Friday, October 19, 2012

The Haunting of Gill House: The Scarecrow

After MANY starts and stops, at last my Scarecrow has made his debut at the House of Haunted Gill! Inspired by Pumpkinrot, as well as a piece of artwork by Dave Hartman, I'm fairly happy with how he turned out. My daughter snapped a few quick pics with her cameraphone, so these aren't the best quality, but you get the general idea.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: Dracula the Undead

I was digging around looking for some reviews I did for the now-defunct Border's website, since my review of Dark Harvest seemed to get a positive response.. This is the only one I was able to find...and unfortunately it wasn't exactly a glowing review. Here is my review of Ian Holt and Dacre Stoker's "sequel" to the Bram Stoker classic:
A Sequel in Name Only: Dracula the Undead

In the afterword to this book, authors Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt explain the intention behind it: to "return" the character of Dracula back to his roots in Bram Stoker's original novel, washing away the garbage that has been heaped upon the legend by countless Hollywood films. What's amazing is how far from their stated intention they have managed to stray. While the Dracula of the original book was a villainous monster, preying upon the innocent, the incarnation presented here is that of a (rather boring) anti-hero. Despite their claims, the authors borrow far more from Hollywood than they do from the novel, including such movie-based plot points as a Dracula/Mina romance, the vampire's aversion to sunlight, etc. This novel is far from a sequel to the classic book, but more like cheap fan-fiction. None of the characters resemble their counterparts from the elder Stoker's narrative, and liberal rewriting of the continuity is the order of the day. I won't delve too deeply into spoiler territory, for those who still feel inclined to read this dreck.

Picking up 25 years after the original book, the band of heroes who dispatched Dracula are being hunted and killed. In the midst of all of this is the Harker's son, Quincey, who is a whining, two-dimensional sterotype pursuing a career on the stage in London and Paris. Quincey must ultimately come to terms with his parent's past, and face the consequences of their actions. The authors try to weave a mystery into the story, but if you have half a brain you'll see where they're going from a mile away. Ultimately, this is more predictable than the average soap opera.

Dracula is one of the all-time greatest fictional villains in literature and film, so it's rather perplexing as to why Holt and Dacre Stoker chose to recast him as a heroic, romantic figure. Perhaps they were extremely enamoured of Frank Langella's interpretation from the 1979 film? Whatever the reason, it doesn't work at all in this book. Introducing the historically-based villain of Elizabeth Bathory as the novel's primary antagonist just further dilutes Dracula's impact. This interpretation of Dracula has far more in common with Edward from the Twilight series than he does the classic villain. It's possible that the authors felt that this would attract newer, younger readers, but that seems extremely unlikely. Most Dracula afficianados prefer the Count to be an evil, vicious force to be reckoned with, not a whiny fang banger. What's more, the "Twilight" crowd isn't likely to care for this character either, as he is far less interesting than any of Meyer's characters (which is really saying something, as I find those characters to be extremely one-note).

Nothing in this book is all that original either. A heroic Dracula has already been depicted in Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape and Kim Newman's Anno Dracula. The notion of Elizabeth Bathory as a vampire has been explored in numerous comics and novels as well (most scholars believe Stoker at least partially based his Dracula on Bathory). The most overdone, and trite, aspect that the authors choose to dredge up here is the romance between Dracula and Mina. This has been explored over and over again in various novels, and (most notably) in Coppola's film. Why all of this is included, in a book that was intended to do away with such pointless tripe, is beyond me.

Ultimately, this is a book that doesn't satisfy Dracula fans...and isn't likely to appeal to those who only know the character from the movies. The story presented here is nothing that hasn't been seen before in better stories. Frankly, it's an awful "sequel" that could have been dreamt up by any 12 year old who has watched lots of Dracula movies on late night TV.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Trick Or Treat Studios to Produce Halloween III Masks?

Earlier this year, the wonderful folks at Trick Or Treat Studios produced what is, in my humble opinion, the finest Michael Myers mask that has ever been mass-produced. I myself purchased one of these beauties, and I'm quite happy with it! I plan on stalking my neighborhood this All Saint's Eve decked out in this incredible rendition of the famous villian from the Halloween series.
Rumor has it that the gang at ToT are working to acquire the license to make masks for Halloween III: Season of the Witch. For those not in the know, HIII is known as "the one without Michael Myers". The original idea was to do a series of stand-alone horror films, all set at Halloween, that wouldn't connect to each other in any way other than being about the holiday. The only problem is, it wasn't remotely marketed that way. After two films featuring the character of Myers, fans expected more of the same. What they got was something completely different. While the film tanked upon its initial release, over the years many horror fans have come to love it as its own unique film. I personally really enjoy this entry, and think of it as a fun, spooky film about my favorite holiday, completely outside of the Michael Myers mythos. Plus, it has Tom Atkins. Tom Atkins rules!
Central to the plot of Season of the Witch, is the three "Silver Shamrock" masks. They are part of a nefarious plot by Conal Cochran, the owner of the Silver Shamrock novelty company. The masks were originally designed by Don Post, and the studio named for him produced a set of masks to tie in with the release of the film. Since the film wasn't a success, it wasn't until years later that these masks started to be in demand on the secondary market. Fans had asked for a re-release for years, and this past year they (sorta) got their wish. Don Post had sold his company several years ago to Paper Magic, and they produced a set of rather substandard re-issues that royally pissed off a whole bunch of collectors.
Well, Paper Magic has now sold off their costume division, along with their Don Post imprint, so now the rights for their licenses may be up for grabs! Trick Or Treat Studios has proven themselves to be a major player in the mask business, producing some of the best masks on the market right now. They have a wide variety of original and licensed properties, and they've already proven themselves to the fans of the Halloween franchise. If this rumor proves true, then they will find themselves in a position to fill a void that many feel has been there since Post sold his studio to Paper Magic. They've shown that they can produce incredible quality masks like Post used to, and now they may have the properties to match!
I, for one, truly hope this proves to be true. These masks could not be in better hands than those of the ToTS crew. Even if you aren't a fan of the film, you have to admit that these are some wonderful designs. They'd fit in nicely in almost any Halloween display.
One word of advice: if these get released to stores...don't watch the big giveaway at 9 during the Horrorthon! The Silver Shamrock jingle will spell your DOOM!
Here's a link to the original story: