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Quick Takes: Wounds, The Nightingale, NOS4A2

by on Dec.13, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Wounds spirals an earnest cast down a dark tunnel of compounding dread. The anxious sound design & bizarre effects cast a harsh, unsettling spell. It’s confounding niche horror with a Lovecraftian touch that will leave some unsatisfied & others unspeakably terrified.

The Nightingale is a somber, grueling & enraging piece of artwork with deeply realized characters overcome with vengeance. Its paper thin story reveals an aimless third act that struggles to get to a peak. But well-crafted filmmaking & relevancy make a bold & impactful statement.

NOS4A2, Joe Hill’s take on vampires and metaphysical psychic abilities was a wacky, weird ride in book form with rich characters, a twisty & episodic plot, and an undeniable thin vein of humor. The TV series based on the book was not as much fun, retained the darker elements with a simplified plot, and inexplicably added heaps of bland melodrama. This drama wasn’t organic. It felt like the show creators received a note from AMC telling them to amp up the (low-cost, filler) drama like The Walking Dead does. This makes it a bit of slog and keep me wondering if fewer episodes (or even a movie adaptation) would have been better. The performances were especially well-crafted, notably by Zachary Quinto’s age shifting ghoul who could emote from within a trash bag if needed, but the conspicuous Bawstan ack-cents were quite a choice. Overall, I found this entertaining enough to recommend but the book is not to be missed.

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Quick Takes: Wounds, The Nightingale, NOS4A2

by on Dec.13, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Wounds spirals an earnest cast down a dark tunnel of compounding dread. The anxious sound design & bizarre effects cast a harsh, unsettling spell. It’s confounding niche horror with a Lovecraftian touch that will leave some unsatisfied & others unspeakably terrified.

The Nightingale is a somber, grueling & enraging piece of artwork with deeply realized characters overcome with vengeance. Its paper thin story reveals an aimless third act that struggles to get to a peak. But well-crafted filmmaking & relevancy make a bold & impactful statement.

NOS4A2, Joe Hill’s take on vampires and metaphysical psychic abilities was a wacky, weird ride in book form with rich characters, a twisty & episodic plot, and an undeniable thin vein of humor. The TV series based on the book was not as much fun, retained the darker elements with a simplified plot, and inexplicably added heaps of bland melodrama. This drama wasn’t organic. It felt like the show creators received a note from AMC telling them to amp up the (low-cost, filler) drama like The Walking Dead does. This makes it a bit of slog and keep me wondering if fewer episodes (or even a movie adaptation) would have been better. The performances were especially well-crafted, notably by Zachary Quinto’s age shifting ghoul who could emote from within a trash bag if needed, but the conspicuous Bawstan ack-cents were quite a choice. Overall, I found this entertaining enough to recommend but the book is not to be missed.

Leave a Comment more...

Quick Takes: Wounds, The Nightingale, NOS4A2

by on Dec.13, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Wounds spirals an earnest cast down a dark tunnel of compounding dread. The anxious sound design & bizarre effects cast a harsh, unsettling spell. It’s confounding niche horror with a Lovecraftian touch that will leave some unsatisfied & others unspeakably terrified.

The Nightingale is a somber, grueling & enraging piece of artwork with deeply realized characters overcome with vengeance. Its paper thin story reveals an aimless third act that struggles to get to a peak. But well-crafted filmmaking & relevancy make a bold & impactful statement.

NOS4A2, Joe Hill’s take on vampires and metaphysical psychic abilities was a wacky, weird ride in book form with rich characters, a twisty & episodic plot, and an undeniable thin vein of humor. The TV series based on the book was not as much fun, retained the darker elements with a simplified plot, and inexplicably added heaps of bland melodrama. This drama wasn’t organic. It felt like the show creators received a note from AMC telling them to amp up the (low-cost, filler) drama like The Walking Dead does. This makes it a bit of slog and keep me wondering if fewer episodes (or even a movie adaptation) would have been better. The performances were especially well-crafted, notably by Zachary Quinto’s age shifting ghoul who could emote from within a trash bag if needed, but the conspicuous Bawstan ack-cents were quite a choice. Overall, I found this entertaining enough to recommend but the book is not to be missed.

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AHS: 1984 Keeps It Tight & Wicked

by on Nov.13, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Have I discovered the secret to enjoying American Horror Story, or was it just a good season? I went into 1984 with less than zero expectations after the abominations of Cult and Apocalypse. I assumed it would be tiresome affair of ostentatious turds hitting a bejeweled fan, and thus relegated it to a laundry folding show. After the first episode, I was frightened at how amused I was. There were callbacks to beloved 80s slashers and a cast of dumb teens that couldn’t make a good decision to save their lives. Then I continued having fun with episodes 2 and 3. Surely a fluke, or perhaps a flu. What the fresh hell was going on? Did they change showrunners? Writers?

No. AHS decided to give up its portentous nature and just have fun. 1984 took a campy approach with a killer serial vibe, chock full of delightful genre nods, radically self-conscious acting and often terrible dialogue. But it’s set in the 80s so it totally works. Also, it stuck to its main conceit, kept it simple, no weird twists or unexplained aliens, and delivered its most straightforward season ever.

However, once the show moved into the daylight episodes, it lost much of its momentum. Horror is so much easier in the dark. And yes, there’s plot holes you could drive a vacation RV through but that’s just the AHS we know and hate-to-love. It should also be noted that FX ordered a 10-episode season, and the AHS team barely managed to churn out 9 episodes – and it still felt too long. The paper thin plot of most slashers can only impart so much exposition before things get really dull. Less talky-talky and more stabby-stabby.

This season parted ways with recurring cast members like Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, and Kathy Bates in lieu of a “younger cast” (Ryan’s words not mine). I didn’t buy Emma Roberts as the innocent girl-next-door for a single minute, but Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, and Angelica Ross rocked the deranged camp counselor vibe. Zach Villa as Richard Ramirez was terrifying and also uniquely funny, while John Carroll Lynch was an absolute revelation as Mr. Jingles. (Please build a season around him and Kathy Bates!)

We also need to talk about that ending. For the first time ever, AHS seems to have provided a relatively satisfying and – dare I say it – happy ending!? That’s hard to imagine given the body count, copious amounts of blood and all those trapped souls, but surprisingly some characters found a modicum of redemption. Whether it’s my nostalgia bias or my exhausting gaze through neon pink glasses, I found this to be the most awesome twist yet.

P.S. I also have to note the fantastic marketing campaign for this season. The TV teasers were really fun, and the print campaign provided greater diversity while also featuring screaming dudes! The best part was those opening credits and newly minted theme song. Fan of the show, Corey Vega, created a mock opening sequence for funsies, then posted it on Twitter where Ryan Murphy saw it and Corey him to consult on the final creation.

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AHS: 1984 Keeps It Tight & Wicked

by on Nov.13, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Have I discovered the secret to enjoying American Horror Story, or was it just a good season? I went into 1984 with less than zero expectations after the abominations of Cult and Apocalypse. I assumed it would be tiresome affair of ostentatious turds hitting a bejeweled fan, and thus relegated it to a laundry folding show. After the first episode, I was frightened at how amused I was. There were callbacks to beloved 80s slashers and a cast of dumb teens that couldn’t make a good decision to save their lives. Then I continued having fun with episodes 2 and 3. Surely a fluke, or perhaps a flu. What the fresh hell was going on? Did they change showrunners? Writers?

No. AHS decided to give up its portentous nature and just have fun. 1984 took a campy approach with a killer serial vibe, chock full of delightful genre nods, radically self-conscious acting and often terrible dialogue. But it’s set in the 80s so it totally works. Also, it stuck to its main conceit, kept it simple, no weird twists or unexplained aliens, and delivered its most straightforward season ever.

However, once the show moved into the daylight episodes, it lost much of its momentum. Horror is so much easier in the dark. And yes, there’s plot holes you could drive a vacation RV through but that’s just the AHS we know and hate-to-love. It should also be noted that FX ordered a 10-episode season, and the AHS team barely managed to churn out 9 episodes – and it still felt too long. The paper thin plot of most slashers can only impart so much exposition before things get really dull. Less talky-talky and more stabby-stabby.

This season parted ways with recurring cast members like Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, and Kathy Bates in lieu of a “younger cast” (Ryan’s words not mine). I didn’t buy Emma Roberts as the innocent girl-next-door for a single minute, but Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, and Angelica Ross rocked the deranged camp counselor vibe. Zach Villa as Richard Ramirez was terrifying and also uniquely funny, while John Carroll Lynch was an absolute revelation as Mr. Jingles. (Please build a season around him and Kathy Bates!)

We also need to talk about that ending. For the first time ever, AHS seems to have provided a relatively satisfying and – dare I say it – happy ending!? That’s hard to imagine given the body count, copious amounts of blood and all those trapped souls, but surprisingly some characters found a modicum of redemption. Whether it’s my nostalgia bias or my exhausting gaze through neon pink glasses, I found this to be the most awesome twist yet.

P.S. I also have to note the fantastic marketing campaign for this season. The TV teasers were really fun, and the print campaign provided greater diversity while also featuring screaming dudes! The best part was those opening credits and newly minted theme song. Fan of the show, Corey Vega, created a mock opening sequence for funsies, then posted it on Twitter where Ryan Murphy saw it and Corey him to consult on the final creation.

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Halloween 2019 Wrap Up… Almost!

by on Nov.01, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

And that’s a wrap on Halloween 2019… almost… we have two more nights of our Dia de los Muertos display since today and tomorrow are the actual Mexican holidays. We ended with a record-breaking night of 423 trick ‘r treaters and an additional estimated 800 spectators. And we DIDN’T run out of candy!

Note to self: we used about 7 bags of candy.

Much like the Macy’s Day Parade heralds in the Christmas season, the Midsummer Scream convention in Long Beach ushers in the wicked Halloween season. I attended this year and I met the lovely Miranda from SpookyLittleHalloween.com, Mike from AllHallowsGeek.com, and even hung out with my idol, Sam from the 2007 movie Trick ‘r Treat. Next year the convention expands to THREE days so book those rooms now and see you there.

Something wickedly colorful came this way and right onto my lawn with a DREAM collaboration with Britta Peterson and Ghoulish Glen of EerieElegance.com. We created a second incarnation of the Dia de los Muertos display we last ran on in 2015 at Britta’s house. The Scream Team, as we call ourselves, had the challenge of adapting the show onto a brand new landscape. We also created a brand new feature: a Haunted Ofrenda (altar) featuring all kinds of ghostly activity from visiting relatives. Over the five nights leading up to Halloween, we’ve had an average of 30-40 visitors  and we have two nights remaining. 150 votes secured our win for the People’s Choice Award in the city of Santa Clara’s Halloween Decorating Contest.

The Scream Team’s outing to the Winchester Mystery House: Unhinged Halloween attraction was also a high point with the amazing projections on the house itself. But I missed my chance at meeting Christine McConnell again! (She was also at Midsummer Scream.) I did however get to witness her work upclose and she created a large gingerbread replica of the house.

Another highlight was seeing The Stage’s production of The Rocky Horror Show which featured a former student of Foothill College (where I work). I am so proud of our students, and especially so when I can personally witness the start of their careers! Sean Okuniewicz as Riff Raff stole the show in my unbiased opinion. I was very fortunate to hobknob with the cast and crew afterwards which was so incredibly inspiring.

However, the greatest gift this season was becoming a dad again to two precious kittens, Kika and Rocky. We lost two cats earlier this year, and the house has been too silent – and much too clean – for so long.

It’s now time for a long winter hibernation of at least a week or two. Plans are already underway for next year’s haunt and I cannot wait for it. But first, I rest.

Leave a Comment more...

Halloween 2019 Wrap Up… Almost!

by on Nov.01, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

And that’s a wrap on Halloween 2019… almost… we have two more nights of our Dia de los Muertos display since today and tomorrow are the actual Mexican holidays. We ended with a record-breaking night of 423 trick ‘r treaters and an additional estimated 800 spectators. And we DIDN’T run out of candy!

Note to self: we used about 7 bags of candy.

Much like the Macy’s Day Parade heralds in the Christmas season, the Midsummer Scream convention in Long Beach ushers in the wicked Halloween season. I attended this year and I met the lovely Miranda from SpookyLittleHalloween.com, Mike from AllHallowsGeek.com, and even hung out with my idol, Sam from the 2007 movie Trick ‘r Treat. Next year the convention expands to THREE days so book those rooms now and see you there.

Something wickedly colorful came this way and right onto my lawn with a DREAM collaboration with Britta Peterson and Ghoulish Glen of EerieElegance.com. We created a second incarnation of the Dia de los Muertos display we last ran on in 2015 at Britta’s house. The Scream Team, as we call ourselves, had the challenge of adapting the show onto a brand new landscape. We also created a brand new feature: a Haunted Ofrenda (altar) featuring all kinds of ghostly activity from visiting relatives. Over the five nights leading up to Halloween, we’ve had an average of 30-40 visitors  and we have two nights remaining. 150 votes secured our win for the People’s Choice Award in the city of Santa Clara’s Halloween Decorating Contest.

The Scream Team’s outing to the Winchester Mystery House: Unhinged Halloween attraction was also a high point with the amazing projections on the house itself. But I missed my chance at meeting Christine McConnell again! (She was also at Midsummer Scream.) I did however get to witness her work upclose and she created a large gingerbread replica of the house.

Another highlight was seeing The Stage’s production of The Rocky Horror Show which featured a former student of Foothill College (where I work). I am so proud of our students, and especially so when I can personally witness the start of their careers! Sean Okuniewicz as Riff Raff stole the show in my unbiased opinion. I was very fortunate to hobknob with the cast and crew afterwards which was so incredibly inspiring.

However, the greatest gift this season was becoming a dad again to two precious kittens, Kika and Rocky. We lost two cats earlier this year, and the house has been too silent – and much too clean – for so long.

It’s now time for a long winter hibernation of at least a week or two. Plans are already underway for next year’s haunt and I cannot wait for it. But first, I rest.

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New Music for Your 2019 Halloween Playlist

by on Oct.18, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

As the darkest day of the year draws nearer I’m listening to Halloween music round the clock. While I love the classics, it’s always great to find some new terror tunes to add to the playlist. Here’s a few recommendations and links to my personal Apple Music playlists.

Lovecraft “This is Halloween, Volume 1”
Dance music gets a wicked overlay in this fun, bouncy full-length album chock full of fun beats for your Halloween party. Standouts include Awooo, Take it to the Graveyard, First Blood, Skeleton Sam, and Voodoo. The mood shifts halfway through with a much more creepy vibe so everyone can likely find something lo love. It’s also oddly available as an instrumentals only version.

Sharon Needles “Spoopy”
America’s favorite horror drag superstar is back with a 6-song EP of classic Halloween covers. Dripping with nostalgia and an vintage sound, this collection will be a crowd-pleaser. Sharon’s voice has never sounded better than it does on this collection and it shows on the “Monster Mash” and “Somebody’s Watching Me.”

Halloween at High Noon “Fear Candy”
Year after year the annual collection of electronic synth soundscapes from  High Noon Records never fails to capture the perfect tone of creepy and fun. Of the various artists featured, my favorites this year are The Mumps: “Chills & Fever” and The Mutants: “Our Glass Shattered”. I listen to this on repeat as I delve into Halloween projects or to make housework tolerable.

BOJO “I Was a Teenage BoJo: Spooky Mix Tape 2019”
So NO ONE knows who (or what?) BoJo is but I look forward to his/her/its mix tape every year with its eclectic mix of pop songs, film scores, and atmospherics. You can hear it or download it here: bojospookymixtapes.bandcamp.com since its not available on any streaming service. You are welcome.

Harlo “You Might Be the Killer”
The 80s inspired throwback horror comedy You Might Be The Killer premiered on Shudder early this year and with it came the essential title track. The track is an instant classic with supremely sing-a-long lyrics.

Other movies have also yielded some solid terror tunes as well:

  • The ethereal chanteuse Lana del Ray covered Season of the Witch from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
  • Starcrawler covers the title track from Pet Sematary
  • Christina Aguilera once again oversings her way through the original song “Haunted Heart” from The Addams Family but it works. 

Señor Scary Terror Tunes for Halloween
Finally, here’s a link to my personal playlists featuring over 13 hours of music. (I add to the Apple Music playlist much more frequently.)

Apple Music

Spotify

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New Music for Your 2019 Halloween Playlist

by on Oct.18, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

As the darkest day of the year draws nearer I’m listening to Halloween music round the clock. While I love the classics, it’s always great to find some new terror tunes to add to the playlist. Here’s a few recommendations and links to my personal Apple Music playlists.

Lovecraft “This is Halloween, Volume 1”
Dance music gets a wicked overlay in this fun, bouncy full-length album chock full of fun beats for your Halloween party. Standouts include Awooo, Take it to the Graveyard, First Blood, Skeleton Sam, and Voodoo. The mood shifts halfway through with a much more creepy vibe so everyone can likely find something lo love. It’s also oddly available as an instrumentals only version.

Sharon Needles “Spoopy”
America’s favorite horror drag superstar is back with a 6-song EP of classic Halloween covers. Dripping with nostalgia and an vintage sound, this collection will be a crowd-pleaser. Sharon’s voice has never sounded better than it does on this collection and it shows on the “Monster Mash” and “Somebody’s Watching Me.”

Halloween at High Noon “Fear Candy”
Year after year the annual collection of electronic synth soundscapes from  High Noon Records never fails to capture the perfect tone of creepy and fun. Of the various artists featured, my favorites this year are The Mumps: “Chills & Fever” and The Mutants: “Our Glass Shattered”. I listen to this on repeat as I delve into Halloween projects or to make housework tolerable.

BOJO “I Was a Teenage BoJo: Spooky Mix Tape 2019”
So NO ONE knows who (or what?) BoJo is but I look forward to his/her/its mix tape every year with its eclectic mix of pop songs, film scores, and atmospherics. You can hear it or download it here: bojospookymixtapes.bandcamp.com since its not available on any streaming service. You are welcome.

Harlo “You Might Be the Killer”
The 80s inspired throwback horror comedy You Might Be The Killer premiered on Shudder early this year and with it came the essential title track. The track is an instant classic with supremely sing-a-long lyrics.

Other movies have also yielded some solid terror tunes as well:

  • The ethereal chanteuse Lana del Ray covered Season of the Witch from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
  • Starcrawler covers the title track from Pet Sematary
  • Christina Aguilera once again oversings her way through the original song “Haunted Heart” from The Addams Family but it works. 

Señor Scary Terror Tunes for Halloween
Finally, here’s a link to my personal playlists featuring over 13 hours of music. (I add to the Apple Music playlist much more frequently.)

Apple Music

Spotify

Leave a Comment more...

Target Disappoints Fans Looking for Ghoulish Garden

by on Oct.16, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Every year Target seems to screw over Halloween fans one way or another. They are the last retailer to put spooky goods on shelves and when stuff is finally available, it’s rarely well-stocked. The shelves this year were Exceptionally (note the bold, capital “E”) sparse, with many items displayed on their site as “not available online” turning out to be not available in stores either.

For example, the Ghoulish Garden was advertised well in advance by Target and they even listed release dates on items. Fans across the internet chatted about these wicked plants and waited patiently for the items – to never show up in stores. When I contacted customer service a couple weeks after launch, they said the entire line was sold out. The management at the store I usually go to was very apologetic, indicated many irate customers and that corporate remained rather mum on the whole affair. So, it was poor planning and buying decisions. I took one look at those plants and knew they would be top sellers, but of course, they don’t consult us Halloween experts.

If you really want a Ghoulish Garden plant, they are all available on eBay but prepare yourself for the ultimate shock. Some savvy entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the supply-demand issues and have listed these items at a 300–500% markup. Yup, the plant shown here that retails for $35 is currently listed at $75–$99. YIKES. That is certainly ghoulish. 

I don’t have a crystal ball (it was also sold out) but I’m certain these will make a second appearance next year. And if previous experience holds true, many other retailers will also jump on the bandwagon and offer their own wicked plants next year.  

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