27 October 2014

Double Tap Reviews: Double Dose of Dekker - Night of the Creeps vs Monster Squad (THRILL ME!)

Fall always meant October which meant monsters and horror movies but it also meant back to school (which had usually begun just after Labor Day). Me being me and a lover of the classics Fred Dekker brings them all back in a lovely pair of my favorite films: Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad released in 1986 and 1987 respectfully; they stand out as a pair of rare classic gems of the 80's. The 1980's was a period in horror movie history that tried almost desperately to separate itself from its origins and move away from the vampires, werewolves zombies and mummies and had become overly saturated and fascinated with slashers and gore.
Monster Squad hooks us with this backstory that gives us every indication how this movie is going to be taken, and it is Excellent!

If this doesn't at least make you chuckle then move on to Night of the Creeps. That said however, it's a pretty fun movie about how Dracula assembles the cast of the classic Universal Monsters (Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and even the Wolfman) to try to take over the world in the name of darkness and the only ones to the stand in their way are the kids you picked on at the playground who read Famous Monsters of Filmland and played Dungeons and Dragons.
Aren't they cute?

My friend TJ from over at Warning Signs  and I had something of a debate/quick capsule summary about this movie some time ago:

 "Monster Squad" is not just about a fight with Dracula and his gang of monsters. It is also -- and more importantly -- about facing bullies, dealing with disintegrating marriages, struggling with the remnants of fascism, and coping with puberty. Didn't know that, did you? (OK, Single Bullet Theory, you probably knew.)

My response: It's also the fact that the Wolfman's got Nards, the Creature steals Twinkies, Mummies prefer the closet, the Monster makes for a good babysitter, Dracula made the name Alucard cool before Castlevania 3, your first isn't always your "First" since that one doesn't count and one sticky-fingered teenage delinquent can take on a small band of monsters near single-handedly. 

That about sums about The Monster Squad quite succinctly. Next up is Night of the Creeps which is another treat of a flick. It starts off in black and white 1950's sorority row like the fabled escaped maniac on the loose with an axe campfire tale and a UFO crashing with a bizarre alien experiment. Fast forward to modern day 1986: Chris Romero (as in George) and James Carpenter (JC) Hooper (like Tobe Texas Chainsaw Massacre Hooper) are trying to fit in, or at least, JC is trying to help Chris fit in to get Cynthia Cronenberg's attention. To do so they have to steal a corpse and drop it on a frat's doorstep, easy enough as far as pranks go right? 

"Hi I'm Johnny Knoxville
and this the 'Zombie Apocalypse'!"
Interesting point of trivia: Note the tag on the wall
 Well, yeah, assuming though you didn't just UNcryogenically freeze the literal patient zero that's loaded to the cranial gills with the sluggy Creeps and about to burst. If you've never seen Night of the Creeps you're probably familiar with this concept that was revisited/ripped off (depending on your camp) in James Gunn's 2006 creepy crawly horror dark comedy Slither.

The slugs infest some the local pet life and cause all sorts of hell... one of the best scenes is when a zombie dog sits in the middle of the road causing a busload of drunken frat boys on their way out to the big dance wrecks it, allowing the dog to go on his merry way infected the whole lot of them. 


After that it's up to little ol Chris and the overcoat sporting, one-liner uttering, cigarette smoking, whiskey drinking
hard-boiled noir-styled detective throwback of Ray Cameron played expertly by Tom Atkins to get the right tool for the job for handling a shitton of zombies (naturally): a flamethrower

Did I mention real fucking ugly zombies?

From there it's loads of head exploding, slug igniting and assorted zombie carnage, well worth the revisit to the college days of the 1980's and a definite throwback/homage film. 

Drive in totals for both flicks:
-Too many dead bodies walking around either filled with slugs or trying to suck your blood than you can shake a severed limb at
-Flamethrower SlugFu
-Werewolf Nut Fu
-Two classic 80's montages, one with a catchy tune and several counts of juvenile thievery and the other with 6 boobs for a total of an 8 in-movie total (likely to be censored on TV, shame on you Ted Turner, thank you and don't sue me Joe Bob)
-Enough nostalgia to make you dread getting up and going to school er work in the morning and crave a bowl of cereal and wish for Saturday morning cartoons again

Monster Squad - 0 splatter 3 skulls

Night of the Creeps - 7 splatter 3 skulls

21 October 2014

Year of NECA

Time was that McFarlane Toys was the absolute shit when it came to movie authentic looking toys... and NECA had lots of ground to cover... well with one well-timed toy at San Diego Comic Con 2013 they kickstarted a whole new revolution of toys with figures in their 8-bit color schemes which has taken off like wildfire. It started with Jason then it went to Freddy then it went onto Robocop
and then the Predator...
NECA toy above and NES screen below
...then they went all out on the Mego-styled Jason known as the #trujason which was a Toys R Us exclusive and hard as fuck to track down but was a bigger and slightly different variation from the SDCC '13 exclusive figure....

Next up in this great series of releases are Batman
...why yes Castle Geekskull, suddenly Wild! Berry Pop-Tarts
do sound good all of a sudden...
and Rambo

My only hope is someday for an 8-bit Godzilla...


19 October 2014

The Great Pumpkin Part II: The Revenge - Taking Matters Into My Own Hands

Yeah, this is about how I feel about the whole "Pumpkin Spice" concept
Having been fed up with what is being mass marketed as "pumpkin spice" I decided I'd try my own hand at it and see what turned up. Little known fact is I can be quite handy in the kitchen when it comes to cooking and baking from time to time if I do say so myself quite modestly and humbly. This, however would be something entirely different. I've never cooked with pumpkin before.
Thankfully there's boxed mixes for this to help people like me at times like this too lazy to pick and choose from the multitude of recipes from the internet!
First up was the reason I decided to give this whole crazy idea a whirl in the first place:

Never saw this brand or this kind of thing until I saw it on a discount rank at the store and the proverbial Last of the Mohicans and figured like ol' Jack Burton: What the hell. There was a recipe for pumpkin bars on there, add part of a can and voila. So I went home and did just that and they didn't turn out too bad. But it needed to look like the box, so I added a layer of cream cheese icing. Then I decided to get creative: so I made a maple syrup glaze for some pumpkin seeds I that toasted in the oven to top it with. The maple was a nice counterpoint to the creamcheese which went nice with the pumpkin bar overall. Though never satisfied with my own results I tested them out and was met with favorable reviews, so huzzah!

Next up: Good old fashioned Pillsbury Quick Bread, simple enough right? Yeah well, cooking with part pumpkin and part egg makes for strange cooking times and stranger results... let's just leave it at that and chalk it up as a mulligan and a to-be-continued later.
How could I fuck that up you ask? Skill my dear reader, pure skill on my part to ensure that I leave chaos in my wake whether I choose to or not. It's my curse at times.

My other curse at times is to want to try some of the things I see on TV or the internet... sometimes they lead to great things! Other times... like all those years in shopping carts... not so much... this on the other hand looks like a bit of pure genius and I want to try it:

So this is in the works at some point in the very near future having just come back from an excellent day at the pumpkin patch with my pumpkin queen, who was the one who decided we needed to try this idea after having shown her the clip. Let you know how this turns out!

12 October 2014

Halloween Munchies!

I'm no stranger to raiding the kitchen cupboards at all hours of the night whenever I'm working... school or for pleasure here... Halloween offers the once a year opportunity to not only shop for household decorations finally but also have spooky fun munchies to go along with our inevitable candy caches. First up the Cheetos Bag o' Bones. These white cheddar puffs are in the perfect shape to form  human skeleton or if you're warped like me or Dr. Moreau, you begin playing God with them!

I saw these in an article by Dinosaur Dracula and knew then I need some, badly. Then about a week ago my beautiful partner in crime brings me a bag without even knowing these were on my shopping list for when I went on my annual Count Chocula Hunt. Have I ever mentioned I love her?

Mike and Ike Vampire Variety and Mummy's Mix:

Mike and Ikes were one of my favorite non-chocolate candies growing up.
The Mummy Mix is delightfully fruity mix that will fill my Yummy Mummy void with it's Lemon, Orange, Grape, Lime and Raspberry flavors while the Vampire Variety is equally good but not as vibrant with the flavors of Cherry, Raspberry, Grape Watermelon and Fruit Punch, but they are varying shades of red and purple... so I get where they were going.
Last I had heard Mike and Ike had since gone their separate ways due to 'creative differences'... but looks like I was wrong thankfully, I mean Twinkies going extinct temporarily was one thing (I've since heard they've been removed from the Endangered Snack Species List and are thriving in the wild once more), but Mike and Ike divorcing? That's almost too much...

...but speaking of comebacks! Ho-ho-ho was I in for a surprise when I spied with my little eye at the store the other day, none other than Scary Cakes!! (Dinosaur Dracula strikes again!)
Hello childhood my old friend
I've come to talk with you again!
Something about Hostess cupcakes and that oh-so-delicious orange icing... it's like the crack of my childhood...

Sadly there is no Yummy Mummy or Fruit Brute despite being told by the GM people otherwise... but there are these yummy treats however!
Count Chocula Treats
Boo Berry & Frankenberry Fruit Rollups
I need a small cache of all of these to munch sometime in February or March when the weather is miserable and Halloween couldn't seem any further away. The Count Chocula Treats definitely hit the satisfying craving for chocolate and the Berry flavored roll ups are the same fruity chewy gooey goodness you remember from lunch as a kid.

Speaking of which, the only thing still on Every Halloween Lover's Wishlist is the RETURN OF ECTO COOLER ALREADY!! The best we have currently is a recipe from Ghostbusters Chicago and a
  protest on Facebook to bring it back (which seems to have worked for Surge *HINT HINT Coca Cola*)

Embracing the Great Pumpkin Season

The Great Pumpkin Massacre from
Fright Rags
Tis the season for fall colors, bags of leaves, hoodies, horror movies and home cooking... but also Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING. See after nearly 3 years of working at a certain green-aproned coffee chain I grew to hate the mere idea of pumpkin anything (except the bread, I could nosh on that all day). So as part of my full embracing of the season (something I decided to do early this year post-Williams suicide as a means of snapping out of my funk) I have decided to try everything pumpkin I can come across this season.
First stop: Krispy Kreme.
The first offerings of the season are the Pumpkin Cheesecake glazed donut and the Pumpkin Spice cake donut. The latter is AMAZING and I'm always a sucker for a good cake donut. It had just the right amount of pumpkin spice to it and the texture was amazing fresh out of the oven. I just wish I could've said the same for the Pumpkin Cheesecake. The brown crumbles on top I can only suppose were either supposed to be the spice or the crust of the cheesecake, I couldn't tell for sure. As I bit into the creme-filled donut my pallete was immediately overtaken with the sharp cheesecake tang with little to no noticeable pumpkin notes. If they were there they were lost in the cheesecake part. Stick with the pumpkin spice cake donut.

I tried for redemption on the pumpkin cheesecake by turning to Sara Lee... because I mean who doesn't like Sara Lee?
I don't, that's who
'Product may appear differently than pictured' has been said for good reasons sometimes

So next up I happened across these two odd flavors of M&M's: Pumpkin Spice and Candy Corn, which I will summarize as succinctly as possible:

"Hmm... ok, not bad, tastes like crunchy chocolate candy corn."

*munch munch* Gah! *ptoo!*
Ok... I knew this was not going to be easy... pumpkin can be a difficult flavor to pin down at some points... I might just have to take matters into my Own hands if I want this done right.

Double Tap Reviews: Double Dose of Haim - Coreys, Vampires and Werewolves, oh my!

As a product of the 80's I have an obvious special affinity for the movies of the decade. Like any budding horror fan I got my start with the old mythology and the classic Universal movie monsters, that meant vampires and werewolves. My first of many Double Tap reviews pays homage to these two beasts as well as the Lost Boy who is tragically forever Lost, Corey Haim. First up the 1985 film adaptation of Stephen King's novella Cycle of the Werewolf cleverly entitled Silver Bullet
Death comes to the small town of Tarker's Mill in the form of a werewolf and no one knows it or will even accept such an outlandish notion except for wheelchair bound 10-year old Marty Coslaw (played innocently here by a fresh-faced Corey Haim in his 3rd role ever). This was one of my all time favorite werewolf movies as a kid, though upon current review it does have it's faults. My biggest gripe is the werewolf design upon it's big reveal, looking somehow more bear or dog-like than lupine in form. Up until the just after the midway point of the movie we've only seen a lone eye or a flash of teeth or over-sized hairy paws ripping the faces off his victims, then we get to Marty's fireworks safety demonstration and while still absolutely frigging terrifying at the time, it's no American Werewolf in London. But it's few flaws don't get in the way of the movie.
They do a good job of building the terror and suspense up 'til then though, hell we get a good clean decapitation before the opening credits even finish rolling!
Cycle and Bullet are similar in their format, being told in monthly segments according to the full moon and the wolf's reign of terror; though the timeframe is slightly different depending the format. Cycle begins in Janaury and ends the following year just after midnight, Bullet ends on Halloween. The story remains the same, following young Marty Coslaw as the werewolf terrorizes the small town of Tarker's Mill. Some of the parts of the novella are omitted or changed with the film, but what else is new there?
The novella, however, is definitely something of a must that needs to be in any self-respecting horror fans library. The reason? The beautifully styled paintings used for the monthly illustration in the book by horror comic book legend Berni Wrightson.
Somehow methinks this was not what was in mind
with the expression "Gimme that old time religion"

Next up is the Peter Pan inspired vampire 1987 classic Lost Boys, which also happened to feature Corey Haim here playing the naysaying nonbelieving younger brother (who seems to have some thing for Rob Lowe) that his new hometown is a haven for vampires. His brother Michael just wants to fit in with the cool-looking crew of longhaired, earring-sporting, leather jacket clad bunch of motorcycling misfits. Kiefer Sutherland nails it in his performance as David, the leader of the rebellious immortal bloodsucking Lost Boys. Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander play the local comic loving, vampire hunting Edgar & Allen Frog brothers (this was also the first instance of the two Coreys, which later would only make for reality show material years down the line).

“Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire."
 The tagline doesn't make being a vampire sound bad at all, and it doesn't look bad here either... that is until the initiation's over and it's down to brass tacks and that whole bloodlust thing...
Lost Boys still stands out to this day as a great vampire and coming of age film. Now in my 30's I can definitely attest to the them of the movie and the teenage angst associated with accidentally getting mixed in with the wrong crowd while just trying to fit in.

  I would watch this movie anytime it was on TV,  my favorite though was on TBS Dinner and a Movie where they would try to cook a dish themed to the movie being shown. For the Lost Boys I recall it was a Steak Tartar (Vampire? Stake, steak? Get it? Ah that joke's older than Bela Lugosi's dusty corpse)... I might have to try the recipe out sometime.

Rating per Chas. Balun's Gorescore 2001:
Silver Bullet: Two and a half skulls, 6 out of 10 on Gore
Lost BoysOne skull, 2 out 10 on Gore

Silver Bullet definitely wins this one with an aforementioned decapitation pre-credits, one child mauled beyond recognition, a vigilante seeking team of townspeople slaughtered (including the notable death of a pre-Reservoir Dogs Lawrence Tierney by being beat down with his own baseball bat entitled The Peacemaker by the werewolf), the town sheriff,  & a suicidal pregnant woman. Watch the highlight reel here

Lost Boys isn't shy on the splatter either! At first we're only granted a few shots of unfortunate victims simply being assailed from above, but later after Michael's trial run with the gang is over and it's Time things get real ugly in a hurry in a particularly gruesome campfire slaughter while the Run DMC remix of Aerosmith's Walk This Way plays on a nearby boombox. The climax and the deaths of the vampires is actually foretold just before the action starts by Edgar Frog (Feldman): "I think I should warn you all, when a vampire bites it, it's never a pretty sight. No two bloodsuckers go the same way. Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them."
Death By Stereo: Inspired a punk band's name,
thank you Haim (hey that rhymed)
 At the height of seeming nonstop sudden blood-sucking love thanks to Twilight this design showed up from Fright Rags to remind us that real vampires don't sparkle. On an interesting note however, it should be known that the special effects crew included glitter in the vampires blood to give it a 'shimmering' effect. Think if we knew that then we'd still love it as much now? Res ipsa loquitur.
Go Team David, the only 'Team' I'm on!

I close this article with a fanmade music video I found of The Lost Boys done to Tim Cappello (the dirty sax man with the oiled muscles and the epic perm-mullet) and his song I Still Believe which was quite good and slightly ironic since the main criticism of the movie is that it too closely resembles a music video... can't win them all I suppose... but I suppose the message here is the answer to why we all still love horror, we still believe in getting scared and having fun while doing it. Sweet dreams, pleasant nightmares and stay tuned for the next Double Tap Review where I hit with a Double Dose of Dekker, Fred Dekker that is when Night of the Creeps goes up against The Monster Squad.

11 October 2014

Testing testing...

...so if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you'll know I've been goofing around with video editing and came up with something of an old grindhouse/drive-in reel complete with snack ads and theater bumps.
After assembling this first project do I figure on perhaps splitting it up into separate reels with different themes... let me know what you all think. Some possible themes include Godzilla (obviously), exploitation flicks, horror and stuff for the kids... but here is my maiden voyage into video editing with this 16-minute monster, enjoy the show!

08 October 2014

Song of the Week - Of Wolf and Man

Any full moon gets me thinking about werewolves, October especially though. So I dedicate this song of the week to the art of the werewolf transformation. This video has several of my favorite sequences in here including the blood chilling howl from John Landis' horror-comedy An American Werewolf in London, Joe Dante's The Howling, Fred Dekker's The Monster Squad (The Wolf Man's got nards!), Stephen King's Silver Bullet, Dog Soldiers, Ginger Snaps... the video is done in time to Metallica's Of Wolf and Man from the Black album which makes for an obvious but excellent choice...
so until next full moon, keep calm and carry silver!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Have I ever mentioned I love fall? I love cooler weather, enough of this summer heat bullshit... give me hoodies, home cooking and horror movies dammit!
I love wading knee deep in the dead... leaves... I love October morning fog like turn of the century London or John Carpenter's The Fog... even a distant siren could be mistaken for a nuclear assault siren, I do always keep my ears perked for the sounds of something big, heavy and metallic being dragged on those days. You just never know when the Steel Pyramid can show up.
Full moons on those months will instantly get me hurrying for home lest I become a werewolf snack.
Anyway, it's also back to school time for the kids... and those machete fodder college kids as well... do I still count even though I'm in my 30's now? Maybe not, it's usually the freshmen that die first, you rarely see a college senior bite it.
Unlike this time last year (when I was suddenly single one night waiting for the other half to come home to watch The Walking Dead, haven't gone back to it since by the way) I'm in a much better place in all ways possible. That said I'm not slacking on my duties here... oh no... ho ho ho... on the contrary... I've been VERY busy trying to make a point of celebrating this year to the fullest and finishing some ideas I've had in development hell since last year... so that said I'm going to do my damndest to bring an article a day for the entire month of October... they might not be timely but expect as close to 31 days worth of material!! Some of the stuff I've been working on include: a trial of as many things pumpkin spice as I can possibly stand, a summary of the official kill counts of the most notorious cinematic slashers in a piece called the Big Fat Kill (and yes that's a Frank Miller reference), a few of what I am entitling Double Tap Reviews where two separate films get a summary and analysis and will be tied together somehow (one I'm working on is a double dose of Dekker and another involving two trips to the electric chair and the villains that rode the lightning into the beyond and back), a few more pieces from my past in the Origins series (an ode to Monstervision and an idea I had called The Faces of Fear as I dig up some of the things that terrified me as a kid... buut maybe not so much anymore now), and what the hell I may even go way back into horror comic book history and the infamous Comic Book Code (an idea I'd had for an article a long time ago that never manifested)...
oh! I've also decided to join the new nu-millenium by joining Twitter... you can follow me at RevenantRND
In addition I've been fooling around with video editing... you may or may not have seen my first test reel... I'm also trying to work on a collaborative project with a good friend of mine who has a particular skill with video editing I'm fond of...
I've also avoided actually doing a tribute to Brandon Lee and The Crow for Devil's Night but I might just might go and do that this year finally... which is saying something since even watching the movie is emotional for me... much like Ledger's Joker in Dark Knight, especially knowing that this was their last and they gave it their all... and it can never be topped or even replicated or even done in a sequel... but I'm also honoring something of what you might call a Retro Request for it... hmm sounds like a good idea for a recurring column... which I like to do in case you all hadn't noticed! I like to group and categorize this little mania I call my writing and somehow this seems to be the only way I can do so! Not only that but I have a tendency to favor classics and movies that have since come and gone... I've fallen into my niche of geekdom I do believe in the old school realms... then again New is experiencing something for the first time so my own writing will hopefully be just that! That said it's rather an interesting plight at times when some people like James Rolfe the Angry Video Game Nerd and Cinemassacre or blogs like Dinosaur Dracula or Freddy in Space or Hudson's House of Horror have so much time and devotion to the craft that I almost can't even keep up! It ain't easy trying to find time for this between work, school, my minion, my beautiful partner in crime, the family we have together and a hefty dose of life on top of it all... so if you're still here reading this now,
I appreciate that, I try to make it worth your time and while. So keep reading and interact with me dammit! I promise I'll come out from behind the keyboard and give you a better bio about myself than the crazy fabricated backstory I have up to make things more interesting (what being a paranoid delusional zombie crazed fanatic sounds better than your average retro horror nerd trying to set himself apart from a lone genre that went from zero to oversaturated in a hurry and yet staying true to the roots that got me here).

... so enough philosophizing... on that note...