Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Seance

This is an incredibly cool short film by Nina Sharifi. Nina has a fantastic blog called "Vintage Seance", and this lil' flick PERFECTLY captures that concept! The music is by her brother, Bijan Sharifi (what an incredibly talented family!). Check out the film, and then head over to her spooky page for more ghoulish goodness!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Shape

"I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left…no reason, no conscience, no understanding in even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes…the Devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil".

- Dr. Samuel Loomis

Michael Myers artwork for FrightRags by Christopher Lovell

Friday, August 23, 2013

Monsters Of Legend Review

I've blogged about my love of the music of Midnight Syndicate before. It occurs to me, however, that I've never done a proper review of one of their CD's before. I've been meaning to resurrect my "Sounds of the Season" feature for the past couple of years, so it seems fitting that I should do so by reviewing the latest offering from the masters of macabre melodies!



Monsters of Legend, like all Midnight Syndicate albums, has a theme running throughout. As you might guess from glancing at the cover art, this time the focus is on the classic monsters of Universal and Hammer horror films. The music is certainly evocative of the mood from those great flicks, but this disc offers much more than being just a disc inspired by some old monster movies. The Syndicate duo of Edward Douglas and Gavin Goska have, quite cleverly, incorporated the cinematic beasts into the mythology previously established on their first two albums. Both Born of the Night and Realm of Shadows (as well as the Out of the Darkness album, which re-tooled tunes from both discs) took place in the village of Arcacia. This little burg is, apparently, just over-ridden with ghosts, vampires, werewolves and other things that go "bump" in the night. No surprise then, that legendary creatures like Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster have taken up residence there. A clear narrative is established through the music and sound effects, though it is left up to each listener to craft this story in their own imaginations. This is what Goska and Douglas do best: painting lush aural images that tell a tale that is unique for each listener. If you're like me, and grew up on the gothic spookiness of the Universal films, or the blood-drenched horror of Hammer, then many of these tracks will instantly conjure to mind the fog-laden graveyards, foreboding castles and shadowy villages that these movies took place in. At the same time, none of these numbers are in the least bit derivative of previous composers, all having the signature Midnight Syndicate style.


Musically, this is the Syndicate's best album since The 13th Hour...and that's saying something since I thought their previous offering, 2012's Carnival Arcane, was a damned masterpiece! When compared against the two original albums, which this album references, you cannot help but be struck by how much this duo has evolved not only as composers, but as musicians. While I love those two discs, the level of musicianship is far and above here. This CD has a complex, orchestral feel that really communicates a sense of epic scale. It's easy to imagine Legosi or Lee as Dracula, menacing Arcacia with his latest nefarious scheme, when you hear tunes like "Lord of the Realm". To drive home the Arcacia connection, five of the tracks are new recordings of songs from Born and Realm. These tracks aren't just re-hashes though, but work to connect this tale to those previous releases. The arrangements are completely different, and really enhance this shared universe that they have created.


One of the best aspects of this whole project is that Midnight Syndicate have licensed the rights to use the likenesses of Legosi, Karloff and other Universal Monsters for this project. That means that they could evoke the images of Frankenstein's Monster or Dracula that most listeners envision. Since this isn't a soundtrack to an actual film, the listener is free to cast their favorite actors in these roles, regardless of whether or not that performer is still alive! This gives weight to the title, making these the true, legendary monsters that we all know and love, not just Public Domain renditions that would cheapen the whole affair.


All in all, this album is a fantastic addition to the Midnight Syndicate discography, and one hell of a disc to listen to when wanting to get in that spooky frame of mind! It has an grand, gothic feel that truly pays homage to those Legendary Monsters that have haunted our nightmares since we were children!

Happy Birthday to Ray Bradbury

For many of us, he wrote THE essential Halloween tales! He would have been 93 today. Here is a piece by the always incredible Dave Hartman:

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Gill-Man? Didn't He Used to Have a Blog?

Well, crap…it’s been since FEBRUARY that I blogged! Sheesh! This year has been nothing but sheer chaos, as both my job and the wife’s have turned into a constant barrage of nonsense. I really need to win the lotto so I can start my own professional haunt. Of course, in order to do so, I would have to actually play the lotto.

Still, there have been some exciting goings-on for this Monster Kid. In my last post, I talked about being invited to the Halloween Expo by the fine folks at Trick or Treat Studios. Not long thereafter, I got to see three of my favorite bands, all sharing a bill here in Houston. Wednesday 13 Calabrese and Cold Blue Rebels brought the “Curse the Living Tour” to H-Town, and it was INCREDIBLE. Best of all, I got to spend time with all three of these bands, as they are all incredibly approachable. In the case of Wednesday and Calabrese, I’d previously met them at other shows, but this time I got to spend a lot more time with each of them. To be honest, I knew nothing of Cold Blue Rebels before this night, but I now include them amongst my favorite bands…yeah, they’re that good! All three of these bands have a horror theme, but they are fairly dramatically different musically. Sure, the influence of The Misfits and Alice Cooper can be found in all of them, but they execute it in very different ways. Wednesday 13 has more of a metal flair, Calabrese a hard rocking punk vibe, while CBR bring a psychobilly swing to the proceedings. All these bands are freakin’ great, and best of all they are really nice folks who appreciate their fans.


So what else is going on, besides work and hanging out with awesome bands? Well, I’m happy to report that I’ll be revisiting my role as Jason Voorhees at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Houston. Last year, the fine folks at the Alamo brought me on-board to liven up the proceedings at a Friday the 13th marathon, where they screened the first three films back-to-back. This year, they will be presenting the “Tommy Jarvis Trilogy” of Parts 4, 5 & 6 (my personal favorites of this series). If last year is any indicator, this event will be a total blast! For folks in Houston, or anyone making the pilgrimage, the event goes down on Friday, September 13th…naturally!

Speaking of the Drafthouse, to celebrate the debut of the most recent Evil Dead film, they brought out a local effects team called “Closed Casket Creations” to turn the patrons into Deadites! This is why I love the folks at the Alamo…they make movie-going into a complete experience! I can’t wait to see what events they have in store for October!
With any luck, I’ll find more time to blog in the near-future. While it is still in the high 90’s/low 100’s every day here in Houston, I find myself constantly in the Halloween frame of mind. In fact, I’ll go so far as to declare this the official pre-season! Yes, folks, if anyone dares to ask why you are pumping out horror scores and decorating your cubicle with jack-o-lanterns, just tell them that no less an authority than The Gill-Man has declared this to be the pre-season for Halloween. You may then fling paper clips at them when they give you vacant stares. What do they know? Bunch of unwashed philistines! Anyway, what I’m saying is that I truly HOPE to find the time here soon to blog about our favorite time of the year, and share in the buildup with you all!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Halloween Expo 2013

I've been a VERY lousy blogger. The damned holidaze came and went, but life just didn't seem to slow down. My job is like a runaway freight train, no end in sight. Just general craziness all around. I've has SO many blogs that I've intended to do, that just never quite materialized.

One cool thing that I've meant to feature, was my recent trip to the Halloween and Party Expo here in Houston. For those who are unfamiliar, this is a trade expo, not open to the general public, where vendors display their Halloween wares for buyers like Party City, Spencer's, Halloween Town, etc. Thanks to the fine folks at Trick Or Treat Studios, Chris Zephro and Justin Mabry, I wound up with a pass to the event! First off, I cannot stress enough how cool Chris and Justin were. The very fact that they took the time to visit with me, in-between meeting with potential customers, just shows how much they care about folks like us…the end-users who are collecting or wearing masks.






Not surprisingly, Trick Or Treat Studios had a MOST impressive display. They may not have been the biggest company there, but they certainly had the best quality masks!





Another company I was very impressed with was Ghoulish Creations. They had an impressive selection of masks, and the folks there were incredibly friendly. I noticed that this crew, the TOTS folks and the gang at Zagone costumes all seemed to get along famously. They had a genuine love of all things Halloween, and really seemed to have a mutual respect for their fellow mask-makers (the same could not be said of some other vendors *cough*Rubies*cough*cough*)







Of course, Home Haunters were not forgotten here! Morbid Enterprises had all sorts of fun decor:







I was extremely pleased to see the folks from Bucky's Boneyard! If ANYONE gets Home Haunters, it's these folks! In fact, I'd say they truly grasp how important the DIY folks are to Halloween. They seem to really value the guy who makes zombies in his garage or basement every bit as much as they do the big-budget Haunted Houses. Their display was small, but jam-packed with ghoulish goodness:




Halloween "lifestylers" also were represented! A small clothing company called "Iron Fist" had lots of cool accessories for the ghoulish gal in your life! As a lifelong Fiend, I was totally diggin' the fantastic Misfits high heels and purses! I just don't think they make those heels in my size, damn it! ;-)




Probably my biggest "geek out" moment for me was when I met Edward Douglas of Midnight Syndicate! This came as a HUGE surprise, as I had NO idea anyone from the band was going to be there! I've blogged about my love of the Syndicate before, but it bears repeating: they just make the best Haunt soundtracks around! Edward was an INCREDIBLY nice guy, and was gracious enough to sit and chew the fat with me for quite a while about all things Halloween. It's wonderful when you meet someone you admire, and discover that they completely deserve your good will! Edward showed me artwork for their upcoming CD, shared some insights into the band's history, and told me about a few projects they have in the pipeline. A HUGE thanks to Edward for being so friendly and accommodating.


Speaking of accommodating, this brings us back full-circle to Trick Or Treat Studios. Justin shared some "in-progress" pictures for the Halloween II mask...as well as a few things that he has in the works for the future. While I was sworn to secrecy, I will say this: TOTS has BIG plans for 2013 AND 2014. This is really only the beginning for them, and I can see them becoming a major name in the mask/costume world. The very fact that they invited someone who is basically just a fan to the show, and took the time to indulge me by answering questions and sharing behind-the-scenes stories and pics...well, that just says a whole lot about who they are as people. They truly care about their customers, and it really shows. MAJOR thanks to Chris, Justin and the entire crew of Trick Or Treat Studios!!!

And, on that note, I'll leave you with a few more pics of the TOTS merch for this year. Below is Justin modelling the Bela Legosi & They Live masks:



Here's a couple of pics of their Halloween II coveralls (with screen accurate Spruce green! Not the blue color that SO many costume companies churn out! The coveralls in the first film were charcoal, while in the second they were spruce!), as well as their face mask and economy HII masks. These were displayed alongside their excellent HII releases from last year:





...and, finally, a sneak peak at the new 2013 catalog:












Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Halloween 2012 Redux


Yeah...so...Halloween has come and gone. Thanksgiving is a memory. The Yule Season is upon us...and I still haven't posted pics from Halloween Night! Well, Halloween itself went straight to hell in a handbasket (more on that some other time), so no real pictures were taken then. Fortunately, one of my neighbors took some really nice shots a few nights before the actual day, so it wasn't a total loss.

I'm sorry that I've been MIA. Life just doesn't seem to get any less hectic...in fact, it seems to be getting worse! My job has become a daily visit to the bowels of Hell, and home is filled with so many different activities and obligations that I can't even see straight. Normally, at this time of year, things start to wind down, but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards for me. So, check out the pics and provide some helpful input! Constructive criticism is always welcome: