Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Pumpkin Art

Alice Cooper ‘From the Inside’ pumpkin by my mate Dave Cook…. and a ‘Pumpkin Centipede’

Halloween – A brief History

The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even (“evening”), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Although the phrase All Hallows is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, mass-day of all saints), All-Hallows-Even is itself not attested until 1556.

Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while “some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentilia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, whose original spelling was Samuin (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)”. The name of the festival historically kept by the Gaels and Celts in the British Isles is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summer’s end”.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of English folk lore: “Certainly Samhain was a time for festive gatherings, and medieval Irish texts and later Irish, Welsh, and Scottish folklore use it as a setting for supernatural encounters, but there is no evidence that it was connected with the dead in pre-Christian times, or that pagan religious ceremonies were held.”

The Irish myths which mention Samhain were written in the 10th and 11th centuries by Christian monks. This is around 200 years after the Catholic church inaugurated All Saints Day and at least 400 years after Ireland became Christian.

Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. For instance, the carving of jack-o’-lanterns springs from the souling custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory. The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips. The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837 and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.

The imagery of Halloween is derived from many sources, including national customs, works of othic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror films (such as the aforemnetioned Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy). Among the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne in 1780, who made note of pranks at Halloween; “What fearfu’ pranks ensue!”, as well as the supernatural associated with the night, “Bogies” (ghosts), influencing Robert Burns’ ‘Halloween’ 1785. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil the occult or mythical monsters. Black and orange are the holiday’s traditional colors.

In Scotland and Ireland, Guising — children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins — is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going “guising” around the neighborhood. According American historian Ruth Edna Kelly, the first reference to “guising” in North America occurs in 1911, another reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920. Of course nothing is done on a small scale in the US, Halloween is now the second biggest holiday (after Christmas) in North America!

War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series ‘Mercury Theatre on Air’. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938, and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H.G. Wells’s novel of the same name. 

The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated “news bulletins”, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a “sustaining show” (it ran without commercial breaks), adding to the program’s realism. Although there were sensationalist accounts in the press about a supposed panic in response to the broadcast, the precise extent of listener response has been debated.

In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage and panic by certain listeners who believed the events described in the program were real. The program’s news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast. The episode secured Welles’s fame.

An mp3 version of the broadcast can be downloaded free from the Mercury Theatre on the Air website. Check it out here They also have excellent mp3 versions of Dracula, Rebecca and the 39 Steps for download.

Richard Dreyfuss

Richard Stephen Dreyfuss (born October 29, 1947) is an American actor best known for starring in a number of film, television, and theater roles since the late 1960s, including the films ‘American Graffiti’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, ‘The Goodbye Girl’, ‘Tin Men’, ‘Stakeout’, ‘What About Bob?’, ‘Mr Holland’s Opus’ and ‘Piranha 3D’.

Dreyfuss’s first film part was a small, uncredited role in ‘The Graduate’. He had one line, “Shall I get the cops? I’ll get the cops”. He was also briefly seen as a stage hand in ‘Valley of the Dolls’ (1967), in which he had a few lines. He appeared in the subsequent ‘Dillinger’, and landed his breakout role in the 1973 hit ‘American Graffiti’, acting with other future stars such as Harrison Ford and Ron Howard. Dreyfuss played his first lead role in the Canadian film ‘The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz’ (1974), receiving positive reviews, including praise from the legendary Pauline Kael. 

Dreyfuss went on to star in the box office blockbuster ‘Jaws’ (1975) and’Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ (1977), both directed by his good friend Steven Spielberg. 

Jaws is based on Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel. The police chief of Amity Island, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), a fictional summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from a giant man-eating great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the town council, which wants the beach to remain open to draw a profit from tourists during the summer season. After several attacks, the police chief enlists the help of a marine biologist and oceanographer, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and a professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw).

Richard Dreyfuss initially passed on the role of Matt Hooper, but after being disappointed by his own performance in a pre-release screening of ‘…Duddy Kravitz’, the film he had just completed, he immediately called Spielberg and accepted the role, fearing that no one would want to hire him once Kravitz was released. Because the film was so dissimilar to the novel, Spielberg asked Dreyfuss not to read the book before offering him the role. The rest is history.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 science fiction film written and directed by Steven Spielberg. The film stars Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr and Bob Balaban. It tells the story of Roy Neary (Dreyfuss), a lineman in Indiana, whose life changes after he has an encounter with a UFO.

Steve McQueen was Spielberg’s first choice. Although McQueen was impressed with the script, he felt he was not specifically right for the role as he was unable to cry on cue. Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino and Gene Hackman, turned down the part as well. Jack Nicholson turned it down because of scheduling conflicts. Spielberg explained when filming Jaws, “Dreyfuss talked me into casting him. He listened to about 155-days worth of Close Encounters. He even contributed ideas.” Dreyfuss reflected, “I launched myself into a campaign to get the part. I would walk by Steve’s office and say stuff like ‘Al Pacino has no sense of humor’ or ‘Jack Nicholson is too crazy’. I eventually convinced him to cast me.”

He won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of a struggling actor in ‘The Goodbye Girl’ (1977), becoming the youngest actor to do so (at the age of 29). Around this time, Dreyfuss began using cocaine frequently; his addiction came to a head four years later in 1982, when he was arrested for possession of the drug after he blacked out while driving, and his car struck a tree. He entered rehabilitation and eventually made a Hollywood comeback with the film ‘Down And Out in Beverly Hills’ in 1986 and ‘Stakeout’ the following year.

Last year he featured in a small but memorable role in Piranha 3D (2010), a comedy-horror film, and the second remake of the 1978 film of the same name. Directed by Alexandre Aja the movie opens with fisherman Matthew Boyd (Richard Dreyfuss) fishing in Lake Victoria, Arizona when a small earthquake hits, splitting the lake floor and causing a whirlpool. Boyd falls in and is ripped apart by a school of piranhas that emerge from the chasm and ascend the vortex. Great fun.

Elsa Lanchester

Elsa Sullivan Lanchester (28 October 1902 – 26 December 1986) was an English-American actress with a long career in theatre, film and television.

Lanchester studied dance as a child and after the First World War began performing in theatre and cabaret, where she established her career over the following decade. She met the actor Charles Laughton in 1927, and they were married two years later. She began playing small roles in British films, including the role of Anne of Cleves with Laughton in ‘The Private Lives of Henry VIII’ (1933). His success in American films resulted in the couple moving to Hollywood, where Lanchester played small film roles. It was her role as the title character in ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ (1935), that brought her recognition.

Bride of Frankenstein (advertised as The Bride of Frankenstein) is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to ‘Frankenstein’ (1931). Bride of Frankenstein was directed by Jame Whale and stars Boris Karloff as The Monster, Elsa Lanchester in the dual role of his mate and Mary Shelley, Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein and Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Septimus Pretorius.

The film follows on immediately from the events of the earlier film, and is rooted in a subplot of the original Mary Shelley novel, Frankenstein (1818). On a stormy night, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Walton) and Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) praise Mary Shelley ( Elsa Lanchester) for her story of Frankenstein and his Monster. Reminding them that her intention was to impart a moral lesson, Mary says she has more of the story to tell. The scene shifts to the end of the 1931 Frankenstein.

Villagers gathered around the burning windmill cheer the apparent death of the Monster (Boris Karloff, credited as “Karloff”). Their joy is tempered by the realization that Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is also apparently dead. Hans (Reginald Barlow), father of the girl the creature drowned in the previous film, wants to see the Monster’s bones. He falls into a pit underneath the mill, where the Monster strangles him. Hauling himself from the pit, the Monster casts Hans’ wife (Mary Gordon) into it to her death.

In the film, a chastened Henry Frankenstein abandons his plans to create life, only to be tempted and finally coerced by the Monster, encouraged by Henry’s old mentor Dr. Pretorius, into constructing a mate for him… enter Lanchester.

Preparation began shortly after the first film premiered, but script problems delayed the project. Principal photography started in January 1935, with creative personnel from the original returning in front of and behind the camera. Bride of Frankenstein was released to critical and popular acclaim, although it encountered difficulties with some state and national censorship boards. Since its release the film’s reputation has grown, and it is hailed as Whale’s masterpiece and albeit for a short time on screen, Lanchester’s most iconic role.

Shock Horror – Date Change

SHOCK HORROR NEWS From the guys organising Shock Horror Down Under:

“It is with some disappointment that I am writing this article, but fortunately it is not all bad news. It is unfortunate that we have to announce the postponement of our first Shock Horror event until 2012. Recently we were advised by Heather Langenkamp that she could no longer make the dates in November 2011 due to filming commitments, and as a consequence documentary filmmaker Thommy Huston would also not be attending . As Heather’s appearance with Robert Englund was to be a highlight of the show we had to make a decision of whether to proceed without Heather, and possibly never see her in Australia, or wait until she was available so she can appear with Robert.

As fan’s the chance to re-unite the stars of A Nightmare On Elm St drove our decision to postpone the event. So we have been on the phone with Robert and Heather and have come to a new agreement. Basically it means that rather than cancel the event we are just postponing it and changing the dates. So the new date for Shock Horror: The Nightmare Returns is Sunday May 6, 2012.

At this stage we are unsure of Tony Todd’s availability for the new date. Should Tony not be available we will be considering other alternatives. If you have any specific ideas of who you would like to replace Tony let us know. Whilst we hate postponing events, let alone ever canceling one, it is unfortunate that these things happen especially when dealing with working actors who’s schedules are prone to change at any minute. So mark your calendars and we look forward to seeing you then”

Warrior ****½

If you’ve seen the trailer for ‘Warrior’ you know where the movie is headed in the third act but little about what takes place for the characters to get there. If you haven’t seen the trailer, don’t, just go to see the movie.

The story of a fractured family, estranged brothers Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) torn apart by the abuse from their formerly alcoholic father Paddy (Nick Nolte), on a collision course via their entry into a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament. Tommy has returned from serving in the Gulf war with the Marines, while sparring at a local gym he knocks out a contender for an upcoming MMA tournament, and the video clip of the fight is a viral hit. His brother Brendan is a happily married father and teacher at a local shool, however, he suffers financial hardship due to a crippling mortgage and starts fighting in amateur MMA fights in local bar car parks for extra cash.

Both brothers manage to gain entry to the Sparta tournament, a winner takes all promotional event with $5m in prizemoney. Not exactly the most original story, there have been comparisons to the recent ‘The Fighter’ as well as ‘Rocky’ and any number of boxing movies. However this story is told so well that any comparisons are pointless lazy journalism; this movie isn’t about the fights, although there are many of them and they are brutal, it is about these three men, and how their joint past and disparate present lives come into renewed conflict. The physical fight that they are headed towards is nothing compared to the emotional battering they can’t leave behind. Through a series of exceptional set-pieces we are able to re-construct just how and why the family became so broken; the alcoholism of Paddy is the obvious catalyst from the outset, however that is only part of the story, how the family splintered and what drove a wedge between the brothers provides the drive and tension heading into the final act.

The three main actors are all perfectly cast and deliver exceptionally believable performances. Tom Hardy is terrifying as a man on the edge, driven to fight; obviously suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, Tommy is a powder keg of tortured emotions. On this evidence he will be awesome as Bane in next years Batman finale. Joel Edgerton as Brendan is the initially more likeable of the two brothers who wants everything for his family that was denied him as a child. His is a more restrained performance but no less enthralling. He has excellent support from Jennifer Morrison as Brendans wife Tess. Nick Nolte is fantastic as the reformed abusive alcoholic father Paddy, a man who is desperate to reconcile with his two sons. It’s a career highlight from Nolte who hasn’t been in much of note for some time. He delivers a heart-breaking turn as a man battling for the forgiveness and acceptance of his sons. Award winning.

I din’t know much about director Gavin O’Connor other than ‘Pride and Glory’ (2008) which had similar themes involving a family of New York policemen. On the evidence of those two movies, his strength seems to be in enticing great performances from ensemble casts, he is definitely one to watch. My only gripe would be the Hollywood styled ending that is slightly at odds with the grittier 2 hours that precedes it, however that is a minor complaint as it still works. 

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars

Any good: 5 out of 5 stars

Grim Night

Universal Pictures just won an auction for Grim Night, a thriller about about a night that happens once a year globally, where people lock themselves at home and fend off the senseless and random attacks by Grims. Deal was in the high six figure against  seven-figure range. Unbroken Films partners Bryan Bertino & Adrienne Biddle are partnering with Marc Platt to produce. Bertino directed The Strangers. The script was written by Brandon Bestenheider & Allen Bey, who made their first sale. The duo helped move things along by making a teaser trailer for the spec that was leaked by their Verve reps before the auction began. About six other outlets were interested but Universal moved fastest. Here’s the teaser trailer:

Trick ‘r Treat – Making Friends

Everyone should have a friend to go trick or treating with. Even if you have to create them yourself. Watch the All Day ‘Trick r Treat’ Marathon on 10/31. Only on FEARnet.

Bob Hoskins

Robert William “Bob” Hoskins, Jr. (born 26 October 1942) is an English actor known for playing Cockney psychopaths and gangsters, in films such as ‘The Long Good Friday’ (1980), and ‘Mona Lisa’  (1986), however to anyone born outside of the UK he’s probably better known for roles in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (1988) and ‘Hook’ (1991).

Hoskins’s acting career started in London in the late 1960s when he was sitting in a pub enjoying a beer when someone came up to him and told him to go upstairs to audition for a play, which he did, and landed the role. His first major television role was in  ‘On the Move’ (1978), an educational series intended to tackle adult illiteracy. In the same year, he came to wider attention in the original BBC version of Dennis Potter’s drama ‘Pennies From Heaven’ as sheet music salesman Arthur Parker. Later, he played Iago in Jonathan Miller’s BBC Television Shakespeare production of ‘Othello’.

The Long Good Friday (1980) The film’s protagonist is Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), an old fashioned 1960s-style London gangster who in the late 1970s is aspiring to become a legitimate businessman, albeit with the financial support of the American Mafia, with a plan to redevelop the then-disused London Docklands as a venue for a future Olympic Games. The storyline weaves together events and concerns of the late 1970s, including low-level political and police corruuption, the Provisional IRA gun-running, the displacement of traditional British industry by property development, Britain’s membership of the EEC (later the European Union) and the free market economy – the latter was strongly in the ascendant at the time the film was made, in the first year of the Thatcher government.

Harold is the undisputed ruling kingpin of the London underworld, when his world is suddenly torn apart by a series of murders and exploding bombs from an unseen foe. Uncovering his enemy’s identity forms much of the film’s subsequent plotline. His ruthless and violent pursuit of leads only points out the small-time tawdriness of the organisation he hopes to legitimise.

The story seems to hinge upon an act of betrayal by one of Harold’s closest aides, the implications of which only become clear near the film’s climax, when the solution to the mystery is suggested though not spelled out. He acts on the information with the same brutality that took him to the pinnacle of the London underworld in the first place, but his enemies this time follow motivations different from those of his local rivals. An all-time top 10 gangster film.

Mona Lisa (1986). George (Hoskins), recently released from prison, is given a cushy job as the driver for a high-class prostitute named Simone (Tyson) by his former boss, Mortwell (Caine). As George and Simone find out more about each other, they form a friendship despite possibly conflicting incentives. Central to this theme is Mortwell’s wish for George to find out as much as he can about one of Simone’s ‘regulars’, a wealthy businessman seen with Mortwell on one occasion. George then helps Simone in her quest to find an abused friend from her murky past, and this leads to a violent resolution in the seedy underworld. Hoskins excels as George, his performance won him the wider approval of the critics and, in the case of the latter, a Cannes Award, Best Actor at the Golden Globes and BAFTA’s and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

He also delivered comic turns in Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ (1985) and in his first appearance to mainstream American audiences in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (1988), for which he received a second Golden Globe nomination. He also played opposite Cher in ‘Mermaids’ (1990), and as Smee in ‘Hook’ (1991),

Hoskins had a small role as a rock band’s manager in the Pink Floyd film of ‘The Wall’ (1982). Along with Fred Gwynne, he stole every scene in which he featured, in ‘The Cotton Club’ (1884) as part of a bickering duo. He was slated to be a last-minute replacement in the film ‘The Untouchables’ if star Robert De Niro had not decided to play Al Capone. When De Niro took the part, director Brian De Palma allegedly mailed Hoskins a cheque for £20,000 with a Thank You note, which prompted Hoskins to call up De Palma and ask him if there were any more movies he didn’t want him to be in.

In 2009, Hoskins made a return to British television in Jimmy McGovern’s drama serial ‘The Street’, where he played a publican who stands up to a local gangster.

George Romero – Thoughts on ‘The Walking Dead’

Check out this interesting interview with George Romero and his thoughts on The Walking Dead.

Ben Affleck to direct ‘The Stand’

Warner Bros has chosen Ben Affleck to adapt and direct The Stand, Stephen King’s apocalyptic mammoth book. Affleck has become a cornerstone director for the studio, but this would be his greatest challenge yet. Even King has been reticent about the idea of making a feature of his book, which previously was turned into a miniseries.

Warner Brothers originally announced in May that team behind the last several Harry Potter films, screenwriter Steve Kloves and director David Yates were going to adapt King’s 1,000 plus page novel, possibly over 3 films. The news made sense. Kloves and Yates took another massive property, Harry Potter,
and turned the films into a multi-billion dollar franchise. King’s book is obviously less commercial, but very well-known and has the kind of huge, sweeping scope audiences love to see on the big screen.

With The Town and Gone Baby Gone, Affleck has shown the grit necessary to handle such an unforgettable tale. It’s early days, but the studio loves Affleck, who’s now directing Argo, which is a much bigger project than his first two, however, The Stand is massive, although Affleck’s current directorial resume certainly seems like he can handle the huge cast of characters.

Phil Daniels

Philip W. “Phil” Daniels (born 25 October 1958, Islington) is an English actor, most noted for film and television roles as a rebellious cockney youth in classic British films such as ‘The Class of Miss MacMichael’ (1978), ‘Quadrophenia’ and ‘Scum’ (both 1979), ‘Breaking Glass’ (1980), Meantime’ (1984) and ‘Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire’ (1985). He has also featured as a regular on British TV in shows such as ‘EastEnders’, ‘New Tricks’ and ‘Rock & Chips’.

He made his film debut in 1976, aged 17, as a spaghetti spilling waiter in Alan Parker’s ‘Bugsy Malone’. After appearing regularly on TV he scored a break in ‘The Class of Miss MacMichael’ (1978), a British comedy drama directed by Silvio Narizzano, starring Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed. Based on a novel by Sandy Hutson, the film depicts the attempts of an idealistic teacher, Miss MacMichael, to inspire her pupils in an inner-city London school. However, his next two movies would provide the roles with which he would become permanently recognised for, ‘Scum’ and ‘Quadrophenia’.

Scum is a 1979 British drama directed by Alan Clarke, portraying the brutality of life inside a British Borstal (Young Offenders prison). The story was originally made for the BBC’s Play for Today strand in 1977, however due to the violence depicted in the film, it was withdrawn from broadcast. Two years later, director Alan Clarke and scriptwriter Roy Winton remade it as a film, first shown on Channel 4 in 1983. By this time the borstal system had been reformatted and eventually allowed the original TV version to be aired.

The film tells the story of a young offender named Carlin (Ray Winstone) as he arrives at the institution, and his rise through violence and self-protection to the top of the inmates’ pecking order, purely as a tool to survive. Phil Daniels plays Richards, part of the established gang that rules the borstal at the outset of the film. He gets his comeuppance at the hands of Carlin in a particularly brutal scene.

Beyond Carlin’s individual storyline, it is also cast as an indictment of the borstal system’s flaws with no attempt at rehabilitation. The warders and convicts alike are brutalised by the system. The film’s controversy was derived from its graphic depiction of racism, extreme violence, rape, suicide and very strong language. Scum would be one of the most controversial British films of the early 1980s, but has since become regarded as a popular classic.

Quadrophenia is a 1979 British film, loosely based around the 1973 rock opera of the same name by The Who. Directed by Franc Roddam in his feature directing debut, the film, set in 1965, follows the story of Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels), a London Mod. Disillusioned by his parents and a job as a post room boy in an advertising firm, Jimmy finds an outlet for his teenage angst with his Mod friends Dave (Mark Wingett), Chalky (Philip Davis) and Spider (Gary Shail). However, his angst and confusion are compounded by the fact that one of the Mods’ rivals, the Rockers, is in fact childhood friend Kevin (Ray Winstone). An assault by aggressive Rockers on Spider leads to a serious unprovoked attack on a Rocker who, unbeknownst to Jimmy and his Mod mates, is Kevin.

A bank holiday weekend provides the excuse for the rivalry between Mods and Rockers to come to a head, as they both descend upon the seaside town of Brighton. A series of running battles ensues. As the police close in on the rioters, Jimmy escapes down an alleyway with Steph (Lesley Ash), a girl on whom he has a crush, to  have sex. When the pair emerge, they find themselves in the middle of the melee just as police are succeeding in detaining rioters. Jimmy is arrested, detained with a violent, leading Mod he calls ‘Ace Face’ (played by Sting) and later fined.

Back in London, Jimmy becomes increasingly depressed. He is thrown out of his house by his mother, who finds his stash of amphetamine pills; quits his job, spends his severance package on more pills and alienated from his family and friends descends into a deeper depression as he tries to relive the excitement of Brighton.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Daniels was a member of new wave band The Cross along with fellow  actor Peter Hugo Daly, the band releasing a single, “Kill Another Night” on RCA Records in 1979. His musical inclinations were revealed when he starred in a little known 1985 British snooker musical ‘Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire’ (1985). He narrated tracks on the Parklife and Think Tank albums for Blur.

Biggest Horror Opening EVER..!

Hollywood’s scary 3 months of slumping North American box office is officially over — appropriately enough at the start of Halloweek. In fact Paranormal Activity 3 (which cost only $5M) recorded the biggest horror opening of all time and the biggest October debut this weekend not adjusted for inflation or ticket pricing, according to Paramount. Its worldwide cume is now $80M. For decades, studios have had to spend more and more to keep their big franchises aloft. Not the Paranormal Activity series, and in this economic climate that’s become a very attractive model for the studios.

Paranormal Activity 3 – $50m+ Opening

Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 3 as predicted is setting a franchise best with $45M for the weekend after opening to $26M today in 3,321 theaters so kudos to Oren Peli and Jason Blum who returned to produce the highly secret feature. Report from Nikki Finke.

Strong late shows Friday night surged grosses despite audiences giving it only a ‘C+’ CinemaScore. Then again how many horror films are well-reviewed? It’s 80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with raves from Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. Rival studios say the weekend take is approaching $52M even if Paramount is sticking by $50M. (there’ll be a huge drop from Friday to Saturday). Paranormal Activity 3‘s strong tracking for weeks showed wannasee not just with young males but also with older moviegoers. So no surprise this bloodless thriller is breaking Hollywood’s 3-month-long box office slump this weekend. PA3 cost only $5M, making the low-budget high-grossing franchise “the gift that keeps on giving,” as a studio exec tells

The marketing strategy for the first Paranormal Activity was midnight screenings in a few college towns, build word of mouth over several weeks, then slowly open it across the country. Now the 3rd in the franchise gets a wide release from the get-go. “We always market this franchise in a very specific way- we try to stay true to the fanbase,” A Paramount exec tells Finke. “We don’t betray the conceit that the footage is real, and we rely on core fans to spread the word by doing playful stunts and allowing them to see it first.” Paramount highlighted its Thursday midnight opening in all its media. The TV campaign consisted of lots of cable and very little network as well as the highest percentage of online of any movie Paramount has ever handled. ”We spend half of what most other wide releases spend in P&A and continue to let fan buzz propel release,” a Paramount exec boasted.

Then again, you have to laugh at what Ariel Schulman, who directed with Henry Joost, said about how they got the PA3 gig: ”Catfish had a lot to do with it. Paramount were big fans and we had been on their radar. When we first interviewed with the president of Paramount, he actually said, “If you tell me right now that Catfish is fake, you’ve got the job.” And we just went real silent. And then I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that.” Because it was real. I think he figured that if we could create that authenticity dramatically, then we could do it again for this. Ultimately, we convinced them of exactly that. Catfish is completely real, but I think we have a knack for identifying the authentic moments in home video, and it plays like a narrative.”

Internationally, Paranormal Activity 3 opened in France Wednesday and saw $521K opening gross which was +45% higher than PA2, Australia Thursday which saw $516K  or +14% ahead of PA2, and almost every foreign territory today besides North America. Russia’s $550K opening gross was 45% higher than PA2. To pump up global grosses, Paramount indulged in a global stunt: the first-ever worldwide tweet-to-see-it-first contest. There were 20 round-the-world fan premieres in 8 countries after a contest based on the most Twitter activity. Out of 250 cities, the winners included Melbourne, Tel Aviv, London, Sao Paulo, New York, and Hollywood’s Arclight, where thousands of fans turned out for gourmet food trucks and franchise star Katie Featherston.

Sam Raimi

Samuel Marshall “Sam” Raimi (October 23, 1959) is an American film director, producer, actor and writer. He is best known for directing cult horror films like the ‘Evil Dead series’, Darkman’ and ‘Drag Me to Hell’, as well as the blockbuster ‘Spider-Man’ films and the producer of the successful TV series ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’, Xena: Warrior Princess’, ‘Legend of the Seeker’ and ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’.

Raimi became fascinated with making films when his father brought a movie camera home one day and he began to make Super 8 movies with childhood friend Bruce Campbell. In college, he teamed up with his brother’s roommate Robert Tapert and Campbell to shoot ‘Within the Woods’ (1978), a 32-minute horror film which raised $375,000, as well as the short comedic film ‘It’s Murder!’. Through family, friends, and a network of investors Raimi was able to finance production of the highly successful horror film ‘The Evil Dead’ (1981) which became a cult hit and effectively launched Raimi’s career. He began work on his second film ‘Crimewave’ (1985), intended as a live-action comic-book, the film was not successful, due in part to unwanted studio  intervention.

Raimi returned to the horror genre with the seminal ‘Evil Dead II’ (which added slapstick humor to the over the top horror, showcasing his love of the Three Stooges). With his brother Ivan Raimi (and crediting himself as Celia Abrams), Sam Raimi also wrote ‘Easy Wheels’ (1989), a parody of the Outlaw biker film genre. A long-time comic book buff, he then attempted to adapt “The Shadow” into a movie, but was unable to secure the rights, so he created his own super-hero, ‘Darkman’ (1990). The film was his first major studio picture, and was only moderately successful, but he was still able to secure funding for Evil Dead III which was retitled ‘Army of Darkness’,  which turned away almost totally from horror, with the exception of a few memorable scenes, in favor of fantasy and comedy elements. Army of Darkness was a box office flop, yet on video became a cult classic, Army of Darkness was the final movie in the Evil Dead trilogy.

In the 1990s Raimi moved into other genres, directing such films as the western ‘The Quick and the Dead’ (1995) starring Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman, the critically acclaimed crime thriller ‘A Simple Plan’ (1998) starring Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton, the romantic drama ‘For the Love of the Game’ (1999) starring Kevin Costner and the suspense thriller ‘The Gift’ (2000) with Kate Blanchett. Raimi then achieved great critical and commercial success with the blockbuster ‘Spider-Man’ (2002), which was adapted from the comic book series. The movie has grossed over $800 million worldwide, spawning two sequels: ‘Spider-Man 2’ (2004) and ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007), both directed by Raimi and both grossing roughly $800 million each.

Raimi returned to the horror genre with Drag Me to Hell is a 2009 American horror film, directed by Raimi, with a screenplay by Sam and Ivan Raimi. The plot focuses on loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), who tries to impress her boss by refusing to extend a loan to a gypsy woman by the name of Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver). In retaliation, Ganush places a curse on Christine that, after three days of escalating torment, will plunge her into the depths of Hell to burn for eternity. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was released to wide critical acclaim. It was also a box office success, making $90.8 million worldwide on a $30 million budget. Drag Me to Hell also won the award for Best Horror Film at the 2009 Scream Awards and the 2010 Saturn Awards.

Raimi is currently directing ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’, a prequel to ‘The Wizard of Oz’, which will be released in 2013 by Walt Disney Pictures.

The Evil Dead – Poster Art

Some nice fan poster art for Sam Raimi’s legendary breakout hit, ‘The Evil Dead’. Enjoy.

Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve, born 22 October 1943) is a French actress. She gained recognition for her portrayal of aloof and mysterious beauties in films such as ‘Repulsion’ (1965) and ‘Belle de Jour’ (1967). Deneuve was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1993 for her performance in ‘Indochine’; she also won Cesar Awards for that film and ‘The Last Metro’ (1980). Considered one of France’s most successful actresses, she has also appeared in seven English-language films, most notably the 1983 cult classic ‘The Hunger’.

Repulsion is a 1965 British psychological thriller directed by Roman Polanski, based on a scenario by Gerard Brach and Polanski. Polanski’s first English language film, the plot follows Carole Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve) is a young Belgian manicurist who lives in Kensington, London, with her sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux). Carol seems shy and interacts with men awkwardly. When Helen leaves on a holiday to Italy with her married boyfriend, Michael (Ian Hendry), Carol acts distracted at work, refuses to leave her apartment, leaves a raw, skinned rabbit out to rot, and sees hallucinations, first of the walls cracking, then reaching out with hands to grab and attack her, and finally of a man breaking in and raping her.

The film is shot in black and white, increasingly adopting the perspective of its protagonist. The dream sequences are particularly intense; dark, creepy and disturbing, Repulsion still packs a punch today. Repulsion is the first of Polanski’s “apartment trilogy” (the other two being ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968) and ‘The Tenant’ (Le Locataire, 1976).

The Hunger is a 1983 British gothic horror film and the directorial debut of Tony Scott. It is the story of a love triangle between doctor Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) who specializes in sleep and aging research and a counter-culture vampire couple Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) and John (David Bowie). The film is a loose adaptation of the 1981 novel of the same name by Whitley Streiber.

The films opens in a night club in New York to a live performance from Bauhaus playing Bela Lugosi’s Dead. Periodic killing and feeding upon human victims allows Miriam and John to possess eternal youth, or at least that is what John was led to believe. John begins aging rapidly. He realizes that Miriam knew that this would happen, and that her promises of “forever and ever” were only partially true. He WILL have eternal life, but not eternal youth and vitality. Feeling betrayed, he seeks out the help of Dr. Sarah Roberts; Sarah assumes that John is a hypochondriac or mentally unbalanced, and ignores his pleas for help. As John leaves the clinic in a rage, Sarah is horrified to see how rapidly John is aging.

I loved The Hunger when it first came out, visual stylish and featuring an incredibly sensual love scene between Deneuve and Sarandon, it was perfect fodder for me as a young student. The Hunger was not particularly well-received upon its initial release, and was attacked by many critics for being heavy on atmosphere and visuals but slow on pace and plot. However, the film has found a cult following that responded to its dark, glamorous atmosphere and is also popular with some segments of the goth subculture, due to the ethereal look and aforementioned Bauhaus opening number. It also inspired a short-lived TV series of the same name.

The Walking Dead – Alive and Well

It would appear that all the behind-the-scenes turmoil did little to slow down The Walking Dead ratings behemoth, which opened its second season to staggering numbers of:

7.3 million total viewers for premiere and 11 million total viewers for the night

The 18-49 and 25-54 tallies broke basic cable’s previous records posted by the premiere of USA Network’s The Dead Zone in June 2002 (4.0 million in 18-49, 4.1 million in 25-54). Compared with Walking Dead‘s highly rated series premiere last year (5.2 million total viewers, 3.5 million in 18-49), the Season 2 opener was up a whopping 38% in total viewers, 36% in 18-49 and 35% in 25-54. With the 9 PM airing and the 10:30 PM and 12:30 AM encores, the Walking Dead premiere drew a total of 11 million viewers. “The Walking Dead is one of those rare television programs that reaches both a core genre fan as well as broad audiences simply looking for a great, character-based story,” said AMC president Charlie Collier. “That The Walking Dead is now the most-watched drama in the history of basic cable is staggering, just like our zombies.” 

AMC’s talk show Talking Dead got off to a solid start at midnight, following the first rerun of the Walking Dead premiere. It averaged 1.2 million total viewers, 795,000 adults 18-49 and 735,000  adults 25-54.

$10 Halloween Tees until the 24th October

$10 Halloween tees until 10/24 10am CT. Check them out here

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Frances Fisher (born October 21, 1956) is an American actress, novelist, screenwriter, and lecturer.
She is most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia Organa in the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, her bestselling novel Postcards from the Edge, for which she wrote the screenplay to the film of the same name, and her autobiography Wishful Drinking.

Fisher was born in Beverly Hills, California, the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. When Carrie Fisher was two, her parents divorced after her father left Debbie for her best friend, actress Elizabeth Taylor, the widow of Eddie’s best friend Mike Todd. She attended Beverly Hills High School, but she left to join her mother on the road.

In 1973, Fisher enrolled at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, which she attended for 18 months. She made her film debut in the comedy ‘Shampoo’ (1975) starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn. In 1977, Fisher starred as Princess Leia in George Lucas’ science fiction film ‘Star Wars’ (later retitled ‘Star Wars IV: A New Hope’) opposite  Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, a part she sarcastically claims  to have obtained by sleeping “with some nerd.” The huge success of Star Wars made her internationally famous. The character of Princess Leia became a merchandising triumph; there were small plastic action figures of the Princess in toy stores across the United States. She appeared as Princess Leia in the 1978 made-for-TV film, ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’, a show that Lucas has tried to erase from everyone’s memory.

Fisher later appeared in ‘The Blues Brothers’  film in an unforgettable cameo role as Joliet Jake’s vengeful ex-lover, listed in the credits as “Mystery Woman”. She appeared on Broadway in Censored Scenes from King Kong in 1980. That year, she appeared again as Princess Leia in ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’ (which was also later changed to Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back). She made her third and final appearance as Leia in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ (1983), also later changed… for which she became a sex symbol due to her appearance wearing a golden metal bikini (the slave girl outfit which almost immediately rose to pop culture icon status).

In 1987, Fisher published her first novel, Postcards from the Edge. The book was semi-autobiographical in the sense that she fictionalized and satirized real life events such as her drug addiction of the late 1970s. It became a bestseller, and she received the Los Angeles Pen Award for Best First Novel. Also during 1987, she was in the Australian film The Time Guardian. In 1989, Fisher played a major supporting role in ‘When Harry Met Sally’, and in the same year, she appeared opposite Tom Hanks as his wife in ‘The Burbs’.

In 1990, Columbia Pictures released a film version of ‘Postcards from the Edge’, adapted for the screen by Fisher and starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine and Dennis Quaid. She also appeared in the fantasy comedy film ‘Drop Dead Fred’ (1991). In 1997, Fisher appeared as a therapist in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’. During the 1990s, Fisher also published the novels Surrender the Pink (1991) and Delusions of Grandma (1993).

Fisher has publicly discussed her problems with drugs, her struggle with bipolar disorder, and her overcoming an addiction to prescription medication, most notably on ‘The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive’ with Stephen Fry for the BBC. She discussed her new memoir Wishful Drinking and various topics in it with Matt Lauer on NBC’s ‘Today’ on December 10, 2008. While in Sydney, Australia, Fisher revealed in another interview that she had a cocaine addiction during filming of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and also survived an overdose. “Slowly, I realized I was doing a bit more drugs than other people and losing my choice in the matter” .

30 Days of Night – Free iTunes App

30 Days of Night, the Steve Niles comic book series is now available as a free iPhone and iPad app at the iTunes store. Click on the link to download now.

Bela Lugosi

Béla Lugosi (20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956), was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó in Lugos (at the time part of Austria-Hungary, now Lugoj in Romania), to Paula de Vojnich and István Blaskó. He later based his last name on his hometown. At the age of 12, Lugosi dropped out of school and began his acting career probably in 1901 or 1902. Moving to Budapest in 1911, he played dozens of roles with the National Theater of Hungary in the period 1913–1919.

Lugosi made 12 films in Hungary between 1917 and 1918 before leaving for Germany. In exile in Germany, he began appearing in a small number of well received films before leaving Germany in October 1920, intending to emigrate to the United States.

With fellow Hungarian actors he formed a small company that toured Eastern cities, playing for immigrant audiences. He acted in his first Broadway play, The Red Poppy, in 1922. Three more parts came in 1925–1926, including a five-month run in the comedy-fantasy The Devil in the Cheese. His first American film role came in the 1923 melodrama ‘The Silent Command’ (1923) . Several more silent roles followed, as villains or continental types, all in productions made in the New York area.

Lugosi was approached in the summer of 1927 to star in a Broadway production of ‘Dracula’ adapted by Hamilton Deane and John L.Balderston from Bram Stoker’s novel. The Horace Liveright production was successful, running 261 performances before touring. He was soon called to Hollywood for character parts in early talkies.

He was best known for having played Count Dracula in that Broadway play and the subsequent film version, however, despite his critically acclaimed performance on stage, Lugosi was not Universal Pictures first choice for the role of ‘Dracula’ (1931) when the company optioned the rights to the Deane play and began production in 1930. A persistent rumor asserts that director Tod Browning’s long-time collaborator, Lon Chaney, was Universal’s first choice for the role, and that Lugosi was chosen only due to Chaney’s death shortly before production. This is questionable, because Chaney had been under long-term contract to MGM since 1925, and had negotiated a lucrative new contract just before his death. Chaney and Browning had worked together on several projects (including four of Chaney’s final five releases), but Browning was only a last-minute choice to direct the movie version of Dracula after the death of director Paul Leni, who was originally slated to direct.

Through his association with Dracula (in which he appeared with minimal makeup, using his natural, heavily accented voice), Lugosi found himself typecast as a horror villain in such classic movies as ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ (1932), ‘White Zombie’ (1932), ‘Island of Lost Souls’ (1933), ‘The Black Cat’ (1934), ‘Mark of the Vampire’ (1935) and ‘The Raven’ (1935). His accent, while a part of his image, limited the roles he could play.

His career was given a second chance by Universal’s ‘Son of Frankentein’ (1939), when he played the character role of Ygor, who uses the Monster for his own revenge, in heavy makeup and beard. The same year saw Lugosi playing a straight character role in a major motion picture: he was a stern commissar in MGM’s comedy ‘Ninotchka’, starring Greta Garbo. This small but prestigious role could have been a turning point for the actor, but within the year he was back playing small roles in horror, comedy and mystery B-films, such as ‘The Gorilla’ (1939), the remake of ‘The Black Cat’ (1941), ‘The Wolfman’ (1941), ‘Ghost of Frankenstein’ (1942) and ‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman’ (1943) in which he often received star billing for what amounted to a supporting part.

Ostensibly due to injuries received during military service, Lugosi had developed severe, chronic sciatica. Though at first he was treated with low grade pain remedies, doctors increased the medication to opiates. The growth of his dependence on pain-killers, particularly morphine and methadone, was directly proportional to the dwindling of screen offers. ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’ (1948) was Bela Lugosi’s last “A” movie. For the remainder of his life he appeared — less and less frequently — in obscure, low-budget features.

Bela Lugosi again received star billing in movies when filmmaker Ed Wood, a fan of Lugosi, found him living in obscurity and near-poverty and offered him roles in his films, such as ‘Glen or Glenda’ (1953) and as a Dr. Frankenstein-like mad scientist in ‘Bride of the Monster’ (1955). During post-production of the latter, Lugosi decided to seek treatment for his drug addiction, and the premiere of the film was said to be intended to help pay for his hospital expenses. The extras on an early DVD release of ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ (1956) include an impromptu interview with Lugosi upon his exit from the treatment center in 1955, in which Lugosi states that he is about to go to work on a new Ed Wood film, The Ghoul Goes West, with Lugosi in his famed Dracula cape, Wood shot impromptu test footage, with no storyline in mind, in front of Tor Johnson’s home, a suburban graveyard and in front of Lugosi’s apartment building on Carlton Way. This footage ended up in Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956, while lying on a couch in hi Los Angeles home. He was 73. Lugosi was buried wearing one of the Dracula Cape costumes, per the request of his son and fourth wife, in the Holy Cross Cemetary in Culver City, California.

After Dark Originals – Courtney Solomon Interview

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney Solomon, CEO of After Dark Films at the Australian lunch of After Dark Originals at the Chauvel Cinema in Sydney. Although he was obviously jet-lagged and tired after a long day of interviews he was gracious enough to spend some time with me for a short interview before attending an on-stage Q & A. Below is a transcript of the interview.

SOCIALPSYCHOL It’s been 6 years since you wrote, directed and produced ‘An American Haunting’, concentrating on the production side of all your projects since. Do you miss that aspect of the creative process and think that you might return to it one day or do you now prefer to oversee a varied slate of prjects? You seem to thrive on the latter.

COURTNEY Even though I’m now busy sourcing material, reading scripts and producing the movies, I still manage to stay involved on set. For example the movie we’re about to see 7 minutes of footage from, Re-Kill, was just shot in Bulgaria and I was on set initially at the start of filming. It was great fun, we managed to shoot off over 38,000 rounds of amunition and use around 4,000 squibs… it’s a zombie movie. I also love giving opportunities to young up and coming directors and seeing them bring their take to each project.

Re-Kill – unseen footage (rel 18th Oct 2011) from After Dark Films on Vimeo.

SOCIALPSYCHOL Australia has had a long history of horror production, from the shlock of the 70’s and early 80’s through to some quality modern day movies such as ‘Wolf Creek’ and ‘The Loved Ones’ as well as creative independent releases like ‘The Tunnel’. Do you envision setting one of your ‘After Dark Originals’ titles down under at some time in the future?

COURTNEY That’s the 5th time today I’ve heard about The Loved Ones, I’ve gotta pick up a copy of it before I leave, and everyone knows how well Wolf Creek has done. Of course, Australia has produced some great horror movies over the years and we’re looking to develop or remake an Australian film, any suggestions which one?

SOCIALPSYCHOL Turkey Shoot could do with an update and better budget.

COURTNEY If we go ahead with an Australian production we’ll look to use an Australian director. We did distribute the Australian film Dying Breed a few years back, we screened it at Horrorfest.

SOCIALPSYCHOL The After Dark ‘Horrorfest: 8 Films to Die for’ concept is a perfect platform for horror fans who can be a notoriously difficult crowd to please, especially as horror seems to have ‘themed cycles’, from vampires, to zombies to torture porn to next months popular theme, what do you envision the next big change to the genre and how do you try to anticipate the demand?

COURTNEY Yes (laughs), they’re a difficult crowd to please. Horror is cyclical, we’ve had the big vampire thing due to Twilight, whatever you make of that, and of course zombies have been around for a while now and are still popular. We haven’t really seen a good werewolf movie in a long time, I think that ghost stories, the supernatural is probably the next thing to come around again. I love the genre, especially stories based on historical fact or events.

At this stage Courtney was ushered to the theatre for his on-stage Q&A, the first video clip of which can be viewed here. Courtney was asked what he’s learned from working with great actors such as Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland on An American Haunting.

After Dark Originals: Q&A with Courtney Solomon from After Dark Films on Vimeo.

Check out the After Dark website and facebook page for more info on the After Dark horror community