Saturday, September 27, 2008

Morbid Poetry Rocks!

Some fun:

"The Gashlycrumb Tinies" is a book written by Edward Gorey in 1963.
It is a series of rhyming couplets that form a poem of sorts.

Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a child (A is for Amy) who has died in some unfortunate manner, and is illustrated with black and white drawings, as seen here:

I, being a relatively macabre person, found them imaginativly morbid and gloomy!
Perfect for this time of the season!

Click here for the whole alphabet. It's a hoot!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Recommended reading: Part 1

So you all know I am a big fan of the horror-genre oriented podcast:, right?
Well they are planning a show in which they are having listeners review horror novels that have not been made into movies (yet) but should be.

I would love to send them an audio clip but have no way of recording due to my incredible lack of tech-savvy skills. So, I told them I would send a few reviews their way and (sorry guys) they will have to read them on the show...

My first recommendation would most certainly be 'Heart-Shaped Box' - by Joe Hill.

Most people probably know this is written by Stephen King's son. If not, crawl out from under the rock you've been under and read this book. After you finish it you will realize that to be the truth. He has alot of his dad in his stylistic writing. He uses a fantastic amount of pop culture references to keep you right in the present, yet without dating himself too much for future re-readings.

It is, however, my understanding that this book IS indeed being made into a movie by Warner Brothers, who have tapped Irishman Neil Jordan (The Brave One, Interview With The Vampire, The Company of Wolves) to direct.
Folks, this is a book that begs to be a movie. Seriously. It would have been just about as good if just simply written as a screenplay.

In any event, Heart-Shaped Box tells the story of Judas Coyne, a middle-aged rock star (think: Ozzy, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler....) winding down from an illustrious (?) career of hard rockin, hard drinking, and hard living. He's used up alot of drugs and alot of women. Wait, this is sounding more like Keith Richards. Maybe anyone from Motley Crue?

Anyway... Jude is a collector of all things morbid - a cookbook owned by a cannibal, a hangman's noose, a snuff film - those kind of curiousities. One day, his personal assistant calls to tell him about a ghost that is being auctioned online (eBay no doubt) and of course that is like candy to children. He buys the 'ghost' for a grand, and it turns up by UPS in a - you guessed it - heart-shaped box on his doorstep. Inside is a dark suit, the kind you'd wear a hundred years ago at a funeral. Inside that, a malevolent spirit determined to cause considerable woe.

I must say, the book had me right there. What a cool concept. Ghosts for sale.

Jude, however, has no idea that the ghost is no gimmick, at first.
The previous owner wanted rid of the suit that belonged to Craddock McDermott, a man who turns out to be the step father of one of the many women that Jude did wrong throughout his life. She committed suicide. And Craddock is downright pissed.
The ghost starts showing up everywhere in Jude's life. Sitting in a chair by his bedroom, in his beloved Mustang - everywhere and anywhere. It's eerie, effective, and really creepy, even to read about it.

Of course Jude tries to contact the seller to give it back, but no dice.
Jude and his (much younger) girlfriend take to the road, in an attempt to run from the ghost and track down the truth about what really happened.

So many bad and unfortunate things happen in this novel, and I loved it. I couldn't put it down and I read it entirely on one rainy saturday afternoon last year.

I can't wait to see this as a movie. I could absolutely see them casting someone like Nicholas Cage in the main role of Jude - but I would be SO much more inclined to cast someone unexpected in the role - like Billy Bob Thorton, Vince Vaughn, or Josh Brolin.
For the role of Jude's groupie girlfriend Georgia, I could see Christina Ricci, Ellen Page, Kristen Stewart, or maybe Jessica Alba. And for the role of ghostly Craddock - why not Ian McKellen, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lee, or Ted and Tony's fave: Lance Henriksen!!
(My dream casting would be Viggo Mortensen as Jude, Eliza Dushku as Georgia, and Christopher Plummer as Craddock. I will be excited to see who they pick.
Of course Johnny Depp would be great as Jude - but seeing as how the man hasn't aged a day past 25, he looks way too young for the role!)

Oh and I really would have to suggest a rockin' soundtrack for this film, don't you think?
Maybe modern alternative bands doing takes on old school rock songs, such as Don't Fear the Reaper, Dust in the Wind, Bad to the Bone, Midnight Rider.... etc.

So check out Heart-Shaped Box, I can't see anyone being disappointed in this fast-paced horror gem. Like father, like son.

Monday, September 15, 2008

magic muSHROOMS

I'm actually rather shocked no one thought of this concept before for a horror movie.
(If anyone did, let me know - I'm not aware of it)
Shrooms (2007), which in itself is a silly title, is an interesting little piece of film.
I cannot say I didn't like it. But I really wouldn't recommend it for an Oscar (or even a Chainsaw Award!)...
I do like the movie poster though - it rocks.
Shrooms involves a group of college students (of course!) who are off on a trip to Ireland (because all students have money lying around for intercontinental flights and vacations!) to meet up with a mutual friend of theirs who lives there (how convienient!) and knows all the 'good places' where psychedelic mushrooms grow.

Yeah, like I'd fly to Ireland to eat mushrooms. Right.

So.... the heroine (?) of the film is Tara (Lindsey Haun), who looks alot like that Veronica Mars chick whose name escapes me at the moment. She has the hots for Irishman Jake (Jack Huston), and I do too!

Looks like a younger Johnny Depp... yummy.
Ok, I might fly to Ireland to eat mushrooms...

Forgive me, I digress...

Tara and her friends (two guys, two gals - how sweet!) meet up with Jake and begin their adventure to the realms of the unknown. They head off a dark forest path (is there any other kind?) and set up camp.

While carelessly exploring the forest for hallucinogenic fungus, they stupidly split up.

Yeah, like I'd wander off in a remote forest area in a foreign country. Anyway...

Tara is kinda down and out because though she flew thousands of miles to see Jake, he really hasn't made much of a fuss over her.. so, unbelieveably, she eats a mushroom she thinks is the kind they are looking for. I guess she thinks if she is tripped out enough, Jake will want to have sex with her. I'm thinkin' she should have just straight-out asked him. Duh.
But while she was off galavanting on her own, Jake was warning the others again to make sure they differentiate between the safe fungi and the 'deathcap mushroom', which looks frighteningly similar. I think you can see where this is going.

Simply put, Tara eats the wrong one.

A side note -
Deathcap mushrooms are an actual poisonous mushroom:

It is native to Europe, and is at least found in Ireland, so that part of the story rings true.
Half of a mushroom cap is enough to kill you.
Apparently they taste fairly decent - probably why people die from eating them, they cannot tell there is anything wrong. At first. Till all your body systems start failing...

However, the shroom she ate in the movie looked like this:

Now, if you're thinking this is just a medical mystery-type of horror movie, you'd be mistaken. There is alot more going on.

After Tara ingests the mushroom but AMAZINGLY does not perish, she begins to have delusions, funky dreams, and can apparently see the future in frightening visions.
She is resting in her tent while the others sit around the campfire and Jake tells a story (now there'd have to be a story, wouldn't there?) about the abandoned children's home nearby in which a sadistic monk caretaker ate a stew with the deadly shrooms (that would kill anyone else)and proceeds to murder all the children in a ghastly manner - all but one child, a boy who was banished to the dog pen for unruly acts. Supposedly, the monk and this boy are still roaming the forest.
Tara progresses on with her freaky trip and sees all of her friends being slaughtered, one by one.

So there is alot of tripping out going on, weird visuals and the movie itself is just dark. I mean the lighting is nearly non-existent. But that didn't really bother me, it added to the creepy atmosphere of the film. There is also what one would call a surprise ending, but it left me a little flat, like I'd seen it somewhere before. Perhaps because I have.

Like it's vacation-oriented bedfellows, Turistas and The Ruins, Shrooms is rather a poster-child for 'what not to do on vacation'. The fact that these idiots actually don't take their cell phones into the forest with them (in case someone is tripping really bad and imagines things that aren't there and calls the cops or their parents, etc...) is pure lunacy. It would have been much more likely for them to take the phones but not get any damn service deep in the woods.
I should add that in addition to the over-used 'abandoned house on the hill' concept, they have thrown in a few freaky inbred people and a talking cow (seriously!) in this movie. Make what you will of that.
So I guess I would recommend Shrooms, as I have to admit I did enjoy it - if for no other reason than Jack Huston! I suppose guys would like the female stars and their cleavage.
It is a "watch instantly" movie on Netflix, so if you have that service, take advantage of it.

*In all honesty, even though I like mushrooms, I feel they are much too representative of the phallic symbol, and I would not be able to pick them anywhere without laughing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

An American Crime

Just watched 'An American Crime'- which, in my opinion, is a companion piece to
'The Girl Next Door' . It is more of an honest telling of the true crime of Sylvia Likens.

You can read all about the crime at the previous link. Suffice it to say, I feel this movie is a much better made film, with better acting ALL the way around. In 'The Girl Next Door', much was added and fabricated (because the source material was from a book "inspired by true events"). This movie is a retelling of the actual court documents and testimonies of what actually happened way back in 1965. I felt a bit more sympathetic to the situation of the lousy creep of a caretaker (Gertrude Baniszewski). I felt more fault towards Sylvia's parents, who left their children with a woman they basically knew nothing about.

Ellen Page was great (as usual) as Sylvia- she had a real feeling for the role, and it is obvious how talented she is. Catherine Keener played Gertrude quite convincingly. I felt her performance (which was Emmy nominated for the role) was top notch and loads better than the awful job done by the actress playing the same role in the other film.

I won't elaborate on the plot except to say it involves the seriously disturbing child abuse, torture, and ultimate death of Sylvia Likens back in October 1965 in Indianapolis, IN.
The poor girl was beaten, stomped on, burned with cigarettes, and made to live in the dank filthy basement with very little food and water. She was made to insert a Coke bottle into her vagina, and in one of the most shocking discoveries -she had the words 'i am a prostitute and proud of it' carved into her stomach. She died of a brain hemorrhage, shock, and malnutrition.


See this movie - that's all I have left to say.