Category: Horror


A New (and old) look at Jekyll and Hyde

Steven Padnick over at Tor.com wrote up a fascinating bit of misunderstood history. Like many I’ve grown up with such a large number of reinterpretations of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde that I can’t remember what the original story was like (and I have a copy buried away on my bookshelf!)

Padnick reveals that history has grossly misinterpreted the original story. In fact, if Padnick’s assertions are true, there was no Jekyll and Hyde, but instead just Jekyll in a new body. The physical transformation into Hyde essentially allowed Jekyll to act out his repressed fantasies without punishment. After all, Jekyll looked like a distinguished older man of the well-to-do class and Hyde looked like a young and hideous thug of the lower classes.

I’ve heard the book described as a “werewolf story without the werewolf” and all the reinterpretations of this tale follow that line. It will be interesting to dig my copy of the book out of hiding and read it with a new (or original?) perspective!

You can read the original article here:
What Everyone Gets Wrong About Jekyll and Hyde

Dark Seduction is a terrible film the story of which should be an inspiration to filmmakers. View full article »

Visual Storytelling: Under The Skin, or “Story as Framework”

Note: This review was originally written for another site called Quantum Pop Blog. When that site went under, I brought the article over to my personal site. Aside from stripping out the words “Quantum Pop Blog”, the article is unchanged from its orignal format.

I once had an interesting argument with an aspiring director. He believed that the audience didn’t like to think and that if a story told them something, they would just accept it as true until they were told it wasn’t. I disagreed with this idea, mostly because I like to think about what is being presented to and I imagine others would as well. I could not, however, explain why I preferred this. Under The Skin is director Jonathan Glazer’s resounding rebuttal to the aspiring director’s ideas. For people who don’t like to think during a film, this is a terrible story to watch. For those that do like to think, it’s a deep philosophical statement. Still, before we get into this, we have to have a bit of theory on storytelling. View full article »

I survived the Zombie Fashion Show

Earlier this month was the Zombie Fashion Show put together by Pancakes and Booze, a traveling art promotion. The fashion show wasn’t just a fashion show, however, it was an art show, fashion contest and car show all rolled into one! View full article »

The Story of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula

Gary Oldman as Dracula- 1992- Francis Ford Coppola

Gary Oldman as Dracula- 1992- Francis Ford Coppola

Well, it just wouldn’t be Halloween without a Dracula post! As it happens the NuArt theater in West Los Angeles recently showed a midnight movie of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” by Francis Ford Coppola. As a special treat, the screenwriter, James V. Hart, came out and gave a special introduction: the story of how the film got made!

I’m grateful to see so many of you turning out. Any of you a first timer? Oh, my god. I can’t spoil it! Okay.. it’s about vampires!

This was a movie that nobody wanted to make in this town. No studio, no executive, nobody wanted to put a dime into it. And, God bless her, Winona Ryder, at age 19, took my screenplay off the bottom of a bunch of teen comedies and said “I want to make this film.” And her agents said, “What? Why?” “Well.. I want to make this movie.”

She called Francis Coppola. She took the script to Francis and asked Francis to read it to see if he thought it was the right kind of role for her to play in her career. She wanted to grow up a bit. Francis called her back and said “Not only should you do the role, but who’s directing?” That was the phone call I got.

And to his credit, those of you that know Gary Oldman’s work after Dracula, this is an amazing performance and I adore him because he admired and appreciated and defended every word of dialogue in this script. In fact, most of the actors did. We didn’t nominate hobbits and wizards and vampires back when Gary gave this performance. You’re about to see an Academy Award winning performance and the only other director I even wanted for this film was David Lean. People thought I was crazy. And I got Francis Coppola. I got the best possible maestro to realize this film. So, thank you for coming. Enjoy Bram Stoker’s, Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.

There you have it. And Gary Oldman is, in fact, fantastic in this film. The visuals are luxurious and the story compelling despite its initial reception. If you see this in the DVD bin somewhere, you should pick it up.

The Alone Experience: Being Alone has never been so captivating.

The Alone Mask

The Alone Experience, a Halloween maze in it’s second year, breaks the haunted house mold with an inventive, personal, psychological horror theme. Combined with the optional treasure hunt and the complementary drink at the end of the run, the Alone Experience provides excellent enjoyment for the price. There are still a few kinks to work out, but for anyone looking for something new, the Experience is well worth checking out.

I found out about The Alone Experience through an article on LAist, titled The Most Beautifully Constructed Haunted House in Los Angeles. What intrigued me was not only the description of the attraction, but also the optional treasure hunt that could be had before you actually go to The Alone Experience itself. This is something I had not seen before in more conventional haunts and I was eager to see what happened.

The Seek and Hunt

Enola PamphletThe first stop on the hunt (or what I like to call the “Seek and Hunt” since there is no actual treasure) was a small store at the junction of Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s an artsy vintage shop with no indication that it is connected in any way with Alone. When I asked about the mysterious “Enola Foundation“, however, I was given a pamphlet along with a number to call.

Calling the number gave me a recorded message that then set me to a nearby library. Unfortunately, the library had already closed for the evening. I literally walked around the premises for somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes before giving up and contacting someone at Alone to ask for help. Fortunately I was put on the right path in a few minutes, but this did put a slight damper on my adventure. Right up until the hint came, I was convinced that the library didn’t need to be open for me to get the next clue. It would have required me to take off from work early to get there before the library closed and that didn’t seem fair.

Eventually I was led to a tavern which seemed empty for a Halloween night. The woman behind the bar was dressed as a nun and asked me what she could get for me. If you ever find your way to this tavern, I ordered a Kona Longboard, which wasn’t too bad. I also gave her a secret password. She was good; I didn’t see any hint of recognition in her face as she got me the drink. I was seriously wondering if I had come to the wrong place. When I pulled out my wallet to pay for the drink, I could feel her lean in close. I looked up and saw her staring at me right in the eyes with a devilish grin while tapping the counter to the rhythm of “Feed My Frankenstein“, which was blaring over the radio. After receiving my money, she walked away as if nothing had happened. Underneath the napkin was a token with a triangle etched in it-the symbol of The Alone Experience. My “Seek and Hunt” adventure was over.

I admit I was a little disappointed that it was over. I actually looked around the bar to see if there was another clue somewhere, but the token was the final prize for my adventure. I finished my drink, left a tip and headed to main event.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/pN24sXI5oVA]

The Alone Experience

The Alone Experience PostcardThe Alone Experience is situated in the Fashion District of the city. That sounds more upscale than it actually is. As I drove by, there were tents all along the sidewalk where homeless people slept. At least the people not forced to stand under doorways or sleep out in the open. There was even a half-crazy man in a dingy suit, wandering up and down the sidewalk as I drove by the attraction. This definitely put me on edge for my general safety in the area.

All is not as it seems, however. As an oblique hint, let’s just say the mask of reality is pulled off when your own mask is put on. Leave it at that. Oh, and your mask gets painted as well. It’s fun.

Guests arriving to The Alone Experience wait in a small area in an alleyway. People in very clean white medical coats take their name and make them sign a waiver stating that they can be touched, will get wet and may get dirty. Then, guests are called up in groups of five and led to a loading dock. A dilapidated elevator slowly lowers and the Experience is on. And ho boy, is it on…

[youtube=http://youtu.be/midfN6he5yA]

How The Experience Worked

It would be unfair to relate what actually happened in the Experience, but it is worth noting how it was put together. The creators of The Alone Experience were very clever and the attraction did a great deal with very little. Much of the Experience involved darkened hallways, crawlspaces and being spontaneously covered in hoods and led around. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much, but the attraction specialized in a more cerebral psychological scare than jump-outs or fancy effects. Also, the multiple websites created for the attraction, phone numbers with professional voicemail greetings, pamphlets and other accessories give the sense that the Experience is larger and more sophisticated than it actually is. It’s smoke and mirrors on a larger scale.

The concept behind the Experience is ultimately about trying to unnerve and disorient, forcing the guests to almost scare themselves via blinding lights, constant droning through hidden speakers and an endless amount of touching, pushing, pulling and directing from seen and unseen forces. While not truly terrifying, The Alone Experience is aptly named. It’s an experience that challenges guests by, in a way, forcing them to haunt themselves.

The Unicorn

The unicorn scene was probably the most interesting decision of the Experience. With all other sections of the Experience being focused on disturbing guests, the unicorn scene was the exact opposite. I had read about this moment, but wasn’t quite sure what I would find. I would say, however, that the moment was something of a vacation from the rest of the attraction. Not everyone will realize that this isn’t supposed to be a scary moment, but those that do will find some bright silly fun before being sent off to finish the rest of the story. I can’t speak for the creators of The Alone Experience, but I think that this scene was a chance to take a quick break before continuing on. In any event, I couldn’t help having a fun time with the unicorn, right up until someone ripped open the door to the dance room and yanked me on my way.

When The Experience Ends

At the end of the run, guests end up in a lounge where a bartender hands over a complementary drink. When I arrived there, I found a couple from my group and immediately began comparing notes. The boyfriend was nearly ejected for poking and punching anyone and everything around him. Someone actually told him if he didn’t calm down he would be ejected from the site. His girlfriend was wildly different and was terrified of absolutely everything. It seems that the Experience was customized on a per-guest basis. The girlfriend was treated in ways that didn’t come close to what I went through. She had ribbons tied on her and was even held by the throat and interrogated. This never happened to me. It seems you get out of it what you put into it (so to speak). Following this discussion, I headed out into the night to continue my Halloween adventures.

Conclusion

The Alone Experience is wide shift from the standard Halloween fare. How people feel about it will depend on what people are like prior to entering. I went through a very cerebral journey with very few conventional scares. Others were terrified left and right. Online, some reported boredom. Yet, despite this, it is one of the most inventive Halloween attractions I’ve been to in a while. Combined with the treasure hunt from earlier, and I have to say The Alone Experience was a bargain for what I got.

Halloween has come and gone, but give if you’re looking for something different, be sure to give it a try next October. And remember… Alone Loves You. Breathe.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Ack5U1TU-r8]

Phantasm V Ravager is on it’s way

Not everyone will agree with this assessment, but Phantasm was an atom bomb of horror. It just had so much iconic stuff. Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man, those damn chrome balls flying around killing people, and of course the buckets and buckets of unnecessary gore. Let’s not forget the hapless Reggie, who seems to somehow survive every film only to get ruthlessly beaten to near-death in the next. The last film in the Phantasm franchise was 1988, with Phantasm IV: Oblivion. Since then the franchise has been more or less hiding in limbo. That’s about to change with Phantasm: Ravager, the fifth installment to the franchise:

The teaser poster to Phantasm Ravager, courtesy of Ain’t It Cool News

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Alan Moore is legit

Alan Moore has always been the mad genius of comics. Being counter-cultural is pretty much in every fiber of his being and his belief in the occult only adds to that. With his out-of-the-box perspectives on the world, he doesn’t always come across well in interviews. I’ve always pictured him as being extraordinarily serious and his squabbles with his peers hasn’t helped either.

It turns out Alan Moore has a sense of humor after all.

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Holy Bejeezus! New Godzilla Trailer!

Well, if you’ve been under a rock for the past 24 hours, you’ll need a quick situation update on news and events. Basically, this is the only event worth noting: the UK trailer for Godzilla just appeared on YouTube (people please! Contain your orgasms!)

Here it is:

So what do we think?

View full article »

All right, let’s get this one out of the way right now… As we all know, the latest Godzilla (2014) trailer dropped earlier today and the Internet is all a-buzz about it. Well the part of the Internet that cares about Godzilla, anyway. Here’s the videos that the production company has put on YouTube so far:

The official Godzilla trailer:

The sound of Godzilla’s voice:

And the teaser trailer (which I really like):

The production values look fantastic. The cinemtography is evocative and rich with emotional color. There are clearly high-level actors attached to the project. Not A-List Hollywood talent in the sense of celebrity, but actors you would watch even if you can’t remember their names. Their level of celebrity won’t overshadow the film, but enhance it. If the soundtrack of the film matches the trailers, this is going to be a soundtrack worth getting, just from the little snippets we’ve heard thus far.

To be quite honest, the producers of this film did not have a high bar to jump over. The 1998 Godzilla film was made by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. Never was such a magnificent franchise brought so low. Emmerich and Devlin had no respect for the source material. Godzilla’s famous atomic breath was reduced to shots of the creature roaring at camera while a flame was bursting towards the audience. For some strange reason they rewrote Godzilla’s origins to atomic testing in France and had a recurring joke that mocked Siskel and Ebert, two critics who no doubt lambasted all their terrible high-budget yet low-brain films.

I can’t think of a worse “A-list” team to put on the project. They nearly killed the idea of a Hollywood Godzilla film. With all the financial resources Hollywood production companies have, a good Godzilla film could hit the ball right out of the park. I hope it does with this upcoming film. The big guy could use a boost. Kaiju? Godzilla DEFINES kaiju! Pacific Rim? Those kaiju were amateurs. It’s time for the King of the Monsters to come back and show us all how it’s done.

I have my fingers crossed.