Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 Novels Scarier Than Most Horror Movies

As I type this a molar is fighting my gums, and trying to get out of the burial of my jaw. Why are wisdom teeth extractions cosmetic? It hurts, but what hurts more is the fact that “Covered California” should’ve helped me get this taken care of, but instead, nope, they have frozen me out of getting coverage. That’s ok, I’m here with another illuminating post about scary stuff. Here are 5 novels that are scarier than most horror movies, but then again, I’ve read the Bible so that ranks top in my view. What? You don’t like non-fiction? What? It’s fiction too? Allegory maybe, but that’s not for debate here, what is for debate is whether or not these novels are scarier than hell or rather just another sad sack list of horror movies or rather books to ignore.

Terror by Dan Simmons

It was negative 8 degrees in Moscow, Idaho. I mention that because that was during the winter before my divorce in which I read this book. This is a dense historical fiction, and it is one of the toughest books to read when you’re freezing to death. I was so cold my bones hurt, and I didn’t find enough warm clothing to help, which made for a great deal of ambience amidst the 1845 Franklin Expedition that this book talks about. Going to the Arctic Circle 2 ships get stuck, and what they find is that it isn’t just space where no one can hear you scream, it’s here on earth, in the coldest of weather. Great horror fiction and historical fiction done right, but again, this is a dense book full of description up front. If you can pass the slow parts, you are going to get hit with a horrific story that will definitely pair well in cold weather.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

For some reason I was thinking of Wanda Jackson, but this is not the same person or the same genre at all. The Haunting of Hill House runs up a grand story of, well, a haunted hose. Better than the movie adaptations, this is a creepy book that peels away your skin slowly. It ramps up the horror in a very nuanced manner, and you are not going to get all the answers as something bad happens at every turn of the page. Jackson’s novel still bears more horror than the latest in cinema, that’s for sure.


The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

To this day, a modern tale of horror has enough gusto to pull your guts out. Forget what you’ve seen in the movies, this novel still gets a lot of people scared. If you’re a religious person, then there are going to be pages that you are going to absolutely be afraid of, but as you progress through this somewhat detective horror story, you are going to definitely enjoy yourself. It’s stronger than the original film, and your imagination can work wonders to scare you during the day and the night.

John Dies At The End by David Wong

David Wong has found a way to make absurd horror stories, and yet still pull you into the 1980s splatterpunk genre. Wong’s book was translated into a pretty cool movie, but as you turn the page, it’s incredibly different and dare I say harder hitting than the movie. There’s just so much going on here, as if R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series grew up and married Barker’s nightmare landscapes. Wong has a way of shoving you into a seriously comedic romp, while still tugging at the gore levels and horror elements that made movies like “Nightmare on Elm Street” famous. This may have a mixed bag, but at the core of the book and Wong’s second book, horror reigns.

The Shining by Stephen King

Sure, Stephen King may think of himself as the “Big Mac and Fries” of literature, but this is not afternoon picnic. “The Shining” translates well to supernatural horror, madness, and isolation. It speaks volumes through prose that the movie failed to capture. At the same time, it creates enduring characterizations, fights demons, and aspires to be the greatest horror novel ever written, and does so by throwing Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley into a closet and setting them on fire. Not a vampire tale, not a monster lurking, but rather the human mind, spirituality, and a cold snap that will break your fingers as you turn the page. The “King” of horror definitely pulled your eyelids off when this book was released and it still gets praised for it.

Looking for grindhouse, horror, or sci-fi films? Please check out our amazon astore featuring all things horror. Don't trust astore? Check out amazon.com, surprisingly they have more grindhouse,horror,and rare sci-fi than you may not have thought possible.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Lords of Salem Review

Rob Zombie burst onto the movie scene with his “House of 1,000 Corpses” and levied that into a career as a director. While some people hated his work on “Halloween”, others thought that the visionary director had something to offer the community as a whole. With the release of “The Lords of Salem” the hype surrounding his directorial work was definitely at an all-time high. Then the movie came out and a lot of people threw in the towel, their hands up in the air and claimed that he had lost it. Even though there are a lot of people that hate this movie, I think that it comes across 100 million times better than “Drag Me To Hell”, which I thought was garbage and terribly made by a veteran director. This movie was not rated Pg-13, it was rated R for a reason, it’s a HORROR MOVIE!

Visually, Zombie found a way to create a compelling, lavish art house film. There is a very beautiful array that comes through every frame of this movie, and it’s atmospheric from the first moments on the screen to the finish line. There’s attention to the colors, the set pieces, and everything works together in a very Kubrick like manner. You are going to swear that you’re watching something older than the past few years because this type of cinematography doesn’t usually hit the screen very often. The rich reds, greens, blacks, reds, and golden rod all hit the screen hard, and I was definitely impressed with the change from the dark and gloomy elements that he worked with in other movies, to this jump into what the foreign horror movies of the 1970s and 1980s were bringing.

Lords of Salem's Striking Use of Color
The movie revolves around a coven that has picked a vessel in modern times to bring forth a reckoning. A child is birthed, although the story is somewhat convoluted, through the sequences of a radio DJ playing a record that has been delivered to her. The movie then progresses and we get a writer trying to figure out a melody that is droning on and on and familiar in a way. The writer recognizes it as a melody for an old coven, and he quickly tries to figure out why it is being played on the radio. Through the narrative we get a slow burn that leaves us with no answers, except for a news reel that plays at the end.

Overall, “The Lords of Salem” is a visual masterpiece. Rob Zombie went for broke on this one, and truly delivers a “unique” vision. It may not make a lot of sense at times, but there’s enough visual direction and art to make this one of the most unique horror movies to come out in a long time. I cannot think of another movie that has the same kind of compelling visualization, and I’ve written this blog for a long time. I’ve read the complaints on this movie and you know what? If you didn’t like this at all, you’re an idiot and perhaps you shouldn’t watch horror movies any longer. This isn’t particularly scary, it’s just visually compelling in a way that few horror movies in the modern scope are.
Visual Design Is The Strong Suit of Zombie's Lords of Salem
Then again, there’s a very distinct disconnect when you see the latex baby…I’ll leave it at that. “Lords of Salem” is best enjoyed on blu ray like I did, and definitely an underrated piece of horror from recent releases. I have seen a lot of recent movies, and most don't have the same kind of visual collateral. Sure, Zombie's storytelling leaves something to be desired, but as far as a movie that isn't a rehash, or a reboot. It's an original picture that deserves far more credit than it gets. Sheri Moon Zombie does well here, and so do the other actors. I liked it.

Looking for grindhouse, horror, or sci-fi films? Please check out our amazon astore featuring all things horror. Don't trust astore? Check out amazon.com, surprisingly they have more grindhouse,horror,and rare sci-fi than you may not have thought possible.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Italian Horror Movies You Should See Before Dying


5 Italian Horror Movies You Should See Before Dying
When it comes to horror movies, you are not going to find a more vivid example of creativity than that of Italy’s finest. For some reason the Italian movie makers honed in a certain level of macabre and didn’t really turn things up to 11 until after most of their movies were getting boring. It’s true, most of the best Italian horror movies are slow moving, but when they hit the gas, you are thrown through the windshield and taken for a thrill that will definitely stick with you. While American movies tend to blow their loads in gore, Italian horror seems to have a little bit more class before wiping their seed on the curtains. Yep, I went there. It is with that terrible structure in mind that I present to you 5 horror movies that you need to see, and they are straight out of the Italian horror director’s pile up of Eurotrash.

Suspiria

I’ve talked about this movie before, but what seems like a precursor to “Black Swan”, is actually a horrific ghost story. This has color on the mind, and the visuals are vibrant, iconic, mixed with symbolism of religious matters, witchcraft and mood. There’s something beautiful about the elements that come together here and the fire that burns in the fireplace turns into an inferno by the time all is said and done. The art of this film really makes it one of the best movies to come from Dario Argento. The use of color throughout, mixed with the emotional connections of the dancers really comes across grand. It's frightening at times, but more over, it's high art. It feels more like a classic stage play at times, but you'll get your dose of horror sure enough. If you haven’t seen Suspiria, then you’re not a horror movie fan, plain and simple.

The Beyond

Lucio Fulci did what most American Horror movie directors are now doing, but he did it in 1983. He found a way to go beyond just macabre set pieces and go for the jugular in a combination of sequences that are not defined by one genre. Fulci finds a way of creating art out of what should be the grotesque and macabre. The goal was to make a story that didn’t really have a linear plotting, and it worked, creating twist after twist and elements of an art gallery of horror you don’t really understand. Admit it, you don’t get this one, but then again, that’s the point.

Torso

This tense film drives the story of college students getting killed long before you saw anything like it in the 1980s. It’s a slasher at times, but focuses more on the “giallo” styling. It has elements of horror, mystery, and suspense before revealing the larger picture. You get a feeling that the killer is motivated by more than just trying to be a psychopath or a boogieman, which makes this one of the more tightly wound Italian set pieces of horror.

Cannibal Holocaust

The movie that inspired millions of horror fans, and possibly the first major movie to get that moniker of “reality” still hits hard today. It’s a sick movie and it’s a mess of a film that will make you cringe. It is a shock fest gone wrong, and it was marketed as a “banned” movie. Forget movies that rely on that shaky camera footage, this did it better, and far more entertaining than anything you’ve seen. Some compare it to “The Blair Witch Project”, but there’s no comparison, this is a sick movie full of macabre sequencing and horrific elements. A true classy, trashy, picture. The dichotomy works here, if I do say so myself, and of course I do.

Tenebre

I had a hard time trying to pick one more, but I will throw this one into the mix. Two Argento movies in one list? Yeah, it happens. Tenebre is a tightly wound mystery, slasher, and horror movie all rolled into one. The story is a slow burn towards the ultimate reveal. When I first saw it, I was a bit mad at the ending, but after many viewings later, I realize that the strength of Tenebre is the acting and the POV view of the slayings. There’s a deep seeded fear that rises up in this movie, especially when you realize that you’ve been led down the wrong corridor overall. Stephen King’s paranoia that made “Misery” work is found here at times. Visually compelling, sound that keeps your heart beating, and a solid ending makes this one of the best Italian horror movies that you have to see before you die.

What about you? All 2 of you readers out there, drop me a comment, let me know what your favorites are, and for goodness sake buy something from the links so that I can grab a cup of coffee. Or just comment, it’s always nice to see that someone reads my garbage writing.

Looking for grindhouse, horror, or sci-fi films? Please check out our amazon astore featuring all things horror. Don't trust astore? Check out amazon.com, surprisingly they have more grindhouse,horror,and rare sci-fi than you may not have thought possible.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Shock AKA Beyond The Door 2 Review

Mario Bava is one of my favorite directors of horror. He has a very distinct style and visual elements that you do not see from many other modern directors. The use of camera angles, lighting, and atmosphere plays well to set up the finales of his movies, and that’s exactly what you get with the movie “Shock”. This is also known as “Beyond The Door 2”, and in the United States it is readily available through a variety of different arenas. This was released in 1977, and it was the last movie that Mario Bava directed before he died. That being said, it doesn’t feel like his last picture, but it’s definitely one creepy movie none the less.

In this movie, you are given a slow burn. There’s a kid that is a bit creepy, and a couple that are moving into a house. The wife has come back from a sanitarium, where she was locked up for 7 years after her husband commits suicide. As the story progresses, the kid starts getting the “Shining”, oh wait, wrong movie. But it’s similar, and things start to move around the house ala “Paranormal Activity”. As the movie progresses, Bava’s signature creep style comes full circle and you realize that perhaps the wife had more to do with her husband’s death than we are lead to believe. As the movie gets into a climax, things get really bloody, messy, and revealing.

Take equal parts from many horror epics, including “The Omen” and you have a movie that leads you down a line of a slow burning wick. It’s slow, but it pays off dividends at the end. In fact, “Shock” delivers one of the best endings in horror that I’ve seen in a long time. Everything builds to a high tension, a suspenseful push, that you start rooting for the wrong person. Right when you think you have this movie figured out, and you call for a zombie to show up, nope, much like Argento’s classics, things unravel and create finality.

The best thing that you are going to see here is the visual style. Daria Nicolodi plays a very disturbed mother, and Bava’s elemental, visceral sequences play so well with her emotional collapse that you really feel for her at one point. However, as the kid starts to showcase the true demise of his father, you start to realize that the villain is not whom you think, and that of course leads to a very climactic ending.

If you aren’t a big fan of Italian Horror, then you are not going to like this one. However, if you’re a fan of Bava already, then you know what to expect here, and will definitely love the slow burn feel of the movie. It’s not extreme, but it certainly lends itself well to a lot of other extreme movies. I love the way things turn out in this thrilling horror movie. Take it for a ride and see why Bava is celebrated as one of the pioneers of horror cinema. Buy “Shock” here, and see what this is all about.



Looking for grindhouse, horror, or sci-fi films? Please check out our amazon astore featuring all things horror. Don't trust astore? Check out amazon.com, surprisingly they have more grindhouse,horror,and rare sci-fi than you may not have thought possible.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Review


I grew up in the projects of Culver City. My sister’s nanny was Latina and she had a couple of kids my age. That meant that 90% of my time away from school was spent in the hood. In that hood I met a lot of interesting people, some of which are carbon copies in this movie. I hate the other Paranormal Activity movies, I don’t like them at all. I think they suck, quite honestly. But the makers of the series found a way to get to me, and you know what, they did it well. This movie is awesome in my book, and it’s because it hits home to my childhood and the things my people say, do, and well act like. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones has a healthy mix of fear, and I for one loved it.

The movie tells the story of recent Latino graduates. They live in a small apartment complex, and they have a camera that they are recording everyday life with. As they start to investigate their neighbor, they realize that there’s something going awry. They find out that she’s in “Santa Muerte” and things start to spin out of control when the main character, Jesse, finds what appears to be a bite on his arm. Of course this comes after a black magic, voodoo, black mirror thing ends up happening in an abandoned church. I may be glossing over things, but whatever, it’s coming from memory.

As the movie progresses, things really start to get insane, and we push through to a story that is gut wrenching. I haven’t felt a twist in my stomach until Jesse turns super evil, and his friends have to try and save them. Hector running through a sequence in the Coven and Marisol falling out the sky did it for me, and the movie really pushed my buttons. Perhaps it’s the Latino influence, perhaps I was just lucid, but there were moments in this movie that made me root for the good guys, even though they brought this whole thing on themselves. Scooping fire into their laps turned out to burn them like hell, no pun intended.

Altogether, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a frenetically wound scary movie, and it had me amazed. I liked the found footage story telling here, and appreciated the nod to my culture in a way. There’s a lot to this movie, and something that I will definitely watch again. I haven’t seen a horror movie in a long time that I truly liked, and this is one of them. It’s powerful, and while it’s not perfect, it’s definitely one of my favorites from the past few years. There’s a sick sense of terror that permeates through the actions of this movie, and something that all good horror movies do. There's something for everyone here, and if you're at all familiar with Mexican, Latino culture, you may have a bit of a soft spot for this movie's central characters and themes.

The real dirt here, buy this one on blu ray, wait for nightfall, light some candles and get scared. I loved it. Yeah, I said it. There's more to this than just my attempt at an explanation, so go see it or figure out how to get it (below).

Looking for grindhouse, horror, or sci-fi films? Please check out our amazon astore featuring all things horror. Don't trust astore? Check out amazon.com, surprisingly they have more grindhouse,horror,and rare sci-fi than you may not have thought possible.