Wednesday, October 22, 2014

JordanCon

I'm going to be a guest at next year's JordanCon in 2015. As you can tell from the name, this is a Fantasy Convention built around Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. The Con folks told me that they wanted to expand their programming to include horror and suspense tracks, so come next April I'll be there talking on panels, signing books and pretending I know what I'm talking about. More information to come.


http://www.jordancon.org/

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Return of Friday Night Frights

When I was a kid we had a TV show in Atlanta called Friday Night Frights. It was, as you would expect, a program that ran horror movies in the vein of Shock Theater. It originally had its own horror host, a fellow called Dead Earnest, but I don't really remember him. Anyway, one night the program showed a double feature of THE TIME MACHINE and KING KONG, neither being films that I could readily see in those pre-VCR/DVD days. In honor of those long ago times, tonight I will watch my own double feature of these two SF/Horror classics.

Lord of the Rings: Old School

Nice find at the Friends of the Library sale today. A boxed set of the The Lord of the Rings with the original Ballantine old school covers. This was the authorized edition that Ballantine rushed out to compete with the infamous ACE 'pirated' editions. The box was just a little scuffed but the paperbacks are almost perfect. I didn't own these editions so pretty nifty. The cost? Three dollars. A buck per book and no charge for the box.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are You My Mummy?

   Watching a couple of the sequels to 1932's THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY'S HAND and THE MUMMY'S TOMB. Of the classic Universal Monsters, The Mummy probably fared the worst in terms of sequels. 1940's THE MUMMY'S HAND is very much a B Movie and looks more like a Movie Serial than a classic horror film. Still it's kind of fun to see Kharis the mummy stalking around and strangling people. These are the movies I remember watching as a kid, with the Tana Leaves and the sinister Egyptian Priests.
   A weird thing about actor George Zucco, who played the high priest in THE MUMMY'S HAND. For some reason Kenneth Anger, who wrote the book Hollywood Babylon, claimed that Zucco died in an insane asylum convinced that he was being hunted by H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. In truth, Zucco died of pneumonia in an assisted living home. I've always wondered why Anger would come up with such an outre lie. Maybe one of his sources for the book fed him the story. But seriously, Cthulhu?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Teenage Witch and Wytches

   Came in from work, watched an episode of Sleepy Hollow and read two new Horror comic books, CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA and WYTCHES. Both comics were excellent and now I have a nice Halloween buzz going. Wytches was probably the scarrier of the two but not by much. This new, realistic version of Sabrina has some good horror chops. It seems to be following a different continuity than the recent Sabrina issue of Afterlife With Archie, but perhaps it's just earlier in the history of the character. There are some nice in-jokes for long time readers of Archie Comics and the back up feature is a reprint of the original first ever Sabrina story from Archie's Madhouse #22 with gorgeous art by the late Dan Decarlo. The series is off to a great start.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Cthulhu Mythos Circa 1972

   I started reading John D. Haefele's A LOOK BEHIND THE DERLETH MYTHOS and in the introduction he talked about Lin Carter's 1972 book, LOVECRAFT:A LOOK BEHIND THE CTHULHU MYTHOS which was obviously a big influence on the Derleth book. I read Carter's book a long time back, but it had been a while since I gave it a look, so I dug it out of storage and as i read it,  something caught my attention.
   In the back of the book Carter had a list of the known published Cthulhu Mythos stories up to that time. Everything by Lovecraft, August Deleth, Frank Belknap Long, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Henry Kuttner, Lin Carter, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, Robert Bloch, Colin Wilson, and several others.
The total? 119 stories.
   Think about that for a moment. The published Cthulhu mythos stories today would run into the thousands. But in 1972, just over a hundred. But one has to keep in mind that the whole Lovecraft phenomena was just gaining steam at that time. There hadn't been a full blown biography of Lovecraft yet and only three volumes of his letters had been published. Lovecraft fandom was still sort of a niche market and the comic books, video games, role playing games, etc weren't even a glimmer on the horizon. Pretty wild.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Got the Fright Flick Festival off to a good start with 1994's WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE. I remember seeing this when it originally came out and liking it, mostly because I've always had a soft spot for meta-fiction, a self referring text, and this is a movie within a movie about the fictional serial killer Freddy Krueger trying to cross over from his world into ours. Actors Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, and even John Saxon all play themselves. Director Wes Craven even gets in on the act, appearing as himself as he is forced by an 'ancient evil entity' to write a script bringing Freddy back from the dead.
   I liked the original Nightmare On Elmstreet, but each sequel that followed seemed to get sillier and less horrifying. When the series ended, I didn't even notice.  However Craven, apparently unhappy with the way things had gone, wanted to do one more Freddy film, returning the character to his more horrific beginnings. Less funny. More Scary.
   The movie does a pretty good job, though the writers felt compelled to create a 'story arc' for the 'character' of Heather, which pretty obviously wasn't the real life of actress Heather Langenkamp. Not the way I would have handled it.
   There are some scary scenes though and the sets and nightmare effects come off well, occasionally even manages to capture some of the feel of a real dream world. All and all a great way to get the festival up and running.