Thursday, October 31, 2013

Some storytelling for your Halloween. With Price, Rathbone, Poe, Lovecraft, and Kermit the Frog.

For my review of Vincent Price's Once Upon A Midnight Scary, I offered up a reenacting of The Raven by Vincent Price. I thought, for those not looking at the post, I'd add it here. And then, some more Poe, and other things you may enjoy as night falls on Hallows Eve. Enjoy.

Happy Halloween

The Raven. Presented by Vincent Price.

An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, starring Vincent Price.

A reading of Alone (Poe) by Basil Rathbone.

A reading of A Cask of Amontillado (Poe).

The Muppet Show, episode with Vincent Price.

And, The Tomb, by H.P. Lovecraft

Nyarlathotep, by H.P. Lovecraft

Herbert West - Re-Animator, by H.P. Lovecraft

Halloween Watching Choices

The day is upon us. Halloween!

Over the last couple of weeks I've suggested some possible movies you may enjoy. So I thought I'd compile them here for easier viewing. Bolster your Halloween viewing.

The Horror Of...Halloween Night, Vincent Price's Once Upon A Midnight Scary

Hello again. As we settle nicely into Halloween, it's time to be sure we are all comfy. Because it's time to tell some tales. Tales of horror. Tales of suspense. Tales of dread. Tales of dark forces stalking you.

And who better to do this than Vincent Price? So let's resurrect this old soul, prop him up, and have his tale a tale or three? You aren't afraid?


The movie sadly is only available in VHS, but it can be found on YouTube. So we can all enjoy.

Vincent Price's Once Upon A Midnight Scary is a TV Special from CBS. It was shown in 1979, and, unsurprisingly, it has the eponymous Vincent Price acting as a host. Like the Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror, the show is made up of 3 tales, with Price acting as a host and link between the tales being told. Say what you will about the quality of the production, but...It's Vincent Price hosting scary stories!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Panic! A War of the Worlds 75 years after a radio sensation. *UPDATED*


It wasn't noted originally, but it is thought now that papers and tabloids were feeling threatened by radio. It was taking ad revenue and interest from the public. So a story of radio confusing people about what was and wasn't news proved an opportunity to try and weaken the competition.

Just some added context to consider.

In 1938, a radio and theater forward thinker, Orson Welles, decided to put on a little radio show for the Columbia Broadcasting Systems audiences. War of the Worlds. It was an adaption of the H.G. Wells novel of Martians landing on Earth and going to war on humanity. Only the writers updated it to take place wholly on the United States East Coast. Specifically the first reveal of Martians happens in the small town of Grover's Mill, New Jersey.

The decision was to go for reality. The most of the show would be recreations of news bulletins, detailing the latest events of the Martian assault on the United States.

It was a change in how many shows like this were done (Though it had already been tried to certain effect in Great Britain and Australia. -- Though most US listeners wouldn't be aware of that.). Using the form of normal news flashes to tell a far fetched tale was not one that radio listeners were used to. Hearing the structure of new coverage was bound to grab listener. And the show the story ran on Mercury Theater on the Air, which was a show that ran with no commercials. So there was no breaking of the story over it's one hour run. It was a continued stream of realism.

Welles, acting as the director, producer (with the respected John Houseman), actor, and narrator, was always one to push people's expectations. In theaters, and later film, he liked rocking the boat. (You can judge for yourself his success in this.) So playing with nightly radio listener, the night before Halloween, must have been a tempting opportunity.

The resulting broadcasst proved to be quite realistic.. He trained his "news people" by having them listen to the broadcast from the Hindenburg crash, so they could pick up how the real news reacted and sounded as a shocking tragedy hits. Listeners were taken with the results. And many were offended by how it sounded like the actual news. That just wasn't proper.

And then we have the stories of the others. The panicked masses. People sent running into the street. People brandishing guns. People firing into the skies. People rioting. People running for the hills to hide.

And for decades the accepted view by many was that there was a mass panic. That everyone was tricked by a silly radio show. The country went mad!!!

And the photos in the days after of Orson Welles apologizing for scaring people, and assuring them he had not intended to scare, helped cement for many the reality of this view.

But how much panic was there? People and media have claimed that millions (or at least 1 million) were terrified and panicked that night. But those numbers have never been substantiated.

True that stations were hit with many calls from people asking if what they were hearing was true. Then others made calls, and found service failing, and jumped to a conclusion that it was all true. And others came into the show and became terrified by hearing what sounded like news people telling them that they were being invaded, and then headed out.

It was 1938, war was breaking out in Europe. Battles were waging in the Pacific. And the idea that some danger had finally befallen them, some invasion, fit right into the dark fears that some had.

Actual photo from 1938.
So much of what ended up as stories of panic proves to be anecdotal. And you should never put too much wait on anecdotes. (As one sharp person once said, "The plural of anecdote isn't fact.") Despite talk about people panicking, running around with guns, and racing around in cars, there were no deaths or accidents proved to be tied to the show. Most of the "panicked calls" were people calling in confused about why a fantastical story was sounding like a news show. (And some apparently called to praise the show.)

So, yes, some people did get scared. Some may have even went out to their cabins. Some may have called in a panic into radio stations or to the police. But it was not a mass panic, or most of the country. It was a small number, mostly on the East Coast. And part of this came from people who raced out of their houses to tell people in other places about the danger, startling them briefly. But by the end of the night things had calmed down.

But the media saw a story that it could sell, and they embraced it. It was convenient. For sensationalized papers, it sold. Heck, even Hitler took to the idea of how stupid Americans were, to try and bolster himself and Germany.

And this idea has held on over many decades. As the fame of that night's broadcast grew, more people started claiming that they'd heard it, bolstering numbers and giving more suspect tales of the night. But that happens as events recede into history. You just need to be careful separating actual stories from the more fanciful ones. Heck, when American Institute of Public Opinion gathered data 6 months after the broadcast, they got the 1 million listener numbers that has long since proven to be ever dubious. But since it comes from the time of the broadcast it's given a cache of veracity.

And this is a lesson to take away from those events 75 years passed. And with so many more mediums for receiving data it is certain, you most always be careful where you get your information and whether you can trust it.

And when a myth fits nicely into your views, look at it a second time, and question it.

It's three quarters of a century later and this myth still persists. Be aware of the more recent myths around you.

The Horror Of...Ghostbusters, In Short

Who are you gonna call? More, it's what are going to watch. And the top 80's comedy AND one of the movie worth your time this Halloween week is here. A unique comedy idea, an inspired cast, and the fate of the world in the hands of 4 guys way out of their depths...


A movie's movie. A fun time. A spooky adventure.

Three doctors of a dubious field find themselves suddenly without work. And based on their research, they decide to strike out into the service industry.

Yes they will be professional ghost...hunters? No, busters!

And they start creating their iconic look and setting. They get their old fire station, and refurbish it. They get an old car, and it becomes Ecto-1. And they build their nuclear power proton packs and ghost traps.

And then cases start coming in for them. An apartment with an evil kitchen. A hotel with a greedy little ghost.

And from there the case numbers grow and grow. Soon they realize that something is definitely wrong in New York City. They even add to the team. But the level of spirit power they are seeing is something beyond what they're prepared for.

Can the Ghostbusters save the day? Can they fight gods? And how does Peter Venkman acting all smarmy charm women?

And what is a zuul? Maybe he knows.

I do know one thing, you are already watching this movie. Right?


The Horror Of...Elvira's Haunted Hills, In Short

At the start of the century, we needed a good laugh. The presidential election turned out to be too hilarious. Thankfully Cassandra Peterson went to work make some comedy that was just right. Also, it gave fans everywhere another chance to enjoy the adventures and machinations of one Mistrees of the Dark, Elvira. And, lo, Elvira rode again...

Elvira's Haunted Hills

The story takes us to Carpathia, in a time long long ago. But not to worry, Elvira will be Elvira, no matter the dictates of time or space. As she wakes from a nightmare, she finds that she's incurred the wrath of an innkeeper for not paying her bill.

Seeing the signs, and the ax, Elvira decides to get out of town, along with her maid, Zou Zou. On the road, they are met by a carriage. It is owned by gentleman who offers to give them a lift and lodging at a castle that he is visiting. They agree.

And they are off. But it is to a mystery that they no not of. For this castle is cursed. It is haunted. It's is damned. And there is some intrigue mixed in as well.

To see what befalls Elvira, to see what corny jokes she will crack, and to see just what she will get up to, you will have to check with movie out.

Of interest as well, the movies gives us an enjoyable and humour cast to watch.

Elvira as...well, Elvira.

Mary Jo Smith as Zou Zou.

Scott Atkinson as Dr. Bradley Bradley.

Mary Scheer as Lady Ema Hellsubud.

Heather Hopper as Lady Roxanne Hellsubub.

And, Richard O'Brien as Lord Valdimere Hellsubub.

Plus, Gabriel Andronache as the Stable Stud. You will have to hear him to believe it.

So, I hope you check this movie out, and enjoy it.

The Horror Of...A Nightmare On Elm Street, In Short

This is one of those movies most of us know about. And it's becoming a modern classic. The movie helped accelerate the slasher movie era, which is not all a good thing. But if there is a right way to do slasher movies, this and Halloween were the ones to pull it off best. As a film it is a sight to be seen, through your fingers, as you cover your eyes.

It is a movie that gave us an iconic baddie, to haunt all our nightmares...

A Nightmare on Elm Street

This 1984 film does a good job of still haunting many of us. Aptly the movie opens mid nightmare, and the slow process of developing the character of Freddy Krueger. From his choice of blades to his stylish hat to that sweater of his, you will long remember what he is.

But the story itself follows others. Our beloved teens. We have the virginal Nancy, played by Heather Langenkamp. We have her friend in a mature relationship, Tina, played by Amanda Wyss. Her boyfriend who looks to have escaped from Grease, Rod, played by Nick Corri. And Nancy's ever eager boyfriend Glen, played by...

Hey! It's Johnny Depp again! Well, I guess we know one character that is sure to survive this movie.

The movie opens as the mysterious Freddy Krueger seems to stalk and kill kids in town, or at least toys with them. But why? What would motivate this? How can he be doing this? And what aren't the kids' parents telling them?

The seemingly unstoppable force that Freddy presents is terrifying. How do you fight it? How do you escape it?

And once you are in his nightmares, what will you do?

Skip sleeping tonight, put on this movie, and see whether Freddy really is coming for you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Horror Of...The Prophecy, In Short

Religious horror comes in a number of flavors. You have the horribly made religious movies. You have the horribly offensive religious movies. And then you have horror movies with a religious tone or topic. When these last ones are done with an eye towards horror they are pleasant viewing, when done with a bit of a missionary zeal they are more the comedy.

Thankfully, the movie I have in mind today is one that is quite pleasant viewing...

The Prophecy

The Prophecy is a 1995 movie that deals with humans who are drawn into an ancient conflict amongst the angels of Heaven.

Drawing humanity into this conflict are the opposing angels Simon and Gabriel. Simon is played by Eric Stolz. Gabriel is played by Christopher Walken. They both are hunting for something that is meant to bring an end to the heavenly conflict.

But what is it?

As there conflict on Earth escalates, they draw in pawns to act. Elias Kotias plays Thomas Dagget. He's a man who went into the priesthood, but fled it after having dark visions. He ends up a cop in the Los Angeles. He is visited early on by Simon, to start him on his path to try and stop Gabriel.

Virginia Madsen plays Katherine. She's a teacher at the elementary school in Chimney Rock. There she teaches Mary, a Native student.

Mary is played by Moriah Shining Dove Snyder. She is chosen by Simon to be a very vital pawn in the games of Heaven.

And Katherine is determined to find out what has happen to her, and protect her.

And then there's Jerry. He's played by Adam Goldberg. He's undead. And being stuck in that state makes him an eager agent of Gabriel, hoping he'll finally let Jerry die. He acts as Gabriel's hands in many situations.

With all the players on the board, a life and death struggle for humanity and a little girl begins.

In this film, the angels prove to be an interesting set. They have an interesting style, manner, and power set. They are extremely hard to hurt or kill. Though they can die and suffer by interesting and gruesome means.

And wait until Gabriel finally starts shushing people. It's fun.

But what is the deal with how they sit?

The main question to consider is, what is Mary being used for? And, what is the end game that Gabriel is playing for?

And what does a recently deceased general have to do with this struggle?

Also who is this? (Hey Viggo!)

Guess you will have to see the movie to see what happens, when angels go bad.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Horror Of...Halloween 3: The Season of the Witch, In Short

Last Monday, I looked at the Original Halloween. A classic, centered on the carnage of a masked killer, who would go on to appear in many sequels. So let's look at something completely different this Monday...

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch

Yes. It is a Halloween movie. But it's a non-Michael Halloween. That does exists, it's not just an urban legend.

But this choice helped garner the movie a certain level of notoriety, and hate. How could a movie series called Halloween NOT be centered constantly on a masked serial killer?! But in recent years it seems to be getting a bit more respect (But, maybe, it's supposed to be ironic respect).

The movie focuses on the events following an apparent murder/suicide involving a hospitalized man who was found distraught and bedraggled. He screamed about how Silver Shamrock (a Halloween mask making company) is going to kill everyone as he was brought into the hospital. But no one takes him serious. Then he's murdered. And the killer, a strange man in a suit, gets in a car and kills himself.

This causes the movie's lead actor to think that maybe something is up. This is Dr. Dan Challis. He's got a mustache.

He meets the daughter of the murdered man, who can't understand what happen to her father. This is Ellie Grimbridge. And together they decide to check out what her father was screaming about. Silver Shamrock.

This takes them into a strange world of conspiracy, murder, and ancient grudges.

What is the truth behind the owner of Silver Shamrock, Conal Conchran? Who are the strange men in suits all over the place? And how does a large theft from Stonehenge fit into the machinations?

Also, what is the deal with the blitz of annoying commercials from Silver Shamrock, counting down to Halloween? And what is the truth behind their selection of masks that kids across the country are snatching up to wear?

Really, what good can come when you have an ad on TV like this?

Will it mean the end of Halloween? Will it mean the beginning of something horrific? Will this movie, by the end, have a death tally that will leave Michael, Freddy, AND Michael in a state of other shame?

Hey, kids! 3 more days til Halloween! Halloween! 3 more days til Halloween! Act now and watch this!