Guest writer Ryan McSwain is here to gush about his favorite horror movie. Check out his new horror-thriller novel, Monsters All the Way Down, available in softcover and on Kindle. You can follow Ryan McSwain on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
I’ve loved horror movies since I was a little kid, watching the old Universal Monsters with my dad. As I got older, it became harder to find movies that provided a genuine scare. I’m not talking about cat-jumping-out-of-closets scares, I’m talking about slithering-under-your-skin, festering-in-your-subconscious scares. The kind you find when going down Jacob’s Ladder.
This movie really needs the Mondo poster treatment.
Continue reading Horror Month Day 15: Jacob’s Ladder
2014’s Worst Costumes gets a sequel because the fan’s demanded it. Actually, Chris and I had so much fun putting together the last one that it was inevitable. Enjoy some of the worst costumes we could find on the internet this year.
Chris: Great. I’m completely dumbfounded right off the bat. Why is this costume full of condom wrappers?
Vincent: Maybe it’s the AIDs bucket challenge and they screwed up.
Photo Provided by: Brands on Sale
Continue reading 2014’s Worst Halloween Costumes: The Sequel!
Today’s review comes to us from guest writer Jason Rodriguez, editor of Colonial Comics, an anthology telling interesting stories about the colonization of North America in comic book form. Available in bookstores and amazon now.
I was 11 years old when I started working in a video store part-time. This was a very bad thing for my developmental years. Imagine having unlimited access to raunchy comedies, pornography, and horror movies at the age of eleven and then imagine how that would shape your perception of the world around you and stay with you for years and even decades to come. That should set the scene for my impressionable 11-year-old self.
I watched a lot of horror movies at 11, and even before I was 11. It was different times back in the 80s. PG-13 was still relatively new and I saw Gremlins and Temple of Doom in the movie theater at the age of 6, two terrifying movies. Poltergeist was rated PG and I saw it at the age of five at my uncle’s house because my older cousin was watching it and it was made by “that Spielberg guy” so how bad could it be? My family thought it was funny that the movie terrified me and would jump out from behind dark corners to scare me afterwards. Different times, man.
So by the time I turned 11 I was essentially desensitized to horror. I managed to sneak in all of the Friday the 13ths and Nightmare on Elm Streets and Halloweens by then and horror became akin to comedy.
And then I saw Communion.
Continue reading Horror Month Day 14: Communion
It’s contest time again! Just in time for Halloween we got some Aliens Minimates that we want to give away. Two lucky winners can get their hands on some of these sweet figures.
Prize Pack #1
First place will get Carter Burke, Pvt. Spunkmeyer, Pvt. Wierzbowski, a battle damaged Alien, an Alien Warrior, and an attacking Alien Warrior.
Prize Pack #2
A second place winner is going to get two Alien Warriors and an Attacking Alien Warrior.
How to Win:
There are two ways to enter.
1. Like The Robot’s Pajamas Facebook page and comment on this thread right here and tell us why you like Aliens.
2. Follow The Robot’s Pajams on Twitter and tweet, “I wanna win some Minimates Aliens #RobotsPJs”
Two lucky random follower/likers will be picked.
Contest ends 10/31/14. Shipping will be free in the continental U.S. If you live outside of the Continental U.S. you’re going to have to pony up the cost of shipping. Winners have 3 days to get back to us with their shipping address or the prize(s) will be awarded to someone else.
I am an unrepentant fan of horror films. And while Saw and its six (6!) sequels are not films I could put up against The Shining or The Exorcist in terms of overall quality, I will defend them as entertaining, scary and holding a moral core. The Saw films are frequently referred to as “torture porn” but I’ve never subscribed to that as an accurate label for these films. Other movies like Hostel came out at the same time that I think fit that bill but the key difference is how much of a fair chance the lead characters have in escaping a death trap. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Saw movies are all about escaping death traps set up by a mentally unstable person who is trying to get people to either pay for their perceived crimes or be forced to radically change their ways. At its core that’s an interesting idea. I’m going to explain why I think the Saw films are worth watching if you haven’t tried them.
Continue reading Horror Month Day 13: Saw
TMNT promotes childhood obesity.
It’s a classic Friday Round Up full of geek news and opinions that you’ve come to base your whole life around. There’s some movie, toy, and TV stuff in this edition. Read up, and let us know what you think!
DC Finally Has Movies: DC is all in releasing a list of their planned movies, which include pretty much every one of the 75 heroes showing up in Batman v Superman or Superman v. Batman, whatever that thing is. 2020 is a long ass ways away. I’ll… be 42 when the Green Lantern film comes out. That’s putting me in a really weird place right now. Thanks, DC.
Iron Man vs. Captain America: Variety is reporting that Robert Downey Jr. is close to signing a deal to make him a major player in Captain America 3, which will focus on the Civil War storyline in the comics. I thought that was a pretty stupid storyline over all and this is a bit dissapointing if true, but I guess they could handle it in some intersting way. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is pretty much my favorite Marvel movie and I’m not sure how they’d top it using Civil War as source material.
Ewoks Coming Back: The Star Wars rumor mill is going crazy again, this time with the speculation that the Ewoks will return because Warwick Davis was hired onto Star Wars 7. As much as I’m a fan of complete speculation, I think I feel that I must remind everyone that Davis was in Phantom Menace and he was clearly not an Ewok in that film. It’s also hard to imagine that they’d put something so derisive into Star Wars 7 right off the bat when they seem to be loading it up with fan service.
AICN Recommends Matty Movie: If you’re familiar with the Robot’s Pajamas you’re probably familiar with podcast co-host an cosplayer harasser Matty. Matty was in a flick called Dead Weight and the site Aint it Cool News gave Dead Weight a worth mentioning nod. We’ve had some bad blood with Aint it Cool in the past, but maybe they’re not so bad after all.
Aliens Minimates: I got a bunch of the Aliens Minimates by Diamond Select Toys this week. I haven’t had much of a chance to check them out, but they appear to be really cool. Hopefully, I’ll have time to review them soon.
Alien Egg Giveaway: Speaking of Aliens, Our pal Phillip Reed of Battle Grip is giving away some Alien Eggs from the Super 7 Alien ReAction toy line. All you have to do to enter is to leave comments on his blog. Comment away, friends! Also leave comments here, because comments are always appreciated by bloggers like me and Mr. Reed!
Twin Peaks Comes Back: We already mentioned this one the site and it’s kind of old news already, but I haven’t weighed in and said how stoked I am for the return of Twin Peaks. I love that show. And I’m hoping that they can bring the old magic back for the limited amount of episodes they have planned. I’m excited about the prospect of typing up that super loose end left dangling at the end of the last episode of season 2.
HBO Streaming: In a big move for HBO, they’ve announced that they’re going to open up their streaming service to anyone. That means you don’t have to subscribe to the cable version of HBO in order to access the streaming service. As someone who is very against piracy, I really am excited for this. I totally would pay for a service to check out what they got, cancel, and then return when they have a good amount of new content available. Showtime really needs to do this when Twin Peaks comes back, because I will pirate the shit out of that. Hey, we all have our weaknesses.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles picture was provided by Retroist’s Facebook page.
Today’s guest review comes to us from Jeff Barrus, one of the hosts of long-running tv podcast Television Zombies. He writes about his favorite horror movie, Picnic at Hanging Rock.
When thinking of horror films, Peter Weir’s 1975 film, Picnic at Hanging Rock, may not immediately come to mind. After a cursory glance, one might assume that it’s a period costume drama set in the Australian outback. But like its successors — most notably David Lynch’s Twin Peaks — Picnic at Hanging Rock operates at a much deeper level, fusing dream-like surrealism with themes of female sexuality, social class, and yes, horror.
Continue reading Horror Month Day 12: Picnic at Hanging Rock
The currently available sets: Governor’s Room, blind figure package, 5 figure box, and Daryl Dixon set.
There has been a fair amount of buzz about The Walking Dead building block sets by McFarlane Toys. Described as a Lego-type building set but with a polished veneer, Todd McFarlane bragged that they would look better and more finished than the usual Lego sets because it wouldn’t show exposed “nipples.” The fact that McFarlane called studs “nipples” was a warning sign that he perhaps did not understand the appeal of Lego building sets. But they are out now and Walking Dead is more popular than ever, with the season premier for the fifth season broke ratings records, bringing in over 17 million viewers. The comic book also continues to sell more copies every month, even after 130 issues. I picked up all the available Walking Dead construction sets and will share my thoughts on them below.
Continue reading The Walking Dead Construction Sets by McFarlane Toys Reviewed
Guest writer Benito Cereno is back! Be sure to check out his Tumblr here to read about his newest comics projects and other musings. Today he writes about one of the Hammer-produced horror films, The Horror of Dracula.
While Universal Studios had more or less dominated the horror movie market in the 1930s and 1940s with their depictions of the classic movie monsters—Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and so on—by the 1950s, tastes had shifted and the major monster pictures tended to focus more on giant bugs and other irradiated metaphors for the Red Scare and nuclear tensions. And so it would fall to a British film production company called Hammer to pick up the torch of Gothic horror in the mid-’50s, and with 1957’s The Curse of Frankenstein, they did so with style—and in vivid color. Thus began the era, which ran from the mid-’50s until the 1970s, of what is known as Hammer horror.
Hammer produced many films within the genres of horror, thriller, and science fiction, including new versions of many of the franchises Universal had made popular in the ’30s and ’40s, including Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Phantom of the Opera, and Jekyll and Hyde, as well as many original properties featuring different monsters or other deadly threats. It’s longest running franchise, however, spawning a total of eight films (barely beating out the seven films of the Frankenstein franchise) was Dracula, which began with 1958’s appropriately named Dracula (known in America as The Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the 1931 Lugosi version).
The Horror of Dracula features the unbeatable Hammer trinity of Christopher Lee (as Dracula), Peter Cushing (as Van Helsing), and director Terence Fisher. The film is ostensibly an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, but it is one that feels free—to its credit—to play around with the source material. The filmmakers here know that this is unlikely to be the first Dracula film you’ve ever seen, and so they play with your expectations. Although the movie opens like the novel and most film adaptations with Jonathan Harker traveling to Dracula’s castle, we soon learn that his motivations are not the same as what we have been trained to expect from other versions of the story. This Harker is no mere real estate agent.
The changes continue from there, with familiar names being used in unfamiliar ways as Arthur Holmwood (played by Michael Gough, later of Alfred from the Batman movies fame) becomes Harker’s future brother-in-law and Lucy and Mina—as happens in a large number of Dracula adaptations—find their roles more or less switched. Still in his familiar role as learned vampire hunter, however, is Dr Van Helsing, who must convince the rest of the assembled characters of the threat presented by Dracula.
Gone is the subtext of xenophobia at the heart of the Dracula narrative, as this is no story of a swarthy Eastern European come to ravish the well-bred ladies of London. Though Dracula’s castle is still in Transylvania, everything has been Germanicisized, with Dracula’s hometown given its German name of Klausenberg, and Holmwood and co. making their home just a few hours down the road in a town called Karlstadt. As would be a hallmark of Hammer’s filmmaking, there is still a veneer of sexuality to their horror, as the looming Christopher Lee drools over heaving bosoms spilling out over lacy bodices, his untamed unibrow radiating animal magnetism. And there is always something lurid about the way Van Helsing nestles his stake between the pert, alabaster breasts of the young lady vampires.
The addition of color gives a sense of wild immediacy to this film that is missing from the parlor-room drama of the 1931 Dracula. Lugosi’s eyes never burned red as he charged across a room to fling his bride to the ground. Nor did the Universal Van Helsing ever flinch as a bright red spray gushed into his face, putting a tortured soul to rest. The lush and vibrant use of colors would make all Hammer productions stand out from contemporary horror filmmaking and would be much imitated by competitors.
The story continues its twists and turns, playing on your expectations until its legitimately surprising third act, which leads up to the tense and dramatic final confrontation between Dracula and Van Helsing back at Dracula’s castle. The true mark of quality of a Hammer Dracula film is how spectacular and innovative the Dracula death scene is (spoilers: Dracula dies at the end of every Dracula movie), and even with seven sequels, the dramatic conclusion of The Horror of Dracula is never quite matched.
Gripping, tense, beautifully shot and acted, and still managing to surprise despite adapting a story that has been told hundreds of times, The Horror of Dracula is essentially a flawless Dracula film. It’s no surprise, then, that it should spawn so many sequels, and that the formula of Lee, Cushing, and Fisher should be used in various combinations of the three for much of the remainder of Hammer’s existence. Hammer Studios more or less ceased production in the ’70s when its style of Gothic horror fell out of fashion, but in recent years it has started up production again with such films as Let Me In and The Woman in Black. Whether Hammer will hit the great heights it achieved in the ’50s and ’60s is yet to be seen.