Friday, October 31, 2014

The Halloween Alphabet

Alright kids. Auntie Boomslang has to work tonight. Which is fine because I never really do anything for Halloween anyway. I'm too antisocial for big parties, too poor for intricate costumes and too selfish to give my candy away. If I wasn't working, I'd be sitting home watching horror movies next to the fog machine I got at Spirit five years ago, shoving Reeses peanut butter cups into my face and shivering with the windows wide open hoping that some random dead souls will wander in to say "howdy." Every day is Halloween for me, and quite frankly I prefer November 1st, aka "All Halloween Decor 75% Percent Off" day, aka "The day that the aging goth can buy the shit that she decorates her house with all year round at bargain prices" to Halloween proper any day.

So if you're like me, and I know I am, and you're sitting home alone tonight with the lights out and the TV on and absolutely nothing better to do, here's a list of films you can watch on Netflix and/or YouTube for free that don't suck. And even the ones that do kinda suck a little bit around the edges,'s still better than paying full ticket price to see Annabelle.

A - Absentia, Antiviral
B - The Bay
C - Cabin in the Woods
D - The Dunwich Horror
E - Evil Dead II
F - Fright Night
G - Grabbers
H - Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II
I - Invasion of the Body Snatchers
J - Jug Face
K - Kill Baby Kill, Kill List
L - Let the Right One In, Legend of Hell House
M - Maniac, Monsters, Manhunter
N - Night of the Living Dead
O - Orca (because who doesn't want to see Dumbledore go batshit Ahab crazy?)
P - Pontypool, The Pact
Q - I couldn't find anything, fucking sue me
R - Re-Animator
S - Silent House
T - Troll Hunter
U - Unrest
V - Vampyr
W - Wake Wood
X - X: The Man With the X Ray Eyes
Y - You're Next
Z - Zodiac

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Old Peace

And now, a message from Steven Wilson...

Myself and my friend Mariusz Duda - Official from Lunatic Soul - official / Riverside have teamed up to record a song together, and for a very special reason.
Alec Wildey was a young fan who for several years had been passionate about our music, actively helping out with promotion as a leading member of the Porcupine Treeand Steven Wilson street teams from the tender age of 17, and setting up a street team for Mariusz in 2010. Some of you will almost certainly have met Alec, as he attended many of our concerts. If you did you will have found him to be a sensitive, extremely intelligent and articulate young man. He was a devoted and enthusiastic music listener and movie watcher, as well as a self-published poet, with a very bright future ahead of him. 
Unfortunately on Christmas Eve 2013, Alec learned he had a cancer of the lymphatic system, followed shortly afterwards by an additional diagnosis of liver cancer. He began a course of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but alas to no avail. At the end of July when he understood he had only a short time left, he emailed me to ask if it was possible that his two favourite musicians could set one of his poems to music, a long held dream of his. I immediately agreed but told him I would make a deal with him - I would make it happen if he could hang on long enough to hear it. We even discussed the possibility of him playing drums on the song himself. 
Unfortunately he passed away only a few weeks later on 25th August at the age of just 26, and so the idea to record the song has now become about honouring Alec’s memory and all too short life, as well as a form of tribute to him and his family. One of Alec’s poems The Old Peace has been beautifully set to music by Mariusz and sung and performed by both of us. It is now available to download from Burning Shed for a modest sum in both high resolution FLAC and mp3, with 50% of the proceeds going to the medical centre that cared for Alec during his final months, and 50% going to other cancer support group charities. We would be happy if as many people as possible paid for the official download (so please don’t share it or upload it to any other sites) in order to raise as much as we can to help others that find themselves in the same awful situation. The song will be available to download until the end of January, after which all the proceeds will be paid over to the cancer support groups.
Mariusz Duda / Steven Wilson - The Old Peace 
Words by Alec Wildey
Music by Mariusz Duda
Vocals / guitars - Mariusz Duda
Vocals / M-4000 mellotron / keyboards / hand percussion - SW
In memory of Alec Wildey.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Static in My Attic - Ceremony, 1994

And suddenly, out of frickin' nowhere, a new column appears. Whizz-bang, mutherfuckers.

Yeah, so...this is the column that my brain insisted be named after a line from the B-52s song "Channel Z" for reasons known only to the sadistic Xenomorph who ate its way through my skull some time ago and now pilots the hollow vessel of my body through this miserable charade called "life."

Once Upon A Time, there were gingerbread castles built by capitalists for the express purpose of luring in movie fans and sucking all of their money out of their pockets. These castles were called "video rental stores" and they were located in the far away never never lands called Strip Malls. Within these video rental stores were rows and rows of shelves, covered in a thick layer of dried soda goo and dust which melded together to create a sticky amber carpet. When you picked a movie off of the shelf, there was an audible sucking sound as the plastic peeled away from the sugartape that had anchored it for months, sometimes years. If you decided you didn't want that movie, there was a perfect rectangular clean spot surrounded by a wall of gray lint, in which to replace the case. And more often than not, if you did rent the movie, you had to rewind it yourself when you got home because whoever had rented it previously never did, because they were Not Kind and did not Rewind. Those people go to Hell when they die and spend all eternity manually rewinding tapes with pencils.

There was - luckily for me - a video rental store right next door to my apartment when I was 18 and was finally allowed to rent R rated movies without a parent present. I worked my way through the horror movie section, and back then it was all dismal-budgeted DTV shit that would never see a DVD release and eventually disappeared into the same dimension where Ren & Stimpy found the legendary mountain of missing left socks.

Okay, enough set up. Let's get to the point.

Year released: 1994
Directed by: Joe Castro
Starring: some girl, Uncle Forry, Freddy Krueger's mom and BoiledEggEyes McRamFace over there.

Synopsis: A million billion years ago, God got all pissy because one of His angels questioned his job title for one second and instead of learning how to accept constructive criticism, He banished her from Heaven forever and somehow she ended up getting imprisoned inside of a cheapshit grandfather clock which is slowly counting down the seconds until she'll be released to wreak havoc and a whole lotta other bad things. Some girl talks her religious study classmates into coming over to her house to confront the angel-turned-demon at the stroke of midnight and make sure she stays in the clock where she belongs. Oh, and some other freaky shit happens like Vampire Jesus, giant tequila worms, blue gargoyles, red boobs, green clovers, blue diamonds and fortified with 12 vitamins and minerals.

I rented this movie for the cover box. I didn't know what it was about and didn't care. It just looked cool. Unfortunately, the demon on the cover has about 3 minutes screen time total, has no dialogue and never gets to screw that chick in the red dress offered up in a circle of ceremonial candles. It's been over twenty years since I last saw this film, I can't find it online and I'm absolutely not going to waste $44.98 on a used VHS copy on amazon. I doubt this whole movie cost $44.98 to make, so fuck that.
Goofy the Gargoyle

I took some really shitty still shots from the trailer. Honestly, the one minute and 7 second long trailer is as long as the whole movie should have been and features the best parts of the movie.
Uncle Forry explodes all over his granddaughter.

Forrest Ackerman, who would appear in any horror movie as long as he could wave his Famous Monsters Of Filmland magazine around at some point, plays kindly grandpa in a wheelchair here, and he doesn't last long. A slo-mo dream sequence features him erupting like Mount Menstruation all over Virginal Granddaughter's  white dress.

At some point, the One Annoying Girl who Freaks Out and threatens to ruin everything gets tied to a chair and left alone in the kitchen after the group has discussed how vitally important it is to stick together and not leave anyone by themselves. Fucking brilliant. She gets possessed by a giant worm which rams itself down her throat in a allegory for oral rape by mutant cock the likes of which hadn't been seen since John Hurt got face fucked by a giant clit in 1979. Or when Craig T. Nelson puked up a maggot with teeth in 1986. Take your pick.

I don't remember how this movie ends. I don't care. It ended and I took it back to the video rental store and rented something good. And despite the fact that it sucked, I rewound it. Because I am a better person than you are.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Milk Carton Movies - The White Ribbon

The White Ribbon (2009)
aka: Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (A German Children's Story)
Directed by: that guy who did Cache, a film I didn't really like.
Starring: a shitload of German people.

It's not easy being German. We German women especially, don't none of us look like the St. Pauli Girl. I'm descended from German farmers, and most of the women in my family resembled military tanks made out of mashed potatoes: pale, starchy, stocky and plain, with big blocky faces and fingers like meathooks. We have a reputation for efficiency and dourness, for beer and pastries and doing terrible things with cabbages. And none of us can ever escape the Nazi jokes. I didn't even know what a Nazi was back in 1979 when our third grade class traced our family trees. My family did not discuss their Eastern European past, and certainly not in front of their 9 year old granddaughter. I didn't find out that we'd lost family in Dachau until I was in my teens. 

So watching The White Ribbon was kind of an eerie experience for me. It was all so disquietingly familiar: the homogenous faces, the dark, drab clothing, the starched and humorless personalities. Throw in a black forest cuckoo clock and a ton of dog hair and it totally would have been my grandmother's living room.

This is categorized as a drama/mystery, but I call bullshit. This is a horror movie on par with such films as Berberian Sound Studio, The Innocents and Village Of The Damned, that last one in particular. There's a serious lack of onscreen violence and/or bloodshed, but the mood is unrelentingly dark, heavy with dread and unequipped with safety valves. 

World War I is over, and its devastation doesn't seem to have touched the quiet village of Eichwald. It's a tidy little town, sternly Protestant and oppressively perfect. No one is allowed to leave the house without being buttoned, polished, starched and ironed beforehand. It's so prim and proper it's a miracle it hasn't imploded...but it's about to. We are permitted to see the events leading up to the complete and utter ruin of a society, but we never see the ruin itself. Only the seeds being scattered by the stormy winds, taking root and strangling everything in their path.

You see, there's a lot wrong with this quaint little hamlet, but it's like a pregnant woman wearing a corset - it's causing unseen damage on the inside and birthing some deeply twisted monstrosities. The long standing rule enjoyed by the tyrannical triumvirate consisting of Doctor, Pastor and Baron is about to be shaken, exposing its instability and rotting foundations. The children of the village can no longer be forced into the unforgiving molds that their parents have established for them. They are at long last rebelling, but not in a garish, overt manner. They move as one, deliberately perpetrating acts of violence with emotionless faces and dead eyes. No one wants to believe that the children could be responsible for such heinous acts, so no one does believe it. They simply ignore it. And allow it to continue. And do nothing. That is horror.

It's not an accident that this generation of children would grow up to be World War II's Nazi elite, or that this 2009 film looks and feels like a genuine relic from that time period. I never once felt like I was watching a new movie while I was watching this. It reeks of age and dust. It reminds me of my grandparents, whose vices were many and ugly, but who reveled in the sins of others and saw nothing at all hypocritical in their behavior. 

For all of its prudishness and proper attire, The White Ribbon is a deeply ugly film. It's like a bright bed of blemish-free roses, sprouting enthusiastically from the dirt covering a mass burial pit. And it's not for everyone. It's not an action movie by any stretch of the imagination. It's comparable to a long, dull visit with your great aunt, who never opens her curtains or turns on the TV and hasn't dusted in 26 years. Except there's a dead body on the parlor rug, and it's leaking putrefaction, and nobody will look at it or acknowledge it and you're stuck there, knowing you should say something, but understanding that such a rude action will brand you the blackest sheep in the flock forever after.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hole In The Wall

Once upon a time, Cory Udler and his friend Derrick Carey ate too much bad Wisconsin cheese and washed it down with too much skunky Wisconsin beer and got their freak on beneath the wobbly dum dum tree down in Dingly Dell. Serenaded by Satan and his all-sewage pipe orchestra, they shat out an aborted goat fetus, slapped it on a shit sandwich and force fed it to Mary Mother of the Septic Tank Crackwhore Brigade. And lo, beneath the shadow of a dark moon, a child was born, and it was named Hole In The Wall. And it was...well, kinda grody, really.

But really, would you expect any less from Udler, the shit splattered King of tampon graffiti, the master(bating)mind behind Incest Death Squad and Mediatrix, the heir to the fecal throne originally erected by Herschell Gordon Lewis and Bill Rebane? (Har, I sed "erect.") And then there's Derrick Carey, aka Dewwick Cawwy, aka The Grumpy Old Cuss at Rabid Child Films, aka the guy who did not go to the King Diamond concert last night and therefore has not summoned my bright red jealous rage, aka the editing genius behind the documentary Screaming In High Heels. And the two of them together? It's like forty pounds of poop in 30 pound poop capacity diapers.

Okay, I think I've officially exhausted all of the shit metaphors as per Udler's request. Onto the review.

A brute shows a local boy hell through his haunted ax, the streets of Madison are stalked by a deranged sexual psychopath, Ed Gein is resurrected as a dentist with a penchant for extraction, the flip side of the American family screams itself to life, and an illicit drug transforms a singer into the angel of death.

And I'm not even going to try to sum up this anthology of seven short films beyond the above snippet, because why the hell should I? Fucking watch it for yourself! Do I have to do everything for you lazy asswipes?

Isn't she pretty?
You get to see Udler himself playing a bartender who looks like he smells like beef jerky! There's a resurrected Ed Gein practicing dentistry! Sexy chicks all over the goddamned place! And...uh, whatever the fuck that thing up there is, smeared with cold cream and clown white, shitting out the Marilyn Manson equivalent of a white trash Christmas miracle. And, in my personal favorite piece entitled Siren, directed by "the fucking ass kicking ROCK STAR" Carolyn Baker, you get to see the morbidly gorgeous Alyssa Spangler emerge from her sultry junkie lounge singer cocoon and spread her diseased reptilian wings as Death Incarnate, shrieking blackest banshee madness across the skies.

Wisconsin is the new capital of the Indie Horror Flick, baby. It's the festering landfill from which nightmares are crawling, the crackhouse leaking deranged death rattles, the backed up toilet spewing a ferocious volcano of blood and feces.

You can nod your head and agree with me and continue to not find out for yourself and be a total fucking loser who misses out and is forever labeled a pussy, or you can go HERE and find out for yourself just how right I am. Or are you scared? Huh? Gonna cry, baby? 1, 2, 3 CRY!

Oh, and go to Cory's Facebook Page, and be sure to tell him what a jerk he is for going to the King Diamond concert without me. Asshole.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I used to work at Borders...

...and I was not the only one.

seriously, what was with the fuzzy jesus piggy banks?

The irony is that the very thing that Borders abused—its employees—could have saved it. All Borders ever had to do was talk to its employees to find out how to be a better bookstore. Those on the front line can tell you what works (better selection!) and what doesn't (glittery pink Jesus statues!). Borders wasted time and money on so-called experts when all the experts they ever needed were already on the payroll. Not to mention their many attempts to poll its customers. Do you want to know what your customers think? Why not talk to your store employees? They speak to the customers every day.

Our displays were bought and paid for by publishers; where we used to present books that we loved and wanted to champion, now mediocre crap was piled on every flat surface.

"They spend millions developing this stupid ('store of the future') and then six months later they pull the plug on it," he said. "So picture the money just pouring out. Then they get a new guy in. I say, 'What do we need?' (He says,) 'We need a new idea for a store.' 'Well, what could that possibly be?' 'Let's call it "the concept store." ' Let's have more consultants, and let's develop totally different fixtures -- metal fixtures -- and let's have a different layout, this time instead of a racetrack, people will find things by bumping into them!"
In other words, another "store of the future."
Meanwhile, the core of Borders' business, the focus on customer service and selection, had fallen by the wayside.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Boxhead - The Movie

Some of you may remember a few years back when I initially reviewed this bizarre anthology by director Randall Kaplan. If you don't remember, please keep reading. Once you have finished reading, you will proceed directly to your nearest film rental site and place this film in the #1 spot of your queue. Once your loser self has caught up with the rest of us, please submit an essay of no less than 500 words on how flawless and spot-on my film recommendations are. I'll will not be grading on a curve, nor will I overlook spelling errors or failure to properly employ margins.

If you have already read my review, know of my love for this morbid jigsaw movie and have obeyed my command to watch it, you may proceed past the review and read the stunning update entitled BOXHEAD.

No cheating, you sneaky assholes.

Beneath The Flesh (2009)
Studio: Pathfinder Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 26, 2009
Directed By: Randall Kaplan
Cast: Michael Whitney, Isaac Scranton, Adair Moran, Zen Groom & Nia Lourekas

Word of advice for anyone who’s planning on sitting down and watching Beneath The Flesh, a 72 minute long collection of short horror films: don’t go into it expecting a lucid plot. This is a pure sensory experience. As a matter of fact, feel free to get as shitfaced as humanly possible before venturing into this viewing. My regimen of antipsychotic meds forbids me from imbibing, but I’m willing to bet that the liberal consumption of alcoholic and other mind-altering substances may even add to the experience of this warped, Lynchian trip.

Lulling you into a false sense of coherence, our first story – entitled “Boxhead” – features the largest cast and the most dialog, and is the perfect kickoff to the nightmares which follow. Boxhead tells the tale of a reclusive old codger, living alone in a smelly, vermin-infested apartment in a city which makes Burrough’s Interzone look like Disneyland. In true Burrough’s form, our protagonist is tormented by an insectile, skull-faced creature in a business suit, who is either the old man’s personal demon, best friend or both.

Following Boxhead is “The Basement,” the shortest film in the collection which chronicles a violent confrontation between two men in – you guessed it – a dark, drippy, hellish basement. The claymation nightmare called “The Child” is next, in which a man comes face to face with his own hideous offspring, a thing which bears a familial resemblance to Eraserhead’s baby. The Child has no spoken dialog, but features a cacophony of eerie, hair-raising sound effects capable of freaking out even the most stone cold sober viewer.

“Id” the second to last feature, is the silent story of a mousy male librarian who struggles to keep the violent demon who lurks within him from taking over and completing his transformation into a predatory serial killer. 

The final tale – “The Insides” – has something to do with a scuzzy guy on a subway, but the goddamned disc jammed about 2 minutes into the tale and I was unable to continue. However, the simple fact that I am planning on swapping the damaged disc for a replacement copy should say something: this is a unique collection, attention grabbing and well worth watching. If you can appreciate the pure, disjointed aesthetics of the nightmare realm, or if you’re a fan of David Lynchian/Jacob’s Ladder-ish/William Burroughs-esque  grotesqueness, Beneath The Flesh ought to be right up your disturbed little alley. It makes a nice change from the steady glut of mainstream slasher films, probing deep into your psyche with a rusty lobotomy pick and leaving you wondrously nauseated.

BOXHEAD - The Movie

You will click that link and you will click it right fucking now.

Because not only is Randall Kaplan turning his short film Boxhead into a full length picture, it's going to be a full length completely hand drawn motion picture! You can check out the teaser trailer right now, right HERE, and I highly recommend that you do if you are looking for a nihilistic landscape reminiscent of David Lynch's Eraserhead, Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies and Gerald Scarfe's hideous anthropomorphic imaginings for Pink Floyd's The Wall

Kaplan dropped me an email this morning to let me know that he is gearing up for a funding campaign early next year to begin production. I've actually animated three and half minutes and will make that public when the campaign happens, as well as some storyboards.

So stay tuned, bookmark those links and make sure you watch Beneath The Flesh asap. And if you've already seen it, watch it again, dammit!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Devil's Tramping Ground

I plug this website every year.
I've been visiting it since..well, for a really long time.

If you want good old spooky ghost stories for cold, dark October nights, you really don't have to plunk down $12 for a movie ticket....especially since most movies playing right now suck dead warthog ass and are about as scary as a plate of cold mashed potatoes. Just do yourself a huge favor and go here:

The Devil's Tramping Ground

and if you watch nothing else on the whole entire site, make sure you watch The Banshee...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Air Sick

Sorry Rebekah, I haven't seen Sole Survivor.
And you're not the boss of me.
So there.

I haven't seen The Langoliers either, and do not intend to ever do so.
Also, I'm not doing Snakes On A Plane, because I haven't seen it and I don't care.


Annie's Totally Lame-Ass List of Airplane Horror Movies That Weren't Too Terrible, Actually...

Altitude, 2010

A bunch of improbably attractive assholes, led by brand new posable Barbie pilot, decide to fly to a rock concert (I think? It's been a while since I've seen it and I'm too fucking lazy to go check) and promptly get caught in a time warp thingamabob filled with Cthulhuian tentacles.

Red Eye, 2005

Supremely creepy Cillian Murphy sidles up beside Rachel McAdams and threatens to kill her daddy unless she helps him assassinate some politician. This movie was more fun than it had any right to be. I actually kind of hate myself for liking it as much as I did.

The Horror at 37,000 Feet, 1973

Okay Rebekah - I didn't see Sole Survivor (undoubtedly the story of a rebellious flounder determined to be the first aquatic stowaway) starring William Shatner (as the fish), but I did see this cheese log that William Shat all over three years later. A boogedy demon escapes from something in the cargo hold and proceeds to haunt the shit out of the flight-in-progress. Believe it or not, that's not a shot of Willie over there reenacting the Billie Jean video, but rather (thankfully) the penultimate shot of his drunken loser ass being tossed out of the plane by the demons who are sick of his endless fucking emoting.

Twilight Zone, The Movie - Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, 1983

Yeah yeah, blasphemy all the fuck over me for not mentioning the original TV episode - no, fuck that. Shatner has had enough attention on my blog for one night and that monster wasn't scary. It looked like a sumo wrestling Teddy Ruxpin so fuck you. Larry Cedar's gremlin was WAY scarier, and Larry is a nice guy so he wins. Nyah.

Honorable Mentions:

Flight of the Phoenix (2006) - Dennis Quaid cannot act, director John Moore seems like a right cunt and yes I know there's a superior original version. But this is the one I've seen, the crash scene is awesome, Tony Curran takes his shirt off and Hugh Laurie plays a twat.

World War Z (2013) - This film was seriously flawed and outright dull at times, but the fall of Israel and the last flight out were pretty tight. Still not sure how the zombie went unnoticed until hours after take-off but whatever.

Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011) - No, I'm just fucking with you. Don't watch this movie. It's horrible.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Darkest Muse

I don't "get" happy music.

And by "happy" I don't mean "positive, upbeat and joyous." I mean brainless, repetitive and mechanical. I like a lot of happy music, although what I consider happy may not be anyone else's idea of happy. The Cocteau Twins' Heaven Or Las Vegas, Type O Negative's The Green Man, most everything ever recorded by Morphine...those are my happy songs, the ones that make me wish I had a private field of flowers to dance in, where nobody else can see me acting like a total girly swot.

But the happy songs only come out once every few months, when I'm in a rare upbeat mood. Not that I'm an embittered taciturn sourpuss 24/7, but... sigh - man, this is hard to explain. I know that most of you will get what I'm trying to say when I say that I'm "dark." I don't wallow around in graveyards all day, bemoaning my existence to an indifferent universe and wearing pessimism like perfume. I'm actually very friendly. My elderly patients at the day job love me for some reason - maybe because I talk to them like they're human beings and not burdens. I have a lot of friends, but very few of them have ever seen the real me, the one that sits in the shadows and paints Papier-mâché  skulls, wraps christmas presents with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre playing in the background, watching documentaries on serial killers, complete with autopsy footage, whilst eating dinner. Morbid is very normal for me.

Wait, you all think I'm a serial killer, right? All those horror movies, all that metal music, I must be stuffing the carcasses of dead babies and sacrificed pigs into the floorboards beneath my bed, surely. The truth is: I loathe violence. The very idea of hurting someone or something disgusts me. I could never kill someone unless it was in self defense, and even then I don't think I'd be too pleased about it. For fucks sake, I feel guilty if I step on a potato bug whilst walking to the car.

And yet, I've always been drawn to the darker aspects of life. Sorrow, melancholia, tragedy, despair, grief and death... these are the things that draw me. When I was five I was holding funerals for dead bugs, fashioning coffins out of chocolate sampler boxes and making popsicle crosses for the little grave. My backyard looked like an abandoned mini set for a Fulci film. I once took my teddy bear out into a rainstorm and tried to bring it to life like Victor Frankenstein. I'm not sure why my mother never took me to the doctor or had me committed, but thank god she didn't. She allowed me to be who I was and pursue my interests. If not for the safety valve, I may very well have exploded.

Anyway, the subject of music came up today. People who know me "In Real Life" are always shocked when they discover I'm a goth/metalhead. They think it's all ear-splitting guitars and garbage disposal vocals. When I tell them it really isn't, and that the majority of the music I listen to is actually quite beautiful, they look at me as if I've just told them that frogs are actually classified as vegetables, or that my favorite color is cheese. They just don't get it. And I just don't get how they can listen to an endless stream of bubblegum pop tunes that all sound exactly the same. That's depressing: the very idea that music can be mass produced, as if it were nothing more than muffin tins or litter boxes.

In Greek mythology, there is a muse named Melpomene. Originally a muse of singing, she took up tragedy as her primary art and became mother to the Sirens. I have never been able to separate her two main mediums and will always think of her as the Muse of Dark and Tragic Music. She's the muse I identify with the most - the sorrowful sister, the goth in a family of Barbie's, the outcast.

When I listen to music, I want it to make me feel something: anger, despair, kinship, something! Not empty disgust and weariness. In my humble (and prejudiced, and arrogant, and elitist) opinion, music that doesn't slap me across the face and wring out my soul like a dishrag isn't music at all: it's the sound equivalent of styrofoam packing peanuts. And it can jolly well get stuffed.

Think all depressive/gothic/metal music is just noise?
Think again:

These are the songs I listen to when I want to be reminded of my mortality, my immortal soul and just how flawed human beings are...

Strange Fruit.
Written in the 1930s and immortalized by Billie Holiday, this woeful ballad was years ahead of its time in capturing the graphic reality of racism, summed up in one brutal image: the corpse of a black man, swinging from a tree, rotting in the sun, plucked at by birds and left to sway in the wind. And while I absolutely love Holiday's version, I'm going to recommend this cover version by The Cocteau Twins. Because Elisabeth Fraser.

Closure - Opeth
Swedish prog metal band Opeth can most definitely slam and thrash and growl their way through an entire album of vicious hardcore ear-assaulting metal, but they can also weave the most complex melodies around forlorn vocals and end up with a tapestry of loss that's so beautiful it's absolutely devastating.

Then She Did - Jane's Addiction
Addressing the suicide of his mother in the wake of the fatal overdose of his lover Xiola Blue, frontman Perry Farrell pleads for Blue to visit his mother in Heaven in a final chorus that made me burst into tears the first time I heard it, and still makes me weep like a jackass in remembering.

My Ashes - Porcupine Tree
This is the song I turn to when the depression hits like a black tidal wave of mortal despair. It makes me feel as though I am attending my own funeral and hearing my own eulogy. I can grieve and suffer and finally recover, all without actually dying, by listening to this song on repeat.

Purity - The God Machine
Much like My Ashes, this song is a dirge for the person whose soul has suffered yet another death. It's misery incarnate, but it also not entirely unlike being comforted by someone who truly gives a shit about what you're going through, whispering: "It's okay" over and over until it finally seems like it really might be again someday.

Whale & Wasp - Alice In Chains
For a song that has no lyrics, this conveys so much sorrow and grief it is almost physically painful to hear. It's wailing strings sound for all the world like the deepest cry of despair ever bellowed out of a set of human lungs. Every time I hear this song, it seems to be saying: "How can I be in so much pain when the world is so beautiful?"

Dark - Gary Numan
Are you kidding? Just read these lyrics!

I've been waiting here
Waiting for faith
And the word to fall.
Now the darkness comes
And I'll pray for
The end of us all.

Don't let the dark into me
We killed the angels that warned us of you
Don't let the dark into me
We raised the tower of Babel for you
Don't let the dark into me
We let the children build temples for you
Don't let the dark into me
Don't let the vengeance of Heaven be you

So pray to me, I'm the Lord's new disease,
Look down into the face of God.
Bow down and cry, I'm the black Messiah,
The one true divinity.
Kneel before my altar and drink the wine of slaughter,
Who said I'd save anyone?
So bleed for me, I need hostility
To lead the faithful and the blind.

Don't let the light shine on me
I am the poison that feeds life to you
Don't let the light shine on me
I am the demon that waits inside you
Don't let the light shine on me
I am the ghost that reminds death of you
Don't let the light shine on me
I am the darkness that crawls into you.

Harmonium - Anathema
I will be forever grateful to my friend Jacob for gifting me with Anathema's entire musical library shortly after suffering the biggest heartbreak of my life thus far this past summer. I needed this music. The timing was perfect. It filled all of the hollow spaces within me until I could be whole again.

There will be a Part 2 to this article...and possibly a part 3 and 4 as well. There's just too many beautifully sorrowful songs out there, and not enough time to list them all in one sitting. Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, thanks for not laughing at the pieces of my soul that I tack up on here for the world to see now and then...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blacked Out

Wow. So I see that a bunch of candyass spammers hit my blog whilst my cable was out.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ghost TV - The Best & Worst of Paranormal Television

I love ghost hunting shows. I give no fucks what you think about that.
Do I believe that every single door creak and mouse fart caught on tape is a dead soul trying to make contact through the aether? Fuck no. But I’m totally willing to suspend my disbelief for an hour every Friday night. In the never to be forgotten words of one Fox Mulder: “I want to believe.” And so I choose to, for as long as the show runs. I go into these shows the same way I go into horror movies: I want to be scared and entertained. Most movies about paranormal activity fall seriously short of the mark. Most movies about paranormal investigative TV shows (cough Grave Encounters cough) outright suck ass. You’d be better off watching the actual shows themselves. Whether you choose to believe it’s all real, or just cleverly presented fiction is entirely up to you. Instead of wasting full ticket price on Annabelle the Haunted Doll (which looks like shit anyway) why not google some of these? They’re on Hulu, YouTube and Netflix and they’re free. The economy may suck, but your Halloween doesn’t have to. Check out some of these shows, just for the hell of it:
The Dead Files

Synopsis: A punky-gothy foul mouthed medium named Amy teams up with a foul mouthed retired NYC homicide detective named Steve and investigate reported haunting in private homes. Rather than recording EVPs or trying to capture orbs and phantoms on camera, Steve goes out and investigates old school cop style, gathering evidence about the history of the property, home owners and neighborhood, while Amy gathers psychic impressions and hands them over to a police sketch artist. At the end, everyone meets up and compares notes.
Favorite Episode: Satan's Revenge, in which a middle aged woman recounts her childhood molestation at the hands of a teenage babysitter who looked like The Joker, and Amy reveals the giant slug that is squashing its way around the house, sucking their energy up with its slimy proboscis. I know I sound flippant, but this really is a distressing episode. Even if you don't, just try and believe for one second that the thing in the police sketch artist is real. GAH!!!
Best Part: No one part of any episode stands out, other than the quips and asides from its stars. I love the constant bleeps of profanity that litter these shows. Amy cusses nonstop, Steve not as much, but when he does it's always commingled with that dry Noo Yawk cynicism and a facial expression that says: "Are you fucking kidding me?"
Runner Up Episode: The Beast, concerning the possession of a teenage girl with special needs. Terribly sad.

My Haunted House

Synopsis: Basically the same exact set-up as A Haunting: the actual witnesses recount their tales of hauntings, paranormal attacks and possessions. A cast of people who look nothing like our witnesses reenact the tales. 
Favorite Episode: Til Death, in which a Ringu-esque specter seemingly seeks to terrorize a newly engaged woman to death, but whose ultimate motivations are to save her from a similar fate.
Best Part: "Look in the night stand."
Runner Up Episode: Trapped, the story of the world's creepiest catatonia patient and the inexperienced nurse hired to care for her. The bedpan is the least of her troubles.

When Ghosts Attack

Synopsis: Basically the same exact set-up as A Haunting and My Haunted House - I guess there's not that many different ways you can do these kind of shows. People talk about stuff, other people reenact it, rinse repeat, etc.
Favorite Episode: I dunno, I'm still kind of on the fence with this series. I like it, but no one episode jumps out at me as being a "favorite." I suppose if I absolutely had to pick one, I'd go with "History To Horror" which takes place in Maryland and, for some odd reason, features twangy country guitar music on its soundtrack. This ain't Alabammie, people. 

Ghost Adventures
Synopsis: Once a week, Zak Bagans squeezes his impressive pectoral muscles into a tight black T-shirt, sharpens his hair and heads off to an abandoned prison/insane asylum/murder site with his buddies, the quiet Nick and the goofy Aaron. These guys don’t do the whole “private residence” thing. They’re out for the Holy Grail sites, such as Poveglia, Waverly Hills and the like. More often than not, they do a little sight seeing before the “lockdown” part of the show, and at least try to make the viewing experience fun. Highlights include Aaron’s horrifying imitation of Bigfoot, the sexual harassment of Zak by a busload of school girls and Nick’s flat refusal to “suck anything out of” Zak’s body.
Favorite Episode: The Return to Bobby Mackey’s. For those of you who don’t know, Bobby Mackey’s is an old school honkytonk down in Wilder, Kentucky. Built over the site of a former slaughterhouse, it was also the scene of a murder involving a pregnant girl, two Satanists, a decapitation, a lot of cocaine and a botched abortion. With dental tools. There’s not enough coke in the WORLD for that bullshit. Anyway, the honkytonk is allegedly haunted by the aforementioned Satanists, a girl ghost who committed suicide, the head of the decapitated girl and possibly the Devil Himself. Several exorcisms have been performed on the premises, apparently to no avail.
Best Part: Whilst performing the latest exorcism, Zak and Nick catch a very unnerving growl on audio. Seriously, it sounds like a very grumpy Satan after eating 40 tons of Taco Bell. It’s demonic and genuinely chilling and the look on Zak’s face is priceless. I have $5 that says he peed himself a little when that happened.
Runner Up Episode: Return to the Goldfield Hotel. Another golden EVP catch, as a very nasty male ghost orders the team to “get the fuck out” of his house.
Paranormal Witness
Synopsis: This is the newest show to come charging out of the paranormal chute. It’s kind of a reboot of A Haunting with a bigger budget and a lot less cheese. Admittedly, it’s still kinda corny around the edges, but it’s fun and takes a look at several cases I’ve never heard of before.
Favorite Episode: The Dybbuk Box. This is the story that the current Sam Raimi shitfest flop “The Possessed” was based on, and one has to wonder why Raimi felt a need to deviate from the actual story, which is a hell of a lot more interesting than a girl slamming down pancakes and puking flies.
The Story: Guy buys antique Jewish wine cabinet at estate sale. Guy gives cabinet to his mom as a birthday present. Mom opens it and immediately has a massive stroke. When she regains the ability to speak, she insists that the frigid evil inside of the box struck her down. Cabinet is sold on eBay and snapped up by a guy who doesn’t believe it’s haunted. Guy keeps a blog chronicling his experiences with the cabinet, including resulting illness, misfortune and nightmares. Cabinet is sold AGAIN, with a repeat of phenomena, until it is finally locked away in the cellar of an abandoned house. I have to admit, this is a very intriguing tale, with a shit-ton of credible witnesses and evidence. I wouldn’t go near the fucking thing, that’s for damn sure.
Best Part: The nightmare sequence with the stringy haired hags was cool, and not terribly unlike a few nightmares I myself have had.
Runner Up Episode: The Rain Man. Thankfully starring neither Tom Cruise nor Dustin Hoffman. It’s literally about a possessed kid who can make it rain ectoplasm whenever he feels like it.
The Haunted Collector
Synopsis: The nephew of legendary ghostbusting team Ed and Lorraine Warren, Zaffis has appeared on Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, A Haunting and many others, before finally landing his own series. And it’s a very hotly debated one, topping the list of paranormal reality shows that are most often accused of having been faked. Paranormal State is right behind it, doubtless because of their involvement with the Warrens, whose authenticity is shaky to say the least. Nevertheless, I always learn something fairly interesting when I watch this show – not about ghosts, but about antiques and unusual artifacts, which is the show’s main focus.
Favorite Episode: The Cross Of Salem. A crumbling marriage and reports of possession lead John and crew to rip up the carpet in a client’s house, revealing a “Cross of Salem” drawn on the floor in what looks like blood. Not much comes of it, but it looks really cool.
Synopsis: John, his son and daughter and some other people, answer distress calls from private citizens and set up shop in their homes to capture evidence of hauntings. They also collect and remove allegedly haunted trigger items (broken ouija boards, old slave tags, swords, lockets, etc.) from the homes and place them in their Connecticut “Museum of the Paranormal” reasoning that the removal of the object will cause the hauntings to subside. I don’t know if it really works, nor do I care. I just think some of the shit they find is cool. Like a leeching jar, and a little spring-loaded doohickey that gamblers used to use to cheat at cards.
Runner Up Episode: The Breakstick. May Michael Vick rot in Hell.
Ghost Hunters
Synopsis: The ghost hunting crew out of Warwick, Rhode Island that started it all. And if the show doesn’t scare you, try making the twenty minute drive from North Providence to Warwick on any given day. That merge onto Post Road is a bitch. Anyway, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, two average joe plumbers, set up shop in a trailer out back of Hawes house. The rest is history.
Favorite Episode: Taciturn sourpuss Grant and jackassy Jason head over to Ireland to investigate a crumbling castle which boasts a bloody chapel, a bone-littered oubliette and an “elemental” demon which reputedly smells like cabbage farts.
Best Part: One of the guys gets picked up and thrown on his ass in the bloody chapel after talking shit about a resident evil spirit. I think it was Dustin, whose lawn aerator hairstyle makes Zak Bagan’s faux hawk seem tame by comparison.
Runner Up EpisodeThe Saint Augustine Lighthouse, Florida. A ghost is caught on video peering over a spiral staircase.
A Haunting
Synopsis: Docudrama series that ran for two (or three?) very short seasons and then got picked back up and renewed. I love this show. Basically a soap opera with demons in it, A Haunting way overdramatizes events, features some terribly untalented actors (two of whom would go on to appear in Lovely Molly by the way – there’s your horror trivia for the day), cheesy special effects and melodramatic twaddle that is unintentionally funny more often than not. But I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to tape every single episode and watched them over and over until they wore out.
Favorite Episode: Where Evil Lurks.
The Story: An Arkansas family of five move into a great big dream house. Pretty soon, there’s a Ringwraith walking around the upstairs hallway, making it necessary to exorcise the property with the help of a Ouija board and two goofy mediums.
Best Part: The Ringwraith thing (supposedly a demon named Seth) is actually pretty cool looking.
Runner Up Episode: The Exorcism of Cindy Sauer, in which Cindy is apparently possessed by the spirit of a goofball Romanian gymnast. Hysterical!
My Ghost Story
Synopsis: Random people come forth with their home video and audio evidence of purported haunting activity in their homes and/or business and tell their stories.
Favorite Episode: The Demonic Ceramic Giraffe.
The Story - who gives a fuck? It’s about a DEMONIC CERAMIC GIRAFFE!!! Seriously. it’s a goddamned ceramic giraffe statue, toddling about a house at night and peeking around corners. It’s fucking adorable. If Winnie the Pooh was possessed by Satan, it might come out looking like this. How can you POSSIBLY beat a show entitled “Demonic Ceramic Giraffe?”
Runner Up EpisodeNot even possible, unless somebody comes forward with a possessed Hummel figurine.

And now, a brief list of paranormal ghosty spook shows that have thus far utterly failed to impress and/or interest me:

Ghost Asylum - Same format as Ghost Adventures. Nothing new or innovative happening here.
Amish Haunting - Thus far, all this show has been able to establish is that Amish people can be real assholes.
Ghost Bait - Wants to be shocking, comes off as childish.
Stalked By A Ghost - Boring as birdshit.
Ghost Mine - Boringer than your little brother's rock collection.

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