Monthly Archives: November 2009

How It Should Have Ended

I first discovered “How It Should Have Ended” while searching Youtube for a funny video to post on the Facebook page of a friend who was a Superman fan. So, straight from their official Youtube page, here’s how the HISHE crew thinks The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and The Blair Witch Project should have ended:

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Reading Suggestion

I’m close to Providence, so it makes sense to bust out the Lovecraft this time of year. Everything is soggy, gray and cold. I suggest you to do the same. Granted, history will show that he was a racist, classist and misogynistic. We can’t forget that. But he died in near poverty so take that a bit of justice when you read (or listen to) some of his stories.

Do you have a particular horror author you’d like to suggest? Algernon Blackwood? Some from the Splatterpunk set?

Happy Fangsgiving!

Want to go trick-or-treating in November like the kids in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Although you’re bound to only get strange looks and bewilderment, I thought I’d help out by pointing you in the direction of some free printable vampire masks. Michael Grater’s Cut and Make Monster Masks in Full Color brings us a two part “Varney the Vampire” mask, along with another multiple piece mask that depicts “Vilma the Vampiress.”

Here’s to a happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers! Well, all the American readers, as Canada’s Thanksgiving is held on October 12th.

News ‘n Stuff

Normally, I stick to the “four posts per month” format I developed after GdL returned from its unintended hiatus. But, seeing as how Strange Jason is having a little trouble, I figured I’d change my rules and do an extra post. Come to think of it, Strange Jason and I both doing five posts a month would be a good way of providing several updates without us running out of ideas. Personally, I’d let Atomic and N. Oremac pop in and out whenever they wanted to, as they have other (big) things going on that’re eating up their time. Besides, I think that posting nearly every day would take away of of the specialness that the Halloween countdown has. I’ll have to talk with the others about this so we can figure out a schedule that works for everyone. If any readers would like to make a suggestion, they are more than welcome to do so.

Our first bit of news is that Legendary Pictures, the people behind Batman Begins and Superman Returns, are supposedly trying to license the rights to Godzilla for a new American movie. I can’t say I’m 100% thrilled with the idea. Although Toho has rebooted the Godzilla franchise numerous times, they’ve always maintained that the original 1954 movie was part of each continuity. I fear that an American reboot wouldn’t do that and would thus cut off Godzilla from his roots, rob the character of his dramatic power and weaken the character’s warning of the dangers of nuclear weapons. Tristar’s “reimagining” also has left a bad taste in my mouth (and probably those of other members of the movie-going public). Although it would be pretty cool if they remade King Kong vs. Godzilla

Speaking of things I learned about on Wikipedia, there’s an Addams Family musical coming soon. In fact, it’s already started its trial run in Chicago (November 13 2009 – January 10, 2010). The plot is an all-new story about Wednesday Addams being grown-up and falling in love. Wait a second, wasn’t that plotline part of that Addams Family Values movie from 1993?

Blockbuster Video recently announced that it (and Hollywood Video) would being offering a new movie rental kiosk service using movies stored on…SD cards? I can’t see this being a lasting service. Other kiosk services that use DVDs, such as Redbox, offer rentals for the same (or lower price) and use a format that most homes already have. Sure, a digital camera can read SD cards and be hooked up to a television for playback, but why go through that when you already have a DVD player or gaming console set up? Besides, many devices that can read SD cards are already DVD-compatible, so there’s little incentive to try a new format.

I’ve saved the best news for last: Kellogg’s is offering horror DVDs as part of the latest installment of their “Movie Lovers” promotion. However, presumably to keep kids from ordering those movies, the tokens needed to get the movies are found on “bran” cereals (Raisin Bran, Oat Bran, etc.) rather than the usual assortment of cookies, crackers and cereals that other Kellogg’s DVD promotions had been included on in the past. The horror titles offered are a double feature of Ghoulies and Ghoulies II, Swamp Thing, When Good Ghouls Go Bad, and Goosebumps: Attack of The Jack O’Lanterns. Presumably, these DVDs will come in small square paper sleeves (with cover art and a summary on the back) like other “Movie Lovers” titles have in the past, rather than plastic amaray cases. If this is correct, then the Goosebumps: Attack of The Jack O’Lanterns DVD might contain some other episodes of the Goosebumps TV series. For more details about the promotion, click here.

November

This November’s quickly become a throwaway month. Heads have been kept low for the last couple of weeks and here we are, halfway finished. Halloween has left most of us here at the Local tired and things have popped up to keep us busy. Mainly, we’re keeping warm and keeping the calorie count up before the ground turns to rusted iron.

This coming week, we’re shooting for a M/W/F update and we’ll get back to a five-day schedule next week. Both Weird Jon, the Atomic Mystery Monster and myself have been caught up with new holes to dig. But the dirt is settling and we should be back on track soon.

So here’s the “Cold Graves, Warm Hearts Music Gift Drive 2009.” This December marks the fifth year that I’ve compiled an annual Christmas mix to help me and a friends get through the holidays. Though the pockets are a little lighter this time around, I still like to share and give back with the season. If you would like a copy mailed to you, send your mailing address to me at Strange Jason AT gravediggerslocal dot com. Also, if you have suggestions for this year’s mix, I’m always open to new music.

I’ll take requests until Midnight on November 30th. If you want to receive something in the mail this Christmas, send away. Your address won’t be given over to any solicitors – we at the Local won’t do you wrong like that. This is about giving gifts and helping each other through what is often both a joyous and miserable time of year.

TGIF13 III: The Beginning

Have you ever wondered why Friday the 13th is supposed to be unlucky? If so, then today is (ironically) your lucky day! Not only does Snopes have an article on the matter, but I found a sample version of Nathaniel Lachenmeyer’s 13: The Story of the World’s Most Popular Superstition.

Time to end this.

Weird Jon’s gone for a bit, technical difficulties and what not. Drop him a line wishing him to ‘Come Back Soon’ ‘cause dirt knows I can’t do this job alone. Each hand holds the shovel in its own way and it takes more than one to dig a hole.

Here’s a question: Do you root for the monsters in horror films?

Do you want Jason to get the campers? For Freddy to get those teenagers on Elm Street?

I do, sometimes. When the story introduces a character that’s clearly meant to solicit the audience’s scorn and hate—the snooty rich girl, the jocko homo in the Letterman’s jacket, the arrogant and the obnoxious—these are the ones that are meant to bring about a hell, yeah! reaction when the blade falls down upon their head.

Of course, all of these characters are fake and exaggerated, some over-the-top representation of an idea. We root against the rich because we’re not rich, against the obnoxious because we are not obnoxious.

I think about monsters when I listen to GG Allin.
GG Allin invokes a lot of negative reaction due to his lyric content and personal actions. I’m not unapologetic in my listening to GG Allin. He’s not a guilty pleasure, he’s not some secret to keep. I know why people would hate him and I see their arguments as valid. If you want to talk about those arguments, drop me a line.

First time I heard of GG was from the Drive-By Truckers song, ‘The Night G.G. Allin Came to Town.’ It’s the roots-booze country rock tribute to Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley’s idleness while growing up which details the after-the-fact account of a GG Allin concert. I found his music and was a bit surprised, considering the contrast between GG’s chaos to the orchestration of the Drive-By Truckers tribute.

His concerts are infamous for his actions. Blood. Feces. No one was safe. He got naked. He was a wild dog with a microphone.   

“Everybody’s an enemy. Fuck it, I hate everybody. I’m not part of any scene. I do my own thing. My mind’s a machine gun. My body’s the bullets and the audience is the target.” 

–G.G. Allin, Hated.

He started picking fights. When fighting became passé, he started to incorporate scatological elements. He was a disaster when he went out on stage, looking to cause as many casualties as possible. His music was caustic and snarling. He wanted to assault all senses, to wage war from all fronts.

I had seen ‘Hated,’ the documentary about GG that showed where he came from, what he did and ultimately, how he died. I also read Evan Cohen’s I Was a Murder Junkie, the book that details G.G’s last tour. Both are required if you’re a fan of GG or just want to do some research. The latter account shows how roughshod GG and his band lived. It was an outlaw’s life for the most of them and it shows a candid view of GG. One instance in the book sticks out with me more than others:

      At one point in the night I woke up to find the room completely dark, and GG’s silent smiling face about six inches from my own.
     “Hello,” I said.
     “Hello,” He replied. That was the extend of our conversation, and I closed my eyes once more. In retrospect, I don’t think GG was planning on doing anything nefarious to me. It was more of a human moment. I think he was just looking at me in amazement. I mean, how could such a “normal” person as I be mixed up with all this GG Allin craziness?

Evan Cohen, I Was A Murder Junkie: The Last Days of GG Allin, Pg. 63

GG was charged with rape of a Michigan girl in 1989, but it came out that during the trial, the woman was a willing participant. The court document details inconstancies in the woman’s story. Rape is unforgivable. Torture is unforgivable. Even if he had the facts on his side to make a good case, I think that he knew he had to plea bargain because G.G. Allin the man could never get a fair trial. The myth and monster would be put on trial instead. 

GG Allin lived a monster’s lifestyle and was comfortable with it. Society and its systems are designed against monsters, which makes their existence horrific. Sometimes the systems of society are wrong and those who challenge them are seen as heroes. It takes a challenge to determine the monsters from the heroes, to figure out if these systems are really for our good or if they are outdated and wrong.

That’s ultimately why I listen to GG Allin. Though I bob my head in the beat of the song, I know that it’s wrong to “Expose Yourself to Kids.’ It’s catchy about an unforgivable act. In similar idea, not execution, it’s comparable to Nabokov’s Lolita in making something reprehensible seem attractive if not beautiful. To me, GG Allin is a challenge to these things that I think as indisputably wrong. When he says to expose yourself to kids, I can say “No, that’s a wrong and here’s why.” I think to someone who wanted to embrace the lone rebel role as GG, there’s nothing worse than blind obedience. 

It would be false of me to extol appreciation for ‘Expose Yourself to Kids’ while condemning ‘No Room for Nigger.’ Each song demonstrates an attitude and behavior that I disagree with, and it’s would be unfair to you if I were to say “this is okay but that is wrong.” Misogyny. Pedophilia. Racism. Murder and violence. Sexual perversion. He was a tangled ball of hate against everything. It was how he was made.

The idea of GG Allin was as much of a filmland monster as much as Freddy Krueger, a child killer, or Leatherface or the rash of killers we watch on screen. The fiction of horror allows for the creature to exist; at the end of the movie, each of us in the audience would be better to review what we watched and why the monster was a monster. Jason was left to drown but is it right for him to wield a machete? Krueger was burnt alive but him seeking revenge?

But if you hate the music, hey. Can’t fault you on that. Taste is relative.

I’ve lost the point. Time to end this.

(Gravediggers Local 16 doesn’t condone or condemn any of the ideas or expressions of GG Allin, his band(s), fan(s) or some of the more outlandish ideas presented here by Strange Jason. Complaints can be sent to the Front Office here)

It comes down to this.

Vampires are the ruling class. Zombies are the working class. Werewolves are the middle class.

Zombies, creatures of the dirt, eating flesh and whatever they can. They overwhelm in their masses and are usually depicted as mindless and violent. Their uprising usually demolishes society as it’s known. Think of Zombies as the working-man’s monster, the ‘working stiff,’ as it were. Once you’re a zombie, there’s no where else to go. Zombies. Ghouls. Majority of the flesh-eating undead are working class. Lower class.

Vampires, on the other hand, have been portrayed as alluring, beautiful and graceful. A vampire doesn’t get its hands dirty. A vampire is known as being royalty, of looking down on humans and other monsters. Vampires are the aristocrats, the Yacht club of the night. Trust fund bloodsuckers. They revel in their monsterdom. A vampire loves being a vampire and would choose death rather than to live any other way.

Werewolves, I see, are middle class, only mildly inconvenienced by their monsterdom. They’re middle management, telling others to protect nature. A lot of hippies in Volvos. Hipsters would be more werewolves than Vampires, despite dressing like zombies. Werewolves are often with good intentions but full of horseshit. Suburban Werewolves. A lot of Werewolves would be socialists, faux-American Marxists. A werewolf in a Che t-shirt made in China would bitch at a Gucci Vampire while a Zombie mops the floor.

Tales From The Crypt

Though its initial run on HBO ran from 89-96, I didn’t catch ‘Tales from the Crypt’ until syndication since I didn’t afford the premium cable. But when it finally was distributed among the networks, I lived far up north that I caught it on a Canadian station that played in hour-long chunks every weekday at midnight.

I didn’t make the connection then, but I had come across, not Tales specifically, but the Tales format through those old comic books once given to me by a family friend. In between the superheroes and mutants, there was a plethora of ‘House of Mystery,’ ‘Grimm’s Ghost Stories’ and ‘The Witching Hour’ issues.

Similar to the Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Crypt Keeper popped up at the beginning and at the end. Much like Afred Hitchcock, the Crypt Keeper had a corny sense of humor and a macabre use of puns. I’m a sucker for outlandish punnery, especially when it’s supposed to be so groan-inducing.

Much like horror hosts, the segments before and after the feature presentation took the edge off. Groan inducing punnery will take the sting out of any scare. Though most of the episodes weren’t terribly frightening; in fact, some very hackneyed, with the twist being either straight out of nowhere or seen from a mile away. 

Though stripped of its nudity and profane language, the whole attitude of the show remained intact when I watched it for the first time. Lately, I’ve been going over the old episodes, seeing the ones I’ve missed and revisiting the ones I saw before. On a whole, I would say that it’s a series that has aged well. I’ll have to do some digging to see the history behind the show before I put up any episode reviews. Personally, my favorite episodes aren’t those that deal with the supernatural. I like the ones that deal more with the monstrosity of the human condition. Though the ends are gruesome, they’re not that far removed from the realm of possibility. They’re usually the episodes that are written better (and much easier to watch.)

You can get all seven seasons for under two hundred bucks (less if you purchase used) on Amazon. Definitely worth the rental.

Also, if any of you readers out there can do me a favor – when it didn’t run in an hour’s chunk, there was a sorta-news program that ran before/after Tales From The Crypt on CBC 6. It dealt with a lot of paranormal activity, weird shit ’round the board. Trying to remember what the name of that program was and track down some episodes of it. Any clues can be sent over to me or the Front Office. Thank you kindly.

American Scary

American Scary

‘American Scary’ is the documentary from John E. Hudgens and Sandy Clark covering ‘the popular [horror] hosts of the golden age of television.’ Consider it the ‘Greatest Hits’ collection of television’s spooky set – Zacherley, Vampira, Ghoulardi, Marvin, Bob Wilkins. All of your favorites and some of the lesser-knowns come together for this presentation, this love letter towards the role of the horror host.

Overall, I think it’s a good documentary. It’s very informative about the early stages of television that led to the birth of the horror host. Universal, in licensing their movies in the Shock Theater bundle, gave local stations all this scary programming. Either local personalities created scary alter-egos in looking for new work, or station managers offered a host to take the edge off of some legitimately scary movies.
Some of the hosts I’ve never heard of, like Crematia Mortem, Stella or Big Chuck & Lil’ Jon, get showcased in the movie. It was interesting to see some other names up there besides the bigger ones and it would be interesting to hear their stories but it’s hard to cover all that in one movie. Zacherley’s story alone is worth a whole film. ‘American Scary’ sticks to the classic characters because if they were to cover everyone, the movie would lose its focus. Many of the newer hosts appear as commentators but their programming doesn’t get showcased as much as the older set. 

The story of the film covers the rise and fall of not just the horror host but local programming in general. The film doesn’t really have an ending moment, one where someone can slap their hands together and go ‘yep. Dead and buried.’ Instead, it seems to disperse out into the ethers, in a bit of nostalgia while sorta acknowledging that there are still some hosts going on. Public access is discussed and it’s established how the newer generation do their shows out of pure love (and often, out of their own pocket.) 

The documentary doesn’t, in my opinion, cover enough of the effect the Internet has in the revival of the horror host. While crediting Count Gore De Vol for pioneering the start of a horror-host web-ring/underground connection, the movie doesn’t discuss any of the younger generation of hosts that put their shows online.

But the movie was made in 2007. Two years is a long time for technology. Digital media has become more prevalent and less expensive, offering an alternative method for programming, bypassing television in lieu of the internet.  Hard to make a documentary about something that’s going on. It’s easier to pin something down when it’s dead.

Overall, it’s a good movie that may set off some interests in horror hosts. There are plenty of supplemental materials out there (books, additional DVDs) but if you want a palatable introduction, you can’t go wrong with ‘American Scary.’