Posts Tagged ‘horror

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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24
Nov
11

thankskilling

It is early morning on Thanksgiving 2011. All over America people are traveling to see their loved ones and preparing to stuff their faces with turkey and all the fixins. This holiday is all about family, love and happiness. But I have always felt it was incomplete. What Thanksgiving really needs is a horror movie with a killer turkey that can’t be stopped.

Fortunately THANKSKILLING steps up to the plate. Plate, get it? It is actually, by most standards, a really bad movie. It was made for $3,500 and the actors seem to have been chosen for their inability to act. It doesn’t make much sense and the special effects are ridiculous. But dude, it’s about a killer turkey. The hand puppet of the turkey looks good and the voice is suitably evil.

I saw it on Netflix streaming, and a DVD is also available. You can find out more at thankskillingmovie.com. An effort is underway to raise money for a sequel with a higher budget and even higher ambitions, to make a comedy horror classic on the level of Evil Dead. They have a long way to go, but if they do make the sequel, you will hear about it here.

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.

 

20
Jun
11

#SampleSunday – Beginning of “Mama.”

This is my first try at doing a #SampleSunday on Twitter. This is the prologue of “Mama.”

Paul Hilch’s Mazda minivan pulled a little ahead of the Winnebago. On the hill, the weight of the big vehicle held it back. It was a very slender lead. Paul knew it wouldn’t last long. He also knew he was going to die. The woman and her children were monsters. Worse, they didn’t exist, according to the sheriff he talked to in the last town. Get some rest, the sheriff said. Don’t drive such long hours.

Papers flew around the cabin of the minivan. His briefcase was open, letting its contents loose. A sales chart hit Paul in the face. He swatted it away.

The minivan crested the top of the hill. Paul saw his death in the down slope. He looked desperately for any hope. At midday the brutal sun blasted the desert landscape. There were no other cars. The only witnesses were cactus.

Another paper hit Paul in the face. He pulled it away. It wasn’t a sales chart, or any other business paper. It was the picture Jimmy gave him just before he left L.A.

Daddy and Mommy and Jimmy, in the five year old’s wavering crayon line, stood together on a boat. Maybe Jimmy was thinking of the boat ride they took to Catalina a few months ago.

The Winnebago crashed into the back of the minivan.

There had to be a way out. A truck driver would come to the rescue. A sheriff would pull the RV over and arrest the hideous woman. He would wake up in a hospital and someone in authority would give him a perfectly reasonable explanation for everything.

Paul heard a giggle. He turned his head and saw the baby. The fat, naked, horrible baby   sat in his passenger seat. He jerked his head to scan the back seat, horrified that the woman was also in his car. Nothing there. He looked at the passenger seat again. The baby was as repulsive as ever.

The front wheels went off the road. Paul lost control. The back wheels spun on the soft shoulder. The minivan fishtailed as the dust and gravel failed to give the wheels any friction. The Mazda went off the edge of the road and fell on its side, creating a cloud of dust. It slid through sand and rocks for about ten yards, hitting a group of Joshua trees.

The Winnebago slammed into the back of the Mazda at high speed, crushing it like an empty soda can.

18
Jun
11

Classic Scary Movie: Night of the Hunter

I recently rented a movie I have heard about for many years but never seen, Night of the Hunter. Robert Mitchum plays a “preacher” who romances widows for their money. When in jail he is cell mate with a man who stole $10,000 from a bank and hid the money on his farm. Mitchum’s Reverend Powell determines to find that money.

Directed by Charles Laughton, his one and only directorial effort, the film is both scary and…weird. It has incredible black and white imagery. Laughton must have watched every German Expressionist film ever made and taken notes. This is both a good and a bad thing for the film. There are many scary images of Rev. Powell menacing the children of his cell mate, who know where the money is. On the other hand, Laughton goes off the deep end with bunnies and other wildlife along the banks of the river as the children escape. I suspect they were meant to symbolize innocence, but too much symbolism spoils the broth of this movie.

A shot of the children’s mother, (Shelley Winters) dead in her car underwater and with her hair flowing in the current of the river, is an amazing, beautiful image. There are a number of great images in the movie. However, I think Laughton let this Expressionistic, beautiful image side of the film overpower the actual story.

The children are taken in by Lillian Gish, who is sort of a cat lady but with kids. She takes in random orphans. It’s the depression, so there are a lot of them. I still have not figured out why the townspeople chase Gish and the kids after Mitchum is caught, as if she has done something wrong.

Anyone who likes classic scary movies should see this, and anyone who likes gorgeous black and white images. Mitchum gives a great performance and is very frightening. The film was a flop and Laughton never directed again. I think he should have concentrated on the story more and left some of the other stuff behind, but if he did maybe we wouldn’t still remember this film so many years later.