Friday, October 30, 2009

Camera Obscura: Halloween Top Five; Monster Catfish; Hammer Films Is Back, Baby!

The British film company Hammer Films, which gave us the timeless performances of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as well as a vast army of horror films is back in business.

The company is back with several new projects, and late in September of this year their huge archive of movies got a boost with a gorgeous book of lush photos called "Hammer Glamour", filled with rare and unpublished photos of the women of Hammer horror. Including:

Hammer favorites featured in the book include “glamourpuss” Stephanie Beacham (Dracula A.D. 1972), exotic Martine Beswicke (One Million Years B.C., Slave Girls, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde), classical blonde beauty Veronica Carlson (Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, The Horror of Frankenstein), vampy twins Mary and Madeleine Collins (Twins of Evil), “buxom redhead” Hazel Court (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Man Who Could Cheat Death), “smoldering sexpot” Vera Day (Quatermass 2), beautiful brunette Caroline Munro (Dracula A.D. 1972, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter), coquettish Kate O’Mara (The Vampire Lovers, The Horror of Frankenstein), iconic Ingrid Pitt (The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula), bombshell Barbara Shelley (The Camp on Blood Island, The Secret of Blood Island, Dracula Prince of Darkness, Rasputin the Mad Monk, Quatermass and the Pit), nymph Madeline Smith (Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Vampire Lovers, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell) and, perhaps the most well-known of them all, the stunning Raquel Welch (One Million Years B.C.)."

More on the book here and here and here.

Even better news - the company is making movies again. First up is "The Resident", starring Hillary Swank and Christopher Lee. The story centers on Swank, a doctor who moves into a new apartment and discovers her landlord is darkly obsessed with her - horrible hijinks ensue. The movie is set for release in 2010. Sir Christopher Lee, approaching 90, recently was featured in this report from CNN.

Hammer has also joined with Overture Films for an English language version of the Swedish horror movie "Let The Right One In", a fantastic film and one of the best released movies of 2008. This children-as-vampires tale which Hammer is prepping is titled simply "Let Me In" and is being directed by Matt Reeves, the director of "Cloverfield". The official Hammer Films website has all the latest news on the movie.

And be sure to explore Hammer's website, which is loaded with images and clips from their historic heydays and plans for the future. A full archive of all their films is listed and there's even a trivia game to play.


Turner Classic Movies has a day-long Halloween marathon for Saturday, and in the wee hours between Friday and Saturday they are showing a seldom-seen low-budget horror movie shot in Florida in 1971 called "Zaat". The movie was also parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000 under the title "Blood Waters of Dr. Z". It's no wonder MSTK3 picked it up, as the movie has a horrible guy-in-a-rubber-suit monster and builds it's terror on the lowly catfish. TCM has a great write-up on the making of the movie and here's the original (and very funny) trailer for the movie.


Still looking for a good scary movie for this Halloween? Here's five suggestions, guaranteed to chill your holiday.

NOTE -- for all the movies listed below, watch them with the lights out and the volume cranked up and you'll have one scary time!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - the original, gut-wrenching nightmare. The remakes don't even come close to the raw terror of this first movie.

Night of the Living Dead - the ultimate zombie movie from George Romero still packs a punch, though it does start slowly and the acting is kind of weak, the grim black and white photography and the naked fear of the characters all work to create solid scares.

The Evil Dead - filmed in Morristown by director Sam Raimi, it too seems a bit silly at first, but builds and builds to some genuine terror.

Pulse - the original Japanese version of this movie is one of my favorites from the last 10 or 15 years. It's a subtle tale of terror about what happens when folks spend too much time alone on the computer and ends up as a worldwide holocaust.

Night of the Creeps - this campy comedy horror movie from 1986 just arrived this week on DVD and has aliens, zombies, teenagers and a tough-talking cop. And brain slugs. It's pure, Grade-A 1908s schlock and one of those underrated cult films which sometimes crops up on cable in various mutilated cuts. Check out the original, it's a hoot. You might like to follow it up with director Fred Dekker's other 80s cult hit, "The Monster Squad:, suitable for kids and starring Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Creature from The Black Lagoon!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Halloween Meat Hand

The folks at Not Martha have provided you with a step-by-step recipe to create a memorable Halloween menu item - the Meat Hand. As the blogger there says, "Since August, I've had a post-it over my desk that simply said 'meat hand'." I'm sure co-workers were a bit concerned to see the phrase "meat hand" hovering over your desk.

From the onion fingernails to the wrist-bone, and melted cheese and ketchup, I have to say that a meat hand lying in a mashed potato bed would likely be an attention-getter for your holiday gatherings.

The post mentioned above will also take you through various versions of the recipe before perfection was attained.

If you'd like a Halloween libation, then you might like to try the Brain Shooter.

Recipe is here.

Still, for a plain old gross out food, it is hard to be more disgusting than Kitty Litter Cake. As for me, I would sample the meat hand first and avoid the catbox cake.

And since we're talking meaty Halloweens, perhaps you'd like to learn how to make your very own Bacon Halloween costume.


15 Bogeymen from around the world! Includes the nefarious persimmon from Korea!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Col. Sanders Dupes U.N. Into Playing Chicken

A publicity stunt last Thursday by Kentucky Fried Chicken worked a little too well as a United Nations security guard allowed an actor dressed as Col. Sanders into some "secure" areas of the U.N. The fellow got so far as approaching a host of U.N. TV crews and began speaking of the importance of the "Grilled Nation".

U.N. officials are "still trying to find out exactly what happened" according to reports, which must mean they have not yet decided who to fire and whether or not to prosecute the marketing department of KFC.

As mentioned in the report linked above "UN TV crews eventually raised the alarm after being stunned when the impersonator approached cameras set up for diplomats ... At that point, additional security guards arrived and escorted him from the building."

Yes, both Burger King and Mayor McCheese are still in the U.N. waiting room seeking an audience with diplomats. Maybe they can all meet for lunch.

My Feeble Computer Code Skills

I noticed this weekend that for readers who use Internet Explorer, this page is not loading correctly and all the sidebar items -- the right-hand side of the layout -- don't work and end up sliding down to the bottom of the page.

For other web browsers, the page here looks fine -- well, I think it does, you'll have to notify me if it does not look right for you.

So I am tinkering a bit with the layout to try and puzzle out why and suddenly I notice the message that IE sees an error in line 1,073. Now the thought of counting lines of code is as appealing as brushing my teeth with a roll of barbed wire.

So as I ponder my layout design and add new items and trash some old ones, here's my advice to you folks who view this blog via IE -- stop, get Firefox or Chrome or Opera or something else. And since there are so many who do view this blog daily using IE, I appreciate your willingness to read here even though the layout is borked. You should have told me. Or maybe it is just my IE browser which is having problems.

Thanks for your patience. And as always, thanks for your readership, however and whenever you do read.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just Going to See Grandma in Knoxville for the Holidays is Going to Be a Problem

That's the quote from a Charlotte Observer story on a massive rock slide which is so big, it will take about 3 months or more to clear both lanes of I-40 for safe traveling.

The Asheville Citizen-Times has lots of pictures of the huge slide, and here is a sample.

Some of the comments at this Asheville C-T report shows that some folks consider this a vast conspiracy, a sign of impending national doom, the fault of one or several groups of people who act or think or dress certain ways or a mini-earthquake. A sample:

Seriously though, this rockslide is just the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the Pigeon River Gorge screw-up. This all started back in the 1960s, if not earlier. The highway engineers stated that the best route for the proposed I-40 was through the French Broad River Gorge, not the Pigeon River Gorge. However, big money (especially tourism interests in both North Carolina and Tennesse) bought off the right politicians in both North Carolina and Tennessee and got this borderline disaster built through the Pigeon River Gorge. Special interests just had to get this road closer to Gatlinburg and Cherokee. It cost a million dollars a mile to build it. It is probably going to cost a million miles PER FOOT just to maintain it. What a legacy to leave future generations. Big money plus corrup- politicians equals a great big screw-up with no end in sight."

So far, I'm surprised no one has blamed the lack of prayer in schools for this event. Maybe you could just tell Grandma you were abducted by aliens.