Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Being Human: The Road

I just finished reading The Road by Simon Geurrier and was very happy with the story and the way Geurrier was able to portray the characters on paper pretty close to their TV characters. I liked the show so much as a late discoverer of the series on Hulu earlier this year. I was disappointed as the actors left the show one by one until the entire cast was eventually replaced. I did like the new cast of characters, but still missed the originals. Rarely is anything ever as good as the original!

The novel covered a few days in the lives of Annie, George and Mitchell as they worked together to unravel the mystery and solve the problem of Gemma the ghost who took up residence in the flat for no apparent reason. Reading the book was sort of like reading a lost episode. It definitely would have made a good episode within the TV series. I'm now patiently waiting the arrival of the second book in the series, Chasers by Mark Michalowski, and hope to enjoy it at least as well as The Road.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Candyman (1992)

I hadn't seen Candyman since it first came out on video in the 90s and I had found it disturbingly scary back then. I've had it in my queue on Hulu for quite a while, so when I got the email alert that it would expire on the January 1, it was time to watch it before I lost it. I was hoping that over the years it would have become old and stupid. It got old all right, but it really stands the test of time as a horror movie.

The ending was laugh out loud funny and a few other minor scenes were ridiculous, but mostly it was just plain scary. The scares were not cheap ones and were timed perfectly with the sound effects. Too many recent movies are more sound than scare. The massive booming of the surround sound scares me more than the story. And the booming happens too often, like every time a character turns their head or touches a doorknob. The movies would probably be better with the volume off. 

I can definitely understand why Candyman remains a classic as it winds urban legend and fear into a boogeyman-type myth. It somehow makes the real world less scary to invent a legendary creature more terrifying to overcome than daily survival. The music was beautiful for a horror movie as well. And didn't old Trevor get what was coming to him?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Elizabeth Bathory's Reign of Terror Ends
According to, Elizabeth Bathory's sadistic acts of physically torturing local young ladies was officially made public on this day in around the year 1610. In the article Bathory was instructed in Satanism by an uncle and sadomasochism by an aunt. What a family!

However, a Wikipedia article doesn't mention anything about family influences other than the level of her nobility. Her nobility raises questions of conspiracy theories and also questions regarding the credibility of sources who make Bathory out to be the most prolific serial killer ever. While her horrific behavior was publicly ignored for years because of her position, King Mathias began seeking evidence against her. Was it because she was starting to target aristocratic daughters instead of her usual peasants or because the King owed her a lot of money and wanted a way to get out of the debt? Who knows. The article states that scholars still debate the number of her victims, her motivation and the means and extent of her methods of torture. Apparently, the popular stories of her bathing in the blood of virgins to retain her youthful appearance are probably fiction. It did say that she bit chunks of flesh from their bodies. Maybe she did think she was a vampire! Pretty scary either way.

The basic truth here is still true today; wealthy people with social status and political connections are punished less severely (if they're prosecuted and punished at all) than people without those particular assets. However, kings overrule countesses, so eventually Bathory was arrested and sentenced to house arrest for her crimes. Powers of the rich and connected are the ultimate power, not magic or supernatural powers, when it comes to getting away with torture and murder, or as Bram Stoker suggested in Dracula, the power of solid teamwork and ample financial resources can overcome anything.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stitches (2012)

Bad clowns are all over the place in movies, but I don't remember seeing such horrid prepubescent children in a clown movie. Rude, swearing and disrespectful, they should have been slashed then and there before leaving Tommy's 10th birthday party. But, traditional slasher movies require teenage victims, so the children grew to be rude, swearing and disrespectful teenagers before being gruesomely and hilariously murdered by Stitches, the evil ghost clown. 

Graveyards are all over the place in horror movies as well, but the graveyard in Stitches was a really cool one; very old, but pretty well maintained with a Gothic stone tower toward the back. What would be housed in a Gothic stone tower protected by an iron gate secured with a padlock that looks like a clown's face? The ritual place of the clown coven or cult and the raw eggs which hold the essence of each clown's soul, of course. 

As the recently risen from the grave Stitches makes his way around the house during Tommy's 16th birthday party sniffing out his victims with the help of his animated red clown nose, he gruesomely twists each killing to mirror the child's despicable behavior at the original party. Very creative, darkly vengeful and plenty of spraying blood and dismemberment. The umbrella as a weapon killing and the "balloon" animal slow kill are over the top gruesome yet funny and really took a lot of creative thinking to pull off.

Typical of teenage slasher movies, we know from the beginning who the hero is and who will probably survive, which allows for the super funny tricycle chase. As humans, there are times when we really want to see our enemies suffer a slow painful death, preferably by the means they used to wrong us in the past. In fact, Stitches' payback killings reminded me of fantasies I've had in the past of seeking revenge on those who have wronged me, or in my adolescent PMS days, simply pissed me off. Of course, common sense and compassion always won out and fantasies are meant to be fleeting, but demonic clowns, risen from hell or the grave or wherever demonic clowns go after death, thrive on chaos and destruction, kill with glee and utter a hilarious remark to cap it off.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Cadaver Christmas (2011)

If you like low budget horror movies, you might like this one. I love low budget horror movies, but A Cadaver Christmas was so cheesily low budget that I'm guessing the director used the situation to create comedy by amplifying the low-budgetness. The acting at the beginning was so bad; it was like the director grabbed two random guys off the street, handed them a script, told them where to stand and asked them to start reading. I almost turned it off, but let it play to give it a chance.

 The scene that motivated me to watch the whole movie was when The Janitor enters the bar covered in blood from head to toe, goes into the mens room and washes all the blood off his face. He reappears in the bar and his face is once again covered in blood like he never washed it! That cracked me up, so I sat back and relaxed.

Then the cop, Sam Sheriff, entered the bar after being called by the bartender who alerted him to the strange janitor. He was hilarious himself with his exaggerated manner and facial expressions. He looked like a comic book character. 

The drunk guy Tom was so funny with his bottomless flask and sharp observations popping out of  his usual dumb drunkenness. 

Watch out for university labs since they seem to breed zombies as the zombies in this movie also were created much the same way as in the movie Re-Animator. A scientist experimenting on dead human tissue by injecting a serum into their necks, only for different reasons. Fortunately, the team of misfits led by The Janitor were able to halt the spread of the zombies. Or were they?

If you see this movie, make sure you keep watching as the credits roll.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Krampus: Movie (2015)

"Greetings From Krampus"
Cool Christmas card idea! I think the Krampus in the movie was slightly scarier though. His helper toys reminded me of Demonic Toys and the movie made me think of how Demonic Toys might have been with a much bigger budget. The punishment seemed pretty harsh for the little kid having a momentary hissy fit over being picked on and humiliated by his cousins. He only wanted Christmas to be the happy holiday it was in previous years, he didn't want everyone to die!

I thought the movie was pretty scary with just enough humor to release the tension here and there. I loved the grandma character, Omi. She was strong, wise, mysterious and brave as hell. Usually, older people are depicted as helpless and sickly, but Omi was calm and courageous standing firm and facing her fears. She looked Krampus right in the face and didn't flinch. I'd definitely watch this movie again. My daughter announced Krampus as her new favorite Christmas movie, so I'm sure I will see it again!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Frankenstein's Vow of Revenge

I love this scene as Victor kneels before the Frankenstein family tomb mourning his dead family, the victims of his creature as they lie in eternal rest, and he swears to avenge their deaths:

By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, by the deep and eternal grief that I feel, I swear; and by thee, O Night, and the spirits that preside over thee, to pursue the demon who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict. For this purpose I will preserve my life; to execute this dear revenge will I again behold the sun and tread the green herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from my eyes forever. And I call on you spirits of the dead, and on you, wandering ministers of vengeance, to aid and conduct me in my work. Let the cursed and hellish monster drink deep of agony; let him feel the despair that now torments me. (Mary Shelley)

He feels powerful as he summons spirits of the dead and ministers of vengeance as he kneels at dusk in a graveyard feeling the presence of the dead around him. He's like a warlock or a sorcerer conjuring an army of spirits to help him in his quest. The imagery in this scene and Shelley's prose makes this my favorite scene in the novel.

Shelley gives Victor some real and rare passion here. He has a purpose and a reason to live like during the time that he was studying and creating his creature. Other than these two events, Victor's life is pretty much a depressing void where his greatest pleasure is found in solitary pursuits hiking and rowing and enjoying nature. He's happiest when he's escaped society and his family. Perhaps because these two episodes of Victor's life are the only times he truly feels alive with passion and a sense of purpose, it explains why he didn't attempt to pursue and destroy his monster after the initial murder of William and the subsequent execution of Justine, falsely convicted of William's murder. Then he allows his best friend to be murdered, then his bride. Maybe deep down he wanted the creature to do his evil deeds for him and rid himself of the society that constricted his life with the restrictions that caused him, by duty to his beloved father, to remain in his empty depressing existence with his family.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Frankenstein: Victor Finally Feels the Need to Take Action

After his little brother William, his best friend Henry Clerval, his beloved wife Elizabeth are murdered by the creature he created, his family friend Justine is falsely convicted and executed for the murder of his brother and his father dies from grief, Victor Frankenstein finally feels the need to take action to stop the murdering creature that he created:

As the memory of past misfortunes pressed upon me, I began to reflect on their cause--the monster who I had created, the miserable demon whom I had sent abroad into the world for my destruction. I was possessed by a maddening rage when I thought of him, and desired and ardently prayed that I might have him within my grasp to wreak a great and signal revenge on his cursed head. (Mary Shelley)

As he once was obsessed with creating life, Victor is now finally obsessed with hunting down and killing the creature he brought to life then abandoned and stood by in helpless agony and remorse as the creature destroyed his family. Don't you think he should have come to this decision as soon as he killed William? It would have made the whole story more suspenseful and exciting if he began the hunt right after William's murder as he fails to intercept him before each murder. How dumb was he to assume the creature's threat regarding his wedding night only endangered himself and not Elizabeth. Were all affluent 18th century men that wimpy and self-involved?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Frankenstein: The Power to Create and Destroy

Why didn't Frankenstein just kill his creature after it killed his little brother William and framed Justine for the murder? For that matter, why didn't he just kill it after he first brought it to life and realized that he had made a horrible mistake? Well, for one thing, Mary Shelley wouldn't have had much of a story there. It would have been pretty short. Instead, Frankenstein's feelings toward the creature became even more hateful and then, to save the rest of his family, he felt he had to submit to the creature's request to create for him a partner.

Frankenstein did suffer some mental anguish in his decision to grant the creature's request, but pretty quickly decided to go ahead and take the risk that he might be creating another raging superhuman killer instead of a loving companion that would subdue the creature's violent quest for revenge. When a parent gives birth to an unwanted child do they have another child to keep the first one occupied and distracted so they can have their own carefree life back like Frankenstein wanted? Pretty silly if they think that's going to work!

In fact, some parents, for whatever desperate reasons try to dispose of an unwanted child soon after the birth. Take, for example, the scandalous case of Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson in the 90s who concealed Amy's pregnancy, then delivered the baby in a hotel room and tossed its dead body in a dumpster and tried to go on with their lives as though nothing had happened. Comedian Bill Cosby tells a  humorous story of his father warning him that he brought him into the world and he can take him out too and just make another one who looks just like him. 

Human beings have the power to create life and to destroy it as well. There are legal consequences and moral responsibilities set by societies and governments regarding both. But Frankenstein created his creature in secret, so why doesn't he just take the creature out in secret? It seems as though he has the power to create life but doesn't have the power to kill what he has created.