Newf’s Lament – T Minus 2 Days

I have always been a fan of A Nightmare Before Christmas.  I think the character of Jack Skellington is incredibly well done, even if it isn’t perfect.  The animation still holds up today and the soundtrack is masterful.  The adoration for this movie is well deserved, but at the same time there are those of you that take the worship of this movie to obscene limits.

I actually have a friend who hisses at the thought of the film strictly because of how annoying some of its zealots can be.

It’s essentially the story about the king of Halloween discovering Christmas and wants to celebrate it.  It ends up being a pleasant blend of How The Grinch Stole Christmas & “Insert Cartoon Character Here” Saves Christmas.  Jack kidnaps Santa Claus and tries to stand in for him.

Needless to say I’m not going to spoil this movie any further for the 3 people in the western world that hasn’t already seen it.  I’m writing now because of a song from this film, my favorite song from the film (Yes Hipsters I AM aware that this is among the top three for almost every “mainstream” fan of the movie.)

Jack’s Lament is the post Halloween celebration confession from the skeleton king that he is feels like his life is stuck in a rut.  He finds no joy in that which used to give his life purpose and meaning.  He’s become such a master of mischief and a savant at terrorizing people who it has lost its appeal.  It’s all the same thing over and over again, his life has grown very stagnant.

“The pumpkin king with the skeleton grin, would tire of his crown.  If only understood,
He’d give it all up if he only could” – Jack Skellington.

Those of you following this blog I’m sure were curious as to what happened the last few days, there was a couple of missed post when I was supposed to have a new one each day until Halloween.  To that I must humbly apologize, Saturday night it struck me, the Halloween Spirit has completely left my system.

Between the downtown festivities with everyone dressing up and celebrating, and the fact that I’m working till 130am on Halloween night and will miss the best part of the night.  I feel like a defeated Jack, lost in the madness of something that once provided so much joy and purpose.  I was driving a friend home from downtown and it hit me that already I felt as though Halloween was coming to an end.

I struggle now to try to recapture that feeling, but alas I fear it is now lost.

For what it is worth Oct 27th was a really good night, even though the visit was brief and very sober I had a great time in Shea Heights at a friend party, and before that I was at a hotel room with another friend and her friends.  If you want to know how that night went well, the first thing I see when I walk in is three girls sitting in a Jacuzzi as I enter the room, so how do you think that night went?

I need to try to recapture that Halloween spirit before this year is a complete loss.  I have 48 hours to do so, and the next two days I essentially work all evening and night.  Any suggestions for me there interweb?

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Entertainment of the Full Moon – T-Minus 5 Days!

There is a horror snob buried deep within me that would love to tell you that my introduction to horror was one of the big classics like Elm Street or Halloween, alas this is not the case.  I’ve said many a time that accreditation goes to none other then Ernest Scared Stupid.

Ernest Scared Stupid remains to this day as the only movie to ever creep me out long after seeing it.  This movie came on the scene in 1991, though I’m sure it was a couple of years later before I actually got the opportunity to see it.  I would spend months afterwards creeped out every night walking home from hanging out with friends.

Scared Stupid was the first and last movie to have such an effect on me… it’s a feeling I’ve been chasing ever since.

Although this movie holds dear to me in my development as a child of the horror genre, it is not what I envision when I think of my horror origins.  That title is reserved for Full Moon Entertainment(Full Moon Productions/Full Moon Pictures/ they’ve gone through a number of names).

Oh Yeah, this is the company that really brought horror into my life.  Bad Channels, Seedpeople, The Puppet Master series, Dollman, Demonic Toys, I could pretty much name off their entire collection and tie it to some memory of my childhood.

Are they great horror movies?  Um, No.  They were B movies at best back in the day and a lot of their classics are quite dated by today’s standards.   Full Moon productions were the essentially campy, cheesy horror movies that become the basis for how modern media parodies the genre.

It’s entertaining that if you find yourself watching one of these films and another horror fan enters the room, there is a 50/50 chance you’re going to get the heavy sigh and the eye roll… BUT almost all the time the film is going to be recognized.

The effects the company used were actually really well done for it’s time.  Just watching the animation on Puppet Master last night and thinking about what it would have been like in 1989 to see these puppets walking around and being animated really made me remember why I love the genre so much.  I’m really excited to get the retrospective of the Puppet Master franchise up on NoTearsPlease.

The thing about Full Moon is that although they were campy and by today’s standards it can be argued that the effects are really lame (even though I advocate practical effects over CGI whenver possible.)  Full Moon epitomizes what I think of when I remember the horror genre growing up.  There had legitimately creepy and eerie stories combined with a degree of a camp and humor to almost all of their work.  (The Evil Dead 2 formula)

There’s so much I want to say about Full Moon.  Just to speak about the nostalgia I feel when I see that logo at the beginning of a movie can go on forever, but I fear I would just be repeating myself over and over again.

If you are a fan of horror and understand the campy roots this genre has developed from over the years I highly recommend checking out the early works of Full Moon productions.

They have an $80 gift set on their website that has the first generation of the Puppet Master saga (8 movies) that has been calling my name since I first seen it.

The best thing about Full Moon is that they are still at it.  They have new series that I haven’t really sunk my horror teeth into yet like Gingerdeadman and even Evil Bong… (Yes they have a series called Evil Bong, I believe there’s 3 of these).  So I guess this is another project for another day, to get reacquainted with the more recent selections of Full Moon…

The second part of this has got to be used to pay homage to the man behind the Puppet Master series and one of the most underrated men of the genre,  Mr. Charles Band.

Charles Band has sat in the producer chair for 258 films since 1973, of those he has written & directed almost 40 of them.  He is the man behind the moon.  He is the president of Full Moon productions.

Band’s puppet master series kept my interest in horror secured and unwavering through my childhood.  It kept me interested long enough for me to finally experience the joy of the Elm Streets and Crystal Lakes.  So really if not for Charles Band, I would NOT be the horror fanatic that I am today.  Without Charles Band I could’ve ended up being a die hard comedy fan, who knows maybe I would’ve enjoyed things like the Jersey Shore, or *shutters* Glee.

No.. I don’t want to think about it.  I grew up horror, and I will die horror.

Mr. Bands work can even take credit for my early appreciation for Halloween.  As a kid I loved Halloween for candy and costumes, but as a teen I loved the fact that every channel airs its scariest programming in October.  Monster movie marathons, horror themed TV shows, I just soaked it all in.

At a remarkably young age Halloween overtook Christmas as my favorite time of the year, and that’s really saying something when you consider how much I really love the Christmas season.  Thanks in no small part to my growing respect for horror.

Charles Band is a name that should be known and remembered.  If you consider yourself a horror fan and do NOT know this guy then you need to remedy that or remove that title from your name.

Mr. Band, I tip my hat to you and thank you for your many years of service.

Tuning up the band. The return of the Puppet Master! – T-Minus 6

To begin I need to express my absolute crookedness at the moment, the new work schedule is released and revealed that I will be working till 130am on Halloween night. I haven’t had to work a Halloween night in … ever actually. I’m beyond rotted, but have no right to complain to anyone here because I took for granted that I would be off early that I didn’t bother asking to be free that night.

… *Insert lots of yelling and profanity here* …
Okay. Give me a moment to compose myself, I’ll be with you shortly…
Ahem.

Ahhhhh Yes.  I feel so much better now.  Mr. Band, you do good work. I love this series!!!

You hear it all the time when people talk about the great franchises you will find when you look into the horror genre, you hear of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Fred Kruger, Regan MacNeil, and so on.    If you dig into the cult classics you even become familiar with Ash Williams and even personalities like the mistress of the dark, Elvira.

A truly underrated and under-appreciated franchise that seems to be passed over quite frequently by all but only the most avid of horror fans is the Puppet Master series.  The gang is all there, Blade, Pinhead, Tunneler, Six Shooter… the list goes on.  If you were to ask me what is my favorite horror movie of all time, I hope you had a couple of days to spare while I dive into the genre in an attempt to answer that question… if you ask me what my favorite franchise is, the answer is clear.  Puppet Master.

Puppet Master is the baby of a legend in the horror franchise, Charles Band.  Never heard of him?  Well he’s got a near endless amount of movies to his credit.  You won’t find a multi-million dollar blockbuster on his resume but the man started making films at the age of 22, and he’s still at it.  In fact the inspiration for this post is the release of the 10th Puppet Master movie.  If that alone was enough to get me absolutely pumped, this movie is called Axis Rising meaning that it is a return to Nazis!

Blade & Pinhead – Two of the most well-known puppets

…  Upon news of this I have decided the retrospective I had planed to record for the Paranormal Activity saga must be placed on hold because the Puppet Master series is the one dear to my heart and there’s so much to talk about.  Seriously, if I didn’t have restraint in this post, it would go on for hours.

For the sake of this post I’m going to just give a brief over view of the story, but if you are a fan of horror or just want something creepy to watch for Halloween then watch these movies.  The first and second part are more like your classic horror films, part 3-5 they seem to hit their stride of realizing that although the puppets were capable killers and should be feared and respected… they were also VERY likable and developed their own fan base.  The third movie takes place in the second world war where we see the origins of the puppets as they take vengeance on the Nazi’s for the murder of their creators wife.  The 4th and 5th shows the emergence of a new puppet master, and the puppets are displayed in a more positive light defending their puppet master from the antagonist of the movie.  Some people say this is where the series got a little too over the to… I’m getting way ahead of myself.

Sorry.

The story of Puppet Master is the story of Andre Toulon.  Toulon was a puppeteer during the second World War, his specialty was providing incredible puppet shows and miraculously there did not appear to be any strings on his puppets.  Only Toulon ever knew the secret of his act, and it was a secret that he took to the grave.  (You find all this out in great detail in the third movie, which is a prequel showing Toulon in the 40’s)

The discovery of the puppets and the secret behind animating them is the blood line of the series.  In the first movie there’s a very malevolent Puppet Master therefore the puppets are merciless killers, in later installments with a new Puppet Master you see the change in their demeanor.

SixShooter – Another Fan Favorite Puppet

Come to think of it, I think I saw the 4th & 5th movies were the ones I seen before the original because the puppets were never scary to me.  They were systematically killing people off in the first movie, but I always saw them as friendly.  It’s strange how perspective can shape a film.

This is by far my favorite series of any horror franchise but regrettably I have not seen the later installments of the series.  The 5th was intended on being the end of the series and has a pretty good ending to a series, but this is an issue I’m going to remedy very soon.  Puppet Master marathon anyone?

The effects on the original movies especially haven’t aged all the best but they were amazing for its time.  Mr. Band definitely had a masterpiece with The Puppet Master, and the cast of characters (The puppets) is so diverse and creative that it’s hard not to be drawn into the series.

I’m absolutely stoked for tonight now to catch up on some  Puppet Master.

… This post was actually supposed to be about Charles Band more so than Puppet Master, but I am just way beyond excited about this new movie.

Well at least I now have my idea for tomorrow.  Charles Band and more specifically Full Moon Entertainment.  Providing some of the best practical effected horror movies in the genre.

Some Groovy News – T-Minus 7

To anyone that is “in the loop” per se when it comes to internet gossip and cult movies it will come as no surprise when I tell you that Sam Raimi is remaking his cult sensation “Evil Dead”

 If you have not heard of this series I would heavily recommend tracking down these movies and checking them out, there is a reason they are cult classics.

The lifeblood of this series really consists of two men, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell.  For todays movie buffs there is no introduction needed. Sam Raimi was behind one of the biggest comic book movie franchises (even if it died with its third installment) and Bruce Campbell is, in my opinion, the biggest B list actor that ever lived.

To give a little background into this series we need to go back to the late 70’s.  A young Sam Raimi just finished two small time films, the second being “Within The Woods.”  Wikipedia hails this as a “prototype” for what would become Evil Dead.

“Within The Woods” was completed in 1979 as a film short, and in 1981 Evil Dead was born.

I am not going to lie, I have watched the original Evil Dead but that was a very long time ago and truthfully my main memories are of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness.  It really doesn’t help that you really don’t need to see the original to jump right in to Evil Dead 2.  It’s a very strange beginning to a franchise.  It is called Evil Dead 2, and it is the second part of the “trilogy” however it acts more like a reboot than a sequel.

The original is worth a watch if for nothing else but to see the early work of Raimi, and to get a feel for the origins of the series… if this does not interest you I swear I will not pass judgement on anyone who skips right to part two.

The basic story revolves Ashley Williams played by Bruce Campbell as he battles demonic forces unleashed from the  Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book Of The Dead.) Depending on which one your watching you’ll see Ash already in the cabin going insane, or just arriving there with a few friends, either way the end result is the same.  

I don’t want to spoil a lot of the plot here because really if you haven’t seen it I think you should go check it out, and if you have seen it then why would I go into details you are already know.  So instead I’m just going to talk about the franchise as a whole.

Evil Dead is a franchise that really benefited from the birth of the internet community.  It’s cult status has grown to incredible lengths thanks to the ease of people to share information and files with each other.  Evil Dead 2 has become one of the must-see movies of the Halloween season.

The series has grown and branched out into so many other mediums. Evil Dead merchandise can be found at almost any hobby shop you go to, especially that figure of Ash with his patented chainsaw and “boom-stick” (Shotgun).  One of my favorite episodes of the tv show Reboot is when the Enzo and the gang enter a game where the user (antagonist) is a blatant homage to Ash from Evil Dead.  The only line you hear from this character is “Groovy” which is now a staple to the Ash character even though I believe he only said it once.

Evil Dead is by far one of the best and earliest examples of a movie blending the horror and comedy genre together.  Most times when a director attempts this  we end up with a product lacking in one department, either it’s pretty creepy and the humor feels out of place… or it becomes so funny you forget you’re watching a horror movie.   In Evil Dead, Raimi hit that perfect balance.

The comedic parts will have you in stitches but you never really get to shake the feeling of hopelessness and dread.  Although you’re already to have a few laughs, you never really lose touch with the idea that these people are trapped in a cabin, unable to escape or call for help, and there’s untold evil trying to corrupt and kill them.

This especially applies for Evil Dead 2.  The original Evil Dead was funny, but in an unintentional way.  The laughs were more of a result of the campiness of the material and the low-budget.  Sam clued in to what his audience enjoyed about the first and made all those aspects bigger, better, and more prominent making Evil Dead 2 the humorous thrill ride that it is.

To sum all this up, I’ll just say.

Go See Evil Dead!!

Got to love the Deadites

Of course this whole post was brought about by the emergence of the official trailer for the new Evil Dead remake.  I haven’t seen it in high quality yet but there was a boot leg released last week and I did catch a gander at it.  It’s been over a week since I watched the trailer and I STILL do not quite know how I feel about it.

If I had to summarize it into a single statement I think my esteemed colleague Manny said it best,  when talking about the trailer his post on Facebook stated, “unsure of what to think…however without knowing this as evil dead, it looks great.”

I think that hits it right on the head.  If you put Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi in the production chair and get them to make a horror movie that takes place in a cabin I will tip my hat to you sir and say you’ve done the right thing.  This is Raimi’s baby, the very title that helped secure him a nice cushy spot within the respected of the Hollywood scene.

I think if the title was not Evil Dead, I would’ve instantly been on board and the trailer is enough to get excited over.  It looks like a solid horror movie and let’s face it.. if there’s one thing I hope to have portrayed to all the non-horror fans of the group is that this genre is in trouble.

There’s only so many Chernobyl Diaries that I can see before I need a Cabin in the Woods (Which Joss Whedon even said drew heavily on the influence of Evil Dead.)

This being said I think that because it IS an Evil Dead movie it is destined to garner much more attention than if it was some generically named new horror movie.  It doesn’t have Ash in it which in terms of remakes that would be like remaking Nightmare on Elm Street without Freddy Kruegar, or Friday The 13th without Jason… it’s a bold move.

Only the Necronomicon and the cabin itself will tie this movie to the franchise enough to call it a reboot.  It’s a new cast of a characters and I’m sure a more contemporary spin.  If ANYONE can kick start the horror genre again it is the duo of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell.  I guess I can even look past the fact that it doesn’t have Ash, at least Campbell is involved in the production so hopefully his influence can come through in the new actors.

I really hope they have done away with the comedic aspect of the story, if this movie is played as a straight up horror movie I am definitely going to be disappointed.  There also MUST be a tree-raping scene.. I don’t care how they make it fit, it just has to happen.

Longest Running Halloween Traditional – Halloween Specials Prt.2

Television doesn’t play as large a role in my Halloween as it does to Christmas time.  Oh man… the Christmas specials that I need to watch each year come together into a substantial list.  Halloween does not really fall into the TV heavy area, although there was a lot of time spent in front of a television.  Halloween was more about the monster movie marathons and less about the actually Halloween television specials.

There are of course some exceptions, like the Great Pumpkin, South Park Halloween specials were awesome as well, and new favorite, the Community Halloween special where the zombie apocalypse breaks out at Greendale.  These are a few of the specials that have become a part of my Halloween tradition but none more close to my heart really making me feel like Halloween is near than the longest running TV show in prime time history, “The Simpsons”

The “Treehouse of Horror” series usually came on a week or so before Halloween and it was the defining moment of the Halloween season. The graveyard and the  “Treehouse of Horror” title made my brain twitch and truly believe that Halloween is upon us.  I long to return back to the days of watching these horror anthologies where the Simpson writers had total freedom to do whatever they wanted to the characters without worrying about the canon of the show.

I get a little apprehensive when it comes to the TOH series.  I don’t think I’ve seen the latest episodes and the last one I watched was just an anthology of movie parodies.  Not horror movies, not even a scary cartoon, just a funny parody.

I think it was Treehouse XXI where I lost the will to follow the series.   The first of three cartoons was about Homer being bitten by a spider and paralyzed only able to communicate through passing gas.  The end of the episode sees him being bitten by a radioactive spider and becoming a paralyzed spider man.  The second cartoon, the only one that tries to be a little horror-ish, is one where Ned becomes a serial killer thinking he’s doing God’s work, when in reality it was Homer speaking to him through a Bible-shaped radio.  The third is simply an Avatar spoof.  Yes, the blue alien, Steven Spielberg avatar.

It felt like they just stopped trying.  I think I may go and watch the newest Treehouse tonight and see if they redeemed themselves last year but I highly doubt it.  Al Jean just doesn’t have the same approach and style that James Brooks had.

That being said, there are some great moments past in this series.  I really enjoyed how they were tied together.  Unlike the recent episodes that just throws a few disconnected cartoons at you, in the past they were all held by a narrative.  There was a Halloween party where each cartoon was a story that one of the characters was telling in an effort to scare the others, which paid off in the end with the kids all laughing and wondering “who could be scared of stories like that” and then a shot of Homer shivering with fear.  Earlier series had a similar premise of the children taking turns telling stories except it was in their Treehouse (appropriate for the Treehouse of Horror).

One of the ones I liked from the more recent episodes is when the family falls asleep in church and each individual cartoon is a dream that one of the characters is having.  They were religious type cartoon, even one parodying David and Goliath, which illustrates my “they are NOT horror anymore” ideas… but to save the episode the Simpsons wake up at the end of the service and everyone is already gone.  They leave the church to reveal the apocalypse, complete with four horsemen and everything.  The Flanders are saved and brought into heaven through a beam of light…. a light that comes on Lisa but as she’s being ascended Homer grabs her ankle bringing her back to the ground with her family.

The cartoons strayed but the overall tone stayed the same.

Also don’t get me wrong, parodies are a great way to celebrate the Halloween season and the Simpsons have done it masterfully in the past.  Parodying movies like Dracula, Nightmare On Elm Street, The Lost Boys, The Shining, and even episodes of The Twilight Zone just to name a few, has become a staple of the series.  When they start parodying Avatar because that’s what was popular at the time I lose my respect.

But despite of the qualms I have with the later offerings I cannot dismiss this series.  Treehouse of Horror to any 25+ year old fan is as essentially to the full Halloween experience as Pumpkin carving and black cats.  There’s just so much to love about this series, and even if I believe it has lost touch with the X-factor that made it great (which can also pretty much said for The Simpsons in general)

A tree house of Horror marathon is indeed in my future between now and October 31st.

 

Good Grief! Still 9 Days Away? Halloween Specials Prt.1

When I think Halloween, there are two particular specials that come to mind. I’m going to talk about one in this entry and the second in the next.

The first is a tradition that I hold dear and I’m sure a lot of other people my age and older also appreciate it.  How many of you think about Linus sitting in a pumpkin patch all Halloween waiting for the Great Pumpkin to show when you think of traditional Halloween images?

Yes I’m referring to one of my favorite childhood Halloween specials, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!”

I’ll admit that the peanuts crew and their specials are a little before my time with a release date of 1966.  Through the magic of re-runs on YTV Charlie Brown has become ingrained with my early development.  The thought of the great pumpkin was so intriguing to a young ShallopNewf

I haven’t seen it in many years and I”m sure a lot of this love comes from nostalgia, but Peanuts is Peanuts… I’d imagine going back it wont lose any of its splendor…. I think I’ll have to try that out tonight.

*note to self, watch It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown tonight*

The part about this story that I find compelling is not necessarily the Halloween aspects of it.  I guess you can draw a parallel with this special and just the idea of having faith in anything intangible. *coughReligioncough*

Linus sends his letter to the Great Pumpkin in the hopes the Pumpkin will visit.  This special is rife with the the gang telling him his crazy and just wasting away his Halloween in a pumpkin patch instead of having fun with his friends.  It’s a fools errand but Linus sticks to his guns.  He doesn’t need to make them understand because he knows the Great Pumpkin exists and there is a chance that he’ll appear tonight.

I think what I enjoy about it is that in the end … oh wait.

SPOILERS!!

… is that really necessary for a beloved childhood special that is nearing 50 years old??..

*shrug*

The pumpkin does NOT come to visit Linus that particular year. This part, I’m sure, catered to my inner-developing Atheist before I knew it even existed.  Somewhere there was a voice saying, “ha ha that’s what you get believer!”

However before some of my followers leap on me for that statement, I need to draw attention to the ending and how it show’s that it doesn’t matter whether or not faith is justified.  The important thing is that you have it.  One of the scenes that I vividly remember from this special is the ending.  An exhausted Linus is talking with his good buddy Chuck when Charlie tries to reassure his best friend by telling him “It’s okay, I’ve done stupid things too”… upon hearing his friends counsel Linus lets loose a tirade that takes Charlie Brown off guard.

Linus vows that next Halloween, he’s going to find an even bigger and better pumpkin patch, and he WILL see the Great Pumpkin.

There is absolutely no evidence other than his own faith and yet he remains undeterred from his belief.  As an adult able to look at the psychological side of this special I can’t lie, though the fact there was no Great Pumpkin caters to my inner atheist there is something about Linus conviction that I envy.  For other children his age (and me as a child) Halloween was about getting as much candy as you possibly could.  For me personally, it was a competition with my classmates to see who could get the most.

For Linus, October 31st meant so much more.  It was a lot more meaningful then the sugar rush and gut rot that the others experienced.  Linus is able to see something very special about this day.  Personally I think this is the earliest contribution of Halloween becoming so dear to my heart.  The thought of this day being about so much more than just candy and costumes began right here.  This time of year can (and does) mean so much more… but I’ll get into that a little closer to the day itself.

Needless to say “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” is a timeless Halloween special that should be seen and can be appreciated by all ages!