…And I say, “Welcome To The Show!”

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I grew up the son of a Librarian, and as such have a great appreciation for the printed word. Growing up, I knew all about the work of Stephen King, as my Mother seemed to have a nearly endless supply of his works. It seemed only natural that as i was teaching myself to read with my Conan The Barbarian, and Wolverine comics, that I would gravitate towards the one lone comic book in my Mother’s collection:

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Fuck yeah! Easily one of the coolest comic books to ever corrupt a young mind! I poured over each page with fascination and wonder. This was nothing like the safe, sanitized monsters I had seen in cartoons. This was more like the stolen viewings I received of the Horror films my parents watched after sending me to bed. I would sneak out of my room, and do my best to watch the movie in secret, hiding behind the corner, one eye peeping out, trying to remain quiet. Here was the real thing within my grasp! I have a hard time remembering what some of my earliest influences towards Horror were, but this Comic will always stand out to me as a pivotal influence.

It wasn’t until years later that I finally saw the original film, infact I thought the film was based on the Comic. Upon watching it, I was amazed at what a faithful adaptation the comic was, and blown away at how expertly the film captures that atmosphere and feel of the 1950s comics. The score, and lighting cues are fantastically done, and each segment, while short, is an effective piece of chilling film making by George A Romero.

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With Romero at the helm, it should come as no surprise that there are two segments involving the dead rising. Something to Tide You Over is a perfectly acted piece showing a rare villainous performance from Leslie Nielson. The other is entitled “Fathers Day”, and has one of the coolest instances of a rotting corpse rising from the grave ever committed to film. Tom Savini is in fine form crafting some stellar gore and creature effects that even hold up by todays standards. As always, Stephen King just had to inject himself into this film, and turns in an utterly Derp-tastic performance in The Lonesome Tale Of Jordy Varell. Even as a kid, I thought this story was stupid. It didn’t scare me, or even creep me out, it just seemed like a situation that would suck to be in. King’s horrible acting doesn’t help the situation either. Another segment that always felt flat to me was They’re Creeping Up On You. If bugs creep you out, then this will make you shit, but aside from that, it always felt like filler, whether it be in the film or Comic.

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The real star of the show is The Crate. Holy Fucking shit, this story got to me as a kid! To this very day, I can’t see a wooden crate without imagining some kind of Carnivorous Primate from the Himalayans waiting inside to bite my fucking face off! Fortunately, there aren’t many wooden crates to be seen in my life anymore. Both the comic and the film are simply, Anthology Horror done right. It’s obvious the EC comics were a huge influence, but likely the 70’s Tales From The Crypt, and Vault Of Horror films as well. Curiously, this film would go on to be a huge influence on the Tales From The Crypt TV series, as well as Tales From The Darkside. Creepshow 2 is again based off of stories by Stephen King, this time only featuring 3 segments and a somewhat more detailed frame story, and unfortunately coming off as quite laughably dull. Creepshow III is a clusterfuck of a film that has no connection to the previous two aside from its name. Rather than take the same framing device for the stories, a Pulp Fiction-esque approach is taken.

All in all, I thought Creepshow was a fantastic project. Romero and King make a surprisingly good team, and adding Bernie Wrightson to illustrate the comic was a perfect touch. The film presents a tone and sensibility rarely found in Horror anymore. All too often I find that horror films either take themselves too seriously in trying to deliver frights, or they are too focused on being fun. Creepshow is a great example that genuine frights don’t have to come at the expense of fun. My only gripe is I wanted the Creep to take a more prominent role in the film, more like The Crypt Keeper he is modeled from. All in all, Creepshow is an awesome horror film, with a rich legacy and influence that is still being felt to this day.

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 22

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Very few films transcend the Horror genre and even fewer kickstart a Global Phenomenon. Night Of the Living Dead was groundbreaking in it’s time and forever changed the landscape of fright films. Look no further than the success of properties like Resident Evil, Shaun Of The Dead, the Walking Dead, and Zombiewalk to see that The Living Dead are here to stay.

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In plan on doing a very in depth review of NOTLD in the future, so I won’t get too deep into things just yet. Just know that a commentary on the themes of civil unrest, racial tension, and subversion will be made. I’ll also examine the lineage of NOTLD, its various sequels and spin offs, both official and unofficial. Trust me, it gets convoluted!

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On this fine evening, I saw NOTLD presented by the Gentleman Hecklers. This is a local collection of 3 comedians who screen films, then sit in the front row with live microphones and talk shit about the film while it’s playing. Sort of a live version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, if you will. Something occurred to me that hadn’t during any other viewing of the film. It’s really boring at times! Don’t get me wrong, I still love the film, but having the Hecklers point out how much of the running time is taken up by absolutely nothing happening was somewhat of a revelation. How often do we, as devout Horror fans excuse “Nothing Happening” for a slow burn or atmosphere? I’m gonna say it goes both ways, it really just depends on how you view it. If you are by yourself or with other Horror Fans, lack of action can easily be nailed down to slow-burn psychological terror…but if you’re with your buddies and in the mood for a good time, then it won’t be long before someone yells “Boooooring! Let’s drink til Barbara gets naked!”

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 8

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So when George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead was released internationally, the Italians kinda lost their fucking minds. Horror Icon Dario Argento was one of the producers, and was responsible for the release of the trimmed down version known as Zombi in Italy. In the wake of Dawn, it seems like almost every Italian filmmaker dropped what they were doing and said “Fuck it, we’re doing Zombies now!”. As fate would have it, Lucio Fulci would be first out of the gate.

Fulci’s iconic film originally titled Zombie Flesh Eaters was already in post production by the time the Argento re-cut version of Dawn Of The Dead, now know as Zombi was released. In an effort to jump aboard the gravy train, Zombie Flesh Eaters was re-titled Zombi 2, and passed off as a sequel to Dawn Of The Dead. This was just the start of the bizarre Zombie film family tree, but I’ll be saving further details for another post. Fulci followed up Zombie Flesh Eaters with his Gates of Hell Trilogy.

City of the Living Dead is the first film in the Trilogy, and the only film of the three to escape the Video Nasty list (I may have talked about those films before). Followed by The Beyond ( https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/lets-get-nasty-the-beyond-and-a-bay-of-blood/) , and concluded by House by the Cemetery, City Of The Living Dead is a glimpse into a hellish nightmare.

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The film centers on Mary Woodhouse who, during a seance receives a vision of a priest(Father Thomas), hanging himself which causes the Gates of Hell to open. The final resting place of Father Thomas, the moody town of Dunwich, doubles as a passageway to the Underworld. This passage must be closed before All Saints Day lest the dead rise and claim dominion over the Earth! As creepy as this story is, its the score, cinematography, set decorating…The whole experience the lends a truly nightmarish edge to the film. The specter of HP Lovecraft hovers over the film like a thin layer of fog. Astute readers will remember it was Lovecraft who inaugurated the fictional village into pop culture lore with his 1929 tale, The Dunwich Horror. City adds to the legend, claiming it was built atop the ashes of the original Salem allowing the Nightmare Illogic to amp up the atmosphere and eerie edge of the film to a level of profound unease.

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The undead in this film are super strong, can levitate, and even teleport. These are far more than your average shambling Corpse munchers, these are the denizens of Hell itself! Rather than simply devour you, these undead prefer to simply squeeze their victims cranial cavities until the brains ooze out. The gore quotient doesn’t stop there though, as one particularly disgusting scene involved Daniela Doria’s character vomiting up her own intestinal tract!

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According the Fulci, the effect was achieved by forcing the actress to swallow the entrails of a freshly killed sheep so she could vomit it up again. Fucking sick! Admittedly, a fake head is clearly employed to finish off the gag, but that is the kind of dedication/insanity that one rarely sees in Horror filmmaking anymore. I still feel the real star of the film is composer Fabio Frizzi’s incredible score. I’ll post a link below so you can appreciate it for yourself as it accentuates the surreal dreamlike horror depicted on screen. Now, I must admit the ending is a bit wonky, and I still don’t fully get it, but I’m willing to look past that and appreciate this film for its many other strengths. I remember being entranced by the VHS cover art as a young child, and being utterly spellbound after finally viewing the film. Thankfully it still holds up to this day and the Gates of Hell remain open.

Pavor na Cidade dos Zumbis (City of the Living De…: http://youtu.be/mzD-Kd9rJgc