Horror On TV: Twilight Zone Ep. 1 — “Where is Everybody?”

With Halloween only two days away, what better time to watch the pilot episode of the original Twilight Zone.

“Where Is Everybody?” was written by Rod Serling and directed by Robert Stevens.  It was first aired on October 2nd, 1959.

Ten Years #18: Sigur Rós

Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
18. Sigur Rós (1,358 plays)
Top track (84 plays): Ný Batterí, from Ágætis Byrjun (1999)
Featured track: Hún Jörð, from Von (1997)

I made the claim in my last entry that indie rock was the defining musical style of the past decade. If that came across as a bit of a slap in the face to post-rock, rest assured that I listen to far more of the latter than the former. I don’t feel, however, that post-rock is the sort of style or movement that can be limited to its era of origin. Sure, Mono-esque local bands were fairly abundant in the mid-2000s, but the acts that really rose to stardom under the moniker varied wildly in both sound and artistic attitude. I first heard mention of post-rock in 1999 or 2000 in dual reference to f#a#oo by Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Ágætis Byrjun by Sigur Rós. Flood by Boris, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever by Explosions in the Sky, Oceanic by Isis, and One Step More and You Die by Mono successively joined the ranks to form a label I found easy to ascribe and virtually impossible to define. Post-rock was and remains a manner of abandoning traditional song structure, sound, lyric, and aesthetic, while retaining standard instrumentation. It can be applied to musicians who predate the term, it can function as a prefix to virtually every established musical genre, and no single property need be present to make it complete. No two bands that have really forged successful careers employing it sound much alike; Sigur Rós’s sound is certainly unique among the ranks.

That being said, I want to talk about this particular feature song and its uniqueness in their discography. Most people who know anything about music have heard a little Sigur Rós by now, and they’ve probably heard the newer material. Von remains an obscurity that was seldom mentioned when Ágætis Byrjun was in its prime of popularity, let alone today. Make no mistake; Ágætis Byrjun blew my mind when I first heard it, and if my last.fm charts had begun two or three years sooner I suspect it would have a thousand more plays to its credit. But my favorite song in the world at the time was “Hún Jörð”. Forget what you know about this band, because you’ll find no peaceful resolution in these seven minutes. Beginning with a static sound that seems to simulate rain, “Hún Jörð” introduces a brief, looping melody so acutely fragile that the listener is instantly drawn to a peak, emotionally wrenched by a vision of something beautiful tottering on the brink of collapse. You want to reach out and hold the melody tight–pull it in–keep it safe–but as the song progresses, that glimmering light tips into the plunge. As the maniacal laughter mocks your helplessness and Jónsi literally screams at the top of his lungs, the song culminates with one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of loss that music is capable of conjuring.

Suffice to say, this is not standard Sigur Rós fare. I used to think the song had been inspired by “Climbing Up the Walls”, but Von was actually fully recorded well before Radiohead released Ok Computer. The vision seems to have been unique to the band, and I did not hear anything approaching it again until the advent of post-black metal a decade later. I don’t know what compelled a band so inclined towards the soft and beautiful to take this child and smash it on the rocks, but by 2013 Von is so thoroughly forgotten that I think most Sigur Rós fans will be in for a shocking surprise.

Trailer: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire


Katniss Everdeen is back!  Here’s the final trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and, it’s nice to say, this one is full of details that seem to have been included specifically for those of us who have read the book.  The film itself will be released on November 22nd.

Trailer: X-Men: Days of Future Past


Here’s our first glimpse of X-Men: Days of Future Past.  While there’s all sorts of things that I could say about this preview — mostly along the lines of how much I’m looking forward to seeing Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, and James McAvoy all gathered together on the same screen — I think the trailer can certainly speak for itself.

6 Trailers For Halloween, Part 1

With Halloween rapidly approaching, it’s time for another 3-part edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!  Today, we start things off by revisiting 6 trailers from a very familiar franchise.

1) Halloween (1978)

2) Halloween 2 (1981)

3) Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)

4) Halloween 4 (1988)

5) Halloween 5 (1989)

6) Halloween 6 (1995)

What do you think, Trailer Kitty?

Trailer Kitty

Horror On The Lens: House on Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)

House on Haunted Hill

With only two days left to go until we reach Halloween, now seems like the perfect time to watch a classic Vincent Price haunted house film.  I’m talking, of course, about the original House On Haunted Hill.

Released in 1959, House On Haunted Hill tells the story of how an eccentric millionaire (played by Vincent Price, of course) rented out a “haunted” mansion for a party. invited over five guests, and offered each of them $10,000 on the condition that they manage to spend the entire night in the house.  Along for the ride is Price’s unhappy wife (Carol Ohmart) and the house’s wonderfully neurotic caretaker (played by Elisha Cook, Jr, who played a lot of neurotic caretakers over the course of his long career).

House on Haunted Hill remains one of the classic B-movies.  This is largely because of Price’s wonderfully over-the-top lead performance and William Castle’s equally over-the-top direction.

Back in 1959, theaters were equipped so that a plastic skeleton would appear to fly over the heads of the audience during some of the film’s more shocking moments.  So, grab yourself a skeleton, take a seat, and enjoy House on Haunted Hill!