Friday, December 24, 2010

How to tell if you're a tool: the Christmas edition

There's being a tool any other regular day of the week, but there's being a Christmas tool too. How does one tell whether or not they are a Christmas tool or not? Well folks, just take a look at the list below to get an idea about just what makes one a Christmas tool, and if you are...well, maybe it's time to switch religions...or just not give a shit. Your call either way, but now let's get on to the list...

You're a Christmas tool if:

Your electric bill jumps significantly by the time you've set up all your lights all over your house.

If you spend more than an hour decorating.

If you have a pet and you get them a Christmas-themed outfit (or any outfit for that matter) for them to wear. All the poor animal is thinking the whole time is "oh God get this shit off me, this is embarassing for both of us".

If you actually get up at 3 or 4 morning to go out shopping on Black Friday. You people drive me nuts.

If you dress up as Santa and tell chicks to sit on your lap or if they want a candy cane ('cause I would never do something like that, nope, not at all).

If you watch "It's a Wonderful Life" every year. People who've never seen this movie know it by heart, that's how ingrained it is to our culture...and try telling that guy who works at McDonalds making minimum wage for his family how wonderful of a life it is.

If you're that asshole who is all over the place at a Christmas party holding missletoe. No one wants to kiss you.

If you've ever made yourself a missletoe belt-buckle (guilty).

If you go get a tree the night before Christmas.

If you're at the strip club on Christmas eve. Take a night off, seriously.

If you post the lyrics to "12 Days of Christmas" day by day on Facebook, AKA your name is Seth Szajek.

If you really think Christmas is more important than any other holiday in any other religion. Regardless of the origins behind Christmas, it has been degraded into nothing more than a commercial, Hallmark holiday that represents the capitalist ideals of our country to the max. If you really think there's any more to it than that, go fuck yourself. Jesus never wanted an XBox...maybe.

That's all folks. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and all that other happy horseshit.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Evil

The holidays can be horrific. Getting together with family and friends, some of which you may not have seen in quite some time on purpose or other, exchanging ill-thought required gifts and putting on phony smiles while greeting each other with fake hellos. Yes sir, the holidays can be quite brutal…especially with all this careless good cheer flowing around.

Anyway, those of us who may for whatever reasons wind up spending the holidays alone may find something better to do with their time…like watching a few Christmas-themed horror flicks. Yes, they do exist, and yes, some are glorious, and some are absolute trash. Whichever category the four I’m going to mention here fall into, keep in mind that the holidays themselves are really all about having fun, and these flicks listed below are the absolute definition of the term:

Director: Bob Clark
Starring: Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

Garnering an unbelievably shitty remake in 2006, the original and best “Black Christmas” is directed by none other than the late, great Bob Clark, who would craft a holiday classic almost a decade later with “A Christmas Story”. Instead of a heartwarming and thoughtful tale like that film would be, “Black Christmas” revolves around a small group of girls in a sorority house that are terrorized and picked off by a homicidal stranger. Pre-dating John Carpenter’s classic “Halloween” by a few years, the slasher genre owes almost as much to this film as it does to Carpenter’s. And oh yeah, even after almost 40 years since its release, the original “Black Christmas” still manages to shock and deliver.

Director: David Steiman
Starring: Bill Goldberg, Emilie de Ravin, Robert Culp

Did you know that Santa Claus is actually a demon who lost a bet with an angel centuries ago and thus ended up becoming a giver of toys and happiness? Me neither, but if there was ever a premise for a Christmas-themed horror movie to grab my attention, it was this. “Santa’s Slay” stars former pro wrestler Bill Goldberg as Santa, who has now gone back to his evil ways and is wrecking bloody havoc. A glorified B-movie if there ever was one, “Santa’s Slay” is gleefully bad and revels in itself for being so. This is made even better thanks to the off-the-wall, tongue-in-cheek humor, and it makes no apologies for what it is either.

Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Starring: Lilyan Chauvin, Robert Brian Wilson, Linnea Quigley

When originally released, “Silent Night, Deadly Night” stirred up so much controversy from angry parents over its depiction of an axe-murdering loony in a Santa outfit, that all it did was help it become a slasher cult classic in the process. Another gleefully bad take on holiday horror, the film revolves around a young man who as a child witnessed the murder of his parents by a guy in a Santa outfit. This experience, plus spending the rest of his youth having his mind messed with in an orphanage overseen by a horrid Mother Superior, makes him flip his shit when he’s forced to dress up as Santa at the local toy store he works at. Subsequently going on a bloody murder spree through town, he makes his way back to the orphanage as an ultimate judge of who’s being naughty (i.e., if he catches you getting laid, expect an axe through your head). So bad it’s good, and it spawned a surprising shit-ton of unbelievably horrible sequels throughout the years too.

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller

I have to include this, I just have to. Though it isn’t of the same ilk as the rest of the bloody, holiday schlock mentioned above, “Gremlins” is the pure definition of holiday horror regardless. You all know the story so I won’t bore you with re-telling it, but when I first saw this as a kid, it scared the holy living shit out of me. Gizmo is super cute for sure, but his evil offspring sure as fuck aren’t! The film is packed with so many surprisingly scary sights for a PG-rated film, and that is one of the many reasons why it is still so goddamned revered to this day as a holiday horror classic. I could watch this, and it’s even more fun sequel (which isn’t Christmas themed but who gives a shit, it’s still awesome) all fucking day long.

If you’ve never seen any of these flicks (and if you’ve never seen “Gremlins” you should crawl out from underneath the rock you’ve been living under) and you want to have some bloody, scary fun, check them all out…you’ll be happy that you did.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thor Trailer: First Impressions

I'm nerding out again, but I don't know if it's in a fit of pleasure or rage yet.

Marvel's film studio is churning out another superhero would-be epic, this time with "Thor", slated for May 2011. One of Marvel's oldest and most celebrated characters, seeing Thor get a big-screen, big-budget treatment merits almost as much surprise to me as seeing my beloved Green Lantern get the same with DC's "Green Lantern" flick slated to hit only a couple months afterward.

After this past summer's New York Comic-Con, some footage from "Thor" leaked online (and was quickly removed), of which it has been condensced here in the first official trailer for the upcoming blockbuster. Chris Hemsworth, best known for playing Captain Kirk's ill-fated father in 2009's "Star Trek" reboot, is playing the title character, the Norse God of thunder. As the trailer shows, he has his patented long blonde hair, mystic hammer, and what even seems like a great take on his costume as well.

But the one thing I can't quite get over is that this guy is playing Thor. When I picture Thor, I picture a big, hulking individual. I mean Christ on a bike, he's the fucking Thunder God!!! Pro wrestler Triple H always seemed like the flesh & blood version of Thor (tell me he doesn't), but I understand getting an actual "actor" for the role. That being said, when I look at Hemsworth, no matter how 'roided up he looks, I just don't quite see Thor. Thor should be a tall, imposing individual. Any fan of HBO's vampire schlock-fest "True Blood" knows that fan-favorite Alexander Skarsgard auditioned for the role, and was even heralded by fanboys the world-over to get the part, but Marvel went with Hemsworth instead. Maybe they have the right idea, but who knows. I said the same thing about Ryan Reynolds when he was announced to play Hal Jordan in the "Green Lantern" movie, and the jury's still out in both cases.

Then again, like I said before, back when it was announced that Heath Ledger would play the Joker in "The Dark Knight", I laughed. We all know how that turned out now don't we?

Anyway, the visions of Asgard look spectacular, Anthony Hopkins looks like a quasi-mix of badass and corny (I can't explain it, you just have to see and hear him for yourself) as Odin, and the reality that this is just another brick on the road to the geek-gasm inducing "Avengers" movie in 2012, where Thor will unite with Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and more besides are all reason enough to be looking forward to "Thor".

Then again, I also looked forward to seeing "V For Vendetta" getting the big-screen treatment, and well...I'd rather not talk about how that turned out. And Natalie Portman was in that, and she's here playing Thor's human love interest Jane Foster...guess no word of mouth about her "getting shaved" will bring out any non-geeky, meat-head attendees this time around eh?

"Russian like mighty Thor. Has big hammer, seems like good communist" - The Russian from Garth Ennis' "The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank".

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Walking Dead: Season Review & Retrospect

WARNING: Spoilers are ahead, for both the first season of "The Walking Dead", as well as the comic from which it is based, as I attempt to predict what happens next.

The dead will rise...

...and boy how they have!

The first season of AMC's "The Walking Dead" has wrapped up, albeit it didn't take long considering that this season only consisted of six episodes. Nevertheless, for the course of this six-episode season, executive producer Frank Darabont and comic series creator Robert Kirkman have managed to craft a great adaptation of Kirkman's beloved comic series. After last night's finale however, just how faithful the show will be to the source material will remain to be seen...maybe.

Within the first six issues of the comic, Rick managed to re-unite with his family, and his old police partner Shane, along with other survivors like Andrea and Dale. While the show has retained these elements, the one thing that it hasn't done (at least not yet) is present the struggle and fatal blow-up between Rick and Shane. The first storyarc of the comic concluded with Rick's young son Carl killing Shane in defense of his father, who had gone a little looney over his affair with Rick's wife Lori coming to an abrupt end. While the show seems to be headed in that direction, I had almost figured that Shane would be wormfood by the finale, but he managed to escape the CDC with Rick and company before it erupted in flames.

On that subject, the fact that the crew went to the CDC is something that was NEVER in the comic. Kirkman himself stated that he had no idea the CDC was even based in Atlanta, even though a majority of the series takes place in Georgia and surrounding areas. Still, it was an interesting twist on the series thus far, which leads me to my next question to ponder: just what did Jenner whisper to Rick before everyone made a run for it?

My thoughts on what Jenner whispered to Rick is plain and simple, and will bring up the first major plot point of the show thus far: Lori is pregnant. In the comic, Lori revealed her pregnancy not long after Shane died, but the question abounded as to whether or not the baby was Rick's or Shane's. Considering that Jenner took blood tests from everyone upon entering the CDC, and his somewhat strage reply to Rick when he asked Jenner about the results, he more than likely told her that she's expecting. Another theory may be that Jenner saw Shane's drunken attempted assault on Lori. The building was wired and monitored, and maybe Jenner saw and/or heard the discussion between the two. Either way, I'll be wracking my head about it until next season.

Another plot point that I'm dying to see resolved is just what happened to Merle? We know he lopped off his own hand and made a run out of Atlanta, but after that is anyone's guess. There has been a lot of internet chatter that Merle is going to become the Governor. Anyone who has read the comic knows the kind of impact that the Governor had on Rick and company, and considering he's missing a hand, maybe his revenge on Rick will be lopping off his hand too, especially considering that Rick does horribly lose his hand in the comic.

The Governor, as well as the crew's time living in the shelter of the prison they discover, are two absolutely major story elements that really made the comic so incredible and unlike any other zombie/horror comic to hit the market before or since. Some of the other differences between the comic and the show include new characters like Merle and his brother Darrel, Andrea not being anywhere near as strong-willed on the show as she was in the comic (in the comic she killed her sister Amy before she ever came close to turning), and Shane comes off as way more sympathetic here than he ever did in the comic either. I know that Frank Darabont wants to make things more dramatic for the sake of TV, but if the prison AND Governor points are never touched upon, my interest in the show will seriously wane.

All that aside, this first season of "The Walking Dead" has been surprisingly impressive, and here's hoping that the best is yet to come...

...otherwise I'm going to be fucking pissed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Trapped in Uwe Boll land

Why do I do this to myself?

Whenever I'm stricken with cases of boredom, I find myself browsing through the massive amount of shitty horror flicks that are offered by Netflix for instant streaming. Flicks that are so shitty, no one should ever see them? Ever hear of a little turd called "The Video Dead"? Or "Tales from the Crapper" (never a more fitting title in all of filmdom)? Of course you haven't, because you have the common sense not to be bothered with such filth. I on the other hand do not, and that is where this guy comes in...

...this guy named Uwe Boll.

Now fans of the horror genre and/or video games know right away who Uwe Boll is. He made a name for himself directing film adaptations of horror and/or shooter video games like "House of the Dead", "Alone in the Dark", "Blood Rayne", "Far Cry", and more besides; all of which (save for one, being the politically biting "Postal", which I find to be a guilty pleasure) are the definition of the term abysmal.

Recently though, Boll has been churning out a new breed of film other than abysmal video game adaptations: the ultra-violent, somehow socially relevant type of film if you will. Films like "Tunnel Rats", "Stoic", "Rampage", "Seed", and most recently "Attack on Darfur"; which presents an ultra-graphic and ultra-chilling portrait of the genocide that has been perpetrated there.

In between the abysmal video game takes and the somewhat socially conscious shockers, Boll has made one film that is downright ridiculous, 2007's "Postal". Based on an unbelievably shitty first person shooter that was more known for its shock value, "Postal" found Boll breaking all kinds of decency rules, whether it meant poking fun at 9/11 terrorists, George Bush (frolicking through a field with Osama Bin Laden), and even himself as he playfully talks of "funding his films with Nazi gold", which many (myself included) have accused him of for years now.

On the horizon, Boll has a slew of films on the way, including a third "Blood Rayne" movie, a superhero spoof called "Bluberella", and another ultra-graphic shocker called "Auschwitz", in which footage put on YouTube was found to be even a little too much for this old gorehound.

What's the point of all this you may ask? Who gives a shit about Uwe Boll? Well, thanks to the Netflix instant streaming I mentioned earlier, I don't have much choice, considering that a good chunk of his films are available to watch (some of which without even being released on DVD yet), and the fact that quite frankly, I never know what to expect from Boll.

A while back Boll made an infamous rant defending himself against his critics, claiming that his films weren't the same kind of boring shit to come from the Michael Bay's and Spielberg's of the world. Ain't that the truth.

Say what you will about him, and I have before myself (I always said that I thought his intention was to out-wood Ed Wood), but the one thing I can say in his defence is that no matter what kind of film he ends up crafting, they are most certainly never boring.

So if you have Netflix and want to watch something different for a change (I can't promise whether or not it'll be your cup of tea or not), I dare you to take a walk down Boll lane...

...whether or not you come back is another story entirely.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Green Lantern Trailer: First Impressions

As a life-long comic book geek who has always had a soft spot for Green Lantern, seeing an epic, big-budget move adaptation is something that I thought I would never, ever see happen. Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro) and also featuring touches from long-running comic writer Geoff Johns (who practically single-handedly re-established the Green Lantern's place and mythos in the DC universe), this Green Lantern movie appears to have so much going for it...

...on paper at least.

First off, and this is pretty much just me having an epic nerd moment here, but Ryan Reynolds? Seriously? I understand that people love him and he has the steroid/superhero physique, but really? He's playing Hal Jordan, the test pilot who is chosen to be the first human Green Lantern, a job and title that for all intents and purposes is pretty much a space-cop. The Hal Jordan portrayed in the comics for years is one who is a flat-out womanizer and overall badass with absolutely no fear. When I see Ryan Reynolds, I just don't see those qualities. Instead, I see a smirking, one-liner cracking actor that just doesn't come off as being an ultimate kind of badass.

But hey, back in 2007 I thought casting Heath Ledger as the Joker was a bad call, so what do I know really in terms of casting?

Anyway, the rest of the trailer offers quick glimpses at Hal's love interest Carol Ferris played by some chick named Blake Lively, who just comes off as being too young comapred to Reynolds, and in all honesty sounds like she's reading her lines off a cue card. There are also very quick glimpses of the villains Hal will be taking on, including arch-nemesis Sinestro (Mark Strong, aka the mob dude from "Kick-Ass") and the mutating Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) as well as what I think is Hal's alien ally Kilowog. I'd be lying if I said that these aspects of the film didn't look the least bit promising.

One last thing to mention though: the costume. Now I understand the notion that Hal's costume is powered by the ring, and instead of giving Ryan Reynolds the traditional superhero ready-to-wear costume/suit, motion capture CGI is used instead. In some instances in the trailer, it looks kind of cool, but in others (such as Hal powering up in front of his pal) it looks ridiculously fake and lame.

All I know is that come June 17th 2011, there will be a Green Lantern movie, and we'll all know whether or not it's good, or if it's pure shit...and in the long run we'll know if DC-related films can rival what Marvel has done with their films and properties over the past couple years.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How to tell if you're a tool: the Facebook edition

A while back I listed all the things that can possibly make one a tool in their everyday life. Since then I've noticed a number of things on Facebook that have led me to believe that one's actions on the immensely popular social networking site can make one a tool as well...a Facebook tool of you will.

After all the feedback (and subsequent friend deletions, my heart weeps like an oozing herpe sore) I received the last time around, I'm dying to find out what I can this time around.

Just remember one thing, if you fall under a couple or so of what I'm listing here, you're not necessarily a tool, you just have tool tendencies (I'm guilty as well). And oh yeah, try not to take it too seriously, 'cause if you do, you're just as massive a tool as a tool could possibly be.

And now...suck it folks!


You're a Facebook tool if:

You like your own statuses

You detail that you're out for the night and say "text it!"

You finish a status with "ftw" or "for the win". Clearly, there are no apparent winners anywhere in sight except all your Facebook friends who laugh at you when you do this.

If you're relationship status is "It's Complicated", which really translates to being, "my occasional fuck buddy has other fuck buddies".

If you're a chick and your relationship status is "in an open relationship". This is just a classier way of saying "I'm a whore, pay attention to me, I may fuck you".

If you're a guy and your relationship status is "in an open relationship". You're a douche, she's a slut; must work out great!

If your status is "In a relationship", but for some reason it states that you're "interested in dating and/or a relationship".

If your profile picture is you flexing. We get it, you work out, stop being a show-off, there's a weight bench that hasn't had the chance to be bathed in your stanky sweat yet.

If you post videos of yourself doing "Jackass" style shit and actually think that it's funny (guilty).

If you have a shit ton of people listed as your siblings when they clearly aren't (slightly guilty).

If every single status of yours is song lyrics.

If you have over 1,000 friends. Really?

If your need to post your political opinions goes from opinion to downright idiocy (can be difficult to tell one from the other at times).

If you keep talking about how awesome your iPhone is.

If you say "Go Eagles". The correct term I believe is, "fuck the Eagles!". I could be wrong, but I'm probably not.

If you have no children of your own, but repeatedly post pictures of yourself posing with a child (relative or friend's kid). Clearly you don't have a child of your own for a reason, and the rest of the world is thankful for that.

That's it for now folks! I understand that I may have come off as being a little mean here, but please don't take it that way. Or totally take it that way if you want to, I'll be sure to be around to hear any feedback...fuckers.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


It doesn't seem like it was all that long ago that Robert Kirkman shocked and thrilled the comic book industry with the biggest hit comic to come from Image Comics since "Spawn" in the early 90s.

I'm talking about "The Walking Dead". The zombie apocalypse comic that never ends...and what has become the basis for the new show that premiered to staggering ratings Halloween night on AMC.

Developed for television by Kirkman and Frank Darabont (who brought Stephen King tales "The Shawshank Redemption", "The Green Mile", and "The Mist" to the screen) among others, "The Walking Dead" is by and far the most chilling horror show to hit the airwaves in quite some time.

That being said, I don't want to sound like all I'm doing here is advertising the show. It isn't without its flaws, as some die hard fans of the comic (myself included) have noted that these zombies aren't quite the dumb walkers that we'd have expected. They've been made all the more terrifying for TV purposes (at least they're not running a la the "Dawn of the Dead" remake) and it works well for now...but with only two episodes in to a six episode first season, the anticipation for the next episode is killing me, even though I've been an avid reader of the comic and already know what's going to happen next pretty much.

If you haven't seen "The Walking Dead" yet, you are doing yourself a great disservice. The pilot episode is free to watch on various websites (albeit it is edited and toned down from what premiered on AMC) so there's no excuse why you're not watching it right this goddamned second.

...and I just heard through the grapevine: the show's been renewed for another season with 13 episodes.

Yes I just came in my pants.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cannibal Holocaust: The Myth, The Legend, The Dog Turd...

During this lovely October month, after compiling lists of my favorite underrated and essential horror films alike, I noticed that some feedback I had gotten involved a nasty little exploitation film that is the absolute definition of a "cult" film, just because of all the controversy it has garnered from the day it was filmed.

The film I'm talking about is "Cannibal Holocaust".

I was a teenager when I first about this film, which was first brought to my attention by Pantera and Down vocalist Phil Anselmo who frequently referenced it on Pantera's DVD as well as some lyrics when he was with Viking Crown. I became interested and immediately scoured the internet, which in 2000 wasn't nearly as massive and information filled as it is today, and managed to find some information out about it that really drew my interest...

Banned in 50 countries

So controversial that its director was sent to prison

The most violent and disgusting horror film ever conceived

And so on and so forth. My interest was quite peaked, and only a couple years later did I finally manage to track down an uncut VHS tape of the 1980 film that I had to have imported over here. And like that, I watched it...and the end results weren't pretty. When I say that however, I'm talking about the film itself...looking back on it now, it's dreadfully overrated.

Storyline wise, the plot revolves around an American anthropologist who travels to the South American jungle after a documentary film crew had disappeared. He recovers a reel of their footage, and soon learns the truth that this crew terrorized, tortured, raped, and murdered the cannibal natives in an effort to stage and sensationalize their documentary film...but never got the chance to because they all get what they deserve.

For starters, the reason that it has been banned in so many countries (many of which have lifted said ban) is not because of its violent content, but for the fact that it actually contains footage of animal cruelty and animal killing. A turtle, monkey, snake, and more so are all slaughtered before the camera, only because director Ruggero Deodato and his film crew were so deep in the amazon jungle without restrictions that he felt he could do just about anything he wanted. Deodato had desired to direct a cannibal film that satired the lengths the media goes to in presenting violent content to its audience, and wound up helping create the legend that goes along with his ultra-violent vision.

Upon the film's first cut and viewing, Deodato found himself arrested and charged with making a snuff movie. The deaths that take place in "Cannibal Holocaust" were so realistic that people thought Deodato actually had these people murdered. That in itself only adds to the "I have to see this for myself" factor of this film. In the end, Deodato would be cleared after presenting all of the actors as still alive, and even staged some effects shots and stunts to prove that it was all in fact fake.

With all that being said, on to the film itself. For the most part, after getting through Deodato's somewhat heavyhanded (though he denies it) approach to pointing the finger at the media, he doesn't make things easy to watch. The film is brutal and unforgiving in its content of murder, cannibalism, rape, and overall just plain cruelty. Even now at 26 and as cynical a gorehound as I've become, I have a hard time watching this thing all the way through. It isn't so much the gore that gets to me, it's just the nihlistic and cruel tone. It's practically pure sadism, which is the one thing I detest about all the torture horror flicks of today like the "Saw" series, and as much as I love horror and gore and all that nasty stuff, sadism just isn't my thing. Plus the acting and dubbing are occasionally atrocious, and Deodato's film technique is just...well...not very talented. Plus, seeing animals get slaughtered? Never more thankful for a fast-forward button in all my life. Needless to say, "Cannibal Holocaust" isn't just a horror film you can have fun with a couple beers to, but it does have its own philosophy to it, which is much more than nearly any horror film around today can offer.

Though "Cannibal Holocaust" may not have the household name of many other films of its ilk despite its somewhat nigh-legendary status, its effect on horror films today can still be seen. The whole handheld camera-POV-style of horror made popular by "The Blair Witch Project"? Thank "Cannibal Holocaust" for that. Without it, we wouldn't have "Blair Witch", or "Cloverfield", or "Diary of the Dead", or even my beloved "The Last Broadcast". This was the movie that set the stage for all of that and more, including all the generic torture flicks that are all the rage today as well.

So with October coming to a close, I fucking dare you to watch "Cannibal Holocaust" if you can get your mitts on it. A couple years back it finally made its way to uncut DVD form, and can still be found online. Watch it if you dare...

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Movies: The Essentials

In the wake of compiling all 50 of the Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen, and with Halloween fast approaching, one may wonder just what are the essential horror movies to watch on the nights leading up to the best holiday in all of existence. Well here is a small collection of ten flicks (in no particular order I might add) that are absolutely essential for Halloween viewing, whether it’s to prepare you for Halloween night, or to watch on Halloween night. Either way, you’re welcome:

Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, PJ Soles

You knew this was going to be on here. John Carpenter’s legendary slasher masterpiece is THE film to watch for Halloween, as it not only spawned a whole series of lesser sequels and shitty remakes, but practically created the slasher genre as a whole. To this day “Halloween” is perfect, and in no other sequel to follow has Michael Myers ever been as frightening as he is in this first film. Though light on the gore and explicit on-screen violence, “Halloween” still manages to send chills to the bone, and that my friends is what has helped make this film so timeless and enjoyable.

Director: George Romero
Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman

You knew this was going to be on here too. George Romero’s legendary black & white shocker was made all the more timeless thanks to its subtle yet cutting social commentary, which this film is as memorable for as it is for introducing viewers to the flesh-eating zombies that trap and terrify a handful of survivors in a Pittsburgh farmhouse. Though Romero’s follow up “Dawn of the Dead” is a better film in my opinion, “Night of the Living Dead” is definitely the more scarier of the two, and to this day that little zombie girl still freaks me out. What’s also worth noting here is that this film actually received a GOOD REMAKE in the early 90s, helmed by Romero’s longtime makeup effects partner Tom Savini.

Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp

The first, original, and best of all the “Elm Street” flicks, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was a massive hit when first released, launched the career of Johnny Depp, took indie studio New Line Cinema to massive heights, and took director Wes Craven to a more sophisticated level of creativity. Most importantly however, was that it also introduced us to Freddy Kruger, the evil child murderer who takes his revenge on those who killed him by stalking and slaughtering their children in their dreams. Featuring groundbreaking camerawork and makeup effects, the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” still scares to this day, and remains one of Craven’s absolute best efforts to date.

Director: Clive Barker
Starring: Andrew Robinson, Claire Higgins, Ashley Laurence

Adapting his own novella “The Hellbound Heart”, Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” usually gets the label of being a slasher, though it is anything but. When the wicked Frank attempts to open the Lamont Configuration Puzzle Box, he unleashes a trio of sado-masochistic demons that promptly rip him apart. However, he begins to slowly come back to life when his half-brother and family move into his home after his alleged disappearance, leading up to a brutal showdown. Demented and oh so graphic, the original “Hellraiser” spawned a ton of lame sequels, and also introduced us to the iconic villain Pinhead, who appears here for two whole scenes (and isn’t even referred to as Pinhead in the credits). No matter what reputation “Hellraiser” may have, consider it essential viewing.

Director: John Landis
Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne

Quite possibly the best werewolf movie in existence, “An American Werewolf in London” is so perfect that no other werewolf film to come out after it (save for maybe the original “Howling”) can even come close to touching it. Featuring revolutionary effects work from Rick Baker, “An American Werewolf in London” has it all: pitch black gallows humor, a surprise ending, and so many shock moments that you won’t believe what you’re seeing. It may not have aged all that well, but this is one horror film that I myself will watch any time.

THE THING (1982)
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley

One of the few times a remake is better than the original, John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is an underrated horror classic. Opening the same weekend as “E.T.” (and subsequently bombing), Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing From Another World” is a downbeat and nihilistic tale of an arctic expedition team who discovers the existence of a terrifying alien life-form that can mimic and imitate anything it assimilates. One part cat & mouse game, one part guess who the alien is, John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is a cult classic for sure, and features some of the most graphic (and gross) revolutionary effects work in horror history. And speaking of aliens…

ALIEN (1979)
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt

Ridley Scott’s terrifying and claustrophobic space opus that launched a huge sci-fi/horror franchise and introduced us to one of the most badass female characters in all of film history, the original “Alien” is a masterpiece of “what’s hiding around the corner?” terror. It’s that anticipation of seeing the murderous alien creature, followed by bloody payoff, which still makes “Alien” so goddamned good to this day.

Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Max Von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

An Oscar winning horror favorite, the original “The Exorcist” remains possibly THE most frightening film ever conceived. No matter what one’s opinion on horror movies is in general, they’ve seen “The Exorcist” regardless, it’s just that universal. I myself can’t even say anything about this film that hasn’t been said plenty of other times before me, and will be said plenty of times long after I’ve left this mortal coil. “Your mother sucks cocks in hell”…brilliant.

FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon

Though it isn’t a great movie per se, the original “Friday the 13th” is essential Halloween viewing regardless. A slasher that rips off John Carpenter’s “Halloween” as well as truly introduced us to the notion that if you smoke weed or have sex, you are guaranteed to die in a horrible and painful way. The film also introduces us to Jason Voorhees, though it’s before he dons the iconic hockey mask or even kills anyone. Oh yeah, this is worth seeing just to see a then unknown Kevin Bacon die one of the most creative and iconic ways in slasher movie history.

Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Gunnar Hansen

Incorrectly remembered as being a gorefest (usually by people who’ve never seen it), the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a documentary-ish look at an insane cannibal family that is for all intents and purposes relatively bloodless. Most of the violence that occurs in the film is implied, which shockingly makes it all the more frightening. That, and lead actress Marilyn Burns has one of the most piercing screams in all of horror history, which in itself makes this film hard to watch to this day. Still though, the original and best film in the whole damn series.

Well there we are folks, ten films to scare the shit out of you for Halloween if (for some reason) you've never seen them before. And if you have, watch them again to help celebrate Halloween in style...

...or I'll swallow your soul!

What do you think I should have included and/ or omitted? Discuss!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen: Conclusion

Here we are folks with the final installment of The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen. These are the final ten films that I actually had a somewhat difficult time organizing into what you see below, the top one of which some may have a difficult time wondering why it was placed so high. Granted that none of these films are without flaws, but as I stated before, these are the horror films that get swept under the rug and deserve your time and attention. So strap yourselves in bitches, it's a celebration.

10. MAY (2002)
Director: Lucky McKee
Starring: Angela Bettis, Anna Faris, Jeremy Sisto

A somewhat slow-moving psychological horror/drama in which a lonely young woman with a traumatic childhood and past makes some desperate and awkward attempts to connect with people, whether it be her lesbian co-worker who more and more aggressively makes passes at her, or the handsome stranger who has caught her eye. “May” is a strange hybrid of a horror film that details the title character’s gradual descent into madness, but instead of painting a picture of a psychotic person, “May” instead presents a sympathetic take. Combined with a quite creepy, yet strangely touching, conclusion, “May” is something that stands out on its own, and is all the more unique for it.

9. [REC] (2007)
Director: Juame Balaguero/Paco Plaza
Starring: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Carlos Vicente

Remade over here as “Quarantine”, “[REC]” is a Spanish handheld camera-horror thriller that was a hit overseas (and spawned a recent sequel). A TV reporter and her cameraman become unknowing victims while covering the overnight shift at a local firehouse when the place receives a call about an old woman trapped in her apartment building. Upon their arrival, they discover that something is very, very wrong, and everyone soon becomes trapped in the building when quarantine is issued. If you’ve seen “Quarantine”, seeing “[REC]” won’t really do much for you in terms of showing you things you haven’t seen before, considering “Quarantine” was nearly a shot-for-shot Americanized remake. Still, “[REC]” is scarier and more suspenseful (and let’s face it, just better filmed with much better talent involved) that the remake could have ever hoped to have been. With that being said, check this out if you’ve never seen “Quarantine”.

8. PHANTASM (1979)
Director: Don Coscarelli
Starring: Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Michael Baldwin

The “Phantasm” series has always been a unique horror series, just for the fact that it is so existential in its storytelling in between all the scenes of bloodletting and shock-scares. The first film is an underrated classic, in which two brothers discover that the local funeral director (dubbed “The Tall Man”) is hardly anything what he seems to be. This leads them and their ice cream truck driving friend to discover some horrible secrets, and a fate worse than death. Writer/director/creator Don Coscarelli has always been short on explanation when it comes to what’s really going on in the “Phantasm” films (all four of them), but the fact that he leaves so much open to interpretation is something that I myself have always admired about the series. And oh yeah, “Phantasm” has balls…literally.

7. TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox

Produced by Bryan Singer and directed by his “X-Men 2” and “Superman Returns” partner Michael Dougherty, “Trick ‘r Treat” is a gleefully fun, “Tales From the Crypt” style horror anthology. All the stories featured here happen one Halloween night in a small town that takes the holiday very, very seriously. Among them are a school principal whose extracurricular activities include instilling the true traditions of Halloween in the kids of the local neighborhood…with bloody results. Also featured are a few kids looking to play a prank and end up getting more than they bargained for, a virgin girl searching for that special someone (and this segment features the absolute best twist…well, maybe ever), and a mean old man with a dark secret who finds himself in for one hell of a night. Originally slated for theatrical release in 2007 and instead pulled from Warner Bros.’ release schedule, only to sit on the shelf for two years before finally getting released straight to DVD last year, “Trick ‘r Treat” is such a blast that you will not regret checking it out, I guarantee it.

6. VERSUS (2000)
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka

In modern-day Japan, an escaped convict, a mysterious woman, and a group of blood-thirsty yakuza gang members have all found themselves in The Forest of Resurrection, which is a direct portal to the other side. Those who were once killed there start to come back, and before you know it, a bloody massacre ensues. Sure, “Versus” is incredibly convoluted and hard to understand or even grasp, but the film is so bold in its storytelling and action sequences that it’s just plain mesmerizing to watch. Plus, the fact that there is a ridiculous amount of blood splattered shocks to be seen, and the dynamite twist ending will leave your jaw on the floor.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar

Another modern foreign horror classic that was recently re-made (“Let Me In”), “Let the Right One In” is one of the most unique vampire films you’ll ever see. Young Oskar is constantly bullied and neglected, yet manages to find a special relationship with the recently arrived girl Eli, who just so happens to be a vampire. Oskar is both horrified and exhilarated by Eli’s presence, even as things all around them gradually go from bad to worse, and it isn’t long before Eli’s bloodlust garners the attention of others and she herself becomes a target. Based on the Swedish novel, “Let the Right One In” is a brilliantly somber piece of work that takes the tried and true vampire lore and mythology and manages to manipulate it to the point where it still manages to feel fresh. That along with the fact that there are plenty of downright chilling, haunting, and surprisingly touching moments to behold as well. Fuck “Let Me In”.

4. THE MIST (2007)
Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden

At its core, “The Mist” is a glorified B-movie. That however doesn’t stop this adaptation of the Stephen King tale from being one of the most underrated fright stories you’ve never laid your eyes on. When a mysterious mist descends on a sleepy town, those who become trapped in a local grocery store not only end up fighting for their lives against the creatures outside, but from each other as well as a religious extremist takes it upon herself to decide that this is “God’s work”. Other than the old school chills, “The Mist” also offers up some inventive camerawork, genuinely surprising moments, an A-list cast, and a shocker ending that you’ll never see coming. Dumped into theaters as a small release, “The Mist” has since found a cult following on DVD since its release, particularly the Special Edition which features a black & white version of the film, which surprisingly makes it all the scarier and even more firmly rooted in its B-movie glory.

3. FROM BEYOND (1986)
Director: Stuart Gordon
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree

Based on a tale from H.P. Lovecraft, “From Beyond” is a lost classic of sorts, from “Re-Animator” director Stuart Gordon (and it even boasts about half the cast from that classic as well). Two scientists have created a device that can stimulate the human being sixth sense, but in the process have opened up a door to a deadly universe. When one is seemingly killed, the surviving one, along with a shrink and a cop, return to the house where the experiment was conducted, and discover that things have grown ever so out of control. Featuring some stomach churning makeup effects work, “From Beyond” has risen in cult status since its release on DVD a couple years back, and remains the best of Gordon’s adaptations of Lovecraft material other than “Re-Animator”.

2. HARDWARE (1990)
Director: Richard Stanley
Starring: Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch

Before he directed the aforementioned on this list “Dust Devil”, Richard Stanley achieved genre-fame with “Hardware”. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, a soldier returning home to his metal sculptor girlfriend brings home a robot head which he found on the way back. What neither of them know however is that the robot is the prototype model of the M.A.R.K. 13, a vicious killer bot capable of rebuilding itself, and its only priority is to kill and destroy. For a low budget sci-fi/horror dirge, “Hardware” still looks surprisingly sophisticated to this day. From the psychedelic and introspective moments to the blood-curdling finale, “Hardware” remains a beloved cult classic to this day, finally seeing the light of day on DVD earlier this year after being stuck in production company-dissolution hell. Along with the industrial/punk soundtrack and cameos from Iggy Pop and Lemmy from Motorhead, what’s not to love? “No Flesh Shall Be Spared…”

1. NEAR DARK (1987)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Adrian Pasdar, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton

Before she became uber-famous for marrying James Cameron and winning an Oscar for “The Hurt Locker”, Kathryn Bigelow directed this blend of horror and the western…and it remains not only one of the best vampire films ever made, but THE BEST horror film you’ve never seen. When Caleb falls in with a crew of murderous vampires, he tries to fight the growing bloodlust within him, even though his new abilities thrill him like never before. His father travels after him in an attempt to save him, culminating in a fiery showdown. Comparisons to “The Lost Boys” are numerous (in fact, it opened around the same time, but bombed in theaters), with the only real differences being is that there is nothing lighthearted at all to be found with “Near Dark”. Typical vampire conventions get thrown out the window as well; in fact, the word “vampire” is never mentioned once. Instead of typical vampire film conventions, “Near Dark” is a brutal yet startlingly poetic horror film that, while not for all tastes, has made a surprising mark on everything vampire today. From “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “True Blood”, various creators have drawn upon and cited “Near Dark” as being a key inspiration, and to this day it remains a dreadfully underrated classic. There has been recent talk of a modern-day remake, but in these days of “Twilight”-mania and crazy amounts of remakes, I can’t fucking imagine seeing a film so near and dear to my heart being remade by Hollywood for mass consumption by the movie going masses.

...and there you have it! The final ten of the Top 50 Horror Movies You've Never Seen. Feel free to share your thoughts in agreement and disagreement, or even provide your own feedback as to what I should have included.

Happy muthafuckin' Halloween!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen: Part 4

Well folks, here we are already at Part Four of The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen. In this penultimate installment, we get down to the nitty gritty so to speak, and wind up counting down not only what are the best horror flicks you've never seen, but what are also some of my absolute favorite horror films ever. Here we go...

20. WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (1976)
Director: Narciso Ibanez Serrador
Starring: Lewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome, Antonio Iranzo

What is it about kids that can wind up being so goddamn creepy? “Who Can Kill a Child?”, also known as “Island of the Damned” among many other titles depending on the region, finds an English couple vacationing off the Spanish coast, who come to find that there are no adults to be found on the island which they are staying. Instead, there is nothing but children, all of whom are so damned eerie that you’ll get the heebie jeebies before the blood starts flowing. I previously listed “The Children” on this list, which draws so many inspirations from this film, and as good as that film is, “Who Can Kill a Child?” is all the more chilling to the bone.

19. BASKET CASE (1982)
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner

A long time cult favorite that spawned a couple horrible sequels, the original “Basket Case” is the definition of low-budget, indie horror. The film revolves around a young man who takes a room in a dingy New York City motel, his only luggage being a covered basket. Turns out the basket contains his hideously deformed Siamese twin that was surgically separated from him some time before, whom he still takes care of. Oh yeah, his twin is also a cannibal and totally insane…and enjoys making life ever so much harder for our hero. Dated as hell, but “Basket Case” still winds up being kind of fun regardless.

18. DEMONS (1985)
Director: Lamberto Bava
Starring: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny

Co-written with horror great Dario Argento, “Demons” finds a large group of people invited to the screening of a horror film trapped within the theater as the monsters on the screen not only come to life, but begin to possess and kill the hapless victims. Let me start off by saying that “Demons” is utterly ridiculous by nature, but it is even more ridiculously fun if you’re a horror fan. It’s twisty, provides genuine shocks, and some truly gross-out moments to boot. There was a half-decent sequel that came out not too long after the first film was released, and to this day “Demons” has developed a bit of a cult following.

17. FEAST (2005)
Director: John Gulager
Starring: Balthazar Getty, Henry Rollins, Krista Allen

What’s interesting about “Feast” is what it is the product of. A few years back, there was this show on Bravo and HBO called “Project Greenlight”, in which producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck held a bit of a creative contest for aspiring filmmakers. The winner would be given a decent enough budget to make his dream film, and the result of one of said seasons of the show (I forget exactly which one) is “Feast”. A group of drunks and ass holes at a local bar fall victim to a horde of ravenous beasts, which proceed to dismember, devour, and re-produce (yes, you read that right) all in ultra-gory glee. Another shock-filled gore-fest that actually will keep you interested and entertained (while making fun of itself), “Feast” would be followed by two much lesser-quality sequels, which are in all honestly better left ignored. Oh yeah, Jason Mewes gets his face ripped off in this, seriously.

16. THE BURROWERS (2008)
Director: J.T. Petty
Starring: Clancy Brown, William Mapother, Doug Hutchison

Set in the western/frontier era, “The Burrowers” finds a group of rescuers and bounty hunters banded together in an effort to find a family of settlers who have mysteriously disappeared. As their investigation furthers, they discover that the culprits aren’t the Native Americans they were prepared to battle, but instead are monstrous beasts rising straight from the ground. No, this isn’t “Tremors”, but instead “The Burrowers” is one of those rare horror films that offers a surprising amount of heart and intelligence amid all the blood-letting. And, like so many of Lions Gate’s best horror films, “The Burrowers” was due for a theatrical release, but instead sat on the shelf for a while before being shoveled to DVD.

15. ALTERED (2006)
Director: Eduardo Sanchez
Starring: Adam Kaufman, Brad William Henke, Michael C. Williams

The man behind “The Blair Witch Project” helms this underrated little gem, in which a group of hillbilly friends decide to gather together one night in order to catch and take some revenge on one of the alien beings responsible for the death of their child hood friend and their abduction years before. Things seem to be going great, until the deadly little bastard turns the tables on our heroes. It sounds stupid admittedly, but this is really only scratching the surface of “Altered”. The film is incredibly tense and when the big horror payoffs happen, you wind up floored by what you see on the screen. Also, if the final scene of the film doesn’t leave you with some degree of unease, you simply aren’t human.

14. THEM (2006)
Director: David Moreau/Xavier Palud
Starring: Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen, Adriana Mocca

A French thriller (and hit in its native land), “Them” (also known as “Ils”) is a briskly paced cat & mouse game, in which a couple awakens one night in their isolated home to strange sounds. It isn’t long before they realize that there are hooded assailants who mean to do them some extreme forms of harm. One of the few entries on this list that doesn’t involve any normal type of typical horror clich├ęs, “Them” is a surprising suspense flick that was well worth making the trip across the pond.

13. SPLINTER (2008)
Director: Toby Wilkins
Starring: Jill Wagner, Shea Whigham, Paulo Costanzo

A somewhat troubled couple run afoul of a pair of desperate criminals, but even worse for everyone involved is the parasite that they discover that splinters itself into its victims, turning its still living hosts into zombie-esque freaks. Trapped inside an isolated convenience store, everyone must work together to survive, and the end result doesn’t look too good. Featuring some surprisingly brilliant effects work, “Splinter” is an undiscovered gem of a horror flick that actually defies the typical conventions of the “trapped with zombies”-type of horror film. Plus, the scenes of body parts contorting in unnatural ways will make you squirm.

12. BABY BLUES (2008)
Director: Lars Jacobson/Amardeep Kaleka
Starring: Colleen Porch, Joel Bryant, Ridge Canipe

A mother suffering from extreme postpartum depression decides to eliminate her four children one night on an isolated farm while her trucker husband is on the road. The eldest son becomes the protector of his siblings as he struggles to save them from his mentally ill mother, culminating in a big time shocker showdown. When I say that “Baby Blues” is shocking, I’m not kidding in the least. This is a film that definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, and I say not because the film offers heaping buckets of blood & guts (which it really doesn’t), but because the tone of the film is so unforgiving and bleak that you may have a bit of a difficult time getting through it. Still though, the suspense and shocks are simply killer.

11. DEAD ALIVE (1992)
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Timothy Balme, Diana Penalver, Elizabeth Moody

Also known as “Brain Dead”, “Dead Alive” is the zombie bash that Peter Jackson did long before he got famous for making the “Lord of the Rings” flicks. A man with an evil, overbearing mother finds his life getting horribly chaotic when his mum gets bitten by a demonic monkey, slowly turning her into a powerful zombie bitch. From that point forward, well…I’ll put it like this…there’s a kung-fu priest, atrophied body parts, zombies humping, a zombie baby in a stroller, a head in a blender, a lawnmower strapped to a chest slicing & dicing zombies, and various other body parts that become severed, eaten, and obliterated. Revered as one of the absolute goriest zombie films to ever see the light of day, “Dead Alive” features so many visual gags and hysterical moments that you’ll wonder how Peter Jackson went from this to what he’s doing these days. Barf bag not included.

That's all for now folks, and the final installment is well on the way...

Friday, October 8, 2010

The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen: Part 3

I'm back with ten more underrated horror gems in this third installment of The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen. Included here is one of my all time favorites (try to see if you can figure out which) along with some others that deserve your attention:

30. OUTPOST (2008)
Director: Steve Barker
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Richard Brake, Julian Wadham

Nothing says fun like Nazi zombies. With “Outpost”, a team of mercenaries in Eastern Europe discover an old World War II bunker, and the horrors that still reside in it thanks to decades old Nazi experiments. Video game nuts will notice the tons of references to the Wolfenstein PC games, and the claustrophobic atmosphere makes this flick all the better.

29. THE CHILDREN (2008)
Director: Tom Shankland
Starring: Hannah Tointon, Eva Birthistle, Rachel Shelley

A British import that somehow got lumped in with the otherwise cruddy lineup of Ghost House Underground DVDs, “The Children” finds two families in the English countryside enjoying themselves, until their young children are stricken with a mysterious illness that turns them into murderous psychos. These malevolent little bastards wreak bloody havoc on their dimwitted parents for the rest of the film’s running time, but the shocking amount of scares and a startling amount of bloody violence are what make it really worth noting. That along with the fact that the film’s final shot will chill you to the bone.

28. BLACK SHEEP (2006)
Director: Jonathan King
Starring: Nathan Meister, Peter Feeney, Danielle Mason

Featuring some spectacular creature and makeup/gore effects from Peter Jackson’s WETA shop, “Black Sheep” is gleefully fun and enjoyable. I mean come on now, zombie-esque sheep running around in New Zealand? Sounds like a recipe for success to me!

27. DUST DEVIL (1992)
Director: Richard Stanley
Starring: Robert John Burke, Chelsea Field, William Hootkins

This will not be the only time that Richard Stanley appears on this list, as his follow up to “Hardware” may very well be the most introspective and surreal horror film you’ll ever come across. “Dust Devil” revolves around a disenchanted woman driving across the desert, who encounters a handsome drifter that isn’t quite what he seems to be. Is he a serial killer? Or a demon, or even the devil himself? In between all this, a local cop seeks to stop this man dubbed “The Dust Devil”, even if it means using shamans and witchcraft as a means to an end. The film itself has an interesting history, as Stanley envisioned a two hour cut, which distributor Miramax cut into less than an hour and a half, which cuts so much out of the story that it makes the film nigh-incomprehensible. Only a couple years ago did Stanley finally make his “Final Cut” available to the public, but sadly, the DVD has since gone out of print. If you do see “Dust Devil”, make sure that it is Stanley’s preferred “Final Cut”.

26. THE SENDER (1982)
Director: Roger Christian
Starring: Kathryn Harrold, Zeljko Ivanek, Shirley Knight

When a young man gets admitted to a mental hospital after a suicide attempt, his doctor experiences all kinds of paranormal and telekinetic phenomena. He has the ability to make his nightmares into reality for those around him, and he may be impossible to stop. For an 80s horror flick, “The Sender” is quite suspenseful, and quite worth your time.

25. THE WOODS (2006)
Director: Lucky McKee
Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Patricia Clarkson, Bruce Campbell

In 1960s New England, a teenage girl sent to a boarding school in a deep wooden area discovers some strange occurrences that lead her to believe she’s in the middle of a coven of witches. The film sat on the shelf for nearly three years, for little to no reason, but let it never be said that no matter what the role is or even how shitty the flick itself may be (not that this is, which it isn’t), Bruce Campbell is the fucking man.

24. ALIEN RAIDERS (2008)
Director: Ben Rock
Starring: Carlos Bernard, Matthew St. Patrick, Rockmond Dunbar

Shitty movie title aside, “Alien Raiders” is a surprisingly creepy and horrific affair. In a small Arizona town, the denizens of a closing grocery store are ambushed by a group of masked gunmen who subsequently kill a handful of those there and take more as hostages. It isn’t long however before those captured realize that these gunmen aren’t terrorists or robbers, they’re rogue scientists who have tracked an alien infestation to the store, and that some of those among them may not be entirely human. Slickly produced given the miniscule budget, “Alien Raiders” is a surprising blast.

23. COLD PREY (2006)
Director: Roar Uthaug
Starring: Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Viktoria Winge, Rolf Kristian Larsen

A Norwegian import (that ended up spawning two sequels overseas, which sadly haven’t seen the light of day over here yet), “Cold Prey” is just about everything that makes the slasher genre enjoyable, and without any of the shitty aspects either. A group of friends on a snowboarding vacation run afoul of a deranged killer who stalks them and picks them off one by one. Suspenseful and chilling.

22. THE SIGNAL (2007)
Director: David Bruckner/Dan Bush/Jacob Gentry
Starring: Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn AJ Bowen

A horror film told in three parts by three different directors, “The Signal” revolves around a cheating wife, her douche bag husband, and her lover who is trying to save her from a horrible fate after a mysterious signal broadcast on every television, cell phone, and radio turns everyone into a homicidal maniac. Though the film’s flow is a bit jumpy and not always sensible, “The Signal” is inventive and unique enough to warrant checking out.

21. LAID TO REST (2009)
Director: Robert Hall
Starring: Bobbi Sue Luther, Kevin Gage, Lena Headey

Directed by FX guru Robert Hall, “Laid to Rest” finds an amnesiac girl on the run from a demented killer wearing a chrome-skull mask, who winds up killing just about everyone she comes across searching for help. A gory and relentless throwback to the golden age of the slasher genre, with some truly inventive death scenes and effects work as well.

More to come...

Monday, October 4, 2010

The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen: Part 2

Trick or treat, beat my meat...nevermind. Anyway, the countdown continues of the 50 best horror flicks you've never seen. Barf bags not included...

40. MARTYRS (2008)
Director: Pascal Laugier
Starring: Morjana Alaoui, Mylene Jampanoi, Catherine Begin

I hate the horror sub-genre of torture-porn, absolutely despise it. Between all the “Saw’s” and “Hostel’s” and the like, it’s no wonder that a film like “Martyrs” gets lost in the pack. Make no mistake though that this French import is one brutal film, yet even more shocking is how powerful and moving it winds up being. The story revolves around two girls, both of whom were victims of various brands of child abuse, on a revenge mission of sorts. The final frames of the film are incredibly difficult to get out of your head.

Director: Jim Mickle
Starring: Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice

Part of the 2007 lineup of the After Dark Horrorfest, “Mulberry Street” may have a ridiculous premise, but the surprising amount of mounting tension and even more surprisingly good acting make it worthwhile. The tenants of a downtown apartment building in Manhattan try to survive the night when a virus infects the city turning people into cannibal rat-creatures (yes, you read that right). Give it a chance, yes I’m serious.

38. HATCHET (2006)
Director: Adam Green
Starring: Joel David Moore, Kane Hodder, Mercedes McNab

A gleefully violent and fun ode to the slasher genre, “Hatchet” revolves around a group of tourists in New Orleans taking a haunted swamp tour, only to fall prey to the monstrous killer Victor Crowley. Featuring some just plain brilliant makeup effects, “Hatchet” ended up garnering a surprising cult following, culminating in a recently released (and subsequently pulled from theaters) sequel that promises more of the same gory hijinks.

37. ROGUE (2007)
Director: Greg McLean
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Michael Vartan, Sam Worthington

From the same team that made “Wolf Creek”, “Rogue” finds an American journalist in Australia coming face to face with a gigantic killer crocodile. Before you start thinking “that’s nothing new”, “Rogue” winds up being more than just a generic monster B-movie, with some great effects and genuinely horrific moments. Plus, it has a pre-“Avatar” Sam Worthington get eaten alive, and that in itself is worth checking “Rogue” out for.

36. EDEN LOG (2007)
Director: Franck Vestiel
Starring: Clovis Cornillac, Vimala Pons, Zohar Wexler

A French hybrid of horror/mystery/suspense, “Eden Log” boasts a unique visual style, with a washed-out color pallet and overall visual design that resembles one of the old “Resident Evil” video games. An amnesiac man wakes up deep inside a cavern, with no knowledge of what happened to him or to the dead people he finds on his journey. All he does know is that there are strange, violent creatures out and about, as he searches for an escape, while finding out some shocking things about himself and the world as a whole along the way.

35. UNDEAD (2003)
Director: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
Starring: Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins

Another Australian import, “Undead” is from the brother directing team that would eventually do the recent vampire flick “Daybreakers”. With “Undead”, the title pretty much tells you what you need to know, revolving around a small Australian fishing village that falls victim to strange meteorites that apparently transform the residents into zombies. The big twist and shocker ending is what makes “Undead” a keeper.

34. THE LAST WINTER (2006)
Director: Larry Fessenden
Starring: Ron Perlman, James LeGros, Connie Britton

An environmentalist working with an American oil conglomerate investigates the mysterious apparent suicide by one of the workers in the northern arctic. When more similar events occur and tensions mount, it soon becomes apparent that something very, very bad is happening in the great white north. What could be seen as another type of “nature fighting back” flick, “The Last Winter” is an intelligent, thoughtful, ambiguous, and creepy take on environmental health. A little drawn out, but well worth it.

33. XTRO (1983)
Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
Starring: Philip Sayer, Bernice Stegers, Danny Brainin

Spawning two horrible sequels that have nothing to do with this first film, “XTRO” is an entertaining “Alien” rip-off, in which a man returns home to his wife and son three years after he was abducted by aliens. Naturally he’s not quite the same man he was before he left, and he starts to make a profound effect on his young son, as his estranged wife and her new lover struggle to put him to a stop. Featuring buckets of blood, terrible acting, and nudity-a-plenty, “XTRO” is pure trashy fun the whole way through, and if schlock is your thing, you can’t do much better than this.

32. C.H.U.D. (1984)
Director: Douglas Cheek
Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry

Another “so schlocky it’s good” type, “C.H.U.D.” (standing for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) revolves around a photographer, his girlfriend, a cop, and an unhinged vagrant teaming up to stop a race of sewer-dwelling mutated homeless mutants from devouring all of New York City. I couldn’t make that story up if I tried. What makes “C.H.U.D.” enjoyable is the surprisingly good gore effects and darkly comedic moments. Plus, it marks the big-screen debut of John Goodman…yes I’m serious.

31. THE TRIPPER (2006)
Director: David Arquette
Starring: Thomas Jane, Lukas Haas, Jamie King

A delightfully nasty slasher tribute that pokes fun at Republicans, “The Tripper” revolves around a new-age hippie festival in a small hick town, that falls under attack by a Ronald Regan-mask wearing axe murderer. Hilarious gore effects and plenty of tongue-in-cheek political humor.

More to come...

Friday, October 1, 2010

The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen: Part 1

Ah yes, it's October. A month chock full of haunted houses, scary stories, and my personal favorite aspect, horror movies galore. All of which culminates at the end with Halloween, the best damn holiday of the entire year as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, as far as horror movies go, we all pretty much know the good ones from the bad ones. Classics like John Carpenter's "Halloween" and George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" are traditionally watched and so they should be, but for every classic horror film out there, there are quite a few underrated ones that sadly have not been seen by as many viewers.

Throughout this month, I'll be providing you with a list of the best damn horror flicks that you've never seen (or possibly even heard of) that deserve your time and attention. Strap yourselves in bitches...

Director: Steven Goldman
Starring: Trace Adkins, Priscilla Barnes, Stefanie Black

Based on the Imperium Comics series, "Trailer Park of Terror" follows a group of troubled high school students who get stranded in the mountains, and seek refuge in a not-so abandoned trailer park. Schlocky as all hell, the film offers plenty of blood and guts, and a decent dose of dark humor as well that makes it worth checking out.

49. GRACE (2009)
Director: Paul Solet
Starring: Jordan Ladd, Stephen Park, Gabrielle Rose

After losing her husband and unborn child in an accident, Madeline insists on carrying her dead child to term regardless. When she does, the baby is miraculously alive, or so it would seem. It isn't long before she realizes that her baby has a craving for blood... What's most surprising about "Grace" is the shocking degree of emotional terror that permeates throughout the film, and its shocker denouement is worth the price of admission alone.

48. SEVERANCE (2006)
Director: Christopher Smith
Starring: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Toby Stephens

A team-building exercise in the mountains of Eastern Europe turns horrifically funny for a group of sales division wankers when they are targeted by a group of crazed killers. Shockingly funny, biting, and gore-filled to boot. Plus, there's a homicidal maniac with a flamethrower bitches!

Director: Stefan Avalos/Lance Weiler
Starring: David Beard, Jim Seward, Rein Clabbers

A "Blair Witch"-style faux-documentary in which a trio of filmmakers venture into the forest searching for the legendary Jersey Devil. Days later, only one returns, and becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance of the other two, while another local filmmaker partakes on his own excursion to find the truth. The end result proves being more shocking, as "The Last Broadcast" puts "Blair Witch" and any other handheld camera-style horror flick to shame.

Director: Dan O'Bannon
Starring: John Terry, Chris Sarandon, Jane Sibbett

Also known as "Shatterbrain", "The Resurrected" is based on an H.P. Lovecraft tale involving the hiring of a private eye to investigate the mysterious experiments of a chemical engineer. Turns out, he's trying to bring back the dead, but the results of which don't go quite exactly as planned...

Director: Jon Knautz
Starring: Robert Englund, Trevor Matthews, Daniel Kash

After witnessing his family get murdered by monsters as a child, plumber Jack Brooks uses his inconsolible rage to combat monsters and demons, including those recently set loose by his community college night class professor. Very fun in an "Evil Dead"-type of way, and Robert Englund is a fucking hoot.

Director: Robert Hiltzik
Starring: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields

An underrated slasher classic that has a cult following, the original "Sleepaway Camp" may work as a "Friday the 13th" knockoff, but its shocker conclusion is what makes it so memorable to this day.

Director: Grace Lee
Starring: Austin Basis, Jane Edith Wilson, Al Vicente

Another mockumentary, only this time it follows a team of documentary filmmakers seeking to learn as to whether or not the rising zombie population are an actual threat to humanity, or if they just want to live in harmony. Scathingly funny and also pretty damn creepy.

Director: Jorge Grau
Starring: Cristina Galbo, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy

Also known as "The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue" and "Don't Open the Window" (among many other titles depending on the country), this zombie flick focuses on two hippies who are suspected by a clueless cop as being the culprits behind the Manson Family-style murders going on in town, when it is actually the result of the ravenous zombies being created by the chemical pesticides used on the local farmland. A terribly underrated zombie film by every stretch of the imagination.

41. ISOLATION (2005)
Director: Billy O'Brien
Starring: Essie Davies, Sean Harris, Marcel Iures

On a lonely Irish farm, a scientist researching the genetic modifications of cattle accidentally unleashes a killer batch of murderous farm animals. It sounds funny on paper, but "Isolation" is so damn suspenseful and surprisingly creepy that you'll never want to eat meat again.

That's all for now, but as the month goes on, the list will continue to count down, enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Eulogy for a Stray Cat

There are a ton of stray cats in my neighborhood, has been ever since I moved here 5 years ago now. In those five years, not much has changed, as seeing these critters run around is pretty much commonplace. Then a couple weeks ago, one stray decided to make my front porch his home. I've had cats crash on my porch before, but this one was different...he just wouldn't go the hell away!

So what do I decide to do with this wayward kitty? I fed him, and naturally, he decided to make his stay on my porch permanent. I got attached to him, as did Trish, so the next idea that popped in my head was "why not keep the little fucker?" And that was the plan. Trish helped me out quite a bit, even though I was in all honesty a bit apprehensive about taking another cat in as a pet (the last one, Rocco, sadly died about two years ago after clawing his way into a rat poison trap that I forgot about in the basement...still hating myself over that), but there was something about this one. Maybe it was the fact that he was friendly and was more than likely a housecat at some point in the past. Maybe it was because so many times I sat outside to smoke a cigarette he decided to hop on my lap.

In any case, I made the trip to the vet to get him checked out after I decided I was going to keep him. The news wasn't good at all, as he was already progressing in FIV, the feline version of HIV, which is highly contagious among felines. His immune system would progressively get worse and worse over time, and he would end up dying a slow, painful death. So, I decided that it would be best for him to be put down. I won't lie and try to act like my usual hardass persona here, I admit I shed the first tear I've shed in quite some time, over this nameless stray cat. In my heart I know I did the right and humane thing, but that doesn't change the fact that he as an animal didn't deserve to be shuffled out on the street.

The point I'm trying to make here is that if you own an animal, whether it be a cat, dog, or even a fucking squirrel (hello hillbillies), cherish it, love it, and treat it like it should be treated: with care and respect.

Rest well gray stray cat, I wish I could have done more for you.

Back to dick & fart jokes in a few ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The 25 Albums That Didn't Make The Cut

The other day I posed a blog citing my personal top 25 albums. Condensing all the albums I love and have loved into one small list wasn't easy, especially when there were so many more that didn't make the final cut. So here, in no particular order, are 25 more albums that didn't (and perhaps should have) make the final cut, enjoy!

"Walk Among Us" - The Misfits

"Static Age" - The Misfits

"Reign in Blood" - Slayer

"Seasons in the Abyss" - Slayer

"Countdown to Extinction" - Megadeth

"...And Justice For All" - Metallica

"Facelift" - Alice in Chains

"Dirt" - Alice in Chains

"October Rust" - Type O Negative

"Purple" - Stone Temple Pilots

"Portrait of An American Family" - Marilyn Manson

"Smash" - The Offspring

"The Crow" Soundtrack

"Burn My Eyes" - Machine Head

"The Downward Spiral" - Nine Inch Nails

"Astro Creep 2000" - White Zombie

"Screaming For Vengeance" - Judas Priest

"Rage Against the Machine" - Rage Against the Machine

"The Marshall Mathers LP" - Eminem

"Beneath the Remains" - Sepultura

"Chaos A.D." - Sepultura

"Sublime" - Sublime

"Urban Discipline" - Biohazard

"Cleansing" - Prong

"Aenima" - Tool

There are certainly a few more that I could have included, but I think that this pretty much sums it all up for me in a nutshell...bitches!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My 25 All-Time Favorite Albums

Recently (AKA last night) a friend of mine on Facebook wrote a note of her top 15 albums, which I have decided to semi-rip-off here for my own intents and purposes (sorry Steph :P). There is an eclectic mix here to be sure: metal, punk, hip/hop, industrial, goth, and some just plain old funky shit too...

So here's a countdown of my 25 all-time favorite albums that I still cherish today...

25. "In Utero" - Nirvana

24. "The Fragile" - Nine Inch Nails

23. The "Sid & Nancy: Love Kills" Soundtrack

22. "Mother's Milk" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

21. "The Chronic" - Dr. Dre

20. "Ten" - Pearl Jam

19. "Nothing Wrong/Blow" - Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

18. "Melissa" - Mercyful Fate

17. "White Pony" - Deftones

16. "Bloody Kisses" - Type O Negative

15. "Badmotorfinger" - Soundgarden

14. "Paranoid" - Black Sabbath

13. "Far Beyond Driven" - Pantera

12. "The Colour and the Shape" - Foo Fighters

11. "Songs for the Deaf" - Queens of the Stone Age

10. "Deliverance" - Corrosion of Conformity

9. "Rust in Peace" - Megadeth

8. "Pretty Hate Machine" - Nine Inch Nails

7. "Master of Puppets" - Metallica

6. "Disintegration" - The Cure

5. "Superunknown" - Soundgarden

4. "OK Computer" - Radiohead

3. "NOLA" - Down

2. "Vulgar Display of Power" - Pantera

1. "Ride the Lightning" - Metallica

...and there you have it...

...fuckers! :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11/01 - Nine Years Later

No matter how hard you may want to try, you can't forget where you were that day...

Personally I can't believe that it was nine years ago that I was a senior in high school, sitting in Journalism class waiting for the bell to ring to go to my next period Algebra class. It was towards the end of class that Mr. Swisher (one of the guidance counselors) came into the room and told our teacher Mr. Levan to turn on the TV. It took a while to sink in at just what I was seeing on the television screen that morning, something that still seems so unbelievable even to this day nine years later.

In the nine years since 9/11, what's really changed and what has really been accomplished? We went to war (which for all intents and purposes hasn't and won't end, regardless of whatever "official" declarations are made) and what did it solve? Nine years, a gasoline crisis, raging prices, and a shitty global economy...other than all that, nothing has changed.

The horror of 9/11 is something that by all rights and purposes should have united us as a people and brought us together, but instead all that it did was amplify racial and religious prejudices and further divide us as a country. Left wings, right wings, conservatives, liberals, Tea-Party douche bags, whatever...we always find a way to label a group of people, when what we should have done is attempt to achieve everything we can to overcome and abolish labels and unite regardless of any skin color or theological differences. Instead, here we are as a people getting pissed off over a mosque being built around Ground Zero (which in all honesty can be understood, but that's a topic for another day) and an asshole pastor in Florida wanting to burn Qurans to garner media attention.

Next year will be a decade since 9/11. A decade...let that sink in. It's hard to believe that it will be ten years next year since everything changed. Even harder to believe that after such a tragic event, we would be characterized by a presidency that only further crippled us as an economic power and a country as a whole, followed by a president who has been marketed as being a glimmer of hope and that has only thus far turned out to be a hype-heavy media magnet. Regardless of what side you classify yourself as, it can be agreed upon here that nine years ago today all those innocent people and the heroes who risked and sacrificed their lives trying to save them all died senselessly...and any honoring of their memory only gets shit on more and more each passing year that we continue not to truly unite and set our differences aside for the greater good, as cliche' as that may sound.

As it stands right now, united or divided, we fall.

In loving memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Things That Have Been Pissing Me Off Lately...

I've been in a bit of a pissy mood as of late. No personal drama going on or anything of that sort, but lately I've just found myself getting automatically pissed off at random times of the day over various things.

Things that have been pissing me off lately include, but are not limited to:

College freshmen

Douche bags that live in their parent's basements that have more PS3 trophies than I do

Douche bags with popped collars

Douche bags that cause other Italians to be labeled as "guidos" even when they're not (ahem)

Douche bags in general


Timothy Patrick Snyder

94 WYSP for playing the exact same shit for the past decade

AT&T for wanting to charge me out the ass for getting an iPhone

The job market

People who get drunk and feel the urge to sing

The kid who shot me in the ass tonight with a fucking Nerf gun

People who type on their laptops in coffee shops

The asshole who took my lighter

People who give me weird looks on the bus/subway when I'm playing Mario Kart on my DS. Go fuck yourself

Michael Bay for making another Transformers movie

Shia LaDouche for being in another Transformers movie

My comic book script for seeming a lot better as an idea in my head than it is when put to paper

...that's all for now, but I assure you that there will be more!

Suck it!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Comics That Deserve Your Time & Attention: The Mind Shattering Conclusion!

Well, here we are.

My last installment of Comics That Deserve Your Time & Attention.

Over the last five installments, I've included a bunch of titles that I feel worthy of your said attention, while also kissing the asses of industry legends Warren Ellis and Frank Miller, but for this concluding installment, I'm going to be doing something a little different...

...these are titles that I myself wasn't too fond of at first, and are perhaps more outside the realm of mainstream comics than just about anything I've included here before, so strap yourselves in folks, this may be a bit of a bumpy ride...

Top Shelf Productions
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Melinda Gebbie

What may be considered practically pornography, Alan Moore's "Lost Girls" is something that he and artist/partner Melinda Gebbie have been laboring over since 1991. Like he did with his "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" series, Moore takes characters from classic literature (in this case, Dorothy of "Wizard of Oz", Wendy of "Peter Pan", and Alice of "Alice in Wonderland") and inserts them into a world unlike they respectively inhabit. In this case, it's a Swiss hotel shortly before World War I where all three meet one another, and provide each other with wildly different, and sexual, takes on the stories from which they are from. Saying "Lost Girls" isn't for everybody is saying it lightly, but "Watchmen" and "V For Vendetta" scribe Moore manages to lace the story with so many themes of love, passion, and even loss, that it's just too hard (no pun intended) to not feel somewhat moved...even when it seems like everybody's shagging everybody else for two and three page spreads.

Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Joseph Michael Linsner

A horror anthology graphic novel featuring Linsner's "Cry For Dawn" stories first printed in the early 90s, albeit these horrors aren't such things as zombies and ghouls. Here, the monsters are human, and all too real as well while being shockingly poignant. Take a look at "Burns Brightest", in which a one night stand results in a young man contracting AIDS. Seeking revenge on the female population, he moves on from one girl to the next, infecting whomever he can on the way, with a shocker of an end result to boot. Other tales, involving lost love, obsession, and even a punk rock vampire, all end up being incredibly chilling.

DC/Vertigo Comics
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Pia Guerra & various others

Yorick Brown is a dorky college kid who, alongside his pet monkey Ampersand, find themselves to be the only male mammals still inhabiting the planet after every other male mammal mysteriously and horrifically die. Soon after, Yorick and the mysterious female Agent 355 traverse the world as he searches for his lost girlfriend Beth and seek to learn just what happened, while dodging insane wanna-be Amazons and other obstacles along the way. A smash hit ongoing series during its entire run, "Y: The Last Man" is fairly well-known and revered, but the simple fact is that this is one comic series that should have attained an insane amount of popularity, simply due to the fact that it's just that damn good. Let's hope that movie adaptation with Shia LeBouf playing Yorick never ever materializes however...

Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Howard Chaykin

Other than having a knack for telling darkly comic and horrific stories, Garth Ennis also has a knack for telling some compelling war stories. With "War is Hell", Ennis re-invents a classic and forgotten Marvel character named Karl Kaufmann, an aviator for the French-based Royal Flying Corps. He's young, naive, and full of ridiculous ideals. As he takes flight in the heat of battle, Karl soon learns the horrors of war first hand. That, along with the horrors of prostitutes not loving you if you don't have the money up front. No, seriously.

Writer: Greg Hurwitz
Artist: Lan Medina

The Foolkiller is another forgotten Marvel character, this time revitalized by crime author Greg Hurwitz, who fashions him as being a Punisher-style vigilante. Bloody, bleak, and gritty, "Fool's Paradise" finds the Foolkiller being sought by a downtrodden gambling junkie whose family has just been butchered. Needless to say, things get pretty bloody pretty quickly. Entertaining and brutal, if you don't read this, you're a fool (sorry, I couldn't fucking help myself).

DC/Vertigo Comics
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Daniel Zezelj

Eisner-Award winning "100 Bullets" writer Brian Azzarello resurrects the western comic genre with "El Diablo", in which bounty hunter turned sheriff Moses Stone finds his relatively tranquil life interupted by the arrival of the demonic fugitive known as El Diablo comes to town and leaves a bloody path in his wake, and a message for Moses as well. Soon after, Moses and his posse track him to the town of Halo, which holds a special place in Moses' past, and when secrets get revealed, the shit really hits the fan. Azzarello pulls no punches a la "Deadwood" style, and even if western-themed things aren't really your thing, you should definitely check out "El Diablo".

Dark Horse Comics
Writer/Artist: Eric Powell

Vulgar, hilarious, cynical, and incredibly enjoyable, Eric Powell's "The Goon" can't really be classified under any specific genre. Instead, Powell's "Goon" books are just a fun ride, in which the strongman known as the Goon gets into all sorts of mishaps and adventures, kicking ass the whole damn time. Practically frequently offensive, Powell makes no apologies, and that's what helps make "The Goon" so goddamn good.

That's all folks...thank me later :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Comics That Deserve Your Time & Attention, Part 5: The Frank Miller Edition

Even if you aren't a die-hard comic geek, chances are you've heard of Frank Miller in some capacity. Robert Ridriguez managed to successfully translate Miller's "Sin City" work to the film world, while eventual "Watchmen" director Zack Snyder tackled "300", all of which would set the stage for Miller himself to direct a take on his idol and mentor Will Eisner's "The Spirit" (the results of which are, well, not really worth mentioning...), even though years ago Frank had quite a bit of a falling out with the whole Hollywood scene.

It was in his mainstream superhero work that Miller really got noticed. After signing on as an artist for one of the "Spider-Man" titles, Miller eventually found himself writing and drawing "Daredevil". During his run on that title, Miller completely re-vitalized the character, as well as introducing the femme fatale Elektra, and came back a few years later to do it all over again with DD. In the meantime, Miller's real claim to fame came with his revitalization of Batman for DC Comics, with the classics "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Batman: Year One".

Though Miller's more recent work, namely "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" and "All-Star Batman & Robin" is far removed from his best material, the impact that Miller made not only in the superhero realm, but in the realm of crime, noir, and action-oriented works outside the mainstream, have cemented him as an industry icon.

Here's a best of list of some Frank Miller works that you may have missed...

DC Comics
Co-Artist: Lynn Varley

A pet project of Miller's which he wrote and drew that pretty much defies any sort of description. A failed samurai and his demonic enemy are resurrected in the future New York City to wage war on another all over again, but that sentence really only scratches the surface of "Ronin". Part philosophical allegory and part science fiction thriller, "Ronin" wasn't too well received when first released in the early 80s, but in the years since has developed a loving following. Rumor has it that it's due to be made into a film directed by the guy who made "Stomp the Yard"...Christ almighty let's hope not.

Avatar Press
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp

Remember when I said that Frank Miller had a bit of a falling out with Hollywood some time ago? Flash back to the late 80s. "RoboCop" was a big hit at the box office, and a sequel was naturally green-lit soon after. Miller somehow got comissioned to pen a script for the sequel, which he did. The final script used for the film however bears little resemblance to his original take, which for the most part is presented here. An ultraviolent take on the cyborg policeman fighting a neverending war on crime as well as taking on the corporation-controlled police force in Detroit rarely lets up in its brutality, but it's the political satirization (which the first "Robocop" film did so well) which really makes things all the more compelling. That and the artwork of Juan Jose Ryp, who never ceases to impress.

Dark Horse Comics
Artist: Geof Darrow

A "Blade Runner" style sci-fi opus, only all the more violent and occasionally hilarious. The story revolves around insurance investigator Carl, who comes to learn that he's actually a cyborg and is the last hope of an enslaved race of robots. Besides the many parallels to "Blade Runner", Miller pays some wonderful homage to its creator and science fiction legend Philip K. Dick, while consistently upping the ante in terms of just how over the top things end up getting.

Dark Horse Comics
Artist: Dave Gibbons

Once again satirizing political and corporate America alike, Miller presents a tale set in the future where the United States is split into several extremist factions. In this time, a young African-American girl named Martha Washington is born and grows up to become a war hero and eventual revolutionary leader. One of the biggest selling independent comics of all time, "Give Me Liberty", along with Miller's "Sin City", helped make Dark Horse a big time comic book publisher to rival Marvel and DC.

That's all for now, with the final installment of this blog series will be up next time...