Sunday, 29 July 2012

Science Sunday: ZomBees

Have you ever wondered what an insect version of a Night of the Living Dead-Alien-crossover might be like? No, me neither. But lets imagine for a minute that we did. The infected might just end up something like zombie bees - or ZomBees.

Photo by John Hafernik (SFSU Department of Biology)
Once infected, the usually diurnal bees - much like horror movie zombies - leave their hives during the night, form groups and are attracted to light sources. However, unlike fictional zombies, the bees will eventually die from their condition. 


Photo by John Hafernik (SFSU Department of Biology)
Unlike insects afflicted by the fungi genus cordyceps, this strange phenomena is caused by the phorid fly species Apocephalus borealis. This parasitic fly was previously thought only to target bumble bees and paper wasps, but has adapted to using the already declining honey bees as its host in recent years as well. A female fly seeks out the target insect and, after locating a weak point on the bee's abdomen, inserts her eggs inside using a syringe-like ovipositor on her rear. The fly larvae then begin to consume the bee from the inside out and also seem to affect their victim's brain, causing the aforementioned unusual behavior. Following this, the larvae eat their way out of their now-dead host and prepare for adulthood.


There is currently no cure for the problem at the moment, but setting up a light source near honey bee hives and checking for bees that gather under it or exhibit other symptoms, and then isolating those bees from the rest of the colony seems to help with containment. ZomBee Watch - a joint project funded and run by SFSU's Department of Biology, CCLS, and The Natural History Museum - has been set up to collect data about "zombie bees" and their unwanted "friends" and encourages the public to report the locations in which infected bees have been found.


This post is part of Science Sunday

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

NBC is reviving Dracula!

Hello there little monsters!

I'm bringing you some awesome news today!

NBC is bringing back Dracula, Bram Stoker style! Tired of the new Twilight-like vamps and this whole new "generation" of sparkly creatures, NBC has put the producers of Downtown Abbey in charge of 10 episodes of this new series which will be set in Victorian London.
And it gets even better, because the goregeous Jonathan Rhys Meyers will be the one

embodying our beloved Dracula! I haven't been able to find a release date but we will keep you up to date as soon as there's more info.



Here's a little summary of the plot:

" The series finds Dracula posing as an American in Victorian London. Though he feigns a desire to introduce modern science, he actually seeks revenge. His plans are disrupted when he falls in love with a woman who seems to be his reincarnated wife. "


I'm expecting GREAT things from this new TV series... what about you, girls and ghouls?

Reviews & Games: Slender


'Slender' is a fairly simple, first-person horror game, in which you make your way around a dark forest with the objective being to find 8 pages - with slightly unnerving pictures and text on - that are hidden in various places amid the trees.


That alone would not make it of the horror genre. However, the ominous Slenderman is also lurking around, which almost transforms Slender into "what it must be like to be stalked by a horror movie serial killer" simulator. Maybe that doesn't sound like fun, but it actually is in a creepy kind of way. 

Spot the Slenderman
Although you don't need headphones or speakers for this game, in order to fully appreciate the atmosphere, sound is definitely advisable. There is only the sound of your character's footsteps / breathing to begin with, but as you collect more pages, subtle, foreboding additions are gradually made to the soundtrack.




There's usually some kind of warning when Slenderman is around, or you'll see him from afar at first before he moves closer, which makes him a bit easier to avoid. Then again, sometimes he just comes around the corner suddenly without any warning at all.


Slenderman is sneaky
Oh, and if you can't run away from him and he catches you, that's it. No health bar, no respawning, no save points. Just game over. So be careful and vigilant or you'll have to start all over again.



Whilst the lack of gory killings, no fighting, and less-than-perfect graphics may seem dull to some people, Slender really is very entertaining. I have to admit that at first I was skeptical about the game as well because I just didn't see how the Slenderman could possibly be creepy. However, at least for the first couple of play-throughs, Slenderman made me jump each time he appeared right in front of me (you'll understand why if you play it yourself). Whilst Slender might not be the greatest game ever made, it is highly enjoyable. Definitely worth trying, especially as it's free!


You can download the game from the Slender fansite.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Events: Frighten Brighton, UK


If you love classic horror and are going to be in the Brighton area on August 11th, Frighten Brighton classic horror film festival is the place to be! Thought up and presented by the people that started the Classic Horror Campaign, Cyberschizoid and Scare Sarah, the event will take place from 12pm - 11pm at Komedia, Brighton and will feature several classic movie screenings plus celebrity guest Emily Booth!

"Expect spot prizes, merchandise and our very special guest; presenter of the Horror Channel and star of cult horror films Cradle of Fear and Evil Aliens, the lovely Emily Booth! Plus more excitingly ghoulish news to follow. 
So join us for the whole day or just the individual films, but whatever you do, be there and be scared! 
* MAD LOVE (1935)
* CAT PEOPLE (1942)
* THEM! (1954)
* PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966)
* PHANTASM (1979)
 
Ages: 18 + all shows.  
£15 all day pass or £5 per film. 
The bar is open all day with food and popcorn available from the Komedia Cafe!  
Tickets available from the Komedia website : http://komediabrighton.ticketsolve.com/shows/126525115/events"

For more information, check out the websites below:

Toys & Dolls: Living Dead Dolls Figurines - Pumpkin


A few days ago, I received an unexpected parcel and inside was this little axe-murderer - Living Dead Dolls Figurine, Pumpkin! (Madame Luciel had bought him for me and sent him as a surprise - thank you!)















Each 2 inch high figure featured in the Living Dead Dolls Figurines collection comes individually packaged and is randomised. The likelihood of getting each one is detailed on the back of the box and that means that there's a 20% chance of getting Pumpkin randomly. I don't usually like it when companies randomly select which figure you get, but on this occasion it made no difference, as I like all of them equally. 



There is, as usual, a very small chance that your box will contain a rare, third version of Eggzorcist. Even though I do like Eggzorcist, there's only so many versions of her a person can have before they start looking the same. However, since I got Pumpkin on this occasion, that wasn't an issue.

Pumpkin comes in 3 parts: the main figure, an axe and two pumpkins that are joined together. The axe fits snugly and easily into his hands and the pumpkins can be placed anywhere around him, as there is no specific slot for them. The dolls that Mezco have released of Pumpkin in the past have all included machetes as his weapon (correct me if I'm wrong, I only have Pumpkin and one variant), so it was a fun change to have him with an axe this time. 

His pose - with one leg out to the side - is a little strange, but it does suggest that he's just about to chop something up, which is probably the point!















Even though it's quite a small figure, it's solid and sturdy, the details are intricate and, along with his oversized head and features, this helps to give Pumpkin a creepy, cute and crazy aesthetic. For example, the blood spatter on the axe and the black lines that draw out the teeth of his deranged smile. 

Overall, Pumpkin is an adorable little maniac and anyone who likes Living Dead Dolls, spooky cute things, or Halloween (as I do) will probably appreciate him a lot!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Bars & Restaurants: Monsterland Bar & Grill, Arizona


Earlier this year Monsterland Bar & Grill opened its doors in Mesa, Arizona and, since then, their patrons have been having "scary good times". They have horror-themed food and signature drinks including: Swamp Thing and Fritters, Demon Chicken, Gooey Eyeball, Jeckyl Serum and many more! Those of you with children will also be pleased to hear that kids are welcome too and there's even a menu for Little Monsters.

'Inside the graveyard'
Image Source: Monsterland.com
If the frightening food isn't enough to entice you into the ghoulish grill, there's also "animatronics, Hollywood FX, state of the art CGI, and authentic full scale reproductions" lurking inside. 

Location:
18 W. Main St,
Mesa, AZ 85201

Tel: 480-461-3300

Website:
Monsterland

Events: Flashback Weekend 10th Anniversary


From August 10th-12th Illinois-based horror convention, Flashback Weekend, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary! The weekend of terror will include a huge dealer room, meet-and-greet events with celebrity guests, movie screenings, performances from local horror-themed acts, a costume contest, a Zombie Pinups Beauty Pageant, and more! 


For more information check out the website below:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Events: Vampire Fest, Manchester


Manchester-based horrors, Grimm Up North - who also organise Grimmfest - are holding the equally spine-tingling Vampire Fest this Sunday, 22nd July! The event will be a day dedicated to bloodsuckers with film screenings, special guests and more. The day will take place at The Dancehouse on Oxford Road, Manchester and is being sponsored by Hammer and Studio Canal.

To find more, or to purchase tickets, you can visit the Grimm Up North website below:

Contest: Win 2 Hammer books!

Hello there little monsters!
Our beloved people from Horror Channel are organising a competition on their website and the prize are these two novellas from Hammer: "Hands of the Ripper" and "X The Unknown".
Here are the summaries if you want to know what they're about!


Hands of the Ripper
Recently widowed psychology lecturer John Pritchard visits spiritualist Aida Golding with his son. He is drawn to a troubled young woman who is trying to contact her child. One night during an intimate seance the lights go out and one of the group is brutally murdered. John has his suspicions but he can't prove anything. He senses that Aida has some hold over the girl and he offers her a place of refuge in his home. All too soon John realises he's made a terrible mistake...

X the Unknown
A huge crack has appeared in the earth's surface. And people are dying. Incinerated beyond recognition. At the same time, hospitals have noticed an increase in catastrophically deformed foetuses, and cancer levels are soaring. Dr Adam Royston, a scientist working at the nearby military base, thinks he knows what it is; a creature as old as the earth that slumbers for centuries, feeding on the energy and radiation produced by humans when he wakes.


Interested? Then join the competition here , you just need to answer one question and you have until the 8th of August.
Best of luck, little creatures from the underworld!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Ghoulish Gal: Sharon Needles

Sharon Needles, drag queen, ghoul-extraordinaire, winner of season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race, all-about-shock-value! I guess perhaps many of you didn't expect me (or anyone else of us) to write about a drag queen on a blog like this, but the drag she does just fits in the horror-category perfectly. She is a member of Haus of Haunt, a group of drag queens who do horror-inspired drag.

She breaks all the rules when it comes to the normal drag, for example performing Marilyn Manson songs while ripping a bible to shreds. Even though drag mightn't be your cup of puss, watch a few of her performances. I'll link a few below.

Sharon is either loved or hated by the drag she does, but she always manages to shock her audience. I love her for who she is, and what she does, I hope you will, as well fellow ghoul-tards!

Beautiful People
Zombie Outift









Events: Spend your Halloween with Wednesday 13!

Hello there little monsters! Long time no see!
I'm bringing you some awesome news to make it up for the missing time :D


If you live in London or somewhere around, and have no plans for Halloween, or even if you actually have plans... get rid of them, because Mr. Wednesday 13 and his guys are coming to town! They will be at Club Koko (Candem Town) the most amazing day of the year, 31st of October! Also, the guys from "Fearless Vampire Killers" will be there as their support act. Pretty awesome band I must say! You should give them a listen too!

Can't wait to get your tickets? Me neither! And you can do it right now by clicking here!
I'm so excited I'm gonna die and come back as a zombie and eat his delicious brains on Halloween's eve, ahhh....



Music: Santa Hates You's new album


Santa Hates You will be releasing their newest album "It's ALIVE!" on September 28th!
This will be their second album this year, Jolly Roger was released earlier this year.

Kindly check them out!



Liebster Blog Award



We recently got a Liebster Blog Award from Chris Hewson over at Not This Time, Nayland Smith! Thank you! :) So, after a little delay, we're going to pass it on to another 11 excellent blogs! (We did get a Liebster Award before, but the rules were completely different.)


The Rules.

Each person must post 11 things about themselves
Answer the questions the tagger has set for you
Create 11 questions for the people you have tagged to answer
Choose 11 people and link them in your post
Go to their page and tell them
No tag backs


We also tried to tag different blogs than we did last time. Since there are 4 of us writing for the blog, we skipped the "11 things about me" part and went straight to the questions:

1. New or early Batman movies?

Madame Luciel: Newer! Get it done! Wear better clothes! :D

Vagina Galore: Early of course!

Erinia Spooky: Early ones, I'm a huge fan of Tim Burton's Batman and classic movies in general! 
Lilia Tombs: I don't mind the early ones or the new ones. It's the films in the middle that were the worst...


2. What's the longest you have ever gone without sleep?

ML: 3 days
VG: Around 36 hours. Hurray for planes and insomnia at the same time.
ES: 3 days. Went to this gig and travelled during the night so I didn't sleep at all cos buses are quite noisy, and then the previous day we queued so I didn't sleep either, so yeah 3 days and two nights. I've never felt more dead in my life, zombies had nothing on me!
LT: 5 or 6 days. I stopped being tired and everything became hilarious...then I fell asleep lol


3. Your most hated TV show.

ML: Ones with terrible singing D:
VG: I love this question! It has to be either Gilmore Girls or Two and Half Twats (Men)
ES: I'm gonna say the news. They're depressing most of the time and not what I need when I try to relax watching TV!
LT: Reality TV shows and "singing" contest-type shows. You know the reaction Wednesday Addams has to Disney films in 'The Addams Family Values'? Well, that's me watching those shows.


4. Gamer or not?

ML: I Am playing a game right now...:D
VG: Hell yes. Hashtag nerdygirl.
ES: YUP! Though I used to play games way more back in the days, not because I stopped loving it but because I don't have much time right now!
LT: I do like games and I play them, but I'm not into them as much as some people I know


5. Favourite music?

ML: Aggressive electronic music
VG: As in genre, artist or band? Oh dear, well I'll make this one short and informative; Industrial & Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows
ES: Rock and metal in general though to be honest I listen to almost any kind of music except for latin music, reaggeton and all that awfully disgusting stuff.
LT:  I don't have a favourite band / artist etc. and I'll listen to anything that I find appealing, regardless of genre / language of lyrics. Film and game soundtracks are also something I enjoy.


6. Favourite movie genre?

ML: Sci fi horror
VG: Horror, sci-fi and... boobies.
ES: This one is pretty obvious but horror! I also love musicals... and Disney!
LT: Horror and its many sub-genres, sci fi, and experimental / art films, but as with music, I like all sorts.


7. The one country in the world you would love to visit.

ML: The Czech Republic!
VG: A country I haven't visited yet? United Kingdom.
ES: Japan, been wanting to go since forever, also the States, especially NY and Las Vegas! -always been a little dream of mine getting married there, but shhhh....-
LT: Out of the ones I haven't been to yet, New Zealand or The Czech Republic :D


8. Favourite book?

ML:  A Dictionary of Monsters and Mysterious Beasts by Carey Miller
VG: Nemesis by Agatha Christie
ES: Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and the whole Harry Potter saga. Also Wuthering Heights!
LT: At the moment, 'The Metamorphosis and Other Stories' by Franz Kafka


9. Tea or coffee?

ML: Tea in the evening, coffee in the mornings!
VG: Tea, TEA!
ES:  I hate coffee. I'm 100% a tea person!
LT: Tea, but not tea with milk x.x


10. What's the craziest film you've ever seen?

ML: Santa Sangre? There's been crazier, but I want to say that one!
VG: Craziest? fu-huck. I honestly don't know. I cannot stand shitty movies, so I barely have seen any "crazy" crap!
ES: "A serbian film" was some pretty sick sh*t... also the Human Centipede. GROSS. And it comes from someone who loves gore stuff, but that was plain disturbing and disgusting! Deffo not my cup of tea...
LT: I think Andrzej ZuĊ‚awski's 'Possession' was pretty “crazy”


11. What do you do to chill out after a long day?

ML: I make stuff
VG: Play games or read books, because what? I am, the nerdygirl.
ES: Usually I just sit in front of the computer and watch something, lately I've been watching lots of physics / astrophysics related stuff. I'm fascinated and it keeps getting more and more interesting! Also, when Brian Cox is on them, it gets even better...
LT: Depending on my mood, I do things like paint, draw, listen to music, watch films / documentaries, cook / bake, read, play games, spend time with my cats (or my friends...haha) or go for a walk in the graveyard near me (if it's raining it's more fun :D)


Blogs we're tagging:



Our questions:

1. What's the best horror-themed or spooky attraction you've been to?
2. If you had to come up with a new type of monster, what would it be and what would you call it?
3. What's the worst film you've ever seen (any genre)?
4. Best book you've read (any genre)?
5. If you could create a theme park ride, what would it be?
6. Would you rather have a zombie attack or an alien attack?
7. What's the food that scares you the most?
8. What music do you love / hate?
9. Would you rather live underground, in the sea, or in space?
10. Spiders: Creepy or cute?
11. If you could have any "super power" you wanted, what would it be?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Reviews: Zombie Tarot

The Zombie Tarot Deck
The zombie apocalypse is upon us and you, unlike those zombie-action movie heroes, have no idea what the right course of action to take is. Your friends and family can't help - they're all zombies - so the fate of the human race lies with you! Unfortunately though, your indecisiveness allows the shambling hordes time to find you. What's more, the remaining humans are fighting for survival and you really don't want to get in their way...
The Seven of Swords
Don't worry though, the Zombie Tarot is here to help! Simply shuffle the deck, deal the formation that suits you best ('The Beginner', 'The Broken Heart', 'The Gravestone', 'The Eyeball', or 'The Severed Head') and concentrate on whatever question of world-changing importance you might have. The instruction booklet provided will guide you through every step and clear, concise explanations on interpreting each card are included as well.

'The Severed Head' layout
Okay, so the zombie apocalypse isn't really happening, but Quirk Books were kind enough to send us one of these amazing decks to try out...just in case. This gorgeous "high-caliber divination" tool was made via a collaboration between author / tarot reader Stacey Graham and Headcase Design and has the honour of being the only zombie-themed tarot deck in existence! (I guess if you shuffled these together with Quirk's 'Housewives Tarot' deck, you might end up with something like 'Zombie Housewives of the Apocalypse', though.)

'Zombie Tarot' without its lid
Anyway, when I say it's gorgeous, I mean it! From the outer box, to the instruction booklet, to the cards themselves, it's a visual feast (...for the zombies, hurhur). The photographs I took don't really do justice to the amazing, kitschy artwork and the great quality of the equally aesthetically pleasing packaging, but they give an idea at least.

The High Priestess, front and back
Using the 78-card deck is fairly straightforward if you follow the instructions provided, whether you're experienced with tarot cards or not. It is pretty much the same format as the Rider-Waite deck, with the exception of the Minor Arcana suit 'Pentacles' being replaced by 'Hazards', which are represented by a bio-hazard symbol. As for the rest of the Minor Arcana, 'Cups' are shown as a skull with a brain in, 'Wands' are bones, and 'Swords', in true horror style, are denoted by a machetes. 

'The Queen of Hazards' and 'The King of Hazards'
Another bonus about this deck is its humour! The tone of the booklet is macabrely tongue-in-cheek throughout and the illustrations are peppered with gory comic relief, without becoming overly silly. At the back of the booklet there is also a page featuring adverts for fictitious products that can help you to either stave off the zombie attacks or, should the worst happen, disguise your infected bite wounds to avoid detection. I have to say though, my personal favourite was the "Bite-proof under armor! For him and her". Haha!


Maybe it's something 'The Lovers' could use?


Overall, this is a unique, beautiful, and strangely amusing tarot deck that any zombie fan would love. Even I, who has grown somewhat tired of the constant bombardment with undead rotters of late, think it's an excellent find and it's managed to restore some of my enthusiasm for the sub-genre again. Hurray!

More photos after the cut below↓

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Fashion: Sugar Skull Flower Hair Clip from Bethezda's Baubles


I entered a giveaway to win an item from Bethezda's Baubles recently and, much to my surprise, I won! 

The lighting in this photo shows the colours most accurately

It arrived yesterday (in very sturdy packaging, I might add) and is lovely, fabulously detailed and well-made too. The bright colours suit the sugar skull theme well and the raised textures and accents of glitter also give the hair clip an extra dimension.


The clip is a crocodile style one and is comfortable and hold well. There's also a leopard print patch attached to the back in order to hide any glue where the clip is secured, which is much more aesthetically appealing than a bare join. 

Of course, not everyone likes wearing hair clips or has hair too short to hold them in place, but not to worry - the clip is versatile too! You can always brighten up your wardrobe by fixing it to a hat or piece of clothing instead.

The clip, fastened onto a hat
To see more of Lady Bethezda's creations, you can visit her Etsy store or take a look at her blog, Bethezda's Preoccupations

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Movies: Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon

Mr. Vernon, L + mask
As some of you may know, the website Kickstarter is where makers of things come to ask everyone in the world for money to make more things. Examples of things sucessfully funded include games and cookie dippers. 30 days from now, the producers of the 2006 film Behind the Mask: The rise of Leslie Vernon, are hoping this will include the sequel: Before The Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon:
We’re offering fans the chance to pre-reserve their copy of the film in an effort to help fund the film. Our goal has been to raise almost all the money through our fans. We have a financier willing to meet all the money we raise up to half a million dollars. But over the months, while we have had a ton of support and well over 14,000 fans on our side demanding this movie happen, people still aren’t “getting it.” There seems to be a disconnect. We realize that people may not get it because this is a new concept for them- to donate to a cause and receive perks outside of a platform like Kickstarter. So we have decided that we really do need to enlist the help of Kickstarter to make this happen.We really feel like this is not only our last chance to ensure this film happens, but our best chance as well.
Funding can be given in any amount from $1 to any number you feel like. Of course for giving more money there are rewards which range from appearing in the special thanks section in the credits of the film ($5) to being killed by Leslie Vernon (I'm assuming on camera) that includes hotels, travel and many other items for $10000. There is a range of other lower priced goods, such as being a film extra $2500, to a DVD/Blu ray copy and a frame of the completed film for $50.
Guy that will be doing more killing.

Link:
Before The Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon (Kickstarter)

Of course there isn't a trailer for an unmade movie, but here's one for the first film instead:

Games: Slender

Game logo...
Slender is a free game by Parsec Productions in which you play as a woman armed with a mighty flashlight, who must for some reason collect pages, numbering 8...in a park...during the night. To make matters more traumatic for this woman, there might possibly be the Slenderman lurking about...
For those who have never seen Mr.Slenderman, he is a friendly being that likes to hug things with strechable (sometimes multiple) arms, is tall and skinny, and likes to wears a suit. For some reason the woman, and those that play the game seem terrified of him... 

A rather dramatic review from IGN :
Few horror games thrust you so directly into the heart of fear. All of Slender’s elements – the lack of a map, the threat of instant death, the slight element of unpredictability of the page locations – all contribute to a pervasive sense of hopeless vulnerability as you frantically flee an unknowable predator who may or may not be directly behind you.

The game can be downloaded for free here! Here's a trailer, just in case you aren't convinced to get it yet:


Edit: Updated links since the old ones no longer work, and added link to new homepage for the game!
Link to game (Windows/etc.)
Link to Slender Website
Link to Parsec productions (goes to another, rather less scary game. Unless you have pancakeophobia... which isn't a word I just made up...)

Places: Sixteen Fortresses for Staving Off the Zombie Apocalypse (via realtor.com)

This seems like a conflict of interests, but he does have a point!
Realtor.com
With many predictions for the end of the world and zombies and such things, which probably will won't happen, there are two types of people: those that have houses that are capable of stopping the onslaught of the undead, and those that feed the ravaging horde. As this is an important part of any home buying decision for those still sane in this pre-apocalyptic world, the website realtor.com has put together a list of the properties they think would best stand up to the oncoming hordes of braineating zombie persons:
"This particular writer never quite completed the necessary steps to earn his ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ merit badge, nor has he any crossbow-wielding, animal-skinning, shelter-building survival qualities to get him out of a pinch, let alone the jaws of the zombie formerly known as grandma for that matter. However, what I can offer is my expertise in real estate – prime, zombie-defense real estate capable of putting those with an unquenchable thirst for human flesh at a distance from you and your family."
This may look kind of nice...but...
Realtor.com
The easily defensible properties range in price from the relatively cheap Birch island for $550,000 or a "missile proof" house for $695,000 to the rather expensive, $99m "castle"!

To view the list of all 16 properties you can follow the link below:

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Photos: 'Hearses Only'


When wandering around a crematorium near my house, I spied the above road marking. This should be painted on all roads; cars would become more attractive that way. In fact, it should say "Classic-style Hearses Only", because I really don't care for the newer ones that look like elongated Vovlos!
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