October 16 – Halloween Countdown

I love October. I love Halloween- and October is a month of Halloween, or pre-Halloween. It is the Season of the Reason, if the reason is pleasin’ with spooky shit. I dig the spooky shit.

My wife, who I love very much, and I got married on this day eleven years ago.
Eleven fucking years. Goddamn.

That means? That means we’ve been together for about… eighteen? No, that can’t be right. I love getting old with you, Annika. And I love celebrating Halloween all month long with you and our kids.

We’ve watched a LOT of Scooby-Doo with Sam and Grace, and this year they are both on board with the joy of the Universal Monsters (at least when teamed up against Abbot & Costello).

Maybe next year we’ll show them one of OUR first horror movies…

Happy Anniversary!

Halloween Countdown – Trailer Free Oct 18

Sorry I didn’t post a trailer yesterday, I was busy cleaning the apartment prior to hosting an anniversary party for Annika and I- ten years legal!

If you are an Angeleno, you are familiar with the existence of New Beverly Cinema- a great revival movie theater with a storied past.

I’ve been to the New Bev maybe three times in the last 14 years, because I am fucking terrible at going OUT to movies. Annika and I saw a double-feature of Evil Dead and Dead Alive there once (it was awesome, but the seats killed our asses) and my buddy Bri and I caught The Cabal Cut of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed a few years ago… I think that is it?

A lovely young woman named Julia Marchese has been part of the public face of the New Bev for as long as I can remember. I follow her on Twitter, she’s funny and smart and really loves movies.

The other day I read a great blog-entry that she linked to: Horror Forever. Check it out, I’ll wait.

*sips beer leftover from Anniversary Party*

We back?

Cool.

When she linked to the blog on Twitter, Miss Julia asked (I assumed hypothetically) “What made YOU the horror hound you are today?”

I started to form a 160 character response several times, but couldn’t make it work, couldn’t pull the trigger.

What DID make me a horror hound? Was it The Bride of Frankenstein when I was 8? Was it watching Evil Dead 2 as a fresh-faced kidlet in 8th grade? Was it shuddering through The Haunting when I was 15? (or was it 16?)

No, I think those dabbles made me aware but didn’t really induct me.

Watching the tv series Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show in ’89 might have contributed.

But what really cemented my love for Horror Films, was a shitty year of my life.

In 2000, Annika and I had separated, broken up, whatever. Thank GOD that didn’t take. But I moved out to LA in the summer of ’00, and tried to make a go of it (we got back together in ’01) on my own.

I had a time-intensive job as 2nd assistant to an A-List movie star/director/writer, so I didn’t have a social life.

I drank too much.

And I watched A lot of scary movies.

I mean, I had a good foundation; I had always loved horror fiction, I loved the above-listed movies, and in college I was introduced to some other strong entries. Every so often, my buddy Cliff and I would go to the movies and watch whatever started next- no matter what it was. We saw a lot of crap that way, including 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers– I think we were the only people in the theater.

For years my best pal Shelby and I would spend New Years Eve together with food, drink, and movies- often horror or sci-fi films that we could make fun of (the entire Watchers saga).

But in 2000 I really started delving deep. I found some good critical blogs (The Bad Movie Report, Stomptokyo) and I broadened my horizons, horror-speaking. I gobbled up everything I could get at the video store (remember those)- often renting things that I remembered the box art for from my childhood video rental store visits.

I watched, on average, 3-6 movies a week. I watched screeners of movies that hadn’t gotten into the theater yet- Deathwatch, Sangre Eterna… I dove down the side-channels of J-horror, and Italian and Spanish 1970s fare. I rediscovered George Romero’s Of the Dead series and the Blind Dead series. I drooled over Dog Soldiers and Ginger Snaps (seriously, the early 00s were good for werewolves). My friend Chris Chaffin hooked me up with WEIRD and forgotten horror from the 60s and 70s, vile grindhouse fare and arty productions alike. I watched DTV shitpiles where Adrian Paul was a vampire cop in a world of vampires, or Michael Rooker was a hitman for the vatican who hunts demons and badly written ultra-low budget stuff that was full of genre hat-tips (characters named Carpenter, or Raimi! Not funny!)…

And on Halloween, 2001 (or 2002?) I caught a restored version of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That was a big moment.

Going deep into horror taught me a lot about myself, about the genre, and about storytelling. And yes, frequently it was “what not to do”.

When Annika and I reunited, she accepted my raised interest in horror. She accepted it and even encouraged it (our early blog, Grumpy Critic/Angry Cook was based on her cooking a meal, my writing about it and the horror movie we would watch during digestion).

And in the 14 years since, as my twenties disappeared and my thirties have nearly run out the clock, I’ve remained a horror fan. It is a great, powerful genre.

And I love it.

Halloween Countdown – October 16

I am married to a truly awesome woman. Ten years this day.

My wife (and the kids, and I) have been on a viking kick of late- historical, not a lot of fiction.

So it is with great pleasure that I share this remarkably viking horror trailer

I wish the WHOLE movie was bearded vikings fighting giant monsters- I would watch the shit out of that.

But as it is, it might be worth checking out.

I love-love-love how the trailer is at such pains to avoid letting us know that it is a foreign language film.

So faithful reader, are you ready for Ragnarok?

The road to Eventide is dark

There is a Trailways bus northbound along the state road.
The driver has one passenger who has asked him to stop at the Eventide Village turnoff.
It isn’t a regular destination, but it is on his route.
The bus is mostly empty this early; a few regular commuters are snoozing on their way to the city.
The woman in the 2nd row doesn’t sleep; she sits with her bag in her lap starring forward into the pre-dawn dark.
The driver is keeping it at the speed limit.
A gust of wind shakes the bus as it climbs a hill.
“You been on this route before, I expect.”
The woman is quiet a moment and then nods.
“Yes, once. In the spring.”
“Ah, sure. I never forget a face.”
The miles fly by, the weather worsens.
“You were going there… not family.”
“Research,” the woman says. “I was a biologist.”
The bus slows and waits for oncoming traffic to pass before pulling out and around a fallen tree.
“Here we are miss,” the driver says, gently braking and pulling to the shoulder above the turnoff.
The tree branches are whipping about in the wind.
The road to Eventide is dark.
“It a long walk to the village?”
The woman shrugs.
“Couple miles.”
The driver hesitates- he noticed the woman limping as she climbed into the bus and some people are sensitive about stuff like that.
“I’ll be fine,” the woman says. “I’m going home.”

Halloween Countdown – October 30

Guest Post by my wife, Annika!

Will has been almost single-handedly responsible for my horror movie education.

I bet a lot of wives could say the same about their husbands, but I wonder how many of those other wives actually wrote about horror movies professionally for two years? Yeah, I’m bragging. Will loves horror movies so much that I got a job writing about them. (Creature Corner, the site I wrote for, has since been incorporated into its parent site, CHUD.com, and my reviews are lost or at least buried. Let us never speak of it again, as it makes me sad.)

It’s not like I’d never seen a horror movie before I met Will. When I was 12 I watched Silence of the Lambs, and it wasn’t until I met him 7 years later that I was able to articulate why I felt so indifferent toward it: it was a thriller pretending to be a horror movie. When I was 14 I turned off Night of the Living Dead about 20 minutes in because I was scared to pieces. I have still never seen the rest of the movie, but I’ve since seen Dawn of the Dead (both versions) and Land of the Dead. Also Shaun of the Dead.

I was 19 when I met Will, and 21 when he showed me the horror movie that changed everything: The Evil Dead. It scared the bejeezus out of me and I couldn’t wait to watch Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn.

Since then I have watched a LOT of horror movies. I wrote a few years ago about catching up on classics I’d never seen—and that was just over one October. This year, Sam (who was an infant when I wrote that post) watched with us, and we caught up on Universal’s monster movies.

But somehow, I have never seen The Exorcist.

The trailer is very dark (literally dark, as in absence of light), and dark=scary is a cliché for a reason. (The reason: dark is SCARY.) It also has a lot of screaming, which threatened to make me take it…less than seriously.

But you know what? It’s pretty fucking scary, or at least makes me think the movie might be. It wisely shows very little of the possessed girl, and focuses on her terrified mother. I seriously know next to nothing about the movie, and the trailer was enough to make me nervous about the outcome of the exorcism. Is it trailer brilliance? No, but it’s above average in my book.

Thanks, Annika! You can check out more of her musings at her blog– and come back tomorrow for the final trailer of the month…

Halloween Countdown – October 16

So won’t you come and make it… 8?

My love for William Castle is well-documented and remains strong to this day. My wife shares my appreciation for the more goofy horror films of the late 50s and early 60s- the Del Tenney and Samuel Z. Arkoff B-pics.

8 years ago, coincidentally, she officially joined me in celebrating Halloween until death or divorce do us part. Well, neither looms on the horizon… unless the kids have been plotting some diabolical act of evil…

Happy Anniversary, Bettie. And happy Vincent Price trailer, Halloweenies!