Saturday, October 31

Too Old for Candy?

Yes sir, another BoGD look what I bought entry! On Halloween no less. Of course, no one is too old for candy (well, not entirely true) but it sure is a damn good excuse to buy more horror flicks today instead of a bag of "fun size" Snickers that will only rot your teeth, make you smooch greasemonkey mechanics, and say things like "Peanutopolis."

I hit up a madhouse Wal Mart this morning to snag the Gritty Horror Tales triple feature for Baby Blues (imdb link). Who knows when they'll pull all those five buck horror selections after today, especially this particular disc being a chain exclusive. Next Best Buy for Slaughter High (unrated) and Fido in's body bags for 2 for $15 (see list at FiS). Let's Scare Jessica to Death was in a dump bin with a bunch of other mostly non-horror $5 titles and I gave in to a $24.99 Blu-ray of Night of the Creeps. This one will be watched tonight so hopefully I'll deliver thoughts tomorrow on this gem (already have the HBO Laserdisc and bootleg DVD-R) and its presentation on Blu-ray.

The rest above are in great shape used from a local music shop, Record & Tape Traders, which for some unexplained reason rang up $3 even though marked $5. The one below Meatball Machine is Canadian Splatter Rampage edition of The Dead Next Door. Nothing special (full frame, no extras), but the cover is awesome. Tales of Voodoo, Volume 2 features Godfrey Ho's Diamond Ninja Force (1986) and Primitives (1978). I've wanted to see The Amazing Screw-on Head for quite some time and had forgotten about it until today. Prom Night '80 is Echo Bridge's anamorphic widescreen edition with an illustration of Jamie Lee with bouquet and bloody axe as the cover. Stay away from the full frame disc from Alliance Atlantis with a picture of Jamie Lee lifted from an H20 promo still reflected in a knife blade. The R-rated disc of Shadow: Dead Riot was only a buck, so yeah.

Also my copy of Trick 'r Treat: Tales of Mayhem, Mystery, and Mischief by John Griffin arrived the other day and although the book is thee must-have for fans--it arrived sealed in plastic. I'm one of these "DO NOT OPEN" collector freaks so I'm contemplating ordering another to open and enjoy. I spent a good portion of time thumbing through one at Borders before the DVD and couldn't believe such through, wonderfully creative book was complied for a completely untested movie. Now that I've fallen in love, I want to dig through its pages with fresh eyes. When I do get another (or just decide to open this one); I'll give it a write-up here.

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Friday, October 30

The Greatest Horror End Credits Transitions, Pt. 1

Isn't it funny how the greats usually have not only fantastic conclusions, but also perfect last frames and lead-ins to the credits? Almost as if after a certain point the film is so cocksure the last tiny bit breaks free from its makers hands and molds itself to ensure its future heralded status to the last credit. You know, the ones that end like heart tugging dramas; just without all the tissues, snot, and crocodile tears to save face with your girlfriend.

This isn't always the case; look no further than Hideo Nakata's Ringu and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Kairo for examples of mismatched, soulless pop tunes deflating ominous final images. Even Argento, whose had a rocky relationship with wrap-ups, doesn't quite strike the right chord with Suzy's sigh of relief at the abrupt end of Suspiria. But that's another entry, here's several that are no shit obvious yet are truly untouchable.

'nother one for the fire...

Ben, the only one levelheaded enough to survive the night, takes one between the eyes from a good ol' boy extermination squad upon first seeing dawn's light. The credits begin over a montage of grainy, blown-up shots of his bonfire disposal by emotionless faces welding meathooks.

If there was any doubt to what Romero was trying to say with Night--this sequence should lay it all out. It's chilling to think that probably even if they realized their mistake in their minds it was just another darkie the world wouldn't miss anyway. Or perhaps the man that called the shot knew before he even raised his finger. All the bodies wantonly piled up with the smell of gasoline, fuck it, at that point who cared who was lying inside? Who would have thought such a metaphor concerning racial segregation would rest in a low budget b/w horror flick concerning the dead feasting on the living? NOLD's closing credits cemented its place in not only the horror genre, but in all of cinema.

who cares, let's go shopping!

Fran and Peter are the only ones to escape the rooftop in the trusty W-GON chopper to an ascending tone of mystery. Frumpy horn-laded muzak erupts to accompany a credits montage of zombies doing the window shop-shuffle and ice rink-amble until the last dire bell tolls.

Though less nihilistic than Night, Romero still hammers the point of how mainstream culture has fallen to hollow consumerism with this nightcap imagery of the dead. Director Romero also manages to make these credits feel like a joyous celebration of Dawn, and even if it hadn't ended this way, it's easy to imagine people years later stumbling about Monroeville Mall to the chagrin of worn out security.

HALLOWEEN (1978) a matter of fact, it was.

The Shape shatters to the leafy ground below with Laurie cowering and Loomis stunned. With gunsmoke still clearing, the spot of his landing reveals just grass as Carpenter's theme commences. Loomis slowly gazes outward with the long dreaded realization his unheeded assertions were indeed true even to him. Shots of the now quiet interiors, exterior, and the boarded up Myers home with the ticking score and encumbered breathing as a warning. "HALLOWEEN"

Carpenter crafts a template that was yet to be improved. If there ever was a definitive introduction of a horror icon; Michael Myers' menacing disappearance into the hearts of horror fans has to be the criterion. Perfect from the opening credits to the last closing credit. What happened at the end of Zombie's abomination? Screaming and an immediate "Directed by Rob Zombie" notice. Nice...

the pregnant pause heard around the world...

Sally laughs manically from the speeding pick-up as the feminine Leatherface twirls with saw buzzing in rage with the morning sun's arrival. Sudden black, no sound. Credits begin with the found art score clanking.

It's all in the silent pause. At that exquisitely timed heartbeat, you could hear Rex Reed run from the theater with a pull quote that would guarantee his place in the film's marketing, see the old guard's face redden with fury immediately realizing their style was from that point forward regulated to camp, and experience firsthand the visceral era Hooper's masterpiece ushered in.

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Thursday, October 29

Some quick thoughts on Strangeland (1998)

Glam metalist legend/Tipper Gore lover boy Dee Snider stars as a wigged out and tatted up body mod fetishist dubbed Captain Howdy (how original!) with a flare for sharing his passion with unwilling participants. After kidnapping a girl lured from a chat room, can her weary detective father (Kevin Gage) stop the towering star member, but more importantly what can save the story from imploding upon itself?

Snider's inaugural foray into silver screen horror both as star and writer is a commendable trainwreck. The rocker's heart seems in the right place as he constructs an individualized killer around himself. Captain Howdy is fairly unique from the bevy of post-Scream blade murderers of the time but Snider can't quite disappear behind the ink and fails to be as savage as the character's infamous persona claims. In fact, the 'Cap doesn't actually kill anyone (allusions to Jigsaw) and we only hear of his most aborrent deeds through his mad diatribes speaking of youths not having a proper wright-of-passage into adulthood.

Strangeland's crippling problem is that it's like two stories befitting two separate movies belonging to the same series crushed into ninety minutes. The first story concerns Howdy kidnapping the girl, the detective tracking him down, and eventually saving his daughter while arresting Mr. 0ga Prince Albert. The second begins with a reformed Carleton Hendricks with cake make-up concealing his facial Tyson-on-steroids tattoo moving back into his now ransacked home in the very community he defiled just four years before (huh? really?). The same night naturally his vengeful neighbors (led by a hillbilly Robert Englund) break in, break his face, and drive him out to the sticks to the gallows. With everyone gone the limb he's swinging from snaps and Captain Howdy is suddenly reborn as his make-up runs in the rain (nice touch). The maniac then tortures the beer-swellin' Krueger and re-kidnaps the detective's daughter launching the final showdown in a empty kinky goth nightclub.

To accomplish this .zip file of horror, Snider glosses over much of the hows and whys. Especially in the last half; Howdy's second kidnapping of the same girl is completely unseen, two cops we've never seen before happen upon his victim lair without explaination, and the climatic face-off seems to be race to the end credits. Though all of Strangeland is filled with this lack of attention to finer points. A young Amy Smart's only function is to help the 'puter-dumb detective to talk with Howdy over the Internet. Despite enduring so much, the twice-tortured daughter has absolutely no character development, but she is naked a lot. The detective's partner (a terrible Brett Harrelson) does nothing and always seems twenty steps behind the story's times. Not to mention the film feels made in the early '90s and the DVD's unrated cut is very tame by any standard.

There's one thing that nearly makes up for all the frequent trip-ups into mediocrity. Before the likes of Feardotcom and Cry Wolf, Snider seems to beat everyone at including naive teens facing grave consequences with the perils of the Internet in a straight horror film. Howdy uses an instant messaging program similar to AIM under a stolen account prowling "Teen Chat" for prey to invite to a party/dungeon basement with torturous hook and spike. The use of a faked computer prog also isn't as embarrassing as seen in many other horror flicks. There's no beeping with each command, swosh sound with windows maximizing, or extremely simplistic layout designed for second graders. Still, Snider didn't seem to see the scope possible with this then relatively new idea and it falls to all the problems.

There's a sequel long in the works (info here) and I hope it becomes a reality someday. There's fertile ideas here aside from the avalanche of head scratching for a sequel that could easily best its predecessor.

sorry, had to.

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Wednesday, October 28

Ultra Quick BoGD Notes

I just started submitting stories to Horrorblips and my second submission is already on the main page. Hooray! I also smoothed and greatly reduced the filesize of the background to make BoGD easier to read and load. Yeah, that's about it for now, see ya tomorrow with a DVD review of a lipstick rockin' eleven-year-old horror flick...

Dawn of the Dead treated right in HD? Strike that.

.tempting, isn't it?

This is a disappointing follow-up to this 10/16 entry, Dawn of the Dead finally done right in High Definition. I received the British Arrow Films Blu-ray yesterday (region 0 confirmed, playable on U.S. players) and I'm sorry to report the transfer is nearly an exact mirror image of Anchor Bay's very lackluster stateside Blu-ray release. The Arrow transfer obviously exhibits the same lack of fine detail, smeary motion (in the same spots), and fleeting negative damage identical to Anchor Bay's poor treatment. The only difference is the contrast of the Arrow might be slightly lower and at times shadow detail seems muddier. As they say, the devil that you know...

Here's what I believe happened. The whole thing started with this DVDActive review of the Arrow BD. The site didn't receive the actual Blu-ray upon initially posting the review and substituted temporary screenshots from a piss poor looking DVD. The reviewer then contacted Arrow asking for full resolution Blu-ray captures from time codes he provided. The studio took nine captures supposedly from the disc and DVDActive promptly posted them at the end of the review as links. These shots looked wonderful (four can still be seen here), appeared to be what's expected from a Blu-ray screenshot, and that's when I decided to order the BD. Then several days later DVDActive finally received the disc, replaced all their crappy DVD shots with new Blu shots, and took down the Arrow-supplied "Blu-ray" captures. This is the review linked above as it exists today.

I saw these changes days ago but didn't want to jump the gun again with an update here until finally experiencing the release's transfer firsthand. The noticeably different 1920x1080 screenshots on the review today reflect the Blu-ray's "real" bland and too smooth picture quality just like the U.S. high def disc. Not that I visited DVDActive much to begin with but I'll never trust them again. I'm also never buying another Arrow Films DVD or Blu-ray release again. It was absolute bullshit for DVDActive to post the review without proper screenshots and Arrow to supply screenshots that clearly don't represent their release's true image. Thanks a lot.

Otherwise, the release is quite nice aesthetically with the PCM stereo track, an interesting booklet of linear notes, and mini-reproduction of the ridiculously valuable British quad sheet subway poster. The Director's Cut and Argento Cut DVDs are full of interlaced combing artifacts, sloppy NTSC-to-PAL conversion image ghosting, and show no advantage to the U.S. standard def releases. I'm betting Arrow got all three transfers (and extras) from Anchor Bay. Ugh, so is the curse of the DotD/PQ fanatic and again, thank you so much DVDActive and Arrow Films for all your nefarious stupidity that caused me and others that assumed this was "the one" to light $35 on fire...

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Tuesday, October 27

Book Ramblings: Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Glenn Kay

Published by The Chicago Review Press, 2008.

If you're looking for an easy-reading horror flick-oriented guide to give as a holiday gift to a young budding horrorhound niece or nephew, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide makes a great, freshly up-to-date candidate. That isn't a mark against this book, but there's nothing too thought provoking here for seasoned horror fanatics.

The guide is broken up chronologically starting in the '30s to present day tracking the gradual change from voodoo minion to raging infected in the horror subgenre. The foreword by Re-Animator/From Beyond director Stuart Gordon is very short and comes off as a halfhearted history of zombiedom which is the point of the guide anyway. The only thing of value is a small tidbit on Gordon wanting his Re-Animator re-animated to act animalistic as if on a "super meth speedball."

The brief interviews are no great shakes as well. Everyone knows Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini love to talk so you've probably heard their spiel before in numerous other chats. To be blunt, I couldn't care less reading the Q&A's with Dawn 04' /LotD zombie extra John Migliore, LotD's Number 8 Jennifer Baxter, Toronto International Film Festival's Midnight Madness chief Colin Geddes, or Diary of the Dead-EFX handlers Gaslight Studios. I decided not to read the interview with Fido director Andrew Currie concerning his film--still on my unseen wishlist. This leaves only two insightful (yet still condensed) sessions with Braindead/Shaun of the Dead special make-up tech Stuart Conran and Lucio Fulci's daughter Antonella.

Kay's reviews are breezy, well-written, and cover a good number of obscurities (nearly 300 in total) yet are mostly unchallenging. Ratings are denoted by little zombie sketches and you can call which films receive the top "Highly Recommended" rating in your sleep. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but again hardened genreheads probably won't find much to bitch over with the author's critiques. Though fresh meat just dipping their toes into the guide's topic will learn much about the important examples and their place in history. If I had to take issue; The Child (1977), The Video Dead (1987), Redneck Zombies (1987), Sole Survivor (1983), The Dead Pit (1989), Burial Ground (1980), Zombi 4 (1989), and Zombie Holocaust (1980) all deserve not to be avoided "at all costs." Also Jean Rollin's 1978 The Grapes of Death (Les Raisins de la mort) is one damn fine addition to the brain-eater spectrum and I struggle to praise Land of the Dead as highly, Mr. Kay.

As aforementioned, Zombie Movies works well as a great starter for youngsters. The writing is inoffensive, the images are mostly in monochromatic PG-13, and dammit, don't you remember how much fun those dusty horror film books you had as a kid were? Aside from that recommendation, I'd suggest rabid celluloid deadheads seek out Jamie Russell's much more comprehensive Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema published by FAB Press still in-print as of this writing.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

What's with all this Blair Witch Project talk again?

On July 30th, 1999, this small regional horror indie with an interesting concept opened to the festival circuit, quickly vanished, and finally debuted on video in the Haunted Horror Movies 50-Movie DVD Pack in 2005 that's now out-of-print. Well, that was probably what everyone involved figured the realistic outcome for The Blair Witch Project would be at the very start. Instead, the film weighed down countless moviehouse cash registers to maximum capacity worldwide and sold like toilet paper in the face of an apocalyptic three inch snowfall in its home state of Maryland.

I can still remember first hearing of Blair Witch from a friend back when I was on my Internet AOL training wheels. He was convinced the whole thing was real while I used the common sense and knew there's no way the feds would just freely release any video evidence such as this. Poking around quickly revealed the events were indeed completely false, but that didn't stop the film from generating global coin (nearly) equaling the cost of one of Spielberg's summer homes.

An interesting thing happened after the fervor. It seemed immediately after the theatrical and home video greenback explosion; most everyone that made it a mega hit decided Blair Witch actually sucked. The film's marketing which included faux documentaries and a wealth of official-looking case documentation on the film's official website was truly ingenious. The phenomenon was strong enough to sweep in huge crowds and make the film impervious for a time against negative water cooler chatter. Simply amazing for a horror film; let alone one with no names in front or behind the cameras shot Real World-style in hazy Hi-8 and B/W 16mm. All this and movie-goers were getting worn out on impossibly attractive rich white twenty five-something "teens" terrorized by boring kitchen knife-welding puppets.

Revisiting the film last night due to its re-emergence with comparisons to Paranormal Activity; I can see why so many soured on Blair Witch. It's simply hard to criticize the film on conventional grounds. Usually, the director and/or writer can be blamed for boneheaded characters, decisions, or situations. The three leads and even the few interviewed townsfolk actors do a wonderful job of conveying the spontaneity of natural speech and body language. The choice and editing of the final cut footage is also impeccable.

These were vital to pull off correctly and otherwise problems one has can't be really analyzed when reflecting on the concept's hook. The characters, decisions, and situations are just laid out in chronological for the viewer as supposedly "real" footage recovered from the group's recovered reels. The sense of realism is only heightened by the fashion the film underwent shooting. The actors were only given a treatment on the Blair Witch legend, essentially dropped in the woods, given near total control over the cameras, allowed to improvise all their lines, and were unaware of most of the supernatural events. I don't believe makers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez purposely crept into this mindset for convenience, but this makes Blair Witch more prone to outright condemnation.

This will be a stupidly precarious leap, but The Blair Witch Project can be liken in a vague shoestring way to Alain Resnais's overwhelming Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog). Even though one is based in pure fiction and the other on the most savage act committed by mankind in the 20th century; each present their events in a plain matter-of-fact light. One can either love or hate the actual films, but that doesn't change the fact that it actually happened. To reiterate, of course Blair Witch is entirely fake and nowhere of the same societal influence and value of Night and Fog, but within the confines of the horror genre, its audacious portrayal of "actual" events is just as polarizing and personally as hard to watch the Resnais masterpiece for their own unique reasons. Is The Blair Witch Project a genre masterpiece? Tough to say, it just seems "there", take it or leave it.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Monday, October 26

The Last Mercenary (1983) Cover Scan

.buring vengence!

Several days ago a kind reader shot an e-mail to BoGD requesting a scan of Mogul's THE LAST MERCENARY. This cover is the best thing about the flick, originally entitled Rolf, as evidenced by my thoughts. I actually managed to find two copies of this tape and the scan above is the more damaged and stickered-up cover (touched up the scan a bit) of the two since the other copy is currently buried on the shelf. Pretty sure the chick by Rolf's package is copied from the awesome Frazetta depiction of once Clint Eastwood girlfriend Sondra Locke from the theatrical poster of 1977's The Gauntlet. Still, Mogul had some of the best illustrated VHS covers produced by a small video distributor in the '80s.

Sunday, October 25

Some quick thoughts on Monster Man (2003)

A twenty five-year-old virgin, his dickish buddy, and newly acquired hitchhiker with female sexual or-gggannns manage to severely piss off a severely facially disadvantaged rust-clad monster truck driver out in the sandy desert sticks inhabited by hicks with varying appendages conspicuously missing.

I just became aware director/writer Michael Davis went on from this to helm Shoot 'Em Up. Yep, that Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti-starring Shoot 'Em Up. Damn, talk about a quantum leap in filmography. Though I guess I shouldn't be that surprised, since the wafer-thin blowout kitchen sink aesthetic that made that 2007 crap action effort so Mickey D's Chicken McNuggets-fun is applied to the horror comedy with Monster Man.

Sure, the comedy is proudly juvenile, but how can you not get the giggles over a dude sucking shit out of a camper's waste tank expecting gas or wet dream feline roadkill cunnilingus? I see you smirking so get off your cinéma high horse for a moment. This is nothing but high calorie pungently salty sautéed horromedy afterbirth; not belonging in the pantheon of either genre's greats yet being brisk on its toes to avoid boredom. Davis' prior straight comedy work dominates most of the film's ninety-five minutes, which you could use as a complaint, but this colors the three leads making their relationship to each other and the audience agreeable thus saving the you aren't watchin' for this anyway story from being entirely pointless.

The last half hour is where the splat smacks the walls with plenty of textured grue, grisly living torsos, writer's best friend eye insertions, unwanted throat openings, and Bigfoot 2019: After the Fall of Monster Jam mayhem. Davis makes up for the dearth of balls out horror in the preceding otherwise entertaining hour in my book. Others have disagreed, but have they really experienced the true depths of recent dreck? Just sit down and watch Flu Bird Horror next time it's on Syfy (w/ their 628 commercials-per-hour quota) and then we'll see if you can still view this good-intentioned Monster Man as harshly...


Welcome to!

Since Basement of Ghoulish Decadence has received so much deeply appreciated positive feedback and (amazingly) an ample following; I've decided to pay up to a custom domain of simply Nothing else will change, but it will hopefully now be easier to tell your family, friends, pets, and would-be stalkers about this blog/site/spontaneous apple creation. That and I'm tired of having to spell out "d-e-c-a-d-e-n-c-e" to those I meet out in the world who fail to grasp the .blogspot portion of the prior address. The new address will take a few days to sink into the cesspool of the Interwebs, so the .blogspot destination will still work until you can access BoGD's .com proper.

Really, thanks to everyone who visits daily, weekly, or just happens upon BoGD and grumbles to themselves about the owner having no life. It's great fun to scribe this obsessive junk and I hope to only provide you fiends and myself with more. So stay tuned!


Here's an odd tape dupe of David E. Durston's stupendously great I Drink Your Blood I ran across sometime recently. It's from "Mad Phat Productions" in a generic black slipcover and obviously was made before Box Office Spectaculars/Grindhouse Releasing's definitive SE DVD. The beginning has el-cheapo camcorder-written text stating "Video Images presents A Video Yesteryear Presentation". The film is cut running around 70 minutes (maybe even shorter with what I'll describe next) from its uncut 83 minute digital disc incarnation.

But here's the kicker, the film has several impromptu intermissions for reel changes and these don't appear to be added in for nostalgic effect. A scene will end and a black text screen will appear saying "One Moment So We Can Change Reels" and then total black for like two or three minutes. Suddenly the video flickers, reverts for a second to the stand-by blue screen of whatever VCR used to make the recording, and then a few more seconds of fuzzy black before the film begins again with the opening of the next scene. What!?! The last example of such a break is in-between the scene in which the lead couple have a conversation and when Sue-Lin sees the rabid Bhaskar and lights herself ablaze (the actual immolation shots are cut out). I've never seen such an flat out odd thing before.

Whatever print used is in extremely bad shape. Incessant lines, flecks, pops, burns, and the color black burning a funky green assail the film. It's a shame the violence is so chopped up as the damage adds to the charm of the experience. Though it's still great to see the film so well-preserved in uncut form on DVD and it looks like a Wizard of Oz level of restoration in comparison. Here's a scan of my copy of the Japanese JVD R2 DVD for added entry value, awesome artwork as usual from our friends in the East...

Saturday, October 24

The Super Anally Retentive Fright Night DVD Entry

So as you're aware I've been cruising the shelf space of Wal Mart and I bought a copy of Fright Night on DVD. I've already had the disc for years, but something seemed different about the one I just bought. It's a bit hard to tell from the above scan, but the quality and color depth of the 2006 Sony disc's cover art is weaker than the original 1998 edition. The 1998 has the normal "glossy" quality of professional DVD covers while the 2006 has the picture noise and dull appearance typical of being ran off from a more conventional PC printer.

You'll also notice all the little changes in between the two layouts. Most interesting are differing runtimes. The Sony states 108 minutes while the Columbia lists 106 minutes. Also the Sony states "Remastered in High Definition" and drops the Full Screen version found on the flipside of the Columbia disc. There's been a properly framed HD version making the rounds on-demand, so I was curious to see if the encodes were the same or different.

1998 / 2006
1998 pan and scan

Identical encodes all created on July 22nd, 1999 running at 1:46:24. Where's the Blu-ray? There are other differences though. Since the 2006 edition drops the pan and scan hackjob; its DVD has artwork as opposed to the double data sides on the old edition. The trade-off is the loss of the original edition's linear note/chapter list insert. If you have the 1998 disc, keep it, and if you don't--find it to gain the insert.

Go to Wal Mart + Buy Copious Horror Movies = Keep America Strong!

I joined the People of Wal Mart yesterday and this morning (Mountain Dew Voltage is delicious!) to raid the DVD aisles for $5 horror flix. Isn't Halloween just wonderful in so many ways?

Tales from the Crypt / Vault of Horror - MGM Midnite Movies
Blacula / Scream, Blacula, Scream! - MGM Midnite Movies
Countess Dracula / The Vampire Lovers - MGM Midnite Movies
Gorehouse Greats Collection - 12 Movies/3 discs (DVDTalk Review w/ titles, note some are even in anamorphic widescreen!)
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
Hellraiser - 20th Anniversary Edition
Fright Night (more on this one later)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - Dark Sky's 2-Disc Ultimate Edition Steelbook

There's quite a few other five buckaroo titles Wally World offers, off the top of my head: Wind Chill, Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror, Black X-Mas (2007), Ghost Son (directed by Lamberto Bava), J.D.'s Revenge, Day of the Dead (2008), Urban Legend, Blackenstein, Holla, Happy Birthday to Me (Anchor Bay), Haunting of Connecticut (2002), Haunting of Georgia (2002), Halloween 4/Halloween 5 double feature, Mortuary/Salvage/Bloody Mary/Vampire Wars 4-Movie Set, "Gritty Horror Tales" Triple Feature (Hack!/Baby Blues/Harm's Way), Halloween Curse of Myers/H20/Resurrection set ($15), and a Scream 1-3 set ($15) .

The two on top in the picture, I'm Not Scared and Tales of Frankenstein, I snagged from a local music shop and Slimer is a bank found there as well during my WM travels. Please keep in mind the selection varies from location-to-location so you might have to hit several before finding certain titles. Since I don't have any of the ones I listed above, are any worth the price? Anyone pick up any I didn't mention worth throwing in the filthy cart? I might go back tomorrow and pick up the Gritty Horror Tales Triple Feature for Baby Blues.

As for the swap meet, rained out (argh!), but I did find this. Harris Comics Vampirella #1 signed by Louis Small Jr. and Jim Balent #49/1000.

Some quick thoughts on Dead Birds (2006)

In 1863 after a bloody bank robbery, a group of thieves decide to wait out a furious storm in a decrepit empty plantation homestead before fleeing to Mexico at dawn. Tensions caused by the stolen sacks of gold coins and sudden disappearances by those in the party led to a night of horror as the house's demonic mysteries are reawakened.

Being a horror fan is to be different and listening to reactions of those outside the community is sometimes odd. Last time I felt this outsider feeling was a conversation over Adam Green's Hatchet with a girl at my place of work. Apparently the new retro slasher homage was "the scariest movie" she'd ever seen and she "couldn't sleep at all that night." Even though the fandom love to be scared; I can't say I've ever been so affected by a single horror flick to lose an entire night's rest. Hell, I rarely even jump or have the urge to flick on a light with most of the horror I consume.

Alex Tuner's Dead Birds is the seldom exception being a rare modern example of "take your time" in the genre. What's even more surprising the film sits in the low budget realm of the spectrum and its quiet proceedings never feel forcefully made modest because of the equally modest funds. In the same way Session 9 so delightfully and tidily contains its story; this yarn is like a little curious tale spun by tourist guides or only whispered by those living in the area present day.

Everything isn't pitch perfect; the allegory made by the "Dead Birds" title isn't that successful since we only see one dead bird to signify the "dead zone" surrounding the area as the group first encounters the house's ominous presence. The dark history of the homestead will also seem muddled upon first glance (a major "key" is only spoken once), but repeat viewings fill in these bumps. Aside from these quibbles; the film is bolstered by a great rough looking cast, several frights that would give the elderly heart attacks, and glum cinematography that creates a welcoming old dark house atmosphere. Certainly a tiny diamond in the rough and worth not just renting but owning to experience again-and-again at your whim.

Elvira Greeting Cards Vintage '82-'84

1983: Over My Dead Body!

1983: Sorry I haven't written but I've been tied up lately!
1984: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fright!

1984: Take the cake and I'll blow the candle! Happy Birthday!
1984: Fangs for the Mammaries

Friday, October 23

Initial Impressions of Rammstein's new album, Liebe ist für alle da

This is slightly off-topic for BoGD (are they horror music?), but the keeper of this blog was a huge Rammstein fan back in high school. Riding their breakthrough American success of the single Du hast, I ran out to snatch up Sehnsucht, their first album Herzeleid, and every import single I could latch my ears upon. I even have the now ultra rare Original Singles Kollection box set and the Gert Rammstein hardcover. Napster was still Radio Free Earth then, so I set forth to collect every bootleg live recording my bandwidth could handle.

Then came Live aus Berlin, Mutter, Reise, Reise, Rosenrot, and the live follow-up Völkerball from 2000 through 2006. The half life on these albums is short and I never listen to anything Mutter backwards nowadays. I only really care for two tracks from Reise, Reise and Rosenrot. The first being Mein Teil, inspired by the case of Armin Meiwes and "victim", a certain primitive murder lust violently pervades the song otherwise absent in their catalog. It doesn't glorify the crimes of the pitiful Meiwes, but revels in the intensity of mutual mutilation and the German tabloid feast over the lurid details. Rosenrot's Feuer und Wasser just might my favorite "R+" track as it perfectly executes the operatic power delved into with Mutter that ran throughout the backbone of their sound afterward.

I sorta skipped over Völkerball. The entire album (at least in CD form) has the muddy trademark of "internal" volume pumping from dynamic range compression. It's simply hard to listen to and I have several old concert bootlegs of the band that are more pleasing for my ears to endure. This brings us (finally, I know) to Liebe ist für alle da, released stateside this past Tuesday. Listening now going back and forth through the numbers; the album is possibly the band's most accomplished album of any thus far. There are many attempts of variation within the bridges and refrains than previous albums; even though outsiders will probably just hear the same ol' monolithic wall of Germanic crunch. Harps, horns, soft acoustic strums, industrial jitterings, and even piss take whistling accompany the titan beats of the usual Rammstein fare. One often voiced complaint has been the lack of synth diddling in their later albums and keyboardist Flake gets more to do here but still isn't integral to any track like on Herzeleid or Sehnsucht.

But I haven't been much of a fan in good standing for years because of their "whenever the fuck" studio recording schedule. So right now I'm hearing more vanilla repetition with a couple of tracks standing out. Wiener Blut (Viennese Blood) begins with a soft children's rendition of the Johann Strauss Austrian waltz before smashing down terror with lyrics that tell of the morbid Josef Fritzl case. "Paradise lies under the house/The door falls closed, the light goes out/Are you ready?/Are you still there?/Welcome…to the darkness!"

Of course, that sounds so much more horrifying in its native tongue through the chords of a screaming Till Lindemann with terrified muttered feminine whimpering peppered in. The portion of the song that refers to incest features children laughing with the whimpers only growing more urgent. In other words, it's awesome in its subversive creepiness and acts as a great sister to Mein Teil. The lead single, Pussy, is also great fun with its ridiculous innuendo mix between languages that speaks back to Rosenrot's Mexican booze-fueled Te quiero puta! The downright raunchy porn video for Pussy trumps the song though. You can find it yourself.

The title track, Liebe ist für alle da (There is love for everyone), describes a rape fantasy becoming reality with rapid destruction drums reminiscent of early Metallica. The last track to strike me was actually the last track, Roter Sand (Red Sand). It's the band's now customary quiet album closer most similar to Herzeleid's Seeman. It's a somber stroll down the path of a man dying from a gunshot of both literal and emotional sentiment that almost echos Akira Yamaoka's work with the Silent Hill game OSTs just with more hope. On the second disc of the 2-CD Special Edition there are two other versions of this song. It makes you wish Rammstein would at least release an EP of nothing but this brand of melancholy.

Overall, nothing really new from the masters of the Deutsch aural metallic earache and it won't change minds, but there's a exhibition of maturity that ties the sound of their raw output of the '90s with the trumped up epicness of their post-millennial efforts. It'll probably grow on me before suddenly dying on the vine like most their other work.

Thursday, October 22

Evil Dead 2 on Blu-ray Postscript: Bad News

the new improved theatrical one-sheet!

As a follow-up to this August entry, When "A Version" Becomes The "The Version", Ash looks to have been given the screwjob yet again on Blu-ray. Judging from these Blu-ray captures; the French Studio Canal BD features the same radically tweaked transfer as Anchor Bay's BD and Book of the Dead DVD. Way over brightened, digitally smoothed to oblivion, pastel color all the way...what every Blu-ray oughta be!

I'm aware that it seems weird that picture quality would matter to a dude that still watches old analog tapes, but I expect only the best from a format such as Blu-ray capable of delivering the closest home video has ever gotten to original film negative levels of detail. There's no need to filter transfers in any fashion considering Blu-ray's sky-high bitrates, ample capacity, and continually evolving encoding methods. This and the fact Anchor Bay's now nine-year old THX DVD still blows away every release to date. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn hasn't received the treatment it deserves in 1080p, but at least the THX standard def disc (this one) is still in-print. Grab it or another copy.

if anyone who worked on these Blu-rays is reading (fat chance), these are from a 480i NTSC source and make your work look incredibly incompetent: you dare tread upon the staircase?

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