Category Archives: Creature Features

Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988’s “The Blob”

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Features: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

I don’t care how stubborn, or pompous this may sound: Computer generate all the damn monsters you want with the world’s greatest CGI program and programmer running it. It still won’t look better than practical effects and I certainly can’t appreciate it as much. The perfect example of such splendid monster-movie-magic is of course, Chuck Russell’s vision of the 1950’s Sci-Fi B movie, The Blob jello-molding it’s way into 1988.

 Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988's "The Blob"

Thinking back to my childhood years, I clearly remember my first interaction with this glorious film, that at the time, I had no idea was a remake. In a pre-internet era and films relying on physical media such as TV spots and the good old-fashioned newspaper to get the word out. The one other way to draw unsuspecting fans into a film post-theater release, was the almighty VHS box art that would stare at you from the lined-shelves of the horror section like a haunted painting. This film, like many others of that time, sold itself to a tiny Patti with the cover-art alone that both intrigued and terrified me as a child. The simple showcase of what I later learned to be Paul’s fate displayed on the front of the rental, initially scared the shit out of seven-year-old me. I’m not entirely sure why, as growing up in a horror-loving-household watching Halloween at the tender age of two, this piece of art gave me the skeevies. I can distinctly remember only a few VHS horror art covers having that sort of effect on me. For almost 2 years, that pink, gooey man screaming at me through the art cover taunted me every time the parental units and I made a family trip to our local Action Video for the weekend rentals. And it wasn’t until I was allowed to ride my bike across the busy street by my damn self I was cut loose to roam the horror shelves of that mom and pop video store and rent freely on my own. Whatever I wanted. So of course, I gravitated to that jerkoff blobby Paul who has been tormenting the hell out of me. I had to see what this was about just based on this one picture alone. And now, 30 years later, it has become one of my all-time favorites.

Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988's "The Blob"

 

Which brings me to the point here: That one image from the film doused in practical effects reeled me in and like many films before this gem in the ’80s, was balls-deep with beautifully done man-made monster magic. From Paul’s tragic demise to Vicki being eaten from the inside-out, The Blob is filled to the brim with dazzling and believable imagery that STILL looks better than a lot of modern day effects. The team responsible for igniting a fear of jello-molds everywhere was that of Tony Gardner, Chet Zar, and Bill Sturgeon of Alterian Studios. Who have since released some REALLY FUCKIN’ COOL behind the scenes stills on making that “extraterrestrial” man-eating glob that every fan of the film should take a gander at.

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LONG LIVE PRACTICAL EFFECTS.

Creature Features: The Mucho-Ecological, Man-Eating Lake Blob From “Creepshow 2”

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Features: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

Firstly, I would never bullshit you guys. Outside of a slimy little extraterrestrial asshole with an unnaturally long neck pointing his glowing fingers at everything trying to phone home, and a demon reverend with 20,000 teeth singing hymns on rainy days, and a mechanical shark, not a whole lot scared me as a kid. In fact, I grew up on horror movies and was schooled at the tender age of three with the beautiful Universal Monsters collection via my grandfather, and my father who introduced me to Halloween.  Apparently, I used to dance around to the Halloween music with poms-poms at this age- I still don’t want to believe I was that cool that early on, but I’m just going to go with that. So yeah, embracing the horror since the potty-training days making me somewhat desensitized to a lot, it took something special to get me shakin’. Aside from what I mentioned above, and to be honest here there’s probably more that I’m just not thinking of at this moment, one thing I DO recall from my youngin’ years scaring the ever-loving shit out of me, was the mucho-ecological Lake Blob from Creepshow 2‘s, The Raft.

Creature Features: The Mucho-Ecological, Man-Eating Lake Blob From

What the hell is that thing, Poncho? Well, this pre-1988 Blob of sludge is never really explained, even thirty years after its theatrical release. We know it’s hungry, (I guess) and once it nabs its carnivorous entrée, the object completely dissolves into the Lake Blob and seemingly becomes a part of it. As we can see through various shots throughout The Raft, this “oil slick”, as the four teens refer to it, has pockets of waste and I swear I’ve seen bones in this damn thing, as it moves along patiently awaiting its next meal. I’ve looked for these answers friends as to WHAT EXACTLY IT IS or WHERE IT CAME FROM. And until I have the opportunity to actually ask Stephen King himself, or anyone who worked on the film, I may never fully know for sure. However, I have my own theory…

I could just be taking this whole thing to an unnecessary level of deep-rooted fuckery, but hear me out. What if, the Lake Blob is a metaphor for Mother Nature and the havoc we have wreaked on poor Mother Earth. Let’s face it guys. We’re kind of dicks to this planet, and history and well, science has shown us those facts. Maybe this Lake Blob is Earth’s middle finger to humankind; because clearly it has a thing for humanoids with an occasional side of passerby duck. With each death via Lake Blob, the victim is engulfed by the slick creature’s globule tendons and pulled into its aura, dissolving into its sludgy mass. Thus, making the prey part of the predator now. Or for lack of a better term, back to the Earth you go you polluting Homo Sapien. With the initial meeting of the Blob and the four teens at the lake, this thing immediately comes and confronts them. Randy does point out that this thing, “doesn’t look like an accident… it looks like it’s on purpose.” Then it proceeds to consume Rachel in the most horrifying way imaginable. And for the record, is the scene that totally scared the crap out of me from wanting to swim in ANY LAKE EVER.

Although, I bet Tarman from ROLD would be into her.

Lake Blob Creepshow 2

Of course, feel free to tell me I’m completely way off base here. If that be the case, let’s hear your theories below! Until next time kiddies and in the meantime, steer clear of any isolated bodies of water.

Creature Feature: The Skeevie Inducing Norris-Thing

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Feature: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

Last October, some friends, the better half, and myself witnessed the glorious spectacle of John Carpenter live in concert. Now, normally I never bother to leave my Gollum cave of gloom and somber for shows and concerts these days unless it’s totally worth sliding some pants on for. But hey, this was John fuckin’ Carpenter and his orchestra playing the theme songs to some of horror’s finest films- his films. I sure as shit wasn’t going to pass this up and just as I had expected, it was a night to never be forgotten. From Halloween, They Live, and of course today’s focal point The Thing, it was a perfect way to head into Devil’s Night last October.

#thething #johncarpenter #horrormovies

A post shared by Patti Pauley (@misshorrorghoul) on

With what is arguably (I guess) one of John Carpenter’s greatest pieces of cinematic art turning 36 this week, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk a little about the goddamn Norris-Thing. In the 1982 film, we see a handful of variations of this “thing” ranging from an ordinary human, a cute husky, also a not-so-cute halfway transformed husky, to well-something ungodly such as this. Which in itself, comes in three (3) count em, forms of infested Norris all in under five minutes.

Beautiful.

Nightmare Nostalgia -The Thing 1982

The poor geologist at the heart of the chaos located at Outpost 31 had suffered a heart attack, (could you really blame the guy for his life-pumper giving out under the circumstances?) His fellow comrades rushed a dying Norris to the medical ward in an attempt to jump-start his heart and holy eight-legged-fucks was that the worst idea ever.

In the case anyone here is unfamiliar haven not seen the film (for-shame), The Thing centers around a parasitic extraterrestrial life force that likes to imitate other organisms, thus ensuring an overabundant amount of paranoia in the group as everyone suspects each other as an “infected host”.

We good? Ok, back to Norris dying on the table.

Anyway, the defibrillator is shocking away and low and behold everyone, Norris was indeed a host for this otherworldly leech as the thing begins to extract himself from the ribcage of Norris and immediately defend itself. Norris’ chest transforms into a jaw trap so powerful, even Bruce the shark would be a little envious. After chomping away at what the Thing deems as an attack on itself, (stupid alien doesn’t know what a heart attack is), it mutates even further into a Norris-Snake-Thing that again, would give Freddy-Snake a run for his money. Enter the action of Kurt Russell, our epically bearded hero to the rescue and a flame-thrower to the Norris-Thing it is.  In the midst of the fire and flames, the Norris-Thing head tears away from its presently incinerating body, grows some spider-like legs and Linda Blair crab-walks it’s happy little self across the room inducing all the skeevies and dingleberries from fellow Outposters.

A few thoughts:

As I so eloquently stated above, it always sort of bothered me how this alien parasite didn’t realize he had copied a defective heart along with the rest of Norris. I guess I would just assume the alien would automatically see through that flaw with some alien-type goggles in its DNA, but we all know when you assume, you make an ass out of “u” and me. It’s just a little thing that I always thought about during that scene, not slamming it all mind you. Just sharing what goes on with hamster wheel in my head.

What makes this scene in particular so effectively terrifying above all others, (IMHO), is the “thing” shows just what lengths it will go to survive. Sure the monster magic is insanely gorgeous. I might even say, revolutionary for its time. And sure enough, induces all the skeevies inside you to come popping out to say, “Oh hello old friend!” Especially if you have a phobia of snakes, spiders, or severed heads with insect legs altogether. The point of the matter is, like a true ’80s slasher, it comes coming. It has an agenda and will stop at nothing to reach its goal. This “thing” could literally be anywhere, anyone, or any living thing. That’s the really terrifying part, my friends.

Because it takes a village to raise a child, and apparently a huge team of artists to make movie magic like this happen, I wanted to include this clip from CineFix. Which wonderfully showcases some behind the scenes action, facts, and trivia with director John Carpenter, Norris (Charles Hallahan), and crew involving this scene in particular. Also, here’s an Amazon link because right now, there’s a hot deal on the Blu-Ray for only $7.88!! If you don’t own it yet, now is a great time to snatch this classic up.

Happy Unofficial Thing Day!

Creature Feature Presents – Rabies! It Is A Silent Predator And It’s All Around Us.

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Feature: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

Welcome back to the horror show, my nasties. Oh, do I have a good one for you this time around. What could possibly be more bone-chilling than the harsh terrors of everyday life? All it takes is one thing going horrifically wrong to find ourselves entombed within the depths of our very own private little horror show. Oh, it’s quite one thing to be reading about a good, ghastly tale from the comforts of your bed where nothing awaits in the shadows. There’s nothing stalking you in the corner, or silently waiting for you to fall asleep from its perch down the hallway, or standing patiently behind the closet door. As you read that Jack Ketchum book you know in your mind you are – for a damn good certainty – safe.

Then, out of the blue, you hear it. The lonesome howl of the neighbor’s dog, a pooch you’ve pet many times and know very well. Only now there is something unwholesome in the sound he is making under the moon. It’s not the voice you’ve known all these years. This one is feral, touched with sickness, with a disease that it now must spread, an illness dripping from a foaming maul snarling with bloodlust.

IMDB
image via IMDB

This is no demon from Hell, no ghoul from the grave, and it’s not a figment of the imagination. As the dog pounds all of its weight against your screen door, the reality of how soon life can become terrifying hits home a little too well. The thing you see on a daily basis, the friendly pet next door, has suddenly become the instrument of your vicious demise.

This is true horror. This is the genius of Stephen King when he penned the novel Cujo. It’s not about a killer dog, though that essence is there. He wrote a story about how quickly an ordinary life can turn to shit before you have a chance to wipe your ass.

Horror Freak News
image via Horror Freak News

There are a lot of killer dog movies out there actually, but Cujo brings the horror home. After all, what would happen if the neighbor’s dog got rabies? What would you do if your own pet got infected? It all began with a simple little bat bite and it all went to Hell from there.

No monster. No black magic involved.

Just pure dumb bad luck. That’s all it was.

The same can be said for the brilliant international horror, REC. Just a news reporter following firemen around to record their daily activities. And all it took was answering the wrong emergency call for all Hell to break loose. Before they knew it, this untrained newscast found themselves locked inside of an apartment complex where – one by one – the residents fall victim to a bad case of rabies.

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image via Letterboxd

This setting alone is disturbing. I used to live on the seventeenth floor of a similar apartment complex. Very alarming to imagine being locked inside during that kind of an outbreak.

Rabies is a common threat that we no longer take seriously. However, as unlikely as it is to face off against demonic entities, a pack of werewolves, or a moaning hoard of zombies, rabies is a very real possibility in our world. It’s that silent horror waiting on the outside of the mind, undetected and comfortably ignored. That is until something goes terribly wrong.

Wheres The Jump
image via Where’s The Jump?

As in the case of I Drink Your Blood and I Eat Your Skin (lovely title, am I right?), a boy very stupidly extracts some tainted blood from a dead dog he knows had rabies. The little fucking bastard then injects said blood into some meat pies that are eaten by townspeople. Yup, they now have to deal with rabid gang members, because, why not?

This is exploitation at its finest. Gritty, gross and absurd.

The infection is not though. Our bodies, our terrifying factories really. We think we’re in charge but oh how fragile that control turns out to be. Against our will, sickness and infection can turn our own bodies into a monstrosity out to do nothing less than send us to the grave.

Let’s return back to Cujo for a moment. He wasn’t a bad dog, but quite the opposite. Loving, gentle and protective of his family. However, once the sickness set in, he no longer could distinguish right from wrong or the good dog from the bad dog. He set out against anyone indiscriminately. The disease baking his doggy senses only left room for one thing to make any lick of sense – kill, kill, kill! To make the pain go away, kill until it stopped hurting.

That’s how good horror works, and may we each only experience it from the safety of our TV’s. On the screen, we watch as normal and everyday homes get turned inside out by horrific events far beyond their control. There are predatory forces out there conspiring against our well-being, and may they only ever exist within the pages of a good read or the TV.

Take care my nasties! Stay healthy.

Be sure to tune in here for more of those warm retro fuzzies, those good old fashion creepies, and for more Creature Feature to come!

I’ll be catching you later.

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD DVD

REC DVD

CUJO DVD

 

Creature Feature: Reverend Kane, the Most Underrated Villian in Horror History

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Feature: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve. 

On the heels of a recent Poltergeist II movie anniversary and what would have been the 98th birthday of one Julian Beck, we won’t just tip any hat, but our oversized black felt-wool head-huggers and sing the gospel of all the “Holy Temples” to the man who gave everything, including his failing health, to a character that will forever be burned into our brains as one of the downright scariest in horror history.

Born on May 31, 1925, Julian Beck wore many hats in the entertainment business, not just the creepy pastor topper we’ve all come to associate him with via Poltergeist II. The on-screen preacher began his love affair with the arts and dabbled in painting abstract expressionist pieces in the early 1940’s until meeting his future wife, Judith Malina who had a tremendously immense passion for the theatre. The love-connection turned into theater history and the pair later founded the prestigious, and often controversial, Living Theater which focused on giving the audience an immersive and shocking experience to take home, reflect, and learn from. Beck, a self-proclaimed anarchist who on several occasions had plenty of trouble with the law, lived by the saying, “If one can experiment in theater, one can experiment in life.”  With close to 40 years of embracing these types of convictions inside and out of the theater, Beck’s finest hour came (kind of ironically), in the on-screen role as a passed-on pastor from another time who beat to his own drum as well. I’d say in a way more terrifying and psychotic manner, but you catch my drift here.

 

 

Keeping in horror franchise tradition, (although usually via accident-you never know if a sequel will follow) we normally don’t get a whole lot of backstory on the main antagonist. As a matter of fact, the name of Henry Kane was never mentioned once during the first film. Good ole’ Tangina warned of a malevolent presence in the home that she referred to as only, “the beast”. The Other Side, the follow-up four years after the original Cuesta Verde neighborhood nightmare gives us all the answers and a face to said beast with, of course, Julian Beck. And because of his creepy ass performance, I briskly walk a little bit faster past any senior living communities.

His soft-spoken demeanor could go from 0-100 real quick during his little temper tantrums, giving way to a visual about 8,000 teeth in the man’s mouth. Of course, I’m exaggerating a tad but I’d call you a liar if you didn’t think he had an extra set of chompers in there when his face twisted with anger. Besides angry dentures and walking around softly singing culty hymns, Kane’s dagger of a stare was enough on its own to make you avoid this dude walking down the street. Proving that an over-abundant amount of gore and make-up aren’t needed to give someone the skeevies. Not to take anything away from Kane’s other forms in the film including that incredibly EPIC H.R. Giger Tequila-Worm vomit monster (played by Noble Craig). But as Carol Anne said herself in Poltergeist III, “remember, less is more.”

Hr Giger

Unfortunately, however, Beck’s look of a resurrected corpse throughout the film wasn’t movie magic but due to a 1983 diagnosis of the often fatal pancreatic cancer. Beck knew his days on Earth were coming to an end and gave everything he had to the role that launched his name into horror infamy. Often in pain on set, and if you look closely into his eyes via the clip above it’s painfully obvious, Beck used his unfortunate circumstances and threw himself into the role of the nefarious cult leader. Little Heather O’Rourke herself was so frightened by his unfiltered skeletal appearance, she burst into tears upon the pair’s first meeting.

I would have run like a bitch too sweetheart.

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Today on the anniversary of the life of one Julian Beck, we appreciate his dedication to a role that was to be his last, and sadly never lived to see on screen. I can also appreciate that due to the Kane character, I’ve never wanted to open my door on a rainy day; especially to an elderly gentleman on the other end. Thanks for the eternal nightmares Reverend.