Alice Cooper ‘From the Inside’ pumpkin by my mate Dave Cook…. and a ‘Pumpkin Centipede’
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!
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.
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
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:
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.
Check out this interesting interview with George Romero and his thoughts on The Walking Dead.
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.
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.
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.
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 Deadline.com.
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.
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.
Some nice fan poster art for Sam Raimi’s legendary breakout hit, ‘The Evil Dead’. Enjoy.
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 10/24 10am CT. Check them out here
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.