Friday, March 22, 2019

US is Tense, Baffling Fun

Jordan Peele’s sophomore movie Us is well crafted American horror mixing home invasion, apocalypse, and sci-fi conspiracy themes. Prolonged stretches of sinister tension, relatable humor, and harrowing performances mostly sell this baffling, layered love letter to horror fans.

Don’t expect Get Out’s succinct storytelling, political leanings, or intimate setting. The breakneck speed of the plot doesn’t let you contemplate the meanings of seemingly trivial clues Peele tucks into the film. These clues along with encyclopedic knowledge of faith, science, history, and lore may be needed to fully decipher the film (at a later time). Plus, there is an ambitious narrative in the undertow occurring mostly offscreen and on a grand scale. None of the loftier aspirations ruin the fun of the initial screening. As with most dense films, repeated viewings (and DVD commentaries) may further confirm theories and speculations.

It is a notable accomplishment that Peele has brought back a sense of intelligent wonder to the mainstream, wide-release horror film. This is provocative filmmaking and has solidified Peele as a preeminent horror director. Us is terrifying, brazenly unique in the horror landscape, and well worth time for horror fans.







Friday, March 15, 2019

Quick Takes: Await Further Instructions, Beast, Let's Scare Jessica to Death



Await Further Instructions is a mystery, sci-fi/horror, yuletide-set gem with grand ambitions that defies its low production values. It’s a cautionary tale of toxic masculinity, tepid statement about the telly, and goes downright mental into stop-motion practical effects.




Beast takes the beauty to ferociously dark depths in this surprising, enigmatic, & confident debut thriller. It defies genre, keeps you off kilter, & the intoxicating lead actors keep you intrigued to the bitter, haunting end that lingers like a sea mist. (From Stray Bear Films available exclusively on SHUDDER.)



Let’s Scare Jessica to Death offers a glimpse of hippy life in the 70s. Care-free, free love, and accidentally falling victim to dark forces when living off the grid. It happens. And in this film, it happens really slowly and aimlessly. I liked the crazy lead’s internal monologue that tried to convince her how non-crazy people should act.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Halloween Postage Stamps Coming This Year!

Sure, no one mails anything nowadays, but as a person who used pens to write with my hands and then put letters in a magical box, I find the retro charm of stamps delightful. The US Postal Service is issuing the "Spooky Silhouettes" series created by illustrator Tyler Lang (see more of his work at AlwaysWithHonor.com) later this year.

Thanks to Miranda at SpookyLittleHalloween.com for breaking this news to the Twitterverse! A pox on you if you are not following Miranda, the ruling Queen of Halloween. She is everything.




MINUTE MUSINGS 
THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS BLOG!

While perusing the USPS site I saw the following disclaimer:
"The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations."
Wonder where your tax dollars go: of every dollar, 23¢ goes to the military, 29¢ goes to healthcare, 14¢ to federal debt, and billionaires now pay $85 billion dollars less than they used to, and 100 highly profitable corporations pay no taxes at all (as of 2017 data). So many things wrong with our government so make sure to have your voice heard and VOTE!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Department 56 Does Dia de Los Muertos

Department 56 unveiled the line up for this year's Halloween Village offerings. Included in the mix is a new series of Dia de los Muertos-themed buildings and accessories. They are available to pre-order now from Country N More Gifts (my favorite shop to buy village pieces) and are expected to be available later this summer.




Monday, March 4, 2019

Quick Takes: Overload, Anna and the Apocalypse, Hole in the Ground, Slender Man




Hole In The Ground is an artfully shot Irish tale with a dread & tension-filled first half anchored by fine performances. It gives up the ghost early on then gets derailed by plot holes & generic tropes revealing an underdeveloped script. It's a near miss more than a fail.




Overlord is an uncomplicated wartime feature that nosedives into Nazi horror territory. It opens with booming vigor but settles into a dull lull with little character development or storytelling. Then suddenly it reanimates for a fun, gory, action-packed, B-movie finish.




Anna And The Apocalypse pushes genres first gleefully then absurdly like a modern Rocky Horror. The pop songs are catchy, carnage is crunchy, and then there's a breakneck tonal shift. It’s zombie horror after all! An utterly unique pastiche and an instant yuletide classic.



Slender Man was quite a feat: first film to be conceived entirely by web bots, filmed in complete darkness (screw you lightbulb), and shot/edited before a script was written (save the talky-talky for reshoots). What efficiency in ruining a creepy story for a cash grab.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Fangoria's 2019 Chainsaw Awards

FANGORIA, the preeminent horror movie magazine, rose from the dead last year and wasted no time in issuing their 2019 Chainsaw Awards this week. These awards are selected by the people who know horror the best: The Fans. Earlier this year the ballot (below) was distributed via social media channels. Ballots have been counted and here is the official list of winners. Thank you FANGORIA for recognizing the best horror of the year. The Oscars can go sit on a chainsaw.

Best Actress: Toni Collette, Hereditary

Best Actor: Nicolas Cage, Mandy

Best Supporting Actor: Alex Wolff, Hereditary

Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, Suspiria

Best Director: Ari Aster, Hereditary

Best Screenplay: Ari Aster, Hereditary

Best Foreign Language Movie: Terrified

Best Series: The Haunting of Hill House

Best Score: Johan Johannson, Mandy

Best Make-Up Effects: Mark Coulier, Suspiria

Best Wide Release Movie: Hereditary

Best Limited Release Movie: Mandy

Best Creature Effects: Sierra and Josh Russell, The Ritual

Best Kill: Hereditary

Best Streaming Premiere Movie: Bird Box

Best First Feature: Ghost Stories


Honorable Mentions (non-voting categories) included:
  • Best Actress: Claire Foy (Unsane), Dakota Johnson (Suspiria), Madeline Brewer (Cam), Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz (Revenge)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Brad Dourif (Wilding)
  • Best Director: Matthew Holness (Possum)
  • Best Screenplay: S. Craig Zahler (Puppet Master: The Little Reich)
  • Best Limited Release Movie: Boarding School

The original ballot sent out via FANGORIA's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.