Monday, October 31, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cause I can thrill you more than any ghoul would dare to try

Darkness falls across the land
The midnite hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'awl's neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Horror Movie Countdown to Halloween: Lost Highway

In honor of Halloween Week, I am listing some of my favorite creep-o movies. I tried not to pick the obvious choices to add a little diversity from all the other Halloween movie lists...

Lost Highway

David Lynch’s Lost Highway is something of a test-run for his film Mulholland Drive; they both explore similar, nightmare-ish themes and storylines involving duel identities. But there’s something infinitely more disturbing and creepy about Lost Highway.

Lynch later said he realized that when he was writing the film he was subconsciously channeling the O.J. Simpson murders/trial, and that’s one way to look at things: shocking murders involving “famous” people and the mysteries behind them.

Bill Pullman, here at his Bill Pullmaniest, plays a noise-jazz musician named Fred Madison. He’s married to Renee, played by Patricia Arquette, who seems like she’s on tranquilizers during the whole film. They live in a very creepy, very modernistic house (which is actually David Lynch’s own house) with few windows and really deep, dark corners.  One day, they find a videotape on their doorstep. They watch it, and it reveals that someone has been filming their house. They think nothing of this at first—until more tapes show up, showing that whoever is filming their house is also going IN their house, and filming them while they sleep.

This is creepy enough already, but Lynch piles on their creepiness as Fred and Renee go to a party and Fred encounters the character known as The Mystery Man, played by Robert  Blake who later in real-life had his own very public O.J. Simpson-like murder trial. Blake is delightfully disturbing in the role, and his pale-white make-up aids in this. After a great/scary scene where the Mystery Man hands Fred a giant old cell phone and tells him to call his own house, where the Mystery Man ANSWERS the phone and then the one at the party and the one at the house laugh in stereo, things REALLY start going downhill for Fred, because Renee turns up dead and Fred is convicted of her murder.

 He has no memory of the murder,  but all that is moot anyway because one night Fred morphs into rebel teen Pete Dayton, played (terribly) by Balthazar Getty.

From here we try to figure out what the FUCK is going on, as Pete, formerly Fred, gets out of jail and starts having an affair with a woman named Alice, also played by Arquette. The Mystery Man pops up some more, and Robert Loggia steals nearly the whole film as whacked-out mobster Mr. Eddy—who , in keeping with the duel personality angle—might also be someone named Dick Laurent—who we are told at the beginning of the movie is dead.

Lost Highway doesn’t really make a lick of sense. Sure, you can try to figure things out, and probably get pretty close to solving the puzzle—but it doesn’t matter. The fact that things are so strange, and so out-of-left field aid in making the movie extra, extra creepy. It’s not really considered one, but this is a straight-up horror movie. Almost every scene drips with weird, sleazy menace. None of the characters seem to have souls, and also Gary Busey is in this movie, so that right there is a sign of how fucked-up things are.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Horror Movie Countdown to Halloween: Lake Mungo

In honor of Halloween Week, I am listing some of my favorite creep-o movies. I tried not to pick the obvious choices to add a little diversity from all the other Halloween movie lists...

Lake Mungo

When was the last time a horror movie made you feel something; not just yell out in shock, or cringe in grossness, or roll your eyes at how fucking stupid the movie was--I'm talking about actually feeling something real.

Lake Mungo is that type of horror movie.

I suppose the term "horror movie" could be used loosely to describe Lake Mungo; this isn't a movie that is trying to terrify you or make you jump in your seat. This is a movie that is a surprisingly touching, heartfelt exploration on the horror of grief and loss. But there's more to it than that.

Let's get this out of the way first: Yes, this is a "found footage" or "mockumentary" type horror movie. Like them or not, they are here to stay. Just this past weekend Paranormal Activity 3 made 1 Bajillion Trillion Dollars (sources needed), so found footage movies aren't going away any time soon.

But please, if you are one of those people who says "UGH, i hate those type of movies! Blair Witch and shit!", I implore you to give this movie a chance.

Lake Mungo takes place in Australia, and is about the death of Alice Palmer and the mysteries that surround her life, death...and after-life.

Alice is a happy seeming 16 year old who goes on a swimming trip with her family one day, and drowns. We're never told exactly how she drowned, because her family doesn't know. She was there one moment, and then the next, she was gone.

As is to be expected, the Palmer family is devastated. Mother June actually begins taking long walks late at night and breaking into people's houses. Father Russell internalizes everything and doesn't show emotion, and Alice's teenage brother Mathew begins experimenting with video-making. And it's through Mathew's new-found obsessive hobby that the family begins to suspect that while Alice may be dead, she might not be gone.

To tell you more would spoil things. What you might think is  going to be a simple ghost story turns into an expose on the nature of keeping secrets. As one of Alice's friends says during an interview, "Alice kept secrets. She kept the fact that she kept secrets a secret."  

I was raised on horror movies. At a young age I was watching movies that, quite frankly, I probably shouldn't have been watching. I suppose my 20+ years of horror film watching has numbed me a bit to being scared.

This movie scared me.

Lake Mungo seeps under your skin. It's like a cold draft in your house that slowly begins to increase to the point where it chills the very marrow of your bones. An overwhelming feeling of dread accompanies the film, and also sadness.

The more time we spend with the Palmer family, the more we like them. The performances in this movie are fantastic, because no one here seems like an actor. They all seem like real people--and they also seem like a real family.

As the film slowly unravels the details of Alice's life, I actually found myself feeling sad that she died so young. Then I had to remind myself that there is no Alice, it was just an actress playing a part. But the movie sucks you in, and you begin to forget that this is all fiction.

I can not stress this enough: If you like horror movies, and are longing for a break from terrible, generic bullshit, WATCH THIS MOVIE. It's on Netflix Instant RIGHT NOW, so if you have Netflix GO WATCH IT. 

And keep watching during the end credits--the images revealed during them will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up in fear.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Horror Movie Countdown to Halloween: Inside

In honor of Halloween Week, I am listing some of my favorite creep-o movies. I tried not to pick the obvious choices to add a little diversity from all the other Halloween movie lists...

Inside (À l'intérieur)

I like a gory movie as much as the next horror fan, but when horror movies rely solely on their gore-factor (cough cough Saw/Hostel cough cough), they tend to be shitty--at least in my opinion.

One exception to this rule, however, is the French film Inside. To put it bluntly, this movie is insane.

It tells the story of Sarah, who is very pregnant, and not too excited about motherhood. You see, four months ago Sarah and her husband were in a car accident, and her husband was killed. 

Now, she's all alone on a rainy Christmas Eve, moping about and looking gorgeous the way young French women do.

And then all hell breaks loose. 

A mysterious woman, played fantastically by Beatrice Dalle, shows up seemingly from nowhere. She has only one thing on her mind: getting Sarah's baby. And the only way to do that is to cut it from her belly.

Inside reaches such an astounding level of gore and violence that it becomes something of a pitch-black comedy. Just how violent is this movie going to get? you ask yourself. And the movie just keeps on hitting you, again and again.

For some strange reason, this all works. It shouldn't. In theory, such a movie should be dumb and void of any real value. But Inside is so masterfully made, and the stakes are presented in such a elevated way that you can't help but be enthralled. 

This is not a movie for everyone, but if you have a strong stomach and a great interested in being disturbed / creeped out, you will appreciate this absolutely bat-shit insane movie.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Soundtrack Saturday: Insidious

I loved Insidious. I think it's one of the best horror movies in years. And the soundtrack by Joseph Bishara is creep-tastic.

So please help yourself to some spooky goodness and listen to the opening title music. And if you haven't seen the movie yet, do so ASAP.

Click the pic to listen:


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'll Tumblr For You

In case you just can't get enough of me and my shenanigans, I now have a tumblr:

The Boy with the Thorn in His Side

Check it out, fiends.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

White Stag

The minute Mary saw the thing, she knew it was wrong. 

There was nothing outwardly ominous about it—it was, after all, a small porcelain statue shaped like a white stag. But the feeling of dread that lurched up in Mary’s stomach when she laid eyes on it was impossible to deny. She didn’t like the thing; in fact, she downright hated it.

And of course, her daughter Sarah was instantly drawn to it. Mary and her daughter had gone out for a drive on a warm Sunday morning, and had happened upon a very large yard sale taking place in front of a huge, old Victorian home.

There must have been hundreds of items, and there were half a dozen people mingling about—taking it all in. But out of the hundreds of random items, Sarah had gone right for the white stag. It was sitting on top of a small bookshelf, which was also for sale.

“Mommy, look at THIS!” Sarah had exclaimed, as if she had discovered something remarkable. Sarah held the statue up in her tiny hands and beamed.

“Put that down, honey,” Mary said, trying not to look as worried as she felt. “You don’t want to drop it and break it.”

“Oh, I don’t think that would happen,” came a sand-papery voice. Mary started, turning on her heels. An old man in a red cardigan sweater stood behind her. He wore dark mirrored sunglasses, and his face was grizzled with white beard stubble. 

“Is…is this your yard sale?” Mary said, forcing a smile.

“Sure is,” said the man, grinning with large, rotting teeth. 

“This thing is so cool!” Sarah said, turning the statue over in her hands. “It’s a deer!”

“It’s a stag, actually, little lady,” said the old man. “A white stag, point of fact.”

“Cool!” Sarah exclaimed. Mary looked down at the stag; looked at its blank, sculpted face and its black painted-on eyes. She shuddered involuntarily. What was she being so silly about? It was just a stupid statue—why feel so afraid of the thing?

But she was afraid, and she wanted to grab Sarah by the hand and pull her away.

“How much is it?” Sarah asked.

“Sarah, manners please,” Mary said. It was the only thing she could think to say. What she really wanted to say was “PUT THAT THING DOWN, and come with me THIS INSTANT.”

“Oh, for you, little lady,” the old man said. “One dollar.”

“Oh wow! Can we buy it, Mom?” Sarah said, smiling up at Mary. 

Say no, Mary thought. Say no way. Tell her to put that thing down and get in your car and get out of here…

The old man was smiling politely. He had a pleasant, warm smile—when he wasn’t showing those stained teeth. Mary looked from him to Sarah and then back again.

“Sure,” Mary forced herself to say. She paid for the statue, and they left. The whole ride home, Mary kept casting nervous glances at the white stag, and the white stag looked back with those empty black eyes.

At home, Mary told her husband Tom how nervous she felt about the statue. Tom laughed.

“It’s just a statue, hon,” he said. “Nothing to be afraid of.”

“There’s just something about it…it makes me SO nervous and I can’t say why,” Mary said. The next few months, Mary found her entire world turned upside down. She had been living what she considered an idyllic life—things were near perfect. Then, Tom was in a terrible accident at work. He was the foreman of a profitable steel mill—but the accident was so bad that the doctors said he would never walk again. He lost his job, and his health care benefits were revoked—making the medical bills near impossible. 

Mary’s mother, who had been in wonderful health for her age, suddenly died of a massive heart attack. Only a few weeks later, Mary’s father died of the same exact cause. 

Sarah was doing terribly in school---likely because of the family tragedies going on, the school guidance consoler had said. But she was failing her classes, and getting into fights with other students almost daily. Sarah had once been a sweet, innocent girl; now she came home from school with black eyes and bloody knuckles. It got so bad that she had actually broken the arm of another girl she got into a fight with, and had been expelled. 

Just when things couldn’t get any worse, the company where Mary worked was downsized, and she lost her job—and her health benefits, which were helping to pay for Tom’s medical bills.

Friends would try to help the best they could, and they would all offer their sincere condolences for all the bad luck the family was experiencing. But Mary knew in her broken heart that it wasn’t bad luck—it was the white stag. All the trouble had started the day after she had bought the statue. The entire time, the statue had been sitting on a coffee table, looking blankly at them as their lives crumbled.

As insane as she knew it was, Mary felt that if she got rid of that statue things would be good again. 

First, she threw it out in the garbage. She even watched the trash men dump the can into their truck, and saw the statue crushed. But the very next day, it was back on the coffee table in perfect condition. Next, she tried burying the statue in the park. But again, the next day, it was back where she left it. No matter what she tried—even smashing the thing with a hammer at one point—the statue would always be back in its place the next day.

She tried to find the old mans house where she had bought the statue, but she could never locate it. It was as if the entire house had vanished.

And then, an idea came to her.

“I think I’ll have a yard sale,” she told one of her friends. “We have a lot of old junk laying around here, and heaven knows we can use the extra money.”

So Mary had set up a yard sale on the front lawn, placing random items around the ground with stickers on them listing the price. And in a place of great prominence, she put the white stag. Before the sun had started to set, a woman and her daughter arrived. The daughter, who was the same age as Sarah, went right for the statue.

“Can we buy it, Mom? Can we?” the girl said. Mary saw the look of terror on the mothers face, but Mary’s own face betrayed no emotion.

“H-how much is it?” the mother asked, swallowing. 

Mary smiled--flashing her large, rotting teeth.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sexy Zombie Girls

If there's one thing we as a people can get behind this Halloween season, it's obviously sexy zombie girls. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Beautiful Ghost

They said you could see her after midnight—if you really wanted to find her, that is.

No one remembered her real name; it became lost over time. But everyone in town knew the story. She was sixteen years old during the Civil War, and she helped care for the wounded—on both the Union and Confederacy sides. Her mercy did not discriminate, and she was loved by all. A beautiful girl, with fire-red hair and light freckles dotting her cheeks, and eyes that resembled two deep, blue pools.

But those were bloody times, and sorrow found her. She had the misfortune of falling in love with a Confederate soldier, and he with her. Their love was forbidden by her father, but she disobeyed him, and it cost her dearly. She was falsely accused of being a spy and giving secrets to the Confederates. And the girl who showed everyone mercy was granted no mercy of her own. She was found guilty, and hanged until dead.

And she did not rest easily. 

Ever since then, rumors have persisted that if you wandered over to the field where the ancient oak tree from which she was hung still stood, you might see her ghost. And if you did, it was a bad omen. Someone close to you would die, because her unjust execution had robbed her spirit of any of the tender mercy she possessed in life.

Or so they said. 

I'd never put much stock in these stories. That summer, I was seventeen years old, and was so hung up with finishing school and my almost crushing love for a girl named Alice who was in one of my classes, that ghosts and old legends were the furthest thing from my mind. But Alice rejected me—she was in love with someone else.

Feeling heartbroken and down on my luck, I took a late night walk to clear my thoughts. I spent almost the whole walk looking down at my shoes, unaware of where I was going and not really caring.

Before I knew it, it was well after midnight, and I was in that legendary field, right beneath that infamous tree. It had been a warm summer night, but the air was suddenly chilly. I shivered, and felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. 

And then I saw her. 

She came out of a beam of moonlight, her dress swaying in a breeze that was not there, her hair bright red like fire, and floating about her head as if she were submerged in water. And I could see the rope marks burned into her throat. She was beautiful, the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was enthralled with her, and at the same moment I was terrified. She whispered something to me, but I could not hear what it was. She smiled with sweet lips, and then she was gone. 

My whole body shook, and I felt suddenly exhausted, as if I had been sprinting for miles. My mind struggled to convince me that what I had seen had not been real—could not be real. But I knew I had seen it. And I knew that meant someone close to me would die. I was terrified—who would it be? One of my friends? My parents? I spent the next few weeks in terror, waiting to receive a phone call telling me that someone I held dear had met with a tragic end. But it never came. Weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, and the memory of that beautiful ghost faded away.

Returning home from college one Christmas, I happened to run into Alice—my high school crush. We began dating, and after graduating college we married. Occasionally I would have haunting dreams where the beautiful ghost would come to me, whispering her secret that I couldn't hear. But the dreams would fade. And time would march on. And I would forget.

Alice became pregnant, and we were both thrilled. She was as eager to be a mother as I was to be a father. The doctor told us he could inform us of the baby’s gender, but we wanted to wait—to keep it a surprise.

The pregnancy was going smoothly, and we were prepared for our lives to change for the better.

And then yesterday, I received a phone call at my office. It was from a state trooper. Alice had been in a terrible car accident after a tractor-trailer had derailed on the highway. She had been killed instantly.

I wept madly for my wife and unborn child. And last night, I went to bed, my heart aching, my body weary. And I dreamed I was 17 again, back in that field by the tree on that moonlit night. And the beautiful ghost came to me, whispering her secret.

Only this time I heard what she said:


Monday, October 10, 2011

Brick Apartment Building, 1935

His Hands
rough and red
tiny individual dark hairs
on thick knuckles gnawed nails

Hands that reached for her in the darkness.
They were both loving and cruel.
They stroked her hair and blackened her eyes.
When he died
in his sleep that August night
she took the cleaver
from the kitchen
and lopped those hands off.

She buried them in a shoe box
in the small fenced
in patch of grass
that was the backyard
under a red moon.

When Spring came
tulips bloomed
along with five roses
with thick thorny stems.

Recorded spoken-word version of the poem, with music by Luke Willis:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Soundtrack Saturday: Wolf Suite Part 1

Every Saturday I'll be posting a selection from a movie soundtrack.

Today's track is from Danny Elfman's score to the recent remake of The Wolfman. The film was a huge disappointment; it had a ton of great talent involved, but it just fell flat on its ass. The only two positives, in my opinion, were Rick Baker's fantastic werewolf makeup, and Danny Elfman's soundtrack.

It should go without saying that the soundtrack borrows (or steals, even) very heavily from Wojciech Kilar's AMAZING score for Bram Stoker's Dracula, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying it.

This track, Wolf Suite Part 1, can actually be heard now in the trailers for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which stars Gary Oldman....who was in Bram Stoker's Dracula!!!!!  Coincidence???? Yes. Yes it is.

Click on terrified cutie Emily Blunt to hear the track:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Final Days

We shall all become cleansed when
we find the car,
nestled amongst the rubble and the ashes,
down in the alley,
where the wild root grows.

I saw the search-lights
reflected on your sooty skin,
and smelled the kerosene
in your clothes,
and pictured you in flames
among the art-work,
a come-hither smile on your lips.

When they call our numbers
on the megaphones,
we fix our hair in the reflection
of a cracked store-front window,
put on our best faces,
march two by two.

At the last hour,
you will be made powerful and terrible,
you will find beauty within the bones.
At the last hour,
I will become something

Recorded version of the poem; Words by me, music by Luke Willis

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Leave Ghosts Alone!

Remember when vampires were somewhat cool, and interesting? Remember the show Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, and how clever it was, and how it perfectly handled the vampire element? Remember when vampires were scary?

Those days are gone. A whole slew of sucky (no pun intended) teen romance books and movies (you know the ones--they have that boy with the big hair, the other boy who always has his shirt off, and that robot disguised as a girl) pretty much destroyed any mystery or intrigue that vampires held. It turned them into wussy, glittery, sad-sacks. Even Anne Rice’s prissy, pretty-boy vampires were still, when it came down to it, ruthless killers.

Well now it seems the vampire teat has been milked for all its blood (eww), and the powers that be are looking for a new supernatural creature to fuck-up. What will it be? Will they start making movies about love-struck Frankensteins, trying to woo the outcast girl at school? Will teenage mummies start unwrapping their bandages to reveal really buff guys?

According to this article  in Wired, "ghosts are the new vampires.”

Already, there are several shitty-sounding teen ghost books that are being snatched up by Hollywood to turn into shitty-sounding teen ghost movies. I am bothered by this.

Sure, you could argue at the end of the day, this doesn’t really matter. They’re just movies and books. And you’re 100 % correct. But I really enjoy ghosts and ghost stories. When done properly, there’s so much you can say and do with a ghost story. Do we really need a bunch of movies where sad teen ghosts fall for sad teen humans, all of which will have the same message: We can never be together, because I am a ghost and you are alive!! (sad face).

C’mon people, leave ghosts alone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Inches of Skin

We both count the white lines
in the road as the old car carries us home.

I like the style of your clothes, the pea coat, the flat shoes,
the grey jeans.

The heater is broke and the radio plays static

You hate the sound of your own voice,
and all I wish is to hear you sing.

Run red nails through your red hair
your red lips held tight.
When they break and you smile I catch
a glimmer in your eyes.

I don’t speak.

I realize that here, in the front seat,
we are nothing but inches of skin
separated by an armrest
and the past.

Here is a recorded version of the poem--spoken by me, with music by the great Luke Willis

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Cat in the Shopping Bag

transcribed from More Scary Stories to tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Mrs. Briggs was driving to the shopping mall to do some last-minute Christmas shopping when she accidentally ran over a cat. She could not bear to leave the corpse on the road for the other cars to hit and squash. So she stopped, wrapped the cat in some tissue paper she had with her, and put it in an old shopping bag in the backseat. She would bury it in the backyard when she got home.

At the mall, she parked her car and began walking to one of the stores. She had only taken a few steps when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a woman reach into the open window of her car and take the shopping bag with the dead cat. The woman quickly got into a car nearby and drove away.

Mrs. Briggs ran back to her car and followed the woman. She caught up with her at a diner down the road. She followed her inside and watched the woman slide into a booth and give a waitress her order.

As the woman sat sipping her soda, she reached into Mrs. Briggs' shopping bag. Then she bent down and looked inside. A look of horror crossed her face. She screamed, and fainted.

The waitress called an ambulance. Two attendants carried the woman away on a stretcher. But they left the shopping bag behind. Mrs. Briggs picked up the bag and ran after them.

"This is hers," she called. "It's her Christmas present! She wouldn't want to lose it."

Art by Stephen Gammell

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Instagram with the First Day of October

Yesterday was the first day of October--my favorite month. In case you haven't realized it yet, I am a huge fan of Halloween--and also chilly weather. This October will be extra swell because I'm also getting married this month.

To celebrate the first day of the month of ghouls, Emily & I were out and about, going to Johnson's Corner Farm to buy pumpkins, pies and cider. And then it was off to Philadelphia to pick up my wedding ring.

And here are some Instagram pics from the day:

Fallen leaves--IT BEGINS.

Socks, the neighborhood cat, who we are pretty sure
secretly hooks up with our cat when we're
not home.

The brutal remains of a pumpkin scone.

Emily poses with deformed pumpkins.

I bought this little fellow.

Our basket of fall goods. The stuffed animal is a
tiny dog with a Dracula cape and fangs.

Mutant pumpkins.

Philadelphia City Hall.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Soundtrack Saturday: What Must Be Done

Every Saturday I'll be posting a selection from a movie soundtrack.

Today's track is What Must Be Done from the super amazing soundtrack to the super amazing movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The soundtrack is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and if you don't have it you should get it right away. In my humble opinion, it's one of the finest film soundtracks of all time.

Click on dead Jesse James to listen:

Also: HAPPY OCTOBER. Thus begins my favorite month of the year. I just hope the rain lets up for a while...