Thursday, October 30, 2008
Moment of Horror #3
Today marks the 70th anniversary of what was unquestionably the most successful Halloween prank of all times. Originally aired October 30, 1938, the Mercury Theatre On the Air with Orson Wells adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds (radio script by Howard Koch) presented the story in a unique and realistic contemporary news report format which sent thousands of people into panic. Naturally by the time they get half way through the story, the Earth is in shambles and the play becomes a first person narrative, but by this time much of the audience had already left their radios and were running about the streets. Well we know it caused a great degree of fear and public concern at any rate, but there are questions about the accuracy of the news paper articles that claimed wide spread panic. Broadcast nationally on the CBS radio network it potentially reached millions of listeners drawing the greatest reactions in New York and New Jersey.
So please won't you share with me one of my personal and favourite Halloween traditions in listening to The War of the Worlds
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
With Wyllis Cooper's departure from the series, the edgy creativity that made the show the success it was would be hard to replace, and the likelihood the show would slowly whither and die would be a reasonable expectation. But such was not the fortune of the Lights Out series. While Cooper was still submitting scripts from California, another writer was found and the studio promptly severed ties with the shows creator. And under the creative control of a young and ambitious Arch Obler the series would thrive and in many ways surpass it's former incarnation. While Obler retained the essence of the series with his often bizarre tales, he indeed placed his own stamp on the series. Obler's odacity took the series by whirlwind with his first script in June of 1936 with a tale of a young girl burried alive that drew the outrage of the audience. He would then fiollow it up with the highly acclaimed Cat Wife, cementing the confidence of the NBC studio executives that they had made the right decision inselecting a new writer. The shows were less graphic in nature, they did tend to be more fantastic and outlandish with tales like the Chicken Heart, Oxychloride X, and Revolt of the Worms to name but three. Obler's scripts typically made use of the first person narrative, a technique he was very adept with. Additionally he also was not too subtle with presenting his own anti fascist views.
However this marriage was to be short lived. Obler would leave the series in the Summer of 1938. NBC was this time unable to find such a serindipidious match with tallented writing and the show would be cancelled in 1939.
Obler would later revive the series in 1942-1943 for the CBS studio, using many of his former scripts and more science fiction oriented scripts from his series Arch Obler's Plays. With the audience taking a new delight in horror based entertainment, other highly popular and fantastic series such as Inner Sanctum and Suspense would take over where Lights Out left off keeping horror alive on radio.
So now please turn down your lights and enjoy three episodes of Arch Obler's Lights Out!, Cat Wife, and two of my personal favourites, Revolt of the Worms and Murder Castle.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Arguably the most iconic and most memorable (or at least best quoted/ripped off) scenes in Horror Movie history has to be the Creation of the Frankenstein Monster. Colin Clive's maniacal rant "It's alive, IT'S ALIVE, IT'S ALIVE!!!" is almost as well known as the monster's flat head and neck "bolts". The Strickfadden equipment, the hunchbacked assistant Fritz and the good doctor at his finest set the stage for every mad scientist cliche to ever follow. Truly a moment of horror at it's finest.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
So if you're anything like me, you may be sitting around and asking yourself, "Here I am will all these dead bodies just taking up space, what are some of the fun or useful things I could do with them". Well you're in luck. Here is another new entry I have come up with for Blogue Macabre, 100 things to do with a corpse.
Use #14 (activity): Body Shots
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A new feature to the Blogue is what I am going to call a Moment of Horror. These will be bits, scenes, lines, images, etc. that I feel have a significant or note worthy place in the horror genre.
Although I do not intend this feature to be a ranking system or in any chronological order, what better place to start than with one of the most impact full scenes from the earliest years of Horror on the silver screen.
Count Orloc rises from the Coffin
An iconic film with a myriad of compelling and powerful images, this particular scene holds a special place in Horror history. Although we have already been introduced to the Count, have seen him in his coffin and have even been menaced by him before; here with his un-natural levitation from the box the point truly hits home about his nature and supernatural power. A more powerful scene of a vampire rising from his slumber has yet to be put on film.
Monday, October 13, 2008
As much as I am first and foremost a fan of classic horror, I have to admit to being a huge fan of the Zombie genre. And Romero's most recent addition wasn't a disappointment. OK perhaps not his best outing, I admit to liking NOTLD and DOTD better, but this was a noteworthy return for Romero to the genre he re-invented. They typical band of misfits thrown together an a quest for survival. Surely there will be some good gory deaths and characters dying off as they situation becomes more dire, pure grade-A Alberta Beef for a Post Mortem entry right.
Well think again, while the movie was entirely enjoyable in it's own right, I have to admit that there was very little material to base this review on. What no Characters Die? to the contrary a number of significant characters die. But Romero made some interesting choices. Character deaths were essentially zombie maulings and not particularly grotesque ones either. And for the most part their second death at the hands of their peers is not particularly meaningful, nor motivational. Not that this doesn't work for the movie, in fact it works quite well, it truly punctuates a reoccurring theme throughout the movie about us, and by 'us' naturally I mean society as a whole, this being global and not national, losing our humanity and becoming disassociated and distant from reality. Particularly with our modern use and lack of interpersonal relationships due to the modern age of computers. Frankly as far as Romero's political subtexts go, this one really is his best. But it didn't make for great death scenes. Sure there was plenty of gore and zombies to keep us happy, but the character's deaths were rather sanitized, interesting no?
So to choose the one that does the best job in this format, I must go with the death of the focal character,
Jason Creed: from rolling film to final cut.
Manner of Death: You guessed it, attacked by a friend turned zombie (whom he formally criticised for his lousy performance as one of the living dead), bitten and then capped by his girlfriend before he could turn. OK I have to admit up until I typed that last sentence I was about to mark it simply as average, but damn, after reading that, I think I have to rate it a bit higher.
Effect of Death: Although the "heroine" of the film seems more moved by this death than any other, and vows to continue and finish his film (which she presumably does and that is the cut we are told we are watching), it doesn't really motivate the characters into action and certainly provides no conclusion to the film, so in my books (and I feel I am perhaps being a bit generous)...
Appearance/direction: To be honest nothing about this scene really stands out visually. And to be brutally honest, when the rest of the gang catches up with Jay and his attacking zombie the zombie is actually strangling him, (although by the blood apparent on his throat, and that of the zombie at this time we can safely assume he was in fact bitten), and I think I bashed Manchester Morgue pretty hard for not much different (noting however there was no blood present in LDAMM until the following scene). It's the part after the attack and the lead up to his final exit that allows me to rank this a bit higher. That said it too gets no more than average.
Mood: Yeah, you know the part where the zombie gets the sword in the head is great and all, but, if it weren't for the score here the scene really didn't have much mood. Bread and water.
Acting: It was believable and the fact that he was able to utter the line "shoot me" while passing the video camera to his girlfriend as his last and final words without cracking up, gets points in my book. But beyond that I didn't see much that warrants better than average marks.
So there you have it, a solid movie, with acceptable acting, a great director a good story, blood, guts zombies the whole sha-bang. But in the end somehow the most pivotal death clocks in at 15.5/25, C- go figure.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
OK folks the Haunting season is upon us, and thus it's time to consider are you going to set up a Halloween prank? Well if this is your intention, here are some thoughts on things to how to get it right. Or rather how to get it WRONG
Surprise is always effective, but it must have a bit of planning and set up, just jumping out at someone is first class lame.
Standing around in a Creepy mask creeping people out is cool, but there's a point where you cross that line and the odds of someone just putting a knife or a bullet in you goes up exponentially.
Choose your victim wisely, a prank that fails is disappointing, but a prank gone wrong can be plain bad. Perhaps it's just a minor faux pas in judgment like this case...
But his one is the biggest failure of all times. We're talking therapy and legal action here.
Oh and make sure you understand the meaning of prank, it's apparent theses guys are clueless.
So fellow travelers here's my tips for successful Halloween pranking.
1: Planning is important. Simply winging it usually results in what might be light entertainment, but not as likely to be as satisfying. Come up with a plan and and how you will execute it.
2: Be original. Granted there have been some great ideas out there before and some really have come close to achieving "classic" status. Is not wrong to use a plan that has been done before, but be sure to add your own bent to it and make it your own, and not just a copy of something you saw or heard about elsewhere. Keep in mind you victims may well have seen or heard about it too, and a busted prank is no fun. Is there a way to do it that those familiar won't be expecting it?
An example here is last year I did the scarecrow costume. OK people expect there's someone in the costume, how do I disarm them? The Solution was to put the costume out as a decoration a week in advance so all the neighborhood kids saw it and became accustomed to it. Additionally I set up a fair distance from the candy distribution point. And it worked like a charm.
3: Use discretion: Don't try to bag everyone who comes along, choose your victims. If you can't see them before hand, get an accomplice who can act as your eyes. Traumatizing a three year old is not cool.
4: Keep it legal, 'nuf said.
5: Remember a good Halloween prank should be fun for ALL parties, those doing the scaring AND those being scared or tricked. IF you're the only ones getting any enjoyment from it and your victims are either annoyed or unimpressed, no matter how much fun you think your having you prank is a failure and you are looking like an ass.