If you’re German (or maybe if you just like Germans), this is your month—Oktoberfest—one in which Bluto Blutarsky’s sage advice—start drinking heavily—does not have to be oft repeated. (But you should rent Beerfest and/or Strange Brew just to prove you’re serious.) Meanwhile, at 95.5 KLOS-FM here in Los Angeles, and at every other radio station in the free world that is ruled by the ever-expanding definition of Classic Rock, we can be informed ad nauseum, should we choose to subject ourselves to such indoctrination, that we are well into the month of Rocktober. But those of us with the kind of inclinations that would lead us to either read or write the kind of film-oriented enterprise you’re reading (and I’m writing) right now tend to think of October as a month devoted to joys of grave-robbing, necromancy, the rending, mangling and general desecration of the flesh, devil worship, the shambling undead (and their late-emerging, more rapidly mobile cousins), name-brand serial killers, playing God (and its inevitable consequences), groan-inducing puns, interspecies transmogrification (preferably on-screen), buckets of the red, red krovvy and other practices deemed socially acceptable (and sometimes then only just) by the collection of the price of a ticket.
I cannot call it Shocktober, though. Others may do so, and God bless ‘em if they do, but I cannot. I just like to think of it as m-m-m-my October (with apologies to Doug Fieger). That's the month of the year, due to its proximity to Halloween, where all matters related to an appreciation of, indulgence in, and dangerous immersion into the rich tradition of the horror movie come lumbering, bolting and shrieking out of the closet, transforming us from respectable citizens and cinephiles into wild-eyed Famous Monsters of Filmland subscribers. You know, the sort of folks who lap up everything from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Takashi Miike’s Audition to Zontar, the Thing from Venus and Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, and who make icons out of everyone from Max Schreck to Dave Prowse to Doug Jones. You’re probably not one yourself (wink, wink), but like Kevin McCarthy and Donald Sutherland, you know one when you see one, right?
Well, if you’re so inclined, there’s an awful lot of red ink being spilled this month on the subject just about everywhere you look. On this very blog, for instance, over the next three weeks or so I’ll be taking the opportunity to spend some solid crypt time with four titles I’ve been itching to write about in my ongoing SLIFR Top 100 Project that are specifically of the horror genre. In the upcoming days before Halloween, look for more than just a few words (that tremor you just felt was the collective shiver going up the spine of everyone who knows what “just a few words” can mean for Your Humble, Logorrheic Host) on James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Terence Fisher’s Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986).
I’ll also be spending some time in a chat with the creator of one of those name-brand serial killers, the award-winning (more on that in a second) writer-director Don Mancini, who wrote the Child’s Play series which gave birth to Chucky, the serial killer whose soul infuses the body of a plastic doll, and who directed the series’ most recent, and best, installment, 2003’s Seed of Chucky. Don and I will hash over the state of horror (a hot subject of late) as well as what he’s been up to creatively, and maybe even what the year in movies has looked like so far.
Finally, I will be preparing and submitting Version 2.007 of my roundup of favorite horror movies as part of Ed Hardy’s collection of 31 Favorite Horror Movies lists (Lists! Lists! Yet Another List!) at Shoot the Projectionist. Old friend Peter Nellhaus has already posted his 31 flavors, as has Mike at Esotika Erotica Psychotica.
And that’s not to mention the inevitable bits and pieces I’ll find to fill in the nooks and crannies as the days progress. (Last week’s non-output was one big nook and/or cranny that went unfilled—I promise to do better!)
But there is all that other red ink I alluded to earlier that is being spilled about October Horror on sites far more fascinating and nutritious than ones with the words “Ain’t” or “It” or “Cool” in their titles. To get things started, over at The Projection Booth, Rob Humanick, one of my favorite film writers, has a superb series underway entitled 31 Days of Zombie, a rather more narrowly focused approach to a month of horror, in which Rob takes on one flesh-eating feature per day and engages it critically as well as from the perspective of one whose life was changed, as so many of ours were, by a fateful late-night screening of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
Rob kicks off the month with a look at Zach Snyder’s Romero redux Dawn of the Dead, a film I liked far better than the original version, an opinion to which Rob intelligently and delightfully does not subscribe. He then unleashes sharp-eyed considerations of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, Michael & Peter Spierig’s Undead, and Amando de Ossorio’s Tombs of the Blind Dead and Return of the Blind Dead.
Day Five finds Rob engaging with Joe Dante’s well-received Homecoming and finding it powerful, yet lacking the conviction of its satirical swipes, a position I, as a fan of Dante’s work, tend to agree with. (Homecoming, to my mind, is far less potent than the director’s The Second Civil War.) Then it’s on to Dan O’Bannon’s cult fetish The Return of the Living Dead and George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead. And we’re up to date as of this writing with Day Eight and Rob’s assessment of Jesus Franco’s Oasis of the Zombies. A bookmark on The Projection Booth will stand you in very good stead not only for the 31 Days of Zombie, but for anything else Rob chooses to offer throughout the remainder of the year round.
Some old friends are embracing the groovy ghoulishness of the month too. And when I say groovy and ghoulie in the same sentence, I immediately think of Kimberly Lindbergs and Cinebeats. (She used to have a very groovy pic of her eight-year-old self in a pair of posh go-go boots, but that has vanished in favor of some stylish specs that will more than do as a replacement.) Kimberly is one of my all-time favorite bloggers, and she has been establishing herself as an expert voice on the cult-oriented cinema of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Naturally, the month of Halloween is right in her wheelhouse, but Cinebeats is just too damn cool to go all fashionably ape over horror in October—and that’s because Kimberly dishes out the good stuff on this disreputable genre all year long, along with lots of other great stuff. But we are talking horror at the moment, and so is she: just up is this link to her “10 Questions” interview with Tim Lucas, whose new book profiles one of Kimberly’s favorite directors, Mario Bava. And she keeps us up to date with new horror DVD releases as well, including the recent appearance of the Amicus anthology thriller From Beyond the Grave. Again, if you have not yet bookmarked Cinebeats, why the hesitation? It’s been a thrill watching Kimberly develop her encyclopedic knowledge of cult cinema into a writing career that promises much more than the many treasures she’s already delivered to us.
Jonathan Lapper, blogger, Boston Red Sox fan (Congratulations, JL, but can you get someone on ESPN to acknowledge the story of the postseason, the continued great play by the Colorado Rockies, for crying out loud?!), and serial commenter extraordinaire, is getting into the horror act too. His checklist of his own love affair with science fiction is delightful.
Old pal Andrew Bemis has an awesome horror trailer fest going on over at Cinevistaramascope.
And speaking of trailers, ‘tis definitely the season for lots of juicy input from the gang over at Trailers from Hell. The library of titles exhumed and picked over at this hilarious site has grown quite a bit since I profiled it back in July, and if it’s been that long since you’ve visited it, or even only just a couple of weeks, there is a busload of new stuff to be immersed in.
Our good friends at Not Coming to a Theater Near You offer the fourth edition of their more wide-ranging horror celebration ”31 Days of Horror”. And not to be outdone, Phil Morehart is assembling a Grand Guignol treasury made of 31 Days of Horror Clips over at Facets Features. Finally, if the words “Aurora model kit” send shivers of recognition up and down your spine, then Richard Harland Smith has some pictures he’d like to share.
Marco Lanzagorta considers 1981 ”The Year of the Wolf” and has some pretty convincing evidence as to why.
Michael Sims’ Los Angeles Times review of Susan Tyler Hitchcock’s spectacular new book Frankenstein: A Cultural History has me reserving a spot for the tome on my Christmas list this year. I got a peek at this volume over the weekend and it truly does look like a definitive, hypnotically readable, comprehensive and massively fun undertaking for anyone who grew up under protective cover of Forrest J. Ackerman’s wingspan, as well as those interested in examining just how pervasive Mary Shelley’s legend has become since the days she first spun her tale of horror and blasphemy.
Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the essential horror sites, Stacie Ponder’s Final Girl. Stacie’s doing her own month-long countdown, of course, where you will get familiar with the ‘80s slasher classic (of sorts) The Burning and Shriekfest, and a passel of other sideline delights like The Top Ten Slashers, 50 Horror Films I’d Like to See and even The Great Moustaches of Horror!
And if you thought that was all, well… no, that’s not all. David Hudson is keeping track of horror-themed bits and pieces, as he does of just about every important move in the world of online film journalism, at Green Cine Daily. A check here is vital every day anyway, but God knows what path of terror and destruction and dismemberment and shrieking madness David is likely to lead you down as he tracks all the best horror-related material for the month. You would be well-advised to stay well-informed through Mr. Hudson’s endeavors to keep you up to date on all Scary Stuff. And please allow me to usher you toward an extremely valuable Green Cine resource myself-- Jeremy Wheat's excellent and exhaustive primer on the haunts awaiting you inside The Hammer House of Horror.
Finally, getting back to that little appellation “award-winning” that I attached in front of Don Mancini near the top of this page—Don was this past weekend one of the recipients, along with Michael Berryman, Shawnee Smith, Roger Corman and Patricia Arquette, of the Eyegore Award for outstanding contribution to the art of the horror movie. The ceremony took place as part of the opening weekend festivities this past Friday at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, and a grand (Guignol) time was had by all. (Linked photo courtesy of Damien Siegel.) There’s a good and complete report of the night’s fun and fear courtesy of Horror.com. And thanks to the cell phones at Bloody-Disgusting.com, you can see Don’s hilarious speech as well as Shawnee’s delightful remarks and just about everything else that went on up at the top of the hill where Jason, Leatherface, Chucky and Freddy are all currently taking up residence in the Bates Motel.
Well, this oughta keep us occupied till at least November, right? Oh, and not that this is going to be the last mention of it or anything, but don’t forget to mark October 30 on your calendar for the big screening of Seed of Chucky at the American Cinematheque. Ain’t Shocktober grand? (Damn. I only had ten words to go too.)
UPDATE 10/10/07 10:49 a.m.: Now, here's a post that would shame even Rob Zombie and his backstorying Michael Myers to death-- it's the woeful tale of why The Shamus will never be able to be a part of the zombie flock that congregates every October on blogs such as dis and dem to celebrate the eating of flesh and the drinking of blood. And if you feel the cuffs of your pants getting a little wet whilst reading, why, that's just the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe weeping real tears with equal measures of perplexity and envy over the outsider's tale the Shamus weaves so well. Read on, hardhearted ghouls, and ache for a man who cannot see/the joy we take, both you and me/in tales of gore and vampire bats/The Shamus knows not where it's at!