Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Vampire's Day Soiree- Part 2: Valentine Vampire Cake

In honour of today being February 14th, HSL is taking part in the Vampire's Day Soiree, being run by Holly at Holly's Horrorland! So, instead of cheesy, sickly sweet, love-themed posts, you'll be getting some amazing, blood-drenched, vampire posts. Okay, so the posts here will probably be just as cheesy, but I'm sure some of the other participants will be able to give you something a little more sophisticated and refined ;) You'll find a list of the other participants and links to their blogs at the end of each Vampire's Day post here. That done with, on with part 2 of the sanguinary fun!

Part 2: Vampire-themed Cake 

How to make this bloody cake!

You will need:

- 1 large rectangular sponge cake
- 2 small rectangular sponge cakes (I made mine, but you can always buy them if you want to)
- Fondant icing or marzipan
- Red and black food colouring
- Chocolate hearts
- Designer icing in red, or chocolate icing
- Sugar skull and spiderweb decorations
- Pastry brush / paintbrush

Cover the large cake with fondant icing to form the base

Using the red food colouring, paint the entire base with the pastry brush. Then apply streaks of black to create the effect above. The colouring will make the cake shiny while wet, but it is more matt when completely dry.

Cut the two smaller cakes into coffin-shaped cakes and stick them next to each other onto the base using the chocolate icing. Paint the top with more red colouring.

Using the fondant icing, make the shapes for the vampire, coffin edging, and lips. Paint them as desired and add some chocolate hearts in the empty side of the coffin. Don't worry if your vampire looks like a cross between a penguin and Ernest the Vampire. Mine did too! :D 

Add some fondant teeth and bloody fangs to the mouth and then add the chocolate icing heart, topped with white chocolate decorations and sugar skulls / spiderweb decorations wherever you want them. 

And you're done! 

I don't have a photo of it after it dried, but I think the gross, oozy, shiny blood look kind of works with this theme ;)

Other  Vampire's Day Soiree Participants:

Vampire's Day Soiree - Part 1: 5 Vampire Verses

Vampire's Day Soiree
Hello dear devils and devious dolls! In honour of today being February 14th, HSL is taking part in the Vampire's Day Soiree, being run by Holly at Holly's Horrorland! So, instead of cheesy, sickly sweet, love-themed posts, you'll be getting some amazing, blood-drenched, vampire posts. Okay, so the posts here will probably be just as cheesy, but I'm sure some of the other participants will be able to give you something a little more sophisticated and refined ;) You'll find a list of the other participants and links to their blogs at the end of each Vampire's Day post here. That done with, on with the sanguinary fun!

Part 1: Vampire-themed Poems, Verses and Rhymes

A random selection of poems, verses and rhymes about blood-suckers. 
Some are serious, some are silly, but all feature vampires and are relatively short.
Der Vampir 
My dear young maiden clingeth
Unbending, fast and firm
To all the long-held teaching
Of a mother ever true;
As in vampires unmortal 5
Folk on the Theyse's portal
Heyduck-like do believe.
But my Christine thou dost dally,
And wilt my loving parry
Till I myself avenging
To a vampire's health a-drinking
Him toast in pale tokay.
And as softly thou art sleeping
To thee shall I come creeping
And thy life's blood drain away.
And so shalt thou be trembling
For thus shall I be kissing
And death's threshold thou' it be crossing
With fear, in my cold arms.
And last shall I thee question
Compared to such instruction
What are a mother's charms? 
- Heinrich August Ossenfelder

The Tale of the Hungry Vampire  
Biting a neck isn’t all that much fun
It’s messy, it’s crude, and it leads to the shun-
ning of most folk
when you really crave Coke
And honey and cake
Fangs are a mistake
On chocolate I brood
I’m not in the mood
For more dark thick blood
Masquerading as food
- Brenda McKenna

Illustration by Craig Smith
The vampire said: "My name is mud
Because I have a taste for blood
And there are those who think I'm horrid
For nipping victims on the forehead.
But, on this matter I won't hedge.
What really sets my teeth on edge
And scares me even more than rabies
Are children biting jelly babies."
Max Fatchen

Technically, the next one isn't about vampires, but...imagine that it is and it still makes sense :P

Come to Me 
Come to me my little dearie,
Come to me my little child,
Do not sleep but lift your weary
Head and hark to me a while.
Look, my lovely, look, my treasure,
See, your granny's eyes grow dim.
This, dear, is no human pleasure -
Hold my hand, I'll take you in.
Can you see them, coldly waiting?
Drift and chill or breath and bone?
Dear, they move like silence skating
Past an icy, shivered moan.
Ah, my love, their red eyes brighten,
See, they like your sweet red cheeks...
The seem, you say, rather hungry?
Treasure, they've been starved for weeks!
Now they drift like smoke towards you,
Now they fasten to your skin,
Child, your manners, I should warn you,
No complaints when the teeth go in!
There now, it was all quite simple,
Over now, my deathless dear.
Sweet, your cheeks acquired a dimple,
Those fangs, now, what a charming sneer!
- Verity Laughton

Le Vampire 
You who, like the stab of a knife,
Entered my plaintive heart;
You who, strong as a herd
Of demons, came, ardent and adorned, 
To make your bed and your domain
Of my humiliated mind
— Infamous bitch to whom I’m bound
Like the convict to his chain, 
Like the stubborn gambler to the game,
Like the drunkard to his wine,
Like the maggots to the corpse,
— Accurst, accurst be you! 
I begged the swift poniard
To gain for me my liberty,
I asked perfidious poison
To give aid to my cowardice. 
Alas! both poison and the knife
Contemptuously said to me:
“You do not deserve to be freed
From your accursed slavery, 
Fool! — if from her domination
Our efforts could deliver you,
Your kisses would resuscitate
The cadaver of your vampire!”
- Charles Baudelaire

If you're in a creative mood, feel free to comment with your own rhymes about the children of the night!

Others Participating in the Vampire's Day Soiree:

Movies: Perfect Creature (2006)

Sci-fi vampire horror, ‘Perfect Creature’, from writer/director Glenn Standring, is set in an alternate reality New Zealand (Nuovo Zelandia), in which vampires and humans have co-existed peacefully for 300 years. That is, until someone who threatens all of this is born. I love vampire films, but I’ll be the first to admit that this one didn’t sound too promising on the surface. I gave it a chance though and was pleasantly surprised by the storyline, which was actually a reasonably original take on the sub-genre.

300 years ago, through some sort of genetic mutation, some male children began to be born as vampires. Due to their superhuman abilities and hugely long lifespan (over the 300 years, no vampire has died) they were seen as more perfect versions of human beings and highly revered as beings who are ‘closer to god’. Since that time, they became known as ‘Brothers’ and formed a church, which their human devotees attend.

Although the vampires of this world do not prey on humans, they still require blood and so willing volunteers donate it for the Brothers to consume. It’s an organization similar to the Catholic Church, where people donate money, receive guidance and confess their sins to the priests. Oh, and the Brothers also withhold masses of information from humans and forbid things such as research into genetics in order to maintain their power and encourage dependency.

Regardless of this peace, the Brothers still seek to make a ‘perfect creature’ that is half human, half vampire and continue to conduct genetic research secretly. Unfortunately, every attempt they make ends in either death of the newborn or a virus that causes them to go insane being present. When the half-vampire, half-human, so-called “perfect creature” Edgar (Leo Gregory) is finally born, it appears that he does not have the virus and is raised by the Brotherhood. However, as he grows up it becomes apparent that he too is infected, and he goes onto attack and kill people in an effort to start a war and stop Brothers from “serving” humans. Edgar’s biological brother, Brother Silas (Dougray Scott), and Lilly (Saffron Burrows), a human detective, team up and try to stop him.

The movie’s main plot makes a refreshing change from the “sexy vampire” and “vampire with a soul” storylines that have been made and remade countless times over the years. It also seems to cross over into the serial killer sub-genre too, which is much more appealing than the action or romance crossovers that have previously been offered. For example, Edgar always kills women and gives Silas various clues as to his whereabouts and the location of his next murder, in order to both assist his own capture and taunt Silas. There are also action and romance scenes in the movie, but they aren’t the main focus.

The setting of the movie is also really interesting, combining scenery, props, transport and costumes from Victorian England and the 1920’s-1960’s with modern and futuristic technology, architecture and clothing. There’s something of a Steampunk element to the cityscapes, which are further enhanced by the long, wide angle shots consisting of CGI mixed with real footage. This random mixture makes the film’s look rather unusual and unique and it really does seem like an alternate, darker version of a place that already exists. The closest visual style to it in a film that I can think of is ‘Bladerunner’, but even that is somewhat different to Nuovo Zelandia.

The acting is generally quite good too and Dougray Scott gives a particularly strong performance as the unemotional and inquisitive Silas, which is contrasted by Leo Gregory’s portrayal of madness and violence in Edgar. This again makes their relationship seem more like a police officer and serial killer than siblings or vampire hunter and vampire. Saffron Burrows, is also quite decent, but is not that memorable in her role. That seems to be more due to the character she’s playing rather than any lack of ability on her part though. Lilly appears to swing between tough cop from the streets and vulnerable woman devastated by the loss of her child far too often, but I suppose that is a plausible character trait for a grieving mother.

There are, however, two things about ‘Perfect Creature’ that really drag it down. Firstly, the completely pointless sub-plot of Lilly and Silas falling in love. It adds nothing at all to the movie and just pads it out with unnecessary scenes. They may have been attempting to add some kind of ‘forbidden love’ element to the story (Brothers are not allowed to be romantically involved with anyone) in order to appeal to wome...audience members who might like that sort of thing. It certainly didn’t appeal to this audience member that it may or may not have been aimed at though. If anything, it detracted from the film and made Silas somewhat irritating when he was around Lilly or discussing her with others. It’s unfortunate, because until that point, there had been very few disappointing features to the film.

The other huge let down is the ending, which seems rushed and strange. There is a sudden shift of who the enemy is and a flurry of narration from Silas that’s only purpose seems to be to lead into a sequel. Even the production quality seems to deteriorate slightly and it takes on the feel of a pilot film for a series, rather than the stylish and atypical sci-fi / fantasy horror movie it had previously been. Were it not for this ending, it may even have been easier to overlook the irrelevant romance between the two main characters.

Whilst there were two rather substantial failings in ‘Perfect Creature’, for the most part, I did enjoy it. Although it probably won’t become remembered as one of the greatest films ever made, I appreciated Glenn Standring’s efforts to go in a different direction with a vampire movie and definitely recommend it to fans of sci-fi horror and modern bloodsuckers.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Movies: Indestructible Man (1956)

1956 sci-fi horror/crime thriller, ‘Indestructible Man’, from screenplay writers Vy Russell and Sue Dwiggins and director/producer Jack Pollexfen, tells the story of Charles “Butcher” Benton (Lon Chaney Jr.), who is in jail ready to be executed for murder and robbery, after being double-crossed by his attorney and two partners in crime. He swears revenge against the three men, before dying in the gas chamber. 

At the same time, a cancer research scientist tells his assistant to retrieve Benton’s body and bring it to the lab for experiments. During the experiment, which involves shocking Benton with copious levels of electricity, Benton is accidently brought back to life and becomes the ‘Indestructible Man’! From then on, he can’t speak, but has super strength and cannot be harmed by bullets, bazooka shells or seemingly any other method with which the police try to kill him. Benton then goes after the men who betrayed him.

You might be wondering why a cancer researcher specifically wants Benton’s body to experiment on. Or why studying cancer involves shocking dead bodies with 300,000 volts. Or maybe even why the doctor's assistant is allowed to claim Benton’s body from the morgue in the first place. But all this could probably be explained by assuming that Russell, Dwiggins and Pollexfen had read or seen ‘Frankenstein’ and wanted to recreate the same scenario, with a different story...whether that story made sense or not.

So anyway, a large part of the movie is narrated by the “hero” of the film, Detective Richard “Dick” Chasen (Max Showalter, listed as Casey Adams), who spends more time “chasen’” Benton’s supposed girlfriend, Eva Martin (Marian Carr doing her best Marilyn Monroe impression), than he does chasing actual criminals. Ignoring that, I find film-noir style narration irritating in general, but it’s especially unnecessary here because most of the things Chasen enlightens us about are already being blatantly shown on screen.

Portions of the film are set in a burlesque house, which seems to be the equivalent of setting it in a strip club nowadays. As racy as it might have been back in the 50’s, they only show women in swimsuit-esque corseted outfits, high heels and stockings, so it’s very tame and elegant when you see it now. I like burlesque costumes and 50’s glamour, so even if these scenes were just meant as eye candy, they were actually a plus about the movie’s visual style for me as well.

Luckily enough, Detective Chasen also likes burlesque and is more than willing to visit the dance hall (shock!); staring at all the dancers and literally following every woman that walks past with his eyes. I actually found his sexism, ogling and mildly inappropriate flirtation pretty amusing though (think of the character John Linden from the 1962 film ‘Carnival of Souls’ and you’ll know why!). Especially when he responded to Eva’s question “do you have a first name?” with “uh-huh…Dick”, whilst grinning like a twelve-year-old and sounding like an Elvis impersonator. I thought that his name suited him immensely well.

There is, of course, a real reason for Chasen going to the burlesque house - to interview Eva about Benton…and, naturally, to ask her out to dinner. And by dinner, I mean a hamburger at a drive thru. He does find out snippets of information, but Eva is so na├»ve and oblivious to what’s happening that spending so much time with her isn’t really beneficial to the plot.

I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy ‘Indestructible Man’, because it actually had a semi-decent plot and, smarmy as he was, Max Showalter wasn’t irritating as Chasen. Lon Chaney Jr. was also quite good in his role as Benton and managed to convey what was going on through his physical acting, only occasionally having help from those pointless voiceovers. I do wish he hadn’t tried to do the scary, Bela Lugosi in Dracula-like eyes though…they twitched so much it was hard to concentrate on anything else!

There were also some interesting shots with great cinematography, such as the scene in the prison where the bars of Benton’s cell are backlit and you can see a ‘tunnel’ of cells/bars in the background. These, however, were sparse and it was shot without the trademark hard lighting of both horror and noir, both of which genres it was clearly intended to be.

The main off-putting point about this feature though was the ending. I’ll warn you now that I’m going to give away the finale of the film, so if you want to watch it, don’t read anymore. Whilst the romantic sub-plot between Chasen and Eva at the end is also ridiculous, just as their previous conversations it was a source of amusement so I didn’t care. No, the problem I have with the end is that after being the ‘Indestructible Man’, unharmed by explosive shells and such, Benton is ultimately stopped by fire. Yes, that’s right, fire! After being severely injured by a flamethrower, Benton’s skin is no longer able to withstand anything and his super strength disappears too. It’s a little strange that being fried by electricity made him Superman, but a little flame could finish him.

Overall ‘Indestructible Man’ wasn’t a bad movie, but I can say it was one of Lon Chaney Jr.’s best either. It’s worth watching once and is amusing, but as a sci-fi horror/thriller, there are much better films in the sub-genre.

Movies: The Bat (1959)

Before I begin my review of the slightly predictable but nevertheless enjoyable, “The Bat”, I have to point out that I love classic horror movies. Admittedly I don’t love them all, but if I had to bet on whether I’d like a new release or something from fifty plus years ago, the oldie would be my pick every time. There’s just something about the combination of horror, elegance and slight ridiculousness, of which I’ve always been fond.

So if I don’t criticize how silly the prop bat being shoved in through the window looks, or how some of the furniture apparently moves of its own accord from shot to shot, or how his steal claws and the bizarre posing make him look more like Freddy Krueger’s Cat than “The Bat”, then that fondness is why. Besides, I’d rather see a fake-looking prop and somewhat comical characterization than badly done CGI and characters devoid of any kind of personality at all.

Anyway, before this turns into even more of a tangential rant, on with the review! Starring horror legend Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead (best known for her role as Endora in ‘Bewitched’) and directed by Crane Wilbur, ‘The Bat’ is a 1959 adaptation of the Avery Hopwood/Mary Roberts Rinehart Broadway play of the same name. There were also two earlier film adaptations: “The Bat” (1926) and “The Bat Whispers” (1930), both directed by Roland West, but having seen neither, I'm unsure whether or not this version takes anything from those predecessors. I’m helpful like that.

The main plot centres on Agnes Moorehead, who plays a reclusive mystery writer, Cornelia Van Gorder, living in a town under threat from a serial killer known as “The Bat”. The mysterious murderer, described as a “man with no face”, which actually means that he wears a mask, kills his victims by ripping out their throats with steel claws. An outbreak of rabies in the town is also believed to be connected to the bats the killer releases at the scenes of his crimes. When Miss Van Gorder’s maid, Lizzie Allen (Lenita Lane), is bitten by one of the bats, following a break in by the steel-clawed menace, Dr Wells, who just happens to be conducting research on bats, is called to take a look.

As well as the slayings, everyone is looking for a million dollars-worth of recently stolen bank assets, which Dr. Wells (Vincent Price) believes is hidden in the Van Gorder house. Of course, he has very good reason to think that, as the thief tells him where it is earlier in the movie. After being threatened by the said money grabber, Wells then proceeds to shoot him, intending to retrieve the loot for himself instead. Lesson learned – threatening Vincent Price in a horror movie never ends well.

However, “The Bat” wants that stolen money too, which is why he was at the Van Gorder house. I didn’t really understand why a serial killer, who had previously just seemed to get his jollies killing women, suddenly wanted to become a millionaire thief, but perhaps it’s some logical progression in the criminal world, of which I’m simply ignorant. That sudden change and the excessive number of red herring suspects were, in my opinion, the somewhat disappointing aspects of the movie. Having said that, they weren’t bad enough to ruin the plot, which was for the most part entertaining and largely free of irritating characters.

The acting was also fairly solid from the whole cast, save for Agnes Moorehead’s somewhat changeable portrayal of Van Gorder; flitting between strong and intelligent, to needy and overemotional several times. Overall however, she gave a good performance and her interactions with Lenita Lane were believable as that of an employer and a maid who’ve known each other so long that they’re almost like family.

Then there’s the Dr Wells character, which brings a huge amount of charisma to the picture in the form of Vincent Price. He does overplay the role at times, but those are balanced out well with the subtle looks and gestures. His somewhat strange science lab (complete with test tubes, a microscope and a random giant light-up bat behind a curtain, of course!) also makes him the movie’s resident eccentric, which no self-respecting classic horror should be without.

I’m still not entirely sure what that bat was there for though…

Whilst both the plot and acting were decent, if I had to choose one thing to give this movie five out of five for, it would be the visuals. The use of lighting is superb, creating some really impressive and mildly creepy shadows and silhouettes of the doors, windows and even The Bat. I adore the striking contrast between the monochromatic tones caused by the hard lighting used. I can’t think of many movies today that utilize shadows so effectively. Maybe it’s because of the black and white film used, but Dario Argento managed that kind of effect in color in ‘Suspiria’, so I suspect not.

If all of the above isn’t enough for you, and you’re thinking “but where’s the blood and the gore from this serial murderer??”, well, there isn’t any. Sorry. However, quite unusually for a 1950’s flick, they do show one of The Bat’s killings in its entirety. It was pretty brutal for back then and, for me, one of the reasons why this is a horror rather than a film noir or mystery. Maybe along with the lighting…and that giant bat.

Overall, I have no real complaints about “The Bat” and it was absolutely worth seeing if you like older horrors. The ending could have been better and less predictable, but it didn’t ruin the whole film, thankfully. Definitely one to watch alone on a dark stormy night, or alternatively, watch with friends and have fun chuckling at the silly bits!

Movies: Mindwarp (1991)

I saw ‘Mindwarp’ for the first time, by accident last year on the Horror Channel. They advertised it as Dario Argento’s ‘Opera’, but this came on instead for some reason, so I decided to watch it anyway. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic land, Inworld. Everyone there is hooked into Infinisynth’s computer generated fantasies, in which they spend most of their time. Most people are happy to live this way, going ‘offline’ only to eat and use the bathroom, but a young woman, Judy (Marta Alicia), becomes increasingly frustrated by this way of life and tries to keep herself offline as much as possible.

Judy then has a meeting with the Systems Operator (Angus Scrimm; ‘Phantasm’, ‘I Sell the Dead’), who apparently controls the whole of Infinisynth through tubes in his brain and lasers from his ass. Following that, she’s taken offline permanently and left to fend for herself in Outworld, which is populated by mutated cannibals…and Stover (Bruce Campbell; ‘Evil Dead’, ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’)! Will she be able to escape this Hellish world? Will she and Stover get back to Inworld? Who is her father and will she ever find him? Does anyone even care? Well, if you don’t, then you certainly won’t enjoy this movie because that’s the plot.

I actually liked the concept of the film and, considering it was released 8 years before movies like ‘The Matrix’ and before the internet had become what it is today, it was an interesting twist on the usual ‘world in the aftermath of nuclear war’ and ‘the world living in a false reality’ movies. That being said, most of ‘Mindwarp’ is set in Outworld, which means it’s predominantly a sci-fi horror about mutants and cannibals, garnished with a healthy dose of gore and overdone special effects make-up, rather than anything else.

The acting from Angus Scrimm and Bruce Campbell was pretty good and I felt that they were very well suited to their respective villain and hero roles in Outworld. Scrimm is always a great bad guy, so for me that made the whole thing much more enjoyable. Campbell did have some silly moments (as usual), but generally he gave a sound performance. Marta Alicia was also fairly decent as Judy, though her dialogues were a little stilted and whiny in places, but that was appropriate to Judy’s character I think. However, I can’t say any of the other actors were much good, and the stupid, verging on comical, epic music didn't help them much either.

Unfortunately, as with so many movies, the ending was somewhat disappointing.

(There are some spoilers below, so don’t read on if you want to see it for yourself first.)

In what seemed a rushed and poorly thought out attempt to drag Infinisynth back into the plot, it turns out that everything Judy experienced was an elaborate hoax and she’d actually been online dreaming the whole time. Now, that sounds annoying but okay, until it’s revealed that the Systems Operator is actually her missing father who wants her to take over from him and sit in that chair with the brain tubes, shooting lasers out of her ass instead. So, now apparently Judy doesn’t have a problem with the world living through virtual reality anymore, because she’s now got god-like powers and has seen how bad things are without a Systems Operator. Except, none of it was actually real, right? Hmm…

Overall, ‘Mindwarp’ was pretty fun to watch and although it’s nowhere near as good as ‘Opera’, I didn’t mind watching it. Could it have been better? Absolutely! But it’s definitely worth seeing once and if you like strange B Movies with Angus Scrimm and Bruce Campbell in, you’ll probably love this one!

Movies: Cry_Wolf (2005)

Following a million dollar prize win at the 2002 Chrysler Film Festival, aspiring writer/director Jeff Wadlow used his funding to create the reasonably entertaining (and surprisingly sex-free) teen slasher/psychological horror ‘Cry_Wolf’. After a girl is found dead in the woods near a posh prep school, eight students decide to convince the school that a fabricated serial killer called ‘The Wolf’ is responsible, inspired by a slightly pointless game of elimination that they play called ‘Cry Wolf’. The teenagers, including English new boy Owen (Julian Morris - ‘ER’, ‘Sorority Row’), his football playing roommate Tom (Jared Padalecki – ‘Supernatural’, ‘Gilmore Girls’) and the charming but manipulative object of Owen’s affections Dodger (Lindy Booth – ‘Wrong Turn’, ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake), subsequently become the targets of a real orange ski mask-wearing psycho and that’s where the trouble begins.

I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much from this film because, for me, after the mid-nineties (at the very latest) teen slashers got really old, predictable and dull and became more like horror-themed soft porn than anything else. If you want to watch that, that’s great and you should do so, but I want to watch movies with a plot, not irrelevant shots of naked girls (or guys for that matter). Anyway, ‘Cry_Wolf’ doesn't have any sex in, hence the PG-13 rating, and tries to keep the audience’s attention with the endangered species known as a plot. The twists in the story are mostly foreseeable, but the ending isn't that obvious until the last 20 minutes or so.

Also, even though there are a few stupidly smug looks and really ridiculous flirty scenes, on the whole the cast are well suited to their characters and give performances that don’t make you wish they would hurry up and die already. The problem with the lead actors and actresses though, is that they neither look nor act like high school seniors, but as with most films featuring teenagers, suspension of disbelief is your friend! (Casting Jon Bon Jovi as a Journalism teacher might also seem a little strange, but he was actually quite decent in the role.)

However, sadly there isn't much horror in ‘Cry_Wolf’, and it feels more like a murder mystery drama than a scary movie. The killings aren't particularly gory, but it isn’t the lack of bloody slayings that detracts from the terror, it’s the cinematography. Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job with the quality of shooting, but it’s not filmed in a way that creates any sense of foreboding or fear. The lighting is fairly bright at all times, even when it’s supposed to be pitch black, and the flashbacks and flickering images don’t add anything, except perhaps respites and reminders for those with short memories. Perhaps this is due to Wadlow's inexperience as a director, or perhaps he genuinely didn’t intend for it to be a horror, which means it’s just a case of bad marketing.

'Cry_Wolf' is a film that had potential and could have been much better, but ultimately ended up being just another run of the mill teen movie. I haven't seen any other movies by this director, so maybe he's improved since then, but in all honesty, I still can't help wondering how that million dollar prize was spent...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Documentaries: The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters

'The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters' (1994) 
A few weeks ago, when I found myself with an hour to spare, I perused the television channels to see if anything captured my attention. To my surprise, there was a documentary on Sky Arts 1 called 'The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters', about the great movie poster artist Reynold Brown. Although it was released in 1994, I had never seen it and so decided to watch. (The above screenshot is from a version that was apparently ripped by Ampop.com, but I really don't know as I capped it from YouTube.)

"Reynold Brown, creator of iconic B-movie posters
The B-movie is inextricably bound up with its poster image - while the films themselves may have been kitsch schlock horrors at the best of times, the poster art is perhaps the element that defined them best.  
This fascinating and entertaining documentary celebrates the work of Reynold Brown, one of the most acclaimed movie poster artists of all time. Specializing in campy and sensational posters for titles ranging from The Attack of the 50-Foot Woman to Creature From the Black Lagoon, Brown's work colorfully encapsulated the nation's postwar social climate. This film illustrates scores of Brown's compelling posters, interwoven with clips from these B-Movie classics."

As glorious a job as painting monsters for a living might sound, Brown's enthusiasm for and interest in his horror poster work was almost non-existent by the end. According to the documentary, he was frequently told to make the posters as sensational and overt as possible, in order to appeal to teenagers, whether the image really had anything to do with the features or not. It did seem that his love for the work was sapped not only due to the increasingly graphic - and often overly ridiculous - content of the movies featured, but also due to his creations being part of an industry that was controlled by "whatever sells the most" and "whatever is shocking", rather than "reality" and "good work". Often the printing presses would render the small details, which Brown painstakingly included, unrecognisable, and studios refused to acknowledge his beautiful illustrations as art. In fact, he was never even publicly credited on any of the posters. 

In 1976, following a stroke that led to his left side being paralysed and Brown, who was left-handed, had to "re-learn" painting with his right hand instead. After that, he spent a large deal of time painting western scenes and landscapes, all of which were pure art pieces and sold only to collectors, rather than commissioned freelancing. Although it must have been a very difficult time in his life as an artist, it did appear that Brown enjoyed this work the most out of any he had undertaken, which is something of a consolation I suppose.

The tone of the documentary is largely sympathetic to Brown's position as talented, dedicated artist trying to make a living. However, some of the guest interviewees contradict themselves by first stating that Brown loved the horror poster work, but later state that he did it only because he was forced. Even the documentary title is a little misleading, as much more than just Brown's horror and sci fi posters are covered. This is largely because most of his pre-stroke career was spent illustrating comics / manuals, painting poster art for war films, westerns, romances, and historical epics, and teaching. To be honest, it doesn't really make much difference, because it's still pretty fascinating stuff if you like art documentaries and classic movies!

For more information about Reynold Brown, you can visit the site below:
Official Website (maintained by his family)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Blog Events: Vampire's Day Soiree

What do you think of when you hear the date "February 14th"? Valentine's Day? Slushy cards? Candy hearts? Flowers? Blood-sucking vampires? What? You don't think of blood-sucking vampires? (I'm ignoring Erinia's answers here ;D) Well, you should, because as well as being Valentine's Day, February 14th is also Vampire's Day! At least...thanks to Holly at Holly's Horrorland it is! 

The Vampire's Day Soiree is a virtual event, in which those of us who would rather watch a horror than a romantic comedy, can immerse ourselves in everything dedicated to the scary sanguines and have fun viewing the offerings of the other participants too! All you need to do in order to take part is visit the sign up post at Holly's Horrorland (click the picture above), comment with your Name, blog name, and URL, and place a link from your blog back to the event page. Oh, and remember to make a vampire-themed post on February 14th of course!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Winners: The Soapy Shop of Horrors Giveaway!

Well dear devils, the time has come to announce the winners of The Soapy Shop of Horrors giveaway!  The winners were drawn at random, as you can see from the photo above, by our very own alien horror, Madame Luciel. Since we're feeling extra generous, we've decided to let all three of you have the 1st prize. So instead of the runners up getting one soap each, you will all receive your 5 chosen soaps!

The Winners Get 5 Soaps/Sets Each: 

Lady Bethezda
Soaps: Pentagram Set, Heart ~ Ankh, Bat, Heart ~ Skulls, Goth Bar Set
Scents: Surprise me!
Colours: Please let us know

Soaps: Clyde (zombie 1), JohnnyR (zombie 3), Goth Bar Set, Skull Set, Bat
Scents: Coconut & almond
Colours: Purple & Green

Soap: Edgar, Spider Soap, Goth Bar Set, Brain Set, Bat
Scents: Please let us know
Colours: Please let us know

Sam, we need your email addresses so that we can contact you for your postal details. 

Congrats! :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...