Monthly Archives: January 2011

More Links I Like

As a guy with a wide range of interests, simply one listing of links to websites I enjoy just isn’t enough!

Xenorama – Xenorama is “the page of heroes and monsters,” along with an amazing article about an alternate version of The War of the Gargantuas.

Side Order of Ninjas – Funny and entertaining reviews of strange and amazing films.

Hauntcast – The internet’s premier online radio station for home haunters and Halloween enthusiasts.

Grindhouse Database – The cult movie community’s answer to the Internet Movie Database.

Weird NJ – Strange destinations and urban legends from New Jersey.

Home Haunt News – News and reviews no haunter should be without!

alt.horror.cthulhu – One of the few newsgroups out there that has regular, non-spam activity.

Skook – Tons of great artwork, including modernized (but faithful) renditions of Paul Blaisdell creations.

Tomb It May Concern – If Yor Week isn’t enough to convince you to read this, I don’t know what will.

Tough To Kill – An amazing look at European action flicks by Paul Cooke and the owner of the above site.

Home Haunter’s Haven – The name says it all.

The Laughing Reindeer – Back in the day, there used to be a website called “Monster Shindig” that reviewed horror movies, roadside attractions and the like. Although it died, one of its creators set up this blog. Did I mention that he was one of the people responsible for Carnivore?

Monster Shindig – I found this while looking for information about the now-defunct monstershindig.com. It’s not related, but still seems cool.

3B Theater – Any bad movie review site inspired by Strange Brew is okay with me!

AV Maniacs – Formerly “DVD Maniacs.” Great reviews and an even greater forum!

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Free (Legal) Download: Werewolf Cult Chronicles

It’s been a long time since the Front Office showed how to get a free download of the movie Pig. Too long, in fact. That’s why I’m stepping up to the plate with another free movie download. This time around, it’s an interconnected series of short films called The Werewolf Cult Chronicles.

Although filmed in Sweden during the early 2000’s, the series itself is in English and spans a variety of time periods and countries, from 1916 England to Canada in the year 2019. Although the idea for the series came to creator J. Pingo Lindstrom in 2000, it was not until 2003 that the first installment was released. Said installment, Chimera, pits unsuspecting soldiers against a werewolf during an attempted rescue mission. While its low budget gives the series a rough start, director Mike A. Martinez still manages to deliver some effective and creepy scenes. The opening sequence alone is a must-see and does somewhat balance out the fact that only one of the werewolf’s hands (or is that paws?) is seen for the bulk of the creature’s rampage. However, later installments of the series do show more of their lupine stars.

According to the official website, where you can also find the downloads, The Werewolf Cult Chronicles is allegedly responsible for the creation of both the first Swedish werewolf movie and the first Swedish Vietnam war movie! And to think, they’re kind enough to let you download it for free. As it has a Creative Commons license, it might be worthwhile for budding horror hosts to ask the filmmakers for permission to use the films on their program rather than use the same old (and sometimes legally dicey) public domain films that everyone seems to be using these days. Said host shouldn’t let the recentness of the films bother them, as the older hosts they seek to emulate used films that were relatively recent. After all, 1950’s horror hostess Vampira showed movies from the 1930’s, the equivalent of a modern host showing films from the 1980’s. In fact, the legendary Svengoolie played 1999’s Ragdoll in 2004!

Marik Plays Bloodlines

Once upon a time, there was a Youtube user called LittleKuriboh who had an idea. He would reedit episodes of the anime series Yu-Gi-Oh! into shortened parodies. Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series became a smash hit and spawned countless other abridged series, along with some spin-off channels.

Despite not being a fan of the anime, I absolutely love Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series, even to the point where I’ve occasionally slipped some injokes about it into entries here. So when I found out LittleKuriboh had recently started a horror-related project, I was thrilled. Said project is a humorous play-through of the video game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines by the now-defunct Troika Games, done entirely in-character as the parody version of Marik Ishtar. The commentary by “Marik” (and his friend Bakura) is extremely funny and includes several references that are bound to please horror fans, with only a few injokes about the abridged series scattered throughout. Although it’s mostly new-viewer friendly, it should be noted that some of it is somewhat NSFW.

If you liked the above first installment, you can watch the rest of the series at its official Youtube channel. Some might ask “Why doesn’t this guy drop the injokes and just play the game as himself?” Thing is, he made a video showing why that would be a bad idea. So please, give this video a chance. I doubt you’ll regret it!

Tuesday uEtsy: Team Welser

[Etsy.com’s tagline is “Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.” Coincidentally, there’s a lot of spooky on Etsy, and each Tuesday, we highlight one of the sellers. If you’re looking to spruce up your look, redecorate your tomb or get a gift for that special something in your afterlife, Etsy.com is a place for spooky econo.]

Team Welser (http://www.etsy.com/shop/swelser)

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE vintage style movie poster

Winter has been overwhelming this time around. Unexpected snowfalls and negative temperatures have made the ground stubborn and unreceptive to any shovel-ready arguments. Thankfully, we’ve been very lucky this passing time. Haven’t heard of any major deaths or need for digging. Instead, it’s been a time for hibernation. A lot of people are staying indoors to avoid the winter altogether. A lot of movies watched, we suspect.

With that, we’re gland to display Team Welser for the first Tuesday uEtsy for 2011. Featuring the artwork of Mark Welser, Team Welser’s store has a wide variety of Welser’s original artwork of well known movies. These 50’s & 60’s throwback renditions of eighties and nineties cult and horror movies capture the essence even though the art is of a prior era. Take this print of ‘The Return of the Living Dead.’ Those who have seen the movie recognize the character played by Linnea Quigley, and how Welser’s design captures both the sex and the horror of this movie.

The Return of the Living Dead vintage style 5X7 print

Among classics like ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Friday the 13th,’ Team Welser also have covered modern horror flicks (soon-to-be-classics) like ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Zombieland,’ seen below. Poinsettia says that ‘Zombieland’ is one of her favorite movies. We couldn’t say. Our line of business has us deal enough with the departed that any kind of idea of ‘the dead rising from their graves’ indicates a poorly done job on the gravedigger’s part. Poinsettia, after finding out that we remain unaware of the seminal performance by one Woody Harrelson and company, has insisted we Netflix it. She brought it up again when she and the Freakshow family came around for the Union holiday parties. Loretta and Bernie are doing well, fyi.

Zombieland vintage style 5X7 print

Team Welser doesn’t just offer up movie posters and prints. Their store also has portraits of well known comic book superheroes and famous monsters. Along with the lovely soon-to-be Mrs. of the monster, you can find prints of the Wolfman, Dracula and the Frankenstein creature himself.

Bride of Frankenstein poster 11×17

A talented comic artist, one of the specialties offered by the Team Welser Etsy store is the Custom Comic Book Cover ‘Save The Dates.’ Since most weddings occur when the ground isn’t covered in two-to-four feet of snow and ice, the Front Office has received a few save-the-dates, making sure our calendar is well populated before we can escape and say that we had no idea that someone was getting married THAT weekend. Make sure that your wedding doesn’t get ditched like what we do to others by employing Team Welser to make custom Kirby-esque covers that make sure YOUR guests will not only remember the date, but actively count down until you say EXCELSIOR I DO! to your loved one.

Custom Comic Book Cover Wedding Save The Dates

Be sure to check out the Team Welser store for all the items showcased here and more. As well, Mark Welser has a Deviant Art account (markwelser.deviantart.com) and you can find him on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/markwelser. And you can find a new Tuesday uEtsy here next week.

Tales of Cthulhu


Cthulhu is an interesting case in the world of horror literature. Although easily the most popular of Lovecraft’s creations, so much so that the Lovecraftian interconnected literary universe is referred to as the Cthulhu mythos, he actually doesn’t make many actual appearances in the bulk of mythos tales. In H.P. Lovecraft’s original stories, Cthulhu only appears once in “The Call of Cthulhu,” then is only referenced in other stories. The closest thing to another physical appearance is the account of the star-spawn of Cthulhu’s battles with the Elder Things in “At the Mountains of Madness.”

The reason for Cthulhu’s scarcity is most likely due to both Lovecraft’s preference to suggest horror rather than show it outright and the phrase “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” Those who have read the “The Call of Cthulhu” know that it means which translates as “In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” As a being who can only awaken “when the stars are right” to destroy the world as humanity knows it, it makes little sense to have Cthulhu constantly awakening. Having a human protagonist repeatedly defeat him would destroy all sense of the Great Old One’s menace and having Cthulhu fulfill his destroy would drastically reduce the amount of stories that could be written in the same universe. No, it is far better to have Cthulhu wait silently in the background, as the idea of his rising is far more frightening than a story about it could ever be.

That said, Cthulhu is a very impressive monster and the temptation to use him in a story must be enormous for Mythos writers. Many have picked up where Lovecraft left off, with stories ranging from straight horror to pure comedy. One of the more infamous ones is August Derleth’s “The Black Island,” wherein an atomic bomb is dropped on Cthulhu! Although that tale is sadly unavailable online, I have gathered a nice little collection of other stories that involve Cthulhu in one way or the other:

“From the Parchments of Pnom” by Clark Ashton Smith is more of a description of the contents of a fictional book than it is a story, but it does offer some insights on Cthulhu, including a family tree!

Although sadly incomplete, the preview for Ian Watson’s “The Walker in the Cemetery” is enough to whet the reader’s interest. Like all the stories in the Cthulu’s Reign anthology, “The Walker in the Cemetery” deals with what happens to the world after Cthulhu rises. However, this story is unique in its depiction of Cthulhu. Not only does it feature multiple aspects of Cthulhu in various sizes, but a seven foot tall one traps a bunch of tourists in a never-ending Genoan cemetery and starts to slowly pick them off. Just keep in mind that it comes off more as a 80’s European gore movie (with some Rose of Iron thrown in for good measure) rather than a straight Lovecraft story.

Nick Mamatas’ full-length novel Move Under Ground also deals with Cthulhu’s awakening, this time done in Jack Kerouac’s Beat style. In fact, Kerouac is one of the main characters!

Neil Gaiman takes things in a more humorous direction in “I, Cthulhu.” In it, Cthulhu tells his life story to a servant with a very familiar last name.

“A Colder War” by Charles Stross takes us to an alternate version of the Cold War, one where the Russians have a secret weapon from a sunken undersea city…

Although Cthulhu only has a minor appearance of sorts in Bruce Turlish’s “The Final Pronunciation,” the importance of it cannot be denied and it has dire consequences for everyone involved (although not in the way one would expect).

Did you like the artwork used at the beginning of this article? It’s by a very talented artist named Cyril van der Haegen and has been used on the box art for the Call of Cthulhu Collectible Card Game published by Fantasy Flight Games. Both Fantasy Flight Games and the artist were kind enough to let me use that painting in this and if you like it, I hope that you’ll at least visit their websites (if not buy a copy of the game). Interestingly enough, said card game has “story cards” in it, which could potentially let players create their own tales of Cthulhu…

Thanks to Fantasy Flight Games and Cyril van der Haegen for use of the image!

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12 Interesting Things About Gigan

Hailing from Space Hunter Nebula M, the cyborg monster Gigan is one of the odder-looking members of Godzilla’s rogues gallery. With his massive hook-claws, visored eyes and chest-mounted buzzsaw, Gigan has made quite an impression on fandom since his first appearance in 1972. In recognition of this popular daikaiju, here’s a collection of interesting trivia ranging from basic facts to obscurities known by only the most hardcore of fans:

1. Although his first onscreen appearance was in Godzilla vs. Gigan, the character was originally supposed in the never-realized
Godzilla vs. the Space Monsters: Earth Defense Directive, which was retooled as The Return of King Ghidorah before the project got canned. However elements from those scripts were used in Godzilla vs. Gigan (which is reflected in the film’s Japanese title, Earth Destruction Directive: Godzilla vs. Gigan) and Godzilla vs. Megalon.

2. Despite what some might think, the name “Gigan” was not chosen due to its connection to the word “Gigantic.” Although it is true that the term “Gigan” has been applied to giant monsters before, Gigan’s name might actually be a play off the Japanese term for “artificial eye.”

3. Although Gigan is shown shooting a laser from his forehead in video games and the poster art for Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon, this power was never used in any of Gigan’s film appearances until 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars. The reason for this is explained here.


4. While reading the third volume of The Illustrated Night Parade of A Hundred Demons by Toriyama Sekien, I noticed that the monster Waira has arms similar to Gigan’s. Could this have been part of the inspiration for Gigan’s design?

5. Gigan’s final appearance in the Shōwa era was in the 11th episode of Zone Fighter, where he fought both Godzilla and the titular Zone Fighter.

6. Speaking of Zone Fighter, Gigan gained the ability to generate explosions with his hooks in his appearance on the show.

7. Similarly, Gigan got new powers in Godzilla: Final Wars, such as being able to fire grappling cables and razor sharp discs. Over the course of the film, Gigan’s arms are replaced with giant chainsaws. Also, he is given jetpacks to aid in flight and a barbed tail.

8. Gigan was originally played by Kenpachiro Satsuma (aka Kengo Nakayama), who also played Hedorah and went on to play Godzilla in the Heisei Godzilla series. In his most recent appearance, Gigan was portrayed by Kazuhiro Yoshida. I can’t say this with any certainty about Mr. Yoshida’s experience, but I do know that Mr. Satsuma’s costume had heavy claws and feet made from solid resin.

9. Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity has tracks called “Gigan Rocks” and “Gigan Device” featuring statues of a Giganlike creature.

10. In the 1980’s, an especially odd unlicensed Gigan toy was produced. This “Gigan” had eyes, two clawed digits on its hands and feet, a buzzsaw that started in the middle of its stomach and an odd color scheme. Someone even wrote in to G-Fan magazine about it, asking if it depicted how Gigan looked before he was converted into a cyborg!

11. Those who are familiar with the Trendmasters Godzilla toyline from the 1990’s might recall that the picture of Gigan on the packaging looked much different than the actual toy. That’s because it was (allegedly) a picture of a Japanese model Trendmasters had purchased to aid in designing their Gigan toy.

12. In his original appearances, Gigan was depicted as being 65 meters (about 213 feet) tall. For his 2004 revival, Gigan was boosted up to 120 meters (about 394 feet) tall!

Music to Haunt By: House of Nightmares

Buzz Works

Official Site

House of Nightmares, Monolith Graphics 2010


While browsing through the ol’ Google Analytics, the sheer number of people who read the Nox Arcana and Buzz Works installments of “Music to Haunt By” after searching for “House of Nightmares” convinced me that I simply had to review Buzz Works’ newest release.

Given how the above links already give the origins of Buzz Works and its Nox Arcana connection, let’s jump straight into the review. The titular track “House of Nightmares” opens with moaning, thunder and theremin-style wailing music. Tolling bells, a chanting male chorus and other sound effects add to the spooky feel created by the occasionally John Carpenter-esque music. Similarly, “Night Closes In” has something of a Carpenter feel to it. The pounding music gives one the sensation of time running out or being chased (perhaps that explains the moaning effects), while the contrasting music box-like chimes add to the sense of unease. I can easily see this track being used in a room setup involving a chase or perhaps even a haunted nursery. The moans that close it out also leads the listener into “Book of the Dead,” where moaning and male vocals creepily chant over heavy, pounding music. Haunters should find that this will greatly enhance the feel of a room containing a spooky-looking spellbook prop, especially if it’s played so low that it can only be heard when people approach the book. In fact, you can make it even scarier if you use a motion sensor that starts playing the music when people get close enough.


“Darkness Rising” features somewhat dreamy music that is soon overtaken by darker music and the sound of a beating heart. “Dead Time” appropriately begins with a clock ticking, then strings and pounding piano notes are combined with with wordless female vocals. The harpischord is used to great effect here, and it further adds to the sense of danger and the otherworldly. As an added bonus, this track’s length makes it ideal for looping. “The Ruins” starts off softly and then gradually builds up. The whispering and music definitely makes you feel like you’re in an ancient, haunted place. There’s a rain or fire effect that can be heard at points as well. I personally would have preferred it to not be used, but it doesn’t hurt the track. It’s just something to keep in mind if you want to use it for a haunted room or crypt scene. “The Forgotten Crypt” uses a steady deep note with alternating light, chime-like notes and pounding notes layered on top. The numerous scary sound effects are only icing on the cake. Despite the name, it can be used in many haunt scenes and the light touches could let it work in a haunted nursery scene.

The medium, pounding buildup of “Well of Souls” reminds me of a rock song starting, but the rest of the track is eerie rather than rocking. There’s also a feel of danger and movement felt amongst the pounding notes, which allow the track to be looped for use in more than just a scene involving a bottomless pit effect. “The Descent” has a light industrial feel to this, although the female vocals lend an unearthly feel to it. I think the prior track conveyed a sense of descent better, but this track would work wonders in a haunted factory or boiler room setting. “The Summoning” has a perfect spooky opening that just screams horror. Breathing and moans, followed by thunder, precede a spoken chant that summons the forces of darkness. The chant, presumably read by Joseph Vargo, can also be found in the CD’s enclosed booklet. Pounding music and heavy horns signal the coming of the “Ancient Evil” summoned by the previous track. Moans and the occasional burst of chanting add to the feel of a powerful being rushing into our world.

“The Black Abyss” has great eerie, otherworldly opening music and sounds, plus some monstrous groans and dripping. It’s perfect for looping in cave scenes and bottomless pit setups. “Shadow Dwellers” starts with soft, steady pounding notes with lighter material and creepy sounds layered on top. However, it then goes into heavier pounding music (including some guitar and harpischord work)and tolling bells. It is bound to evoke the image of something creeping around while on the prowl. The rock-style opening of “Bridge Between Worlds” does have an otherworldly feel thanks to its sound effects and interesting musical variations, but it might not be to everyone’s tastes. I can easily see this working in a vortex tunnel. Slow, pounding music and effects make “On the Prowl” live up to its name, wherein bursts of Halloween theme-style guitars alternate with heavy piano work.

“Devil’s Night” has pounding notes and noise that fall somewhere between tribal drums and an “industrial” sound. Naturally, these are paired with moaning chants and spooky sounds. The bells and female vocals play off each other especially well. The distorted chimes and heavy sound effects of “The Nether Realm” transport listener to another world filled with danger. The bubbling-like effects that pop up at times might seem odd, but could benefit some setups, such as a vortex tunnel leading to a room with lava effects. In “Hallow’s Eve,” effective organ work leads to a soft harpischord and even softer moans. But the moans increase and pounding notes join in soon, as do the bells. The pounding notes of “Unleashed” increase and decrease to create impression of something being freed and chasing someone (or something). Heavy piano notes are used occasionally, while moaning chants add to the bells and other effects. It could used in a variety of settings, but I think playing it can add an extra “oomph” to the final scene of a haunted attraction or put some additional excitement to a darkened hallway.

This CD has cemented my conviction that Buzz Works is not simply Nox Arcana working under another name. The musical presence of Jeff Hartz, both in terms of playing and writing abilities, are undeniable and set both this and Zombie Influx apart from the (also awesome) style of Nox Arcana. That said, Joseph Vargo does retain enough of that style so that Buzz Works albums will still appeal to the Nox Arcana fanbase.

House of Nightmares is a definite “must have” for both haunters and those who like to play scary music and effects while handing out candy on Halloween. Were it not for a few minor details in select tracks, I would say this would be the perfect CD for use in any haunt setup. That said, it is pretty darn close and it’s easy to program a CD or .mp3 player to skip over any tracks that don’t fit the mood you’re trying to create. I should also stress that these albums exist because their artists have set out to tell a story, not to make haunted house soundtrack CDs.

Special thanks to Monolith Graphics for the review copy!

Julebukking

While discussing the Krampus with some family members, my mother mentioned that, during her pregnancy with me, a Swedish aunt of hers had told her of a deer or goatlike creature called the “Julebukk” which helped pull Santa’s sleigh.

From what I’ve been able to tell, the tradition started with the legend of the Norse god of thunder, Thor! Thor was said to ride across the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr (roughly translated as “Toothgnasher” and “Toothgrinder”), the sound of which created the sounds of thunder rumbling. According to the “Prose Edda,” Thor was known to kill the goats in order to have food, which he would share with others. After the meal finished, Thor would use his powers to revive them as if nothing happened. This led to a now-defunct Swedish winter tradition of having someone dress up as a goat, pretend to get sacrificed and is later “revived.” But as Christianity spread throughout Europe, all references to Thor were stripped away and the creature was transformed into a Yule Goat or “Julebukk” (roughly translated as “Christmas buck”).


But the Julebukk was no mere goat. Some traditions said it was half human, while in others, it is a nasty beast that frightens children. But over time, this was softened into a friendly, magic goat that brings presents and tells funny poems. Naturally, this was merely a family member or friend dressed in a costume. Although Father Christmas (aka Santa Claus) eventually took over such duties, the goat became his assistant in some cultures. In some places, the Yule goat figure was actually turned into a human Santa Claus figure! That said, the Julebukk’s nasty past wasn’t completely removed from the character, as the newer depiction also has a mischievous streak. Also, straw Yule Goats became popular Christmas ornaments among Scandinavian cultures. In fact, the downstairs mantle of my childhood home had a straw Julebukk decorating it, but I had never knew of its significance until recently.

The Julebukk also led to the tradition of Julebukking (aka “Christmas fooling”), which involves going door to door for treats in disguise between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Originally, carrying a goat’s head was part of the tradition, but that was phased out in favor of just wearing goatish costumes. Julebukking traditions vary, but all share the basic idea of going from house to house in disguise to get treats. Does anyone else think that sounds kind of familiar? As for the various traditions, some hold that Julebukkers disguise their voices and body language and don’t go to the next house until their identity is uncovered while another tradition requires the singing of Christmas songs. Sometimes a person from the visited home will be required to join the Julebukkers on their trip to the next home! It’s not just practiced in Europe, either. According to this, there are still some communities in the US that still continue this ancient tradition. If any of our readers do this, we hope that you’ll post your favorite Julebukking memories and pictures here.