4 Shots From 4 Films: Blade, The Faculty, The Phantom of the Opera, Vampires


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1998 Horror Films

Blade (1998, dir by Stephen Norrington)

The Faculty (1998, dir by Robert Rodriguez)

The Phantom of the Opera (1998, dir by Dario Argento)

Vampires (1998, dir by John Carpenter)

Creepshow, S1 Ep 4, The Companion & Lydia Lane’s Better Half


Creepshow

Happy horrorthon! This episode followed the trend of the second story being the better of the two, but really it showcases a two short films every week.  I never really watched short films before because they sounded impossible  You have twenty minutes or less to put a story together and give it some heft.  It’s interesting to see how it’s accomplished.  Short stories are one thing, but a film has establish shots and tension in short order…pun intended.

The stories tend to be very straight forward; you really can’t spoil them.  The Companion- a boy makes a Golem who kills his mean brother.  Lydia Lane’s Better Half- Lydia is trapped in an elevator with a woman she killed.  Yes, the second one is better. I like that elevator horror is slowly becoming a sub-genre, but does everyone have to be crushed between floors?

The Companion opens with a teenager who is repeatedly abused by his older brother.  This changes when he goes to a farm and finds a Golem-Scarecrow.  At first, the Golem wants to kill him because he isn’t holding a magical cane…really.  The deceased farmer in the story created the Golem because after his wife passed, he was lonely; so, he created a Golem-Scarecrow….as you do. Well, the Golem murders people if they aren’t holding his dead wife’s cane.  Whatevs.  As with most of the first stories, the acting was fine and the story was fine.  Not great, but it did allow me to pass the time during physical therapy exercises.

The second story starred one of my favorite actresses and people- Tricia Helfer.  I loved her in BSG, she’s great in Burn Notice and Lucifer, and she does the Tulip Ride for the Seattle Humane Society.  She has the drive and talent of a million people, which means that there are 999,999 very sad lazy people out there because of Tricia Helfer.  This short film was no different! She plays Lydia Lane, a high-powered CEO, who passes over her protege Celia for a CFO position.  Later, a struggle ensues and Celia gets accidentally impaled in the head with a glass award killing Celia and she needs to get the body out of the office building and hide it.  She seems to be getting close to an escape until an earthquake causes the elevator to stop.  UH OH.

After Celia’s death, there’s virtually no monologue or dialogue. Tricia Helfer has to deliver suspense and fear with movement and facial expressions alone- she does.  It becomes a one-woman show …. except for Celia who is a possible zombie, but it could also be that Lydia is losing her mind and it’s this ambiguity that makes the story really pop.  The direction by Roxanne Benjamin was excellent as well. She has a great future in both action and horror.

These stories are really important because they are great and they give opportunities to new directors with a lot of talent!

 

Silent Hill Memories


I was sixteen when Silent Hill first came out for the Playstation.

From the first minute I played it, I was hooked and Silent Hill would go on to become the first video game that I ever seriously got into.  I would study the game.  I would go online, in those early days of the world wide web, to read the theories of other players and visit the occasional Geocities-hosted fan page.  I actually got very upset when innocent nurse Lisa Garland was lost to the town’s curse.  I was also amazed to discover that the game’s storyline and ending could change depending on whether or not I saved Cybil Bennett.  A video game with multiple endings that went beyond just “good” and “bad?”  This was a big deal back in 1999!

Looking back after all these years, there are four main things that I remember about Silent Hill.

First off, and I know I’m not alone,I remembered the opening and especially the music that played during the scenes of Harry Mason driving down that foggy road:

Secondly, I remember the scenes that played after the game’s ending, which featured all of Silent Hill‘s characters blowing their lines, missing their cues, and laughing about it.  Today the animation may look primitive but back in 1999, seeing this at least provided some comfort if you got one of the bad endings, especially the “bad” ending where you defeated the monster but your daughter died (“Thank you, Daddy … goodbye.”) and then you ended up dead in your car.

I remember the nearly legendary fifth ending of the game, in which Harry Mason ended up getting abducted by aliens.  In the days before YouTube, when you had to trust word-of-mouth, there were some people who insisted that this ending was just an urban legend while there were others who couldn’t stop bragging about how they had gotten the alien ending while the rest of us just had to settle for the “saved the world and your daughter” ending.  When I finally managed to get the UFO ending, I was so happy that I felt like I was the one who had been abducted by aliens.

Finally, the main thing I remember about Silent Hill is that I was never very good at it.  I was the player who always ended up getting lost and walking around in a circle.  I can’t remember how many times I played before I managed to not die in the diner.  As soon as I heard the radio static that indicated that I was about to get attacked, I started to run because I know I wasn’t a good enough shot to fight off any of the game’s monsters.  Harry Mason was searching for his daughter and I was probably the worst possible person to lead him in that search because I somehow always managed to get Harry killed.  It didn’t matter how many times I played the game, I never really got good at it.  Even when I finally managed to get the best ending possible, it was only after saving and reloading the game a countless number of times.

I may have never been good at the game but I still enjoyed leading Harry to his death and occasionally to one of the good endings.  Silent Hill is what taught me that there was more to video games than just jumping and shooting and for that, I will be forever thankful.

Get In The Loop On “Alay-Oop”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Long before there was Jerry Springer, there was William Gropper.

Which isn’t, believe it or not, to say that the two men have much of anything in common : Gropper was a masterfully skilled cartoonist and fine artist, Springer a cheap carnival barker who profited on the exploitation of his guests’ misery, but they both milked the notion of the so-called “love triangle” for all it’s worth — it just so happens that the premise is worth a whole lot more in the hands of a sympathetic and smart illustrator than it is a sleazy talk show host.

I’m guessing that this assertion requires little by way of concrete evidence, but just in case, New York Review Comics has recently issued a handsome hardcover edition of Gropper’s largely-forgotten 1930 sequential story Alay-Oop, a book that may just be able to stake a legitimate claim to being the first so-called…

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Should You Throw Your Money Into The “Black Budget”?


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

In my time, I’ve certainly reviewed some strange comics for this site (and others), but few have left me as legitimately perplexed as Black Budget #1, the self-published debut issue of what appears to be an ongoing series by the pseudonymous Folie a Deux — a guy who certainly wears his heart on his sleeve in that he’s unafraid to put his conspiratorial worldview and personal sexual fetishes out there for all to see. And while I always salute cartoonists willing to “bare all” in the metaphorical sense, my admiration for their fearlessness and/or obliviousness doesn’t extend so far as to give their work a free pass. You want a positive review out of me? You’ve gotta earn it on the page.

That’s all well and good, of course, but what’s especially tricky to determine about this comic is whether or not it does, in fact, “earn it.” On…

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The Odyssey of Flight 33, Comic Review, by Case Wright


tw3

Yes, they have comic versions of The Twilight Zone! I really enjoyed this and I know that some of you are like….hmmm is this horror? Yes… Yes, it is. No further questions!  Besides, we have a Twilight Episode to discuss.  The Twilight Zone always leaned more into horror IMO.  The Outer Limits was all about teaching you a moral lesson, but TTZ was all about the scare factor.

I enjoyed this format too.  Face it, a lot of the TTZ episodes don’t hold up amazingly well.  It’s the truth….Deal With It!  The book has all the components of a good TTZ episode: the setup of perceived normality that takes a terrible left turn.  There aren’t many things more normal or boring than air travel.  The flight is just a typical run to La Guardia and the passengers appear very normal as well: the chatty passenger, the braggy passenger, and the emotionally unstable passenger.

These archetypal passengers pull us into the story much like the Stephen King stories do. Stephen’s characters are your neighbors and these passengers are too.  But, something isn’t right is the friendly skies! They feel hit a pocket of air and their speed goes into the thousands of miles per hour and whammo – they start time traveling! They arrive in 1939 and don’t stop because they want to get back to their own time- So no killing Hitler for these time travelers.  Then, they arrive in the Cretaceous and decide not to land because Jurassic Park is so five minutes ago, but then they arrive in the future.

This one troubled me a bit.  They are low on fuel and the future has cable and they can’t screw up time.  Really, they could just try to make a go of it in their new time.  No one seemed like things were that amazing for them in the present.  I mean, why not just land? You’d at least make a living on the talk show circuit. The comic ends with ambiguity.  They are low on fuel and lost in time.

I would recommend checking these issues out.  They’re a lot of fun and have a good creep factor.

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Craft, From Dusk Till Dawn, Scream, Thinner


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1996 Horror Films

The Craft (1996, dir by Andrew Fleming)

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, dir by Robert Rodriguez)

Scream (1996, dir by Wes Craven)

Thinner (1996, dir by Tom Holland)