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

Posts tagged “California

Tobe Hooper R.I.P

tobe-hooperSo soon after the passing of George Romero, it’s sad to report that Tobe Hooper, the horror director best known for helming The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist, died Saturday in Sherman Oaks, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Coroner. He was 74. The circumstances of his death were not known.

The influential 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre became a seminal horror title for its realistic approach and deranged vision. Shot for less than $300,000, it tells the story of a group of unfortunate friends who encounter a group of cannibals on their way to visit an old homestead. Though it was banned in several countries for violence, it was one of the most profitable independent films of the 1970s in the U.S. The character of Leatherface was loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein.

Hooper also directed the 1986 sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which took a more comedic approach, as part of his Cannon Films deal.

The 1982 Poltergeist, written and produced by Steven Spielberg, also became a classic of the genre. The story of a family coping with a house haunted by unruly ghosts starred JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson. The film was a box office success for MGM and became the eighth-highest grossing film of the year.

After Poltergeist, Hooper directed two movies for Cannon Films, Lifeforce and Invaders from Mars, a remake of the 1953 alien movie.

His 1979 CBS miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel Salem’s Lot is considered by many fans to be a high-water mark in televisual horror. Combining the intrigue of a nighttime soap opera with the gothic atmosphere of a classic horror film, the two-part program was eventually reedited and released theatrically throughout Europe.

He continued working in television and film throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, but none of the films had the impact of his early works.  His other more recent works included Toolbox Murders, Crocodile, and Mortuary.

Among his other works was the music video for Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” In 2011 he co-authored a post-modern horror novel titled “Midnight Movie” in which he himself appeared as the main character.

 

Hooper continued to work on various TV series and films up until 2013, when his last film, Djinn, set in the United Arab Emirates and produced by Image Nation, was released. He is survived by two sons.


Mike Mignola

Mike-Mignola_HellboyMike Mignola was born September 16, 1960 in Berkeley, California and grew up in nearby Oakland. His fascination with ghosts and monsters began at an early age (he doesn’t remember why) and reading Dracula at age 13 introduced him to Victorian literature and folklore from which he has never recovered.

In 1982, hoping to find a way to draw monsters for a living, he moved to New York City and began working for Marvel Comics—First as a (very terrible, according to the man himself) inker and then as an artist on comics like Rocket Raccoon, Alpha Flight, and The Hulk. 

Hellboy_graphic-novelBy the late 80’s he had begun to develop his signature style (Thin lines, clunky shapes and lots of black) and moved onto higher profile commercial projects like Cosmic Odyssey (1988) and Gotham by Gaslight (1989) for DC Comics, and the not so commercial Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (1990) for Marvel. In 1992 he drew the comic book adaptation of the film Bram Stoker’s Dracula for Topps Comics.

In 1993 Mike moved to Dark Horse comics and created Hellboy – A half-demon occult detective who may or may not be the Beast of the Apocalypse. While the first story line (Seed of Destruction 1994) was co-written by John Byrne, Mike has continued writing the series himself. There are, at this moment, 13 HELLBOY graphic novel collections (with more on the way), several spin-off titles (BPRD, Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien and Witchfinder), 3 anthologies of prose stories, several novels, 2 animated films and 2 live action films staring Ron Perlman. Hellboy has earns numerous comic industry awards and is published in a great many countries.

mignola_bprd-hell-on-earthMike also created the award-winning comic book The Amazing Screw-On Head and has co-written two novels (Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire and Joe Golem and the Drowning City) with best selling author Christopher Golden.

Mike worked (very briefly) with Francis Ford Coppola on his film Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), was a production designer on the Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) and was visual consultant to director Guillermo del Toro on Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008).

Mignola_rocket_groot_cover_colorMike considers The Magician and the Snake the best thing he has ever done. Though scripted and drawn by him the 6 page story was actually plotted by his daughter Katie (at the time 7 years old) and earned both of them Eisner Awards for best short story.

He lives somewhere in Southern California with his wife, daughter, a lot of books and a cat. He is one of the few comic artists that I buy work unseen based on his participation (the others are Berni Wrightson, Liberatore and Eric Powell) I suggest you purchase some of his work immediately.


Robin Williams R.I.P.

Robin_WilliamsThe comedian and actor Robin Williams has died at 63, according to police in Marin County, California. A statement from the assistant chief deputy coroner of Marin County announced on Monday that the Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made.”

His publicist confirmed the news: “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late, this is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

His wife, Susan Schneider, released a statement saying she was “utterly heartbroken.”

“This morning I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” she said in the statement. “On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laugher he gave to millions.”

Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork & Mindy (1978-1982), Williams went on to establish a successful career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting.

His film career included such acclaimed films as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), Good Will Hunting (1997) and Insomnia (2002), as well as financial successes such as Popeye (1980), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996) and Happy Feet (2006).

Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, Williams went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting (1997). He also received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy Awards.


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The Lost Boys – By Jason Edmiston

Lost-Boys-Jason-Edmiston


Zombie attack exposes security flaws

The ‘zombie attack’ alert issued on US TV stations this week is more serious than a mischievous hacker prank, say cyber experts, who warn the incident exposes lax security practices in a critical public safety system.

While broadcasters said poor password security paved the way for the bogus warning, security experts said the equipment used by the Emergency Alert System remained vulnerable when stations allow it be accessed via the public internet.

The fear is that hackers could prevent the government from sending out public warnings during an emergency or attackers could conduct a more damaging hoax than a warning of a zombie apocalypse. “It isn’t what they said. It is the fact that they got into the system. They could have caused some real damage,” said Karole White, president of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Following the attacks on Monday, broadcasters were ordered to change the passwords for the EAS equipment. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would not comment on the attacks, but in an urgent advisory sent to television stations on Tuesday said: “All EAS participants are required to take immediate action.”

It instructed them to change passwords on equipment from all manufacturers used to deliver emergency broadcasts. The FCC instructed them to ensure gear was properly secured behind firewalls and to inspect systems to ensure that hackers had not queued “unauthorised alerts” for future transmission.

The attacks come after warnings by government officials and outside security experts that the US is at risk of a cyber attack that could cause major physical damage or even cost lives. President Barack Obama told Congress on Tuesday that some hackers were looking for ways to attack the US power grid, banks and air traffic control systems.

Privately held Monroe Electronics, whose equipment was compromised in Monday’s attacks, said it was still evaluating the risks.

“The situation appears to just be the password stuff, but we are looking at anything else and everything that might come into play,” said vice president Bill Robertson. A spokesman for US-CERT said he could not immediately comment on the matter.

The zombie hackers targeted two stations in Michigan, and several in California, Montana and New Mexico, White said.

A male voice addressed viewers in a video posted on the internet of the bogus warning broadcast from KRTV, a CBS affiliate based in Great Falls, Montana: “Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from the grave and attacking the living.”

The voice warned not “to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are extremely dangerous.”

Stuart McClure, chief executive of cyber security firm Cylance, said he had investigated cases in which hackers accessed EAS systems via a different method: breaking into hidden accounts built into the systems by manufacturers so that service technicians can easily access them for repairs.

“You cannot give a separate pass code to everybody. Nobody is going to remember it. You have to share the secret,” said McClure, who previously ran a unit at Intel’s McAfee security division that investigated cyber attacks.

Electronics industry experts said it is tough for some broadcasters to follow all security guidelines because staff at small stations lack the expertise to do so. The equipment that was compromised obtains emergency broadcasts by frequently using the internet to make outward calls to trusted government servers. When it finds an alert on one of those servers, it broadcasts it on that station.

Monroe Electronics said its gear is designed to let stations make outgoing queries, but still keep outsiders from getting in. It recommends against unsecured access to the internet. “It’s the wild, wild West,” said Robertson.

He said the equipment sometimes gets exposed to the open internet because it is not properly configured or because engineers want remote access when they are on call. Robertson said the company was working to beef up security on the equipment and might update its software to compel customers to change default passwords.

US Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dan Watson said the zombie breach did not have any impact on the government’s ability to activate the Emergency Alert System.