Archive for the 'IndieHorror' Category

25
Dec
11

You better watch out, Krampus is coming to town.

You better not pout, you better not cry, I’m telling you why…Krampus will drag you to hell in his basket and eat you.

I just discovered this lovely legend from the Alpine regions of Europe. Krampus is the enforcement side of the St. Nicholas story. Coal in your stocking? No presents? Kids don’t believe those threats. Try telling them that a demonic figure with horns and a long red tongue will beat them with switches or chains, or even take them to hell never to be seen again.

In Europe, St. Nicholas comes on the eve of December 6th, not Christmas Eve. But just as Santa Claus made the leap over the Atlantic Ocean and changed his schedule, I think we should invite Krampus to do the same. Our Christmas is so nice, so sugary sweet, so boring. It needs a little horror to make it interesting. Can you imagine if every mall Santa had a Krampus nearby? If the Macy’s parade featured a devil coming behind Santa Claus and threatening children with physical harm? Now that’s something that would make every child as nice as possible.

In fact, Krampus has his own parades all over Europe, and it seems he is gaining some traction in the U.S. Sometimes there are hundreds of Krampuses in these parades. Yes, what Christmas in America needs is fear.

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06
Sep
11

Vampires and Sunlight: The Truth

 

Sunlight kills vampires. Right? That’s the assumption of many modern vampire stories. However, this notion seems to have been created for the convenience of movie makers. Nosferatu, an unauthorized German adaptation of Dracula, seems to be the source of this common assumption.

In the book Dracula, the count can walk about during the day but is less strong and fast. There is one other thing about him in the book that is never shown in movies. In addition to not having a reflection, he does not cast a shadow. Try showing that in a movie, at least before the age of CGI. It would be impossible to light. Movie makers needed a dramatic way to kill the vamp at the end and mere exposure to sunlight became the conventional way to do it.

Vampires come from the legends of many countries, and when candles and oil lamps were the only way to have any light at night, the hours of darkness between dusk and dawn could be very scary. Anything could be out there, waiting to catch you and have its way with you. It was better to stay inside and bar your doors. If something seemed to be able to creep inside and attack you no matter how tight your doors were locked, like a disease, then you imagined creatures that could slip through tiny cracks to get you.

If there was a recent death in your village, you might well dig up the corpse and chop off its head to make sure it was dead. It was the only thing people could do, they had no concept of germs and viruses. No one don digs up corpses at night, they wait for daylight hours. Then you find the sinister fiend has returned to the grave after creeping out at night to attack you! Hey, we’re talking superstitious peasants here, logic wasn’t their strong suit.

Now the sunlight kills vampires idea is so standard that writing a story with vampires playing beach volleyball at noon would take some explaining. I understand that the “vampires” in Twilight do carry on in daylight, and that’s when they sparkle. I suppose you really can’t sparkle  when there is no light. I don’t know that for sure because I would only read Twilight if I had a gun to my head the whole time.

So writers of horror fiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and any other story that contains a vamp or two, remember that there is nothing  that can’t be changed. Vampires are fictional and each writer can pick and choose which classic details to use or ignore them all. Early movie makers created a new convention just because it was easier to show, and you can do what you want with your vampires also.

 

17
Aug
11

Classic Scary Movie: Cape Fear

 

1962’s Cape Fear was much more straightforward than Night of the Hunter (see previous post.) It started as a vehicle for Gregory Peck, but Peck realized that the real star would be whoever played the heavy, Max Cady. He got Robert Mitchum, who was physically imposing and could scare the crap out of you with a look.

Most people now know the Martin Scorcese remake with Robert DeNiro better, but I think the original was much more scary. Mitchum’s Cady is mean but can also be charming. When he tells a woman in a bar to get rid of her boyfriend and meet him in an hour you know she will do it. Then she will regret it when Cady’s mood shifts and his habit of beating women surfaces.

Cady plays with the law, never doing anything that will allow Peck’s upright lawyer to have him arrested, but still clearly planning something very bad. The way he looks at the teenage daughter of Peck’s character is a threat in itself.

If you only know the Scorcese Cape Fear do yourself a favor and rent the original.