Then you really might know what it’s like to have to lose.”
We first met the equally gifted and cursed Will Graham in Thomas Harris’ 1981 novel, Red Dragon, the best-seller that also introduced us to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Outside of our imaginations, however, it would be almost five years before we would see the purposeful-looking profiler in flesh and blood on screen in Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986), and another 16 before his last theatrical appearance in Red Dragon (2002).
From the novel, and subsequent films, we understood Graham to possess the uncomfortable and unwelcome talent of pure empathy, an ability to assume the point of view of brutal killers. While it was an ability that allowed him to translate evidence in a way that others simply could not, Harris’ words informed us of the toll it took on Graham, but it was a phenomenon that we’d never truly witnessed on-screen.
Until Bryan Fuller resurrected the Lecter universe with NBC’s groundbreaking Hannibal series in 2013.
Do you see?
After more than thirty-one years, two films and a novel, we were finally given the opportunity to truly observe Will Graham for the first time through the brilliant vehicle that is Hugh Dancy.
Prior to the opening scene of the program’s initial episode, we’d only been offered glimpses of what Graham could conjure through his unique imagination. Be it with William Petersen talking himself through the thought process in Manhunter, or the briefest of visions presented through the lens of Edward Norton’s reluctant voyeur, we never truly delved into Will Graham’s mind.
Hannibal set about changing that, and while this writer will be the first to say that Mads Mikkelsen’s Lecter is the finest portrayal of the cannibalistic caretaker, the reason that the television series soared for 39 episodes was the presentation of Will Graham.
As Damian Swift and Mark Shannon were the first to achieve the feat of penning Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) as not only human, but human being with Friday the 13th (2009), Fuller and company allowed a similar peek behind the curtain. Graham was no longer an edgy, hesitant hero with hundreds of thousands of miles on his engine, but for the first time, the price of Graham’s gift was put on full display.
Darcy’s exhibition of Graham was closer to self-diagnosed Asperger’s and autism than a jaded veteran detective. Interaction was not just difficult, but strained and stressful. Not once was there an I-told-you-so revelation that altered the approach to a case, but rather a sad, reserved interpretation of “the ugliest thoughts in the world.”
The beauty of Hannibal, and of Darcy’s portrayal, was another line from Everlast’s “What it’s Like,” – “God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes” — a lyric that applied not only to Graham, allowing himself into the headspace of a psychopath, but to the audience that embarked on that same journey through Graham’s eyes.
And Fuller’s Hannibal wasted no time in communicating that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.
That first view found Graham analyzing the surroundings of a crime scene, then rewinding to the very moment he’d summoned the courage to kick the door in and experience the heinous thoughts, actions and sentiments of the perpetrator.
Graham entered the home with confidence, and upon putting down Mr. Marlow (Wayne Downer), emphatically declared “He will die watching me take what is his away from him. This is my design.” Next, he shot Mrs. Marlow (Bernadette Couture) “expertly through the neck,” paralyzing her before she hit the floor, setting up the first true indication that this was not the Will Graham we’d thought we known over the course of three decades.
Graham slowly walked toward the downed victim and said “which doesn’t mean that she can’t feel pain,” his eyes searching for the words, Dancy whispered a tormented “It just means,” before continuing “she can’t do anything about it.”
The empathy of Graham not only allowed him to adopt unwanted points of view, he also empathized with the victim, and the awful thoughts and visions running through his mind.
Graham would go on to point out that the work Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) had recruited him to do was “not good for (him),” as we laid eyes upon the incredibly expensive emotional, psychological and physical tax of Graham’s imagination.
Hannibal’s Will Graham was not a damaged, yet contented family man who didn’t want to look anymore, he was unstable and fractured long before he stepped foot inside the Marlow home. A fragile tea cup whose crevices were sure to weaken every time he opened his eyes. Or closed them.
And it was Dancy who made each new fissure at once agonizing and exquisite, in a beautiful turn that if we’re honest about it, is the very reason fans continue to clamor for a fourth season, almost three years after Hannibal was taken off the air.
Because of Hugh Dancy, there is still a desire, dare I say a need, to borrow Will Graham’s imagination.
Chances are if you’re a long-time horror fan you’ve lived to see your favorite horror movie fall under the Remake Guillotine. ‘Guillotine,’ I think that’s somewhat fitting. Makes the process sound just as scary as we imagined it would be. We dreaded the news that Halloween, Poltergeist, The Omen, Fright Night and Last House On the Left were all lined up to be decapitated so new filmmakers could inspect the intimate moist jelly of some of the greatest minds behind titanic horror titles. Often times our beloved movies were nothing more than a quick cash in as studios banked on making bank just from a film’s title alone. Nightmare on Elm Street’s name would be more than enough to pull in an audience, or so it was believed. However, that movie proved to be dismal at the box office and left studio heads standing around scratching their scalps trying to figure out why. That’s part of the problem – the people (mostly) behind making these remakes do not get what made the original movies great, to begin with.
Slashers and exploitation films seem to have fallen victim most of all to this post-current trend. Both genres are notorious for their graphic use of sexuality and violence; normally, both are used interchangeably as a grotesque malformation of Life and Death. That’s the essential formula of the Slasher and Exploitation genres.
These are movies that elicit very negative feelings from their audience. We find ourselves somehow trapped within the Hellish circumstances of the tragic heroes and victims we set out with. For nearly two hours we will have our senses assaulted by hyped-up violence and the glamorization of helplessness against cruelty. Should you enter this seedy underworld of depravity and carnage don’t be surprised if you feel the need to shower once the credits roll. No one would blame you either. These are disgusting places we must stomp through. The topics handled inside are seldom pleasant.
Who in the new millennium would dare venture out with the goal to remake some of the most notorious titles in cinematic history? Never in my life did I ever think someone would get the gumption to remake I Spit on Your Gave. Then, that remake inspired two sequels, and, admittedly, I really enjoy the second movie in the trilogy. It offered us something new out of the familiar rape-and-revenge slough. But the idea alone that it was greenlit in the first place is astonishing!
What Remakes Get Right/Wrong
I remember back in the late 90’s someone had the bright idea to remake Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho. Why in the world was that ever an option? Just why? The movie happened and is nothing more than a shot-for-shot retelling of a film classic. Of course, it doesn’t hold a candle to the master’s vision. Now, on the other hand, the Psycho lore was rebooted via Bates Motel on TV and gained a successful fan following. Why did it work? Because it offered viewers something different out of the familiar lore.
Praise is due to the show Hannibal for accomplishing similar success. They managed to retell a section of the lore which we already knew, but they did it in a manner that had fans hooked and desperate to see what new grotesque beauties awaited us each subsequint episode. The storyline of Red Dragon has already had two cinematic interpretations, but this time around – even though it was technically the third retelling – it offered us something exquisitely new and innovative. Proving how the retelling of a familiar lore can (and should) be should be handled.
That’s where remakes work! That’s the key, the masterstroke of success! You see, I don’t attack remakes, I attack bad movies, and sadly most movies that are remade just suck. But there are plenty that gets it right. In the case of Hannibal, initially, I wasn’t prepared to like the series. How happy was I to be wrong once I realized how beautiful and profound this show was determined to be. It brought the stories to life, more like breathed new life into the characters, thus demonstrating how to do things properly.
Films like The Fly, The Thing, all of Hammer’s Dracula and Frankenstein movies, and even last year’s IT all proved to be successes. Why? Well, as I’ve already mentioned with Bates Motel and Hannibal, these movies work as remakes simply because they give us a brand new look at the familiar material. We’re not forced to watch a shot-for-shot retelling of a beloved title.
With the original The Thing, society was eaten alive with a growing paranoia that Communists could be living right next door. Who can you trust when there could be a dirty Red hiding just beyond your own front door? The Cold War was in full effect and was reflected in the spooky movies of that time. When Carpenter released his updated take, The Thing no longer spoke about ‘neighbor danger,’ but focused on the terror growing in our own bodies. The 80’s decade was a war on drugs and unsafe sex. AIDS was a real threat and people were terrified. One moment a person could appear just fine and healthy, the next that same person would be diagnosed with a terrifying disease that would end in the grave. Society was very aware of how quickly our own bodies could turn viciously against us if we weren’t careful.
The Thing became a cautionary tale about how the body can transform with a viral enemy inside of us ready to malform our anatomy to suit its own selfish purposes. It’s no surprise that it was released during a time when people were being warned of cancer. It got to be that everything would give a person cancer. People couldn’t even feel safe breathing in the air they inhaled for fear of second-hand smoking – and you guessed it, that gave you cancer too. When you look at The Thing it’s a hideous amalgamation of swollen tumors that destroy and ruin all they touch. The movie was not well received in its day, but has now grown to cult fandom and is praised as one of the best sci-fi horror films of all time.
The remake of The Fly is about losing control of one’s own body. All it took was one innocent night of carelessness. This body-horror classic has an underlining theme of cautionary sex, it may not be noticed at first, but once it is it’s hard to deny. Our unfortunate hero (Jeff Goldblum) gets infected by an experiment gone deathly wrong. He took every precaution. He crouches himself into the womb-shaped sanctity of the teleporter he’s built. Everything is a go, but unforeseen to him, a single freak chance of fate happens beyond his grasp, a fly lands in the teleporter and the two become merged as one entity. The consequences are dire for him. It was a simple accident, one slip of chance and all of a sudden it doesn’t matter how cautious he was. He is infected, but he hasn’t really realized it yet. He has sex with his girlfriend because of course, he does. Once she learns of his disturbing fate his girlfriend (Geena Davis) has some vivid dreams about the consequences of sleeping with her infected lover. I’m saying the word ‘consequences’ an awful lot, but that’s what this movie is all about. It’s pretty obvious that the social fear of venereal consequences is in play here.
I’m not one to argue that a good horror movie has to have come underlining social message in it to make it good. It could be simple coincidence, or maybe some deep thought was put into the making of those films. However, my point was, in the case of these remakes and what made them work, they weren’t just a rehash of the original source material. They were social up to date and played on the current fears of the people. If you make a horror film then you better at least try to aim at scaring your audience for fuck’s sake.
The only way you can scare an audience is by engaging them with the characters, make what scares them scare us, and then, after earning our trust rip our hearts out. That’s horror.
There’s no doubt people hate Rob Zombie still for remaking Halloween, one of horror’s most cherished films. To this day that movie stands like a plague in the minds of many fans. But this is what I’ve gathered from most of the people who hate it. They seem to praise the first half of the movie but curse the latter half. The first half of the film is a complete departure from Carpenter’s vision. It’s a gritty and uncomfortable look at a domestic meltdown.
Michael is from a highly dysfunctional household. The making for disaster is found early on in the movie’s opening. Michael’s upbringing is anything but nurturing. His mother’s boyfriend is a screaming, foul-mouthed abusive man who taunts Michael every chance he can. Being the only male role-figure in his life, the man is only too happy to mock Michael’s premature sexuality, calling him girly names that almost echo John Gacy’s own abusive relationship with his dad. Even Michael’s older sister throws around oddly arousing jokes at his expense. For adults, we can laugh at sick shit like this, but this is all very damaging for the young psyche of an impressionable growing boy.
To top things off, his mother is a local stripper and her intimate way of living is constantly thrown in Michael’s face by the run-of-the-mill shitheads at school. Combine all of this and you have the gathering elements of the perfect storm. One of destruction, pain, and misery. It will not feel empathy, it will be cut off from the social norms of what’s acceptable and what’s illegal. You have the disturbed making of a true psychopath.
This is the household environment that spawns the likes of John Gacy, Albert Fish, and Edmond Kemper – all of them real-life boogeymen. Killers, slashers, serial rapists; monsters in suits of men.
This is not the Michael Myers we know, and that made him fascinating! This was a problem, a toxic danger that could be building right next door (or behind closed doors right upstairs). Were we going to get some actual psychological inside-looks into real-life murderers through the imaginative eyes of Michael Myers? Or, what I’m trying to say is, were we going to get inside of Myer’s mind? Would we see through the eyes of madness and true darkness all from behind his mask? It was really exciting. We already had a movie that followed the babysitters, so would this movie explore a very evil world that is hiding in plain sight all around us? That heinous world of the serial killer?
Oh, forget allllllllll about that, my nasties. It doesn’t take long for this to turn into a near shot-for-shot remake (oh sorry, ‘reimagining’) of Carpenter’s movie. People love to hate this movie and use it as the poster-child of poorly made remakes, but I have my own criticism of Zombie’s movie. That being: we almost had a great movie! Almost. Had Zombie just stuck with an original idea, something like following Michael’s journey into – not only madness – but also his heart of darkness; in essence, watch him become pure evil, and go on a blood-soaked murderous rampage. Make it an exploitation film, kinda like how it started out as.
It could have been great and I feel we got robbed.
And when it comes to Nightmare on Elm Street, instead of seeing the exact same movie we’ve all grown up with, why couldn’t we see the Springwood Slasher before he became the Dream Demon? Why not show us his vengeful demise at the hand of vigilante parents? Start out with him being a good neighbor, someone who would walk your dog for you. Someone you ask for an opinion, and who is glad to give it. Someone who loves his daughter and part of the PTA board. You know, like actual serial killers from the past? They always lived across the street. Why not give us that kind of movie, something we’ve not seen? Then pull the rug out from underneath us as we follow Fred Krueger down some very uncomfortable places, places where little skulls sit in the smoldering ash of a furnace deep in the depths of his boiler room.
Why not give us something like the rise of the Dream Demon?
Freddy could have come back and targeted the households of the parents who burned him alive and made it, oh I don’t know, something more relatable and personal to the families along Elm Street.
Eh, what I’m getting at is these remakes that are hated so much could have been good. They had potential and a chance, and that’s what I gave them – a chance.
Now whereas remakes don’t erase the original movie (thankfully), they do pose a problem for audiences nonetheless. A person can watch a really bad remake and not want to give the original a chance.
Imagine if someone watched that awful Fog remake and then had no desire to see the original one? They would be missing out on a great experience. I kind of dealt with that. Thanks to Quarantine I had no interest in seeing [REC], like at all. In fact, I only just watched [REC] this year. That’s the problem with bad remakes – they may turn people off of some really amazing movies.
Not to mention we now have to distinguish which movie we’re talking about. My best friend was so happy when she bought me Night of the Demons for my birthday. It’s one of my all-time favorites and she knew I had been wanting it. Thing is, she bought me the remake (yes, that has a remake too) when it’s the original movie I love. Bless her heart, she was so thrilled to get me that Blu-ray though. She didn’t know there were two out there. Someone else sent me Texas Chainsaw Massacre not knowing it was the remake. They honestly thought it was Hooper’s movie. There are too many remakes out there and it does get confusing.
Now we have a Suspiria remake to look forward to. Am I mad about that? No, and I’ll go to see it. Not only that, but we’re getting Pet Sematary, Tommyknockers, and honestly the remake train doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
To be honest I’m excited. I know that may shock some of my readers, but this was not meant to be some ‘I hate all remakes’ article. I don’t hate them, I just want to see them done right. IT proved a remake can be done right, and, if done so, will be a massive hit.
So there you have it, my ghoulies. This has been your Manic Exorcism once again. I encourage you to not let bad remakes ruin good movies. Keep checking us out here at Nightmare Nostalgia for all your retro needs. Now go forth to enjoy the horror line-up before us.
The epic sequel to Speilberg’s 1975 film that had us all fearing for our lives stepping foot unto a beach, turns the classic 40 years young today. And to celebrate, I’m showcasing what the MMPA decided to censor to audiences theatrically back in 1978 for JAWS 2– the goddamn death of the helicopter pilot! And if you haven’t seen it, trust me, it’s so damn satisfying.
Yes, friends, another animatronic Bruce came back to terrorize Amity Island as revenge for Bruce numero uno being blown to smithereens by the local sheriff. While I certainly have a lot of love for this movie, I mean fucken aye it’s JAWS people, it certainly restricted itself on the lack of blood as opposed to the first film. In fairness, there wasn’t a TON of gore in the original JAWS. However, this one had barely any at all. And we’re talking shark attacks here! You’d assume there would be buckets of red corn syrup all over the damn screen. But alas, on the heels of the mondo success of the first film and cringy studio execs, JAWS 2 had to be watered down a tad to appease the pearl clutchers of the generation.
Before we get to the scene in question, that was shown during various TV runs during the 80’s (which is why I even knew it existed), can we just appreciate just how badass Bruce II really is? I mean, this shark seems ten times scarier and more malevolent than it’s brother, cousin, whatever from the first movie. Not only does it take down the water skier in the first half of the film, but the boat and driver with it resulting in blowing the damn thing up. Of course, that was the work of the obviously terrified boat driver in the midst of a Great White eating her boat, but eh, gotta give credit to Bruce II for making it possible. And then we have this wonderful helicopter scene, in which if you’ve seen the cut version only, kind of raises some questions on the whereabouts of the pilot.
Here we have this poor guy just trying to do his damn job and help these teenagers out. Bruce II isn’t having any of this shit. He’s like, “HOW DARE YOU TRY TO HELP THESE KIDS! I’LL SHOW YOU BY GOD.” And he sinks a friggin’ helicopter. But, what the hell happened to the pilot? We can just assume he drowned if anything. And he does of course, but we actually get to see it this time. And it looks as if he serves as a tasty snack after all for the hungry island visitor. Visual satisfaction at the very least. Also, if you listen very closely, the pilot’s screams sound an awful lot like Hooper’s when he’s attacked underwater in the shark cage.
So here it is! Originally uploaded on YouTube by RetroTV from an ABC original airing complete with a LEGGS pantyhose commercial at the end to break away. Because, you know, that’s super important here. Enjoy and happy anniversary JAWS 2!
For my generation no other actor embodied horror back in the blessed eighties quite like Robert Englund. He simply was the grinning face of pure evil. Of course, he wasn’t the only evil icon of cinematic terror in those days. Luckily we had plenty to choose from – Jason, Chucky, Michael Myers – but Robert Englund gave us Freddy Krueger, and Freddy gave us all nightmares.
Freddy was not hidden behind a mask and that set him apart from the rest. We could see the evil glint in his eyes as he taunted his prey and relished in their hysteria as slowly they realized how inevitable their coming demise was. Krueger had emotions and a sick sense of humor. He loved what he did, and his giddiness made us fall in love with his movies.
How can you escape a dream? That’s the genius of Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street. You can’t escape dreams – at least not for long – because ultimately you cannot run away from sleep. Our bodies simply demand rest. We can hold out for several days but sooner or later the body will shut down against our will, and there, in that ethereal state of slumber and vulnerability, the Dream Demon awaits. Freddy was the kind of evil that laughed at your pain as he found new inventive ways to kill each of his prey.
Without Robert Englund’s enthusiasm and dastardly charisma the entire experience would have been, well not only different, but I have to wonder if it would have worked at all. As the remake proved – there just is no replacing Englund when it comes to Elm Street.
Originally, David Warner (The Omen) was up for the role and was Craven’s first choice to wear the razor-tipped glove. Albeit that would have been very interesting to see, but it’s still very hard to imagine.
While Freddy ruled the dreamworld from his hellish boiler room, Robert Englund brought another monster to life, one we all knew of and that hailed from the classic age. Englund’s exploits would turn the Opera House of Paris into a bloodbath of carnage and lust as he finally went behind a mask and played The Phantom of the Opera.
This is a unique take on the French classic tale of obsession and murder. Don’t expect Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music in this one, but the movie is a full orchestra of violence and horror. Taking Gaston Leroux’s classic story, they turned it into a modern-day slasher classic as only the talents of Robert Englund’s sadistic manner could do.
But I would be ashamed of myself if I neglected to mention one of my personal favorite movies Robert Englund brings to life. As a matter of fact I think this movie would be nothing more than a rotting pile of rat dicks had it not his charisma and gritty charm to carry it. I’m talking about The Mangler.
Adapted from a Stephen King short story, this movie really shouldn’t even exist. It’s just so fucking stupid but in all the right ways. It’s a story about a killer laundry press, folks. And the mechanical beast is out for blood!
Ruling over this dingy abyss of broken dreams and sadness is our beloved Robert Englund. He is the manager around these here parts and doesn’t kindly care too much about whose blood gets spilled on the job. One accident isn’t enough to shut down business, people! You clean up the mess and forget it ever happened. It doesn’t matter how mangled up the remains are. You sweep them up and spray it away with the hose. Then get back to work! Now! No matter how mean your boss might be, I can guarantee few managers ever come close to the smarminess of this stuck-up dickhead. And we love him for it.
These are my three favorite roles he’s played, but they are not the extent of his colorful career. Robert Englund has been in Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive, 2,001 Maniacs, Zombie Strippers and so many more. Each one is worth viewing or re-watching.
So here’s to Robert Englund. Thank you for giving us so many chills and thrills! May you see many more birthdays to come! We love you!
As you may, or may not have heard, the legendary Bill Gold sadly passed away on May 20th, 2018 at the respectable age of 96. Some of you may be asking the obvious question, “Who the hell is Bill Gold?” Well, if you’re not balls deep into the cinematic world of art and film, it’s quite possible you may have never heard the name. However, I guarantee you’ve seen the man’s work and didn’t even realize it.
Born on January 3rd, 1921, American graphic designer William Gold is wildly known throughout the entertainment industry as the go-to-man for movie poster art to promote films. With a career spanning over 60 years in the business, Gold is responsible for the art of over 2,000 movie posters going all the way back to the golden year of 1942 with Yankee Doodle Dandy, ending with his final work for J. Edgar in 2011. With graduate schooling from the Pratt Institute, Gold poured his heart and soul into cinematic artwork for films that have imprinted their own legacy in the world of visual culture including the beloved horror genre. Movie posters such as The Exorcist, The Exorcist II: The Heretic The Funhouse, Alien, and Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece A Clockwork Orange are directly from the mind of Bill Gold. In particular, with such an iconic black and white foggy visual that we all know from the 1973 massive achievement in horror, I think we all need to collectively give at least sixty seconds of silence to the man who without his talent, the art we associate these films with would have never been.
As I laid idly in bed this Saturday morning at a ridiculously early time of 6:45 AM due to being awakened by the animated sounds of Pokemon blaring from my eight-year-old’s television (hey, I’m not mad-we all did that shit when we were kids on a lovely Saturday morning), I flipped on my own personal TV and tuned to Netflix as part of the morning waking process. Immediately, I was struck by a new featured series promotion on the top of the screen and in my half-dazed aura, flipped it on and holy shit guys. The brand new true-crime-doc series touching on the tragic and quite horrifying events in Erie, Pennsylvania that bestow a pizza delivery man back on August 28, 2003, is going to be your next binge obsession folks.
I don’t believe it’s an understatement at all with the fact that we all have a fascination with the true crime genre. Going back to the days of the Manson murders, we have become fixated on high-profile cases and the more bizarre the scene, the further our curiosity peaks. I think it’s safe to say the strangely fatal scene involving Brian Wells robbing a bank with a collar bomb around his neck, and it actually detonating while in arrest mode certainly shocked the hell out of us all fifteen years ago; not to mention raising a ton of questions. Were there multiple people involved? And if so, who exactly? Also, was Wells himself actually a conspirator? Well, Netflix’s four-part documentary Evil Genius brought to us by Jay and Mark (Creep, The League– Yes, THAT MARK) Duplass shines not just a light looking back onto the events surrounding the case, but actually unearthing some downright SHOCKING new evidence. Good work guys.
The doc centers on an investigation begun by Trey Borzillieri, who spent years examining the case while speaking with the core antagonist and convicted mastermind of the whole ordeal Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. As we begin to go over the events concerning Brian Wells, things get really peculiar with additional crimes connected to the “Pizza Bomber” escapade. The series also touches on Armstrong’s background, mental health, further associates that may have been involved, and interviews from both sides of the law connecting the dots around this case. Unlike 2017’s massive obsession with Making a Murderer with an ending that just raises more questions and leaves us to make our own conclusion, Evil Genius wraps things up kind of nicely in the form of a discovery of an unexpected confession.
I mean, I was totally mind-fucked by this whole series. I remember quite vividly seeing the news and horrific outcome regarding this story back in the Summer of ’03. But until today, I had forgotten completely about it. If you’re a true crime nut (and hey, most of us are), I would definitely check this out over the weekend before all the spoilers hit your newsfeed.
It’s time to crack open the forbidden tomes of Eibon, faithful followers. Here we bid a long farewell to our flesh. Beyond this point, there shall be no return. The mind will melt and the soul filleted as such oozing spectacles assault our vision from the Beyond. Forsake ye all hopes for a restful grave at the sure ending of life, because a hideous power, one of wickedness and dread, this way quickly comes. Eibon has been reopened forthwith ushering us into fresh circles of Hell.
. . . The Book of Eibon, that strangest and rarest of occult forgotten volumes … is said to have come down through a series of manifold translations from a prehistoric original written in the lost language of Hyperborea.
—Clark Ashton Smith, “Ubbo-Sathla”
Eibon Press is proving themselves to be the unrelenting future of horror comics. With a lethal eye trained for macabre details, they are undoubtedly the undisputed masters of their craft. By blending gruesome art with fiendish tales they masterfully weave new layers of terror into some of our most cherished exploitation films and cult classics, thus ensuring their secured place in horror history.
Horror naturally prospers in comic book form, mainly because the MPAA can’t step in with their bitchy attitudes and erase away any sight of blood, guts or sexuality that might make them blush with a bad case of the vapors. Many of our favorite horror franchises have suffered needlessly beneath the rigorous afflictions of uptight censorship, thus ruining some perfectly good horror movie opportunities in terms of those messy little meaty details. Friday the 13th, at least the later films, were systematically abused by the righteous endeavors of the MPAA. Luckily, the grimy halls of comic books are unspoiled by such convictions and their haunted halls are rife with maniacs who freely kick down our doors, raise their chipped hatchets and cleave our puny good sensibilities into a bloody and gurgling pulp.
Now, if you’ve had a chance to read anything from Avatar Press – I’m thinking especially Wormwood, but especially Crossed – or just about anything by Garth Ennis, you’ll know immediately what I mean here. Comic books are not safe, and woe to any who thinks differently. No one who appears in such macabre volumes shall be spared. Their eyes will melt and their flesh decay, no one, not even our most beloved of heroes, are safe beneath the ink of those given to this expression of Art. These writers and artists will not hesitate to shove us down and kick our teeth in. Oh no, horror comics are not safe, and they never should be.
This is an unshakable fact Eibon Press knows about very, very well. In the hands of these master sadists, the Art has taken a new form in order to distribute the Evangelium of terror. To gross someone out is honestly not in the least bit complicated, and believe me, many have (failingly) attempted to gain an audience by simply defiling their readers’ eyes through shocking gross-outs. But to craft an engaging story, to make the Art come to life, to beget something that will continue in the minds of their audience long after the reader puts away the book is only a thing masters of the craft can accomplish. It takes truly insidious talent to breathe something into existence that invades our normal everyday lives, plaguing us with visceral images and ghoulish scenes we won’t soon forget. Not just anybody can achieve this level of the Art. Junji Ito is able to do this effortlessly and has been my reigning favorite horror artist until I met with Eibon Press and witnessed what they have to offer.
Just like horror movies have many genres, the same is equally true of horror comics. In the case of Eibon Press, they’ve skillfully dominated the sodden field of exploitation experiences. Be it a grimy alleyway with dripping echoes of sweltering lust and shame, perhaps the humid gates of everlasting Hell, or a restless cemetery where the rotting dead rise out of the mire and mold – Eibon Press depicts some wonderfully dreadful landscapes you will traverse once you crack open their pages. Violence awaits and there will be no turning back once you enter. It is a horror fan’s paradise.
They make gritty somehow beautiful. Ascetically brilliant, they make full use of color to accentuate the full volume of gore at hand. I can guarantee gore hounds will not be disappointed! And as for tone, well this is like the equivalent of your favorite death metal albums in illustrated form. There will be slaughter and lots of blood.
But all is not just blood, guts and eroticism. These guys are better than that and build upon plot and focus on the characters who must face all the horrors Hell has to offer. If you think this is just an-all out splatterfest…well, you’d be correct! It gets very sticky as you turn the pages, but I assure you it’s the stories they’ve released that will keep you turning those pages.
Eibon Press specializes in embellishing upon the beloved cult classics of Lucio Fulci, and I love them for that! I’ve always been a Fulci fan so I approached these comics with a critical eye. I was not disappointed, but very much the opposite. I was impressed by how much love and care they handled the material with. It didn’t take long to realize these guys love Fulci’s work as much as I do.
I did say they embellish on the stories. For example, when reading Gates of Hell (City of the Living Dead) we get a lot more details of the evil priest who hangs himself at the beginning of the movie. With the use of some good narrative, the team gives us a fuller and broader story to the lores we already love and know. If you think you know everything there is to know about Zombi, think again. There is so much more to glean from that vicious story, and with the comic Zombie, Eibon proves this to be true. For example, you know how Zombi 2 ends? Well, Eibon extends the story and takes us right into the chaotic-strewn streets of the city. Put on your big boy pants because it just keeps getting more and more savage.
In case that’s already not enough to have you ready to order their entire line of comics, let me tempt you even further. In their epic Gates of Hell title, not only is Eibon giving us the hellish story of City of the Living Dead, but this is only the start of the Saga of the 7 Gates line. A series that begins with CotLD and will involve both The Beyond and House By the Cemetery, mummy! And I’m pretty sure Bob won’t be anywhere near as annoying in comic form as that little shit was in the movie. “Mummy, I see a girl in the window, Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!”
Ok I got it out of my system. That fucking voice though! Screw you, Bob!
They have also adapted both Maniac and Laserblast into comic form. Laserblast, people! I never in my sickest fever dreams would have ever expected that to be a comic storyline! Oh, you’re uninitiated into the silliness of Laserblast. Here, check this out.
Isn’t that just glorious? Only diehard fans of horror would take the time to adapt a movie this spectacularly cheesy into an art form and share it so a new generation may discover it. And after a speaking with these guys, I know they are indeed fans of the genre.
As a bonus feature for both of these (Maniac and Laserblast) you can get a truly unique VHS sleeve. Oh, that’s another thing, not only are we treated to some of the best gore in comics today, but, just like any great DVD release, we are also given loads of bonus content with every comic purchase. Bookmarks, fliers, collectible cards and (in some cases) music tracks. Yeah, they give codes for exclusive music content relating to the comics. When’s the last time Marvel did that? These guys treat the fans!
I can’t kiss the publisher’s ass enough. And no, I didn’t get a special deal from them. I’m still paying full price plus shipping, and that’s fine by me. I’m just a fan who wants everyone else to know what they’ve been missing. So let’s hurry up and fix it.
Eibon also has a totally original run called Bottomfeeder which is as pretty as a truckstop outhouse. That’s not a criticism either. It’s a story set in the 80’s and features some all-time favorite cult faces who regularly make cameos throughout the story. You can call it detectivesploitation as our asshole anti-hero is set against Roger Corman’s Humanoids From the Deep. Holy shit! Just typing that line was exciting.
These guys go for the jugular and never apologize for it. These are wickedly dangerous comics and you’ll need your manliest pair of britches to get into them, but you will not regret it. Fair warning these are in no way safe for work or around kids. There is explicit nudity in them all. And if child death affects you I would advise you stay away. Like in any good Fulci film kids are known to get a bad case of dead here.
Out of all the horror comics to choose from out there these guys are my absolute favorite. You cannot find these titles in stores, however, so be sure to visit their website here and don’t be scared to buy. Already Zombie is in its third printing and sells out like mad. Pretty sure I’ll be doing a review of that run fairly soon.
I’ve been talking with Eibon on the possibility of there being a Madmancomic, and the idea is out there. So fingers crossed.
This has been Manic Exorcism once again hoping you stay scared and dare to open these forbidden Gates and unleash a little Hell.
In case you’ve been living under a rock over the past year, people sort of lost their minds when McDonald’s announced they were reviving that delicious Disney’s Mulan advertised McNugget dip, Szechuan Sauce o the heels of Rick and Morty fandom. Of course, they damn near rioted when it became clear that not every store had these sought-after suckers and the ones that did, had about 10-20 dippers in stock. Leaving Szechaun searchers to lose their absolute shit and cry foul so loud that the fast-food giant responded with an actual revival of the sweet and sour condiment to appease the masses of seriously pissed off people. It’s like Rick himself possessed an insane number of humanoids to get that crap back into the fast-food chain. And if you’re a fan of the series at all, it’s not entirely impossible to think that either.
That’s right he and everyone else got their goddamn Szechuan sauce. Now let’s take that mentality about an overrated McNugget enhancer and apply to that to something that 100% NEEDS a proper revival: The McDonald’s Halloween pails featuring the beautiful McBoo and friends.
McPunk’n, McGoblin, and McBoo (as I just refer to all of them as for some odd and I know, incorrect reason) made their wonderful debut back in October of 1986 much to the delight of Happy Mealers everywhere. I know I’m not alone when I say, these buckets that forever reeked of delicious salty french fries are a beloved childhood relic for 80’s and 90’s kids. They embody the innocent spirit of a nostalgic Halloween much like nothing else. I remember quite clearly during a CBS run of Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (of which I own in pure VHS form, commercials and all that will be uploaded in the future for you) the McBucket advertisement (seen below) during the break. This was the time I first laid my eyes on the wonderous McBoo and friends and pleaded the parental units for a dinner at the creepy clown factory the following day. The three of which I acquired was, of course, Sir McBoo and you’re goddamn right I used that beautiful orange Jacko-pail for my own Halloween adventures of sugary death.
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only practicing within the cult of McBoo as the pails were a massive hit and continued throughout the years at the burger chain. Making McDonald’s the fast-food King of Halloween. Then, something awful happened. They began to change, not for the better but for the worse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for change as much as the next gal. However, the quality and beloved nature of the pails went straight down the shitter once themes became introduced into Halloween Happy Meals. Long gone were the recognizable jack-o-lantern faces and in came cartoonish versions of the cherished bucket with Snoopy and My Little Pony splashed all over the damn thing. The pails became a tad smaller, the handles incredibly flimsy, not to mention the spirit of Halloween was taken right out of it once you slapped a Minion on it. It just wasn’t the same and goddammit, we want them back. Ok, it might be just my first-world problem ass complaining, but I feel like if people can raise enough of a ruckus to bring a friggin’ nugget sauce back from the dead, then why can’t we clamor for something that will not only bring some joy to nostalgic adults everywhere but children as well as I bet they’ll appreciate a better option for some REAL Halloween Happy Meals. And for fuck’s sake put some Halloween toys in there as well. Last year, you gave out Transformers and Rainbow Dash glasses. I mean, come on…
Two words: McNugget buddies.
So I say unto thee McDonald’s: Forget the ridiculous movie tie-ins and cash grabs. Bring back the Halloween bucket original design and watch everyone flock back to your chain during the Halloween season.
If you feel the same passion as I do here, I encourage you to share away and let your voice be heard. Tweet this at McDonald’s, share with friends and family. Let’s make this a thing. Of course, if you also think I’m just a raging nostalgic turd and I should crawl back into my Gollum cave filled with jelly shoes and Ben Cooper masks, then, by all means, tell me to go screw myself. Not sure what purpose that would serve but, I like to give that option in any regard.
After nearly forty years, we’re sad to say goodbye to a franchise that has given us three films and thirty television episodes. That heartbreak has less to do with Ash Williams, and everything to do with our memories of watching The King ham it up.
Those memories are different for everyone. It could be where you were when you first laid eyes on The Evil Dead, or the people with whom you watched Army of Darkness, or or perhaps the way the splatstick of Ash vs Evil Dead helped you put your troubles on the back burner, if only for 30 minutes. It goes without saying that memories are a very personal thing, but make no mistake, the reason Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead universe resonate so deeply with fans comes down to individual circumstance.
For me, it was the routine of waking on Sunday mornings after a night of shenanigans and grabbing my phone to pull up the latest chapter of AVED. It’s been my way for three years now, and I’d be lying if I said I weren’t going to miss the hell out of it. To be honest, though, I must admit that it’s been the interactions I’ve blessed to experience with cast members that endeared me most to Ash vs Evil Dead. Hell, I almost set Ted Raimi up on a blind date, but I’ll get to that.
I’m not even going to discuss the interview I scored with the King two days before the Season 2 finale (though it took two years to land, and I was never so nervous in my life), because in a matter of seconds before our discussion came to a close, Campbell provided a gift that can never be repaid.
Since entering the arena of horror writing, one relationship has towered above all others, and that is my friendship with the owner and operator of Nightmare Nostalgia, Patti Pauley. Many times she’d mentioned that Bruce Campbell was her son’s hero, and I always told her that should I get the opportunity to speak with the man who was Ash, I’d see about getting a personal message for her boy. So when the time came, I asked Campbell if he’d be good enough to share a few words, and he didn’t disappoint.
While the message itself was vintage Bruce — short and not-so sweet — her delight when I told her that he’d agreed to say something had me grinning from ear-to-ear. However, it wasn’t until later that night that I realized that she’d not only shared that message with her son when he got home from school, but on Facebook as well. I watched as her child gasped and faux-fainted when he discovered that a message from Bruce Campbell existed that was for his ears only. Thinking about it now makes me giddy beyond belief, because it’s a moment that doesn’t belong to the masses, but the three of us, to be cherished forever.
It wasn’t that she’d no doubt done innumerable interviews with other outlets, or that she found it funny that I’d been involved with the “Thanks for talkin’” conference call months earlier, but my discovery that she was every bit as charming and hilarious off screen as she was fierce as Kelly Maxwell on. DeLorenzo shared that she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that she was doing a Q&A with a popular horror outlet in the same room where she’d played with Barbies as a child, before offering exquisite teaser after exquisite teaser.
I won’t lie, it was a fantastic discussion, but while the thought never crossed my mind that I was “in” with her (and still don’t), it led to a shot in the dark that I’m glad I took. About a week into Women in Horror Month 2017, it dawned on me that securing a true horror heroine to wrap the month would be fantastic, and the first person who came to mind was Ms. DeLorenzo. So I messaged her to ask if she’d be interested in penning a piece for HorrorGeekLife about her experiences in the genre, with zero expectation. To my surprise, she agreed, and shared a beautifully poignant and inclusive piece that left HGL’s editor in tears. Till my last breath, I will never believe that she said yes, but if you ever want to know how incredible Dana DeLorenzo is, look no further than that act of generosity.
Which brings us to her partner in crime, the powerful vagina himself, Ray Santiago.
With a telephone conversation during or prior to each season, Santiago is the only Ghostbeater whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with more than once. After Baal sliced and diced Jefe’s right-hand man near the end of Season 2, I chatted with Santiago and wasn’t entirely convinced that we’d seen the last of Pablo, and felt compelled to say that if it was the end, I spoke for Evil Dead fans everywhere in thanking him for the franchise’s finest character not named Ash, and a job well done.
To my shock, Santiago was touched by the sentiment, stammering through “Dude, you literally just made me…that makes my day.” The thought of that exchange still makes me smile, to say nothing of the shit-eating smirk that appeared on my mug after Kelly and Pablo finally locked lips during the current season which led to my tweet “Can we just agree that Kelly and Pablo are the Jim & Pam of horror?” Santiago responded with a message that was short, but much sweeter than Campbell’s – “Love you for saying this!”
Just because I’ve written for a couple of newspapers doesn’t mean I don’t have occasion to geek out from time-to-time.
Like the summer of ’16, for instance.
When I found out that Mr. Raimi had joined the cast for Season 2 (long before any of us realized that he’d reprise his role as Henrietta, or that Chet housed a monumental secret for three decades), I made it a goal to score the genre legend. Having delighted in his responses and ridiculous, infectious laugh for half an hour, the moment arrived for me to tell him that a colleague of mine at iHorror, Waylon Jordan, wanted me to inform Raimi that he loved Ted in a “totally non-weird way.”
Once again, Raimi cackled, and sans hesitation, shot back “Well, you tell him back that I love him in a completely weird way. Like, I’m just in love with him, and I would very much like his phone number.”
My “alright” was met with more laughter and “Tell him if he’s ever available for dates, I’m a great date. And I promise not to be too grabby on the first one.” I cannot begin to describe my elation at sending that clip to a friend.
But that’s what it’s all about.
Look, if you’re still reading this, then you love the Evil Dead universe and probably have similar experiences that you hold dear. And that’s the reason none of us are ready to say goodbye and that this franchise has life almost forty years after it began.
Yes, the films are fantastic fun, but it’s not just about watching and re-watching those movies or the series, but of the times you spent with family and friends as you took it all in, or interactions you’ve had with Campbell or Raimi or DeLorenzo or Santiago at conventions or chance encounters on the street.
More than a scene or a kill or a one-liner, those are the moments that stay with you. We’ll always have three seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead (and, of course, the features), but I will carry the memories that I’ve collected over three years and thirty episodes for the rest of my life.
So I will savor Ash vs Evil Dead’s conclusion with a smile on my face, and maybe even shed a tear or ten.
For irreplaceable memories, both on screen and off, I offer a heartfelt thank you to the cast and crew of the best show on television.
Welcome back my lovely ghouls and grizzlies, you just couldn’t stay away, could you? I’m touched. And what great timing on your behalf. I’ve just freshly returned from the long trek back from Pasadena. What compelled me to brave seven hours on the road? What led my nocturnal steps so far south where the sun shines hot and bright? Monsterpalooza of course!
That’s right. My annual sojourn to be with my fellow monsters, freaks, beasts, and family has once more come and (so sadly) gone, and from it, I am loaded down with so many more fond memories. Each year the convention offers us, visitors, a rich diabolical alchemy of old-time fuzzy feelings that hit all the right spots as we relive our favorite horrors from times past. The convention also provides plenty of encouragement as we stand witness to the future plans for our beloved genre and are reminded that horror is thriving. Monsterpalooza masterfully balances the nostalgic tug with the modern progression of horror.
In short, and in case you’ve never had the pleasure of attending yet, Monsterpalooza has something for everyone.
The Featured Guests
As with any convention you can expect to meet a favorite celebrity or two. Although many fans have complained about the cost of autographs I still argue the worth of the experience alone. For example, I’ve now had the chance to meet Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7-X, Hatchet 1-3, Deathhouse) a few times now, and each time is a blast. You’ll not meet a better man anywhere. He’s very much all about the fans and is all-too-happy to take the time to talk to each one of them.
Funny enough this year I got Kane to sing for me. I almost told him that Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Maniac Cop, Army of Darkness, Ash vs Evil Dead) called him an asshole last I met up with the Chin, but I felt it might be better kept for a future conversation.
Now among all the celebs I met this year, I have to say one of the highlights was meeting with Judith O’Dea, Barbara from Night of the Living Dead. What a glamorous lady. A true star, and so very personal and warm.
As far as the stars all go though I’ve never once had a bad experience with any of them, and this marks the 5th year I’ve attended Monsterpalooza. But that goes for any star I’ve met at all the conventions I’ve now attended. So is it worth standing in line and handing over your hard-earned cash just to say hi and get a signature? Yes, because they will treat your time with respect.
To my shame, I don’t attend these as much as I probably should. I’m usually in line to meet someone or busy with my friends and haunting my favorite vendors ( and saying goodbye to my money). I just miss the panels. That being said though, I did hit the tale-end of the Full Moonpanel and heard their upcoming announcements. Of course, most know about the imminent Puppet Master reboot. They said the film will have a theatric run, so if you’re a fan be sure to follow them for updates. Full Moon also announced that – and with Stuart Gordon’s blessings – they will be rebooting Castle Freak in the near future.
The Monsterpalooza Museum
This is a must for everyone who attends. This museum features the best talents that our genre has to offer. You’ll see the painstaking work of some insanely gifted artists who brought our favorite movie moments to life in full-size replication straight out of the scariest movies out there! In this house of wax, you’ll stand eye to eye with creatures all-too lifelike. The museum alone is worth the price of admission.
Something To Look Out For
A new Halloween themed movie will be released on home video this coming September. I’m very excited to get my hands on this one. It’s a creature feature that prides itself with some beautiful practical effects and sports the talents of Doug Jones (The Shape of Water, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) once more.
I only have one complaint about this year’s convention. They overbooked weekend ticket sells, I was one of the unfortunate souls, and Saturday became a big ugly hassle for many, many visitors. And I mean ugly, like dead hooker rotting in the bottom of a dumpster bin’s maggot bed ugly. I would urge the great minds behind Monsterpalooza to be better organized in the years to come. This convention proves to grow bigger each year, and they need to plan more accordingly to suit the demands. They need to figure out a better way to handle the lines. For example, prepaid ticket holders should get in quicker rather than being stuck waiting outside half-an-hour after the convention opens it doors.
Pretty simple. And best to not overbook next time. The last thing we want is for people to have a miserable time and spend most of the con standing in line. There are already a lot of those to put up with.
But let’s end on a positive note. Let’s hear it for the vendors! These guys are out there all weekend, they’ve shelled out $500 for a table and they are selling us some of the finest horror merch we’ll ever get our hands on. So take it from me, if you’re planning for a horror con be sure to save some money. You will see things you will want to buy.
Obscure and rare movies (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray) are one of my favorite obsessions. If you want nostalgia for those little movies or Halloween specials you’ve not seen in a long time, this is your stop. This year I bought a DVD that’s just a bunch of extras from Freddy’s Dead that were never released on either DVD or Blu-Ray. It even comes with some old promos for Call Freddy! Awww memories.
I also picked up some brilliant artwork! Soon there will be no wall in my study, only masterpieces of the macabre. I couldn’t be happier.
I’d like to send a personal shout out to a great store, Time Tunnel Toys. These two have never failed to impress me over the years. They are regulars at Monsterpalooza and the nicest couple you’ll have the pleasure of meeting. Time Tunnel Toys is what Nightmare Nostalgia lives off of: those happy blasts from the past and warm memories of Saturday Mornings. TTT thrives on all of that and gives us a way to relive those happy days.
Finally, this year I had the pleasure of picking up a Gates of Hell comic from Eibon Press. I do not exaggerate when I say I now have a new obsession. These comics have won my dark heart over and I cannot get enough of them. Luckily, we have the option to order online, but I really enjoyed meeting the madman behind the macabre. I love seeing horror fans giving fellow fans what they want. That’s what Eibon is in the business of doing. How to explain these comics, hmmm? Ok, think the raw violence of Crossed with the gritty art style of early Spawn. I’m not making it up, it’s that amazing!
Monsterpalooza is my favorite con to attend and very much worth a visit for any horror fan. It’s the event of the year for many of us. It’s certainly one I am always happy to go to but sorry to have to leave. To me, it’s like returning home in a way. I have friends there who are just family. With that said: Frank, thanks for a great weekend! Our paths can’t cross again soon enough. Love ya, buddy.
This has been yours truly, Manic Exorcism. I’ll be catching you again next time, lovelies.