Slayer vs Scream

Knockdown dragout time! ‘Celebrity Deathmatch’ WHOM?! Thunderdome ain’t got nothing on this fight of the century…

Yep, as I dip once more into the dangerously addictive world of Funko Pop! Vinyl figures, I end up with a bloody fight to the death on my hands.

buffy vs ghostface
In one corner, we have the homicidal maniac known as ‘Ghostface’, a killer of teens who enjoys scary movies and offing Drew Barrymore in the first 10 minutes. And his nemesis? Sunnydale’s saviour and everybody’s favourite blonde Slayer (Faith was pretty cool, no?), Buffy Summers and her trusty Mr Pointy.

Who will win? It’s gotta be the Buffster right? The girl power is strong in this one – plus payback’s a bitch and SMG already suffered at the hands of the scary masked serial slasher in ‘Scream 2’. Remember?

RIP Cici 'Scream 2'
Place yer bets! I feel like this could become a weekly thing – if only I had enough money for more cute but pointless figures, hmm?

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Trailer Tuesday: Apocalypse New

It’s not exactly festive unless you’re a massive horror fan (which I am, so ding dong merrily on high!) but this week’s slice of upcoming cinema is the final instalment to the bloody great ‘[REC]’ franchise.

Already a hit with gore hound critics at film fests this year, ‘REC 4: Apocalypse’ returns its focus to intrepid journalist Ángela who is very likely regretting entering that doomed apartment building in the first movie. The last time we saw her, she was possessed by the film’s Big Bad and intent on inciting the titular apocalypse. As the clip below suggests, an attempt to quarantine the demonic source of the evil relocates the action to a boat, no doubt as doomed as the apartment block and the previous film’s wedding setup – but therein lies the fun, as the futile bid to stop the spread of the virus results in lots of claret hitting the fan.

And it’s out January 2nd – Happy Friggin’ New Year!!! 🙂

Top 5 Bogeymen

In honour of things that go bump in the night – and the holiday that embraces them in a big bloody hug – I’ve compiled a list of the bogeymen that haven’t had their due. Sure, these creepy creatures may have spooked a fair few of us but the likes of Michael Myers, the Blair Witch, Leatherface, Pennywise (of course, frickin’ Pennywise) and even bloomin’ Jaws have stolen their thunder as the nightmarish monsters that haunt the collective dreams of a generation or two who have seen way too many movies and TV shows.

So, here they are, the scary monsters and super creeps I really hope I don’t run in to tomorrow.

(Honorary mentions: Pyramid Head, Eugene Tooms, Mrs Massey from ‘The Shining’ and, erm, the Sanderson sisters?)

5. Alley Man
Is it a man? Is it a woman? Is it a malevolent monster metaphor sent from the warped mind of David Lynch’s brain to screw with us and set the tone for the rest of his psycho-thriller puzzle pic ‘Mulholland Drive’? Definitely the latter.

alley monster

In this unforgettable early scene from the director’s 2001 masterpiece, an anxious man who has just described a troubling nightmare takes his companion into the alley behind the diner from his dream – and out pops the dark and disturbing hobo-like horror he described as being confronted with in his night terrors. The sequence can almost be appreciated as a short film that stands on its own within the framework of the epic enigma that surrounds it – and it’s definitely the freakiest five or so minutes from a fascinatingly freaky whole.

4. The Peacock Family

x files home

‘The X Files’ threw up a fair few shady characters, extra-terrestrial or otherwise, but Mulder and Scully’s most terrifying foes were a twisted take on the family unit, bringing the horrors of the Peacocks home. Receiving a viewer discretion warning for graphic content, the episode ‘Home’ centred on three severely deformed brothers living on an isolated farm who keep their mother (and lover – ick) under the bed and routinely kill anyone whose snooping threatens their existence – not to mention the barely-born babies that are a product of their maternal incest. Gross but memorably horrific, ‘Home’ freaked me the F out when I was about 11 – I stayed up too late and remember the home-invasion scene, where the boys pay the sheriff and his wife a visit, ruined my sleep for a week.

3. The Pale Man

pan's labyrinth

Grimm fairytales were never so grim! Guillermo del Toro outdid himself with ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, a dark fable he is yet to better, but the crowning achievement was surely the intensely scary Pale Man. Referencing Goya, this awful bogeyman is an artistic achievement despite being grotesque – and the baby-eating backstory and eyes-in-hands look only add to the terror. When he wakes up… well, I was awake for a while after that.

2. Tristana Medeiros

tristana medeiros

Those last five minutes of the first ‘REC’? CRAP STEAKS! Little girls shouldn’t look like that – but little girls possessed by demons and twisted into a crazy-scary fiend lurking in the highest reaches of a forsaken hotel? I want my mommy.

1. The Gentlemen

hush

The highlight of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s ghoulish creature canon also provided, arguably, its best ever episode ‘Hush’. Tim Burton’s visual aesthetic is referenced heavily but the Gentlemen are scarier than anything offered up by ‘Sleepy Hollow’ or even the creepy stylings of ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’. Despite the influences though, the Gentlemen are a unique creation – sunken-eyed, suited, knife-wielding baldies with metallic grins – only rendered more scream-worthy thanks to the genius Whedon concept of them being fairytale monsters who steal the voices of their victims so there’s none of that pesky screaming business when they get down to the business of stealing hearts. Can’t even shout, can’t even cry… TURN THE LIGHTS ON!!!

Happy Halloween, peeps. Avoid dark alleys. :-/

Telly Terrors

With only a week to go until Halloween, it’s time to sit in a dark room with some popcorn and get suitably terrified. Only, with the glut of premier TV horror available to fans of guts ‘n’ gore, that dark room doesn’t necessarily have to be a cinema anymore.

Sure, with ‘The Babadook’ and Joe Hill adap ‘Horns’ treating scary movie fans in the run-up to All Hallows’ Eve, the state of horror cinema isn’t looking too shabby – this week anyway. But with UK fans having been treated to the first outing to ‘American Horror Story’s suitably freaky ‘Freak Show’ this week, there’s as much chance – if not more – of being wigged out by the terrors in the tellybox.

american horror story

^ That guy is obviously nightmare-worthy, and will haunt the dreams of any sensible adult – let alone any unfortunate kiddies who tune in after bedtime, in a similar way Pennywise all but ruined my formative years after I stayed up too late one Sunday night in the ’90s.

Even so, if you haven’t caught the awesomely alarming anthology antics of Jessica Lange and co. (and Lange’s singing is sure to give you night terrors even if the homicidal clown doesn’t), you’ll be able to find some top quality horror without leaving the house thanks to TV’s recent embrace of entrails and entropy.

tv terror

‘The Walking Dead’ may be one of the biggest shows of the moment (and rightly so) but there is plenty more gore for TV fans to gorge on. ‘Sleepy Hollow’ adds a fantastical spin, ‘Bates Motel’ riffs on Hitchcock for a noir-ish serial killer origin story, while Bryan Fuller’s deliciously stylish ‘Hannibal’ is an all-the-trimmings feast for Lecter fans.

The genre has even carved a bloody niche on Netflix, with ‘Hostel’ man Eli Roth guaranteed a final third season for his hit-and-miss ‘Hemlock Grove’. Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro’s vampire saga ‘The Strain’ is already proving infectious, whilst Eva Green lent a magnetic malevolence to Sky’s ‘Penny Dreadful’ which will hopefully deliver on its promise second time around. Even this year’s critical darling ‘True Detective’s crime saga was spun with Southern gothic, its denouement a descent into Hell itself.

Why all the post-watershed horror, why now? I don’t care, basically. Not since ‘The X Files’ followed in ‘The Twilight Zone’s bloody footsteps 20 years ago, keeping us up all night with classic episodes like ‘Squeeze’ and ‘Home’, has TV been in such a fantastically frightening state.

Halloween countdown starts here!

Trailer Tuesday: Scary Movie

With only a couple of weeks until Halloween, it’s time to dig out that copy of ‘Hocus Pocus’ for its annual viewing. Of course, ‘The Shining’ and ‘The Exorcist’ and all those canon-classic horrors will get a look-in too (although there will always be a slot for Thackery Binx), but wouldn’t it be nice if a terrifying new tale was waiting in the wings, ready to trick-or-treat us in time for the 31st?

Well, horror fans rejoice. Indie hit ‘The Babadook’, the Australian horror that has received rave reviews from critics, is finally set to scare UK audiences upon its cinema release this week. Set around a mother and child facing a storybook bogeyman come to life, it’s apparently the best screamer for some time. Catch it this weekend in case it changes your Halloween costume plans – or scares you enough to cancel Halloween.

Parasitology: Contagious New Novels

Reading a fictionalised account of an outbreak that renders its hosts hopeless is pretty scary when the Ebola virus is the source of decidedly non-fictional headlines. But that’s why Mira Grant‘s ‘Parasite’, the first novel in an intended series (Book 2, ‘Symbiont’ hits UK bookshelves in November), manages to prey on our nightmares like the best horror does – because it’s rooted in reality.

parasitology book 1

‘Parasite’ may have to contend with the character/world-building exposition that weighs down many a first tome in a trilogy or series, but you can tell Grant is at home here. The ‘Newsflesh’ writer sets her cautionary tale in 2027, where trail-blazing SymboGen have revolutionised modern medicine with a little creation called an Intestinal Bodyguard – a parasite that lives inside its human, keeping them healthy without the need for pills, injections and more. What could possibly go wrong?

If you’ve seen ‘Jurassic Park’, you’ll know that “life finds a way” and Grant’s sci-fi conspiracy thriller with added shuffling zombie types certainly recalls Michael Crichton’s paranoid parables. The action centres around Sally, a twentysomething miracle marvel after SymboGen take the credit when she survives the seemingly insurmountable consequences of a mysterious car accident. Sally is kept under the watchful eye of SymboGen’s co-founder Dr. Banks, all while attempting to traverse a new life away from the girl she was before the accident: a girl she can’t remember. Parasitology expert and long-term boyfriend Nathan Kim provides some respite away from her required return check-ups at SymboGen and a strained domestic life with a family, including a government-employed father, who can still remember the old Sally and seem to be waiting for Sally’s own memories of that girl to return.

Then, of course, shit happens. It’s hard to review this taut, Hugo-nominated page-turner without spoiling the twisty-turny fun, but suffice to say those parasites aren’t exactly the life-saving, world-changing remedy they’ve been made out to be. Excerpts from interviews with Dr. Banks and his MIA former colleague, Shanti Cale, precede each new chapter and help build an impending sense of doom as we reach this first book’s game-changing conclusion. And, above all, it’s fun – the zombie horror and bad science elements don’t get in the way of some biting one-liners and, in Tansy, a third-act character that just screams ‘spin-off’.

So, November – hurry up with your apocalypse! ‘Symbiont’ will be ready to infect, courtesy of Orbit Books, on November 25.

Trailer Tuesday: Horny Harry

Props to Danny Radcliffe. His post-‘Potter’ career has already been quite prolific, featuring turns as a haunted father, iconic Beat poet and drug-addled doctor. What next? Well, Harry’s feeling horny.

Based on the creepily good book by Joe Hill, aka Stephen King Jr., ‘Horns’ is due out this Halloween and hopefully the early horror cred of director Alexandre Aja (he of ‘Switchblade Romance’ who then went on to helm, erm, ‘Piranha 3D’) will shine through.

The trailer looks like it could very well lead into a successful adaptation, balancing some dark humour alongside the murder, snakes and downright devilishness.

Trailer Tuesday: Dead is Alive

One of the copious Comic-Con treats to emerge from last weekend’s annual San Diego geek get-together was this: the continuation of AMC/Fox’s zombie survival saga, based on Robert Kirkman’s original graphic novel series, ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 looks set to plunge us further into the grim post-apocalyptic world of Rick and his rag-tag bunch of no-hopers.

October isn’t that far away, but if you can’t wait then get your brain-gobbling gnashers around the extended promo clip below. It’s better than brains!

Twisted Tales

Twisted Dark Vol 1

Surely, it’s common knowledge now that ‘comics’ aren’t a) for kids and b) necessarily comic. Thanks to the post-‘Dark Knight’ Nolan era, comics and graphic novels are being consumed by more adults than ever – and not just those featuring guys dressed in spandex.

If you like your graphic novels more twisted than comical, then Think Publications have the perfect tales waiting for you. The ‘Twisted Dark’ series gathers together short stories that all deliver a sharp sting, as evident in the first anthology ‘Volume One’ which I had the pleasure of sitting down with this weekend – although, of course, it was a delightfully twisted version of pleasure.

The first set of stories balances the blackly comic (‘The Game’) with the downright menacing (‘Blame’) and even controversial (‘A Heavenly Note’), the unsettling tone making for a read that won’t appeal to all. However, if you’re in the mood for something different and daring, then this is definitely worth your time; any publication that risks it all with a strip like ‘Routine’, which goes to some VERY dark places, gets my vote.

You’re in luck too if this is your kinda thing. Neil Gibson’s offbeat tales (which are accompanied by startling monochrome art, by the way) continue in further volumes which promise to connect various tales in all sorts of surprising ways. Why not take the chance and get twisted??