Posts

Showing posts from April, 2014

Hell House: Ode to Richard Matheson

Image
As part of my scary education, I've been reading the classic novels in horror literature. First up  is Hell House by Richard Matheson, the New York Times best-selling author of  I Am Legend, Somewhere in Time, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Stir of Echoes, and What Dreams May Come a s well as many screenplays for movies and TV . He died last June 2013, at the age of 87. "Hell House is the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills." --Stephen King Written in 1971, Hell House concerns a physicist, his wife, and two mediums who are hired by a millionaire to investigate the infamous Belasco House in Maine. The novel combines a mix of horror, the supernatural, and mystery as the foursome try to solve the riddle at the center of the haunting. Along the way we encounter grotesque scenes of blasphemy and perversion that I've never encountered before. I will freely admit that I was shocked by some of

Salem (2014 TV Series): Pilot Review

Image
WGN America’s Salem is the latest in a line of historically-based horror hybrids with a supernatural core, period costumes/sets, and high production values. While it fits with current TV trends, this series feels like it's showing up a little late to the party. The comparison with more successful shows is inevitable, and it's working overtime to distinguish itself. The tone is solemn and serious, and the biggest surprise is it's target demographic: adults! There is not the slightest levity or wink at modernity, and no side story with blathering tweens who feel things deeply. Perhaps this will be the show’s greatest asset. The serviceable cast is led by the wicked and intense Janet Montgomery with her intense inky-black eyes that just exude evil. The long-haired Shane West is a little less convincing but he didn’t have much to do in this pilot and his unrequited love story borders on insipid. Perhaps there’s a more ambitious story left to be revealed but I don’t anticip

R.I.P. FearNet ~ 2006-2014

Image
The TV landscape is fickle and ripe with deals, mergers, and acquisitions, and the latest victim is a popular horror brand: FearNet.  Deadline reported this week that Comcast is killing off FearNet, and folding its content into Chiller TV and SyFy. Although the effective date was not announced, more than half of the staff at FearNet was let go on Monday. FearNet  launched on Halloween 2006 via VOD service on Comcast, then came the website, and in some markets even a 24-hour channel with some original programming (which never materialized here in Northern California). A few months later, then-rival NBCUniversal debuted Chiller TV  on competing services like DirectTV and TimeWarner. But then Comcast bought NBCUniversal (who also owns SyFy). It appears there are too many genre channels for the media conglomerate to keep operating so FearNet got the ax. Whether Chiller will be brought to all Comcast customers remains to be seen (visit this page and follow the prompts to submit an ema

Blood Moon on the Rise

Image
The time for reckoning is here… according to some televangelists. Tonight’s celestial event is a blood moon, a rare lunar eclipse in which the moon creeps into the darkest part of Earth’s shadow and receives only “sunset light” turning it red. The complete event lasts about 5 hours but the moon will be at its bloodiest at 12:07am PT, 1:07am MT,  2:07am CT, 3:07am ET. Tonight's eclipse starts a tetrad of events that will happen every six months (or so) between now and September 2015. Cue the doomsday chatter. John Hagee, the controversial founder of the Texas Cornerstore Church believes that this tetrad heralds a “world-shaking event” that may signal the end of times prophecy – and literally wrote the book on it. He cites Acts 2:19-20 as a sign: "And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord." Interestingly, all four blood m

Oculus: Review

Image
Horror movies are full of dumb things like running and stumbling, going into a dark basement without a light, or yelling 'who's there' at the worst time. But every once in a while, a movie comes along where the characters do all the right things and think before acting. Oculus , opening today, proves horror movies can be intelligent and thoroughly scary. It’s the best horror movie of the year (so far), and will likely become a cult classic. The story which seems rather silly at first – a haunted mirror – actually has a great deal of depth, and builds a rich mythos behind it. It’s the kind of original story you just don’t see anymore. And while it’s loaded with foreshadowing, its keeps the viewer committed to discovering the truth. The film is set in two time periods, jumping between them to dizzying effect and creating an unnerving sense of disorientation (made rather visceral with a thumping aural soundtrack). But Oculus is not for everyone. This film has an indepen

Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge: Review

Image
If you enjoy SyFy’s Face Off, you will likely enjoy the latest spin-off, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge . Contestants must conceptualize, fabricate, and mechanize full-size creature puppets under insane time constraints – you know the usual. The host, judges, and contestants aren’t particularly charismatic, but the contests’ work is definitely interesting and one can only imagine how much better their creatures would look if they had 3 extra days. Or a heck even full week! The point is to see the process of imagination at work and this is where the show is most successful. However, it’s also peculiar that the editors of these shows insist on creating drama, underdogs, and villains to tell a companion narrative along with the actual competition. But instead of all this “reality” (the contestants feelings, opinions about each other, emotional backstories) I’m much more interested in how they make these cool creatures. Yes, I know it’s not a “how-to” show, but why not throw in a

Universal Classic Monsters on Blu-ray

Image
If you don't already own the Universal Classic Monsters Collection, the next five days is the perfect time to own them. Until  April 12th , Amazon is offering the blu-ray set for $54.49 (64% off MSRP). From Amazon: Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection showcases 8 of the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature From the Black Lagoon. Featuring over 12 hours of revealing bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate classic monster experience. For the serious collector, a gorgeous limited edition coffin set was released in the U.K. (in October 2012). It features all 8 movies plus the 3D version of Creature from the Black Lagoon, lobby cards, and it's region free so it will play here in the U.S. It's still fairly easy

The Walking Dead, Season 4: Review

Image
The Walking Dead, Season 4 in one sitting revealed a couple things to me. The writing has gotten worse pulling disingenuous punches for sake of melodrama, and a vacuous thematic narrative that is much too drawn out. The plague that hits the prison definitely showed that even if survivors are protected from zombies, they are still alone and in peril (but we knew that). It also put Glen in a very unfortunate position but with he and Maggie being the only heart/hope of the show the outcome was inevitable. Then, leading up to the mid-season finale, the Governor pops back in only to cause havoc, a seriously unnecessary death, and served only as a glaring plot purpose: to get the characters out of the prison and scattered again. There was nothing organic about that Woodbury rerun. With 16 episodes, there has also been more filler as Episode 9 proved. Rick is incapacitated on the couch and the entire point of the episode is that Carl is not the Grown Up Man he thinks he is – shocker

The Fyne Art of David Lozeau

Image
Dia de los Muertos holds a special place in my heart and Southern California artist  David Lozeau is a master of the colorful skeleton art. His quirky and macabre artwork also features wild west, oceanic, military, and zombie themes on a variety of mediums that include canvas, surfboards, cars and violins! Some artwork is mounted in unique frames created to complement the artwork. David Lozeau's art show appearances usually include live painting events where you can see the artist at work. And he makes his artwork affordable to everyone in the form of paper and canvas prints in multiple sizes. Below are some of his upcoming appearances and for a full Event Calendar & Show Info visit his website. Mission Federal ArtWalk April 26th & 27th, 11a-6p Little Italy, Cedar St (Booth #305/#306) San Diego, CA 92110 Carlsbad Village Faire May 4th, 8a-5p Grand Avenue & State St (Booth #933/#934) Carlsbad, CA 92008 California Strawberry Festival May 1