Monday, February 16, 2009

HDC Idol Challenge #3 - Judge's Challenge

For this round, each judge had created a challenge for the contestants. As a contestant, I had the fortune of choosing which judge I'd like to see the challenge of.

I choose Neverending, who gave me...

The following paragraph describes a famous location in the history of horror. Name the location and its connection to the history of horror. Pleas for more information or definition will be met with deaf ears and possible loss of points.

May not be the worst of the many districts in this quarter, but it is undoubtedly bad enough. You may pass on either side about twenty narrow avenues, leading to thousands of closely-packed nests, full to overflowing with dirt, misery and rags. the inhabitants are chiefly dock workers. The other half of the residents are thieves, professional beggars, rag-dealers. The Cimmerian darkness constitutes no small part of its wretchedness, and the brilliant lighting of the public-house gives it much of its attraction. Even the repute of many of these shady localities is due in great measure to their impenetrable gloom after nightfall. They are all enshrouded in that murky obscurity which in the apprehension of adventurers from more favored regions converts them all into possible assassins and thieves. As he catches here and there a glimpse of a face under the flickering, uncertain light of a lamp - the face perhaps of some woman, bloated by drink and distorted by passion - he may get a momentary shuddering sense of what humanity may sink to when life is lived apart from the sweet, health-giving influences.

My Answer: The Horror Significance of Whitechapel

NE's excerpt came from John Hollingshead’s 1861 book Ragged London, a chapter appropriately entitled “The Back of Whitechapel.”

Whitechapel is an inner city district in London which, by the 1840s began to draw a reputation amongst London residents of being particularly impoverished and overcrowded. As Hollingshead decried in his book, it was the classic Dickensian London, filled with poverty, depravity and socioeconomic strife. And out of this vile, wretched womb was born one of the most infamous serial murderers of all time: Jack The Ripper.

For those of you who are not familiar with Dear Ol’ Jack, he filled the Whitechapel Autumn of 1888 with sadistic terror: murdering at least five victims and suspected of slaughtering upwards to eleven. His crimes were heinous; The Ripper targeted prostitutes, mutilating his victims with everything from tearing open the abdomen, to removing the uterus, to severing a body from the throat to the spine, organs emptied and missing. And after this trail of violence, the Killer was never found, leading to urban legends and tales permeating throughout Whitechapel and London culture.

Jack The Ripper alone has had significant influence on the horror genre. The man has been the subject of dozens of fictional and non-fictional pieces of literature, including Robert Bloch’s 1941 “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” and follow-up “A Toy for Juliette.” According to Wikipedia, “more than 200 works of non-fiction have been published which deal exclusively with the Jack the Ripper murders, making it one of the most written-about true-crime subjects of the past century.” Alan Moore’s From Hell graphic novel series (1991 – 1998) reimaged the Ripper’s tale, and this story was then adapted to film in 2001 by the Hughes Brothers. The vile act of his crimes (disembowelment, defilement, exsanguination) have been repeated throughout the horror genre, from gore sensationalist Hershel Gordon Lewis to modern directors Wes Craven and Rob Zombie in their studies of human violence and bodily desecration.

But what really connects Whitechapel to the history of horror was the cultural and social upheaval that surrounded those 1888 murders. The Jack The Ripper case was one of the first instances of true criminal profiling. Physicians worked close with police to create a profile of the supposed killer which, of course, was published in the cheap penny papers that circulated the streets. Jack The Ripper’s crimes were the media’s first true foray into the world of sensationalized gore. While there had been murderers prior to 1888, this Autumn in Victorian England marked the revolution of print media that sparked a cultural sensation. His crimes were known as “The Whitechapel Murders,” a title created by the police and spread throughout the districts. Whitechapel was the first city to truly embrace the voyeuristic side of fear, that side that shudders at the crime, but desires to read more about its atrocities. In a sense, this is the birth of the horror audience: A whole city captivated and intrigued by the abominable acts of one of their own.

What also makes the city of Whitechapel so iconic and culpable in these crimes was the advent of The Killer’s Note and the public reaction. Through the killer’s murders, both the police and various newspapers received letters, some of them claiming to be from the Killer himself. Some of them proven to be fakes. Regardless, the entire community, for better or for worse, was involved: Letters were published and greedily read in detail. In conjunction with the publicized criminal profile, the letters created a realistic Evil ready for consumption by the general public. Whitechapel was home of one of the first instances of pure true crime horror lust. And so horror perpetuates. In a city wrought with poverty and strife, stories of Jack The Ripper were, in a sense, escapism from the dull lives of the people. People began to recognize true horror as a macabre form of entertainment. In a sense, the horror audience was born and a precedent was set for the dark reverence of the mysterious serial killer. With this pure media frenzy and public enthusiasm, Jack The Ripper and Whitechapel created a pure legend that would influence the archetype of all future serial killers and the portrayal thereof.


It's been a while since I've had to write an essay, critical or otherwise. And I have to say, I was pretty damn proud of this entry.

The judges awarded me with an A, and I tied for first in that round.

HDC Idol Challenge #2 - Generous Critics

The Challenge:
All of you are very generous and magnanimous critics of horror flicks. You are well known for your love of horror movies of any type, even trashy, cheesy and downright awful ones. For this particular Test, you have to point out the highlights of the movies you choose, and praise them wholesomely to no end.

In other words, you have to give a very open-hearted and loving review of the movie of your choice.

Ready? Here we go...

Choose from - The Village, Alien vs Predator, Boo!, Killjoy, Boogeyman, The Exorcist II, Jaws The Revenge.

I had seen three of those movies: The Village, AVP, and Boogeyman.

However, while watching The Village, I was so incredibly plastered that it made no impression on me - Good or bad.

In terms of The Boogeyman, that film I had seen in the wee hours of the morning on the other side of the world... I was in The Philippines, it was 2 in the morning, and even in my boredom this movie couldn't keep my attention.

That leaves AVP: Alien Vs. Predator. A movie that I had actually gone to the theater to see. And watched all the way through.

Alien Vs. Predator: Modern Horror for the Intellectual
With the failure of 2000’s Alien: Resurrection, it was clear that the horror audience needed more in their franchise than just another scary monster movie. And perhaps with the advent of this addition to the franchise, those same viewers will be reticent to spend their money on “Just another Alien flick.” But this is where I must stop you and appeal: Alien Vs. Predator is not just another horror/scifi crossover franchise flick.

Veteran horror/scifi director of Event Horizon and Resident Evil, Paul W.S. Anderson is back again to frighten and entertain his fans with the latest installment of the Alien and Predator franchises. Coupled with his experienced eye is Special Effects company Amalgamated Dynamics Incorporated (ADI), whose previous work includes both Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. The result of this cinematic pairing is two truly gruesome and believable monsters within a literal Pandora’s box of horror.

Set in a pitch black Bouvetøya, an island about one thousand miles north of Antarctica, AVP follows the story of a hapless team of scientists following a mysterious heat signal under the watchful eye (and finance) of Billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen). The setting, a clever nod to previous scifi greats like The Thing From Another World, immediately alienates our heroes while, unbeknownst to them, a Predator ship enters the Earth’s atmosphere. The action unfolds without delay: Geiger’s iconic Alien is paired up against the galaxy’s most feared Predator within a phantasmagorical maze that would make Escher drool and will strike fear in even the most jaded film-goer.

But what really separates AVP from other films in its genre is, surprisingly, its intelligence. Where the average horror movie strives simply to shock and awe with pedestrian antagonists, cheap scares, and pitifully scantily clad coeds, AVP challenges the intelligent viewer by creating a completely original pourquoi story that reimagines one of the most debated mysteries in the history of the World: the building of the Great Pyramids. Just as the founders of ancient Egyptian society invented their pantheon, so does Paul W.S. Anderson apotheosize the canonical Predator: In this alternate history, the Predators are considered Gods, with the great structures of the ancient world being built in their honor. Never before has a horror movie created an origin story that is so fascinating and all-encompassing, touching upon the history of not only Egyptian, but also Cambodian and Aztec civilizations.

Alien Vs. Predator is not just another Alien movie. Nor is it just another Predator movie. AVP is a clever re-visioning of Origin that shows that horror doesn’t always have to be about shock and awe.



I gained a B for that round, again ahead of the pack...

HDC Idol Challege #1 - Alternate Reality

So it's been a whole YEAR since I've posted on my blog, so I figure that it's about damn time.

My latest stint of creativity has come from a contest on HDC, a horror forum that I frequent. For the past four months, I have been a participant in HDC Idol - A challenge to determine who, in the forum shall be crowned the HORROR IDOL.

In an attempt to keep my challenge entries organized for MYSELF, I will be posting them here.

HDC Idol Challege #1 - Alternate Reality

Several critically-acclaimed flicks have failed miserably at the BO - Night of the Living Dead, The Exorcist, Jaws etc. all have been flushed down the toilets. For some reason, the audiences arent willing to accept any of those horror flicks. You are a talented and eccentric filmmaker who is hellbent on making the audiences turn towards horror. What ideas can you use to conquer such hard-headed audiences of the world?

I really scratched my head with this one... How the HELL do you sell horror to people who hate horror? It's something that I come across in my life, every day...

And then I thought... "Well, touch on what's KNOWN to rope them in... And THEN give it to 'em!"

So I came up with...

I’ve decided that my alternate reality brings us to now, present day and this I why: I am assuming that, in this alternate reality all horror has been panned, all “Blockbusters” leading up until now, which encompasses the aforementioned Night of the Living Dead, Exorcist, and Jaws. Of course, this will also include everything from Kubrick’s The Shining (panned in 1980), to 1999’s utter disaster The Blair Witch Project, proving that the audience as a whole is not willing to embrace pure, non-diluted horror.

In coming up with my proposal, I did some preliminary research in terms of highest grossing films of all time. In order to bring horror to a public who does not like horror, one must encompass elements of the film industry’s past successes. Titanic, The Dark Knight, Star Wars, Shrek 2, and ET: The Extra-Terrestrial are the top 5 Box Office successes of all time. Recent Blockbusters of the last five years include three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, two X-Men sequels, two Spiderman sequels, and three Harry Potter movies.

The recipe for success seems to be a combination comic book heroes and anti-heroes, adventure, and pure fantastical escapism.

So we need to take that and turn it into horror.

I propose that, in order to introduce this public into the concept of horror, we must take elements of classic fairy tales (a recipe for success year after year with early Disney as well as a baseline of familiarity) while also using the vehicle of serial comic book adaptation that proved to be successful over the past few years. As an upcoming filmmaker I propose that, specifically, we take Zenescope Entertainment’s Grimm Fairy Tales’ comic spin-off mini-series Return to Wonderland and adapt it to the screen. Since this mini-series is already a cult success amongst comic book enthusiasts, we’ll already have a base for our audience. For the rest of the general public, the success in recent years of Shrek and its sequels, shows that it is clear that the public is romanced by the concept of the redone fairy tale. I think that we can springboard off of the midrange success of 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth and push the envelope farther. Return to Wonderland possesses a decent cross-section of horror sub-genre that had been previously rejected when presented holistically in an entire film (Carpenter’s pure Slasher Halloween caused some audience members to actually vomit into their Raisinets). So, with Return to Wonderland, we introduce the audience to horror little by little: Parts of the Slasher can be found in the Queen of Hearts and her gardening Playing Cards (literally painting the roses red with the blood of their own), the Monster sub-genre can be found in the horrifying, stalking, larger-than-life Cheshire Cat, and even the sub-genre of Cannibalism and Pulp in the Lecherous Mad Hatter. The movie(s) as a whole will play delightfully with the Surreal/Fantastical horror sub-genre, which seems to be a bit more palatable to the general audience. What’s great about adapting this entire comic mini-series is that it will enable us to create a series of sequels with which to ease the public into the genre of horror while simultaneously keeping them in familiar territory with a known fairy tale.


This post was received well by the judges, won me a B+ for the round, and put me ahead of the competition.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Take 1 real doped-up shark.
Combine 1 crazy stunt man in zombie make-up.

And you get...

SHARK VS ZOMBIE in the venerable Fulci's Zombie.

Possibly one of my favorite scenes in horror cinema. Ever.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Ceti Eel

I think that this is quite possibly the creepiest thing that I've seen in an hour.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

30 Days of Night - Terrifying New Vampire Vision

I think that humanity as a whole has goten far too comfortable with vampires. Think about Anne Rice's Louis and Lesat. Joss Whedon's Angel. Coppola's vision of Dracula. The new CBS show Moonlight. The vampires of the past 20 years embody raw, passionate, beautifully dangerous human sexuality; heterosexuality, homosexuality, virtiginous androgeny - the penetration and imbibing of fluids creating new sexual meaning. Sure, they have their pair of pointy mincers, but that's about it. It's interesting how vampires have anthropomorphized since Murnau's grotesque and iconic Graf Orlock in his 1922 film, Nosferatu. Now we have sympathetic visions of the vampire, poor creatures riddled with inner tumoil over their human/subhuman struggle, far removed from their animalistic primal origin.

But 30 Days of Night puts the monster back in the monster. The vampires in 30 Days of Night are quite possibly the most horrifying visions of the vampire that I have every seen.

The 30 Days of Night threat go far beyond the mere two sharpened canines. The vampires in this movie have a whole set of sharpened points lurking behind carnal sneers, their smooth sloping angular faces reminiscent more of sharks than of man. When they claim their victims, there are no clean bitemarks. Their victims are totally and utterly masacred. Unlike the our modern trend of vampires, who somehow manage to drain their victims of blood as cleanly and meticulously as a surgeon, their clothes and skin spotless, the vampires in 30 Days of Night unabashedly dig their teeth in, proudly wearing their victims' blood as a badge. As the movie progresses, the snow begins to fall over Alaska, white caresses the air, and blood red shines on the chins and bibs of the horrible night-stalkers. The direction is incredible and definitely creates visions of a terrorized paranoid town. The vampires created in this movie are monsters; there is no humanity left within them.

30 Days of Night is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by Steve Niles. The concept is that a Family of Vampires target an Alaskan town that every year has an entire month of night. Director David Slade definitely creates an intense seige movie, emphasizing paranoia, fear, and claustrophobia. Josh Hartnett plays the believably altruistic hero and Melissa George the love interest. David Slade creates an ambiance so intense that I actually found myself holding my breath, feeling the quiet as the survivors huddled in fear and hiding.

I was definitely impressed with this movie. I went in with high expectations, and the movie held up ok (yes, only ok). The "only ok" rating comes from impending yet ultimately unsatisfying showdown (vaguely inferred so as to avoid spoilers).

But it's not that bad. I give it * * * *. Definitely a must-see for blood-thirsty vampire fans.

Dark Ride - Slasher Goes Amusement

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Yet another film of 2006's 8 Films to Die For (I've seen 4 so far), Dark Ride pairs an amusement park ride with a maniacal asylum-escaped killer.

Which amusement park ride?

Well, a dark ride, of course. I didn't even know that those archaic mechanical horror perambulators found at the corners and outskirts of every county fair and portable amusement center even had names!

I love dark rides! The last one that I had been lucky enough to take advantage of was at the Champlain Valley fair in Essex Junction, Vermont. My boyfriend at the time and I barely fit into that precariously rickety vehicle, and the only horror that passed through us was the unadulterated fear that we would be cast overboard around one of the tight turns... And not be able to scramble out of the wooden car of doom as the subsequent cars pile up and pile up and pile up...

Those rides aren't for adults, folks. Leave them to the skinny kids.

But I digress.

In this film, five teenagers have the presence of mind to spend the night in a Dark Ride, which ALSO happens to be the home of an escaped mental patient.

Obviously, it all goes downhill from here.

The Dark Ride itself is actually pretty creepy. The concept of being lost in a haunted house is certainly not novel, but is definitely interesting. Most of the scares come from the counterfeit apparitions that occupy the ride's every nook and corner. The killer himself uses a boy mannequin's face to hide his own, a visage that should be enough to send shivers down the audience's collective spine... But, yet, it's lacking.

I definitely have a penchant for not only all things horror, but all thing slasher as well, so movies like Dark Ride definitely catch my interest and hold a special place in my heart, even before it commences. But that's all it has going for it. It has formulaicly bad dialogue, formulaic bad acting, and formulaicly bad characters.

I'd kill them myself if I had a chance.

It gets * * . 5... But only because I love the slasher.

Save yourself the trouble; Halloween should still be available on DVD.