Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Month Wrap-Up

So this is it.  The end of Halloween Month.  I have plenty of material for next year (even crazier movies, anime, and cartoons), but thought it'd be good to touch back on a few things.

For instance, somebody found that show that terrified me so much when I was little.

It continues partway into this next video.

Secondly, I just did an article about Garfield's Halloween Adventure, but I forgot there was also a book that completely changed some of the story.  Garfield steals a ring from the pirates, for instance, and they get stuck up a tree (because ghosts can't climb trees?).

I not only had that book, I wore that book out from reading it so often.

Finally, did you know that there's a Tower of Terror movie that came out in the 90s?  No seriously, it has Steve Gutenberg and Kirsten Dunst in it.

"I'm in a movie with Steve Gutenberg AND I have to wear this?  UGH."
You can watch the whole thing here.  I know I'll be doing that.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Garfield's Halloween Adventure

There aren't a lot of Halloween TV specials I remember as being distinctively "Halloween-only."  The Halloween episodes of Real Ghostbusters were regularly aired like any other episode.  The Halloween episodes of Gargoyles, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Rugrats, Eek! The Cat, and even that episode of Batman: The Animated Series that felt the need to have Poison Ivy dress in a (somehow) even skimpier outfit to make up exploding pumpkins.

But my all-time favorite Halloween special from my childhood?  That would be Garfield's Halloween Adventure.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rifftrax: Anaconda

Every now and again a movie can come out that might not be particularly good, but will come up with a creative and/or scary monster.  There was that freaky creature from The Relic.  Species showed us how scary a naked Natasha Henstridge could be.  And then there's Anaconda, with one of the truly most terrifying things ever depicted on screen.

I'm speaking, of course, of Jon Voight's face.

Pictured: Every recessive gene in Angelina Jolie.
That's right, it was time for another Rifftrax, and since nothing I can say will be as terrible as Jon Voight's face, here's just a few screenshots of that.

I, on the other hand, am off to ponder if the whole idea an Anaconda-based movie starring Jennifer Lopez didn't stem completely from a Sir Mix-A-Lot song.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's Pumpkin Season!

Every year, I love carving pumpkins for the kids in the neighborhood where my parents live.  I've done The Avengers, video game characters, and a few for my own enjoyment (the Ghostbusters logo comes to mind.

This year, I was sorely tempted to doThe Guardians Of The Galaxy, but when I realized how much work it would be to do Groot, I concluded I'd rather eat a whole pumpkin.  Without chewing.

So instead I decided to do something else still hugely popular.  Something... chilling.

...that was bad.  I apologize.

I'll acknowledge that Olaf didn't come out as neat as I like, but carving a carrot nose on a pumpkin is really hard.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Cabin In The Woods

Does anybody else remember the trailer to Hook when it was first announced?

Here, let me help you out.

Now, I'm not just remembering this because I still feel the passing of Robin Williams (which I do), but because I need to illustrate a point.  A movie trailer is a piece of production meant to share the key idea behind a movie, the "elevator pitch," as they say in Hollywood.  It's there to get the audience to want to see the film, and you can usually tell a lot about a film based on how honest the trailer is.  For instance, the movie Drive portrayed itself as the next Fast And The Furious.  When it instead became a deep, good movie, with lots of slow moments, people got so upset that one woman actually sued the filmmakers.  Bridge To Terabithia doesn't touch at all upon the seriously dark story the book actually tells. Life promised a wacky buddy comedy with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, and ...well, okay, it had some funny moments, but still.  It wasn't what the trailer promised.

Now, in some instances, you lie about the content of the movie in the trailer because you want to hook people, and you don't think your actual story or film will bring in the mass audiences.  That's probably what Drive was thinking.  The same with Bridge to Terabithia, since what kid is going to be excited to go to a movie where the most important part of the story is dealing with harsh emotional issues such as loss and loneliness?

Hook I have no idea about.  That's a slasher/horror film mixed with Labyrinth, and that's certainly not what we got.

Why am I spending all this time talking about trailers?  Because if you watched the trailer for Cabin In The Woods and then went in expecting to see that, the fact that Drive got sued and this movie didn't amazes me.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Disney's Tower Of Terror 2

I once did something really, really wrong on a Disney ride.

Well, not really wrong.  Not like anything that would get me banned from the park.  I didn't vandalize it, I didn't go to the bathroom somewhere that I shouldn't, I didn't punch a mascot or anything.

I just almost seriously hurt myself and, possibly, the people around me.

Let's go into the details.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Personal Halloween Story

I mentioned this event back in May, but felt it needed to be expanded upon.

The first time I was allowed to go trick or treating by myself was a pretty huge deal.  For years, I was going along with my little sister (and often one of the foster children my parents took in), and while it certainly wasn't a bad experience (getting candy as a child is never a bad experience), being trusted with the responsibility of being out without needing a parent right beside me was a pretty huge deal.

I felt completely grown up for that brief moment when they told me I could go ahead of my sister.  There were lots of parents and other children around.  It was the 80s, so nobody was really paranoid about anything bad happening.  I knew where the limits of where I could go were.

And all went wrong.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Originally, this was supposed to be a top eleven of the video games that scared me the most.  They weren't all necessarily horror games, some simply had really intense moments mixed in between gun play, quiet moments, or just simply having something unexpectedly spooky appear out of nowhere.

However, I got to one game and just started writing.  I found myself giving it a lot more attention than any other game on the list.  Considering the pedigree of some of the games on that list, that's actually saying quite a lot.

So, instead, I'm doing a look at one game in particular that very few people ever played.

We're going to be talking about ObsCure for the Playstation 2.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vampires: Out For Blood

There are times I really wonder if actors look at a film script or talk to their agent and think to themselves "well, I do need to make another payment on the boat" or "well, it's better than NOT working, I guess...unless they want me for a Tarsem Singh film."

For instance, look at the movie Vampires: Out For Blood.  You have Kevin Dillon acting as a down on his luck cop whose wife left him, has developed a drinking problem, and has a chief who's starting to get tired of him while still feeling compassion for the man.  You have Lance Henriksen, one of my favorite actors of all time (seriously, I get excited any time his name is attached to a project, regardless of whether it's a children's cartoon, a video game, or a wacky (and likely terrible) sci-fi movie.  He's playing said chief of police, and manages to exude compassion and a strictness that works great.  Kenneth Colom, aka "Officer Lucas" on The Shield!  There's Svetlana Chavez, a very hot girl playing "Hot Girl."

...okay, so yeah, there isn't a whole lot of reason to go after this movie for the acting abilities of most of the cast (except for Lance Henriksen).  So why would anybody want to see this?

Oh, right.  Jodi Lyn O'Keefe as a sex-crazed vampire would help.  Anything else?


Monday, October 20, 2014

Dracula! In Comics!

It's not always easy to have a "scary" superhero book.  When your lead characters have superhuman strength, speed, and agility, it's a bit hard to ever feel like they're overwhelmed by something "terrifying."  Usually it takes one of the "big" monsters in order to provide people with a challenge, but even then, it's not hard to picture superheroes doing pretty well against your standard mummies, Frankensteins, and werewolves.   You can bring in your Cthulhus, krakens, and zombie swarms, but even then you need a gimmick to make them actually "scary."

Or stupid, depending on how long they drag the gimmick out.

So how about we bring out one of (arguably) the biggest guns horror comics have?  Why don't we bring in Dracula?

Friday, October 17, 2014


Zombies are a great resource for deep, philosophical discussions.  The original Dawn of the Dead is infamous now as a critique of mass consumerism.  They've been used to represent "dangerous" new ideas becoming popular to the masses to the dangers of increasingly alienating political structures that push away their base or attempt to hold on to outdated values and ideas.  They've represented a basic natural disaster, simply being background dressing for deep personal dramas, and they've represented an entire class of people separated by a wide chasm from the increasingly rich upper class.

However, not very often does a movie tackle the idea of death itself in a meaningful way.  Helldriver, a Japanese film by Yoshihiro Nishimura (creator of the infamous cult classic Tokyo Gore Police), takes time to examine the moral and ethical dilemmas of millions of people being "infected" with something that drives them to feast on the flesh of the living.  If they show signs of life, are they really "dead?"  If they show intelligence, organization, and understanding of concepts such as bartering and power structure, are they still "human?"  What if they show a knack for using tools or recognizing specific people?  Is attempting to wipe out beings referred to as "infected" a violation of human rights if they can instead be contained?  What if containment could lead to an entire nation's economy and social structure crumbling?  Does the needs of the "normal" override the needs of the "not normal?"

While not really providing many answers to these questions, Helldriver does go above and beyond your standard zombie film by actually being willing to address these issues.  A priest's soapbox movement calling for mercy for family, friends, and loved ones who are infected and a politician's refusal to pass a bill that would exterminate the infected, calling it "a murder bill" are balanced against cries from a populace already forced into cramped housing with limited food resources, struggling to stay alive when they're refugees in their own country.

Oh, and it's also the most insane movie I've ever seen in my life.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oneechanbara: The Movie Vortex

So, it's day four of "Asian Women Wearing Inappropriate Clothing For Facing The Undead" week, and I've been saving some of the worst for last because I've heard terrible things about them.I don't have much hope for a movie that feels the need to show a trailer for the film I'm about to watch right before the movie itself.  Or one that feels the need to show a trailer for Psycho Gothic Lolita.

Now, I never played the video game Oneechanbara, so I'm going into this blind.  I'm going to sit back now and watch this and then do my review.

Let the film begin.

Oh, and just to try something new, I'm going to be documenting my reactions as the movie plays.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Highschool Of The Dead

Let's talk Japanese high schools.

If reading Japanese comics, seeing Japanese movies, and watching Japanese cartoons have taught me anything, it's that if you haven't saved the world at least once by the time you graduate high school, your life is over and completely worthless.

No, seriously.  In every series I've ever seen, the best soldiers are high school students.  The best pilots of giant robots suits?  High school students.  The people with the most magical power?  Look in high schools.  You need a mountain conquered, a ship piloted across an ocean, or an alien menace driven away from the Earth?  Unless you have a high school student around, your efforts are doomed.

So with that in mind, let's look at the zombie apocalypse.  Who would be the best suited to survive the entire world's social-economic structure collapsing within a matter of days as the undead rise and feast on the living?  The armed forces?  Survivalist nutjobs?

Now, to be fair, the woman on the far left is the school nurse, but, well, she still works at a high school.

Let's jump right in to Highschool Of The Dead

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ghost Talker's Daydream

Every now and again something comes out of Japan leaving you wonder "why on Earth is there a market for this?"

"Why would anybody want to see that?"

"Just who is supposed to be the target audience for this?"

This is not one of those things.  I'm pretty sure we can tell who the target audience is based on the back of the DVD.

"Ever since she could remember, Misaki Saiki has had the ability to 'talk' to ghosts.  She works as a special consultant for the city's secret division that deals with supernatural cases.  She also works as a dominatrix at a S&M club, where she okay, I'm just going to stop there, I think the point is made.

So, why do I own it?

Would you believe it's honestly because I spent some time trying to look into more Japanese "horror" material during the time that such movies as The Ring or The Eye or House to try to figure out some of the historical roots of what they find scary compared to what Americans find scary?

Seriously, that was it.  It's what brought me into series and books such as Perfect Blue, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Hellsing, Highschool Of The Dead (to be reviewed later this week!), and others.  I kept reading that this one was really good, and while a lot of the more "adult" stuff from Japan puzzles me more than anything else, I had to admit this one was pretty decent., seriously, that's it.

Oh come on, I- you know what, forget it, let's just get into the review.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Zombie Stripper Apocalypse

I did not know what to expect when I tossed this DVD into my system to watch.

Actually, that's a terrible, filthy lie, borne of utter disregard for the truth in meaning, if not intent.

I knew exactly what to expect when I picked this DVD up at a Blockbuster store that was going out of business.  I mean, the cover pretty much explains it all.

There were going to be Japanese women.  There were going to be skimpy outfits.  There were going to be swords, chainsaws, and axes.  There were going to be zombies and strippers (or possibly zombie strippers).  There might even be an apocalypse.

I also, looking at the case, knew this movie was going to be awful.

How did I know?  

They misspelled the name of the movie on the side of the DVD case.

And yet, while it was all those things...I was also completely wrong.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Haunting Of Riverdale: Part Four

So far on this DVD we've had plenty of vampires, but I wouldn't really call vampires a "haunting."  Unless you go looser on the definition of "haunting" and assume it refers to Medlock sticking around the old farmhouse he was buried under for centuries.  However, that's stretching it, even for me.

Fortunately, this time we actually get at least one genuine ghost, so I'm going to skip the lengthy preamble and simply point out that Archie Comics just announced a new crossover:

Archie Meets The Predator.

This is a real thing that will be happening in 2015.

I can't wait.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Haunting Of Riverdale: Part Three

Growing up, I always preferred Betty over Veronica.  Yes, Veronica was rich beyond anybody's wildest dreams (the exception, of course, being her own dreams), and she had gorgeous raven black hair...but I liked Betty.  It wasn't the blond hair, it wasn't the obsessive behavior amount of doting she laid on Archie, and it wasn't the "oh, she's the good girl next door" aspect.

I think what I liked about Betty was just how she seemed to be the polar opposite of Veronica, in that she had many different layers to her character, while Veronica seemed to be all about the money.

However, I realized later on that Veronica Lodge isn't the anti-Betty at all.  She's actually her own, surprisingly well-developed character.  I mean, sure, her key attributes are still the ones listed above, but then I start to think of how she interacts with the group.  She has never once refused to buy something for her friends, lend them the use of her father's enormous estate, or acted the least bit stingy when it comes to using what she has to help people, whether it's her father's company jet for a quick trip around the world or simply having the exact plot device flown in for delivery with "I want it now" speed.  She was always accepting of other people, whether it was their sexual orientation, religion, or lifestyle choices (she was the only person who accepted Jughead during his "hippie" phase in the 70s), but wouldn't hesitate to put down their fashion choices.  But she was never the athlete, the key superhero, or the one you'd expect to get down and dirty.

So the fact that these episodes have had this kind of a spotlight on Veronica, taking the same shallow character we expect and adding a responsibility to things that are almost literally "out of her world," it's added yet another layer of growth onto an already complex character.

Let's jump in to the third episode of the "Scarlet Saga" as I (and only I) am calling it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Haunting Of Riverdale: Part Two

Archie Comics has never been afraid of making things a little "intense" when they needed to.  Even if we're just now getting our first real "horror" books by the company featuring characters that have been around for decades, there used to be plenty of drama surrounding the characters.  Whether it was the teenage Archie, his childhood self "Lil' Archie," or even his superhero self, the books weren't afraid to add some pretty high drama.

So with Archie's Weird Mysteries delving into tales of horror reminiscent of things like Christine, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, and even Little Shop of Horrors, it's...really not that much of a surprise.

Let's dig into the second episode of The Haunting of Riverdale and see what happens next.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Haunting Of Riverdale: Part One

People who have read this blog might have realized that I have a really twisted bizarre fascination with the adventures of Archie Andrews and his friends.  It might be because Archie is a comic book character that probably has just as much name brand recognition as Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man,  Anybody who likes comics who says they never read any of his when they were young is most likely lying through their teeth (or just absent-minded), but considering the comics put out featuring America's favorite red-headed teen have been coming out since 1941 and are stronger and more socially relevant today than ever before, well...

I think it's a safe bet whoever is in charge there knows what they're doing.

But that doesn't mean that every thing's sunshine and roses, though.  Besides the recently printed (and mind-bogglingly dark) Afterlife With Archie, it wasn't unusual for titles to put Archie into other situations involving the bizarre, the macabre, and the occult.

I mean, for Pete's sake, he's on a first name basis with a teenage witch.

Admit it, you all wished you were, too, when that show was on the air.  ...and you were the same age I was.

So it's probably not surprising to know that at one point Archie had his own cartoon series called Archie's Weird Mysteries, stories featuring Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and the others dealing with massive amounts of weirdness and creepiness that invaded Riverdale.

And they managed to cram some episodes with a particular theme onto a single DVD called The Haunting Of Riverdale.  We're going to go through each one of these episodes and figure out just how you can manage to make (or not make) a story scary when you've got the FCC watching you carefully.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Alien Encounter (or How To Make A Terrifying Theme Park Ride)

Any time I go to a carnival or amusement park, I find myself completely underwhelmed by the "haunted houses" or "tunnels of terror" or whatever they try to call them.  I've already established I'm not a big fan of things that rely on "jump" scares, and I will admit that it must be really difficult to establish an "atmosphere" of fear when you're trying to get people through a ride as fast as possible, but still, there has to be something to make them scary again.

After all, once you realize all you're seeing are triggered gears and springs launching things at you once you hit a certain part of the track, it doesn't matter if it's a zombie head or a slab of puff pastry, it's just something meant to startle you.

Pictured: how I view most "scary" rides.

However, there's two rides that did manage to develop a healthy sense of fear in me, and I'm going to look at one of them now and try to figure out if there's a way to make something else that could terrify people in a way that's fun.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The First Movie/TV Show That Really Scared Me

I cannot prove this film or TV show actually exists.  I have scoured the Internet since the late 90s for any other mention of this existing.  Every now and again I'll get a "that sounds familiar" or a "I think I remember something like that" but nothing ever comes of it.

It's the first time I ever screamed in fright at something on television (also possibly one of the only times I've ever screamed in fright at the television).  It was a goofy, dumb program with an obviously rubber mask.  I was watching it with one of my best friends, a girl who lived three doors down from my house at the end of a cul de sac.

There are no pictures for this post, because again I can't prove this program ever existed, but I have recently enlisted the help of I Remember This Movie... to help me figure it out.

Because seriously, if they have someone who remembers episodes of Bone Chillers, they should be able to help me with this.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

There are essentially two types of "horror" systems in video games.  You have games that set dark, foreboding atmospheres, play off the natural fears we, as players, all have, and let the tension build until we wind up getting ourselves completely worked up waiting for the killer to emerge or not emerge from behind every door.

You also have "twitch" horror games that mostly involve monsters jumping out of dark places, poorly lit rooms that make it hard to see everything, and typically allow the player to carry enough ammo to make Commando jealous.  The only real "scares" are the same "jump" scares that many modern horror movies use when they're out of ideas or are afraid the audience is getting bored.  Now, while a "jump" scare can be extremely effective when done correctly, a game that's nothing but jump scares tends to become tiring extremely quickly.

Needless to say, I'm much more a fan of the former than the latter.

Now, while I will say that no game sets up a better atmosphere than the Silent Hill franchise (a shame they stopped after four games, no matter what anybody else says), I think the game that made me the most tense and freaked me out the most was Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Puppet Princess

Hollywood is determined to make us think that puppets are scary, when they really aren't.  Whether it's the ridiculous idea that anybody would find Chucky and/ or his "Bride" scary (disturbing, maybe), the Puppet Master  films, Dead Silence,  Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker, Ooga Booga, Black Devil Doll From Hell, and the naturally classic Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong, dolls, toys, and puppets just aren't scary.  At all.

Anything you can slap a frilly pink dress on, a hat with ribbons, and have a tiny tea party with isn't scary.  Anything that can be casually kicked across a room regardless of whether it's holding a knife is not scary.  Are those porcelain eyes creeping you out because they follow you around a room?  A ball-peen hammer can solve that.

Nothing that can be defeated by a ball peen hammer can ever be scary.  Or anything that can be taken out using the phrase "shaken repeatedly by a dachshund."

Also, go ahead and Google all those movie titles to make sure I didn't make any up.  I'll wait.

So, let's look at one of the only things featuring puppets I've ever actually liked: a bizarre little anime called Puppet Princess.

Just a heads up:  there are some screenshots with blood, but I made sure to censor the screenshot showing a bare butt.  Read at your own risk (and you probably shouldn't do it at work).  This film is rated R.