Sunday, June 30, 2013

World War Z - Out-Gored By Twilight!!!!!!!!!!!

World War Z
Directed by Marc Forster
Written by Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof, 
Matthew Michael Carnahan & J. Michael Straczynski  Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz

Tag Lines:
There Will Be No Warning
Remember Philly!

Alternate Titles:  (All translate to World War Z)
Argentina Guerra mundial Z
Bosnia and Herzegovina Svjetski rat Z
Bulgaria Z-та Световна война
Brazil Guerra Mundial Z
Chile Guerra mundial Z
Colombia   Guerra mundial Z
Estonia Z maailmasõda
Spain Guerra mundial Z
Greece Pagosmios Polemos Z
Croatia Svjetski rat Z
Hungary Z világháború
Lithuania  Pasaulinis karas Z
Mexico Guerra mundial Z
Panama Guerra mundial Z
Peru  Guerra mundial Z
Portugal WWZ: Guerra Mundial
Romania Ziua Z: Apocalipsa
Serbia Svetski rat Z
Turkey Dünya Savasi Z

Venezuela Guerra mundial Z

Okay, first things first, let's get something out of the way:  This is NOT a film adaptation of World War Z.  I don't care WHAT anyone says.  This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the book.  Once you accept that you can look at the film objectively and judge it on it's own merits.  Okay, so how does WWZ fair as a zombie flick?  Oh boy.....okay, here we go.

Things go bad almost immediately for the Lane family.

Now, I'm not a picky guy.  You know that.  Hell, I dedicated an entire blog to watching, reviewing and spreading the word about movies that seemingly few others like.  I was one of the few people who actually enjoyed House of the Dead, for crying out loud!  World War Z really let me down though.

The film follows a guy named Gerry Lane who used to work for the UN.  He's pulled back into duty when the zombie apocalypse arrives without warning.  His mission is to search the world for Patient Zero and try and find an antidote for the zombie virus.  Here's the problem:  The zombies act like a swarm of rabid insects.  They don't act dead in any way shape or form.  Think more like the infected in 28 Days/Weeks later.

This can't be good.....

Personally, I'm more of a shambling zombie kinda guy, but if the movie is good, I can forgive fast moving zombies.  Dawn of the Dead 2004 used fast zombies to effective use.  World War Z......not so much.  Now not only are the zombies a bunch of juiced up  super freaks, but they all are remarkably intact for a bunch of people who have been attacked and reanimated by the living dead.  No ripped off limbs, no fucked up faces....just a bunch of people with black veins, paled out eyes that look like they've stayed out in the sun way too long.

This makes the L.A Riots look like a picnic!

This brings me to my next point and my biggest problem with this flick:  There's no damn gore!!!!!!   How in the hell are you supposed to have a zombie movie without any freaking blood and grue?  Now this started out as an R rated movie and then got dropped to PG-13 and you can see it in the final product.  It almost feels like a TV edit where the good stuff was cropped out of the picture, but you know it used to be there.  I found myself almost instinctively straining as if, if I tried hard enough, I'd be able to see past the picture on screen and get the goods.  No such luck.  The friggin Twilight movies had more of the red stuff than this!!!!!  Holy hell!!!  Twilight is gorier that World War Z!  Let that sink in for a moment. Not only is this a let down to us horror fans, but it's just plain old disrespectful to the source material.  I can't imagine that Max Brooks was very pleased with the treatment of his epic zombie saga.  I know that I wasn't.

As an action flick, I suppose it's alright.  There are some intense sequences, a few jump scares and a couple of those "sweaty palm" moments, but they are rendered ineffective because you don't really care about any of the characters.  Trying to put a story of this scope into 116 minutes is a tall order and unfortunately, it was spread too thin and yet still managed to not feel very expansive at all.  You didn't really feel like there was a global pandemic on hand.

Zombies act suspiciously like ants in World War Z.....

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Body Count:  On screen, there are a ton of deaths, though the whiz by so fast and bloodlessly that you don't even notice, really.  Plus if you take into the account what is happening in the rest of the world, the death toll is up in the millions to billions to be sure.

Boob Count:  Dream on, Kojack.

Beast Count:  See Body count.  You die, you turn, you swarm.

Final Thoughts
This could have been something truly special.  For the love of God, The Hobbit is being split into three epic movies.  Why the hell couldn't they have split World War Z into three movies to cover the expansive nature? Better yet, as Mrs. Midnight pointed out, had FX, TNT, or any other cable station wanted to compete with The Walking Dead, THIS would have been the way to do it.

I didn't HATE this movie, but I didn't like it either.

Final Rating
One out of Five Pizza Rolls

Friday, June 28, 2013

This Is The End - The Pineapple Express to Hell!!!!!

This Is The End
Directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Written by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson, Danny McBridge, Joanah Hill

Ending Summer 2013
Nothing Ruins A Party Like The End Of The World

Alternate Titles:
Das ist das Ende   (This Is The End)  Austria
Ovo je kraj  (This Is The End)  Bosnia & Herzegovina
Краят на света  (Jumping-Off Place)  Bulgaria
É o Fim  (The End)  Brazil
Lõpp  (End)  Estonia
Juerga hasta el fin  (Spree To The End)  Spain
C'est la fin  (This Is The End)  France
To telos tou kosmou  (The End Of The World)  Greece
Itt a vége  (This Is The End)  Hungary
Facciamola finita  (Let's End)  Italy
Isto é o Fim!  (This Is The End)  Portugal
A venit sfârsitul'!  (He Came Late)  Romania
Jay and Seth Vs. the Apocolapyse, The Apocalypse, The End of the World  USA
Song Not Ngay Mai  (Song Not Tomorrow)  Vietnam

What would happen if the end of the world actually occurred.  I'm not talking an asteroid strike, super volcano or massive earthquakes.  I'm talking the actual biblical apocalypse.  Fire, brimstone....true hell on Earth.  Seth Rogen and Co find out exactly that, with hilarious results.  Yep, the end of times has never been funnier.

Typical Hollywood Party.....

The film starts with Seth picking up Jay Baruchel from the airport.  I should mention that all the actors are playing themselves.....well, caricatures of themselves anyway.  That night they end up at James Franco's house  for a party and that's when everything goes to hell....literally.  In the opening moments of the rapture, more celebrities than I can count get either swallowed into a pit to hell, impales, trampled or any other number of horrible ways to die.  The remaining few hole up in Franco's house waiting for a perceived rescue.  ("They always rescue actors first!")

Aww....look all the good people get to go to heav - Is that a movie poster for Ninja Rapist?!?!??!  WTF!!!!!!

The humor varies from dick and fart jokes to very clever subtle and not so subtle satire.  Poking fun at everything from Rosemary's Baby to The Exorcist.  Interspersed in the humor are a few legitimate jump scares and some fantastic special effects.  The shots of a decimated Hollywood are very well done and bit creepy.  It is basically exactly how I imagined the End of Times.

I don't think that baseball bat is going to help Craig much......

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Body Count:  A lot of people die on screen here....but don't forget to factor in that it's the damned apocalypse so the death toll is actually in the billions!

Boob Count:  Briefest of glimpses of live boobs, but there are several shots of a porno mag as well, if you wanna count that.

Beast Count:  Hell Beasts!  Yeah we got some creatures, but I ain't gonna spoil it for ya!

Burn, Hollywood, Burn!

Final Thoughts:

If you enjoyed the films of any of the actors in this movie, then you will more than likely have a good time with this.  Sure it's full of juvenile humor....but what's life without it?  I was quite surprised to see how many celebs they got for the initial party scene, we've got cameos by Rhianna, Michael Cera (who is HILARIOUS!) and a good many others.  Also, keep your eye out for a hilarious cameo towards the end. Highly Recommended!

Final Rating
Four out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Friday, June 21, 2013

V/H/S/2 - More Found Footage Madness

Directed by A Bunch of Different People
Written by A Bunch of Different People
Starring A Bunch of Different People

Tag Line:
Who's Tracking You?

Alternate Titles:
Video/Kastea/2 - Serbia/Croatia/Bosnia

It's time to dust off your VCR's and get ready for more cinéma vérité horrors!  About 9 months ago, I reviewed V/H/S and I loved it.  While the whole "found footage" style has been abused to death, I thought that it was very well done.  On the first go around, the reasoning for some of the characters to have a video camera one them seemed a little far fetched, but were still clever.  On this go around, it was a little more thought in each segment.

The wraparound segment "Tape 49" (Written and Directed by Simon Barrett) this time involves a couple of private investigators who are hired to search for a missing college student.  They break into his last known address and find the place a mess.  There are TV's stacked up much like they were in the first film's wraparound segment.  This of course leads to the watching of VHS tapes to search for clues.

I see dead people!

Phase I Clinical Trials
Written by Adam Wingard
Directed by Simon Barrett

The weakest of the segments is first out of the gate.  It involves a man who receives a high tech camera eye transplant after being in a car accident.  Upon returning home and trying to resume normal life, he starts to experience some, shall we say, technical difficulties.  Besides restoring his sight, this eye has apparently allowed him to view the "other side", and his house is filled with bloody ghosts that terrorize him.  Relying primarily on jump scares, with a couple of genuinely creepy shots thrown in, this segment had me scratching my head a bit.  I can not, for the life of me figure out why the ghosts would turn violent after he receives his new eye.  Supposedly they were always there, but the eye allowed him to see them.  Maybe that pisses them off?  Also, the bit with the girl who had a cochlear implant and can now hear ghosts was obviously there for pure exposition and obligatory T&A.  Not that I have a problem with mindless T&A, mind you.


A Ride in the Park
Written by Gregg Hale & Eduardo Sánchez
Directed by Jamie Nash & Eduardo Sánchez

I really dug this one!  A man goes for a bike ride on some wooded trails, with a Go Pro camera on attached to his helmet.  Not too far into his ride, a woman covered in blood runs out in front of him.  She's also severely injured and he tries to help her.  Unfortunately for him, she was attacked by zombies and turns herself, attacking and biting him.  What follows next is quite possibly the first POV zombie flick where you are literally watching everything from a zombie's perspective.  It was pretty fun to watch the zombie carnage spread through a birthday party being held at a little campground area.  If you've ever wondered what it would be like to run with the undead pack, this segment should give you a pretty good feel for it!

Ooohh....this isn't good.

Safe Haven
Written by Gareth Evans & Timo Tjahjanto
Directed by Gareth Evals & Timo Tjahjanto

Probably the best of the segments, Safe Haven follows a news crew that is interviewing a cult leader in Indonesia who allows them onto his compound.  The cult is preparing for their ascension to Paradise and it is suggested that the cult lead (known as Father)  has sex with the children on the compound to "purify" them.  The news crew is shooting the interview/documentary with standard cameras, but unknown to Father, they are also wearing hidden camera buttons on their clothes to get the low down on what's really going on.  Father and his cult are creepy enough as it is, but things get REALLY bad when a bell tolls and Father announces that "It it time".

Everything goes bad in apocalyptic proportions on the compound for the news crew.  Mass suicides are just the beginning and the catalyst for the unbelievable shitstorm the befalls the news crew. I was very surprised by this segment and I found myself slack jawed and in disbelief by the end.  Extremely well done and extremely creepy.  This is really best experienced for yourself.

I would shit myself.  Just saying.......

Slumber Party Alien Abduction
Written by Jason Eisner
Directed by John Davies & Jason Eisner

I'm pretty sure at this point you know how I feel about aliens, but for those who may be new here, let me quickly reiterate:  They scare the crap out of me.  Zombies and monsters and such?  No problemo.  Aliens?  I'll wet the bed and pass out.  God damned anal probing bastards.....anyway....the final segment has to do with....GUESS WHAT?!?  ALIENS!!!!!!!!!   The segment follows a teen who's parents go away for the weekend.  He and his friends continually play pranks on his sister and her friends, including hitting them with squirt guns and water balloons at the lake and interrupting Sister's sexy time with her boyfriend.  Typical night for suburban teens, right?  Well, that all ends abruptly when blinding white light blasts through the windows with a sound like a cross between a freight train and a really loud tuba blares.  Then the aliens attack, scooping up the kids and bringing them back to their ship.

Brother, Sister, friend and the dog (who has a camera attached to him, part of an earlier prank and the reason we're able to see everything going on now) are able to get free and the aliens hunt after them, leading from the dock, to the woods to a barn.  Now, being that I have the alien freak-out disposition, I have to say that this was the more frightening of the segments.  Call me a wuss, it's okay, I can take it.

The Ultimate Home Entertainment System!    

After the alien segment, the film finsihes up it's Tape 49 wraparound segment in a nice gruesome way.  Afterwards I had to go outside and get some fresh air and clear my head (god damned aliens man!) and I had time to reflect on what I had witnessed.  VHS 2 is an improvement on an already solid first feature and I wouldn't mind seeing a third film added to the series.  I think that there is a lot of territory to be explored by the POV style that VHS brings.

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Body Count:  Ya know what?  I lost count, so we'll just say:  A LOT!

Boob Count:  2 Pair!  I was trying to come up with a poker joke.....but I've got nothing.  Poker?  I barely know her!   .............hey it's better than nothing.....YOU trying doing this!

Beast Count:  Oh yeah....we've got all kinda monsters and stuff here.  Zombies, ghosts, whatcha-ma-whoozits, aliens......

Final Thoughts
Proof positive that not only are anthologies still a viable medium in the genre, but cinéma vérité is as well and there is still much to explore in that medium.  Sure there are things that don't quite click here, but this is the horror genre and you've got to allow yourself a little suspension of disbelief.  If you sit back and go for the ride, I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

Final Rating
Four out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Eyes Behind the Stars - Italian MiB Aren't Very Nice!

Eyes Behind The Stars
Directed by Mario Gariazzo
Written by Mario Gariazzo
Starring Robert Hoffmann, Nathalie Delon & Martin Balsam

Tag Lines:

There is no escape from this world no one can be trusted.

Inter galactic Sci-Fi terror

Alternate Titles:
Occhi dalle stelle (Eyes Behind The Stars) - Original Italian Title
Der Angriff kommt aus dem All... (The Attack Comes From Outer Space) - West Germany
Gangsters ap' to diastima (Gangsters From Space) - Greece 
La quatrième rencontre (The Fourth Meeting) - France
Los ojos de las estrellas (The Eyes of the Stars) - Spain
Silmät tähtien takaa (Eyes of the Stars) - Finland
Terror - West Germany
Ögon bortom stjärnorna (Eye Beyond the Stars) - Sweden
Øjne bag stjernerne (Eyes Behind the Stars)Denmark
Yildizlarin Gerisindeki Gozler (Behind the Eyes of Stars) Turkish

Eyes Behind the Stars is one of those films that you are either really going to dig, or you're really going to fall asleep and never actually see.  I fell into the former category.  While the film is extremely slow moving, it also has a strange hypnotic quality to it.  I was rather tired when I watched this and I thought I might end up falling asleep.  I was quite surprised to not only find that I stayed awake for the whole thing, but that I really quite enjoyed it as well!

Well, Hello Karin!  

Peter is wondering if that coat makes him look fat......

The film opens on a photographer and a model taking some fashion photos in the woods on an autumn afternoon.  After finishing up one roll, Peter (the photographer) tells  Karin (the model) to change into her next set of clothes while he goes to find another location.  He finds a small clearing that he thinks will be perfect. When they both reach the clearing, they get an uneasy feeling as though they are being watched.  There are no birds or insect sounds either.  Their watches stop.  Naturally, they talk themselves out of being scared off and continue on with their shoot.  When Peter is developing the film later on that night, he finds that he has captured something in the photos of his model:  alien creatures and their UFO!

Peter returns to the woods to take more pictures and see if he can find the creatures and vanishes.  Karin calls a mutual friend, Tony, who's a newspaper reporter.  She shows him the photographs that Peter took and he keeps some negatives to make copies.  Shortly after Tony leaves, Karin is abducted by aliens as well.

Let's talk about said aliens for a moment, shall we?  We start with what I think is a fairly creepy set up.  Then we get to see what they look like:

Apparently clothe and leather are the preferred materials for space suits!

They're a bit goofy, and not really what I was thinking I was going to see.  Still, it could have been much worse.  The fact that they're in spacesuits and completely covered means that you can imagine something truly hideous beneath those face shields, and that helps to keep the creep factor up.

Anyway, the story kinda shifts gears at this point as we follow Tony.  He's trying to get the the bottom of his friends's disappearances and things start to take an X-files like twist.  The Men in Black (here called Silencers) keep harassing Tony, roughing him up and telling him to forget everything he's seen.  Things get even worse when the MiB learn of the negatives that he possesses.  They always seem to be one step ahead of him and it becomes clear that someone around Tony is not what they appear to be.  He enlists the help of UFOlogist  and together they start to put the pieces together.  Sort of.  Kinda.  Not really.  I'm not sure.

MiB doin' what they do best.  Hey, where's Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones?

The last act of the movie is pretty nonsensical and you've just gotta hang on for the ride.  Karin reappears, the MiB are after her.  There's a psychic and gun fights and some sort of doctor who works outside the system, or something.  Beats the crap out of me.  The ending is a bit of a surprise as well, which you're just going to have to watch for yourself!

Midnight Cinephile Tally:

Body Count:  11 dead altogether.....and one dog is blinded by aliens.

Boob Count:  Sorry, Chet.  No boobs here.

Beast Count:  We get three space suited aliens!

Final Thoughts
This was an interesting reminded me of a flick that I saw long ago called UFO:  Target Earth.  I'll have to hunt that down again. I said before, this is a pretty slow moving film, but if you are in the right state of mind and you're willing to go along for the ride, it's actually a creepy little UFO/MiB movie that I think is severely underrated.  It is currently only available as part of movie packs that are put out by Brentwood and Mill Creek (I have this movie on two different compilations).  I would love to see this get cleaned up and get a proper release.

The music was suitably strange....electronic and generically poppy.  I loved it.

Final Rating
Three out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog - A Super Villain Musical Tragomedy

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Directed by Joss Whedon
Written by Joss, Jed & Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen  

Starring Felicia Day, Neil Patrick Harris & Nathan Fillion

Tag Lines:
He has a Ph.D. in horribleness!
Freeze ray. Tell your friends.

The world is a mess and I just need to RULE it.

Alternate Titles:
Not this time, buck-o

Ah, Joss Whedon....the man behind Buffy, Cabin in the Woods and of course The Avengers.  Is there anything that this guy can't do?  Well, so far....apparently not.  Dr. Horrible was written during the Writers Guild strike in '07-'08.  Whedon and crew (including two brothers!) produced Dr. Horrible in such a way that they were able to get around the root issues that were causing the strike, proving that you can make quality and professionally done entertainment inexpensively.

It was released on the internet in three acts, each spaced two days apart.  It became extremely popular, even being placed at #15 in Time Magazine's Top 50 Inventions of 2008.  Not too shabby, eh?  It also won a metric shit ton of other awards over the next year or so.  So many, in fact, that I'm not going to name them all here, because let's be'd skip over them and I don't have the patience to actually research that far into it at two o'clock in the morning.


So what's it all about? Dr. Horrible (NPH!) is a wanna be villain who wants to get accepted into the prestigious Evil League of Evil.  He receives a letter informing him that he is being watched and considered for admission.  Dr Horrible keeps a video blog (I'd call it a vlog....but the title of this isn't Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Vlog, now is it?) about his exploits and schemes.  His rival, Captain Hammer constantly foils his plans and to make matters worse, Hammer has his heroic eye on the evil doctor's crush, Penny (Day).

Captain Hammer is a hero in the strict sense....."doing good" and such.  However part of the genius at work here is showing how things are not always as they seem.  While Dr. Horrible is a quietly ambitious everyman who aspires for something more (Even if it is being a villain...), Captain Hammer is the epitome of ever pompous, self righteous bastard that you've ever known.  To watch the unfortunate doctor try and fail in his schemes, you can't help but feel sorry for him and want him to succeed.  Seeing the events through his eyes, you can see Hammer for what he is and you can completely relate.  I don't think there is anyone out there who hasn't felt the sting of being "bettered" by someone undeserving of the adoration they receive.  As they are placed up high on their pedestal, you sit quietly by, unsure of how no one else can see through the bullshit and see them for what they really are.

It's Hammer Time!

When Hammer confronts Horrible and in no uncertain terms informs him that he will sleep with Penny, just because he can and he knows that it will hurt and humiliate him, something snaps inside Dr. Horrible, and he decides to end Hammer's hero days.  The song Brand New Day is a rousing anthem for the underdog, as Horrible strengthens his resolve to destroy Hammer and get the girl.

Penny for your thoughts?

In the first two acts, you steadily feel worse for poor Dr. Horrible, and you'll share his disgust and anger with the dim-witted, mean spirited Captain.  The third acts will take those two factors and intertwine them into and absolutely heartbreaking conclusion that I will not spoil here.  But I will say that this film  (well, I suppose serial is the proper word for this) truly affected me more than I thought it would and I have watched it about 50 times since I first discovered it.

Midnite Cinephile Tally

Body Count One.  The loneliest number.

Boob Count: Not this time, but I'm sure there are a LEGION of nerds out there who wouldn't mind seeing Felicia Day's buppies.

Beast Count:  No creatures or beasties to speak of....unless you wanna count Evil League of Evil head honcho Bad Horse....who is quite literally....a horse!

Final Thoughts
Who would have thought that a Super Hero/Villain Tragomedy Musical could have such an emotional punch?  I recommend this film to anyone and everyone.  I have to give a shout out here to my good friend Allie, who turned me on to this.

Also, keep an eye out for Simon Helbig (Howard on Big Bang Theory!) as Dr. Horrible's friend, Moist (He sweats perpetually!)

Final Rating

Heh heh....I love these guys.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Childhood Trauma Flashbacks Part IV: Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark

Back in elementary school, I used to look forward to the Scholastic Arrow Book Club flyers that came out every month.  It would be chock fun of awesome books and other education-ish things (all meant to get kids to read and such).  The book club still exists today, but to me there was something special about that late 80's book club flyer that offered up a multitude of genres...everything from The Babysitter's Club (which of course all the girls read) to Garfield and Far Side Compilations (my best friend always got the Garfield books...those were so great!).

Of course in October they would have an extra section full of spooky seasonal books.  This is where I first came across Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.  The stories in these books were actually collected from folk tales and urban legends from around the world.  In the back back of the book the author would explain where each story originated from, which I always found fascinating.

For a while there were many parents who tried to get the books banned due to the
highly disturbing nature of the illustrations and even the stories themselves, but by and large these books are very fondly remembered by a good many kids in my generation.  

I used to read the stories in these books to my family (whether they wanted me to
or not!) because I thought that they were so incredibly creepy and I was constantly trying to create that "campfire tale" kind of feeling....whether it was after dinner, or sitting around in the living room on a Saturday night.  I just wanted everyone to huddle together and listen to these lurid tales of horror that I was completely obsessed with.  

Most stories were downright creepy, and some had a funny twist to the them (like The Viper)  but there were some that I just couldn't get out of my head:

A story about two farmers who take their cows up into the hills to graze for two months, because it is much too hot in the valley.  They quickly become bored with the monotony of their everyday routine.  So one of them comes up with the idea to make a man sized doll and make it look like a local farmer they hate, named Harold.  They tied him up in the garden during the day to scare away birds and at night they would take him in.  Sometimes they would jokingly play around with him and when they were in a bad mood they'd punch and kick him.  One night Harold grunts.  It freaks them both out but they rationalize that it must be a mouse or insect that got inside him, making the noise.  After a few days all goes back to normal and they play and mistreat him depending on how they feel.  Finally one day, Harold stands up and walks out of the hut, climbing on top and then pacing back and forth, then goes and stands by himself in the far corner of the field. The men gather their cows the next day and take off, Harold nowhere in sight.  Feeling relieved that they were away from Harold they started down the path back to the valley, soon realizing that in their haste, they forgot the milking stools.  Neither wants to go back, but the stools are expensive, so they draw strays and one heads back, saying that he'll catch up later.  As the lone farmer leads his cows back to the valley he turns and looks back at the hut as he reached the top of a hill.  Harold is there on the roof of the hut, stretching a bloody swath of skin out to dry in the sun.

That story scared the ever lovin' crap out of me.  I read it alone in my room one night.  It must have been toward the end of school, because it was quite warm and I had the window open and my fan blowing full blast.  I can remember feeling a chill run down my spine, despite the heat.

The Thing:
Late one night two friends are talking near a turnip patch.  Suddenly something that looks like a man stands up and walks out of the patch and into the road.  The more adventurous of the friends walks up to the the thing and gets a good look at it.  It looks like a skeleton with sunken eyes.  He screams and they both run.  A year later, that friend got deathly ill.  On his final night as his friend sat with him, his friend was horrified to find that his friend now looked exactly like.....The Thing.

Sure this one is standard campfire tale material...but there was just something about the way it was written....the imagery that it placed in my mind.  This one stayed with me for quite a while and anytime there was a shape moving int he dark of night, I was sure it was The Thing.

Maybe You Will Remember
A mother and daughter are traveling and the mother starts to feel ill, so they stop at a hotel.  Once they are settled, the daughter calls for a doctor.  When he arrives and examines the mother, he sends her on a wild goose chase.  When she returns to the hotel, everything is different and no one remembers who she or her mother is.  The story ends with no resolution, per se.  However we are instructed to flip to the back of the book to find out exactly whats going on.  This is what really creeped me out:  The doctor knew as soon as he saw the mother that she was about to die of a horrible disease.  He sends the daughter out on the wild goose chase so that he and the hotel management can dispose of the mother's body (who died immediately after the daughter left) and completely reorganize the hotel and make the staff act as though they don't remember anything about the girl or her mother.  All to keep the death quiet and avoid public panic.  

Man, after reading this one and finding out what had really happened, I was afraid to go on vacations with my family.  Sure everything is all great one minute....the next Mom's got a caugh, I get sent out of medicine, I come back and BLAMMO!  Instant Nowhere Man.  That was some seriously fucked up shit, my friends.

You can still find all three of these books (used) on ebay or amazon....but whatever you do, DO NOT purchase the revamped versions that came out recently.  They replaced the incredible illustrations by Stephen Gammell.   Sure the stories are still spooky, but only when paired with the freaky as drawings by Gammell do they become legendary.