Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bad Influences

   The four books most often mentioned in Cthulhu Mythos fiction are NAMELESS CULTS, MYSTERIES OF THE WORM, THE BOOK OF EIBON and of course, that foulest of the foul, that most blasphemous book of all, the fabled NECRONOMICON. And it occurred to me today that I have them all in my own library.
   I would just like to state that proximity to said books has not affected me in any way. Well except for the vision of the three lobed burning eye and the messages from the ultimate center of chaos.  Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtgan!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fishing in the Shire

Just to show you that it's not all action and strife in Lord of the Rings Online, here's Briefer the Hobbit fishing while Kharrn the barbarian looks into the distance. A lovely day on the Brandywine river.

Halloween Season So Far

   One week until Halloween. How's everyone's spooky season going? Though to a certain degree, every day is Halloween at my house, during the season I do ramp things up. In addition to the movies I've already mentioned here, I've also watched the Universal MUMMY'S TOMB and MUMMY'S CURSE, as well as the Ray Milland ghost story, 1944's THE UNINVITED, and the 1980s films JOHN CARPENTER'S THE FOG and horror cult favorite, PUMPKINHEAD.

   This was my first viewing of PUMPKINHEAD, even though I'd been hearing about it for years. It is a lot of fun, though very much a 1980s film. One thing I really liked about it was the creature, which was created entirely through practical special effects. No CGI in those days. Don't get me wrong. I love a good computer generated effect, but I think horror works better when the bad guy is actually there with the actors. Pumpkinhead is basically a 15-ft animatronics puppet with a guy inside, but in several scenes where he's shown head to foot, he's very impressive and obviously really there.

   Also watched the entire first season of SLEEPY HOLLOW on Blu-Ray. I had started watching the show when if first came out and enjoyed it, but I got behind on the episodes and finally just decided to binge watch it when it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Unfortunately the makers of the show decided to wait and release the DVD ONE WEEK before the start of season two, and I didn't want to get ahead, so now I'm behind on season 2. See how these things happen?

   And I'm watching the 1970 season of DARK SHADOWS, which is kind of a twist on THE TURN OF THE SCREW, with male and female ghosts from the past threatening the folks at Collinwood. Kate Jackson, who would later become famous as one of Charlie's Angels, plays the female ghost Daphne, and does a good job. The storyline is rolling up on one of the show's 'time travel' storylines which are always fun. For its time, DARK SHADOWS was an amazingly experimental show, particularly for a day time drama. Not only did it feature a vampire as a major member of the cast, but it also explored such SF concepts as alternate realities and time travel, all on a budget of next to nothing. It's funny, because people make fun of the cheap sets and poor special effects, and they almost seem to think that viewers were more easily fooled in those days. It's not that. Watching TV in those days was kind of like watching a play. People knew they were looking at sets and painted backdrops, but they just accepted it as they would if they were watching a live play on a stage. They didn't expect everything to look real. A different time.

   Reading wise I've been doing my usual turn through horror short stories, comic books, and such. Also reading some great non-fiction. Just finished up S.T. Joshi's LOVECRAFT AND A WORLD IN TRANSITION, which is a fascinating collection of essays about Lovecraft. Highly recommended. Been enjoying the annotations in Leslie Klinger's THE NEW ANNOTATED H.P. LOVECRAFT as well. Been a banner year for Lovecraft scholars.

   So yeah, Halloween season is going well. Lots of fun movies, comics, and books. So what's the plan for Halloween itself? That's still in the works. I know there will be movies involved. Since I've done the scary stuff and the nostalgic stuff, I may have a scary/funny evening with HOCUS POCUS and ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. We shall see.

PS. Saturday night I'm going on a tour of haunted houses, graveyards an such. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


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.

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.

Thursday, October 02, 2014


   New Acquisitions! Gearing up for Halloween with the brand new Annotated H.P. Lovecraft and Wes Craven's New Nightmare, the meta-fictional Freddy movie. Also got the movie version of Joe Lansdale's 'Cold in July', which was the first book of Joe's I ever read.
   Got a massive dose of vintage Captain America reprints including Sal Buscema's great run on the series. These Marvel Essential Volumes are out of print now, so get 'em while you can. And finally the collection of Rich Buckler's DEATHLOK the Demolisher. Killer cyborgs as as you like them. All and all, a great haul.