be a sequel. I immediately wrote the idea off as a worthless cash-in to a movie that had no need of a followup. Not long after, I heard rumors that a 7-picture deal had been signed. Whether that was anything more than rumors, I'll never know. In doing research now, I can find no evidence of the deal ever existing. Regardless, it would have been unlikely to move forward after the dismal failure of Blair Witch 2: Book of Waste of Everybody's Goddamn Time.

But! Between first hearing the announcement of a sequel and the later tedium of actually watching said sequel, something had happened. After I had heard this rumor of an entire slew of Blair Witches, my attitude quickly shift from “Worthless cash-in sequel” to “A whole series, eh?” and my interest had been raised. Not just interest, but actual excitement.

So what the hell happened? Why did I perceive one sequel as cash-in but 6 or more as exciting? To the producers,every movie is money at the end of the day, so what's the difference?

The difference, I think, is mythology. As more movies are put out, a world is created, whether it wants to be or not. For every new movie produced, as print is put to script, new ideas have to be formed. As the new ideas are added up, an alternate reality begins to form. Like the Greeks telling stories about the stars, the mountains and the underworld, an impossible and fantastical realm begins to form in our imaginations.

And honestly, the more hackneyed the idea, the more gigantic the plot hole, the more interesting I feel the mythology gets. When you have a series of 6, 7 or more movies all written by different people, different crews with different plans and different ideas on where the series will go in the future, you wind up with a continuity with more confusion than a mental ward. That's when the viewer's imagination begins to stretch.

I'm not kidding, go to a message board sometime. The mental acrobatics people will go through to connect plot point C to plot hole F would impress the performers in Cirque du Soleil. This is done on a person by person basis. Fractures of opinion form, and soon a franchise will have as many interpretations of its mythology as it does fans. Take the James Bond films, for example. People have theories trying to fit all of the films into one consistent time line, going so far as to explain different actors playing the same characters.

So, I suppose I have the answer to my own question. I like franchises, at least in part, because I enjoy the world building. I like mythology. A movie's purpose is to tell a story, and that story's purpose is to take us on a journey. In one Friday the 13th, you have the story of a woman driven mad by the death of her son. Over the course of 11 Friday the 13ths, you have the story of an unkillable man, returned from the grave, given unearthly power by the Necronomicon (Oh boy it connects to the Evil Dead series, even more world building!), eventually being sent to hell and ultimately into outer space.

How the hell do you go from a simple angry mother to shooting axe murderers into space? For better or worse, it takes a franchise to travel that kind of distance.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Threads of Fear: The Vampire

Threads of Fear! The first real update.

In order to make this laborious project a little more streamlined, we're starting out by focusing on a single classic monster: the vampire.

Bitey. Isn't that still kind of a broad topic though?
It is. There are probably thousands of vampire films, books, comics, games, poems, songs, even toys. Think of the modern vampire. What does it mean to you? Fangs, blood, romance, aristocracy? Is the vampire a tortured romantic soul, or a savage monster? This is one particular thread that has gone in a thousand different directions.

Just thinking of some of the most popular vampire movies from, say, the last few decades, you have Dracula, 30 days of night, Interview with the Vampire and even TV shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries.

There's that other series, too. The one about, I don't know, sunset or something? With the glitter?

I. . . don't remember anything about glitter?

That last one came out not too long ago. Breaking. . . something. I can't remember the title.

Breaking Bad? Great show, but this is strictly a horror blog. You've really got us off track, Yikes.

Anyway, the diversity of the modern vampire is exactly what makes it a perfect start to this topic. But you're right, We need to get a little more specific if we're going to follow this thread.

How specific?
Let's start with one vampire, probably the best known: Dracula.

We talked about him before.
Yeah, we've addressed his. . . agenda, but now we can track his trail from modern times back to the origins of the character. These days, Dracula has been everywhere. Movies, books, games, you name it. He's been portrayed by a multitude of actors, enough that his face is blurred across dozens of different men. Even now, there's a new series about Dracula in development for NBC. Previously, we've had the Dracula 2000 series, the 1992 Coppola Bram Stoker's Dracula, which always makes me think of graham crackers.

It does what now?
In the early 90s, I had just discovered cinnamon graham crackers. I associate that with seeing tons of previews about the new Dracula movie, those behind the scenes things that HBO used to show a lot. Graham crackers. Bram Stoker. I dunno.

. . . Alright.
Anyway, who played the best Dracula is very debatable, but there are certainly some frontrunners. You have the Hammer films giving the classic monsters a huge resurgence, lead by Christopher Lee's portrayal of the count. That may be my favorite, and it's what I tend to think of when I think of Dracula. He gives you a great mix of classy gentleman and terrifying monster.

In a way, he's a great example of the vampire being more than a one-dimensional creature of the night. It's not a zombie. It's not just some creature crawling out of the mud to kill the living. There's intelligence there, a real cunning. Yet, he's still really just a killer. He has brides, sure, but they're subjects of his, not a great lost love. You can contrast that with Gary Oldman's performance in Bram Stoker's Dracula, where he is seeking not just blood, but his lost love. Regardless of whether or not you enjoy that direction, there's an evolution there.

All of those films, of course, may never have existed if not for the originals: The Universal classics. A number of different actors portrayed the vampire in those films, from Lon Chaney Jr., through John Carradine and of course back to the original, Bela Legosi.

So you take all these modern Draculas running all over the screen, and you trace them back to Legosi.
Well, Legosi may have been the first screen actor to play Dracula in name, but he is preceded by Max Schreck, playing a count Orlok in the first real movie adaption of the original Dracula novel.

Right, so the first actor to play Dracula didn't play Dracula at all. He played some other vampire named Sherlock?
No, it's Orlock. Sherlock is the detective. But Max Schreck was playing Dracula in spirit. The film makers just didn't have the rights to the novel, so characters were renamed. It's the same story.

But his name is Morlock?
Orlock. Morlocks are those monsters in The Time Machine.

That's a minor boss in Castlevania.

You know what, let's just call it Dracula.

The point is, if you're looking for the root of the vampire in film, it has to be here. And here, we do have something closer to a creature climbing out of the mud. Count Orlok is a frightful creature, hairless and ratlike with prominent fangs. The groundwork is laid for the romance as well-- he is distracted, enthralled with the beauty of a woman, and that is his weakness. Yet, there is never any doubt that the Nosferatu is a creature of nightmares.

The nightmares are what we're looking for.
Precisely, and there is a lot more history to go before we get to their source. Traveling back through time, at this point, we have to leave the world of film, and we find ourselves with the novel. We're entering the world of the written word. It's an interesting point in the past of the genre. The written word is the first time the things that scared us were really being recorded and preserved outside of our own fearful minds.

It's kinda like our journey left the pavement and went to a gravel road.
That's the best sign that we're getting somewhere. We'll pick up there, in the next Threads of Fear.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Introducing Threads of Fear

Something happens to our fear as we age. The acute terror of the monster in the dark becomes the dull, cold dread of reality. The heart-pounding terror of a demonic presence felt in your room fades with time, traded for late-night anxieties about job stability, bank overdrafts and the body's slow decay into old age.

So you're saying being old isn't cool? You're actually going to hate on senior citizens right now?

Our childhood fears of the supernatural never become real, so at some point we begin to fear reality. Somewhere along the line, I think we begin to miss that sharp fear, that simple black and white “Is it going to get me?” feeling. If you ask around, it seems that most people would actually prefer a zombie attack to cancer. Even something survivable, like knee cancer.

Nobody wants knee cancer.

So, often we turn to movies, books, games, looking for that old scare. We want to find that hovering demonic presence, the witch outside our window, the ghost in the hallway. Sometimes we even get lucky (and then maybe we regret it, laying in bed at night, afraid of what might come crawling out of the TV). In a horror story, we might find that thread that reaches the scared child inside of us.

What thread is that?

I think at the core of these things scary, there's a thread of our primal fears. If you could take fears like aging, loss of money, the car breaking down, and you distilled those fears down, I believe you would have to come back to the original fears. Fear of death, of being hunted, of the unknown.

That's logical, but where are you going with this?

Well, I was thinking about horror and about the evolving art form it is. There's a common thread that runs through every sub-genre of horror. Take something like Frankenstein. You can follow it from the 1931 film all the way through something like Re-Animator. Along the way, you'll find it winding its way through the works of Lovecraft and going on to inspire someone like Rob Zombie.

Before the movie is the novel, though.

Of course, and coming before that are the things that inspired Mary Shelley to write that tale on a stormy night in the early 1800s: Her own nightmares, scientific discoveries of the time and a collection of Germanic ghost stories.
The horror genre is like a bundle of roots buried in the past, which have spread out into thousand different branches, all twisting in different ways but can be traced back to similar origins.

You want to climb down the tree, I suppose. That could take lifetimes. For you, at least.

Well, I'm going to take it one at a time. We're going to start next time with an easy one that everyone can follow.

Next time? So I can get out of here now?

You can, but don't be late for next time when we present:

Threads of Fear: The Vampire!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Talking about: 2013

Two thousand, thirteen.

Twenty thirteen!

It is, indeed, 2013.

Twenty. . . THIRTEEN!

What does that make you think of?

A masked killer in the woods, getting some work done.

It makes me think of a black cat under a ladder, a hanging horse shoe falling over and letting all the luck spill out.

All of the luck?

All of it.

All of that luck stuff is just mumbo jumbo.

Sure, sure, bad luck, curses, black magic, the supernatural, possession of inanimate objects, devil dolls, killer puppets. Total fantasy.

Hey now, that isn't all the same.

Maybe not, but since this is the only 13-year we're going to get for the next century, I think we should do something to mark the occasion.

How do you mark the "occasion" of a whole year?

Well, how about we have a special update every month of the year, on the 13th?

We could do that. Or you could. I don't really like to be held to a schedule. It' so restrictive.

I got it under control. Just try to meet me here every month on the unlucky day. It'll all lead up to the big release in October.

That sounds. . . questionable.

Just trust me. It's going to be good.