Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Horror of Weird Al Yankovic

When I was a kid, my Dad decided to subscribe to Columbia House music.  That was the mail order system where when you joined you got like 10 cassettes (yeah, that's right, I said cassettes.....this was like 1984!) for a dollar each and then you were enrolled in the club and they sent you music every month and if you liked it, you bought it.  If you didn't, you sent it back.  Canceling your subscription was a very difficult process that usually involved dark magic and the slaughter/sacrifice of several small animals.

Anyway, one of the 10 cassettes that my Dad picked to get from the initial offer was Weird Al's Dare To Be Stupid.  He picked it out for me, not only because I loved all the goofy songs that he and my mom would sing to us kids, but because there was a song about Yoda (which of course was a riff on The Kink's Lola)!  This was my first Weird Al album and I listened to it until the tape actual snapped and I had to replace it with the CD years later. 

It was the second track on Side-B that I loved the most...but I'm starting to get ahead of myself.....so let's take it back to the first album and do this up all chronologically 'n' stuff.  See, Weird Al is known for being a zany, totally out there comedy guy.  What you find when you really look into his lyrics is that he's also incredibly smart and has his finger on the pulse of what's going on in the world.  You'll also find that he has an incredibly dark side and here I shall submit songs from each album for you to ponder over.  Some entries are rather obvious....such as Nature Trail to Hell and Slime Creatures From Outer Space.  Others you have to pay a bit more attention to what your listening to because it's all in the lyrics....such as The Good Ol' Days and You Don't Love Me Anymore.  So let's take a look album by album at some of Al's darker stuff.....

"Weird Al" Yankovic - 1983













Happy Birthday -  You wouldn't think it by the title, but this one deals with some dark stuff, including world poverty, World War III and the destruction of the inner solar system!  Happy Birthday indeed!

Lyric sample:
It doesn't take a military genius to see
We'll all be crispy critters after World War III
There's nowhere you can run to, nowhere you can hide
When they drop the big one, we all get fried

I guess you know the Earth is gonna crash into the sun
But that's no reason why we shouldn't have a little fun
So if you think it's scary, if it's more than you can take
Just blow out the candles and have a piece of cake


Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung - The last track on the album is a pretty catchy little ditty.  Not REALLY dark or horror related, but more just all around kinda sick in a funny way.  The narrator of the song's best friend is an old guy in an Iron Lung.......hilarious.  Wrong, but hilarious!

Lyric Sample

Y'know, Mr. Frump is my very best friend
He's never a chump or a tease
He never tells me lies, and best of all
He never disagrees

Well, unfortunately, soon it came to be
Mr. Frump's dying day
And now I bring to you the very last thing
That Mr. Frump had to say....
[deep breathing, that fades and dies off]

Amen  

"Weird Al" Yankovic In 3D - 1984












Midnight Star - Another of Al's original tunes.  This one is about the crazy headlines that you used to see on tabloids such as Weekly World News.

Lyric Sample

It said your pet may be an extraterrestrial
It said the ghost of Elvis is living in my den
You can learn to cope with stress
You can beat the IRS
And the incredible frog boy is on the loose again

Eat jelly doughnuts, and lose twenty pounds a day
Hear the story of the man born without a head
And top psychics all agree
That the telephone company
Will have a brand new service that lets you talk to the dead

Nature Trail To Hell - One of my all time favorites of Al's tunes!  The song plays like a trailer for an upcoming slasher movie and is absolutely awesome.  The song starts with the sound of a thunderstorm complete with rain and even some wolves howling.  Awesome stuff.  This song was always popping up in Dr. Demento's Halloween Frightful Five at the end of his halloween shows. 

Sample Lyrics

Coming this Christmas to a theater near you
The most horrifying film that hit the screen.
There's a homicidal maniac who finds a cub-scout troop
and he hacks up two or three in every scene.
Please don't reveal the secret ending to your friends
Don't spoil the big surprise
You won't believe your eyes when you see
Nature Trail To Hell

See severed heads that almost fall right in your lap.
See that bloody hatchet coming right at you.
No, you'll never see hideous effects like these again
Until we bring nature trail to hell part 2
So bring the kids along it's good clean family fun.
What have you got to lose
If you like the 6 O'Clock news then you'll love.
Nature Trail to Hell
Nature trail to hell
Nature trail to hell in 3-D
Nature trail to hell in 3-D
Nature trail to hell in 3-D
Nature Trail to hell in 3-D

Dare To Be Stupid - 1985











Like A Surgeon - I pretty much added this one because it's all about gore and surgery gone wrong.  Not really a dark track per se.

Sample Lyric

Let me see, that I.V.
Here we go - time to operate
I'll pull his indsides out, pull his insides out
And see what he ate


 One More Minute - A song about break ups and the pain of being around your ex afterwards.  Al comes up with some pretty nasty tortures that he would rather endure than spending any further time with his ex.

Sample Lyric

I'd rather rip out my intestines with a fork
Than watch you going out with other men
I'd rather slam my fingers in a door (yah)
Again and again and again and again and again

Yes, I'd rather jump naked on a huge pile of thumbtacks
Or stick my nostrils together with crazy glue
I'd rather dive into a swimming pool filled with double-edged razor blades
Than spend one more minute with you


Slime Creatures From Outer Space - This is it!  This is the song that I was obsessed with when my Dad gave me the Dare To Be Stupid album.  When I listened to this I'd have a whole story of these Slime Creatures play out in my head.  I used to wish that someone would make a movie out of it.....still do actually!

Sample Lyric:

There's more comin' every day
And they just won't go away
Now they're reproducing in the sewers

They got hands all covered with fungus
They got eyes like some kinda bug
I sure hope they don't come in here
I just shampooed the rug


Polka Party - 1986











Just One of Those Days - Great song in which Al talks about mundane annoyances in the same light that he talks about horrible happens....apparently losing a sock in the dryer is just as annoying as having freaks burning crosses out on your front lawn!


Lyric Sample
A 747 crashed into my den
And there's nothin' but tater tots for dinner again
It's just one of those days
Never mind, it's just one of those days

Big steamroller just ran over my mom
And I cut myself shaving and they're dropping the bomb
It's just one of those days
That's all, it's just one of those days


Christmas at Ground Zero - A great apocalyptic Christmas song.  The music is dead on in it's emulation of the classic Christmas tunes....which makes the lyrics about the impending nuclear holocaust all the more disturbing/hilarious.

Lyric Sample

Well it's Christmas at Ground Zero
There's panic in the crowd
We can dodge debris while we trim the tree
Underneath the mushroom cloud

Oh, it's Christmas at Ground Zero
And if the radiation level's okay
I'll go out with you and see all the new
Mutations on new year's day


Even Worse - 1988












Melanie - This is pretty much a song sung from the perspective of a psycho stalker.  He spends the song pining for the title character before the "big reveal" about his current condition and how psychotic he really is.

Sample Lyric

I just can't understand it
Why won't you return my phone calls
Are you still mad I gave a Mohawk to your cat
If you'd just say the word
I'm certain that our love would last forever and ever
Or are you too dumb to realize that

You weren't impressed when I tattooed your name across my forehead
You wouldn't listen when I promised to be true
I couldn't stand it so I jumped out from the sixteenth story window
Right above you
Now I may be dead but I still love you  


Good Old DaysCall it Melanie's thematic sequel on the album.  Good Old Days is a style parody written in the style of James Taylor.  It is sung from the perspective of a complete psychotic sociopath as he looks back at his younger daysThis is one of the darkest songs that Al's written, I think.

I can still remember good old Mr. Fender
Who ran the corner grocery store
Oh, he'd strolled down the aisle with a big friendly smile
And he'd say "Howdy" when you walked in the door
Always treated me nice, gave me kindly advice
I don't know why I set fire to his place
Oh I'll never forget the day I bashed in his head
Well you should've seen the look on his face

Do you remember sweet Michelle
She was my high school romance
She was fun to talk to and nice to smell
So I took her to the homecoming dance
Then I tied her to a chair and I shaved off all her hair
And I left her in the desert all alone
Well sometimes in my dreams
I can still hear the screams
Oh I wonder if she ever made it home


UHF - The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff - 1989












Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters From A Planet Near Mars  -  This one really is pretty lighthearted but it's got a similar theme to Slime Creatures.....only with mutated giant hamsters.....

Lyric Sample

Attack of the radioactive hamsters from a planet near Mars
They're back and they're lookin' for a snack
And they're not that fond of Burger Kings or salad bars
I hope they're not plannin' to stay
Who invited them here anayway
Attack of the radioactive hamsters from a planet near Mars

Well, well, look at that hamster, he's as big as a blimp
And there's one the size of central park
They're using telephone pole to pick their teeth
They're evil and nasty and they glow in the dark
Oh, don't waste any more of your bullets, boys
You know it just makes 'em mad when you shoot
They're gonna stomp us into jelly and conquer the world
But you gotta admit, they're really kinda cute, now


Off The Deep End - 1992











Trigger Happy - A 50''s Beach Boys style ode to firearms, sung from the view point of the paranoid, inept and clumsy gun enthusiast.  NRA be proud.....


 Sample Lyrics

Oh, I accidently shot daddy last night in the den
I mistook him in the dark for a drug-crazed Nazi again
Now why'd you have to get so mad?
It was just a lousy flesh wound, Dad
You know, I'm trigger happy, trigger happy every day

Oh, I still haven't figured out the safety on my rifle yet
Little Fluffy took a round, better take him to the vet
I filled that kitty cat so full of lead
We'll have to use him for a pencil instead
Well, I'm so trigger happy, trigger happy every day


You Don't Love Me Anymore - A beautiful ballad about a girlfriend and/or wife who is trying to kill her husband/boyfriend, though he seems to be oblivious of the seriousness of her attempts.....he is in denial that their love is gone.

Sample Lyrics

I knew that we were having problems when
You put those piranhas in my bathtub again
You're still the light of my life
Oh darling, I'm beggin', won't you put down that knife?

You know, I even think it's kinda cute the way
You poison my coffee just a little each day
I still remember the way that you laughed
When you pushed me down that elevator shaft


Alapalooza - 1993










Jurassic Park -  Parody of MacArthur Park, obviously.  Not really dark, but there's fun lyrics about getting disemboweled so that has to count for something, right?

Sample Lyrics

I cannot approve of this attraction
'Cause getting disemboweled always makes me kinda mad
A huge tyrannosaurus ate our lawer
Well, I suppose that proves... they're really not all bad

Jurassic Park is frightning in the dark
All the dinosaurs are running wild
Someone let T. Rex out of his pen
I'm afraid those things'll harm me
'Cause they sure don't act like Barney
And they think that I'm their dinner, not their friend
Oh no.....


Talk Soup -  This one really isn't dark at all, but I thought I would include it because it's a cousin to Midnight Star in a sense.  This song is about all the crazy people you see on daytime talk tv shows.  There are some nods to Bigfoot and close encounters in there so that helps....

Sample Lyrics

I'm just an anorexic codependant bingo addict
Stripper born without a chin
And I'm only comfortable talking about it
When the whole wide world is listening in

I'm just a cross-dressin' alcoholic neo-Nazi
Porno star, as you may have guessed
And I'm really gonna feel a whole lot better
If you let me get this thing off my chest


Bad Hair Day - 1996












Everything You Know Is Wrong -  This is a pretty far out there song, which I love.  Again, not really dark per se.....but it's got tons of bizarreness in it.  The song is another style parody....in this case of They Might Be Giants.  One of my all time favorites!

Sample Lyrics

And as I'm laying bleeding there on the asphalt
Finally I recognize the face of my hibachi dealer
Who takes off his prosthetic lips and tells me
Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you thought was just so
Important doesn't matter

I was walkin' to the kitchen for some Golden Grahams
When I accidentally stepped into an alternate dimension
And soon I was abducted by some aliens from space
Who kinda looked like Jamie Farr
They sucked out my internal organs
And they took some polaroids
And said I was a darn good sport
And as a way of saying thank you
They offered to transport me back to
Any point in history that I would care to go

I Remember Larry - Song about a guy reminiscing about a neighborhood kid who used to pull horrible pranks on everyone....until revenge was served!  

Sample Lyrics

Say, do you remember that guy Larry next door
Well, he always was the neighborhood clown
Like the time he took my pants off and he took those color pictures
And posted copies all over town
Or the time that he dumped toxic waste on my lawn
Or those wacky prank phone calls from midnight 'till dawn
What a crazy kid Larry was, always foolin' around

Say, do you remember when I broke in Larry's house
Late at night and tied his mouth with a rag
Then I dragged him by his ankles to the middle of the forest
And stuffed him in a big plastic bag
If the cops ever find him, who knows what they'd say
But I'm sure if ol' Lar' were still with us today
He would have to agree with me it was a pretty good gag

 
The Night Santa Went Crazy -   This is another one of Al's songs that I think would make an awesome movie!  Plenty of nice descriptive lines about the carnage that ol' Saint Nick inflicted!

Sample Lyrics

Down in the workshop all the elves were makin' toys
For the good Gentile girls and the good Gentile boys
When the boss busted in, nearly scared 'em half to death
Had a rifle in his hands and cheap whiskey on his breath
From his beard to his boots he was covered with ammo
Like a big fat drunk disgruntled Yuletide Rambo
And he smiled as he said with a twinkle in his eye,
"Merry Christmas to all - now you're all gonna die!"

Well, the workshop is gone now, he decided to bomb it
Everywhere you'll find pieces of Cupid and Comet
And he tied up his helpers and he held the elves hostage
And he ground up poor Rudolph into reindeer sausage
He got Dancer and Prancer with an old German Luger
And he slashed up Dasher just like Freddy Krueger
And he picked up a flamethrower and he barbequed Blitzen
And he took a big bite and said, "It tastes just like chicken!"


Running With Scissors - 1999












Your Horoscope For Today - Another song that I think has a bit of a relation to Midnight Star.  Mainly because I'm pretty convinced that these are the horoscopes printed in the latest addition of the fictitious tabloid.  Some humorously grisly stuff......

Sample Lyrics

Gemini
Your birthday party will be ruined once again by your explosive flatulence
Your love life will run into trouble when your fiance hurls a javelin through your chest

Virgo
All Virgos are extremely friendly and intelligent - except for you
Expect a big surprise today when you wind up with your head impaled upon a stick



Albuquerque - Holy hell.  I'm not even sure if this technically classifies itself as a song.....think Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant on a crack/meth cocktail.  In other words...pure genius.

Sample Lyrics

Well, I checked into my room and I turned down the A/C
And I turned on the SpectraVision
And I'm just about to eat that little chocolate mint on my pillow
That I love so very, very much when suddenly, there's a knock on the door

Well now, who could that be?

I say "Who is it?"
No answer
"Who is it?"
There's no answer
"WHO IS IT?"
They're not sayin' anything

So, finally I go over and I open the door and just as I suspected

It's some big fat hermaphrodite with a Flock-Of-Seagulls haircut and only one nostril
Oh man, I hate it when I'm right
So anyway, he bursts into my room and he grabs my lucky snorkel
And I'm like "Hey, you can't have that"
"That snorkel's been just like a snorkel to me"
And he's like "Tough"
And I'm like "Give it"
And he's like "Make me"
And I'm like "'Kay"
So I grabbed his leg and he grabbed my esophagus
And I bit off his ear and he chewed off my eyebrows
And I took out his appendix and he gave me a colonic irrigation
Yes indeed, you better believe it
And somehow in the middle of it all, the phone got knocked off the hook
And twenty seconds later, I heard a familiar voice
And you know what it said?
I'll tell you what it said


Poodle Hat - 2003












Party at the Leper Colony - Another fine example of Al's sick and twisted sense of humor.  Obviously the jokes involve various body parts falling off of people.


Sample Lyrics

Finger food and an ice cold keg
It won't cost you an arm and a leg
Dance all night to a rotten band
Come on, people, let's give 'em a hand
Met a little lady so pretty and young
She was quite a little talker 'till the cat got her tongue
She oozed up beside me, I turned on my charm
Well, pretty soon she was completely disarmed
Why Does This Always Happen To Me - Al sings about horrible tragedies and how the minor inconvenience that it causes him is truly the most awful thing that could happen.  This is actually a pretty sharp commentary on the state of society.  In this day and age of You Tube and constant streaming news we have become so jaded that tragedies don't seem quite so horrible.....because we constantly hear about them. 

Sample Lyrics

I was driving down the highway when all the traffic slowed to a crawl
There was a twelve-car pile-up, everybody dead
And I saw brains and guts and vital organs splattered everywhere
As well as my friend Robert's disembodied head

And I thought - Poor Rob, I just had lunch with him

Hey, wait a minute, he still owes me money - what a jerk
Well, there's five bucks that I'm never gonna see again
Plus now, on top of everything else, it looks like I'm gonna be late to work
Straight Outta Lynwood - 2006












Do I Creep You Out? - Another stalker ballad.....a parody of the song Do I Make You Proud?

Sample Lyric

I like to feel
The warm spot on your chair
Sometimes I drool
And usually I stare
My precious one
I saved that gum
That you threw in the garbage

You're the one I dream about

But the only question with me now
Is "Do I creep you out?"
Everytime I shake your hand now
Wanna stick your fingers in my mouth
Do I creep you out? 
 Weasel Stomping Day - Al up to his demented best.  The theme song for the title made up holiday.  I wish it was a real holiday though....sounds like fun!  Kidding of course.  What really makes this song is the crunching and squishing sounds accompanied by the sound of screaming weasels....

Sample Lyrics

All the little girls and boys
Love that wonderful crunching noise
You'll know what this day's about
When you stomp a weasel's guts right out

So, come along and have a laugh

Snap their weasely spines in half
Grap your boots and stomp your cares away
Hip hip hooray, it's Weasel Stomping Day 


Al released a brand new album yesterday titled Alpocalypse.  I have not had a chance to listen to it yet so I can not as of yet comment on the songs that appear on that album....once I get a few good listens in, I will add the newest album to the list....but this should keep ya going for a while.  If you are an Al fan, then I'm sure you'll enjoy going back and revisiting these songs.  Or maybe you're new to Al's zaniness....in that case I hope you find this a good jumping off point.












Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lunchmeat Magazine Gets a Website!!!!


In case you didn't pick up on it from my blog's title, I'm a huge fan of VHS.  I love rummaging through flea markets, second hand shops, old mom and pop stores and dingy basements searching the depths of ridiculous amounts of copies of Armageddon and Space Cowboys to find the real gems like Attack of the Beast Creatures, Fright Show and the ever elusive Blood Beat!  For a long time I thought I was alone in the universe.  I thought that I was a lone soldier in a fight to preserve the awesomeness of the age of big boxes and crazy box artwork.

Enter Lunchmeat Magazine.  An underground 'zine dedicated to the VHS horror collectors.  In a word, it's simply awesome.  For quite a while, the only place that I could find to purchase copies was off of E-bay and from Relapse Records website.  But now.....now there is a definitive home for this incredible mag.  A while back, the ghouls at Lunchmeat put out a call for anyone interested in helping spread the gospel of gore.  Naturally I volunteered to do whatever I can.  I just received an email from the boys in charge (Josh and John) telling me that I've got some promo postcards that I'll be able to pass out around my local haunts and not only that, I am now a full fledged member of the Videovore Fiend Club!  Complete with a membership card and a button on their way to me.  That is awesomeness.  Just like the old days of Famous Monsters.



                                  

The website is terrific....there's the Meat Market where you can buy Lunchmeat goods.  The Meat Locker where you can browse back issues and read a couple of articles from them.  Kitchen Staff gives you the opportunity to get to know the mad men behind the mag....including a short bio and a series of questions asked of each staff member.  Then there is the link to their Spare Parts blog.  You will find links to both to the right in my link section.

I've been reading the 'zine since issue #3 and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of issue #6.  Seriously...if you love VHS, think you might like to get into VHS or (I feel old) have no idea what VHS is, but want to learn more about it then you would do quite well to check out this magazine! 

Rock & Shock Gust List Announced

The Rock & Shock, which is a horror film and music convention held every year in my hometown of Worcester, MA has announced the gust list for this year and it's pretty amazing so far!

Check it out!

That's right kiddies!  Freddy Krueger himself is going to be there as well as Heather Langenkamp....so make sure you got yer Nightmare on Elm Street gear out and ready to be signed! 

Lance Henrikson is also going to be there, which I'm very excited about as well as Bill Mosely, Kane Hodder, Camille Keaton and Barbara Magnolfi.  Okay...well I'm pretty excited about all the guests....including some of the cast of The Walking Dead!

I've been to The Rock & Shock three times so far....this will be my 4th go.  If you can make it, I highly recommend going.  The guests are always very accessible and very kind.  There are tons of great vendors, the 4th annual Film Festival and of course the great line up of bands playing at The Palladium right down the street from the convention center.

I'm a pretty lucky guy in that all this horror awesomeness happens less than a mile from my house.  Hope to see ya there!

Here's some videos to get ya excited!




Please note:  These are not MY videos from the convention....I sadly missed last years show.  I found this on YouTube and found it to be fun and interesting.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Invasion of the Saucermen

There are some films that are very near and dear to me.  Invasion of the Saucermen tops that category.  I had read about this film for quite some time in various books about classic sci-fi movies.  The photos that I saw of the aliens through still shots in the books and publicity photos had me intrigued.  I thought that the aliens were just about the coolest damn thing I had ever seen. 

It was quite a few years until I finally was able to see the film, which just happened to air on The Sci-Fi Channel's Moonlight Matinee one summer afternoon....sometime in the mid 1990's.  That was back when Sci-Fi was still called Sci-Fi and not the ultra retarded SyFy.....and back when they still showed a wife variety of movies.  If there are any Syfy executives, or friends or family of any even associated with Syfy.....please, Please, PLEASE go back to the way you used to be in the 90's.  I miss you so. 

Anywhoo, Invasion of the Saucer Men (a.k.a. Invasion of the Hell Creatures,  Hell Creatures, La invasión de los hombres del espacio (The Invasion of the Space Men) in Spain and Krypande handen (The Crawling Hand) in Sweden) really is the quintessential 50's alien invasion movie.  Teenagers up at Lover's Lane run afoul of small cabbage headed aliens with detachable hands that shoot pure alcochol into it's victims.  You just can't make that kinda stuff up!



Originally IotSM was being made as a serious sci-fi flick.  As the picture progressed however, it morphed into a hybrid comedy.  Frank Gorshin's roll as Joe Gruen helped the comedy along quite a bit.  You may know Frank as The Riddler in the 60's TV version of Batman....or as Dr Fletcher in 12 Monkeys.  The guy has 135 acting credits from 1956 - 2006.....well, I suppose technically 2005 when he passed away....but his final film, The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park was not releaseed until 2006.

The Saucer Men were created by Howard Anderson, Alex Weldon and Paul Blaisdell.  You may know Blaisdell from his work in such films as The Day The World Ended, The She-Creature and The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow.  Some of the special effects in the film were terrific for it's time, including the detachable alien hand that gets trapped in a teen's car and a fantastic fight sequence between a Saucer Man and a Bull!  Seriously!  Check it out:



Told ya that was awesome! 

I'd been searching for this movie for what seemed like forever and a day on ANY kind of home video format, however all the VHS were out of print and there have never been any official DVD let alone Blu Ray releases.  I keep my fingers crossed though.  My wife, being the incredible woman that she is managed to get her hands on a copy and gave it to me as a gift our first Christmas together.  To this day it is the best Christmas present I have ever received. 

If you can find it, do yourself a favor and get your mitts on a copy of this movie.  It is an absolute MUST for fans of 50's sci fi/monster cinema. 


There was a remake of IotSM made by shclockmeister Larry Buchanan for AIP called Attack of the Eye Creatures.  Like Buchanan's other remakes.....it really was not very good....but if you're a sucker for a bad late night B-Movie this might do the trick for ya!  As a matter of fact.....here's the MST3K version for your enjoyment...courtesy of analogkid01.




Yep.  You're life is now complete!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tales From The Darkside - Hush

I miss the Friday nights of my youth.  Things were so much simpler then.  At 1:50, the school bell rang and I knew that the weekend was once again upon us.  My older sister and I would get home from school just as my Dad was getting ready to go to work.  We would watch our younger sister (Hi Katie!)  until my mother would get home about 4:30.  After Mom got home, she'd make us dinner and then Friday night was Mom's designated grocery shopping night.  Ah, Friday night grocery shopping.....that was a magical experience unto itself, but perhaps a story best left for another time.


The groceries would be put away by 7:30....then it was time to get into our PJ's and get ready for some TGIF action on ABC!  Man....I could go on and on about TGIF on ABC too...Family Matters, Full House, Step by Step, Just the Ten of Us, Dinosaurs (NOT THE MAMA!)), Perfect Strangers.....so many incredibly awesome sitcoms on Friday nights.  Mom would usually pick up a frozen pizza or (YUM) pizza rolls to snack on.  Oh....those delicious little nuggets of pizza goodness.  When I die, I want to be buried with a casket full of pizza rolls.  Or maybe in a casket made out of a giant pizza roll....yes, I love them THAT much!




After a good solid 2 hours of  sitcom comedy gold (at least as far as my 13 year old self was concerned), my Mom would head to bed at 10.  My younger sister would already be asleep and my older sister would sometimes be downstairs with me.....sometimes in her room doing whatever it is that 16 year old girls do in their rooms.  I dunno.  My Dad worked 2nd shift and didn't get home until 11:30. Anyway, at 10pm, on good ol' Channel 50 WNDS (The Winds of New England.....New Hampshire station that used to show awesome stuff) would show re-runs of Monsters and Tales From The Darkside at 10 and 10:30 respectively.  Also WNDS was home to Al Kaprielian....also known as Weird Al Kaprielian.....the awesome meteorologist who would start each weather segment saying "Good eeeeevnening everyone!"  This guy is so awesome his loyal fanbase is known as the Kult of Kaprielian!  Yeah, he's THAT awesome.



I was alone downstairs on this particular occasion.  There were still some cold pizza rolls left over from earlier in the evening, so I loaded up the rest of them, poured myself a big ol' glass of coke  and hunkered down for a little double dose of horror!  To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what episode of Monsters was on before hand....but part of my wants to say that it was Pillow Talk.....which is about a guy who has a pet bed monster thing that likes to eat half naked women that the guy takes home for a one night snack...er...stand.  That was a cool episode......Here check it out for yourself:



See?  That was pretty awesome.  You can totally see the "twist" ending coming, but it's still pretty damn cool.  Monstsers was a perfect pairing with Tales From The Darkside.  You were guaranteed a Monster in each episde (though there were a few where the definitinon of "Monster" was stretched quite thin!) while TFTD could cover everything from monsters, to ghosts, voodoo and everything in between.

The Intro do Tales From The Darkside was simply the stuff of nightmares.  An insanely creepy piano riff played while the narrator informed us that there is a darkside that exists unknown to most....lurking just below the sunlight world of what we believe to be reality.  It completely set the tone for the show....even when it was a less than impressive episode, it always somehow seemed that much creepier....just because it was prefaced with that intro.  Seriously.  Watch THIS:



Spooky stuff, right?  I told ya!   That is pure terror to a kid, trust me.  What came next however kept me huddled to my spot on the couch.  The episode was of course, Hush.  A girl named Jennifer goes to babysit a young boy named Buddy.  Buddy is a bit of an inventor and shows Jennifer all of his little electronic Frankenstein creations, including a device he calls a noise eater....which basically looks like a vacuum cleaner with some extra doodads attached to it.  Well, wouldn't ya know it, the damn thing malfunctions and takes on a life of it's own., sucking the sound out everything.  Unfortunately if it is a living creature that is making the sound, it will aslo suck the life right out of it. 

What ensues next is a cat and mouse game with Jennifer and Buddy trying to hide from this monstrosity as it systematically hunts for any sounds to consume.  Oh yeah, Buddy's got some allergies too.....which make for some rather tense moments as they hide from the Noise Eater.  The acting is pretty good in the episode....thought the noise eater is a bit wonky looking.  Re-watching this episode years later, it still holds a creepy vibe, I think....though it is no where near as terrifying as I found it that Friday night so long ago.

Why don't ya go ahead and watch it and tell me what you think!


I was going to talk a bit about USA Up All Night, but that is best left for another time.
I hope that you enjoyed the episode, as well as the extra bonus episode of Monsters.  I also hope that you enjoyed the little stroll down memory lane with me...until next time.....try to stay in the light!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beware The Slender-Man

So I was hanging over at Planet of Terror and I noticed a Tweet conversation between the site's owner, Cortez The Killer and another fellow.  They were discussing a web series called Marble Hornets and I was intrigued by a comment that Cortez made (I'm paraphrasing here)  "I'm only on the 9th episode and it's creeping me the fuck out!".   Well, now I had to know what had The Killer creeped out!  So I did a little investigating.  One google search later and I was brought to Marble Hornet's You Tube page.

I watched the introductory video:


I haven't been the same since.  I sat and watched the first 20 something episodes (which are referred to as "Entries") in one sitting.  I was disturbed.  As I stated in my last post, I love films done in the cinema verite style, and this one is quite possibly the best I've seen!  The plot is unfolds from the point of view of Jay, our narrator and the person responsible for the entries uploaded to You Tube, who starts to find some strange occurrences while looking through tapes that he received from a friend and fellow film school student, Alex.  Alex was working on his student film entitled Marble Hornets, but shut down production quite suddenly and refused to talk about it.  Jay convinces Alex to let him take the tapes and look at them.  He starts to notice strange anomalies and events that seem very out of place.  As Jay watches the tapes, he starts to notice the same sort of weirdness occur around him.  It becomes clear that Alex was being stalked by......something.  Jay has now attracted the attention of this supernatural entity.

What I find most incredible about this series is that it's not just a series of videos.  It is an entire interactive experience....the likes of which I have never seen before.  Using the comments section of You Tube as well as Facebook and Twitter viewers can help Jay try to solve the intricate mysteries that are unfolding.  Things took a creepy turn when a poster known only as totheark, who started to post video responses to Jay's videos.  Tothearks videos often seem to include possible clues and puzzles for the viewer to solve in order to try and further understand the events befalling Jay.




The videos....when watched out of context, or individually may not seem to be frightening or even really coherent, but I urge you to watch the chronologically and you will find that the fear starts to creep into your mind.  I found myself constantly thinking about what I'd seen....trying to piece it all together.  Some of the videos have images that are outright disturbing.....especially those that show encounters with The Slender Man and the masked person that also seems to be stalking Jay (as he did Alex).

After watching all the videos up to date (which are updated at random...sometimes weeks go by without a new post.....sometimes months.  The latest video was posted on May 25th) I did some more research and found that The Slender Man is a boogey man that was created over at the Something Awful Forums by Victor Surge.  The image inspired others and took off like wildfire.  Everything from art to short stories has been created about The Slender Man.  Marble Hornets is Jay's take on the mythology.

Join an ever growing army of fans (myself included) of The Slender Man.  Check out Marble Hornets.  Check out Something Awful.  Let the horror ensnare you, like is long, tentacle arms......

Of Witches, Devils, Cannibals and Ghosts


I've always had a soft spot for the cinema verite style of film-making.  I'm not gonna lie, when The Blair Witch Project first came out, I was completely enamored.  I knew that none of it was real, but the viral marketing was just so awesome I couldn't help but completely get sucked in.  The website was fantastic, offering a full mythology and timeline of events involving Elly Kedward aka, The Blair Witch, "evidence" from Burkittsville PD found around the area that the trio of college students disappeared.  A new version of the website exists here.  In addition, there were two specials that aired.  The first of which was on The Sci-Fi Channel.  Yep.  SCI-FI....before the completely needless and quite stupid renaming of the channel to Syfy.  Friggin Syfy?  Really?  Jesus that is so stupid.  Okay anyway....the special was entitled Curse of the Blair Witch and it was a 90 minute special that went quite in depth into the mythos behind The Blair Witch, including the disappearance and murder of 7 children from Burkittsville, MD now known as The Burkittsville 7 by notorious hermit Rustin Parr.  Parr was allegedly possessed and controlled by the witch.


 




The Massacre of the Burkittsville 7 was the title of another special that aired on Showtime and dealt exclusively with Rustin Parr and the murdered children.  Both were absolutely fantastic mockumentaries and really helped to get you pumped up and excited to see the movie.  In October of 2000 there was a third special produced called Shadow of the Blair Witch.  This was produced as a promotion for Book of Shadows:  Blair Witch 2.  This one dealt with the killing spree that was inspired by the original movie and was depicted in BW2.  It was just as creepy as CotBW......but did not seem to get nearly as much attention.






Now there are a lot of people who think that Blair Witch was the first to use and exploit the cinema verite style.  There were many before it though...the most notorious of which is Cannibal Holocaust....which will soon have a review posted in our new MidNite CinePhile Red Room Blog.  The film depicts a group of film makers who journey into The Green Inferno to document the native tribes.  They are never seen again.  Another expedition is sent to find them and come across some of the footage they left behind.  What they see is one of the most vile and disturbing  visions of human depravity.....and I'm not even talking about the cannibals! 



In 1998 a little independent feature came out called The Last Broadcast about two cable access show hosts who, on a suggestion from a caller, decide to hunt for the Jersey Devil while broadcasting live.  Steven Avkast and Locus Wheeler are the hosts of the local access show Fact of Fiction, which is a paranormal show.  After installing a new live chat segment of the show, a viewer suggests that they investigate The Jersey Devil.  The recruit sound man Rein Clackin and self proclaimed psychic Jim Suerd in their adventure.  Rein claims to have a knack for capturing paranormal sound and the boys hope that Suerd can psychically lead them to The Devil's hiding place.  The four men go in searching for the legend, but on Suerd emerges days later.  He is charge with the murder of the three other men, though the body of Avkast is never found, but presumed dead due to the amount of blood at the crime scene.  Suerd is convicted of the murders and imprisoned.  However there is still doubt of his guilt, but before anything further can happen, Suerd allegedly commits suicide in his jail cell....though his death is also a bit bizarre.  A documentary film maker named David Leigh is investigating this case and is sent a film reel containing badly damaged film.  He hires a data retrieval expert to clean up the film and see what's on it.  Using the film that was broadcast during the hunt, the trip is recreated from the "found footage" and archived footage of the show....both murders are caught on camera and Suerd is clearly not the killer.  Was it the work of the Jersey Devil?  Ahhh....tantalizing isn't it?  Check out this film and see!

I came across The Last Broadcast a few months after watching The Blair Witch Project....I was at Suncoast Video (Yep....you know your old when you used to shop at Suncoast Video!) and a VHS tape caught my eye.  Yes....this was back in 1999, when DVD was still brand new everyplace still sold VHS.  Those were the days.  Anyway....I was still completely obsessed with The Blair Witch Project and when I saw this tape, I was immediately intrigued!  So naturally I had to check it out......I remember picking up The Clay Witch Project at the time as well.....which was (in case the title didn't tip you off) a claymation parody of Blair Witch.  Three kids go for a walk one October afternoon and soon start to run afoul of pretty much ever horror cliche you can think of.  Naturally played for laughs, it was a cute little film that I enjoyed quite a bit.  One thing of interesting note was that towards the end of the film, we're treated to a claymation fight to the death between Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees!  Now this was five years before Freddy vs Jason came out and fans of the series had been clamoring for the match up since the mid eighties....so this was awesome!

Another great low budget effort is Strawberry Estates...in which a professor leads a group of students into a haunted sanitarium that is allegedly built over a gate to hell.  Of course, as is always the case in these instances....the group goes in.....but no one comes back out.  Guess it's kinda like the Roach Motel.....anywhoo.  This film is presented as if it is now reconstructed FBI evidence that was leaked out somehow.  It may not be the most frightening of the post Blair Witch cinema verite movies, but it certainly has some great style and a terrific premise.  I love the Fulci-esque idea of the doorway to hell....much like his 1980 film The Beyond.  Check it out if you get the chance!

Again in 2000 my attention was caught by a low budget film called The St. Francisville Experiment.  Again, alleged to be true, this time four ghost hunters enter a haunted mansion in Louisiana to investigate the claims that Madame LaLaurie and her mutilated slaves still haunt the premises.  The beginning of the film is fantastic as various interviews take place including one with a local historian who runs down the story of Madame LaLaurie, which while being slightly embellished, I'm sure, is still a more or less true story.  She actually existed and was a truly sick and twisted woman.  Some of the stories that have been passed on about the torture of her slaves include "male slaves, stark naked, chained to the wall, their eyes gouged out, their fingernails pulled off by the roots; others had their joints skinned and festering, great holes in their buttocks where the flesh had been sliced away, their ears hanging by shreds, their lips sewn together ... Intestines were pulled out and knotted around naked waists. There were holes in skulls, where a rough stick had been inserted to stir the brains." and a  "victim [who] obviously had her arms amputated and her skin peeled off in a circular pattern, making her look like a human caterpillar," and another who had had her limbs broken and reset "at odd angles so she resembled a human crab."  WHAT? Oh yeah, this chick was TAPPED!  So the four enter the mansion and some odd things occur, but then things start to ramp up towards the climax, including the appearance of a mutilated slave ghost that still gives me the friggin willies when I think about it!  UGH!  The acting is pretty bad and it's slow in spots, but do check this film out, I think you'll like it!


 All of these films are well worth your time to check out if you are a fan (like myself) of cinema verite, SOV, POV, DIY type of films.  Most of them look like the have the budget of about a happy meal, but they've all got heart and imagination.  Of course for each of these films there are about 20 rip offs.  But then such is the fate of any concept that makes money.....for every great film there will be an unending deluge of rip offs, copy cats and cash ins......but then again they do say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, don't they?



Monday, June 6, 2011

RavensBlight

It was during one of my late night insomniac web surfing sessions that I first came across a very peculiar website called RavensBlight.  When I came across it, I knew that I had found something really special.  An ode to all things spooky and horrible.  Here you will find anything and everything you could possibly want for your horror pleasure!  A plethora of horror, all created and maintained by Atist, Musician, Filmmaker and Mad Scientist, Ray O'Bannon.

Mr. O'Bannon has over 300 images to view in his art gallery, such as the one above.  Some are painted, some drawn.....there's color photography as well as black and white photography, not to mention photos of some sculptures and even jewelry that he has made!  His art is varied, yet still maintains a certain fantastic Halloween vibe.  You know when you're looking at one of Ray's pieces. 

Art is but one part of the website experience.  Ray wanted his visitors to be able to come away from the page with more than just a memory of what they had seen, so he created a virtual free toy shop, in which you can download a TON of different paper-craft toys.  My personal favorite is The SplatterBot!  A rusted, bio mechanical horror that is not only fun to put together, but also looks great hanging out on my desk!  Not much of a toy person?  Like board games?  Well, why not try out Midnight Banshees?

Paper Toys and games not your thing at all?  More of a video game kinda person?  Ray's got you covered!  You can jump on over to the Arcade and download titles such as Zombie Alley, Grave Island and The Tomb of Count Yargle.  Good stuff and just the thing for when you're looking for a fun horror game to bide your time!

Perhaps you aren't looking to do anything interactive.  Perhaps you are looking for some music to set the mood for your relaxation?  No problem.  Head over to the Music Studio and download one of O'Bannon's EIGHT full length albums!  EIGHT!  My personal favorite is Corpse Dicer......great Grindhouse vibe to it!


Or perhaps you just wanna watch some great horror films.....well guess what?  The RavenBlight Theater has got 23 great short films just waiting to be discovered!  The shortest of the films runs 35 seconds, the longest runs 3 minutes, 50 seconds.  With Ray's kind permission, I present you with three of his films to whet your appetite.

The Butler's Demise.  This is a great one.  It perfectly showcases Ray's keen sense of humor!


Tricker Treat.  This one reminds me of an old episode of Tales From the Darkside, that was entitled Halloween Candy. 

 

The Victim.  One of the shortest films, running at 35 seconds.
It still packs a pretty good punch!


Those are just three of the almost two dozen films available to download!  If you loved them like I did, then head on over to RavensBlight and make sure to tell him that The Wizard of Vestron sent ya!

Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout!


SEE LINNEA SHAPE UP THE LIVING DEAD THROUGH ZOMBECISE!

SEE SEXY YOUNG GIRLS DIE IN A SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE WORKOUT!

You can't tell me that reading those words on the box wouldn't peak your interest if you were a 14 year old boy browsing your local mom & pop video shop!   I can remember seeing the bright colored box staring down at me from the top shelf of the horror section of Video Paradise.  Now, I'm a pretty decent sized dude....and I was a chunky kid as well.....but this video made me actually want to exercise!  Alas, I never rented that video.


However, years later thanks to the magic of the internet, I was afforded the opportunity to view this curiosity piece.  Oh boy.  The video starts out with a little shower action.  Our Girl, Linnea is soapin' herself up and washing herself the way to us guys like to imagine that girls shower.....slowly caressing the soap.......slowly scrubbing........mmmmm......er, sorry, got a little sidetracked there.  Anywhoo....she grabs her towel to dry off, notices us, the voyeuristic viewers and shrieks!


We are then taken to Linnea's living room, which is adorned with various spooky items, including the fellow you see above.  She tells us how much work being a Scream Queen can be and takes us through a bit of a "Greatest Hits" montage of video clips from various movies including Assault of the Party Nerds, Creepazoids, Vice Academy and my personal favorite, Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowl-A-Rama!


After we're finished watching these clips, it's time to start working out!  Linnea starts with some stretches, which wearing a metal studded bikini and tights.  I don't imagine that was a horribly comfortable outfit to be wearing, but hey, what do I know?  The cheesy synth music totally makes it worth watching.   I might actually rip the music from the video so I can listen in my car!  Yep....The Wizard is that whacked!

So after finishing up in the living room, Linnea decides to go for a jog.  It seems that she has caught the attention of some zombies though.  As they start to follow her and then chase her back to her house, she turns the table on the zombies, yelling at them for being out of shape.  So naturally they all fall in line and start to zombecise!  By the pool!  WTF?  Just go with it......don't ask too many questions.....you'll be happier that way!


After all that zombicizing, it's time to relax for a bit with the girls!  You know what that means!  SLUMBER PARTY!  So now the girls goof around a bit and then settle in front of the TV, which is actually just an excuse to watch more clips of Linnea's movies.  Of course eventually they get restless and it's time for 80's chicks in lingerie to work out to more cheesy synth music.
 

See?  I told ya!  Well, as they're workin out the lights go out and Linnea goes to investigate.  Of course she did.  The rest of the girls stay put.  Of course when Linnea doesn't come back they decided that someone should go and look for her.  Naturally.  One by one the girls are killed by a stalker wear a Ronald Reagan mask and a costume with giant shoulder pads.  This is my personal favorite part of the film.....ya just can beat goofy slasher rip offs.  This is one of those videos that is so damn bad it's brilliant!  SOV....low budget.....used as a fluff piece to cash in on Linnea's Scream Queen status. 

And so I will leave you with a little video compilation clip of Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout!
Check out the fake add at the end for Linnea's "upcoming" cooking feature!  Now THAT would have been awesome!
Enjoy!