Sunday, October 22, 2017

Poe Arts Festival Entry - Darkest Night

As a huge fan of the works of Edgar Allan Poe there are times when I draw on him for inspiration. That was the case with this piece that was done for the POEtry Contest for the Poe Arts Festival. Please check out the video that was made for this contest (just remember, I am a writer not an actor)! #ShowUsYouPoe

Darkest Night

Help me please; protect me, as these shadows close,
Oh, what have I done, cleanse my darkest darkened heart.

The eyes! Stop…no! The eyes!
Staring deep within the bounds of my soul,
Why me, why now, why?
The screams grow louder as the howling winds grow,
Swallow me whole, silence my cries,
Bury me alive, inside these walls; entomb me by your side.

Midnight nears, hear the echoes of bells?
Fetid flesh binds every move; every quiver,
Scarlet tears, sips of blood, the oceans swell,
Your whispers call, heartbeats shiver,
Something is coming, something from the well,
Save me, do not allow me to die alone!

The aging stones hide the illicit deeds,
Your soul removed, impaled by love and despair,
Truths turn to rust; bosoms turn shallow, pale eyes bleed,
For in your lair, scents of lust fill the air,
And empty hearts and dying embers calm my needs,
Hear my pleas, forgive me, and make me whole again.

Years have passed; your pulse has faded,
Memories remain, visions so pure,
The blade upon your neck, an empty sacrifice, long I have waited,
For this day, and every day, for you to open the door,
Sins of flesh, Satan’s touch, and two lives sated,
Together at last, my tomb awaits, finally you call.

At last I hope, my deeds are forgiven,
And you will embrace my darkened soul.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Invisible Man (1933)

With Halloween being right around the corner, it is fun to sit back and enjoy the classics from Universal Studios. Last night it was The Mummy, and tonight, I followed that one with the classic The Invisible Man from 1933.

Plot/ A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.

Being in a classics mood, this adaptation of the H.G. Wells sci-fi classic may be one of the best movies of the golden era of the Universal Monsters. Complete with some of the best special effects of all time, this movie boasts tremendous creativity, cinematography, and technical aspects. The performances, especially Claude Rains, are outstanding, the storyline is interesting, and as I mentioned already the effects are tremendous especially considering that this movie was shot decades before the first computer was ever thought of. Yes, it does lack the scenery that made the other Universal Monster movies so memorable and the overall story lacks the layered depths of the other films from the studio, but those elements do not hurt the movie in any way. In the end, like the other classic monster movies of the early 1930s, this movie is a must see. Sure, it often overlooked in comparison to the other timeless entries from Universal Studios, but from a cinematic and technical perspective, it should sit near the top of the chart and it remains one of the most memorable sci-fi films ever made. Go to Shudder and check it out.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Mummy (1932)

After watching an entire series last night in Lore, I decided that I wanted to go back to the roots of horror for my next movie and review. My viewing choice for the evening is the 1932 Universal Studios classic The Mummy.

Plot/ In 1921 a field expedition in Egypt discovers the mummy of ancient Egyptian prince Im-Ho-Tep, who was condemned and buried alive for sacrilege. Also found in the tomb is the Scroll of Thoth, which can bring the dead back to life. One night a young member of the expedition reads the Scroll aloud, and then goes insane, realizing that he has brought Im-Ho-Tep back to life. Ten years later, disguised as a modern Egyptian, the mummy attempts to reunite with his lost love, an ancient princess who has been reincarnated into a beautiful young woman.

People who suffered through the latest reboot of The Mummy should definitely head over to Shudder and revisit the 1932 Universal Studios classic to burn the modern monstrosity out of their minds. While this is not a straight horror film with it actually feeling more like a gothic romance/drama only in a different location, it does have all the elements needed to make it an entertaining and memorable trip into darkness. This movie screams atmosphere and creates a dreamlike state that takes the viewer to a different place. The performances are outstanding, especially horror icon Boris Karloff in one of his most memorable characters, what little make-up effects that are used are tremendous, and the cinematography, setting, and the set pieces are remarkable. Of course, many viewers that watch this will not like the slower pace and lack of action, but those elements just help bring the story to life in a way that ties the entire movie together. In the end, this may be one of the most subdued horror films from that early 1930s Universal catalog, but it is still an amazing watch. If you have not seen it, there is no way you can call yourself a true horror fan. Head over to Shudder and watch it. It is a must see.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lore (2017)

I know that I have been in a retro mood lately, but I decided to change things up as we creep closer to Halloween. With that in mind, I decided to marathon the Amazon Prime series Lore.

Plot/ This anthology series brings to life Aaron Mahnke's "Lore" podcast and uncovers the real-life events that spawned our darkest nightmares. Blending dramatic scenes, animation, archive, and narration, Lore reveals how our horror legends - such as vampires, werewolves, and body snatchers - are rooted in truth.

This was a series that I was actually looking forward to seeing. As a huge fan of folklore and the supernatural, this seemed right up my alley. Now that I have watched all six episodes, I can tell that this will be one of those series that falls into the love/hate category and there will be little middle ground. For me, I thoroughly enjoyed the series and found it both entertaining and informative. Yes, it was not perfect, but the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. The subject matter was awesome and there were some interesting elements sprinkled in, the combination of narration and reenactments provided a nice blend of storytelling techniques, and the production values were solid. Yes, the pacing felt uneven, the performances seemed a bit flat and subdued, and there were times, where the episodes jumped in odd ways, but those elements did not deter my viewing experience. I felt that the best episodes were They Made a Tonic and Black Stockings, while my least favorite was Passing Notes, which seemed to drag on a bit and try to pack way too much information into the allotted time. In the end, I found this series a worthwhile watch. Sure, it has some flaws during the transition from podcast to show, but that is to be expected. It is definitely a series that has potential and they should be able to build upon and fix the flaws as they move forward.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973)

Last night I decided to continue venturing down that retro path and turned to Shudder to find something interesting. After some debate, I decided on the 1973 gothic ghost story And Now the Screaming Starts!

Plot/ England, 1795: the young Catherine has just married Charles Fengriffen and moves into his castle. She becomes the victim of an old curse that lays on the family. On her wedding night, she is raped by a ghost and gets pregnant.

This was a different film than I expected and I was actually quite entertained by the odd elements that were added in. From Amicus Studios, this gothic ghost story offers an interesting (albeit somewhat clich├ęd) storyline that was brought to life by an outstanding cast led by Peter Cushing. The performances were solid, the cinematography and setting were captivating, the atmosphere was heavy, and the visuals and color pallet used was amazing. Yes, the special effects were lacking in quality and the end game was a bit drawn out, but those are small flaws in what is definitely an underrated film in the studios' catalog. In the end, while there were some contradictory moments in the storyline and some of the low budget flaws rise up, for the most part, this one delivers. Yes, it is not perfect, but it is an entertaining movie and one that can be found on Shudder for free if you are in the mood for a classic gothic ghost story.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Schock (1977)

So, I have discovered that mentally, I am in a very retro mood and needed to continue down that road. After searching through some of my services, I decided on the 1977 Mario Bava entry Schock (AKA Shock and Beyond the Door II).

Plot/ A couple is terrorized in their new house haunted by the vengeful ghost of the woman's former husband who possesses her young son.

I love the work of Mario Bava and the entire Italian horror scene of the 1970s and this film is one of the reasons. Although it had been years since I watched it the first time, Shock continues to build on me. This film cries atmosphere and offers an interesting storyline that offers some decent twists. The performances from the minimalistic cast are solid and as usual, Bava delivers some incredible technical work and the ending is one that I truly enjoyed. Yes, some of the effects and gore may feel dated and it may feel somewhat predictable and ordinary by today’s standards, but those are but minor flaws within this film. In the end, there are enough elements inside this one to keep every fan of classic Italian horror satisfied. Sure, it is not perfect, but really, what movie is? Not only is this a good movie, with it being Bava’s last film, it is definitely a must see. Find it and check it out.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)

Yesterday was one of the final long softball days of the season and will admit it took its toll on me. I was beaten down and just wanted to sleep. When I finally cleared my head, I decided to watch something older. After some searching, I decided on the 1958 classic film, The Revenge of Frankenstein.

Plot/ Baron Frankenstein escapes from the guillotine and goes to Germany. There, he names himself Dr. Stein and plans to restart his experiments by using parts of dead bodies.

I was in the mood for some type of classic last night and decided to turn to Hammer Studios and that decision was rewarded. This is one of the more underpublicized films from the catalog, but it offers everything you could ask for from one of the early Frankenstein films. More atmospheric and creepy, this movie looks amazing. The sets, the lighting, pacing, and the cinematography are perfect, the performances were outstanding, and the storyline was full of twists and turns and added some depth that many entries in the historic life of Frankenstein do not have. Yes, it may be more of a drama or thriller than a horror film and as usual, the story is more about the doctor than the creature, but any fan of Hammer Horror should already expect those elements. In the end, this is an entertaining movie to watch and a perfect movie for a quiet night with Doctor Frankenstein. If you have not seen it, check it out.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Visitor (1979)

After taking a break last night from watching any movies, I decided that today I would go back and review a movie that I caught earlier in the week. That movie is the 1979 horror/sci-fi entry The Visitor.

Plot/ The soul of a young girl with telekinetic powers becomes the prize in a fight between forces of God and the Devil.

I am a huge fan of surreal movies that make you think; especially ones that can border on confusing and this one fits that bill perfectly. An interesting storyline that seems to feed on more than a few classics, this movie has some elements that should appeal to any horror or sci-fi fan. For the most part, the performances are solid, the cinematography is interesting, and the overall tone and feel of the movie works. Unfortunately, the storyline and plot, while intriguing have so many confusing elements that it is hard to make sense out of (even if you are paying close attention) and the soundtrack feels completely out of touch with the overall tone of the movie. In the end, this one will definitely fall into the love/hate category and is extremely hard to totally describe in any way. My only recommendation is to see it for yourself (at least once) and make your own judgment. Personally, I enjoyed it, but then again, my tastes are much different than many horror/sci-fi fans out there.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Salvation: Friday the 13th and Knights Templar

The story of the Knights Templar has always been one that has given me inspiration in writing. This was never more evident than this past April when I crafted an entire epic poem, Salvation, centered on this legendary group. That idea was spawned long ago by this poem I penned in honor of Friday the 13th, where the Knights Templar take center stage.


Such a dark day in the world
Leaders defiled
The protectors destroyed in your name
Not by the masses that follow
But, from the hypocrisy of medieval royalty
For what - your secrets?
Jealousy? Fear?
Maybe it was just their shame from following the false prophet
The sinner who hid behind his disciples
And worse, women and children
Spouting lies of redemption
Preaching abstinence instead of indulgence
Creating turmoil in the perfect world
.. ..
Through it all, you stood tall
These destroyers of forged faith were blind
Failing to harness the power of your minions
By creating a day of homage of their transgressions
They granted you eternal life
History crying tears of truths in your name
You will never be forgotten
You Baphomet, will live forever
Like the Templar’s, your followers will bleed for you
Carrying on the traditions past down by the strong
Your enigma, a mystery to most
A companion to some
A day of fear to the meek
That day is today, Friday the 13th

.. ..

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Let Me Make You a Martyr (2016)

Last night after finishing my Evil Dead 2 review, I decided to dive back into Shudder to see if I could find something interesting. After some thought, I decided on the 2016 crime drama Let Me Make You a Martyr.

Plot/ Adopted siblings hatch a plot to kill their abusive father, a local crime boss who won't go down easily.

This movie was not at all what I expected when I started watching it and honestly, it was a lot more than I ever imagined that it would be. This was an extremely thought provoking film with a detailed and layered storyline that was both entertaining and intelligent. The scripting was outstanding, as the non-linear approached worked extremely well in creating an atmosphere, the performances were solid with Marilyn Manson leading the way with an extremely memorable performance, and the cinematography and production elements were spot on. Sure, the non-linear storyline and drug use will turn some people off as will the slower pacing, but in this case, it should be viewed as the perfect platform for this story to be told in the proper manner. In the end, this is a movie that should definitely be seen. Yes, it isn’t really a traditional horror movie, but it does have elements that should make any viewer cringe. If you haven’t done so already, find it and give it a shot.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

Okay, so I am cheating a little tonight as I am going to review one of my all-time favorites. To be honest, I probably watch this one twice a year, and that date came last night as I was working on a couple project ideas. That movie is the 1987 classic Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn.

Plot/ The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.

The Evil Dead series is one of my all-time favorites and amazingly are just as entertaining today than they were when they came out. That is especially the case with this entry, which in many ways help energize the genre with its cult status. This low budget story is in no way a sequel, it is a different perspective on the classic source material. While it did lack the serious tone of the original, it makes up for that with a perfect blend of comedy, gore, and horror that takes the series to a completely new plane. Yes, it has all of the action, possessions, and of course, Bruce Campbell, but it is the combination of solid performances, outstanding storyline, and crazy characters that truly brings this one to life. In the end, if you are a horror fan and have not watched this one, shame on you. The may be one of the best horror films on the 1980s and is one that will surely continue to stand the test of time. Find it and watch it!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pet Sematary (1989)

Yesterday I was searching for something to watch with the girls downstairs and decided to search my streaming services to find something. After some internal debate, I decided on the 1989 Stephen King adaptation Pet Sematary.

Plot/ Behind a young family's home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.

This is one of the Stephen King adaptations that have a place right in the middle of the catalog. While it is nowhere near as good as The Shining or Misery, it is not nearly as bad as Maximum Overdrive or Christine. For fans of King, this movie does have a better than average feel, mostly because King himself penned the script. The cast is an interesting mix, the scenery is amazing, the storyline interesting, the effects solid, and the performances are decent, yet even those positives cannot make this reach the potential that it held inside. Unfortunately, the characters feel underdeveloped, the atmosphere is flat, there really aren’t any scares, and a lot of the movie felt restrained to a point where things become overly predictable. In the end, this is another case where the book is much better than the movie adaptation. Is this a terrible movie? No, but it also isn’t anywhere close to being an effective horror movie.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

As I finally finish things from my weekend trip to Monsterfest, it would be hard not do a final review of a film that helped inspire me throughout the years. After some time, I decided to break down and review the 1978 George Romero classic, Dawn of the Dead.

Plot/ Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

It is hard to review this film for so many reasons because there is really no way to do it justice. George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead is definitely one of the greatest horror movies ever made and quite possibly is the best zombie film of all time. Much like the classic source material, this movie is a snapshot of society and has much more depth than a typical horror entry. Between the social commentary and focused worldview, this movie educates as well as scares and maybe even more relevant today as our society is in the midst of crisis and turmoil. Filmed in Monroeville Mall, this entry has everything in it that a horror fan will love. Between the outstanding effects by Tom Savini including tons of trademark gore, the intricate storyline that is both dark and comedic, and the amazing soundtrack that works perfectly within the confines of the tale, this is one that must be seen. Even the performances are beyond solid as all of the characters embraced their parts and took them to exactly where they needed to be. While I know that this review does not truly do this classic justice, it would be boring to continue to reiterate how great this film is and why it is a must-see for all true horror fans. In the end, if you have not watched this one, you are wrong! Find it and check it out.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

This weekend I had a great time at Monsterfest 14. Not only was I able to debut my two new books After the Static and Salvation, but also I was able to interact with some horror fans of all genres. By the end of the night, although tired, many of us came to the zombie double feature. The first movie from the evening was the 1966 Hammer Horror entry The Plague of the Zombies.

Plot/ A medical professor and his daughter link a Cornish epidemic to a village squire's voodoo.

It’s funny when you think that you had watched something, but get the ultimate surprise when you realize you were mistaken. That was the case with this one and what I found was one of the best Hammer Films I have seen. From 1966, this atmospheric zombie entry (Hammer Films only venture into the genre) predates the groundbreaking George Romero zombie epic Night of the Living Dead and lays the groundwork for what has developed over the years. The pacing is sound, the atmosphere is amazing, and the cast and performances are solid. Honestly, it is one of the best Hammer films I have seen and gives credence to the thought that the studio should have expanded their catalog to other creatures in the genre. Yes, some of it does feel dated and the story is somewhat predictable, but those flaws are minor. In the end, this was a perfect way to end the evening at Monsterfest 14 and an underrated entry that all zombie fans much see. Check it out.