Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BHF Blog: Assault in pub

BHF Blog: Assault in pub: "Fancy a bit of 70s Brit giallo? It's still on my 'to watch' list and now you can beat me to it, thanks to a rare screening of Carry On horro..."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Birth Controlled.

As much as I relish being able to come and go as I please, I admit that there are times in my life when I tend to get a bit broody for the pitter-patter of blah blah blah. I see little fingers and chubby faces on the profile pics of my husband's Facebook friends, and I want to nibble on them. Having just purchased a new car, I think about trading in that new-car smell for a new-baby one. And with the number of expectant and new parents in my office reaching supernatural numbers, I glance at the water cooler and wonder what my employer is putting in it. Ephemerol? Only time will tell, but that would explain the Mona Lisa smiles and Merchant-Ivory attitude (i.e., the Stepford Wives look. It sure as hell ain't the Jordache look). 

Far right: Even I looked like a murderous child.

Now that I'm 36, I find myself officially one toe over the line—entering the danger zone located on the corner of Piss and Get Off the Pot—and I wonder if I'm ahead of the game for having waited, or falling behind. But then I watch these films, thank Zuul I'm not preggers, and head off to Denny's to build my own Grand Slam.  

Five films where the kids aren't alright

(These aren't ordered, much like my life)

The Bad Seed (1956)

She could make Billy Mumy wish himself into the cornfield.

The 1985 TV remake wasn't bad, but this film is where all the crazy started. Patty McCormack trading in a "bushel of kisses" for her mother's "basket of hugs," while handing everyone else around her a can of kid-edition Kick-Ass. Too bad the Easy-Bake Oven didn't come around until the early Sixties—it could've saved a lot of lives.

Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)

This film will not only put you off of having a child—it'll put you off of everything else, too. Islands. Vacations. Using men for piñatas. The Children of the Corn (1984) are flakes compared to these kids, who really, really want to get to the Spanish mainland. If they ever remake this one, they should set it in Ibiza.

Honorable Mention: the two children at the end of A Bay of Blood / Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971)

The Visitor (1978)

Now, this is one of those films that I hadn't seen for so long that I wondered if it even existed until my gorgeous horror-gamer girl friend Kiran reminded me that it did. Combine The Bad Seed with The Exorcist, and you've got this 1978 film, currently available on Code Red DVD (which is NOT out of business—thanks again Bloodtype Online).

 Damien: Omen II (1978)

He's a real lady killer.

Some parents find that they in fact cannot kill a child, and (providing they survive) quickly find themselves raising terrible teens—which means negotiating more time to kill than a ten o'clock curfew allows. Unfortunately for William Holden, his charge is hell-bent on fulfilling his demonic prophecy, and no amount of military schooling or actresses named Lee is going to change that. Is it bad that I used to have a crush on this kid?

The Children (1980)

This film is an old childhood treasure that I hadn't seen for 25 years until the lovely and legendary @lloydkaufman (one of my favorites when I was on Twitter) released it six years ago on DVD. That nagging question you have about what would happen if a bus full of Amway children drove through a radioactive cloud is finally answered here. I wish I could go back in time, snap a Polaroid of myself as a child with black olives on my fingers, come back to 2011 and post the pic on this blog. But let's be honest: if I were able to travel back to 1980, I don't think I'd return. That was a great year for horror.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night.

Last night, in the name of improving my health (something I never thought once about until I hit that age where AARP began surreptitiously and erroneously sending me mail), I forwent my regular junkie-like habit of capping the night with a blended coffee (everyone has a price, and this drink is my currency). Subsequently, I was out for the count before nine, asleep on the sofa in front of Kathy Griffin (her show, not Ms. Griffin personally), forgetting all of my cares—as well as the reminder I'd put on our TV to watch Play Misty for Me. At nine. Fortunately (or unfortunately; the jury's out), my husband picked up the slack and put it on while I slept. 

Now, I don't know if the absence of my usual caffeinated crack could be to blame, but that film lodged itself into the deepest recess of my subconscious and shot me out like a rocket into a void of incomprehensible terror. Not unlike the feeling I experienced two weeks ago when we walked up to the pearly gates of DVD Planet, only to find that it had closed. Closed! The building was gutted, and so were we. No Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge on DVD (slowly rebuilding much of the collection I lost by loaning films out). Side note: it's coming to Blu-ray with Dream Warriors on 9/27!!

So, what happened in my dream? Well, while Jessica Walter's lips were moving, the words that were coming out sounded as if they were being voiced by Mercedes McCambridge! I know! As I slept, my brain was filtering the information coming from the TV, and distilling it into some sort of terrifying mash-up—Play Merrin for Me, if you will. Truly the most terrifying dream I have ever ... uh, dreamed.

Anyway, now I'm obsessed with seeing this mash-up in real life. I have this completely ridiculous-and-especially-for-a-woman-my-age need to re-watch Clint Eastwood's directing debut (and my favorite of his films), except this time featuring Jessica Walter's crazy train colliding with demonically possessed Regan's loco motive. Now I know how the pretentious foodie who discovered chili-infused chocolate felt when he thought he was sprinkling cinnamon on his hot cocoa. How the first desperate housewife felt when she saw a taxidermist work on her cat and thought, "I gotta have something like that for my face!"

We're not that different, us genre fans. We tremble from that horrible nightmare, but we relish and retain its terror like a sweet sap, putting it away for later use. As frightened as I was coming out my dream, I couldn't wait to tell John, and then blog about it.

Another thing I can't wait for? My blended coffee—I'm getting one tonight. I don't want to dream a mash-up of The Evil Dead with a rerun of "The King of Queens."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function?

In horror films, you don't ask how the sausage is made—if you've seen Motel Hell, Terror House (my personal childhood favorite) or the very helpfully-titled Blood Diner, you know that the hot links contain some killer filler. But no other film left a worse aftertaste in the hearts, minds and mouths of genre fans than the 1974 Tobe Hooper classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The main / end title music even sounds like what you might hear in a kitchen from Hell (Norms restaurants notwithstanding):

So imagine my surprise upon reading Bloody Disgusting's OMFG of the Day, which featured Junction House in Kingsland, Texas—the very house where Chain Saw's exteriors were filmed (if not the very area, as the restaurant's website confirms that the house was moved from its original location in Wilco in the 1990s).

The Junction House enjoys a rating of four out of five stars on Yelp.

The house not only thrives to this day; its owners actually embrace its legacy, mentioning the film on their website, as well as on their Facebook page. Carmie likes this!

Georgia on My Mind ...

In other unrelated-but-sort-of news, The Newnan Times-Herald has published the dates, times and locations for the July filming of season two of "The Walking Dead" in Newnan, Georgia. If you live in or around this area, I'm jealous!

See Anything You Like?

And finally, zombiesdrule on YouTube is selling some really awesome-looking shirts for nostalgia nuts with a sense of humor. Check out his store!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

She's Got a Ticket to Ride.

The other day, while giving Ward (bringbackthemusic on YouTube and one of my besties) the wrap-up on my birthday weekend at Magic Mountain (of National Lampoon's Vacation and Rollercoaster fame), he unwittingly gave me an awesome idea for a blog topic:

"I wonder if a disaster-based theme park would be successful. Like the Towering Inferno ride, and the Cassandra Crossing train—remember to wash your hands after you get off! It could have rides like the Kingdom of the Spiders and Swarm…is this one of the worst ideas? Nah, I think it would be great."

I think it would be great, too—when I was a child, I actually did wish for a ride based on Empire of the Ants. I mean, the film practically offers up a template for a thrilling Lion Country Safari-style cruise through a sprawling landscape teeming with giant mutant ants. And Bloody Disgusting's brilliant, elaborate April Fool's Day hoax  already made me wish that we had a horror-themed—uh, theme park—in real life.

My own brief list of horror film-inspired-rides may never (here it comes) get off the ground or (one more) gain traction, but dreaming is free—which is more than I can say for visiting an actual theme park these days. Come to think of it, forcing people to literally pay an arm and a leg to get into Disneyland would make for a gorier Haunted Mansion experience.

George A. Romero's Zombie Zone

This military-style rollercoaster ride features a thrilling ascent up the first four films of the Dead series, a leveling out onto Diary and then a steep drop into Survival, where the attraction abruptly ends—and you're left to ponder if that's all there is.

Deja View

Put on your 3D glasses and strap in for this trip back ... to the future. You'll twist and turn through every classic horror remake, retread and re-imagining of the past decade. Experience the ride's signature inverted loop—the Weinstein Company Cashout—before splashing into the tepid waters of Michael Bay. Look over there—is it Jason? Well, he's wearing the mask. And although the faces have changed, the names are the same—just not the boobs; those are remade, too. You won't believe it's not Freddy! If you don't like surprises, don't worry—you're not actually going anywhere you haven't already been.


You enjoyed the first Scream so much, you wished it would never end. Wish no more— on this ride, you'll laze about in a boat carrying you down an exhaustive stream of franchises as you end up making one Wrong Turn after another. Seaquel is never-ending!

False Alarm*

Of course, we can't leave out the teens, 'tweens and PG-keens. And friends who often ask you for recommendations on scary—but "not-too-scary"—films? This bud's for them. Those willing to endure the 90-minute wait can face their fabricated fears in this hydraulic motion simulator of scary violins, red herrings, implied gore and snappy Diablo Cody dialogue. Watch out for the Ghost Girl with the long black hair—she's got a grudge.

*This ride does not feature the PG-13 Drag Me to Hell, as that movie is good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hang Loose.

As it's June gloom here in SoCal, I'm tapping into my inner Rainman today. You know, June gloom ... rain ... yeah, well fine—I just turned 36, what do you want from me? Anyway, I don't know if this is a sign of aging, but I'm having the most random, Rainman-esque thoughts lately. Here's one:

My five favorite films that feature hangings

(These aren't in any order)

The Omen (1976)

As this film came out a year after I was born, it's pretty safe to assume that my generation saw the last of any Damiens. The boys I went to school with who were unfortunate to bear that name were either gentle, relentlessly tortured things, or standard bearers for all that was evil in the world (the latter lived up to the promise; I'm almost sure that when the nurses were checking the rest of us for lice each year, they were checking the Damiens for any etchings of 666 on their scalps). But amid all of The Omen's horror hijinks, it was the one act not committed by the title character that continues to be the film's talking point to this day—the nanny's "suicide" by hanging. Four words at little Damien's party took the proverbial birthday cake: "It's all fuh you!"

When Holly Palance resurfaced in the early Eighties on Ripley's Believe it Or Not, alongside her father Jack, she still scared the hell out of me. Believe it.

Suspiria (1977)

Now, this scene also features one of the funniest lines I've ever heard in a horror film—"It's a murderer!" (granted, the water sprite-resembling young woman was about to be murdered, but her friend on the other side of the door didn't really have any logistical or tactile proof that the faceless assailant was, in fact, a murderer.

Semantics ... the end of the scene is truly shattering.

Witchfinder General (1968)

You can put this film up against any recent horror film out today—or released in the last 30 years, even—and it would still rate as scarier and more disturbing. The beginning of this film is truly frightening (and sad), and that level of horror stays consistent throughout. Yes, Vincent Price was one of the true legendary villains of the genre, and his roles varied from scary to campy, but I challenge anyone to find another film in which he is creepier and more terrifying.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Okay, now this one is up for debate—to everyone else. If you think zombies can run, then I can think that this scene qualifies as one that features hanging. I mean, those puppet strings didn't pull themselves. And maybe I just love the hell out of this film and wanted to fit it in the list somehow. I also wanted to fit into my Levi's Superlow-cut jeans the other day, and I was gonna damn well make that happen, too.

Walkabout (1971)

This film is like one long Midnight Oil video. You love it, but then afterward, you feel guilty as hell about going on with the rest of your lovely, meaningless little day with your bitchin' pizza and your stupid-awesome Netflix queue. But before you think I've set you up for some Lifetime Television viewing, I assure you that this is a very disturbing and, at times, very scary film. A father setting a picnic with his children before chasing them around the desert with a shotgun? Check. Natives scavenging among a deteriorating body twisted around the wreckage of a burning car? Check. But the coming-of-age of a young Aboriginal boy, culminating in one of the most horrific, heartbreaking scenes I have ever viewed, shows that the real terror in Walkabout lies not in nature, but in civilization.

If you're still not sold, a young Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London) is naked in it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Knott's unveils this year's Haunt mazes

Mark your calendars! Sept. 23 marks the start of Knott's Halloween Haunt!

If you're still hungover from Sunday night to read the entire Orange County Register article (at the above link),
here are the new mazes:

Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse
Invasion Beneath (replaces Black Widow’s Caverns on the Calico Mine Ride)

And here are the returning mazes:

Fallout Shelter
Sleepy Hollow
Virus Z
Lockdown: The Asylum
Terror of London
Día de Los Muertos
Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre
The Slaughterhouse
The Doll Factory
Corn Stalkers

Personally, I'm happy to see Big Top returning, if only to hear some Mr. Bungle.