Salute to Shocktober

So Shocktober: I Love the 80s comes to a close. This year I saw the rise of slashers in film’s like The Prowler and The Burning, works from horror auteurs like George A. Romero, John Carpenter, and Tobe Hooper, and landmarks that were reached in the world of makeup effects. If there’s one thing I can take away from 80s horror movies, it’s the craftsmanship that went into them. Traditional effects reigned supreme in the 80s and helped define the era. Makeup artists like Tom Savini, Rob Bottin, and Rick Baker spent the best years of their lives making zombies, werewolves, and things from outer space in the 80s. The 80s in my opinion saw the most experimentation in horror visuals and spawned some of the most bizarre ideas. Horror had reached the mainstream and gave us some of the worst and best horror movies. Anyhow I guess I better wrap this up. It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark.

Shocktober: Bone-Chilling Breakdown

Here’s a little freaky fun and an easy way to up our post count! It’s my personal breakdown of this year’s Shocktober. I returned to a lot of favorites this year while discovering a few new favorites… And some new films that I hate. Either way here’s this year in a nutshell. Read at your own will!

Five Favorite
5. The Howling
4. They Live
3. Return of the Living Dead
2. The Monster Squad
1. Day of the Dead

Five Least Favorite
5. The Entity
4. From Beyond
3. The Gate
2. C.H.U.D.
1. Ghost Story

Biggest Surprise
Slumber Party Massacre – I can’t believe a movie with such a terrible title and uninspired premise could be so entertaining. Like, ya know? Whatever.

Biggest Disappointment
C.H.U.D. – This movie sounded like it would be one of those movies that’s “So bad it’s good.” Instead it was just “So bad it’s bad.”

Favorite Performance
Terry O’Quinn (The Stepfather) – Terry O’Quinn shows that he can be intimidating even WITH hair.

Favorite Makeup Effects
Day of the Dead – Because of this scene. Skip to about 2:22 for the money shot.

Most Bizarre
From Beyond – This movie has flying, inter-dimensional worms… And that’s not even the weirdest part of it.

Most Mentioned Person
Tom Savini – Tom “Sex Machine” Savini worked on 6 of the 31 movies selected for Shocktober this year. The man knows his murdered corpses.

The Most 80s
Return of the Living Dead – It’s a tough one, but the fact that half the cast is essentially 80s stereotypes gives it the win.

Check back later tonight for my final Shocktober send-off post. Happy Haunting!

Shocktober: Day 31

Road House (1989)

Road House is scary… Scary good. Honestly, I couldn’t come up with another horror movie for 1989 worth talking about. Yesterday was Pet Sematary and that pretty much wraps up the decade for me. So instead of going out on a sour note, I’m pulling a full 360 with a roundhouse kick from Road House. It’s not a horror movie by any means but it’s certainly as violent as a horror movie. So many people get kicked and so many people get killed.

I promise I’ll wrap up Shocktober with a more appropriate post later, but until then enjoy this compilation of every punch in Road House thanks to Red Letter Media. Come back later for more Halloween Hijinks.

C.A.T: Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970)

During last year’s Shocktober I reviewed some of my favorite “Horror-Themed” rock albums but I left out one essential. The debut album from Black Sabbath is a creepy, bluesy, hard rock experience well suited for this terrifying time of year. Just look at that album cover. What is that? Is that some kind of witch? Is that Ozzy Osbourne from a distance? I’ve never been sure, but I suppose fear can best be described as what you don’t understand. Creepy witch cover aside this is the album that introduced the world to the lumbering dinosaur that is Heavy Metal.

The debut from Black Sabbath, this album was very much a reflection of the band’s live set at the time. As a matter of fact, it was exactly that. Based off of what I saw on an episode of Classic Albums the band just went in and recorded their nightly setlist. The difference being the small but crucial tweaks and overdubs that turned a solid rock album into a classic rock album. This can be noted in the band’s most defining track, appropriately titled “Black Sabbath”. Was there ever a riff more brooding and ominous than on that track? Add in the atmospheric touches of falling rain, thunder, church bells, and you have one helluva an opener.

Thematically, bassist/primary lyricist Geezer Butler was inspired by the occult. Songs speak of mysterious figures in black and even Lucifer himself. “Behind the Wall of Sleep” is a reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s story Beyond the Wall of Sleep while “The Wizard” was inspired by… Gandalf? If you say so Wikipedia. Though this album is more than just a high-five to Satan. The musicianship here is surprisingly tight considering the intense genre of music. This is the kind of band you could imagine jamming for hours without ever running out of compelling ideas. Sometimes it sounds like every member is just soloing, yet it all blends together like a bubbling broth in a big heavy metal cauldron.

Though Sabbath’s followup album Paranoid would be held as the band’s best, this one is damn close. Or should I say “damned close”? Sorry, all this Halloween Hoopla has gone to my head. Halloween may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until next year to delve into Black Sabbath. Let Ozzy: The Prince of Darkness, guide you into the bowels of Black Sabbath. It’s an eerie ride but it will live forever in your nightmares.

Favorite Tracks: “Black Sabbath”, “N.I.B”, “The Wizard”

Shocktober: Day 30

Pet Sematary (1989)

Pet Sematary isn’t a great film by any means, yet it just wont die. I can’t tell you how often I still hear people impersonating the ominous warnings of Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne). If you’ve watched any South Park in the last five years you know what I’m talking about. “You outta not go into the Pet Sematary.” I don’t even know if he actually says that, it’s just the way he delivers his warnings. Jud Crandall has somehow become the official model for creepy old men who try to steer you away from evil. But that’s not the only thing people remember. I don’t think anyone has ever walked away from Pet Sematary without first thinking about their Achilles tendon.

Based off of Stephen King’s 1983 novel, Pet Sematary is about a family of four who’ve just moved to an idyllic Maine community. They befriend neighbor Jud Crandall who tells them about a nearby pet cemetery built over an Indian burial ground (Now that’s how you make small talk!) Later, the family takes a trip leaving the father Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) by himself. While his wife and kids are gone the family cat is hit by a truck outside the house. So Louis buries it where? In the pet cemetery or “Pet Sematary” according to the sign misspelled by local children. Blatantly ignoring Jud’s warning, the cat mysteriously comes back to life… But it’s not the same. The cat reeks of decomposition and has become a vicious shell of it’s former self. You’d think Louis would have learned his lesson from this, but oh no.

Tragedy strikes again when the Creed’s young son Gage (Miko Hughes) is hit by a truck on the same road the cat was hit. Does Louis give him a proper burial? No, of course not, he buries him in the Pet Sematary. This leads to Gage becoming a murderous zombie-like monster. So zombie Gage kills Jud Crandall, but not before he slices Jud’s achilles tendon.. Eww shutter, I can’t even think about that scene. Things get even worse when Gage murders his own mother Rachel (Denise Crosby). Does Louis give her a proper burial? Of course not. Louis says he put Gage in the cemetery for too long and this time he can do it right. Does it work out? Of course not! Everybody dies.

Pet Sematary is a good adaptation of King’s novel, probably because King wrote the screenplay himself. The problem is the execution is cheesy and melodramatic. It simply never rises above your typical 80s horror movie. It has some memorable moments no question, but as a whole it’s definitely on the lesser end of King’s book-to-movie adaptations.

Now this is what I call a CAT-astrophic event!

The Mouse buys out Lucas

As the official Star Wars Correspondent, I’m here to give you my take on the madness.

Now that I’ve had a few hours to try to process this, I can safely say this is the biggest development in the entertainment world in my lifetime. It still feels fake.

It came out of nowhere. All of a sudden I wake up, and someone posts it on Facebook. I click the link, it’s a press release. It looks legit, but it doesn’t sound legit. I tune in to the entire 45 minute conference call, listening to the technical financial jargon and all the big wigs at Disney talking about how this is their latest move to become the ultimate authority on literally all intellectual property that anyone cares about.

My first reaction was a cringe. For some reason, Disney has a negative connotation with me. I don’t know why. Maybe I just think, “That shit’s for babies. Babies suck.” But then I remember Disney owns Marvel. Marvel doesn’t feel like Disney. Disney owns Pixar. I’ve loved like 90 percent of what Pixar’s accomplished in the last 20 years.

But Star Wars? Star Wars is literally my favorite thing ever. I love it so much I was blinded for years, trying to convince myself that the prequels had any redeeming qualities. And now Disney? The Mouse has control of my favorite franchise? To quote Double Rainbow guy…What does it mean?

I guess for me it boils down to the projects are now out of the hands of Lucas. I like the fact that he’s still a “creative director”. There’s nothing wrong with that. The universe was built in his mind. The only reason the prequels sucked were because while he has a talented imagination, his laziness in the execution of those films was so transparent and his power was so great that no one could question him. He’s now out of the directors chair and more importantly out of the screen writers chair.

While I’m excited in the possibilities by looking at what Disney has seemed to do with Marvel in a hands-off approach, for some reason the biggest thing I fear is some kind of demented, incestual Boned Wars themed episodes that are continuously made until I drown in my own vomit.

I would rather watch Episode I a thousand times than subject myself to just the opening credits of Boned Wars one more time in my entire life. That piece of shit is so wretched, it’s literally unforgivable. That’s what I think people fear. They hear the word “Disney” and they think babies. Remember, babies suck! They like stupid shit.

As long as I can convince myself that Disney is a gigantic corporation full of smart people that want to save the franchise from the last 20 years of depressing tales, I think I can stay cautiously optimistic. Until more details surface, we’ll just have to wait and see.

John’s Top Five Horror Films of 2012

Bad horror movies are a dime a dozen, but if you look carefully I think you’ll find there’s a lot to like in today’s scene. Foreign and independent films are a good place to start. Sometimes you can even luck out when a mainstream movie is actually released to good reviews. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even get around to seeing some of the best reviewed horror-related films of the year. Paranorman and Frankenweenie (my theater had technical difficulties) were two that I sorely missed. Fortunately, I still managed to put together a tight top five for this year’s Shocktober.

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