Thursday, June 26, 2014

Alton's Bloody Mango

Nothing says summer like a ripe, juicy mango. What could possibly be better? If it involves Alton Brown, sprays of blood, and a rabid weasel. This is too fun to pass up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Supernatural Summer TV

Summer is officially here and so are the quirky, offbeat, and often high-risk shows that don't normally air during the lucrative/crucial Fall season. Supernatural or supernatural-adjacent shows continue to be popular, and at this rate many more will likely jump on the bandwagon. (How soon before we'll see CSI: Purgatory?) 

Dominion  NEW
Post-apopcalyptic sequel/spin-off to the 2010 movie Legion pits called angels against humans. 
Premiered Thursday, June 19 on SyFy

The Haunting of..., Season 3
Premiered Saturday, June 21 on LMN

True Blood, Season 7/Final Season
Premiered Sunday, June 22 on HBO

Teen Wolf, Season 4
Premiered Monday, June 23 on MTV

The Leftovers  NEW
This shows centers on the people who were not taken during "The Rapture." Any show about heaven will inevitably also be about purgatory or hell and it's minions, right?
Premieres Sunday, June 29 on HBO

Under the Dome, Season 2
Monday, June 30 on CBS

The Witches of East End, Season 2
Sunday, July 6 on Lifetime

Extant NEW
Halle Berry plays an astronaut on a 13-month solo mission who comes back to Earth pregnant (aliens!!!) in this Steven Spielberg produced futuristic mission.
Premieres Wednesday, July 9 on CBS

Hemlock Grove, Season 2
Streaming, July 11 on Netflix

The Dead Files, Season 6
Saturday, July 12 on Travel Channel

The Strain  NEW
This dark vampire horror series was created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, and is based on their novels of the same name. Very excited about this one, especially since FX really delivers.
Sunday, July 13 on FX

Sharknado 2: The Second One
Wednesday, July 30 on SyFy

Outlander  NEW
Based on the best-selling books, the story follows a combat nurse from 1945 swept back in time to 1743, and promises history, science fiction, and, um, romance (if you're into that kind of terror).
Premieres Saturday, August 9 on Starz

Thursday, June 19, 2014

ABC Casting a Home Haunt Show

As seen on Pumpkinrot's blog: ABC is apparently casting for a Halloween Fright Fight show but I can't seem to find any additional information beyond this image. I emailed the address on the flyer but have yet to receive a response. If you're interested, jump on this now (and let me know if you get a response)!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

[REC] 4

[REC] and [REC] 2 where two of the best horror films to come from Spain. The story revolves around a group of people quarantined in an apartment building where a strange virus emerges. It was also one of the few good examples of the "found footage" approach since it features a plucky TV reporter and her crew documenting the horrific events. The sequel took that zombie concept established in the first film and blew it wide open with an unexpected supernatural angle. And now [REC] 4: Apocalypse  (coming this October) finally completes the trilogy that director Jaime Balaguero wanted to tell. (REC3: Genesis oddly sidestepped the main storyline and has a very different tone. It was not as scary and rather superfluous.)

Incidentally, [REC] yielded the excellent shot-for-shot American remake Quarantine but avoid the terrible American sequel that veered into SyFy cheese, permanently killing off the franchise.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Troop: Book Review

When Stephen King recommends a book, horror fans pay attention:

“The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best.” 

Written by an award-winning Canadian author under the pseudonym Nick Cutter, The Troop is a fast-paced, incredibly gory and often frightening piece of bio-terror. A group of scouts is isolated on an island during an outing when a very sick man emerges from the woods. He is emaciated and starving. He's resorted to eating bugs, leaves, sand and rocks to satiate his appetite that never abates. The scout master quickly takes action, but it's too late. Whatever is affecting that man is spreading quickly... and then the storm sets in.

This is a straight-forward story of the young men put in a Lord of the Flies type situation. It's incredibly disturbing as the children's personalities begin to emerge and their truest nature is revealed. It's also features some of the most stomach turning scenes I've ever read. I had the put the book down occasionally, and reach for some ginger ale.

But it wasn't the most original story and takes no imaginative leaps. I also didn't care for the structure of the book. The perilous action on the island is intercut with scenes from the aftermath. You know right from the start where it's going to end as interviews with military personnel, news articles, and scientific anecdotes talk about what happened on the island. I suppose the point is to move the reader from focusing on the horrific events, and delving into the human aspect, which is apparently much more horrific than anything nature can conjure. Overall, The Troop is more gruesome than outright scary and while well written doesn't tread any new ground.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Penny Dreadful: Review

Showtime's new period piece, Penny Dreadful, is a Gothic yarn that gleefully drops names like Frankenstein, Mina Harker, and Dorian Gray. Unfortunately even with the abundance of eerie elegance, it remains unsatisfying obscure. The Victorian sets are dark and dank. The costumes are exquisitely ruffled with wicked detail. And the gore is visceral, steamy and chunky. But the story is less than compelling from what I can decipher, which isn't much. The second episode sets up what could have been a frightening seance – a writhing Eva Green climbs the table and lurches precariously backward – but the whole scenes sort of falls flat since it makes no sense. What the hell is going on in this show?

This series aims for a more scholarly audience who has a working knowledge of the classic literature being referenced and has no intentions of being readily accessible. I admire the verve, but in all its seriousness and portent the fun is completely lost. Perhaps it's the unlikable and uncharismatic characters (although the cast is terrific). Horror requires that the audience identify with someone or something that's in peril and we tag along for the ride. There's nothing here to hold onto, root for, or cheer. For a second there was a glimmer of hope in episode 3 but suddenly the character is inexplicably torn apart. Obviously, something greater is afoot. I'm optimistic that this series will start coming together but with only 8 episodes this season, it better do so quickly.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Extraordinary Career of Ed & Lorraine Warren

I've been fan of Ed & Lorraine Warren since I saw The Amityville Horror, and obsessed over the many details of the case, the Lutz's story, and the purported hoax. From that infamous haunting, the numerous TV appearances, and last year's hit movie, The Conjuring, The Warrens seem to be everywhere. Last September they released an ebook and audiobook version of their classic book, The Demologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed & Lorraine Warren. The first printing of the book was back in 1980 with three subsequent printings prior to the 2013 release.

The book covers some of The Warren's notable cases, their selfless approach to dangerous work, and a brief introduction to The New England Society for Psychic Research, which they founded. Like many readers, I wasn't prepared for what lies in these pages and I had to put the book down and away from sight. You know it's going to be a fight of good versus evil, but it was shocking to hear the details of how evil works, thinks and behaves. It's clear that Ed Warren had a profound understanding of otherworldly phenomenon. He's seen things that most men would never be able to tolerate and juts the few details shared in this book were more than I could handle.

Anyone interested in paranormal studies should put this book on the top of their list. Those with a curiosity in the occult or amateur ghost hunters should also read this book and heed the warning. The Warrens believe that knowledge and awareness of the preternatural is the first defense against evil. It was their life’s goal to dispel the doubters (they don’t need to convince anyone that these things exist), help the afflicted, and prevent the proliferation of evil. Evil is all around us and waiting for any permission to get in.

The Annabelle doll featured in The Conjuring.
Lorraine and Ed in their Connecticut home.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Making a Day of the Dead Skeleton

Dia de los Muertos folk art is colorful, whimsical and a wonderful decoration for Halloween. Much of this art is made from paper mache that is hand-sculpted and painted with vivid hues. It's also somewhat expensive and hard to find.

I’ve only recently rediscovered paper mache as a medium and I am excited to participate in David H. Everett’s online class, Making a Day of the Dead Skeleton. I’m a huge fan of David’s art, his beautiful website Chicken Lips, and lucky enough to own one of his original creations.

The class is offered through Artful Gathering and runs June 6 - July 17th. It’s a self-paced class with video lessons that you can watch at your own leisure over six weeks or even all at once. You can also share your work with students, ask questions, and participate in discussions to get the most of your creative endeavor.

To sign up, visit (yes the site is somewhat confusing but push forward) and register as an attendee for $5. You can then sign up for any number of classes (David’s class is $75). I’ll post pictures of my finalized project later this summer.