Thursday, December 31, 2015

Have a SCARY New Year!

Ring in the new year (safely) and enjoy a whole new year of fear!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Preview of 2016's Scary Movies

As we slam the lid on 2015's coffin, it's time to look ahead (and behind you!!!) at the year of scary movies. Here's some of the most interesting trailers:

Midnight Special stars Adam Driver (of that Star Wars movie) and Kirsten Dunst and deals with a father who is on the run trying to protect his special son. Opens March 2016.

The Boy is about a woman hires by a strange old couple to take care of their son which happens to be a creepy life-size doll. Opens January 22.

The Witch is about a family in 1630s New England who faces the terror of witchcraft and black magic and looks positively gorgeous.

The Forest is set in the infamous Aokigahara Forest in Japan where people go to commit suicide and is said to cursed with lonely souls.

Anguish is an indie inspired by true events and follows a teen diagnosed with an identity disorder that may be channeling an spirit inside her. This movie is being called 2016's "It Follows".

Martyrs is the American remake of a a fantastic and brutal French film from 2008. Will it have the guts to go to the lengths the original did? And will it spell out that ending that left me in awe?

A Monster Calls seems like the family feel good film of the Halloween 2016 season and stars Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is based on the mash-up book by Seth Grahame-Smith based on the book by Jane Austen. If it keeps the tone of the book(s) it will be romantic, funny, and gory as this teaser trailer below demonstrates. Unfortunately the marketing has shifted to focusing on the zombies and less of the Austen-ness which seems a little desperate for appeal.

The Other Side of the Door has a good cast, a tragic story, and spooky kids.

Independence Day: Resurgence is back with giant ships and pissed off aliens awaiting their day of reckoning. Let the mass destruction begin!

Amityville: The Awakening
is moving us back into that sinister Long Island house with a brand new story. Yay. The film has been postponed since 2014, scrapped and rewrittern, retitled, reedited and now dumped into April 2016 (also known as pre-summer prime time film graveyard). It couldn't be a complete trainwreck, right?

The Huntsman: Winter's War is the prequel to Snow White and while it looks like a hot mess, it may be worth seeing for the costumes – and maybe the gorgeous cast. Wait, what am I saying? I blame the eggnog.

Lights Out produced by James Wan is about a woman that is terrorized by a creature that appears only when the lights go out. No trailer or poster yet but it's opening in July which means they feel confident to get an audience in the middle of blockbuster season.

Ghostbusters will be bustin' it this summer but remains shrouded in secrecy (characters posters were just revealed last week). We do know that it's an all female ensemble doing the ghost busting, and that there will be appearances by Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, and even Annie Potts (Rick Moranis turned down a cameo).

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist welcomes back director James Wan to horror. Filming began in September 2015 and no official trailer exists yet. (All the ones on the internet are fakes!) Here's an official picture from Wan's Twitter account to hold you over.

Rings is the second sequel to the now-classic The Ring (2002) which brings back Samara and her cursed videotapes. Wait– video tapes? Who has a VCR anymore? The bad news is that it was pulled from it's 11/13/15 release date and postponed indefinitely. Uh-oh.

Happy New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Have Yourself a SCARY Christmas!

Dear Fiends,

Thank you for following and through another frightful year! Have yourself a SCARY Christmas!!

Scary Jerry

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Scary-ish Christmas Movies

Christmas is that time of year when Halloween fans patiently wait for the family to fall asleep, turn off Miracle on 34th Street, add some extra spirit into their eggnog, and relax with a yuletide scary movie. For me the perfect mix is something that isn't too bleak but still mischievous and entertaining. Perhaps I'm getting softer in my old age, or perhaps I enjoy Christmas more now. Anyhoo, serial killers are not my cup of bone tea and so many holiday horror films are instantly disqualified. Here are my absolutely favorites.

1. Krampus (2015)
Yes, it's still in theaters but this instant classic is going into heavy holiday rotation. If you haven't seen it, get thee to a cinema immediately.

2. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
This Finnish film is one of the best holiday-horror hybrids. It tells the story of the "real" Santa and his demon elves. It's also a strangely touching coming-of-age story and feels like a lost early-Steven Spielberg/Tim Burton collaboration. It's beautifully shot and a well-made movie. Highly recommended.

3. Sint (or Saint Nick) (2010)
This Dutch horror-comedy depicts St. Nicholas as a much darker spirit, who goes on a revenge-fueled killing spree on the 5th of December (the day many European countries celebrate Sinterklaas). It's a little over-the-top by American standards, but it's fascinating to see how another culture celebrates and melds Christmas with horror. The DVD version with subtitles is better than the poorly-dubbed version available on streaming.

4. Gremlins (1984)
This is a great reminder that you should pick gifts carefully and thoughtfully. One fuzzy and cute critter turns into many malevolent and mischievous creatures when fed after midnight! Hijinks ensue once hundreds of gremlins terrorize a small town on Christmas. 

5. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton's 1993 masterpiece does double duty on both the Halloween and Christmas fronts. However, during the holidays, the Christmas elements seem to stand out so much more. It has incredible heart and the perfect ending for a warm, fuzzy holiday.

6. Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)
The perennial ghost story is re-envisioned with motion capture CGI and features an almost unidentifiable Jim Carrey. It's much darker, somber, and creepy take on the classic story. Set in a desolate and cold Victorian mansion, there's a weird candle person thing and the scenes with the ghosts are downright scary.  The international posters set the tone for the film much better than their American versions that tried very hard to sell the jolly, heartwarming tale (which it sort of is ultimately). This is a great movie to watch with your younger nephews and nieces – it will scare the Christmas right out of them – and you won't be that weird uncle that keeps pushing horror films year-round.

Have a Scary Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Last Minute Shopping Guide

If you haven't started your Christmas shopping yet – and have Amazon Prime – don't worry! You still have a few more days to procrastinate. Your best bet is books or calendars at this point, and really, who doesn't like to go all retro with printed books in the digital age? I personally love books as holiday gifts because they are easy to wrap. Anyhoo, here is some suggestions for your last minute shopping.

For the Paranormal Fan
Sir Simon Marsden's stunning photography captures the beauty of seemingly haunted castles and buildings throughout Europe, while Lisa Morton's scholarly and entertaining look at ghosts in popular culture is sure to please the most ardent fan.

For the Movie Fan
The films Crimson Peak and Krampus both feature incredible art direction and these books take a closer look at the making of the visual alchemy created to bring these features to life.

For the horror culture fan
If you love Halloween, chances are you probably love horror. These two books examine the essence of horror from one diehard fan's perspective, to the visual history of horror in pop culture. 

For the Literary Fan
This beautiful new edition of Ray Bradbury's classic The Halloween Tree features new illustrations from one of my favorite artists, Gris Grimly. Meanwhile The Stephen King Companion book delves deep into the master of horror and connects the author's personal life with his fiction.

For the Horror Art Fan
It is the year of Krampus and this collection of art is stunning. The Lady ParaNorma is a work of art! Based on a short film from the author it features exquisite art and an interesting story.

For the Day of the Dead Fan
Dia de los Muertos is a colorful, whimsical holiday and this calendar features some remarkable art – you'll want to frame this calendar at the end of the year! For a closer look at the Latino folk art the exhaustive book perfectly captures the pageantry and emotional resonance of this cultural holiday. 


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Krampus ~ Review

Holiday horror movies are a rare breed –– for good reason. Jolly and scary don't mix well, and the outcome is typically unenjoyable, awkward, or cynical. Holiday movies carry a certain amount of baggage with them, and the best horror movies are supposed to be fun on some level.

Director Michael Dougherty understands this well and his movie KRAMPUS is the holiday gift that horror fans have been waiting for. It hits all the rights notes, and is equally funny and absurd, and it's wildly entertaining. From the opening montage, you immediately sense that the holiday is being skewered and there is some biting commentary on commercialism, family celebrations with obligatory joy, and the importance of believing in something good whether its Santa or just plain old hope in humanity. (It's the pervasive aroma of pessimism that calls Krampus into action.)

The plot is fairly straight forward allowing the humor and characters to develop before the main assault. When the action sets in, it's well executed – and astonishingly features extensive practical effects in an age where even make-up is added to actors digitally*. In essence, Dougherty has created a throwback to the horror films of the 80s (strongly evoking the wicked charm of Gremlins). There's also a beautiful, unexpected scene right in the middle that's an ode to one of my favorite holiday classics (that I won't name for fear of spoiling the surprise).

It should also be noted that the cast is incredibly strong for a horror film. Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and the rest of the likable cast ground the many surreal elements and adds gravitas to the proceedings. The audience feels for the characters only if the actors are committed, and the script is strong enough to have the dialogue needed to support the outlandish shenanigans. Characters often say the things that audience is thinking. And no mater who gets eaten (or by what), the tone remains jovial, never grim or bleak.

KRAMPUS merges a jolly Christmas theme with mischievous horror and sends an important holiday message. Its wicked sense of humor and universal themes have enough appeal for even mainstream audiences but it's still not a film for everyone. There is some truly bizarre, outlandish, and absurd segments that really make this am eclectic gem. Like Dougherty did with Trick 'r Treat, this is destined to be a perennial holiday classic that horror fans will cherish for years.

*I just read in The Art of Krampus (available now from Insight Editions) that Halloween artist/mastermind/visionary Pumpkinrot was behind the design of the snowmen! These menacing snowmen start randomly appearing outside the family home, increasing in numbers, proximity and abomination yet we never see them move. Inanimate objects that move when you aren't looking strike absolute abject fear in me!


Monday, November 30, 2015

Krampus is coming!

Christmas is getting a terrifying makeover with the new movie KRAMPUS, directed by Michael Dougherty (creator of the cult classic Trick 'r Treat). Surprisingly this is the first major film featuring the hairy, cloven-hoofed creature with goat horns that hails from Alpine folklore. According to the legend, Krampus travels along with Santa Claus to punish the bad children who he whips, or stuffs into a bag and takes back to the underworld to eat. Will this be the next cult holiday film? Find out this Friday, December 4, and visit the Krampus Tumbler page for some great e-cards.

"The Feast of St. Nicholas" celebrated throughout Europe on December 6 is often proceeded by "Krampus Night" on December 5 where people dressed as the scary creature run amuck on the streets. It's actually been banned by many cities because the merriment often turns to havoc! For more info on regional events, info, videos, and links visit

Monday, November 9, 2015

Crimson Peak: What Went Wrong

If you enjoyed the grandeur of Guillermo del Toro's gothic haunted house film Crimson Peak, you were probably in the minority and will likely not see a film like this again. In my review, I called it a once in a generation type of film because a big budget opus with top tier cast in a Hollywood horror event film rarely comes along. Crimson Peak's dismal box office literally put the last nail in the coffin. Budgeted at $55 million, it made just over $29 million in 4 weeks of release.

An article at Forbes breaks down the further embarrassing details, including a list of cheap, forgettable movies that made more money on opening weekend: The Messengers, One Missed Call, The Eye, Darkness Falls, Stay Alive and The Rite. Yikes. So what when wrong? The article dissects the problems astutely:

1. A high concept film. Period films – that are not prestige Oscar bait – rarely do well with audiences. Add to that the gothic romance part that seems to discourage diehard horror movie fans. It struggled to find the right audience.

2. Early reviews. There's film festivals for people who love genre films, and there's the local newspapers who typically hate genre films. Fantastic Fest audiences loved the film but their reviews were embargoed until local newspaper reviewers could see the film. As a result potential audiences saw the local newspapers negative reviews first before the distributor could release the more favorable reviews.

3. The director's social blunder. Guillermo del Toro's 2-week social media blasts where he stressed that it wasn't a horror film was certainly off-putting for me – and I'm a diehard fan! Imagine what it did to mainstream movie audiences who don't understand what a gothic romance is or that del Toro doesn't know how to speak in a common denominator to the masses? This movie was a classic horror film through and through.

4. Geeks don't bring in bucks. The director, the stars, the concept though geared to a very specific audience seemed to have broader appeal on paper but surprisingly it didn't entice mainstream audiences who preferred the kid-friendly Goosebumps and Hotel Transylvania 2. The "R" rating kept away the lucrative teen market who devours horror films, although given the subject matter, I can't imagine teens lining up to see this anyway. Crimson Peak is a film for adults who love the genre and I'm guessing most of them are waiting for home viewing.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween Post-Mortem 2015

Another Halloween is dead and buried! As a purist, I teardown my front yard display before noon after Halloween. I'm hoping some of our neighbors will think, "Did that really happen or was it just a bad dream?" Although they are more likely thinking, "Thank goodness that house is normal again." Now to figure out how to store all that awesome stuff. 

We had perfect weather for Halloween night and ended up with 366 trick 'r treaters! Being on a Saturday I noticed the lil' ones had a late start around 7pm (usually they're at our front door by 5pm). Then the streets suddenly filled with hordes of walkers for two solid hours tapering off by 9:30pm. It's such a great way to meet neighbors and extended neighbors.

This year, I brought out Hekate the three-headed witch, first featured in 2013 although I added a tall hunched body, new arms, cat claws, and a toothy sneer. You take the hat off a witch and she suddenly becomes much more sinister! I imagined that she was in some deep forest shack where the elements have taken over, tree roots growing through the house, spiders everywhere, while she conjures up a skeleton army. A projection on the window (from the excellent had skeletons beating on the window! A photo album and video will appear on very soon, and make sure to follow or bookmark our new My Scary Halloween Flickr for even more photos. 

We hope you had a SCARY Halloween and look forward to a restful winter hibernation. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Have a Scary Halloween!

Don't forget the rules of Halloween!

Rule #1 – Always wear a costume.
Rule #2 – Always pass out treats.
Rule #3 – Never blow out a jack-o-lantern.
Rule #4 – Always check your candy.

Now go watch Trick 'r Treat, carve a pumpkin, and have a scary Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Eerie Elegance's Day of the Dead

Eerie Elegance with Britta, Webmistress of the Dark at the helm has done it again! She and her team have created one of the best Day of the Dead displays I've ever seen, drawing inspiration from the 2014 animated film The Book of Life. If you live in the Bay Area you still have a few opportunities to catch the "live" Mariachis de Muerte band as they play and tell you original stories of their ancestors. The animatronics used to bring this skeleton crew to life rivals what you've see at Disneyland considering this a group of passionate home haunters. Simply stunning!

For more information visit Eerie Elegance's Day of the Dead page. For those who live outside of the area, a video and full posts are coming soon! For more information on how this spectacle was created like Eerie Elegance on Facebook, or follow the in-depth blog Britta Blvd.

Exorcism: LIVE!

I was raised Catholic and that means that I had a fear of the supernatural instilled in me at a very young age. Every thing that went bump in the night was undeniably a demon trying to devour my soul. Then at the age of seven, I watched The Exorcist on primetime. Even though it was edited for TV, the horror of seeing those demons affected me profoundly.

All this comes as a preface to Destination America's special, Exorcism: Live!, the first "live" televised exorcism of a house in the country's history. The event is scheduled for October 30 and is taking place in the original "Exorcist House" in St. Louis. It was in this house where several rites of exorcism where performed on a young boy in the late 1940s to free him from the clutches of demonic possession. This story served as inspiration for William Blatty's novel The Exorcist which subsequently became the notorious film.

And now the crew of Ghost Asylum will join medium Chip Coffey to explore every nook and cranny of  this hell house with high technology in hopes of freeing the house of its demonic entities. Whether or not anything reveals itself is the most troubling question. Likely nothing will appear but what if something does – even if its just a glimpse? Are we ready to see the face of evil? I'm reminded of that troubling quote from Nietzche that was later modernized in American Horror Story: Asylum: "If you look in the face of evil, evil's gonna look right back at you."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween By The Numbers and Why It Matters

The Los Angeles Times recently published an article saying that consumers will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year (down from a peak of $8 billion in 2012 ). That spending encompasses a large sector of retail (with pop-up stores like Spirit Halloween), entertainment (haunted attractions) and even the farming industry (oh glorious pumpkins)! While it still trails behind other major holidays, it's also the only one that doesn't involve direct gift-giving (which bloats the numbers across the board).

What was once considered a children's holiday now appeals to 18- to 34-year old millennials (the #1 target demographic for most business) and even older adults who let loose on one dark night in October. One of the major causes is considered to be social media, since sharing of pictures seems to be fueling the spread of cultural glee. (Read the full story here at

Why It Matters

So there's all this data and you might be wondering why it's important. For decades Halloween has been dismissed a triviality and the numbers don't lie. People are spending serious money on the holiday and this consistent spending, year after year legitimizes it as a bankable commodity.

For passionate Halloween fans, like myself who runs this blog, and the countless Halloween artists out there, it somewhat validates our dark passions in a very real and tangible way. Now many of us are not it for the money, or make a business of Halloween, but our endeavors promote those who do. We keep the machinery alive and well, like worker bees in a colony. We find a cool product or site and share it. We see a scary movie and we tell others. We discover a new artist and promote their work.

To all our neighbors who stare at us weirdly, friends who question why we spend so much money to haunt our homes, and concerned loved ones who think we might be mad and/or borderline hoarders: we are part of a cultural revolution to keep spooky traditions alive. It is holiday that's not based on religious beliefs or governmental decree. It's a cultural holiday that's transformed over the ages and across the continents meant solely to encourage fun, fright, and maybe even a connection with that inner child buried by years of grown-up burdens and responsibilities. So let loose, go buy a pumpkin, and enjoy your Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2015

For Trick 'R Treat Fans

One of the best movies about Halloween is Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat, the anthology horror film that defines what the holiday is about and why traditions are so important – your very life depends on them! The movie has yielded a frightfully fun following, and while Trick 'r Treat 2 has been announced, it has not yet gone into production. In the meantime here is some stuff to tide you over.

I'm not an earnest comic book reader so my experience is fairly limited but I enjoyed Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead and think it reads like a teaser to the upcoming sequel. Written by Dougherty and his cohorts, one wonders if this comic will be the basis for Trick 'r Treat 2, especially since he mentions the sequel in the introduction. It's beautifully illustrated and definitely a must-have for fans. Available on Amazon.

For discernible collectors, this limited edition Trick 'r Treat original film score is a double LP pressing – on orange vinyl of course – and features the expanded score along with a Spooky Sound FX album culled from the movie's excellent audio FX track. The gatefold cover also features gorgeous new artwork. Available from Waxworks Records.

Fright Rags is offering a limited edition t-shirt and retro plastic mask packaged in costume box. Also check out their four other fantastic tee designs and Sam's sucker socks!

Finally for you party hosts out there looking for a creepy treat to offer your guests, why not make these simple cookie pops from Sugared Nerd? These chocolate cookies resemble Sam's sucker while being easy to decorate with tingly mint icing. The trick to cutting out the cookie shape is very clever: use a round cookie cutter for the main shape and then use any other cookie cutter with a wiggly-shaped edge to create the "bite".