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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Tuesday Top 10: Creepiest Music Videos

Continuing the musical theme here in the Vault, join me this week as I take a look at the freakiest, eeriest, spookiest music videos ever to creep out our ADHD-addled, MTV generation brains. Enjoy...

10. "School's Out" by Gwar

Ah, Gwar, how I miss you. Gladiator costumes, fishnets, giant mechanical penises ejaculating on the crowd... that was music, kids.

9. "White Wedding" by Billy Idol

Eighties new wave meets Bride of Frankenstein. This one is just plain weird. Honestly, I find myself creeped out by Billy's sneer more than anything else.

8. "Y Control" by The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
A band I truly love, and not one I'd usually expect to creep me out. But they pulled it off, all thanks to that always reliable tool--creepy kids!

Music Videos by VideoCure

7. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne

It's Ozzy as Dr. Jekyll--what more do you want???

6. "Dig Up Her Bones" by The Misfits

Everything The Misfits did was scary as hell. And this one's about as good as it gets. Horror-punk at its best. Gotta love the Franky cameo!

5. "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails

A bizarre, demented peak into the mind of Trent Reznor, whom Tori Amos once said "just needs a cup of hot cocoa and a warm blankie." Maybe so Tori, maybe so.

4. "Sober" by Tool

Stop-motion animation hasn't been this scary since the heyday of Ray Harryhausen. Also, points to anyone who can tell me what the eff is going on in this video...

3. "Thriller" by Michael Jackson

Duh, no-brainer. I'm not ashamed to admit that this video scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid. With the help of John Landis, the late King of Pop paid homage to zombie cinema with style.

2. "Dragula" by Rob Zombie

Was there any question that this guy was going to go on to become a horror movie director? Watch out for the footage from the 1920 Jekyll & Hyde, recently reviewed here.

1. "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson

Music Videos by VideoCure

The first time I saw it, with no knowledge of who the guy was, this video bored into my soul and filled my heart with icewater. I remember thinking, is this guy even human, or some kind of CG effect? Since then, he's become more of a camp figure, but back then, this clip was the stuff of nightmares.

The Vault of Horror's Summer Reading List!

You know, sometimes you have to shut the damn TV off and curl up with a good book. Checking out BJ-C's recent summer reading post at Day of the Woman, I was inspired to quit vegging out for just a moment and stretch those brain cells that once helped me attain a Master's in English Lit. so long ago. That's right, we're going to put the movies aside and talk about books tonight.

I've been taking more of an interest than ever in horror reading ever since I started this blog, presumably because I've been exposed to more of it. I was always about the science fiction, but never really strayed too far into horror on the printed page. But that's changed lately, as even the most perfunctory glance at my overloaded bookshelves would attest.

So, with an eye to the summer months ahead, here is a list of some of the books that I'm looking forward to getting to as I wile my hours away working on my George Hamilton-like suntan...

By Scott Sigler
Three Rivers Press

My dad lent me this one, about a strange disease turning thousands of Americans into rampaging murderers. And anything that's good enough for my own personal Obi-Wan Kenobi of horror is good enough for me. Besides, BJ-C also tells me it's good. But I'll probably check it out anyway.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
By Katherine Howe

My sister picked me up this supernatural thriller for Father's Day. She works for Barnes & Noble (corporate--she ain't slingin' Seattle's Best, no offense), and apparently this brand-spankin' new novel about the Salem witch trials is currently one of B&N's "Main Selections".

Frankenstein: A Cultural History
By Susan Tyler Hitchcock
W.W. Norton & Co.

I discovered this one via Pierre Fournier's indispensible Frankensteinia blog a while back, and I've been itching to get to it ever since. A fascinating-looking study of the impact of Mary Shelley's novel throughout the past two centuries, as well as its countless incarnations, this looks like a crucial tome for any classic horror fan.

Gospel of the Living Dead
By Kim Paffenroth

Baylor University Press
Yes, Kim is indeed a fellow member of the League of Tana-Tea Drinkers, but I assure you that has nothing to do with my selection. Because I owned this book before I ever knew Kim, or was even a member of the league. This is a one-of-a-kind look at George Romero's Dead series from a religious perspective. Scholarly, spiritual and horrific all at the same time, from a guy who proves you can be religious and still love horror.

The Rising
By Brian Keene
Leisure Books

This one goes back a few years, but I've found Keene to be one of the most promising new horror novelists, and so I'm anxious to jump into what looks like it could be his best. He won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel for this zombie uprising tale.

The Loch
By Steve Alten

Tor Books

Hot off the proverbial presses, this novel is all about Scotland's infamous Loch Ness--only it seems that the creature living in it is not the gentle, mysterious Monster of familiar lore, but rather a bloodthirsty beast consuming luckless Scotsmen by the fistful.

By James A. Moore


Another brand new novel, this one has been thus far one of the best reviewed of the year. A salty sea yarn set in New England and drawing heavily on Lovecraftian themes, it also looks like a breezy, easy little read at just 273 pages. A welcome break from typical doorstopper genre novels.

They Hunger
By Scott Nicholson

This 2007 effort from the Bram Stoker-nominated Nicholson (a professed Vault Dweller, by the way) brings us subhuman, bat-like vampires hunting hapless white-water rafters and anti-abortion activists on the run from the FBI. How's that for original? Publisher's Weekly describes it as a "vampiric Deliverance". Nice!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Horror Movie Makeover: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

From the minds of Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna, the men who brought you such visions of terror as Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Return of the Living Dead III, comes this horrifying tale of science gone tragically wrong...

Wayne Szalinski is a man playing with the forces of nature, venturing to the border of man's given domain in an attempt to wield more power than the human race was ever meant to wield. Specifically, his feverish experiments are concerned with the manipulation of matter, with shrinking objects down from their original size into grotesque, miniaturized versions--a direct affront to the divine order.

Caught up in the excitement of his discoveries, Dr. Szalinski, like so many other mad scientists before him, neglects to consider the dangerous ramifications of his creation. And so it happens that one day, while he is absent from his laboratory, his own children and their friends are accidentally exposed to his infernal device's piercing blue ray.

As a result, they are shrunk down to the size of insects, and in that instant, our everyday world becomes a hell on earth, with lethal threats waiting around every corner. Ignorant of the result of his tampering with nature, the doctor accidentally sweeps his own children into the garbage and puts them outside, forcing them to embark on a hellacious journey across the lawn and back into the house--a rather simple trip transformed into a death ride thanks to their father's crime against God.

Along the way, the four innocent children are subjected to horrors the likes of which normal-sized humans would never consider. A lawnmower becomes a colossal engine of vivisection; a sprinkler showers death from above upon them; and ordinary garden bugs become massive, demonic predators set on devouring their flesh. As hunger gnaws at their insides, they are forced to fight for their sustenance with towering, bloodthirsty ants.

Helpless to do anything about it as the realization dawns on him of what he's actually done, Dr. Szalinski, panic-stricken after the fact, attempts to find his lost children, with the aid of his wife and the other frantic parents. But despite their best efforts, it is actually the family dog that rescues the children from certain death, bringing them back into the house on its back like so many festering ticks.

Yet the danger is not over. In the most cruel twist of fate of all, the doctor nearly eats his own children after they plunge accidentally into his morning breakfast. Once again, it is the dog that save the children from being torn to pieces, and at last Dr. Szalinski discovers the children and siezes upon the opportunity to correct the grievous sin he has committed.

On that fateful afternoon, Dr. Szalinski is given the second chance so many of us in life never get, especially those whose transgressions are so egregious. It is only after finding a way to use his machine to return the children to their natural state, that Dr. Szalinski at last understands the price of venturing into matters forbidden to man...

Horror Movie Quotes! Get Your Horror Movie Quotes Here!

Because I'm a sucker for great horror movie quotes, and also because I already spent my creative energies crafting a fine guest post tonight over at Day of the Woman, I'm sharing with you tonight the fruit of someone else's hard work. Enjoy this collection of memorable quotes/scenes from some all-time fan fave fright flicks, courtesy of hexxus3:

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And if you haven't already, head to DotW to check out said guest post, an in-depth look at the rising trend of horror fandom in the female population...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Deadgirl: This Year's "Inside"?

I had the privilege last week of interviewing Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, directors of next month's shocking new addition to the horror landscape, Deadgirl. In that interview, they provided me some insight into the making of this truly challenging and daring film. If you haven't heard it, I encourage you to do so.

Deadgirl is the kind of a film that might make you angry while watching it, but only because it asks questions you're not comfortable being asked. At the heart of the picture is the ethical conundrum: How far would you go if you knew there would be no consequences?

The central conceit of the film revolves around Rickie and JT, two high school misfits who stumble upon a strange, silent girl strapped to a table in the bowels of an abandoned mental asylum. Once they discover that she apparently can't be killed, and also that no one else knows she's there, things start to get hairy. One of the two, JT, descends into a pit of moral relativism, turning the captive female into his own personal sex slave, while Rickie attempts to balance his friendship with said JT and his own sense of right and wrong.

In the beginning, I'll admit, the movie made me a bit angry. I sat there watching it, thinking, is this really these guys' opinion of the human race? Who would really do something like this, torture someone for no reason, and seemingly normal, everyday teenagers, to boot? But after sad and careful consideration, I had to admit that, yes, humans do have this capacity in them. Anyone who doesn't agree need only watch the six o'clock news for a few minutes. This is reality, folks. Happens every day.

The movie is anchored by two fine performances from Shiloh Fernandez as Rickie and Noah Segan (of the upcoming Cabin Fever 2) as JT. Segan in particular is impressive, effecting the moral transformation from angsty teen outcast to sadistic, depraved monster with convincing skill. The friendship between the two boys is very important to the film, and although it starts off a bit slow in establishing this friendship, I urge you to stick with it.

Written by prolific horror scribe Trent Haaga (Jessicka Rabid, Citizen Toxie), the film comes across as part grueling horror, part adolescent coming-of-age story. It's certainly not your typical horror flick, and in many ways reminded me of another, similarly envelope-pushing, unorthodox horror film, Inside. Like that film, this one plays with our sense of morality, asks uncomfortable questions, and assaults our senses with brutal imagery and ideas.

Also like Inside, Deadgirl doesn't revel in shock for shock's sake. Unlike much of what is called "torture porn", it has something to say, and everything we see, as disgusting and painful as it may be, serves an artistic purpose. Like Inside, I wouldn't even classify this as exploitation cinema. This is a very serious film, with a serious message.

And I warn you, this really is quite the uncompromising piece of cinema. Characters make decisions that will leave you reeling--even characters you like. And not to spoil anything, but the ending left me feeling brutalized (in a good way), questioning everything I had seen before. It's the ultimate capper to a movie that isn't afraid to make daring statements and tell us things we don't want to hear. It's bleak, tragic, and unfortunately, completely believable, and represents a stunning end to the film's central character arc.

Gorgeous model Jenny Spain plays the titular "dead girl"--a mysterious creature whose bizarre affliction we never really come to understand. Her silent performance is enigmatic and gripping--at times she's a victim, at others, a monster. It's an interesting twist on the whole, "creepy, strangely beautiful, silent female" trope that seems to be so popular in horror these days.

Another element which strengthens the film is the fine, haunting score by Joseph Bauer, which resonates throughout every scene. It reminded me very much of the excellent score for Let the Right One In, in that it's not what one would expect from a movie of this kind, and adds another layer of depth with its rich beauty. I'll be keeping an ear out for future Bauer scores.

After turning a lot of heads at film festivals this year, Deadgirl (which was completed last year), will finally be getting its theatrical release next month. For those who are constantly on the hunt for new, groundbreaking, original horror, I urge you to seek out the closest theater near you that'll be showing it. Worst case scenario, snatch up the DVD when it comes out. Taste in films is always subjective, but from my point of view as a horror fan, this is the kind of movie I tend to gravitate toward--an intelligent film free of so many of the ills plaguing the horror scene today.

OMG! Vanessa Hudgens Loves Horror Movies...

You know what the toughest part is about being an affiliate for both Bloody-Disgusting and FEARnet? It's the fact that I can't really rely on reporting on anything that gets covered on either of those sites, since much of my traffic often comes from there, and I don't want those poor readers to be stumbling on stuff they've already just read. And so... sigh... I'm left with nights like this one, when I dig through the dregs of horror-related goings-on and come upon chestnuts like this one.

I guess I'm more amused at the notion that this actually made news, more than anything else. It seems, people, according to ShowBizSpy.com, that Disney darling Vanessa Hudgens loves horror movies! Here's what Zac Efron's High School Musical co-star/girlfriend and Perez Hilton's least favorite human being had to say:

“I love scary movies but recently, not so much. I live by myself now, so if I watched a scary film I would not be able to go to sleep. So I need to have someone there with me. I love horror classics like The Exorcist and Poltergeist.”

You hear that, guys? Anyone up to the task? I know my seven-year-old daughter would be all over it. She loves her some horror movies, and some High School Musical! I think she'd get a kick out of introducing V-Hudge to Bloodsucking Freaks and Zombie Holocaust. Just kidding--I haven't shown here those yet, of course. That can wait till fourth grade.

Ironically, Hudgens' next two upcoming projects have a horror tinge to them--next year's Beauty & The Beast-inspired Beastly, and the fantasy-thriller Sucker Punch in 2011.

Hmmm. I admit, I could've put more effort into putting something together for tonight's post. But I didn't. Whatcha gonna do about it? Nothing. That's what I thought.

Here's to increased motivation tomorrow!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Quarter-Century of Krueger: How a Porn Producer Changed the Face of Horror

From the very beginning, the man who would bring Freddy Krueger to Elm Street had a hard time fitting in with the middle-American, conformist dream. Born into a Baptist family in Cleveland, Ohio, Wesley Earl Craven suffered through an unhappy childhood before leaving as soon as he could to pursue a degree at Wheaton College in Illinois.

After studying English literature, writing and psychology, it seemed that Wes Craven was destined to be your garden-variety humanities college teacher--but that was a far cry from where his path was headed. By the end of the 1960s, his first marriage was over, as was his teaching career.

Craven went to New York and tried to earn money any way he could, first as a cab driver, and later finding work as a sound editor for a movie post-production company. This would be Wes' first taste of the motion picture industry. However, because that industry was so very different from what it is today, Craven's path to horror superstardom would take a decidedly unexpected turn first.

Joining forces with fellow future horror groundbreaker Sean Cunningham, Craven threw his hat into the "adult documentary" biz that was beginning to blossom at the time. Specifically, the two men, with the help of "investors", produced the softcore sex film Together, featuring the future star of Behind the Green Door, the late Marilyn Chambers. As with many such flicks of the day, it posed as an informational film, while really showcasing titillating scenes of frank sensuality.

It must be remembered by modern film-goers that this was a very different time, when respectable middle-class couples lined up around the block to see The Devil in Miss Jones, and the likes of Frank Sinatra and Spiro Agnew sat in the audience for Deep Throat. If you think porn is mainstream today, then you'd really be surprised by the early 1970s, when the genre came as close as it has ever been to the mainstream industry.

And so, a movie like Together seemed like a perfectly natural way for two aspiring filmmakers like Craven and Cunningham to cut their teeth and put together some capital. But next up, the investors behind the operation, in their infinite wisdom, decided that it might be a good idea to shift gears from sex to violence, and asked the boys to put together a horror movie.

That movie would be the still-controversial exploitation film The Last House on the Left, produced by Cunningham, and directed by Craven from a script he based off Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1958). Featuring graphic depictions of rape, disembowelment and sexual mutilation, Craven's directorial debut pushed the envelope like no film ever had before. Some were genuinely repulsed by it, while others recognized it as a daring piece of filmmaking. It also must be understood that in the cultural climate of the day, many probably viewed it in the same light as a film like Together--exploitation, after all, is exploitation. There were also the shady associations attached to the film, the funding for which had come largely from the porn industry.

But as much of a career-maker as Last House was, Wes wasn't done with the world of skin flicks just yet. As a matter of fact, his next project after his horror picture would be a film he edited called It Happened in Hollywood, the one and only hardcore porn flick that Craven would be associated with, written and directed by benefactor Peter Locke.

After that, it was horror all the way for Wes Craven. The genre had become big business in the 1970s, and was a way for Craven to make a name for himself in a fashion that was a bit closer (though not much) to the mainstream. With Locke still providing funding, Craven struck out without Cunningham and wrote/directed his next horror picture, The Hills Have Eyes.

This one was an even bigger hit. Ironically, considering the intense subject matter of the film about genetic mutants terrorizing a family of tourists, the film was a bit more accessible to the masses than the brutal Last House, and helped make Wes Craven a name in the horror business.

With enough success under his belt to completely escape the shadow of the porn biz and Locke's money in particular, Craven came under the auspices of big-time production company PolyGram and distributor United Artists for the admittedly mediocre supernatural thriller Deadly Blessing. Next up was Swamp Thing, a campy, quirky and inventive comic book movie that had the terrible misfortune of coming out in the summer of 1982 (E.T., Wrath of Khan, Conan the Barbarian, Poltergeist... get the picture?) That would be followed by a TV movie, Invitation to Hell.

It seemed for a fleeting moment like Last House and Hills Have Eyes were aberrations, and that Craven, free of the grindhouse milieu, was destined for horror oblivion. But thanks to a script he had written right around the time he was making Deadly Blessing, that would not be so. It had bounced around from studio to studio, largely getting turned down for being too ambitious from a special effects point of view. Based roughly on some bits of Germanic folklore and crossed with the then-burgeoning slasher subgenre, that script would be A Nightmare on Elm Street.

No one wanted to take a chance on it, largely because films of that nature were usually considered pretty small-time, and couldn't command the necessary budget. But dying distribution house New Line Cinema, which had taken chances in the past with the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Dead, opted to take it on. This would be the first film actually produced by the company that had previously only been in the distribution biz.

And the rest is horror history. Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street made him literally a household name, along with his greatest creation, Freddy Krueger. It also saved New Line Cinema from bankruptcy and positioned it as such a viable property that it would eventually be bought up by Ted Turner. Despite being shut down recently, it was, till the end, known as "The House that Freddy Built" (but should've been "The House that Wes Built").

Craven had come along way from the New York grindhouse porn scene to the new, mainstream pop culture world of '80s horror. His landmark film would become arguably the most identifiable and popular horror film of the entire decade, and established Craven as a true visionary of the macabre. The films that followed, including the likes of Deadly Friend, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Shocker, The People Under the Stairs, Red Eye, and of course the Scream series, would only further solidify that well-deserved reputation.

VAULT VLOG: The Horrors... of the Transformers

Friday, June 26, 2009

Orphan: The Return of Killer Kids!

Hello there Vault Dwellers, it's BJ-C here of Day of the Woman filling in for B-Sol as he does the dad thing and takes the little one to see Transformers 2. Fingers crossed we get a post about that experience! A while back, B-Sol and I compiled a list for BD about the 16 Creepiest Kids In Horror Flicks. As I look back on this list, all of the "newer" killer kids were little bit parts that weren't major parts of the film. Aside from the awesome new film The Children we haven't been given TOO much as far as terrifying tykes are considered.

Of course there are exceptions, so don't think I'm "leaving out such and such" I promise, I know it exists...anyway. I love a good psycho Sally as much as the next person, and let me just tell you...I can't WAIT for Orphan to come out. This little girl looks like she could be the next Rhoda Penmark. Hell, that face is petrifying. Damien Thorn's icy glare used to get me, but you could tell he was glaring. This girl...she looks like she's looking into my soul. The actress playing this freaky daughter is Isabelle Fuhrman; who's also going to be in the new Children of the Corn flick...clearly this chick knows what she's doing. There is something wrong with Esther...and I really want to find out what. I've included the trailer, be prepared to feel really creeped out...and excited!

Retro Review: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920)

Welcome back one and all, to the one and only, the real, the original Retro Review, right here in The Vault of Horror. Accept no substitutes!

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When asked what is my favorite silent horror film, I always went the tried-and-true route of most horror fans and chose F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu. But now, after viewing the 1920 version of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde starring John Barrymore for the first time, I may just have to change my tune. Maybe.

I'm also torn, because I always have had a special spot in my heart for the 1931 version starring Fredrich March. However, in a lot of ways, I found myself liking this silent version even better.

To my mind, it's all about Barrymore's performance. What's incredible is the fact that very little makeup is used--rather, the actor effects the transformation almost entirely through his bearing and facial expressions. It sounds hard to believe unless you've seen it, but I can assure you, it's brilliant to watch. Clearly, Barrymore's stage training came in handy in helping him communicate so much with body language and facial movement.

The 1931 version opted to go the heavy makeup route, and dazzle with transformative special effects, resulting in a simian, truly monstrous Hyde. But in a lot of ways, what Barrymore did was more challenging. Aside from a greasy fright wig, some shadowing, and fake teeth, he pretty much had to sell you on this transformation through his dramatic power. In this respect, it's actually more similar to the 1941 version starring Spencer Tracy. However, as much as Tracy is one of my all-time favorite actors, he was hopelessly miscast in the role, whereas Barrymore is right on the money.

Maybe it's because I know a thing or two about Barrymore's matinee idol status and personal demons, but it's very easy for me to buy him as both Jekyll and Hyde. Much like March, he pulls off both excellently, effecting the moralism and earnestness of the good doctor just as well as the barbarity and lasciviousness of his repulsive "friend".

And while we're on the subject of lasciviousness, I think no other cinematic version of Robert Louis Stevenson's tale that I've seen deals as frankly with the sexual subtext as this one. Jekyll & Hyde is very much about Victorian sexual repression and its consequences, and in this particular version, there is none of the vague, genteel beating-around-the-bush that we get in later versions. Jekyll's temptation into a world of sin is made quite plain, as is his creation of Hyde as a way of letting loose his carnal impulses.

In Dr. Jekyll's 19th century world, a man of his stature had to to maintain certain levels of decorum to function in polite society, wed, and prosper. But as Hyde, he is free to descend into a depraved underworld of sex, drugs and murder. March pulls this off quite well in Rouben Mamoulian's '30s version, but I'm tempted to say that Barrymore does it even better.

The only drawback in comparing the two performances, in which March inevitably wins out, naturally, is the fact that Barrymore's performance is without sound. Nevertheless, it is even more of a testament to his chops as a world-class thespian that he can mesmerize you from beginning to end without uttering a single recorded word.

Thanks to the marvelous Kino Video, they of the equally excellent Nosferatu special edition DVD, I was able to experience the film with the original color tinting restored, as well as the original score pieced back together and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. And what a powerful score it is, proving that, strictly speaking, silent movies were never really silent.

In addition to the masterful Barrymore, veteran supporting player Brandon Hurst shines devilishly as the father of Jekyll's lady love, who initially leads him into temptation. Also memorable is Nita Naldi (above) in a star-making turn as the doomed Italian club singer who becomes the target/victim of Henry Hyde's appetites.

While the Europeans were doing their thing, this was the flick that put horror on the Hollywood map, and with good reason. A bona fide treat for fans of classic terror, as well as for fans of great acting.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Goodnight, Sweet Angel

Hump-Day Harangue: It's Official, the Saturns Are Bullshit

Forgive the salty language in my title tonight, Vault Dwellers, but your host for all things horror is biting mad. Why, you ask? Well, it might have something to do with the newly announced winners of the 2009 Saturn Awards, handed out mere hours ago. And the fact that the winner for Best Horror Film was.... Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army. It's official, people. The Saturns no longer have any credibility when it comes to horror! I'm calling it--June 25, 2009, 3:01 A.M.

Don't get me wrong, I loves me some Hellboy. Guillermo del Toro is a mad genius, and his latest Hellboy sequel brilliantly transitioned the series from Lovecraft to Tolkien. Enjoyed every second of it, as did my pint-sized protege/son. An underrated movie that deserved more box office love than it got.

But Hellboy II is barely horror-related, being more of a fantasy action flick than anything else. Sure there are monsters and whatnot, but horror? I'm all for stretching the definition of horror. But not this year. Not when there were so many unbelievable true horror films put out there.

Have we forgotten so soon? The year 2008 gave us The Midnight Meat Train. Eden Lake. Martyrs. The Strangers. Repo! The Genetic Opera. The Ruins. And what was for my money the finest film of the entire year hands down, horror or otherwise, Let the Right One In. And you're going to tell me that the movie that wins out is a fantasy/action/comedy with some vague horror-ish elements thrown in? This is buffoonery of the highest order.

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films has really dropped the ball here. I mean, there have been Saturns bestowed that have made me scratch my head, and wonder if it was even necessary to give them out to anyone at all, but this one is beyond head-scratching. This one is just negligent.

The film that should've won, Let the Right One In, was instead given the patronizing Best International Film award. But I say, why couldn't it have won both? Hell, I would've been satisfied had ANY of the flicks mentioned two paragraphs up walked away with the prize. But it's almost as if the Academy went out of its way to reward a movie that was furthest from horror out of anything nominated.

Past winners have hinted to me that this organization is out of touch, but this is the clincher. These people wouldn't know good horror if it jumped up from behind and ate their brains out.

And that means only one thing, as far as I'm concerned. That's right, it means that the Cyber-Horror Awards now have more credibility than the Saturns when it comes to our genre of choice! And to that I say, huzzah! I had a blast doing them the first time, and I'm already looking forward to next year's awards. And now that I know that the Saturns are worthless, the pressure is really on...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

VAULT EXCLUSIVE: Interview with the Directors of Deadgirl

The web is suddenly abuzz with talk of next month's release, Deadgirl, the festival darling that recently rocked my personal world. It's the shocking story of two high school outcasts who discover an apparently indestructible girl imprisoned in the basement of an abandoned mental asylum, and the things they'd be willing to do without fear of consequences...

I'll be putting together a review for some time next week, but for now, I had an opportunity to interview Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, co-directors of the flick, and I'd like to share that with you in the form of my latest Vaultcast below.

If you prefer, you can also visit the official Vaultcast page, where you can download the file in its entirety to listen to at your leisure.

Keep an eye out for Deadgirl in limited release beginning July 24.

VAULT EXCLUSIVE: Check Out the New Trailer for Nazi Zombie Flick Dead Snow!

As you may know, I've been looking forward to this one for some time now, and am contemplating making a run to NYC to check it out in its limited theatrical release (Alas, I was there today, but with the kiddies. And as hip to the horror thang as they may be, I ain't about to expose 'em to the undead S.S.)

So I'm sharing with you tonight this very special, hot-off-the-presses (or whatever videos are hot off of) brand new trailer for the Norwegian zom-com that has everyone talking. Despite Tenebrous Kate's recent disappointing review, I think I'm going to have to stick it out and hope for the best on this one!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Tuesday Top 10: Favorite Horror-Themed Songs

Day of the Woman's thought-provoking post yesterday on the intersection between music and horror has put me in a musical state of mind. And so, for today's Tuesday Top 10, I've compiled my all-time favorite horror-themed songs. Now, some of these tunes are scary, and others are just steeped in the horror milieu. So scariness was not a requirement. Rather, these are the top songs that come to my mind in connection with the genre I adore so much...

10. The Time Warp
What would the list be without a number from the greatest horror musical of them all. Just a fun, anthemic song that epitomizes what The Rocky Horror Picture Show is all about, and why it has gained such an infectious fan following. Plus, I just love Magenta's Marlene Dietrich impression.

9. Black Sabbath
The title song of Black Sabbath's self-titled first album is a genuinely terrifying song. Just listening to Ozzy wail, "Oh no, no, please, God help me!" gives me goosebumps. A sinister song that was probably partly to blame for legions of parents freaking out over their kids listening to this band.

8. Thriller
How could I not include Michael Jackson's pop ode to zombie culture? Plus, the video was even directed by John Landis. Big-time extra points for the rockin' appearance of the one and only Vincent Price, delivering perhaps the greatest rap of all time. "The funk of 40,000 years," indeed. V-Price could spit mad lyrics, yo.

7. Werewolves of London
God bless Warren Zevon. This staple of 1980s classic rock radio is the kind of song you just can't get out of your head. Plus, you've got major references to Lon Chaney Jr. and Sr., and the title itself is Universal-inspired. I'll never give up hope of one day seeing a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vick's. Hopefully, his hair will be perfect.

6. The Thing That Should Not Be
Metallica be some horror freaks, with a particular obsession with the work of H.P. Lovecraft. And this song is their magnum opus to the Cthulhu mythos, creepy as hell and grim in the extreme. In fact, I recommend you check out this excellent fan video created for the song--pointed out to me by the Vault's resident Lovecraft expert, RayRay.

5. Ghostbusters
Rumor has it that Ivan Reitman wanted Huey Lewis & The News to record the title song for his movie, but when they turned him down, he brought in smooth jazz crooner Ray Parker Jr. and got him to basically record a Huey Lewis-style song. Whatever the case may be, there is probably no one born between 1970 and 1980 who doesn't know all the lyrics by heart...

4. Surfin' Dead
God damn, but this is a great song by The Cramps, featured prominently in the soundtrack to The Return of the Living Dead. In fact, that flick is filled to the brim with rockin' horror tunes, so I figured I'd limit it to just one. In reality, I could probably fill this entire list with them if I wanted to.

3. Don't Fear the Reaper
Such bleak subject matter for such a mellow-sounding song! Blue Oyster Cult's biggest hit pops up in the original Halloween, and of course was also the opening theme to the miniseries of Stephen King's The Stand. Forty-thousand men and women every day...

2. The Monster Mash
So corny, but so much damn fun. Who doesn't love Bobby "Boris" Pickett's iconic novelty smash of the 1960s. A surf-tinged tune that conjures up all the innocent fun of the "monster kid" era. I can play this one for my kids 20 times in a row, and they'll still keep asking for it. In fact, it would've been very easy to slap this one up at number one. But I had to be brutally honest with myself and pick my true favorite...

1. This Is Halloween
It figures that Danny Elfman, formerly of Oingo Boingo, would come up with this deliciously eery theme song for Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. The song is a perfect homage to childhood terrors, and sets the scene excellently for Burton's unique vision. This one always reminds me of what it's like to be a kid hiding under the covers from vampires... Plus, Marilyn Manson also did an awesome cover of it!

Some inevitable runners-up:
  • "I Put a Spell on You" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus
  • "Love Song for a Vampire" by Annie Lennox
  • "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo
  • "The Downward Spiral" by Nine Inch Nails
  • "Nature Trail to Hell" by Weird Al Yankovic
  • "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson
  • "Summer Breeze" by Type O-Negative
  • "Mad Monster Party" by Ethel Ennis

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Vault's Sister Blog Has Joined the League!

It is with profuse enthusiasm that I announce that Day of the Woman, the one and only sister site to the greatest horror blog on the Information Superhighway--namely The Vault of Horror--has at long last been accepted into the prestigious League of Tana Tea Drinkers, the grooviest conglomeration of evildoers this side of the Legion of Doom.

Welcome aboard, BJ-C. Now get back to work!

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