Horror-Themed Furniture for Everyday Use

The one thing I love about horror fans is that they aren’t afraid to show the world how much they love the genre. Whether it’s dressing up as their favorite killer and attending horror conventions or just decorating one room of their house with all their horror posters and other horror-themed paraphernalia, horror fans are the best fans around. Now you can take the overall decoration of your homes to the next level with a bunch of functional horror-themed furniture. Check them out!!

THE BEETLEJUICE CABINET:

Let’s start over the top!! This is a large piece of furniture (the pictures show it both opened and closed) that will show your love of the film. You can buy it here.

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horror-beetlejuice2

UPHOLSTERED FRANKENSTEIN CHAIR:

Where better to watch all your favorite Universal monster flicks than sitting in a Frankenstein chair? This etsy shop makes many other types of horror-themed chairs as well. Check them out here.

horror-frankenstein

ED GEIN CHAIR:

If subtlety isn’t your thing, than check out this Ed Gein-inspired chair. Pretty sweet detail in this one!!

horror-EdGein

THE COFFIN COUCH:

Vampire lovers beware!! This couch will set you back a few pints of blood, but what a statement!! You can check it out here.

horror-CoffinCouch

BLOOD BUCKET LAMP:

What every horror home needs. It looks like an overturned bucket of blood.

horror-BloodLamp

ALIEN COFFEE TABLE:

Talk about a (scary) conversation starter!! This ALIEN coffee table will have all your horror friends jealous. But it here.

horror-AlienTable

TOILET TERROR SET:

Why not include the toilet in your horror-themed house? It’s where I spend most of my time reading horror novels and watching horror films!! But it here.

horror-Toilet

KILLER KLOWN FROM OUTER SPACE ART DECO PIECE:

This may not be a functional piece of furniture, but goddamn if it isn’t bad ass!! What a perfect piece of horror art for the new baby’s room. Buy it here.

horror-Clown

TWIN PEAKS WALL CLOCK:

I saved the best for last. What better was to visit the Black Lodge than having this inspired clock hanging on the wall over your desk? This is also one of the affordable pieces on this list. Buy it here.

horror-TwinPeaks

Stay Bloody!!!

Blue Ruin (2013)

blue-ruin-posterFull Disclosure here: this is not a horror movie by most people’s standards. Not that this is in itself an impediment to putting up a review here: in the past, I’ve reviewed DJANGO UNCHAINED and RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, and neither could arguably be called horror, either.

What makes a horror film, anyway? An obvious and easy question, but not really, as any single definition would include movies you wouldn’t normally think of as horror, communal wisdom where we can go to look up obscure things and amend celebrity biographies to say they’re wankers, defines the horror film as “a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience’s primal fears… Horror films often deal with the viewers’ nightmares, hidden fears, revulsions, and terror of the unknown.”

That flexibility is in part the strength of horror – maybe it doesn’t need to have an ironclad definition. Like art and pornography, we know it when we see it. Half of the items on the news on an average night classifies as horror for me, far eclipsing anything Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees can edify.

But I digress. BLUE RUIN is not a horror movie. What it is, is suspenseful. And incredibly well-made for a second effort from director/writer Jeremy Saulnier. And in an age when movies can get bloated and over-complicated, BLUE RUIN is an amazingly lean thriller.

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Don’t worry, he’s only there to get that spider in the drain…

It opens on a suburban house, and a man (Macon Blair) in a bathtub, relaxing – before quickly grabbing his clothes and climbing out the window when he hears the actual residents of the house returning home. This is Dwight, and he usually spends his days rummaging through trash cans for food or bottles for cash, and his nights sleeping in the back of a car that’s as battered as his life. He’s the sort of man you would normally pretend to ignore when you saw him.

Then one morning the cops come along, pick him up and bring him into the police station. Not for the terrible crime of making people uncomfortable (don’t tell me that’s not an actual offence in some cities) but to break the news to him humanely: that local criminal boss Wade Cleland, the man who murdered Dwight’s parents (and presumably set him on his current path) is being released early from prison. Dwight says nothing in reply – but his expression, and his consequent actions of attempting to steal a gun, tell you what’s on his mind.

Occupado...
Occupado…

What I immediately appreciated about this movie from this point, among other things, was that unlike other revenge thrillers, Dwight is no Dolph Lundgren or Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s no hyper-muscular action hero type with a built-in history of Special Forces/CIA Black Ops set of Very Specific Skills to get the job of Getting Even done. He’s a meek, mild, sympathetic Everyman, who will get hurt as much as his targets will get hurt, which makes his story all the more believable and compelling.

"Officer, it's not what it looks like- okay, maybe it is..."
“Officer, it’s not what it looks like- okay, maybe it is…”

Nor does he possess a hidden cache of money or an arsenal of assault rifles; after his attempt to get a gun fails, he relies on a knife. But when he follows the released Wade to a local bar, sneaks into the back and hides in the men’s toilets, the knife will prove to be sufficient. Messily sufficient. Dwight manages to escape without being seen.

But things go wrong, when he leaves his car keys behind in the bloody mess, and has to steal the Clelands’ limousine to escape – only to find someone in the backseat, a kid too young to be in the bar. Fortunately he lets him out without any further complications. So far.

He returns to see his sister Sam (Amy Hargreaves) to tell her the news, and await the inevitable police pick-up. Which doesn’t come, because when nothing turns up on the news, Dwight realises that the Clelands have covered up Wade’s murder in order to find the killer themselves. And that they would soon track him down through his sister, placing her and her children in danger…

This is how you take the side of someone's face off...
This is how you take the side of someone’s face off…

BLUE RUIN will disappoint viewers expecting an action-packed rollercoaster ride ala CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER. Director Saulnier takes his time and allows the audience the chance to catch their breaths, and build up scenes of suspense with a minimum of firepower and bombast.

...And this is how you make a wound bleed copiously!
…And this is how you make a wound bleed copiously!

It will also disappoint those who need their story spoonfed to them. The script affords the audience some intelligence; no one will loudly exposit that the Clelands are vicious criminals, for instance, or that Dwight’s parents weren’t exactly innocent bystanders in all this, either. In fact, the reason for their murder isn’t brought up until the climax – because it doesn’t matter. Even Dwight can’t lie and claim that his need for vengeance is just or satisfying, and in fact puts his sister and her children in danger, and putting him on a path where he must commit more acts to ensure their protection.

"Here's the story/of a killer lady..."
“Here’s the story/of a killer lady…”

The cast works throughout, with Macon Blair leading the pack (and with a surprise bit of nostalgic casting of former Jan Brady, Eve Plumb, as the vicious matriarch of the Cleland clan. The cinematography is like something from a Hollywood Seventies movie, with beautiful, stark shots of deserted wilderness roads, and Steadicam sweeps through darkened houses. And the blood and gore is not skimped on, either, making me wince more than once with the realism of some shots.

Partly funded by Kickstarter, thus proving its worth if you need any proof, BLUE RUIN is available now on DVD and VOD. The trailer is below.

Deggsy’s Summary:

Director: Jeremy Saulnier (also writer and cinematographer)

Plot: 5 out of 5 stars

Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Deggsy: “Revenge is a dish best warmed in the microwave for 5 minutes, and then let sit for another minute before eating.”



Chapman Bros. “Sum of All Evil” Kills Capitalism … & McDonalds!!

Early in the Fall there was a new art display in Hong Kong titled, “The Sum of All Evil” by Jake and Dino Chapman.  The display shows mass graves full of dead and butchered bodies in various stages of decay, genocidal motifs, and depictions of violent death.  It also has many Ronald McDonald figures crucified and demonized.  What the hell is going on?  This is the vision of the Chapman Bros. and their way of depicting the death of capitalism.  What better way to depict capitalism’s death than to focus on one of the biggest corporations in the world, McDonald’s?

As Jake Chapman explained: “It’s as pessimistic as we can make it but it’s pessimistic in a joyful sense. Fatalistic in a joyful sense. There’s nothing foreboding about this. It doesn’t serve any kind of moral end.”

Whilst the Holocaust is clearly an inspiration, McDonald’s bares the brunt of things, with the mass crucifixion of several hundred Ronald McDonalds a notable centre-piece.

For Jake Chapman, the franchise is a useful benchmark for everything wrong with modern society:“We take McDonald’s as being a marker of the transformation from industrialisation to the end of the world. McDonald’s once represented the idealism of fast food and the space rest era. Now it’s consistent with the dilation of the ozone and a litigious clown who’s lost his sense of humour.’‘

Despite the fact that the Chapman brothers have amassed millions thanks to the lavishes of the global art market, they are equally renowned for savaging the moral bankruptcy of our consumerist society.

If art’s true nature is to indeed shake people up and make them think, I’d say the Chapman Bros. have raised the bar and more than accomplished this goal.  Now you know I don’t get all political on Anything Horror, but not only is the imagery in the Chapman Bros. huge model shocking and gory, but the message itself is a solid one.  But fuck politics … just enjoy the videos and the images … I did!!  Enjoy more images from the display below (click on them for a larger size).

Stay Bloody!!!

Chapman5 Chapman4 Chapman3 Chapman2 Chapman1

Researchers Claim to Have Proof Bigfoot Exists … or Do They??

BIGFOOT posterWhen I was younger I was really fascinated with the myth of Bigfoot.  I mean come on; who wouldn’t be??  The possibility that some kind of as-yet undiscovered species has been living in various parts of the world eluding human beings for centuries is pretty damn cool.  Pretty damn cool especially when you add into the equation that these creatures are supposed to be around 8-11 feet tall.

Unfortunately for me I didn’t have the internet when I was growing up and had to rely on books and the library (do they still have either of these things anymore??) to do research.  Granted back then I didn’t think of it as doing research.  I was just reading books on a topic that interested me.  And for a while, Bigfoot dominated my interests.  But even to my young, non-skeptical mind a few things began to form a pattern.  All the accounts of the supposed sightings  were pretty sketchy (at best) and all the video and photographic “evidence” was blurry.  Seriously; every piece of visual “evidence” of the big hairy guy was out of focus, blurry, and the video footage was always jumpy as well as being out of focus/blurry.  Then I read a “Bigfoot Researcher’s” theory that states that the creatures themselves give off some kind of signal or it’s somehow a camouflage adaptation that makes them appear blurry in all the photos.  That was it for me.  That was my moment when I thought Bigfoot researchers jumped the shark with their theories.  My obsession with Bigfoot was over.

"A tissue sample believed by the researchers to have been taken from a real-life Bigfoot is seen. The hair is described as far more coarse like a horse's than a human's."
“A tissue sample believed by the researchers to have been taken from a real-life Bigfoot is seen. The hair is described as far more coarse like a horse’s than a human’s.”

Over the years I’d see the occasional article in the newspaper and hear about the occasional news report about someone once again having a Bigfoot sighting, but I was never drawn back into that “mystery.”  So by no means am I a Bigfoot scholar or an expert in recent Bigfoot research.  But the fact that everyone and their mothers have cameras with video capabilities in their phones and we still don’t have any non-blurry Bigfoot images/video footage, I believe that my original assessment of the big guy was right.  It’s nonsense bordering on bullshit.  But now there’s apparently some new, breakthrough evidence of the existence of Bigfoot.

This new evidence comes at us from The New York Daily News in an article titled, “Bigfoot lives!? Existence Backed by DNA, Video, Claim Sasquatch Genome Project Researchers.”  That’s one helluva claim.  If there’s actual DNA evidence than this news should be on the front pages and headlines of every print and TV/cable news outlet.  So why has this news not taken the world by storm?  Let’s look further at the “evidence.”

The New York Daily News is reporting that a group of Bigfoot researchers have the solid proof we’ve all been waiting for:  Video footage and DNA samples that will once and for all confirm the existence of Bigfoot.  These researchers have also unveiled never before seen footage of an alleged Bigfoot sleeping in the woods of Kentucky, along with blood and tissue samples that are being described as unlike anything that’s ever been seen before.

Approximately one hundred and thirteen separate samples of hair, blood, mucus, toenail, bark scrapings, saliva, and skin with hair and subcutaneous tissue attached were submitted by dozens of individuals and groups from thirty-four separate hominin collection sites around North America,” the report filed by the Sasquatch Genome Project explains. The researchers claim to have sent tissue samples to several outside labs, which they claim were analyzed and proven to be “identical to no other species previously known to man.”

Here’s the video of the sleeping shag carpet … I mean the sleeping Bigfoot:

I’m not a reporter so I don’t have to stay neutral here (thankfully).  With this being said, I must ask:  Are they fucking serious??  Are they really expecting any sane, rational person to believe that that sleepy “thing” is a Bigfoot?  There’s no movement at all from it, not even from it breathing in it’s sleep.

"Samples of hair collected from this wooden structure in the woods is said to have contained a never-before-seen genetic structure that is said to be human."
“Samples of hair collected from this wooden structure in the woods is said to have contained a never-before-seen genetic structure that is said to be human.”

But before you could say, “Irrefutable Proof,” holes began to appear in the story.  It seems when New York University was contacted about their involvement in the studies, the researchers there denied having any involvement or studying any such samples.  So how did the researchers answer this snafu?

We have more data in our paper than ever done before to prove a new species, but basic science doesn’t like the results,” said the project’s leader Melba Ketchum. “The scientific community doesn’t know what to do with this new find. I call it the Galileo effect.

Yeah. that’s exactly it.  The world can’t handle learning the truth about Bigfoot’s true existence.  A truth, mind you, that won’t affect 99% of the population.  This smells like a big old dead end again, but I encourage you all to read the original article.  Here’s the link again.  To get the story from the other side of the argument, here’s the link to the Sasquatch Genome Project website.

What do you think about this?

Stay Bloody!!!

Sleeping Bigfoot or a discarded shag rug?
Sleeping Bigfoot or a discarded shag rug?

Real Life Horrors: Krokodil Finds it’s Way to North America

[WARNING:  Below are some very disturbing and horrifying REAL pictures of the effects of the drug Krokodil.  These pictures are NOT special effects and are extremely disturbing.]

krokodil2In 2011 I posted two articles on the extremely dangerous Russian drug Krokodil (here and here).  Krokodil started rearing it’s ugle head in Russia among addicts who no longer wanted to pay the high costs of heroin.  This drug has earned the name krokodil for two reasons: Addicts develop dark, scaly lesions on their skin and the drug tends to eat its victims alive, like a crocodile (krokodil is also the Russian word for “crocodile”).  This is not a possible side effect of the drug, it’s a guarantee.  If you take krokodil, eventually you flesh will begin to fall off your body down to the bone.  According to the online news agency, The Independent, krokodil is:

desomorphine, a synthetic opiate many times more powerful than heroin that is created from a complex chain of mixing and chemical reactions, which the addicts perform from memory several times a day. While heroin costs £20 to £60 per dose, desomorphine can be “cooked” from codeine-based headache pills that cost £2 per pack, and other household ingredients available cheaply from the markets.

krokodil1So to save some money addicts are taking things like codeine-based painkillers, iodine, lighter fluid, industrial cleaning oil (as well as a bunch of vials, syringes, and cooking implements to mix and cook the mixture) and then inject it into themselves.  What’s really fucked up is that these addicts know exactly where this road is going to lead to.  First they’ll experience some green, scaly skin which will continue to get worse and worse until hunks of flesh begin to fall off your person until you are left only with bone exposed.  Check out my earlier articles on this horrifying drug.

Drug addiction and addiction of any kind is a horrible thing.

What originally made this article something you read, shook your head over, and then went on your day was the fact that it seemed to be confined to Russia.  But like viruses and shitty music, drugs know no borders.  So why am I re-addressing krokodil?  Because of the following headline I caught from the Huffington Post:

krokodil5“Krokodil, The Flesh-Eating Street Drug That Rots Skin From Inside-Out, Expands to Illinois”

That’s right; this horrible cook-it-yourself drug has made it’s way to American shores.  According to the article, Dr. Abhin Singala is treating the first cases of krokodil reported in the Chicago metro area:

“As of late as last week, the first cases – a few people in Utah and Arizona – were reported to have been using the heroin-like drug, which rots the skin from the inside out,” Singala said in a Tuesday press release. “It is a horrific way to get sick. The smell of rotten flesh permeates the room. Intensive treatment and skin grafts are required, but they often are not enough to save limbs or lives.”

Here’s one of the first newscasts on the drug:

Why is it that users inject this shit into their bodies knowing the result will be loss of skin down to the bone?  Unfortunately it’s a simple explanation that makes no sense to non-addicts.  Heroin addicts are attracted to krokodil due to it’s inexpensive method of making it from ingredients you can find and get anywhere.  They keep taking it because it’s highly addictive.  For example, it generally takes around a week to get over the worst withdraw effects of heroin.  For krokodil it takes a month!!  And the life expectancy of a krokodil user is two years, and that’s being generous.  Many articles I read on this drug give users one year.

krokodil4I personally don’t believe krokodil will become the “new heroin” in America for a few reasons.  The main one being, it’s not good business!!  Why would a dealer start distributing a drug that he/she knows is going to kill their customers between one to two years?  With heroin you can develop a life long customer.  But by writing this I don’t mean to downplay the possible destructive effects it could have.  As long as there’s strung out junkies who can’t afford heroin, krokodil will always be a danger.  Any way you slice it, this is a horrifying drug with effects that even the most hardcore horror writer/director couldn’t even have dreamt up.

Let me refer to the words of a krokodil addict himself from Russia.  Zhenya describes the way it feels when you inject krokodil into your body:

“You can feel how disgusting it is when you’re doing it,” he recalls. “You’re dreaming of heroin, of something that feels clean and not like poison. But you can’t afford it, so you keep doing the krokodil. Until you die.”

That, my friends, is a living nightmare situation.

Stay Bloody, and Stay Clean!!!

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Real Life Horror: The Hell Gardens of Thailand

ku-mediumThailand boasts many wonderful attractions, I’m sure. The only ones I knew of previously (based on news reports alone, mind you) was the easy access to underage prostitutes, and the chance of getting caught smuggling drugs and possibly executed. Which strangely enough didn’t appeal to me, really. I prefer my partners to be of legal age (and preferably also equipped with the knowledge of who Farrah Fawcett was), and sitting rotting in a jail cell wondering if I’ll die first from the hangman’s noose or dysentery was always low on my Things To Do Abroad list.

Still, if I did go, I might have to visit one of Thailand’s Hell Gardens. Which sounds like an awesome movie title. There is one, the Wang Saen Monastery Garden, about ninety minutes’ drive south of Bangkok if you absolutely, positively have nothing better to do while in Thailand. Secluded down a quiet lane not far from the coastal resort of Bang Saen, Wang Saen’s entrance is dominated by a brightly-coloured sign that proclaims “WELCOME TO HELL”

Funny, it doesn’t look like my in-laws’ house (Bah-Dumph! Thank you, I’ll be here all eternity!)

No jumping the lines here!
No jumping the lines here!

What we have here is one of several, apparently very popular sites that basically reproduce, in huge, garish, gory detail, the various punishments that await sinners, at least according to Buddhist beliefs. Now, the first thing that came to my mind when I first read about this is: does Richard Gere , Tina Turner, Orlando Bloom, Tiger Woods, Steven Seagal and all the other Hollywood types who claim to embrace Buddhism know about this side of the religion? Probably Seagal knows. He’s probably had a permanent boner waiting for the day when he dies and he gets to dispense some justice on sinners.

Still, the self-indulgent New Age tint that Western celebrities seem to add onto their so-called Buddhist beliefs, all the peace and harmony and contentment crap they like to spout, doesn’t sit well with the notion that you also have to believe in eternal disembowelments, rape by snakes and other things that would make even Jack Chick blanche.

Fun for all the family. If yours is the Manson Family...
Fun for all the family. If yours is the Manson Family…

For a mere 20 Thai baht (or 30 British pence, or half an American dollar) you get to tour the Wang Saen Hell Garden. Now, most places like this will have the serene, beautiful Buddhist temples, with the elaborate architecture, babbling fountains, gongs and other peaceful accoutrements. But you know what? I paid my 20 baht, and I want DAMNATION! And here, you get it, because the monks here have created their vision of Hell.

The centrepiece of the garden of Wang Saen is a pair of giant Earthly sinners: a man looking like Christian Bale when he did THE MACHINIST, with a long drooping tongue that would make Gene Simmons envious, and a frightening-looking woman with sagging bosoms and a swollen belly that bring back too many Nightmare Grandma memories. Beneath them is a sign that reads: “If you meet the Devil in this life don’t postpone merit-making which will help you to defeat him in the next life. Donate a little each day and you’ll have a happy life.”

Sounds great. On the other hand, if Hell meant I could have a six-pack like this giant guy’s got…

Don't think much of the hot tub...
Don’t think much of the hot tub…

Around these giant sinners are others, whose heads have been transformed into various animals, all based on their sins while on Earth. Thieves are transformed into monkeys (and presumably becoming more adept thieves), corrupt officials are transformed into pigs (thus becoming even lazier than before- wait, I’m probably not getting the point of all this). There are others that seem… arbitrary. Arsonists, for instance, are turned into snakes, and delinquents into crocodiles. If you damage plants that are useful to humans, you get turned into a goat. I’m beginning to think the original compiler of these punishments was just doing a bit of improv and someone took him too seriously (“What, people who steal cooked rice? Turn them into, um, giant birds! Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!”).

There are also punishments depicted for those who violate the five Buddhist precepts, their equivalent of the Christian Ten Commandments. Have you ever killed someone? Well then, be prepared to have your guts ripped out and eaten by birds, or to be speared and hacked to death by monstrous creatures. There are similar punishments awaiting those who steal, commit adultery, cheat, or get addicted to gambling, drugs and/or alcohol – or, as everyone else likes to call them, Charlie Sheen and Gary Busey.

If this was really happening you'd be filming it and posting it on Youtube...
If this was really happening you’d be filming it and posting it on Youtube…

The monks’ sculptures, a popular form of local folk art, look crude and laughable to many Western eyes, but the sites prove to be popular weekend destinations for families wishing to instil some morality in their children (you use the Pill or a condom? Be prepared for an eternity of being squeezed in a giant vice). Other sites include the Wat Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden, where you can see newly-arrived souls be judged by the Buddhist ‘death king’, Phya Yom, whose clerk holds a golden ledger of our earthly deeds, both good and ill, and who decides if you go to Heaven, or Hell – which in Buddhism comprises 136 different fiery pits. I’m pretty sure one of them is set up specifically for me, with a plasma screen showing nothing but Rob Schneider porno, and my eyes stapled open forever.

Perhaps I shouldn’t make fun of other people’s religions. But sometimes it’s just too damn easy.

The shittest Beatles album cover. Ever.
The shittest Beatles album cover. Ever.

And this is certainly not the ridicule of a self-indulgent Westerner over the precepts of Eastern beliefs. I’m perfectly willing to put a mention in to Hell Houses, the haunted-house style attractions that pop up across America, especially around Halloween, where Christian groups can scare the hell out of patrons (and, presumably, scare the Bejeezus into them) by displaying tableaux of all the eternal horrors that await those who choose to be gay or do drugs or masturbate or read Harry Potter (especially if you do the last two at the same time). The first Hell Houses appeared in the 1970s, popularised by Jerry Falwell (remember him, the one who warned us that Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies was gay?), and have since grown in number and intensity, despite heavy criticism for their hatemongering on gays, AIDS victims and single mothers, and presumably also by the notion that, like so many religions it seems, the money, time and effort would be better spent on, you know, actually helping their fellow human beings.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?
Y’all come back now, y’hear?

And maybe cutting down on the asking for donations. Throughout the Hell Gardens (and Hell Houses), donations are always asked. Scare them, and get their money. Fear and Consume, as Marilyn Manson once said. Me, I’ll save the money for the next scary movie (although these places seem like perfect film fodder. Imagine if some of these statues came to life and started attacking the patrons? Anyone want to crowdfund that?

For me, religion is like disco. I can see the appeal, and I won’t deny you whatever personal satisfaction you might derive from it, but don’t expect me to get up and join you, because it will only turn out ugly.

Deggsy’s Summary:
Director: God, presumably
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1-10 out of 10 skulls, depending on how bad you are.
Zombie Mayhem: 2 out of 5 brains (there’s gotta be some zombies in Hell, or it won’t be worth going)
Reviewed by Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien. The D is silent. And has backmasked Satanic messages in it. HAIL SATAN!

NBC Pulls An Episode of HANNIBAL From Its Lineup

Well, it wasn’t long before NBC’s new show HANNIBAL (which I just reviewed here) faced its first bit of controversy, though surprisingly it doesn’t originate from the networks, or from outraged viewers with nothing better to do than complain, but from the show’s own frontrunner, Bryan Fuller, himself.

From Variety.com:

“After several particularly violent months in America, NBC has decided to pull episode four of frosh drama “Hannibal” from its lineup due to the disturbing content involving children murdering other children.

The fourth episode of the grisly serial killer drama featured Molly Shannon’s character brainwashing kids, leading them to kill other children.

Episode four was slated to air next week. Peacock will instead move directly to episode five. While the drama is serialized, NBC claims there will be no continuity issues, noting that TV critics have seen episodes three and five, and not four.

Decision arose after series creator Bryan Fuller phoned NBC and told the net that, “given the cultural climate right now in the U.S., I think we shouldn’t air the episode in its entirety.”

“I didn’t want to have anyone come to the show and have a negative experience,” Fuller told Variety. “Whenever you [write] a story and look at the sensational aspects of storytelling, you think, ‘This is interesting metaphorically, and this is interesting as social commentary.’ With this episode, it wasn’t about the graphic imagery or violence. It was the associations that came with the subject matter that I felt would inhibit the enjoyment of the overall episode. … It was my own sensitivity.”

Contrary to initial reports, the decision to pull the episode came hours before the Boston Marathon tragedy.

I don’t find the news of a pulled episode particularly unusual (the networks have had a long history of getting cold feet over particular shows when real life intrudes), and there’s even some who could argue that it shows a measure of social responsibility, though I’m surprised at the source.

On the other hand, the article states that the critics have been allowed to see Episodes Three and Five, but not Four – maybe it’s a dog, and that as much as real-life events triggered this last-minute withdrawal?

It’s been stated that clips of Episode Four will be available online for fans, with Fuller offering voiceover commentary and discussing the series development, and that the episode will be broadcast in its entirety overseas, so I’ll get a chance to view it in the UK when the time comes.

Bryan Fuller, making sure Hannibal is an organic cannibal...
HANNIBAL pilot director David Slade (seated) on set, making sure Hannibal is an organic cannibal…

Zombie Walks: A Sign of the Times?

London Zombie WalkHave you been on a zombie walk, or watched one? Last October I was lucky to have witnessed what is now an annual event, the Manchester Zombie Walk, where a thousand people assembled to shamble and moan and rattle chains through the city centre, and all to help raise money for a number of charities including The Big issue and Cash for Kids.

I thought I was lucky, because I wasn’t aware of how prevalent zombie walks have become, all over the world. Though many are spontaneous flash mob events or limited performance arts, most are organised well in advance, involving hundreds or more folk. For the uninitiated, the sight of participants in bloody, often gruesome (but often also impressive-looking) makeup shuffling and groaning, or calling for “brains”.

The earliest zombie walk on record was put together almost impulsively at the Gencon Gaming Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in August of 2000. The event was organised to poke good-natured fun at the Vampire LARPers that were taking over large portions of the convention, and disrupt their games. While it was rumoured that the organisers were arrested and thrown out of the convention for their activities, they were simply questioned by security before being told to disband.

If you're gonna have a zombie walk, Pittsburgh is the place...
If you’re gonna have a zombie walk, Pittsburgh is the place…

The first event actually listed as a Zombie Walk was in October 2003 in Toronto, Ontario, organised by a local horror movie fan and consisted of only six participants. But like a zombie plague in the movies, the popularity grew, no doubt given momentum by the success of zombie movies in the public consciousness in the 2010s: SHAUN OF THE DEAD, the RESIDENT EVIL movies, the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, ZOMBIELAND and others. The handful of participants became scores, and then hundreds. And not just in North America, either: here in the UK, Argentina, Singapore, Russia… sometimes these are just harmless bits of fun, some highlight spoof political goals such as Zombie Rights, but others are for charity, such as the aforementioned Manchester Zombie Walk, as well as ways of shining lights on issues such as world hunger (and if you have to have a monster representing hunger, zombies are the way to go!). The largest gathering drew more than 4,000 participants at the New Jersey Zombie Walk in Asbury Park, in October 2010, according to Guinness World Records.

Ride 'em, Dead Cowgirl!
Ride ’em, Dead Cowgirl!

But is there something more to zombie walks than just a bit of fun and maybe charity? To English Professor Sarah Lauro of Clemson University, South Carolina, the phenomenon goes beyond being just a fad, and could reflect a rising societal dissatisfaction with the state of the world.

Though Professor Lauro is a self-described “chicken” and not a horror fan, she still participated, in an attempt to work out the various motivations driving people who took part.

She believes that the popularity of zombie walks is a reaction not only to the concurrent popularity of the undead in the media, but in a rise in dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq.

“It was a way that the population was getting to exercise the fact that they felt like they hadn’t been listened to by the Bush administration,” Lauro has said. “Nobody really wanted that war, and yet we were going to war anyway.”

Get em when they're young!
Get em when they’re young!

“We are more interested in the zombie at times when as a culture we feel disempowered. And the facts are there that, when we are experiencing economic crises, the vast population is feeling disempowered. … Either playing dead themselves, or watching a show like THE WALKING DEAD provides a great variety of outlets for people.”

But, as Lauro has pointed out, the display of dissatisfaction isn’t always a conscious expression of that feeling of frustration. “If you were to ask the participants, I don’t think that all of them are very cognisant of what they’re saying when they put on the zombie makeup and participate,” she said. “To me, it’s such an obvious allegory. We feel like, in one way, we’re dead.”

So, what do you think, True Believers?

Article written by Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien

Real Life Horror: Crocodile Invasion!!

Crocodile or Alligator? He'd tell you, but then he'll have to kill you...
Crocodile or Alligator? He’ says he has the answer written in his stomach, just crawl in and find out…

It’s funny how life can bring unexpected connections sometimes. There I was, considering getting the box set of LAKE PLACID, and discovering that there was a fourth one out, LAKE PLACID: THE FINAL CHAPTER (Yeah, where have we heard that before?). I enjoyed the first movie, enjoyed the combination of dry wit, gruesome gore and Betty White swearing like a Marine. But I never got around to the sequels.

And then I read this little piece of real life horror, something that should perk the ears of some filmmaker out there.

There have been heavy rains of late in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, causing flooding which has killed at least ten people so far, including three children who died when their homes collapsed during heavy rain. Three more people are missing and hundreds have been left homeless, while several wildlife resorts have been devastated. The South African Air Force is being used to rescue people affected by the flooding in remote settlements, some of which are cut off. Flooding has also affected Kruger National Park and neighbouring Mozambique, where tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.

But that’s not what this article is about. It’s about the Rakwena Crocodile Farm on the Limpopo River. It has a campsite, facilities for birdwatching and eco tours. And it has crocodiles.

15,000 of them.

Well, it had them.

You can't have 15,000 of these guys together and not expect trouble...
You can’t have 15,000 of these guys together and not expect trouble…

On Sunday, January 20th, rains forced Johan Boshoff, the farm owner, to open the gates in advance of an anticipated storm surge that could have threatened the walls of his house, and release the crocodiles into the dense bush around the Limpopo. The farm bred the crocodiles for food (apparently it has a texture like scallops or lobster and tastes like chicken, if you can excuse the cliché), and their hides are used as leather for shoes, belts, rifle slings and handbags, which could be purchased at the farm, if you ever visit. Crocodile skin is considered one of the finest and best, being soft and durable, and i In many tribal societies, skin crocodile is used as a symbol of high status. But only the skin on the belly has these qualities; the back skin is covered in bones (called osteoderms) which deflects arrows, spears and even bullets.

“There used to be only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River,” Zane Langman, the son-in-law of Johan Boshoff, told the local Beeld newspaper. “Now there are a lot. We’ve been recapturing them as and when the local farmers phone us to tell us that there are crocodiles on their property.” The hunts are conducted mostly at night, apparently because crocodiles’ eyes shine red in the darkness. These are the crocodiles’ eyes which have a layer called tapetum behind their retina, containing crystals that reflect light and make possible the night vision. Not that it’s easy: their sizes vary but will reach lengths of 18 feet, they can swim just with the help of their powerful tail up to 25 miles per hour, and can stay underwater for up to three hours, and can also execute jumps of more than ten feet out of the water. Oh, and did I mention that their back skin can deflect bullets?

They’ve managed to kill or recapture “a few thousand” in the days since, but more than half remain on the loose. According to the BBC, one Limpopo family was rescued from their flooded home as “crocodiles were swimming around them.” One of the animals was reportedly sighted on a rugby field 75 miles away from the farm. Animal safety experts from the No Shit Sherlock Department warned people to stay indoors and stay away from the crocodiles. In truth, the crocodiles are unlikely to harm humans, but that shouldn’t stop a filmmaker from bending the truth.

Wally will lend a hand with the script...
Wally will lend a hand with the script…

So come on, Asylum, get someone with minimum reading skills to dictate this story out to the chimpanzees who work as your screenwriters! Just move the setting from South Africa to some small American town where the sheriff is a former 80’s action hero and the herpetologist is a former 80’s pop sensation, and there’s a school for topless camp counsellors and lesbian pole dance instructors…

Story courtesy of The Guardian

DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)

(WARNING: MILD SPOILERS)

Okay, right off the bat, I want to say that this is not going to be an article about the ideologies and racial politics behind Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie. Not that I don’t have anything to say about the subject, or that there’s nothing worth saying, or even that I won’t change my mind while writing this and talk about it anyway halfway through. I recognise that it has generated a buttload of controversy in the States, and some of my American friends have talked of moments when they were genuinely uncomfortable being in the theatre and witnessing the reactions of other patrons, both black and white, to certain moments in the movie. But I’ve watched it in a British cinema, free of any personal or cultural sting, and I want to approach it chiefly on its cinematic merits.

I’ve found myself more of an admirer of Tarantino than a zealous fan. For me, PULP FICTION and KILL BILL VOL.1 remain his acme, while his other movies have for me ranged from the watchable to the somniferous (three times I’ve sat before DEATH PROOF, and three times I’ve fallen asleep. Literally). Now, all I knew about DJANGO UNCHAINED in the weeks prior to its release was that it was going to be Tarantino’s Spaghetti Western, the name alluding to both the 1966 Italian classic western DJANGO as the 1959 sword and sandal epic HERCULES UNCHAINED.

That he chose to marry this genre with a blaxploitation tale about slavery in the Deep South was a strange surprise to me.  It made no sense; the expected times and places for each genre were years and hundreds of miles apart. But then of course, this was the director who in his last film ended World War 2 early by slaughtering the Third Reich at a premier in a French cinema (incidentally, QT says that in his alternate movie universe, this divergent event is the reason all his other characters tote guns and talk pop culture a lot!)

Anyway, DJANGO UNCHAINED takes place in 1858, which a caption says is two years before the American Civil War (actually three years, but like I said, leave any desire for historical accuracy at the popcorn counter). A band of slaves shackled at the ankles are marched through a cold Texas night by two white slave traders. Suddenly a strange horse-drawn carriage with a tooth bouncing on top appears, a carriage driven by a jovial, soft-spoken and obviously-educated German immigrant, Doctor King Shultz (Christopher Waltz, who is ready, willing and able to steal this movie like he did with INGLORIOUS BASTERDS).

Schultz stops the traders and questions the slaves, looking for one who might have information he needs. The traders, not liking this strange man with his literacy and his tendency to treat the slaves like human beings, tries to get rid of him, earning a bloody response from him, killing one trader and crippling the other. Schultz purchases one slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), and frees the other slaves to deal with the surviving trader. This is a sequence that is at turns cold, bloody (animal lovers should be forewarned), and funny, as only Tarantino can manage it.

The urbane Schultz is a bounty hunter who offers Django a new life, and a chance to earn not only his freedom but the opportunity to locate and liberate Django’s wife, Broomhilda ‘Hildy’ Von Shaft (Kerry Washington, and according to QT the character is meant to be the distant ancestor of another black character named Shaft. So Now You Know). Django proves to be a natural gunslinger, helping Schultz collect bounties on a number of fugitives through the winter, becoming friends as well as partners, Schultz wanting to help them because the couple’s plight reminds him of the german legend of Broomhilda and Siegfried..

Eventually the duo tracks down Hildy at Candyland, the southern plantation of the execrable Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), who keeps black women as whores for his white customers, as well as stages lethal ‘Mandingo’ fights between black men. Django and Schultz pose as businessmen interested in purchasing a fighter, but Candie’s elderly major domo Stephen (Samuel L Jackson, looking like Uncle Ben but sounding like he’s got some long-grain whoop-ass to offer instead) is suspicious of the two men and their cover story, and sets events moving towards the inevitable bloody climax…

This is a quintessential Quentin Tarantino movie: lush cinematography, quotable and profane dialogue, eclectic and anachronistic soundtrack, and sterling performances from a solid cast, many of them familiar faces in QT’s body of work. Of the principals, the frontrunner for me remains Christopher Waltz, investing his Schultz with humanity, humour, a decency and even fragility as he is exposed more and more to the horrors of the slavery system, yet maintaining his lethal panache. Also outstanding (a good thing too, considering he’s the lead!), Jamie Foxx brings to the eponymous role an intensity that’s tempered with a dry humour but never sways far from his goal of reuniting and freeing his wife (he sees her in visions throughout the first half of the movie, and is barely able to restrain himself when they’re finally together but still not out of danger).

On the bad guys’ side, Samuel L Jackson’s opportunistic old man, one who has risen to a prominent place on the suffering of his fellow slaves, is easily and understandably hateful and hated, though he’s rivalled in this by Leo DiCaprio as the effete, slimy but still vicious man who needs his blood shed.

Speaking of blood, there’s a lot of it in DJANGO UNCHAINED. Violence throughout really. For the most part, men aren’t just shot, they have chunks blown out of them, and the geyser-like spatters are painted in that rich, bright red that violent movies of the 60s and 70s like THE WILD BUNCH and BONNIE AND CLYDE favoured. There is a truly amazingly bloody shootout towards the end, one that will make you both gasp and laugh at how over the top it gets.

And if shootings aren’t enough for you, there are men ripped apart by dogs, bones broken, whippings, brandings, threatened castrations, and eye gouging (though QT is adept enough not to go too graphic, expecting people in the audience to imagine more from behind their hands than he actually needs to show).

As stated above, the movie is quintessentially Quentin Tarantino, and people who love or hate his movies are going to love and hate this one for the same reasons as they did his previous works. Nitpickers will find fault with things such as the appearance of dynamite years before it was actually invented, and the fact that the heroes seem to travel hundreds of miles by horse in no time at all. The female characters here are passive, existing as eye candy or princesses to be rescued, or actively whoring themselves to the white men; the likes of The Bride, Elle Driver and O-Ren-Ishi from KILL BILL are nowhere to be found here.

And of course Quentin has to make a self-indulgent cameo as an Australian (why someone from Australia? Quentin? Was that the only accent you could do?). The dialogue is peppered with profanity, including (especially) the N-word, though arguments that this was common for the time and place are offset by the fact that it definitely was not commonplace, especially not in civilised company (sorry, DEADWOOD), and listening to Jackson’s Nineteenth Century Mississippi servant speaking like he was a Twenty-First Century L.A. gangster is jarring at times. Same thing with the violence, though Quentin and his supporters will tell you that far worse was done to slaves at this time.

DJANGO UNCHAINED is probably one of Tarantino’s best movies, and while probably not the best homage to the Spaghetti Western – I still think Sam Raimi’s THE QUICK AND THE DEAD retains that title – it is still a very entertaining slice of exploitation. He’s talented.

He’s also an idiot.

This leads me, despite what I said earlier, into the controversies that have arisen around the film’s themes. Many have criticised Tarantino for making an exploitation film involving what is inarguably America’s most shameful time, that DJANGO UNCHAINED is little better than all those notorious and tasteless Nazi Camp torture-porn movies from the 70s that I know none of you will have watched because of all the sex and violence in them.

The fact is that anyone going into this expecting anything with the gravitas of ROOTS or AMISTAD will be disappointed. That’s not to say that he is making light of what happened (though there are humorous scenes in this, they tend to be at the expense of the bigots, in particular one scene involving a gang of proto-Klansmen). Quite the contrary: not once did I feel that QT was minimising the horrible loss of life and limb, of liberty and dignity under which millions suffered because of their race.

But at the same time, reading the passages in his script for DJANGO, he really hasn’t changed all that much from the kid who dropped out of school at 15 to end up working in a video store, getting most of his life knowledge from the movies he watched and admired rather than from formal education. With DJANGO he set out to make an action movie first and foremost, and in it he follows many of the expected tropes and patterns of the genre that he wouldn’t have if he was aiming for something more serious.

So instead we have the bromance between the two bantering partners, we have the damsel in distress, the hero being tortured, the escape and return for revenge, etc. In a way he’s like the kid who’ll stage a battle in his back yard with his GI Joes, Barbies, dinosaurs and Transformers, not caring about context or even logic so much as what looks and sounds ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’ to him. This could almost just as easily have been a movie about the ancient Judeans under Roman rule, or future humans under alien occupation. For Tarantino, it’s about entertainment first, and has said as such in interviews. Taking Race out of the equation, you can see where he’s coming from.

But you can’t really take Race out of it, can you?

Which is where the Idiot part of him surfaces. Because he’s dressed up his violent, entertaining movie in clothes and words that he would have known would provoke reactions like what he has experienced, had his experience of black culture extended beyond SUPERFLY. And because now in the face of criticism from the likes of Spike Lee and others, QT is going around arrogantly and incorrectly claiming to have given audiences their own black hero (they’d like to make their own, thanks) and that his movie is the only one around to address slavery (tell Spielberg and his own movie LINCOLN). Hell, even ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER touched on slavery, making an interesting connection between the practice and the book/movie’s vampire antagonists.

Going in expecting nothing more than violent entertainment, DJANGO UNCHAINED will not disappoint. Far from it. But someday I’d like to see him tackle a heavy subject without resorting to gunfire, squibs and one-liners.

Deggsy’s Summary:

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien