October 30, 2009

Have a Killer Halloween

Uploaded by Jake at Design You Trust, this rich pic gets Halloween so completely, I am simply in awe. It comes with the perfect description, too:

It’s been said that sometimes on Halloween the Zombie Ale bottles come out from the darkest depths to force-feed their devilish ale to innocent folk. After consumption, they are left to turn into Party Zombies who are only alive until dawn. They make the night count.

In the other news, here's an example of the ideal Peter Cushing Halloween tattoo:

It's from a friend of a friend, and it also has a body, and a brain, and the brain does magical things called songs using the body's arms, and you should be able to find them right here!

October 29, 2009

Twin Peaks Essay

As promised last Friday, here's an interesting Twin Peaks essay I found 'round the internet that question some of the most fundamental aspects of the series and film. Plus, here's a list of quirky items from the series that someone somewhere put together, and if that's not enough for you, check out the clip below or bow your head in shame!

Twin Peaks quirks:

Ben and Jerry Horne, ecstatically praising their baguettes, mouths full of bread and Brie (one of several scenes in which characters talk with their mouths full); a fish in a percolator; Lucy’s extremely convoluted phone transfers; Josie Packard’s malapropisms; the malfunctioning fluorescent light in the morgue as Cooper examines Laura Palmer’s body; Nadine’s quest for completely noiseless drape runners; Cooper’s announcement (not surprising, given his coffee consumption): “I really have to urinate”; the dental plugs stuck in Dr. Jacoby’s ears; Deputy Andy covered with post-it notes; the small figurine wearing an eye patch in Nadine Hurley’s mantelpiece collection; Cooper’s realization, immersed in a Double R dessert that “This must be where pies go when they die”; Albert’s insults (“Look! It’s trying to think!”); Cooper’s face-to-face with a llama in a veterinarian’s office; Ben Horne’s adjournment to the bathroom (during a tryst with Catherine Martell) to “wash little Elvis”; Cooper’s self-reflexive finger-snapping to Angelo Badalamenti’s non-diegetic theme music as he sits on his bed after awakening from his dream; Gordon Cole’s deaf incoherence; party-animal Icelanders; the Log Lady’s “sticky pitch gum”; doughnuts splattered with Waldo the Bird’s blood; Audrey’s abilities with a cherry; Dr. Jacoby’s collection of cocktail umbrellas; the Log Lady’s recognition that Major Briggs has “shiny objects on his chest”; Agent Cooper’s inquiry (while lying on the floor of his hotel room after having been shot) whether the bill he is asked to sign by the “world’s oldest bellhop” “includes a gratuity”; a wood tick impaled on a bullet; Leland Palmer’s singing (“Mares Eat Oats,” “Come On, Get Happy,” “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” etc.); blows to Deputy Andy’s head (from a ricocheting rock thrown by Cooper and from a loose floor board at Leo’s); difficult readjustment of hospital stools; telekinetic removal of cream corn; seething, repulsive hospital food; Major Briggs’s version of Bobby’s future; Ben and Jerry toasting marshmallows (instead of a smoked cheese pig); Albert and Sheriff Truman’s collar-grabbing face off (“I love you Sheriff Truman); Dr. Jacoby’s golf-inspired mantra; Cooper’s cowlicks; Andy’s sperm count; Leo’s birthday party; the horse in Sarah Palmer’s vision; Leland’s living room golf; Ben and Jerry’s jailhouse bunk bed memories; a transvestite DEA agent who “puts his panties on one leg at a time”; the Pine Weasel’s attack on Dick Tremayne; Ben Horne’s rewriting of the Civil War; Nadine’s destruction of Hank Jennings…

October 28, 2009

Halloween Warm-up Party!

Halloween might not be a traditional holiday in Macedonia - we have April the 1st for masks, and elections for true horror - but who cares, traditions do have to start somewhere and I really don't see any reason not to start it here and now. So, if you're in Skopje on Thursday, 29 October, make sure you check out Laika after 21.30 for a swell Halloween warm up party with your very own Serdarot behind the speakers! The House of Horrors will feature your favorite psychobilly, post punk and dark indie tracks, as well enough energy to carry you through the epic weekend that's coming our way. See you there, and in the meantime, sing along, "This is Halloween!..."

Night of the Creeps on DVD!

The day has come! Night of the Creeps is finally available on DVD, which means that most of you will now have a real chance of seeing one of the finest horror comedies in the last 30 years or so. This film has it all: great writing, impressive acting (especially Tom Atkins), zombies, creepy slugs, an ax-murderer, aliens, fraternity studs, sorority babes, as well as lovable lonely dorks. Night of the Creeps would make an excellent double feature along with Re-Animator for a truly silly Halloween night. Here's the trailer for you...

October 25, 2009

Angelo Badalamenti - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me OST (1992)

What can be said here that hasn't been said before? Well, even though Angelo Badalamenti's score to David Lynch's Twin Peaks prequel sounds like your standard midnight jazz at first listen, there is nothing on this planet that achieves a similar emotional impact, not even on the other two Twin Peaks soundtracks. The well-known melancholic synth of "Twin Peaks Theme" and "Falling" is enriched here with thick layers of noir jazz, industrial elements, and even beat poetry, gradually growing into a mutant sound that is paranoid and evil just as much as it is seductive and infinitely sad. People have called the music here "horror jazz" and I can only concur on this term.

>>> Check out the torrente here but if you run into the CD make sure you get it!

October 24, 2009

Episode 16: The Z Word

Ed: Are there any zombies out there?
Shaun: Don't say that!
Ed: What?
Shaun: That.
Ed: What?
Shaun: That. The 'Z' word. Don't say it.
Ed: Why not?
Shaun: Because it's ridiculous!
Ed: Alright...Are there any out there, though?
Shaun: Don't see any... Maybe it's not as bad as all that. Ohp! Nope, there they are.
Shaun Of The Dead

The apocalypse has a face and its name is zombies. Whatever the cause, the result is always the same. The dead have risen in huge numbers to feed on the living. With each victim they claim, their numbers swell, and no force on Earth can contain them. As society collapses, it's up to the remaining humans to fight their way to safety or keep shooting until things blow over - but they rarely do.

As everyone knows, the word "zombie" has its roots in the Voudun beliefs of the Caribbean, referring to a body "revived" and enslaved by a sorcerer known as a bokor. The culture that created the zombies was born in forced labor, so the horror to these West-Africans wasn't getting eaten by a zombie, but becoming a zombie — a mindless, senseless, unfeeling slave for eternity. Even as the mass media of today focus on the repulsiveness of the living dead's feeding habits, this core concept of the zombie remains to be one of its most relevant aspects - especially in the George A. Romero films.

In fact, George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead is responsible for the wide-spread usage of the word in modern context as well as the layers upon layers of social criticism presently attached to it. As the 1968 cult film was accidentally entered into the public domain due to an error in the end credits, it quickly became the object of imitation and emulation by many other directors. Most zombie invasion stories nowadays follow the same conventions, even as some specific zombie tropes are inspired by the later works of John Russo, Night's co-writer.

The classic "Romero Rules" for zombies include:
  • The effect is pandemic; anyone who dies arises moments later as a zombie, whatever the cause of death, unless they suffer damage to the brain.
  • The bite of a zombie is infectious, and is always a fatal injury, even if it seems a trivial scratch. This results in the victim returning as a zombie, much to the horror of the zombie infectee.
  • Zombies are slow-moving, lumbering, and stupid. Give them a door knob and they will be forever confused.
  • It is generally the case that a single zombie is not a tremendous threat. The threat of zombies generally stems from the fact that they tend to turn up in mobs. This trope is largely symbolic in nature.
  • Zombies can be killed only by destroying their brains, though rendering them immobile is usually taken to be just as good.
  • Zombies are compelled to eat the flesh of the living.
The "Russo Rules" are similar, but include several specific differences:
  • Zombiism is a virus. Zombiism results only from being bitten by another zombie, though event zero created the first zombie that starts off the chain reaction.
  • A zombie bite results in zombification, though the transition is slow, with the victim becoming progressively more zombie-like. Zombies generally become stupider and less human over time.
  • Zombies are stronger than humans, which is a bit strange given that there bodies are decomposing.
  • Zombies are specifically compelled to eat the brains of living humans. Zombies still possessing the power of speech may begin talking rather obsessively about smelling brains, before their minds deteriorate and leave them saying only, "Brains..." They say "brains" because Russo zombies find being dead very painful, and eating brains is the only thing that eases that perpetual agony. Once they've sated themselves, they can apparently talk and think normally in the interval before the hunger returns.

Of course, zombie flicks have progressed since 1968 so nowadays they are both more dangerous and less attached to the basic zombie concepts and rules. 28 Days Later, for instance, replaces the living dead with abnormally aggressive humans. Regardless of the changes, the basic points of all zombie films are essentially the same: it is never about the zombies as much as it is about the humans trying to deal with the zombie apocalypse. Speaking of which, if you would like to get prepared for the eventual apocalyptic event, check out this zombie survival wiki.

Zombie apocalypse stories usually fall into one of two categories of political allegory. Some zombie films are really a political statement against capitalism and consumerism, with zombies representing the bulk of humanity as unthinking sheep (example: Romero's Dawn of the Dead). On the other hand, zombie horror advocates hardcore individualism and libertarianism, with added emphasis on the heroic "well-prepared" survivalist, and death to anyone who dares show compassion for others or cares about anything other than their own personal survival. Zombies also seem to fit the aliens-as-communists archetype, while the military is never anything but an obstacle at best, and often is directly responsible for the ensuing mayhem.

On to the show that aired on 18 September, and was largely about the music with fair amounts of Goblin and Zombi against firsts such as The Flaming Lips. Before you check out the playlist, remember to visit Television Tropes & Idioms, a grand website that inspired most of what's written here.

>>> Download playlist, Barb!

October 23, 2009

Sycamore Trees

For me, this scene is the most beautiful TV moment ever and the essence of Twin Peaks. Written by Angelo Badalamenti with lyrics by David Lynch and sung by Jimmy Scott, the track "Sycamore Trees" is the definition of nameless melancholia, which on the other hand, is my definition for late October through the entire November. Of course, melancholia is rarely the topic of good horror stories but in real life, it can be much more devastating and, ultimately, beautiful.

Note: The lyrics to "Sycamore Trees" are actually from David Lynch's dream project called "Ronny Rocket", a script he wrote after Eraserhead. Here is the script text:

I got idea, man... you take me for a walk (she moves closer to the guy) under the sycamore trees (closer) the dark trees that blow, baby. In the dark trees I'll see you and you'll see me...I 'll see you in the branches that blow in the breeze... I'll see you under the trees.

October 20, 2009

The House of the Devil

People have been talking about The House of the Devil ever since the first poster for the film hit the internet. As the visuals suggest, the flick is a throwback to the satanic themed films of the late 70's and early 80's, and according to some viewers it pulls off the look and feel so well it could easily be mistaken for a long-lost feature. That said, reviews so far are mixed with a lot of venom beeing thrown around for good measure. Still, no one argues the brilliant poster art involved in the promotional campaign, so I figure, why not put it on here. Yeah, why not?

Heads Will Roll!

Halloween is usually reserved for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video what with the dancing zombies and Vincent Price's spooky monologue. Not so this year. If there is any justice in this world, the video for "Heads Will Roll" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs should see some serious rotation on TV and YouTube playlists. After all, it does contain a dancing werewolf that goes on killing rampage, confetti-as-blood special effects, and a solid tribute to the self-proclaimed King of Pop (note: the video was made while He was still among us). Enjoy the video below. My favorite part: Karen O singing with her head cut loose.

October 19, 2009

The Descent 2 Japanese Poster

I find Japanese posters to be a hoot no matter what they actually do with the material. Maybe it's the combination of fonts and languages, maybe it's that they always capture a sense of melancholia whatever the horror in question is. This one sheet for The Descent: Part 2 pushes all the right buttons, and as sceptic as I generally am about money-driven sequels, I definitely want to see it now. You want to compare the poster above with the original Western version? Well now, simply look below :)

October 18, 2009

Halloween Safety Educational Film

A must watch! Narrated by Jack O'Lantern, this should be the starter of any Halloween viewing experience. Starting from the opening shot of flying masks, this 14-minute safety film is way more atmospheric than most of today's high-budget horror snooze-fests. Again, watch it or bear the consequences!

Heavy Metal Band Names: The Chart

Oldie but goodie. Here's the proof of what I've been saying every day since my elementary school buddies first formed a metal band: stick to the scheme and there's no way you'll miss the mark. Also: having a skull as part of your logo is always a plus. Click to enlarge!

October 13, 2009

Vampires in Macedonian Folklore

Aside from the corny pic above - it was either that or Tom Cruise against the map of the Balkans - this is a curious find. What we have here is an entire book of Macedonian folk tales about vampires collected and printed back in 1988. "Why is it so interesting?" you ask. Well: a) Folk tale collections in Macedonia are rather rare due to various failings of the collective subconscious, so to have one devoted entirely to such an obscure subject is unusual to say the least; and b) It seems that in Macedonian folklore, vampires are annoying pests who could strangle a chicken at best and serve as nothing more than a punching bag at worst. Honestly, the first time I read this thing I felt the Earth move! Plus, it's funny as hell, megatons better than Woody Allen's funniest Dracula rendering... if you understand Macedonian, that is. If you don't, then the next time you have a problem with a vampire you know who to call: an old Macedonian lady can obliterate a vampire on any given day! In any case, here's the download.

October 12, 2009

Paranormal Activity

Not only did it break limited-release records in the States last weekend, Paranormal Activity is now poised to take over the U.S. this Halloween, as Paramount rolls the film into wide release. The company wanted 1 million signatures at its official website, a number which was met on October 9th amid word-of-mouth buzz similar to the one following The Blair Witch Project ten years ago. In case you’ve somehow missed the synopsis, here it is again:

After a young, middle class couple (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) move into what seems like a typical suburban “starter” tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to.

Should I stress that I'm really happy the audiences pulled for the film so hard? This would have never happened before Web 2.0.

Vertigo - Psycho - The Birds Posters

I don't have much to say here: Alfred Hitchcock's work has always inspired artists, and it seems to have worked particularly well for Polish and Czech poster art designers. My favorite, however, remains to be Hitchcock's own "Psycho from the very beginning" concept.