Thursday, September 28, 2017

Horror Summer Musicals

Summer is dead and buried, and I've been reflecting on a great summer, which included two horror-centric musicals. I am a bonafide (and BA-degreed) theater geek, so I seek out horror musicals wherever they are. My favorites include Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Rocky Horror Show. (I have yet to see Evil Dead: The Musical, Carrie: The Musical, American Psycho: The Musical, or Silence! The Musical)

The Toxic Avenger: The Musical is based on Troma's legendary 1980 film of the same name. However, this show does not simply try to recreate the movie and instead becomes a love letter to all B-Horror movies and wrapped up in a hilarious, campy tunes. I witnessed The Stage's production in San Jose, California and it was absolutely fantastic. The reviews did not lie, this is a seriously entertaining show with a "comically overblown ’80s rock style, the songs are marvelously clever."

Meanwhile, over at City Lights Theater Company, also in San Jose the infamous 1892 case of Lizzie Borden was examined in LIZZIE, a bold, brash rock musical concert piece that defies categorization. It tells the story of the young woman accused of killing her father and stepmother with an ax. But it delves much deeper into her abusive father, the distant sister, and the unrequited love who spurned her as well. It's tragic and sad, and the feverish songs sear into your brain and heart and the four-lady ensemble belts song after song. It's harrowing and liberating. (Read the full Mercury News Review.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Stephen King's Sleeping Beauties ~ Now Available!

Just in time for Autumn's chilly dark nights is a new book by Stephen King called Sleeping Beauties, co-written with his son, Owen King. The story is set in a women's prison as a sudden epidemic sweeps the neighboring town causing all the women to fall asleep and start growing tendrils. Meanwhile, the men run amok, naturally, while trying to find a cure.

Stephen King's other son is also a writer. Joe Hill has published four books including 2013's outrageous, hilarious and horrifying NOS4A2 (a perfect horror read for Christmastime!) as well as Horns, and last year's The Fireman. This October will bring a four-novella collection called Strange Weather. I wouldn't buy a book solely by the cover but this cover is stunning!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

mother! ~ Review


It’s impossible to review mother! without divulging some of its greater mysteries, so here is the short review: a mind-numbing head trip that will prove frustrating to most audiences. For those few brave enough to endure the unrelenting terror and anxiety of an experience with an undetermined destination this film will be unique, absorbing, and utterly riveting feast for the senses and brain.





mother! is a riveting fever dream with no end or beginning that you cannot escape. It is obtuse, undecipherable and often vile but exhilarating and terrifying. Movies this unique follow no formula, give you no clues where they are going, and force you to experience them rather than understand them. This means most audiences will disregard this as fanciful, excessive artistry over substance, and write it off as nonsensical (“Stupid!” as one audience member shouted.) Quite the contrary.

The movie is so opened ended to interpretation that you can pick up any one of its allegorical threads whether an examination of God, religion, and extreme zealots, the act of inspiration and creation which is also destructive and consuming, or the decimation of our mother earth – and run with it. It's masterful what director Darren Aronofsky (director of Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream) has done in creating a film that can speak whisper on so many levels. It's also his least pessimistic film to date.

Both Jennifer Lawrence’s character, simply called “mother”, and the audience are abruptly shaken as incidents mount one by one in a remote house as people flood into and out of an idyllic country mansion to see the poet (played by Javier Bardem). Eventually the quiet home succumbs to madness once she is on the brink of giving birth to their child, crescendoing in a loud, clashing final act of violence and chaos. It’s horrific and harrowing, and the audience never gets a moment to reflect on the proceedings. The camera never leaves Lawrence for a single moment and we are forced to bear witness to every single act of cruelty from the beginning to the bitter end.

But while the events we see elicit strong emotions and revulsion but this is not the point. It’s the meanings behind them. Looking at the other characters names gives the clues needed to decipher the broader story: Him, Man, Woman (played by the sublime Michelle Pfeiffer), Younger Brother, Oldest Son, Cupbearer, Damsel, Fool, Idler, Defiler, Herald. These are not people, but rather symbols of the allegory. Is Him, capital “H”, supposed to be God? Is this a biblical allegory about mother as Mary (who at two points in the film is called a whore)? Or is she the mother Earth being pillaged by mankind after the creator is distracted? As soon as you discover the key, most of the story falls in place. And even if some mysteries remain, the overall experience is incredibly satisfying.

It’s perplexing that mother! is being marketed to a mainstream audience. They will hate it for not being a simple, straight-forward horror movie. This is arthouse horror at its best, a sub-genre that's admittedly pretentious but also challenging, enigmatic and artfully made. For fans, this will be an engrossing, terrifying and thoughtful journey. It resonates deeply and profoundly, and begs to be discussed and ultimately admired.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Halloween Village Preview

My Halloween village this year is shockingly small but potent this year. It's based entirely on the Department 56's Nightmare Before Christmas pieces released this year. Here's a sneak peak for Mandy and all Halloween villagemakers.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

IT (2017) ~ First Impressions

#ITMovie is the best and truest Stephen King movie adaptation ever. Yes, including The Shining, Misery, Carrie, and The Mist. Seriously outstanding. If you loved the book, you will love this emotionally resonant, often funny coming of age story, that keeps it's vicious underbelly and unsettling frightening sequences. This may be the first chance for a horror film to score an Oscar nomination since Silence of the Lambs, and easily the best horror film of 2017.

Look for the free, limited edition poster available at theaters this weekend! (Photo coming soon.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Snap Judgement ~ American Horror Story CULT

American Horror Story: Cult is an extremely unsavory, cynical and pointless political satire rehash – and the first time in the history of the series that I’ve completely checked out 20 minutes in. The wonderful Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters where both made incredibly unlikeable caricatures, the clown thing was so uninspired considering a true scary clown (Stephen King's IT) is coming to theaters in the same week, Twisty's appearance was the ultimate bait-and-switch, and of course, we got to relive the 2016 election night. Again. America is rich with actual horror stories and even "cult" stories that seem more compelling for a horror series that this political posturing and absolute nihilism. Don't we get enough of that? Is it too much to ask to escape the terrible realities of every day life for one hour, be entertained and maybe even scared? Like every single other Ryan Murphy project (Nip/Tuck, Glee, Scream Queens), well into the run of the series (now in it's seventh year) the show has completely lost it's way. If anyone out there loved the premiere, why?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Spirit Halloween 20% Off

SPIRIT HALLOWEEN is throwing open the doors this Labor Day with it's annual 20% off your entire purchase coupon, good on Monday September 4 and Tuesday September 5.

Click here for the coupon.