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!