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Showing posts from April, 2013

Hannibal: Review

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Having seen enough episodes of the new TV show Hannibal , I can confidently diagnose it with bipolar disorder. Half of this show is riveting and the other half is boilerplate crime procedural. The scenes between Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) are absolutely electric and fraught with psychological tension and discovery. Unfortunately, the show grinds to a halt when the scenery-chewing Laurence Fishburne and his CSI Snark Crew examine gory bodies while trading snide one-liners. What was creator Bryan Fuller ( Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me ) thinking? My guess is that the network pushed for the crime procedural element, since it's so out-of-sync with the macabre tone of the show. I'm hoping the show will get better as Dr. Lecter's storyline unfolds, and the emphasis on the freak-of-the-week subsides. There's just enough here to recommend a viewing but keep a finger poised on that forward button.

Cargo Tropfest Short

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Here's a finalist from the 2013 Tropfest International Short Film Festival . "Cargo" tells the heartbreaking story of a father and his infant daughter stranded amidst a zombie apocalypse. These seven minutes are better than most episodes of Walking Dead . (YouTube Link)

Abandoned Castles

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Old mansions are the perfect setting for classic ghost stories from Macbeth to The   Woman in Black , yet many of us in America have never actually been to one*. You have to wonder how these huge feats of eerie architecture and wealth fell into such derelict states and now lay cold, empty. What happened? What wickedness left the families destitute (or dead)? The closest "castle" that I know of near Northern California is Hearst Castle which I am finally visiting this summer. It's not allegedly haunted but I'm fairly certain if I were a ghost, I would go straight to that huge mansion. Of course, hauntings probably happen in vacant buildings that don't offer daily tours, like the ones on this fascinating list of abandoned castles from around the world , posted on iO9.com.  Naturally, most were erected in Europe, including this one in Belgium: ChĆ¢teau Miranda was built in 1866 by an English architect for the Liedekerke-Beaufort family. The family lived there u

John Carpenter's The Fog

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A few years ago, HalloweenAddict.com posted " Happy The Fog Day! " commemorating the day the fictional Elizabeth Dane and her crew crashed upon Antonio Bay in John Carpenter's The Fog . The 1980 movie was Carpenter's follow-up to Halloween and while it wasn't quite as successful, it has a devoted cult following. It's a classic slow-burn ghost story with a steadily increasing sense of dread and an eerie atmospheric feel – and its stars three legendary scream queens: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Janet Leigh! Seeing it as a child instilled a deep fear of pirates, ghost ships, and fog. My first summer in San Francisco made me relive those nightmares again and again as the creepy fog rolled in and smothered the city on a daily basis. (Coincidentally, the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse featured in the film is located 2 hours north of San Francisco. It's considered the windiest and 2nd foggiest place in the North American continent!) Fans shoul

Hemlock Grove: Review

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Three episodes in and Hemlock Grove has no discernible plot in sight other than something is killing girls in the quiet Pennsylvania town. However, the vague "mystery" seems like a thin device to parade its cast of over-the-top characters. So far there's a lurch with a weird bug eye and glowing skin, a brooding werewolf gypsy, a yuppie upir (a daywalking Polish vampire), a mannered mad scientist in the small town's only towering skyscraper, an sadly underused Lili Taylor, an overused Famke Janssen sporting a questionable accent, and a teen impregnated by an angel. While there's not much to propel this motley crew, it's still somewhat fascinating to watch. I admire it's offbeat Twin Peak-ish tone – at times grim, funny, and odd – but it's set in a Twilight -esque universe with bratty tweens as the centerpiece. It's unclear if this series will ultimately be a train wreck or if something more meaningful will develop. Since all 13 episodes are availa

Hemlock Grove

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Netflix's latest original series, Hemlock Grove , premieres Friday, April 19 exclusively on Netflix streaming – all 13 episodes are available now for binge watching! The series is based on the novel by Brian McGreevy and was masterminded by horror maven Eli Roth (Hostel, Grindhouse) . "Hemlock Grove" is a riveting one-hour murder mystery that revolves around the residents of a former Pennsylvania steel town. When 17-year-old Brooke Bluebell is brutally murdered, any of Hemlock’s peculiar inhabitants – or killer creatures – could be suspects. Through the investigation the town’s seamier side is exposed, revealing nothing is what it seems. Beautiful, terrifying, and graphic, "Hemlock Grove" is unlike anything else in its genre.

Butterfly in Human Skull

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What a haunting and beautiful picture by filmmaker and photographer  Marko Popadic . The butterfly, a symbol of rebirth, is perched inside the eye socket of human skull. His must-see website,  400nm.de , features several other skull images from Kutna Hora, as well as many trippy videos.

Happy Hallowspring!

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Halloween enthusiasts are sort of required to sneak in little a dreadful thing or two into every project. As I've been cleaning up the backyard and adding new plants, I've also thrown in some black & orange, ancient succulents, skeleton gnomes and, of course, a garden zombie. Happy Hallowspring! Black & Orange Lil' Audrey II Spiky Triffids Skeleton Gnome Cthulhu Succulents Garden Variety Zombie They're coming to get you Barbara.

Stephen King's Under The Dome

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In preparation for the June 24th CBS premiere of Stephen King's Under the Dome , I decided to undertake reading the novel. It's a behemoth at over 1074 hardcover pages first published in November of 2009. I prefer audio books and that translates to about 34 1/2 hours (to put that in perspective, most books are in the 8-15 hour range). Six weeks later I finished listening to the book, expertly read by the incredible stage actor Raul Esparza . When all is said and done, this will be recognized as one of King's best works. Read it! The story is simple. One October morning (just 11 days before Halloween!), an impenetrable dome falls over the town of Chester's Mill. The invisible dome slices animals in half, airplanes crash into it, and seals off the town. Only scant air and some water from the dissected rivers pass through the dome. Even missiles can't cause a dent. The 1000+ people inside are left to their own devices as they come to grips with the circumstances, the

Department 56 Halloween Village

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For you Halloween village collectors out there, many of the 2013 introductions from Department 56 are now available. They've expanded their dark carnival series ( Screamville sounds appropriate), and have gone a bit darker this year as well. Department 56 is under new ownership by Enesco, a large distributor of giftware, and they seem to have given their artists a little more leeway to be sinister. Or perhaps its a response to the growing popularity of the (cheaper and more widely available)  Lemax Spooky Town Collection . Here are some of my favorite pieces for 2013: Buying Department 56 can be a bit of challenge. If you are lucky, you may have a direct  retailer near you , but understandably many retailers won't carry the Halloween collection until September. Online shopping is the best avenue for acquiring new or limited pieces. One of my favorite retailers is  Country N' More Gifts  who offers good discounts and free shipping. Ebay also a gre

Evil Dead Soundtrack & Tee

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Can't get enough of the Evil Dead ? Here's a couple souvenirs of the bloody thriller. Motion Picture Soundtrack While scary music in horror movies is standard, the Evil Dead features a particularly outstanding soundtrack. It was composed by a relatively new composer Roque BaƱos who director Fede Alavarez met via Facebook! The Deluxe CD Edition (available directly from La-La Land Records ) will feature over 25 minutes of additional music not included in the digital download , both available on April 9th. (The CD will also be available via  Amazon  on May 7th.) T-Shirt The official  Evil Dead  t-shirt is available at  HotTopic.com  (and it's on sale for 25% off).

Evil Dead: Review

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Rarely does a highly-anticipated (and hyped) movie actually deliver the goods. Evil Dead is that movie. It's easily the goriest mainstream film I've seen in...  EVER. Seriously, the unrelenting mayhem took me by surprise (including the most squirm inducing tongue moment revealed in the trailer). It was brutal with almost non-stop intensity, and while the vicious tone is set early on, the film never looses its sense of fun. It's not that downbeat, dreary, bleak tone that so many remakes consider necessary. This one is for serious, hardcore horror fans who want to have a great time. The plot stays true to the original film and overlays a plausible story on top. Why would any one stay in this cabin? To help a friend detox in a no-escape sort of way. Jane Levy (known mostly for the TV show Suburgatory and last year's underrated Fun Size ) plays the junkie here and she is truly a revelation. A new scream queen is born (should she choose to accept the title)! I truly f

Roger Ebert 1942-2013

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Roger Ebert was an incredible mentor to me. He taught me how to view movies, and how to appreciate the art of cinema. And he's why I review movies on this blog. Rest in peace.

The Conjuring

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The full-length trailer for The Conjuring   has just been released and it's a supernatural bonanza! Test audiences have been so positive about the movie that Warner Bros. moved the release date from early this year to the height of the summer movie season – July 19. That screams confidence since horror typically does not fare well in the summer. The Conjuring  is based on the case files of real-life  demonologist Ed Warren and his clairvoyant wife Lorraine Warren  who attempt to help the Perron Family after they are attacked by a malevolent entity in their Rhode Island home. (The eldest daughter, Andrea Perron, went on to  self-publish a book about the experiences at the house  in 2011.) The Conjuring is directed by James Wan whose name might not ring familiar, but he's responsible for some of the best horror films of the last decade: the incredible  Insidious , the genre redefining  Saw , and the old-school romp  Dead Silence . (He's also currently filming  Insidiou

Shadow People: Review

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You have to be a fan of parapsychology and reenactment shows like A Haunting and Paranormal Witness to moderately enjoy the movie Shadow People . It's based on a true story and features "alleged real clips" from the people who were a part of the incidents centered in Kentucky in 2008. An outbreak of Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Dyndrome (SUNDS) claims several lives, a radio DJ gets swept up into the fold, and even the CDC gets involved. As a topic for investigation, this is ripe with interesting global legends, scientific study, and many witnesses who all claim to have seen or experienced and episode with these entities. As a movie, it doesn't quite hold together. Dallas Roberts' (Walking Dead) performance doesn't quite resonate, and the chilling "gotcha" moments are hokey at best. A serious documentary film would have been much more fascinating, and with the many clips, research, and serious investigative work, one wonders why it'