Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Forgotten Horrors #4: 976-EVIL

Oh, boy oh boy, where do I even begin with this one? I would love to say that I had the pleasure of viewing this film when I was really young, but that, sadly, is not the case. I do, however, remember picking up the VHS box at Kroger and looking it over. The artwork on the cover really got me and it didn't look nearly as glossy as the one presented in this post. There was some wear and tear on the edges and it smelled a little musty. The tape itself was warped slightly and a little stained as well. The images on the back of the box were quite disturbing and featured an imp-like creature holding two hearts in its hands. Well, anyways, I was too intimidated at that age to rent it so I put it back on the shelf. Fast forward some 18 years later and here I am again holding 976-Evil in my hands debating whether or not I should purchase it or just move on. After much debate I finally bought the movie, went to my apartment, popped a bowl of extra buttery popcorn, wrapped up in a blanket and hit play on the remote. An hour and a half later the movie ends and I can't help but fight the urge to stand up and clap or cheer like an elated schoolgirl on prom night.

Not only was 976-Evil a very entrancing film, but Robert Englund (Mr. Freddy K. himself) directed the darn thing. Now, how about that creeps? A movie directed by one of the coolest actors of the 80's and I had no idea as a child in Kroger while holding that worn VHS tape in my hands. If I did, I would have given the film a shot since I was at the peak of my Freddy obsession. Anyways, 976-Evil is a good 'watch it with your friends' sort of movie. I watched it solo for the first time and by the second time I had a room full of college kids with more than enough beer and liquor in their bellies so you can only imagine what the atmosphere was like. For those who are wondering what this movie is even about I'll summarize:

The film begins with a business man walking through the vacant streets of a small town. He appears frantic and worried and upon the verge of Nic-Fit city. Suddenly we hear a phone ringing (which, oddly is located at the end of an alley) and the man eventually, after much debate, picks it up and moments later the booth explodes. Fast foward to the next segment (and pretty much the rest of the movie) where we have the pleasure of meeting Stephen Geoffrey's (Fright Night) and Patrick O'Bryan's (976-Evil I and II) characters. In a nutshell O'Bryan stumbles upon this gimmicky service that dispenses advice on how to deal with one's problems (Dial 976-Evil for your Horrorscope...yadda yadda, push 666 to receive message, yadda yadda). O'Bryan (Spike) is able to use it to his advantage, but Geoffrey's (Hoax) is so impressionable that his repeated use of the service turns him into a demonic, freaky-looking imp.

Helping to firmly establish the obvious inspiration from "Carrie", 'Hoax' is saddled with an overly religious nut-job of a mother (film veteran Sandy Dennis), who, much like Piper Laurie in that other movie, was probably encouraged to go for broke in her performance. I personally feel that Dennis, in the end, just winds up being very annoying and lacks any form of fright. Her over-the-top Southern Baptist accent exaggerates its way right into a blender of Looney Tune heaven and does very little to capture the true essence of the classic Bible Thumper personality we have all encountered in our lives (in some way or another).
976-Evil contains some fantastic moments of hilarity, cheese, gore and sentiment. Hoax and Spike's relationship reminds me a lot of my childhood fascinations with the older kids who smoked cigarettes, wore ripped jeans and basically 'did what they wanted to.' Hoax's character is so damn pitiful and watching him get beat on by Spike's friends is just unbearable at times. The last 20 minutes or more of the movie are just phenomenal though and I guarantee you that the popcorn will fly for sure.

Definitely worth checking out my friends. Not to mention, you get to see 'ol Lezlie Deane for a good chunk of the movie before being offed by....well....you'll just have to see.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Night of the Living Trailers: The Borrower (1991)

Aliens punish one of their own by sending him to earth. The alien is very violent, and when the body he occupies is damaged, he is forced to find another. Quoted as being a "Strange, unorthodox science fiction/horror film," this definitely sounds like something that would be up my alley. For sure. The trailer looks wild and I'd love to get my hands on a copy of this little gem. Check out www.vhsps.com for a kick ass VHS transfer to DVD package they've got goin on. I know I am.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In the Works: Animated Shorts of a...Hand?

Not that I need to add even MORE projects to my already overloaded table, but I just had to post this image today. The main idea I'm kicking around right now is to create these animated shorts based on the image you see here. The character's name is Lester Hobbs and yes, he has a hand for a head. Inspired by Alex Winters' over-the-top-gross-a-thon film, FREAKED, the animated shorts of Lester Hobbs will definitely be absurd, crude, eerie, hilarious, and all things bizarre. I owe a lot of the design to my almost 3 year old daughter, Paisley, who in an attempt to impress me last night asked to trace my hand on her magic erase board. The result? Well, in short, you're looking at it! I'm really excited about this project and I'm really hoping and praying that I have some extra time so I can get started on it. Questions, comments? Please feel free to ask away. And if you have some time please stop by Strange Kid's blog for a Brian Yuzna injection!

For those of you who haven't seen Freaked just watch the trailer below. This movie changed my life and seeing it at an early age was a definite factor in the style of my artwork. Everything I did had to have huge eyes, emaciated bodies, exposed, stained teeth and a LOT of pimples. Enjoy!:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sketchbook Updates

When I'm not working on Victor and Boris, graphite dog portraits, writing and recording music, or chasing after my almost three year old daughter, I'm working on what you see here. The image to the left was done fairly quickly and treated in Photoshop. My goal was to create something instant and childish. Working as a paraprofessional has really opened my eyes to the world of art in the mind of a child. When I ask a student to draw a friend or just a person in general their pencils hit the paper like a moth to a flame and without much thought. They just quickly sketch a figure, dot some eyes and add some hair. The end. So, I guess you could say I wanted to bring a lot of that into the new material I've been working on.

Quentin Blake, illustrator of almost every single Roald Dahl book, is one of my biggest influences. I was first exposed to his work when I was fairly young and always copied his drawings (especially from THE WITCHES) onto my notebook paper when I should have been taking notes. There is so much beauty and innocence in his line work and one glance at his illustrations induces a youthful placidity not present in a lot of artist's work these days. If I can achieve emotions of any kind similar to that of Mr. Blake then sign me up.

Anyways, there ya have it. Not a whole lot of images to work with but I will upload more tomorrow when I get everything together. I'm in much need of some Faber Castell Brush Pens, but they are so freakin expensive! All I'm really interested in are the gray tones. The new stuff I'm working on, as well as Victor and Boris, will be black and white and done on illustration board. There are also new things brewing as of late. I'm currently brainstorming a good name for a comic label, but so far nothing is really sticking. Strange Kid has done a phenomenal job helping me and I am very grateful for his suggestions. Well, I guess this is goodnight. If you have any thoughts on the images above I would love to hear from you.

Forgotten Horrors #3: Clownhouse

"A Circus of the Mind..."

...The existential tagline read as I held the worn videocassette in my hands back in 1991. Though I had no clue what existentialism was at the age of 7 I was very aware that there was a scary clown on the cover and knew that I was going to be renting that particular film in a matter of seconds. Every Friday after school my mom would take me out to dinner at the now deceased Hogans Hero's and we would order spaghetti and cheesecake. Afterwards we would always head over to either Kroger or Blockbuster Video to rent a scary movie. I still remember pulling into the parking lot of Blockbuster, sitting in the passenger seat anxiously awaiting my moment of departure into the store and down the Horror section. My primary enjoyment was devouring the box art of each tape, honing in on the macabre imagery and reading the titles to narrow my decision. It was so much fun to just sift through all the different films and often times I didn't care what it was I was renting, it was just the act of searching that pleased me. When I came across Clownhouse I was on a big zombie kick (Return of the Living Dead was just digesting from the previous week) so I was a little indifferent about renting it. I had never seen anything other than Killer Klowns from Outer Space, which really just made me laugh more than anything, so I was feeling the excitement creep in little by little as I flipped the box around in my hands. The fact of the matter is that the movie just looked creepy, ya know? I eventually showed it to my mom, who shivered with excitement as well, and we headed to the front counter to pay for the movie while also snatching up a box of Sour Patch Kids and Movie Popcorn (extra butter!). Only one thought meandered throughout my mind: Tonight was going to be something special, something special indeed...

The synopsis of the film is pretty simple: Three brothers are left alone to look after one another for the night while mom is away. A short while into the film we find the brothers at the local carnival (the youngest brother, Casey, has an acute phobia of clowns by the way). Meanwhile, three dangerous mental patients escape the local asylum, kill some clowns, steal their identity (sounds silly, I know, but they're mental patients for goodness sakes), and slowly but surely make their way to the three brother's rather humongous house. Thus begins Victor Salva's psychological, bloodless, suspense-o-rama, CLOWNHOUSE.

Victor Salva's mainstream debut (he would later direct Powder, Jeepers Creepers I and Jeepers Creepers II) is one of the most important films you've never seen. Seriously. To those who have seen the film will agree that it shadows early Carpenter (ALWAYS a good thing), scares the living graveyard out of you without becoming intrusive and forced, captures the eerie/spooky sensation of being left alone in the house at an early age, and employs a fantastic score that digs underneath your skin like a rusty shovel. I watched this movie and literally thought that I was going to die. I was scared out of my mind! All I kept thinking was at some point I was going to glance at the living room window and see a moonlit face caked in grease paint. As a little boy, seeing a movie like Salva's Clownhouse was as good as it got for me. I remember being terrified, but more importantly, due to Sam Rockwell's performance, I also felt a sense of relief. There is a lot of humor in the film and Rockwell's commanding nature (he really is the biggest asshole of a brother ever) really helps to settle your nerves (or strangle them depending on how much of his personality you can tolerate). One of my favorite lines stems from the gypsy scene where we find Casey receiving a palm reading. During the scene the woman states, "This, Casey, is your loveline: still small..." and as she continues to speak the camera cuts to Rockwell who then replies with, "...like his pecker." I watched the movie recently and almost completely forgot about that line and it really struck my funny bone. There are other intense moments as well, like the scene where the three brothers finish telling ghost stories and start chanting "THE CLOWNS ARE COMING!! THE CLOWNS ARE COMING!!" Completely unaware that the clowns were down in the yard playing with a noose hanging in a tree (another bone chilling scene that just seems so damn unnatural).

There is a lot of mention in the film about being afraid of the dark; the unknown. Basically, just fear itself. How do you confront your fears? Do you hide? Do you run away? Can you summon the strength and courage to fight? All questions we ask ourselves when we encounter the schoolyard bully or as Stephen King put it in his novel, Danse Macabre: The Thing without a Name; the creature in the darkest recesses of the basements of the world; the Lurking Fear in the woods at night. Even in the new wave-ish tune, with lyrics like "don't be afraid of the dark, sweetheart", that we hear on the radio in the house and from the stylish vocalizations of big brother Randy as he and Casey skip through the woods, we can't escape the 'face your fears' theme that dominates the film even if we try. The song itself is rather catchy (I personally love it to be honest), but a lot of reviewers argue that it just doesn't fit with the rest of the eerie score. Depending on what age you were when you first saw the film I'm pretty sure the pop tune was the least of your concerns.

I could go on and on about Salva's Clownhouse but I feel this entry might become a little excessive. In short, it's definitely not a perfect movie, but then again who cares about perfect right? I certainly don't. There are several memorable scenes (one of my favorites is when Randy is tinkering with the fuse box and as the lights strobe we see one of the clowns run across the room directly behind him). Chilling, absolutely chilling. Of all the movies I own, Clownhouse is definitely the most viewed. A lot of my friends find this odd but I guess like anything else in our adult lives we like to remember the "better times" we had when we were younger. One of those better times was hanging out with my mother, eating a huge dinner with her, renting scary movies every Friday and getting up early on Saturday to watch cartoons before heading outside to play in the woods all day, eagerly awaiting nightfall so we could build a campfire and roast marshmallows. My friends, I just do not believe that there is anything better than that, do you?

"No man can hide from his fears; as they are a part of him, they will always know where he is hiding."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

R.I.P. Corey Haim


Folks, I am absolutely saddened by this news. Due to an apparent accidental OD, Mr. Haim is not with us anymore. Though his movies were pretty much forgotten halfway through his career let us honor him for the delectable buffet of classy ones he left behind for us to enjoy and digest for the years to come.

Thank you Corey Haim. Thank you for being a part of my childhood and hanging out with me every Friday night after school. Your role in Silver Bullet left me thirsting for more and watching you endure as a Lost Boy only induced emotions of excitement and adventure. Watching your films will never be the same now. And I just cannot believe this incredibly melancholy news. You will be missed my friend. You will be missed.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Draw-Off Dreadfuls Entry #1: Hobgoblins

Well well well, the time is nigh! I now present to you my very own entry in the very first Draw-Off Dreadfuls contest. After viewing Hobgoblins, the movie, for the first time last week with Strange Kid I was left speechless and...well...a little disappointed. I mean, sure, I didn't have high expectations but I could have sworn it would have been a little more over the top. You don't even really SEE the Hobgoblins a lot throughout the film and it seems as though it deals more with situational absurdity than anything else. There really wasn't much violence as well (unless you count an excessively long, tedious rake fighting scene brutally violent). With little to no blood, launching puppets that violently shake when they attack, and hilarious sound effects (i.e. the BOINK, BOINK, BOINK noises during the sex scene in the van) Hobgoblins is sure to entertain, but I'd rather watch paint dry or even Ghoulies I all day. Well, watching paint dry might be more exciting in the long run. Anyways, the movie allowed for Strange Kid and I to produce more art, which is what we were aiming to do. Hope you like it! I thought that I would include the spaceship in the illustration to tie in the film a little bit since my Hobgoblin looks completely different than those in the movie. To check out Strange Kid's entry click this link

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Draw-Off Fridays Presents...

My good pal Strange Kid and I have decided to have a weekly "Draw-Off" in order to boost our motivation to create more artwork. Kid explained this to me the other day while we were talking on the phone and suggested we do this as a sort of exercise to keep the creative neurons firing. I realized last night that I really don't have a lot of comics posted just yet and I think it's about time that I 'get to work' as they say. My debacle is lack of internet access and lack of having a scanner readily available to get my comics to the net. Once I work out some kinks then I should have something uploaded almost every single day which was my plan in the very beginning. Anyways, back to the Draw-Off discussion.

Each week we're going to create something based on films, novels, magazines, music, food, etc. and the idea here is to just...well...draw. It can be a sketch, scribbles, fully realized idea, wadded up pieces of paper, WHATEVER. The whole point is to regurgitate SOMETHING no matter how digested it might be.

This weeks topic just happens to be HOBGOBLINS. Kid suggested this to me the other day and I couldn't agree more that this is an excellent idea. Now, Hobgoblin you ask? Yes, Hobgoblin, but not just ANY Hobgoblin. A Hobgoblin based on the 1987 film starring Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs and company (a movie we had the privilege of viewing during last weeks Fright Night). Let me tell ya folks, this movie was something special, but more on that later.

So, come Friday make sure all you boils and ghouls head on over to Strange Kids Club to check out his Hobgoblin. Heck, submit your own if you feel like it! Why not make it a party.