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Geeky Halloween Wk6



It’s less than a week until Halloween! That means decorations are as up as they are going to get, costumes are being bled on through last minute alterations, and jack-o-lanterns are already moldering on front stoops. You need a movie or a show you can throw on to keep the Halloween mood in check as you juggernaut your way to the 31st. Here are two of my favorite ambiance pics for carrying through the finish line.

Evil Dead: For Gore and Laughs


The Evil Dead franchise is a cult classic turned modern phenomenon. Very few movies can creep me out and still get me to openly belly laugh like these can. Plus, they are damn quotable. If you know someone who is weary of jumping into its creepy-campy awesomeness, try starting them out with Army of Darkness “for laughs” and go from there.


Now that Ash Vs Evil Dead on Starz is in its second season you should have plenty of material to chew through on your streaming device of choice. With the gift that is Bruce Campbell charging headlong against the Deadite scourge, you can bet that no surface will be left unbloodied. It’s the perfect complement to your Halloween gore-fest that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Penny Dreadful: a Soulful callback to Modern Classic Horror


If you are in a more literary mood, why not put something on that honors the material that birthed our modern horror and sci-fi genres. Penney Dreadful takes its cues from just about every classic horror story you can think of, bathes them in a lustful gritty realism, and manages to artfully arrange them in the occult-obsessed era that gave birth to such tales.


The writing and acting are superb, and the visuals are beautiful, subtle, and haunting. If you’re not already a fan of this series I implore you to watch it when you have time to pay attention. Like the horror stories it retells, this series takes you on a journey with one central, repeating question, “What makes a monster?”


That does it for this short blog run. I hope you’ve enjoyed my primer of Halloween movie recommendations. If you would like to follow me as I generally geek out and occasionally make stuff of my own, you can find me on Twitter @AmberEBlackwell or on Facebook AE Blackwell. Happy Halloween everyone!


Geeky Halloween Wk5



It’s mid-October! Leaves have turned, sweaters have been pulled out, and even LA is seeing lows in the 60’s. It’s time to pay homage to a modern classic of the horror genre and the brilliant artist behind its nightmare inception.

This Week’s Theme: Alien


This movie is more than iconic. It is one of the few horror movies with the distinctions of receiving multiple awards, praise from both critics and fans, and has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” It’s science-fiction meets horror in a film that birthed a franchise. There is nothing more Geek than that.


I personally like that these movies helped to create the Strong-Woman/Kick-Ass-Mother trope. Now, I know there has been a backlash against the Ripley/Newt relationship, but hear me out. I do agree that parenthood should not immediately assign one to the emotional labor of caring for all children, especially if you are a woman. However, there are still enough of us that react in a more protective way toward children after becoming a parent ourselves that it’s not out of the range of possibility. Example: I recently watched Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Kingkiller Chronicles, replay Bioshock on Twitch. He had played the game before, he knew the story, and yet when it came time to kill a child (a “little sister”) he had to Stop Playing for a few breaths. He hadn’t played the game since becoming a father and the portrayal of the scared child got to him!


Screen capture of Patrick Rothfuss not found because Damn You Twitch!

Needless to say, he saved all of the little sisters instead of killing them, simultaneously becoming my hero. The point is, I love the vulnerability Ripley has toward Newt, and I adore the portrayal of parents becoming a bad-ass-murder-machine if you dare to mess with one of our own. It’s a much more flattering portrayal than the usual shtick of becoming boring and soulless after having kids. Also, Ripley and Newt are a quick and easy costume combo. Just saying.

Spotlight: H. R. Geiger


If you haven’t at least leafed through his art books Necronomicon and Necronomicon II you are missing out. True to its namesake, the Necronomicon is full of art infused with a special blend of madness. It’s alien, sexual, disturbing, and deeply human.


In a new-to-me twist, Geiger’s art is also partially responsible for the comicbook publisher Dark Horse being alive and well today. According to the publisher “Giger not only inspired every step of our work on Aliens over the years, but even contributed directly to our earliest success with Dark Horse’s partnership to release prints of his incredible art.” So if you’re not a fan of Giger’s art you can still thank him for helping to make your favorite Dark Horse comicbook possible.

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Geeky Halloween Wk4



supernatural-screaming.gifWe are less than three weeks away from Halloween folks. That means that some of you are just tuning into this wondrous season and the rest of you are already out enjoying its bounty. For this convergence on celebrants, I would like to direct attention to one of my all-time favorite writer/directors.

This Weeks Theme: Guillermo del Toro


If you are a geek and you don’t know who this man is, you should be ashamed… shame… Shame! Good, now that that’s over, join me on the fangirl train.


Guillermo’s credits are as vast as they are diverse. In the nerd realm, he has been a part of blockbusters such as The Hobbit and Pacific Rim. He co-wrote The Strain novels and directed the TV pilot. He contributes to a web series called Trailers from Hell that reviews trailers for genre movies. He has worked with DC and major videogame producers. And just to circle back to movies, he directed such cult classics as Blade II and Hellboy!  This is what he had to say about his Hellboy experience:


“People say, you know, “I like your Spanish movies more than I like your English-language movies because they are not as personal”, and I go “Fuck, you’re wrong!” Hellboy is as personal to me as Pan’s Labyrinth. They’re tonally different, and yes, of course you can like one more than the other – the other one may seem banal or whatever it is that you don’t like. But it really is part of the same movie. You make one movie.” —Guillermo del Toro, Twitch Film, January 15, 2013

He is a fanboy at heart. What makes him perfect for this season is he also loves all things frightening. Don’t believe me, check out his current exhibition at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.



The man loves monsters so much, that he brings them home with him. He also has so many monsters in his work and in his house that the current LACMA exhibition can’t even hold all of them! Which brings us to his latest film that goes bump in the night.

Crimson Peak


This is not your jump scare chainsaw massacre; this is a beautifully rendered film with a decadent gothic soul. Every scrap of art direction in this movie is a masterpiece. Every shot looks like it should be framed and hung on your wall. Even the acting is superb, a treat not always seen in horror movies. To be frank, I didn’t understand all the Tom Hiddleston hype was all about until I saw this movie. I was just never really into Loki that way, but Thomas Sharp had me like…


Go on…

Which brings me to the main reason I adore Crimson Peak. I love monsters that push the narrative but aren’t the real focus of the plot. I love stories that show us that what is truly terrifying is not the things that go bump in the night. In my opinion, that is the heart and the purpose of the horror genre, to scare you shitless by holding up a mirror to our inner selves. So go, watch this film, and then go do some contemplation in front of your own mirror.


Geeky Halloween Wk3



Though some are still dealing with temperatures that break triple digits, a lot of us are starting to break out the jackets for our morning commutes. To pay respect to the creeping colder climate, I’m going to steer away from the traditionally nerdy to recognize some classic Halloween tropes.

This week’s Theme: Zombies & Werewolves & Vamps, Oh my!


Resident Evil and Underworld. These are movie franchises many geeks either love or love to hate. With the final installments of these two franchises coming out in January (Seriously? Zombies, vampires, and werewolves in January! *facepalm*) many have commented on the similarities of the movies. So while I will briefly add my voice to the choir, I will also add another film I think should be listed aside these campy-culty nerd classics.

Resident Evil

Resident Evil is the most successful movie franchise to be based on a video game ever. And for those of us who indulge a little too much in the “turn every inch of your property into a living hellscape for a month” part of the holiday, Resident Evil gave our zombies more to do than just pop out of a poorly lit grave on the front lawn.



Because Dogs don’t get enough of a bad rap


Also, we now have a template to zombify anything and put it anywhere! Zombies in a high-tech security facility? Check! Zombies on the bitter shores of Alaska? Check! Zombies in a post-apocalyptic desert? Oh my f#cking god, they’re everywhere! Plus, if you can’t deck out your place as much as you’d like, you can always play it low key and just slap an Umbrella corporate sticker on your mom’s SUV. You will get creeped out looks for nothing more than a sticker, and that’s hilarious.


Though not based on a video game, Underworld has the look and feel of a movie that is. Most battles unlock new information or areas of interest, while some montages chronical stalking up on health packs and upgrading to your epic level armor.



Excuse me while I heal


Similar to Resident Evil, the first person shooter you follow in this movie is Kick-Ass heroine that eventually has a bone to pick with the establishment. Selene is sleek, deadly, and in a world of filled with Twilight and Vampire Diaries, she is the Vampire Heroine our Halloween deserves. Add some beautiful Goth hangouts and a werewolf fight club, you can’t help but pull some Halloween inspiration from these films… even if your inspiration prefers to scoff and claim that it could do things better.



Go ahead, we’re all dying to see it.



Bonus Movie: Van Helsing

This stand-alone film features two cos-playable treats, a him and hers of costuming goodness. Though Hugh Jackman is basically a monster hunting Wolverine and Kate Beckinsale is a heavily accented Selene, there is no denying that their wardrobe is delectable.



Behold the power of embroidery


If cosplaying isn’t your thing, this movie also boasts old school vampires that turn into giant bats, werewolves that still resemble wolves at the end of the transformation, and dark caves filled with undead vampire babies. Let me reiterate, Swarms of Grotesque Vampire Babies! If someone asks if you should add a “baby monsters busting out of gnarly egg sacks” section to your haunted house, the answer should always be yes. There is a reason the demon baby trope lives.




This doesn’t get better in tiny form


Now that I’ve added my two bits to this topic, what movie do you think belongs in the Resident Evil/Underworld camp?


Geeky Halloween Wk2.5



It is the last day of September friends! Stragglers and naysayers alike will awake tomorrow unable to deny that it is officially the Halloween season. I’m sure you’ve already got a head start on them, but let’s cover your bases with the second half of this week’s installment.

Tim Burton: Live Action



Oh my glorious gothic gods, there is just too much. Seriously, click on the link to Tim’s filmography page. If nothing I mention here inspires you there is bound to be something on that page that will get your cosplay-loving, mini-haunted-house-making heart racing. As it is, here are some honorable mentions.


Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands are classic Burton movies. They are the first big movies that gave us a glimpse of the twisted genius behind the curtain. Where Beetlejuice introduced future fans to his iconic artistic style, Edward Scissorhands showcased his talent for breaking our hearts. Cosplays for both movies have been stalking Comic-Cons for years, and I for one am grateful.


If you’re more inclined to pick up something mainstream, look for Batman Returns. Of all the Batman movies this one is simultaneously the most Tim Burton-esq and the most Halloween friendly. Gotham is eerily dark, the penguin is downright creepy, and Michelle Pfeiffer is the quintessential Catwoman. Again, cosplay and décor opportunities abound here.


I can’t in good conscious end this section without mentioning Sleepy Hallow. The story centers around the classic headless horseman figure and then manages to add witches, face eating Hessians, and a forensic investigator that I am convinced is an artistic nod to Dr. Frankenstein. If that wasn’t enough, every setting and set piece in this gorgeous world screams Halloween. But none more so than the demon tree that is also a gate to hell. Look upon its glorious silhouette and try not to weep.


That wraps up the honorable mentions and brings us to the main event. The strikingly underrated…


Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


This adaptation of the Broadway musical will get in your head like an itch you just can’t scratch. Johnny Dep and Helena Bonham Carter walk around like one of Tim’s doodles made flesh.


The setting is bleak and brooding, blood and nefarious deeds abound, all set to music you can really tap your toe to. And you will. And then you will question your morals having realized you were just joyfully singing about cutting up people into meat pies. That’s right Arya, move over for the original purveyor of cannibalistic treats. This dynamic duo has that chilling game on lock down.


If that doesn’t tickle your fancy you can always sing about Pretty Women as you bask in your throat cutting blood bath, or profess that Nothing’s Gonna Harm You as you plot to throw small children in your human-flesh-cooking oven. Really there no end to the ways you could creep the hell out of your neighbors with this one.




Bonus Movie:


As previously mentioned, Tim Burton is a creative machine. Today marks the release of his newest movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. If you’ve read the book I’m sure you are just as excited for this movie as I am. If you haven’t read the book imagine a fantasy world inspired by eerie vintage photos and then given the artistic blessing of Tim Burton. I will be seeing it tonight with my daughter because I honestly can’t think of a better way to celebrate a birthday.

Geeky Halloween Wk2



That’s right, it’s the last week of September and the first weekend of October. That means if you weren’t ready to get in the Halloween mood before, now is your time to shine. In honor of the new month, I am focusing on a paragon of the weird and endearingly creepy. Hold on to your shorts, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

This week’s theme: Tim Burton


Let’s just start by saying that Tim Burton has been so prolific in his life that there is no way to cover his influence in this diminutive blog post. So, I will be doing two things. First, I am separating his work into two blog posts, one focused on Tim’s animation and the second on his live action films. Second, my main movie recommendation from each will be a work that I think deserves more credit than it’s received.



Tim Burton’s artistic style is distinct and immediately transports you to another world. Nowhere is that more obvious than in his animated works. The Nightmare Before Christmas continues to win over the hearts and minds of the geek-inclined and is a staple for every Halloween store and Hot Topic. And though no house should be without a shrine to the skeleton king, you can expand your library of the cute and off-putting with Corpse Bride, James and the Giant Peach, Frankenweenie (1984/2012), and Coraline. I suggest popping in that last one when you need to scare your kids into mistrusting people who promise to give them everything they want.


For the bookish geek, you can always pick up The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories. This Edward Gory-esq collection of poems is delightfully accented by Tim Burton’s own drawings. I have had people mistake my copy for a well-bound children’s book. Try not to cackle as you watch unwitting faces shift from expressions of “that’s cute” to “WTF!”


Now that I have the bibliophile’s attention, it’s time to move to my movie suggestion.



For those who don’t know, Vincent is a stop-animation short made in 1982. It is the brief tale of a boy who is obsessed with Vincent Price, a consummate actor most famous for his multiple roles playing Edgar Allen Poe characters. This short film is a treasure! It’s written in verse, animated in black and white, references several works of Edgar Allen Poe, and voiced by Vincent Price himself! It is a beautiful homage to the macabre child in all of us.


You can watch and re-watch Vincent on YouTube. Go. Do it now! You won’t regret it.


Geeky Halloween: Wk 1



In case you haven’t heard yet.

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The Halloween season is a wonderful time of year where many geeks get to show off their weird side. Though you can dust off your Iron Man suit and wear it on the 31st, diving into the traditional fandoms might not fill that itch to get into the spirit of the season. So, before you drowned yourself in pumpkin spice lattes, I have come up with weekly movie suggestions to get a little more creep into your geek.

This week’s theme: Jim Henson


Jim Henson’s work and legacy extend well beyond teaching us our ABC’s as children. His puppeteering genius helped shape practical effects as we know it. If you’re a geek, chances are that at least one favorite character or franchise has been touched by this man. The last full-length feature film he did was Labyrinth. As this is the 30th Anniversary of its theatrical release, I think it is the perfect movie to kick off your Geeky Halloween season.



To this day, the scene where baby Toby is kidnaped by goblins makes kids crawl under their covers and hide. And as any good sibling/aunt/mother should, I laugh maniacally and tell them to keep watching. Soon enough they are naming their stuffed bears Ludo and creating imaginary monster friends of their own to play with. This alone should win it a permanent viewing slot during the Halloween season, but Labyrinth is filled with a dark whimsy that is able to fuel imaginations well into adulthood. Just check out The Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball.


Yes, this is a real thing, and it is just as good as it looks. For anyone who thinks that Sara should have stayed in that magical Labyrinth, this is your once a year opportunity to do just that. True, this event takes place in August which puts it a little outside of our Halloween them, but one step inside and I doubt you’ll care what time of year it is. It is a fantasy filled gala hopped up on stimulants and glitter. Speaking of which…


David Bowie. David F*cking Bowie! Snarky and Sexy, cruel and alluring, powerful but oh-so-cute when he begs. As the Goblin King, he is a one-man version of shag/marry/kill. And though he is the technically villain, most of the people I know wanted to be him by the end of the movie.


The 30th Anniversary Blu-ray comes out September 20th. Watch it, re-watch it, share it with future generations. Keep wishing for the Goblin King to come and take you away. He’s bound to answer eventually.

Angry Birds


Orphan loner bird is exiled by their community unit he gains the friends and skills necessary to save said community, after which, having proven that he deserves love, he’s finally accepted.

When a movie is based on a game, specifically a simple game App, I don’t expect shakespeare. But the message of this one was disturbing. Sure, its a kids movie and there is some great physical comedy. I’m all for fun for its own sake. But do we really need another story above earning love and acceptance? Oh, and you’ll have to save your entire species to earn it by the way.

I get it, it’s called “Angry Birds” not enlightened birds, but every story is an opportunity. It’s time and focus and in the end, a voice. I think I would have liked a mock epic where the oppressed birds finally rise up against their pig overlords to take back their future, using their anger productively and not just as a gimmick. Kids are smart. And when they are treated accordingly in their entertainment they become intelligent, discerning adults. Throw in a hefty dose of humor and they even know how to keep from taking themselves too seriously.

Suicide Squad Review


#SuicideSquad was so much fun! Was it also a train wreck story wise? Yes, but I’ve never had so much fun watching a train wreck!*

I could drive semi trucks through the plot holes.
But I loved the music choices.
The characters had cliffs you had to magically scale instead of a cohesive arch.
But it was always visually interesting.
The big bad was too big.
But it was a good/main “bad guy”
The relationships were an exercise in multiple personality roulette.
But I wanted to care.

I laughed, I cheered, and in the end it kept me guessing. It was most of what I want to FEEL when I watch a comic book movie so… I liked it. And it definitely beats all their stuff since “the reboot”.

So I consider it a great reminder that my first obligation as a storyteller is to entertain, that’s level one, that’s popcorn art, and it has a valuable place. Everything I can do for my story after that gives it longevity, deeper impact, or even alters how someone sees the world and provides priceless value. But if I never entertain them, they may never taste the full scope of my story.

In short, if a spoon full of sugar can make the dumb worthwhile, it can also make what is vital accessible.

*I had no previous knowledge of the characters or their backstories than what was provided by the trailers and previews.

(First time viewing, saw it in a theater in the first month of it’s release)