Archive for October, 2002

31 Day Wrap-up

I hope you all enjoyed the 31 Days, 31 Horror Movies series for October. I had a good time doing it, and it was surprisingly difficult at times deciding which movie to feature. Looking back, I probably had a few too many Bava films (but, really, is there really a such thing as “too many Bava films”?) and not enough classics (I don’t think I had a single Hammer flick in there), but all-in-all, I’m happy with the way it turned out.

Here’s a rundown of all the movies I covered, complete with links. Thanks for reading (and to those that did: linking) and I’d love to hear what you thought of it. I know Robert watched Phantasm after I mentioned it… did anyone else have special October horror movie viewing in their household?

  1. The Fog
  2. Baron Blood
  3. Last House on the Left
  4. Black Sunday
  5. The Vij
  6. Phantasm
  7. Mystics in Bali
  8. Dawn of the Dead
  9. The Convent
  10. Anguish
  11. Kwaidan
  12. City of the Dead
  13. Hell of the Living Dead
  14. Zombie Holocaust
  15. Pieces
  16. Opera
  17. The Hills Have Eyes
  18. Ginger Snaps
  19. The Beyond
  20. Wendigo
  21. Vampyr
  22. Friday the 13th, The Final Chapter
  23. The Saragossa Manuscript
  24. Uzumaki
  25. Dagon
  26. Kill, Baby… Kill!
  27. Black Sabbath
  28. Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn
  29. Gates of Hell
  30. The Frighteners
  31. Halloween / Suspiria

Fear me!

I am… Dan Terrible!

Day 31: Halloween / Suspiria

Halloween, 1978
Director: John Carpenter
Availability: So easy it’s scary (available on a DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment)

I know, I know… it’s so friggin’ obvious. I won’t insult your intelligence by recapping what this classic is all about, since everyone in the world has seen it a dozen times anyway.

The Anchor Bay DVD with the extra TV footage spliced in is the best version to watch, but if you can only get the “regular” version, no big deal. The extra footage is mainly character development, and while it adds to the movie, it’s not essential.

Since this one was so obvious… here’s a bonus movie pick to round out the month:

Suspiria, 1977
Director: Dario Argento
Availability: Easy (available on a DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Probably my second favorite horror movie of all-time, Suspiria has some absolutely killer visuals, amazing lighting, and an engrossing story of witchcraft at a ballet school. Plus, it’s damned scary (despite what that heretic Robert thinks with his wussy 4-star review). Goblin provides an incredible soundtrack and Jessica Harper turns in a great performance.

The first ten minutes of this film are probably the most intense opening ten minutes I’ve ever seen… great stuff that simply should not be missed.’s JMJ Tribute

Here’s my small way of remembering a hip-hop pioneer: “Jam Master Jay” (MP3, 2.95 megs — apologies for the skip).

“J-A-Y are the letters of his name, / Cuttin’ and scratchin’ are the aspects of his game…”


Jam Master Jay Murdered

A Tribute at a Run-DMC site.

Day 30: The Frighteners

The Frighteners, 1996
Director: Peter Jackson
Availability: Easy (available on a crappy DVD from Universal)

Before Peter Jackson was directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he made a name for himself by directing such sickies as Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, and his gore masterpiece Dead/Alive (aka Braindead). But, in 1996 he teamed up with a big studio (Universal) and a big name (Michael J. Fox) to put together one hell of a fun ghost story.

Fox plays a low-rent investigator that helps rid houses of their haunts. No one realizes, though, that he’s been working with the ghosts to run a scam on innocent victims. However, his ability to communicate with the dead and see death, as it is, stops being fun when he realizes that he’s being made aware of people’s deaths before they happen. Much hilarity (and horror!) ensues with some great guest appearances by John Astin, Jeffrey Combs, and R. Lee Ermey (playing the same drill seargent role he played in Full Metal Jacket… except dead).

Normally, I’m not a fan of CGI effects, but Jackson and crew did a great job with them on The Frighteners. If I remember correctly, at the time this was released, it held the distinction of having the most CGI-generated footage of any movie to date. Unlike most other modern CGI-driven horror, though, the computer effects only help, not hinder.

The Universal DVD is bare-bones as can be, without even a commentary. Hopefully with the popularity of Jackson’s mainstream success (Lord of the Rings), we can expect a great special edition in the near future. After all, the Laserdisc version is supposedly spectacular, sporting a—get this—4 1/2 hour documentary! Wowza. Definitely worth a rental now, though.

Day 29: Gates of Hell

Gates of Hell, 1980 (aka City of the Living Dead)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Availability: Medium (available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment)

When one of the seven gates of Hell is opened, a reporter and a psychic begin a race against time to shut it and prevent the dead from walking the earth. Yet another undead movie from the Maestro, Gates of Hell offers a number of particularly strong sequences, including a demon priest that makes people’s eyes bleed, a wicked drill-to-the-head death, a very claustrophobic (if narratively lacking) bured alive sequence, and an unbelievable gut-puking scene (which was sampled for the introduction to a Regurgitate album).

Though not likely to go down as a critic’s favorite, Gates of Hell has everything to please to modern gorehound: creepy lighting, cool music courtesy of Fabio Frizzi, some outstanding gore scenes, and zombies! Another fun movie experience from Lucio Fulci.

Dozens killed in Vietnam fire

Scores dead in Vietnam office blaze

“At least 48 people have been killed and more than 100 injured after a fire ripped through a six-story building in Vietnam that housed shops, a disco and several foreign companies.”

Kick Me by Paul Feig

When Alex mentioned that Paul Feig (one of the creators of Freaks and Geeks, the greatest show ever, in the history of all mankind) had a book out recounting stories from his own life, it was a no-brainer. I had to buy it. But being the good guy he is, Alex bought it for me. He rocks.

In Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence, Feig (pronounced “feeg,” though his name was transformed into “Fig Newton” or “Paul Fag” throughout his childhood) recounts a number of tales of life, love, and embarassment. Plenty of embarassment.

During gym class, a particularly hated time of day for the author, he was forced to climb “the rope.” Of course we all remember the rope, the one that stretched to the heavens and scared the crap out of those of us with little patience for heights. Feig remembers it the same way, but managed to get some pleasure out of his first trip up the rope as well. As he struggled to get more than a few feet off of the ground, Feig remembers getting “the rope feeling.” He was confused, but also quite intrigued by this new feeling. Once he found he could, er, “reproduce” this feeling, he couldn’t wait to get back on the ropes the next day. Eventually, his classmates discovered the same “rope feeling,” making him the keeper of knowledge since he was the first to experience it.

While no public humiliation came from the “rope feeling,” the remainder of the book is a painfully funny retelling of the many, many, many times that his awkward geekiness caught up to him and made him the butt of many jokes. Between getting caught wearing his mother’s clothes, being dogpiled in the gym showers by all his classmates, and getting caught wearing underwear with a large butterfly drawn on them (by his mother!), Feig has a number of especially touching moments, usually dealing with his crush-of-the-moment.

Reading Kick Me reminded me that I wasn’t the only obsessive, overly sensitive, slightly dorky kid in school. Everyone had their moments, some just hid it better than others. What seems like the end of the world as a kid can prove to be the funniest material to write about later, and Feig proves that gracefully.

Minister Farrakhan speaks about sniper

Minister Louis Farrakhan addresses sniper arrest

“There is a natural bias in human beings, and there is, I believe, a tendency to lambaste, malign Islam. You have criminals, people that do horrific things, but we never know their religion. Who was that man that murdered all the nurses? What was his name? (Richard) Speck and (there was Ted) Bundy. What was their religion? John Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, we don